Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Mae Kanazawa Hara Interview
Narrator: Mae Kanazawa Hara
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 15, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-hmae-01

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: Today is July 15, 2004. We're here in Seattle. I'm Alice Ito with Densho, on the camera is Dana Hoshide. We're here with Mae Hara, and you're visiting from Madison for a short while. We're very happy to have you. Thank you.

MH: I'm glad to be here.

AI: I wanted to ask you, when you were born, what was your name that you were originally given?

MH: My name is Mae Kanazawa Hara. I was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1913. My mother and father are from Japan. My father came to United States in 1908, and he was a fishery major and he came to study. My mother came three or four years later in 1912, and at that time (...) one of Mother's relative was the pastor of the Japanese Methodist church in Seattle. When they landed here they were housed at the parsonage of (church) and that was where I was born, I was told. And so in the meantime, my father got into the fish/oyster business and, as has had it for all these years until the war. It dealt with aspects of fisheries and turned it into a business enterprise, and, and it was someplace around here that he had his store for a long, long time.

The thing that was interesting in his life is that -- I want to tell about, because he was one of the first persons to import oyster seeds, and at that time they were exploring, and they brought some of the fishery scientists over to study the area around here, and they felt it was an ideal place to have oyster beds. And so they experimented and they found that the oyster seeds that were propagated in Japan took about ten years to mature just like the eastern oysters in, on the East Coast. But by transporting that seed into the Northwest water, which was a little bit cooler, it accelerated the growth 'til the oyster matured in half the time, in five years, that they were of the size that could be used commercially. So that inspired a lot of people. Lands were surveyed around and that's the starting of the oyster business on the Pacific Northwest. And my father was instrumental in importing all these shiploads of oyster seeds to be transplanted. So that's the history of that, practically organizing a new industry, and there are today several of them left. And I think he had something to do with the Willapa Bay Oyster Company and the Padellic Oyster Company, and they are, I think some of them are still in existence. So I think that's an interesting... now my mother was a very --

AI: Oh, excuse me. Before going on to your mother, let me ask you about, what was your father's name?

MH: Kinmatsu Kanazawa, K-I-N-M-A-T-S-U. And he comes from Obama, Nagasaki, which is a country way up in the mountains outside of Nagasaki.

AI: And do you happen to know what his family did in Japan? What their family work was?

MH: I really -- I think they were farmers, because many, many years later, I had the privilege of going up and visiting them. And they're... I think they were farmers up in the hills. I can't tell you too much about it, but I did meet some of his relatives. Now, his mother was pregnant with him and her husband passed away, so she went back to her home and gave birth and gave the name of the Kanazawa. Now, she remarried and had several other children and they are the Yoshiokas, (our) cousins. And it just so happens that he married my mother's sister and they came to the States, so we've had close relation. The other relatives stayed in Japan, so that's a background that, that I have of, of him.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

AI: And what was your mother's name?

MH: My mother's name was Chiyoko, C-H-I-Y-O-K-O, Nishioka, N-I-S-H-I-O-K-A. And she comes from Isahaya, Japan, which is another area on the lowlands. Not on the hills, but on the lowlands. And today it's almost like a suburb of Nagasaki. And her family not only farmed, but they raised silkworms and things of that kind. But she was very talented, very creative person, (...) and she sewed beautifully. So her mother would not let her in the kitchen, but she had her in the other room doing all the sewing, because Japan, sewing back in those days were all (done) by hand, and she did beautiful work. And you take a Japanese kimono, a winter kimono, if you want to get it clean, you take it all apart and you wash it and then paste it on a board to dry and then put it all back together, so that meant a lot of (sewing). And my mother had three other sisters, so there were a lot of clothes to do. So that was her job. Not only that, she mastered the Japanese art of flower arranging, and she was brought up with the Ikenobo School. She did beautiful -- she brought all those talents with her, and so we've had a lot of beautiful flower arrangements to grow up in, you know. And so we've always appreciated... very, very creative in that respect. And she had... we had a family of eight children and she certainly had us well-organized. [Laughs]

AI: Now, tell me about your older brothers.

MH: I was the second one from the top, and then there were two brothers after that and two sisters after that and two brothers. My oldest sister never lived with the family, because she was left behind in Japan and brought up by the grandparents, but, so I was almost considered the oldest one of the seven. And so we had quite a family, but my mother had us well-organized. She had tasks for everyone to do, and on weekends we couldn't go to play or participate in a ballgame unless our chores were done, and she saw to it. But we were surrounded with very loving family and very supportive family. And my father and mother both encouraged us to, and so we've all... I think all of us have had college educations for which we are very, very grateful.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

AI: Well, I'd like to ask you about your early childhood.

MH: My early childhood centered around my home and the church, the Japanese Methodist Church, of which this cousin was the pastor for a while. And at that time there was quite a good number, good number of congregation and, of course, their offspring. There are many, many pictures of this, the church as a whole showing a lot of (...) children, and they had wonderful, wonderful Christian education programs for us, which was a great help. Not only that, as we grew up as teenagers we had the conflict of two cultures, the Japanese culture that our parents tried to sustain in us as well as faced with the American culture when we went to school. The thing that helped us bridge these two were some of our wonderful Sunday school teachers that were supplied by the First United Methodist Church downtown, our mother church. And some of their young people came and helped us. Taught Sunday school and nurtured us in our youth program, like I remember Ms. Ackley, who was a West High schoolteacher, but she gave up her Sunday, came to our church and had a class of young girls, and I was among them, which was a great help in understanding and bridging the two (cultures). And our boys of our age, had the two Bach brothers who came also. And these were things that nurtured, colored our thinking and our projection into the future. And we greatly -- as I look back now, (...) appreciate, and it probably has a great deal to do with how things have turned out for us.

AI: Well, in fact, speaking of the two cultures and the understanding, I was wondering, did you first speak Japanese in the home?

MH: We spoke Japanese in the home, although my father understood English, not fluently, but enough to get along, because of his business contact. But my mother did not attempt to learn English. But her ears were well-attuned that she understood most of the things that we were saying, and then we picked up phrases in Japanese. And then we were all required to go to the Japanese school after our public school, which was just up the street so it wasn't too bad. So that's how we kind of learned our Japanese, and then, you know... [laughs]

AI: Well, tell me a little bit about your early grammar school experiences.

MH: Grammar school, I was... I was trying to think. I don't have too much recollection. We attended grammar school in Bailey Gatzert school, and that was something else. Before that it was down on Main Street, but at that time we went to the Washington school. But when Bailey Gatzert school was built, we all went there. The one thing I remember was that when the school bell rang, (...) the children, the pupils of each room lined up at certain places outside the door and there was someone always playing some kind of a march music on the piano and as we marched in to the piano, and I was one of those that played the piano and played some marches. That's one of things that I remember. [Laughs]

AI: Well, how did you learn piano?

MH: Well, my mother insisted I took piano lessons from a very young, and I struggled with it although I did, music became my major.

AI: Now, after Bailey Gatzert school, where did you attend?

MH: From Bailey Gatzert school we went to Garfield High School, which was quite new. And it was quite a walk up to the... but it, we have very pleasant experiences there. There was not as many Japanese, I mean, Nisei students, but there was enough. I remember one year the school had a student participation program called Funfest, and one year the Japanese students' group got together and I think gave a play. And I'm trying to recall the name of the play, but I can't seem to (remember). And it was a wonderful experience, and we performed for the Funfest for the general public. I remember I was being a baroness or something, and Molly Fukutani was one of the ladies and she sang. And Yone Ota was the charming prince or something. And it was an interesting story that was portrayed all in Japanese costumes. So that's one of the functions. And then I took part in all the music functions, and Parker E. Cook had the choral group and Milford Kingsbury had the orchestra, and so it was a nice high school experience for me.

AI: Well, I'm wondering, when you were in high school, did you experience any kinds of prejudice or racial discrimination?

MH: I failed to have any feeling of discrimination. I just could not remember, because we participated in all these school, they, they just accepted us and we never thought -- so I personally have felt very, very... in fact, I can't think of any discriminatory experiences in my life at all through school, either. And so I have a hard time understanding that.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

AI: I also wanted to ask you, during your high school years, that's a time when many young people are making their plans for the future.

MH: Uh-huh.

