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Title: Gordon Hirabayashi Interview IV
Narrator: Gordon Hirabayashi
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: February 17, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-hgordon-04

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so today is February 17th, 19-, or the year 2000, and we're interviewing Gordon Hirabayashi. This is the fourth interview that we're doing. Seated to my right is Alice Ito, and I'm Tom Ikeda. And at the last interview, the third interview, we had just finished the trial in Seattle where they found you guilty of the curfew. And, it was pretty, you know, cut and dry. And you went through that in the last interview. Why don't we pick up the story from there, and talk about, so after the trial in Seattle, what happened next? Where did you go?

GH: I went back to the federal tank in King County jail, and I remained there for about four months before suddenly a question was raised by the judge. "Say, your boy's been in the jail for a long time?" And the lawyer reminded the judge, that, "Yes, because you wouldn't permit any other kind of release." "Well, I have to follow the regulations."

TI: Right. And what, just to give you some background, because the release would be a bail. But then if you went on bail, you really couldn't go back into the streets of Seattle.

GH: Yeah.

TI: And so there was sort of this part where you...

GH: Yeah. I just said, "I still feel that if I, if I applied for bail, and it was approved, then I should be let out the front door like anybody else that posted bail." Says, "Yeah, but the streets are no longer free for you." Says, "Well that's one of the things I'm contesting. So until the Supreme Court endorses that, it ought to be left in abeyance. I'm under restriction, anyhow, being on bail." So...

TI: So you were in jail, in the jail for nine months, in a place where it's not prison, I mean, jail is a short term holding situation, so no outside privileges...

GH: Yeah.

TI: You're pretty much cooped up for those nine months.

GH: Yeah, the way ours was set up, our whole arrangement was half of the place was a day tank, where up to a maximum of forty people, who could be housed in the private cells, cell blocks, which had four person, bunks for four persons. And there were ten of those, so that five on each side, so that made forty bunks. And if they were full, we'd have, we'd have forty people milling around in the day tank. And that gets fairly full. That's about the capacity. That's where I was returned. And so, anyway, the discussion was between the, my lawyer and the judge. Saying, "Gee, we ought to do something." Says, "Well, if Your Honor would permit it, the Quakers have a program of various types. And in this circumstance, it might be opening an office, field office, for example in Spokane, where people from the Idaho camp, Minidoka, might apply to come out if there were housing and jobs available. And especially, this would be attractive to those who at some point would be able to return to Seattle. It would be closer and more in line with their future objectives than if they went to Chicago or someplace else." So, the judge says, "Well, if anything develops along that line, keep in touch with me." And so it was left that way. And then the Seattle office of the Quaker Service Committee, American Friends Service Committee, began exploring the possibility of a branch office that might be run by me, for example, where I could do some surveying and preparing the community for accepting housing and some opportunities for jobs. And so, that eventually opened up the Philadelphia office. Said they would be able to sponsor one person...

TI: And was Floyd Schmoe --

GH: ...on a trial basis.

TI: Yeah. And was Floyd Schmoe the one who was making all these arrangements primarily from Seattle?

GH: Yeah, he was the one staff person running the Seattle office. The rest of the program was run by various volunteers. Before I was incarcerated, I was one of those volunteers that helped when, at the time, the Japanese American community were preparing for being moved from their homes to the fairgrounds, which was the first incarceration point.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Well, while we're on the subject of Floyd Schmoe, when you were in jail for nine months, you had a lot of visitors, and one of those visitors was your future wife, Esther Schmoe, who is the daughter of Floyd. Can you talk a little bit about her visits while you were in jail?

GH: Yes, we had regular visiting day. I think one of the days was Tuesday, and I can't even remember how long a period the visiting hours were. It was something like 2:00 to 4:00, or something like that. And people who where interested would come and ask for visiting with a particular person. And then you're lined up to take your sequential place in the queue, the queue line. There was another day, it might have been on a weekend, which was also open for visitors. Those that have, you know, like lawyers who needed to see me, or there were some other visiting persons from out of town that had some kind of special allowances for visits, might be permitted to come in and see me in the front office or some place like that. So I'm, we're talking now about the regular public visiting days.

Esther was one of the young Friends that were interested in giving support to those conscientious objectors in CPS camps, Civilian Public Service camps, and others who were preparing to be sent there. And I was in the group anticipating a possible assignment, since I was classified by the local draft board as an authentic, official conscientious objector after a hearing on my behalf. So, she would come in, particularly after she started as a freshman at the university, training for nurses training, that usually had two years at the university then the remaining five years would be in the hospital assignment. So, during the fall term she used to come in on the Tuesday visiting period. I think during part of that period, which was her chemistry lab, which she would skip when it was time for her to visit. At first it was irregular visits, and eventually towards the last couple of months I was in jail, she came in regularly. And we, we'd spend, since there were usually line up people waiting, we'd spend ten, fifteen minutes visiting. Usually with some continuity about certain kinds of chores she was doing for me as my runner, getting certain information, or looking for things I was requesting, or taking a message to someone, something like that. And that was the kind of visits we were having. And eventually it became various kinds of personal questions, and so it was a visitor arrangement among close friends. That's as far as we went as far as a relationship went in prison. She was one of many people who came in who were students, or other young people. I had older people visiting also, but young people were very interested. And...

TI: When you say "young people," so you thought of Esther as one of the young people because she was what, about six years younger than you were?

GH: Yes, she was, I was beginning my senior year at the university. But I was older than the usual seniors because I didn't go one year at a time in sequence. I'd work, and then go a couple of quarters, fall and winter usually, and then I'd drop out in the spring and through the summer quarters working. And so I was taking a longer time to get to be a senior. So she was a freshman and I was a senior, so to speak. And she was coming in on periods when she should have been in the lab, actually. She had things to make up after she left. So...

TI: What were your sort of initial impressions of Esther during this period?

