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-01-0004

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TI: And tell me a little bit about your mother. What was she like? How would you describe your mother?

AA: Well, she, she came over to this country when she was about fifteen, and she attended Maple Leaf grammar school for a couple of years, and so she picked up a little bit of English. During the time when they were in Japan, the parents had additional kids (in the U.S.), and she had a number of younger siblings. And it was kind of, they felt very uncomfortable with, like, my mother going to school, she was fifteen and she was in the first and second grade, and they were kind of ashamed to think that they had a dumb older sister. But there was, there wasn't the closeness between the ones that were born here and the ones that were in Japan because their culture was altogether different.

TI: So Art, this is interesting. So there were four siblings who were born and essentially raised in Japan.

AA: Yes.

TI: And as teenagers they came over. And then there was a second wave...

AA: Second wave.

TI: ...of children. Tell me about those children, who were they?

AA: Okay, the oldest was May, and she married a fellow by the name of Tony Gomez. He used to be, he was working for the Seattle Times. And then the next one was George, and he became a farmer in Idaho. And the next one was Tom, he also became a farmer in Idaho. And then the next one was Woodrow, he was in the forest product, he was the first one that went to the university, majored in forestry. And the next one was Martha, she was a dancer, and the youngest one was Connie, and she married Hideki Sekijima.

TI: So it was kind of interesting, from a family standpoint...

AA: Lot of kids. [Laughs]

TI: Yeah, there were lots of kids, two, four, six, they had ten children, your parents, or your grandparents. And it looks like the younger children were probably fairly close in age to the, to their nieces and nephews from the older...

AA: Oh, yes. My aunt Connie was a little bit younger than I am. [Laughs] So we all grew up together.

TI: And so was that, did that, were there any problems or issues with that, or was that just kind of like, just felt normal to you? Or I mean, when, so you saw your, Connie, you probably didn't, did you call her, like, Aunt Connie?

AA: I never called her aunt. [Laughs]

TI: She was just, like, more like a cousin, perhaps?

AA: Yeah.

TI: Okay. And so, and so you talked about sort of this, maybe difficulties between the older siblings and the younger siblings? And a lot of it was the younger siblings, did you feel like they felt maybe a little ashamed because the older siblings didn't speak English as well? Is that what happened?

AA: But my mother's younger siblings, Yutaka and Masao, they both went to high school and they were very fluent in English. They came over a little bit younger than my mother. But turned out that (...), other than Hiromu (who) had the greenhouse in the north end, they all lived in the south end of town, so we used to differentiate by the north enders and the south enders. So we weren't that close with the people in the north end.

TI: So who, who were the north enders and who were the south enders? I mean, what was that distinction?

AA: All the younger, younger ones lived in the north end.

TI: Along with --

AA: And even to this day, they still live in the north end. [Laughs]

TI: And so your family and Yutaka and Misao's family were south end?

AA: South end, yes.

TI: Okay. Oh, interesting.

AA: That was initially, but later on, they separated. The Sakamotos all were in the south end. And Yutaka went to Japan right after the war, so we didn't see too much of him.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.