Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Alice Abrams Siegal Interview
Narrator: Alice Abrams Siegal
Interviewer: Becky Fukuda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 13, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-salice-01

<Begin Segment 1>

BF: This is Becky Fukuda, and today's date is December 13, 2004, and we are conducting a Densho interview with Alice Abrams Siegal at the Densho offices in Seattle, Washington. And today's interview will focus on Alice's experience growing up in an area of Seattle that was important to a number of ethnic groups, including Japanese Americans and the Jewish community. And also, we'll be doing just basically a life history of Alice. So, Alice, are you ready to begin?

AS: Yes.

BF: Great. Let's start with your parents and their immigration to the U.S. Can you tell me a bit about where they came from and why?

AS: Well, my mother's parents sort of came before my father did. And my mother was... okay, well, back up here. My grandfather came to the United States first, and somehow or other, he got to South Bend, Indiana, where he worked for Studebaker as a, I guess sort of a machinist. He was a blacksmith and trained in Russia, but, from Russia, a little village. And when my grandfather saved up enough money and it took him three years, then he sent for his wife and two children, and the older of the two children was my mother. And so, and my mother at that time was six years old. The, my grandfather also had read probably in a Jewish newspaper -- and by Jewish, I mean the writing was in Yiddish, 'cause that was the spoken language in most of Eastern Europe for Jewish people. And he read that the government was dividing land, homesteading, and there was, I guess there was an advertisement about homesteading in Republic, Washington. So he applied for that and then went out there, and he did build a home for the family so that when they came -- and they came when they -- well, they were, of course, at Ellis Island, and then they went across Canada on the railroad, where, which was closest to Republic, Washington -- I mean, a railroad that is closest to Republic, Washington.

And so that would have been about 1906, and the sad part about the situation was that my grandfather dug a well, but there was no water. And that was pretty hard when you're planning to raise crops and have a farm. So he had to take a job in the little town of -- I guess it was a little town then, it's not that big now -- of Republic, where he was able to do his blacksmith work. And so they, after a while, it seemed... I'm not sure how long it was before my grandmother's -- it was less than three years -- my grandmother felt they needed to move into town because of the lack of water there, and her children, my mother, her younger brother was still under school age. So, so my mother would be able to go to school. And so they moved into the town of Republic, and about two years ago, my husband and I went to Republic to see if we could find where they were. And we found approximately where the home would have been in Republic, but we didn't, we couldn't find the information about the homesteading, where that was. And, but after three years, my grandmother said, "This is no place to raise Jewish children." [Laughs]

BF: Because there weren't other Jews?

AS: Well, there were some other Jewish families there. In fact, apparently several Jewish families went there because of the homesteading. But that's not a huge number. By several... I don't even know if there were ten. I'm sure it was less than ten families that were Jewish. And so getting the kosher food was impossible, and they had to bring in the meat from Spokane, and that was difficult. But most of all, my grandmother felt they should be, get a better education in the city and be with more Jewish people, so then they moved to Seattle. And so that's, and so that would have been about 1909 when they arrived in Seattle.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

BF: And why did they leave Russia? Why did your grandfather at that point leave Russia?

AS: Well, one of the things that I've always heard the most and what they said also, and have read it, pogroms, Jewish people were persecuted there, they were denied rights to own land. My grandparents did have some land in their little village, because my grandfather's father was killed in battle. It was, I think it was the Japanese-Russian war, but I'm not positive. And so they were able to... but they were still, my mother tells me about, I guess it would have been... I guess it would have been an aunt. My mother's mother came from a family of six sisters, including her. And the younger sister, I think she was about sixteen, a pogrom came to their village, they took the younger sister, and they never heard, just that was it. They never heard anything, they don't know what happened. And so these things would come up from time to time.

BF: Maybe you could explain a little bit about what a pogrom is.

AS: Oh, oh yes. Right. My understanding is that it would be a group of Russian soldiers that for some reason or other would go after the Jewish people. And I don't know whether it was to take land or possessions or what. But the, there were a lot of Jews killed in these pogroms, or disappeared. And so it was a constant worry. And I don't know when they first started, but at least in my grandmother's lifetime, there have been at least that one pogrom where her younger sister was taken away. And, of course, they happened all over Russia, just not in that particular place. Does that kind, sort of answer?

BF: Yeah. That would be extremely, that would be horrible to be living under those conditions, never knowing if something were going to happen.

AS: Yeah. Never knowing when they're going to come, yeah. So, and also, all Russian males, whether Jewish or not Jewish, had to serve in the army. My grandfather did serve in the army, and didn't want that for, if he had any male children. Of course, he already, he did have one male child when they came here, but they had more later. And so... and there was, there were limitations on education, on where you, what you could do, where you could go. So, and I'm sure that in Europe, people had heard about America. This was the Golden Land, this is where people can do very well, live wonderful lives. And so, of course, he came. And so that was the reason, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

BF: And then your father's side?

AS: Yeah, my father was born in Lithuania, again in a little town, and... probably a village, and he, at that... let's see, when he was a young adult, teenager, probably a child even, Russia had conquered Lithuania, so it was under Russian control. And so there were the same concerns about life there. It was, and everybody was really -- well, I can't say everybody -- but my father's family was very poor, and there was a lot of poverty. And Lithuania was a very religious, Jewish, and the Jewish people there were very Orthodox. And, but, so my father got a good education in Judaism, I guess with the idea of teaching when he, being a teacher. And his older brother, though, came to the United States probably, it must have been several years. Several years before my father... my father didn't leave until I think about 1916. I should know, 'cause I recently looked at papers of his. And it would have been about 1916, his brother had, older brother had come earlier, and his -- and was living in Bellingham -- and the older brother wrote to him, he said, "You need to get a trade when you come to America. They have too many Jewish teachers here." [Laughs]

BF: Already at that point?

AS: At that point already, there were that many Jews here. [Laughs] So my father was trained as a tailor -- [coughs] excuse me -- and, and I have to tell you, he hated it. [Laughs] But he was good, so he did have a trade when he came to the country. Of course, none of them, nobody knew English. They came, they were really foreigners. And so at the beginning, he lived with his older brother and his family. Oh yes, by the time my father came to this country, his brother had moved from Bellingham to Mount Vernon, and so I remember hearing that my father had a, must have had a horse and buggy, and would peddle, buy things from people and sell things to people, just going around that way. So I don't know how -- it couldn't have been too long, because he, he enlisted, well, the World War II had started...

BF: World War I.

AS: One, excuse me. Definitely. World War I had started, and he felt very strong about democracy, and was really bitter about the totalitarian, living in the other countries. And so he volunteered, and he was then sent to France, and fortunately he survived that war and came back. And it was after he -- oh, before he left, though, he met my mother, so he must have made his way down to Seattle as did my uncle. He kept moving from Bellingham, Mount Vernon -- this is my, my father's older brother -- then to Everett, so I don't know how long they were in each place, and then to Seattle. And so my father met my mother when she was working at, I think it was a dry cleaning shop. And so they corresponded when he went off to France to fight. And when they, when he came back, then they were married in 1919. So that's how he came to this country.

BF: Now, the, you said that both of the sets of grandparents spoke Yiddish, right?

AS: Yeah, right.

BF: When they arrived, as well as I assume maybe Russian?

AS: Yes, they also spoke Russian, and I suppose my father... oh, I know there would be a Lithuanian language. I would assume he was probably speaking Lithuanian, but I don't know.

BF: So when he went, when he enlisted and was fighting, I wonder how good his English was.

AS: You know, I never even thought of it. So he'd been here then probably a couple of years by that time. I've got to check those, his papers, the documents.

BF: Now, you had said in another interview I read that Abrams wasn't...

AS: That's right.

BF: ...his original name. What's the story?

AS: Right. It was Abramovitz, which I guess in Russian, "vitz" is "son," "son of Abram." So when he entered, he enlisted for the, to the army, they actually made him a citizen, which was amazing.

BF: Just for enlisting?

AS: Yeah, I'm quite sure he got his citizenship that way. And if I'm wrong, somebody will have to tell me. But anyway, and then they said, "Well, would you like to change, shorten your name?" And so he went from Abramovitz to Abrams. So that's how he got the name.

BF: Was that fairly common among Jewish immigrants?

AS: Fairly common.

BF: To shorten the name?

AS: Yeah, fairly common. Not always. Not, because, well, I know many people, when they came to America, I know those who went through Ellis Island, but I suppose it could be other places, too, if the immigration worker didn't understand what the name was or how you spell it, would change the name to something they understood. So there are many people here with names that were given by somebody at Ellis Island. [Laughs]

BF: Right. Now your, so your father and mother, they met, and after the war, after he came back from World War I, so did he continue in his line of work as a tailor?

AS: Yeah, then he, in Seattle he was able to get a job as a tailor, and so he worked as a tailor for several years, and then my mother said, "Well, why don't you open your own business?" And so he did. So I don't know what year that would have been. Well, I know by the time he must have been, I must have been about, whether it was before I was twelve years old or eleven years old, I'm not sure, but I was born in 1924, so I'm sure it was in the late '20s, he probably opened the store.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

BF: So when did you come into the picture? When were you born?

AS: Well, so I was the second child. I had an older brother who was born in, I think, 19-... he was three years older than I was, so he must have been about nineteen, twenty, or something, three-and-half years. Anyway, I was born January 1924, that's when I came into the picture. [Laughs]

BF: And where were you, where were you living? Where was your family living?

AS: Well, my mother tells me, the home that I remember, the first home, is, well, my grandfather was really good with his, and he could build things, and he used to really... which is, most Jewish men were not considered able to do these things, but he was that kind of guy, he could. So he built a very nice duplex for his, for my grandmother and my grandpa, and their, at that point would have had three sons, and -- living at home, I meant. And, and then the upstairs, my mother and father moved in, so that my little brother hadn't been born yet, but my older brother was there. And I don't, so I know my mother had said that they'd lived in another house, whether it was Twenty-third and King, or, but it was more, I'm pretty sure it was south of Jackson Street. But then when the duplex was finished, then my family moved into the duplex. It's, lower, first family lower floor, and then an upper floor. So many duplexes are usually side-by-side, but this was lower and upper. So we were there until I was about six years old. It was very close to Garfield High School, and in fact, it was just less than a half block. We were, that was the first home, it was between Twenty-third and Twenty-second on East Terrace, and my parents rented a home on Twenty-fifth Avenue between, I think at least Columbia and East Marion. I can't remember which comes first now, but anyway, so that's where I grew up until I was about, about thirteen, twelve or thirteen.

BF: So how long were you living in the duplex with your grandparents and...

