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

<Begin Segment 1>

BF: So, what part of Japan did your parents come from?

GH: Well, the place that used to give me the shivers each time they used the word. During the Winter Olympics they called it Na-a-gano. And they say it like we would here, you know, they say, "Dakota." They don't say Da-a-kota. But somehow, somebody coached them on that word, Na-a-gano. And when they refer to the last Olympics, they still use that word. Nagano, Nagano-ken. That's one of the larger, if not the largest ken, physically, in Japan. And that's just east of Tokyo.

BF: And both, both your mother and your father...

GH: Yeah.

BF: ...were from that same ken?

GH: Yeah, Yeah.

BF: And what, do you know what the families did? What they...?

GH: Farming.

BF: Farming.

GH: Well, they all were farmers of one type or another, but largely everybody grew their own rice. And if they made more they sold it. But they all at least grew their own. And, my mother's family were, were in the silkworm business. So, I recall they were still doing it the last time I, the first time I visited there. They still had the silkworm yard, you know like a chicken coop in the back, silkworm buildings. And you could hear them chewing mulberry leaves, some kind of like a brush noise, you could, you could... and, then, then the next time I went, that was all gone. The silk for Japan now comes from Thailand or someplace else. It's been taken over, none of it in Japan. But they still produce a lot of rice, and they discover ways of per cap -- per acreage production, increasing production even though they're more mouths to feed. They still don't import as much as you would think, with all the consumption.

BF: And then your father was the first to immigrate to the United States, correct?

GH: Yeah, from that group, yeah.

BF: And that group, you mean that, a group of...?

GH: Group of, well, let's say, when we say the first of that group, you know, Admiral Perry got in there with his gunboats behind him to open up trade relations and so on. And they were reticent to deal with strangers, foreigners, and so on. But in the 1860s, 1870s around there, opening was made. And Dad was born in 1888. And I think -- my mother was seven years younger. And I guess, I guess when he left for U.S. it was around 1907. If you look at the immigration statistics you find that 1907 was a peak, peak year. It was increasing up to that year, and then began to go down because in 1908, I believe the immigration restriction came in...

BF: But the Gentleman's Agreement...

GH: ...Theodore Roosevelt, who was friendly to the Japanese, partly because they were a buffer to Russia. And in the Japanese-Russo War of 1904, U.S. and Britain both were interested in having Russia not gain a big step forward but stand still or backwards a little. And so they got support from U.S. and Russia -- excuse me, U.S. and Britain. Even going through Suez Canal was made difficult, so that they had to go around the Cape of Good Hope to get to Japan. So that slowed, slowed their arrival, and when they did come up it was a, you know, a well-worn group. And Togo, Admiral Togo had a strategy that kinda decimated them there. But with the help of allies -- it was called the Japanese-Russo War, but others were involved, actually. And that was... see the immigration was starting slowly, since the latter, well say, 1800s, 1880s, 1890s and into 1900. And Dad was with the flow of the peak year, 1907. And then the voluntary -- Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt persuaded Japan to institute a private slow down restriction of visas and that sort of thing. To slow down what was threatened by Congress. California senators and so on were out to have anti-Oriental restriction way back in, before 1910. But it eventually came to pass in 1923, I believe, '23 or '24, the total restriction of immigration.

BF: And so what -- ? Oh, I'm sorry.

TI: I was going to say, Gordon, going back to 1907, why did your father come to United States?

GH: Economic reasons, like immigrants from Europe, in general. Times were very rough in post Japanese-Russo War. To do that war -- that followed the Chinese war (in the late 1800s), and then this war. There was depression, economic depression, and they had to... for example, I said, "Did your, did your community leaders try to deter you from leaving?" 'Cause lot of first sons were in the group and usually they're the ones that kept the family going. Well they, they said, "No, this, first sons were included," because they wanted the eldest sons get up and do something, bring some money back, send money back. And they said the mayor encouraged them, the mayor of their community, encouraged them to go out. "You guys go out and help our families." And so they had dreams of, unrealistic dreams of, you know, there's gold all over the place, you just shovel it in and send it back. Well they found out it was difficult but they were able to -- especially during the days before they got married -- they were able to send a certain proportion of the money back. And Dad, Dad, a man of few vices of youth, he didn't drink, he was a teetotaler. I wouldn't be surprised if his religious training were involved in that. And they didn't, he didn't gamble, card playing and so on. So our family grew up that way. There was no, not even a playing card at home. I couldn't even read a card, you know, 'til university days.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

BF: So he was a Christian in Japan?

GH: Yes. I'll get to that when we get to, what preparations did he have in coming. There was a teacher, who had a private school. And I guess there were enough that he could survive. He quit public school teaching because he wanted to teach other things that wasn't in the curriculum. In other words his religious -- he was like a minister. And in fact I found out in talking to this historian that one of the important situations in this leader's career was when he ran into Dad's teacher and converted him to being a committed disciple. That, that's how important this teacher was. He was a leading disciple of this leader called -- his name will come to me -- the teacher's name was, that'll come to me too...

BF: He's a Christian leader is what you're...

GH: Yeah, yeah.

BF: ...that is so rare in Japan.

GH: And, that's minority. This was, and this leader taught one -- he was in the Protestant movement. So it wasn't a question of Catholicism versus Protestantism. But among the Protestants, like when he went abroad, Uchimura, Uchimura Kanzo...

BF: Is he the teacher, your father's teacher or...

GH: He's the leader...

BF: ...or the leader?

GH: He's the leader, and his chief disciple, in retrospect turned out to be the teacher of Dad...

BF: Yeah.

GH: his group. And he also taught my mother. So...

TI: And your dad's teacher, is that Iguchi...?

GH: Iguchi Sensei, yeah, Iguchi. And he, he only lived 'til about his own fiftieth year. So relatively, he died early.

BF: Yes.

GH: But I visited his, I mean because of the letters that came in and support that came in, there's a little museum in his honor. Iguchi, I don't know what they call the museum, but it's a museum of Iguchi and his papers, pictures, Dad's groups and so on, they're spread out over there in this museum.

BF: So he had a great influence on many people?

GH: Yeah, quite a few. Particularly until the close of open immigration, which is 19 -- well see, 1923, my mother came in, in 1914, so World War I interfered with the flow of immigration, too. And then before they could really recover from that, the anti-Asian immigration restriction came in, 1923.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

GH: I was in a special, well, it turned out to be the seventieth anniversary of Brazilian immigration in 1978, in December. And I was one of those invited to come in. So it was an interesting conference for me. I was a sociologist, professional sociologist and here I was going as a subject matter, 'cause the topic was "Overseas Japanese." And by that time Brazil had the largest number. And Brazil started seventieth year. I thought seventieth year and that was 1978, so seventy minus seventy-eight, 1908. So I said to the MP from there, there was one who was an MP already, member of parliament in Brazil. Nomura, his first name, I thought, "What a strange name," Diogo, Diogo and they had Pancho Nakamura, and so on. [Laughs] They sounded funny until I realized what they would think, "Gordon, what a funny name for a Japanese." Well, they picked up Spanish names. And so he was the MP there. And for example I got acquainted with him. I attacked Brazil un-diplomatically, [Laughs] of their treatment of native, you know, native, equivalent to native Indians. And they were practically decimating them with operations. You know, anti-fertilization programs and so on. And I was raising questions about that 'cause we were discussing that [Laughs] up, with some concern. Well, with that we developed a kind of a friendship.

And I was in a bus waiting to go to a reception at one of the imperial quarters, and somebody knocked on the window. And I looked down -- I was sitting in a bus already -- and he says, "Come on." So I came out to, wondering what he was saying, and he says, "I got a car here. The Brazilian embassy sent me a car and a driver." So he's an MP, so they're treating him nicely. [Laughs] They wanted a good report back. So he says, "I'm the only one in the car so come and join me." [Laughs] So I joined him and drove out there in a private embassy car. And in talking with him, the, we're -- "You got going because immigration in North America stopped." They had to find some other place, so they started to go through... Peru had already started, but they're on the West Coast. So they started to go through Panama Canal into Brazil. And that's -- Brazil started in 1978. So we were having the seventieth anniversary. And we already had finished our 100th anniversary in Canada, in 1977. So the year earlier we were having our 100th, but we didn't have that kind of relationship with Japan. See we had, we had hands off. We don't want Japanese influence that much. In Brazil, the Japanese government, the Japanese teachers were involved right from the beginning. When the contractors, labor contractors brought Japanese in, well -- for families they had kids, and there were no schools. Brazilian government couldn't have a school established just because Japanese laborers had kids. So they brought in teachers.

BF: Japan did.

GH: Yeah. And so Japanese -- at that conference, the Japanese didn't need instant translation like we did. They had it for the conference, primarily for Caucasians and [Laughs] Japanese participants. We didn't, we couldn't pick up those complicated terms. They could, for most purposes they could follow the language even though they couldn't read it, and because they had Japanese training. Schooling was Japanese. I started my English with, I'd started to learn English with public school. Until then the community language for the early Niseis were Japanese because we were growing up in Japanese homes and community language was Japanese.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

BF: But your parents, they learned English from the same Christian teacher, right?

GH: Yeah.

BF: Is that...?

GH They learned background, English background, let's say, because the pronunciation was absolutely useless.

BF: Oh.

GH: The teacher never heard an English, never heard English spoken. So it was whatever he thought was pronunciation. And in talking to one of the cousins in Japan, they recalled hearing Mom's little descriptions, saying, "We got a lot of valuable background taking his courses. But, language and pronunciation were absolutely useless." [Laughs] It would've been better if they never heard it.

BF: Now had your father -- I don't know if you can answer this -- but did your father and mother go to this teacher mainly to prepare to come to the U.S.

GH: Uh-huh.

BF: ...or was there also...?

GH: No, no they were going to -- Dad was coming with his batch, his classmates. There were, well there were eight in his group. I don't know how many others about that age who were in the class. And they all paid some kind of fee to -- 'cause he had to have it with fees because that's how he survived...

BF: Right.

GH: ...the teacher. And he taught not only Japanese, but he taught his brand of Christianity, which was Uchimura's brand.

BF: So, although your father went to this class to prepare to go to the U.S., it sounds like the religious teachings he really became very attached to.

GH: Yeah, yeah. He, he not only learned Japanese but he got converted to Christianity, this brand of Christianity before he went abroad.

BF: You mean learned English, and then...?

GH: Yeah.

BF: Oh, ah. And then so it...

GH: Yeah.

BF: ...became very important to him, not just as a...

GH: Yeah, yeah. He was a converted missionary, sort of.

BF: Yeah.

