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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
Interviewee: Aya Morita Hayasaka
Interviewer: Sumiko Kobayashi
Date: April 11, 1982
Location: Palm Beach County. (6 Hampton Avenue)
ya i the d ghter/ Ri Ch\Mbriwt who isa nephew-of_one of the original founders
ofbne Yamano C}olny. Y
K: Aya, what was your father's name and, full name, and hometown in Japan?
H: His name was Ri Chi Morita and he comes from Toto, Japan. See, mother oesnte)seem
to know where he came from.
K: Does she know anything about Iso 1 ?
H: Well, the only thing she knew was that he was a man, and he brought several
carpenters and also asked my father, who had just graduated from the normal school
in Tok yo and this is how my father came ii4te-4ea1hig-4- Florida. And the first
M r. Sugi was a graduate of University.
K: And uh, Mr. Sugi was, was your father's uncle, is that right?
K: There a mention in the Morikami Museum booklet that there was another relative
Kobayashi who, of .Do you know about him?
H: Well, my father, once upon a time, told us he was some relation to him, but we
never, you know, they were down in Florida and so we never got to meet them.
K: Oh. Do you know what your father's intention was in coming to the United States?
Was it to stay, make money and go back, or just adventure?
H: Well, it was to make it, money and go back.
K: t22f&. You say, well one of the questions that I wanted to ask you was, did he go
directly to Florida or did he land somewhere else in the United States and go
down to Florida?
H: Well, Ibega,' could remember.. I think he went directly to Florida.
K: Jhikqf-And he was recruited by your uncle, by his uncle.
H: 1narw His uncle.
K: Who was one of the earlier founders of the, earliest founders of the Yamato Colony.
Many in the Yamato Colony had no previous agricultural experience before they
went to Yamato. Is that true of your father too?
K: How much of what you know of Yamato did you hear directly from your father?
H: Well, my father often talked about how he dreaded the place. He hated the place.
It was so hot, and insects,and he justldtdn't)like it there.
K: He said, he mentioned this directly to you?
H: Oh, many a time, yes.
K: But a good bit of what you know about his Yamato Florida years was through your
mother. Is that correct?
H: C 's)right.
K: HeHdidn)talk much about it.
H: But as I told you, he would, you know, bring out this harmonica and he would play
yOld Kentucky Home, and Old Black Joe,and he said that _
K: Stuff that he learned down there.
H: Yes, that he learned there plus the, he was always, you know, he Wocdnt come in
the kitchen, but once in a clear moon, mother would say, wV like your biscui-t and
Dad would come and make biscuits for us.
H: Yes. That was about the only thing I could remember.
K: So he obviously learned that in Florida.
H: YesG t .
K: And when he was down there he was single,%at )he?
H: (hat's right.
K: What did he do there?
H: Well, according to him, he said he never farmed in his life, and he was more or less
on the truck, and someone would throw the pineapple at him and he would put it on
the truck and this is where therbaseball. He thought that, well, and one day m
H: going to be a ball player. Yes.
K: Do you know the exact dates that he was there?
H: No, I on'tI)dc only from 19, 18 to 1920, and somehow, two friends and he heard
about this baseball team being formed in Seattle which was 1920, and I think ia-ntr)
what he wanted to do and you know, he iae41a7 to train he tells us. Many a time he
had nothing but just c '"ov 6 CI- c? and do you remember these little meat cans?
He said he would open that and put that meat on his cracker and he ate it up in
Salt Lake City, and he found lots of Japanese working in Iov) copper mines, and he
said I think he must have worked there 4g he made enough money to go to Seattle, and
there he joined the baseball team.
K: Did he ever mention playing baseball in Florida?
H: Well, the only thing he said was he was catching pineapples and throwing pineapples
you know, and ed talk about how good the pineapple were. Tha about all I think
he could recall. He just hated that place, a the object.
K: Oh, he never mentioned it, mentioned it. So (re not much question about why he
left. He wasn't happy down there.
H: He a happy.
K: And he i]jJ2go directly to Seattle. Then he stopped
H: In Salt Lake City.
K: In Salt Lake City, Ta;e.
