Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Henry Shimizu Interview
Narrator: Henry Shimizu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 25 & 26, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-shenry-01-0054

<Begin Segment 54>

TI: So your mother and father, after the war, worked at, at these rooming houses, essentially?

HS: Yes, after, after... we went first to the Misericordia Hospital, he was there for two years doing, getting ready, and in the meanwhile, looking for property and keeping an eye on what he was going to do next, and that's when we got into the rooming house business. And then we, when we got our own place, by that time, I was, finished high school, and I was, my work, marks were good enough that I got into pre-med right away, so I got into medicine right away. And two years after that --

TI: And this was within the university...

HS: University of Alberta, yeah.

TI: University of Alberta.

HS: Yeah. Because, and that's, to some degree, it always reflected to me about the quality of the education I received, because, like I say, we didn't, both my sister and myself, we did not take a backseat to anyone there in Edmonton. And on top of that, within two years, I'm into pre-med at the University of Alberta, and so I graduated in '54. And in the meanwhile, by this time, we, Papa's rooming house, rooming houses, business, was going pretty strong, and he was making a living at that. But no, the other thing, he became blind before, by 1956. He became blind before. As a matter of fact, he become blind, he never met, he met Joan only through (her) voice.

TI: So how, how did he become blind? Was it something, an accident?

HS: No, it was macular degeneration, and in those days, they didn't know what to do with it. It was (1952), I remember him, he was, I was (at the university hospital) when it happened, and I took him to see the top ophthalmologist at that time, the old professor of ophthalmologist --

TI: I'm going to ask you to move your hand so it's not on that, on that mike.

HS: Was the top ophthalmologist in, at the professor of ophthalmology in Edmonton. He went to see him, and he said to him, "You have macular degeneration, there's nothing we can do. It's too late."

TI: So that must have been very difficult for him.

HS: Yeah.

TI: Your mother during this period, what, how was she taking restarting?

HS: Oh, she made the best of it. She did, matter of fact, she did, she only worked as a, she helped in, helped in looking after the rooming houses with my dad especially after that, because that's 1956, and it's, it's... we went there, it's ten years after we left the internment camp, and by this time he's blind. We, so my mother, by this, never did work outside the house other than the business of looking after my dad as well as looking after the rooming houses. And my father did as much as he could do. He did a lot of the janitorial work even though he was blind. He was able to do a lot of the janitorial work, and eventually, the, they sold the rooming houses, and one, they had to sell it to the, to the local government, because it was gonna be provincial government, he had to pay --

TI: For the courthouse.

HS: -- for the courthouse, and then the other place he kept for another few more years and eventually sold that. And they had made enough money from both of those to buy themselves a place to stay. And he, and so we had another place that he stayed, and eventually went, another house they stayed for about ten years, and in a, and then went to a condominium from there on in. My father lived to be, into 1982, and he died at ninety-five. And so from '56 to '92, he was blind all during that period.

TI: From '56 to '82.

HS: '82, '82, yeah.

<End Segment 54> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.