Interview with Susumu Kobayashi, June 5, 1965

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Interview with Susumu Kobayashi, June 5, 1965
Kobayashi, Susumu ( Interviewee )
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Subjects / Keywords:
Palm Beach County Oral History Collection ( local )
Spatial Coverage:
Palm Beach (Fla.) -- History.


This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
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This interview is part of the 'Palm Beach' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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INTERVIEWEE: Susumu Kobayashi
INTERVIEWER: Sumiko Kobayashi

DATE: June 5, 1965

SO: This is the interview with Susumu Kobayshi of 1639 Widener
Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is also my father. I'm
going to go over with you, daddy, what I have written on the
sheet here.

SU: All right.

SO: Your occupation when you were active, before retirement, was a
gardener, a nurseryman.

SU: A landscape-gardener.

SO: Landscape, all right.

SU: A flower grower.

SO: Yes, you were that too. You were born on March 13, 1892 in
Shimane-ken, Hikawa-gun, Hirata. That's in the western part of

SU: Uh huh. Southwestern.

SO: Your father was a physician.

SU: A physician, doctor.

SO: How many generations of doctors were before him?

SU: Oh, until my father's time from way back, ancient time.

SO: And your mother's family was in the textile dying business. Is
that right?

SU: Uh huh.

SO: So your father would be considered heimin [civilian] and your
mother's family shonin [business].

SU: Uh huh.

SO: And you've the third child, the second son of your parents?

SU: Uh huh.

SO: You have an older brother who is about ten years older, and an
older sister, who is about six years older than you. Ydu attended
school in Japan, up to two years of college.


SU: Uh huh.

SO: You were going to continue to be a doctor like your father.

SU: Yes.

SO: So you were taking a pre-medical course. What do you remember
about your boyhood days in Japan? Were they enjoyable? Did
you have a good time?

SU: Yes.

SO: You liked the wild life, plants, and things even then, didn't

SU: No. I used to like animals, of course, and all kinds of

SO: Oh, sports, uh huh.

SU: Tennis, kendo, baseball, boating.

SO: Boating, uh huh.

SU: I was a good swimmer.

SO: Where did you swim? In the ocean?

SU: In the rivers, lakes, and the ocean. All over.

SO: You lived right near the ocean, didn't you?

SU: All over.

SO: That's where the wakame [seaweed] comes from, that area.

SU: That's right.

SO: It's a special kind of seaweed. Now when you were ready to go to
middle school, you went to Kyoto?

SU: Well first, three years at home, I mean the home prefecture.

SO: Three years, uh huh.

SU: And then attended school in Kyoto.


SO: And your brother and sister were already there ahead of you.

SU: Yeah. That's right.

SO: What was your brother doing there?

SU: He was a student at [Kyoto] Imperial University.

SO: At Kyoto.

SU: At Kyoto.

SO: Uh huh. You said that he earned money by translating subtitles
for American movies, foreign movies.

SU: Yes a movie company.

SO: Uh huh.

SU: He was teaching English to exporters, company.

SO: Uh huh. Did you learn any English in Japan?

SU: Oh, sure. From first grade in the middle school.

SO: Uh huh. I think you said at one time there was a missionary
there who was teaching English.

SU: That was in Kyoto.

SO: Oh, in Kyoto. What was your sister doing in Kyoto?

SU: She was attending--what do you call it--"gigeigakko" [home economics

SO: Sewing school?

SU: Sewing school.

SO: And keeping house for you and your brother?

SU: Yes.

SO: How old were you when you came to the United States?

SU: I think I was twenty-two years 61d.

SO: Uh huh. What were your intentions in coming to the United States?
Was is to settle or did you plan either to make money and learn
something or go back?


SU: No, not exactly. I was going to attend medical school in this
country after helping Sakai for two or three years.

SO: Sadai was your sister's brother-in-law'. a relative by marriage.

SU: Yes.

SO: And this Sadai was in Yamato, Florida.

SU: Yes. He was a pioneer of the Yamato colony.

SO: Uh huh. So you came to the United States in 1914.

SU: In February.

SO: By Nippon Yusenkaisha line landing at. .

SU: Seattle, Washington.

SO: How long did the ocean voyage take?

SU: About sixteen days.

SO: And when you went back to Japan in 1963.

SU: We left here at eight o'clock in the morning at the International
airport. We got in there at 11:30 Toyko, supposed to be in the
same day.

SO: So you didn't work in Japan. You came directly here from being
a student.

SU: No, I didn't. I went to school, full time.

SO: Now, when you arrived in Seattle, your destination was Florida.

SU: Uh huh.