GH: Well, we had some meetings with Young Friends activities, and she was in the group of Young Friends, which were high school and university, and university age people, in the youth group. And we would discuss a number of things like field team for emergencies, like earthquakes. I remember there was a couple of years before I was in, an earthquake in Mexico, to which my roommate, Howard Scott and I had volunteered for. And Esther's older brother, Ken Schmoe had volunteered. And when we found out that Ken was also a volunteer, we sort of got together and made plans that the three of us would go when the time came. And actually, since my roommate and I were already registered conscientious objectors, we had to clear with the draft board for being gone, and especially being out of the country during a period when we might be called. We didn't want to be called, we didn't want to be delinquent so we went to clear it. And they said they couldn't clear it. Draft board members were new people, too, on this business. It was the first time we had civilian-type draft, conscientious, or military draft. So it, they're feeling their way through, and they said they didn't see how they could give us a special leave. I said, "Well, it's just, if our names did come up, you would have our address and you could wire that we're needed back, and we'd head back. So it'd be a half a week's time or something of that nature. So it wouldn't be a long time." Well they said it's out of the usual arrangements, and they didn't, they weren't in favor of arranging anything of that type. So we, after thinking it over, decided we won't risk going on our own, under those circumstances.

TI: But this, but this is a good indication that, yeah, you knew Esther before...

GH: Yeah.

TI: ...even the trial and then...

GH: Yeah.

TI: ...while you're in jail, she came and visited you.

GH: Uh-huh.

TI: After nine months, you were out on bail and went to Spokane. How did the relationship continue while you were in Spokane?

GH: Well, by the time we went to Spokane, I went to Spokane, we were, we're on regular mail correspondence too, in between the visits. So, we continued that. And other opportunities for meeting which developed were the releases from Minidoka for people who had cars that were kept in the custody of U.S. government. You know, Japanese Americans were more experienced on being excluded. They would have all registered that way for their cars instead of selling it for a song, and other types of things, kitchen supplies and so on. They gave things away, sold things for a song, instead of putting them away in government custody. They then would have gotten most of it back. Well, some of those cars had to be transported from Seattle to Minidoka. And so one of the ways we worked up was, some of us were in Spokane who could give up a few days, who would go to Pasco, Washington, just across the border from the western restricted zone. And somebody from Seattle would drive it up to that point, and then we exchange drivers and he would continue on from there into Idaho, Minidoka. And one of those exchanges involved Esther and a close older friend of hers to drive as far as Pasco, and then we would exchange. On that particular exchange, she told me that she had a couple of extra days, so she could go as far as Weiser, Idaho, where my parents were, and she could visit them, too, and see the rest of my family. And so we stopped by. We picked up some hamburgers or something like that and took it out to one of the parks at the edge of Pasco and we had picnic supper. And then in time for June Mott, who was our other friend there that was returning to Seattle on a bus -- we brought her back to the bus depot. And then, when she took off we headed towards Weiser. And I guess that was the start of a relationship that became more personal. Until then, our discussions were more general. And so that's the way the courtship, so to speak, began on that basis.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: During this period of time, it would be, it was unusual to have an interracial couple. Was that a concern of yours as you were starting to become more involved with Esther at this period? Did you two talk about this?

GH: Yes, we did. Our relationship, if it continued, could end up with marriage, which meant interracial marriage. And while that was legal, in some states I guess it wasn't. But while it was legal, there were a lot of problems involved because of feelings, public feelings. And in terms of public feelings, that was on both sides. And for example, my parents, when they first heard of this were a little alarmed because of the reactions, like my parents expected from their friends. And in fact, when they came aboard our relationship, it was because they had the experience of trying to explain, trying hard to explain what's happening and how come we're in this relationship. And in spite of knowing about it's difficulties and problems, and by trying to figure out different ways of convincing their friends that this was quite a natural sort of development, and if the persons were good persons, they could be supported. That sort of feeling crept into my parents as, because of their effort to try to get their friends to understand it. They convinced themselves first, I guess, in the process. And so my friends were supportive. They had the advantage of knowing the Schmoe family. They...

TI: But going back to your parents, did they ever have a heart-to-heart talk with you about their concerns, or what they thought might happen if you continued this relationship?

GH: Yes, they told me the general public concerns. And they told me that they had no objections to her, except they weren't sure how realistically she realized what she's getting into, nor me. They, you know, it's a first for both of us, so they wouldn't know. But my parents had a few friends, and they were mostly aware of the public reactions. And so they were concerned about that.

TI: And when you say public, the general public, or the Japanese community reaction?

GH: Well, first the Japanese community reactions. Those are the ones that they knew about. They knew the general public reaction would be negative, very strongly so, especially during the war. But the war just fed on the prejudice that was already there. So that was the one of the things, one of the important early part of our relationship.

TI: And how about Esther's parents? When you talked with them, how did they feel about the relationship?

GH: Yeah, well, I'm not privy to the general feelings from the beginning. In principle, they were completely for it. In principle. To have their daughter involved in it, I think they had some concerns. Particularly, she being only twenty, how much she was aware of what she's getting into. Well, so as far as that goes, I guess this is a concern of anybody getting married. I mean, that's a big experience, and it's fraught with all kinds of problems. And every parent has concerns, how it would work out. And whether the kids understand what they're getting involved in. And no matter what is said by either side, the parents or the couple that's getting involved, they're going to have to learn a lot of things.

So we, we were -- you know it was one thing, we knew that there would be no problem with the principle, the idea of the intermarriage. If the persons were ready and were in love and so on, they had no difficulty with that. They had this additional problem with their young daughter, whether she was -- in fact, Mrs. Schmoe wrote me a very nice letter about how much she personally approved of me. She did have some concerns as to, she was aware of how much she, my future wife was, felt that she loved me. But, the mother wasn't sure that, whether it was a full scale, visible love, or hero worship. Because among the Quakers, the stand I was taking was regarded as an inspirational point to the whole meeting. They are, their position is peace making. And any peacemaker, any opposition to war-making was a positive point, and so, and here I am in prison -- or in jail at the time -- and so I was, I was kind of a inspirational light to those people. I realized that I was playing that role. But now, her mother was thinking, now to what extent is she marrying this symbol, or is, and to what extent is she marrying this particular person? And she wanted very much for the relationship to be secure and sound. So she had a concern on which, which, if they were different, she was. So she expressed that to me, and I appreciated very much receiving that letter, and I shared her how much -- I didn't have to face this hero thing because I was there. [Laughs] And I never looked at myself as a hero, but I appreciated the support that this, the Quaker community and other supporters of my position gave me. It meant a lot to me. And I didn't want them to be feeling that they owed their support to whatever relationship I had with Esther, to the fact that they supported me. That's another thing.

