Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Marianne West Interview
Narrator: Marianne West
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Klamath Falls, Oregon
Date: July 2, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-wmarianne-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

AI: And tell me, how did you find out about this information about your dad and your mom?

MW: My dad would talk about it when we'd ask him. And for a long time I didn't know, but it was, I learned most of this after the camp years. He told me about episodes of coming over, not being able to speak English, going to the store and needing an alarm clock, and he would make the motion of sleeping and then make a noise like an alarm clock, and the clerk would know he needed an alarm clock. He would go in when he needed eggs, and cackle like a chicken, and the clerk would know it was either chicken or eggs. [Laughs] And things like hand soap, he made the motions of washing his hands -- laundry soap, he would make the motions of scrubbing on a washboard. And eventually, as he got things by motion, he learned the words and he learned English, and he eventually taught himself also to read and write.

AI: That's very resourceful. Well, so, now you mentioned that when you were young in Leavenworth, they decided that they would, you would speak English in the home. What about your mother? Did she speak English also?

MW: She was speaking English pretty good when we went to camp. But after she came out of camp, she's kind of a lost cause, 'cause she spoke Japanese in camp and I think she lost a lot of her English. Which is the same with my Japanese. I have to think before I speak now instead of speaking right out.

AI: But, as a child, you were, you would speak Japanese and English.

MW: Mixed, uh-huh. Really didn't know the difference between one language and the other.

AI: And did you ever have any trouble in school because of that as far as teachers or other kids?

MW: No. The teacher was a friend of our family's, and so she was very polite in the way she corrected me. She never embarrassed me in the classroom or anything. And it wasn't long before I knew which words were which.

AI: And what, can you tell me a little bit about the ethnic composition of Leavenworth or of your classes? Were there any other kids there who were not Caucasian other than yourself?

MW: No. I was the only Asian, and there were, there were some Italian families that kind of stayed to themselves. But, outside of that, I was probably the only minority. We were the only ones in town.

AI: So then tell me, then what happened after Leavenworth.

MW: Well, we moved to Marcus, which is where Lake Washington -- Lake Roosevelt is now. And the government bought out the town and flooded it to make the lake. And so that's when we moved out to the coast. But also there, we were the only Japanese in town. There were a few Native Americans, but outside of that, I was probably the only minority in town.

AI: And then about how long did you stay there before moving to the coast?

MW: We stayed there 'til I was a sophomore in high school.

AI: Was it difficult for you, then, having to move away?

MW: Not really. I seemed to adjust easily whenever we, we moved.

AI: And where did you move to when you went to the coast?

MW: We moved to Skykomish, and from Skykomish, we moved to Mukilteo, and then to Bellingham. That was all in a space, it must have been two years. And I went to camp from Bellingham.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.