\'4i Did he ever mention the names of other people who were there in Florida?
H: No. Just Mr. Kobayashi.
H: Well, I ei know who he is but
K: Probably some
H: Some relation of his.
K: Some relation __Kobayashi because we have other papers that say
that Hidayo Kobayashi also was a relative of'_____
H: Oh, then there is a connection. Yes.
K: Yes. Um hm. So he never mentioned any other people, Japanese or non-Japanese?
H: No. No way. -7
K: He never mentioned George Morikami?
K: Or Joe Sakii?
K: Did he mention his uncle?
H: No, he6 1
K: He '
H: In fact, he was a very quiet man.
K: So, you would say, you would summarize his years, his months it should be, in Yamato
as a minor episode in his life and a rather unhappy one at that.
K: Did he mention any other recreation like fishing or going to the beach or anything
H: Well, he mentioned riding on a boat, traveling around Florida. Now I (d know what
kind of a boat he rode on.
K: Did he mention snakes or alligators or?
H: Alligators he mentioned.
K: He (2 mention anything about going fishing?
H: No, he d' a shame< ^ a J
K: It is.
K: Did any other members of his family go to Yamato?
H: No, he was the only one in his family. And we learned he had a brother- but he never
corresponded with him. See, his mother was divorced from her husband and so, well,
not divorced but the father had another woman, and they were in KIyoto, but the
father was a good looking man and he left Ityoto for Tokoyo and lived with this
woman I hear.
K: So that happened even in those days.
H: Yes, and you know, it did, and my father never mentioned it. It was my mother that
told me all this.
K: Did you, what kind of information did you supply to the Morikami Museum n- .
H: Well, this is about all I told them and then of course, my father joined the baseball
team and all the players were bachelors and while they were in Japan, through a
friend meet my mother and dad, and he told her that he was a businessman,
and so, oh she was, she really wanted to come to America because she graduated
from __ h t- ^ and it's an all-girl school with American
teachers. a Christian missionary school that she graduated and she could speak
a little bit of English and she could write English. I mean, her whole desire was to
come to America while her older sisters, you know, they waited and waited for a nice
husband and they never came to America.
K: Oh, they wanted to come too.
H: They wanted to come but they had no choice.
K: Oh. You have a couple of pictures?
H: Yes. This is the one that we had C9iQ-cf .We did qv
K: Uh huh. Could you describe the pictures please?
H: Well, apparently they all This must be their good clothes They're n white.
K: This appears to be a snapshot of four Japanese young men. No. One of them is a,
H: Two are black. /-
K: Oh, he's black too?-
K: Sitting in the field you can see some palmetto in the background and sand in front.
They're sitting on a bench and one of the, two in the middle are left to right, left
is your father, Ri Chi Morita, and next to him is his uncle?
H: Uncle S \
K: Sujii. And two unidentified black men.
H: They are.dressed pretty nicely.
K: Yes they are.
H: T -^ And this is another picture. I really on know what this is. It
could be a pineapple shack or -
K: Yes, it just says on the back, 1918, Yamato Colony. And there are bicycles in front
and there are four, four young men. They could be the same, the four same young,
the same four young men who are in the other snapshot. And they are dated 1918.
What happened to him after he left Yamato. He left, he went to Salt Lake City and
eventually wound up in Seattle.
H: In Seattle, and then to 1, I believe, and then he went with his baseball team that
they had just formed called the Mikado Team.
K: AP1! - e ..
H: All Japanese. And mostly bachelors, so when they went to Japan to play, they played
all the universities in those days, and my mother
K: In the United States?
H: In Tokoyo.
K: In Tokyo. /
H: Xd in Tok yo, my mother's sister's husband was a physical ed teacher at the, was
at the university and when they played at this is how they got,'to meet
my father. At their baseball team.
K: Oh. So it& sn strictly a picture.
H: Well, I think, no it sn But of course they had to have '_
I think@ .aeark
K: Oh, yes. 4JSftr. What, well, would you say that that was a professional team then?
Did he make a living playing baseball?
H: I have no idea.
K: What, did his interest in baseball pre-date his coming to America? Did he develop
the interest in Japan, while he was still in Japan do you think?