And in fact, one of the very difficult questions that a, one Quaker asked me was, "You know, I've known Esther since she was a little girl coming to our meetings and she's a nice person. And I've seen her grow, and I admire her a lot. And, of course I know the family very well, and I've got to know you very well. And so I'm convinced myself that the two of you have thought about this as much as anybody could think about this at the time before they go into it, as much as anybody could think about, I know you have done it. But, what about, what about any children you have? They won't be involved in any question, and they're going to face certain things. Is it fair to bring any children in?" And boy that was a whopper. I didn't know, I don't know anything about fairness to children and so on. And so that really floored me. It took me several days to get a bearing on this so that I could comment intelligently. Then it occurred to me. If I just step back a moment, to what extent would that question be a valid question to any parent having, getting married, what about children? Is it fair to bring a child into this world? This world of prejudice, and this world of war, and this world of hunger and so on? What about that? And so having given this little opportunity to get a vision of a broader prospective of being parents, that's the basic question within which intermarriage children would have some additional problems to solve. But the basic, important, overall question is parenting, the responsibility of being parents.

So with that I had a little bearing. I felt that that's a very important question, and we should take that seriously and carefully and as fully as were possible. And so I said, "We intend to do that. And regarding our intermarriage, our child would have maybe additional problems that we should be sensitive about. And we hope to be able to prepare them fully for that event." And to my pleasant surprise, this person wrote back immediately saying, "I was very glad to get that. It gave me a perspective. It gave me a realization of how important this question is for parents in general. And you've convinced me that that is the major question: parenting. And you're adding in your awareness that these intermarriage questions may produce some additional questions. But it's not the make or break questions. That's the early one."

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: What I wanted to do was to now go to, staying with the marriage, and the reaction of others as the relationship progressed. Eventually, in Spokane, the two of you went to the court to get a marriage license. Why don't you start, pick the story up there in terms of the reaction of people as that happened.

GH: Well, just like some of the things that occurred to me as I was living through the war period, and confronting something like curfew, and then later uprooting, forced removal, and how my interest in doing things that would be consistent with what I believed was fairness and good citizenship. I took those steps as I faced them. What I'm trying to say here is, I didn't have an overall picture -- I'm going to object to these things, and I'm going to approve of these things, and then have an overall position. I had certain basic principles that I believed in and had it guide me in my particulars. And I wanted to be consistent as much as I could to build on that as I lived. And so when I, when I was following curfew as much as I disapproved of it, I cooperated with it until a question hit me. And it only required that question, "Why am I running back and my dorm mate's not?" Immediately, I couldn't answer that question and continue following the curfew and say that I can accept it. I had to object. I turned around and went back. In the same way, exclusion order. I, even though I had decided that curfew, I'm gonna ignore it, I expected to be on the last bus to go to Puyallup. When the question hit me, "How could I go if I couldn't accept curfew? This is much more intense violation," though it's the same basic violation. And it only required that particular question to be phrased at me. And when that hit me, I know I couldn't do it. And this is the way that I was facing these other things, intermarriage.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: The question is, as you were progressing, the relationship progresses, to the point where you now, with Esther, were getting the marriage license...

GH: Oh yes.

TI: ...the reaction of others? And...

GH: Well, there was, there were always the question of the others, because you live in society and you interact with others. And even if your close circle of intimate friends approve, you had to also be aware that there is this larger society you live in, and how they felt. And also your parents and their intimate circles, and the outer circle they confront. So all of those things come into the picture. But in her case, when our relationship became more personal and more intimate, we began to talk about the possibility of marriage and we faced this a step at a time. For example, she was intending to become a nurse. There's a three-year training for nurse, basically, and if you're a Bachelor of Science, and R.N. also, it's about a five-year program. So she has some years to move ahead. Now I guess there's no rule saying that along the way you might get married. But there is this period you have to make a decision. We know that these things are gonna be involved. We have now decided that a future together is also a part of the picture being involved. And on my side, I didn't know exactly what would happen, but all through the war I'm gonna run into problems and forced separations. So while that didn't prevent us from thinking about a life together at some point, we have to be prepared for being separate and having absences, and having our relationship with that reality in the picture.

So as we move along we make decisions and making it one at a time. One of things that we did in the picture was to, we came to the point of, gee, getting married requires a license. And a license doesn't mean it's gonna expire after, at least we didn't know whether it expired if you didn't act on it within a certain time. But we figured there's certain amount of time, leeway. So at one point we thought, "Why don't we go and register for marriage?" So that we wouldn't have that to wait on if something came up, needing to speed it up. So we took that step. And then on the way out of the marriage bureau, we ran into a fellow Quaker, who happened to be a reporter for the Spokane Chronicle. And he says, "Oh, I have to write that up for the paper." And I said, "I don't want, we don't want it in the paper." "Well, there's no way it's going to escape not being in the paper. So, either I write up a good base story, based on facts and the perspectives you have and the motives and all that, and the families, or, it'll get on without my input and you don't know what goes in there and they may get a cloudy erroneous picture suitable for the prejudiced public to read." Well, he convinced us that it was inevitable, and so he would have to do that. And so we gave him additional information about parents that he wanted to know. He knew basically about us, so that, we didn't have to repeat that part. And so that's how it got in the papers. And to show you the temper of the time, and I'm, I think it's different now in terms of general public reaction. I, that's my prediction. I think times have changed in the fifty years since that took place. If, but, when the news went out of our marriage, it hit the wire, wire service -- it went all over the world and hit the U. S. -- I've forgotten what the service...

TI: Would it be Stars and Stripes?

