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

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: Okay, today is September 15, 2004, and I'm Alice Ito with Densho, John Pai is on videography, and we're here with Mrs. Bain, Peggie Bain. And thanks so much for having us here in your home, Peggie. I wanted to just start off by asking you when you were born.

PB: I was born in 1909, March 31st.

AI: And what was the name that you were given when you were born?

PB: My given name was Fusako, and then later on I got the name Margaret.

AI: And tell me a little bit about your father. What was his name and when, about when did he come to the United States?

PB: As far as I can determine, my father came to the United States in 1900. His name is Kumataro Nishimura.

AI: And what kinds of things did you know about him, and just a little bit about his family background.

PB: Well, really, I didn't know too much about him, because in our younger days, we just never questioned. When I think about it now, I wished I had asked a lot of questions, which we failed to do, I think, as youngsters, and as we grow up we should question our parents, so that we would know more about them.

AI: And what area of Japan did he come from originally?

PB: Oh, Mother and Dad both are from Kumamoto.

AI: And speaking of your mother, what was her name?

PB: Her name was Kaju Shima until she got married.

AI: And do you know, how did they come to be married?

PB: They were kind of promised to each other, because my father's brother and my mother's sister were married. And so they decided that Mother and Dad should get together.

AI: And tell me a little bit about their early life, before you and your other siblings were born.

PB: Well, as far as I know, Dad was working all over. He worked up in the Fraser River, and he worked in Startup, Washington. I think he worked in the sawmill, 'cause there was a picture of him, I think he operated a donkey engine. And I guess Mother came in 1906, I believe, and at that time they were living at Green Lake, and I guess that was a sawmill or something, I'm not sure.

AI: In those days, Green Lake was not really part of Seattle the city, it was, it was considered somewhat the countryside, wasn't it?

PB: Oh, it was quite wooded. [Laughs] He said -- there were trees all over -- and he said he picked mushrooms there. So it must have been pretty wooded.

AI: Well, and tell me a little bit about your mother's family background. I think you mentioned that she had quite some, some pride about her background in Japan.

PB: Well, Mother always said that her, her father was a samurai. She was very proud, and she said even coming over to this country, they had a different status when they came on the ship because of her father. And she was always reminding us that we were grandchildren of samurai, so we should be proud, and we shouldn't do anything that was below our dignity. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 2>

AI: Well, now, tell me about, your parents then eventually moved to Vashon Island, and your older sister was born there.

PB: My older sister was born here at Green Lake.

AI: Oh, I'm sorry. In Green Lake?

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: And that was Nellie?

PB: That was Nellie. Nellie Fumiko.

AI: And she was born, I think you had mentioned in an earlier conversation, in 1907?

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: So then, and then two years later, you were born.

PB: Right.

AI: But by then, your folks had moved to Vashon.

PB: To Vashon.

AI: And tell me, then after you were born, you had other, your brother and younger sisters?

PB: Well, at the time I was born, my dad was employed, I believe, at Beal Greenhouse, that's in the town of Vashon. And then we moved to Portage, called Paradise Valley, and that's where my brother and other two sisters were born. But I was born in the town of Vashon.

AI: And what kind of early memories do you have of Vashon?

PB: Oh, I remember we lived with -- I think she babysat me -- a Caucasian woman, and I remember so distinctly the house with the big pillars in front. And we went out there recently and took pictures. That house is still there, and the Beal Greenhouse is still there, but it's all broken down now. It's been a good many years, they operated for years as one of the biggest shippers of roses and orchids in the United States.

AI: And again, at that time, Vashon Island was quite rural.

PB: Mostly farmers, orchards and farmers.

AI: And, now, you had mentioned that your, your younger brother, Henry, or as you sometimes called him, Hank, I think you had mentioned that he was born in 1912?

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: And then you had two younger sisters, Fannie and Emily, born about two years apart after Hank, and then a bit later, your youngest brother Tom.

PB: Tom was born in Des Moines.

AI: Right. I think you had mentioned in about 1922?

PB: I don't know exact year, but... [laughs]

AI: I think you were estimating that from, in our earlier talk. But, and so then, speaking of Des Moines, that was where -- oh, now, before we move on to Des Moines, you actually, as a very young child on Vashon Island at your home there, tell me a little bit about your home life. Did you speak Japanese in the home? How did you communicate with your parents when you were very young?

PB: Well, we all spoke Japanese. We didn't speak English until we started school, and we spoke very little English when we started school.

AI: And that was about... let's see. When, did you start kindergarten on Vashon Island?

PB: I started when I was five years old, but I guess I cried too much -- [laughs] -- so they said I better wait another year. We had to walk, you know, to school, and it was quite a distance. And, well, we thought it was far. The wintertime it was quite a walk, and it was uphill, and we thought it was such a huge hill near our place, but in later years, we found out it wasn't that high a hill. When we were kids, we thought it was a big hill.

AI: And was that, that was still on Vashon Island, then?

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: And that would have been about maybe 1915 or so that that you started kindergarten then?

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: What, do you recall starting to learn English as you were going to school in those very early years?

PB: I don't recall especially any... well, any difference. It just comes natural, I guess, as we went to school, and associated with different children, why, we just more or less picked up English as our main language from then on. 'Cause we never studied any Japanese, except at home.

AI: Right.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

AI: Well, and then a few years later, when you were about nine years old, was it, that your family moved and left Vashon?

PB: Well, actually, when I was checking out some of the records, I was only... let's see. I was younger than nine; I was probably seven-and-a-half or eight.

AI: Okay, so, so then tell me about where you moved to after Vashon.

PB: Well, when we started to move, why, I drove the wagon across on the ferry, and my brother and sister went with me, the three of us, we went to Des Moines across on the ferry. And of course, everybody kind of looked after us because we were just kids, they would help us whenever they could. But I thought that was quite a task, because we had to go down this steep hill, and I was always afraid that the wagon was gonna go down the hill, and we had the brake on, but I always thought the horse might slip or something and we'd go sailing down the hill. But we never did; we had a very good horse, a white horse we called Chub, and that horse was real smart.

AI: It sounds like that would have been scary for you kids.

PB: Yes, it was. It was.

AI: When you, when you got to Des Moines, tell me about the place that you moved to, where you lived.

PB: My father had leased a place, the old Rudberg place, and the original house that was there evidently burned to the ground about a year before we moved in. And there was a big barn there, and kind of an apartment on the far end of this barn, and that was where we lived. And it was, it was really a huge barn, because the lower part was large enough that one could skate in there. I don't know why we never learned to skate, but we used to ride our bicycle in there, so you can imagine it's a big barn. And it had a picket gate at one end of it, was open on the top and bottom, and the cats would come in. And we were just scared to death of the cats. And I just can't for the life of me imagine why we never blocked it off so they wouldn't come in. But they had the run of the place; they'd go up in the hayloft, which was way up high. It felt like kind of a four-story place because of the way the stairs were built. But we lived there for the five years that Dad had leased the place.

AI: So from about 1917 or so, and because it was an actual barn, you had your living area, kind of living apartment in one part of it as you mentioned, and then what else was in the barn?

PB: Well, there was a stall there for horses, and then there was a deep hole there where we kept our rabbits and guinea pigs. I don't recall having any chickens; we always had chickens, but we didn't, I don't remember having any at the Des Moines place. But we did have a horse and a cow. We had a cow named Fannie, and that's my sister's name and she didn't like it -- [laughs] -- because she didn't want the same name as a cow.

AI: Oh, I don't blame her. Well, you have a picture of the house and the -- the house that burned down and the barn, if you could just hold that for a moment.

PB: [Holds up photograph].

AI: And so in this picture, the house is in the forefront, and the barn, which...

PB: The barn is in the back.

AI: In the back.

PB: That's where we lived. We lived in the end of the barn, and that little peak on the barn is still there. So I'm gonna get a picture of that one of these days.

AI: That's great.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

AI: Well, so, as you were saying, your father had a five-year lease on that, on that property with the barn, and then you, after that, you moved to another place around 1923?

PB: Well, we were looking for a place that we could buy, but, of course, those days, the Isseis couldn't buy property, so we would have to use my sister's name. And I didn't realize that I had kind of thought we lived there about five years, but I was able to get the original copy of the lease signed by my dad, which I think he's the grandson of Mr. Rudberg. And he gave me a copy of the lease, so I was real happy to get that, and right on there it says, "Five-year lease." And it says that my mother -- well, she was the one that had the money, and we had to pay him with gold pieces. Twenty-dollar gold piece, and I know we had a struggle, and I remember my mother coming up with a twenty-dollar gold piece, and I used to wonder where she got it, because those were hard times, when we'd think we were completely out of money, and then my mother would come up with a twenty-dollar gold piece. [Laughs] So she was pretty good in handling the finances. But we finally found a place, maybe a mile from this place, up on Berto Hill. And that was sixteen-and-a-half acres, and it had a house on it, and we lived there for, right up until war came along.

AI: Well, could you describe it? Kind of give me a picture of what it looked like there on Berto Hill?

PB: Well, it was a big hill, and in the wintertime, people used to come sledding. And they'd slide down that hill, they can slide from top of that hill clear down to Des Moines, the Des Moines proper. And young people and old people alike would come, and sometimes the cars would get stuck on the hill, and my dad would have to get the team of horses out, and pull 'em out of the rut, because they couldn't get out. And they'd sled there for way late at night. It was a great place for them to go sledding. And 'course, we raised all kinds of things there, vegetables mostly, and we had a lot of fruit trees. Prior to that, we didn't have any fruit trees, and I don't know why, because with, being on the farm, everybody had fruit trees, but we didn't have, happen to have any, except for the one peach tree that we had at Des Moines. There was one real good peach tree by the kitchen window. But here at Berto Hill we had all kinds of fruits, lots of trees. There must have been forty trees there; apples, pears, cherries, plums, prunes, everything.

And it was, parts of that land was rocky. When I think of how many years we picked up rocks, we picked them up and (then loaded) onto the sled, hauled it to the edge of the field, and then we'd dump it along the fence line. It just seemed like the rocks multiplied. I don't know why they keep coming up; no matter how many times we'd pick 'em up, there'd be more rocks the next time. So we used to think if we'd only farm in a place where it was sandy and not rocky, like that. But then there were sections of the land that was rock-free, and we had the most wonderful water there, well that must have been artesian or something. But people used to stop and get water, because it was ice-cold.

AI: Well, for people who aren't familiar with using a well, can you describe how the well was set up, and how you actually got the water out?

PB: Well, Dad used to dig that well, I don't know whether there was a shallow well there in the beginning, but the side would cave in, and my dad would have to shore it up, and he'd put boards along the side, he'd go down in that well. And I was a natural worrier; I used to be just scared stiff that the walls would cave in when he was down in the well. Oh, I worried so much about him going down in that well, but he used to go down and dig, then he'd put the board on the side. And it was fairly deep.

AI: And did he have a hand-pump to pump the water out?

PB: Yes, then we had a hand-pump, or... that was later on, though. First we had to draw the water by bucket.

AI: So you, did you actually have a crank, a hand-crank to draw the bucket up? Or how...

PB: I don't remember exactly how we did that, but I know that we had to get water by the bucket. I suppose we had some kind of a way to haul that bucket up, and we kept a big tub of water right next to the well, which was the horse's drinking water. [Laughs] And we kept goldfish in there, and we'd leave the goldfish in there, and they'd freeze in the wintertime, so every once in a while we'd have to go and defrost the ice so the fish could swim again, 'cause it'd be stuck in the ice. It's a wonder that the fish lived in that ice.

AI: It is.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

AI: Well, so that, that was a little bit about the wintertime on Berto Hill, what about spring and summer? You must have been very busy with the farming.

PB: Oh, yes. It was always work. Summertime we, well, we raised lettuce and we had strawberries, tomato, and towards the winter we had a lot of cauliflower, broccoli, and, of course, the fruits we had. We had so many fruits that my dad used to go to Pike Place Market and sell the tomatoes and the cherries, and we were known for our tomatoes and cherries, because the cherries, the Royal Ann cherries there were so large and such bright color, because we were on top of the hill, we got a lot of sun. We had a marvelous view from there; we could see Vashon Island, Maury Island, and even the smokestack in Tacoma. And they used to even call it Tomato Hill after we lived there, because we raised a lot of tomatoes, lot of strawberries. I hated it in the winter, because we had to work in that cold, and we cut cauliflower, we had to tie up cauliflower, and our hands would freeze, and we'd build a bonfire, and we'd cut the cauliflower and lay it around the bonfire to kind of thaw them out. And then we had to crate them, and cut the leaves off of the top. And the, earlier we had lettuce. My sister, my older sister, was so strong, she used to pick up these lettuce crates and haul it on her shoulder. She was really strong; she was heavier-built than I was, and she was really a strong girl, so I don't know how she got sick.

AI: Well, before we get to that point, I wanted to ask you to show this picture of your place there, and tell a little bit about that.

PB: [Holds up photograph] Well, this is the house that we lived in.

AI: Up on Berto Hill.

PB: Uh-huh, and if you'll notice, there's a porch, I used to crawl out the second-story bedroom window. I used to crawl out of the window and slide down the roof, and jump down off of the porch. We were kind of tomboyish, I guess. [Laughs] And oh, we loved this house. We lived there for so many years, and I guess if the war hadn't come along, we'd still be living there. [Laughs] We had a well right next to the house, and eventually my brother and dad built a pump house, so we had a pump inside of the house, so we could pump the water, and finally, we even got running water.

AI: So over time, you got more conveniences.

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: Well, I think you, also you had mentioned in an earlier conversation of ours that you had mentioned about the berries, and the strawberries, that you actually had something called a stitching machine for making boxes. Could you tell a little bit about that?

PB: Yes. Well, we either had to buy boxes that were already made, or we could make our own boxes. And these boxes, you had to kind of fold them and bring 'em together, and then stitch it on the machine, but you had to push down with your foot each time. So we used to make boxes, our own boxes. It was kind of fun, because you stitch it and then you turn it, and then you stitch the other side. And we did everything in this one room when we were down in Des Moines, but later on, when we moved up on the hill, why, we had a lot more room, because we had a woodshed right next to the house, and... let's see, we had two bedrooms downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs. And then we had a big living room and a kitchen. Of course, the bathroom was the outhouses, in the country.

AI: Right. I think you mentioned -- and speaking of your, your kitchen in your house -- did you mention in an earlier conversation that you once had a fire in the kitchen? That your mother...

PB: Oh, yes. We had a, kind of a... well, there was a hole there right next to the kitchen stove, where we kept the wood. And on top, there was kind of a shelf, and we kept the matches in there. And I guess there were mice up in the attic, and they came down one night and... or I guess it was in the morning. And I guess a mouse chewed on a rat -- on the matches, and set fire. And the fire reflected into my mother's bedroom window, so she jumped out of bed and she went in there, and she went into the kitchen, she put the fire out. She told us if you could get to it fast enough, to try and put it out. If you couldn't put it out, "You better get out of the house." But it was a scary... she, but she got the fire out.

AI: Wow, that was a narrow escape.

PB: Uh-huh.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

AI: Well, I think another change that happened, of course, is that when you were, when you moved up to Berto Hill, that you also were a little bit older by then, a young teenager, and I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about school and some, your classmates, and how, and your friends there.

PB: Well, when we were in Des Moines, I met this girlfriend next door, her name was Florence Parks. And, of course, in those days, I guess they never had a Japanese living around there. And her mother was afraid that, well, I guess she just didn't know us, so she didn't want her daughter to play with us. But we, we went to school together, and we went to Sunday school. That's when we first got acquainted with church; we never went to church before. But we became real good friends, and the other children were all Caucasians, but they were kind of, the boys were kind of mean. They liked to take my books away, and they'd throw 'em in the ferns, and the ferns grew along the side of the road, and they'd throw rocks at us, and I did get injured at one time. But they were friendly in a way, but loved to tease and make fun of us and things like that. And yet, they were friendly. After we moved up on the hill, it was the same way; they liked to kind of fool around and tease us, but actually, they didn't really mean harm. But the teacher didn't like it, and he would get after them, and he'd really get after them, because he said we should all be treated alike.

AI: So, and tell me a little bit more about the, the church and the Sunday school. Your parents were not Christian, were they?

PB: No, they were Buddhist. Well, we started going to the Methodist church, and we also went to class after school to, about once a week we went to Christian meeting, you know, where we learned more about the church. They were really nice people; I remember Reverend Abbott, and he had several kids that were around our age, and they were real nice. And then this lady, Mrs. Clayton, I read more about her in some of the books about Des Moines, and I understand that she donated lot of things to the church. And the house she lived in, she, I think she left that to the church, and the organ she had. The house is still there, and it looks, still looks the same. She was very, very, very sweet to us, and she'd come and visit us, and give us a Bible, and always saying that someday we'd be treated just like everybody else, if we'd just go to Sunday school and we were God's children. She was always kissing us -- [laughs] -- which was kind of novel for us, because, you know, the Japanese people didn't do any kissing or anything like that. Mother thought it was unsanitary, and she said she didn't like that at all. She didn't approve of it. But she was very loving, and very, very nice.

AI: Well, what was your feeling or reaction when, when you were told things like this? That someday you would be treated like everybody else and that you would be accepted? Because at the same time, you were getting this kind of teasing, or even harassment by some of the other kids and other people in the area.

PB: Well, I don't think as a child, we never thought too much about it. We just went along, and went to school, and just never gave it a thought as racism or anything like that, because we didn't feel that on the Island, there were so many Japanese on the Island when we were going to school.

AI: On Vashon, you mean.

PB: Uh-huh. And when we moved to Des Moines, there were few, only a few Japanese, and by that time, we were speaking English quite well, and we were doing well in school, and just never gave it a thought as far as racism or anything like that.

AI: Well, I was wondering about whether your parents had ever talked to you much about being Nihonjin, or about being Japanese, especially after you had moved to Des Moines and were not around as many Japanese families anymore.

PB: No, they, they didn't. They didn't speak anything racially. The only thing was that we had, we should be proud. Proud of our race, proud of our heritage, and just do well in school, and do what the teacher told us. There was no bad feeling, and our neighbors were all very nice to us.

AI: And it sounds like you had some very nice experiences at the Sunday school.

PB: Yes.

AI: And with some of the church people.

PB: They were all very nice to us.

AI: Well, and tell me a little bit more about, also some of your activities as a child there in Des Moines, then up on Berto Hill also. Of course, you were very busy with the farm work, but what were some of the other things that, about your daily life?

PB: Well, we used to go to the neighbor's. There was a neighbor by the name of McDonalds, Mrs. McDonald was teaching us how to cook, because Mother didn't do any American cooking. And 'course, when we were going to school, we would be kinda embarrassed, because they would ask us what we had for breakfast. And the other kids always said, well, they had toast or they had eggs or something like that, and we usually had rice and miso soup for breakfast. [Laughs] So it was kind of embarrassing to me to say, "Well, I had miso soup for breakfast, and rice," because they'd think that was kind of unusual. But that was a typical Japanese breakfast. But then we gradually learned how to make American foods. And I was grateful to Mrs. McDonald because she taught us how to make cake, and she would take the leaves of the peppermint plant and put it on the bottom of the pan, and that would flavor the cake with a peppermint flavor. And she taught us how to make potato salad, and our neighbors taught us a lot of things. We learned to do American cooking, but my mother always thought that when we started cooking, our teeth started to deteriorate because we ate sugar, lot of sugar. That's why she always maintained that my older sister and I had good teeth, but the younger kids, their teeth were bad because they ate too many sweets.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

AI: Okay, well, we're continuing our interview with Peggie Bain, and I wanted to also ask you about your grammar school years, and that, any particular memories from grammar school.

PB: Oh, I loved to go to school. I think if we stayed home, we had to work, so going to school was sort of a vacation for us. Other way around for most children. I enjoyed going to school, but I couldn't participate in a lot of the things that I wanted to, because I had to get home and work. Like baseball or basketball, they usually played after school or during noon, noontime or something like that, and then there was a sewing class. I wanted to take up sewing, and I just got in one class, then so much of it has to be homework. And Dad says, "You can't be wasting your time doing sewing at home," so I got one lesson, and then I had to discontinue that. But I loved to participate in any kind of... like we had a drill team, things like that. I think mainly because I was interested in dancing, and Japanese thought dancing was more for -- [laughs] -- what they call otenba musume. And Mother said, "Well, you, you have a good voice, so why don't you sing instead of taking dancing?" But, of course, she, she never offered to give me any lessons because couldn't afford to give lessons in music and things like that in our time. But we had this maypole dance at school, where you pull the ribbon and weave in and out around a maypole. I remember that as one of my fondest memories, and also we had one show where we did a kind of a drill with the stays from a barrel, took half of a stay, and we went through a drill. And I thought that was so wonderful.

AI: I can't imagine how that would look with a barrel stay. What would you do with the stay?

PB: They cut the stay in half to make a moon, and then I think we had crepe paper wrapped around the stay, and we held it over our head with both hands like this, and then went through different drills, a group of us girls. I guess we must have had the same kind of a uniform on or something, and I just remember that, I thought that was so wonderful. But it all stems to the fact that I loved to dance, or I thought -- I didn't know anything about dancing, because my mother wouldn't let me go dancing or anything. But I thought that was wonderful.

AI: Well, at the time that you were in grammar school, many children did not go beyond grammar school, that was the end of education for many people, girls and boys. And I was wondering, did you have any hopes that you would continue into high school, or had, did you have some thoughts about what you would be doing after grammar school?

PB: No, I, I didn't have any idea, other than I thought, "Well, I'll be working on the farm." Because my parents told me that, "You would go through the eighth grade and that was it." Because I was needed at home, and since my brother was about two-and-a-half years younger, I was sort of the boy of the family for a long time until my brother got old enough. So I did all the heavy work, and I did anything practically what a man does. Because I drove horses, I plowed, I harrowed, I cultivated, people didn't believe that I could cultivate, because you got to pick up the cultivator and turn it around when you get to the end of the row, you know.

AI: Well, tell about that; what does the cultivator look like, and what's entailed in picking it up and all?

PB: Well, it has a little feet on it that you cultivate (with), and it's wide enough to go between the row. And you drive one horse, and he pulls the cultivator and you hang onto the two handles and you go down, straight down the row, and it kind of plows along. Not deep, but shallow enough to pick up the grass and break it off from the roots. And when you get to the end of the row, you got to turn your horse around so you could get in the next row, and you got to pick up the cultivator and turn it around, and you want to be sure that the horse doesn't trample on the, whatever that you're cultivating. Like if you're cultivating strawberries, why, you don't want him to step on the plants, so you have to... the horse is pretty smart. He knows just what to do, he'll turn around and get, get in the right row, and I was, well, I shouldn't be doing this, but I would feed the horse. [Laughs] After he'd come to the end of the row, there'd be some grass, you know, and I'd let the horse maybe take a couple chews of grass, which I'm not supposed to be doing that, because I'm supposed to be working. But I would spoil the horse, and I would even pick some grass with my hand and feed it to the horse. But people just didn't believe that I could harrow, harrow and cultivate and everything. In fact, some of my neighbors, the men used to come down, I remember Mr. Nakatsu says, "I don't believe it," and he came down to see if I could, was really cultivating. And he said, by golly, I was. But I had to be the boy of the family until my brother got big enough and strong enough that he could do it.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

AI: Well, and then, you, so you did finish your grammar school, and that was, graduation from grammar school was a fairly large event for many people. Can you tell me about your graduation?

PB: Well, we had a small class; there was only nine of us in the class, there were two boys and seven girls. And I remember distinctly their names and everything about 'em, and I didn't want to be valedictorian, because I says, valedictorian's got to get up in front of the class and make a speech, and that was one thing I hated to do. I hated to get up in front of the class and do anything. I was kind shy that way, and I didn't like history and current events. In those days, we had different names for classes, I think. We had history and current events, and we had agriculture, and algebra, and geometry. We had, I think, different names, and we had to pass the state examination, and we never knew what questions they were gonna ask, whether we'd even studied about 'em. So it was quite a hard thing for us at eighth grade when graduation came, because we had to pass all these tests before we could graduate. But I turned out to be salutatorian, I had to make a speech anyhow -- [laughs] -- which I didn't like because I thought I was getting out of that. That's why I wanted somebody else to be the valedictorian, and William Camp was the valedictorian, and I heard later that he went on to become a pharmacist, but got killed by a holdup man. And reading back to the old Des Moines book that they gave me, there's a name Thornley, and the other boy was Van Thornley, so I went to school with the kids of the, lot of these kids that were mentioned in this old book that was given to me.

AI: Some of the pioneering families of the Des Moines area.

PB: Lots of 'em that I knew by name because of the children that had the same name.

AI: Yes. Well, and so I think you had mentioned in some of your memoir that, that you had written, some memories of things that you received on the occasion of your grammar school graduation.

PB: Oh, yes. I, that was quite an event, because Mrs. Clayton gave me a huge bouquet of pink roses, and our neighbor gave me a compact and other gifts, and I thought that was really wonderful, because we didn't have occasions where we got gifts, other than possibly New Year's. We didn't even celebrate Christmas, so it was really quite an event, especially knowing that I wasn't going to go to school anymore. Because they told me, my parents told me that, "Well, now you've graduated, and you're going to stay home and help around the farm." So the younger the children were, the more education they had.

AI: In your family.

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: Your younger brother and sisters were able to continue on.

PB: Yes. My youngest sister was the only one that went to college. She went to Griffen school.

AI: Was that Emily?

PB: Yes, Emily did. Tom could have gone to, gone on, but -- he had a scholarship -- but he finished high school and he didn't, didn't want to go to college. And my first brother, I think he went only through sophomore. And next sister, Fannie, went through high school. She graduated valedictorian. We all graduated with honors, 'cause Dad says, "You better get good grades." [Laughs] And we, we did, we did very well in school.

AI: Well, so tell me about, after your grammar school graduation, then you were continuing on with farm life there, and was, I think you had mentioned that your parents' farming, your family farming was going quite well in those days. And were you able, or were you able to then hire some farm workers to assist? And also, was there another property that you began farming?

