Densho Digital Repository
Alameda Japanese American History Project Collection
Title: Kenneth Narahara Interview
Narrator: Kenneth Narahara
Interviewer: Jo Takeda
Location: Alameda, California
Date: November 5, 2021
Densho ID: ddr-ajah-1-2-10

<Begin Segment 10>

JT: You know, we talked about coming back to Alameda, and I wanted to know, the ryokan wasn't there, the hotel wasn't there, so what did your dad do for a living?

KN: My dad, after the twenty years of flower business, and I think he was pretty smart. He said... he went into gardening. And when I said gardening, my dad knows about flowers, he knows how to architect landscape, things like that. But for some reason... and he had this old panel truck, 1937 truck. And it didn't go too far when the war broke out. He dismantled the truck and made it so that when he got back from camp, he would be able to put cars together and run it. And sure enough...

JT: He got it going?

KN: Even my brother and I got in there, we cleaned the engine out.

JT: You remember that?

KN: Yeah, and we got kerosene and put oil in, and he got that thing running.

JT: Where was it? Where did he have it stored?

KN: Either at Tajima's family or someplace, we're not sure, but they had it in the garage.

JT: But he took it apart. He took it apart?

KN: Well, no, actually, he didn't take it apart. He left elevators on, some crutches, so it wouldn't be on the wheels. The body itself would be off the ground. And they got new tires and everything, that's where I learned about the cars, too.

JT: Oh, and so he got it going and you learned how to do a little car, work on cars.

KN: Well, I learned how to drive the stick shift.

JT: How old were you?

KN: Well, I was going to high school... no, it was earlier than that. By then, well, he let me drive that truck in a churchyard. But anyway, he had that truck to do gardening, and he was able to go to Piedmont, he knows the rich people were over there and all that.

JT: I'm sure, because he had that florist in Oakland.

KN: Yeah. So he kind of catered to Piedmont Avenue and all those places, and then because he was good in florist, he knew how to take care of landscaping.

JT: Plants?

KN: Yeah, and then he started putting plants in, lawns, and doing that kind of stuff. And good old dad bought a, what did I say, 1949 Chevrolet?

JT: Yes.

KN: We had a new one, we had it parked right there.

JT: No, '59.

KN: '49.

JT: Oh, wow.

KN: We were still at the church, I mean, gakuen here.

JT: Oh, okay.

KN: Brand new '49 and proud of that.

JT: I'm sure.

KN: And we drove it to Bay Farm Island and had the thing there. So I said Dad did a pretty good job.

JT: I think he did. Do you remember helping him? Did he ask you to help him do gardening?

KN: Gardening? My brother more. I don't know why, because my brother was bigger.

JT: Well, Eddie was older, too.

KN: Yeah, older. But I played baseball on Sundays, Saturdays, so I couldn't go.

JT: So you didn't have to?

KN: No, I went.

JT: Did you learn a lot from him?

KN: In a way. Because even I do gardening here on Fridays. In my mind, I don't pick up things that are, I do things so maybe we could do it next week. But you want to do something that is really looking bad, you want the whole place to look nice. You don't look at the lawn only, you look at the trees or you look at this. Sometimes it's hard to do hard work, you have to do the things that are more important, things you can leave over to the next month.

JT: But you didn't. You did it all. You made it look nice.

KN: Make it look nice all the time.

JT: Did you learn that from your dad?

KN: Yeah.

JT: He was like that?

KN: He said when you leave up gardening, you got to make it look like you did something, and something that was out of hand.

JT: That has a lot to do with pride, doesn't it?

KN: I guess so, I think so.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.