H: Well, he seemed to like baseball and it was a chance for him to get in this Mikado
team and-of course, you know, they were.y io, \ .Maybe this is why my
mother, when they came back in 1920, she waited and waited for my father to go out
to work, and in 1921, she was already pregnant and my father, you know, he told
mother that he was a businessman and that he thought that if he told Mother that he
was a bookkeeper at the lumber camp and they should go back to _, one
of these small country towns, she thought that mother would go back to Japan, and so
of course, meanwhile, my mother had to find a job. And she said she found a job in
a Japanese grocery store and she got practically board through them andad was able
to have dinner with this Japanese grocery store people, yes. And then,
K: This was where?
H: In Seattle. UbhikW And then my mother also found another job. She could speak
English, and through this school, I think they told her that a Mrs. Okisaki,
Reverend Okisaki, was at the home for, I think it called Japanese Baptist School,
andnMther went to look up Mrs. Okisaki, and 4thear gft she told all the stories aboul
being pregnant, and Mrs. Okisaki found her a job there and she was answering the
telephone S ,) and cleaning the parlor and so she was able to
H: make a little money and meanwhile, my father, through the baseball team, one of the
I think the manager's friend was selling a _c_(or business and my father
decided he would like to become a tailor.
K: (e'dnever done any before.
H: Nothing. Nothing. And of course my mother had one brother in California who was a
bachelor, and working with an American family, and she wrote to him to borrow money
so that my father could buy this tailor business, and he did buy the shopof-
K: Was that from another Japanese?
H: Yes, oh yes. All through Japanesqe tr5.i-2 So my mother never knew how to make men's
pants or vests or trousers. She started and Father had a tailor who taught mother
all these things and my father did pressing and meanwhile depression was coming and
he had to, I think, get rid of the tailor, so he did learn most of the things and
so Mother and Father started this tailor business on Main Street in Seattle. And
they called it New Fashion Tailor, and all through til wabime, Mother and Father
K: Wartime. World War I.
H: No, this is
K: World War II?
H: World War II. Oh, _Sp they worked in the tailor shop.
K: So your father was a graduate of a normal school you say.
K: He intended to be a teacher?
H: Yes. Right. And meanwhile, he wanted to become a Japanese schoolteacher, but most of
the couples were young married couples and thereWenj any children to teach
Japanese at that time, and t wtwhy he went into tailoring.
K: And your mother was also a
H: Well, mother graduated from this, uunil ohc a
missionary school, and she
K: Not, is, it was, was that college level do you think?
H: I think it was high school level.
K: And she was from where?
H: Tok yo.
K: Tokayo. So both of your parents are from the Tok yo area so far as you know.
H: Right. h hth. Ny father was born in Kiyoto and then I think for his education he
went to Tokpyo.
K: TokCyo. I see. Just for the record, would you tell us what, who his brothers and
sisters were? :Ff ti E
H: His brothers, well, all I know about, he had only one brother.- Tgf
K: You o'tremember his name?
K: And you never corresponded with him?
H: Not that I know of?
H: And he corresponded with his mother and at that time I think Grandmother was
on her own, father had left her, and my father was always sending money to Grandmothe
his mother, and my mother said at that time, you know, they had barely enough to
you know, live on their own. Then Grandmother came to live with them for a while.
K: Oh, from Japan.
H: From Japan. Just the grandmother. And I do remember Grandmother, and, well, she
lived in 1923, they had some kind of exclusion law that all, so my grandmother
K: Oh. But you never heard anything more about his, his brother. He never came to
H: Never, never. We never heard, until Mother told me about this brother.
K: You< n yol Ei even know his name.
K: Well, how about your father's descendants besides you? Who are they?
H: Wdo )have any from my father's side Ln i r-ViN^ &V .
K: Yes, that's his antecedent, but his family in America. Who are your brothers and
H: Oh my brothers, oh, oh. My brother, I was the oldest and I had two brothers,
and and my brother, during the evacuation, he-was accepted to University
of Nebraska and so he wini there and got his degree from there and he received a
scholarship and went to Harvard for his master's and Ph.D.