PB: We always had help on the farm, even when we were on Vashon Island. We had Indians then. In those days, the Indians were the main help on the farm, then after we moved to Des Moines and up on Berto Hill, we had Japanese boys, and later we had Filipino boys. So Mother was very, very careful, and very strict with us girls. She never let us even go as far as the barn to milk the cow or anything alone, because she was always afraid of these young men that were employed. She was very, very watchful, and very careful, and always had brothers or sisters go with us. We had a number of boys working, that's why we had a house we called the "boy house" where they, they slept.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

AI: Well, and then, I'm not sure if it was around this time that, was there some trouble, I think you had mentioned that one of your neighbors, was it Mr. Nakatsu and someone else who was actually attacked and harassed by some people in the neighborhood?

PB: Well, even when we were in Des Moines, these young men would come and steal strawberries at dusk. Well, they didn't really want the strawberries, I think they just wanted to harass us.

AI: These weren't the workers, though, were they?

PB: No, these were the teenage boys. I knew the names of all of 'em and everything. We knew the boys, but they would come in just about when it was getting dark, and they would get up in the berry fields, they'd make a lot of noise, and let on like they're stealing the strawberries. Well, they, they had no need for strawberries, but they were just harassing us. And they continued to do that, and there was a Nakatsu family, a Watanabe family, and our family, that were more or less known Japanese. There were other Japanese later on; the Andos and some other families. But they went into Nakatsus place, too, and of course, Mr. Nakatsu was known as a fighter. He was the president of Toyo Club in Seattle. They called him the "Bulldog," because we heard that he got in a fight and he'd chewed the ear off of the fellow -- [laughs] -- so they called him the "Bulldog." But anyhow, he was known as a fighter; the Caucasians knew that, so they went to their, Nakatsus' farm, and 'course, they were in the berry patches like they did at our place. So Nakatsu, being a fighter man, why he was gonna show them, he was gonna beat 'em up. So they got in an awful fight, but see, these teenage boys, they were smart enough that they kept egging him on until they got him off of the property and out into the county road. So then whatever they did out there, they wouldn't be trespassing in Nakatsus' property. And they really beat him up and his helper, who was a young man that we knew quite well. In fact, he died shortly after that. But they were severely beaten. But I don't think the police did much about it in those days, and people didn't report things, you know.

AI: So it sounds like that was quite a serious incident.

PB: Yes.

AI: But, but it was probably not officially recorded.

PB: No, nobody made a big issue of anything like that, and we never made issue of it. We got, we had the same trouble after we moved up on the hill, too. People would come in from the back, and get in the berry patch, and they were really stealing berries. These were some of the neighbors that lived... 'course, we didn't know all those neighbors, because 16-acre farm, why, at the far end of the farm, even if we knew, what could we do? They just run off, if we tried to chase 'em, we couldn't harm them in any way, because they were just stealing berries.

AI: And I'm wondering, well, as to why, why, especially the Japanese families didn't report any of this. Did you, did it even occur to you to report any of this activity, or to ask for police assistance?

PB: No, I don't think we even thought about it, because we felt we were the minority, and we wouldn't have a chance. We never thought of it in that way, of thinking, well, we should get help or something. Of course, like in school, if we got, the children were mean to us, we'd tell the, our teacher about it, or the principal, and he would reprimand them, but they kept it up. They didn't stop because they got reprimanded. It was just one of those things that the kids did in those days.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

AI: Well, I wanted to ask you a little bit about the, a big change in your life after a little, sometime after your graduation, was that you and, and your sister Nellie actually moved away from the farm for a while, and went into business with another family in a restaurant. Could you tell a little bit about that?

PB: When we bought the farm, the sixteen-and-a-half acres on Berto Hill, we had a friend in Leavenworth, and I think my parents borrowed money from this family to help finance so we could buy this farm. And they had money, so they thought maybe they would try the restaurant business, that they would furnish the money, and we would furnish the labor, which meant that my older sister and I would wait on tables. That's how we happened to start this restaurant in the basement of the Bush Hotel.

AI: And the, the Bush Hotel, of course, still exists, and that's right down in Seattle's, currently called the Chinatown/International District. And what was the name of your restaurant?

PB: Shinpo ken was the name of it. So I only worked there a very short while, but it was very popular when we were working there, because the two new girls from out of town were working as waitresses, and it was really crowded. We had a lot of Orientals come in there, Chinese and Japanese, and that's when I started meeting all these young Japanese from the city. Because we hadn't come in contact with other Japanese so much, other than the ones that we know out in the country that were farmers.

AI: So Seattle and the city life was very new to you.

PB: Yes. I kind of thought that I would never like the city, because every time I'd come to town, I'd get sick. The gas fumes from the car exhaust... you know, being out in the country all the time, the fresh air and then coming into the country -- into the city, with the gas fumes, I'd always get sick. And I'd get home and I'd be so carsick that I would vomit. Just as soon as I got home, I'd step off of the, out of the car, or get off of the bus, and I would vomit. And I would be so sick that I'd swear I'd never go to town again. But actually working in town, living in town, I got used to it. We lived in the Welcome Hotel at the time, which was next door. But I only worked a short time there, and I think I think it was prob-, I don't really know why I left there, but might be that I was underage and wasn't allowed to work.

AI: Well, and that was maybe around 1924 or so, you might have been maybe about fifteen or so?

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: And so, so you were still a minor.

PB: Yes.

AI: Well, and then as you said, that was also, you and Nellie were new girls in town, and at that time, the Japanese American community, even in Seattle, was not all that big.

PB: No. Well, we were new, so I had met these people, and, of course, then I got interested in dancing. Of course, the fellows wanted to take me to a dance, and Mother was against that. But she would let me go with one certain fellow that she liked. He was from what they called a elite group of Japanese.

AI: Well, so when you say "elite group," what, what made them elite?

PB: Well, they were the ones that had cars, and they had money, and was in business. That was C.T. Takahashi, his group. His employees or partners or whatever they were. Well, there was one Chinese fellow in the group, and there were three Japanese fellows. And they had a insignia, they belonged to a kind of a club all their own. And that was the only fellow my mother approved of. She didn't, she didn't like any of the other fellows. They used to -- after I went home, of course, then they came out to the farm. Lot of the fellows came out to the farm, and, well, the first fellow that I started to go with was a boy from South Park. And he was going to the University of Washington at the time, and he came out to see me, and my mother bawled him out and said, "Well, if you're going to University of Washington, you have no business going out looking, visiting girls." And he told her, "Don't worry, Mama, I'm going to graduate with honors," and he did. He graduated with honors from the University of Washington and went on to MIT and graduated there. I think he's still living, and last... well, I don't know now. Last I heard, he was living in California. He, he's probably gone now, because he would be older than me, I think.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

AI: Well, as you say, that after you stopped working in the restaurant and went back to the farm, and, but Nellie had stayed in town for a while.

PB: Yes.

AI: And, and so, and then what happened? Nellie at some point, she got sick?

PB: She got TB for some reason. I don't know why she got TB, but she got TB, and then she came home and in those days, if you had TB, you were confined to the hospital, and you stayed in bed all that time, as far as I recall. And actually, there was no cure for it, and it was a pretty bad disease. Anybody that had TB was, other people didn't contact them because it was highly contagious, and a very dreadful disease at that time. 'Course, everybody in the family were supposed to be inoculated or something, or tested all the time to see that we're not getting it. I remember I was tested every year to see if I got TB, but nobody in the family got it. She was the only one, and she was confined to a hospital in Riverton.

AI: And where was that, Riverton?

PB: That's... well, it's now, I think, in the (Riverton), under Tukwila now. But there's a little hospital there. At that time it was known as a hospital for TB. Either there or... what was the name of that one in Seattle?

AI: Oh, there was another one, Fircrest.

PB: Fircrest, yes. I think that was, was that the big one?

AI: Right. So, so Nellie was, was quite ill for a while.

PB: Yes. But she was engaged to, she became engaged to this fellow, I think while she was working in the restaurant. Anyhow, she wanted to, he lived in Idaho, and she wanted to go to Idaho, so she wanted me to go with her. I did anything she said, because she was Neisan, so, you know, whatever she said, or whatever she did was okay by me. We were very close, she was two years older than me, but we were very close.

AI: Well, and for people who don't understand what Neisan means, maybe you could explain a little bit, especially in those days, the relationship and what that meant, the older sister.

PB: Well, Neisan, the older sister, the first-born, was a leader, and whatever she said was -- other than your parents -- Neisan was the one that led. She was a leader, and you were supposed to do what she told you to do, and then the next one would be the first boy in the family, who was usually the pet. And anything that the boy did was okay, too, because he was the pet of the family. So whatever my older sister said, why, I figured, well, that's gospel, that I could do whatever she said.

AI: So in other words, next to your parents' authority, her authority came next in the family.

PB: Uh-huh.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

AI: So, so what happened then?

PB: So she wanted me to go with her to Idaho, so I thought it was perfectly okay, and this fellow that was gonna drive us had a new Chevrolet at that time. It was quite a thing to have a new car. And this fellow that my mother liked had a Ford, an older Ford. Well, Mother liked him because he was upper-class, and he would come out to the country and chop wood, and then he'd help around the house, and he was a perfect gentleman. And if we went anywhere, my mother always chaperoned me. She never let me go alone. In those days, you had to have a chaperone; if you went to a dance, why, you'd have a chaperone. Anywhere I went, Mother went along as a chaperone. So anyhow, this fellow said he would drive, so...

AI: The fellow with the Chevrolet.

PB: Uh-huh. So we went... at the same time, this other fellow that my mother liked, had gone to California on a business trip. So when he came back from California, I was gone. They were rivals, the two fellows were rivals, and anyhow, we went to Idaho, and I think we burned up an engine, or something was burned up in the car, and we couldn't get a replacement for it; we had to send to Boise for it, and it would take a day or so before we could get it. So we had to stay over in Nampa, Idaho. And then my sister was gonna stay there and get married, so I had to come back. But in the meantime, I don't know whether we didn't tell my parents where we were going or what, but they had reported me missing, because we didn't come back on schedule like we were supposed to. So when I came back, we were in a lot of trouble.

AI: So Nellie stayed in Idaho, and you came back, the fellow drove the both of you back into town.

PB: Uh-huh. But the part in there, I don't remember anything about it. It was a part in my life, like certain parts of my life, very unpleasant things that happened, it's a total blank. I don't remember anything about it, whether we stayed, we must have stayed overnight somewhere, and I don't remember a thing about it. I don't know what happened, but anyhow, when I got back, I was in a lot of trouble, or he was in a lot of trouble for taking me across the state line, for one thing.

AI: So, because in other words, you were still a minor.

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: And he had then driven you back and forth outside of Washington state, then back into Washington state. And on the way back, the two of you were driving back without Nellie, so you were without a chaperone, and by the time you came back, of course, your parents had reported you missing, so, so then he must have been possibly in trouble with the law at that point.

PB: Yes, he was. Whether he was jailed or what they did with him, I don't know anything about that, I don't remember anything. But I know that I was put in a detention home, and I think I was there overnight, but minister said I didn't belong in there, and he wanted me out of there, so he took me in, took me to his home.

AI: Was this Reverend Murphy?

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: And so, when Reverend Murphy came and got you, what kind of counsel did he give you?

PB: Well, he said that I must get married, or I should get married, otherwise this man would go to jail, and that's all he talked about. That I should get married and save him from going to jail.

AI: That must have been quite a shock to you.

PB: Well, it's...

AI: The whole, the whole experience.

PB: Yes, it was. It was, I was totally unprepared. I had no idea, I had nothing like idea of getting married or anything like that, 'cause I was only sixteen or seventeen, I guess I was then. And I was afraid to go home, for one thing, 'cause I knew my mother was very angry with me. I was afraid to go home, I didn't know what to do, so since Reverend Murphy had sort of come to my rescue, I thought I should do what he, he told me that I should do. So I decided to get married, and 'course, that was totally against my mother's wishes.

AI: Well, it was.

PB: Uh-huh. And in the meantime, this other fellow came back from California, found out that I had gone out of state, or I had been taken out of state, and all this mess. And I saw him one day... I was not allowed to leave the Murphy home once I was there. I never went outdoors, I was always in the house. I was upstairs one day, I think, and I was looking out the window, and I saw this other fellow going by the house, and I kept thinking, "Why doesn't he come to my rescue?" [Laughs] That was the thought that stayed in my mind: "Why doesn't he come and, and save me, and get me out of this mess?" But he didn't. I don't know, he probably was pacing back and forth, and trying to make up his mind what to do, I guess.

AI: And this must have been very confusing for you, you were really still a very inexperienced teenager from the countryside.

PB: I was just absolutely lost. I didn't know what to do, I was, I had no idea about getting married. I didn't want to get married, I wanted to go to school yet. And here I had, my schooling was terminated, and I was supposed to get married, and my parents were against it, and everything was such a turmoil that my mind at that time, I think it just totally blanked out. I had no idea what really went on.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

AI: So, and my understanding from doing a little bit of reading, I read that Father Murphy was a well-known Catholic priest who did quite a bit of work in the community among the Japanese families and Japanese Americans, and so he had quite a reputation at that time. Well, so then how did things end up? You stayed with Father Murphy, he was insisting to you that you had to get married, what happened?

PB: Well, then they had a baishakunin like the Japanese, the old-fashioned way, and like all mothers, their son is too good to marry a country girl. My mother, on the other hand, no man was good enough for her daughter -- [laughs] -- and it was like that, so it was just a simple, I remember just a simple ceremony held at the Baptist church. And my mother wouldn't come; my dad was the only one that, I think my dad was there. And there was one man who was sort of a witness, I guess. But I just got married in church, and that was it.

AI: That must have been a very difficult experience.

PB: It was, and I kept trying to go home after that. I didn't want to be married; I wanted to go home. But nobody would help me, I didn't know anybody in town. Here I was a total stranger in town, I was just like a lost teenager that didn't know what to do, and nobody there to help me. [Interruption] I went down to the -- I remember one rainy night, I went down to the restaurant and tried to get them to help me, take me home, but they wouldn't do it. "You're married now, so we can't do anything." That much I remember.

AI: So you were really trapped.

PB: Yes, I was trapped. I had a very stormy, unhappy life in my youth.

AI: When was that? Was that in 1926 that you were married?

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: And I think you might have mentioned at an earlier time that that was in the fall, was it? October?

PB: I think I... I don't know if I have that original marriage license or not. I think I do. But that broke all ties with my family. My mother said I was never to set foot at home anymore, and I wasn't to correspond with any of my siblings. She cut me off completely, and here I was trying to come home, but nobody would lift a finger, and I wasn't getting along with my mother-in-law, because she didn't want me in the family.

AI: Were you living with your mother-in-law at the time?

PB: Yes.

AI: In Seattle?

PB: Uh-huh. Well, at first, we were living... I don't remember what the name of that hotel was now. [Pauses] No, we weren't living with our mother-in-law, we were living in an apartment. I was unfamiliar with gas stoves, I didn't know much about cooking with a gas stove. I was scared to death, the stove would make a popping noise. And I was afraid of gas; I hated the smell of it in the first place. And in those days, there was cockroaches and bedbugs, just like old Chicago.

AI: So your, your living situation was, was pretty difficult.

PB: It was really terrible, because I didn't know anything about city living. I was even afraid to cross the street by myself. I just wasn't used to being in the city.

AI: Well, and then how, how was your husband making a living?

PB: He was working in a sawmill in Eatonville. In the summertime, he was going to Alaska. In those days, lot of the Japanese went to the canneries to work. And he would go fishing in Alaska.

AI: So he, so part of the year, he was out at the sawmill, and then during the summer months he would go out to Alaska.

PB: And he didn't stay with me much; he, when he was home in Seattle, he was always down at the pool hall. He loved to play pool, and he spent all his time down at the pool hall; he never was home.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

AI: Well, and then also during this same time, another difficult thing happened, which was that your, your older sister was still quite ill. And did she then return home?

PB: Yes.

AI: That, that following year in 1927?

PB: Her husband, she was getting worse because she wasn't getting the care. She's supposed to be in the hospital. She wasn't getting the care, so she wanted to come home, so she did come home. He dropped her off, and we never knew what happened to him after that, he just left her to my mother, and no support or nothing. He just dropped her off and disappeared.

AI: But you had heard somehow that she was returning back to the farm, to your parents?

PB: Well, he brought my sister home and then he disappeared, so we don't know what happened to him after that. So then my mother took care of my sister, and, of course, she had to be separated from the family, so by that time, I guess we didn't have any boys living in the "boy house," the one we called the "boy house." So she was out there, and we had ways of communicating between the two houses. Any time she needed her, and my mother took care of her.

AI: So during this time, were you able to go and visit Nellie?

PB: Once in a while my mother would let me talk to her, but not very often, because she didn't want me to get sick. But I did see her once in a while, and I talked to her. But she got progressively worse, and, of course, we didn't have any hope that she would live. We figured she would pass away eventually. My mother got, she turned gray just overnight. Her hair turned white from worry, and taking care of my sister. But she took care of her 'til she passed away.

AI: And, and that was that summer then, in July of 1927?

PB: Uh-huh. She died on the first day of July, and she would have been twenty on the 20th day of July. And, of course, I was pregnant then with my son, and she said, she predicted that I would have a boy. He was born on the 25th of July, five days after she, after her birthday, same month that she died, my son was born.

AI: Oh, my.

PB: At that time, I was staying with my mother-in-law in the basement of the Nippon Kan Hall. That's where my son was born. I didn't go to the hospital or anything, I had a midwife. And my husband was in Eatonville, he didn't even come in. So I just had a midwife and my mother-in-law.

AI: What did you name your son?

PB: Beg your pardon?

AI: What did you name your son?

PB: I named him Jimmy, and, of course, he was the first son, so my father-in-law had picked the name Hajime, "first."

AI: And so then for his English name, you called him Jimmy.

PB: I was, I named him after Jimmy Okimoto, who was a star baseball player at the time. I think he was with the Nippons or... I don't remember whether, there was the Taiyos and Nippon, I think, was the name of it. He was, actually, I named him "Jimmy," not "James," because I named him after Jimmy Okimoto, but now he goes under the name James.

AI: So you were living there below the Nippon Kan building, and, but as you say, you were not really getting along very well with your mother-in-law. So what did you do then at that point?

PB: Well, she accused me of just sleeping all the time. Well, I was supposed to have bed rest, you know, but anyhow, I think I was up the second day, and I was ironing clothes, and the midwife came and she said, "Oh, you can't be doing that, that's too heavy work, and you shouldn't be doing that." So then I got in an argument with my mother-in-law, so she didn't want me there, because she said I was just laying around and doing nothing. So I said, "Well, we're gonna go to Eatonville," and that's how we packed up and left for Eatonville.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

AI: As, before the break, you had just mentioned that you decided to take Jimmy and go to Eatonville.

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: And at that time, Eatonville must have been a very rough, rough sawmill town. I don't know, could you even call it a town?

PB: No, it wasn't really a town, it was just a place by the roadside, I guess. And it was kind of a, real country. We lived in... well, kind of a house, but adjoining, there were several houses in a row, it was just a row house. And had wood stove, you had to heat, I had a very difficult time, because I had to heat water on this little country stove to bathe the baby and to have milk formula. I had so much breast milk that I had to pump it out, and I didn't pump it enough, and I got infection and I had to have surgery. I breastfed my son for a little while, and then I had to have this surgery, so he grew up on powdered milk. And I think that probably stunted his growth; he didn't, I think he would have gotten taller otherwise.

AI: Well, it sounds like, really, the conditions out at Eatonville were very, almost primitive.

PB: Yes, it was. It was really bad because I had to bring in the wood and start a wood fire, and heat the water on the stove to give the baby a bath. It was really, really hard.

AI: So were you out there, then, for the summer months and the fall of 1927 or so?

PB: I wasn't out there too long, but let's see... I was, I was young, too, that's why I could stand it, I guess. I know that... I met some of the women there and we became great friends. This one girl that... I don't know whether I knew her previous to that or not. She was the one that was shot and killed by her husband in Kent years later. I met several women that we used to go together. One of the joys we had was going to the camp store. Everything was run by the people that had the mill. You bought your car or whatever, and you bought your groceries and you, everything was the company store, and my girlfriend and I used to go to the company store and eat cream puffs. [Laughs] We thought that was a great treat.

AI: Well, what I've heard about the Eatonville living area was that, was that separated, that the Japanese Americans were all in one area and separate? Was that the way it was at the time you were there?

PB: I don't remember any Caucasians being there. I think, all I remember is the few Japanese families that were there.

AI: And then a number of the single Nisei men also?

PB: Oh, yes.

AI: And some Issei.

PB: The single men were there, like I remember one of the fellows was, a Takayoshi boy was there. That was a pretty well-known family, the Takayoshi family. It was Kimi Takayoshi and Yoshi Takayoshi and some of the boys were good baseball players, so they were known for their baseball playing.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

AI: Well, so then, did you stay there that winter at the end of 1927, or did you, is that when you maybe went back in town and stayed at the Fujin Home for a while?

PB: I came back to town -- I don't remember why I came back to town. It was probably because my husband was going to the cannery then, and I was pregnant with my second child, so I stayed at the Fujin Home. But I don't know, my husband had the gall to even say that Pat was his, wasn't his daughter. He even said that. And he, actually, he wouldn't even go to Alaska until he knew I was pregnant, and yet, he claimed that it wasn't his child and all that. He was terrible that way. And he never, never cared for the children at all; he wasn't a family-oriented man. And I don't know why, because he comes from a big family, there's about eleven or twelve in his family. And I was friendly with all the rest of the family, but he just... he just was no good.

AI: Well, the Fujin Home was a home for women that was run by the Baptist Church, the Japanese Baptist Church.

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: So, so that was the time then, that you were with a number of other women there at the home, and could you tell a little bit about the ladies who worked there, Ms. Rumsey and Ms. McCollough?

PB: Oh yes, it was Ms. Rumsey, Ms. McCollough and Ms. Wagner. Ms. Wagner was teaching me piano a little bit; I took a few piano lessons from her. Ms. McCollough was teaching all the Japanese girls how to cook; she was a marvelous cook. Ms. Rumsey was, I guess she was the oldest of the group, and she was getting very slow, and she'd drive the car and everybody used to laugh that to ride with her, you could make it there if you walked faster than she'd get you there by car. But they were all very lovely people. Ms. Herd, she married Mr. Katayama, and I remember for lunch, always had tomato soup. [Laughs] Tomato soup and crackers; every time I see tomato soup, I always think of Mrs. Tashiro, because she always made tomato soup and crackers for lunch. I don't know how we survived on so little, but I guess we did. And there was a nurse there, Mrs. Manabe, and her daughter was there, and Clarence Arai's sister -- because the mother, Mrs. Arai, at the time, took care of the children there. She was a very sweet lady.

AI: Clarence Arai's mother.

PB: Uh-huh. And Sumi Arai at that time was a child, and she was staying there. And there was one little Japanese boy there, he was very mentally retarded, but Mrs. Arai took care of him. I guess he lived for quite a while.

AI: Well, and, of course, the minister at that time was Reverend Emery Andrews.

PB: Yes. He had the "Blue Box," what we called the "Blue Box," and I joined the WWG group, that I had the picture of.

AI: The World Wide Guild?

PB: Uh-huh. And some of the girls in there, like Dr. Uyeno is in that picture. She became quite well-known, and, well, Reverend Andrews has been friends with us for many, many years. In fact, he married my two sisters to their, one of their husbands. My one sister is still married to the... I think, yeah, that was Herod. She's still married to him.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

AI: Well, and another thing that you had mentioned was that you, around this time, you were also taking some classes to get your United States citizenship back.

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: So could you tell a little bit about what happened that caused you to lose your citizenship?

PB: Well, if you married an alien, you lost your citizenship, because all aliens -- especially the Japanese, the Isseis -- they were not allowed to become citizens, therefore they couldn't allow, they couldn't own anything, either. So all the farmers had their children's name on farms or whatever they had, why, they had to put it in their children's name. And we had quite a bit of trouble, because after my sister passed away, then it was put in my brother's name.

AI: And, and when you had gotten married in 1926, then, your husband was technically not a United States citizen.

PB: No, he was born in Japan, and came to this country as a youngster. So I had to go and apply, I wanted to get my citizenship back, so immediately I went to class; 'course, you had to learn a little bit of history about the United States, then I had to go to court and answer some questions, and I was real happy when I got my citizenship back, and they gave me a little American flag. Of course, we got ribbed a lot about our citizenship when we went to camp, though. But I was real happy to get my citizenship back.

AI: Well, and that was in, I think you had said August of 1928 that you got your citizenship back, and then soon after that, Pat was born.

PB: Yes, she was born in September. In fact, today is her birthday. [Laughs]

AI: Oh, that's wonderful.

PB: Today is her seventy-seventh birthday, and it's also, it's... I'm really ashamed to say this, 'cause it's my great-great granddaughter's birthday, too, and I don't know exactly what day she was born. [Laughs] I just got some late pictures from my great-great-granddaughter. Our five generations, and her birthday is somewhere around... I think it's in September, because she wrote and said, "Hannah is going to be a year old."

AI: Isn't that wonderful; that's good news.

PB: Of course, my son was seventy-eight in July. He says, "Don't mention it," he didn't think he was that old. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 18>

AI: Well, so going back to 1928 then, and Pat was born in September of 1928, and then you had said that you were at Fujin Home for a while, and then at times you would also then leave the home and live elsewhere, and then at times if you needed to go back to the home. What else was going on at that time? Because I think you had mentioned that at some point, your husband began working for Jimmy Sakamoto, who was starting up the newspaper, the Japanese American Courier? Was that about that time?

PB: Yes. He was working as a linotypist for the Courier. He was working in his dad's print shop prior to that when he went to California and left me stranded. I had no way of supporting myself because I had the two children.

AI: Right.

PB: I had some scary moments with them, because we were living in an apartment on Yesler Way on the second floor, and when I'd go shopping or something, I'd leave the children at home because it was too hard for me to try and handle two small ones, and they'd stand there at the window and they'd be rappin' on the window so hard, I was afraid they'd break the window and fall out. I don't know, the children used to do things that just scared me to death; they were playing with matches one day, and you know how Grandpa used to, they'd take a match and lit it and let the children blow it out. And here my son had caught onto that, and they must have lit at least a hundred matches and blown 'em out. When I came back, the floor was just full of matches. But fortunately, they had lit it and blown each one out after they lit it. But they could have caught that house on fire, and here they're locked in the second floor. Oh, it was terrible. I gave 'em a spanking that they never forget that, because I didn't want them to be playing with matches.