GH: Yeah. Since, since they weren't preparing to become ministers in the traditional, professional sense, none of them followed that, but they carried on their own non-pastoral religious grouping. In spite of a lot of solicitation by the Protestant, Japanese Protestant churches of Seattle and Tacoma...

BF: Could you just...?

GH: ...Methodist church...

BF: Uh-huh.

GH: ...Baptist church, Congregational church, Presbyterian church...

BF: Uh-huh.

GH: ...and even Episcopal churches.

BF: They wanted them to be members?

GH: Oh, they were solicited constantly 'cause they -- when they had conferences and so on these people were different. They...

BF: Different how?

GH: Well they were more vocal, they were, they had more content and raised more questions. And so, you know they were of interest to the churches. And they were always solicited.

BF: Uh-huh.

GH: And they resisted it right up to World War II. And when they scattered -- Dad and the, one of the other persons, the one that was 109 or 110 -- they, they finally joined the Methodist church when they became just two alone. Especially when their wives passed away and so on.

BF: Why did they resist earlier? What were some of the beliefs associated with this group that made them sort of anti-denominational?

GH: Yeah, well one of, one of Uchimura's learning in one of the seminaries in the Boston area -- he had an opportunity to go to school and he... I have that, somebody translated part of his diary. So I have a little bit of that, that I've been read -- that's the only thing I have that's kind of directly related to Uchimura's own writings. And this is a translation of his diary. So, he's saying, in essence to that question -- as he was leaving Japan, returning after several years' study -- Christianity is good and it's, it's very useful in Japan. But all this political stuff, clap-trap, it could remain here. He was referring to all these various denominations. It should, it should be one Protestant church, one united church. And that's what he was preaching. So part of his message was that kind of unity, a spiritual unity rather than decimating your energy into all these differences. And, so out of that kind of emphasis, they, they resisted, and they... and the fact that they were of interest to others must have reflected positively to maintain their difference.

BF: Um.

GH: And so...

BF: And this is that group that...

GH: Yeah.

BF: ...came from Japan all together...

GH: Yeah.

BF: ...from this one class, this one teacher?

GH: Well, yeah, and those who were attracted to join them.

BF: Oh, once they arrived?

GH: Yeah, and met with them. Some of them, when they moved to communities that had established churches, some of them joined other churches. But this group sort of -- the core, stayed as their teacher intended.

BF: And I, you were mentioning before that the beliefs also include not having one minister. Not having...

GH: Yeah.

BF: ...that they shared the...

GH: Yeah, that the, this message was available to everyone and it wasn't through, through somebody, and the responsibility was your own. So that made them search further, and resist and face competition. The competition not only with other churches in terms of organizational, it was other temptations. And so, resisting this church invitation was just part of resisting temptations [Laughs] more, so to speak. So it wasn't especially organized resistance to the -- 'cause they did go to conferences and gatherings, Christian gatherings. Their part, they felt they're part of the group. But they were little unique.

BF: Uh-huh.

GH: And they felt that there was something valuable in the uniqueness. And, and they persisted in that. And I wouldn't, I wouldn't be surprised. I would be happy if somebody following this -- this, this professor is too old to be the one to do that. But others might be able to come out researching the seeds of this group.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

BF: Do you know if this group still exists in some sort of modified form?

GH: Yeah, it's there, some -- but it didn't spread.

BF: Oh.

GH: This movement did not spread, but those who did join were strong.

BF: Yeah.

GH: They, they were, they maintained their presence, their identity, but they didn't spread very much.

BF: Uh-huh.

GH: So, I got the feeling that they did attract some people and, and it was a powerful attraction...

BF: Uh-huh.

GH: ...for them. But others who didn't get that powerful attraction went on, drifted into other groups.

BF: So you had to be sort of -- it was a strong group of very committed...

GH: Yeah.

BF: ...independent people...

GH: Right

BF: ...and maybe finding people like that is sort of rare.

GH: Yeah...

BF: So...

GH: this -- you through your family relation, this Murakami family were neighbor farmers.

BF: Murayama.

GH: Murayama, yeah.

BF: Uh-huh.

GH: They were one of the farm members...

BF: Oh.

GH: ...and somehow they began to, through friendly, friendship and so on, and probably social relations, joined, or began to attend some of the meetings and became members. They, they had a few. There was the Japanese fellow who went, one of the early ones who went through mechanical training and got a license to be a garage operator. And he did all the repairs of tractors and trucks. When the trucks were purchased, they were just trucks without, just the cab. He had to, you know, he even was involved in building the table, the back table and the sides and so on. We all did it through his help and...

BF: Because this group formed a, they worked cooperatively as farmers...

GH: Yeah.

BF: well.

GH: Yeah, the main, main group was a co-op farm, even. So it was like, farming was... and facing -- and the difficult... I think one of the things that solidified and strengthened that group was the difficulties they ran in as poor farmers, economically. See, they had -- it was after World War, well, during World War II that most of them got married. And the marriage went through the same thing. I think the process was practically identical whether they were in Japan or in the Northwest, U.S.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

BF: I'm sorry. They were married during World War II or World War I?

GH: World War I.

BF: Yeah, uh-huh.

GH: Yeah. And so when it became time for marriage, they realized, "Hey, we should be getting married." You know, they're getting to be twenty-five and that sort of thing. And in exchanges, letters with their families, they got the family involved. That's what would've been done if they lived in Japan, except more, more would've come in, "Hey, how 'bout that -- ?" "Hey, did you notice that daughter that lives over there? What do you think?" [Laughs] Well, that sort of conversation came up. And in my own parents, my mother was selected, not accidentally. I mean it came through relations. My father's older sister -- my father was second in rank, sibling rank -- the older sister was married to someone who was my mother's uncle. Matsuoka family had a number of kids, daughters mainly, and finally got a son on his seventh kid or something like that. So he was relatively young for being an uncle. They were only seven years apart, so he was like an older brother to... and my mother, after she was born, her younger brother was born, gee, almost eight or nine years later.

BF: Wow.

GH: And she died as a result of complications from childbirth.

BF: Oh, your mother's mother.

GH: Yeah.

BF: Your grandmother?

GH: Yeah, she died. And I don't know what all the situation was but when she died there was her who was about nine, and the new baby. And her father didn't stay around and I don't know if he didn't want the responsibility, or, or the mother's maternal grandparents strongly put their hands in and said, "These are our kids and we're gonna take care of 'em." I don't know what the situation was. It had an impact. My mother doesn't have good memories of the father. Well, she was nine, so she remembers him.

BF: Right.

GH: And she feels abandoned. She, not that she wasn't well taken care of. She was taken care of and raised as a member of the family of the grandparents. So this person who was like an older brother -- you know when it was cold and wintry, he would carry her on the back, on the way to school. So she was well taken care of. And he was like an older brother. And when he became of a marriageable age, the two families, Mother's family and Dad's family arranged for the marriage of this older brother, older brother/uncle, with Dad's older sister. So they were married. And so, somebody that would come to mind would be this younger sister [Laughs] that grew up in the family.

BF: Yeah.

GH: And, what about her? Well, she happened to be already a bright, attractive person. So she would be -- questions would come up, "How 'bout her?" -- sort of questions would come up anyway. But it came up, and pictures were exchanged and all that sort of thing. So all the relationship that would've happened were in process. And, except physically meeting at some point, or taking a peek or something while they're exchanging pictures. And if you read some of the early reports by some of the researchers in Southern California about Issei's history and marriage and so on, funny things took place. I mean they weren't the norm, but funny things occurred. Like a person who had a handsome guy in the group frequently sent the handsome guy's picture as his own. And the picture of, you know I'm doing pretty well and so on, inflated picture. So lot of the wives started their marriage in tears. Disappointment, you know, "Oh, is this the house?" "No, no, no it's further in." "This house?" Finally getting down to the shack that was their home. And with all the involvement of the families she couldn't face the shame of not standing up, not doing her share, she spoiled this and that and couldn't do her duty as a mother, or a wife. So that would be a failure. So they just had to stay. You know, they were really stuck.

BF: What was, did your mother have an unpleasant...

GH: I didn't hear that part.

BF: ...surprise? [Laughs]

GH: I never had the insight to ask those questions. I had lots of questions later that I could've asked, but I never got to that point. I think, questions, you know questions would've arisen. Not as many as would be raised by the Sanseis and the current crop of marital partners. They're more critical and they wouldn't take things. There would be more divorces and so on.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

GH: But most people survived and, in fact in my talking with some of the Canadian Issei women, they say -- you know I have to say this carefully, because I don't wanna give the wrong impression to people inquiring. But when the war came, and we had to move into camps and, and be fed, well in Canadian, they did their own cooking. They didn't have this centralized camp mess halls and so on. They went into small little shacks rather than in dormitories with barrack.

BF: Right.

GH: So they, they had a better family continuity in that sense and controls. Lot of the Isseis lost control, particularly of women. Girls growing up, dating and going to dances and so on. Some of 'em never, the only time they went to dances were when schools had it. Or they went out saying, "I'm going out with my girlfriends." And then the girls would join up with boys. They had their ways of escaping the controls to some extent. I remember in high school, making group dates and saying, "Well, we'll come over and pick you up then." "Oh, don't come to the house. Go over to so-and-so's house. We're gonna meet there. That's where my folks think we're having a party," and so on. So that kind of things existed, so that this Issei woman said, "You know for the, for the average wives, Issei wives, the camp life was a picnic. For the first time we had a chance to go to a knitting class, and cooking classes and discussion groups. We didn't have time for that. We had to, we learned our knitting by, out of necessity, transforming older members of the family's clothing to the next one," and so on. They seldom had fresh, new clothes. And they said it was a real hard life, the Issei women. And so they, for the first time they didn't have to worry, they didn't have to worry about where their groceries were coming from and so on. And, "As bad as the restrictions were in camp, we women really had a picnic compared to what we were going through."

BF: Yeah.

GH: So that was one picture, and I can, I can relate to that.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

BF: 'Cause your parents were, were farmers and you had mentioned earlier that it was a tough existence.

GH: Yeah, yeah.

BF: Family farms, kind of working together as a co-op.

GH: The co-op attitude and morale and so on, they did more sharing. So that while it was difficult, the men were there sharing with that. They weren't living like a king and the others suffering. They all suffered. They shared more.

BF: Was this fairly unusual? 'Cause I know that the area that your parents lived in -- this was the Auburn valley...

GH: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

BF: ...there were quite a few Japanese farms.

GH: Yeah.

BF: It was a big immigration...

GH: That's right.

BF: ...area.

GH: That's right.

BF: But was this small co-op, was that fairly unusual at that time?

