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

<Begin Segment 1>

LH: I think where we'll start, then, is really with your grandfather's immigration story, because that's actually really interesting in the fact that he is two generations removed from yourself. How did he come to the United States?

FG: Well, actually, my grandfather was a veteran of the Sino-Japanese war and the Russo-Japanese war, and when the wars were over, he didn't, there wasn't too much work in Japan and so he decided to do something else. And so then he and some friends from the village came to Vancouver Island, and they worked in the coal mine there. And then it turned into winter and so snow on the ground and everything so then they went over to Vancouver, B.C, and they worked in a dry goods store. And during that time, this, I believe, there was about three or four of them, during this time they prepared themselves to come down to the States, they provisioned themselves. And then so one night they all spent five dollars for a boat trip, and it was a rowboat. And in the dark they rowed from, somebody rowed them from Vancouver Island to Port Blakely on Bainbridge Island because there was a very thriving community in Port Blakely, and... thriving Japanese community. And so then they were taken care of there and then from there, they were put on, they were brought over to Seattle and then put on the train and then they went from Seattle to Portland to Rock Springs, Wyoming.

LH: And what year was this, that this all happened?

FG: This was in, if I remember correctly, it was about 1899, 1900.

LH: So how was this, I mean, it seems pretty elaborate for them to go from Vancouver to Port Blakely to Seattle to Portland and then to Wyoming. How did they sort of follow this trail all the way out to Wyoming?

FG: There were people already settled in these places. What Port Blakely was was a mill town and then there were people from Hiroshima there, right. And then in, there were people from the village in Hiroshima in Rock Springs, Wyoming. I think it was my father's brother-in-law or something that was already there. And so they usually, the immigrants, always go where the other people in the village have already...

LH: So was the kenjinkai connection between Hiroshima for your father, your...

FG: Oh, it's very strong and because if somebody is from Hiroshima like then when they get to the mines and somebody from their own village or even their own ken come, you tend to be more open and you welcome them. They're way out in the country. There's nothing else there so...

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

LH: So your grandfather, again, he came to the U.S. because there weren't any real opportunities for him in Japan.

FG: Yes.

LH: And he worked as a coal miner when he first got to Vancouver, and then when he went to Rock Springs he was also a coal miner when he got there?

FG: Yes, yes, yes. He went from coal mine to coal mine, and so, and then shortly after, when my father was seventeen years old, then my father was born in 1895 so this must have been -- if he was seventeen he must have been -- it must have been about nineteen-what, twenty-two?

LH: He was born in 1895.

FG: 1895.

LH: 1895, so about 1912.

FG: 1912, yeah. Well, then so my grandfather sent for him and so then my father came over. He didn't... I'm trying to think of the English word for, but Japanese word is mikko, illegal entry. He entered legally because my father sent.

LH: Father sent for him.

FG: Yeah, his father was, my grandfather, his father was already here and so...

LH: So your grandfather actually left his wife and his son.

FG: Yes.

LH: How big of a family did he leave behind in Japan to come?

FG: He left a family of, let's see, four.

LH: And had he intended to return to Japan after?

FG: Yes. In fact, I think in general they all intended to come back, go back to Japan for the simple reason was that there was really no way to stay here. They couldn't get citizenship and so if they couldn't get citizenship, then they wouldn't be able to own land.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

LH: So your father came from, came to the U.S. in 1912, and he went to Rock Springs, Wyoming, obviously. What did he do when he first got there?

FG: Oh, he worked in the mines and then he kind of promoted himself or something, -- [laughs] -- and he started working for the railroad. In between times where there were slack times on the railroad and mining, my father ran a pool room.

LH: A pool room, sort of pool hall, you mean?

FG: Pool hall. Pool hall, yeah. So that was so he could live in the back of it and then he would have something to do. That was, it always was, my father always had that in mind you have to use your time efficiently and effectively and accepting, too, he liked gambling so it didn't hurt. [Laughs] I mean, it was something he liked to do, so...

LH: But running this pool hall, I guess, was his first sort of stab of being his own boss in a way.

FG: Yes, yes.

LH: Interesting.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

LH: And so how long did he work railroads?

FG: He must have worked about ten years at least. I don't know how many of the years were -- right now I can't remember how many years were railroad and how many were the, was the mine. I think he worked in the mine only for maybe about three of the ten years, and after that he worked on the railroad. And what they did was they went along and they repaired the tracks, and they used to ride the gandy dancer.

LH: So he was a gandy dancer.

FG: Yeah, right.

LH: And when did your mother come to the United States?

FG: My mother came in 1922.

LH: And how did she come to the United States? I mean, how did she meet your father?

FG: Well, my father was by that time twenty-seven years old, about twenty-six, twenty-seven years old. Everybody said he was getting terribly old, he should be getting married. And so he went to Japan and he had a, I believe he had a three- or four-month visa and so he started very aggressively and actively looking for a bride. And he had, so he went back to the village and he had people bring him, people brought him pictures, photographs, of relatives and friends etcetera, etcetera. And he went... so then when he, when he found, whenever he was given a prospective then he would go and check them out. He'd hide in the bushes and watch them work in the fields, that type of thing, or he'd watch them walk down the street and kind of give, figure out whether or not that was the one he wanted. Well, finally he couldn't find anybody that he really, really thought that would work out for him. And then he had a... so he was getting kind of desperate... [laughs] and then so my, see, he had a second cousin who had, who had a niece that, I guess a niece, that was about the right age, a little bit young. But he thought that she was very healthy looking 'cause she was kind of heavy, [Laughs] and my father wanted somebody ganjo.

LH: Sturdy.

FG: Sturdy, right. So anyway, my mother who had kind of recently returned from Manchuria, she grew up in Manchuria, but her sister lived in, was married and lived in Tokyo. So my mother was, went to Tokyo and she was working. She was working in Tokyo and living with my aunt, and so my father kind of figured out this real ingenious idea that he would send a telegram to my mother. He didn't know her, but he sent a telegram and said, "Please come back. I'm ill," and so kitoku, and so then and signed it my grandfather.

LH: So he sent her a telegram that said, "I'm sick, please hurry," and then signed it her father.

FG: Yes. [Laughs] And then when she got to Hiroshima, she found out what had happened, and she talked to my grandfather. And my grandfather said that he apologized that he had allowed this, however, "it's kind of up to you." And my mother says, "Well, what do you think? What would you like me to do?" Japanese woman, right? And my grandfather says, "Well, it would be very nice if you would and it would help the family because we do have a family of ten children." And she was a second from the oldest and my mother says, "All right. If that's what you want, that's what I shall do." So that's how. It's kind of a picture bride, but it's sort of a complicated.

LH: But they did at least meet before.

FG: Yes. And they did, they were married in Japan and they spent a little time, but then my father came back to the States and then my mother followed later.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

LH: And you had mentioned that your mother actually grew up in Manchuria. Can we go back a little bit and actually just talk about how did her family come to live in Manchuria? I mean, although they were ethnically Japanese, they were in Manchuria. How did that come about?

FG: My grandfather worked for the railroad and then so then in, at that time which was, would be about in the early 1900s, Manchuria was Manchukoku, right, it was protectorate of Japan. And so the Japanese had a railroad system in Manchuria, and it went from Dairon to... I can't think of the, but it went up the country. And then so that's what my grandfather did. He worked for the Japanese Manchurian railway and so he took his whole family. My mother was three years old at that time, and my mother was born in Hiroshima. And then they moved to Manchuria and they lived in Dairon, and she lived there until she was, let's see, fifteen years old.

LH: Did your mother ever tell you any stories about what it was like growing up in Manchuria?

FG: Well, it was quite different. A couple of things that always stands out in my mind was how cold it was. And I used to get this story about how she used to walk ten miles to school in the snow. I imagine when I think about it, probably was five miles one way and five miles, but round trip ten miles. I don't know, but my mother used to say juu ri, ten ri, which was a little more than mile. One mile is, I mean one ri is a little more than a mile. But the other thing that she told me about was they lived in these, I guess, right now you'd call them condos, kind of like apartments, and they had central heating that went from the first floor to the third floor, or fourth or whatever it was. But they were thick brick walls, and inside in-between the walls they built fire and so that was the heating system, and my mother called it petchka. And so you have to be careful not to touch the wall 'cause it's hot, but the wall was, the heat was within the wall.

LH: So that's how the heat radiated out was actually through the... that's interesting.

FG: And that was something that I didn't, I couldn't quite imagine until I was quite a bit older. And the other thing that she told me is that the education level was much higher in Manchuria than it was in Japan because it's like any, when you have, when children go to a foreign country then you have the standards are a little bit higher because you have the class of people whose children are going to school and so...

LH: So rather than, say something like where you have immigrants going to a place that they send the lower-class citizens, the people who went to Manchuria were of a higher economic class generally so that they had higher standards for education and stuff like that.

FG: Yeah, and probably they were educated because they were technicians. And it's kind of like army post and that sort of thing. I think there were army people there, too, but it's not, they're all kind of government employee type of thing.

LH: And when did your mother's family actually return to Japan from Manchuria?

FG: Let's see, when she was fifteen so that must have been about 1920, '21, something like that.

LH: And that's right around the same time that actually Manchuria was...

FG: It was just before, I believe it's just before the Manchurian incident, if I'm not mistaken. I can't, I don't remember my history, but...

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

LH: Well, we're going to go back ahead then to your parents and then coming to the U.S. You mentioned that your grandfather actually accompanied your mother back to the U.S. Did your mom ever tell you stories about what that trip was like and how they came to the U.S?

FG: Well, what it was was she had to stay, her permit didn't, wasn't issued for a while and so, and my grandfather was over in Japan. I don't know whether he went at the same time my father went or not or he went later, but, anyway, it turned out that he would accompany my mother and so because she was a young lady alone, and I think that they didn't think it would be a good idea for her to travel all by herself. And then so they came on the NYK Lines on the Korea Maru, and they, I think they landed in San Francisco. But, anyway, all during that trip what my grandfather did was he explained to my mother, he tried to describe where she was going to. He tried to describe Wyoming to her and then also taught her the etiquette of a Japanese bride, Japanese woman, Japanese wife. And so I think that probably my grandfather did more to tell her what she should expect and what she should do on that trip that my mother probably never knew -- [laughs] -- but my grandfather was really very, very good to my mother. One of the things they did after they got here was -- because you don't, idle hands, so he couldn't let my mother just do nothing, right -- and so early in the morning my grandfather and my mother would get up about, I think about three or four o'clock, and they made and sold tofu.

LH: Made and sold tofu. This is...

FG: In Rock Springs, yeah.

LH: In Rock Springs in Wyoming. So this was what they did once they got there, wow. And this is something your mother had no experience doing before?