AI: Oh, how scary.

PB: It was real scary.

AI: Oh, my goodness. Well, at around that time, also, that's 1929, 1930, the Great Depression was also starting. Did that affect you much at that time?

PB: I didn't, I didn't think of it as a depression or anything. I never, I think when I was young, I was just too busy worrying about raising the kids, and I never thought about what's going on in the world. At least, I don't recall thinking about it.

AI: Were you involved much with the beginning of the Japanese American Citizens League? Because at that time, of course, Jimmy Sakamoto was also involved with Clarence Arai and other Nisei starting up the organization.

PB: Well, we did belong to the -- all my sisters, both my sisters and I belonged to the Citizens League, and let's see... we belonged to the Puyallup chapter, I think, at one time I know we did.

AI: And I think you also had mentioned that there was a, an early conference of the JACL that went on at about that time.

PB: I know we went to one big meeting over in Yakima or somewhere out there, east of the mountains, we went. And we were supposed to go to a dance that one night, they had the, that was, all the chapters got together. I had, I think that's the only picture I have of the big JACL meeting that we had. And I was supposed to go to a dance that night, we stayed with a family at their farm, and there were bedbugs there, and I'm allergic to bedbugs. And the bedbugs bit me on my face, and my face was all swollen, and we were supposed to go to the dance, and oh, that was horrible. But their farm was so different from our farm, and they were feeding the horses a big watermelon, I remember that. [Laughs] And I was thinking, "This is sure strange country here, they're feeding the horses a watermelon."

AI: Quite different.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

AI: Well, now, at some point, you mentioned that your husband had been working in a, in a print shop, but that you hadn't been doing that well. And so what happened at that point?

PB: I...

AI: You were living in Seattle for a while, and, and then he left?

PB: Well, the children were sick, and he said he was going out to get medicine. But he was taking a suit of clothes with him; he was taking his good suit with him as he went out the door, and I said, "Why are you taking your suit?" And he said, "Oh, I'm getting these cleaned." But he went out and he didn't, he didn't come back. And he didn't come back the next day or the next day, and I waited and waited and he didn't come back. So I called the print shop to see if he was working, or what happened. They didn't know where he was. And here he had gone to California, and 'course, by that time, I had no way of making ends meet or anything. I was running out of food and everything else, so I guess I wrote to my family and told them that I was stranded, so they immediately came in and picked me up and whatever belongings I had, and they took me home. So I think it was about a month before I really knew what happened. He had gone down there and I didn't know whether he was going to come back or not, so I started divorce proceedings and told him that he didn't have to come back. But he came right back, of course, he came out to the country, and my mother wouldn't even let him in the house. She said, "You're not to see him anymore. You're gonna get rid of him," and that was it. So I think he realized then that I meant business and I filed for divorce. But he was ordered to support the children, but he never did. He just refused to support the children, and, of course, I had him jailed several times, but he got out right away, got bailed out. I was stuck with the two children; he just wouldn't have nothing to do with them. He never gave 'em anything at Christmas, he never came out to see them, nothing. He had absolutely no interest in them; he didn't want them. And certainly his mother didn't want them, and I wouldn't separate the two, no matter what I had to go through.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

AI: So in 1930, then, Jimmy would have been about three years old, and Pat would have been about two?

PB: Uh-huh. They were just very small babies.

AI: And, and so then you and Jimmy and Pat were then back on the farm with your folks.

PB: Yes. All the, they were treated grandly. All our neighbors, they just loved the kids. Our neighbor would, like on Easter, she had some little banti chickens, they'd have those little eggs, and she'd color the eggs and make Easter baskets. And May Day, they would fix a May basket, and every holiday, the whole neighborhood would get together, and on Christmas, everybody gave 'em presents because they were the only small children around there. They were really treated grand.

AI: So they were really special when they went out to the farm.

PB: Oh, yes. They, they had, and they liked it on the farm, they had, we had chickens and ducks and a dog, we had several dogs and cats, and they really loved it on the farm. They grew up on the farm; they thought it was great. My son would sit out in the sun all day, and he'd take the seeds of the peas that we would use for seed the next year, he'd be out there pickin' the peas all by himself in the sun, 'cause he'd get paid a penny or two for picking the peas, and he would do that, so I used to think, "Oh, this fellow's gonna be a real money-saver." [Laughs] But he wouldn't save his money, and he told me after he grew up, "Mom, you harped on saving, saving so much that it just got to me." He says, "I felt like I should go against you and spend the money." [Laughs] It's funny what thoughts that went through his mind, but he did tell me that since I didn't get remarried again for twenty-five years, they grew up without a father. And he said all the other kids had fathers, but he didn't, and he missed that. But I didn't want them to have a stepfather, so that was why I was purposely, didn't want to get married.

AI: What, what was your concern about a stepfather?

PB: Well, I always heard that stepchildren are treated so poorly, whether it was a stepmother or stepfather, so I just didn't want them to go through that. I thought it was better, better not to have a father than to have a mean stepfather. Which maybe that was wrong, because all stepfathers aren't mean. He might have had a good stepfather; who knows?

AI: But at the time, that was a concern for you.

PB: Because that was what everybody said: stepmother, stepfather, they were so mean to their stepchildren but good to their own. So I didn't want anything like that to happen.

AI: Well, so for a number of years, then, you, you and Jimmy and Pat were there on the farm, and in the meantime, your mother and father -- I think you had mentioned -- had also leased some additional land, some additional property for farming.

PB: Yes. We had a, I think it was about five acres or something, down in Kent. And they moved down there; there was a little house there, and the soil down there is sand, no rocks, so it was easy farming, so they raised a lot of carrots, which grew beautifully down there. They'd grow straight down, and they'd be straight, nice carrots. In fact, there was a family by the name of Otsubo, known as the "Carrot King," because they had such beautiful carrots. And then we also leased another farm in Evergreen, that's up towards Highline or Sunnydale area. There were a number of farmers then, around there, and we had Italian neighbors. That farm was kind of a moss, can't think of the kind of ground that was. It would burn if you, if it ever caught on fire, it'd burn forever.

AI: Was it kind of a peat?

PB: Peat moss, I guess it was. If the fire caught onto the peat, I guess it was lake bottom or something at one time, but it was real good soil. So we had a farm up there, so between the three farms, it kept us pretty busy.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

AI: Okay, well, today's September 16, 2004, and we're continuing our interview with Peggie Bain. Peggie, I, last time, yesterday, when we ended, you were just telling us about returning back to your folks' farm with your two kids, Jim and Pat. But I wanted to back up in time now, because just a bit earlier, you were remembering something from much earlier when you were a child, the 1918 flu epidemic. And I was wondering if we could go back in time to that time and tell us what that was like. What, what you had to do when the flu epidemic came to the area.

PB: Well, it was shortly after we had moved over from Island, Vashon Island, and I remember that there was this terrible flu epidemic, and everybody had to wear masks. I suppose that we didn't go to school or anything for a while, we had, everybody was told to stay in and don't go out. And I remember it so distinctly because our neighbor had a little baby that died from the flu, and we were able to go over and see the baby, and it was in a tiny little casket, and I was thinking, "Oh, how sad." And it was really horrifying because so many thousands of people were dying. And, of course, that was the war years, too, but I don't remember anything about the war. [Laughs] I do remember about the flu.

AI: About how old were you then, when the flu epidemic --

PB: I must have been only about eight years old.

AI: So as an eight-year-old child, you weren't very aware of World War I, but certainly the flu made a big impression.

PB: And especially, I don't know why, but a person dying really seemed to hit me real hard, for some reason. I remember that very distinctly, 'cause even when I was on the Island when our neighbor passed away... she was a very lovely person, her name was Margaret, same as mine. And I remember seeing her in the casket, and she had so many pink roses, and they said that she was going to be put in the mausoleum in Tacoma, and I just remember that so distinctly.

AI: Well, speaking of the name Margaret, how did you come to get that name?

PB: I was thinking about that this morning, and I think my dad said that I was named after the mayor's daughter, and I believe he worked for the mayor. He worked as a schoolboy for a while, when he came to this country, and he said the daughter's name was Margaret. So that's how I got my name Margaret, but I didn't get it until I think about ten years later. I must have been around ten years old when the name Margaret was added.

AI: Do you recall what, the mayor of what town that was that your father was, had worked for?

PB: No, I don't. I don't remember, I just remember him saying that I was named after the daughter of the mayor, I believe it was. I'm not sure, but I just remember him saying that.

AI: That's interesting.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

AI: Well, there was another short story that you were starting to tell yesterday that we didn't go into, and that was also when you were on Vashon Island, and you were mentioning that you started working in the strawberry fields at a very, very young age. And I was wondering if you would just tell a little bit about that, how old you were and what tasks you were started out with.

PB: Oh, I must have been three or four years old, because I was just barely able to carry a two-box tray, and as we grew bigger and stronger, we graduated to a few more boxes, from a two-box to a four-box, to a six, and then finally to a standard eight-box tray. And, of course, we were on a strawberry farm, and we learned to pick berries as soon as we could walk, hardly.

AI: Well, that's really quite a story, because, of course, these days, there aren't as many families that have children working at such a young age. And even in your own case, I wanted to ask, coming forward in time again now, to about 1930 or so, when you returned back to the farm with Jim and Pat, they would have been about that same age then, about three years old or so, and yesterday you were saying that it sounded like they were almost spoiled because they were two of the few young kids around. Did they also have tasks on the farm at a young age?

PB: Oh, they didn't work like we did. That was a different era then, and I think the children had it a lot easier then. Although my daughter did work at the vegetable stand; we had a, when we had our different farms, my daughter stayed in Kent with my mother and father for a while, and she went to Kent school. And Dad had a small vegetable stand right out on the highway, that's the main highway going into Kent. And we had vegetables, all kinds of vegetables, and sometimes people say, "Oh, I want some radishes," or, "I want some carrots." If they want it real fresh, they'd go in the back and dig it up for 'em and bring it to 'em. [Laughs] And Pat always said, "Oh, I had to work to hard when I was little," and I had to say, "Well, it was nothing compared to what we had to do." We had to come right home from school and work, and we had to work at night. We bunched vegetables at night. And we really worked, but, of course, she thought she had to work, but her work was nothing compared to what we did.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

AI: Well, also, I wanted to ask you about those early, the 1930s. I think you had mentioned that for a while, that you also did some work off of the farm. That for a while that you had done some work in some homes with families in the Browns Point area?

PB: Yes. Well, that's the first time I went out and did any work. I went to work as a housegirl, I worked for Edris family. They were the managers of the chain of theaters that were in Tacoma. That's the same chain they had in Seattle, the Hamerick chain, and Bill, Ned Edris is the one that managed the Hamerick Theaters in Tacoma. So I had passes to all the theaters, but at that time, it seemed like when I went to see a movie, I'd get a headache and I'd get sick, so I didn't go very often. But once in a while, I would go with Mrs. Edris. They were such a wonderful family; she treated me just like her daughter. She just went out of the way to do things for me. She'd shampoo my hair, she'd fit clothes on me, and she'd insist that we'd go down and take a swim every afternoon, and then she'd say, "Well, now you take a nap for a while." And she just treated me so well that my mother says, "You're living like a millionaire." [Laughs]

AI: Well, their, the family must have been very well-to-do.

PB: Well, they didn't have any children, for one thing. And they also had concessions at Longacres, so they were wealthy people.

AI: And what would be some of your typical duties around the house?

PB: Oh, I did cooking and I did the cleaning, but she was always teaching me shortcuts. She taught me wonderful way of keeping house; how to clean the house thoroughly, like nowadays, people don't, I don't think that anybody teaches a person to do different things like she taught me. She said, "Save steps." Like if you're carrying things to the basement, you leave it at the foot of, the top of the stairs, and take it down with you when you go down. And like vacuuming, if there was scatter rugs, you vacuum one side of the rug, and you turn it over and vacuum the other side. How many people do that nowadays? They just don't know, because they've never had anyone teach them. But that was the way with Mrs. Edris, she would teach me. "You do things this way," and when you serve, you heat the plates. And she'd put 'em on the stove up where the warmer was, so you could heat the plates. And she taught me ways to save steps, and how to save yourself. She was just a wonderful person.

AI: Now, did you live-in with the family, the Edris family?

PB: Yes, uh-huh.

AI: And was that, that you worked with them for perhaps a year or so?

PB: Yes.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

AI: I think you mentioned also that during the '30s, that you had a, had worked in a restaurant for a while in Kent? With another woman whose... I'm sorry, maybe I made a mistake about that. Was that about also in the early 1930s?

PB: That was in, around '33, when my sister and I had a small restaurant, short-order place. We didn't really make it a very good business, we just... it was sort of a gathering place for young people. Just people came there, and we didn't make any money, we just tried it for a while. And I think the young people were having a lot of fun stealing things. We'd have mustard bowls and salt and pepper shakers, they all disappeared. They'd just take 'em just to tease us, I guess.

AI: Was that you and Fannie...

PB: Yes.

AI: ...who did the restaurant?

PB: But we had fun; we had a lot of young people come, and that's where I met the fellow that I intend to see again soon. I haven't seen him for seventy-some years.

AI: Oh, my.

PB: But he's here. He's alive; I didn't realize that he was alive, and he lives up in... let's see, where is that, where the ferry lands.

AI: Up near Edmonds?

PB: Edmonds, yes.

AI: Oh, how amazing. Well, well, it sounds like you did a number of things in the '30s. You ran the restaurant for a while with Fannie, you did the work at the Edris home for a while, and then, let's see... in an earlier conversation, I think you mentioned also that sometime in there, that you and Fannie had worked in a ladies' apparel shop. Was that the Lerners store?

PB: Lerners in downtown Seattle.

AI: Well, can you tell a little bit about how that happened? Because that, I think that might have been kind of unusual for a Japanese American to be hired in a downtown store.

PB: Well, it was because my sister was hired as a cashier. And in those days, the Japanese didn't get a job like a cashier. About the only jobs we could do was doing housework or waitress, or maybe operating a elevator or working downstairs putting tags on the clothing or something like that... wrapper. But my sister was hired as a cashier at Lerners, and, of course, right away there was a lot of objections, "How come she got that job?" So it was even taken to the headquarters in New York, and the company head said, "We will retain her." And she had that job, and later on, both my other sister and I, we both worked at Lerners, and three of us were working at Lerners. But, of course, we didn't work upstairs, we worked downstairs, usually doing wrapping or something like a minor job. But my sister was definitely a cashier, and she took the money to the bank. She even had a guard go with her, and she was established as a cashier, which was quite unusual in those days.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

AI: Well, you were just telling us about some of your, the things that you did in the 1930s, and let's see... I think you had also mentioned that right after you had worked for the Edris family, in about 1935, that you then went down to California for a while.

PB: Yes, I was... I wanted to go to California. I always had seen pictures of the palm trees and the stucco houses, and I thought they were so beautiful, and I always thought, well, if I ever got a chance, I wanted to go to California. Well, Dad decided that we could go down to California to see how, what kind of farming they did and how they farmed down there. So my brother and sister and dad -- four of us -- drove down to California, and we stayed with this Tanouye family. There was about three families there that lived under a grove of eucalyptus trees, and oh, the farms down there were so different; the houses were so different. They lived in houses that to us, seemed like, more like shacks. In fact, one family, the floorboards were, you could see the ground standing in the house, and you just, when you swept the floor, why, you just sweep and the, everything would go down the cracks.

AI: Where was it that the Tanouye family lived?

PB: We, we lived in Torrance, but we worked around Torrance and Long Beach, I guess that was called. And Gardena, and there were oil wells all over, and they made that kachunk-kachunk noise, and the smell of the oil, it just made me kinda ill, because I didn't like the smell of gas or oil. They had farms right underneath the oil wells, carrot fields, and they raised a lot of young berries, boysenberries, different kind of berries... black caps, and different than what we have up here. And there were gopher snakes; great big snakes that lived in these holes in the fields. It would scare the women, oh, they were terrified of the snakes. They didn't bother me much because Dad had made me play with snakes at home. He didn't want me to be afraid of something that wasn't gonna hurt me, so he used to take a snake, put it in his pocket and bring it home, and then he'd let me play with it. Mother was horrified; she hated snakes. But the first time I picked up a gopher snake, he was about five feet long, and he kind of reared back, and it frightened me. We have a picture of that -- [laughs] -- so I had the awfulest expression on my face, so I cut that part out, but I still have the picture of me holding this snake. They were harmless; they went after the gophers, so if we ever saw one in the field, just take 'em to a gopher (hole) or chase him, and he'd go right down the gopher hole.

AI: Oh, my. [Laughs] What an experience. Well, while you were down in California, what were some of the things that stand out in your mind about that, that time in California?

PB: Well, they did a different way of farming. They had, like strawberries, they had flumes in between the rows, and they'd run the water down, so it would be quite wet when we'd go out and pick berries. And a lot of people, they don't stoop; they kneel or squat down, and they'd get wet, because it would be quite damp. But we were used to stooping, so we didn't get wet. But once you were out in the field, you had to stay out there. There was no bathroom facilities or anything, and people just kept going, going, and they just worked so hard. And we worked in the celery field, my brother cut asparagus, and they had huge farms that they hired a lot of people. There were quite a few people, we worked in the celery patch, and the one thing that was very unusual was the little toads. The certain time, they'd come out, and there'd be thousands of 'em. And they would jump up and down, and you could, it was just like raindrops falling. If you drove a car, you'd run over a lot of 'em, because they're so thick on the roads. They're kinda cute, they're little tiny toads, if you're not afraid of frogs.

AI: So that didn't bother you?

PB: No, the little ones are cute. And we'd take a Japanese bath every night, and these little toads would sit on the edge of the tub. And they'd just sit there blinking their eyes because the steam, you know, from the tub. But the thing was, when, like Japanese bathing, you get outside and wash, and there was rats in there, and they'd come and get the soap. You couldn't put the soap down because they'd grab it as fast as you put it down, and they'd take off with the soap. So we had to watch that, hang onto the soap -- [laughs] -- or else the rats would get it. But we had kind of fun, because everything was new to us. And we enjoyed working with the people... but the homes, like where we stayed, we, it was sort of a boy house, but the place where we slept, there was absolutely nothing. No floor, we just had boards about a foot off the ground, and a mattress on top of that. One little window at the far end, that's all, that was our bedroom.

And, of course, we heard about the black widow spiders, and oh, we were so afraid that they were gonna come out at night and bite us or something, but then we later learned that they're not running around loose; the black widows usually were inside of boxes. They stayed in the corner of the boxes, so if there was a stack of boxes, then likely to find black widows in there. But they, they would get in the creases of things. And they had a different way of planting tomatoes. They'd plant a tomato plant, and then they'd put a, like a tent over the tomatoes, and all the tents facing a certain direction, away from the wind, to protect the plants. And then when the plants outgrow these tents and start coming out, then we pick up the tents and get rid of them. So when that time came, why, we would pick up the tents and tuck 'em under our arm and go around just picking 'em up. Until we found out that the black widows were inside of the tents. That really frightened us, because here we were, tucking 'em under our arm, and the pressure, they could have bitten us. So we learned a lot.

AI: Did you ever have a problem with the, getting bitten?

PB: No, we didn't, never got bit by a black widow, but there were hills of red ants that oh, their bite was terrible. It would hurt for weeks, and it would swell up and that was when we were planting the tomato plants. And we didn't know about it, there'd be hills of these little red ants. I got bit couple times from these red ants. And they don't let go; they just grab a hold of you, and they just hang on. You could pull 'em or try to pull 'em off, and they won't let go. You almost have to behead them, but they were terrible, and it would hurt for weeks afterward. And then, that's the first time I saw a horned toad. They're cute when you get to know them, but it scared me because they're ugly. But the children played with them; you pet 'em on their head, and their eyes would bleed, they shed red tears. And the children played with them. After a while, we got to thinking they're kind of cute, though, and the first time I dug one up and saw it, it just really scared me, because they look like a little dragon. They're small, but they're ugly little things.

AI: So you had a lot of different, new experiences in California, then.

PB: Oh, yes. Things that we'd never seen up here.

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

<Begin Segment 26>

AI: Well, and I think, did you also mention to me in an earlier conversation that your father celebrated a birthday while you were in California?

PB: Yes. He had his sixtieth birthday, and that's when they're supposed to return to childhood and put on a red shirt. So we had a sort of a party for his sixtieth birthday. I thought, my goodness, here he's an old man, he's sixty years old. And I worried about him, I thought he should be careful, and he'd take a bath and go outside and walk around half-nude, and I was afraid he'd catch cold, and I kept saying, "Oh, you gotta be careful," and Dad said, "Don't forget, you're in California now. Not, not like Washington." But he sang songs and we'd gone out and caught crabs, fresh crabs, and Mrs. Tanouye would cook the crab, and we'd, the boys would go out to the artichoke fields and I guess they were the neighbors' fields, they'd come home with half a sack of artichokes, and we'd have artichokes. We had a real party, but sixty, that's pretty young in this day and age. But I thought then, "Oh, he's an old man now." [Laughs]

AI: Well, and then, did your father return back to Washington, but you and some of the others stayed on in California for a while?

PB: Yes, Dad took a bus and came home, and the rest of us stayed longer. We were down there for several months, maybe half a year or more. I loved it down there; I thought it was such a, so different. I loved the houses, they were so pretty, white and red and white and blue. I thought, "Oh, I would just love to live down here."

AI: But then eventually you returned back to Washington.

PB: Yes, we finally came back. When we were down there, we had a little dog one time, because one of the boys, the Tanouye boys, brought a little stray dog home. I think it was a Chihuahua. It was a real cute little dog, and I wanted to bring him home with me. But the trouble was that poor little dog was just covered with fleas, and we didn't dare to put him in the car with us, 'cause if we did, we'd have fleas all over everything. So I had to leave him behind, but I always thought about that little dog; I wished we could have brought him home.

AI: Well, so then what, what was it like after you returned back home? That would have been probably later on in 1936 or so?

PB: Some things I don't really remember. I don't really recall just what happened.

AI: But your, your folks still had the different areas that they were farming?

PB: Yes.

AI: They still had the Berto Hill land...

PB: We had the three farms.

AI: And the Kent farm, and did you say Evergreen?

PB: The Evergreen, yes.

AI: Right.

PB: So we would work from one farm, we'd plant certain things at one farm, and certain things at another farm. We would just drive and go to wherever we had to go. My mother stayed up at the Evergreen farm, and we had one Caucasian boy hired. And I remember -- [laughs] -- something that was real funny about her, she went to -- well, they needed a pot to cook in, so Mother had gone to the store, and she picked up a chamber pot. [Laughs] And she gave it to this young man, and she says he could cook in it. She didn't realize it was a chamber pot. But we laughed about it, said, "Well, if you got it from the store, it was perfectly clean." But he must have thought it was awfully odd when she handed it to him. And we kept two horses up there because that was kind of a peat moss ground there. Real flat, and we had Italians on one side, and we had Japanese neighbor on the other side. And I used to go there and harrow the ground, that's when the lady next door said, "Oh, I don't believe she could work on the farm after being, living in the city." But she couldn't believe it when I was out there harrowing and working just like before.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

AI: Well, now in the, as the, got to the later 1930s, 1938, 1939, I was wondering, were you and your family members very much aware of the war in Europe or in Asia? Some, as I understand, some families would be reading Japanese newspapers or possibly hear Japanese radio about news of the Japanese armies in China or Manchuria. Did you hear much of that news?

PB: Well, Dad took the Japanese newspaper, but we didn't really talk much about war or anything like that. We just went along and worked. At that, prior to the war, I was working up at Nikko Low. And of course, I was aware of it more because of the Japanese people that I came in contact with, like the kaisha people. There was Yusen-kaisha, and the Yokohama Specie Bank, and the Mitsubishi and all of those had representatives here in Seattle. And one by one, they were returning to Japan, because the war situation. But being young, I just never gave a real thought about it, too much about it. But, 'course, when we heard, as it got worse and worse, then my mother said, "Well, you better come home," because in case war started, we wanted to be together. We didn't want to be all separated all over the place.

AI: So you had been living in Seattle for a while?

PB: Yes.

AI: And working at the Nikko Low restaurant?

PB: I was living in the Panama Hotel. [Laughs]

AI: And so when your mother said that, and she mentioned the possibility of war with Japan, what went through your head?

PB: I don't think I took war that seriously. I thought about it, we were home, and my brother and our neighbor -- Ed Primley was his name -- they were very close, and they were talking about joining the national guard, and that was when the draft was coming up, and my brother was saying his number was coming up, so he might as well join the national guard. But I checked later, and they said that I was wrong, but I was sure that Ed and my brother Hank both wanted to go into the national guard, and they would not take my brother. They took Ed, because I know Ed went into the national guard, then my brother said, "Well, I might as well join the army then," so he volunteered for the army. So he went into the army.

AI: So, so Hank was in the U.S. army before...

PB: Before war started.

AI: ...before the U.S. joined the war.

PB: He was stationed at Fort Lewis, and he began to have difficulty -- well, he had trouble with migraine headaches. He got terrible migraine headaches, and he was, he said he had to train the misfits, and he said, "If you don't think that was a pain," because everybody had left feet. They couldn't keep in step. But later on, he was assigned as a cook, 'cause he likes to cook. But finally, his migraine got so bad that he had to be hospitalized, and eventually got discharged because of his migraine.

AI: So was he discharged, then, before December 7, 1941? Had he come back home by then?

PB: Yes, I think he was home already.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

AI: And tell me about that day, about December 7th. What do you recall about that day?

PB: Well, most of us were down in Kent. We were in our Kent farm, and we were planting these little onion bulbs, and Dad had made an implement where, makes a bunch of little holes at one time, and we would take these onions, little onion bulbs and stick 'em in the hole, push 'em down in the hole. And we were working, and my brother Tom had been up to Evergreen, our other farm, and he drove down in the pickup truck and as he, we could always tell, because he always had the radio going so loud that we said, well, "Here comes Tom." But he rolled the window down, and he says Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor. So, of course, I told my dad right away, and Dad says, "Oh, not, not Pearl Harbor. Not the Hawaiian islands." He said, "You mean the Philippines." And he just kept on working nonchalantly, and I said, "Oh, we got to go find out. Let's go and find out if that's true." So we dropped everything, went to the house, and Tom already had the radio on in the house. And, of course, when they said, "War," and all Japanese were going to be rounded up, well, it really scared us then, because here we had the three farms, and the horses and the trucks and everything we owned, and we didn't know what was going to happen. He had talked about they were gonna deport us or they were gonna put us in prison, or we didn't know what was gonna happen. It was really upsetting then.

