Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kazuko Uno Bill Interview I
Narrator: Kazuko Uno Bill
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 7, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-bkazuko-01

<Begin Segment 1>

MA: So today is May 7, 2008, I'm here with Kazuko Bill. I'm Megan Asaka, and the videographer today is Dana Hoshide, and we are in the Densho office in Seattle. So, Kazuko, thanks so much for coming down here to do the interview.

KB: You're welcome.

MA: I wanted to start by asking where and when you were born.

KB: Okay. I was born in Seattle, Washington, and from what my parents told me, I was born in one of two hospitals that were in the International District at that time. And they were specifically for the Japanese women, and they were run by not MDs, but by the helpers.

MA: Midwives?

KB: Midwives, thank you. [Laughs] And apparently it was a successful delivery.

MA: And when, when were you born?

KB: On June 5, 1921.

MA: And what was the name given to you at birth?

KB: Kazuko. And maybe I'll just explain the character for my name in Japanese, is "peace." And so my father, I think, gave us kind of nice names. I mean, I was the "peace" child, my brother, who came after me, is Tsutomu, and his name means "someone who likes to study," but he wasn't that way, but that was his name. [Laughs] And then my brother after that was Kiyoshi, which means "nice personality." And then my sister after that was Hisaye, which means a "beautiful limb," "beautiful branch," I guess is more correct. And then my other two sisters, I don't know what their names mean. I guess by that time it didn't make much difference. (Narr. note: It's interesting that the common Japanese names were George and Mary at that time but my parents did not consider these names for us. I heard a story that when Japanese kids started schools with Japanese names, the teachers couldn't pronounce them and called girls "Mary" and boys "George"!)

MA: It sounds like your parents put a lot of thought into naming you.

KB: I think so, uh-huh.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

MA: So let's talk a little bit about your parents, your mother and father. What was your father's name?

KB: His name was Kinuta (Uno).

MA: And where was he from in Japan?

KB: He was from Okayama Prefecture.

MA: And do you know what his family did in Japan, in Okayama?

KB: I think he lived in a small village, and they were involved with farming, orchards and rice paddies and that type of thing.

MA: And then do you happen to know his motivations for coming to the U.S. or why he came to the U.S.?

KB: Well, I asked him one time why he came to the United States, and he said that he wanted to get an education, and perhaps return to Japan. That didn't happen, but that was, I think, part of the idea of his coming to Japan. I read a little bit about the history of that area, of that time in Japan, and there was kind of a depression, I'm not sure if it was exactly a depression, but the economic times were rather harsh at that time in this particular area, the Chugoku area, Hiroshima, Okayama. And so the Americans actually went to recruit some workers, maybe to work in the railroads or in the, on the farms, and so they encouraged these Japanese young people to come to the United States, and maybe that influenced him, I don't know. He never talked about that part.

MA: Do you know how old he was when he came over?

KB: Not exactly sure how old he was, but he was in his teens.

MA: So young, very young.

KB: Uh-huh.

MA: And what did he do when he first came to Seattle or to the Northwest?

KB: Well, there were people from the same area in Okayama already in Seattle, and I think he just joined them, and they were mostly settled in the south part of Seattle and on farms.

MA: So when he came to the U.S., he went directly to South Park?

KB: Yes, I think so, as far as I know.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

MA: And then how did he end up meeting and marrying your mother?

KB: Well, it was one of those arranged marriages. She came from a village not too far from where he was born, and somebody made the arrangements to have her marry him. And actually, I think the marriage, I don't know whether there was a ceremony or what, but everything was taken care of in Japan before she actually came to the United States.

MA: So did he actually go to Japan?

KB: No, they didn't meet until she arrived in the United States.

MA: And so you said your mother was from Okayama?

KB: She was from Okayama.

MA: So a similar area. What did her family do in Japan?

KB: They were sort of like farming, but I always heard that they had lots of trees, and they were, I think, involved with lumbering or whatever, I'm not exactly sure what that meant. But they had yama, they had old yama. So it was a little different, but I think they did a little farming also. And the farming was mostly like raising rice. Nowadays they have a lot of orchards in that area.

MA: Did she talk much about her experience coming over to the U.S. and meeting your father? Did she talk to you much about that, or did she talk about that in general?

KB: Not really too much, but I think it was quite an experience for her to come to the United States. And finding the different living conditions, also the food, she was always telling us, "I never knew what butter was or what cheese was until I came to the United States." So I think it was quite a change for her to adjust to the conditions in the United States.

