The Java Jive Cafe

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Stories Galore

The Java Jive Café is based on the true story of the re settlement of Japanese people in 1940. The story tells the about how one man made his way through the maze of problems when 22,500 both Canadians of Japanese descent were rudely uprooted from their homes and their work.

The Java Jive Cafe
Jack Kay
Java Jive (Lyrics and Music MANHATTEN TRANSFER)
I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, boy
I love java, sweet and hot
Whoops, Mr. Moto, I'm a coffee pot
Shoot me the pot now pour me a shot
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup
Oh, slip me a slug from the wonderful mug
I'll cut a rug till I'm snug in a jug
A slice of onion and a raw one, draw one
Waiter, waiter, percolator
I love coffee, I love tea
Japaneseslove the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup
Oh, Boston beans, soy beans (Yeah!)
Green beans, cabbage and greens (Home cooking!)
I'm not keen for a bean
Unless that is a cheery, cheery bean, boy
I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and the tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, yeah
Chapter 1
The history of the Japanese people in Canada has been one of deprecation and ill treatment over at least a century beginning in 1887 when the first Japanese subject arrived in Victoria British Columbia. The real and major damage came in World war 2 when the entire population of British Columbia over 21,000 men woman and children were uprooted from their home. It is realized that the war began in the Pacific in December 1941 but despite this insanity should have prevailed. British Columbia politicians prevailed over the federal government forcing the removal of a mass of Canadian citizens to concentrated area in the Rockies and other provinces. .
Our story begins with a man named Minori Moto who grew up in Kyotoin Honshu province whoarrived in Canada in 1932. He had taken a roundabout method of immigrating . His mother had died when he was six years old and he was brought up by his father Ito Moto who was a mean and evil man. The boy was forced to quit school at age 10 to help support his father. He received none of the money himself working as a dishwasher . Later as he grew older his job was escalated in various , categories of the restaurant trade.Thework was arduous. Eventually he became a waiterearning tips from very rich patrons. Minori grew very angry as the days passed and when he asked his father for more of his pay, he struck Minori with a bamboo stick.
Minori began the study of English . He began to speak in basic English to his patrons. They were surprised and as a result helearned more words and to understand the grammar. He studied every day and as a result the English vernacular became easy for him . He became astute in realizing if the patrons were American or British. He listened to voice inflections in orderto study the way in which the people spoke therefore understood almost immediately if they were speaking English as a second language.
One day while his father was at one of his society meetings Minori searched his father’s room finding several bundles of Japanese,American and Britishcurrency. He could hardly restrain his anger and confronted his father when he came home. His father went to grab the punishment stick but Minori took hold and brokeit in half shoving his father onto a chair. The old man became very upset but Minori began to berate him and in a fit of anger struck his father with his hand across the head and face. His bottled up hatred became unleashed with his striking of his nemesis.His father began to bellow for him to stop. He took hold of the elderly man and dragged him into the sleeping quarters where he opened the drawer containing the money. Minori screamed at the old man pushing him down in front of the dresser. Then in a fit of further anger took all of the rolls of bills one at a time, dropping them into a canvas bag .His father pleaded with him to leave him something but Minori had suddenly become the very evil that he detested in his father.
Minori leaned over and slapped the old man again in a final act of revenge.
Chapter 2
Japan had been opened up to the world during the First World War and the Canadian Pacific Trans Ocean Sea line had a major office in Kyoto. Some months previous to his altercation with his father Minori had applied for the possibility of a job as a waiter. His application remained dormant, until a new ship's crew manager took over. He began to study the history of the applicants. When he came across Minori's he noticed that although the subject was Japanese that the information had been filled in English. He sent a message as his father was amissionary He spoke Japanese fluently but was on the search for a Japanese subject who was bilingual.
He met later that day with Minori. whose command of English wasin his mind perfect for the job he needed to offer.
"I am looking for a man who has lots of restaurant experience and could help to manage the waiters at sea on the Empress of Japan. Now you seem to fit thatbill. But the salary is 150.00 US per month.