AS: Yeah, okay, well, I know that I celebrated, my sixth birthday was celebrated in the duplex, 'cause I can remember the kids coming. And I got my first real doll, and -- from one of my uncles -- and I just thought that was the greatest thing in the world, I was so thrilled. So I know I was there for my sixth birthday, and then I'm assuming... oh, I wonder if it was, because I, when I started school, that's really, that's really funny. I can't remember now, because I don't want to... oh, that's right. I couldn't start school at that time, because it was middle of year, and I was, oh, I wanted to go to school in the worst way, I wanted to learn how to read and write, I think. Just couldn't stand it. And so I don't think we moved until maybe the summer of, of my sixth year, which would have been 1930. And the house that we lived in then was less than a half a block to Horace Mann school, so it was very convenient. So I did start, but you know, there's, I'm not sure... no, it's not true. Now I remember, because I can remember once when somebody grabbed some of my stuff, and I was so angry, and I was walking home, and I do remember going up the hill, and I was just, tears streaming down my face, and my mother was outside, said, "What happened, what happened?"

BF: What did happen?

AS: Well, some child, I had some pictures for some, we did some sort of project that, where you have to use pictures from a magazine, and, and so this girl just grabbed it. And she was probably about my age, but she was a little bigger and stronger, and I was sort of stunned because I never had anything like that happen. But I didn't want to tell my mother about it. I just wouldn't talk. [Laughs] Anyway, yeah, so I remember that, so I must have started school, and I imagine the semester usually starts, I think, in February, I think. I should know, I'm tutoring at a school in Seattle. But probably, well, my birthday was January 23rd, so I'm sure it was, it could have been February, because I remember I just hated the idea... at that time, the grades were divided in 1-A and 1-B. And I think 1-A was the first half, that makes sense. And then, so I always felt funny that I was kind of a, in that funny kind of arrangement. And, but things worked out. And I was able to skip a class once, and so that got me where I felt I should have been.

BF: I see, I see. So tell me, you mentioned you had an older brother, and then you have a younger brother as well?

AS: Yes, right.

BF: And is that it? Or are there any other siblings?

AS: Yeah, that's it, yeah. My older brother was -- excuse me -- three years older than I, and younger brother three years younger than I.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

BF: And when you were growing up, what languages were spoken? Did you, did, was Yiddish taught in the house?

AS: Yiddish was taught, spoken in the house when my parents didn't want us to understand. But otherwise, they spoke English, because they were eager to improve their English. Of course, by the, my mother started school at the age of six, so she was fluent in English, and my father became fluent really quite rapidly. So, so they spoke English, my father had a heavy accent, but my mother didn't. And, but when I'd go to my grandparents' house, or even when we were living above them, my grandmother would speak Yiddish to me, and if I didn't understand she would say it, but her English sounded like Yiddish. [Laughs] But I did learn quite a few words.

BF: And was the, the household Orthodox, so you followed the kosher rules?

AS: Right. Yeah, my grandparents were Orthodox. I would say they were modern Orthodox, which they didn't have that term then, but they do now. It's not, was not as rigid as the very Orthodox. But they observed the kashrut and they did not drive or work on Saturdays, and they observed all the holidays. And on my father's side, his older brother was very religious, and, but yes, so my mother kept kosher. My mother, it didn't, she didn't care if it was kosher or not, but she said she kept kosher so that her parents would eat at our house. So I grew up with kosher food and tried it, and I did follow it for a long time. I mean, not after I got married, but I mean, as a young, as a teenager and a young kid.

BF: And then tell me a little bit about what it was like in your household when you were growing up. Were you expected to do a lot of chores, were all the, did all the kids...

AS: Yeah. [Laughs] Yeah, the boys, my brothers, didn't have chores, or if they were given chores, it was, they had a way of getting out of it, but I was always very responsible. [Laughs]

BF: Now, were, do you think as a girl you were treated differently?

AS: Oh, absolutely. [Laughs]

BF: Well, one is obviously you said they, they would get away with more things than you. Is there any other things that...?

AS: Well, when I, of course, I, the differences didn't become really that apparent until I was in high school, and I remember my older brother started working on ships when he was -- I guess after he graduated from high school. So he was able to get a, jobs on ships. The first was on passenger ships going to Alaska, and he worked as a steward, waiter. And I was so jealous because I loved the water, and I loved the idea of traveling by water. And he even had, went to the Far East. I can't remember if they, the ship stopped in Japan, but I know it did stop in China because he brought back some furniture from China. Little boxes and then a, kind of like a cedar chest, and they were just beautiful. So I was jealous, because that's what I would have loved to do. And then I remember once my brother, my older brother said to me -- I can't remember. Something, "You should do..." and I can't remember whether it was... he says, "That's girl's, that's something girls should do." I don't remember now what it was, whether it was swimming, diving -- although I did swim -- I didn't dive, because I would get sinus headaches. [Laughs] I don't know what it was, but I remember being just insulted that "this is what girls should do." Ah. [Laughs]

BF: So his, his substitute for traveling overseas was for you to take swimming lessons? Get in the water?

AS: Well, not... I guess he just figured that's a crazy thought for his sister to have. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 6>

BF: Now, I was going to ask you, I know that your grandmother was someone you really respected and very influential, and it sounds like -- now, this was the grandmother that you lived with for a while at the duplex?

AS: Yeah.

BF: So could you tell me a little bit about what it was that you so admired in her?

AS: Well, I knew she came from a very difficult background, and when she was in Russia, I remember being told that she would knit gloves and socks, I guess, to make money so she could pay for lessons to learn how to speak Russian and write Russian. So I knew that she was an intelligent woman, and that she was a very hard worker. And she kept a very neat, neat, clean home, and when they first came to this country -- when they first came to Seattle, she took in boarders and did, I guess, until at least for several years until my grandpa got better jobs. And, 'cause my grandfather was street cleaner when he first, that was his first job in Seattle. And, and that was pushing a brush -- I mean, a broom. And so Grandma would take in boarders, and, and I never heard her complain about things. And also she was very active in an organization called the Workman's Circle, and, which mainly, I think, all the members were from Eastern Europe, Jewish, but from Eastern Europe, and had a reputation of being very Socialistic. Socialism was an idea that, at that time in Europe, was... well, there were a lot of people that thought that was a very good system. Of course, I do, too, as long as it's democratic. [Laughs] And anyway, so it was a way of supporting each other, so if there were problems, these were things that could be discussed. So it really was, I think, a very important organization. Oh, my grandmother was very active in that, and she would speak out, she, she never hesitated. And the thing that... because she was strong and fair, just woman, and always concerned about her family, and just a down-to-earth woman. Worked hard. They had chickens when they were living in Seattle there, and they had their little garden, they raised produce. And so I really admired her ability to do things, and that she was a thoughtful woman and a good person.

BF: It sounds like she, you spent a lot of time with her, or around her.

AS: Yeah, I did. Yeah, when I got older and she was getting frail, I used to help her in the kitchen, so I felt very good about that.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

BF: Well, let's talk a little bit about "Kosher Canyon." [Laughs] Can you tell me why it was called this and what that refers to?

AS: Well, I can tell you that when we moved, when we moved from that rental house on Twenty-fifth Avenue, there were a lot of Jewish people there. But it, there were also some non-Jewish people. Then we moved to a house on the corner of Twenty-sixth Avenue and East Alder, and I believe every house on both sides of the street, there were Jewish people living in them. I don't think we, that would go from maybe even Yesler Way to East Cherry, and then up and down East Cherry there was, I remember there was a small grocery store which is now, I think, a restaurant. And, and then across the street from there there was a sort of a deli, a small deli/grocery store. Okay, so that was between Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth, oh, going back to Twenty-third, on the corner of Twenty-third and East, East Cherry was a large, larger grocery store owned by a Jewish family. Now, there was also a store, it carried mainly produce, right across, that was not Jewish, and that was a Japanese American family. That one I remember, I guess, because it was different from the others. [Laughs] And there were at least two kosher meat markets on East Cherry, and then later there was a kosher bakery and deli on East Cherry, then we had one more. And so, so -- oh, and then there was a small synagogue on Twenty-sixth and I think East Fir or Spruce, or maybe between those two streets. Oh yes, and then the Talmud Torah was built, that's a Jewish day school. It actually was just to teach about Judaism, learn Hebrew, and so it was an after-school program. And that was, so that was in the, it was on Twenty-fifth, right off of Cherry, East Cherry. So most of the people -- and not only Twenty-sixth Avenue with all of its Jews, on the other side going north a bit, mainly Jewish families. And so it, I remember Twenty-ninth Avenue had a lot of Jewish families. See, coming back, there was a street called Temple Place, and I don't know if they changed the name. But anyway, anyway, it was just, it was just lot of... and then, of course, there were Jews that, who had more money, who were in the Madrona, sort of Madrona, well, it was the Madrona district. And...

BF: But they would come to this area to do shopping, perhaps...

AS: Yeah.

BF: ...or go to Temple.

AS: Right, yeah. The synagogues at that time, there was Herzl which is now on Mercer Island, but it was on the corner of Twentieth and I think that was Spruce. And that was a very large synagogue, but there's, we call that Conservative Judaism, but they do keep kosher, but men and women can sit together, they don't have to, in the Orthodox, the women have to be separated, either upstairs or sort of a curtain divider, women on one side, men on the other. And then the Orthodox synagogue was, oh, I think I told you, on Seventeenth... was it Seventeenth? Where the Langston Hughes Performing Arts, or whatever they call where that is. That was called the Bikur Cholim synagogue, and of course, eventually the Jewish people began to move away, and the Orthodox seemed to go towards the Seward Park area, so now Seward Park has the Bikur Cholim is there, and they actually merged with, the Bikur Cholim merged with this little synagogue that was on Twenty-sixth Avenue, so it's, I think it's called Bikur Cholim Hadath, I think that's right. There are two other Orthodox synagogues, not, I mean, one's just across the street, the other is down a half, I mean, a few blocks. But it's, those are Sephardic synagogues. And, and I was told that one of the Sephardic synagogues, it's mainly people from the island of Rhodes, and the other one -- and I don't remember which is which, the other one people are mainly from Turkey. But since then, we've all mingled. Temple De Hirsch was something I would have never thought of. I mean, that was, they were the Reform. We are members of it now. [Laughs]

BF: [Laughs] But back then, your family was Orthodox.

AS: Yeah, wouldn't have considered it.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

BF: So, back in the pre-World War II kind of, World War II era, back in that Central Area that you just described, what was that... I mean, I think to a lot of non-Jewish, they think of the community as being fairly homogenous. But was it diverse, or what, how would you describe it as far as class and level of education and where people came from?