FG: No. But she learned to do it. She said you have to get up real early. The water is very cold -- [laughs] -- and what I know of tofu-making that -- we had a tofu shop here in Seattle for quite a while and they did the same thing -- early in the morning you get up and then you do it, and so the tofu is ready by about eight or nine o'clock in the morning. But you have to do all of the cooking and then the solidifying and everything.

LH: And so they would go, I mean, again this is in Wyoming, they would basically go door to door to sell this or they would have the shop that people would come to? How did they sell the tofu there?

FG: I think that they went door to door, but there were many Japanese living in Rock Springs so there was a market.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

LH: Well, let's go again to Rock Springs and then talk a little bit more about that. How long did your parents live in Rock Springs before they actually came to Seattle?

FG: See, if my mother arrived here in 1922, and arrived in the United States in 1922, Rock Springs, and they came to Seattle in 1930 so must have been about eight years.

LH: And so during this time you mentioned that your father had left the railroad. What did he do for a living while he was in Rock Springs for that duration? Did he always work for the railroad? Or did he...

FG: He always worked for the railroad.

LH: He always worked for the railroad in Rock Springs. And so why did they decide to leave at the time that they did?

FG: I'm not quite sure. It might be for better opportunities. My father had decided that actually it was either a choice between going to Brazil or to the West Coast and the reason why there was a growing community of Japanese in Brazil, probably in Sao Paulo. And the only reason why he came to the West Coast was because my mother had a cousin that was already established in Seattle and so that's why they came to Seattle because my, yeah, her cousin was working here.

LH: So what did he think that he was going to be able to do in Brazil? Did he have any idea or was it just go and see when you got there?

FG: Yes. My father was always a enterprising type of a person. I think he would have done anything that needed to be done. No, if he thought there was a business opportunity, I think he would have. I think he would have gone into business. I'm sure he would have. That was, I mean, it was never to be employed by someone else. That wasn't my father's way of doing things. [Laughs]

LH: So he was getting tired of working for the railroad.

FG: It could be, yeah. It could be, yeah.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

LH: So when he came to Seattle, then, what did he start doing?

FG: Well, first he worked for a while at a small store, and I can't remember what kind of store it was, kind of like a grocery store sort of thing, but then it didn't work out. It was for a Japanese. I can't think of the name of the people, but that didn't last too long. And so then he went to work for Kubota with Kubota Gardens, Mr. Kubota, and so he did gardening for a while. In the meanwhile, my mother worked in this store and my mother worked out quite well. And so eventually what happened is my father decided that he would open a store, and so he opened, let's see, Home Brew Supply store and then that was something that my mother and father did together.

LH: Okay. And then, of course, at the time they were all doing this they were starting to raise a family as well. And what year were you born?

FG: I was born in 1933.

LH: 1933.

FG: And I was born in the back room of that store so it's... my mother used to laugh and she said they used to call me hakoiri musume and usually that means that you're kind of a princess sort of thing where you don't, you're not exposed to the outside elements. But that wasn't really what it was. I really grew up in a box. [Laughs]

LH: Literally. Hakoiri means "in a box."

FG: Literally, in a box. Mrs. Beppu delivered me.

LH: And she was a midwife.

FG: Yeah. Right. I think she delivered many children, many babies, but anyway I was one of them, too.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

LH: But you had mentioned in one of our earlier discussions that you actually had some other siblings before you were born.

FG: My two older brothers were born in Rock Springs in Wyoming, and then they both came to Seattle. And then at that time, I think, they were five years apart. I think the older one was about seven and then the younger one, Teddy, was about, would be about two years old.

LH: And this is in 1930.

FG: Yeah.

LH: Okay.

FG: And then my, the older brother -- in fact, I think they both did. They both went to Maryknoll school and on the way home, this is the older brother, on the way home he was getting off of the trolley and he was hit by a car between the trolley and the sidewalk, and he died, I think, a day after that. But then I still, now that brother I don't remember because this happened in 1932.

LH: So this was before you were born.

FG: Yeah, it was just before I was born. And then I had, the only brother I really remember sort of slightly is the second, the second oldest. And so when he was eight years old my father took him to Japan to become a Kibei.

LH: To be educated there.

FG: To be educated, right, and because then now he was the oldest son, but he unfortunately contracted pneumonia. He got pneumonia, but then when he was put in the hospital in Hiroshima, they didn't know what it was. And so they just kind of labeled it as tuberculosis and so they just let him lay there. What it was he had an infected mastoid so it just kept getting worse. I think it was as a result of the pneumonia and then had traveled to his ear. And then so when my mother heard about it, then she went to, number one, to take care of him and to see what she could do about bringing him back. And since I was only three years old I couldn't be left there so she took me with her and so I spent about six months in Japan living with my mother's family and my mother's mother and father and the children, which there were nine. It was a lot of fun.

LH: So, and then your mother went back to take care of your brother and then what happened?

FG: Well, they wouldn't release him. So one night my mother, I don't know just exactly how she did it, but she got it all set up and everything and she got, she took him out of the hospital. And then she already had the tickets for the boat back and so the three of us came back.

LH: So she was able to get him out of the hospital and take him, travel back to the United States with him.

FG: I think she said she was going to take him to see the grandmother or something like that I think.

LH: And that's how she got him out.

FG: I think so.

LH: So did he arrive safely in the United States?

FG: Well, he came back and then he was operated on, but it was too late and he just, the infection had just spread too far. And so he was nine years old when he died.

LH: This must have been pretty difficult for your mother because of all of things she had to do to go through.

FG: I think she had, like many Issei, I think she had a very, I think she had a hard life, but very cheerful and very positive, very up. It's surprising how some people can be in spite of all the things that happen, they can be positive and she was one of those. She never complained. It's a good model. [Laughs]

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

LH: So once you returned to the United States, how was your life growing up in Seattle at the time before the war?

FG: Well, for me it's a little bit difficult. I was, well, about five, six years old and I really didn't know what the outside world was. I think you're pretty well insulated if you live in the middle of the Japanese community. You're pretty well insulated and then they, what they did with their store, they had, the store was on Thirteenth and Stewart -- by the freeway now -- but they moved it down first to Security Market and then down to the Pike Place Market.

LH: Well, Thirteenth and Stewart, that's pretty far removed from what people consider the Japanese community today or even back then. So, I mean, how did they end up having a business all the way out there?

FG: I have a feeling that it had to do with the people that my mother and father worked for at one time. I think what they did was they bought the store from them and how they got there, I don't know. And then, but yeah, it was pretty far, quite far, because it's at least thirteen blocks from First Avenue. [Laughs]

LH: And so they moved the store from Thirteenth and Stewart and then you said where?

FG: Security Market, which is one block north of the Bon Marche on Third Avenue. I think it's that area where, I don't know if Bergman Luggage is still there, but it's north of the Bon. And then from there then a stall opened up at the Pike Place Market, Sanitary Market, which is the Pike Place Market was the Farmer's Market. And then across from it was that which was not, well, there was some produce and things being sold on this other side, but there were also the barbers and the candy shops, and milk shops. Oh, Milwaukee Sausage, different things.

LH: And what year was this that they actually opened up the stall at the Sanitary Market?

FG: I don't remember, but I think it's about 193-, I think it's about '33 or '4, I think.

LH: So right around the time that you were born.

FG: Yes. Uh-huh.

LH: So what do you remember of that store? I mean, that stall at the Sanitary Market? Did you have much reason to go down there?

FG: Oh, well, I think the market babysat me. They were my babysitter and I was about, when I wasn't in school I would have a lot of free time. And what they did was my mother would take me down to this store with her and I must have been about six, seven years old, right. And so but then there were a lot of Japanese storekeepers and stall keepers and so I kind of, they always kept track of me because then they'd say, "Oh, yeah. Well, I just saw her walking. She was going toward Okada-san's place." And oh, and you go ask Okada-san. And Okada-san, "Oh, well I just saw her, she was over at such and such." So they kept a pretty good eye on me. And then we always ate at, there was a lunch counter there that all the Japanese ate so I didn't have... I only had, say about between about eight to twelve, right, that I was playing around. And then I'd have between one to five, and I always kind of wandered around inside the market. I really couldn't get lost and I couldn't get into trouble. I could probably eat too much because everybody would give me as you walk by, a little kid walking around. They give you, the Italian produce people used to give me oranges and grapes and bananas and everything. "Oh, here do you want one?" [Laughs] And they used to give me things and I'd go by the Milwaukee Sausage and I'd get slices of lunch meat, cheese -- [laughs] -- and it was quite a bit of things to do to keep me occupied.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

LH: And your parents were still running this, I guess, Brewer Supply Store, Home Brewery.

FG: Home Brew Supply.

LH: So, I mean, what do they... like malts and hops.

FG: It's that malt syrup and hops, the bottles for, I guess to put it in, the caps, the capper, yeast for the beer; but mostly I think it was that malt, the malt syrup and the hops. I think that's what they sold mostly. Oh, they also sold this was as a result of the Depression so they also sold wine. It's interesting, my father was a teetotaler.

LH: Really. So he never drank himself, but...

FG: No. Uh-uh.

LH: Probably easier that way, don't skim the profits.

FG: And then the other thing that I used to do was that my father would deliver the supplies. We had a van, one of those old vans, and my dad always used to take me everywhere.

LH: So where would he deliver?

FG: All over the city and they would be people, most of them were hakujin, and so he drove all over. We went from West Seattle, to north Seattle, and I think we... I remember driving to the Kent valley and Sumner Puyallup, the Puyallup valley, to buy hops, and Daddy went to buy hops there. And then I used to go with him and we used to buy the containers from, they were Weyerhauser containers, those little cardboard boxes. The cardboard containers, they're not boxes. Today they would be plastic, but at that time it was heavy cardboard coated so that you could put the malt in it.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

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.

<Begin Segment 13>

LH: ...and talk about right before the war began. What do you recall of your father's involvement in the community and sort of what he, how he stood in the community with the other leaders?

FG: He must have been and I was only about six, well, seven years old, and I don't really, really remember a lot, but he must have been active with the Japanese Community Service.

LH: The Nikkeijinkai?

FG: The Nikkeijinkai, because when the visiting war ships would come, I know that he hosted them, and I remember them coming over, but other than that, it's sort of all mixed up. I'm not quite sure what his involvement was before the war. I'm much more clear after the war. [Laughs]

LH: But so he hosted these, I guess, Japanese military, naval --

FG: Military, yes.

LH: -- seamen coming over.

FG: I think I know -- oh, I remember. I think I know why. One of the reasons, especially Navy is because Navy would be coming from Kure, Hiroshima, and it also, the Etajima, the naval academy, is in Hiroshima. And my father knew people who, some of his friends went to Etajima, went to school there so...