AI: What were you thinking of doing in the future?

MH: Well, I (...) thought I'll just major in music and then go to a university, and I never gave it a thought. But as it turned out, I attended University of Washington just one year. Then I had an unusual opportunity to go to Chicago, and that turned out to be just a weekend I was invited. My cousin from Japan came to, at the invitation of attending the Rodeheavers Sacred Music School that had a two-week session at Winona Lake, Indiana, which was headed by Mr. Homer Rodeheaver, who was a song leader for Billy Sunday. And he had this two weeks of sacred music conference, at which many prominent sacred music teachers were invited to be teachers, like Dr. and Mrs. Clarence Dickinson from Union Seminary in New York. We had Rollin Pease from Northwestern University, a wonderful singer. And then Clyde Wolford, a beautiful tenor singer from Texas. George L. Tenney, who has one of the outstanding choral group in Chicago, was also on the staff. People like that. And then for a nineteen-year-old girl, who had little experience, thrown into this situation, was very, very mind-boggling, and it became a turning point in my life. I would have never have had an experience of that kind if I had been in Seattle alone. After the two weeks, we were invited to the home of Dr. J. N. Rodeheaver, who was the older brother of Homer Rodeheaver, (...) to be in their home in Chicago, Illinois. Both of them taught at the Northern Baptist Seminary.

We lived on the campus in one of the faculty apartment, and so while I was there I continued my college subjects at the seminary. And because of my interest in music, they sent me down to the American Conservatory downtown to study music. And my specialty was preschool music with Miss Louise Robyn of the American (Conservatory) who was one of the outstanding teachers of preschool music of that period. Now, we have to remember this is way back in 1932. [Laughs] (...) Instead of taking us to a Methodist church where they attended, they let us go to New First Congregational Church, whose choir director was this Dr. Tenney, who taught at the Rodeheaver (School of Sacred Music). He had five choirs, and I had the wonderful experience of singing in his senior choir, listening to the children being trained, ladies chorus, male (chorus), exposed to all that for the three years that I was in Chicago. Wonderful experience, and the organist at that time was (Dr. William) Lester, a very outstanding (organist). What a wonderful organ that they had. And I was exposed to all these wonderful, wonderful church music that was written for the organ and then to be singing every Sunday. At one time, this church was in the heart of the "gold (coast)." The wealthy people lived all (...) around it, and the church was (...) richly endowed. But by the time I got there to participate, the people around the church all moved out to the (suburb) and so the area was deteriorating and was housed with people who were much poorer. But the children all came to the choir. During the week they all looked kind of scrubby, but every Sunday morning they all arrive all spruced up in their Sunday best, and they all sang like angels. So it was a joy to listen to them being trained every week. And both Dr. Tenney and Dr. Lester took them (in), loved them, treated them and trained them. (...) The church had a camp in Michigan, and so if the children behaved well and didn't... and certain criteria, they were given one week's vacation at this camp during the summer, something that these young children looked forward to. And I attended the camp also and they had a (wonderful time). They kept singing in the open air. At the end of the week they gave a concert and yet they had all this wonderful activities of swimming, playing on the beaches, (had) nature hikes and whatnot. So these children were exposed to this wonderful rich experience. (...)

AI: That sounds wonderful.

MH: Wasn't it?

AI: Let me, let me make sure I have the dates correct. You, you went to Chicago in 1932, is that right?

MH: '2, yes. '32, and I was there 'til '35.

AI: And before that, you attended University of Washington?

MH: Yeah, one year.

AI: From 1930 to 1931?

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

<Begin Segment 5>

MH: And then, 1933 was another eventful (...) time, because that was when the Century of Progress was on in Chicago, and my cousin and I got a job for the summer at the Japanese pavilion. That was the exhibit put on by the Japanese government. It was a lovely tea house. (...) That's where they introduced this green tea drink. And they put (a couple teaspoons of) powdered green tea that you use for the tea ceremony, (...) just a little bit of sugar with lemon, and they shook it up with water and they served it with a maraschino cherry. And that became a very, very popular drink that (was) featured at this Japanese pavilion. (...) The pavilion had all kinds of exhibits of silk-making, art and craftwork (of all kinds). It was all on exhibit, and our job was to stand and explain and introduce them. So we spent the summer (...) of '33 working, which made it possible for me to stay on and study for another year or two. So that's how I got my education in Chicago, which was very unexpected.

AI: Well, let me ask you, it must have been quite unusual at that time for you as a Japanese American, Nisei woman, there must have been very few of you in Chicago at that time.

MH: Well, there were some. (...) I have some pictures of it. On the opening night (of the World's Fair) we were all dressed in Japanese kimono and helped usher. And then another high point at the fair was the opening concert of 5,000 voices, with, I think, 200 members of the Chicago Symphony accompanied them. And (Dr.) George L. Tenney, our (...) choir director was directing Handel's Messiah and in (...) Soldier's Field, and that was an experience. And my cousin and I were the only two Japanese participating in this mass (choir) of 5,000 voices. And sky was the limit, and it was really something that I'll never forget. It's very vivid in my mind. There's a panoramic picture of this someplace that I have lost and I feel badly. And I, we could pick out my cousin and I because it just happened to be a tree in the distance that we happened to be standing right in front, and to be able to pick up in this, was quite interesting. But that was, it certainly enriched our life in Chicago, so I stayed on 'til 1935.

AI: I'm wondering if you're... it sounds to me that would also be quite unusual for Issei parents to allow their daughter to go so far away.

MH: Yes. See, we were sent for just this two weeks' conference, and then to turn out to be three years, and then for things to develop like that was just... it just seemed unbelievable. And my life in three years in Chicago and in the home of Dr. and Mrs. J. N. Rodeheaver was something that's been very, I'm sure has had a lot to do in influencing my thinking and my future life.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

AI: What... may I ask, what do you think were some of the main influences of that time that did affect your thinking?

MH: Well, I think it certainly broadened my horizon, my aspect, my life just branched out. I think if I had stayed in Seattle alone, and even in Seattle, well, we were more fortunate than other Japanese, we did have contact with our Caucasian friends through the church; and not only that, my father's business and his oyster contact with the Caucasian people brought us more in contact with (Caucasians) and I think that made a difference, too. And so I just felt we were not sheltered. And then to have this extra experience of going abroad, my mother and father letting me go with my cousin. My cousin stayed only one year and she went back. And so that hinges onto my next episode is that after I came back from Chicago, I went to Japan.

AI: Oh, when was that? What year was that?

MH: This, this was in, after I came, I was at home only about a couple months.

AI: In 1935?

MH: 1935, then I went to Japan. And because I felt... well, you see, my cousin was introduced to the Rodeheavers through her choir director, Mr. Ugo Nakada, who was trained by Mr. Homer Rodeheaver in his college days, back... this was several years before we appeared. And he was brought from Japan to study choral music, and he ended up studying with Dr. (Finley) Williamson of the Westminster Choir School. At that time, Dr. Williamson lived in Dayton, Ohio and (Mr. Ugo Nakada) lived with them and, and was taught choral (music). He went back to Japan and established these choral groups, of which my cousin was a part of. So that's the connection there. And because of that, she felt obligated after having this experience to go back and do some help in his work. (...) Her family had other ideas, and so she got married. So... which left me feeling maybe I should go back. So I did go back and I was able to help Mr. Nakada with his choral work, and I had another four years of wonderful outreach of extending my musical training by teaching at the Toyo Eiwa jogakko, which is the mission school by the Canadian mission board. (...) I taught in the music department, piano, for four years under Mrs. Henneger's leadership, and at the same time, I played the (...) good reed organ at the Ginza Methodist Church, which is the only Protestant church in downtown Tokyo. And I pumped the organ -- I say I "pumped" because it was not a pipe organ -- and had a nice experience of work. And as it turned out, Mr. Nakada became the choir leader there also, so I worked with the group. And it was a nice, faithful group of young people, dedicated, that came and it was inspiring. What they lacked musically, naturally, they made up with their enthusiasm and their faithfulness, which made the work very delightful. So I had that wonderful experience.