GH: Yeah, it was very unusual. They did have co-ops where brothers ran a dairy, for example. And dairy, dairies could be run with some private family activities, because they could take turns on weekends. Certain weekends off they can go off to a picnic, or go off to town. But it was very hard for a single family to run a dairy. And if the kids weren't interested in carrying on, they had to sell 'cause there's no family takeover. In the sugar beet areas, they were able to move in 'cause Scandinavians and Ukrainians, farmers, and so on, who did the sugar beet areas, earlier immigrants, they were moving in to the industrialization that was spreading...

BF: Oh, uh-huh.

GH: the wake of World War II. And so farming became available to them and a lot of 'em took over and just stayed on. And place like Ontario, Oregon, were greatly due to, development there was due to the Japanese that stayed. And so, and a lot of the Japanese that stayed were community-minded people. They, they developed that community, not only industrially but socially too. So, the attitude there is much better than in, for example a town about 8 miles north, Weiser, Idaho where my parents were. I remember just visiting there. There was a little more discrimination. There was a pool club, pool hall you know. And there was one Japanese family that had a kid in high school age, and he was allowed in as an exception. No non-whites. So the rest of us who came weren't invited there.

BF: And this is postwar World War II...

GH: Yeah...

BF: ...when your parents resettled there.

GH: ...yeah. During and postwar. And they moved up to Spokane eventually.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

BF: What about, this may be hard for you to remember, you were, you were young. But in the prewar period when your family was farming in the Auburn area, do you remember understanding that there was discrimination? Understanding...

GH: Oh yes.

BF: What...

GH: Yeah.

BF: What do you remember from that?

GH: Well, discrimination was a way of life. I was going to school. I'm learning about the First Amendment, Bill of Rights and all that. Really finding that attractive. And I'm adopting it personally and appreciating it as part of our constitutional background, but knowing that this doesn't exist for us. We had, we had other restrictions. We have this as a kind of an ideal. Just like lot of the Christian ideals, you know. We don't, we don't treat the poor in the way the Bible says. I mean, that's like an ideal. And there's the way of life here, the true way of life. So we had a way of life that I'm noting, daily experiences of one type or another. It wasn't harshly discriminatory, but there was a class difference, opportunity differences. And that started from the time the immigrants came. Immigrants came with work permits -- Asian immigrants -- which said, in addition, only work, only work permit, and it says, "Not eligible for naturalization." And then as a result of that restriction, Oregon, Washington and California legislation, state legislation, they added, "Those who are not eligible for citizenship aren't eligible for owning land." That was an added restriction from one other restriction at the federal level. But if you compare to Canada, we -- and that was a loophole, I think. In retrospect, it was a loophole that the whites who were discriminating didn't realize, this loophole, and so they let children born to immigrants, not eligible, can become citizens. So we became citizens. In Canada, they didn't have franchise until 1949.

BF: I'm sorry, franchise?

GH: Voting.

BF: Oh.

GH: They couldn't vote.

BF: Oh.

GH: We could vote after twenty-one. So we can exercise that part of citizenship. We didn't, we couldn't get into civil service. There wasn't a law that said you couldn't, but we, we didn't have one. We didn't have a schoolteacher. In Canada they had one that they permitted because of a fishing village with largely Japanese kids. She taught there. But she became like a principal because of her experience, when they were having schools established with volunteers. Plus this one trained teacher. Lot of the high school students became teachers, teacher's aides during the war, in these little ghost towns that were revived. They didn't have this construction battalion establishing a community of barracks you know, like a army, except that it was kids and women and so on in one area, not just males as in those days. So we had this -- it was, it was one of the things that we learned to do. We can believe in certain ideals. And we were practicing that in some ways. Religion was like that. You talked about all these great ideals, ideals. And on Monday it was different. Lot of churches didn't follow the same principles on Monday, as on... you know they used a different law to foreclose on a widow with three kids. Get 'em out in the street 'cause they, she couldn't pay the rent. We didn't throw this law away. We just found an exception for that. And so we just kept these two things from clashing and...

BF: The reality and the ideal.

GH: Yeah, and so we had this discrimination, to Asians. The Native Indians were worse. And Asians added to the discrimination. And the blacks had it worse. But, so we knew there were gradations, and we weren't the worst ones. But we weren't in, in the boat with the whites.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

So when I'm invited... now I was in a, an exception. And I guess they used, they must have had me in there as a token...

BF: An exception to...?

GH: General discrimination. I was in high school, one of the elite clubs in high school, the high school YMCA, or the "Y." Well, it was men, because it was in the boy's club. We belong, I was invited, it was elected in, you see.

BF: To just be a member?

GH: Yeah, the membership invited others that they wanted to maintain themselves. So I was in there and I got another friend of mine in while I was in. So I had a friend with me. I had other friends too, but I had difficulty on dates 'cause I, we weren't free to date. I just considered it as off limits.

BF: Non-Japanese?

GH: Yeah. I had, I think I had friends that I could have invited. And she would have accepted. I don't know if people would have felt comfortable there, but... so I get somebody. And we had twin girls, my friend and I had twin girls that we used to date, who was outgoing and pleasant and so on. And we actually -- at least I did, I started going with this girl for about a year. In fact, I'm related to that family now. I didn't marry one of the twins, but if I didn't go to university, I don't know, I might've married one of 'em. We, we carried on after I was in university for, you know year or so, letters and so on. But your contacts -- if you don't maintain your contacts, the friendship drops, becomes infrequent, and then none contact. Well that sort of thing happened and, so we -- during World War II I found that I couldn't easily keep this apart. In fact, I had to face it. And I had to then say, "No." I had to say, "No," in certain circumstances. But each time, only when I, when I faced it and I couldn't -- like I was, I was going along with curfew restrictions. I thought it was wrong. But it wasn't wrong in the sense that that kind of discrimination didn't exist. We had it in all sorts of things on this side. But, officially it was wrong. And usually, like restrictive covenant, they always had it rationalized one way or another. To let it exist, "Well that's, we still, that's not part of the practice but it's accepted if it's a private practice, like, that's a private home." So they kind of called it private. So you can do that on a private contract, but not on public. Later on, after World War II, you can't, you can't do things in private that is not accepted in general. That, so even the general rules became more intermeshed. It became more difficult to discriminate.

BF: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Yeah, we're coming to the end of the tape, but before we end, I just wanted to ask a question, to follow up something. When you talked about the religious group that your parents belonged to, and you're talking about perhaps more people that you researched, do you know the name of the group? What they were called, or what they call themselves?

GH: Yeah, they call themselves, in English, it doesn't come strictly out of English, but they referred to themselves as "Friends of Jesus." Thomas, Thomas was a area -- Thomas, between Kent and Auburn. Kyouyuukai. Now you could ask somebody who speaks Japanese what's the translation of kyouyuukai. It's, it's a meeting of some type. It's a group meeting. And then Thomas, Thomas Kyouyuukai. And so since it was related to followers of Jesus, they just sort of used that as a kind of a loose translation. The non-church part had a name, a more general name. This person Uchimura, who was known as the leader of the non-church movement -- they called it non-church movement. It wasn't literally non-church, it was non-denominational. It was non, that way. It wasn't that he opposed everything.

TI: Okay, good. Thank you.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 13>

BF: Well let's, let's talk about, more about your parents and... what was your mother like? Your, she came over as a picture bride, and was a farmer's wife, which was a hard life. What was she like? What do you remember of her values and lessons?


GH: My mother never liked the farm. I can say this 'cause she said it many times, bluntly and, and her values indicated it. She felt imprisoned by it. And we all felt, the bro -- see, we have, I have three brothers and a nurse -- and a sister. And my sister became head charge nurse. She, she could've gotten a master's in nursing. She just did it in her own work and didn't work towards a degree status. Given a different situation, she might've gone on to become one of the instructors or something, 'cause nursing now has Ph.D's. But, I had three brothers, all of whom are professionals, different fields. One of 'em is in education, my youngest brother is in education. And it's like sociology of education, 'cause it, it's overlapped with teaching, teaching but in certain areas. And he's interested -- he's always was good in communication with different ages. There was an old grandfather type who did our, he owned the horses. And he used to come in and did the plowing for the whole co-op, cultivating and so on. And, he would've, he wouldn't have survived without the work that he did for us. And we, we needed him. So it was a mutual... he took care of the horses, so we didn't need to worry about that. And his wife had a chicken coop that... so we got eggs and chickens when we could afford it. So that was a function she served.

BF: And your brother communicated well with them?

GH: Yeah, my youngest brother had a way of chatting with that old grandfather, and get along. And he, he showed that by having an interest in early childhood education. But he, but the oldest, I mean, but the youngest group he could get to when he first asked, was seventh grade. It was women's territory before that. And then he got to fifth grade, and then third grade, and then finally the whole range. And he wanted that experience 'cause he wanted to teach in that area. And he became an early childhood specialist.

BF: He's a, so he's a, he has a Ph.D now?

GH: Yeah.

BF: He teaches teachers.

GH: Yeah.

BF: Uh-huh. And your other brothers...?

GH: And he's up in Canada. He, and through opportunity he came up to Canada. University of Washington was closing down its education program. The way they kept certain program was, depended on who's there, you know. And his early childhood education that had the most number of students, was sacrificed for maintaining the secondary training or something, which is available in every college, and the early childhood was not. So he was looking around when University of Calgary advertised, nationally, and... and that, in 1980, my brother showed me this. I was on sabbatical, so we were playing racquetball together at certain periods. And so we, I looked at it and I said, "Gee, this, this ad looks like something you prepared for yourself." Says, "Well, this is in your magazine. How come?" He says, "Well, the only trouble is, yeah, there's a regulation now to encourage Canadian employment." "So even if you're available and they wanted you, they, this is something that a Canadian would be given first shot at." "Well, why are they advertising in an American magazine?" I said, "Well, maybe they did that, and they got permission to advertise 'cause they couldn't fill it. Write in and ask." So he sent his vita and asked this question saying my brother teaches at Edmonton, University of Alberta, sociology, and he said, "Canadians have regulations, and they have to hire Canadians if they are there." And they said, "Yes, we couldn't find anybody, so we're given permission to teach" -- I mean "advertise internationally." So we're glad to have your vita and you're under consideration," and so on. Eventually he got it.

BF: And your two other brothers, both also are professors?

GH: Yeah.

BF: Wow.

TI: Excuse me, just a second. I want to keep straight. The one who went to University of Calgary, that's Richard?

GH: Yeah.

TI: Okay, I wanna get these names...

GH: He's still there.

TI: So I can keep, keep track of all...