LH: So again it was the kenjinkai, the ken, the relationship.

FG: Yes, I believe it is.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

LH: Well, then let's go right to the war. I mean, what do you remember about or did you hear anything about sort of conflicts between Japan and the United States before the war actually began?

FG: None at all. The only thing that I remember I was playing outside when it was announced over the radio that Pearl Harbor had been bombed, and so my mother called me and she asked me to listen to it. Didn't make any sense to me. I wasn't quite sure what that was all about.

LH: Because it was in English and your mother...

FG: That's why she thought maybe I could tell her what it was saying, but she didn't understand it as well. Her understanding of English was really pretty good 'cause she worked in a store, but I think this was in an area that was very different. It wasn't selling anything. [Laughs] It wasn't selling brewery supplies or anything.

LH: So the language was quite different which is why she didn't really understand it.

FG: Yes.

LH: And then but you didn't really understand it yourself, you're saying.

FG: No, I didn't understand it. I mean, I didn't understand the concepts. I could kind of hear it and if it said, well, the president has declared war, whatever it is that he said, I didn't know what that meant, not really.

LH: So when did you first actually understand what was going on? What had happened?

FG: I wasn't quite sure. I knew things different, very different, were happening because I believe about a month after Pearl Harbor, suddenly my father came home in a car with two FBI agents -- who incidentally were very impolite -- but they kind of... and my mother, my brother and I were at home. Yeah, my mother, my brother and I were at home. And they searched the house for, I'm not sure what they were looking for, probably films or maybe weapons or something. I don't know, but they kind of opened all the drawers and emptied them out and looked in the stove and the refrigerator and everything and went up and down, and they went in the basement and everything, and then they left. They took my father and left.

LH: So what were you thinking as this was all going on and you were watching this?

FG: I thought it was very frightening and I didn't think it was right because they were treating -- what they did was actually they had my father handcuffed, and I couldn't figure out what my father had done. I asked my mother and my mother didn't know. They must have picked him up at the store, and then they took him directly to the immigration office on Airport Way. And then shortly after that I think about three, four days afterwards, my mother got a call from my father asking her to bring toilet articles and change of clothes because they just took him. And so we went down there and that I remember very, very vividly because the doors on the, there was a iron gate there and the ceiling is very high so there's a lot of echoing. And so we go, all of us and anybody that went to see the people that had been taken, the Japanese that were taken, we would go up and tell them who we wanted to see. And then we'd go and sit and wait and, then they would... when the person that they were letting, that they called upon, they would call out in a very loud voice and that echoed all over the place so you knew who it was that was coming down the hall. And then right after they call his name then you could hear the doors open up and it goes clang and then he came walking down the hall. To me it was very vivid. I had never seen my father walk all by himself -- [laughs] -- and he has a very, he had a very funny way of walking I thought. [Laughs] That was very strange. No. He had short arms so he walked kind of like Charlie Chaplin, but these are the impressions that I have. And then my mother gave him the toilet articles and the clothes, and then we talked for a while, I mean, they talked for a while. We said hello and good-bye. My brother and I said hello and good-bye.

LH: And that was all that your father said to you at that time?

FG: Uh-huh. Oh, he told me to be good and he told my brother who was -- how old was he? Four years old, no, let's see -- three years old. He says, "Now you're the man of the family." I'm sure my brother understood that. [Laughs] He says, "You have to take care of your mother." So that was it. But he told both my brother and I to take care of my mother, which of course we would. [Laughs] And then that was the last we saw of him for what, two and a half, three years, because then he went to his camps and we went to our camps.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

LH: And going to that experience of you going to your camps, how did you hear about the fact that you were actually going to be moved from Seattle?

FG: The notice was posted on the telephone poles all over the place, and so we read it. And I'm sure that the people in the community talked about it and our neighbors also talked about it. And I know the kids in the neighborhood they were all hakujin, but they, some of the older ones read it to me just in case I couldn't read it. Kind of big words in it.

LH: So what did they explain to you when they were reading it to you?

FG: Well, first of all one of the first things that was read to me was a curfew that we had to be in, we couldn't be wandering around in the streets after... what time?

LH: Eight?

FG: Something like that. And then the other one was the evacuation. And those are two that were posted on the telephone poles. I remember that. And it all kind of happened very quickly. And so as soon as they were posted then people started either selling their, selling the goods out of their homes or trying to think of places to put their belongings because then it said that we would not be allowed, we'd only be able to carry one suitcase or something like that.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

LH: So here is your mother basically left alone with two children. How did she handle the situation? What did she do?

FG: She worked very, very hard because she had these two children and then -- oh, backtrack a little bit. Right after the war started, the Sanitary Market was arsoned, it was torched, and so my mother had to clean out the store and then move it and see what could be saved. And we saved some things and we had to leave others, and she reopened another store, a little store, and sold the things that were left. And then she sold that to someone, the store, with the contents and all; and it was called, all along, it was called Liberty Malt Shop, or Malt Store, Malt Shop, and it's still there down in the public market.

LH: So that was originally owned by your parents, Liberty Malts.

FG: It's moved around a little bit, but the store name is still there, and it still isn't terribly large I don't think. But, anyway, that's what my mother had to do all by herself.

LH: So she actually had to basically clean up after the fire.

FG: Right.

LH: And then open up her store.

FG: Right.

LH: When she opened up the store, did she think that she was going to actually have to run the store again or was it just to sell what was left and then close the business?

FG: I think that this happened before the executive order came down, and then as she was cleaning up, and then when the order came down I think that's when she very hurriedly sold it because otherwise it would have been... but she was very good bookkeeper and she knew what was, she knew how to handle numbers and business and things and so she did all right. And she took care of all the insurance on the house, the payments of the house, and so we left a house when we left for camp, not everybody did, but we did so we had a place to come back...

LH: Come back to after the war.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

FG: And so people, many people, stored their belongings in different places. I think the Seattle Buddhist Church was one of them. I think there were several other places they stored, but we didn't have to because we had a house.

LH: You had a house and so where did you put it? Did you put it in the attic?

FG: Basement.

LH: Basement.

FG: And we came back and it was empty, but that's okay.

LH: So what did you -- did other families store things in your basement as well or did they just go to the Buddhist Church?

FG: Just our... we had a neighbor. We had a Japanese neighbor across the street and they sold their house and so they left some of their things. Not very much, though, but just a few things.

LH: And what did your mother do about the house in terms of having someone look after it? Did she ask someone to look after it?

FG: If I'm not mistaken, I think it was the WRA that offered to find someone to rent the house, and there was a family that rented it. And they were paying rent for the first, I think about four or five months and that was it.

LH: So they just paid rent for the first four or five months and then they stopped, just the checks stopped coming in camp.

FG: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

LH: So what do you remember about, after getting ready for evacuation, actually having to go to Puyallup? What do you recall of that day?

FG: Ours was a kind of different situation. We were kind of the tail end of the people going because my brother had, I think it was measles or something, and so we had to wait until he was out of quarantine and then we left. We went to Puyallup on a bus and we got there. And we were in Area A, and Area A today is the parking lot. And the thing that I remember is that we were put into these rooms and they had supplied mattresses that were made out of, they were stuffed with hay. Well, they had stuffed it so hard that I couldn't stay on top of it. I kept rolling off because it was round -- [laughs] -- but that's what I remember about, that was Camp Harmony or Puyallup. And I don't remember some of the things that I've read that has happened in like Manzanar and Tule Lake because I think I was too young. But there were some incidents of, kind of frightening incidents, like I believe we had an incident of one of the people being shot by the guards, but I don't remember too much of that.


LH: Going back to Puyallup, what else do you remember of it? Do you recall what you did for your life, sort of your day-to-day life, in Puyallup?

FG: What I remember, I remember it was the first time I was ever in a mess line and the facilities were kind of primitive, like a scout camp or something. I guess, it's like the army, but it was like a scout camp. And see... what else do I remember? I don't know. That's about it as far as Camp Harmony is concerned. Then from there we went to Minidoka in Idaho and that took, I think it took the better part of a day. We got on a train and it was very strange to us, because the shades were down, and we weren't, I guess, allowed to see where we were going, what we are passing or anything. And then we had a rest stop. I believe, it was... I don't know. It was somewhere in Idaho. I think it was Boise. And as we got off, there were the military police were guarding us. Couldn't quite understand why, but it was very, it was very frightening to young children because they had these rifles and they were very big. They were tall because they were hakujin, right, and I think they were probably as frightened as we were and it showed, [Laughs] the very sternness. And that was something that was very different.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

LH: So what do you remember of, sort of, arriving at Minidoka? When you first got there, what did you see?

FG: Sagebrush and dust and dust and sagebrush, a lot, and then the barracks. And we, let's see. We got off at Twin Falls and then we were trucked into Minidoka, and again it was army trucks. And let's see. Was it a bus? No. I think it was an army truck. And then they dropped us off at the block that we were, and it was a long ride because we were at the end of camp. There were forty-four blocks and we were in Block 42 so it's the next to the last one. [Laughs]

LH: You were at the end of the line.

FG: End of the line, right.

LH: So once you got into your barracks, what did you think? I mean, obviously it must have been somewhat similar to what you saw in Puyallup.

FG: It was a little better. The construction was a little more permanent. It was a little... it was raised and we couldn't, we didn't know why the stairs go up and the reason why was because there were rattlesnakes all over the place. And we used to find rattlesnakes underneath the foundation, not the foundation, but underneath the floor until they closed it up, and then we wouldn't have them anymore. But when we first got there it was still on stilts and so the snakes would... we didn't know what rattlesnakes were. [Laughs] We would kind of follow the sound, the rattle. It wasn't too terribly safe.

LH: So I mean, yeah. It does sound kind of dangerous with having rattlesnakes.

FG: Doesn't it?

LH: Do you remember anyone getting bit?

FG: No, I don't.

LH: Pretty lucky then.

FG: I think we were. I think we were, sometimes innocence is a very safe way to be. [Laughs]

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

LH: So once you were getting to Minidoka, I mean, you were I guess nine, ten years old by this time.

FG: Nine.

LH: Nine years old. So you obviously were starting to go to school. What do you remember, of sort of going to school in camp?

FG: Oh, I don't know. It's actually a very... it was different and the same at the same time because if you went to school in the community, there were many, probably the majority, would be Japanese Americans, right? And then we went to Japanese school afterwards so that was all Japanese. So then we go to school in camp and it's all Japanese again. So it's kind of the same, but different.

LH: How is it different?

FG: Because they were people from other towns, right? I mean, we were, I was in school with people from Portland and Spokane and things like that. We used to walk to school, but then I think we all walked to school all the time, right. That's no different. Maybe the one difference that the school rooms had in camp that we didn't have in Seattle were the pot belly stoves.