AI: Well, so what did you do that winter, because in December, as you were saying, you're getting ready for the next coming season. Did you continue doing some of that planting, the onions and the other crops?

PB: Well, I think... I don't remember just what we did do, but, of course, the onions started growing, and we had planted lettuce, and the lettuce was just about heading by, just about the time war, or about the time that we were going to be interned. And when they said that we couldn't go any further than eight miles -- within the radius of eight miles -- of course, our farms weren't that far apart so we could work on the farms, but it was very, very trying because we had no idea what was going to happen. And Hank wanted to get married and go to a "free zone," 'cause he didn't want to go to camp. He says, "I'm not going to camp." So he and Martie got married, and they left for Wenatchee. But my mother was very disappointed in him because he's the first son, and she thought, well, he'd be the one that would say, "Well, the family's got to stay together," and everything, and here, he just got married and took off and left us. He just left everything up to Emily, my youngest sister, she and I were trying to keep the main farm together, get everything together, and of course, the important thing was to have money. We had to have money to survive, so we were trying to sell everything, and sell for whatever we could get. We were selling plants and flowers and trees and everything we can sell. And it was a horrible time because each day, it just seemed like we were being squeezed. And since we'd never been in a war before, in our lives, it was just absolutely panic. We, I still have nightmares. I have nightmares quite often, trying to decide, "What am I going to take? What am I gonna do with everything?" and, "What's going to happen to us?" It was just a horrible, horrible time.

AI: So, you didn't really have, there wasn't any explanation about what was going to happen, but you heard a lot of rumors?

PB: Well, they said we were, we might be deported, or we might be just... well, we didn't know what to expect. It was totally a time of panic that we couldn't imagine what was gonna happen.

AI: Well, since you had known some people in California, I was wondering, did you hear anything about, I think it was in February, when the Japanese families on Terminal Island down there were removed? Did you recall anything about, hearing about that?

PB: Well, the only thing we knew, that people that were head of some organization or something, they were rounded up first. And I guess they just come right out and picked up people here and there, if you were, belonged to a language school, or if you were an instructor in a language school, or if you were president of a Japanese organization, or Japanese school or anything like that, they just come out and picked you up and took you away, and you didn't even know. Fortunately, my dad wasn't into anything like that, we were just farmers, so we were together. But having the three farms, it was terrible because we're thinking, another week, and we'll be able to harvest lettuce and onions were all coming up, now we could harvest the onions. But we just didn't know from day to day, it was just absolutely terrible.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

AI: Well, and then at the end of March, all the families on Bainbridge Island were removed, and then, as you were saying, you were trying to sell things and get rid of things. But you mentioned about your younger sister Emily taking over some responsibilities. Can you explain that situation and why your younger sister had...

PB: Well, she decided to get married, too. She was going with a Caucasian fellow, Gene, and she didn't want to be separated, so they decided to get married. And that caused more problems because -- well, at first we thought, well, that's great, because she, she's married to a Caucasian, and she'd be able to remain behind, and then she could take of everything. Well, we had Filipino boys employed in our place at the time, but it just seemed like everybody turned against us. Here, Filipinos that were like family to us all of a sudden, they were kind of like enemies. "We don't want to have anything to do with you." We thought maybe they would help run the farm and take care of the farm while we were gone. "Oh, no, we're gonna take over, it's gonna be ours. And we don't have to pay you anything... or anything. We could just take it, because you're going to be sent to prison." So it was, in a way, we thought, well, we're safe, my sister's gonna take care of everything. So she starts buying some of the Japanese farms, because they're ready to harvest. And she knew, she's a regular farm girl if there ever was one. She loves to grow vegetables, so we thought, well, she knows how to run the farm, she, she drove the big truck and everything, she knew all about the farm, so everything would be fine. But then, in a couple weeks, she got a notice said she had to go to camp. Well, then, that threw every-, that was a horrible monkey wrench in the whole deal. And Gene, of course, he knew nothing about the farm. He was a painter and he was working Pacific Iron & Metal, I believe it was, where he was working. But when he married a Japanese, he got fired, he lost his job. And there he was now, on the farm with the horses and trucks and all the equipment, and he doesn't know what to do with it. So it was really terrible, because she had bought extra farms and here she was going to camp, too.

Then we had to turn in everything like knives and radios, and we had to take them down... I think we took them down to Kent police station. That's the last we heard of it; I don't know what my brother did with it. He had some rifles and some guns. And, of course, we were worried about our pets, our dog and cat, and so we started giving them away to the neighbors, and I had to sell my piano that I had such a hard time buying it, it took me a long time before I was able to buy a piano, and then I had to sell it. It was really a terrible time.

AI: Well, and, and also, you had your, your kids also, who were young teenagers at the time, about maybe thirteen or fourteen.

PB: My daughter couldn't understand why we had to go to camp. She said, "I'm American." But how can you explain? You can't say, "Well, you're, you're Japanese, you're American." But, of course, the Isseis would say, "Well, now look. What good is your citizenship? You kept saying you're American, and you have all the rights and you're so proud you're American, but now you're just as Japanese as the rest of us." And that was one thing the Isseis kept telling us, that our citizenship meant nothing then, even if you had very little Japanese blood, you still had to go to camp.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

AI: Well, tell me about that, the day and the time when you actually had to leave and go to the, the assembly center.

PB: Well, we had, we could take... I believe it was sixty pounds. We couldn't take very much, just few clothing and whatever we could carry. And everybody was buying up the duffle bags, and we had to make our own because they were all sold out. And I remember when we had to go down to Kent and board the train... or was it Renton? I'm not sure, maybe it was Renton. But anyhow, my sister was still behind, staying behind. She and I remember the Seiki boy, Tol Seiki, they went down, came down to see us off. Everybody was piling their things up, and it was just a terrible sight. Like a bunch of refugees, they looked totally lost, nobody knew what was happening, and there were soldiers all around. And we were assigned places on the train, and you just followed what they told you to do, and it was sort of like a dream. Can't hardly believe that was happening. And the kids kept saying, "Why do we have to do this?" and, "Why do we have to do that?" And the soldiers would just direct us to the train, and they'd say, "Well, this is your seat, now, you stay here day and night."

AI: And that would have been about May of 1942?

PB: I can't say right offhand without looking at my notes, the exact date, but it was a horrible time.

AI: And you had quite a long train trip.

PB: Yes, because the train would have to pull off the side track when other trains came by, and every time we went through any town, we had to pull the shades down. You could pull 'em up when we went through the mountains or through the wooded areas and things. My mother was kind of surprised that she could take that trip, and she was kind of enjoying seeing the country, because she'd never been out anyplace. But every time the train would start or stop, why, it was terrible banging, and we'd fall out of our chairs. Middle of the night, if we stopped, why, we'd just fall; just slip right out of our seats. It was a horrible thing, trying to sleep in the trains, and stopping and going. It was just this banging away all the time.

AI: And at that point, did you know where you were going, what assembly center you were being taken to?

PB: Well, we heard we were going to Pinedale, but we didn't know where Pinedale was -- [laughs] -- or what kind of place it was. And I had never been on a train before; it was the first time I ever was on a train, and I thought, "My goodness, this is a horrible thing to ride." And our neighbor was an engineer that operated the train between Portland and Seattle, and he had often said, "I'm going to take you for a train ride someday," and we had always looked forward to it, but we never got around to going. But when I was on that train, I thought, "I don't care if I ever go on a train," because I thought it was terrible. We'd just bang and fall out of our seat. It was so hard trying to sleep on the hard seats, and you couldn't see anything, because if there was anything to see, then we had to pull the shades down, and the soldiers were watching us all the time. And it just seemed like here we were prisoners, and why were we prisoners? We didn't do anything wrong. And we were just standing up for our country, and here we were being treated as enemies. It was really hard on us. But when, as we neared Pinedale, we begin to hear, "Oh, we're going to go to Pinedale," but then, where was Pinedale? And we could feel the heat, it was different. The weather was different. And when we got to Pinedale, we thought, "Well, this is pretty nice." And they were, the Japanese were outside of the fence; there were people outside running around free as can be. And here, they put us inside the fence, and here the other Japanese were on the outside of the fence. But later on, I guess, I don't know whether they came in with us or went to another center, but the whole area was different. We could see fig trees outside of the fence, and the weather was different. Oh, it was hot, hot, hot. Terribly hot.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

AI: And what did the place look like when you first got there? What was your impression?

PB: It was just rows and rows of long buildings, and there were about four families to a building, separated just by, just separated in four places. And the open, open all through the top, you could hear the whole length of anybody talking, you could hear them. No privacy whatever. We had cement floors in the building that we were in, and we had cots. But all we had was cots with a mattress, but we were fortunate because the people that came in later, they had to stuff the mattress with straw. And they also, the floor was tar, and it's so hot, the tar was soft, and the beds would sink into the tar. It must have been horrible, but we had cement floors, so it was cool. And my daughter was sleeping under the bed one night, and it really frightened me because she wasn't in bed, and I thought, "My goodness, where is she?" But she had gotten down under the bed, because it was cooler.

AI: So were you, Pat and Jim in a room separately from your parents?

PB: Yes. There was three of us, and there was three Uyeji family, a sister and two brothers. Their dad had been interned earlier; he probably was head of some organization or something, anyhow. They had put him in a different camp, different concentration camp, so this girl and her two brothers were our roommates. So we were just assigned, we never knew them before, but we got pretty friendly, and we were young, so we didn't take anything too seriously. I did probably more so, because I had the two children, and I worried about them. But we were lucky that we were in this building where it was cement floors, where it was cooler. Then going out to lunchtime, that was terrible. People would line up outside, and it was so hot, you could just stand there and you could see the heat. It looked like a cloud coming towards you. The heat, waves of heat, and people would faint. Every day, two or three people would faint standing in line, and I thought, "Well, why do they have to get out there so early?" Why couldn't we wait until they rang the bell or announced that it was time to eat? But if you didn't get there and get in line, sometimes if you're at the end of the line, they almost ran out of food, and it was terrible. We had Vienna sausage day after day after day. [Laughs] And they didn't give us much, just few, few little sausages, and just barely enough to keep us going. And people would faint, and we'd say, "Well, who's going to faint today?" Every day, it was the same story. They'd get out there and more and more people would faint.

AI: It sounds awful.

PB: Yes, it was terrible. And the showers, we had to shower like a institution. And they kept salt near the, so that we wouldn't get dehydrated, I guess. They put salt, give us a little salt. And outhouses were terrible; they were just like old country outhouses. Terrible. And that heat made it smell, and it was... it must have been really hard on the city people, especially where they had the modern facilities. Like us, we were more or less used to outhouses, having lived out in the country. But I can imagine how terrible it must have been for city people. And like Seattle people, they went to Puyallup, but we went to Pinedale. And I wondered why the separation, but they said people on one side of the White River went one place, and those on the other side went to another place. I think those that were east of whichever -- [laughs] -- I can't tell directions. But anyhow, some of 'em went to Puyallup, and some of 'em went to Pinedale.

AI: Well, you mentioned all these folks fainting and not feeling well there at Pinedale. What kind of medical facility did they have?

PB: Well, they had a hospital, and they had one doctor. And, of course, the employees were volunteers; we volunteered, and I volunteered to work in the hospital. So I did a lot of nurses' aide work in Pinedale. And when my sister came, she was, she had been secretary, so she became secretary to the doctor. So she had a good position.

AI: Was that...

PB: Emily.

AI: Emily. So, so you and Pat and Jim were sharing this room with the Uyeji family, and then your mother and father were in a different barrack with Fan?

PB: Fan and her husband was in another place, and she was pregnant with her first son, so her husband, he was really pampering my sister. He did everything for her. And he would take sheets and build a tent, and he'd wet the sheets down, and then he -- I don't know where he got a hold of a fan -- but he, anyhow, he was, he got a hold of a fan, and he put the fan on one end of the sheet to keep her cool. So he tried to make her as comfortable as possible. And he would do anything for her; he just pampered her no end.

AI: Gosh, that must have been miserable for her being pregnant in that situation.

PB: Yes. Well, lots of, lots of women went through that; a lot of children were born in camp. Her two boys were born in camp.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

AI: Well, so then, after being in Pinedale for a few months, then how did you find out that you were going to be transferred again?

PB: Well, they told us that we would be moving soon, to get ready to go to Tule Lake. And of course, we didn't know what to expect in Tule Lake, but anyhow, I think we were in Pinedale three or four months. But anyhow, we were notified that we were going to go to Tule Lake, so then we got ready and we got on the train again, and we went by some other camp where there were Japanese, I don't know exactly what camp it was, but as we went by, the Japanese came up to the fence and they yelled and waved, and we yelled and waved back from the train. And we finally got to Tule Lake, and of course, there was a welcome committee there. Bunch of Seattle people were there, and a lot of the other people, of course. Any new group that came in, why, they had a welcome committee just to see who was coming in, and we signed in to Tule Lake. And that's when I met these two fellows that were, they were so much taller than the rest of the Japanese, and that was the two fellows that later on, I had so much fun with, because we went, they were in the orchestra, one of 'em was in the orchestra, and he was, well... he led the marches when they had marches, he was what they called a drum major. And they were so much taller, and I thought, "My, those are handsome two men." [Laughs] 'Course, I never thought that I would get to know them so much, later, and one of 'em would become my escort or friend, boyfriend. But it was fun meeting all the different people, because they were people from all over in Tule Lake.

AI: Well, and Tule Lake was quite large. It was one of the larger camps.

PB: Yes, it was huge. You looked around, and all you could see was barracks and more barracks. Then there was a firebreak in between, and, of course, we were at the far end, way down. It seemed like we were in another town, and so far away from the administration area. But I asked to be moved up to the ad area, because I wanted to work in the hospital, since I had worked in Pinedale. So they moved me up to the ad area.

AI: And again, was that you and Jim and Pat were moved up together?

PB: Let's see... you know, that's the funny thing, yes, we did move together, but we were so separated, more or less, in camp. I was busy working in the hospital, my daughter and son are supposed to be going to school and everything, but my daughter was working in the mess hall. She wanted to work in the mess hall, and it was a help because we did get a little pay. We got... oh, I don't know whether it was twelve dollars a month, something like that. Anyhow, minimum wage, and some were getting, I guess the professionals were getting sixteen dollars a month or something. But it was kind of a help, because we didn't have that much money, and with my daughter working in the mess hall it helped, because at least we got a little money that we could spend. Otherwise we didn't have that much money.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

AI: All right, we're continuing our interview with Peggie Bain, and before the break, you were talking about Tule Lake camp, and about how, a little bit about life there in Tule Lake. And I was wondering, at the end of 1942, your first winter in Tule Lake, do you recall very much about that time, about whether, anything about the holiday time or New Year's at the end of 1942? I was wondering what camp life was like at that, end of that year.

PB: Well, Tule Lake, seemed like there was something going on all the time. There's so many people from all over, and it was interesting. They had, it was just like a small town. You had your dances, you had your church meetings, you had all different kinds of things going all the time. Band practice and people working, wherever they worked, they had different things going on. So it was a interesting place. We never got bored, because there was always something going on; baseball games, and in the wintertime they can go sledding, and summertime they'd go after rattlesnakes. Always something going on. And you could go for miles and miles, walking, you had to walk. Of course, going to work, we had trucks pick us up, but you're kind of more or less on your own if you want to visit somebody at one end of camp, you walked, and it was quite a distance. And then you'd have to notify the mess hall that you're gonna be there, so they'll have enough food for you, if you went to a different block. My parents lived quite a ways from me, so I didn't go over there too often. And, of course, my mother never came over to my place, 'cause she couldn't walk that far. But when I had surgery and I was in the hospital, my dad used to come and see me. I really appreciated that, because he'd walk that long distance to come and see me, and sometimes it would be after hours, but he would come in the back door -- [laughs] -- and sneak in for a few minutes, anyhow.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

AI: Well, tell about that time, because you, here you had been working in the hospital for a while, but then you started having some physical pains.

PB: Well, I had pains for quite a while, and I had gone to different doctors, and they said I had a retroverted uterus, and that was giving me trouble. And doing heavy things was bothering me, like, you know, when a person, when a patient leaves the hospital, we had to wipe down the mattresses, and everything was disinfected. And that was heavy work; we'd have to move the mattresses and everything, and it was just getting to be too heavy work for me, that it was causing a strain. So finally, the doctor suggested I have surgery. So I did, I was gonna have surgery, and I guess I didn't, I didn't go on the scheduled day because I had, I had caught a cold, and the doctor even came to the house, and he bawled me out for not coming in on appointment, and I said, well, I was sick. I didn't want to come in there when I was sick, but anyhow, I did go in and have exploratory, and oh, I had, another time I went in, I had an impacted wisdom tooth.

That time I, I was in the hospital a whole week, because I had a upside-down wisdom tooth, and it's impacted, and when the dentist looked at it, nobody wanted to take it out. They didn't want to volunteer, because they'd have to dig it out. But finally, a doctor from, California doctor volunteered, and I remember going in and, of course, they give me novocaine or whatever, and he would hit it with a hammer, and every time he'd do that, it just felt like the top of my head was coming off. But anyhow, he did get the tooth out, and he gave it to me as a souvenir. So I had it for quite a while, but eventually, I don't know what happened to it. But I went home, and he said that... of course, he gave me pain pill and told me to apply ice. And so my daughter got ice from the mess hall, but the pain was getting so bad that I had to go back to the hospital. I had to call the ambulance, and I passed out by the time I, I was in so much pain. And I was in the hospital for a week, and I remember very little except that it seemed like they were always coming in and sticking a thermometer in my mouth, and telling me to gargle. But I kept falling asleep in between there.

AI: So you were in the hospital both as a worker, and also as a patient a couple times.

PB: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

AI: So, what, from your experiences both working there and also being a patient, what was your, how did you feel about the medical care there?

PB: Well, one thing, being a patient and being the one that's working there is two different experiences. And when you're the patient, you really realize that the slightest movement of the bed, or if you cough, for instance, you have surgery on your abdomen or anything, it's terrible if you cough. My goodness, it just feels like you're being split wide open. It just seemed like you're being torn. And you don't realize that unless you're a patient, and I fully realized what a difference it was. Say, for instance, a person is mopping the floor or something, and they bump the bed. You can feel it if you're in that bed, you really feel it. And, of course, if you didn't have that experience, you'd never know that. But I fully realized what a difference it was.

And I had quite an experience, because there was a mental case that... I was in the women's ward, and we had a woman that was mentally unbalanced. So she was kept in a room by herself, and she didn't have anything like a fork or knife available to her, because she was, she'd get dangerous at times. She seemed perfectly normal, but mental patients, I found out, they suddenly will do something that you least, unexpected times. And she said she was from Kumamoto, the same place as my parents, so she would talk to me quite readily and seemed quite friendly. But one day, they wanted to change her garments, because she'd been wearing the same one for quite a while, so they wanted to give her a new gown. So anyhow, we got her undressed, and, but then she wouldn't get dressed. She refused to wear the new gown. She just stayed in the nude, and she just absolutely refused. And, of course, when you throw a gown down the chute, well, it takes a while to get that gown. But they finally had to retrieve the old gown, because she wouldn't wear anything else.

And another time, she was out, and she was always quite friendly with me. But she got bad that day, and for some reason, she wasn't at all friendly. And all of a sudden, she grabbed the keys from the head nurse, and then she got herself in her room, and she locked the door and she wouldn't open the door. So there was no way that we could get her out, because she wouldn't come out, so then it was around lunchtime, and all the girls went to lunch. I was on duty, so I was going down the hall to put a compress on one of the patients. Then all of a sudden, I hear the door open, and she got out. And then she ran out the door, and so, of course, I ran down to the, the lunchroom and said a patient was out of the room, had fled out the door. So then they sounded alarm, and the loudspeakers went on all over the whole complex. And she was running -- I don't know where she thought she was going, but she was, she ran out, and 'course, lot of people went out after her. But she's a fast runner, she was a big woman, and she was running, and they were looking; they could see her, but they couldn't catch up with her. And it just happened that my brother-in-law, who drives a truck, was driving one of the trucks, and he saw her running, and he offered her a ride. [Laughs] And she thought, oh, this is great, she's going to get a ride, so, of course, she hops right in the car. So then he brings her back to the hospital. But it was quite an exciting time, because she could have... well, I don't think she could have gotten out of the complex, because there's always the guard towers. But she came back so willingly because she thought she was getting a ride out of the place.

AI: Oh, my.

PB: I had a lot of experiences, and you have to be so careful. Like, as one becomes more experienced, you get to give medication to the patient, the head nurse would measure out the medicine, then you're assigned to give it to the patients. But you got to be very, very careful, because you can give the wrong medication to the wrong patient. And you learn a lot, because you see patients of all different kinds. I saw people with cancer, and at that time, I didn't know what cancer was, and I thought, oh, something that would happen to maybe very, very few people. And cancer, you know, is a terminal disease. So I used to worry about people that had cancer, and then there were people in there that, having a change of life, and they get hallucinations. There was one woman in there, she kept saying there was horses up in the ceiling. And then there were people that I would give alcohol rub, and they would look forward to that, because that was something little extra, and lying in bed, you give 'em an alcohol rub, and it's really a very pleasant feeling, 'cause I've had that done for me, and they'd look forward to that. And I saw people that had tubes, just hooked up to all kinds of tubes, and under the bed, draining into jars, and I took care of my sister. She had surgery when she was in Tule, and I had to administer oxygen to her, which I thought at the time was something really important, but now, I find that oxygen is just, giving a little oxygen, but at the time, I thought, with this oxygen tank sitting next to her bed and everything, and you had to turn it on. And I thought that was quite a thing, but really, oxygen is nothing.

But you learn so many different things, and later on, we learned to test urine for diabetes, and then further along more, we started taking blood pressure, and then we're gonna start using needles. I hated needles myself, so I didn't think I could ever stick someone else. [Laughs] I decided then, "I don't think I'm gonna like this." I wanted to become a nurse, but I thought, "No, I don't think I like to stick needles into people." So I finally decided to leave the hospital work, because -- I did, however, move... we work about three months in each department, like there was a women's ward, men's ward, pediatrics, and TB ward, all different wards. And I had worked in the women's ward and men's ward, and I was hoping that I would get to the OB where I could, where people are happy, not sad. But I didn't quite get to the OB ward. But I did work in pediatrics, and I took care of a little boy that had TB and had to be very careful of... you wear a special gown, you handle the food differently, you can't take anything out of the room, you just have disinfectant sitting outside the door, and then you just drop everything in there. People would always say, "Oh, you smell so antiseptic. You smell like Lysol. We know you work in the hospital." But I like that smell. I like that clean smell of Lysol.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

AI: Well, after you decided not to continue with the hospital work, what did you do after that?

PB: Well, I continued to work... most of the time I was in Tule I worked, I did work in the hospital, and evenings, since my daughter was a majorette, she was head majorette, so she was teaching a bunch of girls, twirling the baton. And she played the saxophone -- or not the saxophone, clarinet in the band, and I, I met this fellow, these two fellows that I saw as we entered Tule Lake, they happened to be from the same town that my sister-in-law's sister married a man from Loomis, California, and these two fellows also lived in Loomis. So I met that whole group from that area, so I made a lot of friends from California. And since Les played the saxophone in the band, and my daughter played the clarinet, well, every time they had band practice, I went out with them. So that was a lot of fun to go out and watch them. And Fourth of July they had this big parade, and my daughter was leading the parade and giving the flag salute. That's the one that was, the picture that was shown nationwide in the movie Manzanar. And that was a picture that was actually taken in Tule Lake, so I have that picture.

And I had a lot of fun going to dances. I didn't dance very much since Les played in the orchestra, so, but he wouldn't let me dance with anybody. [Laughs] He was so jealous; it just seemed like he was terribly jealous of anything that I went out of the way with anybody or anything, he'd be so jealous. And I know my mother said, "You should never get mixed up with a jealous person, because if you do, you're at fault, and if you don't, you're at fault." [Laughs] But I found out that's true. He used to check on me. I'd go and visit my folks, and if I was a little late in getting back, he was out looking for me. And he'd always check on me, and even in the wintertime, his, he lived in a different block a ways away from me, but in a way I was lucky because his mother worked in the kitchen, and I don't know whether they cooked differently in that kitchen, or whether he was available to... he had ways of getting things from outside of camp. Some black woman that used to come in, I don't know what the connection was, whether they were just friends or what, but this black woman used to bring things into camp. And even in the wintertime, sometimes he'd come just to check on me, and other times he'd bring me biscuit for breakfast. Hot biscuit with honey, and I don't know where he would get that, because we didn't have that in our mess hall. But he would get on skis, because there'd be snow on the ground. He'd get on the skis and bring me back the biscuits for breakfast. [Laughs]

AI: Oh, that sounds romantic.

PB: He was a very sweet person, always leaving little notes, and if he missed me, why, he'd say, "Well, I got to go to work," and... but he was a lot younger than me, and his mother was very concerned. And she was trying to break us up all the time. Finally, she did break us up, because she said... well, he wanted to go to school in New York after camp, or even while he was in camp, when they got so that they can go out from camp. She sent him out of camp, so I lost track of him. But just recently, I found that he had left a note giving me his address, and I never knew that. Isn't that strange? That all these years, I never knew that he had left me an address in New York to get in touch with him, and I didn't know that, and I was going through my photographs and different things from the different camps, and here I found this note, and had his address in Syracuse, New York.

AI: Oh, my.

PB: And if I had known that, I would have written to him and kept track, kept in touch with him, but I don't know what happened to him.

AI: Well, it's, it's interesting to hear about, about your romance in camp, because as you were saying, it was just like a town, with so many people and families and activities and lives going on. And I have heard, of course, of people getting together in camp, and some of them eventually got married, and some of them didn't; some of them were split up like you were.