AI: Well --

MH: Then about the same time, there was quite a group of Niseis arriving in Tokyo (...). That was the beginning of the Depression and (...) college graduates were having difficult time finding suitable work in the States, so they were trying their wings in Japan (...). And there was a group of us. I went to the Union Church on Sunday afternoon after I got through helping at the Ginza church, because I was by that time hungry to be able to speak English with some other people. Well, the Union Church had their service at four o'clock in the afternoon, and that was mostly where the Caucasian people congregated for worship because it was all in English. (...) So it was a wonderful opportunity, and so I joined the church and sang in the choir there. And the choir leader was Mrs. Edwin Iglehart, who was the wife of one of the very outstanding Methodist missionary. And through that contact, the Niseis group began to gather there, because it was all in English. And so Mrs. Iglehart thought it would be nice if the Nisei group had a singing group, and so we organized a singing group. It was not a very large (group, but) we got together and sang (...). We participated in many of the social functions introducing (...) American folk song, Negro spirituals, and things of that kind (...). I think one summer we even went up to Karusawa and presented a program there. And so (in) that way we got (to) see the country as well as make (...) contacts (with other people). So that was a nice experience while in Japan.

AI: Let me ask you about your, your living situation while you were in --

MH: In Japan?

AI: -- in Japan.

MH: I lived with Mr. and Mrs. Nakada, who lived way out in the suburbs of Ogikubo, which is near the International College, way out west. But later on I moved into the city and lived in the teachers' dormitory on the campus of Toyo Eiwa. I was there until I left (...).

AI: And I'm sorry, what... what city was it?

MH: This is all in Tokyo.

AI: Was it Tokyo?

MH: This is all in Tokyo.

AI: Well, you were there for four years, is that right?

MH: Four years. 1935 to 1939.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

AI: Well, I... I hope you don't mind my asking.

MH: That's okay.

AI: I'm wondering if, if your sponsors or your parents or any other folks were trying to arrange a marriage for you while you were in those years?

MH: This was going on and I didn't know it. [Laughs] I came back because I wanted to do further study at the... and I've been in contact with Miss Louise Robyn in American (Conservatory in Chicago), so she invited me back to do some more graduate work. So that was my intention of coming back to the States. But my parents and others had other ideas -- [laughs] -- which I didn't know. And so instead of being able to go, I got married. (...) My husband-to-be (and I) grew up in the same church. His parents and my parents were real good friends (...). I have not regretted it because if I had gone back to Japan I could have been caught in the war that came on, which we did not know about. So I guess it was a blessing in disguise.

Now, after being married to my husband, I became active in the Japanese Methodist church (in Seattle), the church that I grew up in. By that time there were lots of nice young people, and they had a choir and the choir director resigned, so they asked me to take over (...). A wonderful group of about fifty-six were members, and we had some wonderful singers. A solid bass section and, oh, when I think of all those wonderful young people, they were so faithful, it was a joy to work with. And one of the outstanding things that we did, we participated in an all-city (...) hymn singing (contest). We had to perform at the Civic Auditorium in Seattle (...). We won the first place, and as a result of that we were asked to sing when E. Stanley Jones had his mass rally at the First United Methodist Church, and we were asked to (...) furnish the music. At another time, Toyohiko Kagawa, the outstanding theologian from Japan, was visiting Seattle, and they had a mass meeting for him at the First United, and the choir was again asked. So we had all kinds of interesting experiences of that kind. (...)

And that was the source when we went to camp in Minidoka, that... that is, the story of Minidoka is an interesting one. As I walked into camp that day with my suitcase, I met a friend who said, "Mae, you're wanted up at the headquarters." I said, "Gee, what have I done?" So I parked my suitcase in my barrack and went up to the headquarters to report. Well, what I ran into is something utterly amazing. [Laughs] A man by the name of George L. Townsend, who was Quaker background, was the third man from the (top), on the project. There was a project director, assistant project director, and this. And his title was Chairman of the Community Service. His job was to keep the morale of this community of 10,000 up. And he worked it through one of the Nisei fellows, and (who) helped him. He wanted someone in the specialty of sports, craft, entertainment, club work, and music. And he researched through his friends and contacts to see who would be the best to be the head of each of the departments, and I was asked to head up the music, which was utterly (amazing). And my job was to keep up, you know, through music (...). It was a wonderful experience. I've never worked (so hard) anywhere where I was given so much support and help in this desolate situation. And we could have stood there and be disgruntled and all that, but we didn't even have time. We were so busy. Well, we found out that we had a choir of about ninety-six voices that came together. And remember, camp was about 5 miles in length from one end to the other, so we chose a rehearsal area in... right in the middle, so these people... and there's no means of transportation, which means they had to walk. So you know it meant a lot to these young people to congregate and ninety, almost a hundred of them, different ones came, once a week. Or I think maybe we may have tried it twice, I can't remember. I think at least once a week. So that's how we got started. Well, for music we had no money, no budget. I did have one filing cabinet full of music that I used for my... so Mr. Townsend sent for that and picked up some of the pianos at the various churches and put them in the rec. halls. So that's how our music program began.

So I had young people busy. I broke all the copyright laws. I had them (cut) stencil the music (...) and ran them off on our old-fashioned handcraft, and that was our source of our, our music. Fortunately, I had about three dozen copies of Handel, choral edition of the Messiah, which helped greatly. So that was the source. And then, of course, in the meantime I made contact with the various music department of the area, and they helped us furnish. And then we had a music director for the school in the camp also. And by cooperating we shared music and whatnot. So we gave concerts from one end of the camp to the other for Christmas and whatnot. Not only that, the War Relocation Authority group used us as the public relations with the (...) surrounding community. And we gave a public concert at the Jerome High School. We gave one for the Jerome High School students at four o'clock in the afternoon, and then to the general public at night. And we had a wonderful reception there. Another concert we gave at the Twin Falls Methodist Church one night for the community, and the last concert was up at Rupert, Idaho, at the Church of the Latter-Day Saints. And these experiences were wonderful in reaching out to the community and to say that our Nisei group has goodwill. So that was our (...) camp experience, although it was a short (time) from '42 of spring of '43. So it was about, maybe, a little less than a year that we were able to do all that.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

AI: Well, that is a wonderful story to hear about, and I... it's so interesting to hear about your work in the camp. But I want to back up now to before the war years and ask you a few more questions --

MH: Yes.

AI: -- about what happened before the war. And for example, you had mentioned that you weren't aware of your parents' plans for you to become engaged. And I'm wondering, after you returned from Japan, that would have been 1939?

MH: Yes.

AI: To Seattle. How did your parents give you the news, and what did you think?

MH: Well, Iwao and I grew up together in the same youth group at church, so... you know.

AI: You knew each other.

MH: We knew each other well, and he went to University of Washington, graduated in accounting, and he was establishing his own (accounting business). I mean, it wasn't a shock, you see what I mean. It was a friendship that continued on (...). [Laughs]

AI: Did, did your parents... did they perhaps say, "Well, we've been discussing this with Iwao's parents and we think it would be..."

MH: They knew each other well, so it was not as shocking as it sounds, but as I look back, (...) it was something that naturally fell into line. So I wasn't quite as shocked.

AI: So, what year did you get married?

MH: Fall of, October of 1939, so things happened quite fast. [Laughs] I got back in (...) April of that year, and so, let's see. So I spent the summer -- [laughs] -- getting ready for it.

AI: Well, and so then after your marriage, where did you and Iwao make a home?

MH: Oh. In the meantime, Iwao's father found (these) two little houses on... let's see, Nineteenth (Avenue and) Jackson Street. (...) One set up in the back and one, and then a lawn, and it's all fenced in. And somehow or another, my... Iwao's father found it and he made the down payment for, as our wedding gift. [Laughs] So we lived in the front house and by renting the back house, we made the payments. So it worked out well. It's no longer there. I drove by it the last time I was in (Seattle), it's all torn down, and there's a commercial building. So it was in a commercial area. (...) But we didn't feel that way, 'cause we had this lovely garden outside. It was all fenced in.

AI: And so tell me a little bit more about your neighbors in that area. Were there other Japanese families?

MH: No, they're not... most, there (were) mostly surrounded by commercial (properties), very few residential (homes). And, of course, we didn't live there too long. So... but it was a nice place to get started.

AI: And did you say that Iwao was an accountant?

MH: Yeah.

AI: And he was beginning a business?

