Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Peggie Nishimura Bain Interview
Narrator: Peggie Nishimura Bain
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 15-17, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-bpeggie-01-0048

<Begin Segment 48>

AI: Well, I was wondering, did, some people got assistance from the War Relocation office. Did you get any of that kind of assistance to find a place to live or to find a job?

PB: Well, they gave me addresses, "Go here," and, "Go there," and my daughter and I walked and walked and walked, and we walked all day long. And everywhere we went, there would be a "for rent" sign. We'd get there, they'd say, "Oh, it's rented already, rented already." And we never could get any satisfaction, and finally we found one place, the lady took us up the second floor, and we were so happy because we thought, "Oh, at last we've got a place to stay." But then she turned around as she went to open the door, she turned around and she says, "Oh." And her face just turned as red as a beet and she says, "I just remembered I rented the place." See, she didn't know we were Japanese, or she didn't realize at the time, when she took us up. And she said, "Oh, I rented the place," and she just backed down the stairs and away she went. And we thought, "Well, that's a fine big lie." But then by that time, we were so tired that we didn't want to stay and argue with her. But that was the way it was; we just couldn't find an apartment.

AI: So there was, it sounds like there was quite a bit of discrimination, that because you were Japanese American...

PB: Yes. There was discrimination, and we couldn't find a decent place to live, we just had to take whatever we could. And it was really a bad situation because we got in the worst places possible.

AI: Where did you end up then?

PB: Well, we finally stayed with this Jewish man, this crippled man offered to let us stay in his apartment if we didn't mind sleeping in the push-out bed. And it was a basement apartment on Diversey Parkway, I believe was the name of the place. Well, we didn't realize that that was at one time, a very elite Chicago place, Diversey Parkway, and one side was, then the next street over was Cottage Grove, and that was kind of a line there where the black people are on one side and white people on the other side. So anyhow, we were living in the... we decided to stay with this Jewish man. And then my daughter went upstairs and was using the telephone when the landlady caught her and said, "Where'd you come from?" And she says, "Oh, I live here," just like a teenager. And she says, "Where do you live?" She says, "I didn't have the, I didn't know you were living here. Show me." So she goes downstairs and oh, the landlady was furious. She says, "I'll give you twenty-four hours to get out," and of course, Jack Wendy was the name of this man, he said, "Well, they're my guests." And she says, "Well, you can get out, too." She was going to kick the whole bunch of us out.

The WRA did not offer to find anyplace. They give you an address and they say, "Well, you go and see if you can rent the place." And they kept calling me because they wanted to take a picture of me so they could send it back to the camp saying what a wonderful place Chicago was and how nice it was to be out and relocated. So I told them the next time they called me, I said, "I'm being thrown out of the apartment, so come and take a picture of that." So they never bothered me after that. And I never realized that at the time, that some people went to the Salvation Army and got help. But I didn't get help from anybody connected with camp life. And it was through another Jewish friend that we happened to meet, and he said that he owned an apartment and he rented an apartment to us. And that was where we had all these bedbugs again. [Laughs] So we stayed there one night, up early the next morning, as soon as it got light, we were up and out. But oh, that was a horrid, horrible experience. It rained, poured down rain, and this tin roof right next to our bedroom, level with our bedroom, it was like children beating on a pan, tin pan washtub or something. Oh, the noise was horrible. And the rain was so heavy; not like we have here. Of course, we do have cloudburst-like rains once in a while, but the Chicago rains are terrible. Oh, I said, "I hate this place," I said. [Laughs] I said, "I'm gonna write to my boss," and I sat down and I wrote him a letter. I said, "Oh, I just hate Chicago." I wanted to get, get away from there.

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