SO: So you crossed the country by train.

SU: That's right.

SO: Did you stop off in Chicago at that time?

SU: On one night.

SO: Uh huh. And there was a seinenkai [youth group] there.


SU: Uh huh.

SO: A Japanese YMCA.

SU: A YMCA. That's right.

SO: And there was a man there, Shimizu-san, was that his name?

SU: No, Shimazu, Reverend Shimazu.

SO: Uh huh.

SU: Reverend Misaki Shimazu.

SO: He was the man who ran the YMCA?

SU: Yes.

SO: So you stayed overnight and then took a train directly for Florida.

SU: That's right.

SO: And how long did you work for Sakai?

SU: About four years.

SO: Then what did you do?

SU: Then I left Sakai and went to Chicago to get into the Ford Motor
Company. But then the First World War started so they didn't make
automobiles any more. They start making Liberty motor, for airplanes,
so they shut up the automobile school.

SO: They were offering at that time, until the shut down, free training.

SU: Free training.

SO: Uh huh. You were going to learn about making automobiles and go
back to Japan and set up a factory.

SU: Not making but mechanic, machinery.

SO: So you were going to go back to Japan and .

SU: Well,I don't intend to go back, but anyway I wanted to learn about
the automobile.

SO: The war came along and spoiled that.


SU: So .took a suburban job in Chicago at Riverbank Company at a
big millionaire estate.

SO: That was Colonel George Fabyan.

SU: Uh huh.

SO: That was about 9ix hundred acres

SU: The estate was six hundred, and seventy acres.

SO: Uh huh, on both sides of the Fox River.

SU: That's right.

SO: In Geneva, Illinois.

SU: That's right.

SO: How did you get the job?

SU: Mr. Otsuka, the genro of the Japanese genro [elder statesman] in
Chicago found a job for me.

SO: And how long didyou stay?

SU: About thirteen months.

SO: Uh huh.

SU: Then I had saved up some money and I went back to Yamato, Florida
to start my own farm.. Then I started making money and buying more
land and doing all right.

SO: How many acres did you buy the first time?

SU: About ten acres.

SO: And you expanded that?

SU: Uh huh. To twenty acres.

SO: What were you growing?

SU: I was growing tomatoes, green peppers, and egg plant,: mostly. I
was shipping them all over to the northern state market during
winter time.

SO: When did your season begin and end?


SU: The season begins after we put the seeds from the seed beds the next
day after the fourth of July for green peppers. Then we'd plant
them in August and the first crops started coming in October,
the early part of October. Then we went from that -time to
May next year, the following year.

SO: So you were pretty proserous. You made good money.

SU: I made good money. After two or three years I made good
the folks in Japan wanted me tocome back, get married, and settle
down. So, I went in June of 1972 across the ocean and got

SO: Who arranged the marriage?

SU: My parents.

SO: I thought it was your brother, then your parents.

SU: No. It was my parents.

SO: And the lady was Suye Matsumoto. It that right?

SU: Uh huh. Yes. Nice Mama.

SO: How was your English when you first came to this country?

SU: Well, I was one of the best in the class, in the middle school,
with English. But after I came to this country my English teacher
was a English lady and they talked quite different from the American
way of speaking English, so after I got down to Florida I went
three nights to my teacher's home to polish my conversation, my English

SO: How far away was that?

SU: Oh, about four miles.

SO: You went there by bicycle threeinights a week.

SU: Uh huh.

SO: What was Florida like those days in the early 1920s?

SU: There was no house on famous Miami Beach.

SO: Miami was a city.


SU: Jacksonville was the largest city in Florida.

SO: And Palm Beach was the winter playground of the rich?

SU: Only for American rich people.

SO: Uh huh. Well, how about all these little coastal resorts--Delray,
Boca Raton and .

SU: Oh, about the same, it wasn't booming like it is now. Just
country towns, that's all.

SO: How did the local people make a living, other than Japanese?

SU: Oh, they farmed.

SO: You said there was some lumbering going on down there, too.

SU: No, not much. Mostly in the northern part of the state.

SO: When did you get your first automobile?

SU: It was a Ford.

SO: A Ford Model-T?

SU: A Model-T, of course. I made a truck out of it.

SO: Oh. You said you almost got drafted into the army in World War I.

SU: I was the first on in Palm Beach County to be drafted, the first
draftee in Palm Beach County of Florida. But I wasn't a citizen
and I wasn't entitled to be a citizen so they exempted me.

SO: Uh huh. And your first child was born in Florida.

SU: Uh huh.

SO: That's Sumiko, right?

SU: Sumiko was born in West Palm Beach hospital.