MH: (...) He was connected with the Yamacho importer (firm), but of course, when commerce became (impossible) he worked harder on his accounting business, and he established his office down on Main Street on (somewhere) like 600th block of Main Street. He had his office with a Mr. Bill Mimbu, who was a lawyer. (...) They helped each other out. He took care of a lot of accounts, grocery stores and hotels, and set up their accounting system and helped them with their income taxes and corporation papers and whatnot. And so he was building up quite a business in that respect, and, of course, he was helping his father who was part ownership of the Grand Union Laundry with the Okada family and the Okamura family, and he was helping with that, too. So he was getting a real good start. And then slowly he was getting more and more accounts among the American people as well. Not only limiting himself to the international community, but it was interesting to see that reaching out and being accepted, you know, in the field of accounting.

AI: Well, Iwao must have been very, in demand, for example, not only his accounting skills, but for his language skills, being --

MH: Oh, I think that helped, too. And then there were a lot of law changes at that time, too, so people needed help. And then when Pearl Harbor happened and all the men were picked up leaving the wives to try to run the barbershop, the hotels, restaurants and different things, and they didn't know how. Iwao had... and that was probably a reason why we couldn't leave voluntarily when the evacuation problem came into being.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

AI: Well, let me ask you more about that day of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. What do you recall?

MH: Oh, I recall that very vividly. (...) The choir was practicing after church and we were working on this Messiah very diligently because it was a difficult music, and the young people were just swallowing it up. (...) We were really going gung ho. And one of the members who was late came running in, and shouted, "Pearl Harbor has been bombed." And everybody kind of looked at him and says, "He's a latecomer. Now, come on in, let's get started. We haven't time to..." "If you don't believe me, come on out and listen to..." A couple of the men went out and heard it on his car radio and came running back. "It's true." And, of course, that just dispersed the whole group. They all ran home. And I came home wondering, "Now, what's going to happen next?" So that's our vivid picture of the Pearl Harbor day. And, of course, we didn't know what was going to happen.

I came home and checked on my parents and... and the thing that was very interesting was that about the middle of the afternoon, my mother and dad's good American friend from way up in the university came to call on them to assure them that they were still friends in spite of... and I thought that was such a wonderful extension of their friendship. No longer that they were gone, FBIs were at our door, picked up my dad and took him away. And we did not see him for, I think, six or seven months (...). They were all picked up and put into the immigration station. And among the group that were four Niseis. I think Tom Masuda and Kenji Ito and two others. And they realized the mistake that they made, because these were citizens, you see. So they were taken out of the immigration and put into a jail. But they had a trial for each one of them, and they were all acquitted because there was not enough evidence. So that's the story there. But the others, (...) internees, they were taken elsewhere and they finally ended up in Missoula, Montana, and -- until their hearing. And about six or seven months later, my dad's hearing came up. My brother went to (hearing), and they found not enough evidence, so he was released. By that time we were in camp. (...) My mother, who was living in Pullman, Washington, came into camp so that he could join (her). So that's how they got into camp, and we were already in camp. And, of course, soon after that we left to come to Chicago. So that's the story of our internment days.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

AI: Let me... let me ask you a little bit more about, in some ways -- in your memory, it seems to be rushing by very fast, the time.

MH: Fast. I know, I'm going back and forth, and I'm not very chronological.

AI: But I wanted to ask about that time in-between. After Pearl Harbor had been bombed, but before you actually were forced to leave, as you were saying earlier, Iwao was helping many of the families with their businesses, and what was going through your mind at this time in December of 1941?

MH: Well, my mind was filled with what to do, with not only our two houses, my mother's house, and my, Iwao's parent's house. Each, they all had a house. What to do with (...) all the things in it? So that was what we were greatly concerned with. We rented both the back house and our house to Caucasian people, so that was no problem. I think we rented both of the parents' houses, if I remember correctly. And my mother -- oh, and our good friends came and took a lot of our precious things like our silver and then stored them with us, like our camera equipment and silver and the good china we packed and they took 'em. And my mother did the same, but (when) she went through the house (again, she picked) up other things. She thought she'll put 'em in a trunk, and then put it in one of the (...) smaller rooms (upstairs) and lock it. So she gathered up all the precious things, things that I remember: a lovely ceramic old man and an old woman, whose heads just bob up and down, a lovely piece of art; crystal Mount Fuji, clear crystal. I mean, those are a few of the things I remember that she put in the trunk and locked the door thinking it was safe. Well, after the war, the government shipped the trunk to my folks and when she opened it, there was nothing in it. And all the other good things that was locked in the room (...). Different people who rented the house walked off with (them), so we never (saw them again). So that's the story there. But fortunately, the things that our friends have taken we were able to have, so we're very fortunate in that respect (...).

AI: I heard that some people were very worried about having too many Japanese things or... books.

MH: Yes, they, they --

AI: Or... did you, were you worried? Did you get rid of anything?

MH: Especially books. (...) A lot of them were burning things, and I'm sure we burned a lot of things we should have liked to have kept. Records and whatnot, but it all went into the fire, especially textbooks and things of that kind. And we had lots and lots of that kind of things. We did burn up a lot of things we shouldn't have. [Laughs]

AI: Well, tell me about the feeling of that time that, that caused, that caused you to have --

MH: The anxiety more, not knowing exactly what was going to happen, I think was the hardest thing. If you knew if you were going to do this or that, then we would plan accordingly, but not knowing... working in a vacuum (...) made it very, very hard. And... well, you can imagine these young mothers with children whose husband was picked up, (...) it was really a trying experience. I had my hands full of taking care of all five of them (...). My fourth brother was the only one who (stayed) behind, who took care of all the Jackson Fish, the business contacts. And the other brothers got out, you see. (...)

AI: Tell me about your other brothers leaving the area.

MH: Well, they... Min (...), my first brother was through college, so he found a job. He was an accountant also, and he found a job and helped get my youngest brother, who was a senior in high school, get through high school. And my other brother, Hank, was an architectural student, and, oh, he's the one that went with Bill Shimasaki and one other person and visited all the Big Ten colleges in the, in the Middle West to get acceptance. One was in the field of mechanical engineering. Bill was in (that) field. And the other friend was in the field of bacteriology, very outstanding student, and my brother was in the field of architecture. But none of the (big) ten (colleges) would accept them, because there (were many) army programs, navy programs, and those Niseis who were already in the colleges were permitted to stay, but they would not accept new ones (...). Well, fortunately for this bacteriologist, University of Cincinnati had a need for this particular field, so they said, "We will hire you to teach (...), and you may continue your work on your PhD in your field (...)." Bill and my brother, came back to University of Nebraska, because they would accept them. So Bill finished in mechanical engineer and my brother in the field of architect. So after they graduated, Bill got a job with some department in irrigation or flood control in Wisconsin, and Hank went down to Illinois, Chicago, and got a job with... no. He went to New York and got a job with this famous architecture and his work on his PhD was his work on the Seagram Building in New York, and that's how he finished his master's work. And I think he got a job there, too, until he came back.

AI: So as you explained earlier, your brothers were able to leave the West Coast during the so-called "voluntary evacuation."

MH: Yeah, voluntary, the three brothers were. But Bob, my fourth brother, stayed behind to clean up the, my father's business, which was down at the Jackson Fish and Oyster Company.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

AI: And before the break, you were telling me about the "voluntary evacuation" period. And I wanted to ask you also, you know, before Pearl Harbor was bombed, as you mentioned, Iwao's business was affected by the relations between Japan and the U.S. --

MH: Uh-huh.

AI: -- even before Pearl Harbor. And I was wondering, did you and Iwao have some concern or some thought that perhaps the U.S. might enter the war against Japan and that there might be some, a conflict that you would be facing?

MH: Well, we were afraid that there'd be a war, because, see, connected with the import firm, of course, that thing terminated immediately because we couldn't make any contact, you see. So we just felt that it was just time. But by that time he was so hands full with taking care of the other thing, which was a blessing. And so he was working hard on that. In fact, the demands were so great that he hired my brother and one other person to help him. He had two other helpers, because people were coming to him for advice and what to do, and... and which was wonderful, because it, at least it didn't have to wait until the last minute. So a lot of... so that was what he was doing. So we couldn't very well pack up and leave like some of the others did. So he... and then we thought because he had already a job in Spokane, that we would be permitted to go, but that didn't turn out to be true, because the army just would not give any reason why they wouldn't give us this extension. And they... and from what I gather, if the battle at Midway had gone from bad to worse -- because I think that was a turning point of our war situation in the Pacific area -- if it had gone worse, then I think the army was planning to evacuate the second 500 mile inland, which would have included Pullman and Spokane, and so I guess that was one of the reasons. But fortunately that did not happen, because the Midway battle was won by us, which helped, made a difference.

