Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Gordon Hirabayashi Interview I
Narrator: Gordon Hirabayashi
Interviewers: Becky Fukuda (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 26, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-hgordon-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

BF: And so maybe let's start with that larger picture of your parents' influence. Maybe you could tell us a little bit more about your mother and father's values. I mean, they were obviously independent thinkers. Belonged to a church group that was, not very many Japanese were Christians...

GH: Yeah.

BF: ...and this was sort of a unique Christian group within...

GH: They had friends...

BF: ...Christianity.

GH: ...they had Caucasian friends that, even from the short, brief, brief sojourn we had in Seattle during one winter. And, and they came back. And friends would come to visit.

BF: And this was back --

GH: Caucasian friends would come to visit.

BF: This was back in Auburn then, or were you now into --

GH: Yeah. We came back to, it's a rea, it's -- in our area, I wouldn't call it Auburn 'cause Auburn was a town four miles away. [Laughs] And Kent was two miles away. It was closer, but Auburn was socially closer 'cause our school bus went that way. And so my contacts were that way. I didn't know very many people my age in Kent. I knew, I got to know some Japanese, 'cause we played baseball with people in, north of Kent who all went to Kent High School.

BF: So you were in a area called Thomas?

GH: Yeah.

BF: Which no longer exists? Is that right, or...

GH: Well, it's still there.

BF:'s still there, it's still there?

GH: It's still there, but it's not developed very much. It's, its part of an area that, between, in the Valley Highway -- I've forgotten what, 157 or something. The highway that goes... there used to be an interurban railroad track, you know, streetcar. Train used to stop. And, maybe this should be part of the interview, 'cause it's interesting. One of the Isseis wanted to get off at, south of Auburn. Auburn, there's a stop called Algona, about a mile and a half from Auburn, and then another mile and a half or so, Pacific City. She could never get the guy to stop at Pacific City until she pronounced it by another word. She knew, when she'd say, "Pashifiku Shitei" or whatever, however she pronounced it, the guy couldn't figure out what she was saying.

BF: Oh, no.

GH: But she learned to say, there's a, there's a medi -- word for medicine, kusuri, I don't know if you've heard of that, kusuri is medicine in Japanese. And I would know that. Some of my younger brothers wouldn't of known it unless he learned it in translation or something, Japanese word. But we used, we used it, that medicine, that kusuri. So, she said kusuri, twice, "kusuri, kusuri." "Oh, okay," and he, she got off at Pacific City. It sounded like, she says it, she said, "kusuri, kusuri."

TI: That makes sense.

BF: Yeah.

GH: "Okay," and he... so she, she, that's an innovation on her part. And I only heard this because, one person was saying, this is what my mother said, and it worked for her. She couldn't, she couldn't get off at the right place until she said that. When she said what she thought was Pacific City, they never got it.

BF: Uh-huh.

GH: So she finally said it this way, and it worked, she said. And so we had a big laugh over that, but...

TI: That's a good story. Medicine, medicine.

BF: Yeah.

GH: Yeah. But I think she learned to, learned the phraseology, so it hit the ear. And it really helped her. And the conductor could follow it. He was happy too. [Laughs]

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.