GH: The Stars and Stripes.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

GH: And so letters even came from overseas. But, letters that were anonymous -- the only ones that, between Esther and me, the only one that got anonymous letters were Esther. She was regarded as the traitor to her race, and therefore she had all kinds of critical comments, and ones that ridiculed her and so on. One of the pictures showed sort of a slant eye where my face was shown, and with some kind of phrase, negative phrase. It even went into pictures of advertisements. There was one picture, colored picture of, I think it was a carpet or linoleum advertisement. And this one had a crib, and a sailor and his wife admiring a picture -- a baby in the picture, and the caption that was penned in under was, "A picture like this will never be yours." And things like that. I received a lot of letters...

TI: But before you talk about those letters, I mean, did any of those anonymous letters... what, how did you feel about those? What was going through your mind as you saw these...?

GH: Well, this reinforced the general public views, the general reaction, I mean, so it was no surprise. But it was reinforcing clear cut that, I didn't think it'd be that clear cut. Only she received those criticism. Nobody criticized me. I mean I was involved in the same marriage, you know.

AI: And about when was this that this came out in the news?

GH: This was 1945.

AI: In the fall of the year?

GH: Oh, let's see. It was, well in the winter, winter months. We got married in the middle of the summer. So, certain things happened to speed it up. I mean she didn't even, she changed her plans to go to Massachusetts General which was her aim. And she would finish it in one of the, you know, in Seattle someplace.

TI: What was Esther's reaction to the anonymous letters?

GH: Well, she was, well she was told by her parents that, "Well, this reinforces the public view." If this was going to alarm us, we weren't very realistic. And so, you know, they didn't, this wasn't very surprising to them. However, she got anonymous phone calls and she found herself defending a marriage that she respected, and described, and what she hoped for and so on. And she said some didn't give a grounding for any kind of intelligent discussion. It was just negative outburst, and that was about it. But she said, "I got some strength out of having someone who raised some serious concerns and warnings to me." And did you know about this and that, about the problems? And she was able to field those and to express her views. And then having the person say, "Well, I appreciated very much your sensitive, considerate comments. I learned a lot." And she said she found herself hanging up and just needing to sit down because it took that kind of energy to prepare herself. But the end product was that she was able to grow with that experience, and that was of course a necessary part for us to continue. If this was going to decimate her, I mean, there's no future. We could see that and we should face it. Well, that kind of picture didn't emerge. In fact, it was the opposite. So we had, we had a, in fact among the other side, a G.I. in Corigador...

TI: When you say "other side," you mean you received other letters that were actually signed...

GH: Other, yeah...

TI: ...that were addressed to both you...

GH: ...well, yeah. This one was not anonymous. He signed his name. But it was somebody she didn't know who was responding to the news. And he enclosed a $50 check. Said that, "I'm risking my life out here for the rights of citi -- you know, the value of our American citizenship and way of life. And that includes your safety and enjoyment. And I'm contributing this to your future." So the end product was, even the negative ones were a source of strength. She found that she, she was able to muster up the kind of strength -- it made her realize how serious the question was, and that it had to be met and it had to be lived, or else we should change our paths.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: What about the reaction in the Japanese community, after it became public knowledge? Did you or your parents receive any correspondence or calls?

GH: Well, my parents, were very concerned about -- more than what they thought -- you know when they reflected on it, they, their concerns weren't all that important. They were, they were, they were worried about the possibility of success in the marriage because you're living in society. And it depended how we were able to cope with this and to what extent society would extend itself in the long run to a wider base. And so their concern was to explain it as positively as they, as she -- and it was my mother doing most of this 'cause my father's fairly quiet, and if he's in face-to-face conversation he would express it. But writing letters and that sort of thing, she left, he left it to her, who was in public much more articulate. She, the product of her effort to explain to her friends, was selling herself. She, in the process convinced herself, and then she could sincerely, I mean she wasn't doing this to make her case stronger, but she found herself, in preparing to make the answers to completely endorse the thing, removing all the questions. I mean the questions are there, but removing all the pitfalls that people can do before they move ahead. I mean, if we have to remove every pitfall, nothing would happen. There would be no marriages. There would be no careers. So...

TI: So while your mother was doing this, was there a sense that there were people who were questioning it, and...

GH: Yes, yes.

TI: ...and she had to...?

GH: It wasn't just listening to her story, it's back and forth, back and forth. And she's understanding the questions because those were the questions she initially had. And then the more she thought about it, and the more she got acquainted with the, well, with me, getting to know me as a kind of an adult ready for marriage discussion, that was a growing up experience they had to face, too. They always used to think of me as, well a young fellow, he's getting older, facing a job and that sort of thing. But you know, facing life, that's a, marriage, that's different.

But, and when I delivered the truck to Minidoka, she made sure that I contacted one of their closest friend, Mr. Katsuno, who was our neighbor at the Christian co-op farm that they had lived most of their occupational lives in. And he listened, he talked, but he wasn't -- he was more, at the beginning, raising certain questions as a ploy, I think it was a ploy. She said, "These young people do all kinds of things. I wanted, I wanted Gordon to get the benefit of your advice," and so on. "So I made sure that he would see you and this topic would come up, because I know you have your experience and wisdom to share that would be appreciated by him. And speak frankly for him, to him." And he, he raised the usual questions. And so we had some discussions on that. But he seemed, he seemed sort of resigned. I mean this was not a question he was going to face with the intent of being a major obstacle to the event. So I noticed that he didn't, he wasn't enthusiastically taking an opposition position.

TI: I wasn't quite sure when you mentioned a ploy. A ploy by, what you meant by that. You said this...

GH: Well, if I used it when I was talking about my parents?

TI: Right, and having you talk with Mr. Katsuno.

GH: Well, instead of doing all the arguing for me...

TI: I see, okay.

GH: ...she's giving him the chance to come out with it and raise the questions. And, 'cause he should face reality sooner or later, and sooner the better for his, for their future.

AI: Would you say that the major questions raised by your mother and Mr. Katsuno were similar to the kinds of questions that were raised by Mrs. Schmoe and Esther's family?