PB: Oh, yes, there were a lot of marriages in camp. It was just like a town, they had elders and people that headed certain, each block had somebody heading that certain block, and they had canteens where you could buy things, and periodically had dances in certain sections, they had church, church meetings. In fact, my boyfriend and I, we wanted to teach square dancing. Well, I didn't know anything about square dancing, but he did. But then, of course, you have to have a caller, and we didn't have no caller, so we couldn't really do any square dancing unless we could find a caller. But he was very versatile, and he would go from one block to another block, and maybe give a talk on religious matters. He would, he would maybe give the sermon. He was a very interesting person, and very nice-looking. He was so handsome that all the girls couldn't figure out why he was going with me, because I was older than he. In fact, I was the oldest of the girls that were the nurse's aides. There were a lot of nurse's aides in Tule because there were girls from all over the state, Washington, Oregon, California, even from Hawaii. We had doctors from Hawaii. So unfortunately, I never got a single picture of him, and I, for the life of me, I don't know why I didn't get it, because the schoolteachers were taking pictures of my daughter when she had her fifteenth birthday, they made, these schoolteachers made a cake, and we had pictures taken then. I don't know why I never got any pictures of Les. I regret it to this day -- [laughs] -- but I never got a picture of him. Only one, when we went to a Christian gathering, and oh, there must be three or four hundred people in that picture, very, very tiny, you can't hardly see who it is. That's the only picture I have of him. But there were a lot of marriages; my sister-in-law's sister got married in Tule Lake. And, of course, lot of children were born there, my two nephews were born in Tule. They're pretty old, now. [Laughs]

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

AI: Well, another thing that happened in Tule Lake was the, the shell-collecting, and the shell-craft. And you did quite a bit of that, so I was wondering if you could explain the process and what was involved in doing that.

PB: Well, it, Tule Lake itself is a lake, and there's shells there, but there are shells all over in the sand, but people weren't aware that you could do something with them. And of course, if there's nothing around, somebody is gonna get smart and think of some way to make use of what's available. So people started collecting shells. And first, they only found a few of the type that they wanted, or the type they thought they could use for making flowers. Then people started digging around in the sand, and eventually, they found out that these shells are in layers, and if you dig, you could find just veins of shells. So it got so that people would go out and dig these shells, and they'd dig four feet down, they'd get in way up, way up to their waist. Everybody was digging and it got to be like a gold hunt or something. [Laughs] They were just, everybody was vying to get to the best places, and they'd be digging from one side, and somebody'd be digging from the other side, and they'd say, "Oh, that's my vein." And they got so that they say, they were counting at first, "Oh, I got very few," at first, maybe ten, fifteen shells. Later on they'd say, "Oh, I got a hundred shells," and pretty soon they were collecting them. And, of course, they're, quite a process to get to the type that you wanted because there's all kinds of shells, broken shells in different shapes and sizes, and then they had to be screened. Well, in order to screen 'em, they had, the men had to be carpenters and make little squares of something to screen 'em with. So then they were cutting the screens out of the windows and making boxes. And my dad was doing the same thing, and of course, the first ones that he took a nail and made bigger holes, so that (smaller) shells would fall through, and the sand would fall through, and progressively smaller holes until he got to the screen part, and then after they pick out the shells, the ones that they want, then they have to bleach them. So they put 'em in Purex and then after, you can't, you had to make it just right or else, if you make it too strong, they disintegrate. Then after that, they had to wash 'em and then put 'em out in the sun to bleach 'em further until they turn white.

And then, then it was up to whoever was gonna make the flowers or little birds or pins or earrings or whatever they're gonna make, it was up to the person to use their talent in making different things. But mostly, what was selling was the corsages. They were roughly made at first. I don't know what other people used, because I wasn't really interested in what other people was doing. I got interested in finding ways to make the shell flowers myself, and I didn't want just clumsy-looking corsages. I wanted them to look real neat, and I wanted to be sure the stems were wrapped real fine. And I had experience wrapping fishing poles, so I knew how to wrap the wires. And, of course, the wires was the screens that my dad took apart, and they were kind of crinkly and he tried to straighten 'em, but you couldn't straighten 'em very well. But it worked out pretty good, and then people found out about my corsages, so I kept getting orders from the, mainly from the Caucasian personnel that worked in the hospital in the administration department. So I was really busy; I got so involved that I'd wake up in the middle of the night and draw a sketch and then make it the next day. And I sold a lot of 'em and had orders when I got transferred to Idaho.

AI: It sounds like an awful lot of work.

PB: It was a lot of work because each one is wrapped with sewing thread, and I had to get the green thread, I had to send out for it, and at first, we used just the pink nail polish, so everything was that pink nail polish at first. But gradually, I was able to get paints, different paints, and I was also able to get other shells from Florida. So I'm, I was very busy making shell corsages and earrings and birds and pins, picture frames, I tried everything. And it was something that gave me an outlet. I was just making new things all the time. And to me, it just, it was an outlet for me, a wonderful outlet for me. And when I think back now, it's sixty-some years old, so they're kind of souvenirs now.

AI: They are.

PB: And people, I don't know, the schoolteachers that bought them, most of 'em would probably be gone by now, because they would be quite elderly if they're living. I don't know how many people have those corsages anymore. But I still have quite a few of 'em. And lot of people made beads, and they were selling the shells. Because people that didn't make things, why, they could get good money for it, because the other people were buying 'em. They wanted to make things and rather than go out there and dig and go through all the work of getting them ready, they had to go through a long process of eliminating the old ones. In fact, I still have the sand and dirt and everything. I have, I brought it with me.

AI: You did?

PB: I've got sand and I've got the wires and toothbrush that I use, and cornmeal and toilet paper. [Laughs] After, later on, after we went to Chicago, I bought leaves for roses, because the leaf is very hard to make. You had to cut it out of big shells, and that was a tedious job, because the shells would break. So I used artificial leaves for some things.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

AI: Well, there were so many things going on in Tule Lake, and one of the things that I wanted to ask you about in particular was in 1943, was when the U.S. army then was allowing the Nisei men to join, and started coming for recruiting for the army, and also early in 1943, there was the so-called "loyalty questionnaire" that came out. It was the questionnaire also called "Leave Clearance," so you had mentioned earlier about some people leaving camp, and, of course, you eventually did also. But I was wondering, do you remember much about that time when the questionnaire came out, and the discussion over some of the men joining the army?

PB: I wasn't really deep into that, because my brothers, if they were at an age where they would be taken into the army or some service, and the questionnaire came up, and the parents would be so concerned and everything, I never gave it that much thought because I was just away from that.

AI: And Jim was still young then.

PB: Jim was too young, and I knew that he wouldn't have to go in. But after we got to Idaho, and so many people from Idaho, they were volunteering, lot of 'em. And, of course, there were, those that didn't want to go in, they remained in Tule. They, there was this, two factions there, but when I left Tule Lake, it wasn't that obvious. But I, my sister told me that, she remained, my two sisters stayed behind because my sister was expecting her second child. And my youngest sister stayed to help my other sister. So they were more aware of the clash between the pros and cons in Tule Lake, but I had left there, and I didn't feel it that much. But there were clashes, and my cousins were planning to go back to Japan, and I remember saying goodbye to them.

AI: Well, did your own parents say anything about, any thinking about leaving the United States? You mentioned earlier how some of the Isseis had said, "Well, your U.S. citizenship is worthless now," and that some of the Issei did have some thoughts about, that life in the United States would be quite difficult for, for Japanese Americans even with citizenship. So what, what was your parents' thinking about that?

PB: My parents didn't say very much, except that they said, "What good is your citizenship? You claim that you're Americans, and you were so proud of your citizenship," but here it didn't mean anything. We were in camp just like the Isseis, and we didn't have no say-so or anything. So they didn't, they, of course, thought, "Why in the world would anyone want to volunteer, go into the army and fight for the United States, to give up their life for a country that had them imprisoned?" So I think that it was a logical thought for Isseis to think that way, because here we were, we were all in the same boat.

But anyhow, my youngest brother Tom was of army age, so he did volunteer in Idaho. But he always used to have very bad nosebleeds, and at one time when we were home, he got such a bad nosebleed that couldn't stop it, and I know my sister drove him to Kent, which was the closest, where we had a family doctor. And he couldn't stop the bleeding. So then she drove him to Harborview hospital, emergency. Well, he got so bad, by that time, he passed out and Mr. Kubota lived right across from Harborview, and they said that they wouldn't take a patient unless some parent would sign in for him. So Mr. Kubota said, well, "He's passed out and we can't wait, he'll die. So I'll sign in place of the parent." So Mr. Kubota signed for my brother, and they had to give him a transfusion right away. So he had a number of transfusions at Harborview, and he stayed in the hospital. And even when he came home, he was very, very pale for a long time. But that probably saved his life, the transfusions and Mr. Kubota taking over.

AI: But he still had this problem, even when he joined the army then, later?

PB: Yes. When he went into, he volunteered, just on the day of, when they have the examination, he got a nosebleed. And they couldn't stop it, and they knew that he was a bleeder, so he was turned down. That's why he didn't get in the army, but my other brother, the older brother, he had already been in the army and he'd gotten an honorary discharge. But I was glad my son wasn't old enough to go in. [Laughs]

AI: I'm sure that, that would have been a terrible situation if he had been.

PB: Oh, yes. I think it would have just done me in if he had to go in.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

AI: Well, also, you had mentioned a little earlier that while you were still at Tule Lake, that Pat turned fifteen. She had a fifteenth birthday party.

PB: Yes. This family that, they're schoolteachers, they gave her a birthday party, and had a cake and we had pictures taken. And they wanted to leave Tule Lake, they would go back, they're from Oklahoma. They were going back to Oklahoma, but they wanted to take some Japanese student with them, and give them the opportunity to have an education outside of camp. So they were testing the various children to see who had high IQ, and my daughter happened to have a very IQ, I guess the highest of the girls they tested. So they asked me if I would give permission for them to take my daughter to Oklahoma. Well, I was against it at first; I didn't want her to go to a strange count-, state, not a country, but state, and be away at such a critical age where she's fifteen. And she was a person with a strong mind; she wanted to have her way about everything. She was always that way. So I was really reluctant to let her go, but they assured me that they would take full responsibility. So finally, I agreed. So she went to Lawton, Oklahoma, with them, and she went to school in Lawton, and I learned that this lady's father was a judge in Oklahoma, in Lawton, so I knew that they were a respectful family. And then later on, they decided to come to Minidoka and take up the teaching position again. So then they moved into Twin Falls, Idaho, and they commuted to camp every day to teach in the schools there.

AI: I was wondering if you, if Pat had said much about her experience in Oklahoma, what kind of... of course, the war was still going on and I'm thinking probably not too many people in Oklahoma had ever met a Japanese American before.

PB: No, and they didn't know. The people back there, they just were hardly aware that the people on the Pacific coast had been moved. Oh, most of 'em you talked to, they said, "We didn't know that. We didn't hear anything about that." And so my daughter made speeches. She went to different organizations and gave speeches and talked about her life in camp, and that was probably the first time they ever heard about it. And I met people later on in Chicago, and they said, "Well, I didn't know that," or, "I didn't know any Japanese people. I thought they were really different, and you don't seem to be any more different than anybody else." They just didn't know the Japanese people. So I think that during the whole war, they had no more idea what we were like or anything. Even to this present day, I think people that have never met Japanese, they think we're... I don't know what they think we are. [Laughs] But they didn't think of us as being humans just like they are. We're no different than they are. So I think it's wonderful that through different organizations like Densho, I think that people will be introduced to the Japanese culture and the people, and what they went through. And we're the same American citizens, but we went through a terrible time during the war.

AI: That's right. Well, I know that you were saying that a number of things happened in 1943, and you were explaining also about people leaving Tule Lake, and the separation after the questionnaire, and I think, was it around September or so that you and -- Pat had already left with the teachers to Oklahoma -- and that you and Jim were leaving Tule Lake for Minidoka in about September or so of 1943?

PB: I can't say offhand what date, unless I look it up.

AI: I think you had mentioned that to me earlier. And then also that your parents were also going to be...

PB: They were coming to Minidoka also, but they were, Dad's health was not too good. He always had stomach problems, and I think... when I think back now, he possibly had the start of cancer at the time, but we were not aware of that. And we weren't versed that much about cancer, and I never even gave it a thought that we would have cancer in the family, which I find out that so members, so many members of our family have cancer. You know, my daughter has cancer, and my sister had cancer and my brothers had cancer, both my brothers had cancer. Mother had cancer and Daddy had cancer.

AI: At the time, though, you weren't aware of any of that.

PB: No, I wasn't aware of it, and when I was working in the hospital, I thought, well, cancer is something that just happens in very, very rare cases. I just never thought of it as a disease, like it's as prevalent as a cold or any other disease. I never dreamed of it being anything like that. So Dad's health was deteriorating to a point that he was always saying he's got stomach trouble, and he was always drinking this certain ota isan, the medicine that I kept from... because of my dad's problem, I had a tendency to have stomach problems. So I've got some of that ota isan from the war days. [Laughs] And so they went on a different train than we did. But it's a funny thing, I don't remember anything about the ride from Tule Lake up to Minidoka. I have no recollection of that whatever. I just remember when we got to Idaho, there was a welcome committee to meet us, because we were originally from up here, you know. And there was one particular friend, a Mr. Tade, he was very attentive to me, and he was more like a servant to me. He always wanted to do things for me, and he liked to smoke a cigarette, or cigar. And I detested cigars, so I always wouldn't let him come in the house if he had a cigar. [Laughs] Mother always says, "Oh, you're so mean." She said I was selfish, but, but I just couldn't stand the smell of a cigar.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

AI: Well, what was your living conditions in Minidoka like, compared with what you had been in Tule Lake?

PB: Well, everything was much the same. We had the same type of building, and it was just by coincidence that my mother and dad were sharing apartment with the Uyeji family that we shared with in Pinedale. And I, my son and I were sharing the apartment with a family that we knew from Auburn, and this girl and her husband, and we had a blanket stretched across the middle of the room, separated their section from our section. And then next door, this girl's parents lived next door, on one side, and on the other side was a family that I didn't know, but we got acquainted. But it was the same way; there was about four or five families separated, and we had the potbellied stove and bed, and that was about all the furniture we had. I had a table that this man, Mr. Tade, had built for me from scrap lumber in Tule Lake. So I disassembled it and brought it to Idaho, and planning to put it together, but then happened to burn up one of the -- [laughs] -- couple of the legs of the table during the time that we had a coal strike.

AI: Tell about that. What, now, you had a potbelly stove, and you usually had coal...

PB: Yes.

AI: burn in there. And then, so what happened with this strike?

PB: I don't know just what happened, because I had no knowledge of why, the fellows that delivered the coal somehow went on strike for some reason or other, so we didn't get any coal. I think maybe we got one bucket and that was it.

AI: You must have been --

PB: So anyhow, we had to, it was cold; it was terribly cold. We're not used to cold like in Idaho and Tule Lake, in the wintertime it was very, very cold. And we had to keep warm some way, so we were burning anything we could get a hold of. And people were cutting sagebrush and if they found scrap lumber anyplace, and they were picking up scrap coal everyplace, digging for coal and trying to get as much as they can. I just happened to burn up my table legs so I couldn't have a table. So all I had was the bed and the potbelly stove. But after these, this couple that lived on the other side of me, after they moved out, then I, since my parents lived a long ways from where I lived, I lived in Block 26, and I still don't know where my parents, what block they were in. I think maybe Densho would have a...

AI: Yes, a record.

PB: You would know where they were. But I know the Uyejis were living with my mother and dad, so it seemed like they were part of the family all the time, because they were with us in Pinedale, and here they were with my mother and dad again. But anyhow, after these, this couple moved out, I had my mother and dad come up and live with me. So it felt real good, because it felt like home. It seemed like I was closer to my family than the rest of the family. The rest of the family, after they grew up, they weren't that close to my family, but I always thought about Mother and Dad. And it seemed like I always ended up with them.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

AI: Oh, we're continuing on, and I was going to ask a little bit more about, about Minidoka. You were just talking about how cold it was in the winters there, also in Tule Lake, and also that there were some, many families, especially the women, who had younger children that you saw.

PB: Oh, yes. They had to wash diapers in cold water... it must have been horrible for them, and the rains, when the rains came, it was so muddy, and that mud was just like glue. I remember my daughter came to visit one time, she, she was living in Twin Falls with the teachers, and she would come in to visit and she missed the little plank that was, served as a walk up to the building, and she stepped in the mud and she lost her shoe and it was terrible. It was just like glue; it would come up over your ankles. And my boss used to come and pick me up, he, we would go to dances, we went to church services, and, 'course, the Reports Office went to all the different blocks. We tested foods, if there were any complaints about food or any complaints about anything, we tested it, took pictures.

AI: Well, tell a little bit more about the Reports Office.

PB: Well, it was a office where we took pictures, ID pictures, and we went out and inspected the foods. We went out to all the different blocks, and if there were any complaints, we went to church services to see how things were going religiously, of course, we had a Catholic father and we had other ministers. And my boss, John, was a very versatile man. He would take up, give a sermon, or he would get up. And, of course, he loved to dance; he was a very good dancer, and I loved to dance, so he would come and get me as a partner and we'd go to dances. We had a lot of fun, and of course, the Catholic father would be there, and he'd, but said he couldn't dance. He'd say, "Well, I'll sit on the sidelines, so this one's for me." And he would watch us, and I know I went to a church service with John one time, and I was real surprised because I didn't know that he could get up and give a sermon, but he did. And he was, he was a lot of fun; I taught him a Japanese song, "My Blue Heaven," and he'd, he'd say, "Well, let's sing 'My Blue Heaven.'" We'd sing it in Japanese together, and he was really a lot of fun. And one night when he brought me home, it was so muddy that he didn't want me to lose my shoe, so he says, "I know what I'll do, I'll take you piggyback." [Laughs] So he was taking me piggyback, and I can just imagine what the Issei thought if they saw, happened to see us. But he was like that, and he would talk to my mother and had a few words of Japanese, and he was a lot of fun.

AI: Well, it sounds like, because of your work in the Reports Office, that you saw quite a bit of the Minidoka camp, that you went around to a number of different areas.

PB: Yes. I went to funerals, I went to weddings, when we had, around New Year's, some places pound mochi, around Christmas people put up decorations, they had a contest, who would have the best Christmas decorations, and they had dances and orchestras playing. Camp was not a boring place, because you meet people from all over. And you almost forget that you're in camp. I think it becomes just like ordinary life. You just think, well, you're there and there's nothing you can do about it. You're stuck there until they say you can move on. So you live there just like that's a part of your life. And I don't regret camp life. I think that it's an experience that it wasn't always pleasant, but it's an experience that I don't regret that I had. Because very educational, you met a lot of people, had varied experiences, you did a lot of things that you, if we had been on the outside, I might have been working on the farm all my life. Who knows? But being in camp, you learn different trades, I went to school, continued going to school after I came to Idaho.

AI: And then it sounds like you got very involved in the photography through the Reports Office work.

PB: Yes. I got involved in photography, so consequently, I learned everything about photography. I learned how to develop, how to enlarge, how to print different pictures and different papers, and then also taking up typing, I took up tying, and so when I went to Chicago, it came in very handy because I got a position in the office typing, and I wasn't that good a typist, but the experience proved very useful. And to this day, since I lost the ability to write, I can still type. So that way it has been a wonderful thing for me.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

AI: So before our break, you were telling about life in Minidoka, and about your work with the Reports Office, and that you really went around to lots of areas in the Minidoka camp, taking pictures as part of your work, and I recall reading a little bit in your memoir that some people became suspicious of you because you were going around camp and taking photos. And I was wondering if you could explain a little bit about why people would have that kind of suspicious thought.

PB: Well, for one thing, I was always with this Caucasian boss of mine, and he, he had a secretary, and she was jealous of me, for one thing. And I don't know, the Japanese people, I suppose, somehow thought that I had something, some ulterior motive or something, but they, some people said, "Oh, she's a inu." And I think it was just some people, the idea that maybe I had some ulterior motive. But it wasn't that, it was just that we did a lot of things together, because I did speak Japanese, and he learned a few Japanese words, and we went all over. We tasted, like he would taste, like, once in a while, some people would go to the canteen or they get a hold of sashimi. He would taste it and see what -- [laughs] -- what raw fish was like, and he was the kind of person that would try anything. He wanted to sample this and if he had to do some other duty, why, he would do it.

AI: Well, I wonder, did you ever feel threatened at all by some of the people who, for example, were calling you names or had some suspicions? Did you feel personally threatened that something might happen to you?

PB: No, no. No, I, I didn't have a... really, I didn't have no worry in the world. I enjoyed what I did, and I felt secure going everyplace. I had no qualms about anything. I went out occasionally, I went out to Twin Falls and visited with this teacher's home. In fact, they treated me so well that I felt kind of guilty, especially Mr. Ford, as I referred to him in the story, but his name was not Ford. He was from Oklahoma, and I thought maybe people from Oklahoma maybe felt little inferior to... you know, they called them Okies and Arkies and everything. I don't know whether that was the reason, but he made me feel like he was going beyond what he should. Like he wanted to polish my shoes for me, and when I'd sit down, he'd bring me a footstool, and he always wanted, if we were gonna eat, he always wanted to see that I was seated first. Made me, well, it made me feel like he was just going backward, bending over backwards to be especially nice to me. Made me feel a little uncomfortable.

AI: And so this was at the time when they, the teachers, they were living in Twin Falls, and your daughter Pat was living with them and going to school on the outside of camp.

PB: Yes. But then there came a time when there seemed to be some discord, and I didn't understand why this was happening. But when I think back, see, my first husband was working outside of camp. He was working as a linotypist, I think, at some newspaper company. And he was getting good wages, and, of course, he owed me years and years of back alimony, which was such a small amount. He was only supposed to pay me twenty-five dollars a month, but in those days, twenty-five dollars was worth a lot more than what it is nowadays. But he refused to pay me anything. I even took it up with a lawyer, but he still wouldn't pay me anything. Still, he was trying to make my daughter feel comfortable, and he had a car, and I understood that -- later on, I didn't know at the time -- but she was driving the car, and doing things which she shouldn't have been doing. And I think that kind of started having some sort of discord with the family she was with, because she was going out of her way to see her father, and she wasn't supposed to be doing that. But anyhow, the time came when finally my daughter said she wanted to come back into camp, but then the authorities wouldn't allow it, because they said she could visit, but she had already gone out permanently, so she couldn't come back in. And then she got the idea, well, maybe we should go back east, or go to the Midwest. And, of course, later, they wanted to get everybody out of camp, so then they were really pressuring me.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 43>

AI: But in the meantime, before you did leave camp, I remember you saying that you had also worked outside at the FSA camp for a while.

PB: Yes.

AI: And that was, that camp was a farm worker labor camp.

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: And I was wondering if you could describe that camp, and some of the work that you did there.

PB: Well, that was a camp where there were Mexican workers came in, and... let's see, what was the other nationality? There was another nationality that came in there.

AI: Did you say Jamaican?

PB: Jamaicans, yes. The Jamaicans are tall people, and they're a mixed race, so it's hard to determine just what they are. They're, some of 'em are fair-skinned, and they have light hair, but they're quite tall. And the only way that you could tell is their hair is kinky like a Negro's. And they sing beautifully, harmonize beautifully, play guitars, and they sing, and the same way with the Mexican people. They harmonize so beautifully. I think the... I can't remember which one came first, the Mexicans or the Jamaicans, but they had little cottages where the sick people stayed, and then there was one big mess hall where the cooks were, where the people ate.

And then there was a clinic building where there was... well, there was three of us girls, all of our names were Margaret, or Marguerite. And I had worked with one of the girls in camp before, she's an RN, and I think there was one, probably a doctor, I don't remember exactly, but they were seen at the clinic, and of course, I had to take food out to people in the cottages if they were unable to go to the mess hall and I would take the food out to them, see that they took their shower, and tried to get 'em to get into bed. Like the Mexican people, I couldn't get them to get in bed. They slept on top of the bed, and they didn't remove any of their clothing. They always had this, their own blanket slung over their shoulder, and they usually wore a hat, and they didn't even take their shoes off; they just lay right on top of the bed. And trying to tell them to take a shower, I had quite a time at first, because they didn't understand English, and I didn't understand Spanish. I learned pretty fast, though -- [laughs] -- and I kind of enjoyed learning new words. Every day I tried to learn a new word, and I'd go down to mess hall and pick up things and maybe learn one word or one phrase, and I began to speak Spanish quite well. I thought, "This is fine, because I love to learn another language." And the Mexican people, they'd always greet me in the morning, "Buenos dias," or, "Margarites, tres Margarites," they'd say, because there were three of us, and we're all named Margaret. And they'd even come down and serenade us. They had just beautiful music; I just love their harmonizing. And the Jamaicans are the same way; they sing, play the guitar, harmonize beautifully. I really enjoyed their music.

AI: Well, this is so, so interesting, because I think a lot of people didn't realize that there was this work camp that had people from other places, other countries, in fact.

PB: Uh-huh. Well, I worked out there, I think, about three or four months, and I really enjoyed it because I was back in the hospital work again, but my Japanese boss in camp was holding my position open because he wanted me back into photography. So he kept leaving the position open, and in the meantime, the Caucasian boss had changed from, they changed every so often. In fact, I had three bosses, I think, during my time in Idaho. And John was the last officer that was there, had met me at, he was waiting for me to come back to camp. And he was teasing the Japanese boss that I had, he said, "Oh, this is the gal you're waiting for," when I came back to camp. But John was really a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun with him, and I learned a lot from Joe, because he taught me... he started me on coloring photographs, which became my main profession when I moved to Chicago.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 44>

AI: Well, now, of course, now, color photographs are very, are no big thing because it's very common. But for people who don't know about coloring photographs, in that era, when photos were only black and white, could you tell a little bit about that process, what's involved?