MA: And how old was she when she came?

KB: She was twenty.

MA: So still very young.

KB: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

MA: So your parents then were living in South Park around the time when you were born.

KB: Yes, uh-huh.

MA: And what were they doing in South Park, what was their profession?

KB: They were farming.

MA: Was it produce mostly?

KB: Right. What did they... it's carrots and onions and potatoes and beans and things like that, peas.

MA: And who did they work with? Who did they sell the produce to?

KB: The produce went to the produce market on Western Avenue. There were a lot of Italians who owned the wholesale produce places, and the Japanese farmers dealt with them, mostly. And I don't know, there's this Joe Desimone Bridge at the Public Market, well, Joe Desimone was one of those prominent produce marketers, and I remember he used to even come to our farm to look over what we had. And he'd bring his truck and carry off a load of carrots or onions or cabbage or whatever we had. So the Italians were involved in the produce markets, and also in farming at that time.

MA: So was South Park then predominately Japanese and Italian farmers?

KB: Well, there were others, too, but lot of the agricultural part was Italians and Japanese.

MA: And in general, how were the relationships among the Italians and Japanese, and the various other groups in South Park?

KB: I'm not sure how much interrelation there was socially. I don't think there was very much, but it was pretty peaceful, I would say. I don't remember any conflicts going on.

MA: So no, like, competition?

KB: I don't believe so, no. In a way, it was interesting because the Japanese didn't speak very good English, and a lot of the Italians didn't speak very good English. They were all immigrants, and it was kind of, when I think back about that, it was kind of funny to listen to them try to talk to each other. [Laughs]

MA: And you wonder how the business was conducted when they would come to visit the farms.

KB: That's right, yeah.

MA: So then did you speak mostly Japanese, then, at home with your parents?

KB: I did until I started school. My mother said that the only English I knew was "yes" and "no." So I guess I managed. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 5>

MA: So you started in grade school, right, in South Park elementary school?

KB: Right. Actually, I think as soon as we reached five, we could go to kindergarten. So I started kindergarten in South Park school.

MA: Do you remember struggling with the language barrier at all, or having to learn English?

KB: I just don't recall that it was any problem. I think when we're young, we pick up languages much more easily than when we're older. I just, I never thought that it was any more difficult for me than the others. I must have had good teachers. [Laughs]

MA: So how many -- going back to South Park elementary school -- how many Nisei students were in your class or in the school in general? Was it mostly Nisei or what was the demographic?

KB: I was trying to, you know, I was trying to think. Maybe, like, one-fourth of the class, South Park school was a very small school, so I don't think we had more than, like, twenty, twenty-five in a class, and maybe four or five would be Japanese.

MA: And in general, who were your, during that time of your life, who were your friends, or who did you sort of socialize with?

KB: I think just the neighborhood children. We used to play games, play school. We didn't have television, we didn't have -- well, I guess we had the radio and the phonograph, play records. Also, I think we learned some Japanese games. I'm not exactly sure what they were now. There's this one where you use the paddle with the little ball and the feathers on it. I remember playing with that, and the Japanese dolls. We always played house. We also played school, and I was always the schoolteacher.

MA: During that time when you were sort of a young child, did you also work on the farm?

KB: After we were old enough, we worked on the farm, we helped with the weeding and bunching carrots and things like that.

MA: How often would you work? Was it like every day after school, or just on the weekends?

KB: After we were older, we would probably, we probably worked every day after school.

MA: What age did you start working on the farm then?

KB: Oh, I don't know. Maybe like nine or ten. I'm not sure. I think even the young kids were just, we just got used to just being in the dirt, you might say. [Laughs] Because our parents were out on the farm, then as children we would just follow them and they would say, "Oh, pull an onion or pull a carrot," or whatever, and we'd do it, so I think we got kind of into it quite young, even though we weren't very helpful, maybe.

MA: So can you describe a little bit, maybe the house you grew up in and the area just surrounding the house? What was that like?

KB: Okay, we were living in this very old house, and it was a frame house. We had a kitchen with, actually, I think we had either a gas or... I mean, it was fairly modern as far as the equipment went. But we didn't have a refrigerator for a long time, I remember that. We had an icebox where we had to get the ice, put it in there, and there was a delivery truck that came every so often and brought ice. Also, there was a store in Seattle owned by Japanese who would come out and deliver tofu and fish and some Japanese type foods. And then we'd have to put those things into the refrigerator. So, and also we had the milk truck, that's right, milk and ice cream truck. These services were available to us, so my family didn't have to go grocery shopping like we do now. A lot of the things were delivered to us. Also, my father, when he went into town to deliver the vegetables, would bring back some food that he would purchase, probably like in Japantown, so fish or whatever was available there.