K: In what? In what field?
H: In engineering. And then my youngest brother, s also an engineer, but unfortunately
in C NP, he was picked, you know, was sent to i. He was with the
442nd. He went to Germany, Italy and France and came back safely.
K: Oh, ( good.
H: Jso Sohe re, only three of us but two years ago, this brother that graduated
from Harvard passed away, and he was one of the heads at the Palo Alto,icscalled
K: Yes, yes. Oh, that's a good university and good position.
H: He did have a very good position.
K: Was he involved in a space program in any...?
H: Yes, he was. Sa9i Jind during the war he was sent to all these islands en the
Pacific. ^ ^ i an antenna expert. And he went then, I think he this was
all hush hush so we 4' know much about it.
K: Oh, yes. Yes. What was his name?
H: His name was Tetzu.
K: Tetzu Morita.
K: And the other brother?
H: His name is Jun. J-u-n.
K: Jun. -Uh huh. How about Tetzu's wife and children? ) j
H: Yes.(Theyr in California. The oldest daughter, Elaine, graduated.
K: Oh, 1ois an unusual name for a Japanese.
H: -42igfs She graduated from Stanford and she received a scholarship and Ee here
at Princeton right now working for her Ph.D. Now the second daughter is Janet and
e a U.C.L.A. graduate and right now she's in business and she's working at
Dallas, Neiman Marcus, department store.
K: Oh yes.
H: Yes. They are training her.
H: Yes. MBOB.
K: Well your, sounds like your family believes in a lot of education.
H: kMy mother did. Oh, that was all she thought about, and then, the third daughter is
H: And she graduated from also from U.C.L.A., aniPhe' working now somewhere in
near Palo Alto.
K: tn*am Do you know their birthdates or
H: (Q11,hiave to look it up.
K: And their names please. Their names?
H: Yes. One of them is Wendy, and then iEreT') the youngest son, J., and he
received a scholarship. ( here in Princeton now, and 40, this is his second
year I believe.
K: And his name?
H: His name is Ronnie.
K: Ronnie. So that's four children.
H: Four children, yes.
K: Okay, how about your own children?
H: Well, mine is, the oldest is Stephen.
H: And the daughter is Karen, and the younger one is Richard.
K: And what are they doing?
H: Well, Stephen is a professor now. He teaches at Clemson University.
H: Clemson, South Carolina. And Karen is a legal secretary and (Ches)married and her
name is Mrs. John Webb, and her husband is also working in Washington, D.C. and ')
a lawyer and I thinlke with the, with ecology group under Watt, is that...
K: Watt, Secretary to the Interior.
H: Interior, that's what it is.
K: Secretary Watt. James Watt. Yes. Watt is under a great deal of fire from the
environmentalists right now.
H: Right 4MUmW. Right. And then my youngest is a reivwn graduate in business and
he's with the General Motors, Yontiac division. And
K: He)in trouble too.
H: Very much. But he, last Sunday he came back and he said he made the quota.
H: Yes. 6 the manager, the sales, he sells cars to the dealer and he travels all
over western Pennsylvania.
K: So you have three children. And once again, their names please.
H: Tere Stephen, Karen and Richard.
K: Now your other brother.
H: Oh, the other one, he came back safely from the war and he applied at the
University of Salt Lake City and( s)an engineer and he works for a big company
out in California, '5 have to look this up too, but just two years ago he moved
.out to Saudi Arabia. He travels LA and was drawing maps over there.
K: But(he not married.
H: No,( single.
K: And your mother is living with him in southern California?
H: In Altadena.
K: Altadena. Cai in the Los Angeles area.
H: Is it? I have ho idea.
K: I guess so. Southern California, I would imagine so. One of your sons went to the
H: T9ghM I think the one, the oldest one.
K: The one (t at Clemson.
H: IIgni aax6, a marine microbiologist.
K: Is that what(he'teaching down there?
K: What, was your husband in business?
K: And how long have you
H: He started the business.
K: Oh. It'shis own business.
H: Yes, with Mr. Seagle, andSE business on air conditioning.
K: I see.