GH: Richard, Richard is, if he were at my school, he would've been retired two years ago, 'cause we have the old regulation, sixty-five and out. Even if you're good or not.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

BF: And where do your two other brothers, where are they at?

GH: They're, one of 'em is the chief curator of the Japanese American National Museum.

BF: That's right. And his name?

GH: James.

BF: James.

GH: He was, he did a lot of administrative work in addition to being a professor of anthropology. He went to, he went to museum because he advised them what to go for. And he said, "You should get somebody trained in anthropology, museology, cultural training and so on, 'cause that's what you need. But you oughta get somebody that's a Sansei. And, and your first exhibit is on the Issei, and that's my parents. And I have a special concern for that. I don't want my parents to be data, data supplier for some guy's series. I want them to be the subject matter of the study. And stay the subject matter, not the object of somebody's tests of, using my parents just as data. So get somebody who treats people like human beings. [Laughs] And, but who's trained in this field, not like, for example, Egyptologists or classics people who are studying that civilization. They're going in more for, from the classics perspective. And anthropologist would be more suitable for getting the right kind of people, interviewers and so on." And so he, he sold them this package of ideas. And he bought it, said, "The board bought it and they're ready to go that way. But we couldn't find anybody to do it, so you gotta come." Says, "Well I'm retiring early, at sixty-two. The end of this year I'm retiring because I've been participating in Asian American theater, and, but, I've been doing it during my spare time and so on. When I'm practicing lines in the mornings, I get up earlier and I'm just saying it to myself, the different lines. I'm practicing like that. I wanna, I wanna put full time effort on Asian American theater. So I'm retiring three years early to do that 'cause they said, 'Here's the package. You release your position. We give you as though you retired at sixty-five. Give you full credit.' " So he took that. So he said, "I'm retiring but I've got, I've got this job, this position I'm going to fill in." And they came back some more. [Laughs] They still couldn't find anybody. So finally, he says, "Well, I'll tell you some other reason why I don't, I'm not available. I never wanted to work in -- I never wanted to live in Los Angeles. I'm a San Francisco guy." They feel the same way, each other. They have their prejudices. So he says, "I'll never live in Los Angeles. So that makes it out, you're located in Los Angeles."

And so, they finally worked out, I mean they were desperate so they had to work something out. And finally they met his main objections by hiring him part-time. Half-time so he could help get that system working. And going on Wednesday and staying through Saturday, because it's a volunteer's day, and it's important that he's around to find out who's volunteering and what, what training they need to pick up the pieces. And particularly they had, they made some good decisions about financing. They got a committee of millionaire Niseis to become the core of the committee. But they didn't know beans about the theory he was telling him about, telling them about. So he had to work on them [Laughs] and get them aboard that way, too. And so he comes back Sunday morning sometime. And he had a very good close friend who, who unfortunately divorced. And he stayed on at San Francisco, but she went on and got on the museum staff. And she was one of those working hard to get him, 'cause she's worked with him on all kinds of projects and felt that he would be useful to the museum. And finally they worked out a half-time position. And so he'd go down Wednesdays, come back Sundays, until he had a heart attack. [Laughs]

BF: Oh.

GH: He wasn't, he was not recovering. And his wife finally said, "I'm going with you. We're going over to see your physician and get checked, 'cause there's, now something wrong here." And the guy put him on a treadmill, and going to test for data first. And after a couple minutes he collapsed. And he didn't even wait. He checked and he found out what his readings were and so on, and he just did -- what do they call it when they have the balloon system?

BF: Angioplasty.

GH: Angioplasty. And he was 97 percent closure. [Laughs] And so that opened it up. And then after about a year he had to do it again. And since then he's been fine. But it shook him enough that he really changed his diet and follows it rigorously. That I can't do. I've had bypass. He told me he, he says it depends a lot on, he thinks it depends a lot on who your doctor is. And this guy is a specialist, angioplasty. So he goes to that first off, you see.

BF: The method of choice. Wow. What about your other brother -- ? 'Cause I don't wanna exclude him.

GH: He was in, he was in a field, behavioral -- philosophy, but behavioral philosophy. And so...

BF: And what's his name?

GH: Edward.

BF: Edward.

GH: Yeah. And he was teaching at the State University of New York, in the -- SUNY, State University of New York, and initials, SUNY -- at New Paltz, which is near Poughkeepsie. And teaching in the behavioral sciences, general course. And used to teach, you know, 1000 students, lecturing and so on. He was pretty good at that. And he had a good philosophical background for the stuff that they wanted to get the students to think about. And then he got hired by State Department to come in and help with South American program that they wanted to introduce into the field, in Ecuador. So he went there for a couple year. And they wanted him to stay on, so he asked for an addition. And finally at the fifth year or thereabouts, he, they said, "Make up your mind. You gonna be the government or come back, 'cause we got, we got to, we can't just keep this position on a temporary. We got to find a good guy to replace you, otherwise we're just filling in with odds and ends."

BF: Uh-huh.

GH: And so he then realized that he couldn't afford to come back down to that university's level. So he stayed on and he retired as one of the senior, I don't know what they have the grades.

BF: Right.

GH: He was, yeah, he was down, like a director of programs and so on. And he's retired now in the wine country.

BF: And your sister, you said, was, is a charge nurse. Is that in the Seattle area?

GH: Yeah, she, yeah. She was long time with the Group Health, and became charge nurse of, you know -- if you're recovering from heart and so on, you have to, you only have about seven patients you're looking after 'cause you got to monitor them very carefully, closely. So she was doing that sort of thing and helping with individual doctors, maintaining their offices, 'cause many of them had private patients, too. They squeezed it in. And so she worked, worked in those areas 'til she retired.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

BF: Now you had said earlier that someone had mentioned that the, your parents' influence in some ways was the strongest with you, as opposed to your, your siblings. In what areas do you think you most sort of reflect your parents'...?

GH: Well, I think in answering that question, I'm gonna, they impacted on me in couple of different ways.

BF: Uh-huh.

GH: My mother influenced me in moving out of agriculture.

BF: Because you said she, she did not like farming.

GH: She didn't like it and she made me feeling the same way. [Laughs] I always wanted to be friends with farmers, but I never was gonna be one. I never liked it. I, I...

BF: Did you have to do a lot of the work on the farm?

GH Yeah, but I did other things. I helped, I would -- I volunteered to go home earlier, half hour earlier and get the rice on.

BF: Oh.

GH: Get the fire, it's a wood stove so get the fire going and clean the rice, and get it going. I got to be pretty good at that before the rice cooker stage.

BF: Uh-huh, so you would go, leave the, the, the crops...

GH: Yeah.

BF: go help your mom.

GH: Yeah, and then I used to do a lot to the, if there was a tractor, I drove it. And I drove the trucks since I was about eight.

BF: Uh-huh.

GH: You know, Model A's first, and then gears, before I could hardly touch the throttle and brakes, and so on.

BF: Do you remember how old you probably were when you were driving around this heavy equipment?

GH: Well, I, I, about twelve years old I was driving on the highway. But lot of kids were driving anyway...

BF: Yeah.

GH: ...but they were probably fifteen or something. I used to take a load into packing houses. They'd load it on -- I couldn't load 'em. And then taking it off, they would take it off...

BF: 'Cause you're too little.

GH: Yeah. [Laughs] I was too young.

BF: And so you would, instead of doing the manual work...

GH: And so, so I'd, I'd do those things...

BF: Yeah.

GH: ...and then at an early age, before I knew what the score was, I used to get up and did stuff for Western Avenue Market, you know, farmer's market, wholesalers and so on. I'd come in -- I have to leave about four o'clock in the morning and be there by five, five-thirty, and leaving stuff at various places. And then, so I did, I learned a little business background doing that sort of thing and dealing with others. I did that. That way I got off afternoon work and so on and did... oh, in fact they did the, they did the packing of the things so that I just drove out. So, I did that sort of thing partly because I, I had the same attitude as Mom.

BF: Didn't wanna do...

GH: Yeah, I didn't want...

BF: ...the weeding and the...

GH: ...the dirt, dirt stuff, you know. For better or worse, I had that attitude. And I especially didn't like working with manure and stuff like that, 'cause Mom hated it. She did it, but she hated it.

BF: She must've been rather unhappy?

GH: Well farm, she did it, she didn't know any alternative. She, we tried, we tried one year when I was about four or five, not yet in school -- it was early '20s -- it was very difficult.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

GH: We had postwar depression. And that's the years when they were doing Charleston and stuff like that. It was before the big depression. But we already had the postwar depression. Farming was very difficult, and we're having the case. And not going very well.

BF: Now this was the, a case where your...

GH: Yeah.

BF: ...your parents were in trouble for...?

GH: We were part of this co-op, 40 acre co-op called, White River Gardens. (In Japanese, it would be called shirokawa kumiai.) And the farm was in the name of the largest contributor, daughter, she was the oldest Nisei, ten years old. And her, she had, for legal purposes, an advisor. Her legal guardian was the wife of a Japanese missionary, that is missionary to Japan -- Irish family named (U.G. for Ulysses Grant) Murphy. He used to come out once a month and talk with the families' group.

BF: So the fam -- the co-op couldn't own land. The adults, the Isseis couldn't own the land...

GH: Yeah, that's right.

BF: ...and so they put it in the name of one of the daughters...

GH: Yeah, yeah.

BF: ...the oldest daughter. And they had a advisor who was Caucasian...

GH: Yeah, yeah.

BF: ...a minister. Okay.

GH: Minister's wife.

BF: And how did they, how did the authorities get involved? How did --

GH: Well, they were checking up on things. And the others had Caucasian adults they were using -- subterfuges. But either they were doing that, or they were legally renting from Caucasians. And sometimes it was, they put up most of the money towards purchase, but using this guy and paying him rent. And...

BF: So the...

GH: I think most, wherever there were inquiries made, they made whatever adjustments were necessary. This group, out of their religious principles of being honest -- I mean, you know, being honest and putting it in a daughter's name, you could say, well, that's not as honest as you think. It's a subterfuge. Well, that's what they called it too.

BF: The government?

GH: Yeah, yeah. But you could leave, you could leave, you could buy property. Caucasians were buying property for their kids. Leave it in their, for inheritance, you know.

BF: Right.

GH: So they were doing this not -- they didn't invent this idea, it was being used. So they used this, and, mainly because they weren't able to buy it. But this was a device that was used by others, so they were using it.

BF: But instead of when...

GH: Yeah, instead of...