AS: Yeah. Most of them, I think, had, the parents would have come from Europe, usually Eastern Europe. And I'm just trying to think, yeah, these would have been mainly, their parents probably were born in Eastern Europe, or their grandparents for sure, and then parents might have come as young children. They were... I never thought about what they did.

BF: Well, you mentioned that the wealthier families tended to move...

AS: They went, yeah, they went up to Madrona, and Montlake had a lot of Jewish families there. Those were the two main areas for the -- when I was growing up. Lot of store owners, small businesses. Lot of that. Education, education would have been pretty limited, unless they grew up in -- but most of them hadn't, so, but they were smart. They, my father had mainly a religious education, but he was very, he was a very intelligent man. But anyway, so as far as, you know, as far as income goes, probably it'd be sort of lower-middle class. I mean, well, because it was also during the Depression when I was growing up, so it, otherwise it would have considered a middle-class neighborhood. And the homes were modest homes, but they were, they looked nice and most of the people kept up their yards. [Laughs] And so, so it, I would say it would be like a middle-class. And, but certainly when we got to the schools, then we, it was, there were a lot of, I'd say the majority of the students would be non-Jewish, mainly Christian. At Horace Mann, we had several African American students, and, but I can't remember any Asian students when I was at Horace. But when I got to Garfield, that's where I met Asian students, and, of course, a lot more African Americans. And it was very mixed, so it was a mixed population. So, yeah.

BF: Now, back to the Jewish community, do you have, can you think of any memories, or give us sort of a feel for what it was like living in -- I mean, I don't think very many people now experience living in that type of a close-knit, very, where everyone sort of belongs to a certain group, a certain faith.

AS: Right, yeah. Yeah, you're right, it is unusual.

BF: How did, what was that like? Do you have warm memories of that?

AS: Well, yeah, I would say warm memories. I mean, it seemed like a very safe neighborhood. You knew most, most of the neighbors. I mean, not, maybe people were not close buddies, but, but you'd greet each other and so yeah, and then, some of my friends were, closest friends were very close, lived very close. And so it was a friendly, warm, friendly neighborhood.

BF: And then maybe, why, now why do you think you were saying earlier that your grandparents sort of slowly kept moving toward Seattle, kind of in the hopes of getting into a Jewish community, being part of a Jewish community? Was that merely convenience, to --

AS: Oh, you mean when they, maybe it was my father's side of the family, they're the ones that moved from Bellingham...

BF: Yeah, came from...

AS: ...Mount Vernon, Everett. Better, to get better, a chance at better opportunities. My uncle was what's called a shochet, shochet in Yiddish, maybe Hebrew also, which is a ritual killer of animals, because for an animal to be kosher, it has, has to be done as painlessly as possible, and so there is a certain way that it's done, and there are prayers that are said. So, so he was able, in the other cities, there weren't that many Jewish families, so here he could really do what he was trained to do, and I understand he also then would, carried Jewish items, I don't know, like candles for the, lighting for the Sabbath, books, Jewish books, and so, yeah, so it was for the economy, better opportunities, definitely.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

BF: So did, so did the Jewish community feel any discrimination? Was there any need to sort of come together just because there was exclusion from other areas?

AS: Right. Well, I remember hearing about, that Jews were discriminated against, and, but I don't ever remember experiencing any of that. So until we were -- in the summertime, many of the Jewish families would go to Soap Lake, Washington, Eastern Washington, it's a lake with all these minerals, it was considered like a health spa, but it was very similar. But, so one summer when I went there with my mother, and apparently an aunt with her two boys must have been there, because I remember we were walking down this little, just a one little street town, and I was with my younger brother and one of my cousins, maybe another boy, and some boys on the other side of the street started throwing rocks at us, and calling out, "Jews, Jews," in an ugly way. And I couldn't believe it. I'd heard about these things, but I'd never experienced them in Seattle. So that was the, that was the first time I experienced this ugliness.

The next time I experienced it, it wasn't anything being done to me, it was said to me. And still can't believe it, but anyway, my husband -- I was already married, but I think we'd just been married less than a year. And he was working as an engineer at Boeing, and somebody from Wichita was here to, I don't know, something to, on business dealing with Boeing, and so he invited -- and he was here with his wife, so he invited, he said he would take us out to dinner. There was another Jewish couple with us, so there were two Jewish couples, ourselves and another, and this non-Jewish man and his wife. And so the wife started saying, "Oh, it's so awful in Wichita. We have all these" -- of course, she called 'em Negroes -- "we've got all these Negroes." And coming into, Boeings had a plant in Wichita, maybe they still do. And she said, "Just horrible." I said, "I think it's wonderful. Finally have an opportunity for decent jobs. This is really a wonderful thing that's happening." And she just said, "Well, at least they're not as bad as Jews." She didn't know we were Jewish. Oh, I tell you, that just left me speechless.

BF: That must have been a pretty awkward moment for that table.

AS: Oh, it was. I just, my head started to hurt, and here, they're paying for our dinners. [Laughs] Anyway, so that, those are the things I've experienced. As far as other -- but I know that people were discriminated, I mean, older people that wanted to go to colleges, the big colleges. Not at the University of Washington, I've never heard of anyone having any discrimination there. But in Seattle, there were neighborhoods that we couldn't live in, so I did know that, there were restrictions, certain neighborhoods. And...

BF: Was it something your... I remember talking to other ethnic groups, and I think my parents, too, have said it's something you grew up knowing.

AS: Yeah, right. You grew up knowing.

BF: There are certain areas you didn't go to.

AS: Yeah. Couldn't afford to live in those neighborhoods anyway. [Laughs]

BF: So class as well as ethnicity.

AS: Yeah, so I was aware of that, I was aware that many people didn't like Jews, actually hated them. I was aware that -- well, I, the history of the pogroms and other things that had happened in Europe where the Jews were slaughtered. And, of course, it wasn't until later, the Holocaust years, by that time I was in high school, so I knew horrible things were happening there, as much as we could learn at that time. And, but I knew that discrimination -- oh, banks never had a Jewish person working in them, certain businesses did not hire Jews, and I heard that Penny's never hired Jews, and so we never shopped at Penny's. Got over -- I think, I know that that has changed, but except one of our, my older brother's friends was able to get a job at Penny's, but you couldn't tell from his name that he was Jewish and he didn't -- they say there's a "Jewish look," well, some people have it and some people don't. He did not have it, so he was able to work there. But there was discrimination in where they could work and jobs, but as far as education here, that seemed pretty open.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

BF: Now, what about discrimination, sort of the other way? Like I was thinking about how during this time period, segregation, at least in the rest of the country, was still full in force.

AS: Yeah.

BF: And I sort of wondered whether or not there were, there was actual segregation in Seattle during this time period.

AS: Yeah, there was, yeah.

BF: So how do you feel like, did the Jewish community have their own set of biases against other ethnic groups, against African Americans, Negroes at that time, or...

AS: Well, yeah. I know I would hear things. It was never like, "Oh, those horrible..." but it's, hear things about, especially the Negroes at that time, that were sort of negative. And I didn't understand why, I mean, I know we had one black family that was living across from where my grandparents' place was when I was still living there. I think I might have mentioned that, and this one day, the little girl that lived there who was about my age, we were playing together and then we went to her home and then her mother became very upset when she saw me. And she had a heavy accent, so I'm sure she was from the deep South, where she had experienced horrible discrimination, and I think she was worried that she'd get in trouble or whatever. I'm not sure, because as a young child, all I knew was, "I don't understand this," but it was very sad and I felt very sad about it. But...

BF: So what did the mother do?

AS: Well, she said, "She shouldn't be here."

BF: To you?

AS: She couldn't even look at me. Yeah, she just... so I left. Then we never played again. I thought that was pretty sad.

BF: Do you remember talking about that with your, your parents?

AS: No. You know, I never talked about those things. No, just kind of...

BF: But it obviously really stuck in your mind.

AS: Oh, yeah. Oh, I'll never forget it. I can still see the kitchen, I can still see her mother, and I mean, they were poor. We didn't have much in the way of furniture, but theirs was kind of rickety sort of stuff. So I knew that there was difference in how people lived, and some people have a lot less. So, yeah, it stuck in my mind. I've never forgotten that.

BF: So you, you obviously said you, you learned something about how people make do with less. What did it mean to you about different races or different...

AS: Yeah, how did...

BF: Did you also sort of come away with sort of a, something that stuck in you about that?

AS: Well, I know that we did have restrictions on where blacks, American, African Americans can live, could live, and I don't know if there were restrictions against Asians. There could have been, because I'm sure they wouldn't be, those areas that were restricted where we, Jews couldn't live, certainly would mean any ethnic group couldn't live there. And I don't... no, I, you know, I don't remember anything about Asians, 'cause I really didn't know -- except in high school, I know there was one girl, I cannot think of her name, who we apparently were pretty friendly, and who I admired a lot because she was a very good student, and I think that was one of the things that I saw with... I'm sure most of the Asian students were at Franklin, because there weren't that many at Garfield, at least when I was going. And, but they were never boisterous, loud or... and I admired them, because I was quiet. [Laughs] I didn't like boisterous people.

BF: But it sounds like, at least in your neighborhood, that the lines were drawn pretty strongly that there wasn't a lot of socializing among different groups.

AS: No, I think, yeah, that's true.

BF: And this one small attempt was cut short.

AS: Yes. Yes, right, right. Yeah, no, there wasn't. Pretty much the Jewish kids stuck with the Jewish kids, and, and so we didn't pay attention to what the others were doing. [Laughs]

BF: Right, right.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

BF: Now, were you, was your family fairly involved in the Jewish communities that were... I mean, in the Jewish community activities? Whether they're the synagogue activities or...

AS: Yeah, I would say that they were fairly involved. It wasn't a whole lot going on, but yeah, they did participate, they always belonged to a synagogue, and then we have a Jewish Federation here, I'm not sure of the age. I should know how old it is but I don't remember. And I, I know it was in existence when I was at least a young teenager, because I think both of my parents, or maybe it was just my father, would help to collect, go to Jewish business to help collect money, and the money was used then to help -- it must have been during my high school years -- help Jews locally. And that's when they started what is now called the Jewish Family Service, was actually, they're celebrating their hundredth anniversary. So there was something, of course, it was, usually it was volunteers. I mean, at that time, it was volunteers working there to help the Jews, the immigrants. And oh, let's see. Oh, yeah, so, and then money was also raised for Jews in other parts of the world that were having a very difficult time. So I know they, they were involved in that sort of thing, and, but they didn't have a lot of time, so it isn't like today, we have so many things going on. We have so many Jewish organizations, and so it was a lot less, but they were involved.