.Without a moment of hesitation Minori took the employment with CP steam ship company with his problems arose father had gone to the police. They asked a lot questions but Minori had hidden the were that the incident had not taken place. Finally they left and so did Minori .He packed his suitcase and departedthe old man pleading with him to return the money. Minori went to his cache and removed several rolls of the money and packed them into a mailing envelope and sent them out to his father he still found he was very rich.

Within a week Minori had joined theship's company .Right from the onset he found thework very demanding. He was up from early morning to late at night. He had barely enough time to eat hismeals. His anger began to boil over as many problems arose each day. More importantly he was receiving complaints from above. Often the patrons became upsetat the slightest ,pushing him to have several conversations with waiters whom did not take direction. The first port of call was Honolulu Hawaii and was a stop over of four days.Many of the patronswent to see the island and the crew were able to catch up on various tasks. Minori took advantage of the time to have master classes in providing service to the diners.It proved to be successful and by the time they had reached San Francisco and the passengers had dismembered he had the entire system together.
He was very happy with his own work but not the salary. He was not receiving the full amountof his monthly pay. It was always short by certain sums. The purser who was the pay master said it was for laundry and dry cleaning and various other payments such as for late breakfasts and dinners. Minori grew very dissatisfied, finally taking his concern to the food services department. He became very frustrated because heheard nothing from that department and in anger he stopped the manager in the middle of a meeting .
“ I am being underpaid and I have to pay for some of my meals when I need to be looking after passengers needs . he said in avery angry tone. The waiters are receiving tips and I have to pay my late breakfast and dinner like I was a second class passenger. This is in breech of my contract with Canadian Pacific.”
The manager was stunned at his accusation, and Minori'sabsolute command of English without an accent. Within a few seconds the manager said" I think I know how to straighten out this situation. Would you accept a transfer to a staff position as the assistant manager of the food services department with a ship's officer rank."
Minori was overcome with joy especially since it would mean he would be the only person of Japanese heritage in an officer rank on the ship.
Chapter 3
After sailing for three years between Kyoto and Vancouver Minoroi decided he had had enough travel. It was 1932 and he made application to obtain a visa to live in Canada. The rules were very strict and there wereembargoes on Asians entering both Canada and the USA. He tried the backdoor method of stating he was going to invest in a business and had a sizeable amount to invest. On one of his voyages to Vancouver he had noticed a very well appointed restaurant on Powell street in Vancouver. The stock ck markets crash had put an enormous dint in his daily business andprofit. Minori agreed to invest $5,000.00inCanadian funds. They visited a lawyer and drew up the agreement by which they became partners. When Minori returned to Japan he went to Tokyo and made an appointment with the Canadian consul and presented his agreement allowing him to have a visa good for six months and renewable in Canada. He was elated and turned in his notice following his nexttrip to Canada. The trip also proved to be fruitful because he met his future wife. A girl from Cape Breton inCanada named Gloria Abbott who was a plain and unpretentious girl with a broad smile,She took to Minori almost immediately but was warned him that she was hanging onto her virginity until she was married. Minori responded when she told him during a very heated romantic encounter aboard the ship -"I wouldn't know what to do anyway." She broke into a very broad smile, and they both laughed.
They were married ceremony which included passengers and all of Minori's co workers. The ship's orchestra played and they received numerous gifts,.The question arose in Minori's mind and he finally asked Gloria if it had made any difference to her that he was a Japanese. She took hold and hugged him very hard. "I t had never entered my mind, I thought you were an American or Canadian" she said with a wild smile on her face. The question never arose again until 1941.

They left the ship in Vancouver on August 12th 1932. Minori found a very small apartment in a building that house mostly Chinese. Gloria detested the place because of the smells that came from the hallways. They greed to move after a month, when Minori found a two bedroom houselocated near English Bay. The street
had only one other house and it was owned by a second generation Japanese family whooperated a craft store nearby.The house cost 4500.00. Gloria was thrilled. Minori paid cash using a good portion of his savings and the money he had rescued from his father. He also bought a used Ford two door sedan.
