Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

Friends, Class ’41, Japanese school – Jerry Nakata (OH0002)


…growing up at the barber shop, mostly Caucasian trade, and I grew up with more Caucasian kids than I did with Japanese kids. I joined the Boy Scouts when I was 12 years old. Classmates, like I say, mostly were… I think there was eight Japanese kids in our class. But I fooled around a lot with the Caucasian kids, and we did a lot, lot of things together. Of course, Bainbridge was wide open then. It wasn’t the city like it is now. So, I’ve got good memories about Bainbridge.

Our class was fifty kids, eight, like I said, eight Japanese kids. I really had fun in high school. I didn’t study much, and I got to be good buddies with a couple of kids, like this Reese Moran, he was probably my closest, and then Earl Hanson, I got involved with him, and Hal Champness. We were a real close–knit class, even after 65 years, we still get together, and I think that’s, it’s nice. It’s nice when you get in your eighties and you hash out all, all the world problems. [Laughs]

There was the Lynwood Theatre, which was about 4 miles away from home. We used to walk as kids. They didn’t have movies every night like they do now. I think the weekends, but we always get a ride home from people who lived in Winslow. But we used to walk there, and that was at least three, four miles.

I didn’t like working on the farm, so I went to Japanese school, I think it was about four to six. But then when sports, basketball, just forget Japanese school. I wish — I didn’t care to learn Japanese at that time. Of course, the war came along, it changed all that.

Mrs. Ohtaki, Paul and Peter’s mother, they lived right at the Japanese Hall there, right in the back, and she had a classroom there. I don’t know if we were forced to go but we did what our parents told us to do. As kids, we really respected our elders. In school, we called female teachers “Miss,” male teachers “Mister.”

Video Interview — February, 2006

To see this interview in its entirety, go to the Densho website archives. You will have to register to be allowed access to their archives. Once in the archive, visit the Visual History Collections: Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection.

Jerry Nakata

Jerry Nakata was 19 years old when he was evacuated. He was the second youngest of six children. As a young child, Jerry's parents both owned a barbershop in Winslow and farmed strawberries. In the late 1930s his older brother John started a small grocery business. Before the war Jerry was working for his brother. Jerry graduated from Bainbridge High School in 1941. Following the war, the Nakata family returned to Bainbridge Island and re–built their grocery business in partnership with Ed Loverich.