LH: That they used for heating.

FG: Uh-huh, because the schools were just barracks. They were the same barracks, the same barracks that were our living quarters converted into a school. And the mess hall would be our lunchroom, and so it wasn't... different, but not different.

LH: So what did you think about, you mentioned going to school with these kids from Portland and Spokane and other areas. What did you sort of think of these new kids?

FG: Not very, not particularly. I think the most people that were outstanding in the class were people who were children of the administrators, and they were not Japanese.

LH: Really?

FG: Yeah. We had about two of them in the class and I think all the focus was on the two hakujin kids.

LH: So did you feel like you were competing with them to...

FG: Not, not really. The scholastic competition among Japanese is standard. It's always there, Japanese kids. And like from Bailey Gatzert, going from Bailey Gatzert to camp, it's the same thing. You are competing with the same people for probably the same areas like math and that sort of thing. Kind of not really very different, but I do know that when we came back from camp, we were all of us, I think we were very fortunate and I think we are ahead of the schools in Seattle. And so we could kind of relax the first year.

LH: So you think that the education you got in camp was actually better than what you got normally or that you would have gotten.

FG: I think so. I think so. That happens because when you have, I believe, that when you have a special, a select, group of people, they're all about the same level and so the competition is more closer. I don't know if it's keener, but it's closer. And so, therefore, the standards are higher.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

LH: Well, what else do you remember of sort of your everyday life in camp? And besides going to school, what else did you do for the spare time that you had?

FG: We used to go swimming in the canal, wading in the canal. I couldn't swim really very well. There also was swimming hole that I went to see. I never went into it because I really wasn't a good swimmer. That's what we did in the summertime. The different churches, on Sundays the different churches had church services and we went to Sunday school, I guess. There was a canteen. I think there were three canteens, I think, and they sold food articles, I guess, and not too much clothing. Maybe some toilet articles. I think that. There wasn't, I can't remember an awful lot being sold. Let's see...

LH: Well, you had mentioned a little just briefly that you had went to Sunday school. Now, was this a Buddhist Sunday school? Was it a Christian Sunday school?

FG: I went to a Buddhist Sunday school. There were Christian Sunday schools, too, so there were different denominations.

LH: So what was it like going to this Buddhist Sunday school?

FG: Partly in Japanese and partly in English like it would be here.

LH: Well, it seems strange to me 'cause it didn't seem like, from my perceptions, it doesn't seem like Sunday school is something that's really a Buddhist following. Is that not true or is that...

FG: No. The Buddhist church movement in the United States basically, especially the Jodo Shinshuu, basically followed the Christian pattern and so if they have Sunday schools then we had Sunday school. If you had pews or chairs, we had pews and chairs. And the service was set up kind of patterned after the Christian. It's different than in Japan. Japan doesn't, I don't think they have Sunday school, but then we always had Sunday school here and so it's more of the same.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

LH: So going again to your life in camp, how did your mother sort of adjust to life in camp and having these children in camp?

FG: My mother, I don't know. Very resilient and I think she adjusted. She adjusted to anything, but anyway she did, when she was in camp, she got a job.

LH: Where did she get a job?

FG: She cleaned out the, she became a cleaning woman in the restrooms. She was a person that didn't like to sit still and so she had to be doing something so she got the job of cleaning out the sinks and the bathhouse and stuff.

LH: So how did she like to --

FG: Some of the people worked in the kitchen, but my mother worked in the laundry room and bathroom, the restroom.

LH: So she got a job to sort of fill her time, but how did she explain to you what was going on in camp or did she explain to you or was it just...

FG: I just kind of -- I guess as far as the war is concerned I think I just kind of osmosis. I think that's how I learned it, osmosis. I heard it from, all over, you know, from other people. But, otherwise, I knew there was a war going on.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

FG: One of the things that I, really impressed me and it still does is that Christmas was kind of -- being Buddhist, it wasn't a real, real big thing before we went to camp -- but then when we were in camp then Christmas became a big thing 'cause then we always had the, they had these competition between the blocks. And they decorated the dining room and real ingenious with the material that there was, and they had different themes in each. And there was a contest and that's when you became real aware of Christmas. And then there would be gift giving and what impressed me was that when we were in camp then the Friends, was that the Friends Committee?

LH: The Quakers?

FG: The Quakers. They sent gifts to us so the kids would have Christmas presents. I remember that. I thought how very kind of someone to even, 'cause we kind of thought nobody ever thought. We thought we just were kind of lost, but that was... it was very impressive. I was very impressed.

LH: So did you help in sort of get into the Christmas spirit so to speak by decorating the barracks?

FG: Well, no. What it was is I don't think we decorated the barracks themselves, the decoration was the dining hall. And the older people, probably in their late teens and early twenties, I think usually worked on it. And I think more than helping, I think we watched and got in the way. I think that's what we did.

LH: So on Christmas --

FG: We watched though. We watched a lot. [Laughs]

LH: So on Christmas did Santa come and sort of distribute the presents there? Do you remember that happening?

FG: I think some blocks there was Santa Claus and I think our block, I don't remember a Santa Claus in our block. I guess Santa Claus didn't come to our block. It just kind of went every other block. [Laughs]

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

LH: Well, we were talking a little bit also about how your mother was working in camp and sort of didn't really explain to you what was going on in terms of the war, but did she sort of continue to give you advice or warn you not to do things or to be, to sort of do those things that mothers do in terms of parenting?

FG: Oh, of course. It was even more strict because she was there all the time [Laughs] and she was right there. But yeah, I think my mother was kind of a typical Japanese mother and you learn ethics and morals and things kind of on a day-to-day basis on the little things. And I've never realized how very strong these things were until like now, and I wonder where I learned some of these things and it was so subtle and it was so... that it's hard to know when and where, but probably a lot of it was in camp. [Laughs]

LH: So the particular incidents don't really stand out, but you really do feel that there is this real ingrained moral code that she sort of put into you.

FG: I think so, but I thought that's what everybody did. I thought every parent did that. I hope they do.

LH: I hope they do too.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

LH: So at this time, of course, you're -- you, your mother, and your brother -- they're in Minidoka. And your father, where is he at this time?

FG: My father after he left Seattle went to Bismarck, North Dakota, and I think he was there until maybe about... oh, I don't know, mid... I think, mid spring, maybe just before summer, all of spring and just before summer. And then --

LH: Of 1942?

FG: Yeah. And then he was transferred. He went to Arizona for a short time and then he went to Santa Fe for a short time. And then he ended up in Lordsburg, New Mexico, and then he was in Lordsburg until 1944.

LH: So did you have any contact with your father at all?

FG: We used to write to my father. My mother more than I did, [Laughs], but they used to exchange letters.

LH: And your father would write letters back to you?

FG: Yes. Uh-huh.

LH: What were some of the things that your father wrote back that you remember?

FG: He didn't write to me so much as he wrote to my mother.

LH: Did your mother ever share the letters with you though?

FG: Not really. A lot of it was censored, right, a lot of these holes in the letters. [Laughs] But oh, yeah. And then I think my father, there were times when he would write in English and I don't know why, but he did. But as I went through my father's records I found a lot of the letters and some of them are in Japanese. It depends, but there's a lot of deletions.

LH: Because of the censoring that took place.

FG: Yeah, right.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

LH: But you did eventually find out what your father was doing in Lordsburg.

FG: Yeah.

LH: By going through his records. What have you learned about your father's life in Lordsburg from going through his papers and his letters?

FG: There was quite a community there and it was pretty cohesive. And one of the things that I found was a directory of the Hiroshima, people from Hiroshima, that were in Lordsburg and this was written in September of 1942. And there were, to my surprise, there were -- I don't know what the whole number of people, the total number of people, in Lordsburg was, but of them, 215 were from Hiroshima.

LH: So there were 250 men of however many were of these Issei in Lordsburg were from Hiroshima.

FG: Yes.

LH: And...

FG: And then as far as the states were concerned, where they had gone, where they had immigrated to, right, from Japan, it varied from Hawaii to California to I don't know. I don't know about the East Coast, but most of it was on the West Coast. Most of it was California.

LH: So they actually put this directory together just so that everyone in the camp knew who everyone was that was from Hiroshima.

FG: Yeah, right.

LH: So again, the ken.

FG: The kenjin, right. Yeah. It's very strong.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

FG: That, the kenjin phenomenon, the kenjinkai, thekenjin phenomenon, is a very strong one that it influenced a lot of things. And this is going off the subject a little bit, but my father put together a memorial, a book for the Hiroshima club, the Hiroshima Kenjinkai. And it was a seventy-five year memorial, a special, and it was an anniversary thing. And I was surprised as I read the minutes of the meetings that they did a lot and the kenjinkais were a bit like a benevolent association so they did all of these things like helping people and things. But the thing that I thought was interesting is the competition between the kenjinkais.

LH: Really? What kind of competition would they have?

FG: Well, there were remarks about how, about what boneheads the Hiroshima people were and then they say oh, no we aren't. [Laughs] But our ken is better than your ken, type of thing. It's like, I'm sure glad that -- like people would say well, I don't know about people from Alabama, that type of thing.

LH: So these were like regional bias kind of things.

FG: Yes. Yes. Yes, exactly.

LH: That's interesting. And, but you also had mentioned earlier in a previous conversation that we had that your father actually had his Seattle ties in Lordsburg as well, that was sort of, that he...

FG: Yes. Yeah. Because see, again, it's the Hiroshima Club, the Hiroshima Kenjinkai, and a number of people from here were there too. And they were either, my father knew them from the Hiroshima Kenjinkai or Nikkeijinkai, and so that covers quite a few. But, anyway, then it became if you were from Seattle then you knew most of the people from Seattle. And actually it's interesting after they came back from camp, they still had those ties. And I think -- I'm just guessing, this is just conjecture -- but then I'm thinking that what made Nikkeijinkai work after the war was because these people had made their, they had ties from camp, from like Lordsburg. And so they could work together because they already knew each other. And so this was an interdenominational, inter-kenjin. The booklet that I have is all Hiroshima Kenjinkai, but there were other kens, people there too, and they still would have meals together, they would play baseball, whatever. And so these ties, I believe, went beyond the kens. In the beginning, I think, when they were in Seattle then the kens would be, which ken you belonged to was most important. But I think when they went to camp and came back, when they were in camp, then coming from Seattle was what was important and then so it brought together all of the kenjins.

LH: So it was more of a case of if you were Seattle or if you were from Los Angeles or if you were from Portland, that's what became more important rather than the fact that you came from Hiroshima, or if you came from...

FG: I think so. I think so. And then, so then when they were rebuilding the Japanese community in Seattle after the war, it was a lot easier, it was smoother because everybody, a lot of those men I think knew each other from camp.