BF: 'Cause your father had his own, own business.

AS: Right.

BF: And he was running that, and your mother was taking care of the family, family.

AS: Right.

BF: And so, and then you at some point started working in your father's shop, right, also...

AS: Right. Yeah, when I was, I guess it was my first year in high school, freshman through senior, and my father was saying, I heard him complaining to my mother that, see, my older brother was supposed to help out in the store after school, and he says, "Oh, I can't count on Dave, he's just, he's never there. He's always visiting with the guys next door," that was the shoe repair shop, "and it makes it so hard." And I felt so sorry for him, and I thought, "Well, at thirteen, not roller skating or bicycle riding after school, and I found out I didn't have piano talent, and so I stopped my lessons and so I said, "Well, Dad, I'll come down." Well, of course, he didn't want to hear about that, and I said, "I can do it." I had already been helping, I'm sure I'd already started helping him with the bookkeeping, and so he finally consented, and so I started, yes, I'd go there after school every day and then all day Saturday. But I learned a lot; it was a good experience, and I got to really know my father, and that's what made it very, very precious, because he put in very long hours.

BF: He was always there.

AS: Yeah.

BF: And the shop was downtown?

AS: It was on First and Seneca, right next to... well, now it's a big building with stores. Yeah, it was down there.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

BF: Okay, Alice, let's go back, we were talking about your father's tailor shop, and you were saying that you, at thirteen, started working there.

AS: Right.

BF: Now, this shop was outside of the Jewish community neighborhood, so did you, in your time working there, kind of get more exposed to more diversity?

AS: Well, of course, I was exposed to diversity in school.

BF: Uh-huh.

AS: But actually, at that time, when my father's store was there, many of the stores were owned by Jewish men. I know there was a music store, Myers music store was up a little ways, my, my father had a younger brother then who came to Seattle, and he opened a men's shop on the other side of the street. And then across from us, there were a lot of pawn shops. Little businesses, and many were owned by Jewish people. But, but I never really got to know the people in the stores because I'd come from school and go right there, and then we'd go home at the end of the day. So I knew who they were, in such a way, but there were, yeah, most of the small businesses between I'd say Union, maybe down to Yesler Way were owned by Jewish people.

BF: This is a bit of an aside, and it may not be fair to ask you this, 'cause, but, you know, I'm always amazed at how entrepreneurial the immigrant population is...

AS: That's right, that's right.

BF: ...and I often hear people say, "Well, where do they get the -- not only the wherewithal -- but the money to start these little businesses?" And I know in the Japanese community, they did have kind of a informal system of pooling money. Was there anything like that in the Jewish community at all?

AS: Well, you know, I don't remember hearing that about the Jewish community, but I've heard it about other communities. And I'm sure my father had, must have had to borrow money from relatives, except who would have had any money? Yeah, or he saved up money. I guess when he was working as a tailor for others, maybe he must have... in order to start it, and it never occurred to me to think about that, or ask about that. He sold men's clothing, men's suits, men wore topcoats also at that time, so yeah, to even get the merchandise, that cost a lot, so I'm sure he started with very limited merchandise. But you're right, I don't... oh, wait. There is an organization, it's called the Hebrew Free Loan, Free Loan Association? And it was set up to help immigrants. They're still in, they still, the organization still exists and they're still doing this with charging no interest. Now, I don't ever remember my father saying that he borrowed money from them, but that would have been one source, and of course, they started in small ways with limited merchandise, and just kind of building it up. So, but yeah, that's a good point. Yeah, I know I've read about other ethnic groups, where they, families just pooled their money, and, which makes a lot of sense.

BF: Well, just the, the courage to be an entrepreneur, and you said your mother actually said, "Stop, why work for other people? Go and do your own."

AS: Yeah, yeah. "Work for yourself."

BF: That's gutsy.

AS: Oh, she was. [Laughs] But now that you also mention it, many of the ethnic groups go into business for themselves because they can't get jobs. That, or at least that would pay enough to make a decent living. Of course, he didn't, my father didn't make a decent living, but again, it was the Depression so, but there was enough so that my mother didn't have to scrimp on, on buying food.

BF: Do you remember feeling at all poor?

AS: No.

BF: Because you said you got your first real doll when you were six.

AS: That's right, yes.

BF: So it doesn't sound like you were extremely wealthy. [Laughs]

AS: No, we were not, no. We were... but you know, when you're young, you don't think in terms of that. I mean, what you see, that's the way it is. Until you get to other homes, I mean, if you should get to other homes. But, well, I know we didn't have much of anything. [Laughs] I, I think, I didn't think about that until I was in grade school, but I'm sure I was still in the lower grades, that some of, like, one of my closest friends lived in a home when we moved to Twenty-sixth Avenue, that they had a lot of things there. They had a lot of things, and so her father was doing extremely well, I don't remember what his business was, but he was doing very well, but it was his own business, and they even moved to a brick house in the Madrona district. So... and I'd see some others who had things and I'd think, "Those kids don't deserve that. I'm a better student than most of them." [Laughs] "They're not fair." But that's about as much as... I didn't dwell on it, but I know it sort of surprised me that, even that I was thinking that way. [Laughs]

BF: Little Socialist then.

AS: Yeah, that was the Socialist, and even as a child, it goes to show it must be natural with some people.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

BF: Now, let's talk a bit about your schooling. So you said you went to Horace Mann elementary, and then that was, that was 1 through 8?

AS: Yes, that was one, first grade through eighth grade, no kindergarten at that time.

BF: Okay, and then you went to...

AS: Garfield.

BF: Garfield, okay. So, and at both of these schools, you said that that, they were in, they were mixed. They, it was a melting pot of races.

AS: Yeah, they were.

BF: And --

AS: And I didn't experience any segregation -- I mean, or discrimination in the schools.

BF: That's good to know.

AS: Yeah.

BF: And did they, did they socialize at school?

AS: I think people still stayed with their group, but mainly with Jewish... well, I used to go home for lunch, so I don't know that I really ever spent much time, except in, if they were in the same classroom or passing in the hall, but really didn't do anything, because my, that, I was just two blocks from, our house was two blocks from Garfield, so I'd go home, eat lunch, come back, and it was time to go to class. A couple of times I remember being in the lunch room, and it, it was pretty much cliquish. You know, the Jews with the Jews and the African Americans with African Americans, and so on and so forth. So, yeah.

BF: Now, in high school, there's all of those clubs and dances and all those sorts of things.

AS: Did I ever go to the dances? I went to football games.

BF: Uh-huh.

AS: I can't remember whether I went to... seems as though I did, but I probably stood on the sideline. [Laughs] I did turn out for after-school sports. I was not a great athlete, I was not a good athlete, even. And, but you didn't have to be real good if you just wanted to, you know... so I guess we played soccer. I can't, that's the one that I remember the most, but I enjoyed that, but I didn't close to anybody, and it must have been, I suppose, once a week, but I'm pretty sure I still went down to the store after that. So yeah, so I really didn't have much of a social life. It was mainly those living in the neighborhood, although, yeah, I did meet some others, but it was generally Jewish. Yeah, I don't remember having... well, I had a few close friends, they were Jewish, yeah. And oh, there were Jewish girls' organization, and I probably met some -- I'm not even sure how I met, I'll have to ask this one friend who, I know we went through Garfield together, and we've kept in touch over the years. I don't know if she was in the same grade school or not. But there were a lot of things she remembered, loving, she loved coming to our house because she really loved my mother. My mother was, had a sense of humor, and really kind of enjoyed things. So yeah, so I'm not sure.

BF: Now you said your older brother, or younger brother?

AS: Yeah, I have -- well, which one?

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

<Begin Segment 14>

BF: Now, you were saying one of your brothers had some memories of having, their being more friendships sort of across the ethnic groups.

AS: Yes, okay. Yeah, so he went, when he came along, there was, the junior high school system had been started, and so, so he just did, I suppose, 1 through 6 at Horace Mann, and then, I suppose, seventh/eighth at Washington Middle School, which is not far from here, up the hill. And, and he said -- he had a lot of Japanese American friends there, and then when, in 1941, when... I'm not sure when the Japanese were suddenly pulled out. Was it, it probably was a few months after the war started, maybe?

BF: Yeah, yeah. There was a delay.

AS: So it would have been 1942, and he remembers when they had to leave. And he did have one close friend, and they corresponded with each other during the time he was gone, and then when he came back, he stayed in our home. Well, I must have been married then, because I have no recollection of it. Yeah, yeah, there are a few years' difference, and I married young. So, but then they lost track, he lost track of the friend. But my brother also said that he remembers that my father, when the evacuation order came, took my brother Sydney with him to a, I guess it was a men's clothing store, in the International District, and this is a Japanese American owner, and he was trying to sell everything that he could. And so Syd said that our dad looked to see if there was anything that he could use in the business, but Syd didn't think he bought anything, that there was anything he could use. So, so he had some really pretty direct experiences, which I wasn't aware of. And he was also indignant because he said it was crazy. The people from Germany were here, and some of them were actually pro-Nazis, and they weren't rounded up, they were allowed to, you know. So he has very strong feelings.

BF: You probably had much more going on because you were graduating from high school at that point.

AS: Right, yeah.

BF: Now, you had said --

AS: Oh, that's right. I graduated in '41, that's right. So...

BF: Yeah, right before.

AS: So I was, yeah, and then '42, I was married. June of '42, I was married. So...

BF: Lot on your plate.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

BF: Now, do you, you had said something about a high school senior party that you went to, and there was something rather disturbing about it. Do you remember what I'm talking about?

AS: Well, I think that might have been the graduation dance that they had after graduation.

BF: I think so, at a country club or something.

AS: Yeah, it was at a country club, and, and so I did have a date, Jewish boy. [Laughs] And we went there, we got there, and I look around, all the faces were white. And I knew we had African Americans who graduated, but there were Asian students who had graduated, just nobody. And that just, it shocked me, and then I wonder, "Well, who do you complain to? Who do you talk to about this?" But that, yeah, that was a real shocker. God, well, so there was, was discrimination when it came to a big event.

BF: So did you, did anyone else ask what was going on or why no one else attended or why they weren't invited?

AS: Well, no, I didn't hear it from anyone else.

BF: But you noticed it.

AS: Oh, definitely. I remember being, looking around and thinking, "This isn't right."

BF: Do you think it was because it was at a private club and maybe they had...

AS: Well, if it was, if that was the situation, which it could have been because private clubs were, did discriminate, then the school should have had it, or whoever the powers are that do these, arrange these big parties, should have had it someplace where everybody is allowed to go.

