Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Elaine Ishikawa Hayes Interview I
Narrator: Elaine Ishikawa Hayes
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 12 & 13, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-helaine-01

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: Today is May 12, 2004. We're here at the Densho office in Seattle. I'm Alice Ito with Densho. We're with Elaine Hayes -- thanks very much for being with us today.

EH: You're welcome.

AI: And John Pai on videography. And Elaine, I wanted to start off at, at kind of the beginning with a basic question, and if you could tell us your birth date and also, what was your name when you were born?

EH: Okay. I was born June 30, 1923, in Willows, California. What was your other question?

AI: And what was your, your name at birth?

EH: Oh, Elaine Ishikawa.

AI: Great. And I wanted to ask you, did you have any Japanese name that was given to you --

EH: Well --

AI: -- besides Elaine?

EH: -- that's an interesting question. Part of my family remembers the name Ineko, but it's not on my birth certificate, and it's not a very... it always arouses a lot of questions or teasing or whatever. "Ine" actually means the rice stalk, and I, I was born I think almost at the time of rice harvest in Northern California. That's why that name comes up, but since it's not on my birth certificate, I never used it.

AI: I see.

EH: One of my sisters still calls me that, but she has almost no business doing that. [Laughs]

AI: Well, I wanted to ask a little about your family's background.

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: And if you could tell a little bit about your father and his early life and some of his family background in Japan, what you might know of it.

EH: Okay. My, my paternal grandfather was a Shinto priest or a kannushi of a kind and ruled a fairly small village in Iwate-ken, it was called Anetai. Now Anetai is part of Mizusawa, which is a bigger town. There was a drought, a long drought in, in that area in Japan, and so my grandfather gathered a small group and they took a labor contract in the big island of Hawaii to work in the sugar cane fields. And my father was, my father was born in 1890, so this was 1897. And so my father grew up in the sugar cane field areas of, of Hawaii and when my paternal grandparents decided that they had earned enough and decided to return to Iwate-ken, my father was seventeen and he didn't want to start school all over, so he said he would go to San Francisco and finish high school. And in those days that was not that unusual.

So he came to San Francisco and finished high school, and when he went back to Japan to marry my -- my parents were promised, as is very common in Asian countries as young children -- so when my father came back to marry my mother, he was told that people are going to college these days. "You go back and get a degree, then you can marry my daughter," is what my maternal grandmother said. So he came back and went to Healds Business School in Berkeley, and then went back to Japan and could marry my mother. It was during a busy season in the rice business. Because he finished this business college he was able to do a variety of work like labor contracts and -- though he did even do some portering work on, on the railroad at some point. But he was able to lease a thousand acres from a banker in Oakland, and the thousand acres was along the Sacramento River in a town called Willows, California. It's one of the first small towns that you hit going south on I-5 in Northern California. And he was able to talk a friend into joining him, because my father growing up in Hawaii didn't know that much about rice growing, but a thousand acres is a sizable area, so they made a success of it for, from about 1918 to '24, when they had their leave. But they put cement ditches in. And I asked my mother... my mother died in 1990, and I asked her a couple of years before she died, "How did you plant the rice? You couldn't have planted seedlings like we saw in geography books." And she said, "No. By airplane." So even in the late teen years, 1900 teen years, they were able to sow seeds, rice seeds, and the higher you're up, the deeper they're going to drop into the mud. And my mother said that when she came from Japan she said -- witnessed the rice harvest. She said the rice was taller than she was. And she was 4' 10", four feet ten.

But it was, I think, a very comfortable way of life. They -- my father hired a few men, and if they had families, they were able to build little kind of shanties, small houses, for their families. If they weren't married, then they lived in a bachelor quarters, and they had -- and then my father had hired a good friend from a good hotel in San Francisco to come and be the camp cook. And so it was a comfortable living. The women all helped in the kitchen and probably tended gardens, vegetable gardens because there was plenty of land. They were pretty self-sufficient. They had a lot of chickens and, and Mr. Fujinami, the cook, made wooden traps to catch huge catfish, and he would put rocks to weigh it down, put it in the ditch. And my mother said they were so big that he could only carry one catfish on his back, back to the cookhouse. So my mother said people loved to come work for my father because there was always eggs and fish and chicken and plenty of rice. And the neighbors, the people around them were intrigued at the size of the hens and the eggs and they thought my parents had brought some special breed of, of chickens. And that wasn't the case. It was because there was so much grain left on the fields because the harvester probably was not that efficient, so a lot of grain was left on the fields and the birds could have a field day. The eggs were big and, and people came to buy the chicks and the eggs from miles around.

And, but it was a very comfortable life until the alien land law got passed, and if you were not eligible to become a citi-, to be a citizen, you could not lease or buy land. And that law passed in '24, 1924. I was born in '23, so my father could have bought it in my name, but I think there was just too much to do. He had to get rid of all the machinery and the animals. And I think my mother even had cow -- my father had cows, because my mother had to learn how to milk cows. And, and as she talked about making cheese, there was so much milk, when the milk got sour she would pour them into sugar sacks or some, some kind of sack and just tie a knot, hang 'em over the, the faucet, over a spigot of whatever kind they had and let all the, the liquid flow out. And the cheese would get very hard, and she... of course she said adjusting to cheese was a big challenge for her. But she, she always liked cheese after that. I think she even said that she learned how to make buttons out of this curd, because it was so hard and tough that it made buttons. Though, you know, it made you wonder what, what happens to your, to the buttons when you wash your clothes. [Laughs] Does it disintegrate? I, I never heard all of that. But they had pigs, hogs, and my mother used to say that was, that was a mess. Because I was a toddler and I'd get out there in the yard, and I'm sure I didn't play with the pigs but it must have been... it probably wasn't sanitarily kept clean. But she said the corn was a foot long and always covered with flies and they never worried about that. But they had plenty of... I'm, I'm sure she must have learned to use butter.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

AI: Well, let me ask you a little bit about your mother's family background also.

EH: Okay, well, my father, well, I think he never really got back to, to Japan until he went to marry my mother.

AI: Oh, and excuse me.

EH: And then he came back here.

AI: I'm sorry. I should have asked you, what was your father's name?

EH: Taneo Ishikawa. And my mother's name, maiden name, was Taka Ohira. And interestingly enough, as happens in, in Japan, my, my grandmother, maternal grandmother, was an only child, and she carried the family name because she was an only child. She was also a Minamoto, and I never knew that until my (...) mother was visiting in, in about '55 and said... and my mother asked Ralph, "What are you teaching?" He very excitedly said, "Grandma, you know (who) my favorite -- I'm teaching Asian history, and my favorite character in, in Japanese history is Hideyoshi," I think. Anyway, my mother said, "No, no, no good. He beat my clan." (...) And Ralph said, "Who's your clan?" And she said, "Minamoto." And Ralph said, "What? You're a Minamoto? What are you doing here?" Because she was of privileged class, and she could have done well. But my mother never talked about that background. And we never learned Japanese history in Japanese school. All we managed to learn is reading and writing and, and kanji. Sometimes the stories were about some historic figure, but it was never a continuity that we could pick it up as part of history. And it wasn't until that happened in 1955 when my third one was born that I heard just that little bit. And even after that, my mother never mentioned it again. But she, she did have a kind of a privileged life.

Born in 1900, and she was a bright, strong-willed person, particularly because she had three brothers under her, and in, in Japan as maybe in a lot of Asian countries, girls have (a lot) to do, from the time they're little, my mother always grumbled and we listened to it all our lives, that she had to carry buckets of water from the well from the time she was five. She had to get up at five o'clock in the morning and cook the rice, though she washed the rice the night before and (it) was soaking in water, that she had to light the little wood cook stove. (...) After school, (she) always had a little one on her back. The crisscross cloths to tie the little one was always waiting for her. And her brothers could just throw their books on the veranda and maybe eat a little snack and go off and play. And so she grew up being kind of a woman's libber because she hated that era. And, and I think she had to cope with things like her, her brothers took her dolls down to the creek and washed, gave 'em a bath and that just ruined whatever few toys she had.

But she, she was a bright person, and she took an exam at the age of fourteen, for teacher-training school, and she passed it. But she was only fourteen, and so she had to wait another year to be fifteen before she could start those classes. And in the meantime, she said, she kind of grumbled about (having) to learn shamisen and ikebana and odori, and she hated all that, she said. So when... by the time she got to teaching, and I suppose that happens. That could have happened in many countries, that fifteen-year-olds could become teachers of one kind. She said (...) they never had classes, but I can't believe that they didn't have at least one year of basic... she did talk about psychology. She (said to) a mutual friend of ours, (...) "Oh, your mother was just like her," meaning she was heavy and our friend is heavy. And, and that person said, "Oh, so you're accusing me of an Oedipus complex." And my mother knew Freud, because it was just starting in the '20s and early... (...) a master teacher moved from class... from school to school and analyzed your methods, gave you instructions, criticism, or whatever. (...) She told me -- and this is northern Japan, snow country and icy. (...) She had eighty kids in their second grade class, and she had to skate on ice sometimes to visit the children (...) who were absent. And it got way into nighttime, and the, the farmers would put lanterns on the riverbanks to help her get to them. But, and she said sometimes the droughts were terrible. She said sometimes the kids would be all yellow because all they had to eat was kabocha, the yellow pumpkin. But generally speaking, I think she enjoyed (it). (...) When my younger sisters were beginning to learn their alphabet or read, my mother would be saying, "C-A-T spells 'cat.' R-A-T spells 'rat.'" And she was teaching English even from second grade, in that simple routine that we still use in American elementary school system.

AI: So, excuse me. Was this somewhat unusual, then, for someone... for a young woman like your mother in that era to be, to get so much education and then to actually be a teacher?

EH: No, because I have... I have an aunt, my mother's brother, the next uncle, married a person who graduated from the same school. This was... I think it was, it's in Morioka, and now... in '78 when I went to Japan the first time, one of my paternal cousins drove (me) up to Morioka to show me the college that my mother went to. It was still being used. It was a dark, wooden building, but... and, and then, interestingly enough, in about '87, one of the last trips that my mother took to Japan, and, and my youngest sister had said, "I'm taking Mom to Japan. You come and get her." So in '87 I took a trip to... '86, I guess, I took a trip and, and spent time with her and relatives. Also, my youngest son was in, in Asia Daigaku that year in Japan, and so he came up to also meet my... meet his grandmother, and it was fun listening. And we would go to graveyards and she would recollect family's names and she would start telling us about the candy shop owner. On that trip, her youngest brother, my youngest uncle had died suddenly and we were supposed to stay with them, but he wasn't feeling well, so we went to another relative. And when, when he died, the mayor of the city came riding a bicycle. Snow white hair but very, (well-dressed) in a suit and very dignified-looking, and he greeted my mother, because they were in the same class. And though the dormitories were naturally separated, they had to have some classes. And so she (was) talking about, I think every Friday they had to have storytelling and public speaking and lecturing, and he was in that class with her.

I think there was an edict, probably by Meiji Tenno to open public schools, that public schools through maybe eighth grade or sixth grade was going to be mandatory. My paternal (great-grandfather), or maybe my (maternal) great-grandfather was ordered to establish a school in Anetai, where my father grew up. And so it was happening, the country probably had to educate a lot of people in a rush to meet the demands, because both of my paternal (grandfather) and (my) maternal grandfather both were teaching children in their own private home. Not so much as a class, but private class, private education system. That's almost the only way people got education in late 1800s. But the education system is fairly well-entrenched, even by the time my mother was teaching. In 1915 to 1922. She taught, and then she had to leave that and come to America. And she kind of expressed a little bit of guilt feeling that she owed the ken, the prefecture, more than the years that she (taught) because it probably, I think it took five years to graduate. When you start with no classes, it's going to take you a longer time to accomplish all that they're supposed to. She had to travel quite a, quite a bit and... but she enjoyed it. She talked about dormitory life. They would (enjoy) the sweet potato seller (who) would ring a certain bell, and the chestnut vendor would ring a certain bell, and they would lower some kind of basket by string and he would (fill it), and they would have money in there and they would pull it up. Because they couldn't, they were not allowed to leave the dormitories. And so to some extent, maybe they had to live in dormitories even while they were teaching. They also had to take turns cooking, and she talked about when the rice burned, that they had to start all over and things like that.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AI: Well, did your mother tell you much about the circumstances, the arrangement of her marriage to your father and her? Did she say much about whether she knew that therefore she would be going to the United States fairly permanently?

EH: Yes. I, I think she knew (when) fairly young, and it didn't seem to bother her. One of my nephews interviewed her for a paper, and Sanseis know nothing about, at that point, of what life was like. And John said to my mother, "So how did you meet Grandpa? Were you dating?" And my mother said, "Dating? No. No dating," she said. And he said, "Well, how come you married him?" And her reply was, "Well, everybody has to get married." Nothing more than that. But because she was the oldest and from a good family, she didn't have any problem.

My father, on the other hand, I don't think he ever expected to come back to Japan. So my mother knew him. In fact, at one point my mother... and my mother didn't like to cook. And at one point -- I must have been a young teenager -- she said, "(Yes), I came to America to get away from all them. I didn't like cooking." And she never was a good cook. My sisters and I had to learn all our Japanese cooking by cookbooks. And once in a while when, when you are eating or dining or invited somewhere, then you find out how to make this. I, I struggled with that in junior high school, because when my father became ill we had to run the house. And my mother also (said in) northern Japanese in her days never believed in (using sugar). At least my mother always said, "Sugar makes you weak." And she never used sugar in anything. Lots of shoyu, I mean, everything she cooked was terribly salty. (...) My grandmother, apparently, was very famous for loving to cook, and she had eight children, so they... I don't think they had much in the way of household help because my mother said she used to grumble that -- to her mother -- that, "You're using me like a maid." And the reply was, "Yes, because we're saving money for your higher education." And so she had to accept it from, from then on.

AI: And so when your mother and father got married, would that have been maybe about 1920 or '21?

EH: (Yes). '20-...

AI: Or...

EH: '22. And he had gone back to get married. I think, I've forgot, and one of those trips, I think his father dies. One of his parent dies, so it was kind of a double-duty trip. But she, she came in '22 and I was born in '23. In fact, when my mother came, my father had made arrangements with a friend in San Francisco, so that she could learn American housekeeping. She worked as a household help, and my mother recollected often that Mrs. Laundry was so pleased when my mother said one morning, "Good morning, Mrs. Laundry," and Mrs. Laundry was just overjoyed and clapping, because she finally learned how to speak English. But she said things like telephones just really impressed her, that Mrs. Laundry was always on the telephone. And of course in Japan, nobody ever saw a telephone at that time. But she, she liked learning American things and Western things, and even after she came to Sacramento, she always went to cooking classes. But that, that was kind of organized, somebody organized five or six or seven, ten Japanese women and they, they found somebody who was, who liked to teach cooking and, and it was done in a park department, small park building. But when we were in Chico there was no Japanese church.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AI: Oh, and so, excuse me. I, I should have asked you, so you, you were born in Willows.

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: And you had described about the rice ranching and how your father --

EH: Had to give it up.

AI: -- really had to give it up because of the alien land law.

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: And that would have been, you mentioned --

EH: 1924.

AI: -- 1924. And so then he decided to move to Chico.

EH: Chico, uh-huh. Chico certainly was... probably had a hundred, maybe, oh, maybe twenty Japanese rural families, and there six or eight families right there on the same block that we lived in. I, I'm sure... I think the address was First and Wall Street. And at a distance there was a railroad track, so we were, I think, on First Street was the edge of town, and somewhere not very far in the meadows was a railroad track. And then across the street on the east side across from the front door was a Ford dealership, a glass building.

And then my father was able to rent a sizable two-story house in Chico, had a big yard, and he hung some swings for (us) on a long rope. I don't know how he managed to get up on that tree to hang the rope (to) hang the swing, but we had a swing. And the house was big enough that there was a sizable room on one side of the entry. There was a big room here and there was, our living room was on this side, but in that big room was probably maybe a twenty by fifteen size room. He established, among other things, a sewing class on Saturdays, and probably ten or fifteen women came from not just (Chico), but I know as far as Colusa, and Colusa must have been thirty, at least thirty miles away, (and) Gridley, Marysville. And he hired a woman who would teach everything about dressmaking. She (even) taught how to make patterns and we had a picture of a sizable group, maybe twenty women and children, sitting on our cement front steps for a picture of that sewing class. And the other thing he did was establish immunization, annual immunization, or maybe semi-annually. And I just remember the crying that went on, the screaming that the kids (did). and somehow I don't think the immunization was done outside. I, we had pictures of kids in coats, but maybe that was the only place they could take pictures. I mean, we probably didn't have flash cameras in those days. But he found a Caucasian doctor who was willing to spend Saturday afternoon immunizing all these kids.

And then we were at the edge of town and on First Street also was a Japanese -- I mean, First Presbyterian Church of Chico. It was a tall (...) steepled, brick building. And that's where my parents went to church. It was within walking distance, about three blocks. And because my father was fluent in English, he became active, and I think ended up being the treasurer of the church. And my mother talks about how he was able to bring that skill to Sacramento and became treasurer of the Japanese Presbyterian church.

But the things that my mother liked, we had... (...) it was missionary night or international night. We had pictures, and I remember having to be in a room about not quite this big, Sunday school rooms probably, that had sliding doors and, that were open. And my grandmother had sent hinamatsuri dolls, girls' festival dolls set. So she had that displayed, and then we sat on our knees like proper ladies, but I remember in agony. And my grandmother had sent us some cotton kimonos and a nice cotton obi. And there we were sitting around a little table and probably drinking tea. And then we had Chinese neighbors. One Chinese family on that block lived at the end of our lot, and they had a Chinese restaurant around the corner. The other street, the other end of the block was Main Street. So they had a Chinese restaurant around the corner. And I remember, I don't know whether we went to eat there, but I remember walking to... we could almost walk through everybody's backyard to get on Main Street, and we walked through that yard and the Chinese had a big barrel with live turtles, and they probably used them in their food preparation. And then there was a laundry, a Japanese laundry (run by a) Kinoshita family, and they had three or four boys. The older boys all had to help run the laundry. There was the Eishima family, and I think they had a small fish store. There was a Hayashi family, and I never knew (what work), they might have been farmers. I mean, father probably went to work in a farm somewhere. There (...) was a May Omura. May and Paul lived in the next block, and May was a year older than I was and we played constantly together. She'd come over to our place. We had a big cement, kind of a porch, and a number of stairs, so the house was kind of built up. And so there was room enough on that porch to play, and there were two big almond trees. And I used to break out in hives every year, because I would eat green almonds. And green almonds were very (milky)... I don't know how we got them. Somehow we shook 'em down or they naturally fell. And anyway, we always had (lots of almonds). My parents learned to roast, to blanch the almonds and then roast them in the oven, so we had blanched almonds. When we moved from that house, a couple of our friends somehow used to send us small sugar sacks of almonds. They apparently went over there and picked them and, and sent them to us, which we missed.

AI: Now, you had also your sisters, two sisters were born in Chico; is that right?

EH: (Yes). (Yes), Martha was born fifteen months after I was, and then Jean was born in 1928. And I guess they, we were all born in hospitals, but they were... Jean was two years old when we moved from, from Chico. But my mother also taught Japanese language school on Saturdays.

AI: In Chico?

EH: In Chico. Well, we drove from Chico to a town called Palermo, and there was a big orchardist family. Tokunos had a huge orchard and a huge barn. And it was in that barn that my mother had to run a one-teacher language school. And in the summertime it was deadly hot, I remember. But the Tokunos, one of the Tokunos was almost the same age as I am. David Ko of, of Channel 9, is a filmmaker. He's a grandson of that (family), and Karen Ko, who's, has done a lot of things in city offices, but also (was) a director of Denise Louie, they were both grandchildren. And I met their mother, their parents, in Richland, I think. But (...) when I met Karen, she distinctly said, "Oh, you're, she's the daughter of my mother's Japanese language teacher." And I just was floored that she could know that or even that her (mother remembered) -- I only met her mother once on a visit to, to Richland, and she, and then she came over and visited once, but she remembered that Alice was about the same age as I was, so we were primary school age kids when we were having to sit through those hot Japanese language schools every Saturday.

AI: Well, let me ask you, was it ever difficult for you when you were such a young child there and your mother was the teacher of the Japanese school?

EH: Oh, well, it was only difficult in, in that it was such a large situation. The boys were restless and they didn't want to be there. They wanted to be out playing baseball. And so my father would almost, like a sergeant of arms, be in the back and, and just calling individual names that were being unruly. Other than that, I had to learn the A-I-U-E-O and simple kanji, like everybody else did. But it must have been trying, very trying, teaching under those circumstances. But a lot of Japanese schools in rural areas went that way, even around here. Everybody that grew up in rural areas went to Saturday Japanese school. So it wasn't that (unusual). Once we left Chico, then she, she wasn't able to travel that distance to come. The other curiosity was that my father, being an insurance agent (by then). Eventually he gave up the Nihonjinkai and became an insurance agent.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AI: Oh, excuse me. I, I think I... actually I didn't ask you to say much about the Nihonjinkai, if you could say a little bit about that first.

EH: Well, that, the, the immunization program, the sewing classes, and then the other things that he did was probably act as interpreter or accompany people to doctors or to the bank, things like that, when they needed help. And they came from miles around. It wasn't just Chico.

AI: And for people who don't really know what Nihonjinkai was, could you say a little bit about that?

EH: Nihonjinkais, I think, all up and down the coast probably were basically the social agency, the multi-service agency for the Issei population. They, they probably weren't all exactly the same, but the kinds of problems that occurred are universal: health problems, merchandising or farm produce selling and that kind of thing. I'm sure sometimes there were legal problems about land or even house rentals and that kind of thing. But because my father was more fluent in English, it was probably a lot, little bit easier for him to deal with officious people. I, I think that discrimination probably still went on when it came to land or restrictive covenants. Because it, it wasn't until maybe ten or twenty years ago that I realized, wow, that little block in Chico must have been recognized as the Asian "ghetto" or whatever. It wasn't that much of a ghetto. We really didn't have, I never saw really poor people until I came to Sacramento. And you know, you're in a small town like that you're also a much closer intimacy. There were, there was a Japanese older couple that ran a rooming house on the upper floor, but also a grocery store, Japanese grocery store. And there was an old friend that worked for the railroad. And I didn't realize I had forgotten that... I don't even remember whether I knew they were in Chico, but years later when, when the family that my, my mother helped rent the house in Sacramento when the evacuation became imminent, were living in Chico. And I, I think they moved away before I was old enough to really remember.

So there were lots of -- and there were farmers that came in. I don't know of any Japanese restaurants that were (there), but May Omura's father ran a very productive produce, open-stall kind of... a very popular place. And May stayed in Chico all her life until evacuation, but she was... I think she was in second year (in) nursing at Mills College when evacuation occurred, and so we did see each other after, when we were put into Tule Lake at the same time. And I hadn't... between the time I was seven and eighteen when evacuation occurred, I would only see May maybe once in two or three years, because life became quite different when you were in Sacramento.

AI: Well, and before leaving Chico, you were going to say about your father's decision to go into the insurance business.

EH: (Yes). And he could do that. I can't remember... I think it was shortly before we moved to, probably the major reason for our moving to Sacramento, because there was a branch office of Sun Life of Canada -- that was the insurance company's name -- in Sacramento. And he also had to go to San Francisco periodically. Once in every two months at least. So instead of coming from Chico, to be in Sacramento was a hundred miles (closer) to San Francisco. And I remember many trips going to, to San Francisco. I was really afraid of those ferry boats. I mean, I was so afraid that if, if something happened we would all sink because cars are so heavy. That kind of thinking. But also in San Francisco, because when my father first graduated high school, Galileo, I think, in San Francisco, he, he was in San Francisco for quite a while and became active in churches and things, so he knew a lot of people. Some of the prominent people that established the first inns in Japantown and (that) kind of thing. And so selling insurance, he... both my parents developed clients between Sacramento and San Francisco.

And I... it was fun to some extent to, to visit these farms, but I hated the long conversations that we had to sit through. I... once, when my sisters, there were five of us. And everybody in two-week intervals caught first measles and then they caught mumps after all the measles were gone. And I never caught 'em, but in those days you had "contagious disease" signs posted on your door, then you could not go to school. You couldn't, you practically couldn't come out of the house. So I missed about six or eight weeks of school, and what was my mother -- my dad... let's see. I guess that was before my mother... no, I remember, no, I think I had to travel with my mother, so I must have been, in '34 I would have been eleven. (Yes), that's when my father became ill, when I was eleven. So this, this contagious disease episode happened in the sixth grade, and I was eleven. So then helplessly, my mother had to take me with her when she had these insurance trips to take. And that to me was boring, because the kids were all in school, and I had to sit in the car to wait for her, and, and I reflect on that. I rationalize that that's why I'm a packrat now, because I took these long trips with my mother with nothing to do. And I, never again was I going to travel without some books or embroidery or something. So I, for a long time I always traveled with, with knitting. [Laughs] Anyway...

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AI: So to, to go back a little bit, I think you had told me at another time that it was 1930 that your family actually moved to Sacramento.

EH: Yes, yes.

AI: And that you were just about going to have a birthday.

EH: That's right. They moved on my seventh birthday. And I just, in my eagerness to make friends, and I didn't even think about it. I guess I don't really remember birthday parties, but I guess I must have had them, because when I moved... when we moved finally to this first floor flat, I invited the kids that lived around that house to a birthday party. And never did I think to ask my parents. That never came up. And here my parents were caught suddenly. They must have been bone tired from moving, but here were all of these kids coming, and my father rented the (1st) floor -- well, I don't know whether he rented, but the family that owned the grocery store across the street was living above us at the time. And so he went over and consulted with Mr. Inai, "What, what shall I do?" And so Mr. Inai, running the grocery store, says, "Here, take two melons, watermelons." And that's what they did. They, my father cut these big watermelons on the front porch -- there was a low front porch right off the sidewalk -- and here, that's what we had. Watermelon. And I realized, I was seven and then I realized that oh, I guess I should have asked my parents if I should do this. But it was hot and that was, that was funny.

AI: Well, so that was summer. So that was summertime when you moved to Sacramento.

EH: June 30th. (Yes), so when school started, life took quite a change, because I was basically playing with Catholic kids who all went to parochial schools.

AI: In your, but they were in your neighborhood?

EH: Yes. They were adjacent to... I had Italians on one side. I had black families and Portuguese on, on the west side of us, and those two families went to public schools. But the kids on the south, (yes), south of us were all parochial kids. Went to St. Mary's. And when school started, we almost parted company because we no longer played. I don't know what we did on Saturdays, but I learned a lot about Catholic schools. I used to go to confession with them, when I did that I couldn't go into the confessional, but I would walk around the cathedral and study the, the signs, the something of the cross. Stations of the Cross. And, and they had me trained, like every time I said, "Gee, you guys," they'd make me make the sign of the cross, you know. And I just learned a lot. They had confirmation and they had, I think on Good Fridays or Easter they had a little parade, kind of a worshipful kind of parade. And we had a couple of Mexican families in the area, and every time somebody had confirmation or baptism or something, these Mexican families would be making tamales for days ahead of time and it was such a treat on hot summer, hot Sacramento nights that they had these big long tables out and they would invite everybody in the neighborhood to come and have tamales. And I miss those hot tamales even now. The tamales around here don't taste anything like what I remember in Sacramento. We went to a very cosmopolitan school. There must have been, oh, at least a third Japanese, maybe third Chinese, good portion Mexican, and maybe a quarter was, were Caucasian kids. So we learned all the holidays, and, and it was fun.

AI: It sounds like that was quite different from your earlier years in Chico where it sounds like you mostly were... well, of course, you were very young then.

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: But most of your time was spent with other Japanese American kids.

EH: (Yes), just the half a dozen families that were on our block practically, though, though my parents... we went to First Presbyterian Sunday school, for instance, and these international night pictures, I -- Chinese family that was next door to us were also in a, you know, small cubicle, and they had their Chinese mandarin collared silk dresses and, and sitting. They must have been teenagers, but one of the things that, one of my earliest recollections, memories, was waking up sometime in the evening, must have been fairly early evening, it was hot, nobody was home. I called for my mother and my father. Nobody answered. And I came down some fairly steep stairs, and I had a long nightgown on, and it's a good thing I didn't fall because nobody was around. And I, cryingly, I was able to get outside. They might have, in those days maybe we didn't lock our doors. But I went down the stairs, around the corner to the Chinese family because that's the only place I would know to go. I think there wasn't even a house on the right side of the, of our house. It must have been an empty lot. But anyway, they took me in and then one of the girls came, carried me back, and we sat on the steps until... they knew that my parents eventually were going to come home. So we stayed there and they came home. They had been to a movie. They took my, my (younger), Martha, who was, I don't know, maybe two years old, with them, and she'd fallen asleep. So they came home, put her in bed and then took me back to the movie house. Now, I don't remember anything about the movie or the movie house much, but I certainly remember wailing. I must have, I could have woken up the neighborhood. But they were so -- I remember that's, that was so good of them. The other thing I remember of the Chinese family is they, they would come in and bring me home and play with me some. But one of the things I remember was they gave me my first spoonful of peanut butter, and I thought that was the greatest thing. I finished that and I ran home and said, "How come we don't have peanut butter? How come we can't have peanut butter?" And my mother was always a nutrition freak. I mean, she, she wouldn't let us have sugar, for instance. So it probably didn't take her long to discover peanut butter.

My father must have known about it having... a lot of Issei men, when they first came to this country -- especially if they were students -- they were houseboys, and they learned everything there was in the American life. My father, even from those days, I remember he would bring home cottage cheese and mayonnaise and oysters. Those were his kind of gourmet favorite things. And one of the funny things that ends up is, he used to love mayonnaise, he used to love mayonnaise on his tofu. Every Asian I say that to says, "Ooh, yuck." [Laughs] But I still like it, therefore. But grits was something else. Hominy grits was something he also brought home. But... or cheese. He brought a variety of cheese home. And, and that kind of continued with him.

But he was diabetic. I remember from... some of my earliest recollections was that he was always having to test his urine and he had a Bunsen burner, the test tube, and he would put the urine in there and light the Bunsen burner, and I don't know, he probably watched how long that went on. But then after it turned color, he had a strip and he would match, match the blue, and then he would know whether his glucose was up or down. But my first English words that I had to learn was going to the store and saying, "One hundred percent whole wheat bread, please." And I'd say that all the way to the grocery store, so I, I wouldn't forget. And that's the way -- my father always carried two slices of whole wheat bread wherever he went. And he, and he was always regretful of not being able to eat sushi or whatever, because as salesmen there are always, rural folks always delight in bringing a lot of special foods, and he could never eat... he, even, I don't think he ever ate rice, and one of the things my mother said when I came to Sacramento, I, was that I came down from the Inais, who were upstairs, and, and said in a surprise, "Do you know Mr. Inai is a man, but he eats rice." So my mother said, "This child -- " I think I heard her saying this -- "This child apparently thought that men didn't eat rice, because her father never ate rice."

But after he got into the TB sanitarium and, and there were, you had to, you had time to kill, well, one of the things they learned was nutrition and all about diabetes, and then he found out that all the, all his days he could have been eating... a couple of sushi wouldn't, were not going to hurt him. He could have had his cup of cornflakes, which he loved, that he could never have and, and that kind of thing. It, we've come a, come a long ways. But he, he was, he was a gourmet-ist of limited ability. He was also very fashion-conscious. I mean, he had to have just the right colors. And we had a Graham Paige, which was a great car in the '20s. And that's what he traveled with. But a lot of the -- I remember there was another wealthy Japanese farmer in Gridley who also had, I don't know, a big Buick or something. I remember being impressed.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

AI: Well, I wanted to go back to what, something that you said about your first English words. And if you could... what was your first language at home? Was...

EH: Oh, it was Japanese. (Yes). Because my mother, my mother would speak Japanese. But by the time my youngest sister, who's eleven years younger than I am... in fact, Anna also, who's three years older than Sara, by the time they came along, they weren't speaking that much Japanese. And especially in their teen years, my mother would say things in, in Japanese and they would respond in English. So that's probably pretty common. Kids --

AI: But when you were, when you were very young --

EH: (Yes).

AI: -- you spoke Japanese in the home.

