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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Masuko Dorothy Kamiya Suga was born in 1917, the fourth
child in the Kamiya family, between Frank and Kazuo.
When her personal recollections of Yamato begin the Kamiya
store already had gas pumps. Mules and hand plows were
still used to farm. Eventually they bought a tractor.
She remembers very rich black dirt. Tiny insects which
lived in the muck caused muck itch; the children had to
go home and take a bath to get rid of them.
The Kamiyas did not have a Japanese style ofuro (bath), but
the Sakais (first cousins) did. It was a wooden ofuro.
The Kamiyas got rid of it after they moved into the old
Sakai house, whether because of dampness in the wood or
simply because it was considered old-fashioned and undesirable
she does not remember.
Editor's Note: When using an ofuro the bather soaps up
and rinses the body before entering the
deep tub; thus many bathers can use the
same hot water for soaking without dirtying
the water. The water is almost unbearably hot.
She does not remember being bothered by heat, humidity and
insects. Children seem not to mind such things.
Other Japanese she remembers:
Mori with his dog. The dog was like a collie.
Mori took the dog everywhere with him in his car.
Mr. and Mrs. Ashida shirt-tail relatives (distantly
related). (Mrs. ?) Ashida invented a birth control
device. Many years later a Japanese doctor, who
came twice to New York for conferences in connection
with the birth control device, visited with Masuko.
Kamikama a tall skinny man who bought peanuts by the
George Morikami lived in a house on his farm across
the Dixie Highway.
Japanese Families with Children
The Yoshidas had two boys; one was named Jun. Both
were very quiet.
Yoshikazu wilson Yamauchi (called Yoshibo) was Masuko's
classmate in the one-room school at Yamato. He
was the smartest in the class--a competitor.
Masuko kept in touch with him for a while after
he left Yamato but has not been in contact with
him for many years. He was an only child.
Editor's Note: Yoshikazu Wilson Yamauchi presently
is living in the Detroit, MI, area.
He is a civilian employee of the
U.S. Army; he is married and has
one daughter. He lives at:
Southfield, MI 48076
(313) 356-8986 (Home phone no.)
Hideo Kobayashi family:
Mr. Kobayashi liked to come over after his evening
bath and talk about the big fish he caught. He
loved to talk and had a jolly laugh. He philosoph-
ically compared things to the royal palms: the
longer you keep them the bigger they get and the
more they are worth except that eventually they
get so big they cannot be moved.
The Hideo Kobayashi children are:
Sakaye oldest son
Tomiko daughter; injured in an automobile
accident on Easter vacation. She
was found the next morning in her
overturned car. She now is partially
paralyzed; helps with the cooking but
has difficulty speaking. She is a
Tamotsu (Tom) married to caucasian
All live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Jyo Sakai family:
The Sakai girls were first cousins to Masuko.
Jyo Sakai and Masuko's father were brothers
(H.T. Kamiya had been adopted into the Kamiya
family). When Jyo Sakai died (about 1923) the
mother and five daughters went to Japan to live.
Masuko has not kept in contact with the Sakai
Dinah laundry woman. Came to the Kamiya house
to wash, iron and scrub the kitchen floor (a wooden
floor). The kitchen was the only floor she scrubbed.
She boiled the clothes over a wood fie. Her
daughter Pauline continued doing the same things
after Aunt Dinah retired or died.
They had an easy relationship with the blacks.
They did not socialize, but they respected each
other. Mrs. Kamiya (Masuko's mother), even when
Masuko was a child, though it unnecessary
(thought what unnecessary? probably the strict
segregation of whites and blacks (Japanese were
considered white in the context of the times)).
Editor's note: The above statement is an interpre-
tation of original notes taken during
the interview which are not clear.
Other blacks: Kooty Cat (a woman) and her brother Snooky.
One family of blacks had a house near the Kamiyas
across the Dixie Highway. Others lived in scattered
houses in the area. Pearl City was the black town
next to Boca Raton.