LH: And who are some of these men that your father....

FG: Oh, let's see. Mr. Mihara, Mr. Arase, Mr. Bitow, Miyahara, Isomura, Mayeno, Watanabe, (Matsushita), Matsumoto, Hikida. I don't know, there's lots of them. But then, see, these people that I'm naming are Nikkeijinkai people. A lot of people were overlapped. They would be part of Hiroshima, Hiroshima Kenjinkai, and they'd be part of a Buddhist church, and they would be part of Nikkeijinkai, or if you're not Buddhist church, you'd be part of Methodist church and then Nikkeijinkai and then Hiroshima Kenjinkai. Or I think they had multiple, they wore multiple hats. And they would be Nikkeijinkai and then they would be Kumamoto Kenjinkai and then they would be Baptist, that sort of thing. But I think that the thing that brought it all together was Nikkeijinkai when I think about it now.

LH: This is after the war that brought everything together.

FG: Yes.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

LH: Well, once your father returned to Minidoka and you were reunited with him, what was that like, the sort of the first meeting that you had with him as he came back to camp?

FG: I was real glad to see him because I was, because I was, I don't know. I was the only daughter and for a while I was the only child and my father, I think, he was in a way he was a little partial just because I was a girl. And he and I even before the war, I think I was probably, when I think about it now, I probably was the closest child to him because all my life then he's always depended on me. I mean, the first thing, every time he'd think of anybody to do something, he always called on me so I must have been very strong in his mind. [Laughs] But, anyway, my mother was glad to see him, of course. But my brother was very frightened because he'd never seen this bearded person in his life. My brother was four or five years old, four or five, and he didn't really recognize his father.

LH: He was only about two when your father was taken away so in that three years he just didn't even realize who this person was.

FG: Yeah. It took him a while to kind of... but I remember him crying. And I know that it must have been very hard on my father because then here's his son, his only son, and he kind of shies away and he wouldn't take to him right away for a while. I recognized him because that's my father, but I was a lot older than my brother was. And then my father and I started -- I don't know why, but every time my father went anywhere he always took me. [Laughs] And he started working at the main gate at camp, and it was a good experience. Well, and then he would have night shift and so he would take me because nothing else, right, and he wanted company so I would walk with him all the way across camp and because we were at the very end of the camp. And then I would walk to work with him and then we'd sit there and then when I got there I would draw and read and different things. It was kind of interesting watching the people going in and out. But it was a good, it was good for me because up until then whenever I saw the guards and whenever I saw, the guards always meant guns, it always meant rifles, and I was very frightened of arms. And I still am not comfortable around rifles. But, anyway, the guards by the time, by that time the guards were really very nice. They were human and they used to joke with me and talk with me and then, but... yeah, it was...

LH: So what exactly did your father do at this front gate? What was his job there?

FG: His job was to stamp the passes going in and out, people going in and out of the camp.

LH: So just to double check, make sure they are who they say they are and get them in and out.

FG: I guess. Well, if you have a pass, somebody has to stamp the pass or look at the pass, right, that's what my father did. I mean, why do you have a pass if somebody doesn't have to look at it, right? [Laughs] You have to turn these things in to people so they, my father, so they turned it in to my father and he was a clerk.

LH: And this was really important for you, but you think this was important for you to see the guards as not...

FG: Yes, not as somebody -- it's kind of like thinking of policemen as either people, either positively or negatively of policemen, same thing. They were basically military police, right? Anyway, it kind of changed things in my mind so that was good.

LH: And when exactly did your father return to camp? I don't think we established that. It was 1944, but...

FG: 1944.

LH: But what month?

FG: I don't remember, but it must have been... I don't know. I think maybe late spring, but I don't really remember.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

LH: And how long did you, were you with your father and the entire family in camp, how long did you remain in Minidoka?

FG: After that we came back to Seattle in 1945 in March.

LH: So that's still fairly early 'cause the war in Europe hadn't even ended yet.

FG: That's right. We were the first family -- there were two families that came back at the same time, but we were the first families back in Seattle from camp, the Kusakabes was the other family, and we were on the same train. And so then I was the first Japanese back at Bailey Gatzert and Ms. Mahon was very pleased to see me.

LH: So what was that like actually knowing that you were coming back to Seattle, but there were only going to be you and this other family? Were you worried about coming back to Seattle at all or were you happy to come back?

FG: No. Do you really want to know what was going on in my mind? What was going on in my mind was the other person, the other family, had a boy that was the same age as I was and he would be starting school at the same time, right? Well, I didn't know about him. I really wondered about him. [Laughs] I mean, he was my biggest concern and Tom didn't get there. There is something about little boys that little girls don't like, right? I don't know what it is, but anyway I felt relieved because when I got to school then Tom hadn't come yet. He waited another day before he started school [Laughs] so I was there before he was. Accepting the problem of being the first one back was that Ms. Mahon was very, very pleased to, real pleased to see me back because she liked her Japanese students a lot and she missed them, and I just represented the first of the flow back. But these are kind of child type reactions, right. Well, what she did was in her... I don't know, in her exuberance she kissed me on my forehead. Well, I had never been kissed in my life, and I thought that was so terrible. [Laughs] It was kind of this oh, yuck. But I remember that very, very distinctly. She was very glad to see the Japanese back and she treated me so, she treated me so well. I got a little bit of flack in school and it really wasn't the children themselves, I think it comes from all the media and their parents and just everything and the war. And so I remember I sat there the first day and there was a little, there was a little hakujin girl sitting behind me and then there was a boy sitting across, and they're sitting there arguing. And so finally one of them says, "Well, you ask." "No, you ask." "Okay. I'll ask." And then so Mary says to me, she says, "Eugene thinks you're Japanese, but I don't. Are you?" [Laughs] And then so I said, "Yeah, I'm Japanese." And so she says, "Well, that's okay." She says, "I like you anyway." That was my first day of school. And then I was in another class and there was a little -- poor kid -- there was a little black boy sitting next to me, and he looked at me and he said, he says, "Are you one of the Daughters of the Sons of Heaven?" And I said, "What?" [Laughs]

LH: Daughters and the Sons of Heaven?

FG: Yeah, something about son of heaven, right? The Japanese were called the Sons of -- the emperor was the Son of Heaven, that sort of thing. What he was doing was he was repeating from the comic books and things like that. Well, anyway, the whole thing just sort of, kind of blew my mind and I start crying. And so the poor kid, he got called to the office and Ms. Mahon really scolded him and then so she expelled him for a day because of me. And then she asked me, "What did he say?" and I got tears rolling down my face and I tell you. And I really didn't know what he said or what I was saying. I don't know why I was crying, but I was crying and then afterwards I even cried more because when he was expelled, I thought I did that and he didn't mean any harm. He didn't hit me or anything. Poor kid. I'll never forget. I felt so sorry for him because he was just being, just being a child. He was just being a boy and he was just repeating something that he had read and he had heard on the radio and in the movies and stuff like that. That was so funny. It was so funny. But, anyway, it wasn't funny to him. It wasn't fair to him. But that was what my first couple of days in school were. And I think Ms. Mahon did that because she wanted to make sure that when the rest of us came back then we'd be comfortable, and we wouldn't have any problems. I did have another experience that I, at age eleven it was kind of shocking. I was down on Maynard and Jackson waiting for a bus and the bus stopped, and then the woman was sitting on the window side, and she had the window open. And I was waiting to get on and she just looked down at me from the bus and she said, "You killed my son," and then she spit at me.

LH: An eleven year old girl and she spit at you?

FG: Yeah. And I thought, well, what did I do? It was kind of far so it didn't hit me. [Laughs] She missed, but the whole concept I thought, well, I don't even know your son. You don't even know me. I thought what do I have to do with your son is what I was thinking, but that was... at the age of eleven, it kind of leaves a bad impression and I have no idea why that happened or who she was or what her problem was or anything like that. But it was just kind of, it was kind of shocking.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

LH: Well, now your family came back. They obviously moved into the home that you had had before the war, and you'd mentioned that you went down to the basement and pretty much everything was gone. What did your mother and father do to get back on their feet, so to speak, get everything back in order?

FG: Well, my father very enterprisingly, he naturally he didn't have a job, right, so he looked in the newspaper and he found, he looked for somebody who wanted, needed a gardener, garden work done. And so what he did was he found it and he called. I think it was Dr. (Roscre) Mosiman on Magnolia and he put... I think he was his first customer. But, anyway, he put a pair of scissors and he put his lunch, but, anyway, he put it all into a paper bag. He put scissors and clippers and things and he got on the bus and looked for the house and went to work and used their lawnmower. And then he got more and more customers. He kept looking in the newspaper and he got more and more customers, and then pretty soon he needed a car. And so he had a friend who was in, I think, in Illinois somewhere and had moved out to Illinois. He was a friend of his from Seattle but he never came back, Mr. Kobayashi. And so he asked Mr. Kobayashi if he could buy his car and it was a 1928 Chevrolet.

LH: And this was still in Seattle?

FG: Uh-huh, and this was in 1945, I think.

LH: So the car was still in Seattle and he had left it there garaged.

FG: And so first my father asked if he could borrow it because he couldn't buy it, right? And then so he bought that from him. The problem is that it ran, but it never went up hills so you had to go around the hills. And then, so then eventually, I don't know where he got it, but he bought a 1936 car. I can't remember what it was. And then he used that for a while that and pretty soon he bought a, he bought a lawnmower and then he worked his way up to trucks. [Laughs] But at first he went to work on the bus with a bag of tools in his hand.

LH: And this was just from the experience he picked up working for Kubota Gardens that he, and that was almost ten years before --

FG: Yeah, right.

LH: -- that he'd actually last done this. It's pretty amazing that he had.

FG: Gutsy. Daddy was gutsy. He figured he could do anything. [Laughs] All he had to do was try.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

LH: And so what did your mother do while your father was out hunting down these gardening jobs?

FG: She worked downtown in one of the hotels, a Japanese hotel. It was the Nakashima's hotel and she did -- was it maid, chambermaid -- cleaning and things. She did a lot of cleaning. Yeah, that's what she did until my father got the business, got so that he couldn't really handle it all by himself anymore and then he started hiring people. In the meanwhile, in 1947 my brother was born so she was kind of busy with that, but she always did that. She had children, she'd be raising children, and running business at the same time so she did all the -- she always did the bookkeeping for my dad -- and that's what she did. Yeah, that's what she did.

LH: So she would be keeping the books for your dad, going working at the hotel, and raising kids. When did your mother sleep?