SO: When did you move up to Geneva?

SU: In 1925.

SO: You sold your land in the land boom.

SU: Yes.


SO: Did you make any money'on the lands?

SU: No.

SO: You didn't?

SU: I paid off my debts.

SO: So you sold your land and you went into the chicken business or
the egg business for a while, didn't you?

SU: Yes. I quit truck farming and switched to chicken farming.

SO: But then you got a job offer from them, Colonel Fabyan.

SU: Yes.

SO: So you packed up the family and ..

SU: Packed up my daughter Sumido and took her and her child with us to
Geneva, Illinois.

SO: Uh huh.

SU: To Colonel Fabyan's estate.

SO: You had a good time during the off season-when you weren't farming,
didn't you?

SU: Uh huh.

SO: You would go down to the beach.

SU: There wasn't discrimination down there and lots of fishing on the

SO: You would go out and catch crabs for your dinner.

SU: Yes, easily.

SO: And those were the days of the nickel beer and all the sandwiches
you could eat for free.

SU: That's right.

SO: How much was steak then?

SU: Steaks? The best round steak was thirty-five cents a pound.

SO: And a can of sardines?


SU: Sardines was five cents a can and Alaska salmon was eight cents
a can.

SO: Uh huh.

SU: It is ten times that now.

SO: You walked around in silk shirts, didn't you?

SU: Oh, sometimes.

SO: Uh huh. And you even got some prohibition liquor-.

SU: That's right.

SO: You must have had some wild parties.

SU: Sonna koto yowa nakutema ii [You don't have to say anything like

SO: When you got to Geneva, was it quite a shock to go from a warm place
like Florida to a cold place like Geneva?

SU: No. It was like going back home. I was single th thirteen months
I had been there.

SO: What were you doing the thirteen months you were there?

SU: They had about one acre of Japanese gardens so I took care of, took
care of them. Then toward winter, they have big greenhouses so
they wanted me to work in the greenhouse. I got in there and next
spring I was supposed to go out Japanese garden again, but I did
good work in the greenhouse, so they want to keep me in the greenhouse
and put somebody else in the garden.

SO: Uh huh. Well, is this after you left Florida or are you telling
about the thirteen months that you worked before you went back
to Florida?

SU: That was before. I was alone.

SO: Oh, all right. Now when you came back from Florida and this was
in 1925, I guess.

SU: Then I started to work in the green house.

SO: Raising what?


SU: I raised roses, carnations, chrysanthemums, sweat peas, ferns and
all kind of plants.

SO: Uh huh.

SU: We shipped roses to Chicago.

SO: Uh huh. How long was the greenhouse in operation?

SU: Up to 1930.

SO: You were working full time in the greenhouse.

SU: Uh huh. I took charge of the greenhouse.

SO: After 1930 was the greenhouse closed down?

SU: Uh huh.

SO: Why? It wasn't making money?

SU: That's right.

SO: Oh. What were your duties after that?

SU: To work outside on the estate and to take care of the trees, and
anything outside.

SO: They had quite a one acre Japanese garden, you say?

SU: Uh huh. And they had an half an acre English garden.

SO: And'formal gardens.

SU: Yes, and sunken gardens, with a little zoo, with all kinds of animals
and things.

SO: Yes, I remember the bears, the wolves, and the foxes.

SU: What about the ostrich, monkey, alligators, or macaws?

SO: ILdon't remember the ostrich, but I do remember the others. There
were two macaws?

SU: Uhihuh.


SO: They were kept in the conservatory which was called the greenhouse.

SU: Yes.

SO: And then she had a parrot, one of these green parrots in her villa.
Didn't she, Mrs. Fabyan?

SU: Yes.

SO: Well, those were good days there at Riverbank.

SU: About sixty people were working there.

SO: This, this was at its peak before the depression.

SU: Yes.

SO: Oh. Yeah, you said 1930. I guess the depression was ..

SU: In 1929.

SO: Uh huh. And after that ..

SU: Colonel lost money.

SO: .they cut down, uh huh.

SU: They lost money, you see, so they built a textile business.

SO: A brokerage house, wasn't it?

SU: I don't know about the brokerage, but they had twenty-four offices all
over the country.

SO: Oh.

SU: But in 1929 when the Wall Street crash came he closed everything.
and he retired.

SO: That sixty man work force was cut down to about a dozen people,
wasn't it?

SU: No, about two dozen.

SO: Uh huh. That was quite a place with its dairy cattle. Were they
selling milk?


SU: Yes and they raided prize hogs.

SO: Oh.