BF: ...the authorities come changing --

GH: They could've compromised and paid off somebody or other. I mean this, it's being done. But this minister was the, you know, the religious advisor, he'd come in once a month and spend the time visiting with families, and then gave the main sermon, and then left on Sunday night. So he came Saturday, probably and stayed at this neighbor's house, he had the best house. And he made money during World War I running a pig farm. And he had, he said, he was telling me this, "Boy, on weekends you have whole meals, boiled eggs by the dozens." 'Cause they're not there, they still cook it, you see. We, we would say, "Who's taking off, and who's not?" And we'd reduce the amount we cook. But they just cooked the whole batch, and says, "We had this -- the pigs never had it so good." And so he did well. He had a contract to take the garbage, including this kind of weekends, rich food and so on. And with the money he made, he wanted to move to a place where they could expand and have 40 acres, with about three other colleagues. So he worked hard on this group, Dad's group, that were young people who were batching, working on the thing and then each, one by one got married, and they now have families. And three of 'em agreed to move out with him.

TI: You're referring to Mr. Katsuno?

GH: Yeah. And, but they didn't have money, see. They were just surviving. So Katsuno put up the money, the down payment and the major expenses. They built houses, you know. Pretty good houses. And so we had better than normal housing for Japanese farmers in that area. And, Katsunos, eventually they got indoor plumbing and so on, but at the beginning we all had outhouses. So...

BF: And so they were the ones who put the land, it was their daughter whose name the land was in?

GH: Yeah, their daughter was there. She was only ten, so she was going through grade school. And then eventually graduated, and then went to university, and stayed with one of the families they knew. Oh, they, they made sure she was with somebody who took authority, you know, responsibilities. So...

BF: Now --

GH: She went a couple years, then got married.

BF: Uh-huh, uh-huh. But when she was still young, this is when the case...

GH Yeah, it was during the '20s.

BF: ...was going on. She was still a minor.

GH: Yeah. She went to university in the latter '20s.

BF: Right. Now they lost this case.

GH: Yeah.

BF: It went all the way to the State Supreme Court...

GH: State Supreme Court.

BF: ...and they lost. Now did they lose all the land then? I mean, it went to --

GH: Well, yeah. Well, they, whatever they had put in, they lost it. We stayed on 'cause they didn't have any other purpose for this except to defeat us. And then we, we leased it from the government.

BF: Oh.

GH: So they were paying instead of towards their own, they were paying some kind of lease.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

GH: And I don't know the details of that, but my current wife got real interested, partly because -- we just had that yesterday. I wasn't home, but she told me, "Open this up on the morning of April 25th," when I'm leaving. I was on the plane yesterday. She said -- it was in my suitcase. "Open this on April 25." [Laughs] It was happy thirteenth anniversary. [Laughs]

BF: Oh.

GH: Wedding anniversary. Thirteen years ago we got married. And, '80, I guess that makes it '85 or '86, someplace around there. And I had told her earlier when I was courting her, "I never expected to be remarried." I was seventeen years between the marriages. And during the '70s and early part of the '80s, I was traveling a lot, doing research, taking contracts that brought me to all sorts of things, and being available for that sort of thing. I was, took a job. Seven weeks, six weeks they said first, but it took about seven weeks, being the social scientist in a project -- World Bank project, where they required at least one person must be a social scientist as part of the deal, grant. They were water engineers, this outfit, and they were hired for improving the water system or sanitation system, and so on in developing areas. And while they were doing the research in the Caribbeans, they were on Canadian grants, granting outfits, governments and so on. And they used to do this social survey by themselves. But World Bank required that you gotta hire a social scientist to do it. So they came in to -- somebody gave them my name as somebody that might do it. They came in and I listened to their project and I said, "Well, sounds interesting." "Well, if you're interested, how about considering it?" Says, "Well, I'm willing to do that. How much time do I have?" Says, "Well, like tomorrow?" [Laughs] They had to turn the application in. The deadline was the end of this week. And so they really had to... that's the only thing they didn't have. And, so I just decided it right there. I said, "All right, I'll take it then." And they just, we just worked out the financing and so on, and I took off. It took about seven weeks, but, that one... and it was a real challenge. But I found some United Nations surveys of that area. That was really helpful to me, so I didn't have to be completely in the dark. But I was working for a month with, you know one of those international fevers, Roman, "Roman runs," "Turkish trots," they call 'em. You know, tippy stomach, eating stuff that came out of human fertilizer and so on.

BF: Oh.

GH: That is human diseases. If it's an animal disease, it wouldn't come through even though you're using fertilizers, manures. But human fertilizer, you gotta watch it 'cause you're vulnerable to it. And you have to wash your, you know, use detergent to wash your vegetables and so on, and boil water. But I got lured. I was embarrassed to get this, because I'm internationally trained and experienced. And here I come down like a rookie. And I was trying to figure out, how come? And it's, it, when I got to Seoul I stayed in Hilton Hotel, couple days. And then I went out, on the train. I could see these villages, farmhouses, looked just like Japanese ones with tile roof and so on. And, eventually, I could see myself thinking, "It's just like Japan." Japan used to have these people who collected manure and, in villages. But they had changed, and they, so that previously you had to watch yourself eating raw vegetables and so on, and water, drinking water. But they had, by the time I visited, they were safe for us. So seeing those places that looked like Japanese houses, and Japanese villages, I wasn't so careful. And I came down with it in the middle of the first week, and it never left me, 'til 'bout fifth week. And by that time I was overcoming it. Nothing would stay. There were Koreans who were cooking in the hotel, and I just asked one of 'em, "Did you go to school during the Japanese, when they were in charge?" And he says, "Yeah." And I saw that he was making sushi and so on. "So, you learned sushi from the Japanese?" He says, "Yes." I said, "Have you ever heard of a thing called okai?" You know it's gruel, rice gruel. And I said, "Can you make me some?" [Laughs] He says, "Sure." I said, "I'm suffering, stomach problem and I can't eat anything, nothing stays in. And I've always had this... I grew up with it for illnesses. It's like juice and chicken soup, sort of thing." And so he made it for me. And 'bout that time the Canadian engineers who were there earlier, and had applied to the U.S. base for associate membership to the army officer's quarters for using the club, you know for restaurant, as a restaurant -- and they said, "We got our membership. Anybody interested could join us." And so I started eating out there. And you could, you could literally smell the detergent.

TI: On the salads and all?

GH: Yeah, but it felt like a welcome taste. [Laughs]

BF: Yeah.

GH: You know. And about that time I was getting better. So I didn't have problems. But I worked through the first five weeks or so, with half energy. I never was bedridden. But, I didn't have a lot of -- and it was summer, real hot and humid in South Korea. So, I did that sort of thing and got fooled by superficial things that led me to relax my care of myself. Well, I'm explaining all of this because I grew up with a certain background, and, and I used some environmental impacts for making my final decisions. I would go into programs.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

GH: Now, my mother influenced me on a lot of the personal taste regarding farming. And I could see, with her skill in writing -- some of she, she had published, some of the stuff that she had written to Japan were published in, by her relatives. They showed the letters, and they said, well, some newspapers published as a description of situation...

BF: Of life in America?

GH: Yeah, yeah.

BF: Oh, interesting.

GH: That sort of thing. She had a flair for that. And, and when the neighbor woman read it, Mrs. Katsuno read it, she said, "Did you write this one?" 'Cause it said, A Farmer's Wife. It was written anonymously. I mean, it didn't give the name. And she acted innocent. And so she never said it, but she suspected. "This sounds just like you." And so she had a flair for that sort of thing. And, I feel that she gave each of us, a kind of a life philosophy or perspective that went beyond high school. So we always had a picture. The picture was impossible, like Ivy League. She picked it up someplace. "That's the cream of the crop," or something. "So you're going to Yale or Harvard," or something, without knowing what's involved. She couldn't, even if I got an invitation she couldn't, you know...

BF: Afford to...

GH: There's no, we barely went to University of Washington. [Laughs] With working my way, with some help from the parents and so on, with a job, taking less than a full course. My B.A. was my hardest degree. It took nine years, well, counting three years of war. Well, even taking that off, it's six years. So it was work and go, work and go, or working as I went, both aspects. I went half year and -- Washington was on a quarter system -- so I'd go six months, two quarters, and work two quarters. And, finally I'm, I realize I'm missing something significant by not going to school in the spring. So I changed after two years, going the full three quarters, taking three quarter load or something, and working, taking a little job that would keep me in school. And then worked as a truck driver during the summer.

BF: Now, besides stressing education, did your mother also want, did she seem to try and expose you to a lot of different experiences culturally, or...?

GH: No, not, she didn't have the contacts to do that for us. But in terms of goals and ideas and, including that in the picture, she did her part.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

BF: What about your father?

GH: Oh, Father was one of those, he influenced us more in terms of religion. At one stage, when I began to get argumentative, I accused him once. I said, "You, you are opposed to our gambling. You don't even have playing cards in the house. 'Course you, you would, you recorded with disdain about this guy who gambled, and so on. I, I respect that, but what about you? You're involved in farming. Look, you involve all of us to get, work in the farm, all, say six months from winter -- seeding things and fertilizing the fields and all sorts of things for crop time when we get our money. And sometimes the bugs would come right at the time when we're harvesting and it destroys the value of our income, or the price goes down, or it rains and it opens up and gets slimy. That's the biggest gamble there is. And you're gambling our lives. How can you justify that?"

BF: What did he say?

GH: He listens to that and he laughs, "That's good," he says, and he walks away. That didn't discourage him one bit. He loved it. He loved the work. It was honest work, honest day's work, you know. He says, "I can't control weather, that's God's domain." And as far as he was concerned, so was the price and so on. And so, he never worried about it. But he, and he never really, he wasn't like, "If you following these golden rules," with a whip or anything. He just was his own, I mean I could see it -- Uchimura Kanzo, his principles, I could see it emanating out of his life. For twenty years I'm watching this. I'm going to school for twenty years learning what Uchimura Kanzo's principles are. Not his rationalizations, what his principles, what it means 'cause he's living it. Not like some people who would take advantage of it where it's handy, and avoid it when it's unpleasant. He lives it all the way through. And he could laugh. He could laugh at the worst catastrophes. I mean, it's something that he has to cope with.

BF: So he, you were mentioning that he was very honest in his work, in his business dealings. And that's one way you saw that. And you mentioned just now, that he, he was very, sounds like he was very positive in the face of...

GH: Yeah, yeah.

BF: Could you go more into that? Or, could you give me more examples of what you saw?