A getting settled in their home the couple headed down town to their restaurant which they found was closed and to their dismaytheirpartner Mr Chin had disappeared. The key was left however at a neighbors. Chin had instructed the man to give Minori the key and his apologies. This was the firstlessonlearned by Minori, that contracts are often not worth the paper they are written on.
They now had a serious problem very little money and rent coming due. They were turned down by a bank when they applied fora loan. Gloria wrote to her brother who was living in Halifax and asked for short term loan of $1,000.0. He got the money together somehow and mailed them a money order. They were thrilled. Minori had come up with a name for the restaurant based on a expression heard on aradio program called Amos and Andy. Amos had said to Andy " Lets get a coffee and watch the folks dancing the Java Jive. So it came to be that Minori called his new venture The Java Jive Cafe.

Chapter 4
They were able to pay the rent but were very short for supplies. Minori was able to persuade some wholesale firms to give him a month's credit . They had a month's supply ofcoffee. The grill was badly in need of repair as was much of the other restaurant equipment. They worked day and night cleaning, scrubbing the entire restaurant and the counters. Minori arranged with a sign painter to make a sign on credit . He went to several suppliers begging food stuffs. He needed daily deliveries of donuts as well as buns for Hamburgs ang hotdog's. Within a ten day period he was more than 2,000 in debt, and not one customer in sight. He canvassed every wholesale place in Vancouver , pleading for supplies. Within another week they got the bad news that they needed both a restaurant license and health food license from the city at a cost of over 200.00 . They decided to sell the car and use the bus to get to the restaurant.
Minori became quite down fallen until their salvation arrived in theperson of Harry The Hat Mitchel. He worked at the Canadian Broadcasting System (CBC) as a roving reporter. Harry known for his wide brimmed hatswould make his rounds of interesting locations in Vancouver and he had seen the sign of the Cafe sign and popped in for a coffee. He was impressed immediately with Minori's coffee. But after talking together for a few minutes Harry was even more taken with the owner's command of English.
"You born here Mr Moto" he asked - No was the response." I tell you what Minori your donuts are too flaky get them from Gilberts Donuts on Oak street. They have a wholesale division. I will promote your coffee in my weekly segment on Saturday at noon. Suggest you get a white apron and hat. Also print up menus and put them in the window. the coffee is fantastic where did you learn to make it like that?"
Minori told him about his experience with the Canadian Pacific and that he was a food services supervisor. "Harry then spoke to Gloria asking asking about her experience.
"We met on the Empress of Japan" she said very proudly.
Harry left and promised them that he would give them radio encouragement on the following Saturday.It worked like a charm. The CBC staff who were nearby began to come for coffee and lunches and their business enabled them to start paying their bills. Four months after opening they were able to take a small salary and hire a waitress to wait on tables. Minori also hired a grumpy grill chef named Timmy whose bark was bigger than his bite. He was a terrific cook. He made burgers and dogs and they expanded the menu to include a variety of sandwiches.Harry stopped in often and nearly every Saturday noon mentioned the Java JiveCafe in his weekly announcements. Minori was working 16 hours a day but still had time for Gloria, so it was no real shock when she announced to him that she was pregnant. He was overcome with joy.
He told her every day how thrilled he was . She said " what did you expect Minori with all of your ' seibetsu'. " He laughed until his sides hurt. "Your Japanese is improving my dear love , especially the word for sexual activity.