AI: Well, so then in the meantime, as you were explaining earlier, you were handling taking care of the houses, getting things in storage. And when was it that you realized that... that Iwao was not going to be allowed to go to Spokane? What went through your mind at that time?

MH: Well, well, of course, there's no other alternative. If we couldn't get to Spokane, we had to go to camp. It was that... so we just went.

AI: Tell, tell me about that, actually leaving Seattle.

MH: Well, we just left. I think on a certain day we were supposed to meet down at a certain area, and the buses were all lined up, and they had our list. And as our names were called we (got) in and bused... of course, we didn't know where we were going. We first went to the Puyallup Assembly Center and we were there until the Minidoka camp (in Idaho) was completed, which was several months later. So that was it.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

AI: Tell me about your, about the Puyallup camp. When --

MH: The (...) Puyallup assembly camp was the fairground where all these stock shows and whatnot, and some of the areas were underneath the stadium and some of them were in these animal stalls that were embedded with straw and what... and they were all cleaned, I mean, at least it was cleaned out. But the odor of the -- [laughs] -- still lingered, and dampness. So it was... and those were all segmented into little, what should... I almost said "cells," but apartments for, depending on the size of the family. So it was not a very pleasant situation. And, of course, they had a few, we happened to land in one of the barracks on the outside. (...)

AI: And was that you and Iwao, or were you together with other family members?

MH: No, just my husband and I and my brother, Bob. Three of us that were left behind. And then from there we went to Minidoka, and by that time (forty-four) blocks of barracks were from one end of the Snake River to the other, a little less than five miles.

AI: Well, let me ask you about what was your reaction to, to being rounded up like this and put into the camp? Because by that time you had already had quite a career in music, you had a responsible position, responsibilities at the church, you and Iwao were very active in the community and well-accepted as, as citizens.

MH: Well, as I said before, the fact that the minute I entered camp I was asked to go up to the headquarters, so I really didn't have a chance because my next assignment was this, you see. So I had to get, my mind had to think about how to execute the program under the circumstances (...). So I think I spent more time thinking about that than about this other. I couldn't be bothered with... which is not a good way to... and we knew basically it was wrong, this whole thing, but just by sitting and arguing about it wouldn't make any difference. I mean, we couldn't do anything, and so some of us felt, well, let's make the most of it and make it as pleasant as we know how. So we all tackled our program in our respective field with that in mind, which helped. And I think this was perpetuated by this Mr. George L. Townsend, who had this humanitarian attitude toward this whole issue. And he just closed the government books with all the rules and regulations and took the most humane approach to each situation as it came up. And not only that, he kept in touch with the community of the main issues that came up that bothered the people (...). Had open meetings where people could come and express, spout their complaints or whatnot, and he would answer them in a positive way. And... which helped, I think, vent all this hidden anti feeling, where in other camps these all broke out into actual riots, killing, and shooting. (...) They had to call (the police) so we did not have any of that, which made it very nice. But it was not easy, I'm sure. Especially at the time when the recruiting for the volunteer group, you know.

AI: Well, let me, before --

MH: That was really hard. Well, several of the parents just said, "Well, why should you volunteer when the government put you in this kind of situation?" Some of them could not agree with their parents. They had to flee, get out of the family circle, because of the strong feeling. And we had to protect some of the boys in particular, who could not, of course, there were others that agreed and blessed them and gave them their blessing when they volunteered. So it was very (difficult) the way the question was presented. And, of course, they changed it. But the whole reasoning was just out of kilter and created (confusion). (...) I remember a couple of the young people that I've talked to that had to almost flee for their life from their family, because they thought they were crazy to respond. But (...) I can't help but admire the whole attitude of the volunteers. And, of course, they made quite a record and all that.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

AI: Well, let me just clarify the timeframe here, because you were just talking about the men volunteering for army service, and I believe that was very early in 1943.

MH: Yes.

AI: And, and that the questionnaire had come out at that time.

MH: Yeah. It was just prior to our leaving. See, we left in early part of '43. That was all going on when we were leaving.

AI: Well, when you, when you saw that questionnaire yourself, what was your --

MH: Well, I thought it was just unreasonable. Well, if the (...) Isseis gave up their (countries) they would be (...) no country of their own. And but of course, George L. (Townsend) saw all this and he immediately tried to get it changed. And (...) the wording did get changed, but nevertheless, by that time the damage was done. I think that was the closest to the most anxious time at, as far as my personal experience in the camp. Because as I said, we were put to work so much that we didn't have time to sit around and argue pros and cons. [Laughs]

AI: Well, and you, as you were saying, that it was a difficult time, and the questionnaire raised a lot of feelings. I was wondering, did you yourself have any thought about, about the questions, especially the loyalty questions? Did you discuss this with Iwao, have any question about how you yourself would be answering the questionnaire?

MH: Well, we, we didn't question anything. We knew, we'd made our stand, right. (...) We are Americans. We were going to abide by the rule. You know what I mean. So it didn't bother us at all. You know what I mean. We didn't let the other arguments... of course this was not right. We knew that from the very beginning. In fact, we had a lot of supporting friends who were on our side trying to help us under the trying situation. And we saw a lot of evidences of help, so it gave us support that we didn't have, and then we didn't have time with so many other things to be concerned about.

AI: And, of course, one of the reasons that this questionnaire was being required was that apparently the government was then getting ready to allow more people to go out of camp.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

AI: So what kinds of thinking do you and Iwao have as far as trying to leave camp?

MH: Well, of course, that was taken out (of our hands) when the (national) YMCA made it possible for us, so we didn't have quite the struggle that other people had. Fortunately for us, we had a contact on the outside world.

AI: Tell me more about that. About the contacts.

MH: The fact that I could go back to this Chicago family that I lived with, and friends that I made back there. So I had lots of contacts, you see, and who was rooting for us. But a lot of people had absolutely no contact with the outside world, and that's where the Quaker group, American Friends Field Service stepped in and helped make the contact, make a person-to-person contact. Have a family invite the family into their homes to help them lodge or to help the young people get established in these colleges. (...) The area of the national Student Relocation Program is another chapter. The Big Ten would not accept any (new students) except the University of Nebraska. At that meeting, Mother Rodeheaver, with whom I stayed with in Chicago, was a member (...) of this committee (of) outstanding educators. (They) got together to analyze this (situation). They called upon all the small colleges, denominational colleges like Albion (and) Illinois, Wesleyan. You know, small colleges that were started by various denominations (...) and accepted several students, which helped (greatly). (...) The man (who) was selected to be the chairman of this committee was the president of Swarthmore College (...). And Mother Rodeheaver was part of this committee. So about five or six thousand students got out of camp and, to attend, continue their (education), some of them on scholarships, some of them on various circumstances. And that was a tremendous help and a boost. So young people kept applying, and it was very fascinating at that time. (...)

AI: Well, tell me now about how you and Iwao did end up making your contacts and deciding where to go and how you were able to get permission to get out of camp.

MH: Well, as I say, the Y created the job (for) him (...) at the national headquarters. At that time they were just starting the United Fundraising, so he got in on the ground floor of that national program in Chicago, and then I did my work with the American Friends Field Service as a social worker at the Laird Community House, which is on the north side of Chicago, working in the middle of the Polish district. (It) was (...) a Polish community there. You didn't even have to speak English. You could get along with all the tradespeople, (...) speaking Polish, but it was a wonderful experience. (...) Iwao was called by Mr. Mattox (of) Madison, through a mutual friend, Bill Mimbu, the lawyer, and had told him that Mr. Mattox needed a experienced accountant. And his accountants were being picked up by the army and whatnot. So Bill told him, "There's one down in Chicago," so he gave him a call. Iwao came up for the interview and got the job right away with the (Mr.) Ronald Mattox and Associates, and he (has been) with them all these years. And several years later he became one of the partners and (...) it was a wonderful experience, highly professional accounting firm that dealt with large firms. Iwao would have never had that kind of experience in Seattle working with companies like Rayovac and Ohio Chemical and (others). (...)

