Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Fumiko Uyeda Groves Interview
Narrator: Fumiko Uyeda Groves
Interviewer: Larry Hashima
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 16, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-gfumiko-01-0012

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LH: So obviously you started going to school around 1939, 1940, in sort of the elementary school. Where did you go to elementary school?

FG: I went to Bailey Gatzert on Twelfth and Weller and it was a very unique school. I think that they probably have other interviews of other people of Seattle that went there, but one of the outstanding things about it, or one of the most special things about it, was we had a principal, Ms. Mahon, Ada Mahon, and she was very strict, but she liked the Orientals, especially the Japanese very much. And one of the things in order to keep things -- she liked things to be very orderly, organized -- and so what she used to do was that she used to play the victrola and it was "Stars and Stripes." And we would march out of school and all the schools would wait, they would all line up -- I mean, all the classes would all line up at the door and then as the line passes your door then you can join it. But so we would very orderly march to the front door and after that we ran. [Laughs]

LH: So as soon as you got just outside the gate, that was it.

FG: Yeah, but the Japanese kids, what they did from there, many of them went down the block to Japanese school so we had about... I don't really remember, but I think we had, between American school and Japanese school, I think we had about an hour, hour and a half in between there.

LH: So what did you do in that hour, hour and a half, I'm assuming, of course, that you did go to Japanese school afterwards?

FG: Oh, we walked. There were grocery stops, grocery store stops, and in the springtime when it became warm we would get Mrs. Nakagawa's popsicle. She made her own popsicles. What she did was she took Kool-Aid and she froze them in Dixie cups and we used to buy that. If we didn't do that, we would go down, would kind of take the long way around, and we would go down Jackson then we would back track. But there was a place where they sold dill pickles so we would buy dill pickles, one dill pickle, and try to eat it up before we got to class.

LH: So this was in the big barrels that you just reached down and grabbed.

FG: Yes, right. And we had to be very careful not to be greedy. They were all five cents, but if you got it too big, you were still chewing when you got to class. [Laughs] That wasn't very good. The Japanese school at that time was very Japanese and very strict and so we had to stand up and bow and you couldn't really be chewing because it would show.

LH: So what was it like, I mean, going to Japanese school after just coming from Bailey Gatzert, so then an hour between what was that?

FG: The hour between was like a recess, I think, when I think about it now. And actually I think because we had been in school all day, just a couple more hours is no big deal. It just... we could take that. [Laughs]

LH: So what do you remember of Japanese school of sort of actually the experience of going to Japanese school after school?

FG: I think thanks to Ms. Mahon we were already tuned to being disciplined so that part wasn't any, it was no surprise. We came, basically came disciplined to another discipline place so it wasn't difficult. I think a lot of the friends that I made in Japanese school I think remained friends for a long time except some left the area so they're no longer here, but they were rather strong ties. I don't know why. Maybe because we were all suffering together. [Laughs]

LH: So, but was it a real chore, though, to go to Japanese school?

FG: Not really. I didn't think of it as a chore. I just thought it was something we had to do, and it was just part of a day. And I think the reason why so many of us went to Japanese school was because it was kind of a babysitting thing. The parents would know where we were, on top it was a double-edged thing, on top of getting an education, they also had us in a place where they knew where we were. So it was a double good thing and then by the time we, all of us got home then our parents would be at home.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.