FG: Not too long. [Laughs] Well, my mother I remember even when I was a teenager she would be finishing up the housework and cleaning up after dinner and then finishing up the books because at that time, by that time my father was also importing as well as having a gardening business. And so she used to go to sleep about midnight, I think, and then she was up at six o'clock. And I don't think I could do that and survive, but anyway my mother did. She was already up at six o'clock every day but... I think that's what Issei women did, I think, very industrious, probably much more than the following generation. [Laughs]

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

LH: Your family was one of the first two that came back to Seattle in 1945, early 1945.

FG: Yes.

LH: When more and more Japanese families started coming back, how did that change the way Seattle reacted and also how did your family welcome people back?

FG: Well, one of the things that the WRA had asked us is if we had any space, any room, and we had extra rooms so we opened it up to, or we accepted whoever that needed housing. And it wasn't really large enough for families so what we did was we had single men, and I think we had two, about two at a time or something. And there was one gentleman and they were usually a little older. They were older than my father too, but one gentleman he came and stayed with us. I think in about, it was around nineteen forty... he came to us about 1948, I think, and he was with us. And then we moved, but he stayed with us and he lived with us 'til he died in, I think it was '53.

LH: And what did this gentleman do for a living?

FG: Well, he was retired. He was a retired seaman and he took care of my brother as he was growing up. I mean, he took care of him. He made sure that, he made sure he knew where he was and everything, and he kind of puttered around in the yard. And then every, twice a week he would go down to Chinatown because it was, and he'd go to WahMei, the gambling place, and that's what he did for a living. But he was retired so he didn't have...

LH: But this was just a gentleman who had come to live with you sort of to get back on his feet and ended living with you for five, six years almost.

FG: Right.

LH: What was it like though having these single men come and live in your house, maybe stay for a couple months and leave and then have other people come in?

FG: I don't know. Our house was always a hostel anyway because as I was, when I was growing up we always had somebody living with us. It was somebody's family living with us and the larger the house, the more families we had. Let's see. At one time we had two families living with us.

LH: Really?

FG: And then that was like in the early '50s and then when I was a senior in high school and then from then and when I was in college then we always had... oh, actually we always did have people from Japan living with us like my cousins and things. My cousins came and lived with us and then sometimes my father always hired or gave work to the foreign student, the Japanese foreign students, because they had a hard time making ends meet because they couldn't really bring very much money at that time and yet they needed employment. One of the people that employ them was Gyokkoken, the restaurants down on Main Street. Many of the students worked in the restaurants as waiters and so they either worked as waiters in restaurants or they were gardening. So my father used to have them work for him for years and years.

LH: So this was how, again, he would have these connections to Japan.

FG: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

LH: Again you were talking about how your father had continued these ties to Japan by having these students come work for him and live in the house. But I want to go to the period right after he returned to Seattle and started his business, started his work back up. And how did the Nikkeijinkai reform after the war ended and people were starting to come back?

FG: I think the Nikkeijinkai, like we were saying, it sort of contacting each other again probably, maybe not entirely of the connections of the church -- I mean, at camp but then it probably helped. And they, Mr. Mihara was the president of Nikkeijinkai for a long time and then he brought in, he pulled in a lot of the people together. And I think many of the people that right after the war that were, was active in Nikkeijinkai, I think they were from previously, from before the war.

LH: From before the war. So it was just a matter of getting back together and getting into the community.

FG: And then finding out who was left and who was still here in Seattle and adding more people on the roster and things like that, but they worked very hard in re-funding themselves so that they could start the Japanese school again. And actually it was Nikkeijinkai that was, that started the Japanese school and so the Japanese school was under the auspices of Nikkeijinkai. It was kind of hard to tell where the line is because Mr. Mihara was the head of the board for the Japanese school, and he also was a president of Nikkeijinkai so I don't know where the division was. But, anyway, they, it was amazing, they really got together. I don't know for sure whether they were involved at the time the Japanese school was using, was being used as a hostel for returning families. I don't know for sure if Nikkeijinkai had an awful lot to do with that. They might have. I don't know.

LH: But Mr. Mihara did have a lot to do with that because he was still overseeing the school at the time, right?

FG: I think so.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

LH: And you had mentioned that actually although you didn't have any direct connection, you had a lot of friends who were living over at the hostel, at the language school as a hostel.

FG: Right. I used to go there and play with... some of the people I was going to school with lived there. And it was kind of, it was kind of eerie and yet it was kind of fun because then these were the very same hallways that we were supposed to walk quietly through and we were running [Laughs] and people were living in the classrooms. And I don't know. I think with children things aren't, nothing is very strange or odd. It's just different and I think that my memory of it is that this is great. I know this place. I feel comfortable because this is where I used to go to school. And you naturally look for all these little corners that you knew when you were in school and to see if the doors opened or not. A lot of times the doors didn't open because they were locked, but for us, the ones that didn't live at Nihon Gakko, I think it was a lot of fun.

LH: So you didn't think anything differently of the people that actually lived there at the Nihon Gakko.

FG: No. In a way, they were lucky because they had more space than most of us had at home.

LH: Really?

FG: Yeah, because you have all the whole school. You could run up and down the stairs. Children like to run up and down stairs, right, up and down hallways, and you don't have that in your normal home. But I didn't think, I kind of thought they were lucky because they had so many things. There are so many nooks and crannies you could get into, you know yours at home. And actually I think that I thought -- right or wrong -- I thought they were lucky to be living there 'cause then I had other friends that were living in hotels, and the hotels were a little less desirable. Because what you do, is I go to see my friend Alice and you have to kind of walk around the people who are drunk and sitting in the stairways. And it smelled. They smelled. The hotels smelled real bad. They had a funny smell and then they were kind of dark and...

LH: Just wasn't as comfortable or as homey as the hostel or the language school.

FG: Yeah. I thought the language school was great. I did because then so many of my friends lived down on First and Second Avenue in the hotels and that was another way of life, nothing wrong. It sometime kind of scary 'cause the men kind of lurched around and they might fall on top of you because a lot of them were drunk, transients.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

LH: Before the break we were talking a little bit about, we were trying to get into this, but your life after returning to Seattle and going to high school. It's a big chunk of time really, but if you could just talk a little bit about what was your life like finishing up Bailey Gatzert and then going to middle school and then high school.

FG: Well, obviously, not obviously, but if you go from Bailey Gatzert to junior high school, it's still the same group, right, in the same community so you have basically the same friends. And so I think for me, my junior high, my junior high school experience, was really very positive. The teachers were always really very nice, very helpful, and very encouraging. And I don't think there was anything, I couldn't... I mean, I don't remember anything racial about it excepting that every time a new person came into the class, we'd kind of sit there. It was quite, one thing about Bailey Gatzert and Washington Junior High School and Garfield and Franklin at that time right after the war, they were pretty cosmopolitan, a lot of different ethnic groups. And one of the things that used to happen or had happened when I was in junior high school, somebody new would come into the class and so we'd kind of sit around, my friends and I would say, "Well, is that one of yours or is that one of yours?" I says, "It's not one of mine. It's yours." [Laughs]

LH: Meaning what though exactly?

FG: Sylvia Nomura came into the room and so there was, my girlfriend was Chinese and then there was a Filipino girl and so we kind of all looked at each other, and I just decided that Sylvia was not, Sylvia was not Japanese. She was, but to me she didn't look Japanese. I didn't recognize her. Foon said, I says, "She's one of yours." She says, "No, she's not." So then we decided it was a Filipino girl. [Laughs] Anyway, that was Sylvia, is a full-fledged Nisei, [Laughs] but I didn't know. It was very, it was very cosmopolitan and scholastically it was interesting because we were all coming back from camp and so our standards were from camp because, see, when we left camp, we were in the fifth or sixth grade. And then we brought that into junior high school and so school was... I don't know. Easy? I don't know if it was easy, but we had a pretty good foundation. And so we were, I think most of the Nisei were kind of competing with each other more than anything else.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

LH: And what were the expectations that were placed on you as a Nisei woman, teenager, in terms of your education, what you would be doing with your life?

FG: In the home? I mean, from parents?

LH: From your parents as well as from your teachers, but from your parents first.

FG: Interestingly enough, I don't know. My parents, I don't know, just get a good education, right? That was as far as in junior high school. When we were in junior high school one of the things that I remember very clearly was that the teachers had had Nisei before the war, and so we were compared to them, and we were supposed to keep up the standards that they had. They were good students so we had to follow in their footsteps. And I think, and then through high school the same thing. We often encountered this where, "I had before the war, I had so many Japanese students who were very good, very quiet, very conscientious," period. Which meant that's the way I expect you to be, right? And so we had a lot of like people who had gone before us. We had a lot of examples to live up to. That's what we were faced with when we were in junior high school and high school.

LH: Was it really difficult to have that expectation placed on you or was it...

FG: I don't think so 'cause I think, by and large, I think we tried very hard to live up to it and it paid off. And then when I got into high school, I think the general consensus of all of us were that we were going to go on to college. As far as I was concerned my mother and father were very much, I mean, they really supported... my father especially supported that, and I don't know... then so when we were going through high school, we took the college preparatory courses rather than home ec. or something. We would take the chemistry, the physics, the algebra, geometry and that sort of thing. Not everybody, but then I would say I think most of us if we were girls. The boys didn't. The Nisei boys that I went to school with, they didn't for one of the reasons were they being drafted to the Korean war and, or else they were afraid they would be so they went to work or whatever. There were a few that went to the U at the same time we went. That's another thing, we go from one school to another. First we were in Bailey Gatzert then we go to, then we were in Washington Junior High then we go to Garfield or Franklin and then we go to the University of Washington. It just follows and you don't question why you're doing what you're doing. But I think, I think a lot of us went on to college. I'm trying to think of our class. I think probably at least half of us went on to the University of Washington.

LH: And you graduated from Garfield High School in 1951?

FG: Fifty-two.

LH: Fifty-two. So and then from there you went to University of Washington.

FG: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

LH: When you got to the University of Washington, what was it like going to college as a Nisei?

FG: Well, it was a little bit of a surprise because then when we were in high school then we were kind of co-equal with everybody, right. Then when we got to, when we got to college then all of a sudden there is a difference between the fraternity and sorority kids and us, and so we weren't really socializing anymore. We used to socialize in school. That's an interesting thing about high school at the time when I was going to school, we were all, we were all friends in school and then the minute the bell rang when school was over then we all went our separate ways. We never socialized off of the school campus.

LH: Meaning Japanese, Nisei, Nikkei and...

FG: The hakujins, yeah.

LH: Was that true with all four races that you wouldn't associate after school with like say your Chinese friends, your Filipino friends, or was it just the white students that you wouldn't...