SU: They had about four or five hogs

SO: Were there any other Japanese in Geneva?

SU: No, not in Geneva, but a fellow named Kato took place what I left
outside and went in to the greenhouse. He was the brother of Admiral
Kato, the biggest shot in the Japanese navy.

SO: He didn't stay very long, did he?

SU: He stayed about a year.

SO: Oh.

SU: Then he went to Los Angeles, California, and I don't know what happened
after that. We corresponded about one year but after that we didn't.

SO: So Noboru came along in 1926 and then Michiko was born in .

SU: In '39, wasn't it?

SO: In '29. They were both born in Geneva.

SU: Oh, yes.

SO: The children all went to school .

SU: In Geneva.

SO: .in Geneva and we were the only Japanese family there. .

SU: That's right.

SO: .in that town and the town was about 5,000 at that time, wasn't

SU: No. Four thousand several hundred.

SO: Is it the county seat of-Kane County? Now, while we were in Geneva, I
remember you used to send the Seattle for Japanese food.

SU: Uh huh.

SO: How often did you used to send for it?


SU: Furuya.

SO: Furuya, Furuya Company?

SU: Uh huh.

SO: And you used to get shoyu, by the taru? [soy sauce]

SU: Uh huh.

SO: How order?

SU: Oh, about twice a year.

SO: What kind of foods did you buy?

SU: I bought Japanese foods.

SO: Well, I mean canned goods, and dried mushrooms.

SU: Yes, all kinds of Japanese foods.

SO: You used to use the nickname "Oscar." Where did you pick that up?

SU: Well, there were two Kobayashis in Yamato. One is Hideo Kobayashi
and when we get returns, that'si, checks for shipments at post
office they would say Kobayashi and sometimes the post office
would make a mistake and stick my mail in his box. And I was
waiting for the check, week after week, and heard nothing about my
shipment so I inquired into them and they said that they sent it
to H. Kobayashi. So I asked H. Kobayashi if he had the check. He
said he got the check for stock he didn't ship so I said, "That's
my check. It got mixed up all time like that." So to avoid
that I had spoken to my English teacher and'she said, "What's the
best way?" She asked me the meaning of Susumu so I told her
that Susumu meant progress and she was German descendent and said,
"Well, Oscar, is more like meaning of progress." She advised me, and
recommended that name so I put Oscat S. Kobayashi and after that. .

SO: No more trouble.

SU: .no more trouble.

SO: Did you use it, all the way through. .

SU: All the way while I was in business.

SO: Uh huh. Did you fe&l any sense of discrimination in Geneva being
the only Japanese family there?


SU: No. We were well treated.

SO: By everybody?

SU: Yes. Everybody respected my family and, of course, Colonel George
Fabyan's background makes a lot of difference .

SO: Uh huh.

SU: .because it, it gave a lot of respect to my family.

SO: Uh huh. For recreation and to see other Japanese, you used to go
into Chicago quite often didn't you?

SU: Uh huh.

SO: How far away was Chicago?

SU: Only about thirty-eight miles, I guess.

SO: But I remember it used to take us an hour and a half to get there.

SU: About an hour.

SO: Was that all?

SU: Oh, what did you expect with a Model-T Ford and Model-A Ford?

SO: When did you start your tropical fish hobby?

SU: In 1929.

SO: Was it that far back?

SU: Uh huh.

SO: You started with a few guppies like everybody else?

SU: I went, we went to a stock shop. One day the big friend Yamamooo,
Mr. and Mrs. Yamamoto was salesman of Japanese goldfish in Chicago.
They were working for wholesale goldfish importers in Chicago and
but he had a whole bunch of tropical fish, mostly guppies, It interested
me so, that he gave me three pairs of guppies and I took them home with a
one gallon tank. Next morning I found about a dozen babies swimming
around. That gave me fish disease and I had to get more


kinds of fish, all kind of fish and it all and went
through almost all kinds of tropical fish. I spent a lot of
money too.

SO: How big was that large tank that you had in Geneva?

SU: Oh, about fifty gallons.

SO: Uh huh. And you even bred scalares didn't you?

SU: Yes. They claim I was first one to breed scalares around

SO: And you continued your interest in baseball by going into Chicago to
see baseball games once in a while, didn't you?

SU: The NationalLeague game was at the Cubs park and the American League
game at Cominsky park, the White Sox.

SO: You were a White Sox fan?

SU: Uh huh.

SO: When did Colonel Fabyan die?

SU: In 1936.

SO: In 1936 and his widow kept up the estate for a while.

SU: Yes, until 1939. They didn't have children so they closed up the
estate in November of 1939.