K: Andhe/ retired now.vAfter thirty years.
K: Does he still have the business or did he sell it?
H: Well, he sold it.
K: I see. So jejs)strictly retired now.(Te had a couple of illnesses has he?
H: Yes he has.
K: But(s)Ein good health now.
H: Very good now.
K: <6;t's) good. You, do you have plans for the fu ture?
Have you settled on what 'r going to do?
H: Well, at this moment we compromised that since his illness, he feels the cold
\6fre- and he wants to go down to South Carolina and he did gT, ____ but
he told me, we'll try it out for a couple of years, whether I like it or not. We'll
perhaps go sometime in December and come back here to Philadelphia through
K: 'J" 4! j)Q
H: Right. Uh huh.
K: Going back to your father, Ri Chi Morita, did he always live in Seattle, in the
Seattle area? Was he
H: Yes, tI the evacuation.
K: The evacuation.
K: And what camp were you in?
H: We were at Hunt.
K: Oh. Is that near M in
H: Min ? It was also called Min Right.
K: Oh I see. And then from, from Min after the war, he went back to Seattle?
H: No, he dn I went back to school in Salt Lake City, so Jmthe only daughter.
My mother and father followed me and since they were tailors, they were able to get
a job right away as a tailor and father did all the pressing at the
K: 9RMis This was still during wartime?
H: During wartime. Yes. And meanwhile my brother was accepted to Harvard and he
developed ulcers. Yes, from studying too hard I guess. He had so much pressure
that Mom and Dad decided they must go to Boston and help my brother out and over.
there they found a job right away. Father was a, working as a, oh, I would say,
presser and.alteratbr and Mother found a job in some kind of a dress factory, and
K: So your father never used his normal training ever.
H: Never, never.
K: How was his English?
H: Well, we didn't hear too much of that. Mother is the one that really pushed us.
And she was ever since we were growing up she wanted my brothers to become
engineers and either to go to Harvard or Princeton. I mean, she had '9 .
K: She had big plans for them.
H: She did. Yes.
K: But you( nlt included in those plans?
H: Well, you know, I ci 3djgo to college because my mother copi 'afOrd it and
they felt that my brother was the one that should go, so I graduated from a technicE
school in Seattle and I took up dressmaking and tailoring.
K: Following in your father's footsteps
H: My father's, right.
K: Then you had finished your schooling
H: Oh, yes.
K: When the war came along.
H: Before the war, j t h. Just about that time.
K: How did you happen to wind up in _? Did you meet T in camp?
H: Yes, I met him in camp, right in Hunt, Minm camp.
K: So that, you, were you married there? 6Mi!@
H: No, you know, my, well this is a long story I guess. His two sisters, Dorothy and
Ruth, through sponsorship of the Quakers, I think Dorothy worked for the prints
in camp at the headquarters there
K: In Philadelphia
H: In Philadelphia, and I think they were sponsored by the Quakers that came out
H: out of camp and the first being the oldest, his mother wanted him to come
to Philadelphia and look after his three sisters, and meanwhile, as she was
taking out for Philadelphia, I was already in Salt Lake City, and we got engaged and
OV C C
he came out looking for a job, and at!iE his father was not with that. He was
put in another camp. Yes, he was, before the war, he was with
entertaining all these Japanese. Yes, so he was put in with the Germans and the
Italians somewhere in
K: Arizona? No?
H: Maybe he could tell you. But they were away from his father.
K: So /ou' been living in in this house for ...
H: Well, I lived first in town and then when the children arrived, we moved up
with Dorothy and then we came here so(weve)been here for twenty-two years now.
K: In the same spot.
H: In the same spot, and this is where and Mr. Seagle started this business.
K: I see.
H: Yes, this was Mr. Seagle's home. Yes.
K: And what happened to Mr. Seagle?
H: Well, he retired last year but -ts name is Inc. and so he retired and
he occasionally comes to see the business here.
K: And the business is called what?
H: R.J. Seagle.
K: R.J. Seagle
K: In N
H: Yes, in N
K: What do you, what is the address?