MA: Would you ever go with him into town, to Seattle?

KB: I went, he used to take me to the market, and I used to really enjoy that because I got a lot of attention. And this was probably when I was, before I started school, and I was really little. And I still remember how these men would gather after they finished their business of delivering the vegetables, they would go and have coffee and pastries or whatever was available there and chat. And they would give me candy and pay a lot of attention to me, so I kind of enjoyed going to the market with my father. And I don't know whether he did that, I'm sure he must have done that with my brothers, but I'm not sure he did that with the younger ones. So that was one of my treats when I was growing up.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

MA: So going back to your farm a little bit, how big was your farm, can you describe maybe your, the area around your house and your neighbors?

KB: Yeah, I could say something about the South Park community.

MA: Sure.

KB: It was, okay, the area that we were living in was east of the Duwamish River, and it went to, at that time, it was East Marginal Way. Now, this is all Boeing, as far as I can tell now, but there were one, two, three... six Japanese farms in this area. And then Fourteenth Avenue was one border of the farm area, and then on the other side of Fourteenth Avenue, we had another group of Japanese living more in regular houses. I'm not exactly sure what they were doing, but I think they were probably in service professions or working on somebody else's farm or whatever. And then we had a Japanese language school there, and it was like the community center. There was a school building, and then there was a big, like an auditorium/gym combination type place where we had programs. We used to have stage performances, movies, New Year's celebration would be there, they bring all the good food, everybody would have, like, a picnic basket and we'd all share. And there were Japanese dances, there was judo, there was kendo, so all those activities took place in that community center. And that was away from the farm, it was on the other side of Fourteenth Avenue. Then there was a grocery store that was run by a Japanese couple. This was a little bit after we more or less grew up, but they were at the end of that bridge, and it was Frank's Store, and it used to be this nice place for us to gather when we needed to have something.

MA: So it seems like there was a really vibrant community, Japanese community in South Park.

KB: There was. There was a South Park Community Club, my father was very active in that group and...

MA: What did the Community Club do?

KB: Well, I used to ask them, "What do you do?" and the only thing I can remember was, like, if somebody got sick, they would go visit. If they want to plan a picnic or something like that, maybe they would be in charge of it. I'm not exactly sure how active they were, but I found some old letters, and there are lots of letters addressed to the South Park Community Club, but it's all in Japanese so I don't know what they were communicating. Also, they worked probably in conjunction with the Seattle group. Like I remember if some dignitary from Japan came, then they would go to meet that person if they had any kind of a reception or something like that, then the Community Club officers would be involved with that.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

MA: What about churches? Was there a Buddhist, like a Buddhist temple in South Park?

KB: There was, there was no church in South Park, no Japanese church in South Park. My parents were members of the Nichiren Buddhist church which I think is still in Seattle. And they were very active in that church.

MA: So they would go to Seattle for the events and activities at the church.

KB: Right, uh-huh.

MA: Would you also go to the church...

KB: We went, yes, uh-huh. They had, there were some pictures where, I always meant to ask my parents exactly what they were, but my sisters were dressed in these fancy Japanese clothes when there was a special celebration at the church. They were called ohigosan or something like that. There'd be lots of food. It seems like the Japanese always had food at the celebrations. [Laughs]

MA: Yes. So you mentioned the language school which was kind of in a central area for South Park. Did you attend the language school?

KB: Yes, we went after our regular school, so like in the winter, it would get dark by the time we finished. It was like maybe, let's see, the regular school finishes about three, three-thirty, and then we would go to the Japanese school which would be, like, maybe from four to six or something like that. So then we would go home. So it would sometimes be dark by the time we finished with our school.

MA: And this was when you were in elementary school?

KB: Yes.

MA: Or did you continue all the way through?

KB: I think basically in elementary school. I don't think I went after I started high school.

MA: Did you, in general, did you enjoy language school?

KB: Yes, because I just enjoyed school, I just loved school. And the best part was when the teacher would read us Japanese stories. When she found out that we were restless and not paying attention to what we were supposed to be doing, then she'd get out her little books and she'd read us Japanese stories. And that was really nice, we all enjoyed that.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

MA: So moving on to high school, you actually went to high school in Seattle, right, at Cleveland?

KB: Could I just say a word about my grade school?

MA: Oh, sure.