BF: Absolutely.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

BF: Now, we ask this question usually of all of our interview, interview subjects, we ask, on the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, and so you're a senior getting ready to graduate, do you remember hearing it? Do you remember...

AS: Well, you know, the funny thing is... wait, I'll stop and think. Okay, I was going to the University of Washington at that time, that first semester -- first quarter, I was going -- because what I recall... yeah. Okay, what I recall is -- and I would catch the, 'cause we didn't have bus connections, I think we only had streetcars. But anyway, then I'd walk from my house on Twenty-sixth to Twenty-third and East Madison, where I could catch the bus to go to the university. And I had heard that morning about the order of the, that the President had, what he said about the Japanese Americans have to be interned, and I was just, I just couldn't believe it. I just couldn't believe it. And somehow or other, I don't know if I talked to somebody, another student who might have been waiting there, because I sort of think I did, and there was an African American student who also went to the university, and I would, we would talk. And, and I'm sure I must have expressed it to her, these concerns.

BF: So hearing about the evacuation orders.

AS: Yeah.

BF: What about the bombing of Pearl Harbor? 'Cause that, for...

AS: Well, that was, yeah, it was shocking.

BF: Yeah, so do you remember the moment you heard about that event?

AS: Yeah. Well, should have, but I'm not sure where I was. But I know it was just sheer shock that somebody would bomb the United States. It just seemed terrible. Of course, at that time, Japan was a very aggressive power in the world, and as far as our country was concerned, we're thought very highly of because of the aggression of the powers who were, decided that I've got to... so it was... there was a feeling of anger, but it was at the country that was doing this, not at individual people, because we know the individual soldiers have to do what they do because they don't have a choice. So, but yes, I was just really just shocked, because we always felt so safe in the United States. Atlantic Ocean on one side, Pacific on the other, yeah, we're safe here. And so that really was a terrible shock.

BF: Was there, was there fear, too, like a sense of more, being more vulnerable?

AS: Well, I think there was a certain amount, but, although I don't remember that bothered me -- I mean, that I considered that we were really vulnerable, although there were, I know things... I don't know what they were called, things that floated into Pacific side came ashore, that would have been from like, maybe a submarine or something, like a Japanese submarine. So there were some evidence that the Japanese were probably close to some of the borders, and I can't remember, something else was found. But I never felt... I guess I still didn't feel fear, and they didn't do like was done with our Patriot, home patriot, Patriot Act. Those alerts, which I think were so ridiculous, because I never knew, "What am I supposed to do now? I hope somebody knows what to do, but I sure don't know what to do." It was so ridiculous. I, so I didn't have... don't remember. I guess, "Who would want me?" [Laughs] Anyway...

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

<Begin Segment 17>

BF: So now back to the period following the bombing, there's a bit of a, a few months go by, and then the evacuation orders.

AS: Right.

BF: You talked about that. Now, do you remember there, do you remember witnessing anything directly or indirectly on the, during that period where people were being removed...

AS: Yeah, being evacuated?

BF: you notice a change?

AS: Well, the, I do remember this one Japanese American store that was in our, on Cherry Street was suddenly gone, or closed up. There was a Japanese restaurant across the street from my father's store on First Avenue, and I remember it because of the music that kind of blared out, and it was the same song over and over again. It was a Japanese, I suspect a popular song. And all of a sudden, it was quiet. And then I realized, well, they, they had to leave. And my brother Sydney had, has a lot more memories about seeing people being evacuated than I did.

BF: Was it something ever talked about in the Jewish community? Do you remember your parents, or was it sort of in church, sort of mentioning, "Oh... it's happening."

AS: You know, I really don't remember, because... okay, I was married in June. Was it, I can't remember how many months it was.

BF: Well, it sort of happened at different times...

AS: Different times?

BF: ...sort of depending upon what area...

AS: Oh, is that right?

BF: were in. Bainbridge Island went first, I'm not sure what timeframe would be the neighborhood sort of closest to that area.

AS: Yeah.

BF: But there was a, there was a period of delay after the bombing when people were given options of moving inland, and then they decided, "Nope, nope, nope, that's..."

AS: That option is gone.

BF: But you, but you were probably pretty occupied at the university.

AS: Well, I was, yeah, yeah. And so I really, except for what I observed close to me, I wasn't aware of others, but I knew they were, had to leave, and, of course, there were pictures and stories in the newspapers, so I knew what was --

BF: Now, do you, do you remember how you felt when you heard? You said that you felt that it...

AS: It was wrong. I was angry. I was angry at the government, the president, and I was just very angry because it was so wrong. I just couldn't... I mean, it was, for a democracy, this was just unbelievable. So, yeah, I thought it was just horrible.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

BF: And this is sort of breaking out of the chronological order we're going, but we're living at a time now where our country is again sort of...

AS: Yeah.

BF: ...I don't know if you'd call it at war, but...

AS: Government calls it "at war."

BF: Yeah. And there's all this heightened scrutiny now.

AS: Right.

BF: And sort of a different sort of... but in some ways, a lot of parallels between the treatment of people who look a certain way, look Middle Eastern. And I just wondered, as someone who's part of the Jewish community, and there's a long history of animosity between these groups and conflict, how, how do you feel about sort of some of the steps the country is taking currently in their battle against terrorism?

AS: Well, I certainly was very concerned about the profiling they were doing, and Middle Eastern men in particular, and some families... and actually, even here locally, I, now I can't remember, they seemed to have gone after people who, who had immigrated to this country and started, apparently, checking and visas and whatnot, whether they're here legally, or did they overstay. And what, the way they cracked down on some of those families in ways that I thought were really... it was not right. I mean, there's, if their family hadn't done any, there was no evidence that families connected with anything that's going on with the terrorists. This is just totally wrong.

So I was very sympathetic towards the, the Muslims here... and well, all over the country, but here locally, and when people were attacking some of the mosques, and really causing a lot of fear, I did volunteer to go to the -- well, I called, the Council of Churches was organizing people to go to mosques and other places where they might be needed, and so I called to volunteer and so they referred me to the Islamic school. And, and so I went there, would go there at a certain time, I can't remember, it was in the afternoon, and stay until the kids went, left school. And so the doors were locked, and so I would let people in. But I remember keeping my little cell phone close by, so if I, if there was anything that looked awry, I would be able to call 911 to come. But nothing ever happened, and so after... I don't know if I did it two weeks or so, they said, "It's okay. We appreciate what you've done, but it's not necessary." So things sort of settled down, but I've read enough in the newspapers that it's not done yet. It's still anyone who, I think, looks like they're Middle Eastern is subject to more scrutiny.

BF: And when, so when you volunteered to stand sentry at this, at this mosque --

AS: Oh, it was a school.

BF: It was, Islamic school?

AS: They did the prayers, but yeah, it was an Islamic school, not a mosque.

BF: Did any of, did anyone say, "Why are you doing this?"

AS: No. The parents would say, "Oh, thank you so much." They were very nice, very appreciative.

BF: What about in the Jewish community?

AS: Oh, I don't even know if I told anyone.

BF: Anyone knew?

AS: I would have. I mean, and I think people know that I'm very open, and very conscious about human rights and civil rights, and social issues and social injustices, and so I think, in fact, one person said to me, "You're even more, I guess socially, more concerned about social injustice, more active than your husband," who is quite active in all kinds of things. And that's not true, but I am more active. But certainly, the intensity of my concerns are, are very great.

BF: It does seem like you've, you've had a lifetime of being very, what would you call it? Politically conscious, socially conscious.

AS: Yeah.

BF: And I wonder if you've thought about where that came from, where that comes from.

AS: Well, I know that the Jewish religion does speak a lot about helping people who, you know, are more vulnerable, who are less fortunate, or that, you know, that there should be justice. And so I feel part of it came from that, and I felt it with my father, that he was, he had, also had a very strong sense of, of what is just and what isn't, and so I think, I don't know if there are genes for this or not. [Laughs]

BF: Right.

AS: But, but yeah, I notice things that, at a young age, that... and it stuck with me. I just felt it was terrible. I think I mentioned that before, that I, when they had the open housing, I don't know if it was initiative? Referendum? But I guess initiative, that I, that period of time, I volunteered to serve, I thought it was a committee, but there was only one person heading this. And so I would work with her and did it just as a job. And so I was so relieved when the, it finally passed. But you asked about, not everybody thought that was a good thing.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

BF: Now, open, tell, describe a little bit about the open, why there was a need to have an open housing initiative.

AS: Okay, because, yeah. The Jews had begun to move out already, and there were just certain areas they couldn't move to. But that was not true of African Americans, and it was not true of Asian people. They were still pretty much in certain neighborhoods. And so it, we're living in a democracy, and we pride ourselves on this being a democracy, but then when we do things like that that are so not democratic. That's just, there's no reason for that.

BF: I think this was in the mid-'60s, early '60s?

AS: It was early '60s, yeah.

BF: And they were trying to make that actually illegal to discriminate on the basis.

AS: Right, absolutely.

BF: So how did you get involved in this, you just volunteered?

AS: Oh, well... oh, I know. I had this experience with the Seattle Schools, where really had some bad experiences. I had my contract the first year, before I even graduated from the University of Washington, and they didn't tell me until the day before school was to start -- in fact, they didn't, I kept calling and they said, "Don't call anymore, we'll call you." And I had read in the paper that teachers were reporting to their schools the next day, so I called the office and I said, "I know you've told me not to call, but I do have a contract, I have not been assigned to a school, and I don't think the school district is gonna like paying me if I'm sitting home." So, so then she gave me an assignment -- I mean, a choice between two schools, so I took the one that was closer to where we lived. It wasn't that close, but it was closer. And, which was Hamilton Middle School, where I now tutor. And I felt I had a great experience. Now, this was the second year teaching. The first year it was at Monroe Junior High, where I taught. Then at, towards the end of the year, they said, "Well, our school enrollment is going down, so you will not be with us next year." So then, that's when I kept calling, "Where am I going to go?" And so they told me between those two schools, and I took the one at Hamilton, and I just assumed that was my assignment, that I'd be able to stay there. And in December of that first semester, teachers were saying, "Oh, it's been so wonderful having you here, you did such a great job with the math class," and then I heard a few times, I began to wonder, "I better go ask in the office what's going on." And I found out, "Oh, didn't they tell you? You were taking the place of one of the teachers who was on a sabbatical, and he's coming back for the second term, and so you'll have to contact the district and see where they want to send you." And I remember I developed quite a cough from the chalk, and chalk, I just couldn't get rid of it. And I thought, "I'm not going to go to another school." And I also had planned to do my fifth year, which teachers are supposed to do when they're new, they do a fifth, so I said, "I'll start, I'll get that started."

