Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Ruby Inouye Interview
Narrator: Ruby Inouye
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Dee Goto (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 3 & 4, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-iruby-01-0005

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DG: What was the community like, around...?

RI: Well, there were lots of, we seemed to congregate together. You know, the Japanese people tend to stay in the same neighborhood so next door, across the street, half a block away, we were all Japanese families. Everybody had kids. We were, there were always plenty of friends and we'd all congregate at the corner and we'd play games and, and...

DG: What kind of games?

AI: Yeah, we played jintori and Kick the Can and in the winter, we'd be skating or ice skating. I mean, there was always plenty of friends. But there was, my sister was a very sociable person and she was always out and, but I was more a stay-at-home kind of person. So I was a quiet, quite shy. But Bessie was always out with lot of friends. And then my mother would say, oh, that you'd think that she's having a good time with her friends, then they're fighting, and then they're fighting by standing on their porches. My, across the street was another family and that daughter would be, stand on her porch and Bessie will be on our porch and they're yelling across the street. You know, they're fighting. And then my mom says, "Next minute they're together again." [Laughs]

AI: Was that on Spruce Street, where your house was?

RI: On East Spruce, uh-huh.

AI: And what was the cross street near there?

RI: On, near Tenth Avenue, Tenth and Eleventh Avenue. And then nearby was the Baptist church.

DG: So that's right where the housing project is now, right?

RI: The housing project is across Broadway. Well, let's see, across Broadway but near Yesler. So there's no housing project --

DG: Oh, I see.

RI: -- right there.

DG: Just past that. Okay.

RI: Yeah. See, there's Boren Avenue.

DG: Right.

RI: And then the Baptist church is on Broadway and East Spruce. And we were down the street. So we used to go to the church and the church supplied all our social activities, actually. We used to... we had a girl's group. It was called the WWG, World Wide Guild. And then other churches had their groups so there were basketball games together and, and lots of socializing. I think there was. And then...

DG: Was there a daycare then?

RI: No. No daycare. Oh, we did go to daycare. We went to a Maryknoll kindergarten. And I remember that my sister, Frances, and I used to get on a bus and go to Maryknoll. And that must've been around Sixteenth and near Providence, Jefferson, around there. And I remember that the bus will pick us up and we'd be sitting and all the rest of the kids seemed like they were Japanese. But one Japanese girl sitting across from me said -- as Fran and I were sitting together -- "Well, that girl looks nice but that girl doesn't look good, very good," and she was looking at me. And at that time I thought well, if I'm, if I'm, well, I don't know how she said it, but apparently my impression was that I was ugly-looking whereas my sister was nice-looking. So at that time I think it influenced me in thinking that well, looks isn't important. It's not that big a deal. So I'm gonna do the best I can in other ways. And I kind of think that influenced me, because I've never been very interested in how I look or what to wear. I mean, in fact, today I made a effort -- [laughs] -- to try to look a little nice. But, I don't care to spend a lot of time before a mirror and making up or anything. So, I remember that. That was on the Maryknoll bus, going to kindergarten. So apparently, our parents were able to send us here and there to be taken care of because I guess they were busy and my mother was busy at the restaurant, too, so...

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.