EH: Japanese. Espec-, also because I went to Japanese school. My sister Martha broke her leg when she was in third grade, and she wouldn't go back to Japanese school, because she didn't want to be behind in lessons. She could have easily caught up. She was a bright kid. But she never went back until she was about thirteen. She realized that everybody was learning Japanese and kanji, and my mother found a friend who was teaching Japanese in her own home. She just made a kind of classroom out of her basement, and so Martha began to go to the Inouyes'. And there must have been six or eight kids there. But Martha consequently never spoke Japanese much. I, in fact, I, I don't ever remember, she was only fifteen months younger than I, but I don't ever remember hearing her speak Japanese, especially in her teen, well, in, in, even in her married life. She would say simple phrases, but generally speaking to my mother, she was speaking English. In fact, it was funny 'cause her, her husband came from a fairly prominent trade family, trading family in San Francisco, and I never heard Yosh speak any English, even to my mother. And when I went to Japan, my aunts would say that I'm a chatterbox and always a good conversant because -- and then she'd say, "Martha never said anything." And they would say, "If Yosh wasn't there, they wouldn't be able to communicate." And I said, "Wow." Yosh spoke Japanese and that, that's another idiosyncrasy that among siblings, that we don't hear in-laws speaking (Japanese). But, but he, he must have -- well, one of the problem, problems (in) Yosh's family is, his mother became... she lost her hearing either when Yosh was born or the child above -- below Yosh. She lost her hearing, so then Yosh's father had to arrange for everybody learning signing language. And that probably cut down -- he, I'm sure Yosh must have gone to Japanese school, but... and I never met his parents, I met his parents two or three times. When his mother and I had to communicate, it was always by notes. So the other interesting thing was when, when my family, Martha or somebody, produced pictures of my mother on the ship coming (to the U.S.), and there was a group picture. And when Yosh saw it, he said, "Hey. That's my grandfather behind you." In that... his grandfather had gone back Japan to find a bride for his son. And it's a small world, amazingly.

AI: Well, so, so since you were speaking Japanese as your first language, and then it sounds like, was it your father then who was teaching you English, did, did you... do you recall having much trouble with English?

EH: No. I don't re-, I don't remember any struggle with language, though I do remember my father would always come to pick me up from a half-day kindergarten session. And Chico State College was a major teaching college -- I mean, teacher training college. And that was I think right next door. The campus started where the Presbyterian Church ended, so it was just on the other side of it. And I don't remember how... I don't remember walking to kindergarten by myself, but, in that my father picked me up. And I'm, I'm wondering, somebody must have walked me to kindergarten. [Laughs] And I'm not sure that that lasted maybe more than maybe a half a year. I can't imagine that they would do this every year. It was maybe a four or five block walk. But, (yes), I remember his sta-, standing waiting for me outside the kindergarten bungalow.

And I don't remember much about first grade. I do, I do remember being reprimanded when we were all allowed to go pick one rose, and in, must, it must have been Chico State campus. And I had pulled all the leaves off of my stem, and I got scolded for that, because you're supposed to see beauty in leaves also. But at six years old I just only saw the rose. But all my friends, George Hayashi and George Kinoshita both were in my first grade class.

I, my grandmother had sent -- did I tell you, the hinamatsuri dolls, and, and my mother invited the kindergarten class to, to see them. And she served osenbei and bancha, which is barley tea, roasted barley. And this whole kindergarten class would not touch the tea, because they were trained that tea and coffee is only for adults. Children don't drink tea and coffee. And no matter how much my mother tried to explain and showed, brought out the barley in her hands and, and told everybody to taste it, they, they might have tasted it, but they never, they could never bridge the gap that that was healthy tea.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

AI: Right, we're continuing our interview here with Elaine Ishikawa Hayes, and we had started talking a little bit about Sacramento and that you had moved there on your seventh birthday, and then was it about a year later that your sister Anna was born in --

EH: Yes.

AI: -- in 1931?

EH: Anna was the fourth daughter.

AI: And maybe if you could tell a little bit about the house that you first lived in there in Sacramento and that little area.

AI: Uh-huh, uh-huh. It was on the corner of Fifth and T. And I think the owner probably was a Caucasian person. I just vaguely remember. But Fifth and T was quite a... Sacramento streets are named alphabetically with the alphabet and then numbers. And the East/West streets were letters and the North/South streets were numbers. So Fifth and T became a very common place. And Sacramento is not so long that for the Japanese population, Nihonmachi was roughly, oh, through I and maybe Sixth Avenue to Second Avenue. That was Nihonmachi. And, and then there was a park called Southside Park just a block away on Sixth and T. A sizable park where the Fourth of July fireworks were always held. And so people were very familiar with that area. And in hot Sacramento, I mean, you walked for shade anywhere.

Both Sara and Anna, who were born in Sacramento, and Sara is three years younger than Anna, were both delivered by a Japanese midwife who lived on Sixth and T, a block away. And, and I must say I think Japanese midwives were very busy through this whole history. But Mrs. Oshita had a two-story white stucco house, and I think the main story she kept like a miniature hospital, and rural women particularly would probably stay there for as long and in, in our days, when I was in elementary school, there was a firm belief that you needed to be bedridden for thirty days. And it's, it's amazing that we all got along, because I remember teachers asking me all the time, "Is your mother up yet?" And I'd say, "No." And it was kind of amazing. And every day she was asking me. And, and finally she would be up and around. That happened twice.

But Lincoln School was on... Lincoln School was a block square, I guess. And that was on P and Fifth between Fifth and Fourth on... between P and (Q). So we just walked from T -- Q, R, S, T -- four blocks straight up the hill. And there was a railroad track between... on our street, so... but it was quite pleasant and Nihonmachi was on the other side from about P to I and running Fourth to Second or thereabouts. So I would dash home, get a snack, and, and then have to go back to (O) and (Third Street). Fourth, maybe Third (Street) was the... Sacramento had two Japanese schools. One was called Showa Gakko, the Protestant kids went to. And then Bukkyokai had a, a bigger Japanese school that the Buddhist kids went to. Then Nichiren church also had a small Japanese school. And that certainly became our enclave of our social life, or center of the community kind of issue.

There, there was a Buddhist church. The Buddhist church was still the bigger congregation, and... but there was a Methodist church, a Baptist church, and a Presbyterian church. I think the Salvation Army had some kind of small congregation, and there were oth-, a couple of other small... I can't remember the denominational names. But we certainly became, the churches became kind of an extended family or enclave of closer friends.

AI: And --

EH: And we knew the parents, then, because we would see them all the time. And every, every Christmas, every Easter, every graduation, every Thanksgiving, those were all regularly held dinners, potlucks usually. Probably all the fujinkai ladies probably made the sushi and, and...

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

AI: And did you say that you belonged to the Japanese Presbyterian church --

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: -- in Sacramento, and that your father got ac-, became very active with that church?

EH: No, my mother, my father was active to some extent I guess at the First Presbyterian Church in Chico and became its treasurer. And I don't know how long that went on, because that was before the days of my awareness of, of things like that. But when he came to Sacramento he, he took over the treasurer-ship, though I can't imagine that any institution, whether they were Japanese or just plain American church, that everybody had to have their own treasurer. And I'm sure it wasn't that there, there wasn't an adequate treasurer functioning, but probably my father's American style maybe did it. We had pictures of, of even the Presbytery gatherings where there are always a half a dozen Japanese among them. And so they were probably family friends. I know that the minister of our church was always represented in the men's club or men's, Presbyterian men's group or something like that. But it certainly... the church certainly became the center of our social life, and...

AI: And so you had the church and Sunday school on Sundays?

EH: Sunday school? (Yes). And I think I never taught Sunday school. I don't think in those days, right up to 1941, the people who taught Sunday school were more college age and sometimes even Issei women. I mean, I remember in my early childhood, my mother, they were at the Presbyterian -- my mother and a couple of other Issei women also taught Sunday school. And I think I was relieved when that passed. We did have what's... Presbyterians everywhere had a youth program called Christian Endeavor, CE as we called it. And we regularly had five o'clock Sunday afternoon meetings. And I, the Methodists had their Epworth League and Baptists had their BYPU, Baptist Young People's Union or something like that.

And then once a year, junior high/high school had a conference, Christian conference, and I forgot... the, the older population college age group were called Young People's Christian Conference, and that, that's true all over I think up and down the coast. The junior high/high school group was named something very similar to that, but every year we had that conference and they came up from even the rural churches then. So once a year we did get a chance to meet people that we only saw once a year. But they were, they were significant activities. The ministers, particularly the Nisei ministers, would kind of open our minds, our ideas, get us discussing. Sometimes whether the, the facts in the Bible as we knew them were, could be possible or I, I remember once, Jonah and the (Whale) was being discussed and I, I was at an age where I could doubt that and that kind of thing. But they were good social functions. They were usually weekends, and I remember at a supposed banquet, that the men really always wanted to take the lead. They were the cooks, they were whatever. And I remember at one of those conferences, my mother was telling... got home and told us that they argued about... they were going to present macaroni and cheese, and the women knew that the macaroni had to be cooked first, but the men didn't. And the men wouldn't give in, and they put the raw macaroni and tomato sauce and whatever in the oven, and here we were sitting and sitting and sitting waiting for the main course to come, and by the time it came it was still very hard. And I was so appalled. I... it wasn't my fault, and it wasn't a real reflection on my mother, but I came home and said, "What, what happened to that macaroni and cheese? How come... you cook macaroni all the time. How come you let that happen?" And my mother said, "You know those jiisans" -- meaning those old men -- "wouldn't, almost wouldn't let us into the kitchen." But I... that was a big social lesson that men can't always be -- you know, in camp that happened. The men always wanted -- at least in the Sacramento area -- the men had to be the head cooks. And we always grumbled, and the women were always saying, "We could have done it so much better." And, and yet as I remember Tule Lake, the Northwesterners had better food, because there were more people in, in the Northwest population who had jobs in, in the big hotels and other places where they would need... and so they knew how to cook. But in the Sacramento area, the cooks, the men were farmers or, or ran hotels or... and though I had a friend, who, whose parents ran a Mexican restaurant, but anyway, they certainly could have done better.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

AI: Well, let me, let me take you back to something that you said just a little bit ago about your parents and, and that they had gotten involved with the Presbyterian church quite early on in their time together. And I was wondering, were they Christians in Japan before they came?

EH: No.

AI: Or --

EH: My father, in his youth and his schooling, going to school, whatever... and I think that's probably true wherever, at least Japanese were a gathering place, that church took a center line. And so he be-, he probably joined the church maybe in San Francisco, and so he becomes fairly regular... even when, even if they were schoolboys, I think most American families went to church, and, and if you were welcome or able, though in early '20s, and maybe into '30s, there were -- Protestant missionaries, wherever they were, liked to set up English schools or English classes, and they would come into the ethnic churches. In Sacramento at the, at the Methodist church, there was a woman, a Mrs. Cowen, who was also a fifth grade teacher at Lincoln School, and another woman who was at the Baptist church. And they always became advisors or they participated in the Christian conference, at least the high school/junior high group. So it wasn't difficult to become a, a Protestant if you were in America. My mother probably picked it up along with my father.

In Chico I don't know that she understood that much English, though I do remember my... taking a ride, taking my mother to an English class. And it seemed to me it was out a distance, and I know that Chico State College built a new campus away from that central downtown campus, so that's probably what she did. But my mother also had a limited amount of English ability. I mean, she was reading... when I was in, when I was in, let's see... we moved to a house across the street when I was nine, so I must have been eight, maybe. Maybe eight or nine. I came home one day and she was reading -- what's the magazine with the word "journal" in it?

AI: Ladies Home?

EH: Ladies Home Journal. She was reading a, an article about Booker -- not Booker T. Washington Carver?

AI: George Washington Carver?

EH: George Washington Carver. And she had tears in her eyes. And I said, "Is it really that sad?" And so she told me about George Washington Carver and the struggle he had. I think he graduated from some Midwestern college, Iowa or Nebraska. I think it was Iowa. And... but he was not able to live in the dormitory. He had to live in a shack off campus. And he earned his living by ironing shirts of the other male scholars. But it went on and on. But... so my mother was reading American magazines from an early, early time. And even in camp, I was eighteen and probably not reading them. Most of us didn't read magazines like that until we were maybe in college or married. My mother would, was taking... she continued to take Ladies Home Journal in camp, and my friends, my older friends would say, "Wow. Are you reading these magazines already?" And I'd say, "No, my mother reads them." And they would be startled. But one... I remember that in the Ladies Home Journal, an article came out about the "Rape of Nanking" and my mother would not believe that. "Gee, the Japanese soldiers would never do things like that." And, and I'd say, "Mom, any soldiers." And you know, I said, "You know, the Japanese samurai psyche is brutal and they think they're better than everybody else. They're going to do things like that." But I left it at that, and... but she would read, she would read everything she could get her hands on. We used to have trouble with our mail, because she would get into our letters. When, when I got married, even before... maybe before I got married, we would take great care to hide or take our letters with, with me.

When we, when, after I had four kids and with my husband was on sabbatical at Berkeley, we... she wanted to, she wanted us to rent her house because she, my stepfather had died and she didn't want to be in that house. So we didn't want to stay there because it was too small for four kids. But anyway, we did. But every time we took a weekend trip I had to take my shoebox full of bills and mails with me in the car, because she would get into it. And she would, her, her reply would always be, "I'm the mother. I have to know." Or, "It's my responsibility to know." My, one of my sisters would just... Martha just broke out in tears because she would be so furious. Her, her going-to-be-husband would write to her whenever she, Martha lived with us one summer in Chicago, and my mother got a hold of the letter, and my sister was so mad she was ready to leave right then and there. "I'm going back to Yoshi. You, you're so... he's much more sensitive than you are," she said. Oh, but my mother was always saying, "It's my responsibility."

And I, once Ralph had, she called at seven o'clock on Sunday morning and she says, "Baka da ne." I don't know whether you know what "baka" means. It means "fool" or something. And I... my reaction was, "Don't call on a Sunday morning with a greeting like that." And, and I just kind of ranted at her. And Ralph said, "Let me have the telephone." So he talked to her. One of our kids were having a diarrhea problem or something and she was lambasting me for it, but Ralph took the telephone. And then I can't remember whether he got his... whether it was a BA or an MA, but anyway, she sent a check to him saying "to the Martin Luther (...) of the family." And she signed it, a seventy-five dollar check. [Laughs] And you know, what... he went to the bank and said, explained the whole story and said, "Do you want me to send it back to her to put my name on it?" And, and the bank teller said, "No, I believe you. I've never heard a story like that. It had to be just for you." And so... but that's the way she was. Always opening somebody else's mail.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

AI: Well, well, I'm going to take you back to, back to Sacramento and back to your younger years, because you had mentioned in another conversation about how, when you were about in the fifth grade, you were learning about U.S. history and civics, and that you had a conversation with your father and, and about democracy and I wonder if you could tell a little bit about that.

EH: Well, we, in fifth grade we were learning U.S. history and citizenship and we got into the political parties, the two political parties. So I came home and said to my father, "What party do you belong to? And who are you going to vote for?" And he said, "If, if I could vote, I would vote for So-and-so." And he never explained why he couldn't vote. And it wasn't until years later that I found out that Asians couldn't become citizens, so you couldn't vote. But my father being... having (been) reared, growing up, grown up basically in the U.S., and he really liked politics. He, he would read the paper and, and grumble about Hoover or whoever else. And I don't even remember the names of the candidates that ran in the '20s, but I, I remember mid-'30s. Gee, Roosevelt must have been in office by that time because we came in '30 and I was in the second grade, so three years later.

The Depression I do remember, because people were really having a hard time and, and they would come over and, and my father would be worried about business and, and he would write a check and he said, "That's all I could write." And somebody else said, "Well, at least you could write a check. I can't even write a check," meaning they weren't... they didn't have any money in the bank to write a check for. He... and he, my father got robbed twice, pick-pocketed. And that was probably more due to the Depression. We didn't... we hadn't had that kind of... but he came out... he withdrew some money, put it into his wallet, put it in his back pocket, and when he went to buy something at a dime store or something, his wallet was gone. And that, I think, I think his pocket was split, it was slit somehow.

AI: Do you, do you remember doing without things during the Depression?

EH: No. I think my parents were probably better off than a lot of people. I, I do know, I do remember two or three times we were in this lower flat that we lived in Sacramento. We got robbed two or three times because the windows were right off the... there was a patch of grass, but it was... and it was hot, so they were left open. And my father happened to take one of my younger sisters to the bathroom, and here was a guy in the kitchen. And he, he flew right out the open window in, in... that was probably the same window he came in from. But there was a... fresh cement about twenty feet away, and I don't know whether he didn't know that anyway, but he left footprints in that wet cement. And that, that kind of kind of thing happened a couple of times in that... but my father loved sports and loved swimming and he would take me swimming in the Sacramento River. But I never... he would try to teach me. I never really learned that well, but he loved to swim. And on one of these trips, he got back to the car and everything was gone. I, I don't remember that the window was broken, but somehow they got in. And so here he had to come back with, with wet trunks and barefoot and bare legs and that kind of thing.

But I, my mother, among other things, started the PTA in Sacramento at Lincoln School, and one of the reasons was because there were so many children who couldn't afford even the clothes. So she had me gathering shoes, worn out shoes from neighbors and friends, and I'd have to carry these great big grocery bags of, of shoes to, to the principal's office. And, let's see, we moved into the house across the street when I was nine, so I was still in second or third grade. And the principal would amass money from somewhere, and there was a Japanese shoe repair, a couple of Japanese shoe repair families, and she would take it to them and they would repair shoes.

The other thing I remember my mother being provoked about was the... and I think it probably happened to Japanese kids also. The mothers would knit wool, what they considered wool slips out of yarn, and Sacramento was too hot to be wearing wool anything. And she would, especially with the Chinese parents, she would, she would call and bring a youngster in and, and lift the dress up and, and my mother would say, "Too hot. Too hot." I don't know whether the Chinese mothers understood, but -- and I have a friend who talks about how she always had wool slips on. And I said, "Jeepers, Amy, how could you have stood that? I would have rebelled."

But Lincoln School was, was a fascinating, healthy environment, I think. We had a great music teacher in junior high school who, who trained Fumiko Yabe from the time she was a seventh grader because she had such a great potential. She had never taken any kind of lessons anywhere. Her mother was a seamstress. And all the way through junior high and high school, Ida North gave her almost personal lessons. And she really became quite a singer. On Pearl Harbor there happened to be a concert pre... let's see, Pearl Harbor (day) we, we were a freshman. I was a freshman at JC and Fumiko Yabe was in my class. And to give you a social instinct or climate of the time, for some reason... in this day and age in ordinary circumstances, now we would have gone to that concert, but for some reason none of us went to that concert. And the next day after Pearl Harbor, here was this full front page picture of Fumiko Yabe in a beautiful white gown singing "God Bless America." It just bugs me. But it made a beautiful... see, and I was so thankful that she was able to carry that off. And the Sacramento Bee was a very conservative paper, but it did her justice. And she kind of played that role all the way through. I mean, even in camp she was always performing.

And Ida North was our junior high school teacher, so she, she did marvelous, she, we had 180 junior high school choir, glee club, and we traveled all over the place, Christmas concerts, particularly. Even downtown Sea-, Sacramento in the wintertime we were singing. But she got her promotion, I think, from all this music that she provided in junior high school, and Fumiko Yabe, probably. There was another, Phyllis Duvall, who was also in our class, and she was like Kate Smith. She was like a miniature Kate Smith. She was buxom. From the time she was in second grade she, she was singing and won the Major Bowles contest, (an) amateur program, (a contestant) from Sacramento to San Francisco. And I remember in second grade we all wrote postcards to her to congratulate (her). There, there was no television so we couldn't have seen it, but radio-wise we did.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

AI: Well, there was... it sounds like there was so much activity in your life and in the community and in your school during the 1930s, but there were also some difficult times, too. And I think you told me that it was in 1934 that your father became ill or that he was diagnosed.

EH: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

AI: Tell me about that.

EH: Well, he, he began having fevers and not feeling up to par and found out that he had tuberculosis. And we had a... the Japanese Presbyterian minister took us to the public health clinic, and we all had to get at least skin tests. Maybe we had to get X-rays also. My mother certainly did. And then we came home and we fumigated the house, and it was very strong. We couldn't stay there. I don't know, I, I think we came in... came back at night. And it was, it was worrisome be-, and for my mother it was a little bit of desperation. That's probably the only time she considered sending us to Japan, because she was... I think by that time she was able to pick up a little bit of the insur-, she knew enough about the insurance business, because when my father wasn't there or people telephoned, she could relay messages or know what to tell them to do. And so when my dad became ill, she continued to be able to do that, and then pretty soon she was confident that she could do it. And the, the branch office that we had in downtown was also willing to help her. And she knew enough English that she could, she could read and she could... understood the business terms and things like that.

So Mr. Inai taught her how to drive. Every night after the store closed they were... and she liked driving. She, she had the guts to try to drive a car when we were in Chico, and she ran at a... into a pole or something. And she said she was so happy she discovered that you're not going to die even if you have an accident. And so when she finally learned to drive when I was eleven or twelve, in no time she was going all over the place. When evacuation came along and we had curfew hours, she wouldn't come home by eight o'clock when you're supposed to be in. And she would reprimand me because I was, I was working for my room and board closer to college about two blocks away from college, and I'd have to take the bus to go and get back there. And if I left after sev-, six or seven o'clock she was, she was really angry and saying how that's dangerous, anybody could shoot you just because you're a Japanese. And, and yet when she started to, helping her clients, and she covered a wide area. She... in those days she didn't go... after the war she certainly didn't go to San Francisco, but all these rural families were so isolated, she had tried to help them understand what the rules and what the signs on the telephone poles were saying and that you had to get immunizations and that's going to be provided at such and such a day at the Buddhist church. But she, she never ran into trouble. Even when she was... even before the war, before Pearl Harbor, if a policeman saw her late at night and she was kind of weaving, the policeman knew that was a sleepy driver and he would pull behind, beside her and say, "Park. Sleep." And I don't know whether she really did, but she, she generally traveled maybe a fifty-mile radius, and...


AI: So, before we took that short break, you were telling me how your father had gotten sick with tuberculosis and that your mother was going to continue the insurance business.

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: And in the meantime, what happened with your father? Was he, that year, 1934 was he required then to go to sanitarium?

EH: (Yes).

AI: When --

EH: I think he must have been in a local hospital for a little while, and then was taken to Wiemar Sanitarium about fifty miles north of Sacramento. And then we... children weren't allowed on the, in the cottages and, and hospital grounds. This Mr. Inai would... I think before my mother really learned to drive well, he would take us almost every... almost every Sunday. And the kids, we would spend time playing or eating picnic lunch or crackers or something waiting for them. And it turned out that also I had friends who were up there in Wiemar. I had two or three classmates, so it wasn't a new, new horrifying, shocking experience. I think I probably had, I had a friend whose brother was up there. I had two or three classmates up there. So and so's par-, father was up there. In fact, I had a Mexican family neighbor next door to us who had friends up there, and they had gone up to see their friend and decided to look up my father, and, and they did. And I think when you're in confinement like that you're glad to see anybody. And that was, that was a pleasant surprise.

AI: So --

EH: And they told me about it when they got home.

AI: So it wasn't a shock to you, but we know that historically, that many people had very negative feelings about tuberculosis at that time.

EH: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

AI: I was wondering, did you or your family face prejudices because you were then known as a family that had a tuberculosis...

EH: No, because it wasn't that isolated. We had a half a dozen friends... my, either my classmates or classmates that had one parent or another up there. It's true that there was some stigmatism. I had a friend who, whose oldest sister became tubercular, and that family, rather than sending her up to Wiemar, built a wing on the third floor. And they took her food up there, she never came down, nobody ever saw her. Most of us sometimes didn't realize that there was an older sister up there. And I, I think she just died up there. I don't know how sick she was. It didn't sound at first like she was very sick, but confinement is going to wear on you.

I had another friend who was related to the... let's see, by the time that happened we had moved, this Mr. Inai who had lived upstairs in the upper flat when we first came to Sacramento bought the house across the street, elevated it so that it became a two-story house. And the Inais lived on the ground floor, and we lived on the upper... on the second floor. And one of Mr. Inai's nieces became tubercular and was also up at the same sanitarium. Eventually she died up there of intestinal TB.

Ironically, one of our closest friends, close friends, she was, she was an only child and her parents were often farm laborers, so, so she was by herself a lot. And she started to complain about a stomachache and she said, "Gee, I must have appendicitis. My, my side hurts," or something like that. All the way through high school at least, she was saying that. Then when we got into camp, she was... I think we, we went to the same church. We were just across the street. She was at our house a lot. She was also at another house that her... because her father worked with the other's father. And so she was also over there a lot, but when (we) finally got to camp, she apparently was able to just on her own get... go to the hospital and talk about it. And, and then another friend about... I relocated to Chicago, and, and this friend's brother was a doctor at camp, and the doctor said to his younger sister, "Gee, you know that friend of yours that's complaining about a side ache?" She says, "By the time they opened her up it was too late." And that it had, again, I think hers was intestinal TB. And they might have been able to save her had they paid attention and took her in early. But so it was, it was very common.

AI: Well, now, this was... this year was... you mentioned that, in the beginning, that your mother might have felt a little bit, well, you said "desperate" because of the family situation.

EH: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

AI: Your father going into the sanitarium.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

AI: And then I think it was also a little bit later that same year, 1934, that your youngest sister was born.

EH: (Yes). (Sara)... (Sara) was born in June, so my dad must have gone into the sanitarium early in the year.

AI: Oh, I see.

EH: It wasn't that long. And... but for us it was a trying bit because my father -- my mother had started --

AI: Or, I'm sorry. Did you mean Sara?

EH: Sara, (yes). My mother had started taking care of some business, and she was gone a lot. And to, to have to care for this two- or three-month-old baby who was, I mean, if she started crying, she was crying for long hours. And the poor, poor kid. We never had any instructions or what to be sensitive about, and... but it was awfully trying to have a crying baby. And I wish, I wish we had known some of the things to do. Eventually my mother did -- not eventually, almost within a month or two, when she realized she was going to be gone a lot, she hired a housekeeper. First it was a friend of ours who also went to the same church, and I remember her quoting Sara at one, one-and-a-half, saying, "You Mama?" Meaning she didn't know who her mother was. I mean, whether obasan was there all the time caring for her, so Sara was asking, "Are you my mother? Or is my mother..." my mother. But she took good care of -- and then another trying bit was when, when she was about two, maybe three, my mother decided to send her to a nursery, a Catholic-run nursery, and a car would come after her. And it was very hard to cope with it. She, she, Sara would go off just crying and crying. And then I was responsible for going to pick her up from the nursery. And that was about a two or three block walk.

And, and that Catholic church had Catholic missionaries, apparently, who had been to Japan, and they wanted dearly to establish a Japanese school, probably an educational school. But at first they gathered, oh, probably twenty, twenty-five of us in, in a portable, and we all sat around the edge of the room and that's... that I guess was my first inception of education in Sacramento. But I had been to first grade in Chico, and I knew this was not a classroom, and it was not a right classroom. And I kept complaining about it and saying to, to my father, "I want to go to a real school. We're not reading and learning anything." Because there was this whole age range. My younger... I think Anna must have been in that group at first. She got her leg amputated when she was six, so maybe it was her kindergarten years. But anyway I convinced my father that that was not a real school. I wanted to go to a real school, so he enrolled us in Lincoln School. But I think my parents were not wanting us to... they, they wanted us to be kind of purely American, and they didn't want us to grow up with accents, they didn't want us to... with maybe some kind of complex if we went to a, a racially entrenched school. So I remember visiting the principal at this apartment on a Sunday afternoon. And apparently they went to visit, both my parents, and I think at least three of us, maybe, maybe all four of us, trying to convince this principal to let us go to the next school, to William Land School. And William Land wouldn't have been that far, probably five or six blocks the other way. But she wouldn't do it.

And Mrs. Hopley dearly loved her school, particularly because it was a majority Asian almost, Chinese and Japanese. Scholastically they did well, though I, I remember hearing all through my life in Sacramento my older friends remembering what happened to them when their friends did not understand an English word or they would say, "I have a stomach," meaning, "I have a stomachache." And the teacher would return with some crack, but... that kind of thing. But you certainly adapted to it and grew.

My, my sister Anna, who had the leg amputation at, at six, eventually when she got her peg leg she went to Lincoln School, and she would not let anybody stop at anything. But when she got... at some point she got instead of a peg leg, a leg that looked like, prosthesis that looked like, but that would break every once in a while. And I didn't know until, oh, late, late, maybe twenty, thirty years ago that... how trying it was, because the teachers were not really sensitive to that kind of situation. And she said, "When the leg broke, the teachers would make me stand out in the hall." And it must have... I mean, if they could have at least provided a chair, it would have been easier. And Anna was telling me at that, at that point, kind of criti-, being critical of me because as the older sister I should have been sensitive to it. And my mother never pushed that on me. I was never called Nesan, and she never said as the older sister I had to do this or that, though I did have to go pick up Sara, and I did have to... I did learn to cook early and that kind of thing. But I was kind of horrified when I... when Anna told me that. And, but she, she was a stalwart kid. Even from... even before the accident, I remember her having really angry crying spells, and she would knock her head on the floor repeatedly. And eventually she did develop what's called... it's, it's kind of a rupture of the organs. And it, it doesn't rupture, but it, it collects a mass in a certain place and it creates a swelling. And if you exert yourself too much, it could be dangerous. So in those days they provided a, a very hard strap with kind of a bulbous formation that, that pressed in to hold that rupture in place. There's a --

AI: Oh, hernia?

EH: -- there's a medical term.

AI: Is it a hernia?

EH: Hernia. Hernia, of course. They didn't call it hernia in Anna's days. But she coped with that all the time. So then when she, when we got into camp the doc-, or the leg broke, and my mother was always afraid that that was going to happen. We were in the assembly center from March... I say March -- most people are saying April or May -- 'til August before we went to Tule Lake. The assembly center was maybe fifty or twenty or so miles outside of... maybe not. Thirty miles outside of Sacramento. But when she, we got into (Tule Lake) camp on the first year, let's see... fourth grade. [Pauses] Let's see. Jean... '41. I think (Sara) was in second grade and Anna was in third or fourth grade. And just before school started -- see, I'm trying to remember whether that's the first year. I think that must be the first year we were there -- she, when the prosthesis broke, some nuns took it to San Francisco for repair. And it didn't come back for months and months. And when school started -- and I think school started late that year because we didn't move into, we didn't get to Tule Lake until August. Must, school must have started like October, and Anna wouldn't go to school because all she had was... she wasn't willing to face this sea of strange faces. And my mother was not angry at Anna, angry at the situation. But she would not permit any of us to miss any school, so she told me I had to carry her. And she was a big kid, but anyway, we struggled and got to the door, to the barrack door. And a Nisei, young Nisei teacher, on her first day of teaching, opened the door and greeted us. And to that day, Anna was never... you know, she would, she would go to the teacher's barrack and wait for her and walk to school with her. But that was such a saving grace that... I think her name was Grace Sakata. She was an optometrist's wife. But she was so good. Anna had a loyalty and an attitude towards her, so wherever -- and she was in Chicago for a while, and eventually my... the rest of the family, Ishikawas moved to Sac-, to Chicago, so she saw her quite often. But that was hair-raising, but on the other hand a real gratitude that she could do this. And then poor Mrs. Sakata, I mean, Anna was at her doorstep, walk home with her, and early in the morning. And, and she managed.

And when she... when my mother drove out of camp and, and they had to go to, Winnebago boarding school in Wisconsin, by that time, Anna was a gutsy kid and she wasn't going to let anything stop her. She, in fact, when... even after relocation in Chicago she, she was at Lakeview High School and joined the basketball team. And with her amputated leg, she could, she could just about do anything. And it was... she would be hilariously laughing on the telephone, because they would be going over the games, after each game, and she could shoot the basket all right, but the thing that often made them win was the opposition would bump into her and get so distracted by that hard surface that they would drop the ball or, and, but she made it. She's an art prof. at a fashion institute now in New York City.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

AI: Okay, so just before the break, you were telling about Anna and how she had adapted to losing her leg, but, but tell me how did she lose her leg in the first place?