And so I had some time, and I... yeah, so I had some time, and I saw that they, the program, the open housing group could use volunteers, and so I called the volunteer -- I didn't realize I was the only one. I'm sure there must have been, but others, that there were others, but in this one office, it was a woman who was in charge of the program. And so, so I did, I was there for a few months.

BF: What kind of work did you do when you were there?

AS: Well, it was mainly office work. I can't remember if I did telephoning, I know I wrote at least one letter for her, and... I didn't give any speeches or anything like that, but, but helping out in the background.

BF: Yeah, I, I tried to do a little bit of research on it, and it sounds like the first effort failed quite, quite soundly.

AS: That's right. Yeah.

BF: By two-to-one, it was voted down, and then it was four more years until it finally did pass in '68.

AS: The second time.

BF: It's amazing.

AS: So maybe the first time there, didn't then, because that was about...

BF: Was it, it was the first vote in '64.

AS: Sixty-three or '64.

BF: Yeah, so that was the first one.

AS: That was the first one.

BF: Defeat, it was defeated.

AS: Yeah, I wasn't sure. Okay.

BF: It did pass --

AS: Yeah, I know, but four years.

BF: -- but it took a bit longer.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

BF: Well, I wanted to go back a bit to wartime, and I, because I realize during our pre-interview, we didn't talk about when you heard, when news started coming out about the Holocaust, and I wanted to know what that was like, hearing about what was going on.

AS: Well, I heard, I'm quite sure I was younger than thirteen, because it seems as though I can remember the house where we lived when I began to learn that something was going on in Germany that wasn't good for the... attacking Jews, and so in that time I was reading the newspaper, and so very concerned, and I guess, so I must have been maybe... so I was... let's think of age. Sometimes I get so confused. I was eleven, that would have been about... I would have been thirty -- I mean, it would have been 1935. I think there were stirrings already, but it became worse, especially after Kristallnacht, which was in 1938. So I guess especially after that time, there was more and more, so, but I know we had no idea things were as bad as they were, that there were these huge concentration camps where they were just killing many of the people. Six million. And yeah, so...

BF: So really, it wasn't 'til maybe even after the war ended.

AS: No, before the war ended.

BF: Before the war ended, you started getting the fuller picture.

AS: Getting a clearer picture, better picture. But you're right, it was after the war, after the camps were, our soldiers went there and released the people.

BF: What does that feel like? To feel so targeted?

AS: You realize how vulnerable we are, just because we're Jewish. And, of course, it also, they eliminated, I guess, the gypsies, and anyone who's homosexual, anybody who opposed the government, but for a whole people to be -- actually, in Lithuania, where my father was from, almost all the Jews were killed. That's right, there was a Japanese... I can see his name, but anyway, he was a diplomat from the Japanese, from Japan, and he issued... not permits, I don't know what it was called, but it authorized Jews to leave the country, to flee. So many Jews did, probably... well, anyway, some, I don't know how many, but there were quite a few that were able to get away -- of course, you also had to have the money then to get out -- and were saved. He, and then the Japanese -- well, probably got pressure from Germany or other governments, that he cannot do this. You cannot let your diplomat, ambassador, or whatever his title was, do that. And I read that he continued to do that, and I think his wife was helping him. Continued this until they made him, and they actually took him away. So that was an amazing story that most, I'm sure most people don't even know about.

BF: Yeah, I haven't, I hadn't heard that.

AS: Yeah, they've had an exhibit at the Asian museum.

BF: Oh, at Wing Luke?

AS: It was a few years ago. But, yeah.

BF: Yeah, slowly the stories of the people who were objectors, who stood up, are starting to finally come out, and that's encouraging, isn't it?

AS: Yeah. It is, it's very encouraging. And he has a daughter, there were -- at least one book has been written about his work, and he had a daughter that was here when they had the exhibit at the museum, and Jay spoke, and it was very interesting.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

BF: So, we, we sort of interrupted the chronology, when you were going to university, and I know that that timeframe, a lot of things happened.

AS: Yes.

BF: You start school, but your schooling is interrupted. Maybe you could sort of...

AS: Well, yeah. Well, I went one quarter, and I was discouraged because I was hoping that I wouldn't have to work in my father's store, and I'm at the university, that I could just be a student. And I thought my younger brother should take over, start working at the store. And oh, he wasn't, he was not dependable, let me say. [Laughs] He had other ideas, so I continued to work and go to the university, and then my -- and I was now engaged, and the man who was my husband and my fiance, boyfriend, fiance, would come over to our house every night after work. And it made it difficult to do homework, and so it, it just seemed like there was... and then with the war going on, and it just didn't make sense. So I decided I wouldn't return to the university, I would just work full-time, because he didn't really have money, and pay wasn't that good. He was an electrical engineer, but the pay was very, wasn't, just, I couldn't believe it.

BF: So after you got married, you, you were married at this point, and then you stopped at university?

AS: No, before, before we got married, because I did the first quarter and then the -- and then I said, "Well, I won't... that's it for now, and I'll just work and try to save money," and also still help my father at the store. And so we were married in June of '42, so anyway, so that... but then I resumed my education. [Laughs] What year was it?

BF: Well, and I understand that... now, I guess you married, you were, what, seventeen, eighteen?

AS: I was eighteen, yeah.

BF: It sort of seems -- I mean, I don't know you that well -- but it seems a bit out of character for you to marry so young.

AS: You're right, you're right.

BF: Were you swept off your feet? What happened? [Laughs]

AS: I guess so. [Laughs] You know, I didn't even really have boyfriends. There was one boy that really thought I was the greatest, but -- and when he was, when we were both about twelve, I thought he was so cute. And, but then as I got older, I thought, "Oh, he's, he's a kid." [Laughs] And, and so then, so I guess he did, he did sweep me off my feet. He just, he met me at this beach party at Alki, and it was kind of accidental because he went to, he saw some friends, relatives from Denver, and they said, "Why don't you come to the beach party?" And I was at Madrona beach that day in the morning, and it was Fourth of July, or, yeah, I guess it was the Fourth. Anyway, I was at Madrona beach, and in that time, we didn't have the Canadian geese and the park was really, the beach was wonderful, and it was a popular place for Jews as well as non-Jews. And I met a young man, much older than I was, and so he got interested in me and so he says, "You know, I'm going to a beach party tonight. Would you like to go?" you know, "Why don't you come with me?" And I said, "Oh, that sounds like fun." So he took me to the beach party, and Art was there, and it was actually a lot of people there. And, and Art just zoomed in on me, and I don't even know if I spoke to the guy that I went with. [Laughs] I guess he took me home; I don't remember, I'm sure I would have gotten home with... but that was the last time we saw each other, that other guy, but that's okay. [Laughs]

BF: Because wasn't... education was something that was important to you?

AS: Yes, very important, right, yeah. Yes, you know, I don't know whether it was the hormones setting in later than in most girls, because most girls would have crushes and they'd have their boyfriends, and, and all of a sudden -- [laughs] -- something's happening.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

BF: So you leave school, you get married, and you're working in your father's shop, you're helping him out.

AS: Yeah, as well as, yeah, and I had another job, I worked at Frederick & Nelson for quite a while, as well as at my father's. And so, and then our first child was born, let's see, in '46, October of '46, so about four-and-a-half years after our marriage. And then the second child came nineteen months later, and I realized that I was not happy. I loved the children and that they were great, but meantime, my husband had gone into business for himself, and so he expected me to help out, and he had a partner, so they couldn't, Art said according to the accountant, they couldn't pay me, which didn't make sense. Anyway, but I was quite annoyed because he hadn't told me he was planning to do this. [Laughs] So... but I did work there. I did work there, and, and then... oh, and then I, I just became, I became pretty depressed at the situation, because I didn't really like what I was doing, the work I was doing, and I didn't think I was being recognized for the work I was doing. [Laughs] So I told my husband, I says, "Now, if you want me to continue working for you" -- by this time, he had bought out his partner, so he was, I said, "Now, if you want me to continue working for you, I want to be vice-president or somebody who has a say in how the business is run. I'm not gonna be a support person. I'm gonna, I want decision-making. I'll do the work I'm doing, but I want to have a say in decisions. And if you don't want that, if you can't accept that, then I'm going to the University of Washington." So he didn't say anything, so, by this time -- I waited until our daughter was six years old, and so she, it would give me a little block of time to go to the university, and then come back in time for the kids. And so it was seven years later I had my -- because I was going part-time, so I... and so I had my bachelor's degree, and so then, and I do the work for a teaching certificate, I really didn't want to be a teacher, but I thought, "Well, gosh, I'm gonna graduate, I might as well do something where I can get a job and get the same hours as our kids have." And so that's how I got into education.

And, and then after... well, then I had this -- I applied for a program that the federal government was... in the War on Poverty, where they were looking for people who could work with young people from sixteen, between sixteen and twenty-one, from different ethnic groups, especially African Americans, others who've been very poor or who had a juvenile or criminal record, and, to work as counselors, and it would be part of the State Employment Service. And so I applied for that and I was accepted. And so that's how I got into the counseling. They had a special program... well, they did this all through the country, but locally, the University of Washington, they had the program, and it was a summer program, very intense, and so then I was, had a job with the, what they called the Youth Opportunity Center. And, and then the federal government said, "Well, all people working as counselors in this program need to have master's degrees." So the government paid for it, and so I was able to go and be a full-time student and get a master's degree in counseling. So that was very nice, and, but I knew... things were changing so rapidly, they had already discontinued the Youth Opportunity Center. It was still, we were still providing counseling, though, for anyone who was disadvantaged background. I mean, same kinds of conditions, but it was not limited to twenty-one. It was all ages. But then they keep, kept cutting back, and I felt they weren't really serious about this War on Poverty. I really wish somebody would do a history on it, because the only program that was good was Head Start, and that's the only thing that still continues, but it should be expanded.

But anyway, so I thought, "Now that I have a master's in counseling, I want to get a job in either a community college or a high school." And, but I had to put in two years. For every year the government paid for my education, I had to put in two years. And so I had completed my master's degree in one year, had gotten some credits from that summer program, and I was carrying eighteen to twenty hours a quarter. [Laughs] Anyway, I survived it. But yeah, so then that's how I...

BF: Became a counselor.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

BF: Well, going back to some of those, those, the government program you were a part of, what types of solutions were they trying to put forth for these disadvantaged youth?

AS: Okay. What they wanted to do was help youth get trained, there were some training programs, not a great deal. Not a great number of choices. Or get them back in school, or those who weren't, that's not the answer for them for whatever reason, then to help them get jobs. And so, so I, lot of, worked with a lot of dropouts, some with juvenile records, and so it really was, it was quite a bit of counseling involved, just to get them to the point where they could realize what options were open to them, what might help, what might change their lives. And I really felt it was a very, very good experience.