SO: They turned it over to the county for a forest preserve, a park. So
you decided to go to California.

SU: My children didn't know very much about Japanese so it would be good
chance to have them and always want them to learn Japanese--how
to write and how to read and how to speak it--but they had no chance.
in Chicago so I decided to go to the west coast because we never lived
on the west coast before. We moved in there and settled down in San
Leandro, California, to work in the greenhouse.

SO: Well, during the years that we lived in Geneva. .

SU: And then a little over a year later, the second World War started and
we were put in a camp.


SO: Well, we'll get to that.

SU: So I had not much chance at even seeing California. I went to
San Francisco only one night. That's all.

SO: While you were in Geneva, you used to get quite a few visitors from
Japan, didn't you?

SU: Yes, people came.

SO: Do you remember who some of these people were?

SU: Yes.

SO: They came primarily to see Colonel Fabyan.

SU: One was Dr. Suehiro, professor at Toyko Imperial University. He was
relative of Premier Hatoyawa.

SO: Anybody else you remember?

SU: Oh, quite a lot of doctors and scientists but I don't remember every
one of them. Quite a lot of them from Colonel Fabyan became a
laboratory, see? They said that laboratory had the most famous.
acoustics in the world, so some of them from the Japanese government
visited us, and the Japanese family on the estate.

SO: Well, a few years before we left for California, there was another
Japanese family that came to work for another family in Geneva, the
Hawleys. Remember the Takumi, the Takumi family.

SU: Takumik, yes.

SO: Mrs. Takumi and Toriko. Toriko was daughter of. .

SU: Mrs. Takumi was divorced from Iwamoto.

SO: Mr. Iwamoto that you mentioned earlier.

SU: He married Takumi.

SO: Who was a Hawaiian, nisci.

SU: Uh huh.

SO: And later, Toriko married Kazus Kamiya.

SU: Down in Florida.


SO: One of the last residents in Yamato where you were.

SU: That's right.

SO: So after Mrs. Fabyan died and the Riverbank estate was closed, you
decided to go to California.

SU: Yes.

SO: HHow, did you get the job? You went there already with a job,
didn't you?

SU: Yes.

SO: You got the job before you left.

SU: Yes. I had many jobs offered from rich estates in Geneva but I
turned them downand went to California.

SO: They gave us a nice send-off didn't they, the people in Geneva?

SU: Yes.

SO: They were very sorry to see our family leave.

SU: We were a well-known family in the city and liked very much by
most of the town people so when we went to California they invited
us to the country club for a dinner send-off. I mean send-off
dinner, but we couldn't go so we didn't attend that dinner so those
people, gave us great big send-off present.

SO: Well, what was it? Do you remember?

SU: Chickens, candies, and all such kind of things.

SO: Oh.

SU: Mrs. Meyer .

SO: Uh huh.

SU: .a representative. .. Dr. Sabine .

SO: She was the mother of a classmate of Noboru's, wasn't she?

SU: Uh huh.


SO: And this was in November 1939 that we left.

SU: In '39.

SO: Oh, we also went to the .

SU: We left on Armistice Day.

SO: Armistice Day?

SU: Yes.

SO: Oh, And while we were in Chicago we saw the Chicago World's Fair,
didn't we, during 1933-34.

SU: In 1933. That's right.

SO: Yes, Iremember the. .

SU: I used to carry Mickiko all afternoon all day mostly.

SO: We went both years, 1933 and '34?

SU: Yes.

SO: When we went to California they were having the San Francisco World's
Fair so we got over there a couple of times, didn't we?

SU: Yes.

SO: Who'd you work for in California?

SU: Nakashima.

SO: And he. .

SU: San Leandro.

SO: San Leandro. What did he raise?

SU: Roses.

SO: Cut flowers for the commercial market.

SU: Uh huh.

SO: How many people were working there?


SU: Oh, about a dozen people.

SO: Uh huh. All Japanese?

SU: Yes, mostly. There was a couple of Spanish.

SO: And we were supplied with a house.

SU: Uh huh. Sonna koto wa hanasanakutemo u ja nai ka. [Let's not talk
about such a thing.] That's nonsense.

SO: So we got there in 1939 and you worked at Nakashima's until the
second World War broke out.

SU: Uh huh.

SO: Do you remember just how you heard about Pearl Harbor?

SU: Yes. Sonna koto wa do demo ii yo. [I don't want to bring up such a
subject anymore.]

SO: How did you like California after living in Geneva for fourteen

SU: Oh, it was all right but Ifelt more like home back East because I
spent all my, almost all my past in the East.

SO: Of course we weren't there very long before the war came along.

