Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

Supportive community – Frank Kitamoto (OH0046)


Bainbridge is a very exceptional place. That there were people here that were willing to stick out their necks for us even before we left and while we were gone. I know… well, people like the Woodwards and their paper, but also the Meyers’ with their insurances. I mean, people wouldn’t sell people insurance here when we got back.

And he said, “This is crazy. I mean, they fought in the war and so forth.” So he talked to his boss and he said, “You know, we need to give these people insurance.” So he quietly went around getting insurance for people who wouldn’t be able to get that. And I know the Andersons from Anderson Hardware paid some back taxes on the Harui property when no one did so that wouldn’t be taken over. I know people like Mr. Burkmeyer… Burk, Burkhalter, excuse me, was an attorney, did some legal things for people.

I know Mr. Barnett, who came here to the island later, but he defended Hirabayashi and so forth. So there were some very significant people on this island. The Quakers, who stood up for us. So, in a lot of ways this is a very special island. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we were… been here for so long, and because this is a close–knit community. When you don’t have any way to get off except on the ferry you don’t… I mean, kids in those days… you talk to the adults that were kids in those days, and it was very rare that they went to Seattle. They spent all their time on the island. ‘Course, you had to walk everywhere, but that’s… in itself was, you know, makes it so you don’t get in your car and run off someplace.

Video Interview — April 2007
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.

Frank Kitamoto

Frank Kitamoto was two years old when his family was evacuated and he was five years old when they returned to Bainbridge Island. Before evacuation, his father was taken by the FBI and later interned in a US Department of Justice Camp. His father was reunited with the family in Manzanar. Since the 1970s Frank has done extensive research into his family history as well as the history of Nikkei on Bainbridge Island. He started the BIJAC oral history program in the 80s and developed a slide show educational outreach presentation, which he brings to classrooms and other public events.