BF: It sounds daunting.

AS: Well, it was, yeah, it was. Had some very interesting cases, unbelievable.

BF: Did you find -- I mean, I'm trying to think, you, this was really kind of almost a sort of a first job in a way. I mean --

AS: Well, first job that I really felt that I was doing something that...

BF: You're still very young.

AS: Oh, no, by this time I'm older because there was this gap before I went to school and when I started the job. So we, this is now about '65? '64? Somewheres around there, yeah.

BF: So what do you think you learned, or what was most challenging about those years in that, in that program?

AS: Well, the problems that these kids came with were just incredible, and some of the backgrounds they came from, I mean, it was just unbelievable in some cases, in too many cases. So how to really help them so that they have a positive outlook and will stake steps towards doing something that they would feel good about, or at least reasonably, feel reasonably good. And then I always emphasized that wherever you start, that's just a start. If you do a good job, you're responsible, reliable rather, then it's so much easier to get the next job which will be a better job. And, of course, I always emphasized education, and I know in one case, I had a young girl who was pregnant, and she didn't want to tell her parents, and so she didn't know what to do, she was just... and so I said, I asked her -- and she was still in high school, she was, I think, going to either Rainier Beach or Franklin, I don't remember. And so I said, "Well, have you spoken to your counselor at the high school?" And she said, "No." "And you say you can't talk to your parents?" I said -- and then, of course, I checked, "Is there somebody you could talk to?" And I found that there was aunt that she would be able to talk to. I said, "I think you should talk to your aunt about this." And I told her what I would do, I was going to call her high school counselor and find out what could be worked out for this girl. And he did, I found out about teenage program, teenage pregnancy program that they had, and I think things worked out. So in her case, it was not a, it was more important for her to deal -- and so sometimes the problems that they came with had nothing to do with getting a job, or there were other factors that were really troubling, and so I would deal with those problems. So it was really unbelievable, some of the situations that came up. Most of the time it was dealing with jobs or training or schooling.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

BF: Let's go back to, you mentioned that you decided to go back to the university, and it sounded like there were, your plate was very full at that time --

AS: Yes, it was.

BF: -- and yet you still really needed to do this. And I wanted to know where you found the courage to make that decision, or what, what really was prompting that?

AS: Okay, well, it was something that I had wanted to do -- I truly regretted that I had dropped the education. All the reasons were understandable, but I should have kept going. But anyhow -- and I was feeling, because so many of my friends had college educations, and the people that we associated with had college educations, and I don't think they realized that I didn't have a college education. But I felt, "Well, I should." It's something I had always wanted to do. I remember as a small child, one of my favorite cousins -- who's now ninety-six years old, or ninety-seven -- was a social worker, got her degree at the University of Washington. I just thought she was the nicest, nicest person. Although when I first got to know this cousin, I'm sure I was -- she may not have been in college at that time, but I knew that she did go to the university. Well, there were, yeah, sixteen years' difference, she would have been. And so, but it was hard to, after two kids and my mother's health wasn't great and so I was helping her and I was helping my husband, and my grandparents, my grandmother, especially, was not doing too well, and so there was just... it was hard. And, well, actually, I did become very depressed, and I was fortunate enough to be referred to a psychiatrist. Actually, it was a clinic, and it's gone now, but started by a psychiatrist from Menninger Hospital, and it was called Pinel, and people from way back, that would have been... see, Marilyn was six, she was born in... it would be about 1954, and it was, you pay what you could afford. I mean, it was a situation that was just incredible, and I had this wonderful psychiatrist. And it was through, working through issues that... and the psychiatrist said, "Well, what's stopping you from going to the university?" And I thought, "God, I never thought of that." [Laughs] I mean, it always just seemed like a huge obstacle. It was just too much... you know. And so I thought, "Okay, as soon as Marilyn is in the first grade, I'm gonna go."

BF: And did you get much support once you made the decision?

AS: No. [Laughs]

BF: No. [Laughs]

AS: So I did it on my own, and I loved it. Oh, just loved it.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

BF: How did you manage... I mean, I have a six-year-old right now, only one. But I don't, how would, how did you manage the studying, the housework, the child...

AS: Yeah, I did all of those things. Well, as soon as I'd get home -- I mean, I'd just... I would start dinner, go to the books. [Laughs] I remember one time I was going to make baked potatoes, and I remember cleaning the potatoes and getting them ready to put in the oven. Then I went back to the books, and I thought, "I don't remember a light being on in our oven." And so I went and looked, and they were not in the oven, they, put 'em in the refrigerator. So you can see that trying to do a lot of things, it's... but anyway, that didn't happen that often. But I worked all the time, and then at night after the kids went to bed, I would just... so it was a lot of work. [Laughs]

BF: Were, during that timeframe, were very many women getting their degrees?

AS: Not at that time. I know one of our friends was inspired by my being at the university, and so she started going. She had, I think she had already had two years -- this is at another university, but anyway, and so that inspired her to go. I, I think I met two other women that were, had families, and that were in school, but that was it. And then later, I guess, they've done these special programs for women, that came all later. But that didn't bother me. I mean, I don't have to association with them. I mean, they're fine, but they're young people, so... and I remember one, I guess it was an English class that I took. And the instructor was probably, maybe in his early thirties, and he kept on looking at me as if, "What are you doing here?" [Laughs] He seemed just shocked. And, but otherwise, I mean, there were, in smaller classes, the instructor or professor would talk to me, and realize I'm an adult. Well, I mean, they're adults, too, but I'm an older adult. [Laughs] But it was, it was fine. I mean, go to school, go back home, start the routine. And I did very well, also. It was just great.

But the thing that was so shocking to me was that I didn't know how I was gonna do, because it had been years. I remember I took one class, I had to take a class in statistics, because I was majoring in sociology, and then I added the, getting the teaching certificate. And, and again, I don't know whether he was an instructor or a professor, but anyway, he said, "Any, if it's been more than four years since you've had a math class or an algebra class, you might as well drop out. You're not going to be able to make it." Well, it had been, like, thirteen years for me, and I hadn't needed that for, to stay with my major, and I wanted it. [Laughs] So I came home and said to my husband, "You know, you're going to have to help me with algebra because for statistics, I need it." And he, he was not sympathetic. He said, "Well, I have my college algebra book, it's down there on the bottom shelf. Go ahead."

BF: "Teach yourself."

AS: Yeah. So I did, and it didn't take that -- I didn't have to review that much to understand the equations. It didn't take that long. And I got an "A" in statistics, and it was a small class, there were other students, I remember one other student was just having a terrible time. She begged me to tutor her. Well, I didn't have time to tutor. [Laughs] I'm sorry. Further, I didn't have the confidence in myself, because just so happened I was doing it right. But I didn't know whether I was doing it right until I found out. So that, that was kind of interesting. Yeah, so it was, yeah. I can honestly say I would have never done it if I didn't have somebody to reinforce, to make me think, to really open up my mind, so, "If you want to do something, you can do it." Seems, something so simple, but there were a lot, there was a lot of junk I had to work through.

BF: It doesn't seem simple to me at all. Very courageous. Do you, do you remember feeling -- I mean, as a woman, do you remember feeling sort of as, like a pioneer, or sort of being aware that women sort of, there was different expectations put on them?

AS: Oh, yeah. I was aware that... tell you another little story, really made me very angry. But I was at a, I think I was, my husband has always been very active in the University Rotary Club, and we went to some Rotary function, husbands and wives were there, at that time it was only men who belonged. And so I don't know how it came up, but... I'm not sure how it came up. But anyway, this man I was talking to asked what I... or, it came out that I was going to the university. And he says, "Oh, that's so wonderful. You're so lucky your husband encouraged you to do that." And I didn't tell him my husband did not encourage me to do that. [Laughs] But there was that expectation. The woman doesn't have enough sense to know to go to the university on her own; the men have to tell you.

BF: When did your husband come around to...

AS: How long did it take? [Laughs] I think after I... probably after I started working full-time and bringing in a paycheck. And, because he would say, "Oh, you're spending so much on, going to the university." And really, of course, tuition wasn't that large when I went. But still, we didn't have that much money, so... but I says, "Well, it's going to pay off. This is an investment."

BF: Good for you.

AS: And then worked for many years. And yeah, so then it was more, I think there was more respect when I went, started working in the high school. And I was working with my clientele, he didn't think that was so great, I don't know.

BF: Now, didn't he see the ad for that first program and say --

AS: Yeah, he was, he did. It was a newspaper article, and he saw it and read it and he says, "I think this is something you'd be interested in." So yes, thank you for reminding me, because I didn't see the article in the newspaper.

BF: But he knew that that was...

AS: Yeah, so he knew.

BF: ...that was in your heart.

AS: Yeah, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 26>

BF: So you went, after you -- I'm going to jump, sort of, way ahead. Now, you retired from counseling in the schools in '88.

AS: That's correct.

BF: And I understand your daughter around that time was having her first child?

AS: Yes, that's right, yeah.

BF: And you went to help?

AS: Right. She was living, she and her husband were living in Montreal. She had just completed her work on a doctorate in psychology, and so I went there, thought it would be two weeks before the baby was going to be born, but she wasn't born until about a month later. [Laughs] Anyway, so yes, so I went there. I was gone a month, and I really enjoyed it because got all, got around Montreal using their public transportation, which is very good, and oh, then they didn't have a car when I went there, but then they got one because one of their friends, one of her husband's friends, begging, trying to sell an old car she had. And so begged them, "You can have it for two hundred dollars," or some low price, and so I did drive that, and I remember our, my husband's -- my husband's, my son-in-law's stepmother saying, when I, after Marilyn had the baby, she asked, "Well, how are you going to take her home?" And I said, "Oh, I'm going to just drive." She said, "That car? Oh," she says, "that's too dangerous. You should take a taxi." I says, "Well, if I have any problems, I can always call a taxi." We made it back, this little old car.

BF: That gets me to thinking about your relationship with your children. You had two children, Marilyn and then...

AS: Seth.

BF: And Seth. And what do they do now?