GH: Fundamentally yes, but I think some particulars at least, because of the language -- you know, I can't talk, for an Issei to talk fully, freely with their vocabulary, because I don't understand the big words that they might use. So that limits them. But the questions of what about the children, you know that sort of thing, I don't think it came up. That is a fundamental question and to be able to see that question in its full role, every parent faces that question. It's a serious question that they should answer. And for people -- interfaith marriage, interracial marriage, international marriage -- people facing other kinds of bridges in their relationship have those bridges in addition to the basic question. It's not this bridge as being the major thing. It's one of the things they have to handle, along with others. There are more fundamental other questions that need to be answered first of all, for marriage, in all marriages, that ought to be answered. So that -- and I think they, you know, I'm somebody that's been in courts and so on, and they're looking at somebody behind the bars, I mean barbed wires -- they're at a disadvantage of talking with effective weapons [Laughs] to slow this down. I think, I think my parents wanted, wanted them to be allies, and wanted them to be informed, and taken into their confidence and so on. So that we could have them as friends ourselves.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

GH: ...where do we go from here? What are we confronting now? And we began to think about that and I think we talked quite a while, and then when we came home, we must've talked quite a bit, you know 'cause we're driving twelve hours or something, so we're talking. And when I got home with her, we stayed and talked, I mean I say we stayed, I got home earlier than usual than my office expected. I usually tell them when I'm returning. And so we just spent a long weekend at home where nobody knew we were there among the relatives. And we just continued talking. And we ended up, we ended up that maybe we should go our separate ways. We have some picture in terms of our initial picture, initial objectives, and we have some attitude about, on other things, not just marriage, other things. We have certain goals, and that if we can't, if we can't satisfactorily live those, we ought to think about whether we're doing the right thing, or changing paths. And that kind of thing came up.

Just like during the war, things came up and I said, "Well gee, I can't do that." Until then I was doing it. I was going ahead with curfew. And then, gee, facing it like that, I can't do it. And so a clarified position comes out. And, and we're talking two days, just like long hours, 'cause all that driving time was hours of discussion, and searching, and what's meaningful to us. So we're just looking ahead at how do we live? And what's in the picture? And I think it must have been in our pictures, when you think about it. We have, we don't necessarily have to be in each other's shadows. We have adult kids, and soon to expect grandchildren. There's a lot of new experiences we're gonna confront. And some of those we can confront whether we're together or not. And so with this kind of feeling, we just explored other things, including going our own paths, whether on separate ways, or divorce where we cut one tie. I, in one sense, I didn't want this legal separation. That just tied me up. It was too negative to me. She was for that, because it gave her protection. But it was still exploring on her own, little more freedom going on her own. And I could see that it's not easy to explore on your own unless there is, unless you move out. [Laughs] So it was a difficult, that was a kind of a difficult thing to work out. But we sort of kicked this around. And then, it was in the aftermath of all this discussion, it, I've forgotten now how long it took. I think it took maybe upwards to a half a year for our getting to legal separation.

TI: But it was this two-day period where you just really...

GH: Yeah, well we...

TI: ...confronted the issue...

GH: ...yeah, and two day, two nights almost, and long trip home. Particularly, well, I guess we were going into all sorts of things, and then we had this overnight at, outside of Glacier National Park, and then for all day coming home, and then the long weekend where nobody expected us home, so we weren't getting any calls, we were home.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: You mentioned a comment about living in someone's shadow. Was it a case where, because of the things that you had done, did those things affect the relationship? That you were often times in the forefront of an example? In some ways, you mentioned earlier how the Quakers used you as an example a lot?

GH: Well...

TI: Did that affect your marriage?

GH: No, I don't think it affected it negatively. However, in role relationships -- I think, you know, she's Floyd Schmoe's daughter. Floyd Schmoe's daughter means, you know, he's not a, he wasn't a wealthy magnate worth millions and all that sort of thing. However, he was a tremendous person in terms of ideas and exploratory actions, and breaking the fence doing new things, houses for Hiroshima. Going over, he didn't have money to go over so he worked with the Church of Brethren on the "goat boat," bringing in animals to Japan. They needed care taking, [Laughs] shoveling out and so on. He did all sorts of things to get over there. And then, soon as he got there he went on his own making his own contacts and finding the lay of the land, and where he could... and finally Hiroshima was rebuilding. And he got to brass tacks talking with the housing project where he could become part of the housing project. He opposed, and in fact he was a minority, except that he's a decision maker for his project, so it became the position, his... he didn't want, people said it's better to build a house, you know, where people move in. No, housing project, building a community center where they could get together out of their homes, and having a center thing. He opposed that. He said, what he wanted to symbolize was reinstating the family unit where they could start new families, having their own home. So that's the thing, and what kind of center is developed could be somebody else's project.

TI: And so as Floyd did these, these large innovative projects, did that place a burden on Esther? Being the daughter of...

GH: No.

TI: ...Floyd?

GH: No, but it, she, in many ways, admired -- [laughs] -- I don't know that I should put this under tape, because I don't, it's a kind of a private feeling.

TI: We can cut this all out, too.

GH: Yeah, on her part even. She, she, she had a kind of a black and white picture of her dad. Admired him. He was a hero to her, for all the things that she wished she had the freedom to do. He just had those views and did 'em, as much as he could. And he worked out ways to do them. And, but on the other hand, she was determined never to be victimized like her mother was. She lived her life at the whim of her husband's decision, "I got a call to do this." And they were great calls, but somebody had to, somebody had to take care of the kids. Somebody had to feed 'em in the face of adequate income. [Laughs] The kids, like Ken, Ken Schmoe, he, his favorite food is hamburger gravy. That's what he got. He got to like that and he misses it when it's not available. When he was working, his first job as an engineer was to work on the technical part of, with a company in New York, big company -- gee, what is that? Electrical, mechanical outfit. And they shifted their focus from whatever they were doing to much more in the computer line and so on. But they were going for training on trains. You know, it took several days to get to New York area. And people were ordering things, and they said to Ken, "When we order steak and you order hamburger, it sounds like we're padding the thing. You know you're making it look bad on us." He says, "Well, I'm not trying to save the company money, I just like that." [Laughs]

TI: Right. So Esther saw her mother sort of holding the family together...