H:QD you know, they bought a 'Ccoo here in and they converted it
into an engineering business. They employ _. Thirty years ago
H: there was just Mr. Seagle and Pat. And now they have over a hundred and thirty
H: Yes. They just about, they have a huge banquet, thirtieth anniversary. We were all
invited and they held a big partyF9pfA
K: e' a small business entrepreneur.
H: Well, I (don know but it was fortunate that he was very successful, and
was their inside man for Mr. Seagle who was the big, he played golf.
K: Um hm. He made the contacts.
H: He made all the contacts.
K: Well, thank you very much,Aya.
H: Well, our welcome. Q7sorry I(ddnJ know too much about my father.
K: He was a quiet man you say.
H: Very quiet. So you know, he became a poet.
H: Yes. He was, started sending it from Seattle and his group became bigger and
bigger as the newspaper started,-
K: How long did his baseball career last?
H: Well, he was in with the old. man's team, and then he had all sorts of hobbies while
he was, he knew that he ouldn play baseball anymore. He started photography and
he, we were all home. Dad would take his camera and go all over the Seattle area
taking pictures of Mount Ranier, Mount Baker, Cascade and you know, he showed all
his pictures to the gcjoP 5 back in Europe.
H: Yes, so he received lots of medals and cups and
K: Any money? Did he sell any... no?
H: No, no, no. He didn't sell. This was a hobby. And after that, he realized he was
getting too old and of course it required so much money, he went into
K: That's poetry, Japanese poetry.
H: Japanese poetry, and so he had people from California, Los Angeles, Japan. Oh, he
was busy corresponding with people and through newspaper he was able to send al
I F- 1k, 5b
all his poems out and then all the people G i_ _7_ 'sHo that
K: This is in Japanese.
H: In Japanese, so unfortunately I cannot ,
K: Do you have any of these poems?
H: Well, he has a book of his collections. Well, Ey ) in
K: Oh. Do you know the title of it?
H: Well, a here, 'c so I (can't) tell you what the title is.
K: Where was it published?
H: In Japan.
K: In Japan?
H: Yes. He, he was in Los Angeles and he wrote to Japan publisher and so my father's
pen name is Yekto and my mother also f f1O | "P \ r Sujo. and this is his
K: What is your mother's name?
H: Her name is Shuko.
K: Shuko. And her maiden name?
H: V .
K: Kuchi. Does she have any relatives in the United States?
K: No. u like our family.
H: We d know anyone and I was so envious. Everybody had 5keeG,see
and we were only not too many from Tokeyo or yoto, so we were really, you know,
very... just a family.
K: Yes. Well, ttsbout how it is in our family too.
H: These are his collections of books.
K: Two books.
K: tjtoo bad neither of us can read Japanese so we tan ell you what the titles
are. Do you know the years? The year it was published?
H: Now it says 1963, 62.
K: '62 it looks like.
H: in ff And this is his collection of poetry too.
K: Did he participate in poetry contests?
H: No. Well, he used to hold contests all the time so he won all these medals and
K: This is in the Seattle area.
H: Seattle, and then when he went back after the war was over, my brother accepted
a job in Stanford research. My mother and dad left Boston and they went to
California to Los Angeles and he felt that he 'tJ I.V iF people.
K: How old was he when he came to the United States? Do you know?
H: I have no idea.
K: Do you know when he was born?
H: Well, I have this. My father passed away in 1975 and
K: Yes, that's the same year my dad, Eb-tm.
H: Oh, really. In 1891 V }jot-L"'
K: Well, he was a year older than my dad.
H: Was he? Uh huh. And this he has his poetry written down and his
K:f h And where is he buried?
H: In Palo Alto.
K: Palo Alto, California.
H: UB.a Yes. California.
K: Do you know the, do you know the cemetery, the name of the cemetery?
H~-a ,Jo.M 5~AJ
K: Okay. Thank you very much Aya.
H: Yes, I hope so.
K: One more thing, Aya. Your mother is still living?
K: And she is how old and living where?
H:., s ighty-three and she's living with my brother in e a I j.Z1\
K: In southern California.
K: And her first name was again?
K: Shuko. Thank you. I guess that's a fairly complete family history.
H: Thank you.