KB: Okay. I think we came from a Japanese family with Japanese customs, and when I, like I said, when I started kindergarten, I didn't know any English. So we learned a lot about the American customs through our schools. And I went to South Park school, I think kindergarten through third grade, and then we were transferred to Concord school, which was also in the area. And there we went from the fourth grade to the sixth grade. And that school was much larger, and it had a cafeteria. And since we were not used to all the American food, I mean, we were just fascinated by the food in that cafeteria. [Laughs] And one of the things that I just remember so well is that they had these delicious hot just-baked biscuits with butter, and butter is something that the Japanese didn't use very much, and these biscuits would be dripping with butter and we'd go home and tell our parents, "Oh, we had these delicious biscuits at school. Why can't we have them at home?" [Laughs] And, of course, they didn't really know exactly what we're talking about, but it was kind of interesting to learn American ways, American food, American habits through our schools. And the teachers were, I think, exceptionally patient with us because not only were there Japanese, but there were also the Italian kids who were children of immigrants. And they had their likes, (and I) learned about garlic from the Italians. And so not only did we learn to read and write, but I think we learned more about the American (and other) culture through our schools.

MA: It seems like at home you had a strong sense of Japanese culture and heritage and food.

KB: Yes, uh-huh.

MA: Were your parents, how did they feel about you, I guess, going to school and learning all this stuff about American food and culture? Were they, was there a conflict ever about that?

KB: No, I think like my mother also took cooking classes to learn how to cook American food, how to cook Chinese food. I think they were very open to this type of thing. They liked to try different variety of foods.

MA: So was Concord school then located outside of South Park? Where was it geographically?

KB: No, it's in South Park.

MA: In South Park?

KB: It's still, I think it's still in existence, uh-huh, as far as I know, it's still there and still open to students.

MA: It was just a larger school than your previous elementary school.

KB: Right, uh-huh. There's Concord Avenue, and it's on Concord Avenue, and I don't know, I haven't been back there to see, but as far as I know, it's still in existence.

MA: What are some of your strongest memories from that time?

KB: Let me see. From my elementary school days? Well, learning about food, learning about the American customs, there was a, actually, a classmate who invited us to her home, and I think it was not too far from Concord school. And we found out that their floor was waxed, and there were maybe four or five of us Japanese kids who were invited there, and we were having so much fun just sliding around on this waxed floor. [Laughs] And I think back about that, they must have been appalled how we were behaving. But they were very nice, they knew that we were learning. So they were very patient with us.

MA: Was that common, to sort of, for the Caucasian students and the Japanese students to socialize together at that point, or was it sort of a...

KB: Not, not that much, I don't think. Not so much in grade school. That was just one incidence that I recall, we were invited into their home.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

MA: So is there anything else about your childhood or about South Park that you wanted to talk about or reflect on about the South Park community?

KB: Well, the only thing I could say is that we were disrupted by the expansion of Boeing, and...

MA: When did that happen?

KB: That happened... oh, actually, that happened after I was in high school. So maybe we shouldn't talk about that. Well, anyway, I think you know that the Japanese were not able to own property for a long time, and so our land that we farmed on was rented. And in our case, it was rented by a friend who had an older child who was an American citizen, and therefore he was, I think he must have been over twenty-one, that he was able to rent the land for us. So when Boeing decided to expand, then they took over all this area where the farms were on our side of the river, and we all had to move. So at that point, our family went to another farm further south. It was still, I'm not exactly sure what part of the, whether that area had a name, I guess it was Duwamish. And the other families also scattered to different parts of, the southern part of Seattle.

MA: Did Boeing provide you with any compensation or anything for leaving?

KB: No, because...

MA: They just sort of came in and took over?

KB: Yeah, 'cause we didn't have, we didn't own the farm. So I guess we were not entitled to anything. I really don't know who owned that property. I think we looked at an old map and still couldn't find out who actually owned that property, maybe it was just there.

MA: That seems like a big deal, though, Boeing coming in, it sort of disrupted the community, or scattered it, the South Park community, it seems.

KB: Well, we were just a small part of the community. It was the area east of the Duwamish River. I think from the address, our address, I'm trying to find the exact address, but I know it was in the 8000 East Marginal Way, and I don't know whether East Marginal Way was relocated or what, but the Museum of Flight is on East Marginal Way, it's eight thousand and something, and the Boeing headquarters is in that area also, and I think that's where our farms were, as far as the address goes. And I can't find anything to back up this information. I'm trying to find some old maps, maybe that would help. But even at the Museum of Flight, they had some maps and it just never showed the farms. Anyway, from the old address, then we would have been where Boeing plants are. And that took place quite a while ago.