PB: Well, first of all, they usually made kind of a tone print. Prints are usually black and white; we made the sepia tone which has a brownish tint to it, which takes color better, true colors better. And we used special Marshall paints. They come in tubes, and there's, you have mix the different colors in order to get certain tones, and that depends on the artist, whoever, if they have taken special lessons like some of my friends did, why, they naturally learned what colors to mix. And if you haven't had special lessons, why, you more or less mix and match, or through trial and error, you learn which is the best combination. And I think I did that mostly, just mix and match and by trial and error, and with some help with some of... well, there was one retoucher who also did coloring and she helped me a lot. And you color -- and I think hand-colored pictures, well, the pictures nowadays, I think the colors do remain. But in the early colored photos, in a few years, they'd fade, 'cause I have a number of pictures that are just fading away to nothing. But the hand-colored ones, they don't fade, and they're like heavy oils, they stay permanently. And has a real nice tone to it if you become good at it. And that finally became my main profession, although I started out as doing everything in the finishing department.

AI: Well, before we go there, I wanted to also catch up a little bit about what was happening with your son Jim in Minidoka, because he was still a teenager, and he was going to school in Minidoka, but I think you said that he, he wanted to go out of camp.

PB: Yes. He, he wanted to go out of camp... first of all, they were calling for volunteers who would help in the harvesting of various crops in the area, and they weren't able to get workers, so they turned to the people in camp to come out and help harvest. So he thought he'd go out, and so he went out and he said he was on a bucking, what they called bucking... potatoes, that, I think what he did was load 'em onto the trucks when they were filled up, and strengthened his muscles in his arms, and he worked, I don't know just how long he worked, but a short time, and when he came back into camp, his muscles, he had huge muscles on his arm. He just changed like overnight. He was really well-built; he had big muscles and big shoulders, and he enjoyed being out on the farm so much. And he said he wanted to go out permanently and go to school. But, of course, the camp people wanted to send him where the Quakers were supposed to help people from camp, and they would hire them as houseboys, and they could go to school. So he wanted to go back east; I didn't like the idea that he was planning on going all across the United States to Connecticut, but he said he'd be okay. So I gave my okay, although I really didn't feel right about sending him. I gave him as much money as I could afford to give him, and he went off with some of the other boys. And I guess they made a stopover in Chicago, and he went on to Connecticut. But he was real happy about going out.

AI: And so what he, what he was going to do was, the situation was that he was supposed to live with a family in Connecticut, and work there in the family's home while he was also finishing high school. Is that right?

PB: Right. He was going into a Quaker family, and he would work there as a houseboy. But in the meantime, he would attend high school until he graduated. So he did that, but he didn't tell me at the time that he didn't get very good treatment where he was, so he quit and he left the home, went out on his own, and got a one-bedroom apartment, and worked as a pinsetter in a bowling alley. And he was doing exactly the same thing my dad did, because that's what my dad did when he first came to this country, and one of his jobs was to set pins in a bowling alley. And he was learning the language, studying English, and it just seemed like my son was doing everything that my dad, same thing my dad did.

AI: What a coincidence.

PB: Yes, and he did finish school, he went to Westport High School in Connecticut and graduated. And he told me later, too, that he had met a very nice Japanese boy who also was out there just like he was. Only thing, that he was fortunate that he got in a good Quaker family. But I questioned him further because I wanted to find out who this young man was that was so good to him, that they said if it wasn't -- he said if it wasn't for him, he would have really had a hard time. Because this boy helped him, and unfortunately, my son doesn't even remember his name. [Laughs] And I said, "Well, can't you think even what his first name was or anything?" He says he has no idea. So I don't know, I would like to find out, and he says, "Well, maybe he had to go in the army just like me, and he might have gotten killed or something." He says he just has no idea what happened to him.

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 45>

AI: Well, now, also in the meantime, back at Minidoka, your parents are still there with you.

PB: Yes.

AI: And then also, I think now your sister Fan had two young children that were born in camp.

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: And then your sister Emily, now, what happened with her?

PB: She stayed in camp with Fan, Emily stayed in camp with Fan so that she could help her with her two children. Because Fan's husband had gone already. He had left camp and gone on to Chicago. So they were going to join him in Chicago. Gene, Emily's husband, had come down to camp, but he didn't want to stay in camp, naturally. So he, he had gone, I think, to Ohio, I believe, or Michigan. And he was gonna meet her out there when she went back with Fan, as soon as the baby was born. She was waiting for her second child to be born. So after David was born... he was named after David Eisenhower, and her first son was named after General Wainwright. So his name is Wayne. And, of course, she had the two babies, so it was pretty hard for her to make the train trip herself, so Emily stayed and helped until she was able to leave, and then they headed for Chicago.

AI: And also, just to kind of keep track here, then your, your brother Hank, who had not gone into camp, was he living in Eastern Washington at that time?

PB: He was living in Wenatchee with the Loepp family. And he, he had made one trip into camp to see what it was like, and he didn't think it was very pleasant. But he didn't have an easy life outside of camp, either. He couldn't go anywhere just like olden times; he had to be very careful because they didn't want the Japanese people going anyplace, so he was, couldn't go to the hospital, and Martie had her children. But fortunately, Mrs. Loepp was a registered nurse. So I guess she delivered the children at, at their home. And then they decided that they were gonna come to camp and pick up Mother and Dad and take 'em back to Wenatchee. Because I was reluctant to leave, they were trying to push me out, because they said, "Well, your two children are out. You've got to leave camp." And I said, "Well, I can't leave my mother and dad here by themselves." And they said, "Well, don't worry," because Hank was gonna come and get them, so I finally... I had quite a debate with my daughter, because I didn't want to go Chicago, but she did. I wanted to come back to Seattle. No, she wanted to go to a big city. She was just bent on going -- we got in a terrible argument. So I had to go before a counselor, which was very unpleasant for me, because they were all trying to get me out. So there was just no way that I was gonna win.

AI: Well, and this was in 1944, was it? Or 1945 when the administration were trying to get people to leave the camp, and that they were going to prepare to close it down.

PB: Yes. So they thought, especially with me being in the Reports Office, if I could get out and write to my boss in camp telling everybody that, how wonderful it was being outside and being free to do what I like, and I'd be, it would be such a wonderful life to get out of camp and go back to normal living. So they wanted to get me out as soon as possible. But I didn't want go because I was afraid, for one thing. You know, you don't have any money and you don't have no experience, you're working in a strange city. In the first place, I didn't like cities. But they finally forced me out and I had to go.

<End Segment 45> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 46>

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.

<Begin Segment 47>

AI: Well, tell me, tell me about going to Chicago. You said that how reluctant you were to leave, and that you had this big debate with Pat about where to go.

PB: I had to go before a counselor, and of course, I had to say, "Well, I'll go," because Pat was so intent on going to Chicago. I didn't want to go, but I lost, and I, she said I should go. Well, Pat was all excited and got on the train and everybody that was on the train, they were in a pretty good mood. We weren't the only ones going. And the young people were singing the "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and all that, and they were just having a grand time. And I didn't feel that good, and we were, we were riding on a regular train now, but we were in the lower bunk and kept hitting our head on the top bunk all the time. And we were kinda careful, there were Caucasians on the train and they were curious and would ask questions. But we kinda stayed by ourselves, and we didn't want to say too much because we didn't know what kind of a reaction we were gonna have getting out into the regular world again after being in camp. So it was... well, we got off in Omaha, Nebraska, just to get off the train for a little while, and almost missed the train because we were shopping. And we did pick up some souvenirs and got back on the train in time.

And finally, we did get to Chicago; it seemed like an awful long trip, but my sisters were there, well, my, Fan, I think, was there to meet us at the train. And, 'course, she lived on the south side, so then we had to take the streetcar or Elevated back to go south. And then we got off at, I think it was Thirty-ninth Street. My, then the, then we were supposed to get on another streetcar to make it to the apartment where she was staying. But she was living on the ground floor in a basement apartment because she was separated from her husband, and she had the two boys with her and she didn't have no room to put us up. But we had to stay somewhere, 'cause we didn't even have no destination when we left camp. But we did move in with her, and oh, I hated Chicago. I thought, "This is terrible." Riding, I hated streetcars in the first place, and to ride that Elevated we had to stand up and hang onto the straps and straddle our suitcases, and we, standing all that, because it was just packed. Then when we came to the, where we had to transfer, we couldn't make the transfer because the streetcars were loaded with people. I never saw so many people and I thought, "I don't like this at all." I hated crowds like that, and I hated streetcars. In fact, I would much rather walk than riding the streetcar, and I didn't know how we were gonna get on those things because they were so packed.


AI: -- about Chicago and your first impression, and how you really disliked it. And then, and it sounds like you were really squeezed in a small spot with Fan in her little basement apartment temporarily.

PB: Well, we had no other place to go, so we went there and she was living in this basement. So... well, anyhow, we had to stay there for the night, so we just all slept on the floor, and well, the only thing was that we had this wonderful surprise that my boss had sent me a dozen American Beauty roses, and Father Clement, the Catholic priest, had sent my daughter and I each a corsage. It was such a wonderful thing to get, when we were so depressed after the trip and everything, and no place to go to, really.

And well, this Jewish friend did take us out to dinner; we went to a little tiny building, it was just a house, a regular house that had been, I guess, converted to a Japanese dinner place. And it was nice; he treated us to Japanese food which was so good, but it was funny when... we had tendon. And usually they have shrimp and vegetable in a big bowl on top of the rice with some kind of sauce over it, and there was just one shrimp in there. Open the bowl up and we looked in there and there was one little shrimp sittin' on top of the rice. And we thought, "Oh, my, this is some tendon." Never seen anything like it. But it was good; after camp food and everything, it was really delicious, and we thought that was very nice. This man was also Jewish. He was a crippled man; he had polio in his youth, and he got around very well, but he was crippled. But anyhow, we did manage that night, and really fell asleep because we were tired, but the next morning woke up and I heard the patter of feet running around, my nephews were running around in their bare feet and we got up and had coffee. I noticed cockroaches running around the kitchen, and it was kind of a real depressing feeling, coming to Chicago. Everything was depressing to me; I thought Chicago was an awful place right from the beginning.

<End Segment 47> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 49>

AI: Well, what happened next? Because here you are, you're still trying to find a place to live and you don't have a job yet, but what did you do next?

PB: Well, the first thing we did was the minute it got light, we just picked up what we could carry and we headed back to my sister's place. And, of course, it was early in the morning, and she says, "What are you doing here this early?" She peeked out, and she says, "What are you doing here this early in the morning?" We said, "Well, we couldn't sleep because of the bedbugs." And she said, "Well, don't bring 'em to me, I've got enough live things around here." And we could see in the morning, the cockroaches were running all around the stove, and she was trying to make fresh coffee. Then this Jewish man, we told him, well, "Your apartment was terrible." The toilet was running over, and there were so many bedbugs there, goodness, they would have gotten into our stuff. We piled up everything so they wouldn't get into our boxes, 'cause if they ever got in there, you'd take 'em everywhere you went. So anyhow, he took us around looking for a job for us, and he finally did get a job for us.

And we finally found an apartment building down on Thirty-ninth, and it was run by a Japanese family. So we thought we'd take that because it was just one room, one big room and it had a bunch of little tiny windows on one, one end of the room, which kind of overlooked the garden, and we could hear the birds out there and there were trees out there. We thought, well, that was pretty nice, even if it was just one room. And then there was a bathroom right next to us which was shared by... we always had to share a bathroom with a bunch of people. So we moved in and, 'course, there was bedbugs there, too. But we heard that if you use fresh paint, they don't like the smell of fresh paint. So right away, my daughter says, "Oh, I'll paint the place." So then the owner said, "Well, I'll furnish the paint if you'll paint the place." So we did; we painted that whole apartment except the ceiling, we couldn't reach the ceiling. And then she fell off the ladder and almost out the window, but she fell inward instead of out, and she knocked my beautiful lamp over that I had carried all over California and Chicago. She broke my lamp and we couldn't put it together. But anyhow, we did move into that apartment.

<End Segment 49> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 50>

AI: So you had a place to stay, and then what was the first job that you had there in Chicago?

PB: Well, this Jewish man always came to the rescue and he says, "I'll find you a job." He even drove me downtown, and he said there was an opening in a dime store where I could -- at that time, these painting of photographs or what they call tinting in the dime store. I could get a job there, but I said, "No way do I want to go to downtown." I hated crowds and going on the Elevated or taking a streetcar or anything down there. I just didn't want to go downtown. I said, "I couldn't do that, I couldn't make a trip downtown every day and back and forth," so I refused to take that job. But he did get us a packaging job, and that's how we got started. We both started working, and of course, I was trying to get Pat to go back to school, but she wouldn't go because they demoted her because of the camp school. They said she didn't have enough credits, and then she refused to go to school. So I had no way of... I didn't have the money, but finally I borrowed enough money from a friend that I met and enrolled her in a private school. But it was a lot of paperwork, and by the time got everything settled, my daughter says, "Oh, I'd rather go to work than go to school." And I wanted her to finish school, I said, "I didn't have a chance to finish school, and I want you to finish high school at least. You have to finish high school." Well, she just wouldn't listen, she said, "No, I'm not going to school." She says, "I'm going to go to work." So she worked right alongside with me, we did the same type of work, and she just wouldn't go to school. At least I had a job, very, I think we were getting fifty cents an hour, I think it was.

AI: What kind of workplace was it? Were there other Japanese American workers there or, was it...

PB: No, I don't think there were any Japanese. There were, about half of 'em were black, black girls. There was a Mexican girl and some Caucasians. And oh, I think, I don't remember any Japanese girls, I think we were the only Japanese. There were Japanese boys working there, in the, where they packed the big things, but I don't think there were any Japanese girls. Later on, when we went into the toy factory, the Japanese girls came in. But I don't, I don't remember them being in the, where we were sealing. We had little irons and we sealed the packages that were being sent overseas.

AI: So then as you were working at this job, and you had your small apartment with Pat, what were you thinking that you would, you would be doing? How, did you have any thought for what your future would be? It sounds like it was hard just to make a living at that point.

PB: Yes, it was, but then we thought as long as we were working, we could make ends meet somehow. And, 'course, being in a big city like Chicago, I never had any idea what we could do or what kind of opportunities we would get. So we took whatever we could at whatever price that they offered us. But fortunately, as I was working in this factory, then they offered me, they asked me if I could type, and then I got an office job. Then from the office job -- they were phasing out as war was ending, everything was phasing out, so they were going into another business. So they were going into this Ark, Ark and its occupants. [Laughs] So then they asked me if I would like to train for a supervisory job.

AI: So then it was being transitioned into a toy manufacturing factory.

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: And so then did you decide then to take the supervisory position?

PB: Yes. I thought that was a wonderful opportunity, so I took the job as a supervisor, but I had to stay and make a lot of tests, dye-dipping and mixing dyes and everything. And I was a non-smoker so there's no problem there, and then I had to hire girls, but they told me, "Don't hire black girls," because they were always in a fight with something, about certain things, that they wanted to smoke in certain areas, or they wanted to rest in certain areas or something always going on. There was arguments, so they said, "Don't hire the black girl." But it was hard to determine whether they were black or not because this one girl who was black said she was a mixture Indian blood or something, but she was a nice-looking girl and quite fair. And there was a Mexican girl and there was a number of Japanese girls, mostly Japanese. And then for the packaging part, we hired older women, Japanese women that were looking for jobs. But they couldn't stand the fumes, so they quit. They just worked one day and quit. So anyhow, we had this Ark going for a while, but I guess there wasn't enough sales for that or something happened, and that went out.

<End Segment 50> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 51>

PB: So then right away, we started, I started looking for another job, and then I went into this corrugated box-making. And all the girls, the Japanese girls all went with me. But the Japanese are very competitive people. [Laughs] It got so they want to beat you out. They're always trying to get ahead; they're ambitious, and you get too many Japanese together and there's bound to be trouble because they're all trying to do, outdo each other, and pretty soon, we had a quota to make, and when we meet a certain quota, then they want to go higher. They say, "Well, you can do better." It just got so we couldn't meet that quota anymore because there were white girls, too, and they said, "Why do you work so hard and make it harder for us? Because the more you do, the more they expect of you." And we couldn't do the work that the big white girls could do, we couldn't fold the boxes.

AI: Tell me, describe what the box-folding entailed. When you were saying that you were too small to fold some of those boxes...

PB: Well, these huge corrugated boxes, they got creases in 'em, and you have to bend 'em so that the creases are such so that we could put 'em in the machine and stitch them. But we had to fold 'em on the crease, and like the big Caucasian women, the heavy-set Caucasian women, they could take maybe six or seven or maybe ten and just lean down on 'em and fold 'em. But the Japanese are short and they're not heavy enough. They can't fold that many at one time; maybe they could fold three or four at a time. So we couldn't ever make the quota that the white girls made. So then the boss brought in the girl to show how she did it, well, we could see right away they're so much bigger and heavier that bang, and they'd fold a whole bunch of 'em. [Laughs] So it just got so that they couldn't keep up with it. And then some of us were on the machines stitching the boxes. But then every once in a while, when the machine would, the wire in the machine would bend, then it would jam up the machine and we'd have to call in a man to rewire. Well, the machine was identical to the boxes that we used to sew at home, the strawberry boxes, except that it was electrically operated, so we step on it, it just keeps going. Well, the one we had at home, we had to step each time. So I watched 'em and I said, "Well, I can do that," and I did it. So then they said, "Well, then from now on, you..." more or less was, well, I kind of watched the machines and watched the output of the folding and everything, so I was kind of in charge of that department. But it was getting so that, so competitive with the Japanese, that the white girls didn't like it.

And there was one girl that liked to smoke, and she'd go in restroom all the time, so the boss wanted to fire her, and he called her into the office and oh, she just turned around and told him off. So he rang for me -- if the buzzer rang, that was for me to go to the office, and she was just telling him off something terrible. And he was backing up; he was afraid of her. All he could say was, "Get her out of here." [Laughs] He says, "You're fired," and she, she yelled at him and she told him, "Well, you can take your blinkety-blank job and give it to your niece." She says, "I quit. You can't fire me." She was... then later when I took her last paycheck over to her, she said, "I'm a gangster's moll." She lived in a very luxurious apartment, and I thought, "Oh, gosh, I'm glad I didn't tangle with her," because she, she wasn't gonna take no guff from anybody. But we soon quit after that, because, well, I couldn't take it anymore, because the girls kept trying to work it up, trying to work it up, and you can't be always trying to get ahead of the next guy. Especially like when I was in charge of the department, I just felt that I couldn't push myself anymore, because I was having trouble that I had in camp, and I knew that I would have to have surgery sooner or later. So I quit and then the girls quit, all the other girls quit, too, at the same time, and then they hired black people. So that's the way it was; white people and then Japanese and then the blacks.

AI: Well, you know, it sounds like... and I've heard this from other people also who had grown up in Seattle or on the West Coast and then gone to Chicago, and had never seen this kind of racial situation before. But I had heard that in some cases, Japanese Americans were treated somewhat as if they were black, and in other cases treated somewhat as if they were white. And you were telling me about the street where one side was white and one side was black. When you were faced with that, what did you think? How did you think of yourself in this black/white situation?

PB: Well, we were considered white. But still, we weren't exactly white, either, because we got kicked out of the white area. But like when I went into the store, I got out of there because I was kind of afraid, you know. I'm the only light-skinned person in the whole store and everybody's black, and I thought, "Gosh, what kind of situation is this?" I just decided I bought what I needed and I got out of there in a hurry. And I said, "What is this, anyhow?" And then they told me that that was a line, that the black people were on one side and the white people were on the other side. But then you never knew. Now, when I was doing photo work, I was coloring pictures, and I found out that here there was a white girl that was married to a black person. And I didn't realize that, and I made some remark about, something about black people, and she said, "Oh, my husband is black." Then I thought, "Oh, my God, I made a terrible error saying what I did." So I had to make some excuse that I didn't mean to offend in any way, it's just that I had just come from camp and I didn't realize how things were. But you had to be very careful because you could step on somebody's toes very easily.

<End Segment 51> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 52>

AI: Today is September 17, 2004, we're continuing our interview with Peggie Bain. And Peggie, yesterday when we ended our session, you were talking about life in Chicago, and I was wondering if you would tell about some of your experiences with your family members. I understand that at times, you would babysit for your sister, and her two boys. And I understand you had some experiences with them.

PB: Well, my sister and her husband were separated, and so this was a day that it was her husband's turn to come and have the children for the day. So he came over and my sister had gone with her girlfriends to take in a movie further south. So she had already left, taken the streetcar. And then Dick came, and he said, "I'm going out and get some ice cream for the children, so will you watch the children while I'm gone?" So I was watching the children; of course, I was not used to having small children around, and before I realized it, David had gone up to the second floor of the apartment building. And he was coming back down, and you know how they come down backwards, and he went through the opening and he fell, and (...) hit his elbow and broke his arm. If it had hit his head, he would have been killed. By that time, Dick came back and oh, he was just frantic, because he said, "My wife's gonna kill me for this." Well, it wasn't his fault, actually, I should have been watching the children. But anyhow, he picked David up and ran out to the street trying to hail a cab to take us to the doctor. And he couldn't stop any of the taxicabs, they were either going the wrong way or they had passengers and wouldn't stop. So he was standing in the middle of the street, waving his arms, "I'll pay you, I'll pay you. Help me, help me," and nobody would stop. Finally, Japanese people came along in the car, they stopped and they said, "Well, we'll take you," and they took us to the hospital right away.

In the meantime, I'm trying to hail my sister, stop her before she got too far. But I looked down the street, the streetcar was already a block down the street, there was no way I could stop her. So we left a message at the theater for her to come back. So she did come right back, but in the meantime, Dick says, "We got to take him to the doctor" -- that was before the car came along to take us to the hospital. So we ran down the street, 'cause I saw a doctor's sign about a block away. So first he carried David down there, and he ran up the stairs and had the doctor check him out. And the doctor said, "Oh, you gotta take him to the hospital." So that's when he went back down and tried to stop any car that would come along. But when we got to the hospital, his arm had started to swell, so the doctor said can't do anything until his swelling went down a little. But in the meantime, my sister came back and we went back and took some of his toys and things. He was very brave about it, but here I, I didn't notice. I was in my slippers and apron on -- [laughs] -- running around. We were all so excited that I didn't realize that I wasn't even dressed properly.

AI: Oh, what an experience.

PB: Yes, it was real frightening because we didn't... 'course, David was just learning to walk, and two little boys are a handful to watch, really.

AI: So did his arm heal up all right?

PB: Yes, but he was in a body cast. So he was just kind of learning to walk, so he walked sideways because of the weight of the cast. And for a long time after the cast was removed, his method was walking like a crab. We used to tease him because he walked sideways. [Laughs]

AI: Oh, what an experience.

<End Segment 52> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 53>

AI: Well, I also wanted to ask you more about that year, 1945, because I recall you mentioning about Jim going to high school in Connecticut, and didn't he graduate in 1945, then, and then he, I understand he came and joined you in Chicago?

PB: Yes, he graduated from Westport High School and then he came and joined me. But we knew that he would have to go into the army.

AI: He was drafted?

PB: Yes. He was drafted, and I believe he and Pat just both left within a day of each other. And, of course, Pat was very happy because she had gotten married, and she was going with her husband to, back to where he was... some camp, I think it was Mississippi or somewhere down there. But I felt totally alone; I was devastated. Because it seemed like I had never been alone, and both the children leaving me, and here I was all by myself in Chicago, and I was just totally lost. My daughter seemed so happy leaving, and, of course, my son going into the army, and I thought, well, I knew that at some time or other both the children would leave me, but not all, just at one time, it was terrible for me.

AI: Right. Oh, gosh, it must have been a, kind of a lonely time, both of them leaving at the same time.

PB: Oh, yes, I was, I didn't know what to do. I just felt so alone.

AI: And then, also at that time, I think, were, were you also moving to another apartment and changing jobs also around that time?

PB: I moved so many times that I don't remember exactly what place I was in. I know I had to move because being alone, I didn't need an apartment that, when my son and I were staying together, or my daughter and I. So I had to get a smaller place for myself.

AI: Right. And maybe it was about that time, was it, that you started doing the work with the shells again?

PB: I was kind of trying to find a job, but it was difficult. Like, finding a good apartment and getting a good job was difficult, because I didn't know where to begin or just what to do. And I tried to find an opening for selling my shell work. I tried the big stores downtown, but they said they didn't handle small things like that, so they suggested that maybe I should try the Shedd Aquarium where they had shell jewelry. So I did; I went to the Shedd Aquarium and they said they would take things on consignment. So I did make earrings and corsages, but mostly earrings, and I did sell quite a few at the Shedd Aquarium. But I knew that I couldn't make a living that way, so I had to find some other employment. Hand-work was just too tedious and too slow. But I did invest in a lot of material, which was a total loss, actually.

AI: That's too bad. Well, so then as you realized that you did need to find another job, what did you do next after that?

PB: Well, I don't know exactly how and when I went into different jobs, but I did do what they call home work, and that was a assortment of Christmas seals and tags and packaging, and that was a terrible job because I had to put together say maybe twenty-five different things, like stamps and tags and Christmas things, and then put 'em in plastic bags. And it only paid maybe a penny-and-a-half for a package. I could work for hours and just literally make pennies, so I knew that wasn't going to work. But I tried, I tried whatever I could find, because I thought, well, I had to do something to make a living.

<End Segment 53> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 54>

AI: Well, and so then how did it happen that your old boss from Minidoka, who you had done the photography work with, he, he moved to Chicago. And then you were in touch with him, and how it happened then that that you both began working at a photo studio there?

PB: Well, after he came to Chicago, he called me up, and he was working for a large school studio as a printer. And he said that they were in need of a finisher, someone to do spotting and mounting and keeping books on the films and negatives and making, printing proofs and all kinds of things. So I was very happy about going back into photography, but I didn't like the idea of having to go downtown, because then I would have to make that trip back and forth. But I knew the business, because I had learned all about photography in camp, so I thought, well, at least it would be a permanent job if I qualified. So I decided to go down and that got me started in the photo business again. And I did everything; all kinds of things from making proofs and spotting, and spotting was something that you had to learn, and it was very delicate work and you had to get just the right shade because you're working on people's faces and everything, and you're taking out the blemishes. I got so that I handled the brush very well, so I had a permanent job then.

AI: My goodness, that sounds like a lot of, in some ways, tedious, but taking a lot of time and attention to every detail.