Father, called Papa by the children, was a very outgoing person
who liked people, especially children. He played golf, goh
and billiards and loved going to the movies. He would ask,
"Anybody want to go to the movies?" and the children would
pile into the family car and off they would go to the
movies (where?). Masuko, the little sister, had to stay
home. Mrs. Kamiya seldom went to the movies. She probably
had to stay home with the younger children.
Papa played golf in Delray (called Delray, not Delray Beach,
then) and in West Palm Beach. They (Sugas?) still have his
bag with the clubs, which have wooden handles.
He played goh (sometimes called Japanese chess) with Fujimori
or Shiota (Masuko thinks). Goh is a gentleman's game, but
if a player makes a stupid move, other players are quick to
point it out.
He played billiards with a man in Boca Raton. He had red
and white billiard balls made of ivory. Nobody, but nobody,
was allowed to touch the balls. Masuko does not know what
happened to the billiard balls.
Papa had an alligator suitcase made from an alligator he
killed. Masuko does not know what happened to the suitcase.
He wore Florsheim shoes, which were very expensive at the
time. He was driven around (later when he was in the real
estate business) by a white chauffeur named Jim.
Papa kept fancy goldfish in the pond in the Japanese garden--
all colors and patterns, including ones with pop eyes.
He opened a bank account for each child, but all the money
was lost in the 1929 crash.
Papa spoke good English; Uncle (Don) Oishi too. Uncle Don
was Mama's brother. Masuko remembers that Uncle Don had
beautiful English handwriting.
Father eventually moved to the Los Angeles area to be near
his eldest daughter Masako (before World War II), was evac-
uated to an assembly center, then a relocation center
(which one?). He moved back to the LA area after the war,
then went to Japan to live. He returned to the Miyazu area
where he was born, remarried and died there. His remains were
cremated; the ashes are partly in Japan and partly in a
cemetery in West Palm Beach.
Her mother, Masuko thinks, was from the Miyazu area.
She was a kindergarten teacher in Japan (according to
Uncle Don Oishi) before she married and cameto the United
States. She taught the Kamiya children Japanese songs.
Masuko remembers the song'Hato Po-po' (Pigeon Song).
Mother played the piano; she played children's marches
and had the children march around.
She taught the two older daughters, Masako and Mishi,
Japanese reading and writing, but by the time Masuko
was old enough the lessons were abandoned.
Mother was a quiet person, very busy, a good cook. Masuko
remembers her round ball cookies. Mother did all the
housework except scrubbing of the kitchen floor and the
laundry, which were done by Aunt Dinah and later by
Dinah's daughter Pauline. They made their own soap.
Editor's note: Mrs. Kamiya died prior to World War II,
probably in the mid 1930's. It was after
she died that Mr. Kamiya went to the Los
Angeles area to live. She is buried in a
family plot in West Palm Beach.
The Kamiya home had a grandfather clock, furniture with
glass and clawfoot legs and a piano. Papa had a roll-top
desk. Mother played the piano and Masa and Mishi took
The family kept chickens, pigs and a cow. They also kept
pigeons for squab. They kept the chickens mainly for eggs.
Masuko remembers a breed called Rhode Island Reds.
They used milk from the cow and also sold milk to other
families; they also enjoyed homemade ice cream.
Each child had a mango tree while they lived at the house
on the Dixie Highway. After they moved to the old Sakai
house (about 1926) avocado trees were planted.
Meals were a mixture of Japanese and American menus. They
ate a lot of fish, primarily because it was easily available
(from fishing) and plentiful.
The Kamiyas sold rice in 100 pound sacks at the general store.
New Year's was celebrated in the Japanese manner with special
food bought from New York. Masuko remembers kazunoko (fish
roe which has a brittle texture and is quite salty) and
kamaboko (steamed fish cake which has a smooth firm consistency).
The children learned Japanese children's songs from Mother.