GH: Yeah.

TI: ...while the father would have these callings and do these very visible...

GH: Yeah, and she'd have to be a part of it too, 'cause he'd ask her once the thing is fairly clear moving that he's for, you know. So, it's not like -- now, is he ready, now can we, "How's this call relate to breadwinner responsibilities here? You've got four kids, and me. Is this the time to do this call?" You know, those discussions never came up. It's, "I got this call and he's got it developed to a certain point, and potentialities from the outside up to a certain point." And then he's just, you know, "I gotta work this out with you because this is a family project. I need to be released to go. And I feel strongly called to do this. And it's not enough for us to say we're sorry, or we wish it didn't happen to Hiroshima victims. I'd rather be there and show concrete family homes that people can move into, to express what we feel." That's why he wanted this, he didn't think a community center would do the same thing, symbolically.

So those ideas are great. And she admired that as an example of all sorts of things he did in his life. But usually he needed his wife's sacrifice at the same time. And his wife had migraine headaches from early in her life all the way to menopause. And she thought it was something that just women suffered, you know. Well menopause is a period they went through, and then periods, monthly periods, and so on. Women went through them, but not necessarily migraine headaches. And she, she suddenly, with menopause came a time when there was more, more freedom. And like she said when she moved into her last apartment, had washing machine, dryer, oven, and various kinds of electrical gadgets. And then, Ken, being an electrical engineer, he fixed up all kinds of facilities, wiring and so on. So she says, "Boy, wouldn't I have liked to have had even just part of this when the kids were growing up." When she had about sixty diapers to hang [Laughs] and so on. And she did all this. And she couldn't object to the project. He wasn't goofing off, or self-sacrif -- self enjoying something somewhere and asking her to accept that. He's sacrificing his time and effort.

TI: So Esther had this very close up view of this.

GH: Yeah.

TI: And so was one of the issues with Esther and her relationship with you, that similar thing would happen to her, or was happening to her?

GH: Well, I think she, she admired, admired the thing, and, and in retrospect, you might say that she's admiring some of the things I was doing, I had done, and I'm doing. At the same time, she wanted to elevate herself out of being in a place where she had to foot all the shortcomings of the cost of this thing that she's admiring. And so she has that. She wanted to protect herself from that. And so she's looking, and she's saying, "Well..." I mean there wasn't somebody she fell in love with, and therefore she wanted to rethink this continued marriage. She, she felt that on all kinds of things, if a new front that's being planned, it ought to be cleared as early as possible, as quickly as possible, because the longer it takes, the less opportunity she would have, you know as a divorcee, or widow, or whatever. She's gonna be older, and so on. And so from that angle, the cleaner we fix, come to a conclusion on this for the next twenty-five years, so to speak -- because we're talking about the last twenty-five years -- the better. And with that exploration in mind and all the things that emerges from planning, and experiencing, and making decisions, and this and that, it, we ended up -- after about two or three months -- we ended up very clearly for each of us, that we should explore, searching new patterns for ourselves.

TI: When it came out during these discussions, did it surprise you that, that she felt this way?

GH: No, no, it didn't surprise me, but it was sad in a way, except, except I found myself in agreement with her conclusions. So I must have been moving along that way, too. That whenever these things happen, if you're ready to move or ready to think more about it, maybe that's the time to be thinking more about it. And so we did have the time to really go through that in real detail as far as we could see it. And then following up, the next two, three months was really a ongoing search. And, and so when we decided, it was, it was, well, in a way it was surprising to us that that's what we decided. We couldn't have predicted clearly two months earlier. Our kids, I asked them, "Now that you know this is the path we're taking, can you think back now and say, 'Ah, yeah, I could see signs of that here and there in retrospect.' At the time you didn't, but can you see, can you see that, because you've lived through all this, in a way. You're part of the picture that made up the past, twenty-five years, very much so." And, and they said, "No, we can't even picture... gee, now that we think of this, that might have been one of the symptoms." We didn't, we weren't in the habit of, you know, when you get mad you're breaking furniture, or you're smashing something or, you know, you're getting, letting your emotions out. We didn't do that, so they, either we suppressed it or we didn't have it.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: I want to ask a question. This may be a stretch. But I'm gonna, from the last four interviews and the year that I've got to know you, I mean you are a man of very high principles and lofty ideals. I mean you really think about these things. And there's a price that you pay for that. An example is when your mother pleaded with you not to go forward with defying the exclusion order, 'cause she felt that the family needed to be together. And, and I'm thinking about your wife, and perhaps feeling that, that you may have at times focused more on the ideas of doing certain things. Did you ever consider during these two days of discussion to think, would you change? Would you do something differently? That the price is too high for you to pursue some of these really high principled ideas? And, and, and yeah, what do you think about that?

GH: Well, sometimes in retrospect I thought of those things. But at the time, I thought, maybe it's a time to explore, because we didn't explore those things. You know, we're following another path with the attendant requirements of that path. After, we separated and then within about, within a year we were legally divorced. We didn't wait the maximum time of this and that. Once the decision was made, we were both interested in cleaning, clean cut, and go on with it. I had a easier path because I'm going on with my career. She had to, you know, make major changes. I was responsible for her apartment and so on. She wanted to move out. She says, "This place, with all its memories and so on, is not the place for me to be thinking of a new path." So she'd rather move. Since I was continuing some basic parts, you know, at the school, it was, it was fine that I would stay. And then, when she got a full time job, it, it was, she has many of the skills that you saw in Susan in terms of mentality, and quick decision, sharp analysis, and so on. So I guess I like that sort of thing in a woman. [Laughs] And I didn't know all those things about her except that I responded to her. When I'm seeing her in my early relationship with Susan, I must have seen some of those things that I admired in Susan, and in Mom.