Chapter 5
The Java Jive Cafe on Hastings became a well known downtown eatery forboth residents and tourists to Vancouver through the mid to late 1930's. Minori became a respected citizen among the large and burgeoning Japanese community. There were however rumblings among the white citizenry of the West Coast city. Japan had invaded China and Mongolia and were in a war of words with the USA. Minori and Gloria welcomed their first child in 1934 and called her Anita after Gloria's mother. Their house became too small for them and Minori found a four bedroom house near Gas Town .Like the Chinese, the Nikkei were subject to all kinds of racism intended to make their lives difficult. Nevertheless, they worked hard to integrate into Canadian society and made many attempts to prove their loyalty to Canada. Their friend and supporter Harry The Hat continued to mention them in his broadcast. Then Japan attacked Pearl Harbour. Canada and Japan went to war and everything changed.In 1941 and 1942, white British Columbian's had an almost hysterical fear of Japanese invasion. The public demanded the removal of all the Nikkei from the coast.The RCMP moved quickly to arrest suspected Japanese operatives, while the Royal Canadian Navy began to impound 1,200 Japanese-owned fishing boats. On the recommendation of the RCMP and in order to avoid racist backlash, Japanese newspapers and schools were voluntarily shut down.Minori raced to his attorney to have the restaurant put in Gloria's name and turned all of his assets including his house over to her maiden name Gloria Abbott. This would at least temporarily safeguard their house and business.
“From the army point of view, I cannot see that Japanese Canadians constitute the slightest menace to national security,” wrote Major-General Kenneth Stuart. Nevertheless, BC politicians were in a rage, speaking of the Japanese “in the way that the Nazis would have spoken about Jewish Germans. When they spoke I felt… the physical presence of evil,” said Escott Reid, a Canadian diplomat. They were detained, dispossessed and dispersed. Harry The Hat was now working for the Vancouver Sun and he wrote with rancor:
'The very idea of arresting some of most hard working people in this province many of whom were born here or others who have made a place for themselves is beyondthepale.My good friend Cafe owner Minori Moto is forced to leave his caucasian wife and live in a stable. Did the province get this idea from the Nazis.This is a disgraceful episode in the history of British Columbia.'
Minori waited several days beyond the date that he was suppose to report. The V Vancouver Police who were customers came for coffee every day and did not say a word, they smiled and waved to him. On 24 February 1942, the federal Cabinet of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King issued Order-in-Council P.C. 1486 to remove and detain “any and all persons” from any “protective area” in the country. While those powers were broad enough to detain any person, they were specifically used to target Japanese Canadians along the West Coast. The following week, the British Columbia Security Commission, the organization that carried out Japanese internment, was established. On 16 March, the first Japanese Canadians were transported from areas 160 km inland from the Pacific coast — deemed a “protected area” — and brought to Hastings Park. More than 8,000 detainee's moved through Hastings Parks, where women and children were housed in the Livestock Building. All property that could not be carried was taken into government custody.
The day arrived for Minori to report and he remained at home or at the restaurant. Gloria was becoming anxious about the situation. On April 15th two plain clothes RCMP officersshowed up. He was advise to go to Hastings park within the week or face jail. Gloria helped him pack and he left three days later in a flood of tears. |The group were hustled around the race track, building bunks with scrap lumber. Minori was very dejected. In early May he was sent on the train to a camp outside calgary . He was unable to see Gloria. He became the spokesman fora large group of men, most of whom barely spoke English. Eventually Minori was selected as the spokesman fora very large group.
Gloria hired help in the restaurant , keeping the operation going. Most people realized that her husband was part of the 21,000 persons of Japanese descent who had been moved from the West Coast. In October a letter arrived from the Camp where Minori was being help. He spoke of the deficiencies andsparse living conditions. He was now the spokesman and leader of the camp committee. But he was very unhappy. She made arrangements to visit and was denied a visitors document. MInori heard that some Japanese were being recruited into the Canadian Army. He was not eligible because he was nota Canadian Citizen. In the spring of 1943 he was able to see Gloria in Red Deer Alberta and she stayed for a week. She now had a manager as well as ten other employees on shifts in the Java Jive .Soon after her visit, he was approached by a Canadian Air Force officer and asked if he would willing to become a translator for the RCAF communications section in Winnipeg. He jumped at the chance, and was flown to the RCAF station in Winnipeg.. Gloria came on several visits as he some freedom. He was told numerous times how in valuable his work was particularly with Japaneses secretmessages. At that time the allies had broken the purple codeemployed by the Japanese. In thesummer of 1944 the tide of the war was sifting.The British Defence departmentasked for Canada's assistance in regard toJapanese translations of secret messages being done at Bletchleypark in Britain thehome of world,s first computer. Minori was selected and with two weeks was flown to London where eh underwent some very vigorous training and questioning. There were 3 other Japaneses to English translators on staff at Bletchley and he arrived very anxious to get to work. Two of the three on staff in the work building known as Hut 454 were anglophone but the third was a youngish British born Japanese girl namedHeatherYamamoto . The other two translators were the children of Missionaries whom had grown up in Japan. Heather said they were slow because their language skills were suspect. Almost immediately Minori took over and said they shouldspeak only Japanese in the hut. The girls loved him because he would tell funny stories about Japan andCanada. They began to pull a lot off the hot plate as it was described. Minori began to see Heatheroutside of work and they became intimate.