SU: No.

SO: Well, after Pearl Harbor, do you remember when you were evacuated?

SU: March, no, May.

SO: May of 1942.

SU: Yes. The seventh or eighth of May. Then in September we moved
to Utah.

SO: The Topaz. .

SU: Uh huh.

SO: .Relocation Center. They weren't ready for us, were they? The
roads were all dusty and the water was. .


SU: The water was all right.

SO: Oh was it? Well, I remember everybody was sick on the train.

SU: Well, that was rotten chicken.

SO: Oh. Well, in Topaz, even at Tanforan Assembly Center you were a
block captain or something, weren't you?

SU: No. I was a barrack captain.

SO: Oh. Well, of course, we"didn't really feel settled until after we got
to Topaz.

SU: No.

SO: We lived in block thirty, did't we?

SU: Topaz?

SO: Uh huh.

SU: Oh.

SO: Block thirty. You weren't a block captain there?

SU: No.

SO: Oh yes, there was another man, a nesei, an older riser who was
a block captain. What did you do at topaz?

SU: I was a gardener.

SO: Was this inside or outside the camp?

SU: Outside..

SO: And you went out there every day. Did you find the desert

SU: Not especially.

SO: What did you raise?

SU: Flowers.


SO: Flowers? Oh, not vegetables for the .

SU: No. That's the farmers' job.

SO: Oh. Did you just raise flowers for any purpose or just .

SU: To give to the hospital.

SO: The Topaz hospital?

SU: Yes. And every mess hall.

SO: Uh huh. You said there were a lot of hummingbirds there.

SU: Yes.

SO: Did you see .

SU: I saw a lot of them.

SO: What other kinds of animals were there? Rabbits? Any coyotes?

SU: I don't see any, but I caught one in a trap, but during the night
time somebody took it away with the trap, the whole business.

SO: So you were in camp until when?

SU: April 17, 1944.

SO: So, during that time you worked raising flowers and mother worked
in the mess hall.

SU: Uh huh.

SO: The block thirty mess hall?

SU: Uh huh.

SO: Where did you go from Topaz?

SU: To Hartford, Connecticut.

SO: Did the War Relocation Authority get the job for you?

SU: Yes.

SO: And Noboru graduated from high school in Topaz, didn't he?


SU: Yes. That's only reason I went to Connecticut, otherwise,
because I don't want Noboru loafing around in camp after he graduated
from'high school.

SO: Well, he finally got into an eastern college.

SU: Uh huh.

SO: Drew University. So you went to Connecticut to work for Dr. Sweet.
How long did you stay there?

SU: From April to August, before September school started. They thought
the place would be for Michiko to commute to school, see, so I
found a job at Clark's, Wallingford.

SO: Oh, the Swetts helped get the job for you?

SU: Uh huh.

SO: How old was Michiko at that time?

SU: He had just started high school.

SO: Michiko is the youngest. So you went to work for Mr. Clark in Swarthmore?.

SU: In Wallingford.

SO: In Wallingford, near Swarthmore College, though. How long were you

"SU: I was there until the summertime of 1946.

SO: Until about the end of the war, then?

SU: Yes.

SO: You worked hard during those war years, didn't you?

SU: Oh sure, ,everybody had to have work.

SO: Well, you had a daughter in college and a boy going to college.

SU: At that time you and Noboru were both going to college.

SO: It was quite a drain on the parents then.


SU: It was not much money, because the Japanese said everybody was
making good money except the Japanese.

SO: After the war and after you left Clark, when did you go to Shoemaker's?

SU: It was about a month after I left Clark.

SO: You stayed with them for a good number of years.

SU: No. Just a little over a year. About a year and a half.

SO: Oh, is that all? I thought it was longer than that. And then'
Mr. Shoemaker had to go to Arizona so they sold the house and .

SU: We moved from one place to another.

SO: Uh huh. You were doing domestic work during the war years because
that was about the only job you could get.

SU: Domestic and outside gardening.

SO: And then for a while there you were working for a tree nursery, weren't

SU: Yes. Oh, that was later in 1954, I guess or, five.

SO: And you've been in the Philadelphia area ever since you went to
Clark's in 1944.

SU: Yes.

SO: You worked for various families until Sumiko and Noboru graduated
from college, didn't you?

SU: Yes.

SO: Sumiko graduated in 1946 and in 1947 came to Philadelphia to be near
the family and Noboru served a period in military service and then
came back. .

SU: From Germany.

SO: .yes and finished college at Rensselaer?

SU: Rensselaer.

SO: And then he also coma beck to the Philadelphia area to work.


SU: After he graduated from college.