FG: It was the whites, but then it also kind of depends because some of the Chinese were, would go to, I think they were still going to Chinese school right after school. The Jewish were going to Hebrew school, but then I think I'm talking about the others, the other ones that we had. And at that time I think that Garfield was composed of probably about one third minority and that would include the Chinese, the Japanese, the Filipinos, and the blacks. And then the rest of them were white and then the... among them would be the Jewish. We had a pretty large Jewish community and so, and I think maybe a little less than half were Jewish. So that was my graduating class. I think it's changed as the years went on. It changed. By the time my brother Paul went to Garfield too and by the time he went, it was different, and it was only five years, but the composition was different. Then my son Kevin went to Garfield many years later, about thirty years later, and the composition was very, very different. So I think maybe it was just because of when I went to school.

LH: Well, you were going again to the life at the U. You had mentioned that the social life in high school was that you would socialize in class at school and then go your separate ways after school. And then at the university there wasn't even that time during school to socialize.

FG: And by the time, by the time we were -- well, when we got to the U then the people that we knew in high school were very busy with their sorority sisters and fraternity brothers and things like that. And there was a lot of... I think that there were things that they had to do too so we barely talked, even talked to each other.

LH: So did you ever consider trying to join your Caucasian friends in the sororities or in their activities?

FG: I don't think we were allowed. I don't think we were allowed. I think there was only one, I think there was only one sorority that allowed and it was a real revolutionary. I can't remember... Betty... I can't remember what her last name was, but she was accepted into a sorority, but there was no reason to even think about sororities or fraternities when I was in school.

LH: So what then did your social life encompass at the U for Japanese Americans?

FG: There were the Japanese American social groups that the Valedas, the Valedas were the girl's counterpart to the SYNKOA. Of course, SYNKOA was a house, the SYNKOA House, where the men's residence. And then the people who lived and came from there, those were the guys and the girls were, the Valedas were kind of an off, came from the... it was a high school group that was formed by the YWCA and then so that group went into the college group, not the same people I think basically, but it added more people. But that was our social life, if that, and then off campus many of us would go to the church groups. And I spent a lot of time after school at church. It depends on the person, I think. I think some of us after school worked so there wasn't too much social life per se I don't think.

LH: So you didn't have, so your involvement with the Valedas was pretty minimal or was it...

FG: Mine was, but I think it depends on...

LH: On the individual.

FG: Yeah.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

LH: Well, going more then to your academic life at the U, what did you decide to study once you got there?

FG: Oh, I had my life, I had my heart set on becoming a medical technologist. And then so that's what I started off in, and my mother kept asking me what are you doing, and I tried to explain to her. She said is that like a nurse and I thought, well, kind of. Is it working in the hospital? Yes. "You know, Fumiko, you've never been really very strong so therefore I don't think that that's a very good thing for you, besides you probably will be getting married, right?" Right. So anyway, I switched to home ec. But I didn't want to be a dietitian 'cause I was more interested in the art side, but still anyway I took all of these food courses. So now I call it food technology. I never did anything. Oh, I know what I was going to say. Then I thought what am I going to do with home ec? And then so I thought the only thing you can do with it because we couldn't do demonstration as a home economist, right. I didn't think I'd want to do anything like that anyway so I thought okay, teaching. Everybody was in, everybody was in education. Everybody was teaching. So I thought okay. And then I think the first, I guess, the first couple of courses I took a week we went to visit the schools, and I looked up at the students and they were all taller than I was. Everybody. And I thought, I cannot discipline these people. They're too big. [Laughs] I thought no, I can't do this so I don't know.

Then I started wondering about what I was going to do and then by that time I was a junior. And my dad thought I ought to visit, make a visit to Japan so I went to Japan. And then I really knew that's not what I wanted to do. [Laughs] But actually I had a... Oh, one of the things we did in the first couple of years in college was every time our grades started dropping, we would take Japanese [Laughs] and raise our grade point. But it just happened that one of my professors was Dr. Richard McKinnon and it just happened that when I was in Japan in 1955 Dr. McKinnon was there on a Fulbright scholarship. And so I talked to him about staying in Japan and going to school, and he says, "Well, first of all, don't do it half. Go back and then come back. Go back and finish your degree at the U and then come back and do further studies." So then that got me thinking that I really didn't want to go into home ec, I really didn't want to teach, I didn't know really what I wanted to do. But then I wanted to do something that had to do with Japan because I wanted to go back. And so I came back and I took, to finish off my courses I took more Japanese courses. And then I ended up with a kind of a major and a minor type of thing, and it was really a bachelor of arts, bachelor of science degree in food technology with a minor in Japanese. What do you do with something like that? So then right after that, after I graduated I went to work as a file clerk at the telephone company. Doesn't that sound fitting?

LH: That's an interesting, interesting sort of weird path that you took in terms of choosing your major. And one of the things that struck me there was what your mother had said was that, in high school that you were saying that they actually did want you to get a good education. But once you got to college that your mother actually said that's not really a good major for you, it wasn't a good career decision, that you were going to get married anyway. Do you think that that was sort of...

FG: Inconsistency? I don't know. It didn't bother me because what it is is that it depended on what I wanted to do, right? My life, the way I led my life from day-to-day, from morning 'til night, my mother could tell me, could give me advice and tell me how to do that, right? But when it came to the bigger things in life then it was my father, and my father always, he always encouraged me to go to school. It really puzzled me because I was a girl and why would he want a girl educated? That's what I used to wonder, but it didn't bother him at all.

LH: So your father always encouraged you to go get an education.

FG: Uh-huh. And then I told him, I told him when I was in Japan when I was a junior that I wanted to stay, and I wanted to go to school in Japan. And my father said good, sure, why don't you. But my mother didn't think I should and so I didn't.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

LH: Well, at this time I also want to talk about your relationship with your father in terms of his relationship again with the Nikkeijinkai and his role as sort of hospitality. Because there was something we had talked about earlier in a previous conversation about how you, while you were growing up, sort of became an impromptu tour guide for him. Could you describe that and what that was like?

FG: Kind of interesting. When you... I don't know whether it's because you have a driver's license and you want to drive a car and the family has a car, right, that's where it starts. Then my father was involved with Nikkeijinkai and he used to be, he was the social service chairman. And so every time there were visitors from Japan including the vessels, the naval vessels and the maritime vessels and the research vessels, if the Nikkeijinkai was involved and my father was involved and he also involved himself in it from the not only the Nikkeijinkai part of it, but then if the group was very large he would look for those who were from Hiroshima, and then he got the Hiroshima Kenjinkai involved. And so then with his involvement then that meant that one, we would have a lot of visitors in the house and my mother did a lot of cooking and we entertained a lot of people. Then two, it meant that whoever drove my father's car would also drive the people that he invited, and then if my father thought that the people that he invited should have a tour of the city, then I was attached to the steering wheel, right? So, therefore, I would be driving. Well, then they would ask me what this was and what that was and then so I'd explain it. So I had to really brush up on my Japanese and really work on it, but I think it paid off. I'm a lot richer for it, but I did a lot of tour guiding and then I even graduated to the bus. One year the ships, there was a big ship that came in from Japan and they put them all, these were cadets and they put them on three buses to go to Mount Rainier. And so my father put me on one of the buses and I was a tour guide that went and if that wasn't scary. [Laughs] I had to explain everything from here to Mount Rainier, and I didn't know what it was. [Laughs] But, anyway, it was really interesting and I had to try to act very professional and I had no idea what a tour guide did, but I did it anyway. But partially what it was was the bus driver would tell me in English and then I would translate it in Japanese.

LH: You translate it over.

FG: But the part that the guys were really looking forward to was the rest stops. [Laughs] They didn't really care what I was saying. What they wanted to know -- the rest stops usually had little stores, right, usually have the little stores no matter where you are. They wanted to buy little souvenirs. So anyway, that was my --

LH: So they weren't interested in scenery, they were interested in buying.

FG: So actually I guess it wasn't too hard. They weren't really listening anyway. [Laughs]

LH: But it was interesting that your father asked you to do this instead of asking maybe another member of the kenjinkai or the Nikkeijinkai. Why did he ask you to do this?

FG: Control. Who else would you have more control over than your family? [Laughs] Yeah. I mean, when my brother was home, he would use my brother. My brother was rarely home, but then it was, it's real easy to ask family members. They're kind of appendages, right? That's why, I think. I don't know, but whatever it is, whatever you're assigned with, I think you become that much richer for because you have to do it. And I think it was much easier to give orders to me than it would be to anybody else that he knew including the people who worked for him.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

LH: And I guess we should go toward the more recent part of your life after you graduated from the University of Washington. Obviously you started work as a, you said a file clerk. How long did that last and what did you do after that?

FG: About six months. What I was really waiting for was I was waiting for the examination for the, I wanted to work for the airlines, Northwest Airlines, and I was waiting. I took the telephone company job while I was waiting for the... they hired only certain times of the year because they also trained so I was between the time that the books were open and the time that I graduated I worked at the telephone company. But then I applied for the Northwest Airlines. I really wanted to fly because I wanted to go to Japan. But, anyway, I went to train in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and it's a one month training program. And that training program for stewardesses and for reservation agents is basically the same thing, but what I was told at the main office was that they weren't mixing the crew.

LH: Now what did that mean, they weren't mixing the crew?

FG: They couldn't have Japanese as, they couldn't have Japanese stewardesses, only in Japan, but not in the U.S. and it was because they were part of the railroad union.

LH: That's interesting. So the railroad union had a rule that said no mixed crews.

FG: Yeah. Yeah.

LH: And that affected your ability to get a job.

FG: Yeah, and it changed about two years after. But, anyway, so then I trained for reservation, as a reservation agent, which was really kind of interesting 'cause you do travel work. And also you do get flying privileges too, but not like if you were a stewardess. [Laughs] I wasn't particularly interested as the glamour in it I just wanted to get from place to place. But, anyway, this was a very... I don't know, very naive way of looking at things, I'm sure.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

LH: So after Northwest Airlines then what did you pursue?

FG: Oh, well I got married and it was a student from Japan, and he had worked for my dad. And he asked my father for my hand and my father said yes. [Laughs] So then Hiro and I got married. Hiro was here as a graduate student and so going, we were trying to save money and so going from here to the airport every day took a lot of gas. So I got a job on campus at the University of Washington library, typist. Incidentally, I was working for Paul Allen's father, Kenneth Allen, Ken Allen.

LH: What were you doing and what was his position at the library?

FG: He was the... he was a... was he the head librarian or he was the manager? He was managing. He was a librarian. He had a library degree, but he worked right under the head librarian. He did administrative, he was an administrative librarian, I think, but I just did clerical work. Kind of interesting because he's the one that the library today is named after, that Paul named it after. But, anyway, yes. So I worked at the library and then I was asked if I would like to work at the Seattle Public Library as a, working with children as a... Now, you call that what? Paraprofessional or whatever you call it. It's a paraprofessional librarian. But, anyway, at that time we were called clericals, but we did the work of the librarian without a library degree. And I only had a bachelors so I was a paraprofessional and I did that for about ten years. And in the meanwhile, I had children. And then I was working and then my supervisor asked me to go back to school and get my library degree and I thought well, I don't know. And she insisted on it so I thought all right.