EH: Well, some friends, the Inais, who were living on the lower flat, were going to what we called "snow line" in those days, for playing in the snow, and they took Anna and Jean with them, because the kids -- as kids we were, they very close in age. I was beyond them, but -- Martha -- and I were beyond them, but Naomi, who was a year younger than Martha and, and down to... Sara, I think, didn't go on that trip, but their youngest son was maybe the same age as -- no, no. Their, their... one of their sons was the same age as Anna. But anyway, up at the snow line they had parked the cars and were about to trek out into the snowfields when a young seventeen- or eighteen-year-old came zooming down the steep hill, steep road, had lost control of the car, and he hit one side of the snow bank and would hit the other, other side. And at, at one point when he hit one side of the snow bank, he bounced over and hit a open door where the Inais were getting out of the car, and that made that driver bounce back into between two parked cars that were Inais' relatives, Mrs. Inai's brother had his car. And the two girls were standing between these two cars, and the bumper of this ragtag car caught three legs and threw them fifty feet or something. And Susie had her nerve, main nerve behind her knees torn. And I think, I think that's maybe her major injury. Anna also... I think Anna had just one leg caught in the bumper and... but lost a bone chip. And in those days, this was, let's see. She was born in '31, so it must have been '37 or so. In those days they couldn't graft bones, though my parents did go back up the next day and really scoured the area to look for that chipped bone. I guess you could probably patch, but there was no using a bone tissue from somewhere else. So anyway, she... the leg had also become infected and... in the long process, and so they had to amputate. And one of... a moment of... a trying moment was Anna kept saying to my mother, "But it's going to grow back, isn't it? You know, it's going to grow back." So that was hard.

My mother kept, had to keep to her insurance work, so I sometimes would go sit in the hospital with her. And there wasn't much I could do. Lights were dimmed early, and... though once I was fanning her, because she was perspiring, and then the nurse caught me and reprimanded me, but I didn't know you were not supposed to fan somebody who was perspiring. She might have had a fever, but... and, and it took a long time to recover. Poor Susie was in such dire pain. You could hear her screaming all over the hospital. And Susie was an exceptionally shy girl. She was, she was the same age as Jean, so she... Jean was three years older than Anna. But Susie really had to... lost her shyness, because she really had to demand and, and get her, needed attention.

But when Anna came back out of, came out of the hospital, the Sacramento school system was ready to assign a home school teacher, and Anna would not have this. She wanted to go to school. So we, they finally let, had to let her go, and she, she went with a peg leg for probably a year. And, and in those days, because they didn't have the ability to adjust prostheses with the growth of the leg, it meant that new legs had to built or... and so that went on periodically. But they were very heavy, and so when the straps broke, it really was a trial and tribulation. And that's when Anna told me maybe twenty years ago how, how difficult and how angry she got. Because also, the teachers were not sensitive. I don't know that you have to be trained to be sensitive, but you, you'd certainly think that... if they had provided a chair for her I would have felt better, but she managed to continue to take violin lessons, and this is where I'm saying George Nishikawa, who's the same age, carried all her things somehow or the other. My younger sisters... there were four Inai children and two Nishikawas, and then three Ishikawas, I guess. So Sarah, I... no, Sarah wouldn't have gone to school yet. She was in first grade. But she managed to survive, but when she got into camp, again, there was this trial and tribulation where she did-, she didn't want to face the whole new classroom. But once she got there she, she just, there was no stopping her.

And when she went to the... when they, when my mother drove out from -- well, to get back to Sacramento, growing up in, in your own ethnic congregation probably makes it easier. I do have one of the last Sacramento Presbyterian church (pictures) in, in the, in front of the old building. Sacramento being a state capital, they wanted the major entrance... they wanted to buy up the major entrance to the city, which was over what they call I Street Bridge, I think. Anyway, the Japanese Presbyterian church was on this main entrance, so eventually the city bought it, and the congregation chose a lot facing Southside Park, which, which was a major, good-sized park in the south part of Sacramento. And so the park, the church now is a very picturesque, white, simple church. And the congregation is going strong. One of the last occurrences before the war, or at the time, when, when Pearl Harbor... well, before Pearl Harbor occurred, they had built this church and they had a dedication and that was a big event, but the church had quite a intimate congregation. We knew everybody, and so I still get the Parkview... it's a, it's a monthly newsletter now, and it, it's... I must commend them for keeping going. And it's growing a little. And they are now... in, in about 2004 I'm beginning to see that they are -- maybe it started late 2003 -- beginning to include other ethnic groups. I think I see some Chicano names, and I think I see -- I don't know whether it's, I can't remember whether it's Cambodian or Laotian -- being invited. I think they probably used the church for their own services at first, and then eventually they, they merged.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

AI: Well, speaking of different ethnicities, let me take you back to the Sacramento that, that you were in as a child and, and ask you about any experiences of prejudice or discrimination that you might have experienced while you were growing up there.

EH: Growing up in a, in a school like Lincoln School, we certainly didn't experience, because I think the whole school is, is operating on... well, I say that. I, I didn't experience any teachers, for instance, who were discriminating. I will say, along with my fifth grade experience with my father, the same fifth grade teacher was a very enthusiastic history person and she at one point said -- you know she had glowing history lessons about the state of California and saying that she was, she was going to enroll all of us in... to be members of the Sons and Daughters of the Golden West. And that occurred and we, we were all enthusiastic about it, and then we never heard anything about it. And it occurred to me way after evacuation -- I must have been in college -- and, and I recalled that, and I thought, I bet she ran into the same situation that Marion Anderson ran into with the Daughters of the (American) Revolution. And I wish I could have recalled that and on a visit to Sacramento dig her up and ask, because I'm sure it was aggravating to her to discover this, though I would wonder what other fifth grade... whether other fifth graders went through the same thing with her having this enthusiasm about being Sons of the Golden West and not...

AI: Well, do you recall, at about that age, fifth grade, sixth grade or so, seventh grade -- that as far as you were concerned, did you feel like an American and American citizen, totally American?

EH: (Yes), I think we did. I must say that moving from Chico to Sacramento, I became aware of a big social change and that I probably didn't think life was going to be different, but I knew that we were in a different world. I think my earliest, one of my earliest experiences with discrimination was probably in junior high school, eighth or ninth grade. We wanted to go swimming at a park kind of on the south of us, William Land Park is a well-known, huge park, and this, this swimming pool -- and I can't remember whether it's called McKinley or Brinmar or something like that -- whether we actually went up, up to the gate or ticket office or whether I was told that, but I knew that I, I was abruptly told that we can't go there because it's "only for whites." And that was maybe my first encounter.

AI: Do you remember what you reaction was when you found that, when you were told that?

EH: Well, kind of resignation and thinking, "Gee, how come?" We could go to the municipal pool, which was just north of downtown and... north and east of downtown. But it wasn't... didn't have as much appeal. And it, it... for both of these places we would have had to take a bus, and that's all right, we were... in eighth and ninth grade you were ready to take some venture trips, (yes). The YWCA was on Seventeenth and L Street, and we would walk across... from our area we could walk across Capital Park and go and have our Sunday afternoon (meetings). It was called Girl Reserves before, before the war. And they were cordial, but they certainly expected us to participate in their international night or whatever they called it. They wanted... they always wanted the, that Japanese Girl Reserve groups to... and there was a junior high school group and a high school group, and I... we, we didn't really go to the YW until we were in high school and we could walk on our own to go there, but... and this international night was kind of a bazaar kind of thing. We always had a Japanese tea garden, a Japanese, (yes), tea garden, and we had to work hard on Saturday mornings to get all this set up with the lanterns, and, and we somehow got a couple of electric elements to heat hot water. And somehow we gathered enough teacups, and I don't know what we did about washing. But, anyway, we just served senbei and tea, green tea, for maybe a quarter or a dime, I forgot. And then other people were having their usual typical booths.

But the thing I remember about one of those things, I never used, I never learned to use zori. I, I never did. But my goodness, you're dressed in all this obi and, and tight-clad clothes and you have to walk around serving tea, and my toes were just killing me. [Laughs] I just... my mother -- that's right. My grandparents had sent us, Martha and I, a complete Nihongi set, and so my mother was delighted that we were going to be able to use that, and, and she came with us. Let me see, my mother was driving by then. We were juniors or seniors in high school, and so my mother was there all the time, and, and she would be telling us things like, "Don't sit with your legs apart. You have to sit with your knees together." But other than -- my mother enjoyed that kind of thing. She, she didn't have to stay there with us, she could walk all over the place and, and observe. And, and she would, she would, she would chatter with other people. She... once in a while we went, we had a Sunday afternoon program at the YW, it was probably some special occasion, and she did the driving. None of us ever learned to drive. Even my friends, I think I had one friend who drove because she had to go pick up her father and brothers at a produce, wholesale produce stand, and her, her... she just lived a block away from us. But... and my mother would sometimes come in late at night and say, "I wish you could drive that car into the garage." But we never had the desire for some reason. We weren't that sophisticated.

But, but those were delightful, those were delightful events. She came once when the minister from Westminster Presbyterian was doing the presentation that afternoon, and he talked about... I think it must have been the Colgate family, how somebody was very poor and they started to, to earn a little money. Somebody discovered that mixing salt and soda made just the right teeth polishing, teeth cleaning. And that's... I think that's how Colgate toothpaste gets started. And for my mother that was just a, a delightful Americana story. I remember saying, or hearing her on the telephone saying... she, she had a very, she heard a very good sermon. And I wouldn't have called it a sermon, but because this minister, she knew the name of the minister, and so she... but she liked to go to non-Japanese --

AI: Well, now, let me ask you --

EH: -- occasions.

AI: -- a little bit more about the YWCA and the Girl Reserves. The Girl Reserves group that you were in, was this all Japanese-American girls?

EH: Yes, it was all Japanese. In fact, when we were in junior high school, there were older, there was an older group, you know, sisters of friends, who invited us for, for a Sunday tea, and it turned out to be an introduction for us to become Girl Reserves or "Camellias" we were called. And the high school group was called yuuai. "Ai" means love, and I can't remember what "yuu" was about, was for. But anyway, it was a good experience and introduction to group experiences and learning about issues. One of... I remember at the YWCA being introduced to discrimination or prejudice at... we had an outside speaker, I think it was somebody from the YWCA staff talking about discrimination and, and that was kind of an introduction for us.

AI: Actually talking about the issue of discrimination.

EH: (Yes). Not so much addressed to us about our concerns, but, but blacks and Mexicans and, and YW I think has always been an avante garde, an agency that was one jump ahead, especially one jump ahead of the YM. YM is just the typical businessmen. They worry about funding and not offending so we lose those funds or business psychology kind of thing. But the YW, which just coincidentally, it was a good time and a good experience for us, because two years after our senior year came Pearl Harbor. And so when, when I was in camp, knowing that the kids that... I joined the recreation staff, because the kids needed something to do. And I had had, we had had enough Protestant church group experiences and conferences that, that you knew, you got a sense of group dynamics. Maybe we didn't even have those terms, but, anyway, somehow you knew that those were valuable experiences. And so you go into camp and you... you're willing to try to do something about providing some kind of recreation or group experiences. And the kids kind of need to be thinking about being aware of what their thinking is and what they could do to help. So --

AI: Excuse me. So when we get to those years I'm going to ask you more about that.

EH: Okay, okay.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

AI: But at this point, so you're in high school, and I wanted, just wondering. You're the oldest in your family.

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: What were your plans? Were you, you had mentioned earlier that both your parents had stressed education, they had valued education. And I was wondering, what were, as you were in high school, what were you planning to do after graduation?

EH: Well, I'm afraid that in my era -- and maybe with a lot of my friends or that period -- we would have, we would have liked to go to college and, and I think I did gear myself for taking college prep, but in reality, I knew that older friends were having trouble landing jobs. In fact, I had a boyfriend almost all through the three years of high school who was a year or two older than I was, and he went to business school after, after graduating high school. Finished, but could never get a job. Could not get a job in bookkeeping or accounting, whatever, and he was really bitter and would talk to me about, about the country not really being our country and not really being treated with an equal chance. So I learned... I think I learned from him the first time the term "yamato damashi," which is loyalty to some extent to Japan or culture. And he came from a Buddhist family and, and my coming from Presbyterian also... to some extent his upbringing was a little bit different, but in Sacramento everybody knew everybody. My mother knew of his family, and when somebody would see us on a date and it would get reported to my mother, my mother was able to say, "Oh, that's So-and-so." And then she would say to me, "I'm sure glad you told me that you were, who you were going with," or something. I never actually went out much with anybody else. But anyway, that was an eye-opener about discrimination and, and prejudice.

My parents, I think, never really emphasized that kind of thing, I think as a protection. That they didn't want us developing complexes, but I know that when we were in, well, must have been a senior in high school or later high school or into freshman year in college, because we were building that new church, we were... I guess we were still in the old church and we were in the process of building the new church. My older friends were saying to my mother at some... once in a while my mother would, I had a piano teacher who would come out to the house to teach sometimes. Usually I was at her house, but I, I know at one time she and her sisters were in our house and they were talking about job difficulties and, and the future. And my mother was saying, "Well, realize that in the last five years, So-and-so and So-and-so and So-and-so have been able to get state jobs." And that was beginning when... I was probably in high school when the first Nisei state workers got in. So that was one potential hope, and I don't know why this guy didn't, this boyfriend didn't try for a state job, but anyway, he really was bitter. I also had kind of contributed to that in that I didn't go to senior ball with him and that kind of thing. So I was, I've always a carried a kind of a guilt complex about the end. But he was really very patient and was a good influence for me, generally speaking. But it was true that at least the state was, was beginning to open up.

This Mrs. Hopley, and I'm really get off the tangent, but the principal at elementary school, the Japanese community was so beholding to her that they collected funds and collected enough that they gave her a trip to Japan, and she came back and would stop at every classroom and talk about what she learned and the experiences. It was kind of amazing. But there was that, that kind of entrenched loyalty about Lincoln School also, that the teachers also were pretty loyal to us, I think. It was a... I think it was a good school for its, particularly for its day. But going into high school we had, we had a Japanese student clubs, the Chinese had Chinese student clubs, and...

AI: Was there much mixing? I mean, were... your Girl Reserve group was all Japanese --

EH: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

AI: -- American girls, and as you mentioned there were the Chinese clubs. Were there any clubs where it was ethnically mixed, especially white kids and Asian kids and, and other kids?

EH: Only in schools; honors programs or chemistry club or French club, that kind of thing. And I'm not sure that there was much social mixing even then, though they... I think they enjoyed each other's company. When, the year I was, we were a senior, I wasn't ever aware that, that minority groups became part of the pep squad or the "peperettes" or the yell leaders. And that year, my senior year there were. I had a half a dozen kids who were, who would, were cheerleaders or pep squad.

AI: So that was a noticeable change.

EH: (Yes). And it was, it was good. I, I guess I have to say there were three or four. I remember when my... when Ralph was teaching at Garfield, the first, I think the first Asian kids became cheerleaders. And that was in '60, I mean, he was, he was class advisor for '60. He went there in '58. But I remember Junx Kurose saying to Ralph, "Are you sure? What are the teachers saying?" or something. And there was some criticism of... even then, in the '60s, of Sanseis being cheerleaders, because that wasn't something that Japanese girls did. "That's not very ladylike," was the kind of attitude.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

AI: [Laughs] Well, let me take you back to your own high school years.

EH: I think when, when Pearl Harbor occurred --

AI: Oh, excuse me. I don't want to leap to that yet.

EH: Okay.

AI: Because I did have a couple more questions, and one of them is as you were preparing to finish high school and graduate high school and seeing as you did have a boyfriend at the time, did you consider marrying?

EH: No.

AI: I mean, many girls your age in that era, as soon as you were done with high school, you would...

EH: That's right. And he wanted to get married, but I said, "No. I want to go to college." And that was probably our major bone of contention. I think the biggest faux pas was my not... I, we had some kind of tiff, and I didn't invite him to senior ball and that was really my... the big faux pas, 'cause three years and, and then not go. But he, he really was a good person. He was even willing to become a yoshi, meaning ex-, because we were five girls, he had two or three brothers, one of them was in my class. And he went that far. And I had never heard of the term. And it was significant, but I never shared it with my mother, because I didn't want her to get all one way or another about it.

I think being... I saw problems with, his mother was a very strong person and so was my mother, and I just foresaw problems. And my mother, any young man came along, my mother was going to boss him come hell or what. I mean, whether it was proper or not, she was always ordering people around. And that happened even after college and after relocation. She was still bossing people around. But in church, she was also that way. In fujinkai I, I used to tell her, "Don't argue. Don't insist on being right all the time." But she was... she also became, I think she told me she was the first (female) elder in the Presbytery. And I didn't really understand what the Presbytery was, but females, like the Senate, you... it's, it's not really expected to have a female. And I, I think I could believe her being the first. 'Course she, she could communicate in English by the time I was in high school.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

AI: Well, so when... what year did you graduate, then, from high school?

EH: '41.

AI: 1941.

EH: '41, (yes). And as far as the future goes, I think by the time I, I wanted to go to college, so I wasn't going to go to work right away, though there were no work opportunities outside being domestic help and that, out of necessity, we were willing to do, summertime and that kind of thing.

AI: And so what did you do that summer after, after graduating from high school?

EH: After high school? I, well, you know, I went, I did some domestic work, and, and fortunately I was very close to the junior college, so I stayed there. And I was... right straight through my freshman year, but I, then we, then evacuation came along, and it was a little --

AI: Oh, wait. I don't want to... I, I know, because I remember that you had told me in an early, earlier conversation that there were some significant things that happened during that year, 1941, when you were becoming more independent, because you were living away from home --

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: -- you were boarding where you were working in the home.

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: And you were going to school, and then... and I wanted to ask you a little bit also if you were, you were... you had been so active in your high school years. Were you able to continue any kinds of activities while you were working that summer? Were you --

EH: No. I think the only thing we did continue was Christian Endeavor or the youth groups.

AI: Uh-huh.

EH: And one of the funny things that happened as far as YWCA goes, we wanted to have conferences or exchange programs, not so much in the mixed group, but every major city had YWCA Girl Reserve group, and we wanted to do this with Berkeley and we had to raise funds if we were going to do that. You know, transportation and, and lunch and dinner kind of things. So somewhere in my junior, my high school years, we decided to raise funds by making chocolate chip cookies, which were new and exciting. And we could all... I mean, if you were high school, you, everybody could make cookies. So I was president of Girl Reserve that year, and so we made all these plans and everybody committed themselves to making, donating a batch of chocolate chip cookies. And we got waxed paper bags, and I think we put three cookies and sold them for a dime. And we went up and down Nihonmachi and even around the neighborhoods and everybody was just enthralled. There was a Japanese-owned American cleaners across from Lincoln School, and the pair that went there, people kept coming out with more dimes and more dimes and they ran out of cookies and they had to come back. I was manning a, kind of a distribution center at the Baptist church. (Yes), I guess it was right next door. Anyway, it went very successful, and we, we excitedly made plans for the next year to do this. And, and we did invite Berkeley Girl Reserves down to Sacramento. We had, we had it in the new church, the Presbyterian church social hall. And diligently planning the menus and the decor and all, and we just thought then that creamed tuna on toast was going to be an elegant lunch, and we went through all that.

But the, after... let's see, maybe three or four months. We had a very nice Nisei advisor, and three or four months after that, I forgot whether we were called into the YWCA or they came to us, anyway, we were not allowed to do that. And we said, "Why not? It's the only way we could raise funds and everybody loved them." The young Nisei mothers were asking us for the recipes, because it was, that's how new chocolate chip was in 1940, probably. But it was because... they tried to explain to us, and I, I think I probably couldn't accept it, but they were saying that the, "We get a lot of our funds from Community Chest, and the community, the whole community contributes to Community Chest just for programs like us. And we can't go back and ask them again." That was their... and I felt like, we only went to almost all our Japanese friends, and they're not going to mind. I. I had trouble connecting the Girl Reserves with the community chest. I never knew that that kind of support came. So that was one disappointing, but that was a very exciting adventure. It was, it was kind of brazen, probably, but it was a fun thing to do.

AI: Well, before I forget, I was also (going to) ask you, were you ever involved in the Japanese American Citizens League while you were in high school?

EH: No, because that just didn't go on. We barely, we barely heard those words. I think if you were in college or a graduate, you probably would. In fact, I think Henry Tanaka, I think, who was a church member, was president of JACL at one time. What happened was, once Pearl Harbor occurred, the JACL asked those of us that were college age to interview every home in that Nihonmachi area, or probably any Japanese home that we knew of, if they had a spare bedroom that a family could use, because they were expecting a flood from, from the Bay Area or closer along the coast. Because I think we even had a Terminal Island family close by. And... but these Alameda friends, my mother rented a house across the street. Fortunately it was available. And, but we did that. We, we went up and down stairs and, and in our limited Japanese explained that we're going to have to find room for people who are going to be evacuated from, from the seacoast and quickly. So we did, we did that much.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

AI: Well, let me take... go back just a step and, and ask you about Pearl Harbor, itself. Because here you were, it's late in the year 1941. You're in school --

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: -- at Sacramento Junior College.

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: And so December 7th was a Sunday.

EH: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

AI: What do you remember about that day and how did you hear about it?

EH: Well, listening to the radio. We came, we came home from our service, and then the Issei parents had their service after the Nisei parents. So I, I was on Fifth and T, and the church was between Seventh and Eighth on T, so just two or three blocks. And I guess we automatically turned the news on and heard this. And we were just dumbfounded. It was a little scary, and then a, a friend called and, and said, "Did you hear the news?" And we got on the telephone. I was... I had the urge to go back, run back to the church and tell them, though, what had happened was in situations somebody comes up the church and announces, and, and then there's a shift in the whole church service, because this becomes a paramount issue. When my folks came home -- see, my father did get... I think each time we thought he was recovered, so he came home my ninth grade year and was able to witness the ninth grade graduation and that kind of thing. And then in my senior year he was able to come home, so I think... no, I think he wasn't home during Pearl Harbor. He did witness graduation.

And the other fun thing about that was when he was in the sanitarium, he loved sports anyway, but could never watch football games. First of all, there wasn't any television, and... but he loved tennis. My parents often had a conflict, because he was always late coming home from the tennis court and, and my mother hated to be late for church. But anyway, so she immediately started surmising herself what needed to be done, and she immediately started burning valuable pictures and, and letters and explaining to us why. That we can't be caught with these kind of things because this is from enemy country now, and that kind of thing, which was really regretful. I'm, I'm thinking... I guess, I guess I don't really recall seeing any prewar pictures.

AI: So what did you think or what did you feel when you heard her saying, "These are things from an enemy country. We have to get rid of them"? What, what was your reaction?

EH: I, I thought regretful. I, I said, "They're not going to... they're not going to be that picky or small." But, but to some extent she was right. Mr. Inai, downstairs, who owned the grocery store kitty-corner from us was taken immediately the night of Pearl Harbor. And then she began to get calls from other people. And it was, it was a frantic time. Sara was... well, she was in school. She was probably kindergarten age. So anyway... and I was living away from school, and she was really always harping at me to go back to Garritty's. "Don't stay here," because I had friends... there was one girl who was shot as a, she was a ticket seller for a small theater, and a Filipino guy came and shot her. It was that kind of hysteria, easily. The, the Chinese... our Chinese friends did stop talking to us. That was kind of a, a low blow. I had... in fact, after that happened I tried to, I went to a Chinese Presbyterian schoolmate's who, I knew they had a Christian Endeavor and I, I said, "Andrew, let's have a joint meeting." Well, their parents would not allow such a thing. And --

AI: And so how... what did you think about that? Did you have some understanding as to

why the parents would...

EH: (Yes). I, I could understand that... because our Chinese friends basically had stopped talking to us anyway. Which was, I was surprised more at that, that I didn't think they would be that un-understanding, because we grew up all the way through elementary and, and junior high school in, in sewing classes. In seventh and eighth grade sewing classes we, we were far enough away from the teacher that we could be chatting, and they would tell us about Chinese school and, and we would tell them about Japanese school, and we found out then that, that their Chinese school was a lot harder. They went from six o'clock to ten o'clock. And they would fall asleep in, in the American school system, the school classes. But then we started comparing kanjis, and, and we found that, by golly, the meanings are the same. I could... "Ishikawa" was a, is a fairly simple kanji and, and it meant "rock river" in Chinese also. That was kind of fun.

But after the war -- oh, in fact, during, after evacuation I came back and I had found out that a friend of mine, a Chinese friend's family, bought Mr. Inai's grocery store. So I thought I'd maybe see if I could get any... see any. Parents would not even talk to me, they, they'd (say), "Annie not home." And they wouldn't tell me anything else. A, a Korean... there were, there were only two Korean families in Sacramento, and one of the Korean friends I met in... oh, and my sister knew that she was in Berkeley and so we looked her up. She was working at a department store, and so we had lunch a couple of times. And interestingly enough, they, they were fairly close. They lived a block away from our church, but they never came to the Sacramento, to the Presbyterian church. They went to a neighboring white church eventually. And I said, "Why, why didn't you come to Parkview?" And that was probably not the tone at the time. The Koreans could not join. There, there may have been some old members who already... but in school we didn't... we heard about each other's dances and things, but we never had joint.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

AI: Well, I also wanted to ask you, a couple of years before Pearl Harbor, of course, there was already the war in Europe and Hitler was --

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: The Nazi army was marching across Europe and conquering. And at the same time, the Japanese army was doing similarly in Asia --

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: -- going into other countries. And I was wondering, in the couple years, 1939, 1940,

1941, before Pearl Harbor, did you have much awareness of that, that... like did your mother or father talk --

EH: (Yes), (yes).

AI: -- much about the war, and...

EH: I think in Japanese communities up and down the coast, some people were gathering foil, for instance, as a war effort for Japan. When Pearl Harbor occurred, that stopped immediately. The other thing we used to do is -- and very common, I think, in Japanese communities -- is people would walk around with thick folds of cloth and, and take stitches, red stitches. This was kind of a symbolic protection garment or band that the soldiers could wear. And we did do that, but I think as soon as Pearl Harbor occurred, that kind of thing stopped.

AI: But I was wondering if you had any awareness at all or understanding that possibly the Chinese American kids' parents might really feel hatred for anyone of Japanese ancestry --

EH: Well --

AI: -- because of what Japan was --

EH: (Yes), that's why... well, but they didn't do that until after Pearl Harbor. I mean, they didn't stop talking to us. Until then, I think we were well-aware that Japan had invaded Manchuria, and some of that was going on. My fath-, my mother said, "We have to experience some war hardship." And she, she bought... she began buying brown rice, and we hated it. And we growled and we, and so as a compromise, she mixed the brown and white rice. And people always say, "You can't mix those two. Brown rice takes a lot longer," and I know that. But, but we ate it. But again, when Pearl Harbor occurred, that kind of small worry or threat of identification was thrown out immediately.

But it, it was tragic to lose so many treasures, though my mother did keep... when she moved to Chicago she had the hinamatsuri dolls shipped to... the government allowed a certain amount of shipping of household goods to a permanent resident. But then my mother had a house fire in, in Chicago. The, the gas furnace in the basement exploded or something so that the whole set got burned, but anyway...

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

AI: But... so to go back to that day of, of Pearl Harbor, then very soon your mother was getting rid of these things and... but, and then the day after was Monday. Did you go right back to work to the family, to the --

EH: (Yes). (Yes), and it was, it was deadly. But the family I lived with understood. "That wasn't you," they said. And on top of that, there were 5,000 guys, Niseis, in the armed forces already. That was more of a problem. I had friends who had brothers in the army, and they were so worried about the treatment that their brothers might be getting. Their... some of my friends did have a quandary about, "Gee, if we had to fight, which side would we fight on?" And I... there was no worry. That was no, no question for me, but I think sometimes I guess it depends on your family. I, I did experience when, when that freshman year in, in junior college, Jewish kids were coming in from Europe, and see, they had, they had long been tolerating or, or surviving the Hitler invasion, and they would invite me to, for instance, a student YM/YW. It was impressive that they got involved with social issues almost as soon as they came in. And one of the things that they were doing, we still had... what, what did they call? Hoovervilles along the rivers. And they were going to, to help people like that.

AI: For people who don't know what Hooverville was, could you describe a little bit about what that looked like?

EH: It was the height of the Depression when so many people lost homes and income that the only place they could set up any kind of living... very limited, sparse living quarters. In Sacramento it was along the river for many, maybe many reasons. There was, at least water available, and it was warm enough that... in, in Seattle, Hooverville was along the, south of Jackson or that area became a massive Hooverville.

AI: And so you were saying that then the Jewish young people, as soon as they arrived in that area, would start getting involved to provide assistance to people.

EH: (Yes), (yes). And they were... and they knew from their own experience that people who needed help should be helped. And now I wish I had gone once with them. I did have a close friend, Lucy Hahn, who was an American Jew, and she used to tell me about her relatives and what, what they were coping with.

But in the... the other thing that happened when I was a senior -- in fact, I guess for physical ed, I took modern dance almost all three years. And as a senior dance concert, the dance instructor had us pantomiming or dancing through scenes of that era of... I remember being, playing the role of a journalist taking notes from a report. But there was... on the other side of the stage was Hitler's marching troops. And I can't remember... a couple of other scenes. So we "dance drama" this in the senior year.

I, I remember that graduation year was a little scary, because I... "Gee, here we are out of high school. What are, what are we going to do?" I knew I was going to junior college, but it was really a time to start looking for a vocation, hopeful. Though by the time I was in junior college, my mother was trying to convince me to help her with the insurance business, and I kept telling her that I wanted to be a social worker. And she was saying, "Well, this business is social work. You could do this and that." And, and she was, she was good at it. She would buy quantities of baby shoes and carry them in her trunk, so that when she got to a place where there was a new baby, she was able to, I mean, baby shoes, in the, in the '30s and '40s cost a dollar, probably. But in the country in the farmlands when they... you had a lot of splinters and you had gravel paths, it's a wonder babies didn't get injured more severely running barefoot. They couldn't wear zoris but...

So she did... she even at one point carried some kind of contraceptives, and we were not sophisticated enough to, to get into that. That was kind of a taboo subject, but she even helped young Nisei salesmen. She would carry their brands of fertilizer in her trunk, and she would sell that idea or give samples and, and convince farmers or farmers' wives, farmers' widows, particularly, to try fertilizers. And they could probably barely afford it, but it was hard for Niseis to, to get a niche or be entrepreneurial, and if this was something she could do, she did it. She, she learned how to read blood pressure early in the game, because that's one of the criterias for... you have to pass a physical to get in insurance. And she would carry this blood pressure kit with her, and she would take, if they said, yes, then that's the first thing she did is take the blood pressure, and if it was too high then she would tell them, but...

AI: So, so in her business, driving around these rural areas to these Issei families, she would do a social service.

EH: Yes. And that's what she was convincing me, that... I remember once she came all the way back home, and I, when I came home from school she was on the telephone calling a friend to say, "What do you do with Masashi's old pants?" Or Tsuyoshi's old pants. And I was saying, "What are you doing?" And she, she would be gathering old clothes from her fujinkai friends, because she ran into widows with children who refused to go to school because they didn't have any decent clothes to wear. And so she would gather all these, and she'd drive fifty miles back and, and give it to the kids. And the other thing she did was take them to barbershops, pay a quarter, and let them have a... get 'em a good haircut.

And women really appreciated my mother, because she could... I mean, she was proving something, that women could do this. And so there were families who would wait for my mother to buy a policy from and not let all these other men, who -- it was a very competitive business. I think there were five Japanese men who were in the insurance business in Sacramento. And she... my mother would chuckle, and she would get the biggest charge out of it. People would park in their barns, sleep in their barns, to go fishing while they were farming and be able to bring something for dinner. But while they were fishing, my mother would have driven in and sold them a policy and, and be gone [cell phone beeps] -- my thing is getting low -- And, and, the wives, and the farmers' wives would delight in saying, "Mrs. Ishikawa was here. We bought a policy from her." And they might have been there for two or three days, spending all that time trying to win their battle. They're pressure salesmen. So people, I think on the other hand, may be empathizing or sympathizing with her, but, but the fact that (she) was able to, to accomplish this, she became quite well-known in that, in the Sacramento valley.