I would find it difficult to live constantly with Mom. It required a man like Dad who, who, who would say, "Well on this, I'll just let it go right through." [Laughs] And he doesn't stoke the fire, he just lets it go, and lets it burn out, and does other things. And I think she counted on the fact that he's, she, she can blow up and it won't destroy the marriage. [Laughs] And she made good decisions, so Dad counted on her for that sort of insights. When he, when he let, when I was around five, during the winter month after all the crops went out, and then the time of getting stumps out, and the drainage fixed, and this and that, and planting seeds in the greenhouse, and up where we rented greenhouse space. That was what we were doing. And there's no income during that period. So the grocer and the fertilizer, seed people, all those people have to carry the farmers. Not just our farm, but all the farmers around there. And that was the life. And Dad liked the kind of being on your own, living your principles, expressing it where it needed it and so on, instead of just interacting business all through the period. During that winter, they, I think she finally said, "Let's, let's try something else this summer, I mean this winter." And they went in and talked to their former, Japanese, former missionary to Japan, kind of a Bible, full gospel type Bible-centered couple.

TI: Right, I remember this story. And then it took Mr. Katsuno to bring 'em back.

GH: That's right. He came in towards the end of that period. And for the first time they had money during the winter, you know.

TI: But was this a situation where, where your, so your father liked a certain thing, but this is where your mother sort of exerted her sort of will to do something different...

GH: Yeah.

TI: ...than what your father...

GH: Yeah. They're doing something different because possibility of maybe changing careers. Dad got a job at West Seattle Saw Mill.

TI: Right, and your mother did not enjoy farming? She wanted to...

GH: Well that's right, she was trapped. And, and she had, she had too many talents and interests to survive without protesting.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So, I'm wondering, when you, when you, sort of start talking about your father in the context of sort of, you know, of wife-husband relationship, are you sort of likening yourself to your father in some ways? In how he looked at things?

GH: Well, I like to be able to say that, but he was, he was really a rock of ages, stable, and when he made up his mind, he's, doing it and saying it were identical to him. So far as he could, he did what he said or what he believed in. So belief and practice were overlapped as far as he's concerned, and farming gave the best opportunity for that in his view.

TI: But many people would say the same thing about Gordon Hirabayashi -- what he said, he did.

GH: Well, so he was a model in one sense. So I followed -- I had that kind of a model where, where other people would say, "Well, now we live in the real world, let's get practical about this. You can't go bucking the government," and all that sort of thing. That was just a, just a side line obstacle. The main line was going through the principles and finding ways to maintain it. And so I followed him in many ways, more than I thought. I'm discovering that. I thought I lost Dad, unfortunately by the circumstances that made me become English-speaking. And increasingly as I grew up, maturing meant maturing in English, intellectually, and even spiritually I'm expressing those things in English. I don't know the Japanese words for faith. I know the words like shinko and so on, that's deep faith, you know. But I don't know the usual thing. So I thought, "Gee, I'm, really lost a real inspiration here." But then attending a conference in Japan I found, I found them talking about early Christian leaders, including his, Uchimura Kanzo, his system, and his part. And I found out I know what he's talking about. I could even give him certain kinds of perspectives as to how, how that sort of thing transformed into a system in a branch of that movement in America. This was different, 'cause one of the things that he was trying to develop indigenously into Japanese was a Christian principle that fits into the Japanese living system, I mean cultural system, Japanese familial group orientation over individuals, that sort of thing. Not to take the missionaries that bring in the message from several denominations and get it translated and things, and having them absorb that and adopt it. Uchimura wanted to get the principles, the spirit as it could naturally flourish in Japan, in the context of Japanese culture and existing values. And this is, this is one picture of that, to Dad.

TI: And I've heard you before --

GH: But he did this, not in Japan, but in, and using Uchimura's, that shows Uchimura's greater than just Japanizing Christianity. It's just making it practical in some other context, 'cause it's being, not Japanized, per se, but indigenized for the Issei community here in America. So they resisted joining other churches and so on, because it just wouldn't meet the ball so far as Uchimura was preaching.

TI: And I've heard you say, recently you've realized that some of the teachings of Uchimura, that there are similarities with some of the things that you saw in the Quakers...

GH: Yeah.

TI: that there was this link. And it's almost like, when you went back to this conference, it was through your father that this link was made, that in some way...

GH: Uh-huh.

TI: had been influenced by the way your father had lived. And so it's almost brought to a circle.

GH: Yeah, well, that's right.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

GH: And my brother, who's an anthropologist, and who did his research for his dissertation in Japan -- he had a Fulbright scholarship so he stayed out a year and a half or something, in Japan to do this, and, in the mid '50s. And he was telling me, "I figured that there was something more than accident that you became a Quaker." There was a pipeline there that led me there, led me to accept it. When I saw it, I felt comfortable with it. When we visited Quaker meetings, along with visiting other places that where the speakers came from -- you know, when the conscientious objectors had resource persons coming in to talk about whatever, in terms of making their way in a highly militaristic, and in the ultimate of the military, it's fascistic, you know, if you look at the military system, it's fascistic. So if you wanted some other system, it's, it's different. Now why am I so favoring that is because in different ways, that's what is being expressed through watching my old man. And, and he didn't have the problem of articulating that by trying to explain it to me. Then I would say, "Well, yeah, but you did this and you're saying this. It doesn't fit." You know, I could sort of chop it in pieces here and there you know. With Mom I'm arguing those things, 'cause she's giving me arguments. But Dad's just living it. [Laughs] And it's not easy to live, but he's doing it.

And so I learned something from that that's helped me persevere through certain difficulties without knowing all the details. So my brother, knowing things about cultural changes and about the problem of, you know, peasant society, confronting airplanes, and medicine, you know, all kinds of complex chemical, biochemical products, and x-rays, and all that sort of thing from -- using an Arab example, coming in on a camel barefoot, getting off and getting onto a jet plane and going somewhere, all to get to that place and entering some kind of international discussion, if he's the leader of the band that he's representing. That's a big, huge, huge thing. And my brother, from the anthropology viewpoint, is trying to figure out how in the hell did Gordon become a Quaker? Well, there's all sorts of tributaries, or pipelines, or something that are hanging out there, and I'm finding friendly things to hang on to or grab as I move into some new territory. And that's what I must've done in landing with the Quakers. And, basic, you know there aren't very many ways, fundamentally, of peace. Your way of peace, Uchimura had that as a fundamental objective. And that has, that's what the Quakers have. And so I found it -- now my roommate was not a Quaker.