Chapter 6
The "Ultra" intelligence produced at Bletchley shortened the war by two to four years, and without it the outcome of the war would have been uncertain.[The team at Bletchley Park devised automatic machinery to help with decryption, culminating in the development of Colossus, the world's first programmable digital electronic computer. Code breaking operations at Bletchley Park came to an end in 1946. Minori and Heather were very much in love but Minori was very quiet about his Canadian family. It came as an utter shock when Heather heard a messenger announcethat there was call from Minori's wife in Canada. She was devastated . When they met that evening at the mess hall she could hardly speak.They sat in silence and every once in while Heather wiped away tears. She spoke to him in Japanese so that the others in the Hall could not understand her consternation.
"You have been living a lie with me Minori. You never mentioned anything but your love for me. I guess I ws just your little japanese doll. You had such a good time roving over my body and putting yourself inside me at every opportunity. I kept thinking you were starved for love." she said now breaking down completely and running outside. There was talk , and jest about their public breakup. Minori was very embarrassed, His twoother colleagues were not surprised at outcome.
Minori chased outside and could see her standing under a tree smoking a cigarette.
"You have completely ruined my life, I will not be any good to anyone else."sheagain broke into a flood of tears. He waited a fewminutes before coming tothe rationalization that he was obligated to her and had to take action to change his life
He tried to take hold of her but she threw him off , back away and putting her head down. He took her hand but she again withdrew from him.
" I will not let you go, Heather, I will seek a divorce from my wife and I will, I promise to marry you. I love you beyond reason. "You are a liar Minori,you have lied for at least two years" she said in Japanese.
They stood close to each other, shivering in the cold , looking into each others eyes. Not a word was spoken but she had no compunction to walk away. Heather turned away , as she saw some of their friends leaving the dining hall. In an instant she made her decision.
"I feel sorry for you Minori because you are a dishonest man, you are a thief , one who has taken my virginity and then hoping to hang onto me make promises that I know, and so do you that will never be kept. No we must part and I must find a way out myself , even if it means that I will be alone. I have a very deep shame which I must handle some how. Goodbye Minori, I am transferring out of this job as it is almost over anyway."
She strode away , tears streaming down her face, heading to her quarters. He remained frozen to the spot unable to move, realizing that he had lost her, and even more knowing that he had behaved disgracefully. The next day he put in his resignation.
Chapter 7
On the other side of the world, Gloria had been able to hang onto the Java Jive by continuing to have the best coffee in Vancouver. She hired a manager and had several young women working in shifts. Their daughter Anita was now twelve years old and had been home schooled because she had Japanese characteristics. She leaned to cope with the racial tensions in Vancouver and spent nearly all of her early years at home. A kindly RCMP officer visited once or twice each year, to see if she was okay.Anita found it very lonely but a grace saving event occurred shortly after the war ended in August 1945 took place. A new family who were Black moved in next door to them. There were 4 children and they took to her very quickly. They had their own world and Anita was overjoyed to be in their midst. In 1947 she received permission to start High School and began to attend the Victoria High School without incident.