AI: Well, so you and Iwao stayed in Chicago only a short time, then.

MH: Yes, very short.

AI: From about March of 1943?

MH: He didn't stay more than a month. (...) We came out, I think, in March (...). I stayed on 'til September and got through the summer program for the community house, because that was very important.

AI: Tell me a little bit more about that summer program when you worked there.

MH: Well, you know what social workers are in the middle of an ethnic minority group. We had camp experiences, day outings, and all kinds of classes. And we lived up in the upper floor and so it was a wonderful experience. We got to know the Polish community. We could go to the butcher shop and the man would say how meat was rationed. But knowing that we were connected with the (community) they would offer us things that were not -- [laughs] -- easily available. I mean, that kind of treatment. And in fact, they observed all the Polish holidays with parades and celebration, street dancing and all that. So it was an interesting experience for me.

AI: I was... I was wondering if some of the Polish immigrants had a strange reaction to you, because here you were, you were the social worker with the American Friends, and you were an American citizen, of course, but with a Japanese face.

MH: Yes.

AI: I was wondering what kind of reactions you got.

MH: I can't remember... as I say, I've had very, very little discriminatory experiences. I really can't remember.

AI: Well, would you say --

MH: And then for me to take a group of kids, about twenty kids, and they were all tagged, and here I come up with an oriental face. They'll look at me, but... [laughs]

AI: So people may have been surprised at first, but --

MH: They may have been, but I guess once they know who I was and what I was doing, I guess they accepted me. (...) I just can't recall any experiences of that kind. (...) I feel real fortunate.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

AI: Well, now tell me, when you then moved to Madison, was that in the fall of --

MH: Okay.

AI: -- 1943?

MH: Uh-huh. Yeah, we came into Madison, yes, in the fall of '43, that's right, yeah.

AI: What were some of your first impressions of Madison?

MH: I'll tell you, we were there less than one week, at which time the pastor of the First United Methodist Church, Ivy Myers, (director) of the Christian Education (...), and one other person came to call on us at our apartment at 908 Jennifer. We didn't know a soul at that point. We just knew our business contact (...). We couldn't understand how they found out about us or where we lived or who we were. We were simply astounded, but we were invited to this church. So we've been members of that church ever since. (...) We thought when we landed in Madison, we'll go church shopping or something like that. We never got a chance. Then we tried to figure out how they would find out about us. But I think I've got it figured out. When we left camp, we had at our camp an American pastor, the Thompsons, who had been missionaries to Japan and spoke excellent Japanese. And (when) all the missionaries were ousted at a certain point. He was assigned to our church in Seattle as our Nisei pastor. And so he went through the whole war experience with us. When we were evacuated, they moved down to (...) Jerome, right outside, and they rented a house, (...) commuted inside the camp to continue his work. (...) I have a feeling that whenever someone left to be relocated, he wrote a letter to the pastor of the First Church of whatever, just saying, "Such and such a person is coming to your city from evacuation (camp)," and explaining. "We would appreciate greatly if you could be of any help to him in finding housing or job." And I think that's what he did in our case, too. And, because we just couldn't figure out how they could find where we were even living. So that kind of connection helped greatly.

And then, too, as I said, Madison was (a) very (receptive) of the evacuees because of the mayor. He had experienced back in World War I, the discriminations against the German people, and you know how many of the German people changed their names so they could not be identified and things of that kind. So he said during World War II he didn't want that kind of thing to happen in the city of Madison. So he organized a civilian committee, including businessmen like Lee Barons of the Baron (department store), (...) a lawyer, (Mr. Benjamin Bull), YMCA (director), Loren Cockrell, Basil Peterson of the Rotary Club, and a few other laypeople of the community. And he organized them, so Madison was very, very receptive to Nisei evacuees, and they were greatly helped with their housing as well as looking for jobs. Even an Issei couple was able to find a job in one of the homes in Maple Bluff and so we were very well-accepted. So we were (...) very, very fortunate, especially during the height of the war. Well, as an example, one of our friends rented a house on Crestwood, and the house he rented was owned by a woman, a widow who had one of his sons killed in the South (Pacific). And yet she was gracious enough to accept the Okada family and rented her home, and she went into an apartment. I mean, that's just an example of one. And that whole Crestwood community backed the Okada family very kindly. I don't think their son even realized that he was any different, going to school and being... which helped greatly.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

AI: Well, tell me about some of your neighbors in the area where you and Iwao lived. What kinds of reactions did you get from the neighbors?

MH: Well, our landlord (lived) next door. The only reason we got the upstair apartment of a (house) was because we didn't have any children at that time. (...) Her only criteria for renting was just to couples (...). So we lived there for a number of years. Then we bought a house at the edge of town (later). And then, that's when my mother came to live with us. My father had passed away, and we needed another bedroom, and that was when we (...) moved (...). We bought a house (...) on the edge of town. We were there for quite a number of (years), and then the children came, so we moved to Whitcomb Drive, and (it) was clearly out of town. The, Whitcomb Drive was just a dirt road. It was in the middle of a great big field, and our house and one or two others were the only houses around. But it's all developed, and so that's where we moved about in '57. We've been there ever since. And then, oh, I want to tell you about this one... the pink magnolia blossoms are very plentiful in (this area) -- not the white ones. The white ones don't grow because our climate is too (cold). My husband planted (...) just one branch, between our house and our next door (...). Just plucked it down. I wish you could see it now. It's a huge tree that spreads out between the two houses with branch. And every spring I drive by to see. It's in full bloom, and it's just glorious. But to think, just a branch. After all these years it turned out to be a magnificent tree. It was something to look forward to every (spring)... so that's one story.

And life in Madison was very enriching. And in our area were lots of wonderful families moving, and they had children the same age as our two, so it was quite a group. (...) The area in front of us was vacant, so every night the whole neighborhood would gather and have a baseball game or a... all these games. Nine o'clock came sharp, everybody went straight home. So we didn't have to worry about where our kids were. And they all grew up, went to grade school and high school. And at the college age they all went to their respective colleges, but the interesting fact is, they kept in touch with each other. And to this day they all keep in touch, and it's wonderful. And now we're enjoying their offsprings. My son is here with his two kids meeting some of the friends right now. So it's been a wonderful community to (grow) up. And back of our house is the playfield, and so Fourth of July we would have a big communities (picnic), and they have a parade down our street come up and a great big picnic up there, so -- I mean, a community picnic and we got to see, so that was (...)... so that's our life. And then our, Ruth went to Milwaukee (...) to college first. And then you ended up at Wisconsin and finished there. And Joe went to University of Oregon and he was allergic. There was something in the Wisconsin area certain months of the year. A certain kind of pollen irritated him. He was sneezing, and so he got out, and he went to University of Oregon and finished there, didn't he? Yeah. So... well, so he never liked to come back to Madison especially at that season. At the other season it was okay.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

AI: Well, let me ask you about other Nisei couples --

MH: Oh.

AI: -- moving to Madison.

MH: Yes.

AI: I understand that many, many people went to Chicago, but how was the situation up in Madison?

MH: We had quite a number. Now, there were three original Japanese American in that area. The three families were the Toki family and the... there's one family in Stoughton and one on the east side. All three men came out this far working on the railroad, and Mr. Toki was the only one (who) had (...) brought his wife. So the Toki bought a, a plot and they had a farm there, and they raised (...) four children. And they all went to college and all that. And Akira, the son, is still living. And the other two, the man in Stoughton got married to a Norwegian woman. They had two sons who became very outstanding in various fields, and then the other bachelor had this lovely land and he sold it to the Bashford Church (...). The church stands on the land there. So those were the only three Japanese American at the outbreak of the war. But quite a number of Niseis landed in Madison, and they were mostly of the professional (...) ones... a lawyer came here, an architect, my brother, and then a social worker, Paul Kasuda, made quite a name for himself in the field of social work, and several... there's two architects. And a few other, but they all seemed to be in some social, so they got very, very well-established and had their families here. And I think... well, Madison, after all, is the state capital. It has the University of Wisconsin. Not only that, it had several big business corporations like Ohio Chemical, Rayovac, Oscar Mayer, making it a very interesting... not only a intellectual center, but as well as commercially and economically. And probably that was the reason why it attracted this group of Niseis. And quite a number got very, very well-established in their respective fields. And so that's been kind of interesting to sit back and watch.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

AI: Well, I'm wondering, it sounds like you received such a warm welcome there in, in Madison, and that the business opportunities were wonderful, and family life as well.