TI: You're saying Howard Scott?

GH: Yeah, Howard Scott, he came from, oh, just the Baptist, or some Protestant background, his parents were. And he had the local community, Marysville, upbringing. But he found the Quakers attractive anyway. [Laughs] And we both began to attend, go back to the Quaker meetings more frequently than to other meeting, other resource groups that we visited. And eventually we became a member.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Right, and so while we're on the Quakers, I'm gonna kind of bring us back to your actual marriage, that you got the marriage certificate in Spokane. But later on, you chose to have a Quaker ceremony. Can you talk about...

GH: I got the license.

TI: The license, I'm sorry, the license.

GH: Only the State can give the license.

TI: Right, the license, but not --

GH: And the Quakers have established a procedure bypassing, I mean that, by pointing out that they don't have officially a guy, the preacher, who is the one that handles that part for the State in authenticating a marriage. So they said, "Well, you get somebody," and so it's called registrar, registrar for this meeting, authorized by, recognized by the state as someone to represent the legal aspects on behalf of the Society of Friends. Each meeting can have a registrar. So, and they didn't qualify, they didn't say it has to be a degreed person or this and that, a seminary or what. So we have that person, and he got the certificate and signed by those authorities.

And then at the meeting, we have a worship period, quiet silent worship, just like you have regular Sundays, except this is worship for consummating a marriage process. We have a worship period called a memorial worship period, in remembrance of a friend who died. We have a worship period before we enter a business session -- it's a business meeting, so where they worship with a concern for business, where we have a shorter worship period, usually a half hour or something, and then we move into business item on the grounds that items are not brought out to argue. But we're following our insights, the best insights that we can bring to that and others respond to that. And if they have something to add, add light to the thing, and then when we reach a certain place where we feel we're ready to agree on it, we say, "We'd like a minute on that. I think we're ready to go ahead on that." And then they read the minute, a good, good recorder would pick up the different suggestions that were made, and minutes, things that contributed to that. And so, it's stated differently now, and different components are in there. And they read it, and they say either that we need further, there's something, we need further reflection on that. It may then be referred to another meeting to bring out, or further worship to see what other things develop. But in the end, a time will come when the clerk will say, the chairman, we call it clerk, will say, "This is what we seem to have approached to, are we ready to approve the minute?"

TI: And would they do similar things at a wedding ceremony?

GH: No, this is not a business, so they...

TI: Oh, this is more the business...

GH: ...they meet, they meet in, well their meeting is to bless the decision that was made.

TI: But they wouldn't have the similar discussion in terms of is this a good marriage, and...?

GH: No, no. But somebody could raise that question. You know, if they feel, but there would be opportunity to raise it before the final session. When the meeting approves this license to move ahead, they have to take it up. And if they think there's serious flaws in the plan, what is it? Well they have to bring it out. Then either it's a flaw, or not. That would be clarified. And if there's a flaw, what solution is there? And if they reach a point of feeling that this can go forward, then they say, "Well, what's our minute now?" And that could be read. And, "Are we ready to approve it?"

TI: Well, good.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Tell me a little bit about your wedding ceremony and what that was like.

GH: It was a standard -- I'll say, it doesn't add very much when I put it that way -- but it was a meeting that filled the congregational room of the Evangelical church in Spokane.

TI: And so how many people would that be?

GH: Well, I'd say 200. Most of 'em were there because they knew it was our wedding. I don't think --

TI: Were your parents there...?

GH: Yeah, they came.

TI: ...and friends?

GH: And my brothers and so on came in, and relatives that were there. Lillian and her brother and so on. If her parents were in town, they would have been there. We have signatures of those who signed at the time. And I was thinking the other day, I said, "I have something I might want, you might want to keep it. I don't think I need to keep it. But it's the wedding out of which you, developed. [Laughs] So you're signature's not on here, 'cause this was the wedding of ours, and you appeared a year later." We have that marriage statement. And at a certain point in the -- shortly in the, shortly I say, because this was a meeting not of a Quaker meeting, regular meeting, it's at a place authorized by the Seattle group. So the senior member gets up and explains what is the usual procedure and what goes on. And then in the process he'll say, "During the worship period, which is fundamentally like any worship period that we might have on Sunday, which usually goes for an hour." See, we've got the modern technology involved. It starts and closes right at the hour. [Laughs] But what takes place is supposed to be according to the spirit.

And when a wedding, I mean when the, at a certain part of the ceremony, worship, I got up and said that in this presence of the spirit and friends, I'd like to make my commitment publicly of my intent to marry and live constructively with Esther, and so on. And shortly she'll get up to make her statement. So we each make a commitment to, in the spirit that is existing in the worship, and to each other, and to the public that's assembled there. So it's the, that's the part of the thing that I think is intended in all these weddings, whether a preacher pronounces at the end, "I pronounce you man and wife." All of that, and the singing, and verse reading, and, you know, the procedures are different. But, and sometimes they let the people, some ministers are very liberal, and they say, "You could prepare whatever you feel and then let me see what it is." And then he'll make some suggestion, and then it's approved, and then they follow that. And it may be a twenty-minute service, or it may be one hour. Ours was an hour.

And then when it was over, well they all moved to the home of Dr. and Mrs. Paul Suzuki, who was my personal physician and the place where I lived for a while. I helped them find that house, and became their first attendant, at, in the spare bedroom. So when any of the brothers, Nobu's brothers appeared, Yanagimachi brothers, they shared the bed with me. [Laughs] Or if it got real crowded, I went down to the couch and gave them the room. She, she hosted the reception. And, and after that, when they returned to Seattle, they returned, and my parents returned to Seattle, they, Suzukis became their physicians. Before, since they lived out on the farm, they didn't have Suzuki as, as the physician.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.