And, and at first she hired a housekeeper for us, when I was maybe thirteen or fourteen. Maybe, no, maybe even before that. We, we had a friend who did the housekeeping for us for a couple of years, and then we hired... and then she hired someone who was just out of high school for a year or two. And then she hired an older Issei woman, and that went on for a year or so, and I was in high school. And, and one day I, I came home and said, "You know, Obasan, you don't have to stay, we could do this." And that was so bold and insulting or ingratitude showing, you know, ingratitude, that she did up and leave and went home. When my mother came home at eleven or midnight or something and, and she said, "Where's So-and-so?" And I said, "Well, she went home." And my mother knew something was wrong, that she wouldn't have gone home without my mother saying she could. So she (backed) out of the garage and -- no, no. I think she, because she took her home. But she whizzed over to Obasan's house and, and said, "How come?" And she said, "Because your daughter told me she didn't need me." And that wasn't, that wasn't my tone, but I... you know, you like to run your own home rather than have a stranger running it, though I probably should have maybe shown more respect. But I had, we were just proving that -- and Martha and I really ran, learned to run the house from the time... well, we were in high school, probably, freshmen, sophomore. And fifteen? (Yes). Thirteen, fourteen. But we systematized things. I did all the laundry and we split the ironing and I did the evening meals. She did the dishes and she cleaned the house, while I did the washing and this -- and I, I have, I took public speaking as an elective English my senior year, and I said in one of my public speaking, speaking assignments that American kids could do a lot more if, if we would. I said, "In, in the Japanese community," I said, "we, the kids that have grocery stores race home and help run the grocery store, and give their parents some relief. If we come from a family with hotels, we have to clean the rooms and change the sheets and, and be ready for the next day." And I'm not sure it was the most popular thing to say. I, I once talked, talked about the Japanese language school and what it was like and demonstrated some kanji on the blackboard and, and that kind of thing. So you become culturally aware by the time you're a senior in high school and could interpret this. (Yes).

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

AI: Well, today is May 13, 2004, and we're continuing our interview with Elaine Ishikawa Hayes. And, Elaine, as we were just mentioning yesterday, that you had finished talking a little bit about what happened December 7, 1941, and some of the reactions of some of the people around you. And what happened later on in December as the month continued on? What kinds of reactions were you getting, and what... how did that change your behavior and your feeling?

EH: Well, it... I think it was significant. It didn't seem to me that our neighbors, for instance, were very communicative, and I didn't have... we had the four or five Japanese neighbors on the four corners, but there were... there was a Mexican family, and I had a black classmate right -- Leona Henderson -- next door, and then there were Portuguese and, and other European background people. And nobody said very much to us. But we were also very preoccupied. And I was living closer to college, so my mother was always telling me, "Get on the bus and get home." And if I was late, she, she was visioning all kinds of things. That people would be attacking, and if you're caught alone you're vulnerable and that kind of thing.

AI: When she... excuse me. When your mother mentioned her fears and, about possibly physical violence.

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: What did you think? Did you, were you also worried that could happen?

EH: No, I... you know, and I think maybe it's typical eighteen-, nineteen-year-old, and maybe it's my personality. I don't, I don't hold... I just have more confidence. People ask about, "How do you feel about the country? Did you think U.S. was going to dump you or ship you back to Japan?" And I don't know whether I expressed that, but I, I personally felt that I just had confidence in, in the country that after all this blows over, we'll be back. We'll be able to come back to normalcy. But that Christmas was uncomfortable or, or it wasn't the usual Christmas. We debated, Christmas was one time when you got new clothes or... so it was an iffy situation. I think I went ahead and made, made myself a dress. [Laughs] And typically in my family, because my mother was working, by the time we were in high school and, and out, holidays always meant that we would make a dress for one of the two younger sisters, Martha and I. And I don't know what we did about Jean. She must have gotten her share of clothes. And I'm not sure how much sewing we did. And, and so Christmas was kind of a busy time if we're going to make clothes for five, five of us. But --

AI: And why was that, do you think, that you decided maybe you weren't going to make all the clothes as usual?

EH: Well, because, because of the war. You didn't know how depressed or how much you should change your life pattern. Traditionally in ethnic Protestant churches, there's always a Christmas program that everybody practices for for weeks ahead of time and it's produced. And I don't really remember that we had a Christmas program like that, the traditional, that year. I do remember my... a couple of my friends saying, "Gee, I, I didn't think we should be dressing up for Christmas this year," or something like that. And so it was a more solemn Christmas...

AI: Do you remember -- excuse me. Do you remember other discussions with some of your church friends at that time about, around Christmas time or New Year's, about what might be happening to you as Japanese Americans now that the U.S. was in the war?

EH: There was a little bit of that. As the evacuation issue came more alive, we really didn't know where we were going. My mother, I think, gave each of us ten dollars and said, "Okay, you have to go buy your own things that you're going to need, but be sure and get a pair of jeans." Well, we had never, we never wore jeans. Almost... I think at that time, I think, I don't think we wore pants even. And I just refused to spend that precious ten dollars on a pair of jeans. I went out and bought some yardage of kind of a contemporary print, modern print of pink and white, a very coarse, stiff -- it wasn't cotton, but I knew that material was going to last long, and I knew this might be the last dress I ever will be able to make for myself. So... and when that kind of thing happened, my mother didn't go in a tirade, she just let us live with the consequences. And so she silent, she silently watched me make my dress and I got it. She also, I think, gave us some money for luggage, and I forget... one of us, either Martha or I got some "Samson" luggage, which was kind of a luxury. It probably was Martha, because she always was going to go for quality, and if she doesn't have anything else, she's got this one purse. And, and by golly, that "Samson" luggage, Samsonite luggage really lasted. But it was a, it was a busy time.

I remember my mother coming home once and saying, "I'm going to substitute. I'm going to go take care of the Reverend's kids so Mrs. Nakamura could go shopping." Because Reverend was... I'm sure all the ministers were very busy going around to all the parishioners, particularly rural area people who were isolated and, and couldn't get to places. So ministers' wives sometimes with young children are going to be in a desperate situation because, unless somebody offers to baby-sit.

AI: Oh, excuse me. I think I remember you saying in an earlier conversation we had, that you had a kind of upsetting experience on New Year's Eve, that you had some social plans for... to go out, and that, that your mother was --

EH: That was, that was not Pearl Harbor era. I graduated, I graduated in, in... well, it was my senior year's New Years Eve.

AI: Oh, I see.

EH: So it was the year before Pearl Harbor.

AI: I see.

EH: (Yes), that was, that was the issue about the culture conflict.

AI: Oh, so that incident didn't happen in 1941, but it was something that you wrote about.

EH: It maybe was... it was in the old church, and we, that new church got dedicated in the spring of '41. So it was, it was apparently New Year's Eve of '40.

AI: And, and then you ended up writing about that in your class, and that was that year, then, in 1941 or early '42 that you wrote?

EH: When I... (yes), that's right. I was a freshman and was taking Psych 101, and the unit was "conflict." And I just considered this a conflict and I wrote about it. And I didn't even know if there was a term called "culture conflict," but I labeled it that because that was the only thing I could figure, that the conflict was really about culture. And by the time I wrote it, it was three or four... let's see. That was my senior year, so it was that fall, and six or eight months, nine months later, ten months later. So it had kind of simmered down, but it stayed with me enough that I chose that subject. And...

AI: So here you were, lots going on, but you're still going to your classes at Sacramento Junior College?

EH: Yes, I guess wrote that probably two or three months before Pearl Harbor.

AI: Well, maybe this would be a --

EH: That's why --

AI: -- this would be --

EH: -- that's why the same Psych prof, in talking about connecting with evacuation, he in the rush of things, he keeps that paper, and then when he comes to visit camp he asks if he could keep the paper.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

AI: Well, because the, you had mentioned the paper, even though we got the chronology a little bit out of order, could you tell what you, what you wrote about, about the incident and what you wrote about?

EH: Oh, well, the incident was... we were just trying to have a modest New Year's Eve party of udon, which is kind of traditional. Soba, I guess, is the traditional thing. And we used the church kitchen, we had this little party and did a little dancing, and, and when it was time to leave we decided to go to a New Year's Eve movie, which was not that out of the ordinary, but when I dutifully called my mother from the theater, inside the theater, and said, "We're, we're going to see a New Year's Eve movie, okay?" And she said, "No. Come home." And very adamant, and, and, and I was really stuck and embarrassed because two carloads of us had paid. Even if it was a quarter a movie, that was a precious quarter in those days. And so here two carloads of us had to pile back in the car. My sister Martha was also there. So we all dutifully had to go home. And I don't know how they felt. I never got a chance to even discuss this with any of my friends after that. I was embarrassed, I was angry, and when I got home I didn't even go in the house. I sat in, on the front steps for, oh, at least two hours. And my sister dutifully went in the house and (had) no problem. My mother was fixing the traditional New Year's food, and I guess she expected us to be typical Japanese daughters and fix the food.

I never got around to asking anybody what, what their reaction was, but I wrote in the paper that, "Here we are in America. My, my hakujin friends, my Caucasian friends, are all going to New Year's Eve balls with strapless gowns, and here we can't even got to a New Year's Eve movie." And so by the time I wrote that paper, I could digest the fact that, okay, this is a cultural issue, and... but that was interesting, and the poor professor appreciated the paper, but we never got a chance to discuss that either, because... so it must have been pretty close to evacuation. He was a very, very good person, and I think he was a popular prof. And he called me in a month before evacuation and asked me, "What could someone like me do?" And I, I said, "One of the things that's happening is people are frantic about trying to save their furniture. A lot of us were in rented property and we need, we wish we could find some place to store furniture." We fortunately, the owner of the building was allowing a returning Japanese missionary to use the house, but then it was his responsibility to rent the upper floor. And we left... we were able to leave, then, our furniture as it was. A lot of it... a lot of our stuff Mr. Inai allowed us to store in the basement of this two-story house. So that was... but I said to Dr. Tyler that if churches or even the college there, if they had some open space or a warehouse or something, that there were people who really would be thankful to be able to store pianos and things like that. And I never got around again to asking him, him if that, that...

Well, evacuation was so rushing, there was so much to do at home, and our grades had to be... we had to get signatures from all the profs, and we all took a... as I remember, we all took a grade point loss, because we weren't going to be there for exams. And, and I mentioned the black matron in the ladies room, that took care of the ladies room said, at least to me, she said, "This is just the beginning. Keep your spirits up." I wish I could have gone back to her after evacuation, but I, I didn't. And I'm not sure if she would have even been there. But anyway, that was, that was probably one of my first awareness that minorities had something in common. And I barely understood what she meant. It didn't take a year for me to realize what, how much she meant, but -- because normally, well, she, she was a very dignified kind of person, and I don't think, matrons aren't supposed to come, get into conversation with the guests that use the facility, but she was able to give that little brief bit of encouragement.

With my neighbors, we never even got a chance... I don't think we even said goodbye and things like that. Things were so solemn, and I think we were feeling very self-conscious. The other thing I did, the papers would come out -- even before Pearl Harbor we were hearing and reading about sabotage and fifth-column activities, and all the more -- and an article, headlines would come out about Japanese farmers purposely locating themselves next to airfields and military establishments. And I just wrote that, and I wrote a letter to the editor to say, "These farmers have been there since the early '20s, long before there was any air-, airport or military establishment." They had no... I don't think we had any idea that the war was coming this way. And I thought it was a decent letter. When they published it, it was so garbled you couldn't understand or make sense of it. And that, to me, I, I was a, again, I was a freshman, so I think, okay, here's my first experience with yellow journalism. That's the attitude I took. A couple people at church kind of commended me for the letter, so they must have been able to decipher it, but I was so angry because the letter... you couldn't recognize the letter. But that kind of thing I think went on a lot. There was a lot of garbled... you know, the issues of Japanese fliers that bombed Pearl Harbor were found to have U.S. class high school rings. And that kind of thing never disappears. I mean, there, there, probably the majority who read that still believe that. The government issued, retracted a lot of saying that, a lot of that kind of thing. Every pilot couldn't have been a high school, American high school graduate.

There was another item that... I had to deal with a milkman who, who just convincingly told me about some place in, how the... well, this was here in Seattle, but how the farmers helped the Japanese pilots by, by in some way planting things. In fact, I, I had a male beautician who apparently went to Ingraham High School, and he said that was in the textbook, and he had a Nisei social studies teacher who never denied it. And I said, "I don't care what the social studies teacher... but that is not true, and that has no business being in the textbooks." And I went home and told my, my husband, who was a social studies teacher. And he said he hadn't, he hadn't ever seen that in print, but I should go back to him and ask him what the title of the textbook was. Well, this guy was ten years out of high school so I, I couldn't. But that, to me, that was another lesson: by golly, I guess we better stand up and speak out loudly if that kind of thing comes up in print.

AI: But at the time, it sounds like you were one of the few Nisei who did --

EH: Oh.

AI: -- reply with a letter to the editor, or that you were one of the few who actually spoke out publicly in some ways.

EH: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

AI: Was that right?

EH: (Yes), probably. I, I don't remember any other... and actually it was such a busy time that people probably couldn't stop to do that.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

AI: Well, speaking of that busy time, when people were rushing around trying to get ready, I wanted to ask just a little bit before you actually knew, before the actual order came out that you were going to have to leave.

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: I think you had mentioned earlier that at one point it wasn't clear, you didn't know for sure that you were going to have to leave. And in fact, you mentioned that your mother had rented a house so that some friends' families, who lived much closer to the coast --

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: -- could, there was a period where they could so-called "voluntarily" evacuate and voluntarily leave the coast, come further in with the hope that they wouldn't have to completely leave California.

EH: Well, I think... I can't remember when that edict -- you know, there was just a celebration recently, the what? Sixtieth anniversary, and so, see, it's this, this time of the year. It was probably March or April when, when that came out. And I think --

AI: Oh, are you talking about the executive order?

EH: (Yes).

AI: That was... I believe President Roosevelt actually signed the executive order February 19th.

EH: Okay.

AI: But it wasn't until the last day of March, 1942, that's when the Bainbridge Islanders from Washington state were the first group that were forced to leave their homes.

EH: But see, once that order was signed, we knew that it was imminent. There was no escaping. The problem was we didn't know what kind of place. My mother insisted we get jeans 'cause she was sure we were going to be farm laborers somewhere, because immediately, food shortage issues cropped up. And the Japanese farmers were, they were... that was just really pathetic. The farmers just worked until the last minute, long hours -- for instance, strawberries -- so sure they were going to be able to sell their crops. And in Sacramento they, they should have been, except that if you're busy packing and, and you're losing your house, you don't have the equipment anymore or, or the labor. In Sacramento, I think strawberries get ripe in March, and the evacuation wasn't until April or May. But I know that that was very trying. The other thing is it's such an emotional issue, because farmers just really love their fields and fruit orchards, grapevines, and things like that. That was hard coming through from Walerga to Tule Lake. We... the train went through orchard countries of north Cal-, Northern California, and they were weeping. We, we were supposed to have our shades down, but it's hot, and so we gingerly peeked through, and that was, that was hard. But --

AI: Well, tell me, let me --

EH: I think we compared notes among our friends. When we were commuting by bus, for instance, we would, we would get into discussions, particularly those who had brothers in the service. It was a really frustrating time. Some of them thought they were going to be shipped back to Japan for some reason, and I --

AI: Some of the families?

EH: Yes. That, that probably wasn't beyond expectation, depending on what the family did and that kind of thing. Because it was, it was amazing how quickly they took the male community leaders. Mr. Inai, who just owned a grocery store across the street, was taken to the city jail, and it left the wives so desperate. Mrs. Inai didn't know what to do about the store or how she was going to close it. You know, you have produce, products in there that will rot or people will steal or... and so just from her experience, I know how desperate, she had four kids and... little kids, but...

AI: And I, I think you had mentioned earlier also that your mother tried to help some of her customers who were in the outerlying areas and explained to them what the orders were?

EH: Uh-huh. And she wouldn't come back by curfew time, and that was, that was worrisome. I, I think I left the home that I was staying in and decided it's time to leave and pack and, and sort and stuff.

AI: And --

EH: The Garrittys that I lived with were good enough to come up to Tule Lake to, to visit and bring gifts and things. And, and that was hard and emotional, because we couldn't... we still had a fence between us. We couldn't sit together to talk, and it was hot. There was no cover area. But to me that always kind of remained inhuman. We would have... we were so eager to hear about what was happening in Sacramento and, and I would have loved to hear about friends that I knew, the neighbors that I knew around there. He was a dentist. But anyway, that, that was trying when --

AI: Well, let me ask you also -- excuse me, but as you're rushing around getting ready to, to leave, what was happening with your father? Were you able to communicate with him, because wasn't he back in the sanitarium at this point?

EH: (Yes), (yes). We didn't, and I don't know whether my mother did. If, if I were older I think I would have thought to call him long distance. I'm not sure how available a telephone was for him, but, (yes), for my father it was tragic in many ways, 'cause we did very little communicating. I, I, I don't even remember writing. I must have written a letter or two, but we were so preoccupied with what was going on in camp, and...

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

AI: Tell me about the actual day when you had to leave your home and leave Sacramento. What happened that day?

EH: Well, fortu-, again, my mother was, my mother had had an accident early in the year. Let's see... and anyway, she, she had a Ford... I forgot. One of those small Fords, and she just labeled that a "no-good car." [Laughs] She came home with an Oldsmobile, and I said, "Mom, you know that's a fairly expensive car." She says, "I know. I paid for it." And so... but it was a good car, and she just bought it in the spring before Pearl Harbor. And that's what she used to travel all over the place. She never had an accident. It was just amazing, because she was riding on rural roads. Sometimes Sacramento has a lot of river... Sacramento River area has... and even Yuba, Yuba River, Feather River, they're, they're all, they just all have levies, dirt levies, and, and it seems to me the road is maybe this wide. At flood time I'm sure it's a little dangerous, but no lights, no street lights, no lamp lights, and so there, she's just chugging along all the time up and down mountains. It's... north of Sacramento or northeast of Sacramento, it's a little bit mountainous because the Sierra Nevadas start, but she, she made it. We --

AI: So she had gotten this new car.

EH: (Yes).

AI: And then when you were getting ready then to leave?

EH: (Yes), the missionary that was living in the first floor drove us to the Sacramento auditorium where we were supposed to all gather. In fact, before that, one of the things... I said that some of us were recruited to interview homes to find more space for what they thought there was going to be an influx of Bay Area people, so we did that.

The other thing that took some doing and concentration was immunization. And immunization, we had to take all our shots at one time. We all got deathly sick with fever and aches, and they did it at the Buddhist church. The Buddhist church had a huge gym, and somehow -- and there were plenty of Japanese doctors that could do this, but we had to stand in line for... and families with little kids screaming and yelling, but that was... that took two or three days, three or four days. I forgot whether it was typhoid. There was one specific immunization that really gets you. Your arm is sore, you're feverish and that kind of thing.

The other thing that I... talking about the Buddhist church, one of the high school activities growing up was spending every Sunday afternoon in that Buddhist church gym, because the Japanese basketball leagues were such a strong attraction. And every rural community had a basketball league. I think they even came up from Seattle to Sacramento to play. And we had two teams in, in Sacramento. So that's where our Sundays went. And, of course, that was just basketball season. They must have had baseball games, but none of us were inspired to go anywhere to see baseball games. But...

AI: But as you were saying, there were quite a lot of activities that you had to take care of in these busy days of getting prepared, including getting the shots.

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: And then, and then so the missionaries --

EH: (Yes). We loaded everything in, in the Oldsmobile and he dropped us off at the auditorium. And the auditorium, it was such a dismal, sad, solemn day. Nobody said anything. Of course, nobody came to see us off, though sometimes I've read... in fact, I think my mother... my sister talk-, in some writing talks about somebody coming with doughnuts and coffee or something. And I, I never got around to saying, "Hey, where did that come from?" But we, we had to stand in long lines with all our luggage around us, and you could only take what you could carry, though I think we... somehow we got the notion to bundle bedding up in sheets of canvas and roll it up and tie it as a bundle. We had to do that. It was... we all, each of us were given an army cot, a canvas cot, and most of the camps really got cold in the winter. Tule Lake certainly did. It was on the Oregon border, Oregon/California border, and you had just a potbelly stove in there, so you had to have... our barrack, each barrack (room) is twenty by twenty-five, I guess.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

AI: Well, excuse me. Before we jump ahead to that, so you were saying that at the auditorium in Sacramento, there were many, many families there.

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: All... and you were all carrying your luggage.

EH: Luggage, uh-huh. And the army buses would come up the curb, and we all had, family numbers were a very significant item. The head of the family had to go, I think, to the aud-, the same auditorium weeks ahead of time, and you had to register everybody, name and age, and get a family number. And everything... all the luggage we had had to have our numbers on there.

AI: Did -- were you considered the head of the family or your mother?

EH: No, my mother was head of the family. And it... it's really significant, because I really didn't know a lot about property or that kind of thing. We didn't, we didn't have real property. The business was kind of intangible assets, but I... one of the worries I've always had through all these decades is, gee, all those insurance policies that my mother sold and my father sold, I said, "They, those should have been claimable."

And I had one inquiry when I went to a Tule Lake reunion and she saw my nametag, and she said, "You're Mrs. Ishikawa's daughter. Your mother was an insurance agent." And, "(Yes)." And she said, "It was always so good to have her visit." 'Cause they lived in an area called Folsom, and I'd never known my mother went to Folsom. A lot of people all around that Bay Area -- not Bay Area, the Sacramento valley -- knew my mother for various reasons, but that, that gal was so right.

And later on I... Harvey Itano, who is a well-known Nisei doctor who was top of the class at Berkeley when he, when he graduated, his, his father was also an insurance agent and they belonged to the same Presbyterian church. So when I met Harvey at a reunion, I said, "Harvey, what, what do you know about the insurance claims? Did your father do anything about them?" And he... and, of course, this was probably... I don't think it was 2000. Maybe it (was) 1998. Fairly late when I got around to, got around to asking him. But maybe there were a couple of reunions that Ralph didn't go to. Usually he came, and I'm just realizing I don't think Ralph was at that reunion, but it, it was... it must have been before he died. And Harvey's response to me was, "Well, the, the limitation of time has expired," or some... that may be true, but I think this could have been such a huge claim issue that I think the insurance agents -- and there were thousands of insurance agents -- I think that's a major item that me included should have harped about, because otherwise the insurance companies have, have collected a big chunk of money that they're sitting on, and I think the evacuees are entitled to whatever portion, if not the whole... it was interesting. My mother, on one of the return trips to Sacramento -- and I think maybe it was when my father died, and it was... we came back for the funeral -- she borrowed somebody's car, and she went visiting her insurance claimants. And she even went to San Francisco to the head office for Northern California and picked up claim forms, and even picked up a check or two, because she knew of a couple of servicemen who died in service. And I, I went with her on that trip. There was a family in Susanville or Vacaville, somewhere around there, and my mother presented the check. And they were so astounded, because the government had paid them for the death benefit of the son that died, and their... their reaction was "Maa... ita daite mo ii no?" Almost unbelievable. "Are you sure this is all right to accept?" So I know that it was, there were claims available, but...

AI: But at the time, there was very little time to get things in order and...

EH: (Yes). But even after the war, even forty, fifty years after the war I feel like we should have done something. Of course, a good number of the Isseis would have been gone by then, but it's, it's a major item that somebody should... somebody's going to maybe write about at least. The insurance industry ought to put it in their history, if not the evacuation history. And it, it... it's interesting, significant that nobody ever mentions this. But I worry about it a lot, because I don't... I visualize all those farmers who, who lost everything, and they could have used something. Hopefully... I think my mother automatically put people in, in the category called "Paid Up Life" or something like that. You pay up for a certain amount, and then you don't have to pay any more premiums, because the meager amount that you're insured for stays and is held until death. You can't claim it until death. But one of the fortunate things with my parents was the fact that when my father was an insurance agent, he took a health policy out on himself long before he got ill, and so when he got tubercular, we got a fifty-dollar check every month. And that was kind of a godsend, because fifty dollars was probably five times what it's worth. Today it would be two or three hundred dollars at least.

AI: Well --

EH: But that was a good, good... he was a good model for health insurance people.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

AI: Let me, let me take you back, then. What... we're, we're still in, about in May of 1942, and you had been describing the scene at the Sacramento auditorium and how people were standing in lines and waiting with the luggage. The army buses came up, and then you got on. And tell me what happened once you were on the bus.

EH: Well, Walerga was maybe thirty miles outside of Sacramento, if that much. Now it's all filled. I mean, it's all urbanized. But boy, when I was within sight of that camp, I was kind of sitting toward the front of the bus and I saw that ahead of me, the black barracks way out there in the... even, it was pretty warm, and, and I thought kind of shocked. I thought, "They can't do that to us." Because I knew this must have been where we were headed. And of course, once you get off the bus and into that kind of situation, it's such a turmoil, rush, and, and hot and all this luggage and you don't know where -- I wonder how we're going to find the place we're supposed to go to. And sure enough, there are tables out there, and, and people look for your name, and then they tell us where to go, which way to go, and, and things were in numerical order so you could find it, but then... and they'll say, "A truck will bring your things by." But, so you're walking over there. Nobody's escorting you, and you come across this scene, and it just stuns you, "You mean, this is where we're going to stay? This is where we're going to sleep?" It's dirty and dusty and there's nothing of anything to help you clean the place up. I think eventually somebody brought a broom for us, because for one thing, I think the room is just about this size, twenty by twenty-five. And I think in that place I don't know that we even had a potbelly stove.

One of the crises in Walerga... we didn't have plumbing. There were outhouses in a row. I think the blocks maybe were almost the same formation as the Tule Lake blocks, and I can't even remember who, who lived in the other rooms, but one, one day, in hot Sacramento, and waiting for meals in Sacramento, Walerga, was terrible. It was so hot. Nobody thought to bring umbrellas, but you needed them for... it was dangerous, because some of the old people and for children it was very tiring. We had to carry our own eating utensils, and it just seemed like we were always forever waiting in line. Breakfast, noon, and, and lunches, it seemed like that's about all we did, though those of us in college-age range and the cluster of friends that we had, we... on Sunday afternoons we would find an empty barrack where it was cool and shaded, and there were areas where there was something like scrub oak, scrub oak, and we found a corner of the camp where the last barrack had scrub oak at the end.

And, and at one time they had asked us to set up a filing system. I, I think they were asking us to make an alphabetical order of everybody in camp, and Tule Lake was maybe... Tule Lake was 10,000 and Walerga must have been, I don't know, maybe half that. No, not even half that. Maybe two or three thousand, because people like Marysville, which is another county over and other... they had their own assembly centers. But I remember starting a filing system, but I, I don't think we ever finished it.

I had a friend who, who was a classmate whose Issei mother with five sons I think, and the father died suddenly, being crushed by... he was fixing a car and the lifts -- what do you call them, that hold the car up -- slipped, and the car fell on him and he died leaving the five sons. I think the oldest was maybe eight, the youngest was, had... the two youngest were twins. Anyway, Janus Kurahara comes out... one of the older sons comes out with a book called Gambatte, and it was a very good, social, economic social picture of Sacramento's Nihonmachi. They were, they were from Marysville, which is about forty-five miles north of Sacramento initially. That's where the accident happened. And she was from... mother was from a fairly good family, and there were Isseis who wanted to... there were people who want, men who wanted to marry her, but everybody wanted her to send her children back to Japan and she wouldn't do that. So finally there, there was a Filipino barber who they knew who married her and in very modest, modest terms helped raise the family. But the... let's see, the third son in that family was in my class, and... all the way through elementary and junior high and high school. And what happened was the mother got sick and she was hospitalized during evacuation, so the boys had to come into camp by themselves, and they did-, and when the mother... they knew she was not going to survive, they didn't let the kids go to the hospital. They didn't... my impression was that they didn't. And I was particularly aware of Roy, and I thought that Roy wasn't informed, or by the time he was informed it was too late. And I think, I think Janus puts it in terms that I think he went and, and none of the other sons were allowed to go. But that kind of, that kind of situation is very sad. I found out later that a friend of mine, his mother was very sick, and she was hospitalized, and I think later brought her to, they brought her, I forgot, to assembly or to Tule Lake. But anyway --

AI: So --

EH: That kind of situation is...

AI: There were examples of families being separated and --

EH: (Yes), (yes).

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

AI: So was your family, your mother and you and all of your sisters, were you all in the same room at Walerga?

EH: (Yes), (yes). And, and both Walerga and Tule Lake, if you were more than six people, you got a second barrack room.

AI: But you were only six.

EH: But we were six, so we had to share the one room. And there were, there were some comical experiences, because some of the guys that we knew would bring orange crates and, and pieces of lumber. And wood was so precious, and we didn't... I don't think anybody brought tools. I think the, the government or somebody had to come up with some tools, but the guys would come over and quickly hammer hooks and, and make one shelf or hooks that we could at least hang our clothes on. Because you come into a room like that, you know, "Now what do we do?" We'd barely be able to make our beds up, and we didn't have to cope with things like stuffing mattresses with straw like I think part of the Seattle group probably had to do things like that, but we had just canvas cots and... though somewhere I also remember metal, metal cots with thin mattresses, and I think maybe at some point... maybe that was Walerga. Anyway, dust would come in the cracks and I, I don't know that we ever bought a broom, but I now wonder how we got along without a broom.

I don't think we, I don't think they established the co-op store system in Walerga. I don't know. But one of the things that happened was the army made all the menus and the food, and they didn't make the food, the Japanese men who claimed to be cooks made the food, but they followed army orders and recipes. And one day they made jello in aluminum dishpans, and everybody got sick that night. That's a no-no. Now we know better than to make jello in aluminum pans, but that night lights just popped up all over, and there were long lines at the latrines and people were collapsing. And you could only find your way with a flashlight, and you had to find that flashlight before you could jump up, but all of us just streamed out of the barracks in the middle of the night. And, and then the latrines got full, and it was so critical, it was terrible. They had to dig new latrines in places, and they couldn't do that all at one time, and I don't think they had much of heavy equipment that I remember. We... the only electricity we had was just one bulb in the middle of the room, but that diarrhea situation was just critical. It's a wonder that that kind of thing didn't happen. I never read about any kind of epidemic in any of the camps, but it could have easily happened. And I think that's something that they really watched for, critical. I remember visiting the hospital in Tule Lake, and it was always chlorine. I mean, you, you smelled Clorox all the time, because that's all... that was the cheapest thing and that was all they had to mop the floors with.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

AI: Did... before we go up to Tule Lake, I wanted to ask one more thing about Walerga, at the assembly center. You had mentioned that when you were first coming in on the bus and you saw this place and you felt "they can't put us in a place like this," well, once you were actually in there, what happened to your, how did you feel toward the government that... and did you... how, what did you feel about yourself as an American now that you were being kept in this place?

EH: Well, you know, I think the times are so frantic, you don't have time to think about the government and your status. I think eventually you do, but... and I, I guess maybe it's part of our nature. It's certainly kind of part, somehow instinct of mine that you're always looking for something to do. "There's a lot to do, I know," kind of feeling. So you go looking. But that's how we happened to be assigned a stack of tasks of making an alphabetized file. And that never got completed. It was so hot, for one thing, and we would start asking about all our friends and have you seen them and where did they go? And it's not really gossiping, but we really... and we knew we were getting scattered. In fact, I think I have to admit that after evacuation there were only one or two friends that I really con-, knew where they were constantly. All the other friends I had... you know, it takes reading. There's a Tule Lake directory and several, several pages of copies of the newspaper and social events particularly. And until I got that Tule Lake directory maybe ten years ago at the most, I didn't remember that I had, they gave me a farewell party or that I attended somebody's shower or... and, and where people went. They, they told my story, they said I was going to Estes Park to... and, and so everybody else, they went to different cities -- Cleveland, St. Louis -- and so for the first time, fifty, sixty years later, you realize where people landed. And it, it's, that kind of reference material is, is significant. I don't know, some of it is mental sanity to know. It's kind of stabilizing life.

AI: But at the time, things were in kind of --

EH: Well, and Sacra-, and Walerga was so primitive. There wasn't much time. We really didn't do much of any kind of work. There wasn't... I think the feeling was there wasn't any time to organize a, a miniature city or go through personnel interviews and, and decide what to do. There was... there were church services, I'm sure.

AI: In fact, I think I remember reading that people were not held in Walerga as long as in some other assembly centers. That it was... I think I read that it was somewhere toward the end of June that almost everybody was moved out.

EH: No.

AI: No?

EH: We didn't leave until I think... I'm, I'm pretty firm about (August 7th) or something like that, that we got into Tule Lake.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

AI: Well, tell, tell me about, tell me about leaving Walerga and the trip, and going to Tule Lake.

