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Click on text below to watch and listen to Masaru's answers. If movies do not appear in the top left frame after clicking the answers below, install the free Quicktime Player and try again.

Second Interview Insert Key
Indented text represents the follow-up interview conducted on May 9, 2006.

Introduction of Interviewers

Hi, my name is Robert, my name is Brett, my name is Marshall, and we are interviewing Masaru Kawaguchi, on April 27th, 2005 in San Francisco, California.

My name is Mario, my name is Zach, my name is Aaron. Today is May 9th, 2006 and we are interviewing Masaru Kawaguchi in San Francisco, California.

My name is Masaru Kawaguchi. I was born and raised in San Francisco, California. I went to school at San Francisco and graduated from Topaz High School when I was interned in Utah. I also went to Michigan State University and graduated as a civil engineer. I also took graduate work at State University of Iowa. I am married and I have 3 children. The oldest is Todd who is a captain in the fire department, and Jeffrey, he is a CPA, and my daughter, Marie, she's Senior Vice President at Bank of America.

Can you please state your full name?

My name is Masaru Kawaguchi.
What year were you born?
I was born in 1925.
Where were you born?
I was born in San Francisco, California.
About how old were you when the internment started?
I was sixteen years old.
About how old were you when you were leaving the camps?
I left camp when I was about eighteen.
Do you remember the date of you leaving the camps?
It was in the summer of 1944.

Can you briefly describe your childhood family?

I have seven total in our family; I have four sisters and three boys including me.
Where were your parents born?
My parents were born in Japan.
How long did they live in Japan for?
I don't have the exact date on that one. My father came to the United States in 1906 and my mother came in 1913.

What were your parent's jobs?

My father worked as a farmer when he first emigrated from Japan in Stockton and then he came to San Francisco and opened up a tire store. And then after that he worked as a gardener.
What was your mother's job?
My mother's job was housewife.
Where were you living before the internment?
I lived in San Francisco, California in Japantown on Sutter Street.
What camp did you go to?
I went to Tanforan and Topaz, Utah

What was your earliest memory as a child growing up?

My memory of... child growing up. I always lived in San Francisco, California on Sutter Street. And I remember going to Raphael Weill (check accuracy) grammar school. And then from there I went to John Sweat junior high school. And then I went to George Washington high school and at that time I was evacuated back in 1942.

Do you have any specific experiences from those schools?

I had a happy grammar school age because being in Japantown, most of the children were all about my age and they all lived in the neighborhood so we got along very well there, so I had a very good time growing up.

What was your life like before you went to the camps?

I was still a student at George Washington high school so I went out for the George Washington basketball team which I spent a lot of time, because you go to school and then after school you have to practice basketball and then also I went to a Japanese language school. So it took a lot of my time and then night times I had to do some homework so I was quite busy. And then I was also with the Boy Scout Troop 12 that took a lot of my time on the weekends.

How did you get into the Boy Scouts?

My older brothers were also in the Boy Scouts so I naturally followed through and then, this is one of the biggest community activities in Japantown, was being in the Boy Scouts. So I followed through with the pattern of being a Boy Scout.

What was your experience in it like?

The Boy Scout program was very interesting to me because we went to Russian River for summer camps, and we went hiking and learned a lot of different things about Boy Scouting like cooking, and tying knots, first aid. So it was a very enriching program for me. My sons also followed through and I'm very pleased about the whole program in Boy Scouting.

Was this Boy Scout program segregated?

Yes, it was a predominantly Japanese-American Boy Scout troop because it was right in Japantown and was sponsored by the American Legion of Japanese-American soldiers that served in WWII [he meant WWI]. So the program was very exciting because at that time the San Francisco World Fair was starting and we had a good drum and bugle corp and we used to go to the Worlds Fair just about every week.

Are there any memories you have of the troop or of your time in the Boy Scouts that stands out for you?

Yes. I still remember the days when we went out to the Russian River where we had to pitch our own tents. Not like they do now where you go and stay at a motel, we actually went out there and drove our pipes down to pump water, and we had to hike into town to shop, and we had canoes there, and I also learned how to swim over there.
When was this?
In Boy Scouts you started at twelve, so that was about 1937.

Were all the boys your age joining the Boy Scouts?

We had the YMCA also because that was also located there. And the Boy Scouts had the Christian churches sponsoring one of the Boy Scout troops, and the Buddhist church also was sponsoring the Boy Scouts, so that was actually two Boy Scout troops there. So that was kind of interesting, and it was very competitive too because the Buddhist church and the Christian church had the Boy Scouts.

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