Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Art Abe Interview
Narrator: Art Abe
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: January 24, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-aart-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so Art, let's get started. So the way I start every interview is just the date and location. So we're in the Densho studio, today is Thursday, January 24, 2008. Operating the camera is Dana Hoshide, and I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda, and today we have Art Abe. So Art, the way I like to start is if you could just tell me where you were born and what date you were born.

AA: I was born in Seattle, Washington, 1921.

TI: And what was the date? What's your birthday?

AA: June 12th.

TI: June 12th. And then what was the name given to you at birth?

AA: Arthur, middle name was Kinya, K-I-N-Y-A.

TI: Good. Can you tell me, in terms of siblings, the order that you were born? So if you, like, start with the oldest and then just kind of go down the birth order.

AA: Yeah, my sister Kazuko, she was born 1920. And then my younger sister, Lyla, was born 1923.

TI: So, good, so Kazuko, 1920, you were born 1921, and then Lyla was born 1923, so you were a middle child around two sisters.

AA: That's right.

TI: That must have been interesting. We'll talk more about that. Let's go to your father. What was, what was your father's name?

AA: Takaji.

TI: And do you recall where he, where his family came from in Japan?

AA: Yes, he was from Okayama, Japan.

TI: And do you know what, what kind of work your father's family did?

AA: They had a farm, a fairly sizable farm. He was the eldest of three brothers.

TI: So why, as the eldest of three brothers, why did he come to the United States?

AA: Well, he, I believe that he didn't want to join the army.

TI: Because during this time, the Japanese were engaged in various military engagements.

AA: Yes, with Russia.

TI: So your father was interested. Can you tell me anything about your father's family in terms of maybe his siblings or anything about the family in Japan? You've mentioned he's the eldest of, what, three brothers?

AA: Yes. Well, he came over when he was about nineteen, so he left the family in charge of his younger brother.

TI: And do you know any stories in terms of how your Dad's, say, parents, like your grandparents, reacted to his wanting to come to the United States?

AA: He never discussed that.

TI: What was your father like? If you were to describe him, what was he like?

AA: Oh, I believe he was quite intelligent. He was fairly tall for a Japanese.

TI: And what would, when you say "fairly tall," how tall...

AA: Oh, he wasn't that tall. He was a little bit taller than I am, I guess.

TI: So maybe about 5'7" or so?

AA: 5'7", yeah.

TI: Okay, five feet, seven inches. So intelligent...

AA: Yeah, he graduated from high school, and immediately after high school, he came to this country.

TI: Okay, so let's... well, so tell me, so when he, he came as a nineteen-year-old, and so what did he do when he first came to the United States?

AA: Well, he was a laborer, working in a, working in the nursery greenhouse business.

TI: So talk about that. I mean, so, by the time your father came to Seattle, were there other family members already here doing things?

AA: No, he was the only one.

TI: So did he start the, sort of, the greenhouse?

AA: No, that was my mother's side.

TI: Oh, okay, okay. So, let's, yeah, I'm getting confused here.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.