EH: Well, I don't know how my mother got that assignment, but we were, I'm sure she had to go somewhere, and was told that we were leaving at such and such a time. That meant that we had to pack everything, and have it ready for a truck to pick up. And Sacramento is so blastingly hot, even in September, August, it was hot. So we would carry what we could carry... distant, it always seems that the gate, front gate is way up there. You know, I, they must have taken us on the bus to a train facility, station somewhere. I don't, I know that we didn't go all the way into Sacramento to get back on this train, train. Walerga is north, northwest, slightly north -- Del Paso, there are a lot of towns that I remember, and it's in that suburb area. But once they put us on the train again, I think it took us two nights and maybe two days. I don't, you know, it was ridiculous, because Klamath Falls wasn't that far. We had been on, we had been on trips at least to Shasta, and Shasta wasn't that far from Klamath Falls. But that train just chugged along, and I think every time another train came, they probably had to get on a side track. But it was miserable in that it was so hot and it was so dark. And they kept giving us sandwiches for every damn meal. And the kids must have gotten milk but I don't, I don't remember that we got any liquid. It was crowded, 'cause these were old fashioned trains. The seats were very close together, and they didn't want us to raise the shades up. And traveling in stuffy trains without the shades up, whether it's night or day is, is inhuman, almost.

But it just seemed forever and so slow, and when we finally got there, Tule Lake was probably fairly filled. Tule Lake's case, there's a Fujii family, Frank Fujii's family, they -- Frank must have been five or six or seven -- but the whole family came up because they were able to, people were able, the early arrivers could get jobs helping to rush to finish the camps. And so a lot of Northwesterners were there way before Californians were. And, but then, then for the first time, you were aware that Marysville, Colusa, Yuba County -- that's, they're all about fifty miles north of Sacramento. That they had one section of camp, and Ishikawas got put way in the corner, what I visioned to be... must have been in the northwest corner. The northwest-most block in that whole camp. So we would get, there'd be names like "Hinterland" or, "Alaska" or something like that. But, and it was a long distance from the gate again. But, and they, it's interesting, each of these camps, when they brought the luggage, you'd hear a truck and, and they'd honk the horn and they'd say, "3406," and they just dump all your stuff right there, and you managed to drag it all in. And again, in Tule Lake, the floors were so dusty, you know. But you felt, you felt a more permanency in Tule Lake. You knew that was going to be a long, longer term. That, there was at least plumbing. Not in our barracks, but I think typically, in each camp, there was a big mess hall that takes the place of maybe two barracks, and in the middle there's a, a laundry room. There's a women's bath and toilet facility, then a laundry room and then the men's facility. And then, the first, the first barrack is half the block manager's office. And I guess they managed to bring the mail, they managed bring the, deliver the mail at each block manager's office, and he had cubbyholes for everybody, so we just picked up our mail that way.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

AI: Tell me about some of your early days there at Tule Lake. What were the things that just stick in your mind about...

EH: Well, it was, it was interesting because again, things were better-organized. And by the time we found our location, and then within a week, I'm sure, we all had to go to placement offices and be, we were able to say what kind of work we'd prefer to do. And there were probably lists of the kinds of jobs, and I said I'd like to work in recreation. And I didn't know -- I knew I wasn't (going to) be any kind of coach, or... I'm a terrible sports person. But group experiences were kind of important.

One of the things I did in Sacramento before, before evacuation, before Pearl Harbor, as a freshman I took on a junior high school Christian Endeavor group. Just because I, I began to feel that they needed to have broader experience. And for some reason, we didn't have Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls, I don't know why. But anyway, I did that. One of the funny things that happened was, I was trying to, to get these kids to realize that they needed to do their share, even at church. And so in the fall, we had big trees around, and I had the, the kids raking leaves on church grounds, and stuffing 'em in, I forgot, some kind of bags. And my mother was, got furious. That evening when I left, when I went back to, to Garrittys' at the college, she was on the phone. And in those days, very religious, pious people, I suppose, you don't work on Sundays. In fact, you weren't supposed to go to movies, but, you know, I just figured Sundays was a day when the kids could get together, that we needed something to do, this was an opportunity for them to participate in some way. And she just, just harangued about how, what a wrong thing to teach twelve- to fourteen-year-olds. And I just, I got on the telephone and I said, "What's wrong with teaching kids to do their part for church?" And I'm just going on like that and she just kept on, so I had said, "Okay, I'm quitting." And it was warm and my window was up, and the Garrittys were just driving into, to the driveway, and they heard me through the window say, "I'm quitting." And Mrs. Garritty came rushing in and, "Elaine, why are you quitting?" Just, just in tears. And I said, "Oh, I wasn't talking to you, and I wasn't talking about you. I was so mad at my mother, she's always complaining about something." And, but that, that was funny. And I never heard the end of that. I think I continued to, I, the church had one car that they used for all kinds of transportation, and we'd take, I'd take 'em to William Land Park to see this and that and stuff like that. But that was, that was another, typical of a staunch Presbyterian woman, leader.

AI: Well, so anyway, before, before even Pearl Harbor happened, here you had started having this experience of, of working with some younger kids and doing some group activities with them. So once you got to Tule Lake, then you went to...

EH: I went to recreation.

AI: Recreation Department.

EH: And Martha went, signed up to be an assistant teacher, 'cause until Pearl Harbor, until that point, I think up and down, I don't know what it was like in California, but I -- in Washington state -- but I think anywhere on the West Coast, they did not hire minorities as teachers. I had friends who, who could not get a job, even out of San Jose State teacher's college. And, but when evacuation occurred, here were a bunch of, probably the biggest percentage of college graduates who could not get teaching jobs. And in the camps, they needed teachers desperately. So if you're a college graduate, you could get manuals, teaching manuals, and lesson plans and that kind of thing, and textbooks. So assistant teachers were, because here were a lot of inexperienced teachers in, in very crude environment, that friends of mine, I think I must have half a dozen friends who took teaching, assistant teaching positions.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

AI: So we're continuing our interview with Elaine Ishikawa Hayes, and Elaine, just before our break, you were talking about how you had gone to sign up for work placement at Tule Lake, and you had asked to be put in the recreation department. And so what did you end up doing as, within the recreation department?

EH: I think it took a bit of organizing, but there was a rare personal-, person by the name of Harry Mayeda, and he was just a born leader. Knew how to be firm, but very good-natured, and willing to listen and all. And he had a, in recreation as with probably all departments, there was a personnel department that we went to, who, the head of personnel was, I think, a John Fukuyama, I think, who's a Seattlelite that ran, I mean, he had, he was a UW graduate in Japanese history or international affairs or something, but he owned a florist on U Way and 42nd or something. But, and there were several people interviewing all of us because... 10,000? Seemed to me at Tule Lake should have been a little bit bigger than that, maybe 12,000. But anyway, we all had to go somewhere. My mother with a lot of other women went to kitchen, I mean, what do they call... mess hall assistants of one kind. There were, there was a truck farming, there was a very successful truck farm in Tule Lake because it was virgin soil, and they had drained a lake. And the guys in recreation -- I don't know how, whether they were going from one job to the other or they had been out there in the, coming back and say, "Hey, you could see the rutabagas expanding." [Laughs] But that's how amazing it was.

But, so we were organized in the recreation department, almost in the middle of the camp. And I suppose that's to facilitate people coming from all corners. There were, there's what you call firebreaks in, in the camps, huge, probably as wide as a football field, and that, and that's to prevent fire spreading, potentials. But anyway, you know, there was an Issei section and a Nisei section, naturally, because there were, all the Niseis were pretty, by, my mother was what, just forty-one when, when Pearl Harbor occurred. And so there were, a third of the population must have been Issei. But, and then the sports section was another big one, particularly baseball. And they had regular kind of talent show nights in the hot, in hot California, that was quite typical but convenient, that we could just line up chairs out on the firebreaks, and they built a great big stage, and I'll have to dig up -- I think I have some copies of the recreation staff that we took a picture, I think just before I left. But it, it's an impressive mass of people, there must have been a hundred or two hundred people, and it showed everybody; musicians and the Issei staff and the secretaries. Every department had their share of secretaries. A lot of my friends did secretarial work in different departments.

But I, I explained to Harry Mayeda, Harry Mayeda happened to be a fellow Sacramento Presbyterian family, and his sister, older sister was a piano teacher for many, many of us. And so I knew Harry to some extent. But he was a marvelous guy, and marvelous leader, and so I told him, "I, I think the kids ought to have some group activities, and I'd like to contact the Sacramento YWCA and see if they won't help us with getting, at least learning how to sew or embroidery." They could start off with that, by making their own -- we used to wear a... it's not a scarf, but kind of a, cut on the diagonal like a tie. And be able to embroidery, the Girl Reserve emblem was a circle with a triangle in the middle, and "GR," meaning the triangle standing for... what? "God, others and self." Or "God, country, and self." I forgot. And Susie Fukuyama, John Fukuyama's wife, was a -- and I didn't know it at that time, but she, I knew she was a professional designer and seamstress. And she was willing to get a half-a-dozen friends together and teach the girls how to embroidery. So I can't remember what we did about embroidery hoops that we should have had, but I, but everybody, and YW promptly sent us bolts of the dark blue medium cloth with embroidery threads and needles and, and so we started off that way. And in the process, then, you talk about... I forgot where it was "God, country, and others," but the meanings and what you do about them.

And one of the dilemmas that I always had in that job, was there were -- in Sacramento, for instance, I think there was a bigger Buddhist population than there was a Protestant population. And so that word, "YWCA," Young Women's Christian Association always bothered me. And we, I went to a YWCA mountain region conference with two other people, because we couldn't come back to the West Coast. And in the discussions in Pocatello, one of the major concerns that one of the people had was they didn't like the word "Christian" because their Jewish friends didn't feel comfortable joining them. And the town of Pocatello isn't as big as Seattle, so you know everybody, and you want that to -- so I, I told them about my dilemma, and they were glad to get that insight. That it wasn't just a Jewish issue, now it would, could even be an Islamic issue. And I, it would be interesting to see what the YW is doing, doing, if anything. They probably aren't (going to) doing anything about it. But it was, I went to, the schools didn't get started, I think, until October.

AI: Of 1942.

EH: (Yes). They had to get kids registered. To the Tule Lake crowd, as I remember, it was coming, we may be, we may have been one of the last group, but it was mid-August, I think, before we could get settled, before we even had job assignments. And you know that the professional college graduates, if they were in professional roles, were getting $20. You know, doctors, lawyers, I think teachers, also. And those of us that were in the middle rank: secretaries, recreation leaders, got $16.

AI: Sixteen dollars per month.

EH: Sixteen a month. And my mother, my mother's group and custodians and kitchen help got $12.

AI: For a month of work.

EH: Per month, (yes). And that really didn't last long. I mean, for one thing, the terrain was so rough that our shoes were wearing out very quickly. And when it got cold, we, we never saw snow in Sacramento. Maybe once in ten or fifteen years. But up there, and when it rained it was muddy, and when it was snow, when it was snow, it was cold, and we needed gloves and hats and heavier coats. And so when they established what they called the co-ops, meaning they established Sears & Roebuck, and Montgomery Wards, as cooperatives, buying with catalogs. (They were) very precious items, but that's where we could get, that was the only place we could get clothes of any kind. Though I did have friends who, from Portland and Seattle, I think somehow they were very attached to... something and Frank, Meir and Frank, I guess, in Portland. I don't know that the Bon Marche, Bon Marche must have gotten, might have -- you know, they would individually somehow know what was available and order them. I think, I think, and I must have done that, because I had a suit made before I left. Thinking that I was (going to) have to have some dressy clothes. It wasn't a fancy suit, but, and there were lots of seamstresses around. So I really got a full... in fact, I think I had a suit with a coat, so it was kind of a three-piece suit. And I think I must have gotten that, that, had ordered that from Meir Frank. But...

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

AI: Excuse me, you had just mentioned that, the cold weather. And I was just wondering, what was it like that first winter in Tule Lake, and as it's getting colder and colder and then coming up to Christmas time, what was going on?

EH: (Yes), Christmas was very emotional. In, and the recreation department was in full force for that. But, what happened was, mid-way, by mid-way into December -- and I suspect that this may have happened at all the camps -- we got flooded with gifts. Simple, lots of puzzles and... I can't remember... coloring books and, and they came in boxes. Not in cases, but, if people donated them, they were just put in big boxes and somehow delivered at camp. And so it, and in the recreation department, we were up for, oh, several, several nights, just wrapping gifts in a fury. And, and they managed to distribute these to kids under ten, or something like that. That was a, that was a very gratifying experience. 'Cause, you know, you never, you never met these people, and there was hardly, I don't think any communication.

The other thing that happened as far as churches go, that the, in Tule Lake, we were on a dry lake bed. So there were a lot of tiny shells, small white shells, and there was something called tule grass, tall stick kind. And the women gathered those, and they made offering plates out of the tule grass, woven, wove them into kind of flat plates. And, and then they made jewelry out of these white shells, and somebody probably ordered boxes of pins to put on the back. They lacquered them with nail polish, and they, they were quite attractive, and fairly solid. Those would, the offering plates, I'm sure, went to churches as a thank-you. The pins made a nice gift. You know, even if they were primitive material, and I think Wing Luke (Museum) still has some in the, in the exhibit. I know my mother did that kind of thing.

The other thing my, my mother did -- and I, I never got around to asking her -- but she was famous for making natto. Do you know what natto is? Northern Japanese, it's fermented soybeans. And it really becomes a peasant's mainstay in rural northern (Japan). And up, right to Pearl Harbor, my mother made -- 'cause I would ask about, "How come the Inais never eat natto?" And she'd say, "Because they aren't from the north." So I grew up thinking only northern Japanese ate natto. But when I got to Tokyo and my cousins in Tokyo always had natto. But she made natto constantly. And we had this potbelly stove, and there were coal piles scattered strategically, so you'd just get a bucket of coal and bring it to your... because you really had to have some heat in the wintertime. But she would have this, these soybeans simmering. It takes almost all day, I think, for soybeans to cook. You soak 'em overnight, but somehow -- I don't know whether we brought, whether she brought a pan or pot or not, but then the trick to soybeans is after they're very soft, you drain all the water out, and you pack it in, she used to use egg cartons, and I can't remember what she used in Tule Lake. She might have, she might have gone to the mess hall and gotten the egg cartons that came there, or milk boxes or something. She would line it with waxed paper -- 'cause there weren't, there wasn't plastic in those days -- and she would pour these cooked soybeans in kind of a thin layer, cover it tight, wrap it with towels or blankets of, or something old, and I think she used hot water bottles. We must have brought some hot water bottles. But it takes about four or five days to make natto. And that's all you do, and you have natto. And people loved it. She was always giving it away, but I never found, that was wartime, and I don't know (who) would have been selling soybeans. Because unless you were an Asian store, nobody used soybeans. It's really amazing. (...) Soybeans have the most calcium, iron, protein, and potassium. And that really is what saved China, historically, as a protein source. But she was always making (it), and my sisters would, Martha, particularly, would growl, because it really smells. If you know what natto smells like. But that was hilarious moments, 'cause it was amazing that she could do this with no cooking facility but that potbelly stove. Even at home, she would... well, no, in Chicago we, I finally signed some papers (and) she bought a two-story brick, two-flat place, and it had radiators. And she always had natto on those radiators. [Laughs] And my sister, and Martha would come over, and she'd always growl, "Mom, your house always smells like that." And my mother would say, "Well, you have to have natto." And everybody else said, "No, you don't." But, but she always did. In the process of relocation, there was one store -- I mean, the stores that had Asian (food) available, material available was rare, but we had one in Chicago early. And (the) people that owned that store was Tokyo Rose's parents. And I don't know how they managed to get what they did, but I used to shop there, and I asked them once, "Could you, would you be interested in natto?" And, "Yes, where, where can we get natto?" And so I was telling them about my mother, and I said, "Well, I'll tell her to come by and see you, because she has to make the reservations." But that was a favorite item.

Now, Christmas, we had just a few trees. I don't know where they came from, and we made a lot of decorations. But the kids had their little kinds of parties, teenagers, and even, I think we must have had an office party, and the only refreshments we could have, generally speaking, was peanut butter and honey. That was, that was day in and -- every party, that was the mainstay of, of the refreshments. And I suppose we were glad to have that, and we knew better than to grumble about it. And, you know, it's kind of a good thing that we had at least that. Sugar was rationed, so, so rationed items were a problem.

One of the things that I did in this course of evacu-, of recreation, the head of the wardens, with the police system, was called wardens, and he was a sociology professor from College of Pacific in Stockton. Very good person, I mean, Tule Lake was fortunate to have had him as the head of the wardens, because when the "no-no" issues came up, it really became precarious. But his wife was a Stanford graduate, and had done YWCA work in, particularly in San Francisco's Chinatown. And so, being a social worker and a Stanford graduate, she was eager to get involved, but they had two little, little ones, preschoolers, and, but anyway, I soon got to know them, and Joyce Jacoby helped in many ways. She, I think she got the donations, or she collected funds for three of us to go to a Pocatello, Idaho, conference. And just a marvelous person, and I, I got so I was visiting them, visiting Joyce all the time. And she would manage to get manuals of program activities and things like that. But, and she would kind of join in the advisorship. I had no trouble getting friends to be advisors of, I had gone to public schools and introduced the concept of Girl Reserve and Girl Reserve was not that unusual. I think major high schools had Girl Reserves. I didn't look for that in Sacramento High School, 'cause we had our own groups. But it was, I had enough friends who had YWCA Girl Reserve experiences, so they could be advisors of, and I think (...) in high school we had three or four groups, and we had two or three in junior high school.

AI: Within Tule Lake.

EH: Within Tule Lake. (Yes), ultimately, I think I, I suggested to my friends that they should organize business girls, YWCA groups. Ultimately, I think I ended up with nineteen groups. And that's how I ended up having to spend my Sundays, because Sundays (were) a logical time, and a social time, (...) and people needed to do (something), so there were always meetings being organized here and there, and I tried to make the rounds. One of my problems was we used hymnals, because there was no, no other (song book). I don't know whether the Y, I don't ever remember seeing a YW songbook of any kind, ever. But I was always lugging armfuls of hymnals in the snow and ice, and I ended up developing a tendonitis, because I was walking miles, and now, I would have thought to get a cart. But in those days, I don't think we had -- I don't think we ever saw any carts. Maybe there might have been a wagon somewhere. But there were certainly no cars available. And the other sad thing I wish we had was a camera, because I think for the girls, it would have been nice to be able to look back now on pictures, but we were not allowed to have cameras, so we could never --

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

AI: You know, speaking of what things that you were not allowed to have, and not allowed to do, I was wondering... here you are, you're getting very well-organized, you have all these advisors involved, and you have many groups of these younger girls in the Girl Reserves groups, I was wondering if any questions ever came up about, about their, their place or their future. That here you are, you're in this camp in the desert in the middle of nowhere, not sure what's going to happen next, and the war is going on outside, did you ever have discussions, either with the other adults and the advisors, or even with some of the kids about what is future...

EH: (Yes), one of the things that I think we had built discussions around was, "What do you hope will happen?" What, what would, what do you think might happen? And what would you like to, to do when you, when you get out of... but, you know, when you're in that camp, and you're in high school, in your senior year, you might begin thinking of college. But beyond that, before that, you have no way of knowing what you could expect. And it certainly depended on the dictates of your parents. A lot of parents didn't want their daughters outside camp, because they didn't feel that it was safe. But once you got out of camp, at eighteen, nineteen, when you left camp, I think, I don't know of anybody that had a scary or a threatening experience.

AI: But at the time, there were fears.

EH: (Yes). Well, there were fears among, among Isseis. I never, because I had, for one thing, (...) gone to that YW conference, and there must have been, I have pictures of that, there were, there was probably five or six from Minidoka.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

AI: Excuse me, what, let's talk about the conference, because you've mentioned it a couple of times, and I was wondering when was that -- and if you could just tell all about how it came about that you were even allowed to go out of camp. When, was this in 1943?

EH: No, no. Forty... well, let's see. (Yes), '43, you're right. It was about April, April of '43. And Ayako Miyazaki was kind of an advisor kind of person. She, she was probably five or six years older than I was. Sada Murayama was a real, leadership kind of person, and probably in her fifties. A Nisei, bilingual, thoroughly. I think she had married somebody from Japan. But, I, her husband was not in camp and I, I don't know what... she had a daughter, Constance, was a bright person, probably went to one of the big five women's colleges on the East Coast. But Sada was a very analytical but socially motivated and concerned about typical group process, and looking toward the future. The kind of potential... I hope I can find these pictures. I'll have to share 'em and make duplicates. But it was a good occasion, and by that time of the year, there were enough people going in and out of camp. For one thing, the men, who took labor jobs on farms because farmers were really -- immediately before Tule Lake got well-organized, by December, there were people leaving.

AI: For, leaving for temporary work.

EH: (Yes). There's a book called Sleeping on Potatoes. Do you know that? Oh. That's, that (has) a good sense of what life was like early. But, so the three of us, and Aya kept telling me, "You need to go on and finish and get a social work degree, and you need to be continuing to do this." But actually, when -- and we did stop at Tule Lake -- I mean, at Minidoka, and visit there for --

AI: Well, so excuse me, before we get there, so this conference is part of a regular YWCA conferences that --

EH: Regional, regional conferences.

AI: -- that happen around the country, and because you weren't allowed to, of course, you couldn't go to the West Coast, what happened? Did you get an invitation to go to this regional conference in Idaho?

EH: (Yes), you know, the Sacramento YW knew what I was doing, and Jacoby, Joyce Jacoby probably knew about it. You know, an organization like YW has worldwide plans and announcements, conferences and dates and all costs, and I wouldn't be surprised, but Joyce must have gotten one of those. And having been a YW person, personnel, she would have known about the amount. And they were very eager to hear about what camp was like.

AI: So, what, did you take a bus?

EH: (Yes). No, let's see...

AI: Or drive?

EH: (Yes), I think we did take a bus. You know, it might have even been a Greyhound. When I left camp, I know I think I took a Greyhound and went to Reno, and Pocatello is probably equal distance of what Reno was.

AI: Pocatello is kind of in the southern portion of Idaho.

EH: (Yes), (yes).

AI: And so you, you took the bus up there.

EH: (Yes), and you know, we had all our rooms and fees paid for by other people, so that wasn't an issue. It was kind of exciting to meet somebody else from another camp, which had not -- that wasn't that common. These were Portland, basically Portland people. And I don't, well, there was a Pat Shitama, I must have met (her) at that (conference). And Pat's a Seattle person. But anyway, and Pat maybe is a year younger than I am. I don't think she was doing YWCA. I don't know, they had similar kinds of organ-, they had organized in Minidoka, I think, by the time this happened.

One of the things I did in Tule Lake was call a mother's meeting, because I just felt that the mothers needed to know what the girls were doing and what some of us were concerned about. And a lot of the rural women had never had the opportunity of attending any kind of group experience. Though there are fujinkai, which are women's organizations, in every church. And if you're not a churchgoing person, or if you -- I'm sure the Buddhist churches also had fujinkais. But you know, if you were really isolated, you didn't have that kind of social opportunity. But I just talked to them in my simple Japanese, and said, "You should know what your daughters are thinking," and in simple ways I expressed it. And said that, I explained what parliamentary procedure was, and that the girls need this kind of practice, being a secretary and this kind of thing.

The other funny thing that happened was, I think I told you that the Protestant churches had apparently all signed an agreement that they would not proselytize in, within camp. And apparently, the YM did that, and they told me the YW did that, but I could never ascertain that. And they wanted me to, to stop, that I was proselytizing, and I said, "I don't feel, I'm not proselytizing, I'm providing group experiences. The kids need to be able to learn to operate in a group situation, they also need to do some thinking about what did they think of camp, what would they like to see, what do they wish they could be doing." And so I, I just, they would come to approach me, and I'd say, "You know, I told you, the kids need something to do. The Boy Scouts are going, how come we can't have girl's activities?" And they went to my mother -- [laughs] -- and, and they wanted her to, they wanted my mother to stop me. And my mother had to turn around and say to them, "I don't see anything wrong with what Elaine's doing." And so that never got across. And (in the) recreation department, I had YMCA guys working, doing other kinds of things, and they just had to give up on me. I, I didn't explode or get angry at them, I just, I was too busy going from one group to the other. But that's, that was interesting.

AI: Well, before we get too far ahead, I wanted to just finish up asking about the conference at Pocatello. Was this the first time that you had been able to get outside of Tule Lake?

EH: (Yes).

AI: And what was that, what did it feel like just to be able to get out of the camp?

EH: Well, it was, it was a little worrisome. We didn't know -- but there were three of us. And we knew that the guys were going in and out for labor camps. And I just knew, I had confidence enough in the YWCA, and I think I even felt that if something happened, we just had to call Pocatello YW or the YW in whatever town we were in. Or a minister, I thought, though later you find out that ministers aren't always that willing. But...

AI: But you didn't have any trouble on your way?

EH: We didn't have any trouble. No. You know, we, we could go in somewhere and have a cup of coffee. That didn't always happen. When I left the first time -- no, the last time, out of Tule Lake, and I was traveling with Father Dai of the Seattle's Episcopal St. Peter's Church. And for, four of us May Oiye and Bill Osuga, and there was one guy that I can't remember, so four of us with Father Dai, and we did get turned away from restaurants. And at one time, we were in Salt Lake City, I think, and we went around the corner and Father Dai says, "Let's go around the corner." And he gets in a doorway and turns his white, turns his collar around, so that his clergy collar is showing much more prominently. And so we go into another place, and, and we get served. He says, "I'm Father Daisuke Kitagawa, and these are students, and we're traveling to Estes Park for a student conference. And they served us, but I think it really depends on each little cafe and whatever.

AI: But in, at any rate, in Pocatello, you didn't have that problem.

EH: We didn't have any problem. And 'course, the YWCA is a sizeable group, so that we were never alone. And basically, it was in the YWCA building. We must have, our hotel -- I, we didn't go to a hotel, so there must have been room accommodations. Sometimes YWCA, here in Seattle, YWCA has a sizeable women's reservation, residential area. And Pocatello is much smaller, but I think that's what we must have done. I can't, I don't, it's the first time you're, I'm thinking about, "Where did we stay in Pocatello?" I just, I have pictures of a building, an old kind of chalet, dark-stained building, two or three stories high. Two stories, I guess. And that's interesting. I, I've never met anybody -- and Aya Miyazaki's gone now -- but I've, I've only met Aya a couple of times. She was my dentist's wife, and ultimately, after she got out, they got out of camp, they established a dental practice in Chicago. So I used to see Koki, I used to see Aya, too. Her sister apparently continued doing some YW work in Tule Lake after I left.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

AI: Well, so let me ask you just a little bit more about the Pocatello conference.

EH: Uh-huh.

AI: You had mentioned earlier that, that people at the conference wanted, the YWCA folks wanted to know about camp, and what was that -- what did you tell them?

EH: Well, now, we just told them what our accommodations were like, what kind of work we were doing. Sada was in recreation with me, and I can't remember, I think Aya may not have been working. She had a little one about, probably two or three years old. And, but...

AI: I was wondering if any of the YW people, if anyone expressed the idea that, that they thought it was wrong that you were confined in a camp. Was that...

EH: (Yes), I, well, I don't know that they outrightly (expressed it), but I did have YW staff people visiting. Because they were as curious or wanting academically or sociologically to witness and to know, historically, how this was going and how it was run. I think, basically, YW was, would probably have opposed it. And, you know, I think I have to say, by far, YW has always been a social avant garde. I mean, they, they fought for higher wages for women, more equality, from way back. And YW was also one of the places in Sacramento, when I was in high school, that brought up race relations and equal opportunity when I was in high school. And that was probably one of my first exposures to that kind of problem. They didn't, they never mentioned Asians, but it was much more, much more apparent, I think, with the black world. I mean, that's what people referred to. But that didn't happen that often. It was, it wasn't even a taboo subject. It was, it just was a subject that you... I think the majority population just never expected, or never expected anything differently, though the black population has always fought for their rights.

I (was) on the bus in Sacramento once, in the summertime, domestic work was the only work we could get. And I remember sitting in back of the bus, and there were a couple of black girls who were in my high school classes. And, and we were exchanging notes about domestic jobs. And I think I was getting seventeen dollars a month or something. And, and they were saying, "Don't take that, Elaine. You gotta ask for twenty or twenty-five," or something like that. They were arguing with me, and I'd never heard that before. Challenging an employer. And, and I never met them again, so I don't know what -- but I, that was an exposure for me, for the first time. I, my friend Leona Henderson, who was a bright, bright girl, was probably the only child, and I don't know that she had to work. So we would, even if we were neighbors, I would have never had that occasion to exchange that kind of idea. I would have with other Nisei friends that were doing the same thing. We would complain about the kids that somebody might be taking care of and that kind of thing, the duties that we had to do. But otherwise, everybody was doing domestic work if they had to earn some money. That was, an issue with YW, too. They were, even here in Seattle, when... I forgot what the occasion was, but they were fighting for higher wages. They were, (...) they had classes at the YW for social issues, and medical facilitations and that kind of thing.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

AI: Excuse me, I'm (going to) take you back and just to finish up this occasion at Pocatello, did you say that on the way back after the conference in Pocatello, on your way back to Tule Lake, did you say that you stopped at Minidoka camp?

EH: (Yes).

AI: And visited there?

EH: (Yes). And so, I'm wondering if we had a private bus. But the Minidoka group would have had to go home. You know, go to Minidoka. So we must have traveled in the same accommodation. It wasn't a long visit. I think we probably had to leave the same day. We certainly didn't stay overnight.

AI: Was that a little strange for you to be going to Minidoka as a visitor...

EH: (Yes), and I recognized a little bit of a difference in climate, I don't know why. And that's, there was a little bit of that issue in, in Tule Lake. Immediately, we could recognize how much darker Californians were, compared to Seattleites. And I knew that we would be comparing the lack of (everything) else, we were comparing food all the time. And we knew that somehow, the Northwesterners were getting better food than we were. And it wasn't that they were getting different food, it was that the cooks knew how to cook it better; how to prepare it better. And that just, we kind of exploded about that.

The YW -- I had two YWCA visitors, and they wanted to see the camp just as it was. So I said, "Okay, you wanna go home and have lunch with me?" And I had to walk fifteen or twenty minutes before I could get to my mess hall. So I was always a little bit late, and the cooks would glower at me. But here I brought this guest in, and, so I said, "Please fix me a second plate for her." And they said to me, "Why didn't you tell me you were going to have guests? We don't like to serve beans to guests." And I said, "Well, she wants to see camp just as it is, so it's all right to have beans." And she was Esther Bermeister, I, I should have contacted her. 'Cause I knew that she was on a conference or something here at one time. But she was with (...) businesswomen's section of the YWCA.

We had college kids visiting at one time. Chico... I lived in Chico, and (I) suppose Chico State was maybe the biggest college south of Klamath Falls. We weren't even in Klamath Falls, we were (in) Tule Lake. Tule Lake was almost an unknown spot. People had to look hard to find that. And it was very sparse... it was considered an agricultural, but there wasn't much agriculture going on. When the Tule Lake farm started to operate, it really perked up the area. Because here in Tule Lake, were probably a good percentage of the Cal-Davis, University of Cal at Davis, was the agricultural college, which is just fourteen miles out of Sacramento. And here were the best agricultural college graduates right there in Tule Lake, because, again, that's an agricultural area.

AI: And you're speaking of the Nisei graduates of --

EH: (Yes), (yes).

AI: -- of the agricultural college.

EH: (Yes), that's one of the things I did with couple of Girl Reserve groups. I managed to talk somebody into giving the Y-, this couple of groups, an excursion to the farms. And so I had to talk to some truck drivers fast, to, "Don't make a ruckus about it, but we'll be glad to ride on the trucks. Just take us to the farm." And it was about five miles away. And it was an eye-opener for all of us. There were pigs, there were hogs that were this long, I swear. [Laughs] And they were always breastfeeding piglets. And what a great experience that was for, especially for the kids. And it was very impressive, to see all these hogs laying on their belly, and having suckling piglets. And, and I never got around to asking, "Wow, what are we doing with them? Are we getting benefit of it?" I don't remember having a lot of good meat.