AS: What do they do? Marilyn is, does work as a psychologist, and she works at Vancouver General Hospital in a, I guess a psychiatric unit, and our son is... I can never understand, because it's computers. But I have to tell you, I have to back up and tell you something interesting about our son, because both my kids were very independent. Anyway, he, after he graduated from high school, he was an honors student, went to a... Wesleyan college in... is it Massachusetts? I can't remember. Anyway, but he dropped out. Of course, this was during the crazy '60s, and he did all kinds of things. And then he came back to Seattle, and then... oh, and then he worked, he learned to do photography by working along with a photographer in New York City, and so he got a job as an assistant photographer for Seattle Magazine, I can't remember the first... and then that magazine folded. But anyway, Seth did marry a very lovely young woman, and he, they -- well, he first, moved to Skagit Valley, and... let's see. And then he built a house, and very, was just really lovely. Did everything except electrical and maybe one other thing, I can't remember. And it was really very lovely, and he liked carpentry, and so he got jobs as a carpenter. Well, then we hit that slump period, been about '73? I think it's when we had the signs when Boeing was, had laid off so many people, last one out of Seattle, turn the lights off. Anyway, so they were affected up there also, and he says, he actually called me and said, "Mom, what do you think I should be doing?" He goes, "I can't make a living with this," and at this time he had a little boy, who was, let's see... Justin must have been about two or three. Anyway, maybe three years old. But he was a little one. And he says, "I've got to do something."

So this would have been in the early '70s, and so I said -- he was a top math student, and he was good in everything. He was in the honors everything. I says, "Well, you probably, you might enjoy getting into this computer field." And how much I know about it, but it was a start. I know it was start, it was seen as a kind of a big thing. And he, my son was not a people's person, so I thought this would be kind of good for him. And he thought that was a good idea, and so he said, "Where, well, I'm willing to come down to Seattle to get the training." I said, "Well, there must be something up, up there," and I said, "Why don't you check out" -- or maybe I checked it out myself, I think I did Skagit Valley College, Community College, and they just had a, it was too basic. Didn't do enough. Well, now, I don't know, on his own, he went up to Western Washington University and talked to whoever was in charge of the computer science program, told him what he wanted to do and how his time was limited because if a job comes up, he has to take the job, therefore he can't do classes. So the professor linked him with one of the graduate students who -- and so they met up by appointment. And I think after the first year, the professor now said, "Oh, listen, if you'll correct my papers, I'll continue the teaching." I guess the young woman had graduated. And so he did, that worked out, but oh, he finished the program. He had taken, he finished his one quarter or semester on the East Coast, and then he would take classes from time to time at the University of Washington, so he had some credits. But he wasn't concerned about getting a degree, but just learning enough about computers so he could get a job. And so then the professor referred him to a job opening, I guess somebody called the professor, and so Seth started working. That was in Bellingham, so the family then left their beautiful little house that my son bought, built, and they moved to Bellingham.

And then from that job he went to a better job in Bellingham and so then they bought a new house. [Laughs] And then their son, who by this time was in, I think the seventh grade, and he was very bright. In fact, I guess somebody at the school, maybe the school psychologist, suggested that he apply for early entrance to, early admissions, whatever they call it, to the University of Washington. And so he did, and he was accepted. And so then they found out, we thought Justin would live with us and we'd get him to school. And the parents have to live in the same city as, and, otherwise they won't take the young person. So they moved down, bought another house, and Justin started, and it was pretty exciting, and then before the quarter was over he knew this really wasn't what he wanted to do. He wanted to have more sort of a social life that goes along with being a student, and I don't know that he referred to his classmates in this program as "nerds," but they were quieter and they were... and he just didn't really feel that close to them. [Laughs] So, but he was gonna stay in until something else got worked out, so he did. He actually finished that year there. But in spring quarter, I guess it was spring quarter that he really decided that he just didn't find this that satisfying, and so, but he wanted to go into a private school, either Lakeside or University Prep, and, but he was the only child, and family's all willing to help. So he called Lakeside, that was his first choice, and they said, "We're all full for next year." And then they said, "Well, why don't you take the test?" I think they had to take a SAT test, and they needed two recommendations, oh, he had to write an essay, anyway, it was just like going to college. And so he had only a week. He said, "You have a week, and then you have to have it in by this such-and-such date, otherwise we can't consider you." He did everything, he did everything that they asked for, and they accepted him. So... I'm wondering, how did I get on this? [Laughs] Did I go off-track? I probably did, I think you asked me about my son, so what is my son doing? That's it. Okay, so let's get back to the computers with, with Seth.

BF: Well, I think it's interesting, though, because it sounds like there's a lot of similarities in personality between your children, your grandchildren, and yourself.

AS: Yes. Yeah, so getting back to our son, so when they came down to Seattle -- that's how I got... okay, they came down to Seattle, so, of course, he had to get a job down here, and he got a pretty good job, and I, he was there for several years. And I guess after... I don't remember what point, but I think it was after Justin completed Lakeside and went off to college, went to Princeton, but anyway, so Seth decided he wanted, the job was, I think, sort of not challenging to him. And so then he did some contract work with Microsoft, and he really enjoyed that stimulating atmosphere, really enjoyed it. And then he did some work with Expedia when Expedia was still part of Microsoft, a division of Microsoft, and he enjoyed that very much. Then Expedia was going to be spun off, and so he had the choice of either going, staying with Expedia, or staying with Microsoft. And he decided to go with Expedia, which I think was a very good choice. And he's still with Expedia and he's doing very well. I say I really don't understand what he does, I'm sure it has something to do with programming and whatever. But, and he loves it and he's doing very well, big, beautiful home in Bridle Trails, and so life has become very good for them. Starting from nothing.

BF: All because of Mom's sound advice, "Why not try computers?" [Laughs] Love that.

AS: Well, I'll tell you, my child has, "He's asking me?" [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 27>

BF: Yeah, now, do you feel that you tried to pass on certain values or ideas to your, to your son and daughter?

AS: Well, I don't, if it was done, it was done more from seeing what I was doing and how I felt about things. So it was not in a kind of lecturing or even, "Let's sit down and talk about this." But just, yeah, so I think they just picked up on it.

BF: Living your life.

AS: Yeah.

BF: Now, you mentioned you attend a Reform temple now?

AS: Yes.

BF: What temple is that?

AS: It's called Temple De Hirsch Sinai.

BF: Oh, okay.

AS: Originally when it was first started, it was just Temple De -- well, it was another name before that, but for, Temple De Hirsch was the name that's, it's on... well, it was on Fifteenth Avenue between Union and Pike Street? Yeah, Union and Pike. Still is, but they enlarged it, in fact, it's the new section. And then they, there was a temple started in Bellevue, but the congregants couldn't afford to keep it going, they just didn't have enough. So Temple De Hirsch Sinai purchased it, so then they added the name Temple De Hirsch Sinai to it. So yeah, so that we now have a branch also in, in Bellevue.

BF: I see.

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

<Begin Segment 28>

BF: Well, I think we have to start wrapping up, but I wanted to sort of end the interview by talking a little bit about some of the interfaith activities that you participate in now. I know you're active in your temple with a lot of things.

AS: Right, yeah.

BF: Maybe some of the, what are the ones that are the most meaningful to you?

AS: Well, I guess every one was good -- we, we did have a Catholic/Jewish dialogue. We met with, with the people, actually, at the church... did they call 'em a church? Oh, anyway, which is, was in the south end of Seattle. And that was interesting, but I felt we weren't getting too far with really looking at our beliefs. You know, you have to have the right make-up of people. This one person always dominated everything. She said, "What we do is better than anybody else," and it bothered me. Anyway, and so that ended, I think, when the, the priest was transferred to another position, and he was very, very nice, he was wonderful. And so I don't know that there was -- we've always had friends from all faiths, and not only all faiths, but other... one of our very good friends is Chinese American, and this is through -- Rotary, fortunately, is, has people from Ethiopia, members, and other countries as well as women now, and so it, it's really nice. But we got to know Ray. He was really one of the early ones that was accepted to Rotary. I think he was the only non-white person. But anyway, he's wonderful. So we knew him and then finally got married and kept in touch, and we've always felt close. And, and so others that we've met -- oh, and I certainly worked with, when I worked at the Employment Security, we had many African Americans there. And in the high school, I didn't see that many of other faiths, religions -- I mean, not faiths, I mean, ethnic groups.

So I guess... yeah, the event that did really, I felt really good about, there was an interfaith Eastside Habitat group, and so my husband and I volunteered to help there, because we liked the idea of the interfaith, and so that was... I'm not very good with doing anything building or, I did, but I sanded and then I painted, God, I was covered, and it was awful. But, but I did it and I thought it was good, and next time I'll know better what I can do. But then afterwards, there was a picnic for all of us that were there, and there we really got to see, mix with Muslims, Christians, Jews, and it was just great. It was just, we just had a wonderful time. And there was a, I think she was a sixteen-, seventeen-year-old Muslim girl who just took a -- I don't know why -- but took a liking to me. So I was her partner in the egg-throw and other events that we did. [Laughs] She was so funny; she was great. And then there, when there was the earthquake, earthquake in Iran, it affected a city called Bam, B-A-M, I'm quite sure that was the name, the Muslims here had a fundraiser, and so we went to the fundraiser, and again, it was a chance to really have an interfaith experience. Very few non-Muslims there, but it was, it was just good. And so that, that was very nice.

And then, oh yeah, after that 9/11 when the, again, the Council of Churches, they had a meeting to do a little interfaith, some interfaith work, and they held a meeting at the Muslim school, and so we had a chance for some exchange there, and then, of course, my experience at the school. And then my husband had an experience, I think -- yeah, I told you about where our congregation has what the churches call Service Day, usually a Sunday, and as many of the congregants as we can get would volunteer to do work at non-profits. And my husband contacted the Islamic School to see if they needed some help. And so they said yeah, we'll do some yard work, and spreading bark on the playground. And so... well then the, one of the coordinator... not coordinator. Anyway, one of the leaders of the school asked my husband how did he get interested, "Why pick our school?" And so my husband said, "Well, because my wife and I were married here." And she was just, "Oh?" And then she wanted to know more about the building and when we got married. And so she said, "Oh, we're gonna celebrate your anniversary here."

BF: Because this, now an Islamic school, was originally...

AS: The Talmud Torah, the Jewish school, yeah. So in-between there was, Department of Social & Health Services used the offices, or used it as offices, but now -- yeah, I can't remember how, what year they started, but...

BF: So did they have a celebration?

AS: Yes, they did; they did. She had to go to, actually, Japan. Her husband was working there... I think it was Japan. Or was it China? Far East, anyway. And so she says, but she says, "Why don't you go ahead and have it," she also had one of the board members, the president of the board was involved, and, and Art says, "No, we want you. This was your idea, so we'll wait 'til you get back." So we did have, they did a celebration for us. It was very nice, they had a cake and balloons and flowers, and it was just really lovely. So I guess that was the most emotionally satisfying experience. We were very touched by that.

BF: That's a nice story.

AS: It was.

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