SO: Which college?

SU: Rensselaer. What's matter with you?

SO: What did he study?

SU: Architecture.

SO: So after both of your older children graduated from college, you
stopped doing domestic work and mother stopped working?

SU: Uh huh.

SO: She stayed home to be a housewife. And what did you do?

SU: Gardening and landscape.

SO: Is this when you worked for that tree nurseryman? You worked for a

SU: No.

SO: Didn't you work for Jamison at that time?

SU: Yes.

SO: Well anyway, after working for other people for a period of time,
you went into your own business, didn't you?

SU: Yes.

SO: What business was that?

SU: Gardener and landscaping. With a few helpers.

SO: Uh huh. How much capital did you:start out with?

SU: I don't remember.

SO: What, how did you .

SU: I got a truck and a power mower and all kinds equipment; that cost a few
thousand dollars.

SO: How did you get your customers?


SU: Well, door to door.

SO: Were the customers satisfied with your work?

SU: Yes, they were very:satisfied.

SO: How many customers did you have?

SU: I didn't want to get too many so I took about ten or eleven.

SO: Whereabouts were you?

SU: In a suburb of Philadelphia. I don't take any in the city except
only one.

SO: We, the family, bought a house in 1952.

SU: Uh huh.

SO: And this is where the family is livingipresently?

SU: That's right.

SO: At 1637 Widener Place. You continued this business of yours until

SU: That's right.

SO: Oh. Before you went into this business and after you stopped
domestic work, you took a trip to Florida, didn't you?

SU: Yes.

SO: When was that?

SU: From the 1949 winter to the 1950 spring, about::two months.

SO: About a two months' trip?

SU: Yes.

SO: Where did you go in Florida?

SU: I went all over the state of Florida.

SO: You saw some of your old friends, didn't you?


SU: I saw Yamato, Miami, Jacksonville Beach, Tampa, and Clearwater.

SO: Guess you found a lot of changes from the time you were in
Florida in the 1920s.

SU: Oh, a lot had changed. I still have friends down there.

SO: There were a few friends down there.

SU: I saw a few close friends down there.

SO: Uh huh. Did you find Yamato had changed a great deal?

SU: There wasn't a Yamato anymore because during war time the
government had made air fields out of it. A stretch about
eight miles long all turned into an air field for the army.

SO: So the only, only .

SU: For a year.

SO: .uh huh. So the only family left at Yamato was the youngest
son of Mr. Kamiya.

SU: And a fellow named Kamikama from Kagoshome.

SO: Were they still farming?

SU: He was when I was down there, but I don't know anything about it.

SO: Well, going back to the time that you retired, 1963. Did you make a
trip to Japan?

SU: In 1963.

SO: What was the time of year?

SU: April.

SO: And how did you go?

SU: By airplane.

SO: Was that your first airplane trip?

SU: Yes. That was the first trip.

SO: Did you enjoy it?


SU: Oh sure.

SO: What airline did you take?

SU: T took TWA [Trans World Airways] from here to San Francisco.
to Japan.

SO: Did you go on one of these party tours or did you-go by yourself?

SU: No. Just mother and myself.

SO: Where did you go in Japan?

SU: We stay around Kyoto and Osaka because we, in Kyoto we could stay
with my sister.

SO: You made a trip to your home town of Hirata didn't you?

SU: Yes. Then we went Shimane-ken, the home of Hirata-shi.

SO: I guess you found a lot of changes.

SU: We visited nephews, nieces, and other relatives.

SO: How much family did you have left in Japan?

SU: Oh, only a brother and sister, because I said before that I had
only one brother and one sister, that's all.

SO: Your brother was deceased but your sister was still living.

SU: Uh huh.

SO: On mother's side, she had a brother and a sister still living.

SU: That's right.

SO: You saw them all.

SU: Yes.

SO: So, it must have been quite a grand reunion, your brothers and
sisters, and you.

SU: Yes.


SO: I guess nobody ever expected to see you again.

SU: Well, I don't know.

SO: I guess you found a lot of changes in Japan from the time that
you left.

SU: Oh, just like Showa Urashima Taro.

SO: Were you homesick for America at all?

SU: No. I enjoyed my trip over there, travelling all the time, from
one place to another.

SO: What things did you like and dislike about modern day Japan? What
do you think of the youth there?

SU: Well, the young people don't behave themselves like they used to.
They don't respect older persons.

SO: Well, how about the standard of living?

SU: They are well off.

SO: Uh huh.

SU: They eat lots of food. All kinds of fancy stuff.

SO: Did you find the diet becoming more Americanized?

SU: Yes.