But the other thing that happened was, by October or November, here the place just opened, by October, the potato crop was so huge, they had to release the high school kids to help harvest the potatoes. And my sister Jean was just a freshman, but she came home scared stiff because she had thrown a potato at a duck, and it was that (she hit) a duck. There was a bird sanctuary just a few miles away. And the ducks would -- there (was) lettuce or something planted fairly -- and the ducks would swoop down, and when the ducks left, the ground was brown again. All the green lettuce was gone. And so the kids would be aware of that, and Jean threw a potato at a duck and hit him, and brought it down. [Laughs] And the kids were all, you know, they were teasing her to some extent, but (they) said, "Oh, you killed a protected breed on federal grounds. They're (going to) come after you." And she halfway believed that and she came home worried that somebody really was (going to) come (to) get her. So she had to tell us quickly what had happened. She didn't mean to really kill that bird. So I said, "Well, what did you do with the bird?" "Well, I don't know what happened to the bird. I was getting out of there." [Laughs] She said, "I didn't wanna be associated with that thing." But that was fun. But that's how, farming was protected. They were also -- (you) see, this was one of the first ones, (farms) I think, that got established.

AI: In, in the camps.

EH: In the camps, among the camps. And we started shipping out rutabagas by the truckload. But I tell you, we sure got tired of eating rutabagas. And they also (made) tsukemono, Japanese pickles, they pickled those damn rutabagas, and jeepers, that's all we had for a long time. But, but that kind of food was ample, I think. Carrots, potatoes, I think, potatoes particularly, we really, the government apparently didn't recognize the fact that we almost had to have rice. We certainly got a lot of potatoes. And...

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

AI: You know, I wanted to ask you, you have mentioned several different visitors that you had at Tule Lake, including the YW people, but you mentioned earlier that the Garrittys, the family that you had worked for, that they came to Tule Lake also. What was that visit like? How, what, did you know they were coming? How did that come about?

EH: I don't think I knew they were coming, but we somehow were notified that we had guests. And it was very emotional, but there was a high fence, and we couldn't, we couldn't really even touch them.

AI: They weren't allowed to come in?

EH: They weren't allowed to come in. We weren't allowed to go sit anywhere. You know, I thought the least they could have done was allow visitors into an empty barrack, and we could sit and talk. And they gave, they brought gifts, and of course, my mother insisted on coming. And she broke out in tears when she saw them. And the Garrittys were very concerned, and, "Why is she crying?" And I had a hard time explaining the gratitude that brings tears like that. But I think there were probably lots of visitors, or certainly church visitors. And as I say, college professors who, who really wanted to study. You know, I ended up going (out) with an anthropology professor, taking a job temporarily with him, but there, but there were, Harold Jacoby, who was the head of ("wardens," the police department in camp) probably had visitors from, from College of the Pacific, which is in Stockton.

AI: Oh, and excuse me, didn't you say earlier also that your old psychology professor from junior college also visited you at Tule Lake?

EH: (Yes), Henry Tyler came all the way up and looked me up, and that's when he had my paper, this "Culture Conflict" paper in his hand, and he said, "Can I, Elaine, can I have this?" And I'd long forgotten about that, and I, I didn't... I knew what I wrote about, but I didn't remember the fine details about it. And, and I said, "Certainly, take it." So he probably used it as a bona fide "culture conflict" in his textbooks, or whatever he used. He was really a fine person, and a popular person. Actually, there were two Henry Tylers at Sacramento JC. The other guy taught what we call "American Institutions." A required history/government semester course, I think. But (yes), eventually -- sometimes it aroused suspicion among our cohorts. When the "no-no" issue came out, it was --

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

AI: Well, you know, for, I want to... before jumping into that, I wanted just to get back to kind of what, when things happened, and from my reading, I think it was about, it was early in 1943 that the so-called "loyalty questionnaire" first came out. And that was also about the time when some of the young men were volunteering, were allowed to volunteer for the army. And so it was either late January or early February, probably, that the questionnaire was starting to come out. And I was wondering, do you remember when you were told that you had to fill this thing out? What, how did that happen, or what did you think about that?

EH: I think they announced it probably at dinnertime, and I think everybody sixteen and over had to answer this, these questions. And it was really provoking, because we never had a chance to discuss... as a family, we didn't know what the questions were going to be in the first place. But I thought it was kind of unfair to, to make us sign these, answer these questions without giving us a chance to discuss it as a family unit. When the questions came out, like, "Will you give up all allegiance to any other government, particularly Japan," and, "Will you be willing to join the armed forces?" one kind or another. And I would have been comfortable to say, "yes," but I knew that we really needed to know, what about, what about our parents? What about our younger sisters and brothers? Where, what's going to happen to them if we, if we leave? A lot of us were going to college so we were prepared to, to someday leave, but under forced conditions. And if we were going to be sent to armed forces, for instance, of some kind, we really needed to know what, what's going to happen to the rest of the family.

I also knew that by that time, I think I knew that our parents weren't eligible to be citizens, so that if you were forcing them to give up allegiance to any other government, they were (going to) be people without a country. And that really is what stirred up anger. You know, in areas -- I mean, I don't feel like I was in a block or an area that was, had tensions, but some of the other communities, who were very, much more Japanese, that it really riled them. And when, this must have been maybe an hour after dinner, and things were cleared, as the evening wore on, you could feel the tension. And we couldn't ask questions. That was, that was incredible. But we began to hear bells, you know, when dinnertime comes, the cook gets out on the mess hall door and starts ringing some kind of bell, and it's not a gentle triangle kind of thing, it's a bang-bang-bang. And we began to hear that in the distance. And as might be expected, some of the younger guys really started asking questions. And the people who were supposed to be supposedly leaders couldn't answer those questions. Well, when you have that kind of tension, and these abrupt questions come up, and you can't answer them, somebody's (going to) explode. And that's what was happening in the more Japanese areas. I don't know whatever, one of these days I'll have to ask a Northwesterner, "You were closer to that ward," they call, I think a ward is nine blocks, and each block is 250 people in two rows of barracks. But immediately that night it got tense. And there were, we began to hear about riots in some corners.

And then the next day we tried to carry on work and we had to show up for work. I was in the habit of going to Jacobys' probably once or twice a week, because she would have materials or we would discuss the plans for the future. And I think I probably wanted to share with them what was happening here, not realizing that Jake Jacoby was (going to) be really on the hot seat, because he had to quell these uprisings. And I kept, and I knew that was happening, but I, even if I did, I kept going and sharing. Also, I wanted them to feel that they weren't in jeopardy, but I also wanted to keep them posted about what was happening. Finally, on the third or fourth day after that, Joyce said, "You know, Elaine, I don't want you to come down here anymore." Because we were being called -- it didn't take long for people to start labeling, and if you were associating with the Caucasian population or administration, chances are you were (going to) be called inu, a dog. And I guess that was kind of me. I didn't let that kind of thing bother me, and finally the Jacobys said, "You know, we don't want you coming down here anymore."

AI: Because...

EH: "It's too dangerous." So I did have to drop seeing them. There was an, they had another close friend who was a (theology) student at that time, I think, and went on to be a minister. But he was also (a close friend), because he went to College of Pacific, he saw them a lot. And the fields are pretty similar.

AI: Did you feel that, in danger, yourself?

EH: Well, to a degree, I realized that okay, you're right. Because you really, if you associated with a Caucasian, you were a traitor to them, to the people who objected to. And I don't know, I never took a survey -- I, there were groups in Tule Lake that probably signed "no-no." And you know, the odd part of it is, I think we had to sit with a space between each of us, so that we couldn't share or we couldn't talk. And so my mother and my sister and I, we were the only three that would, were eligible to fill it. Ultimately, I don't know how my mother answered it, but she must have answered "yes-yes" because she got out of the camp. When they decided that Tule was a real "troublemaker" camp, "troublemaking" camp, and that happened because Tule Lake happened to be the first one. They didn't try before, they just used Tule Lake as an example, and it was their faux pas to ask that dumb question. They eventually corrected it, but it took maybe a month or two to get back. But the damage was done, because there were, there were (riotous) situations. I think people got hurt that night. If, if they had to find somebody to blame it on, they would blame it on the leaders or people who were, who because they were leaders, were associating with the administration to some extent. I have two or three friends who lived in that area, who began to make plans early, then, to leave, because they were being harassed, and they were being called inu so much. I guess Wendy Watanabe's mother is one of 'em. They were close, they were close friends. And they were, as I say, they were more Westernized than the average Issei was.

Another person I knew... I guess they should have been in Tule Lake, but Tule Lake got, the areas outside of Sacramento, one section, got separated in splinters. And they, this family, they were very close friends. (There) weren't very many Tohoku, Tohoku is northern Japan. There aren't many Tohoku people that immigrated to America. And this family was Tohoku and we almost, we became very close, almost like extended family. They happened to get shipped to Rohwer. Jerome or Rohwer, in Arkansas. And their son was already in the military, and when the government took it upon themselves to invite the Hawaiian, 442nd and 100th battalion people, because the Hawaiians were not understanding the Nisei psychology. I mean, we were different in many ways. In Hawaii, because the Japanese population is almost the majority population, and business has to be stabilized and going, you're, you don't have the minority complexes, I guess, that mainland Japanese do. So there were a lot of fights in, in the military initially, when the 442nd got formed. And the government took it upon themselves to allow the Hawaiian soldiers to go visit in Rohwer and Jerome, and, and they appreciated it, because they could have Japanese food, and maybe it was holiday time, and New Year's time and they were, they were (going to) have mochi finally, and that kind of thing. And one of my friends, a close Tohoku friend, ended up marrying a Hawaiian. They didn't marry right away. I think they left, but because they had a military star on their window, they got harassed. And then when, when the Hawaiian guy got involved with the daughter, it was double amount of problems. And they took a leave from camp early, because they were being called inu and being harassed too much. Now, that wasn't even Tule Lake, but I think that kind of issue went on a lot.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

AI: Well, we're, we're continuing our interview, it's May 13, 2004, and Elaine, just before our break, you had been telling us about the difficult times at Tule Lake that occurred around the so-called "loyalty questionnaire" in early 1943. But I wanted to back up before that, to the fall of '42. And I was just wondering if you recall anything about some, some workers' protests. That, I had read that, that there were some packing shed workers at Tule Lake that were protesting some of their working conditions, and that then a little bit after that, in, I believe I read in October of '42, mess hall workers were threatening to go on strike. And I, I was wondering if you had heard anything about that.

EH: I may have heard, but I've probably forgotten now. It's slipped my memory.

AI: Right.

EH: I think there was... seems to me there was a farm workers' threatened strike, and farm work is a detailed job. And I know that at one time, I think a lot of women also got recruited for packing or weeding. It was a booming industry, and when I took the Girl Reserves there, it was a real eye-opener. Because you couldn't see it from the camp. You had to go, they had to travel, I don't know, ten, five or ten miles away. But it was very productive.

AI: Well, so then I also wanted to follow up with a few more questions about the, the questionnaire situation. And you were explaining how difficult it was, what you were thinking about as far as how to answer, and what your other family members like your sister and your mother, how they might be answering. Do you recall talking about it with them afterwards, after you...

EH: (Yes), afterwards, but it seems to me it was pretty late, too. We might, must have started maybe seven or eight o'clock, and it was so haranguing and so detailed a questionnaire. Those of us who were not accustomed to filling things like that, I, we had to read it over and over to digest it all. I'm surprised, if that kind of thing ever occurred again, I, I would hope that they would allow families to get a preview or decide together. And the government realized that they made a mistake in asking our, the parent group to, to give up all allegiance. And by the time that questionnaire came back, I don't really remember that there was a second chance or a necessity to answer, but they must have changed it for other camps. But it was, it certainly is what created a riotous situation, and it certainly became obvious that Tule Lake was labeled a "troublemakers" camp, and when they decided to bring all the "no-no" people, or people who really wanted, needed to go back to Japan.

I had a friend who, well, I had a couple of friends who had relatives that were sick, and they were constantly worried about it. But I had a friend who also, whose father was so angry about the whole thing, had seven kids, and my friend was the same age as I was, that he was determined to take the family back to Japan. And he was Hawaiian-born and reared, and never went to, never had been in Japan. So, but she just was not going to let that happen. And so she got stuck in Tule Lake 'til the very end, and as soon as the government okayed her family to be able to go to Hawaii -- because they still had relatives in Hawaii -- then she left camp. But her, but her parents ended up having to pay for (it), because it wasn't, it wasn't a choice, a legitimate choice. But in this case, they did. And she really had to work hard to negotiate that. Fortunately, she was working in administration, and was in contact with lawyers that were working on other things. And they kept advising her and ultimately, "If you have relatives in Hawaii, there's, there should be no problem." They never evacuated the majority of Hawaiians. But then just, oh, probably five years ago, she told me that her folks had to pay for every bit of that, and they really had to work hard. Because they had to borrow money from here and there. And it was, it was hard, but she was much relieved. They, the whole family of six -- no, five of them, I guess, went over. The two oldest girls were the same age as Martha and I, and so they were able to find jobs elsewhere.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

AI: Well, now, you were telling before the break, you were taking about how difficult it was for some people like yourself, who had relationships, working relationships and close ties to either the administration staff or other, the Caucasian staffpeople, that you were sometimes accused of being inu, dogs, informers, or you were being suspected of being, I guess, anti-Japanese in a way. And that, that led to harassment. Did you feel yourself that you, you were harassed?

EH: Well, I could hear Issei bachelors as they sat around, and once in a while I would hear, "Inu da." But other than that, (...) friends of mine would keep telling me, "Don't go down to the administration." And I was, I've, I guess I've always an optimistic person, and I really didn't feel that -- I, I was just (going to) go until the Jacobys stopped me. Then, then I did stop.

AI: Did you, did know of anybody who was severely harassed, or even beaten?

EH: Well, I, I can't remember. I think Walter Tsukamoto was probably one of the early lawyers, and he ultimately went to, into the military, I think. But I think he was beaten. There were a half a dozen people that were being -- the JACL crowd, as they would be identified, I think were really threatened. But Tule Lake is a pretty widespread, and we didn't venture into dangerous areas, that's for sure. Though my friend Wendy's mother, May Omura, I guess I don't remember getting together with her, but I knew I was a little bit worried about what was happening to the Omuras. And May later told me that they really got harassed. And I think they were maybe feeling threatened. And I don't know how early, May eventually, probably shortly after I left camp, she finished her nursing education in medical -- not medical corps, but the army nursing corps. Army nurses corps. And, and she had, her younger brother went into the military. But you wonder, even in those areas, you knew there were military, people who got drafted. And you couldn't choose whether to go or not. You had to go if you were drafted. So it must have been tough for those families.

AI: Well, let me ask you, also, kind of the other side of it, which is after people answered the questionnaire, did you know families or people who answered "no-no," and, and how were they treated? Was, was there some negative behavior or negative attitudes toward people who became known as "no-no"?

EH: (Yes), I think those of us that were prone to say "yes-yes" or be determined that we're (going to) stay loyal, or we're (going to) do what the government wants us to do, I think frowned on people who were "no-no." If I have discussions with my sister (now), who's a pro-"no-no," I mean, we really get into argumentative form. But thank heaven we don't discuss this, or we don't talk that often. But she still -- and the, and the issue with people that age, and I think I've even said it to, to Chizu Omori, who I happened to meet at a party... and I, I frankly, said to Chizu, "I want to get this discussion off, with you. We need to have a cup of coffee." And we've never gotten around to doing that, but I had said -- and I wasn't thinking so much about Chiz, but I was talking about this sister who was aggravating me, and I worried about the fact that she's, teaching about evacuation, and she was only fourteen.

AI: Your sister?

EH: (Yes). You don't know what the adult psychology is, and, and for instance, I often wonder, did she know what Mom was going through? Because my mother was determined, I think not to go to Japan, but she also wanted a safe haven for my sisters and she wasn't going to do anything to endanger them. And we never, we really never got a chance to sit down and, and analyze that evening, or that situation, though I think we were aware that people were getting hurt, or beaten. And I don't know what happened after that questionnaire got, got corrected. Whether that ever really came back to Tule Lake, and we did things over, I don't, I don't remember doing that, but I don't know whether my mother, for instance... I don't think that she would have... it's kind of astounding that all the Isseis who were able to leave camp, or go to other camps, Minidoka to, did they all end up saying "yes-yes"? That, that's a question that we ought to ask, even to this day, the few that are left. And some about, unlike me, most people probably would know how their parents answered it, even if they're gone.

AI: Well, let me ask you also, that you had just, you were saying that, that for yourself, you were determined that you, you were going to answer "yes-yes." And I'm wondering --

EH: I think out of helplessness, you did that.

AI: Tell me more about that, your feeling of helplessness.

EH: Well, what else could you do, is the situation. Certainly I would give up all allegiance to any other country or emperor, but my, my big burning question was, what about our parents, who only have that one country to be a citizen of? And somehow, I, I just never got around to asking all my friends, because -- and most of my friends did leave camp. Like Chiz was stuck, because her mother was ill, but everybody else eventually did leave camp. Though Tule Lake, I think, became a camp of about 18,000 and when people came in from the other camps. My friend who stayed there said it was really rough, 'cause you really had to conform. Early in the morning exercises, and your hair cut just so, and that kind of thing.

AI: Let me ask you, after this, after you did the questionnaire, and after that period, then when did you start getting notice that you were, had the choice to move to another camp? Did you start hearing about that?

EH: Oh. No, that didn't occur until after I left, because my sister and I both... well, I left in June, because I was going to a school in... YM/YW conference, and then I went to Des Plaines, Illinois.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

AI: So, so tell me, tell me about how you got this opportunity to, the permission to leave camp. Was this because you had met a professor who came to camp?

EH: (Yes), (yes). I mean, he, you almost had to have a sanctioned job or school, or... you had to have someplace to live. And, and that was typical of college students. They got onto the campus and, and the school was going to be at least a sponsor of a kind, then you could leave. And people started to leave, probably even before the questionnaire came out. I think it's Henry Tanaka that I met, and Bill Murayama. I think they left in December of, early. College scholarships and enrollment became possible. But I think once, once we were out it was, it was all right. Despite being college students, a lot of us had to get jobs anyway. But, in Tule Lake's case, we had a great camp director by the name of Elmer Shirrell. And Harry Mayeda, who was my recreation department boss, was able to, to develop good relationships with anybody and everybody, including Elmer Shirrell. And when they decided to open the first relocation office outside camps, to set up employment and housing facilities and that kind -- and Seattle got the first, I mean, Chicago got the first one, and Harry Mayeda and I think Elmer Shirrell, (yes), both ended up opening that office, or establishing that office. It, it was a sizeable office, and it didn't take long before there probably were fifty people interviewing and... but Elmer Shirrell was just a rare kind of person. His wife, they didn't have any children, but his wife... (Eleanor)? Anyway, they worked hard and Mrs. Shirrell kept, I remember her telling me that she was scheduled to make talks all over Chicago, but she wasn't always that welcome. And she said even in the YWCA, when she made the presentation on behalf of evacuees and the situation, she would invariably be asked, "Who's paying you to say this?" And she was, she was above that; she was able to cope with it. But my mother often quoted that, talking to other people (in) Chicago, one of the things that happened was Curtis Candy Company opened up their factory.

AI: Oh, yes.

EH: Because they were desperate for factory workers. Everybody was gone to, to the war front and so here was, here was a whole potential mass. And they came into camp. That, Elmer Shirrell and Harry Mayeda both met the Curtis Candy people, I think, in camp. And gained the confidence and for a lot of us, that was the first meager job we could get if, when we needed a job.

AI: Well, now, excuse me, but did you say that it was a, an anthropology professor who had come to Tule Lake and who you met and, and then what happened? How did you get the permission to leave?

EH: Robert, Robert Redfield was a well-known, internationally known anthropology prof at the University of Chicago. And I think he was basically interested in the social machinery of camp, and how it was working. And when I met him, I probably met him in Recreation. He was kind of in a desperate situation looking for help for his wife, and that might have been a mission that she put him on. So he asked me if, if I'd like to leave camp under his sponsorship, or at least knowing that I had a job that he would vouch for, that I could spend the summer in Des Plaines, Illinois. Now, right behind that, his wife's parents were Robert Park and his wife, R.E. Park was kind of a pioneer in urban sociology, and was at that time retired, but teaching at Fisk University. And being in their eighties, they needed help, household help, probably more than the Redfields did. Redfields were on a summer -- not a resort area. They had a farm, a five-acre farm in Des Plaines, that's where they spent their summer. And, and Robert Redfield was commuting from University of Chicago on a suburban train. But after the wedding, after Lisa's wedding, I went to Petoskey, Michigan, with Robert E. Park and his wife -- I can't remember what his wife's name is. But they were both in their eighties, and they had kind of a compound of, I think the Redfields had four kids, it seems to me. And two or three of them had sizeable houses, but resort houses. Petoskey is pretty much a, I think a resort kind of town on Lake Michigan. I could be wrong, but, but anyway --

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 43>

AI: So, so your first job outside of camp was to work for the Redfields and assist with their, their daughter's wedding?

EH: Wedding, (yes). And then when the wedding was over, they asked me if I'd be willing to go with them, the parents, to Petoskey, Michigan, and I said, "Sure, I'll go. I just have to be back at Milwaukee-Downer by the time school starts. And so, I, I think I even got on a... sleeper? I remember having meals on that train. And, and it was a first-time experience for me. I was experiencing people coming from as far as Louisiana going up to Petoskey, Michigan, for the summer, and that kind of thing. Now -- and that was a, a good experience. Every Sunday morning, Robert (E. Park) would lead a, kind of a sharing, reading -- it wasn't a service, but it was kind of an open-air discussion, philosophical, on a Sunday morning, every Sunday morning. And that was a new experience. Church was, conventional church was what I was brought up on. But to have the ability to share whatever, whether it was a news article or a major magazine article, or, or something historic. Everybody had something to -- and I learned a lot. There were terms and world history kinds of issues that I never even heard of, heard about.

The other, the other thing that happened to me in Petoskey... and I didn't know that there was any other Nisei there, but one afternoon, seventeen-year-old Nisei girl, maybe eighteen, came knocking on my door in tears. And I was so surprised to see her. Somebody must have told her that I was also in Petoskey. But this gal was, had taken a job as a housekeeper for a single male, a bachelor guy. And, and she was doing it, and I don't know (how) long or when she got there, but he would apparently have too much to drink, and threaten her or attack her (in) some way, somehow. And she came -- somehow, I don't know where... she wasn't that close in distance-wise, but when she, I let her in, and she was telling me what her problems was, so I (told) Mrs., Mrs. (Park) what was happening. She said, "I'm (going to) call a cab. Both of you get on that cab, get, make the cab wait, and let her get as much of her things as she can. And then tell the -- and I'll, here's some money, I want, I want you to get, or have her get a ticket back to Chicago." And that's what happened. And I, I never -- you know, to this day I don't remember her name, and I don't think I would have remembered the name much after that.

But I saw her off on the train to Chicago, and then when it turned out that my mother... let's see. I think I was, I had come back from Milwaukee and I was living with, with a family in Chicago, on Newport Avenue, at first some friends ran a cleaners about half a block away from my mother. And then by that time, I guess I was doing office work in, at the Board of Trade Building, and one day I, I went to this cleaners for something, and this girl, this, was seventeen, eighteen-year-old girl that I met in Petoskey, had bought the cleaners. And she was running it all by herself. I mean, she, obviously was that kind of independent soul, that she was brave enough to go anywhere and take on anything. That's the last I saw of her. And she, she was a little bit resistant to getting into conversation, so I just felt that she wasn't ready for me to recollect what, what went on Petoskey and ask her about it. But I, I thought, after that I thought that was, whoever that was that gave her the job, and knew that the guy was single, had no business sending a teenager to be a housekeeper for any, anyplace as isolated as that.

That was a -- in Petoskey was, I went to a dentist out of necessity, and he asked me how people were treating me. And I said, "Now, I really haven't had any problems," and he was good enough to say, "That's because you're you." That is, "Your reactions will make a difference as to how somebody's going to react to you." And that taught me a lesson, that hereafter, be open. And, but I thought, in those times, it was good for people to say things like that to younger people who were single. I was in safe, safe haven, but this, this other girl may, may have shied away from... college was another experience, because from there, I went to Milwaukee and got into college, and I found myself -- there were about eight Nisei women, girls there.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 44>

AI: Excuse me, before we get into college, I wanted to back up, because I remember you telling me in an earlier conversation, that when you first left Tule Lake, and before you went to Des Plaines, you actually had another, another conference that you attended.

EH: (Yes).

AI: And so, and tell me, actually, about getting ready to leave camp, and how and where you went first, before you went to Des Plaines.

EH: (Yes). That was at a student YM/YW conference in Estes Park.

AI: And when was it that you actually left Tule Lake?

EH: Something like June 9th, or June 10th, I think. And that's when the four of us, Reverend Dai and May Oiye, May Oiye, who was Willamette, Oregon, person, Bill Osuga was a Sacramentan, two years older than I was, was an outstanding violinist. And, and the fourth person I have, all my life I've been trying to find out what that guy's name was. I think he was a fisheries major at UW, probably a freshman, and lived, I think, around Auburn. Or, you know, he came from rural King County. And the four of us traveled to this student YM/YW conference. And, you know, that was, again, a big eye-opener. I had --

AI: Were you driving or taking the bus?

EH: I think we must have taken the bus. We must have gone into Denver, and from there taken a bus. And oddly enough, on all these travels, I never remember thinking, gee, we must have had to sleep somewhere, and I don't remember anything about hotels or -- at Estes Park we were in dormitories. Like cabins.

AI: And this, this -- excuse me -- this was the same trip that you had mentioned earlier, where you went with Reverend Kitagawa and you, you were turned away from at least one restaurant.

EH: (Yes), uh-huh, uh-huh. And we were, we -- I suppose we were a little edgy. I had had that Pocatello, Idaho, experience, so I wasn't as tense and worried. But we didn't really have any problems. It's also where I was sharing the dorm room with a bunch of black high school graduates out of Chicago. And one of the girls, who was a minister's daughter, said, "God, we're so glad you did that to them." And I said, "Wait a minute. What are you talking about?" And, and she said, "Oh, when, when you guys got 'em with Pearl Harbor." And I said, "Not me. I mean, I wasn't in that country. I was in America." And she says, "But you proved that whites aren't the only ones that, that could operate machines and, and fly, and be competent." And I was very impressed, because here was a high school kid saying that to me. And that was one of the first awareness that, how much blacks had been living with this problem. And they had, in many ways... 'course, I think I have to admit that blacks do talk about race, and I mean, that becomes their focal point, no matter where they gather. And so they start early, and parents like ministers would be able to objectively instill ideas in their kids. Give them some ammunition, some ability to cope with the world.

AI: You must have been surprised at that comment from...

EH: (Yes), I was very surprised. I was very impressed that... and then, it wasn't 'til a little later that I realized coming from the world that they were in, totally black, that it's no wonder this kind of feeling, uprising, is constant. Because every place you go, every, every time you have to get out in the public, you're going to, you're going to have to be confronted. You, you know, I think a black person never knows what somebody who's not black, what their response or their reaction or relationship, how that's going to come out. They can't be confident that they would get what we might call a normal reaction or handling of any situation. So for this kid, it was probably embedded in her. And I think maybe that's the only, that's the only way blacks can survive sometimes. Particularly in those days, when it was segregated army and you really were restricted about where you could go. And Chicago always, has always had, I think, a poor education system. And too politically involved, everything.

The other thing that I, I have to tell you about in camp, was that Madame Chiang Kai-shek's maiden name is Soong. S, double-O-N-G. Her brothers came through Tule Lake, and I feel that they must have been on the way. Chiang Kai-shek's offices, or army were constantly having to solicit money, particularly from, from this government. Chinese communities were always rounding up donations. But I think these young men that, they were.. I don't know. They, probably (were) just out of college, maybe that age, but I think they had to see what American camps were (going to) be like, and how we were being treated and all. So we, we were having kind of a -- and I think this was maybe a college-age bunch that I was with, or maybe it was a church, young people's group, but an older, college-age group. And they were telling us what their experience has been. It's the first time I picked up on the phrase of "missionaries, merchants, and the military." I mean, that's the way the "white man's invasion comes on," is what they were saying. So you have to expect that. But their essential message was: "Keep, keep going, keep working, get in school, don't let anything stop you. It's (going to) be tough, but keep going." I, we were very impressed to hear that from them, 'cause, you know, after all, what Japan had been doing to China was probably at the height at that time.

AI: So that's very interesting, because although Japan was, the Japanese military was doing terrible things to Chinese people in China and Manchuria, these Chinese fellows were, really saw you as Americans, and talked, spoke to you, telling you about your possible future as Americans.

EH: Uh-huh. "Don't let anything stop you," they said. The other -- I guess we did have visitors, and, and the Protestant churches always probably have Sunday evening sessions of some kind. And that's what we were doing, there was a young college-age crowd. Not a big crowd, probably a dozen of us. And I remember once that Mary Farquharson, who was a Washington state senator, came into camp. Because as a state senator, she was -- and Mary Farquharson was a pacifist. She was also the wife of the guy that built the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, that sank. Her husband was an engineer (and a) professor at, at the U. And, but she's the kind of person -- I don't think she was a Quaker, because I later met her when we joined, we became part of a Church of the People, a small congregation on the Avenue. She was a member of that church. And, but, she drove down from Seattle to, to see for herself. And I think there was a lot of that kind of thing going on. But the students that came from Chico State also, wanted to see the inside of a camp. They weren't satisfied to be greeted at the front gates, and they wanted to come into the camp. And...

AI: Well, you know, you mentioned Mary Farquharson, and as I recall, she was also a leader on the committee that was providing some assistance and support to Gordon Hirabayashi, and that, and his parents were in Tule Lake, also.

EH: (Yes), that's right. My mother met Mrs. Hirabayashi, and she, she wrote to me eventually about -- though I, I thought the Hirabayashis left fairly early, if I remember. I think, I don't know that Gordon ever got into the camp. It was shortly after I left camp that she wrote about Mrs. Hirabayashi. And Gordy, about two or three years ago, did a -- when he was being honored by UW as the professor in some department, he talked about the fact that when his mother went into camp, he was, one of the things that he shouldered was, was his worry about what was happening, how, how his parents, how the public was approaching his, his mother, and what kind of scrutiny was she enduring. And he said that when she got into camp, women from the other side of the camp would come in and commend her. So that was.. that was great, but I, and I don't remember meeting any of the other Hirabayashis. I didn't know them until I got here in Seattle. But that was the, that was very impressive. And she's, she's a remarkable strong person. Gordy always said, "It was my mother that ran the farm and the co-op." She became the vice-chairman of the co-op group that, that established themselves initially up towards Sand Point. But it's good that -- you know, and I think for people like her, for people like my mother, the fujinkai groups in camp must have been a good fellowship.

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 45>

AI: Well, let me also ask you, taking you back to when you were leaving Tule Lake in June, at that point, you had already -- had you already been accepted to college at Milwaukee-Downer? Or how...

EH: You know, I had applied and... I guess I had been accepted. I don't know. I, in Petoskey, my mother wrote a letter saying that she deposited, I think the tuition was a thousand dollars. And she, she sent a thousand dollar check to Milwaukee. That was a big sigh of relief for me, 'cause I hadn't, I'd been gone since June, and I guess I had to assume that that was going to happen. But when she, when she wrote me and said she did that, that was a big sigh of relief.

AI: That, that's a tremendous amount of money at the time.

EH: Well, this was a good private women's college. And what happened was, we were all, I think, about eight of us were there. We had all been told that we could not go to a college where there was an ROTC. And so I was still in camp -- and fortunately, the agency that the Quakers set up called... Student Relocation Office Service, was going, and it was funny because we had a lot of friends who were in big state universities all who had, all had ROTCs, but -- and my sister and I both got that kind of letter. And so we both applied at women's colleges. Even in this college, there was a Hawaiian girl, Chizuko Nishimura, I think, was her name. She was an optometry student at University of Chicago. And she had to transfer out of Chicago to come to Milwaukee-Downer. Marjorie Horagami was my roommate, and she was from, she was a Portlander and was a sophomore at Oregon State. There was a Rose Sakemi who later became Mrs. Harvey Itano, who was the person I, his father was an insurance agent and I had asked him, "What did your father do about your (clients)?" And that, that was ironic. I think, she never told me she was going steady with, with Harvey, but knowing that, I came from Sacramento, she, she used to say, "Gee, didn't you have some bull sessions with Harvey, and didn't you have some good meetings?" And I said, "You know, Harvey was three or four years older, and he had a brother a year older than I was. But I, I knew Harvey well enough to, to say, "Hi," and ask about school, but we never had anything more in common. And, and then years later, I find out that she's now Harvey, Mrs. Harvey Itano. But there were, there was a... somebody Iida, who was also from Seattle. She ended up teaching at Eckstein Middle School where my kids were.