LH: Why did she insist that you go back and get your degree?

FG: Because we were, there was a group of us that were hired as paraprofessionals doing the children's library work. And she was about to retire and she felt that she couldn't protect us after she retired, after she was gone because we're supposedly any person, anybody that works in the librarian's capacity, has a library degree.

LH: So without the degree there wouldn't be any guarantee that you would still have a job.

FG: Exactly. Exactly. And that's what worried Ms. Darrah and so she asked me to go back to school and I did, but what I did too was I went to, I went to school. I was accepted into graduate school and into the school, library school and then I worked as a librarian. I worked in the library. I worked the nights and I went to school in the day at daytime.

LH: And this was still while you were raising children.

FG: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

LH: When were your children born?

FG: In the '60s. Let's see, one what was born in, my daughter was born in '61 and my son was born in '63.

LH: And so at this time and you started going to the library school in what year?

FG: Seventy.

LH: Seventy. So you had --

FG: Well, actually I was in library school from '69 because I was taking, but I went back full time. You have to spend the whole, the last year on campus.

LH: Studying full time.

FG: Yeah, full time.

LH: So almost like your mother who had two children, here you were going, working, going to school, studying too...

FG: Yes. But the difference is that my mother helped me with my children. See, because I was also by that time I was single again, I was divorced. And so my kids, my mother helped me raise them. They were in school and after school and things like that. And so that's how I could go to school and work at the same time.

LH: So it wasn't any, it wasn't just juggling, but the fact that your mother was able to help you look after your children and keep going to school. Was it difficult for you to do that though in terms of knowing that you had to have your mother look after them or...

FG: It wasn't difficult for me. I think it may have been for them, for my kids. It wasn't for me because, see, what happened was when part way through our marriage, my marriage with their father, he was in finance. He was a banker and he got a real good position up in Anchorage when Anchorage was just still growing and what it was was he decided he wanted to go up to Anchorage. I didn't know anything about this, but he decided that, and I thought I wasn't really sure I wanted to go to Anchorage 'cause my mother and father weren't there. Well, I guess quite early on when he decided to go up to Anchorage -- and he did -- I decided that and my rationale, right or wrong, was that I felt that I wanted my kids to have a Japanese background. I wanted them to be culturally savvy and I had doubts that I could teach them language and culture, history, like my mother and father could. I mean, I could do part of it, but not as well as they could, right. The English part I could do, but the Japanese I felt that -- my mother wrote very well and she wrote very beautifully and there is little things that I felt that they could get from my parents better than if I did it myself because their father wasn't interested, even if he was from Japan, he wasn't that interested in Japanese things 'cause he grew up during the war so therefore he wasn't very interested. And so then when I had to go to school and leave my kids with my parents, to me it was no big deal. I mean, not big deal, but I felt that they were in very good hands. If I had to have babysitters, I think I would have thought twice about it, but I felt that they were in better hands, maybe even than my own. That's the way I felt about it. But I think it resulted in something that I had not anticipated at all is that I think it was a lot harder on the kids than I thought it was. But, anyway, I'm sorry, but I...

LH: Well, it's hard to make those decisions at the time and not knowing what the results would be.

FG: I guess it was, in a way it was selfish probably because I was thinking education-wise and I wasn't, I guess I wasn't thinking so much how is this effecting them psychologically or whatever, but I don't know. I felt they were better off, but I don't think that it was really my decision to make who is better off how. I don't know who makes those decisions, but after the whole, after all the cards are on the table then you look at it and you think, well, maybe it really wasn't yours to make that decision, but I didn't know that at that time.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 43>

LH: Well, you were successful in getting your degree eventually. What did you do then after you got the degree at the UW?

FG: I got a position down in American Samoa as a territorial librarian, and I took the kids and the three of us went down and we lived in Samoa for three years.

LH: So what was that like? I mean, complete change of venue and your life for three years.

FG: Interesting. It was very different. It was very interesting because there were different culture and completely different place and the weather is different and just everything was so different. No matter where you go, that you have, there are difficulties, but I think in the long run I think it was very interesting. I think it was very interesting. I still don't know, I still don't know how my kids think, what my kids think about it. But it was, for me it was part of my life that I'm glad I had. And everything, a lot of things that, a lot of things that were associated with my career to me are plus. I'm not sure that they were plus for other people, like I'm not sure they were pluses for my children, but they were for me, which is kind of selfish, I guess. But I did a lot of traveling with the job, with the work. What I did was when I graduated from the library school, I decided not to go into libraries per se, but I wanted to become an information specialist. This was early on. This was before computers were really, really there. I think there is a position or a career called information specialist now. I made it up. For me, I made it up. I thought I don't want to be a librarian, I'm going to work with information. I want to work with information dissemination and what do I call that? Well, it's information specialist. That's what my professor said, I said okay, fine. So then I go looking for a job. They say, "What are you?" "Well," I say, "I'm an information specialist." "Well, what do you specialize in?" "Information." [Laughs] "Well, what kind of information ?" "Well, what kind of information do you have?" It went around and around. It was really funny, but, yeah, I know my, after I went back to library school they asked me, my professor asked me if I would come and talk to the library school, his library school class, to tell them how I got into this, and I thought I can't. I don't know how. [Laughs] I said I don't think I'm up to it, but it was one of those things.

So consequently with that type of attitude and title, then I got into a lot of very interesting situations, like I ended up working with fisheries information, and I got to do translating and interpreting. I translated material from Washington D.C. and then I also in between jobs -- see, I had a hard time finding jobs -- but in-between jobs and then I did, some of the assignments I got were like taking officials and the fisheries people in the fisheries field to Japan and going to conferences and then helping interpret. And it was kind of important to have a background in the material you were interpreting especially because if it was sensitive, politically sensitive. And so it was a real learning experience. It was very interesting. I met a lot of interesting people and so I traveled quite a bit. And then my swan song, the last assignment I got was I went to, it was with the State Department and I went to Africa. And I spent four months there doing a feasibility study on, it's interesting, on fisheries in Africa. And so I got to travel in all of southern Africa including South Africa, but then there is nine other countries in that --

LH: And what year was this that you did this?

FG: 1987.

LH: So this was just within the last ten years that you went there. And this is still when Africa, South Africa, was still under apartheid rule.

FG: Yes. Yes. And there was a lot of -- and oh, yeah and then I was in Mozambique and Angola when and it was under martial law, martial rule. Yeah. You could hear the guns in the background, [Laughs] really interesting. I feel very, very fortunate though. I don't know. I don't know how I got to do the things I got to do, but I was glad I did it.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 44>

LH: Well, just to wrap up then, I want to actually go on a little bit of a sort side tangent to your career as an information specialist, particularly because I know now currently you're working with the museum, the Japanese American Museum here in Seattle, the effort to get that going with the -- is it the Nikkeijinkai who is or is the Japanese... Japanese Community Services, excuse me, is in charge of that or is that the...

FG: It's a combination, but right now I think it's... well, it's a combination of Japanese school and the Japanese American, Japanese Community Service.

LH: Japanese Community Service and the Japanese Language School. Well, using your background knowledge of that, why do you think it's important to preserve these things, and how did you get involved into preserving this kind of information for people?

FG: Might be because I got involved because of the people I know probably that they talked me into it, right? And I wouldn't hesitate to help because I felt that after my mother and father died, I did a lot of cleaning up at the house and I did a lot of saving. When I was first cleaning out their house, I worked with the University of Washington Archives, but many of the things that I had that have to do with Japanese Community Service, Hiroshima Kenjinkai, and Buddhist church were written in Japanese. And the university didn't really have the facilities to take those luckily and so I just kept them. And so I was kind of, I think I was kind of complaining to somebody I have all these things I don't know what to do with, right? And so they said, well, we're going to start the museum up and I says you want them? They would take them so that's how I got involved. But mostly though I think I've always thought that it's a very, very important project because we're losing the Issei -- and this is quoting my husband -- but the Issei phenomenon is a very special phenomenon just as the Nisei phenomenon is and it'll never happen again. The Isseis are kind of like the pioneers that came west. It's the same sort of thing. It will never happen again. The Nisei experience will never happen again. It would be a shame if nobody ever, if everybody forgot what had happened and how the people came to be, why the Sansei, Yonsei, are where they are. I mean, why they're here, period, is because way in the back they had ancestors that traveled from Japan and came here, but then if I were them, I think would want to know a little bit about my own roots, that sort of thing. And it would be a shame to lose, to lose it, and to lose the artifacts and memorabilia that we would have, we wouldn't have if we didn't have a museum.

LH: But you also mentioned, again, in a previous conversation that it was something that your father was also interested in, too, that he was interested in somehow preserving history.

FG: My father always has been very interested in history and so he always, my father always thought of... what is it? Going back and following the generations and things like that. And he always had my mother write it up. [Laughs] My mother did the writing; my father did the thinking. And so I ended up with all this written work that my father had thought of, and he even wrote kind of a personal history, his own personal history. It wasn't the family, it was just his own, that sort of thing. But my father always kind of looked, he always felt that this sort of thing was important. I think he would heartily support a museum today. In fact, I think he would insist on it. But these things sort of came up kind of after he passed away. Daddy and I had talked about it before and he thought that, he thought it was important too, but I don't know. I think there's also there's always, no matter what you do, there's a political factor. And I was telling my father I don't know how to, I don't know how to think of that and he said you must. [Laughs]

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 45>

LH: Well, as a final question and you've talked about it a little bit before, but for people who will be watching this interview and also reading from it, what do you think are the important lessons to learn about the Issei experience and the Nisei experience? What are the things that you think people need to understand and realize about the Issei and the Nisei?

FG: Well, that's a very, that's a very difficult question to answer. I think one of the things is that I always have felt that we that we, as Nisei, need to, should never forget the sacrifices and the efforts that the Issei, and the hardships that the Issei went through. And that because of them, here we are. I think whatever the Nisei went through, I'd like to see the Sansei be aware of and I think -- I don't think the word is appreciate, but I think that there's a lot, there's so much to be proud of, that, of our past that I think for a time the Nisei lost it. They lost the pride in being who they are, and I would like to see the younger generation, the generations that come from now, be glad that they have, and be proud, be proud of their ancestry, their background, of the people that have gone before.

LH: Well, thank you very much. This has been an interview with Fumiko Uyeda Groves. Today is June 16, 1998, and we're here at the Densho offices here in Seattle, Washington. Thank you again.

<End Segment 45> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.