GH: Well, buyers for packing houses -- there were competing packing houses, especially when vegetables were short -- they'd be making bids for this patch here. Buying it. They have a way of estimating what could come out, how many crates. And so they buy it. "We'll give you, you save, you give us that's -- we'll promise you this." And, they would, there was a reputation that stuck with Dad particularly, but with this group, this co-op group in general, but particularly with Dad. If he says he'll do something, he'll do it. He was respected for that. Mom would laugh sometimes, says, "Only a fool and you would do it." [Laughs] But she also respected him for his strength on that sort of thing. And when we're packing crates of cauliflower -- you know, you put in about a dozen cauliflower and you mix it so that you don't put the best six in, but you mix it so it comes out even. Every crate is first class but it could be better if you just picked the best. Well, he didn't do that. But he, he tended to, like packing crates of lettuce, the top dozen is distinctly better in other farms. In ours it was more generally the same. It means this top is a sample of...

BF: What's really in there.

GH: Yeah, he tried to follow that principle. And so his was more standard straight through. And, he had that reputation by the buyers. And so...

BF: They knew what they were getting.

GH: I can, I can see that he's respected for his position and his standards. So, I had a respect for that, but I never liked it. I never liked farming. And, so, and then when he'd go to... annually he'd pay his debts at the end of the crop. And then September it's ready to start our borrowing again. In other words, the payment, they have to carry us until the next crop. And the crop would start in in June, but, June, July and August they'd be getting paid and it's all paid up only to start again. [Laughs]

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

GH: And that, when I was around four, four, must've been four and a half or something, after one summer, I guess Mom got fed up. I don't know all the things that went into the final decision, but what happened was we left and went to Seattle. And she got a job as a chambermaid. I think this minister helped to find that position for her, for Mom. And she was a chambermaid and we got two rooms. And Dad got a job in a sawmill in West Seattle.

BF: Oh, so they left the, they left this co-op?

GH: Well, they left the co-op for the winter, anyway.

BF: Oh, I see.

GH: Yeah, I think, I think, generally, that was the picture and that they would be back in the spring. And, so, that was the first time we had money in the winter, 'cause she was, we were living off of her. We had a place to live and she was getting a salary. And Dad was getting his monthly salary. I don't know where he boarded, but he had, he came home on weekends. And he was home for two days and then went to work. And, so most of his salary, great proportion of his salary was in savings. Now that's the difference it made in that, just this half a year, in the winter.

BF: But your family only did that one year?

GH: Yeah, but two things happened to bring us back. One was, Mr. Katsuno came in looking like a guy that lost his whole life. And in some ways he was disappointed that our family left, 'cause I think we were the closest associate of his. And in communications we were, 'cause Mom was a good talker, and she was always interesting to listen to and so on. And in their religious meetings, they each shared their impressions of the week. They took turns sharing that. So each of them learned to express themselves and their life, and encouragement to each other. That was their worship session once a week. Then they'd visit. And there were various other kinds of needs, somebody's sick, somebody's, needs this and that, and they'd help each other. So it's a real living co-op, in that sense, with family independence. So you didn't, everybody had to live one style.

BF: Wasn't it...

GH They had their own families, but they had their sharing and difficulties. He came in -- I remember seeing parts of this, so when she was telling me this I knew which, what visit she's talking about...


TI: Maybe this a good point to return to the story of Mr. Katsuno's visit back to Seattle...

GH: Yeah, yeah.

TI: your dad's.

GH: He came looking real depressed. The, when they left, they didn't make like, you know, 'We're leaving. We're leaving the co-op. We're throwing the towel in." They just left to, because of various needs. They're gonna try this other winter experience. And they knew that she never was real, she didn't find farming as a joy. They all knew that. But, but the other two members had confronted Mr. Katsuno, saying, "We'd like to leave, also." And so that would've been the end. And the court case wasn't going well, and the economy was hard and, and -- and then the reason why he came in is this question that we'd like to leave. And in talking about it they said, "Well, the only way we would stay is if he came back."

BF: Your father?

GH: Yeah. "If that family came back, we'll give it another shot." So, he came in and spent all night talking. And in the wee morning hours, they must've come to a decision. "There are some things more valuable than economy. Our friendship is more important." And I think they, something of that nature, 'cause I can't see my mother... well that and this other, one other reason that came up. I'm involved in that. So, there was that situation. The thing that promoted this was Mom's concern over the environment and me. I was pilfering. I became friends with the local news boy, and he, you know people buying paper and leaving change there. And I'm buying stuff with some of the change. I'm, I had some candy in my pocket and so on. She said, "Where did you get that?" "Oh, I don't know." I don't know what I said. Didn't sound reasonable, so she came out to check. She did a lot of that sort of thing. Didn't just take word. She came out, looked for facts, and, "Did you take money off of here?" And finally I guess I must've admitted it. And then she realized that there were, this was only the parts that sticking out over the surface. There are other things that she realized that wasn't going as well. And this isn't the sort of place to raise kids. And this is gonna get worse.

BF: And this is in Seattle?

GH: Yeah.

BF: Uh-huh

GH: In, in the '20s, mid '20s. I hadn't started school yet. And, so I think that, that impact she had and this appeal to come back...

BF: Was this sort of in the old Nihonmachi area that you were in Seattle?

GH: No, no it was in Broadway.

BF: Oh.

GH: You know where Pike and Pine comes up and there's a mortuary around there somewhere. And it's in the Pine, Pike area towards Broadway, someplace. There was an apartment house, three floors. We were in the basement floor. And one of the persons that visited us periodically for several years was the family that lived right next to us. And then some others would drop by and visit. And in the neighborhood, we're the only ones that had somebody visiting. Not visiting me, visiting the parents. So they had something that was outgoing in terms of relations, even though they were Japanese and they... in a peculiar way, Dad was very Japanese, but in diet, he didn't like sashimi. When we had tuna, we had sashimi. I liked it. She loved it. But Dad -- she would broil sashimi, I mean tuna for Dad, his plate. [Laughs] And he loved cheese. She never, we never had, I never ate cheese 'til I was married. And when it was, I, I broke in through like macaroni and cheese or something, and slowly became to appreciate it when I was overseas in Beirut -- all other kinds of cheese and so on, and different dishes. So different ways we were more Japanese in some respects through Dad, and more Japanese in other respects through Mom. But, each had their out aspects, and that added enrichment to our lives in terms of other contacts, which made it easier for me to meet these others. And...

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

BF: Yeah, let's, let's talk a little bit more about that. Before our first break you mentioned that you were invited to become a member in the Y. And that that was a kind of select group. Mostly, I mean all not, non-Japanese.

GH: Yeah.

BF: So it was...

GH: Well, yeah, I knew that I was in there as a token.

BF: Oh.

GH: I mean there's always a token on all these contacts. This is primarily for whites, but there is a Japanese family or Japanese person who's in that association. 'Cause they just wanted to show that they weren't completely prejudiced there. Just mostly prejudiced. [Laughs] That way, I had bits of reality of that type. I didn't, because I found it difficult to follow some things. Like when we had parties, it was a boy's club so we had to bring dates. And that was hard on me. I liked, I liked both, I had friends, female friends in both, Japanese as well as others. Among others, it was mainly Japanese living there. As far as I knew, everything, everybody else was white. There were hardly any blacks in those days. And in the valley hardly any Chinese. Chinese were largely city. So we only met 'em when we went into town. And I had, when I was a kid -- when Mom went to see a doctor about something, we were all waiting in the car -- and I saw, "Oh, there's a dorobou." I mean there's a robber there. I was pointing to a non-white, you know, black fellow. Somehow I picked up that image from the environment. Didn't, wasn't from them, because he corrected me. He says, "That's not dorobou."

BF: Dorobou meaning, "robber." Or...

GH: Robber, yeah. I was looking... so, if you go to Japan, in the early days there were hardly any African Americans.

BF: Right.

GH: But they've got hell of a strong relations. You know the black, mixed black-white kids?

BF: Uh-huh.

GH: There are no homes, you know. They're really prejudice, victims of prejudice over there.

BF: And a lot of the Isseis were --

GH: And you wonder why, why is that. It's almost like reverse reaction of, of, they're opposed to the English. But on the negative side they're brown-nosing or licking the licks, soles of the, heels of the English. Emulating them, because they're copying them in everything. They, they say we're as good as they are, but they, they don't follow that.

BF: But your, your parents didn't hold those...

GH: No, they, they didn't.

BF: ...bigoted beliefs?

GH: And he explained to me that, oh they just, you know God makes people in different ways and they're not, they're not, they're good people. And, but we didn't have any of those good people as contacts. We didn't get any 'til we had an orphanage that was developed, and one of those was in our grade who was black, non-white.

BF: But at the Y you were the only...

GH: I was the only...

BF: ...Japanese.

GH: ...non-white there, until this friend came in.

BF: Uh-huh. That you brought in?

GH: Yeah. Well, I nominated him, and he was elected in. And, between the two of us, then it was... he did some initiating. He asked somebody who knew the twins if they would to go a party with the two of us.

BF: And these were Japanese girls?

GH: Yeah.

BF: Uh-huh. How was that? Were they...

GH: They were great.

BF: ...accepted? Was it...

GH: Oh, yeah.

BF: ...uncomfortable, or --

GH: They were, they were popular with, 'cause they were kinda cute. And they were very outgoing and very easy to talk with. They were like, somehow they grew up without the inhibitions that Nisei girls had. They had a lot of hang-ups.

BF: The Nisei...

GH: Yeah.

BF: ...girls.

GH: And, so, I had hang-ups too, on dating. But they made it hard for me to date 'em. So, I would've, I didn't call it date, 'cause I had a lot of relations with other people, meeting on all sorts of things, not socially. I never dated socially until the university, on interracial social aspect. But...

BF: But were they, but, you said on one hand, you knew you were a token in...

GH: Yeah, yeah.

BF: the Y. But, on the other hand it sounds like you became a very active member.

GH: Yeah, I was.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

GH: And in a peculiar sort of way, I'm still experiencing that sort of thing here in society. The high school invited me to come and speak.

BF: Auburn High?

GH: Yeah.

BF: Oh.

GH: This is in the '80s. And I made a big effort to go and to do well, because this is the grandchildren of the kids that pushed us out, and fought to keep us out after the war. I said to myself, "Boy, if those grandparents know what their grandkids are doing, they'd be turning in their graves." [Laughs] And so I went back with some kind of happiness. Things are changing. And they were. They were giving me honor for the court case, this and that. Actually we were blasting their parents' and grandparents' behavior. And then they were joining that. And recently, more recently, one of the graduating groups -- I think it was the '97 class, proposed and that idea was accepted, that they open up a hallway that didn't have any pictures or anything, as a hallway to honor the graduates. And for the first -- they called it a funny name, "Hall of Honor for Alumni Emeritus", or something. It was a duplicate kind of term, emeritus, alumni, or something. And in the first grouping -- and I haven't seen what else they've done now -- but, in the first grouping when they opened this thing, they had four names. One was the commander of the Challenger that blew up in space. He happened to be an Auburn graduate...