MH: Uh-huh.

AI: But I'm wondering, did you and Iwao ever consider moving back to Seattle or back to the West Coast?

MH: We never considered. My family did. I mean, Iwao's father and mother wanted to go back to Seattle so they could be around... and they lived in the house that we owned. They lived in that house, so that was very convenient for them, because he could walk to most of the points of interest that he was in the Japanese community (...). My husband's brother went back because they had a, a drugstore and owned the property there. And they did not resume their drugstore (...). He and she both were pharmacists, so they worked with a, a good pharmaceutical center, (...) took care of their property. And then Min, my first brother, went back. And then he, he was an accountant with Klopfenstein, the clothing store, and he became like a district manager, having quite an area of Klopfenstein stores. And then my second brother was a ichthyologist. He was with the Smithsonian (in Washington, D.C.). He served at the, as an army medical, non-combat medical, for which he has a Silver Star and Purple Heart and citation and all that. And he ended up as an ichthyologist at the Smithsonian in the fishery department and until, up 'til his retirement many years after. And then my third brother was an architect. The one (who) was trained in Chicago. And he has resumed his architectural practice in Madison for all these years until he retired. Since his retirement he's a chief architect for the Habitats for Humanity, working with that group, and he's very active in that. And my youngest brother, after serving with the 442 boys, landed in Dallas, Texas, and he was connected with the E System until his death. So, and then (...) sister, Mari, taught at various schools. Her husband is the one that was a mechanical engineer, is connected with land reclamation and, and they ended up in the Ephrata Valley in Washington (...), worked with land reclamation, irrigation control until his retirement. And then Mari herself taught at every country... they lived in about six or seven different countries before they settled in Madison. They started off in Jordan and he was there for about four and a half years putting in the controlled irrigation down the Jordan valley, and that's what they're fighting over today. And he was... and every country that they were, Mari taught, not in the American school, but in the native (schools). So she taught in the Arab school there and made wonderful... and then the next country they were in was in Conakry, Guinea, West Africa. And they did the same thing. While Bill was working in his (field), Mary was teaching in one of those. And from Conakry, Guinea, they went to Tunis, Tunisia. And the same thing there. And then from Tunis to Laos. And from Laos to Rio de Janeiro. And then from Brasilia, then Santa Domingo and then came home.

AI: Oh, my.

MH: So... and everywhere while Bill was doing his work, Mari was teaching in the respective fields. So they've had a wonderful (experiences). Mari has written a book called the Floating Candle, which is nothing but her Christmas letter every year from all these different countries informing us their life and the, and so... and then her second book, I think the title is (...) Give Man a Fish. And it fills in each chapter the life and the things that they did and what they observed and what they enjoyed and the characteristic of each country, so... but unfortunately she had a slight stroke, and I think she has two more chapters to go, so it's not finished, and Bill is struggling over what to do.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

MH: And another book (that's) written is about this sister, the Accident of Birth.

AI: Now... now, tell me --

MH: And this --

AI: -- what was her name? Your, your younger sister?

MH: Yasu. And the, that book got printed, but the whole life is the struggle of trying to get back to this one country she loves and not being able to.

AI: Well, now, tell me again about Yasu and, and how her --

MH: (...) My mother was pregnant with her when she was suddenly called back to Japan because of the illness of her mother and father and could not get back into the States at the time of her birth, so she was born in Japan. As a result, she did not have American citizenship, so she was left behind to be brought up with the grandparents, which seemed to be the custom back (then). My oldest sister, remember, was left behind, and (Yasu) was the second one. So, and she was there until 1924, (before) the immigration law was changed. My father went back (to Japan) to bring the two girls back so that the family can be together, but unfortunately, my older sister was already through high school, was ready for specialized school, so she would not come. So she stayed in Japan and came to Tokyo to live with our other relatives, and she finished her school there. But Dad was able to bring Yasu home, who was only five. And so Yasu had all her education here, grade school, high school, and a couple years at the technical school, so she became a very, very efficient stenographer, and she was doing real great work. Well, at that time, I was back in Japan, and I was still teaching, and I went down to Nagasaki to visit the grandmother that brought up Yasu, and Grandmother asked if I was Yasu, and I had to tell her, "I'm sorry. I'm not Yasu, but I'm..." and she said she would love to see Yasu once more. And so I wrote to Yasu and says, "If you are (...) thinking of coming to Japan, come now, because Grandma's asking for you." So she came back and saw Grandma, and, of course, Grandma passed away, but she was able to get an excellent job with the, connected with the army of occupation. So she stayed and forgot to renew her reentry. As a result, from there on to the end of her life, it's the struggle to get back to the States. Mari wrote this book. And the last chapter is my older sister brings her back as, passed away as ashes. This is a sad... so we buried her ashes between my mother and father right here in Madison. So that's the story. It's a sad story, but anyway...

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

<Begin Segment 20>

AI: Oh, and you were... you were talking about your family members and which of them decided to come back to the Seattle area. What about your own parents? Did they eventually return to Seattle?

MH: My parents (...) both of them came here (to Madison), still during the war. We (...) bought a home on the edge of town, which they thoroughly enjoyed. And that was really at the edge of town, wasn't it? The bus line went up and that was it. There was no more Madison beyond. But it's not true now. And they enjoyed it until my father passed away. And after my father passed away, Mother want, didn't want to live alone, so she came to live with us and that was when we had to move out to Whitcomb Drive so she can have a, a room of her own. And we had a nice set-up. There was one bedroom on the main floor with a half bath that she can have and overlook the backyard. And we had three nice bedrooms for us upstairs. (...) We had quite a bit of land with a picket fence, I mean, a white fence all around. And there was only three trees, three flowering crab. And (...) everything was bare, so my mother, who is the artist in arranging flowers, she and I picked out flowering bushes and things that she could... so she picked out, and we planted the bushes all the way around, and then I put in a perennial flower bed all the way. So Grandma always had something to work with. But she never went out and just cut flowers like we do. She always cut flowers so that whatever remained would be just as lovely and not leave a hole. Things of that kind. And then she would do her flower arrangement early in the morning when the house was quiet, and she would sit on her knees and work on these little branches and that was her meditation period, I'm sure. And it was kind of -- and our, our family, our kids and my brothers and sisters, were accustomed to seeing these lovely arrangements. So when they see a bunch of flowers put in, it bothers them. [Laughs] It's interesting the things that they are exposed to, isn't it? So that's the story there.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

AI: I, I wanted to ask you a little bit about some of your community and church activities over the years.

MH: Oh, that's another episode. [Laughs] My husband became very active in the Optimist group, the service group downtown. And then, of course, being an accountant (he was asked to) serve on the board of directors for the Methodist hospital. And the interesting thing is that at the time he was serving on this board of directors for the Methodist hospital, they were interested in buying up property around the hospital to create assisted living, a nursing home, and a retirement center. And it's just recently when I moved into this retirement home, recently about, about a month ago, it's on the spot of the land that he had acquired for the Methodist (Hospital). So after all these years, over twenty-five years, the reality of the Methodist board's dream has become... and I'm able, fortunate to be in one of the complexes. So that's the story there.

MH: And then, of course, he was active in our church, too. The board of trustees and always on the finance committee. [Laughs] But he enjoyed it. Then, of course, I got involved in the music program. The pastor, when I first joined the church, says, "The group of children that loves to sing." [Laughs] So I organized the children's choir first. And then a couple years later the senior choir director resigned, and they asked me to take over for a couple weeks. So I had it for four years until my second child came. I had to give it up. And then... I'm still singing in the choir. We have a wonderful director. A wonderful, wonderful director whose wife is a Metropolitan Opera star. Sings in the Met-, New York and all over in these wonderful opera. And they have two daughters that are just developing. One is through college, the other one is entering college. I think one of them... the first, maybe both of them are scholarship students. And it's been thrilling to hear their voice develop from a teenager into a mature... and they are so unselfish. They come, when they are in town to come to our rehearsal and sing with us. And she is so generous. She helps young singers with pointers here and very gently. And it gives us an added, you know. And then not only that, he's connected with a publishing house, (...) sacred music publishing house. Well, I'm pretty well-acquainted with the standard music repertoire, but we keep up with these new things that are coming off the press, is exciting.