But anyway, we all got these letters saying we had to, we could not go to a school where there was an ROTC. And I haven't really heard about anybody else -- I haven't always inquired, but it was really curious 'cause I, we certainly had a lot of friends who were in big state universities.

AI: And where was Milwaukee-Downer located?

EH: On the east side of Milwaukee, and a fairly posh, big, huge brick homes, mansions, kind of. And it was, it was a situation where I never would have applied for, expected, but it was almost like a finishing school. There were lights out at ten o'clock, it just killed me, because being the oldest of five kids, I always had to bathe the younger ones, get 'em to bed, get the house quiet before I could start studying. Sometimes ten o'clock. And here, to have to cope with lights-out, it was just, I, I certainly learned to put my hair, pin curls were the way you curled your hair these days, those days. And I, I certainly learned to curl my hair in the dark. We used flashlights under, under covers to finish studying. Once in a while we'd get caught, 'cause somebody, the senior -- I forgot what they were called, but they, they could detect a flashlight even if it was under cover, and come knocking. But it was, it was a very good school. Small classes and all the faculty had Ph.Ds all over the place. I...

AI: How were you, how were you received there? Did you face any, any prejudice or...

EH: You know, friendly enough, there was a gal from Brazil, probably, I think her, she was probably American and her parents were stationed in Brazil, she kind of gave us a rough time. Not, not all that malicious, but laughing at our sizes and, "What are you doing here?" kind of thing. There was a, there was a Judy Johnson whose father worked in the relocation office. So she knew a little bit about relocation and approached me about it. And, and I described conditions and where I was from and all. But Marge Horagami, who's my roommate, really didn't want me talking about evacuation. And, and it's the same kind of psychology about being embarrassed and, and not wanting people to know that kind of thing. And I, and I had to say to Judy, I mean to Marjorie, "Listen, Judy approached me and asked me if I, what camp I was from. And I said, "She knew the situation because her father works at the relocation office." And that, that was one of my first encounters of, of a Nisei not wanting to discuss -- in fact, Marjorie's problem was she happened to be born in Japan when her parents were on a trip. And so she didn't have an American citizenship, and she was very, not only envious, but angry at that situation. That she couldn't have all the privileges of American citizenship. She did have a father who was in, in a Texas federal prison for what they termed "dangerous aliens" or whatever. And she was constantly having to send some kind of medicine, kind of a laxative kind of medicine. There's a common name for it, and I can't remember. But she was an only daughter, and that was... I think her mother must have been in camp. But, and she knew a couple of the friends that I had met in Pocatello, because they were in Minidoka, too.

But coming out of camp into the dorm -- because there were other Niseis there, for one thing, several of us had sisters in... two of us had sisters in other women's colleges. The smaller colleges -- the Quaker colleges, for instance, didn't have that kind of problem, because they wouldn't have an ROTC. And we certainly were scattered through all, a lot of colleges.

AI: So you were at Milwaukee-Downer then, from the fall of 1943 into --

EH: (Yes), I just stayed there one year. I just decided I had to earn some money, and I, I wasn't (going to) ask my mother for another year's tuition. And it was, room and board, you didn't have a choice -- well, I did, I did work for my room and board at one time. But a lot of tradition, we had to wear class jackets, meaning different color blazers for special days. But, but as far as education goes, I, I think I got a good dose of it.

<End Segment 45> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 46>

AI: Well, so then, in 1944, what did you decide to do, since you --

EH: Well, then I went to Chicago to look for a job, and went to the relocation office and they sent me to Curtis Candy Company, and somewhere along the way -- I was always meeting friends who were on their way out of camp. And, and that was fun, because in the big city of Chicago, it's nice to have friends.

AI: Where did you live when you first got to Chicago?

EH: Well, Mabel, Mabel Sugiyama and I, who's a, who was a classmate, was coming -- she was, she was looking for a job. So actually, Mabel and I shared a, a big one-room apartment with a pull-down bed, and life in Chicago was very different. It's so hot and muggy and kind of dirty. I mean, sooty. You couldn't wear white things, you couldn't wear clothes two days in a row 'cause it was, it would be so dark-stained. And it was so hot. But couple of months in Curtis Candy Company and we said, "That's it. We can't be doin' this." You know, and of course, it was minimum wages. I can't remember what it was, but the apartment also wasn't that expensive. And it was in an area -- we found the apartment in an area of south side of Chicago where ironically, there was a whole big section on Drexel, in Chicago, where a lot of Niseis ended up. You know, what happens is somebody finds a, a place and they're quite comfortable, and they invite other friends or family and pretty soon you have one -- and they're fairly close of University of Chicago. And, and when I decided I'm not staying at Curtis Candy for long, it was, for me it was interesting and it was kind of fun because I realized I was seeing a bit of Americana. On these candy factories there were Lithuanians and Irish and Italians and most of them were always talking about their schooling, which always turned out to be a parochial school. And they would be comparing different sisters or different orders, and, and I got a flavor of real factory working, manufacturing-centered, big town Chicago. And when I listened to Lithuanians and Italians and Irish and, you got a real flavor of what life was really like for these people. There was an Irish woman who probably didn't have much education, but what advice or criticism she gave was really solid, honest, practical advice. But two months of that was enough. And constant noise, though I did send a lot of people boxes of candy, because you could, we got it for a nominal fee and in, in wartime, it was, you couldn't get candy that easily, or it was expensive or something. Here we got it for just pennies, and I would send boxes to camp and my sister in Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. And we did, we did that a lot.

AI: I'm interested that, in the, at the Curtis Candy Company, that you did work so closely with European immigrants and European Americans, but from what I've heard about Chicago, is the neighborhoods are very racially, were very racially separate at that time. Was that, did that...

EH: Well, you know, the southern half of Chicago, practically, is solidly black. And, and yet, there's a, kind of a transition line where it's a little bit mixed, but for instance, for a lot of, the section where a lot of Niseis lived, around the University of Chicago, is right next to the black section. So you're often mixing on the elevated trains and buses. And I think that a lot of us probably worked in offices where there were mixed, agencies, public agencies. For instance, the Preferred Insurance company that I worked in, I had to constantly put ads out because the people you got, the gals you got in to do that kind of clerical work were so, sometimes terrible. I mean, they didn't care. They were almost juvenile delinquencies or they're kids that quit school or something. And you, you couldn't cope with all the mistakes they made. So once I put an ad in, I got a couple of black applicants. And 'course, they wouldn't, my, my boss, I think he said, "Let me handle it." I knew he wasn't going to handle it, but he was going to let his secretary handle it or something. They would not hire blacks. And this was... let's see, '44. I think I stayed in that insurance company from about '4-, end of '44 to '45, '6.

AI: Well, tell me, how did you, how did you get -- was this the job you got after the candy company?

EH: (Yes).

AI: You went to -- how did you get the job at Preferred?

EH: I went to an employment agency. I mean, that was the -- I wasn't (going to) go back to the relocation office because they would just send me to either Curtis or give me a domestic job. Because in those days, it was still early in the game, '44 was, the war was still on, and we were just beginning to come out of camp in droves. And the student population generally, we went to school, and this was summer, end of summer. And so there were more of us. But my mother, for instance, I think, went there. She had gotten a job at --

<End Segment 46> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 47>

AI: Oh, excuse me. I should have asked you, after you left Tule Lake in June of '43, what did happen to your mother and your younger sisters?

EH: (Yes), well that, you know, it was after that that they probably gave detailed announcements, and kept everybody abreast about what was going to happen to Tule Lake. Everybody got an assignment to, to go to another camp, or you chose where to go. For my mother, she was all ready to go to Amache, which was in Colorado, because I think in those days, the theory for tuberculosis was that the higher elevation, the better. And my father, I think, was in about a 5000 elevation, or 3000. Anyway, that's why they sent her to Amache. And my mother figured that no, she wasn't going through all that again. And then she didn't really like camp. I had, I had this sister with an amputated leg, and for her, in times of -- you know, when, if a riot occurred, that was (going to) be very scary for her, because you can't move fast if you have a crippled, handicapped youngster. And even in times of fire, you can't escape fast. But she knew that the education was kind of abnormal, and you, as I remember, I think there weren't a lot of typewriters. And a lot of handicapping situations. So she made arrangements -- she went, she went to the employment office to look at the kinds of jobs she could get. She had a few friends who were outside and working in garment factories and things like that. And so she saw this, she saw this job potential in a Winnebago Indian Boarding School in northern Wisconsin. And for some reason, she took it. I wasn't there, so I, there certainly weren't, there was no discussion about it. And I, when I heard about it, I think I was in school, and she probably wrote me early in the school year what she was doing. But she didn't have time, probably. You know, it was a rush to -- you had to leave there probably by the end of August, and, because there was a lot of traffic, you could imagine people going out and coming in, I think more than, I think two-thirds of Tule Lake had to go to other camps, which meant that they had to facilitate, then, all that moving and, and then getting incoming people relocated.

AI: So, so how did your mother then leave Tule Lake?

EH: Well, she, she took this job, and she had to do a lot of packing because the two older of us weren't there. And she decided to take -- and she had, she asked the missionary to bring her car up to her, he drove it up from Sacramento to Tule Lake.

AI: The Oldsmobile?

EH: (Yes), the Oldsmobile. And she got the car. My, one of my sisters, one of the middle sister keeps talking about having a bicycle in camp, and I don't remember that. My recollection was when I was in school in Milwaukee, my mother wrote and said, "It's too cold here." Meaning Nielsville, Wisconsin. "Go to Penny's and buy each of the girls a snowsuit." And I think she told me to buy, to buy a bicycle for Jean, because, because she had to commute -- the, the Indian school only went up to eighth grade, probably, and she was, she was probably going to be in her sophomore year in high school. So one way or another, Jean had to bike ten miles into the town of Nielsville. But my mother got the Oldsmobile, and there was a Johnny Yoshimura who we knew as a basketball coach for our Girl Reserve group, and he wanted to go to University of Minnesota. And my mother knew Johnny. Johnny had had a rough time kind of supporting himself and going from job to job, picking fruit and that kind of thing. And once in a while, he also turned out he was also a, a boyfriend of one of my mother's best friend's daughters. And so I think maybe on that score -- Johnny probably was at our house some, too, because, being a basketball coach. But, so that was just right for my mother, that Johnny could help drive to Minnesota. And it was interesting because she, one of the things she kept telling me that she was always suspicious of Johnny because he was always having to stop to urinate, and was always thirsty. And to my mother, those were sure signs of diabetes, because my father was diabetic.

And, but they went -- and it wasn't until probably ten years ago that my sister in New York came for the first time. One of my sisters in New York. She'd kind of been a recluse, and wasn't communicating with any of us. And when (a) Tule Lake reunion was occurring, she wanted to go. Because she was a big -- not exactly a socialite, but she certainly was a wild one, I'd have to say, in camp. So she had a lot of social catching up to do. And she finally came to visit us in Seattle, and we were reminiscing, I was asking her, "What do you remember about leaving camp?" And it was a little different from what my youngest sister, for instance, would -- Sara was seven or eight, I think. And Jean was fourteen, probably. And, and she just broke out in hilarious laughter and she said, "Do you know we spent a week in Yellowstone Park?" And I said, "What? How could you? What did you do?" She says, "Oh, we camped. We had a great time. Mom always wanted to see Yellowstone." And I remember that my mother loved to travel, and, and she wanted to see Grand Canyon and all this. So here they were traveling in this Oldsmobile, you know, the three daughters and Johnny, and they camped for a whole week in Yellowstone. I said, "It's a wonder nobody fined you. Because here you were, Japanese, and what were you doing in, in these hinterlands?" But they did have a couple of problems. That people wouldn't rent rooms to them. And at one time, they got turned away, and so their only recourse was to, to get to the next town. And John stepped on the gas, and was speeding, and sure enough, a policeman caught up with them. And, and Johnny, I guess, claimed that that was his reason, to attract a policeman. And when the police stopped them, stopped them and he told them what the situation was. "You know, we've got kids in this car, and we can't find a place to stay." And so the police said, "All right, follow me." And he put the siren on, and went to the next motel and ordered the people to, "rent these folks a room." Two rooms, and that's how they got by.

But when my mother dropped John off at U Minnesota, she had another hundred and fifty miles to drive to Nielsville, Wisconsin. And I was in school in Milwaukee, so two or three times that year, maybe four times, I had to take a five o'clock bus out of Milwaukee, and it took us nine hours to get across that little state to get to the other side. And even in the dark winter, the bus would stop at every little town, and kids would get on. Tennis shoes and cotton bobby socks, and cotton skirts. And I, I finally said, "Where are you kids going at this time of the morning?" And, "You have to travel this far to go to school?" And they said, "Oh, no, we're teachers." They're ninth grade kids that the, everybody in rural areas got factory jobs or were drafted. And there was nobody left to teach school, so here they were, recruiting ninth graders to go teach in the next village, whether it was first grade or kindergarten. But that's what they were doing. And anyway, that was a lesson. I had, coming out of this women's college, I, there were the upper echelon in, in every town had daughters in that college. And it was funny because those girls, every one of 'em had laundry bags or, got their boxes, laundry boxes or something. They would send all their laundry home in these boxes, and it would come back all pressed and, and here we were, I said, "My God, even in Sacramento, I did the laundry." I mean, nobody was (going to) do that for me, or I had to iron my younger sister's clothes.

<End Segment 47> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 48>

AI: Right before the break you were telling about the Indian Boarding School that your mother went to work at. If you could describe a little bit about it and what she did there.

EH: Well, this was an old boarding school, remarkably. A three-story building, and kind of isolated. There wasn't much, anything else around the place. But I think there were eighty or so Indian children between first grade and eighth grade. And the faculty were all... I think German Reform Church people, who had built the school. Very stern teachers, and of course, the Indian kids really didn't, didn't like school. They weren't that enthusiastic. They had to be there because their parents were migrant workers, particularly working in cranberry bogs in Wisconsin. And my mother's job was -- I don't know whether she operated the big laundry area, she was cons-, she was called the house mother. And a good deal of her time was trying to keep the kids in order. They had to, they, everybody ate at the same time. And part of, part of her job also was to keep the kids in routine, bathing and all that. And my sister, my youngest sister remembers that the kids were relatively unhappy kids, and kind of belligerent. And bedwetting was a major problem, which made my mother's job doubly hard. And my mother finally talked the staff into letting her try Nihonburo, Japanese bath system, the deep hot baths. And my sister claims that it worked, that, that the bedwetting, to some extent, stopped. Probably because it was also, if it's so hot it, I think Japanese baths relax you terribly. You're ready for bed, you're, it's too hot to suffer under. And you're, and if it's cold, you're (going to) jump into bed from that hot tub. But anyway, they all, they always ate their meals regularly.

The other thing my mother enjoyed again was on Sundays, she spent Sunday afternoons with farm women, and this must have been in, in the town of Nielsville, and I don't know how she -- oh, she did have her car. So she enjoyed joining the farm women with canning, string beans and whatever. And she was awfully impressed that, how hard the Wisconsin farm women worked. Of course, a lot of the menfolks were on the war front, and, but they had to milk cows in the cold barns and all. And she was impressed about how hard -- and she, she likes to socialize that way, or find out about lifestyles and that kind of thing.

The other thing she enjoyed tremendously was bracken, fern bracken picking. Warabi picking. It's very common in the Seattle area, but in California, it's too dry for ferns. So I've never seen it before. And, but the Germans apparently love fern shoots. And they had a couple of weekends, fern shooting, fern picking, and, and the Indian kids knew it. It was kind of traditional, but they loved being outside, and they would say, "We're wild, Mrs., Mrs. Ishikawa. You can't catch us." And my mother certainly didn't try to catch 'em, but they enjoyed being out in the wild environment. And my mother was just delighted to find warabi, 'cause she had not seen warabi since she left Japan. And, and for her, to find out that other people enjoyed them, and she said... my sister Anna was the one that had the handicap, the amputated leg, she said Anna particularly, certainly ate a lot of warabi. Though the one thing that I, I thought of was (asking) and I never got around to it, you must have missed shoyu. If, if you had vegetables like that, you always had to have soy sauce. That's all right, she -- when she came to visit me for the first time in Seattle, maybe the second or third time, but I had some bracken shoots, just stray ones popping up in the, in the yard. And she saw that and she just said, "Why didn't you eat this?" "Naze tabenakatta?" I said, "What is it?" I, I didn't know what bracken shoot was. And so, thereafter, I would go along Lake Washington or in the arboretum, and later I found them right there in my backyard in the Ravenna creek, along the Ravenna creek. And I would send her a shoebox full. And she loved it. [Laughs]

<End Segment 48> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 49>

AI: Well, so, I wanted to then take you back into Chicago, that your mother was there at the Indian Boarding School with your sisters --

EH: (Yes), I'll, let me tell you. When I was taking my finals on that June... what was that? Let's see, I lived there in '43, so it must have been '44, VE Day, or, that was taking place in Europe. And my sister Jean called from the bus depot, right in the middle of my finals. And I had to go down to the office and answer the telephone, and she says, "I'm at the bus depot, I'm on my way to Rockford." I said, "What? Who's with you?" She says, "Oh, I'm (going to) get there." And so after my exams, I called my mother and said, "Why would you let a fourteen-year-old, fifteen-year-old be riding around a city like Milwaukee all by herself?" And my mother said, there's, there was no way she could stop Jean. Jean had to work for her own room and board at this Indian Boarding School, and shared the dormitory with a Nisei who I think was from Tanforan. And she was, she'd been hired as a teacher. And so Jean said she had to scrub a hundred and fifty bread pans every day, because they, they made all the food for probably a hundred and fifty people or so, a hundred and twenty-five people. And because she had gone through that, she felt very independent in that she worked, worked for her own room and board. And she had somehow kept in touch with a friend that she knew from camp, and they decided that they would take a domestic job, share a domestic job in Rockford, Illinois. And I think Rose's parents must have been in Rockford at the same time.

So here was Jean at fifteen, footloose and fancy-free, doing a domestic job. And she did that twice. She shared that domestic job, then when she got to, when she got to Chicago, I think an older brother... I think (Ben) Yoshioka, who I think came from Manzanar or somewhere, was also in that relocation office. And helped Jean and his sister, Julia, land a job sharing domestic work, or in this case schoolgirl. They had registered for Evanston, Illinois. Jean, by the time she was in Chicago, or leaving the Indian Boarding School, knew that the school system in Chicago was so corrupt that she was not going to be a part of it. And Evanston had one of the best school systems. So she chose, she chooses to go Evanston, and she and Julia become household help for the Curtis Candy Company daughter, I forgot the name of the family. But anyway, they did that all the way though high school, and in their senior year they could come back and live wherever they wanted. Otherwise you had to be, to go to Evanston High School, you had to be within the city limits. But I remember Jean calling my mother once and saying, "How do you fix nasubi?" Eggplants. And, because a young, young Curtis Company daughter didn't know how to, how to fix eggplant, and probably never used them much. But that kind of thing was always happening in the Ishikawa family. So I, my sisters in New York would call and say, "What do you do with gobo?" What's gobo? Not bracken, but... well anyway, you know, what the long root, vegetable. I remember explaining to her how to make kinpira gobo for New Year's.

But she, my mother stayed at that school, and the work was pretty tough. So, and she knew that the school system was not good, and she wasn't going to keep my younger sisters in that Indian boarding school, because you could imagine, it was lagging. And so then she drove out of Nielsville across the state of Wisconsin, and my, my sister said it was so embarrassing because she was complying (with) federal orders, that you had to report to the police station every time you came in, entered a new community, you reported to the police station as an "enemy alien," and you go on from there. And as she drove through these little Wisconsin towns, she would look for the policeman and, and say, "Where's the police station?" And the policeman would say, "Why? What do you want the police station for?" And my mother said, would say, "You don't know. I have to report to the police station." And they would willy-nilly take her there, and find out why she, this woman insists on going to the police station. But she was, she was just complying with the federal orders that as an "enemy alien," you had to register at the police station. Well, I'm sure that didn't go on and on forever, because she, on that trip, she drove out of Wisconsin, she went to visit friends in Cleveland, and she visited a couple friends in Chicago. She wanted to see what everybody was doing, and she was probably going to try to get a job wherever the best job was. But she talked about Washington, D.C., and I can't imagine that she drove all the way to Washington, D.C. But she was never afraid of driving anywhere, and she eventually came back to Chicago.

In fact, there was a woman on Drexel who, I don't know where, whether she saw an opportunity, but she was, she was friendly, I think she really sincerely was trying to be friendly, but she was also needing to make her own living. She bought this huge house, or she had this huge house, so she decided that it was just right for a hostel for Japanese coming out of evacuation camps. I don't know how much she knew about evacuation, but my mother rented a sizeable room for all, just my two youngest sisters (and) my mother. And I visited them a couple of times. There, they weren't that far from, from the apartment that Mabel and I had rented.

And then, before I knew it, she had landed a job -- she'd gone to the relocation office and gotten a job in, in several women's garment workers factory. One time she got a job in a glove-making factory. And she always believed in unions, for some reason. I don't think she had any occasion in Sacramento to know about union, but she was a very devout follower of Kagawa. Toyohiko Kagawa was a, kind of a radical socialist kind of minister, and (with) his diligence, (he was) able to, somehow, he was able to get a scholarship to probably Princeton. And (so he had) kind of (a) Presbyterian background, I think. We used to hear him as a speaker in Sacramento. And my, my mother just worshipped the guy. In, at one point, when we were talking about college, she says, "Well, I don't have any more money, you have to earn your own money 'cause I sent my money to Kagawa-sensei." [Laughs] And that's what she (did). She also had a, she sponsored a girl in, was it CARE? There was a program where you paid fifteen dollars a month or something, and that was, that was the total funds needed for keeping a child in, taking care of a child in the nursery. And she did, she did that kind of thing. She went to, when she went to Japan on one of her first trips, by golly, she had one of (her) nephews in Japan drive her to that school and met the girl that she'd been sponsoring for, I don't know, ten years or so.

But she drove all over Ohio and Chicago, I forgot where else. But these were good friends that were there, and sometimes she would say, "I have to check up on my friends." But when she came to Chicago, she... my thing about Toyohiko Kagawa-sensei is because he was a strong union person. He worked in the slums of Kobe, and was always trying to improve social situations. But... she would even bring sewing home. Like belts and pockets that had to have stitching around it. My sisters would have to do a little bit of... what did they call it? In the early immigration history, the kids, families did that in their home, and it was part of a family system.

And my sisters got acclimated. Fortunately, my mother, some -- I don't, I guess now I have to assume that she managed to have that sewing machine shipped to her. Somehow, for some reason, we had an electric sewing machine before she got, she had another... well, maybe she did get some, because I guess the sofa -- she didn't have the piano. At a separate time we had a piano sent out. And I guess I have to believe that maybe she was able to do that two or three times if the government had to comply. But I, that sewing, that electric sewing machine really had a work-over. And we were living in temporary, she had managed to rent a, a second-floor flat, a raggedy second-floor flat owned by a South American guy, Ecuadorian or somebody, who used to boast to me that, "I just put in an all-American hot water heater for you." What he meant was an automatic hot water heater. But they managed to communicate.

AI: And this was also in Chicago?

EH: Chicago, this was a block away from Cubs field. So my mother, my sisters became avid Cubs field, Cubs fans. They could, in fact, a block away was the Addison Station, and from that Addision Station platform, elevated station, you could watch the Cubs games, 'cause you looked down into the Cubs field. But eventually, I guess I was, my father had died...

AI: Well, let's --

EH: Oh, no, my father hadn't died. Eventually we bought a two-story brick house, she did. I had, I just had to sign the papers because Asians weren't allowed to be citizens, and therefore you couldn't buy property. So property purchases in those days, the American citizen kids did it. And she found this very solid two-story brick house, had a full basement, and we had friends who needed, they were either going to school or, they needed a place to stay, so my mother let them build a couple of rooms in the basement, and they become, they became, I don't know that they were boarders. My mother hated to cook, so I, I'd hate to think that they had to eat my mother's food. One of them was May Omura's brother, Paul, was going to University of Chicago then, and I think that must have been in '50s. Even, (yes), just about '50 or early...

<End Segment 49> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 50>

AI: Let me take you back to, still in the '40s. Because you were, you were still, you were working at the Preferred Insurance Company for a couple of years. And I wanted to ask you just a little bit about your working relationships there, and how you were received. Again, because when you first started working there, again, World War II was still going on. And I was wondering how, how you were treated?

EH: (Yes), it was interesting. I went to an employment agency, and in those days, I, I don't know whether it's true now, you had to pay thirty percent of your first month's wages to the employment agency for that fee. And I did that, and I hadn't had any office experience, actually. I did know how to type, but they, office people were desperate in those days because you could not get -- and that was a good thing for, for relocators, because you could get decent office jobs. And you know, on the West Coast, traditionally you can't, you couldn't get an office job unless you were working for a Japanese company of some kind. So here we were, it was, this was at the Board of Trade building in Chicago, which is fairly form-, and the relocation office was just a couple blocks away. But I got in there and met the file clerk supervisor, and she was really resistant. We went to the, the head person's office, and... Ruth somebody, I forgot, said, "I've never worked with anybody like that." And Mr. Howard said, "Well, it's your choice. You're (going to) work with her or you're not (going to) have a job." Something like that, and, and so she had to accept me. And it took a couple of days. She found that I wasn't (going to) lose files, and I, I had to go to another building even to retrieve files that were sent to another lawyer and stuff like that, and I managed to do that. And she probably stayed a couple of months while I was there, and then she decided she wasn't going to stay. And that was alright, so Mr. Howard asked me to take over the, the whole file department.

And it was a huge... Preferred is a fairly well-known company, and the Claims Department was a whole floor of the Board of Trade building. And so I said, "Well, Mr. Howard, I'm going to have to get some more help. And he said, "Can you find anybody else like you?" And so I said, "(Yes), I'll call the relocation office." And sure enough, that was no problem. They were delighted. In fact, one of the girls, top gals that I called, was a friend from Sacramento. She was younger than I was, but she was a whiz-bang. And generally they would come in as typists, but, and Miriam was a typist, but boy, when I couldn't find a file because one of the other clerks goofed it up, she systematically could find lost files. And at one time, I had to get two or three gals that were, would assigned, be assigned to certain adjusters. And they, they built up a good relationship, though I had a Southern gal hired, and she would say, "Oh, darlin', you don't mind if I crawl all over you," and she would just carry on like that all day, and everybody was either cracking up, or the men were just getting tired of that. And I had to take her aside and I, I said, "Dixie, you can't talk like that in an office. The men don't appreciate it." "What men don't appreciate that?" She was a military soldier's wife, and, coming in from Texas or somewhere. I really had a time training her right. She eventually -- I don't know whether her husband got transferred, but she was easy enough to work with, but that's, she was calling everybody "Darling," and I, you know, these old gray-haired men just really didn't like that. I, I had to tell her, "You have to be more business-like." And (she would say), "But that's the way we always talk in Texas." I, I (said), "I'm sorry, but this isn't Texas and we're not (going to) have that."

I had a couple of Nisei twins who, one was fine, but the other one was just, she was joking too much. But eventually, I had six or seven Nisei out of probably twenty-five. Well, twenty-five in the -- six or seven were mostly in the file cabinet, file department. But I, when Mildred Suzuki's husband abruptly called from New York, because he was just coming in from the, from the European Theatre, she was so excited and elated and, and just flying around, and she finally, Mildred said, after she was screaming on the telephone, and she hung up and she says, "So-and-so's home. I've gotta go. Mr. Howard, please, I gotta wash my hair, I gotta clean that apartment. I can't have him -- " and everybody was so impressed and so overjoyed. I mean, she was a nineteen-year-old, but a good model. And that just took everybody. So it's interesting how incidences like that really gel, and even the gruffest of guys, "Let her go, let her go, Howard. Let her go." It was, it was funny. But that was, was a fairly good experience, because it was interesting to see the girls, even my sister came in from Pennsylvania on her way to Berkeley, to U.C. Berkeley, and she needed a summer job. So I said, "Well, come on in and meet Mr. Howard." And so, she got a good, decent summer job.

I, Mr. Howard called me one, in one day and says, "Elaine, can you find a housekeeper for my wife?" And I, I went home and asked my mother if she had some Issei friends who wanted to do housework. And I didn't know where the Howards lived, but this midwife that had delivered my two youngest sisters was a good friend by the time evacuation came along, and (was) a neighbor. And I knew that Mrs. Oshita was living with her son and daughter-in-law in Rockford, Illinois, and I said to my mother, "I think they, the Howards live on the north end, but she's gotta learn to ride the bus and obasan doesn't speak any English." And so she said, "I'm going to call her. She really wants a job." She didn't want to be beholden to her son and daughter-in-law. And so her son drove her in -- or daughter drove her in to the specific address, north side, and they studied the bus schedule and all, and they figured out a way that she could commute. She actually was (going to) stay at the Howards' during the week and go home on the weekend. But here was this Issei woman, she didn't speak much English, but she managed to do that. And that worked out well, except that Mrs. Howard had to find out whether she could stay an extra day and exchange a day off for, during the week, and she would have to call me and say, "Would you ask Mrs. Oshita if she could do that?" And I thought it was marvelous that you could work in the same house and not be able to communicate to that extent. But they managed, and she, Mrs. Oshita would come over once in a while and give me great details about how -- I never met Mrs. Howard, but I learned a lot about the kids and, and how things went. Mrs. Oshita, I knew came into Chicago once in a while, because she had to have tofu. And she was bound and determined to take tofu home to, to Rockford. But, and so she dropped in once in a while on Sundays and things. That's the kind of fun thing to do. She was, she was lost in Chicago once, and she said she was so grateful that some Niseis stopped her and could tell she was, she was lost. And they saw to it that she got on the right streetcar. But that must have happened to a lot of Isseis in those days.

AI: Well, it sounds like your experience at Preferred Insurance was very positive in most ways.

EH: (Yes), I think, I think it was. I, when my father died, and I had to go to Sacramento, I told my mother to come in and meet Mr. Howard, 'cause (of) Mrs. Oshita's experience. And so it was the first time my mother had been in the big forty-two, forty-two-story building. And, but she was fluent enough in English and could converse.

<End Segment 50> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 51>

AI: Well, so, now, before your father passed away, actually, the war ended. Because then, in 1945, and how, do you recall hearing about the atomic bomb and --

EH: Well, you know, I'm sure I heard about the atomic bomb, and I hear about it even more, even later. Now, it becomes a very traditional issue. I also, we belong to a Church of the People, and we had joined Unitarians, and I had worked for the Quakers.

AI: Oh, later, you mean. Later.

EH: So all those groups would find the atomic bomb abhorrent. I do remember being on Lake Michigan's shores, it must have been VJ Day, with an old, a school friend of mine, a Sacramento friend of mine. Kind of realizing it was a momentous day, but not having much else to do, we were just relaxing. I think, I think the day that Roosevelt died kind of struck me, because in this typical office situation, nobody was that disturbed. And I thought, "Gee, this is one of the greatest men in American history. How come you're not, you know, you don't seem to be affected by it?" But that's about as far as I could go. Later I realized how Republican offices are, and you don't bring up Democratic heroes of any kind. Though one of the, one of the men's wife was a Quaker, and he, he often kept silent about the war. I don't know that he was a Quaker, but it was, it was also an interesting study of different personalities. Mr. Howard, fortunately, was a very good person. And it was interesting because, "Can you find more people like you?" [Laughs] I could all but say, "They're all like me." Because Niseis are fairly stereotypical. Once in a while I, some friend would locate me coming through Chicago, and we'd go have lunch. But Chicagoans actually became very scattered. The bulk of them still were on the south side.

My mother, there was a, the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago was on Lake Michigan. And that became one of the early congregations of Isseis particularly. And it was almost downtown, so they could come from all locations, and it was a, it was Sunday afternoon services. And it was interesting that people from a wide area, many, they didn't have to be Presbyterian, though the church was a Presbyterian church. That was one location. And then there were other congregations. I think there was a Buddhist congregation on the south side, and I, I think maybe a Congregational. Because we, here in Seattle were fortunate to draw somebody by the name of Muneo Katagiri. I think he was a Hawaiian Congregational minister. And it was very fortunate that he was the head of the board of the poverty program.

AI: Oh, later on, you mean?

EH: Because, (yes), because he was a level-headed guy, and he, he didn't get boisterous or loud, but he could certainly, with a firm hand, handle people who were trying to block progress of someone.

