Densho Digital Repository
Alameda Japanese American History Project Oral History Collection
Title: Mary Nakata Tomita Interview
Narrator: Mary Nakata Tomita
Interviewer: Jo Takeda
Location: San Rafael, California
Date: November 20, 2021
Densho ID: ddr-ajah-1-4-1

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JT: We're here in San Rafael on November 20th with Mary Tomita. I'd like to start by asking you your full name and the year you were born.

MT: My full name is Mary Sadako Tomita. I was born in 1931.

JT: And where were you born?

MT: In Alameda.

JT: Okay. What were your parents' names?

MT: Well, I have two sets of parents. My adopted parents' names were, my father's name was Hisao, the mother's name was Sei. My real parents' name were Tomoshige and Takeo.

JT: The last name?

MT: Nakata.

JT: Nakata. And they are your birth parents?

MT: Right.

JT: Okay. And you say that your other parents, were you adopted?

MT: Well, that's the funny part. I don't know if I should say this or not, but they registered me as their child at the city hall.

JT: In Alameda?

MT: In Alameda. My real parents registered Grace, the twin sister, as their child.

JT: At the city hall?

MT: At the city hall.

JT: Do you know the circumstances of that?

MT: Yes, I think I do. They really wanted to adopt our sister Alice, but since I guess my mother wouldn't give them Alice, so when we were twins, they thought it was a good chance, I guess.

JT: Oh, I see. And so you were both raised in Alameda?

MT: Yes.

JT: And did you know you were twins?

MT: Well, I think everybody... any time we had an argument with friends, they always said, "Oh, you're a twin," like "twin" was a bad word. Because they were so rare. I don't think there (were) hardly any twins in the... I mean, twins were not that common in those days.

JT: I see. And so they used that kind of as a --

MT: Always teased (me).

JT: -- a teasing, and today that would be called bullying, I think.

MT: Probably.

JT: Don't you think? And how did that make you feel?

MT: Well, you know, when you're a child, you really want to believe what your parents said, right? So we always said we were cousins. And people... of course, people like Kenji always knew that that's not so.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.