Gloria had not seen Minori for 2 years when she called him in 1946. The conversation she found was rather cold and heartless.For nearly four years she had been operating the restaurant. He would not disclose to her when he was returning to Canada. He mentioned to her that Japanese people had remained dispossessed and that the situation would remain in effect probably until 1947.It was very discouraging for Gloria , but she had learned that to be married to a Japanese you had to be patient. He tried on several occasions to see Heather but he realized she was through with him. He was in a tea room one day and she came in with a young man who had worked at Bletchley as a French translator . She did not see Minori and he quickly paid his bill and left.
He went to Canada House on Piccadilly Square to find out when he could return to Canada. They were very helpful. The place was very busy. He finally got to see a fourth secretary that was knowledgeable about his case. Minori gave him all of his assessments which praised his work.
The man said "I cannot send you back to Vancouver but we can help you get to Calgary where you can wait for the restrictionsto endon Japanese persons from returning to British Columbia. How areyou for money?" Minori replied that he was okay and had been paid for three months in advance. The Consular officer arranged for him to go on the freighter from Portsmouth in a second class berth. Minori found when he arrived that he was sharing the cabin with a black man from Bermuda who had been serving with the British Army in Africa. They got on quite well basically because he thought Minori was Chinese!The steamer landed in Halifax Nov Scotiaat pier 21.Minori bid his shipmate goodbye and sought to get a train ticket to Calgary. It proved to be almost impossible. "The trains are reserved for Canadian Service people" he was told. He went to the Bus station and bought a ticket to Montreal, but when it came time to board the driver would not allow him on the bus. He got his money back. He went to used car lot and found prewar 1937Ford coup for 500.00. It was nearly all themoney he had but there was just no other way. He figured that by driving 350 miles per day he could reach Calgary in two weeks. He bought a sleeping bag and loaded up on water, in a large tin. Minori stocked up on canned goods. He figured he might buy some meals at small eateries along the way.He called Gloria .to send him some money by Western Union care of the Salvation Army hostelryin Montreal.
He drove several miles each day stopping only at out of the way gas stations and outdoor restaurants where he survived on burgers and hot dogs. He arrived in Montreal in a driving rain storm and stayed in teh car for hours waiting for it to clear. He then found ut where the YMCA was located. A money order for 250,00, which took him nearly two days to get cashed. He luckily found a small post office where they cashed money order. He then headed off driving the rough highway which was known as the number 2 road. He began driving at night with the hope that there was no traffic. He stopped only long enough to buy gas some food and to check teh oil. He reached Winnipeg after 6 days onroad , carrying on until he hit the Alberta border and finally4 days later he was in Calgary.
He searched for work , but only very basic and limitedemployment was available. He was able to contact Gloria, but she was unknown to him in a relationship with a returned soldier who had become the short order cook in the Java Jive. She did send himmoney but refused his invitations to go to Calgary. He stopped contacting her completely . He applied for permission to return to Vancouver but it was denied.One day he visited the Japaneses resettlement agency and right out of the blue he was asked to visit with an caucasian woman who was the assistant agent in charge.
She was a middle aged woman who spoke Japanese fluently. She had been the daughter of a missionary preacher and her name was Sarah Brownley. She had learned that he spoke English and had been in secret war time operations in Britain through his documents. She discussed his situation in Japanese and suddenly she broke into well educated English.
"I wonder if you would like to join our team in this department Mr Moto. We have a very big job to help displaced Japanese people from British Columbia. Your language skills are really important"
Minori accepted the job immediately. He proved to be an asset but more than that he became the partner of Sarah Brownley. He and Gloria had a amiable separation and she continued to operation the JAVA JIVE restaurant until the early 1980,s.Their daughter attended college and became a teacher in Vancouver. Minori died suddenly in 1985 leaving behind a life of fighting to help raise the standard of people of Japanese nationality in Canada. It is interesting to note that not one person of Japanese birth or Canadians of Japanese descent committed a war time crime, either by spying or any other terrorist action. The entire episode in moving 22,500 persons beyond the Rocky mountains was entirely based on bigotry, jealousy,and fear of fear itself.

Submitted: April 02, 2019

© Copyright 2020 Jack Kay. All rights reserved.

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