SO: They're eating more bread.

SU: They us quite a lot of meat and milk, and less rice. People
use more bread. They like it, they said.

SO: What would you say is the standard breakfast for young couples?

SU: Oh, bread, milk, cold cuts, meats, eggs, and such kind of things.

SO: Not fish, rice and soup.

SU: Not for breakfast. For some old people, there is just misoshira,
rice, fish and otsukemono for breakfast.

SO: Uh huh.

SU: But young people, my generation, don't care about that. They'd rather
have bread, milk, and toast.


SO: What did you particularly like about Japan? Did you find
anything that .

SU: Oh, Japan is just like a beautiful garden all over the
country. The trees are pretty.

SO: Did you miss anything American? Did you find yourself missing
anything in particular and wishing?

SU: No, not, nothing in particular except grapefruits, oranges, such
kind things.

SO: How about things like ice water?

SU: Oh, the ice water you can get almost everywhere because most
homes we stayed in had refrigerators.

SO: Most do.

SU: So I thought of and they got, almost every city has. .

SO: Water purification.

SU: .water.

SO: Did you find that most private homes had television, too?

SU: Yes. So far as where I went.

SO: Uh huh. And some kind of transportation, either motorcycle or
automobile. You say you arrived in Japan early in April.

SU: Uh huh.

SO: You travelled around for how long?

SU: Oh, a few days and then stop, a few days again. Not steady all
the time.

SO: Uh huh. You sort of made Kyoto your home base?

SU: Uh huh.

SO: And then you got sick in July.

SU: Outside of a suburb of Osaka.


SO: Uh huh. What kind of illness was it?

SU: A stroke.

SO: Where didyou find yourself? They took you to the hospital, didn't

SU: Uh huh.

SO: And how long did. .

SU: I found myself in a hospital bed.

SO: Uh huh. And you stayed there until just. .

SU: From July to November. Exactly four months.

SO: Is the hospital in Japan different from that in the United States?

SU: Yes. You got to have a tsuki-soe-nin, attendent.

SO: Uh huh.

SU: Patients have to hire it.

SO: This hospital that you were in was a private hospital.

SU: No, it was a city hospital.

SO: Oh, I thought it was a private hospital. You left the hospital
then, and stayed about a week at your sister's and then took
the plane home.

SU: Yes, in Kyoto.

SO: You went home by way of Hawaii.

SU: That's right. I stayed a couple of days in Hawaii.

SO: You also stopped off a couple of days in Tokyo, didn't you, on
you way home?

SU: Yes, before we left Haneda. We left Haneda in December.

SO: Of course, you were in no condition to see much of the city.

SU: No.

SO: Did you enjoy Hawaii?


SU: Oh, yes. Hawaii is beautiful.

SO: You'd like to go back there some time.

SU: Yes. It has a climate, and everything is beautiful.

SO: From Hawaii you came home to Philadelphia by way of Los Angeles.

SU: We got in there in the evening and same night about eleven o'clock
we took an airplane to Philadelphia.

SO: You have been in retirement since you returned.

SU: That's right.

SO: That's about a two years. How do you keep yourself busy in

SU: Oh that's my pet. Tropical fish. Birds. Polly. Polly is my friend.
She talks, talks, talks, sings song, whistles.

SO: You raised some baby canaries, didn't you?

SU: Yes.

SO: You find that interesting?

SU: Oh, yes. My first time at it.

SO: And still continued your interest in baseball.

SU: Uh huh. Baseball, watching television every day.

SO: You do a lot of reading too, in both American and Japanese. .

SU: Yes.

SO: What do you subscribe to from Japan in the way of magazines?

SU: Yomiyuri Shimbun, Shukan Yomiyuri, and Shulcan Shincho.

SO: Uh huh.

SU: I used to get Shukan Asahi but I cut it off.

SO: And then you take the Nichibei Times of San Francisco.


SU: Yes. It is a Japanese paper.

SO: And in the way of American magazines, you. .

SU: .. .get Life.

SO: Uh huh. National Geographic.

SU: National Geographic. I have been a member of National Geographic
for years.

SO: About twenty or thirty years, isn't it?

SU: More than that.

SO: And the Saturday Evening Post?

SU: That's right.

SO: And you're in good health now.

SU: Yes.

SO: Do you consider that you've had a good life here in America?

SU: Yes, a very good life.

SO: You're not sorry you made the decision to come to America.

SU: Well, I'm happy with nice children.j Thet are good to me.

SO: Well, thank you very much Mr. Kobayashi.

SU:: Okay, you're welcome. Goodbye.

SO: Goodbye.