The parents subscribed to newspapers and magazines in the
Both parents were Christians, but Mama stayed home while
Papa took the children to Sunday School in Delray and
attended church himself. Masuko was baptized at Cason
Memorial Church, a Methodist church. All the Kamiya
children attended Sunday School.
Masuko remembers going to the one room school in Yamato.
They walked to school in bare feet. In fact they usually
ran around in bare feet. She does not remember exactly
when it closed--the date should be available from the
archives. After the Yamato school closed they rode the
school bus to Delray.
The only teacher she remembers is Bly Davis (Smith), now
living in Lake Worth, FL. She remembers her only from
Masuko remembers the Indian Mound near the Yamato School.
It was the site of Easter egg hunts for which the big prize
was a chocolate covered Easter bunny.
Later someone put a building in front of the mound and
made a commercial venture out of it. They brought in artifacts
from outside and, although there was no admission charge,
there was a box for donations. The last time she saw it was
on a trip to Florida about 1964. She does not know if the
commercial venture (or the mound) still is there.
Behind the Indian Mound was a favorite huckleberry picking
area. The huckleberries were put to good use: Mother made
huckleberry pie; Father made huckleberry ice cream using a
hand grinder freezer. The cream came from the Kamiyas' cow.
Mama also made guava jelly from a guava tree in the back yard.
An Irish family (very Irish) lived across from the Kamiyas
on the Dixie Highway. The mother ran their store. One
of the sons, AnryMontgomery, was in Masu's class.
Andy's brother Willie did not go to school. Willie had one
arm, the other arm having been lost when his brother accidentally
shot him. Willie came to the Kamiya house often to play cards
with the children. He liked to drink. One day the Kamiya
children persuaded him to go with them to the Methodist
Church. The sermon that Sunday happened to be on the evils
of alcohol. Willie accused the Kamiyas of setting him up.
The Montgomerys bought milk from the Kamiyas. It was while
delivering milk to the Montgomerys that the Kamiyas' second
son Rokuo had his fatal motorcycle accident. He was in his
teens at the time.
Natural disasters occurred from time to time. Masuko
remembers being in a school bus when a twister (tornado)
turned the bus over with the children in it. Nobody was
hurt. She does not even remember being frightened.
Later after they moved to the former Sakai house a hurricane
caused a flood. There was so much water they needed a boat
to go to the house next door.
Masuko attended Florida State College for Women in Tallahassee
and graduated with a major in English.
New York World's Fair 1939-1940
Masuko applied for a job at the New York World's Fair from
Florida but was unsuccessful in this effort. She accompanied
her Uncle Don Oishi and his bride, who were then on their
honeymoon, to New York.
One week before the Japanese pavilion was to open she heard
there was a need for a guide. She applied for the job in
person and was hired. She worked both years, 1939 and 1940,
and enjoyed the work very much.
She met her husband, Herbert Minoru Suga, while working at
the New York World's Fair. They were married at the Japanese
Methodist Church in New York City in 1940.
Herb's family were pioneers on Long Island in the early 1900's.
The area where they live now on Long Island was rural countryside
when the Sugas first settled there, relatively isolated from
other Japanese. They have their share of stories to tell
about the hardships of pioneering and war-time (World War II)
Herb and Masuko Suga have three children.
As of summer 1982:
1. Barbara Toshi
2. Ronald Kiyoshi
3. Stephen Kazuo
- works for a radio station in Los
Angeles (KFCA?) selling advertising
time. She lives there with her
husband Douglas Grimm, whom she
met in New York City.
- is a teaching adviser for the
Massachusetts Teachers Association.
He lives in Braintree, MA, with his
wife and three boys:
- is a photographer who works for a
graphics studio; he recently opened
his own studio and will quit his
job when he can make it on his own.
He is married but the couple has
no children. They live in Redondo
Herb/ retired a few years ago from his job as a dental
technician. They sold their house in Babylon, Long Island,
New York, and moved to the Los Angeles area in September
1982 to be near two of their children, Barbara and Stephen.
Masuko has no desire to return to Florida to live. That
is in the past. Now they are looking toward the future.