Sho Nomura

Story Transcripts /
  + 12/7/41 and 9/11/01 : “Those damn fools!”
+ Aftermath : “They slapped us in the cell”
+ Never Again : “A Jap is a Jap, so what the heck”
Audio clips on this site require the Apple Quicktime player.
+ Download Apple Quicktime player.
12/7/41 and 9/11/01
“Those damn fools!”
Listen to Clip

The people next door to our place, they were immigrants from Italy and they ran the liquor store. And because my parents were foreigners and they were foreigners, they felt kind of at ease with each other. So she came over and said, “Hey, Japan attacked Hawaii.” “What do you mean Hawaii?” “Pearl Harbor!” And my mother was there and I’ll never forget she said in Japanese, “Those damn fools!”

“They slapped us in the cell”
Listen to Clip

Right after Pearl Harbor, then all kinds of restrictions were made. They had blackouts and stuff. They had some kind of alarm and so everybody knew it was a blackout and no lights were supposed to be showing. We pulled our dark curtains down and then I heard a rap on the door. And I came out and there was a civil patrol guy and I said, “What’s the problem?” And he says, “Well, you’re flashing a light. That’s against the blackout.” I said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “No, there’s a light showing out of your market.” So I went out and sure enough the light was showing out the front of the market. And what it was was that when it got too warm in the refrigerator, the temperature got too warm, the refrigerator motor would kick in and to show that it was operating, the light went on. And this light was reflecting against the wall of the building and casting the light out the front. So he says, “Well, c’mon, I’ll have to take you down to the police station.” And I said, “I turned off the light for you, why do we have to go to the police station?” “Oh it’s regulations, we gotta take you down to the police station and you can explain it to the captain.” Then my dad and my brother came to the door and said, “What’s goin’ on here?” And then the guy says, the civil patrolman says, “Who are those guys?” So I said, “Oh, that’s my dad and my brother.” “Well tell them to come along too.” So they took us down to the police station and when we got there, they didn’t say anything. They said, “Empty your pockets and take off your belts.” I said, “What for?” And they said, “Do as I say!” So we took off our belts and emptied our pockets and then they slapped us in the cell. My dad sat down and he looked at me and my brother and he says, “All my life I’ve never been in jail and then the first time I’m put in jail, I’m in jail with my two sons.” He saw the irony of it. The following day they brought us before the judge. Like I say, my sister-in-law’s Quaker friends and then the friends of the church that we went to, all those people were all in the courtroom. And the judge says, “Well I see you’ve got a lot of character witnesses here and I understand that you’re going to be evacuated next week. And so we’ll drop all charges.”

Never Again
“A Jap is a Jap, so what the heck”
Listen to Clip

I think it could happen. Especially some ultra-patriots who get the idea that anybody who looks like, you know it’s just like that general who was in charge of the evacuation, he justified the evacuation, he says a Jap is a Jap, so what the heck, making no distinction between Japanese Americans and the Japanese of Japan. They’re all of the same lot to him and I suppose that same kind of feeling could exist today.