Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: George Yamada Interview
Narrator: George Yamada
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Spokane, Washington
Date: March 15 & 16, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-ygeorge_2-01-0036

<Begin Segment 36>

MA: So after you got married then, you moved to New York, and then upstate New York.

GY: Right after, yes.

MA: What was it like living in upstate New York and raising a family there?

GY: Oh, I don't know. It, she used to accompany me when I was living in Spokane, and I took a territory chick sexing in Walla Walla, Yakima, Wapato, Pasco area, I worked the Columbia River area up into Yakima and back down, and then into Hermiston, Oregon. They didn't have a, they had a small one-car ferry then, I believe. But anyway, that went into Hermiston. So I invited my girlfriend then, or fiance, possibly, could have been fiance, to come with me if she wanted to watch me chick sex. And I took her down to some of the hatcheries where there was just small amount of work instead of big amount; she would have gotten bored waiting around, so we did that, took her out to dinner and brought her back home to Spokane. And that's how it all started out from then. She knew the kind of business I was in. I guess she... let's see. I showed her a magazine, and there was another Susie Shinohara in California, same name as my wife, and she was the queen at one of the local dances in California. And I told my wife, says, "Look at this picture." I don't know how I should put it. My wife was very, very attractive, and you know, well, anyway, fifty-five years later. [Laughs]

MA: How many children did you have?

GY: Six.

MA: And were they all born in New York?

GY: New York. I was, I didn't really care, I guess, if you want to put it that way. It was my job anyway to provide for the family, and it happened to be in an area where there wasn't any Japanese. There was one or two other families, but they also had the same problems of being connected to the Caucasian community. And all my kids are married to, intermarriages, and I have one great-grandson that was born. Lisa, my oldest, she's twenty-eight years old -- I hope, forgive me, Lisa. [Laughs] My granddaughter, yeah, my granddaughter, Lisa, is twenty-eight years old, she just recently, about a couple years ago got married, we were in New York for that wedding, and she bore a son here about a year ago. So I have a, one, I have twelve grandchildren and one great-grand... is that great-grandchildren? Grandchild, a boy, and I have a blond, a pure blond white-skinned granddaughter. My oldest girl, Cathy, who's a teacher in upstate New York with her husband, adopted Elizabeth from a Massachusetts woman. She's, my granddaughter, Elizabeth, the Caucasian, is still in contact, I guess, with her mother in Massachusetts. But anyway, she's, I think she's blond, she was blond, and white, but she is my granddaughter, adopted granddaughter, and she is in California. She was, in her sophomore or junior year at a four-year college in Geneva, New York, and she quit. And in talking to her mother, my daughter, she was planning to go back at a future date, but she wanted to see part of the country. So I called her up personally and I said, "Elizabeth, long as you're out of school, why don't you come to Spokane to live?" She says, "Grandpa, if I wanted to live in another snowy part of the country, it wouldn't be bad, but I don't want snow anymore." They get a lot of snow where we used to live. Two feet of snow in one snowfall is, is a tremendous amount, but it happens over there. And we're on the same, oh, latitude as, or longitude, latitude as Hobart, but we don't get as much snow. We do get a lot of snow in the mountains; I think there's 172 inches today, in today's paper, 172 inches of snow in the hills around Spokane. But anyway, she mentioned that, "Grandpa, if I wanted to live in snow country, I'd probably come to Spokane, but I don't want to. I want to live in California." So she and two other girls got together -- I don't know how they met, but they went to California, are there right now living, the three of them are living together. And I think she's learning the ropes on Home Depot department store -- well, not a department, but the store, and she's doing real well.

MA: So then you definitely saw the impact of where your children grew up in that community? You can see that connection in them?

GY: Oh, yeah. Oh, you bet. They, they go, three of my oldest children were, graduated from high school in Hobart. South Kortright was their, name of their school. And the other three went to high school here in town. I, my move was very abrupt. Chick sexing was at a standstill, I took two other jobs, three other jobs to keep on going. I drove a tractor-trailer, I went to school to learn how to drive a tractor-trailer for a grocery chain, and that was okay. And then I delivered pharmaceutical goods for a big pharmacy concern that was in Hobart. And...

MA: When, about what year was this kind of going on, when the chick sexing declined?

GY: Must have been in the '70s, because 1975 I abruptly pulled up anchor and moved here, back here, back to Spokane from upstate New York in 1975, April of 1975.

MA: And why did you move so suddenly?

GY: Oh, I guess I was getting sick of not being able to have a good, steady income coming in. And I, yeah, I told my wife, I says, "Whether you like it or not, we're, we are going to move." So, you know, my daughter was pregnant at that time, she had married and she was carrying this baby, Lisa, who is, what, twenty, twenty-eight years old now, twenty-eight or twenty-nine. And we abruptly moved and left my daughter all by herself, so to speak, with her husband. And that really broke my heart. But we had to, and we moved back here. I worked for a while the various other jobs, but I finally got a real estate license and for thirteen or fourteen years, stayed in real estate, which I enjoyed. I was my own boss, anyway.

MA: How were your parents doing? I mean, after the war, they, you said they still ran a hotel. Did they continue that up until the '70s?

GY: About 1960... somewhere in the '60s. They sold it to another Japanese, the lease, and depended on my dad, he was, he was making, I would assume, pretty good money as a mail handler for Great Northern Railroad, and he had a lot of years in, so he had good hospitalization, I presume, along with income. So they, I guess it was just that one income. And my mother periodically worked, I think, so that she could also draw social security, which she did. I don't know how much it was, wasn't very much I'd imagine.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.