Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Mitsu Fukui Interview
Narrator: Mitsu Fukui
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 18 & 19, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-fmitsu-01-0035

<Begin Segment 35>

AI: Well, when you first started up your dry cleaning business again after the war, who were your customers? Because before the war, your customers had stopped coming, so who were your customers in this new business?

MF: Oh, they came. They didn't care who it was. And we had a flourishing business. My husband was very particular about his work. He would never hire anybody because he wasn't satisfied. And he worked his self to death 'cause we were so busy. He used to get up three o'clock in the morning go to work and he'd come home around eight o'clock, have breakfast and pick me up to work. He was really a good presser.

AI: Well, you were just explaining about how the banks wouldn't loan you money for the building that you wanted to build.

MF: Yeah. We went to Citizen's Bank and they said no and then we went, oh, couple places and then finally we got a loan. And we borrowed twelve thousand dollars and so happened that we got, we, we had twelve thousand dollars the bank loaned us, and one of our former customers in Montlake said he'll loan us some money. But I remember we were almost going to ask for a little more from him but it so happened my husband's insurance matured and I think he got about twenty-five thousand dollars, that was about six months after we borrowed from the bank. So we were very comfortably settled. And it took about four months to build a building and then we moved out and this Chinese man was real mad because we moved out and we didn't sign a lease. Good thing we didn't sign a lease so we could move right out. My attorney said, "Don't sign a lease." He says, "If you gonna plan to move out," he says, "don't sign a lease." So I guess this Chinese man didn't know anything about lease. But anyways, we built it in about three or four months, right on the corner. And it was a really ideal place 'cause you could drive your car right to the door. And we were the second one in the cleaning business to have a drive-in and boy, people from Madrona and even from West Seattle used to come. They said they recommend us, our work. And from Laurelhurst, we had about five customers from Laurelhurst. They would drive in and they said, "You know, we drove way over here. I heard that Japanese people are very good in pressing and their work is excellent." And my husband was very particular about his work and that's why he had more than enough work for him.

AI: So after the war, you really were able to get your business going fairly well?

MF: Yeah, and you know we had, we bought a house, it was eleven thousand dollar house which was worth I think about ten times more right now. [Laughs]

AI: Where was the house that you bought?

MF: It was the 300 block and Twenty-ninth. It was a nice old colonial home. It had a great big -- you could put two double beds in the bedroom and still have room. It was a huge bedroom. David had the same size bedroom for himself, too, the same floor, second floor. And everything was hardwood, the floor, we bought Karastan rug because it was such a beautiful floor. And, you know, the banister that you go up? Oh my gosh. You don't see that kinda thing anymore.

AI: About when was that when you moved into your house there?

MF: 300 block and Twenty-ninth.

AI: About what year was that?

MF: Gee...

AI: Maybe a few years after you got back?

MF: That was our first house, so... when did the war end?

AI: You came back to Seattle in '45.

MF: '45. Well, we bought it... well, we lived in my mom's place until we bought this house. So I think it was about six months, I guess, after we came back we bought this house. That was the time that we had a hard time getting a loan.

AI: That's right.

MF: And it was owned by an elderly couple and it was just spic and span. Beautiful yard, and husband liked to garden so he had beautiful rose garden and my husband used to get up around five o'clock in the morning to spray them and water them, everything before we went to work. Beautiful rose garden. I bet that lady was very unhappy moving out there but I guess she said it was too much of a work to have a big house like that for herself now that her husband passed on. So she was gonna move to Everett where her son was living, closer to her family.

AI: I wanted to ask you, what did that neighborhood look like?

MF: It was all Caucasian and by the time we sold that house, a lot of Negroes came in. Uh-huh.

AI: So it was a changing neighborhood?

MF: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.