PB: Well, it was something that was interesting, and then gradually I was told that I could start coloring pictures, because that was my main interest, was to get into coloring. And I had started that in camp, and then I met one of the women in the studio that had a former studio of her own. And of course, she was all around help, she could, she was a photographer on her own, she had her own studio at one time. So she gave me pointers on tinting photographs, and that really interested me because I thought, "Well, here's a field that I'm going to pursue from now on." So I really, I worked for quite a number of years at this Root Studio run by a brother and sister. But it seemed like I was doing more finishing work, and I became in charge of the finishing department, but I still wasn't completely happy, because what I wanted to do was getting into, as a full colorist and color photographs. So I was even practicing at night, after working all day.

AI: Wow. So it sounds like you were, that was something that you really were very interested in, you could see that as a real career.

PB: Well I was ambitious. [Laughs] I had to be ambitious, you know, so I worked a lot in coloring, and every chance I got, I was coloring pictures. And I began to get tired of... what we did mostly was school work, and although I was in charge of the finishing department, I did have difficulty with some of the girls, and I didn't particularly like that part because I felt that if I got into coloring, I could more or less be on my own; I could do home work, I could do extra work, so I was kind of looking around for another studio, a different type of studio. Not a school type, but one that did more portraiture like weddings and things like that. And then I happened to see this ad of Dubois Studio wanting a finisher. So I talked to my friend, and he said, "Well, if you're gonna go, I'd like to go, too." So we made an appointment to go and see the studio, and we were quite impressed by the Dubois Studio, because they did lot of weddings, and although it was south, we had quite a distance to travel, we decided to make the move. And when we told our employer, she was very upset because we had always been like the mainstay of the, a certain group of us that stayed year-round. And like any store or organization, when they're busy they'll put on extra help, but when the season is over, then they just keep a certain number of people. And we were the main people; he was the head printer and I was doing the finishing department end of it, so she was very upset when we said we were both going to move. But it seemed like I wasn't making any headway, so I might as well try something new. So we both changed jobs, and we went, moved to the Dubois Studio.

<End Segment 54> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 55>

AI: So then tell me about the Dubois Studio and how, what were some of the differences there, and did your job there turn out to be a step forward as you had hoped?

PB: Oh, yes. It was very, very interesting, and I got to do heavy oils, I got to do miniatures, porcelain miniatures. We had so many Catholic weddings, we prepared coffee and had refreshments in the morning for the wedding group that came, and we really had a lot of fun. And this was almost an all-Jewish outfit; the owners were Jewish and the workers, most of 'em were Jewish people. But I had found that the Jewish people were the ones that helped us initially, from the time we arrived, first arrived in Chicago. It was, always seemed like it was the Jewish people that helped us.

But when I was still... I can't recall now... when I was still downtown, I don't know whether it was with the Dubois Studio because they opened up a brand-new studio on Michigan Avenue, and that was supposed to be a real elite, high-class studio. And it was, we had mirrors all around, and it was really a beautiful studio. And all the work was down there because they had five studios: Stony Island on the outskirts, and we had a couple studios right... well, we had this main studio, we did all the work down at Michigan Avenue then. But, of course, then we had to change our mode of transportation, we were taking the IC every morning. It was very fast and easy to get downtown that way, and I kind of enjoyed that because you didn't have to worry about anything, you just got on the IC and then you zip downtown and got off and you're right there. But Michigan Avenue didn't work out for us because there were just too many studios, and we even hired an efficiency expert and everything else, but it just didn't work out. So finally, our boss said, "I guess we'll have to go back to Seventy-Ninth Street," so then we had to close Michigan Avenue and go back to Seventy-Ninth Street.

But I don't remember exactly whether I had taken up another occupation when I was with the Dubois Studio or if I was with the Root Studio. But anyhow, I was still downtown when I decided I wanted to learn something else, so I started going to school at night. I went to a... it's called Kellberg College, where I went to take up Swedish massage. But the trouble was that having worked eight hours in the studio and then going to school after that, I was so tired that during talks and everything -- [laughs] -- I'd fall asleep. And I didn't learn, retain very much as far as reading material and everything, but as far as physical manipulation, I have very strong fingers, so they said I was very good. So I did graduate from Kellberg College, Swedish massage. But I never did put it into practice.

AI: So that's really interesting. At one time, you thought that you might go into a completely different line of work such as massage.

PB: Yes, I always was thinking about the physical angle; when I was working in camp and everything, I was hoping I could become a nurse. But I didn't like needles, and I really wasn't strong enough. So I didn't pursue that any further, but I still felt that maybe if I took up massage, which I knew was, or I felt was very beneficial, I thought, "Well someday, maybe I could work in a nursing home or something." And I've always wanted to put it into use, but somehow, I had too many other things to think about, I guess, so I never did make practical use of it.

<End Segment 55> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 56>

AI: So, well, I also wanted to ask you, I think when I read your memoir, I saw that in about 1946, about a year after Pat's wedding, that you had a granddaughter who was born.

PB: Oh, yes.

AI: And so Pat came by with her daughter Carolyn and stopped in Chicago, I understand, for a short visit before she went on to California.

PB: Uh-huh, they were going on to California so she dropped the baby off and let me take care of her. She was so tiny that I just pulled the dresser drawer out and put her in the drawer. [Laughs] And she just slept there, she was a very good baby, she never cried at all. And I thought, at least I got to keep her for a little while.

AI: That must have been wonderful, to see your first grandchild.

PB: Yes, and then she visited friends while she was in Chicago, and then she went on to California.

AI: And then, also continuing on during your time in Chicago, in the meanwhile, Jim had been stationed in Japan during his time in the service, and I understand that he was, had to be hospitalized and then was discharged.

PB: Well, he's one of these, opposite of my daughter, he always wrote letters; my daughter's the other way around. And he would kind of more or less make a report every few weeks, what he had been doing in Japan, and he wasn't in the actual fighting or anything, he was stationed in Osaka, and he was doing mostly secretarial work. And he'd tell me about the orphans in the train stations, and he felt so sorry about the orphans that he would get candy bars and things and give it to the children. And he'd always write and tell me all about Japan, how he'd go to, met some people and they'd invite him out for sukiyaki dinner, and he'd say, "Oh, the sukiyaki in Japan was delicious." He says the beef was so delicious, and he said he'd like to stay longer in Japan. I said, "No, you better come home." And then for a while I didn't hear from him, and I began to worry that something happened. And I waited and waited, but I didn't hear from him, and I thought, well, I'd better contact the Red Cross to see if everything was okay. And I was just about to do that, and I was even considering going to Japan myself, because I was quite worried. But then I got a letter that said he contracted lockjaw, and he was in the hospital but he was okay. So I was quite relieved about that, and then he wrote me and said that somebody [interruption] is some relative of yours." So Jim checked it out and found out it was his uncle.

AI: Is that right?

PB: His uncle had gone back to Japan, he was a judo expert. And he had gone back, I guess, to further his education as far as judo goes. And I guess he got caught back there with the war or something, anyhow, he remained there, and so they met and they had quite a gathering.

AI: What a pleasant surprise.

PB: Yes, and Jim found out that -- Tats is his name -- Tats had a little baby at the time, so he told Tats about me and Tats used to go with my sister. So when he heard about me, he sent me some pictures, and I told Jim, "You keep in touch with him now, because you've met him and you know who he is." But somehow they never really kept in touch that much. But he finally did come back from Japan; I didn't want him to enlist again, but he wanted to. He said, "I think I'll stay and enlist for a couple more years." And I said, "Oh, no, don't do that." I was glad he didn't.

AI: So then Jim returned from Japan in 1947 and then did he come and rejoin you in Chicago?

PB: Well, he came to Seattle first, and my sister Emily was living in Seattle at the time. So he stayed with her for a short while, and then he came to Chicago.

<End Segment 56> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 57>

AI: Well, then, after, I think that was in 1947, something else that happened that year was, I understand, was quite traumatic, was that you, again, were having some health problems.

PB: Well, I was having trouble while I was in camp, and I did have surgery in camp, but they, the doctors thought I had a tumor. Some of the doctors thought I had a tumor, and they, there was sort of a disagreement as to exactly what was wrong. So anyhow, I had a famous Japanese woman doctor, and she said that I should have a coretma. But I kept putting it off in Chicago because I was so busy trying to make a living that I thought, well, I couldn't stop to have surgery or anything, but it got to a point, so bad that I was hemorrhaging a lot, and I thought, "Well, I just have to have surgery." So I did go to Michael Reece Hospital, and I had surgery. And had a complete hysterectomy and I was up and about, you know, they get you up so quickly nowadays. They don't keep you in bed very long, they want you to get moving, which is very beneficial for your recovery. But it happened that I was bleeding a lot, and they shouldn't have gotten me up. But anyhow, when I went to bed and I was bleeding, I told the nurse about it, and instead of really checking me out -- this is a student nurse, I believe -- she gave me a sleeping pill and she said, "Well, you'll rest better if you take a sleeping pill." And so I slept through the night, but I bled so much that the next morning, when the morning shift came on, I was, the bed was saturated with blood. And so right away, then they called the doctor in and they called my doctor in, and the OD was there, and oh, it was just panic. They said they would have to send me back up to operating room. Well, I refused to go, I was so afraid, I didn't want to go. And then they said, "Well, then we'll just have to take care of you in your room." So I had a roommate, they moved her out, and they just worked on me right in the room. And I remember them, kind of watching, and they were just scooping blood out of me, and it was just a horrible experience. And then they said that since I wouldn't go back to the operating room, why, they would have to fill me with gauze. They just stuffed me with gauze, and they said, complete bed rest for ten days. So then I had to stay in bed for ten days and not move at all. And the doctor said that they barely saved me, because I had lost so much blood and they had to give me transfusions all the time.

AI: My goodness, what a scary situation.

PB: Well, my sister used to come down every day, and she was very good to me. She'd wash out my gown and everything, but after I got well enough to go home, I was stranded by myself, and I was on the third floor, and I was just a prisoner there. Nobody there to take care of me, and my friend tried to hire some lady that lived in apartment, but she wasn't well enough to take care of me, so I had nobody to take care of me. And my son would try to do a few things, but he was just a young kid, and he didn't know what to do. So it was real hard for me because I couldn't stand up straight, and I had to take a bath and everything, in order to go to the bathroom, I had to go to the far end of the hall. And it was hard for me to walk; I was bent over and I just had to hug the wall and walk down that hallway, and I thought, at that time, I thought, "I never want to be alone again." I didn't want to be in a situation where my life depended on being able to do things myself, but I was in so much agony that for three months I just was a prisoner. But after three months, the doctor said I could go back to work, but to work only half-days. But then my place of work was so far away that I didn't want to go and work half day and then come home, that would be too much. So I stayed the whole day, but my boss was very considerate and said if I felt tired, "Why, you just go in and lie down for a while." So I did that and I was able to get through that.

AI: And that was still at the Dubois Studio?

PB: Yes.

AI: Oh, my goodness, and it sounded like you had a pretty long time to recover to the point where you were more back to normal.

PB: Oh, yes, I, I was in such a condition that I just couldn't do anything for a long time. It took me a long time to get over that, because I had lost so much blood, and I was just not able to do anything for such a long time, that it took a long time to get back to where I could do work again.

<End Segment 57> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 58>

AI: But it sounds like you were very fortunate with your employer, that he was so understanding, and then allowed you to come back part-time and rest and then actually work up to where you were doing your full-time job again.

PB: Yes, well, they liked the work I did, and you couldn't get replacements that easily. People that were accustomed to certain jobs, and I had become quite proficient in coloring, so now I had become a full colorist. And at first, we had three colorists, and eventually ended up I was the only one left. And I worked with a German-Jewish woman, who was actually a dentist in Germany. She and her husband both were dentists, and quite wealthy at... but here, she was working as a colorist in the studio, and I felt sorry for her in a way, because having been a dentist and her husband was a dentist, and they were quite wealthy people, but they had come to this country and smuggled certain things out. She always wore so many diamonds that everybody kept telling her, "Aren't you afraid that you're gonna get robbed?" And she says she had a necklace that had huge diamonds on, number of diamonds, and I guess she said people wouldn't think they were diamonds -- [laughs] -- because she wore them so openly and casually that people probably thought they were glass or something. But they were actually real diamonds. And she was a proud woman, very proud, but she resented the fact that I was being... well, she thought the boss was partial to me, and her daughter worked in the studio as a receptionist, and she was the boss's girlfriend. But he eventually married another woman, and he had a lot of girlfriends, because I think almost everybody that worked for him more or less became his girlfriend, because he was a womanizer.

But we had a lot of fun in that studio. It was kind of a fun place, everybody had parties, we had Christmas parties and everything was kosher, and we tried all kinds of Jewish food because they were all Jewish people. And they take care of their own; we had one fellow who was a finisher, and he came from South America, and he didn't speak English. He spoke about four other languages, but he didn't happen to speak English. But he learned very quickly, and we used to tease him a lot because when he got angry and he'd get frustrated and he'd stamp his foot and he'd swear in his native, some native tongue -- [laughs] -- and I'd always ask him, "What did you say?" And he says, "Oh, bad word, bad word. I don't want you to learn it." But I picked it up, and I would imitate him. When he'd get angry, I'd imitate him and I'd stamp my foot and I'd say the Jewish word. And then everybody'd start laughing, so we had a lot of fun.

AI: It sounds like it was a very good-humored group of people.

PB: Yes. We had, we had a lot of fun. One of the girls that worked was the boss's niece, and she had lost one eye with meningitis, but she was a lot of fun because she would say, "Oh, I'll get my uncle to do this or do that," and a big help to us, because she would always stick up for us, and get her boss to do -- get her uncle to do a lot of things that maybe he wouldn't do otherwise. But we had our own coffee cake, special kind of coffee cake that we liked, and we'd have a coffee clutch after the wedding group was gone, and we had a lot of fun.

<End Segment 58> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 59>

AI: Well, you also, I understand, were able to take some vacation along the way, and that in particular, that you had a long trip that you took with your sister and her family, coming back out west.

PB: Yes, about once a year, we tried to get out and see Mother and Dad, because they're getting quite elderly. But this one time when we, my brother-in-law drove, drove us out, my sister had just had an operation, and we didn't think she should make that trip. But she said she could make it if we took it leisurely. So at that time, the boys were quite small yet, and we went, took the northern route. We had a lot of trouble with the car, because it was an old car, and we had to make stops, we stopped at Sleepyeye, a place called Sleepyeye, and we had no place to rest, so we had to sit on the floor in the garage while car was repaired. And we had to make other stops, stopped at motels. In those days, the motels were not what they are now.

AI: What were some of the differences? What would a typical motel be like?

PB: Oh, it was terrible. It's just like going into an old country shed or something. The beds were all pushed together, and it was just a little cabin. In order to keep warm, one place we had to build a fire, and by the time we got the fire going, why, it was so late at night we'd have to go to bed. And then as far as the eating, we could go to the restaurants and get good food, but I know one place we went, we barely got the fire going and then, of course, we had to go to bed. Another place we went, it was, we wanted to take a shower, we had to go to the next building. We had to go over to the manager's building to take a shower, and, of course, the outhouses, they were the old country outhouses; they were terrible. And it wasn't anything like the motels nowadays. My goodness, you go to a motel nowadays, you have all the modern facilities. But in those days, it was like going out in the country and sleeping in a woodshed or something. [Laughs]

<End Segment 59> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 60>

AI: Well, well, so then you did go out and you saw your parents, and how were they doing? Were they still in Wenatchee with your brother?

PB: They were living in a nice house that my sister owned. She had, I think she bought this place, and then for very minimal rent, I think, or I don't know if they paid any rent at all. Anyhow, Mother and Dad were living there and they had, it was very nice for them because there was a cherry tree there, and they had a barbeque pit outside and they had a little pond where they had water lilies growing, and he had goldfish in there, and the water lilies would bloom every year. And Dad would pick the cherries; he was agile enough that he'd get on top of the roof of the house and pick the cherries. And they raised a lot of flowers.

AI: Excuse me, where was that place?

PB: This was on Fifty-fifth and Roxbury.

AI: Oh, so that was back here then, in the Seattle area.

PB: Uh-huh. In Seattle, city. And so we would come out and visit, and of course, Mother and Dad were always anxious, especially if we came by car, because they wanted to be sure that we made a safe trip out. But Dick was an all-around mechanic and carpenter and cook and everything else, so he liked to camp out, and on our way out, he would camp and make breakfast and everything. He was just a handyman, so even if the car broke down, he would fix it. And he said, "Well, I'll sell the car when I get out to the West Coast, and we'll go back in a new car," or a different car, but never did get any buyers, so we had to go back in that same car.

AI: Well, so, now on this particular trip, it sounds like then, after being in, visiting in Seattle, you went down to Portland and then drove out from there along the Columbia River Gorge.

PB: Yes, on the way back, we thought that we'd go, since we made the northern route, we thought we'd go the southern route back. So we were on this highway, and we got in a, hit by a truck that was coming down the hill. It just, the back end of the truck swung out, and it just, we didn't get hit squarely, the car behind us got squarely hit, and we thought that car was going to go over the bank, but fortunately, it didn't. And it hit our car on the side, broke the glass, and the children were sitting in the back. It was fortunate nobody got hurt, and the truck driver, of course, stopped and he said he would pay for everything, because it was unavoidable that the accident happened. It was fortunate that no one was hurt, so we did make it out safely.

AI: What a scare, though.

PB: And then we stopped -- since we were coming through the area where my brother lived, we stopped there on the way back.

AI: And he was still in Wenatchee?

PB: Yes. So we stopped there, and it was lucky for them because they had just bought a whole cow or... anyhow, and Dick is a butcher, so he said, "I'll cut it up for you." So he cut the meat up and we were busy packaging it so that they could freeze it. So we stayed long enough to get that done, so it was lucky for them, and it was nice that we were able to visit. And I was surprised to see that my sister-in-law was driving a car and everything. My mother said, "Oh, she'll never be able to drive a car." Here she was driving the car and oh, I never saw such beautiful apples. They were so gorgeous, the color was so much redder and everything, you know, than... being on Eastern Washington, they get a lot of sun and there were beautiful orchards. Really nice to see something like that.

<End Segment 60> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 61>

AI: Well, so then you, you returned back after your vacation to Chicago, but I was wondering, when you, after having such a nice visit and vacation like that, if you hadn't started thinking about moving back to the West Coast.

PB: Oh, yes, I always, always had in mind that I would come back and sort of look after, look after my mother and dad. But it was hard to leave, because I was making a good living in Chicago. And I found out one thing in Chicago, if you adapt yourself and push yourself, you could become a head of anything. You could just keep advancing as long as you did a little extra and worked a little harder. And there was always work; you could always get a job in Chicago. But I hated it because it was so cold in winter and hot in summer and I'd think, "Oh, I can't stand another summer," because it felt like I could even fry egg on my bedstead. [Laughs] It was really, really hot. You just can't sleep at night because it stays hot all night, but then you figure, "Well, I got to go to work the next day." And the winters are so cold... I thought, when I first bought my fur coat, finally bought a fur coat -- a second-hand fur coat -- I thought, "Why in the world didn't I invest in a fur coat before?" Because that was the only thing that would keep you warm. And when you have to make transfers and you wait in-between, and you wait and wait and the streetcars go by and they're loaded and they won't pick you up. It's so frustrating, you think, "Will I ever get home?" and, "How am I gonna get on the streetcar when it's so crowded," and everybody makes a rush, and you know, you get pushed further and further behind and you can't get on. And oh, it's terrible. I hated Chicago, I just thought, "Oh, I just got to get out of here."

AI: So as far as living there, that was not your, it was really not ideal at all, but as far as your career and your work, it sounded like, would you, do you think that there was perhaps less prejudice against Japanese Americans in Chicago than in some of the West Coast areas?

PB: Well, the Japanese are known as ambitious people, and they're good workers and they're trustworthy, everybody knew that. And they work hard, and I know some of the people that we knew, they got very good positions in Chicago, which you never could do back in Seattle. We couldn't get a job like that. Whereas in Chicago, you could work, work yourself up to a point where there was just no limit. As long as you could do the work and show that you could be, you could do it, why, you just could get ahead that way. So it was a wonderful place to work, but the conditions were such that like where we're used to mild winters and we have the four seasons here, there's no comparison as far as living conditions.

AI: Right. Well, so then you did also take, as you said, several other vacations, and coming back out to the West Coast, and, for example, visiting Pat down in California. And in the meantime, I understand that your parents moved out to the White Center area.

PB: Yes, they, they lived out there for a while, and I thought that was ideal for them, because there were other Japanese there, and Dad had a few chickens, and he had, I think, one rabbit. They kept one rabbit and chickens for fresh eggs, and the rabbit, I think, was mostly for fertilizer. [Laughs] The rabbit produced the fertilizer and the chickens produced the eggs and they had fresh eggs and they had good neighbors, and they had a nice place to live. And I thought it was just ideal, but they eventually made this place on Fifty-fifth and Roxbury was their permanent home.

AI: I see.

<End Segment 61> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 62>

AI: Well, as far as permanence, you were saying that in Chicago, you moved so many different times, and also there were some other family changes, because I had read in your memoir about how you were in Chicago, Jim had also returned to Chicago and had been there for a while, and then at some point, Pat decided to leave California, and she was, I understand, talked to you about coming out to Chicago.

PB: Well, actually, she didn't tell me. [Laughs] I was working out at Seventy-Ninth Street at the Dubois Studio when she called me, but before that, they had decided to buy a home in California, so she wanted me to loan her some money. Well, in those days, it was very hard-earned money, and for me to loan her a thousand dollars, it was really something, because it had taken me a long time to save that. And I was saving it so that I could come back to Washington, but she said that they had found a nice little home and they wanted to buy it. So I said, "Well, you give me a note and I will loan it to you." But they couldn't sell that home until they repaid me for the loan, which I never, never did get because right out of the clear blue sky, she called me one day when I was working, and I said, "Where are you?" And she says, "I'm at the airport in Chicago." I was just absolutely shocked. I was so surprised, and I said, "What are you doing in Chicago?" And she said, "Well, I left my husband, and I'm at the airport." What could I do? I told her to go to my apartment and I'd be home. She had left her husband and taken her two children, three children, they were all babies, actually. Janine was still clinging to her mother and crying all the time. 'Course, she didn't know me, she didn't want to stay with me, and Pat was chain-smoking and she was very thin, and just nervous all the time, chain-smoking. So I had to put up with her and three children and I didn't know what to do, but I had to help her. And she said, well, she had made a mistake in her marriage, and she would listen to me, and she had learned her lesson, all that, but it was just for her talk. Didn't pan out that way at all. She was right back to her old habits as soon as she was halfway settled, she was just doing her way and didn't matter what I said. She didn't tell me anything, she just went on her own and left the children with me, and I didn't know what to do. I had to take care of the children and she'd be gone. It was a terrible time for me.

AI: Oh, my goodness. It must have been a real adjustment to have these three little babies after you had been living without kids for quite a while.

PB: Yes, and my son was living with me, but then he moved out so that they can stay with me. Well, here, she was sleeping in this bed in the living room with the three little kids. And they had to take a bath every day, the children had to be bathed every day, and this is a community bath, bathroom. So that was impossible, so we heard there was an opening next door in another apartment building on the first floor, and at least we had two bedrooms there and a bathroom to ourselves. So right away, we moved over there, but she would leave the children with me, and 'course, she was looking for a job, too, and she finally found a job, but then she started going with a fellow that worked in the same place. And she wouldn't come home; she would just leave the children with me, and she'd be out with this fellow. I said, "What was your promise, that you would listen to me?" Well, she forgot all about her promise, and eventually she eloped with this fellow. And in the meantime, I had all kinds of problems with her, because she had me so worried that one night they were gone and they didn't come back. They had gone for a ride, and I thought they got in a car accident. I was ready to call the police and everything else. And here she had, sleeping next door, but she didn't call me or let me know.

AI: Oh, what a lot of worry. My goodness.

PB: She was terrible that way, she just wanted to have her own way, she's very stubborn. She didn't tell me anything, promised, "Oh, yes, I'll, I'll do this and I'll do that," but nothing worked out.

<End Segment 62> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 63>

AI: Well, let's back up just a little bit, just before that, because before the break, you had just been telling about how Pat then had remarried in Chicago, and then, so for a short while then, I understand you moved into a new place on the north side with Pat and her husband and kids, and then shortly after that, then moved to be with your son Jim near Diversey Parkway. And at that time, what did that area look like there near Diversey Parkway?

PB: It was a very nice, kind of a residential district at that time, and there was that little shopping center, so it was very nice. It was one block to the shopping center, and where I lived was quite nice.

AI: And you were still then working at the Dubois Studio?

PB: Yes, but then, by that time, Joe had bought a car, so he drove, and so it was very nice. But then I had an accident while I was there, living on the north side. I lived in... well, the first time when I moved up there, before I had moved to Diversey Park way, I think it was, we were living in an apartment, and there was no railing on the stairs. We lived upstairs, my son and I lived upstairs, but that was after... let's see, that must have been after I had been living with my daughter and her husband.

AI: And did you fall on those stairs?

PB: Yes, I fell. Pat fell the first time, she broke her heel and she fell down the stairs, but we didn't say anything at the time. But then I was going to work one morning and I fell headfirst down the stairs. And right at the foot of the stairs there was a sliding door that was just right against the stairs. And if that door hadn't been open, I'd have probably hit my head and broken my neck, because I fell headfirst down the stairs. Anyhow, I went out the door because the door was open, but I really hurt my knee and my foot. I had a bad cut on my foot, but then I went on to work, because by that time, Joe, I could hear he was honking the horn, so I just got in the car and went to work. But then when I got to my office, my foot had swollen so much so I went to a doctor across the street and then I thought, "Well, I could sue the fellow," because there was no light there and no railing. So immediately, he put a railing up, and he put a light there. But then he sent photographers out, because he was worried. But I said I didn't want to sue him if he would just pay the doctor bills. But he did pay the doctor bills, because I was coming out to the coast, and I was already decided I was coming back home.

<End Segment 63> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 64>

AI: So you had decided you were going to be coming back out to the West Coast, and also, you had been going with a fellow for a while.