<End Segment 51> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 52>

AI: Well, I'd like to take you back to, then, after, then World War II was over, and then what kind of communication did you have with your father? Did you hear that his illness was getting worse? Or how did it come about that you and your mother decided to go out to see him?

EH: Well, I guess it was time to go see him, for one thing. And we took that trip, stayed two or three, maybe a week. Then (later) we suddenly got a call from my sister, who was at UC Berkeley by then, and she was spending weekends going to see him. But from Berkeley to Weimar, it was a long bus ride, probably three or four hours. And it was in high elevation so it's snowing, and her big worry was that if she didn't get out there at the right time, the bus would miss her. 'Cause it wasn't a real station, bus station, of a kind, but I think the bus people knew that Weimar was, potentially had passengers boarding. But she frantically called one night to say that Pop had died. And it took her a while to locate us, and I can't remember why that was. Whether we didn't have a telephone -- I can't believe that we didn't have a telephone, but the call finally came in upstairs, to a Greek couple that was renting the flat upstairs. And I don't know whether there was something temporarily wrong with... or whether we somehow got the message and went upstairs to use telephone, because ours didn't work. But when she told us, gave us the news, then that's when I had to tell my mother to come and meet Mr. Howard, and we left.

(Yes), I guess there was one time when -- because on another trip, I forgot who that... my mother and I were traveling, and we had to come through Denver on a train. And it started snowing suddenly. And the train couldn't move any farther. So we had to get off -- I mean, everybody had to get off the train, and the Inais, who owned the house that we lived in, were in, had resettled in Denver. So, and we took a cab, and stayed at Inais for a couple nights 'til the train could get back to Chicago. (Yes), I'd forgotten about that. But while we were there, Mrs. Inai's younger sister by ten years, I think, who was kind of a good friend of mine as well as my mother, had kind of eloped and gotten married in Reno, and the wire came just while we there. That was a fun deal. (Yes), they, the Inais owned a super, supermarket in Denver called Toyo Market, or something. Mini Asian Market.

But after, when I was at Preferred -- and I must have been there almost three years, I got a call from the Chicago Resettlers Committee, Pat Shitama, who's, who I guess I'd met, I think, at that Pocatello conference. I don't know. But anyway, Pat called me to say, "We have this great job offer. Why don't you go see what it's like?" And I was ready for a change by then. So I went to work for American Council on Race Relations. That was at Forty-(ninth) and (Ellis), toward (the) south side of Chicago.

AI: And this would have been in 1947?

EH: (Yes), I think so.

<End Segment 52> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 53>

AI: So, so tell me about the, about the American Council on Race Relations. Because that was quite an important organization at that time, and it was really important in a new, whole new area of, of thinking and work.

EH: (Yes). That wasn't available at that time. What was, what happened was the war ends, and there's a lot of social awareness, especially among some of the young. And there was, civil rights was not an issue yet. I mean, there was no way to put it into that score. Nobody was -- people were beginning to be aware of it. Lillian Smith was an author who, a southerner who was writing great books. There was one called... "(Strange) Fruit." Anyway, there were new books coming out like that. And the soldiers were coming home from segregated armies, and people really were perking, getting interested, but there was no major study or library doing that at that point. And so when the American Council established itself in a house that was called the Rosenwald House, Julius Rosenwald was a, a Sears Roebuck vice president, a Jewish guy, who met Booker T. Washington probably in the '20s, maybe before that. And had said, "What can someone like me do?" And Booker T. Washington had said that Negro students were having trouble finding college education, and so that was one thing he did. He gave two thousand dollar scholarships to people like Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson, Katherine Dunham, they all had to go to Europe to get their college training. And then the, he gave up his residential house at Forty-seventh and Ellis, a solid, almost a three-story house. And the administration must have been going for some time. It was fairly closely related to University of Chicago. And they had, University of Chicago apparently started researching and organizing a polling method. And I forgot which of the polling agencies that was, but they had a big living room area to start their work. And the American Council on Race Relations was actually on the, above the carriage house in what was called, what was supposed to be servants' quarters. And that was fine except that the, we needed a library, and the library, there wasn't room for a library up there. So we, we were in the big house on the second floor. Sizeable space, but it wasn't long, even -- I didn't, I don't know how soon I, I got there after that started, but pretty soon we were flooded with college students. Because U. Chicago, Northwestern, Roosevelt, there were four or five major colleges, all and, all sent these students that were interested in this subject. And we had barely enough desks for those of us that worked there. So the poor guys -- I don't remember seeing a lot of girls -- but the poor guys were having to stand there leaning on file cabinets, and leaning on the walls and bookshelves, looking at the text that they were interested.

Ralph worked for, he was a part-time secretary for Joe Lowman, who was a criminology professor at U. Chicago, and was then heading a new agency called (Segregation) in the Nation's Capital. And Joe Lowman's kind of big, bustly kind of guy, and his desk was always kind of disorganized, and he was always growling at Ralph and saying, "Don't touch anything." But Ralph would have to do a lot of typing, and he managed -- the nice part of that job was they had hired a British pair of housekeepers, and they did all the cooking and all the cleaning, so there must have been fifty or sixty of us that had lunch, well-prepared, in a basement level. And it wasn't that, that much of a basement feeling, we had daylight windows all over. And, but it was a great place because people would come from all over the place. I, Mary McCloud Bethun was on the board of Segregation in the Nation's Capital, and she would stop by and see how the library was going. And any number of people like that. S.I. Hayakawa was a very respected liberal president of Illinois Tech, which wasn't very far from that location, and he would come in for lunch. And he certainly was a changed person by the time he got to San Francisco.

But anyway, it was fascinating place, and my job was just to try to keep up with every article and news item that came out about race. And even in the late '40s, that was a lot. But the librarian, Evelyn Apperson, was a Fisk graduate -- no, she was a, she was Smith graduate, but went to Fisk for her librarianship. And we, the other gal that was there was Mary Sabusawa, who was a very active JACLer, and she was an Antioch graduate who, Antioch had the system of working six months and going to school six months. So she had, in her early assignment for work, she had, happened to be placed at American Council. And I think they liked what she was doing, and she was very verbal and, and fairly undaunting, aggressive, you wanna say. She helped organize, I think, kind of a new agency. Certainly a House organ called National Association for Intergroup Relations Organizations. It was, it became a regular newsletter, good-sized newsletter, again, bringing to fore, to the fore, all the things that were happening across the country that were intergroup relations kind of issues.

And one of the things, I remember working in the library was, here was a whole pile of news and articles coming in about Seattle's housing projects. And Benjamin MacAdoo was a black, young black architect, and he had designed these. And we kept getting picture after picture of Seattle's housings. And we were amazed that they didn't have the big skyscrapers or the slums that we saw in other cities. But that, that was impressive, I remember.

<End Segment 53> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 54>

AI: Excuse me, you were saying how you, part of your work was keeping track of all this, the publications, the articles and so forth, being written on race relations, and what was then called intergroup relations. What was the tone of, and the content of some of these articles and publications?

EH: Oh, well, all I could do was keep clipping and categorizing. But they were just exciting, well, to us exciting. Let's see... they were issues like, lot of the big colleges had quotas and race restrictions. I remember that the big five women's colleges, I don't, well, Evelyn Apperson went to Smith, but I don't know that black students could very well get into the big five women's colleges. I remember Jewish students having problems, they couldn't file for applications like everybody else, they had to appear in person, and, and then got scrutinized. That kind of issue. I think schools like Fisk also got notoriety. There was all, there were all kinds of breakthroughs coming on, you know. Black soldiers were, were very aggravated, because they couldn't get in. In fact, in Ralph's situation, the reason we had to leave (Chicago) was he was a senior at Northwestern, he was going to the downtown campus, and Northwestern had the rule that one of the four years, you had to be a resident student, meaning you had to be on the Evanston main campus one of those four years. So in compliance, Ralph went to sign up for the senior year, and they discovered that he was black and said, "The quota for Negro students is filled." And, but that was very common. Big colleges had quotas for black students. And, and yet, he had the senior status, so why couldn't he stay? The professors, on the, on the downtown (...) Chicago campus, very close to Michigan, on the north end of the loop, that was of no concern. They didn't notice or care what color he was.

And but anyway, that was the status, and his boss, Joe Lowman, and one of the professors was, I think the vice presidency candidate under Henry Wallace. Wallace was running as a third-party candidate. And this guy's name was Taylor, I think. He was a journalism professor, and happened to be one of Ralph's professors. And there were a lot of people who wanted Ralph to challenge it legally, but you know, returning vets in those days didn't have patience for postponing education. Ralph, I forgot, Ralph must have been in late twenties, he's born in '22, and that was '40, so maybe it was mid-twenties, past mid-twenties. And he didn't, he wanted to go where he could get his degree. And it, the only colleges that were offering journalism degrees was, were, Columbia was a graduate school, UCLA and USC were filled, he wasn't going south to Missouri, and UW was the only school that was open, and they accepted him. But when he got here, the professor, the head of the department, had never heard of some of these classes that were on his Northwestern transcript, and he didn't, he didn't want to accept it. And Ralph wouldn't give up. He knew, Ralph knew that Northwestern was one of the top journalism schools, so finally the department head said, "All right, go get signatures of all the professors, and let's see how many of them approve of this transcript." And they couldn't believe that anybody was (going to) question a Northwestern transcript, so he got in. But midway through the year, he came home one day and said, "If I get another "redbaiting" assignment I, I quit, I'm (going to) take a leave of absence." And I said, "You know, you've been complaining about that all year. Tomorrow's not (going to) be any different." But by golly, he came home and had a, had taken a leave. And fortunately, he landed a job -- I think he landed a job at, I don't know... at some point he landed a job at Boeing, but maybe that was, maybe he got a post office job. I don't know.

But anyway, oh, I guess it was Boeing. He got, he landed the job and he was at Boeing for two or three months and he came home and said, "No, I'm not (going to) be doing that the rest of my life." And came back to the U and switched his major to political science. And that was, that was all right. I think he hated to give up writing, but he, he got his B.A. in political science, and then he went to get his master's degree, and because he served in India for three years, he wanted to do his master's degree on the new Indian government. He, he had... well, for real scholars or government-interested people, Nehru and Gandhi were exciting figures. Especially, I think, if you were in India. Nehru was a big hope for Indians, India. They'd been under British thumb for so long, that they were eager to get their independence. And Ralph wanted to watch that and write about it. Nobody was interested in India on the UW campus. And he wasn't, he wasn't (going to) give up, and he kept going around and around, and finally somebody in the British department, I guess, in political science, said, "Okay, I'll pick him up." A female advisor.

So he wrote his thesis on, on the Indian government, but when he, when he was about to graduate, or maybe it was his orals, they made him take five areas of concentration, where normally it's three for master's degree. So he took a string of 300, 400 classes that... when, when the, when the oral kind of interview was going on, the department head came in, and sat in on it, and looked at the transcript and said, "Who told you to take all this?" And he said, "They did." So, you know, they probably got raked over the coals, but twenty, twenty years after he started teaching, they called him back, and they called him and wanted him to come in for an appointment and they, they wanted, they said, "You've taken enough, you don't have to take any more classes, just write your thesis, and you could get your Ph.D." See, they knew that they had overloaded him. Because, and, in that period also, blacks were, in graduate school, were facing that all over the place, and they were leaving. And they would say to Ralph, "What the hell are you staying around here for? I'm not (going to) take this." And Ralph's philosophy was, "Let 'em dish it out, I'll dish 'em back, I'll dish it back." And you know, plus the fact that we had, we had at least two kids, by the time he got his teaching certificate, we had three kids. But he didn't want to be moving all the time. And as long as teaching was available, I guess he took it. But that was interesting. He, when they talked about the Ph.D., Ralph said, "Are you (going to) offer me a job?" And, "What's, what's the first year salary like?" They said, "$11,000," and Ralph said, "I can't take that. I've got two kids in college. I've got two more coming." And he was getting, it wasn't a great deal, but I think he was getting $24-, $25,000 from the school system by then. And that just, that seems ridiculous now to look back and get $24,000 with a master's degree. But anyway, he stuck (to) it, he stuck (to) it. And I think he, I think that was probably a good field -- I'm sure glad we didn't have to move, and I would be, I would, it would be deadly to have to raise kids in Chicago, I think. Climate-wise, even. You know, you can't beat this place to be -- and I, I think I must say, Seattle is a fairly well-integrated, fairly open-minded. UW is not the most liberal place in many respects, but as far as the community goes, it's probably easier than most places.

<End Segment 54> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 55>

AI: So just before our break, you had started telling us about Ralph Hayes, and how you, you met while you were both working in the Rosenwald House in different, in different organizations. But I wanted to hear a little bit more about how you started seeing Ralph socially.

EH: Well, at the, at the Rosenwald house, one of the things that happened was every morning at ten o'clock, these housekeepers would bring in our coffee, and we would move out of our own offices into a more spacious, semi, must have been a den of a kind. And we always had coffee brought in, something to munch on. And, and there again, we had interesting visitors, just casually. These, this wasn't more than a fifteen-, twenty-minute break. And one, one day Ralph said, "I want to see such-and such," some movie, and he went around the room, and everybody had some excuse for why they couldn't go, so I finally said, "Well, okay, I'll go." And started seeing a lot of him.

Even spending Saturday nights and... and pretty soon I took him home for dinner a couple of times, and, and the other thing I was doing, we, my mother and I joined -- well, the whole family joined Lakeview Presbyterian church, which, which was on the north side of Chicago, fairly close to Cubs field. And I began teaching Sunday School there, and then I think maybe I dropped that and I had a youth group, late Sunday afternoon. And in the summertime we would do things in parks, even little discussions, and in those times Ralph would join us. And, and sometimes they were playing volleyball or things like that, and he got along well with the kids, and the kids kind of got a kick out of him. He was older than they were accustomed to having, but the minister found out about it, about Ralph, and I think he came... he came to see us at the park one day, and didn't say much, but then pretty soon at church, he, he wasn't willing to -- he was, his words were, "I don't approve of your seeing that young man," or something like that. And I wasn't (going to) let that bother me, but I knew better than... Ralph wasn't, Ralph knew better than come to church. The kids certainly didn't mind, and I, Ralph didn't stop coming, and I didn't stop seeing him, so finally he got to my mother, and said, "I want to come and talk to you about that young man your daughter's seeing." So he came, and my mother said, "He's very nice. You should, you should talk to him, you should get to know him." And, you know, so that didn't stop and he finally stopped harassing me. But I think in the wintertime, maybe we didn't do that much. I know I took the kids to see some specific movie that we were (going to) talk about. But that kind of ended that issue.

<End Segment 55> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 56>

AI: Excuse me, was the minister Japanese American, or was...?

EH: No, no. He was a Missourian, white, plain white Missourian. I had gone to, as a Sunday School teacher, they wanted us to take classes at McCormick Seminary, which was not that far away, but I guess I have to admit I don't think I met any other minority people in that period in that kind of setting. When I went to work, it was something very different. I was surrounded by a mix of people. And so you find that if you do that kind of activity, you're really in almost two different worlds, you have to adjust yourself to. But Ralph would come over for dinner once in a while, and I know once he said, "Can I go turn those lights off?" And he just got up and started turning lights off in the bedroom and the kitchen, and my sixteen-year-old sister -- the one that had an amputated leg -- said, "You cut that out." And Ralph just stopped and looked at her, and she said, "You're just trying to impress my mother." And that was that, and then that kind of stuck with my mother, despite Anna saying that, 'cause thrifty people always, my mother attracted, was very (attracted to) or she approved. But she didn't really have any problems with Ralph.

And she took it upon herself one day -- I didn't know this until years later -- she had gone to see his folks. And I don't, they were way out in the housing projects somewhere. The other thing she did was she had a black friend in a ladies garment worker factory somewhere, Mrs. Jackson, and she had gone to Mrs. Jackson's home a number of times and had supper with her and that kind of -- I don't know where my sisters were. I mean, they didn't, they were in high school and they didn't need that kind of care. But she did say, "Mrs. Jackson is worried about your seeing Ralph." And I said, "Did you tell her what kind of person he was?" That he was going to Northwestern and, and all that. And she said, "(Yes)." And I said, "What did she say?" And she said, "She said, she said you don't know the black world." Or some such thing, she said to my mother. And so my mother just let it go at that. And at some point, I can't, I think one of my sisters went with her, but I was astounded that she found that housing project and went clear out there. But my mother's like that. She has to, she's not just nosy, she has to really see for herself, and approve or disapprove. But she didn't, she never had that kind of problem.

Years later, when we would come every summer to visit, because both the grandparents were here, we were going to Charles's house when he was, I guess he was, he was still a meatpackers, vice president kind of position. And Charles had visited us for dinner, so my mother says, "I'm going with you." And I said, "Mom, Charles didn't say you could come." She, "Oh, he won't care. I'll come." And then on the way driving there, she says, "Turn here." And I said, "Mom, we're going to Charles's house, and we're (going to) be late. What, what are you going to do?" And she said, "I want So-and-so to come with, with us." And this was a Mrs. Saito, who she knew in camp. And her son was a Methodist minister, I think, by then. Anyway, we had to stop and pick Mrs. Saito up. [Laughs] And I said, "You realize that you, you're two lady, ladies that weren't invited to dinner and you're, you're (going to) force us to take you." And she says to Mrs. Saito, "Ii ne." "That's all right," is almost what she's saying. And Charles, of course, greeted her. 'Cause it's a novelty for her, for blacks, also, to have somebody else of another color. And I think he enjoyed my mother. I, he must have met my mother once or twice before. But that's the way my mother was. More times when I'm traveling with her, she, she suddenly wants us to go here and go there and I said, "Did you call them?" "No, that's all right, we can go."

AI: Well, I'm interested that, what your mother said about Mrs. Jackson's words, her friend's words, that, that you, Elaine, didn't "know the black world." And I was wondering, what did you think? What, did you have some insight into the black world at that time?

EH: Well, you know, I'd been working with probably a dozen people at the Julius Rosenwald fund, and we, I went to a couple of parties. Once in a while Ralph would want to go hear somebody, Mahalia Jackson or somebody like that, and I'm not really into that kind of jazz and concert world, but I would go and, you know, it's crowded and noisy but not anything that you can't tolerate. And where, when we were in parties, we'd make sure that we got out of there in a decent time, and we, we didn't have a car, so we always had to take the elevated. But Mrs. Jackson was a teacher at one time, so was my mother. So they found that common ground, and I think my mother probably would approve or take to anybody who was a teacher, because she just stereotypes that they're a certain value and personality. And they both agree that teachers don't get paid enough, no matter where they're teaching. You know, that kind of issue.

AI: Well, would you say that, would you think that your mother was somewhat unusual for an Issei who, to develop a friendship with a black person, and then also to be so accepting of, of Ralph as a, a black dating you at that time?

EH: (Yes), I mean, she, she is unusual to that extent. She likes to venture out, she likes to see the broader world. She was that way in Sacramento, too. In grammar school PTA, she was, she would get involved with kids that were stealing or were hungry, and we had a friend who had a particular kid always going through her garbage cans or stealing things, and my mother would... Mrs. Kitano? Kitsuno? I forgot, would tell my mother, my mother promptly took the story to the principal's office and said, "This boy is hungry." And I don't know what the principal could do about it, but, you know, in the Depression years, there were a lot of kids in that state. But (yes), she... sometimes she was a problem because she would say, "I'm (going to) go, too. I'm going with you." And I, I wouldn't let her go if we were going to some special social occasion. But within the family -- and I knew that Ralph's family would always accept her.

In fact, years later, and I think maybe it was in the '50s, late '50s, she came to visit us before I, we had Mark. And she came by train, and we knew she was coming, we picked her up, and I think, I think it was Ralph's mother that told me, "You know," she said, "you know how I got here?" I said, "Well, by train. We picked you up." And she says, she said, "Well, I couldn't afford the train ticket. Your mother paid for it." And she said, "Your mom came over one day, and said, 'You go see the kids.'" And she plopped the fifty dollar bill in her hands. That's what, I suppose that's what a round-trip fare was at that time. And for Ralph's mother, that was a big trip. She had never been on the West Coast. And, and said when the train was climbing through the mountains, she said she never would have gotten on that train if she knew she was (going to) be that close to, to the edge of cliffs. She said it was scary, but she enjoyed it. We, we found an old trunk for her to take a lot of neighbors apples and fruit that way, and she really treasured those, that fruit, because I, she probably couldn't afford to buy a lot of it, she was always, she always had grandkids around. You know, I forgot, I think on that trip, I think she told us she had fifty-five grandchildren. [Laughs] Something like that and I, I wasn't (going to) try to figure out or count. But taking those Golden Delicious was a big, big thing for her.

<End Segment 56> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 57>

AI: Well, you know, I did want to stay a little bit with this, this topic of the intergroup relations and the people's prejudices at this time. Because we're still talking about the late '40s when you and Ralph were, were dating. And that your mother clearly was somewhat unusual in that she was not so prejudiced against people who were not Japanese American, or people, in fact, she had a friendship with a black woman. But what, what about perceptions or treatment that you and Ralph might have received from other Japanese Americans at that time? As, it was rather unusual to have an interracial couple.

EH: Oh, (yes). Let's see, in Chicago I didn't think, I didn't think I ran into that trouble. I do, I remember meeting a friend in the University of Chicago area and introducing him. And probably surprised, but he, he wouldn't have been in opposition. He was in, he was at some college, I think teaching by then. And then, I don't know that -- let's see. I, I really can't, I don't think I had any negative experiences, but also, we didn't mix with a lot of Niseis at that time. I might, I went to a couple of JACL functions, in fact, Mary Sadasawa and I worked together, and I think she was president of JACL at that time. And it was a little bit disturbing to me, I was in a carpool after the meeting, going home, and we had, the speaker was the head of porter's union, the black porters' train employees. And he's a well-known fellow, but he was, he was the speaker and he said, he was saying that his grandmother had to deliberately chop her hands off to keep the master from selling her. And, and his point was, "That's, that's the degree to which we want to maintain our families also, but we were never... we were never in control of what happens." 'Cause they could sell -- you know, in that era, this must have been pre-Civil War, and this guy was old when I heard him, and I think he probably died twenty years after that. (Yes), I wish I remembered his name. But anyway, the conversation in the car was, "God, what does he expect us to do with that information?" You know, there wasn't any emoting or analysis or real feeling or concern. And I think part of my education was that I was working for, for American Council, so I knew what the tone of the era was. And I, I kind of remember being surprised that Mary didn't have anything to say. But Mary was kind of in -- and I'm not sure that, Mary was certainly active in her, in Nisei circles, but Antioch College is a, is an unusually liberal college. And so she didn't, she certainly got along all right in the work environment, she was always berating Roosevelt and the California governor that went to the Supreme Court and apparently voted against Hirabayashi and Korematsu.

AI: Earl Warren.

EH: (Yes), uh-huh. Terrible. I have to write these names down if I'm (going to) do this. But anyway, my feeling was Roosevelt signed it, but I bet he was under pressure and had no choice but to sign it at that time. The, DeWitt had a lot of power, and he might have very well lost the next election had he not been willing to sign -- though I, the Roosevelts have always regretted that. And I've heard that -- there's a Roosevelt here that lives at, in Redmond, one of the sons, and I've heard that comment. And I, I'm sure everybody that had to do with evacuation was embarrassed about it. But that governor who was California's governor, and I think he was maybe UC Berkeley regent. Anyway, there are issues like that.

But generally speaking, here, there were a couple. I think my daughter had problems with the kids that she grew up, when we came back from Berkeley. You know, you're also at a different age level. She was, elementary school, she spent her eighth grade in Berkeley and came back here at ninth grade and found that a lot of her Asian friends weren't talking to her. And she, she called that to my attention, but that kind of didn't slow her up. She was a very counterculture person, anyway, loud and vocal. And you know, she went on to, to be she was (president) of her Roosevelt junior class and went to Girls State, and went to Pitzer. But at one point, there was a Hilda Bryant who was a P-I reporter, and she called me at work. And, and said, "Elaine, you have some of the oldest kids of, racially mixed kids." And I said, "(Yes)." And she says, "Can I interview them?" And I said, "You have to ask them." And Candy kind of exploded in that interview. She, I, she came early, not telling us she was coming early, but she came early enough so that she could catch everybody at the dinner table and then would ask them if they'd be willing let her interview them, and that was kind of fun. Things, it's interesting, when I look at that, then times have changed. But the Kuroses got Ralph to be Cub Scoutmaster at the First Baptist Church, and he hated that. I mean, he doesn't like uniforms, he doesn't like anything that has to do with (the) military. And it was a tough job to get him to -- I don't know that he, I don't, I don't know that I ever saw him in a uniform, but the, but the Cub Scout duties he had to follow through. And my oldest one is the only one -- my, my middle guy just wasn't... I could never get him to do anything that he's supposed to do in that kind of setting.

But (yes), I think at... in elementary school, at Madrona, I think it was all right. There, there were a couple of awkward moments, when, for instance, there was a Nisei mother that you all probably know... when Candy came over, she always made sure that there was mustard greens. [Laughs] And Candy came home, even at third grade, saying, "Why does she always do that?" And, and she would, she would serve Candy differently than the rest of the family. And I said, "Well, do you want me to tell her that you like Japanese food just like anybody else?" "No."

<End Segment 57> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 58>

AI: Well, you know, I had asked you, in, when you and Ralph were dating, how you were perceived or accepted by the Japanese American community. But I'm also interested to know how you as an interracial couple were perceived or treated by the black community at that time, in those early years.

EH: Well, the black community always has been openly cordial. And I, I think that comes from black communities wanting experience besides themselves. I mean, it's a new experience and they want that experience. My working to open daycare centers corrected that. And there's always going to be some problem people, but you can't let that stop you. I, I had a couple of Nisei teachers hired, and it just proved to me that it depends on your setting. They may not ever have had to work with blacks, or they may never have worked with blacks prior or since then. But they certainly got along all right in the centers while they were working as Head Start people. And I think that's probably true of, of anybody that takes -- I mean, they have to get along, though I will say that in Sacramento, one of my favorite people who worked with me as the Family Life instructor in the preschool co-op field in the early '60s, had to leave Seattle, and her husband eventually landed a job at Sacramento State, so they were living in Sacramento. And she became head of early childhood in, for the state office, and the state capital happens to be in Sacramento. And when, when I was -- I think I was at a church, eighty-fifth anniversary or something, dinner, and catching up with all my friends, and I said to this person -- she, she told me she was working in the, for the state in the early childhood education department. And (I) said, "Oh, your boss is So-and-so, she's a friend of mine." And she says, "(Yes), but you know, she's a kuro-chan." And that just rankled me, because I knew this person dearly, and she, I, even in Seattle, everybody misses, missed her when she moved to Sacramento. And she was just the greatest person, and here she was the head of a state department, and my friend wasn't accepting her. I mean, she was, she was her boss, the highest person in that state level, and there was another friend who was a Head Start nurse --

AI: Excuse me. I wanted to just clarify for people who don't understand that term, what, what it means, and the tone of it.

EH: Well, I wish there was a conventional -- [laughs] -- way of explaining. I think it's, certainly a belittling name, it's, I think worse than when somebody calls a black person "Sam," which they used to do, decades ago. I don't know that there's anything in English comparable to that. "Pickaninny?" I don't know. "Boy," probably very close to "boy." But if people can't respect and recognize the ability and dignity of, of a fine leader, and just the right person in a state office, I don't know. I mean, I think those are the terms that I, times that I think we need a dialogue and we need some education, no matter what the group is. I'm sure, hopefully it's changing. This was probably '75 or '80... hopefully time has passed enough that, and awareness that that name just does not, is not appropriate. I had a Head Start nurse who worked for the same department and knew this great person, and she was, she was a JACL president at one time, in Sacramento. And when I told her, I didn't tell her the name or who it was, but I said, "Boy, that kind of term is still being used, just bothers the hell out of me." And she agreed. And her attitude was, "Well, what can you do about it?" And feeling like you have to give up, and I said, "I don't think, I don't think we should or... give up. We need to battle that kind of thing."

But I guess I have to say, Sacramento is sometimes a little provincial. And I think that's because they don't have -- their jobs are secure. Once they get into the state office, and so politically they don't get involved, and I don't know community-wise how well they do. I think the churches, maybe, hopefully the churches are getting a little bit more integrated, and if that happens, I think that's helpful. At Blaine Methodist, there was a black guy in the neighborhood who joined Blaine, and who happened to be a former public health staffperson. And so I was glad to see that, and, and he's filling a valuable place, he was a sanitarian, so he, every time there's a fundraising, sukiyaki dinner, bazaar or whatever, he makes sure that everything is spic-and-span, where it should be. But (yes), this whole issue is... I think with older Niseis, it may be, hopefully now with Sanseis, that it, it isn't... but the, the psychology must, might still be, I think men have a problem with that, the Nisei men.

I think the other issue that never gets brought up is that, that the segregated, in the segregated army, the 442nd -- and I don't know what the black group was called -- they, they fought side-by-side, and you never hear that. I only heard that for the first time when... well, I read it in a book. (Narr. note: Lasting Valor by Vernon Baker.) One of the black Medal, was it Medal of Honor guy by the name of (Baker), Vernon (Baker), I think, writes about -- he was here at a book signing thing and I didn't know it. I, we were coming to hear, to hear the next speaker, and I just saw him still signing books and a long line waiting. So I just went up to see what his book was about, and I thought, "Wow, this looks great; I have to get one." So when I, I went to buy the book from him, he asked me if I was a Nisei, and I said, "(Yes)," and he said, "I want you to read page so-and-so." And I did, and he talks about his experience of going to Washington, D.C., when Muneo... what was that first Medal of Honor Nisei fellow -- gets honored in D.C. And this is decades ago, shortly after World War II. He, he goes up to say to his mother, "If Muneo hadn't been there and jumped on that grenade, I would not be here to thank you." And that's when you recognize that they were fighting side-by-side.

At, lately, Senator Inouye says in... I forgot what program that was. But he said that, that he was describing the numbers of times he was injured, and in those days, you had blood transfusions right there in the field. And, and said, "If I, those black guys hadn't been willing to line up, I may not be here." I, I don't understand that, because I thought you had to have a certain kind of blood, your blood types had to match. But he said on this television program, "So I have blood, black blood in me." And I thought, "Wow, that kind of information, for some reason, never comes out." You don't hear that, certainly from the, the old Nisei veterans. Never did I hear that. When, when we had the... there was a commemoration for, maybe it was the signing... no, it was about two or three years ago. Senator Inouye was there and I, I said, "Thank you for making that comment on that program." And by golly he, in his little speech that he was, he prepared, he included the fact that the, that, "We need, we were fighting side-by-side together." And because the commemoration had to do with evacuation, there were a lot of Niseis there. But I thought how significant that these guys never, to that, to my knowledge, never admit to that.

That, that commemoration bugged me, because the chancellor was a guy by the name of Peter Ku. He's just retired, but the place was packed. It was a hot summer day, and a lot of those people that were there would be very familiar with Charlie Mitchell, who was president of Central Community College. Central had just gotten the award from Time magazine or somewhere, the number one college of the country, because apparently they had done a lot of innovative things. And I just felt that Charlie Mitchell was a Garfield graduate kind of growing up out of the ghettos as much as we know, and I think Ralph was still at Garfield. I remember watching Charlie Mitchell, and we never missed a Garfield game, and he, he was able to go straight through the UW and, I think, I thought he got picked up by a pro team. Maybe not, but anyway, he went on to get his Ph.D., and you know, and I thought, here's this massive Nisei audience, with a college that got the, the number one rating for the country, and coming from a neighbor school like Garfield. You know, Central Community used to be Broadway Edison. And a lot of the guys that were there would at least remember if they didn't attend there. But it was too bad that Peter Ku didn't allow Charlie Mitchell to give a greeting and a welcome. And, and be able to say, "Here's a neighbor who grew up right in our midst." And I, I thought to myself, "You know, a lot of these Niseis don't appreciate anything much except football." I mean, if it was about football, and Garfield, it would register. And, and I thought that, I thought that was tragic, because I think maybe if he was not a foreign-reared person, that that might have registered. And, and again, that's a situation of, I think you have to grab every moment you can to bridge gaps. And, and change the (course) of the thinking process. But you know, if you're a leader, that's maybe what you're supposed to do as an educator. And I wondered if he knew what the, the conservative-ness of older Niseis were. Particularly when it comes to black issues. Because that's, that's a problem that I think it, it's (going to) persist as long as some of those old guys are around. And they pass it on to their children.

<End Segment 58> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.