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Difficulty getting work during World War II

Impossible to get a job, of course, you know. I had to get a job because, you know, financially, I had the…we didn’t have any more income because my father didn’t have the store any more and so on. So I went around looking for job and no one would give me a job. One person says, “If I hired you, you know, somebody will throw a brick through my window.” That is the kind of prejudice I faced in Salt Lake City.

But there were some others that were nicer. And then I think the shortage of help – just help…I went to work as a salad maker for University…Hotel Utah. Hotel Utah, which is still there, I think. And I worked there during my summer time for a while. I had several different jobs. I was able to get because there was such a shortage of help, you know, because all the men were gone to war and so on.

And then I finally got a job on a country club – golf course, private, Utah, Salt Lake City Country Club. Watering trees. But then there were some members of that club objected to the superintendent who hired me. You know, running the crew and he stuck up for us and said that, you know, “Where are you going to get anybody to water the trees if let these people…fire these people?” But there was a strong feeling about having any Japanese working on the country club. Maybe they felt they might sabotage the greens. So anyway, I finally got promoted to mowing the greens. You’ve got to remember there are 19 greens, including the practice green. Every morning, I got very early up in the morning and you had to sort of jog from green to green because you won’t be able to cover the whole place before the golfers start. So I cut all the greens for 2 summers.

That was while I was going to school. Then I had other job of…got a job correcting economic papers, you know, blue book. We call it “blue book.” Blue book and reading the term papers. It was a terrible job. 75 cents an hour I got in the school doing this job, 75 cents an hour. And I’d take home this stack of blue books and grade them and so on. I hate to brag, but only one test was upgraded by the teacher. Because they come complain, you know, and he would look at my grading and agree with my grading.


discrimination interpersonal relations racism World War II

Date: December 8, 2005

Location: Oregon, US

Interviewer: Akemi Kikumura Yano

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum.

Interviewee Bio

Sam Naito (b. 1921) is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Naito Corporation in Portland, Oregon. In 1975 he established Made In Oregon, a store based at the Portland International Airport dedicated to merchandising "products made, caught or grown in Oregon." Made In Oregon has since grown to 10 store locations in Portland, Salem, Eugene and Newport. Sam's father came to the United States (by way of England) around 1917 from a small town near Kobe, Japan. The family opened an importing business in Portland in 1921, but with the outbreak of World War II, the family faced discriminatory city ordinances and other forms of racial prejudice. In 1942, the president of the University of Oregon denied Sam's request to finish his spring term, stating that it would be "unpatriotic" to allow him to do so. The family decided to move to Salt Lake City, Utah, to join other family relatives. Sam worked and attended University of Utah where he met his future wife. He eventually graduated from Columbia University in New York in 1945 and, after the war, started a wholesale ceramics business that became Norcrest China Co., an importer of fine china and dinnerware both from England and "Occupied Japan." (December 8, 2005)

George Ariyoshi
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George Ariyoshi

Prom during the war

(b.1926) Democratic politician and three-term Governor of Hawai'i

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George Katsumi Yuzawa
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George Katsumi Yuzawa

Neighbors' sympathy after Pearl Harbor

(1915 - 2011) Nisei florist who resettled in New York City after WW II. Active in Japanese American civil rights movement

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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi
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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi

Day Pearl Harbor was bombed

Former First Lady of Hawai'i

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Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

Japan vs. the United States (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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Masako Iino
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Masako Iino

Interest in Japanese migration studies (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

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Henry Shimizu
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Henry Shimizu

Japanese Canadians get the right to vote in 1949

(b. 1928) Doctor. Former Chair of the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation.

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Life in camp as teenager

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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Venancio Shinki
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Venancio Shinki

Memories of my infancy: Japanese 1, Japanese 2… (Spanish)

(b. 1932-2016) Peruvian painter

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Venancio Shinki
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Venancio Shinki

Mistreating the Japanese community (Spanish)

(b. 1932-2016) Peruvian painter

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Venancio Shinki
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Venancio Shinki

Prejudice in Japanese school (Spanish)

(b. 1932-2016) Peruvian painter

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Robert Katayama
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Robert Katayama

Being ordered to keep a diary that was later confiscated, ostensibly by the FBI

Hawaiian Nisei who served in World War II with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Bombing of Pearl Harbor

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Helping soldiers

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Mas Kodani
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Mas Kodani

Fun at concentration camp

Senshin Buddhist Temple minister and co-founder of Kinnara Taiko.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Okinawan discrimination

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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