PB: Yes. And I said... he was going to go to work for Boeing, and I said, asked him if he was prepared to get married, because I wasn't gonna marry someone that didn't have anything, and he said he had saved enough money and he had bought a new car. He had just bought a new car, and so we were, we got married in Chicago, and I had just bought my '57 Chev, brand-new car, I had it on order, and as soon as the car was ready, we drove out.

AI: And so that would have been at the very end of 1955 then...

PB: Uh-huh.

AI: ...that you drove out to the West. And well, that was, that was wintertime already.

PB: Oh, it was a horrible winter. That winter, it was one of the worst winters. We came Columbia River down there, sheet of ice, solid ice on the road. In fact, shortly after we left Chicago, our car flew off the highway and if it wasn't that my husband was a very good driver, I think we would have turned the car over, because we went right off the highway altogether. But he turned the car, and we got back on the highway. It was really bad.

AI: That's scary.

PB: It was one of the worst winters that they had out here.

AI: Well, so after you got back out to this area, where did you two settle? Where did you live when you first came back out here?

PB: Oh, he, he had rented an apartment. I think that was... let's see, what was the name of the apartment? Star Apartments, I believe it was. It was on Eleventh Avenue, right across the street from the Fujin Home where Pat was born. And it was a small apartment, so I wasn't exactly happy to live there, because I had sent, had some of my furniture sent out that was coming out on the train. But then in the meantime, this thing happened with the money with my mother, and Mother accused Jack of taking the money. So right away, there was that bad feeling, and he felt bad, so he went and sold, sold his car to get the money to repay my mother, because my mother said there was three hundred dollars cash in there. And of course, we said, well, why didn't she tell him that it was money? But she didn't want to tell him because her mind was kind of funny at the time since she had been having strokes. And so I had the postal department go through quite an investigation, but they had no way of checking because at that time, they hire a lot of extra help for mail delivery, and I found that a lot of my mail was opened. They had been ripped open, so we knew that somebody in the delivery system had opened it.

AI: What a shame.

PB: But that was a total loss, 'cause we had no way of proving that there was money in it, because, of course, Jack didn't know that it was money, so he didn't insure it, he just sent it plain mail.

AI: That's right. Oh, too bad. Well, now then eventually you left the apartment and moved to a house.

PB: Well, I moved once to another larger apartment, but then by that time, there was so much discord that I was ready to get an annulment. But then I thought, I had my furniture coming already, and if it wasn't for that, I would have gone back to Chicago, I think. But I had already sent for my furniture and it was on the way, and I thought, "Well, maybe things will work out," so I stayed.

AI: And then was it then at that point that you moved to the Mount Baker area?

PB: Yes, I wanted to live in a house, so then I wanted to buy a house, but my husband didn't want to buy a house. So he said, "Well, it's up to you. If you want a house, you can buy it with your own money and keep the house for yourself." So I bought this house on, up in the Mount Baker area, and I really liked it there because we had nice neighbors and fruit trees, and there were flowers and we had a view from there. And it was really a very nice place to live. But then the neighborhood started changing, and I'd call the police and they'd say, "Well, you can fence the area or you can buy a dog and keep the dog in the yard." And I wasn't about to do all that; why did I have to fence the area? And I thought, well here, for the first time, I have my own property and I can't do anything because these kids would come in and the minute we'd leave the house, they'd come in with their bicycles and they'd ride around the house and they'd climb up the fruit trees and jump down in the flower beds. Sometimes we'd just go around the block and they're already there. So...

AI: So you decided to move farther out.

PB: I decided to move again, and that's when I found this place on Cloverdale Street, which was, seemed like real country then. The road wasn't paved and there were blackberries across the street, it was all empty lots, there was a lot of blackberries, no houses. And it seemed like it was way out in the country.

AI: Well, Cloverdale and about what? Was that near...

PB: Between Beacon Avenue and Martin Luther King Way, now, mid-way between.

AI: Which, of course, now, you wouldn't recognize it because it's all...

PB: It's all developed now.

AI: Yes.

<End Segment 64> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 65>

AI: Well, now, at this time also, you had mentioned earlier that your mother's health was declining, that she was having these little strokes, and that sometimes she wasn't herself.

PB: Yes. She was having hallucinations, and she was getting more and more paranoid, and it was reverting back to our experience previous to the war when people started being really antagonistic to us. And then my mother began to think that everybody was calling her "Stinky Jap, Stinky Jap," and the children would be playing baseball, and she'd say, "See, they're calling me 'Stinky Jap.'" We tried to convince her, but she wouldn't listen. She had her own interpretation of everything they said, and even when we'd go in a car, she'd say people were under the car and they were calling her names. Or if they airplanes went up, she'd say, "See, their airplanes are calling me names." So we had a very difficult time with her, and then she got so she would go for walks and wouldn't come home, and we'd have to go looking for her. So my sister and I were constantly going out and looking for her, because she'd just wander off. And she'd just walk into anybody's place, and there was one neighbor that was, oh, maybe five or six blocks away, but they had the same name, and she'd go over there and she'd say, "Well, we're related. We're family." And she'd be over there and they wouldn't know who she was and we wouldn't know she was over there, so we'd have to just keep going and looking for her until we found her.

AI: So finally, what did you, what did you do?

PB: Well finally, Dad said that he just couldn't do that anymore and we were spending so much time looking for her... it was dangerous because she'd walk down the middle of the street, and I said to her, "Well, you could get run over." And she said, "Oh no, they always stop for me." And she says, "Sure, they honk their horn, but they always stop for me." And I said, "That's not the way you're supposed to do it. You're supposed to not walk in the street." So we finally decided that maybe we'll have to have her committed for a while, so we did. After a lot of consultation with all the family members, and most of 'em was for it, but I was totally against it. I just couldn't see putting her in an institution, and I was totally against it. But finally decided that that would be the best way, and then we would take turns and visit her.

AI: That must have been really hard.

PB: Yes, it was very hard, but we did commit her, and we took turns going out to see her. And once in a while we'd get her out and bring her home, then we'd have difficulty getting her back in the car to take her back, 'course, she didn't want to go. But she was acting quite different than what normal person would act.

<End Segment 65> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 66>

AI: Well then, also, your father was having some health problems, too, at this time.

PB: My dad was changing color, he said, and he was eating less and less and getting very thin. But he was going to a doctor quite often, and the only thing the doctor was doing was giving him vitamin pills. And yet he seemed to get thinner and thinner and eat less and less. One, until one day, he called me and he had started turning yellow, and he called me and he said, "My skin is turning all yellow. I'll have to go to the doctor." So I wasn't driving much then, so I had to wait until Emily came home, and as soon as she came home, she took him to Dr. Uyeno at that time. And right away, he said, "Oh, your father either had cancer or gallstones. We'll have to get him in the hospital right away." So he put him in the hospital right away, and he determined that he had cancer and that he would have to have surgery.

So he was in Harborview, and I guess he was in a ward, and he was having a lot of difficulty because he told me one time he, it was around noontime and he had gone to the restroom, and I guess he passed out. And he had had a discharge, so he cleaned it up, and by the time he got back to his room... came to, and I think he must have fainted -- came to, why, dinner hour had passed and he didn't get no lunch, and he was quite ill. So by that time, my other sister, Hanni, the one that was in Chicago, she came up for a visit, and she's one of these people that will speak up. She, we didn't say much of anything, Dad was in this ward, we didn't say much. But when my, Hanni came out, she said right away, gonna put him in a private room. "Why is he in the ward like this?" And so they did put him in a private room and gave him much better care then. But we knew then that he had possible terminal cancer, so he did have surgery, and they said they couldn't do anything because it was too far gone. But he, my dad himself was looking forward to recovering and watching baseball games -- [laughs] -- because he loved baseball. And when we told him, he didn't even know he had surgery and it was over with. But he was real excited, he says, "Well, let's go home so I can watch baseball." But he would never be going home; he passed away.

AI: Well, by the time that your father passed away, he must have been in his eighties; is that right?

PB: Yes, he was around eighty-two.

AI: And that was in the late 1950s?

PB: Uh-huh. 'Course, Mother, by that time, we had her in and out of the hospital, and she was there, but I don't think she quite comprehended that Dad was gone. And we tried to keep her away, because we knew that he was dying and we had a private nurse around the clock, but he had a very strong heart, and his heart kept beating and he kept breathing, and we were all there. But I was trying to keep Mother away, because the nurse kept saying, "He'll pass away any minute." But he just kept, his heart kept beating, and just as we came too close where my dad was, Mother wanted to see him. And I was trying to keep her away, but she walked right up to him and he passed away. But I don't think she realized that he was gone, really, because she didn't cry or anything. But it was really a hard time for all of us at that time.

AI: I'm sure it was. Well, then, at one point, you had been hoping that you would perhaps live with your parents, or live next door or near your parents. But with your father's illness and passing, and then your mother's mental state, that didn't happen. But at some point, I recall reading in your memoir that your mother's condition started to improve again.

PB: Yes, and when my father died, he made me promise that I would take her out of the hospital permanently, because she wasn't really a mental case, it was because of the strokes, the mini strokes she had, that she had these bad moments, but she had her good moments, too. And this experience at the hospital at Steilacoom was really something, because we had never experienced anything like that; making visits there. I learned a great deal about the mental hospital, and got acquainted with the head gardener there, and they had a beautiful garden and greenhouse, and had so many unusual plants. I got starts from some of the plants, and it was really quite an interesting experience, yet kind of... well, educating experience. Because I had never been to anyplace like that, and I was surprised that they took the patients and when they give 'em a bath, they just put 'em in one big room and turn a hose on 'em. They take a bucket of soapy water and throw it on 'em, and then they turn the hose on 'em. And you see all kinds of patients; some of 'em crying, some of 'em just taking their clothes off and eating flowers and anything they could get a hold of, they'd eat it. And they had to put a straitjacket on some of 'em because they wouldn't do what they were supposed to, and some of 'em, they would steal anything. I remember Mother said she took her teeth out and they disappeared. And she would, Mother wanted to wash her underwear out every night. She'd wash her underwear out and they disappeared, so they had all kinds of patients. It was the first time that I'd ever been in a place like that. I thought, "My goodness..." unless you see them and have that experience, you would never know anything about. You hear about a mental hospital or mental patients, but you don't experience that, you don't know anything about it, and you don't even think about it. But there are lots and lots of people and lots and lots of families that have to put up with all these things that you never hear about.

<End Segment 66> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 67>

AI: Well, so then at some point, you moved your mother from there and eventually had her in a different, in a nursing home, Japanese nursing home?

PB: Well, since I promised my father that I would get her out of there, I promised him that I would get Mother out, so I thought my brothers and sisters would help me. But then they all seemed to be too busy; some of 'em were working and everything, and they said I was the only one that had free time, so I was the one that was left to do all the negotiating. And it was hard for me because I didn't know how I was going about doing this, because, 'course, talking to my mother, she, she didn't think there was anything wrong with her, she thought it was everybody else. But anyhow, eventually, there are certain tests that they have to pass, but naturally with my mother unable to understand English that much and everything, they made exceptions, and they said she could come home or be released. So then I got her out, and decided they had a Japanese nursing home which was the Hirabayashi Home, so decided to put her in there. So when she got in there, why, she acted perfectly normal. And only thing is she liked to wander away. She'd go for walks and she always came back, but she'd go, from the Hirabayashi Home, she'd go take a walk up by where the former Broadway High School is, she'd go many blocks away and she walked around. She had an idea that she owned a lot of the buildings around the place, and she'd tell everybody, "Well, this is my house and this is my house." She was just as free as a bird, and she picked flowers -- [laughs] -- out of other people's yards and bring 'em home. She'd help the other patients, she'd help dress them and she was quite happy there.

But eventually, she had a, I guess what you'd call a heart attack, and they wouldn't do anything. The nurse that was there said she couldn't do anything unless she had the permission of the owner. The owner wasn't there, and when we heard that she had a heart attack, naturally all of us went there. My two sisters and I, we, I think we each drove there independently, and we got there and she was having difficulty breathing, so right away I said, "Call 911." 'Cause they wouldn't do it; they said they couldn't do that without the permission of the owner. So anyhow, my sister got on the phone and we called the medics and they came right away, put a oxygen mask on her, and I got in the ambulance and they took her to the hospital. And I guess later on, Mother told us that that was the worst experience; she said, "Why didn't you let me go?" Because she didn't want to go through that again.

AI: So then, for a while then, I understand that she lived with your brother Hank for a while?

PB: Yes, we kind of took turns taking care of her, and somehow Mother always could get out of the house. No matter, they'd lock the doors, but she'd get out. And I think about the only place she couldn't get out of was my place. She didn't know how to get out of my place. But when she was with my brother, she'd get out the door somehow, and she'd go for a walk and she'd go out and there was a railroad track just a short distance from their house. And she'd walk on the railroad tracks, or she'd sit out there. And so, of course, my brother and them were very worried that she's going to get run over by a train someday. So anyhow, we tried bringing her to different places, and she was at my place for a while, she was at my brother's place and my sister's place. We all tried to take care of her, but she got progressively worse, and getting thinner and thinner, and we finally had to put her in the hospital, and I think that she would have died then if we hadn't put her in the hospital. I think she was unconscious most of the time, but eventually she ended up in a nursing home, a Caucasian nursing home. So she wasn't too far from where I lived, so I used to, and I was the only one that more or less free to go every day, so I went to see her every day and I tried to feed her and everything. She was, doctor said she had a heart condition, so she shouldn't get out of bed. But she was very independent; she'd get up and she'd go to the bathroom and everything, but once in a while, she'd get in the bathroom and couldn't get out, and probably mess in the bathroom. I found her one time when I went to see her, she was sitting on the floor, and she was sitting in her own water, and I said, "What in the world are you doing here?" And she said she couldn't get up and nobody would help her. So I volunteered, I said I would take care of her, I would bathe her, but they said, "No, you can't do that. And you can't bring her food and you can't bring her medicine." She had eczema on her legs, and she would scratch until it bled. And I would bring this tiger balm, Chinese tiger balm, and that would help her eczema. She said that was the only thing that would ease the itching, so I would conceal it and I would bring it to her, but then the nurse caught it, caught me one time, and she said if I did that, she would be expelled from the hospital, that I could not bring any kind of medicine. So I had to quit doing that, but she finally passed away in this nursing home.

AI: And, and she also was in her eighties when she passed away.

PB: Yes, she was, I thought she was eighty-four, but according to my sister, she says she was eighty-five. So I'm not sure exactly.

AI: And that was in 1967, I understand.

PB: [Nods]

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<Begin Segment 68>

AI: Well, in, as your mother's health was declining, you also had, you had another accident yourself, a couple of years before your mother passed away, I understand. Was that when you had a slip and a fall on some steps?

PB: Oh, yes, that was... I had rented our regular house, and I was living in the small house that was on the same property, which I had hoped my parents would move into, but Dad passed away before we were able to move, move him in there. So I was living in the little house, but the mail was on the porch... the paper, I guess, was on the porch, so I went to get the paper, and I slipped on the porch, and I hit my back, I went right off the porch and I hit my back on the stairs. And then I slipped down to the foot of the stairs, but I thought that my wind was knocked out of me, and I lay there for quite a while, but it started to rain, so I thought, "Well, I got to get back to the house." So I don't know how I got back, I must have got up and walked, walked to the house. And I got on the phone and I called my neighbor, and that was a Chinese family that lived across the street. And they came right over, and they were gonna take me where I wanted to go, and I wanted to go to the chiropractor because I thought I had the wind knocked out of me and I'd be okay. But they took me down to the chiropractor, and... let's see, when was that? Wasn't far. Anyhow, they took me there, and he started working on me, but I was in such pain that I was crying, and he said, "Oh, maybe you have broken ribs. I think you better go see your own doctor."

So then they loaded me in the car and they took me home and they said, "You lie down on the bed while we take a grab, bite of lunch." So as long as I lay perfectly still, I didn't hurt. But as soon as they finished lunch, they took me up to Dr. Suzuki, and soon as he looked at me, he said, "I think you have a broken back." So he says, "Gonna x-ray you right away," so he x-rayed me and he said, "Yes, you have a broken back. You can't be moved." So his office was just very close to the hospital, Providence, he says, "We'll have to call an ambulance to take you to Providence." So they took me to Providence, and I must have passed out, because I didn't remember anything after that. But Mrs. Young, this Chinese lady, said she stayed with me and fed me and everything. But I didn't remember any of that, and I was in the hospital for a long time, because they had to keep me in bed, and I couldn't be moved until they made a brace for me. They didn't want to put a cast on me, they said they'd make a brace for me. So I was in bed all the time until they made the brace, and then I was allowed to get up, but I had to learn to walk over and everything, since I'd been in bed for so long, I couldn't, I'd forgotten how to walk. Took me quite a while to be able to get walking again.

AI: What a difficult experience of having to go through all of that, and then really learning to walk again, slowly recovering.

PB: Yes, and one thing I'll never forget, that my mother -- when you first get out of bed, you can't, you can't get up and try to walk or anything, you sit on the edge of the bed and dangle your feet. And my mother came to see me and she felt my feet and she said they felt sticky. She said, "They must not be bathing you right," and she told my sister to get a pan of water, and she pulled up a chair alongside the bed and she washed my feet. And I thought that only a mother would do that.

AI: That's right. Must have been a very difficult time for you.

PB: Yes, it was, it was, it was a real hard time for me, because took quite a while before I could walk or do anything. I had to wear the brace for six months, and during that time, my husband left me and went to California. He didn't tell me he quit his job at Boeing. I think that he figured I was going to be a cripple, and he didn't want to be stuck with a cripple, so without telling me, he had quit at Boeing, and when I called Boeing, they wouldn't tell me anything. It's just private, it's a private matter as far as they were concerned, and he didn't leave me any money or anything. And when I finally found out that he wasn't coming back, I just had to decide to change my whole life. Because there I was alone, and I had the broken back, and I couldn't do anything. And these Chinese neighbors, Mr. Young took me to the hospital and took me every day -- or anytime I had to go to doctor, they took me to the doctor, and they took care of my needs for me. And they're gone now except for Mrs. Young, who, I think she had her 101st birthday, and she calls me every year. She can't write any longer, 'cause she says she's unable to see. So she calls me on the phone. They're wonderful friends.

AI: Well, so you had another shocking experience with your husband leaving you and going through divorce again, and then really changing your life, having a new phase of your life.

PB: [Laughs] Yes, had to start over again.

<End Segment 68> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 69>

AI: Well, I also wanted to ask you, before we got too far along here, getting back to when your mother had passed away, that you had what sounds like a very unusual experience the night of her funeral. And that you were outside, that you saw something unusual. Wondered if you could talk about that.

PB: My husband and I were on our way to the funeral, and we were driving, and all of a sudden I see this huge ball of light. It was huge. And first I thought it was the moon, but it was much bigger than a moon, and it was just bouncing along like a ball. And it was just huge, and I thought, "Could that be an airplane?" No, it couldn't be an airplane, it's perfectly round, it's just like a moon but it was much bigger than a moon, and it was just bouncing along right in front of me. And I said to Jack, "Oh, look at that huge ball." And then all of a sudden, it went zip and disappeared. It just went down and disappeared, and I had often heard about the spirit that remains, but I didn't believe it until I saw this for my own eyes. And that has always stayed with me, because I had never actually believed that the spirit remained. But I saw this huge light, and to this day, I know I saw it and Jack saw it, and it wasn't the moon, and it wasn't no airplane. It was just, I believe it was a spirit.

<End Segment 69> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 70>

AI: Well, now I wanted to kind of bring things up to the present, because one thing that's very unusual for anybody is to have as many generations in the family as you do. And I understand you have great-grandchildren, so you have five generations in your family now.

PB: Yes, I have great-great-grandchildren, two of them now. The little boy's gonna be five... one is already five, I guess. And the little girl just had her first birthday. I haven't seen her yet, hope to see her soon before she grows up too fast.

AI: That's wonderful.

PB: I don't think there are many five-generations. At least, I know I watch the obituaries because so many of my friends are gone, and I keep wondering how many are left, and I check them every day, and I read the, who's left, and I hear, I see great-grandchildren, but great-great, I probably seen maybe two that had great-great-grandchildren. And, of course, they're deceased, but I'm still here. [Laughs] I don't know how much longer, but I am thankful for every day that I'm around.

AI: Well, and in fact, you, in the later part of your life, you found another love, and you were going with another fellow for quite a while, and eventually you did marry him.

PB: Yes, through friends, I went to cook a sukiyaki dinner, because since I had cooked for these people before, they wanted me to cook for friends of theirs. They said, "We'd like to have you make a sukiyaki dinner for friends of ours." So I said I would go and fix dinner for them if they would buy the ingredients necessary. So I went and cooked dinner, and we had a lot of talk. They lived up on the hill in Auburn, and owned quite a large piece of land there that they had been selling in lots. And it was a very lovely home, and I cooked dinner, and I guess they liked the food. And that's how I met this man. I had no idea that I would have any further plans with him or anything like that. It just seemed like we were, I had just met another family that I had made dinner for. But one day he came over and called on me, and I was quite surprised to see him. I didn't know much about him or anything, but later learned that he had been captain of the airlines, and I thought that was interesting. I didn't know at the time that he was separated from his wife or anything, but he started coming over, and he always would park his car away from the street so he couldn't be seen from the street, and I thought it was kind of odd that he always concealed his car. And he said his wife was checking up on him -- [laughs] -- but I found out that he was checking up on his wife, and she was checking up on him. But evidently they were on a verge of a divorce, and they got divorced, and he came over quite often, and we became good friends. He was very helpful; he would always help me do things, and I thought it was real nice, especially since I wasn't that well, you know, I finally got my brace off and everything, but I was having a difficult time. I had this big, almost 2 acres of ground, and it was a lot of work to keep it up. But anyhow, we eventually got married. We had gone together for maybe twenty years before finally decided that he'd get married.

AI: And how long were you married then?

PB: We were only married eight years, actually.

AI: But you, but you had been together for...

PB: But we'd been together for thirty-five years.

<End Segment 70> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 71>

AI: Well, so just before the interruption, you were saying that you had been together for thirty-five years, with your husband. And then, and then he passed away.

PB: Yes. He finally passed away, I took care of him, and he had cancer of the prostate, and he had surgery, and he had quite a difficult time afterwards. I don't know whether it's something that happens to most people or not, but they more or less lose control of their bowel movements, I guess, or their, they become (incontinent), and he was having a very difficult time, because he was unaware of what was going on. And he always was sort of hard of hearing, because of his work on the airplanes, from, at a very early age. And in those days, they didn't have the equipment that they have now to protect their ears. And being young, he wouldn't do what they told him to do, I guess, to protect their ears. So he was hard of hearing, and then he also had eye problems, because he had macular degeneration. So he was getting practically blind, he was blind and he was deaf, and then he started... well, I don't know whether he had Alzheimer's, or he was just senility because he was in his nineties. In fact, he was ninety-seven when he passed away. And I took care of him for a whole year after he became to a point that actually, he should have been in a nursing home. But I felt that I would take care of him as long as I could, and he didn't want to go to a nursing home, naturally. He said he wasn't going to go, but finally when I told him that I was sick and I would have to go to the hospital, and he would have to go to a nursing home for a short time, he agreed to go. So he was in the nursing home a very short time, only about two or three months before he got real bad. His legs would swell, and I had talked to one of the nurses from Group Health, and she said, "He probably has congestive heart failure," but I never did find out exactly what he died from, but he was gone, in two to three months' time, he was gone. So... I have wonderful memories, but I'm alone now.


AI: Well, of course, you must get this question often because you have had such a long life. And although you've had many difficulties that you've discussed, you've continued on. And at present, you're quite able to take care of yourself, you're living here independently, you must get this question often: what, what do you think has contributed to your long and healthy life?

PB: Well, probably one of the things is good genes, I guess. I don't know, but all of us are living quite long, I would say, because I have a sister that's ninety and one that's eighty-eight, and a brother that's eighty-three, so we're all doing quite well. But I think that for myself, I'm just one of the lucky ones, because I have my own teeth -- [laughs] -- I don't have to have hearing aids, and both my sisters do; they both wear hearing aids and they have a lot of trouble with their teeth and eyes. I have all three, and I think my memory's pretty good. [Laughs] And I keep dancing, people think I'm crazy maybe, but I enjoy dancing and I'm still taking hula lessons and just recently have given up square dancing, but if my legs will hold me up, I'd probably be dancing again. [Laughs]

AI: Well, is there any advice that you would give younger people that you'd like to pass along from some of the things that you've learned in your life?

PB: Well, I think the main thing is to keep busy. Don't give up, because... because you get old, you don't quit, or you retire, you don't... lot of people retire, and they think, well, they're gonna just sit down and take it easy. That's the wrong attitude. You gotta keep busy. You gotta keep physically busy and mentally busy. I'm always doing something; I said I would never get bored, because I have too many things that I want to do. I have a lot of things I have to do yet before I say goodbye. [Laughs] And I know a lot of people say, "Well, how come you don't have wrinkles in your face?" Well, I don't know whether this is a reason or not, but my mother never used soap on her face. She just used water, warm water, and she always used to say to me, "You're so pale." She said, "When I was young, I had rosy cheeks, and I never had to use rouge or anything." She says, "People nowadays, they don't exercise enough... eat good, but exercise, do something. Be busy all the time, keep your mind busy." And I do. I don't sit still very often, or even if I'm sitting down, my mind is always working or I'm working a crossword puzzle or I'm sewing or crocheting or reading or something, doing something, and get outside at least once a day. Try to get out in the fresh air and enjoy nature. Enjoy flowers, and I even enjoy weeds. [Laughs] When I didn't have flowers, I used to go pick dandelions and wild daisies, and I thought they were beautiful. When I first came out from Chicago where I didn't have flowers and I came back to Seattle, I'd stop by the roadside and pick the wild daisies and even bring the dandelions in and them I'm disappointed because they pulled it up. [Laughs] But I think the secret is to keep busy, even, even if you feel that you can't move anymore and you're tired and you don't want to do it, but push a little bit. I think that's the way to stay young.

AI: Well, that sounds like great advice, and I want to thank you so much for taking the time to be with us and to share your memories.

PB: Well, I hope that a few words of wisdom from an old lady -- [laughs] -- might encourage others.

AI: We appreciate it very much.

PB: Thank you.

<End Segment 71> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.