Amy Yamamoto
A Different View

Life After War: Reunion with Whitey

The long-distance relationship continues beyond the war years. Amy, still in Honolulu, works for the phone company; Whitey, in the mainland U.S., learns watch repair and jewelry manufacturing.

Unaware of Whitey's return to the islands in 1951, Amy is surprised to find him waiting for her after work one day.

They soon exchange wedding vows.

Correspondence with Whitey

[Whitey] was in school in Albany, Missouri. I can't remember him writing to me about being in Albany. Maybe he did, it was maybe one letter or two.

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And when he was in the Mainland in Minneapolis, I remember receiving telephone calls from him. And during those days, communication was radio, so the transmission was so poor. But the few times that he called - and I used to work for the phone company by then - and I used to think, oh my gosh, this guy is paying like twelve dollars for three minutes, you know. Phone calls used to be that expensive during those days.

So there was not much correspondence, but he did tell me that he was in Pennsylvania. So at least I knew where he was from here to there. But it's really, what you call. . . . It's not one of those days where we write to each other every week or anything like that. I think that was best because we'd be out of stories to say, you know.

Reunion with Whitey

[We met each other again] in 1951. Well, one afternoon when I was working at the phone company, we used to have these hours, they call it "split shift." We used to call it "split shift," because we worked maybe four hours in the morning and four hours at night. And so Alakea Street is where the phone company's located.

I was ready to cross the street, and - it used to be two ways, you know, Alakea going up and down - so, I saw this fellow driving a car going toward the waterfront. And I say, gee, this fellow looks just like Whitey. And at that time, I had no idea he was back on the island, he didn't tell me. I mean, as I say, our correspondence was sometimes so far apart.

So he drove down Alakea Street, and I went into the office, and I told my girlfriend, "Hey Tammy, you know it's the funniest thing." I said, "I saw this guy drive this car down Alakea Street, and he looks just like Whitey." And so Dorene kind of laughed, Tammy just laughed, she didn't say anything. She knew, because he had contacted our dentist friend here in Honolulu.

So anyway, that night after I got through working, the - Nakamori is the dentist - said they'll come and pick me up because they lived in McCully, and I used to live in Waikiki. So Pauline and Doc came to pick me up. And when I got into the car, who's sitting in the car, was Whitey. And I was so surprised. In a way I was surprised, and in a way I said, "Gosh, this guy had called, if he had called at least I would know that he's back." But he didn't call me at all.

Wedding of Shiroku
Wedding of Shiroku "Whitey" and Amy Yamamoto, Honolulu, Hawaii

So that's how we got together again. And, at that time, I guess he applied for Hickam, started to work at Hickam, and was still living with the Rhoads family. And, in a way I felt sorry for him because he tells me that he used to make his own lunch to go to work. So, we said, well, maybe we should get together and get married. So this was in June, we decided, well, we'll get married. So we've been married since, fifty-four years.

Amy Yamamoto's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Shiroku "Whitey" Yamamoto.

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