Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Sharon Tanagi Aburano Interview II
Narrator: Sharon Tanagi Aburano
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Megan Asaka (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 3, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-asharon-02-0001

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[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: Today is Thursday, April 3rd, and so this is, we're starting now the third hour of the interview, Sharon. And the first two hours, we spent time talking about your family prewar Seattle, which was just fascinating. And where we left it was right at the moment when you had packed up everything and were ready to go to Puyallup. And so I thought we'd pick up there, and why don't you talk about going from Seattle to Puyallup and what that was like.

SA: Okay. When we started... let's see, if I backtrack, by the time we were evacuating, my father had been taken and my sister was at Washington State College, and so it was my brother, (...) mother and I. The funds were frozen, of course, (and) we sold everything that we could off the shelves, and that gave us sufficient cash. The money that my father had hidden went to my sister because she would have to find lodging (and pay the tuition at WSU). So we started off packing, and as I said, we bought (six black) suitcases, (two each as the unspoken rule, "what you can carry"). Ms. Mahon (...) our principal at Bailey Gatzert school, the dear soul (came) down to where we boarded the bus, I think it was (at Eighth Avenue and) Lane Street, and she was kissing (and hugging) all of us goodbye, and she had tears running (down her cheeks). And I thought that was wonderful of her to be there.

TI: Well, that's interesting because, I mean, you had probably, you were in high school, so this was years after you were at Bailey Gatzert.

SA: But she was there for (our) people, for (us), her children.

TI: Wow. And what did, did you guys talk about that, the other students or former students of Ms. Mahon?

SA: (...) It was comforting to know we had a friend. See, this was our problem, I think, that all of us didn't have Caucasian friends. If we did, we would have been, I think, been able to defend ourselves a bit better. But because we stayed within our confines, we never visited a Caucasian (home). I know Sumi Suguro told me, in Bellevue where they (lived prewar), that one of her sisters got invited to a party by one of her classmates, unknown to the mother. And so her mother (and) the whole family (were) excited, and they put her in her prettiest dress, I don't know if they had bought anything (special). And they waited outside for the car to come to pick her up. And when she went, they all were envious that she went. Well, evidently, she got to the party and the mother was astounded to find an Asian (classmate) bringing a gift, that was another thing, they didn't know what to bring. And so she was telling us this, and then when she came -- and of course because she was there, they couldn't send her back. At first she thought they were going to take the gift and she would have to go back. But they did, evidently have her come in. So when she came home, they were all excited, they were wondering. So they waited for her to come and they asked her what happened and everything. But the fact that they were envious that someone would be invited to a Caucasian home, I thought that was pretty good.

TI: And you mentioned, in terms of when the mother saw Sumi, she was surprised?

SA: Sumi's sister, yes.

TI: Or Sumi's sister, she was surprised to see her?

SA: Yes.

TI: Because she didn't realize that an Asian...

SA: The class was invited, and (she) was an Asian (classmate). That's what Sumi said, you could talk to her, she says it very well. Sumi Akizuki is (her) married name. And so I thought, well, probably if you lived in a Caucasian area, (you might mix in), but our only contact with a Caucasian was that Russell Meat Market next door. (Mr. Russell) was very nice, but we were never invited (to his home).

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