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Title: Peggie Nishimura Bain Interview
Narrator: Peggie Nishimura Bain
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 15-17, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-bpeggie-01-0046

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AI: Well, and also speaking of having to live in a city or living in a strange place, what happened? You didn't have the option of going back to your family farm.

PB: Well, my brother had the farm in his name, and we had a mortgage on the place. Well, he was supposed to pay the mortgage. If he could pay something on it, I'm sure the owners would have held the property for him. But in the meantime, the owner, who was a elderly man, passed away, and he gave the property, left it to his niece, I believe. And I think that I don't know just how this doctor's family, our family doctor's family, how they got involved in it. But one of the girls in the family held the title to the property in some way. I don't know just how that worked out. But anyhow, my brother figured that since he couldn't pay for it, and they said, "Well, just sign it back to us." So what he did, he signed the property back to the care of our former doctor's family. So I don't know what happened, but anyhow, we lost the property. Now whether they paid him off, we never found out. My son swears that somebody knows about it, but they won't reveal it as long as I'm alive, because they figure that I may fight the case. And recently, when I was talking to a manager at Washington Mutual bank, he says, "Why don't you sue the people?" Because the place is intact; it's still in one piece, because the highway was supposed to go through there, and the state purchased the highway rights. Now it's just being in limbo, the town of Des Moines is trying to buy the property, and I don't know whether it's up for sale or what it is right now.

AI: And this is your old Berto Hill property that you were talking about.

PB: Yes. There's, all around the property, there's apartments or condos. The whole area is like a town now. There's buildings everyplace, but that one piece of property just sits there, and the last time I was out there, it was all brush. You couldn't even -- they built a beautiful home on the site, but you couldn't even see the house anymore. So I don't know if the house is still there or what. But I don't know what they're going to do with the property.

AI: So anyway, at the time of, during the war years, it's unclear what exactly happened with the property ownership being transferred. But in any case, the result of that was that you didn't have a choice of going back to your old family home.

PB: No, we'd lost it. We've lost control of it, because my brother had signed the mortgage back to the people. So whether my brother got any benefit out of it, whether he got paid off like my son thinks... my son says, "After you're gone, somebody's gonna open their mouth and say what happened." But they're afraid of me, because they think that -- because I was the one, I feel that we should have had, gotten something for that property, because other people that didn't sign the mortgage away, they got their property back. We never got the property back. I tried to buy it back, and they wouldn't even sell it. So they're afraid that I might do something, so they won't reveal anything right now. They just won't say what happened to the property or anything. But we couldn't go back to the property.

AI: It must have been really painful knowing that.

PB: I keep dreaming about that place all the time, because I figure that was our home. And I always felt that we should have been able to come back to it. Of course, the government did give compensation, a small amount. You could, you put in a claim for what you lost during the war. I think, if I remember correctly, I got a thousand dollars for things that I lost, but that is so, such a small amount for the loss that I had, because I lost everything. I left my things with my neighbors, left all the good things, and, 'course, they were all gone when I came back. And they said, "Well, I guess it got stolen or something. We don't know what happened to it." That's the case of many, many other cases that, that left things in care of other people or their neighbors or something, and they don't know what happened to it.

AI: Right. Well, going back to 1945 then, of course, in August, that's when there were the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945, and then the ending of the war. And I was wondering, when you heard that news, what you recall about that.

PB: Well, let's see now... the 1945, I would have been in Chicago, I suppose.

AI: Let's see... was that in August you were already in Chicago by that time?

PB: Yes, I think I was in Chicago when the war ended.

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