BF: Oh, I never knew that.

GH: ...of 1950s. Another one was, a, a woman who was a state senator. She was, I met her, she's still around and been active in school programs. The third one is well-known. She is one of, she was the leading spokesman for attorney generals in the cigarette case, and was main dynamo that carried that through.

BF: Gregoire?

GH: Yeah. So she was named. And then me. She, we were the first four, and I suppose they had anywhere from two to four named in other classes, if they did this thing on a continuous basis. I have to go and check and see. And, I, I told the university dean, who said that I was nominated as the, what's the term she used? Anyway, the alumnus to be honored for the year 2000 for arts and science, which is the core faculty of the university.

BF: Uh-huh. Distinguished alumnus? Is that it?

GH: Yeah, Distinguished Alumnus for the year 2000. For this year, they're gonna start announcing it after mid-May when the 1999 one is finished. He's a graduate of the 1960s. He's a Egyptologist. And he happens to be at the university where I taught in the '50s, in Cairo.

BF: Cairo. Yeah.

GH: American University in Cairo. And if you're Egyptologist, that's a perfect place to be. You got all the facilities and you're king of the roost there, and he's done well. And he's honored as the outstanding -- whoever's named is one that had some sponsor, who named him. And, and I mean you have to be somebody that, whose career can be forwarded, you know. But it could be any one of a thousand. You know, it's alumnus, alumni...

BF: Yeah.

GH: ...graduates of this university. And that's what I felt here. We have Frank Miyamoto and -- did you graduate here?

TI: Yeah. I graduated from...

GH: Well, see? You know, there's...

BF: [Laughs] Tom Ikeda.

GH: ...thousands, there's thousands of us. And somebody, somebody, in fact I was told how the nomination happened to come in. The, a professor who came from the East, but who's a professor of Japanese literature in Asian studies.

TI: Professor Treat.

GH: Yeah. He, he forwarded the name to the dean -- well, that's his dean too -- saying, "You're, this is long overdue. There's a guy that should be, should've been honored years ago." And he proposed my name. That's 'cause I'm in the legal cases and so on. It's not that I did the legal work. I mean that part was done by a group of pro bono lawyers. But there's a lot of circumstances. But the name was known, and it got to the Supreme Court, and it did this and that. So he, he said, "And also, you're showing your prejudice." He didn't say, the dean didn't tell me that, but I'm, I'm sure that what he's pointing out is, you're having a all white [Laughs] list of ones to honor. And, and Steve Sumida, who's coming in, must've been asked about that, 'cause he was visiting here. Well he just was appointed, I guess...

BF: Right.

GH: ... and was here part-time. And then, when I was here visiting beginning of the month, he was back in Michigan finishing up his last responsibilities. And then Gail was hired...

BF: His wife.

GH: ...Gail Nomura. She's coming in this summer, on staff. They were at Washington State, and they were always championing my activities. And they brought me out there. And Gail was, is a history prof. And history prof. was a key program to honor, at that time something for the centennial, state centennial -- 1889 to 1989, no 19... yeah '89.

TI: Yeah.

BF: Yeah.

GH: Yeah, '89, '89. That's right.

TI: 1889 to 1989.

GH: Yeah. So that was ten years ago. And they were there and they said, first thing Gail says, "You mean you're just honoring white guys that graduated there." Says, "No, it's the state. Anybody who contributed to the development of the state." Says, "Well don't you think other than white people contributed things to the state?" "Yeah, that's right, we'd, we better do something about that. So, are there any you know?" Says, "Well, there's one guy I know. He's mentioned in your Supreme Court case." "Gee, can we get him?" "Oh, I'm pretty sure you could get him if you invited him." So they invited, they asked if I could come to be the, special, this special lecture series. I've forgotten the name now. [Laughs] And that's the best honorarium I ever got. You know, they gave, just the honorarium was around five thousand for a week. And then, you're given all the expenses and so on. I visited all kinds of classes during that time. And then the lecture, had, was edited and expanded to fit the anthology they had selected from those lectures. And so I'm chapter two in that thing. The former governor and senator gave his experiences of the state. And that's appropriate 'cause he's giving a lot of the state's history through that experience. And then I came in as a first, sort of a -- as far as I know, maybe I'm the only non-white in there, still.

BF: So, just like at, when you were a kid joining the Y...

GH: Yeah, yeah.

BF: ...kind of a...

GH: Yeah...

BF: ...feeling of being the only one.

GH: Well, yeah but, see, see, but I'm trying to point out that somebody mentions it. They noticed that it's all... we have more variety than white [Laughs] in our color perspective, spectrum. And if somebody mentions it and they look at it, they say, "Well, that's right. We should do something about that." But, until somebody points it out -- and this one Treat, he hasn't even lived here, but he's noticed it coming here. And for him to be here at the University of Washington is like this Egyptologist to be located in Cairo. It's, this is the best place for him to be. And he's delighted to be here. It's the best department for his area. And is closest relation to Japan and so on. So he's delighted. But he's noticed -- from his perspective -- he's noticed that, "Gee, with, with all of this, they should've been honoring somebody from [Laughs] that area, you know.

BF: Right.

GH: So, it's just that I'm here now because some dean had responded to that. And then, just at that time, there comes two people that they're, they've been reviewing carefully. And they just happened to ask the question and they had gone through the same thing in Washington State noticing how white it is. And people don't realize they've been so white, 'cause that's been the norm, you see. And then when they look, there are other things that could be done. They just, if they look, they could see that. And so, when they, when they mentioned this, they just popped in, just spontaneously 'cause they'd done this before at the other institution. [Laughs]

BF: Do you think that culturally, Japanese, Asian Americans are partially to, responsible for that? That we don't promote ourselves enough? Or, we don't...?

GH: Yeah. We probably have a part in it. I think we do. We, we tend to over, overdo that. I don't know to what extent we become jealous of anyone who is mentioned, and don't want that. We, we'd rather have it kept anonymous rather than to have just somebody mentioned. I don't know. I haven't, I haven't looked into that. But I know that we don't do anything to, to break it. We don't do very much, that is.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

BF: It seems like your, your family, and you, yourself, that's the one thing that people mention time and time again that -- when I ask, "What would you ask Gordon Hirabayashi if you could talk to him?" They always ask the same thing. "What made him, what makes that family be willing to stick their necks out and be different?"

GH: Yeah. Well, when that question did come up in, were you at that lunch?

TI: No.

GH: Maybe you weren't -- you were at the lunch before. Yeah. That lunch, that question came up, and, and Frank, Frank Miyamoto, who has history of our society...

BF: Right.

GH: ...well, you know, he pointed out that there's more than just individual, it's cultural. But, it's not only cultural, it's distinctive to your family. There must be something in the family we have to dig out. And, and that may be, that may be so. It's hard for somebody in the family to be able to see all that. I do notice that, I do notice that I mentioned this, that they did have friends who visited them...

BF: Caucasian friends?

GH: Yeah. Just as part of the friendship. Nothing, nothing as a project or something.

BF: Right.

GH: You know, they weren't doing a project, they just had friends.

BF: And that's very different from the rest of the Isseis in that time period, right?

GH: Yeah, and, and they felt comfortable enough to do that.

BF: Right.

GH: And, and...

BF: Even though their English wasn't very good.

GH: Yeah, yeah, and they told, they spent a lot of time with me. That, "Look at this person. He came from Switzerland," he says, see? He doesn't have the education we have, and, and right across the street. And says, "Well you know the big difference in, some of those people, the Dutch farmer who was there before the Swiss, look at the difference between them." The Dutch farmer, you could've gone into the barn as to the, walking into their house. It was so clean. The Swiss farmer doesn't keep it like that. The big difference in operation. And I think to some extent you could say that on a kind of generalized basis, if you looked at the Swiss dairies versus Dutch dairies.

BF: What was he trying to point out? That culturally there was a big world out there and people did things differently, or...?

GH: Well, Mom was trying to point out to us that there are things that you could be proud of, your own heritage. And, and, and there are things that aren't as good in some others, as compared to us. So it varies. And, and, she was telling us, "You don't need to be, you don't need to be ashamed of your own heritage." And pointing out all the things that she was proud of. And so, and she, she always went ahead with that attitude. And she mixed with that. So they always met her, not as someone who was ashamed, but they got something out of that interaction with her. So, and she did more, 'cause she was more outgoing than Dad. So her English was better than Dad's, 'cause she used it more.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

GH: I used to have a, people who used to be visiting at the nursing home. She's the mother of the girl I was dating from time to time. I didn't date anybody regular. And she, she was there visiting, and I had seen her at her home. And she was visiting the nursing home that... when I was -- when the Quakers were asked if they knew of any Japanese family that could run a rest home, because we've got some people -- hospital cases, we've already transferred them. And there are, but there those who need some assistance, and we don't have any place to put them. We should have some Japanese home for this handful. They had about fifteen. And so the Quakers asked -- I came out of prison about that time, in September. And so, they asked me first of all 'cause, well I'm one of the, aside from Aki Kurose, we're about the only Quakers. And so they asked if my parents were interested. I said, "Well I don't think so, but I'll ask them. We're gonna see them, so, I'll ask them." And they were, interested.

BF: This is, this is right after the war...?

GH: Yeah.

BF: ...or right during, right at the very end?

GH: Right after the war, and I had just come out, and they were already in Spokane.

BF: Back from Weiser?

GH: Yeah, down in...

BF: Idaho.

GH: ...Snake River Valley. And they had come up in the... and hopefully if some opening came to return to Seattle area. And, they said, "Well sure, we'd be interested. "We've done that sort of things all our lives, while on the farm, within our own circle we were doing it..."

BF: Assisting other families...?

GH: Yeah, yeah. "That's part of our outlook, and we'd be glad to do it, except we can't, we don't have any money to buy a home or buy equipment. And there are a lot of business aspects that we don't know that maybe we're not qualified. We don't know that, but, we're, we have an interest." I said, "Okay." That's the beginning. [Laughs] And so, I said, "We'll talk more about it when we get over there." And we borrow, I borrowed this small car and we took the twins -- Jay wasn't born yet -- so we took the twins and went out to Spokane. Then it was decided that she would come back with us.

BF: Your mom?

GH: Yeah. And, explore what's possible, and she can answer questions directly when they're asked, what they were willing to do. And it turned out that if, if money or support could be sufficient to get started, they would be willing to do it. And then WRA, War Relocation Authority said, "We'll assist with all kinds of supplies, bunk beds, blankets, sheets, we've got mountains of those...