One of our girls from our church married a missionary that went to Africa and various countries, and she was a music major. In fact, she was my accompanist with my junior choir, and she being a music major, her ear was always attuned to native folk songs, and she came back from her first term in Africa and says, "Mae, that African music is simply out of this world." She said, "It should be kept in the church." When you realize that our early missionaries introduced all these sacred music from our... disregarding the natives then. Well, currently, some music, African music came off the press, and we have become acquainted with them. One Sunday we had a speaker, Jim Sawyer, who's one of the vice presidents of the American University in Zimbabwe, he was the speaker. So in his honor, he trained our choir in an African song called "The African Sanctus," and we sang it in Swahili in his honor that Sunday morning. And he was just stunned to hear this wonderful African music in the American congregation. So that kind of experience holds, I know I don't have too much to offer vocally, but I enjoy being with the young people and the enthusiasm and the kind of work we do, so I'm still singing. [Laughs]

AI: That sounds wonderful.

MH: So our church life is, continues to hold our interest. And, of course, the United Methodist women has strong outreach in the foreign field all over. We've had many, many missionaries from some of these outstanding, like Eiwa College, Isabelle Thoburn College, and all over. Recently I heard that one of our young people, young, young girl, has been, accepted a job to teach English in Korea just outside of Seoul. And I'm anxious for her to keep in touch with Eiwa college, some of the staff members that have been trained in Madison. Of course, most of my friends are gone now, which is tragic. But there's a few, so we're trying to connect to her so she could get the broad picture of our church with the church, the work over there and the connection. Because a lot of our young women don't know that, how even one missionary with two or three students is now a great big institution like Eiwa college and Thoburn College and things of that kind. And I thought that vision would help, so that's where we are right now. Our younger generation is beginning to reach out and it's thrilling. It's thrilling.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

AI: Well, speaking of younger generations, I wanted to take you to the, the era of the redress for Japanese Americans, era. And that was a time when some of the Sansei as well as Nisei were thinking about this idea of having some kind of apology or compensation for the World War II camp experience and being forced to leave your homes.

MH: Uh-huh.

AI: I was wondering, when you first heard about this, what did you think?

MH: Well, it came upon us so quickly that I can't remember too much. We don't have an active Nisei group in the city of Madison. We're all involved in our respective (fields), and so my real touch with the Nisei world is through the Pacific Citizen. I try to keep in touch, which is kind of too bad, but we've accepted it. And I used my $20,000 for putting in an Echo organ at our church, so we have a wonderful organ. I donated it in memory of my parents. So that's where my reparation money went. [Laughs]

AI: Well, and when you actually received this in the mail and you saw the apology --

MH: Oh.

AI: -- signed by the President, what was your reaction?

MH: Oh, I was kind of stunned. I said, "By golly, I've never had a check that amount." [Laughs] And so, so I just thought, "Oh, this money is very special. It should be used in some (special way)." So I used it as a memorial to both my parents and Iwao's parents. It went toward this Echo organ that sits on the back. Oh, when you play it, the two organs playing back and forth, it's thrilling. It's really thrilling. I thought it would leave a... fond memories of our sad experience.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

AI: Well, and I... and I must mention that the reason that you're here in Seattle at this time is because of the centennial for, the church is now known as the --

MH: Blaine.

AI: -- Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church, but at the time you attended, was it then called --

MH: The Japanese Methodist Church. And it was down on Washington Street. We outgrew it. There was so many children of all age group. Our Sunday school classes were (in the) choir loft (and balcony). Well, we didn't have enough room, so we finally acquired the building next door, which was a Jewish synagogue (...). They used that facility for Christian education program. And we had programs of all kinds. Oh, and not only that, we had a home called Catherine Blaine Home (on) Thirteenth Avenue. And it was named after Catherine Blaine, who was the wife of one of the pioneers, founders of the city of Seattle. And she was one of the very benevolent women. And I think member of the First United Methodist (Church, the) Caucasian church downtown, saw the need for helping the immigrants, back in the periods when they were arriving as pictures brides and as new brides, to have a home where they could be housed and help them with their English and help them get acclimated to this culture. And as a result, she donated this house, and it's called the Catherine Blaine Home. (It became) a center of our social life for our young people (also). Not only that, single girls who came to the city to find employment could have a nice, safe rooming house for (them) upstairs (...). So that's the history behind that, (in) connection with the church. And we have many, many fond memories of some wonderful social life at the Catherine Blaine Home.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

AI: You know, I wanted to ask you about your parents' religion. And I was wondering, were they Christians in Japan or --

MH: My father became a Christian early in life because of the contact with my mother's cousin, one of the early Christians. Christianity entered Japan through Nagasaki, you remember? And they were badly persecuted. At one period, (in) early twentieth century, there's a city... I mean, in city of Nagasaki there's that great big monument called The Martyrs that were crucified because of their Christian faith. And so it has a strong holding in the city. And I think my father became (Christian), was probably ostracized by his family, and that's probably why he went to Nagasaki to get established and, and pursue his interest in the field of fisheries that landed him into the States. So that's the story. And, of course, my mother and dad were married and had one daughter there, and they were left behind, but (my mother) joined him later. And then the rest of the story goes on.

AI: And what about Iwao's family? They also were Christian.

MH: Iwao's family came from Yamaguchi, and there was quite a group that came from that area. (When he came), he worked as a houseboy (and) learn how to cook and all that. So he's a wonderful cook. And then he and his two other friends (...) started this Grand Union Laundry that became quite a big business (...) enterprise, (hiring) about fifty or sixty people. And the thing that's interesting was it became a center of care (for) the Japanese community. (...) Now we have social security and all kinds of health care and everything. (Back) then with all the language difficulties and cultural (differences), the businesspeople helped their employees with their languages and all that. It was like a social center. Not socially, but all these other things that we now enjoy, but not back in those days. So it became quite an institution, not only as a business enterprise but to care for the Japanese American community. So that's been interesting, so...

AI: And so both your parents and Iwao's parents were both active in the Methodist church --

MH: Yes, they were both --

AI: -- at a very early time.

MH: (...) After the war, (...) Iwao's father was very, very active. Kept in touch with a lot of the Issei families not only, but all the mechanics of running a church, caring for things. He worked diligently. He didn't drive a car, so he walked (...), but it was all within walking area, so, so he had a wonderful life of servicing people and so on.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

AI: Well, you've shared so much information and so many of your memories. I really appreciate it, and I'm wondering, is there anything else that you wanted to comment on?

MH: Oh, goodness. I'm trying to think what I haven't covered. [Laughs] Well, I think in retrospect, I feel that as tragic as the World War II incarceration was, I think in the long run I feel it was a blessing in disguise. I get thrilled, I pick up a magazine or something, I read about a Nisei doing outstanding work in this field or that. I opened up a couple of those corporation reviews just out of curiosity, and to see a Nisei name as a member of the board, I mean, things like that, or outstanding scientist in some particular phase. I wish I could recall all that, but it's just a thrill. I... and they're not all from one area. They're from all over (...), and most unexpected places in the United States that they've all scattered to. And I think the impact of being dispersed like we were, we were forced to be dispersed, has in reality been a... and, of course, the Sansei story is another chapter that I haven't been able to keep up and know very little about. But it's a thrilling, thrilling story. I tell my Sansei group that, "Oh, the world is your oyster. Go at it." Because when we went to college, we couldn't do this, we couldn't do that, we couldn't go into the school of this or school of that. We were limited. I think about the only field was school of art and school of business. Absolutely school of nursing was closed, and, you know, I mean, we were restricted. And I says, "You have no restriction of any kind." I says, "Sky's the limit. Go at it." [Laughs] I think it's quite a, a story.

AI: Well, thanks again very much for --

MH: Oh, you're welcome. [Laughs]

AI: -- your interview.

MH: I'm sure it wasn't very well-organized.

AI: It was, it is quite wonderful to have this information.

MH: I thought this would be much better than to read something. [Laughs]

AI: Well, thank you very much.

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