BF: Right.

GH: ...that we're gonna have to do something with. So they, all that was in the picture. With all of my involvement they figured they knew enough about our background that they could, they, if they're interested they would be willing to... and then that means that there's the Quaker tie to it, 'cause the Quaker group would be behind it. So, I came out, and, well for support I went to the guy that was chair and treasurer of my support group. Whenever there was any bail money we needed...

BF: Oh, your legal support group.

GH: ...or something. Yeah, and expenses and so on. He was raising the funds and putting up stuff, pocket money out of his own pocket. And Shop of China, is that still on the avenue? Is there a gift store like beyond 50th?

BF: Yeah.

GH: Right around 50th there.

BF: Shiga's Imports?

GH: Anyway, when their kids weren't interested, they put it up for sale, and somebody bought it. And, I don't know. The only gift store I know, is a colleague of mine, Shiga's.

BF: Uh-huh.

TI: That's still there.

BF: Right, that's the only one.

GH: Yeah, I saw that there. I didn't go in 'cause I was too busy then. But, they, I went over to talk to them. I talked to him, because I knew him better.

BF: The owners of the store?

GH: Yeah, he was treasurer for the student Y, too, so I knew him that way. And he's also, he's also a pacifist, and I was, so we had some mutual grounding to follow up. And he said, "Well, I'd be all for that myself, but when it comes to funding, you got to talk to my wife 'cause she runs this business here. I just help her." [Laughs] He was the Y, he was the YMCA field worker in China. That's where he, that's where they got this idea to bring, to start a gift store. And I talked to her for awhile, and then she said, "Well" -- she was looking at it from a business angle -- she said, "Well, if I loaned you down payment..." See, that nursing home was, I'm talking about nineteen, forty-five dollars, in house rates and so on. It was being advertised for sale for about $12,000, something like that. But in, that would be like 200 percent higher now.

BF: At least.

GH: It would be like $240,000 or something. It was a beautiful house. I knew the house when it was owned by a businessman, Japanese import-export person from Japan. He had it running that store and he had that house. It was double lot, and he had improved the house and yard quite a bit. And so, I said -- when we looked around, that house was for sale. And it was for sale for $12,000. And so we figured the down payment would be around $3,000 or $3,500. And she said, "I could, I could make a loan like that." And, and I said, "I would pay, I would pay what you would've gotten by keeping it in the bank, would be 3 or 4 percent interest at the time. And so I didn't, so you wouldn't lose money." But she said, "If I did that, I would have second mortgage. Whoever, the bank or whoever had the rest of it would get first mortgage on any sale, and so I'd be, I'd be holding the bag." She said, "What if, what if I loaned you $10,000? You could give 'em $10,000 cash." She said, "As a business, I know that when cash is available, you could, you got some bargaining grounds. I could give you $10,000 and you say, 'Making you an offer, $10,000, take it or leave it.'" She said, "We got a good chance to get it." I said, "Well, that sounds good. I'm willing to try if you are." She says, "I'd rather, I'd rather have that $10,000, and I take first mortgage, then second mortgage for $3,000 or $3,500, whatever." So we took that. And they had this up for sale for some time, you know. So when we offered $10,000 cash, they took it, almost instantly. And so, we then owed them and our job was to pay them back. And in the meantime, pay them at least what the bank was offering. And, and that would be okay with them. So, that went through. And that's how we started it. And then...

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

BF: How long did this nursing home...?

GH: It ran for about ten years.

BF: Wow. This is right after the war, so there were probably a lot of older Issei coming back...

GH: Yeah, there were.

BF: ...whose kids had gone elsewhere, and they needed a home?

GH: Yeah, but they still had, we had, we had people visiting. They would come and visit, and they would say, "Gosh, I wished I lived here." They found it very uncomfortable living at home, as a kind of fifth wheel...

BF: Oh.

GH: ...and, and not appreciated by their grandkids. Interfering, because they were part of the attention that the parents had to give. And they were using space that the kids could've had. But the parents felt embarrassed to have to send -- you know, we had to overcome that attitude. So, that, that was part of the thing. We had, we had 80 percent. At the beginning, we had 80 percent. We met, we met the people that they wanted to place. And then secondly...

BF: I'm sorry, this was the WRA wanted to place?

GH: Yeah.

BF: Uh-huh.

GH: And they, and then when we had some space with the social service department, we found a Chinese pair, not a pair, but two Chinese. And then a third one came, and so we gave them one room, so they could have somebody to talk with. And then as openings came, we even moved to have one African American in. My parents were willing to do that though they were a little concerned that he's an isolate then, see. And he'd have to have, like Japanese-style noon meal. They served Japanese-style with chopsticks, and rice in a bowl with a relish that was suitable. The groceries were, you know, they just fixed it Japanese-style, or it could be western-style. The evening was western-style, with a plate and knives and forks. But we also had to read the diet prescriptions of some people. And we had to be able to make those changes. But my mother was the manager of the store, nursing home. I helped with government relations and codes and stuff like that. Dad did the maintenance, all the maintenance and shopping. We went to the store and bought day old bakery bread, for example, 'cause morning was toast, so, western-style toast and different kinds of variations of eggs for those who could eat it.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

BF: Was your father's, your parents' spiritual beliefs, were they ever a part of this? Was there offered...

GH: No, no.

BF: ...teachings, or --

GH: They did it only as a service. Religious, they cooperated with churches, and churches were open. They could come and visit. And if there were somebody that needed special discussion or whatever, interviews, we arranged it for them. And Dad did his own, he would hear of somebody that's living somewhere -- like at Auburn, one of 'em -- he went out to visit the person. And he says, "Gee, this is the first guy who speaks Japanese that came." See, nobody, nobody...

BF: So he would perform sort of lay ministry?

GH: Yeah, he was doing that. And he was, he was, in fact he didn't, he was just doing his stuff. I didn't realize he had this kind of interest and abilities, 'cause out in the farm he would visit with people, but most were farming contacts. And so, and Mom, Mom would do the, all the management problems. But she had high blood pressure and this added to it. And we had what they call Smithwick operation, where they sever nerves when it gets too high. She'd go off the scale, two hundred and something, and that would cut down. And then in six, six weeks later they worked -- this was after a few years -- she worked for about five years as manager. And then, then unfortunately, she had to retire. And, but she didn't stay retired. She'd come down to look and then says, they should do this or that. And then she'd do it for them. And then pretty soon she's doing it. It's too handy. We should've kept her out, but I'm not around all the time. And others didn't realize this, the extent to which this added to return of the high blood pressure. And eventually she had a stroke and died. She died at age of fifty-five. That's not old these days.

BF: Yeah, yeah.

GH: And Dad lived 'til eighty-three. So that's more in the range of where Isseis have been. They're in their sixties to eighties. And some of them, like Katsuno lived to a hundred and -- I figure his age was recorded at 109, but he was really 110. And, and he was, I felt he was clear in his head 'til the last couple years.

BF: That's amazing.

GH: Yeah. And he was the fellow that kept the co-op going, farm co-op, and had the biggest loss in the deal.

BF: Yeah.


GH: Well, so did the, so did this as a precursor nursing home to Seattle Keiro.

BF: Yes.

TI: Yeah, that was an interesting story. I didn't realize...

BF: I didn't either.

GH: See, they, what my parents did that era -- not so much what my sister and her husband did -- they helped to close it off. They, I think they weren't interested in continuing it. They, anyway they didn't have the same motivations, the service motivation part. I think my parents welcomed it at the beginning, and they, they actually founded really a ministry that...

BF: Yeah.

GH: ... suited them, and something that fitted their life, life goals. And they said, "Well, this is not new. This is part of what we've been doing all our lives, except it had a facility there that served it, frontally." And so they handled it, they handled it like the Seattle Nursing Home.

BF: Yeah.

GH: You know, not theirs. But it took a toll. And, Mom always had this high blood pressure thing. She, not that she had it diagnosed that way, but we did notice that she frequently fainted. And what she did was -- until she recovered -- then she'd get up and, continually. And this isn't unusual for Isseis.

BF: Yeah.

GH: Well, they, that's part of the Issei life. They didn't have a doctor at their elbow all the time.

BF: Don't complain...

GH: Yeah.

BF: hard.

GH: That's right. And so we, we, but they really did contribute something that was good to see. And it was, and it opened the doors for all sorts of other things. We had people coming in, and the attitude of well, we wouldn't send our parents there, because it wasn't, that was admitting that it was not our responsibility. But they didn't consider their parents' wishes. They had a place, they belonged here. They, they wanted to come. And it was before a place was available. And so we, the community had a chance to respond. For example, when they had a fishing derby, Tokuda was, Tokuda Drug was heavily involved because it was part of their business. All the prescriptions were turned over to them and they handled it for us and gave us instructions how to administer these. And Suzuki, and Dr. Suzuki and two other doctors, there was one female doctor...

TI: Oh, Ruby...

BF: Yeah.

GH: Ruby Inouye.

BF: Inouye.

GH: Was it? Yeah.

BF: And Uyeno?

TI: And Ben Uyeno.

GH: Uyeno, yeah. He was a Nisei.

BF: Yeah.

GH: Yeah, he came in. They would come and spend certain time with their patients. Then we had Chinese. They must've had their doctors. And we had three shifts of nurses, or nurses, licensed practical nurses, but we had to have one RN. And while, while Mom was living, she was, she -- you know the owner had the right to be the RN, or in charge for one place, one shift, and then we had to have somebody else. But, we had two licensed practical nurses that were African Americans. And then she did the day shift. But she, she and Dad did the community relations. I just did the government relations 'cause I wasn't around for the other. And she would give donations to the churches as part of the regular outlet, and did the social relations with the churches. And the churches would have that as one of the outlets for service. So we had all kinds of people visiting and doing individual things, as well as church things. They would come and pick up patients who were able to attend their language service. And then the people who had experience doing Japanese films -- they would pick a time when we could set it up for our patients. And that's the time that we'd all get down there and watch the Japanese movies.

TI: So this is like the owners of the Kokusai Theater? The people there bring it down?

GH Yeah, yeah. And the ones we used to, I used to use them when I was earning money for our basketball team before the war. I would go down and, the same family sort of revived that practice and they would run films on a kind of cost-sharing basis. And, they'd, they'd get whatever the share was, they'd get the majority share, and we'd... but we would do lot of the ticketing part of the responsibility. They did some advertising. And so, I was in the university so I didn't spend a lot of time here, except on Saturdays. I helped with the books and the social, I mean government relations. And on that, I would get calls at anytime that that came up, fire department, health department.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.