MA: And what about that sort of central area with the language school and the theater, was that affected by the Boeing encroachment?

KB: No, because that was on the other side of Fourteenth Avenue and I'm not sure what happened to that area. There were a lot of small houses. I guess I should look into it one of these days and see what happened to the language school. I'm sure it's no longer there. Not as a language school, anyway.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

MA: So then you were at Concord school until eighth grade, and then you went on to --

KB: No, sixth grade.

MA: Until sixth grade, okay.

KB: And then I went to Cleveland junior high. Cleveland at that time had junior high, two years of junior high, and then four years of high school.

MA: And that was in, more in Seattle.

KB: Right, uh-huh.

MA: And what was that transition like, going, I'm assuming Cleveland was probably a pretty large school at that time.

KB: Well, it was a small high school, small school. It was the smallest school in Seattle, and I think it was much smaller than, like, Roosevelt or Broadway or any of those other high schools. But it was exciting. I remember we were really, we thought we were making great progress, I guess, going from Concord school to Cleveland school, Cleveland, up on the hill. And it was, I think it was quite a change.

MA: And what were some of the biggest changes that you remember?

KB: Well, in the way that the classes were held. I mean, when we were at Concord, we were very close, we were in small classes, we were very close, and here, or now, in a much larger place. And the students were coming from all around the area, not just from our area. So meeting new faces, making new friends.

MA: Did the South Park kids kind of stick together as friends?

KB: I don't think so. I think we each developed new friends, although I used to still walk to school with my neighbor, we were friends with our neighbors, and so it was convenient for me to walk, walk to school with somebody. It was like, maybe a mile and a half, I don't, it was quite a long distance for us to go from our home to Cleveland, and we always had to walk, we didn't have buses in those days. So it's something that we accepted.

MA: I'm curious about the, again, the racial breakdown of your, of Cleveland in general, maybe your class. Was it, the percentage of Nisei students at Cleveland, what was, do you remember?

KB: Most of the Nisei students came from our area, so when we went to Cleveland, I think there were not as many Japanese as the white students. And I was thinking back, 'cause you had that question in your sheet, and you know, there were, I don't remember any Chinese, I don't remember -- well, I remember one black boy. He kind of was with us for a very short time, and then he disappeared. And otherwise, it was all white, Italians, and other white people and the Japanese. And the Japanese, as I said, became fewer percentage-wise because there were so many white students from the south, south end of Seattle.

MA: Did the Japanese American students sort of stick together and socialize, or was there more of a, in high school, more of an interracial....

KB: I think we were mixed more. I had, I developed some friends, especially in high school, that I kept all my life. One of the, one of my good college friends was from Cleveland. And I saw her until she passed away here a few years ago. So we developed a long-standing friendship in high school.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

MA: You mentioned earlier that you just really enjoyed school.

KB: Uh-huh.

MA: Was this something that continued throughout high school? In general, did you enjoy learning and enjoy...

KB: I did, yeah, I really liked school.

MA: And what, I guess, the relationships with your teachers, did you have some favorite teachers that really influenced you or impacted your education?

KB: Yes. One of them was my journalism teacher. This was, I think, when I was a senior. I took journalism, and it was a male teacher, he was very encouraging, and I became editor of our school newspaper. He kind of encouraged me to go into journalism. And the other teacher was my language teacher; I took Latin. At that time, Latin was something that if you were going to college, you might have to have. Of course that didn't work out to be so, but anyway, that was what the thinking was. So I took Latin, and she was very nice to me, very encouraging. And I was talking to her one day during recess, and she asked me what I intended to do after I graduated from high school. And I said I wanted to go to college and I wanted to become a schoolteacher, and that's when she told me that, "Oh, you'll never make it because you're a Japanese," and that just shocked me. Here I'm Japanese, I'm different, and I'm not going to be able to become a schoolteacher. So then I thought about this for a while and decided, "Well, okay, if that's the way things are, I better go into some field where I won't have to depend on somebody to give me a job." And that's when I thought of going into medicine.

MA: That's interesting. So your teacher told you that you would, you shouldn't be a teacher because you were being discriminated against, or you wouldn't make it because you were Japanese.

KB: That's right. There was not this talk about how discrimination was bad. As I recall, nobody worried about civil rights or personal rights, and it was accepted. Not only that, but the married teachers could not teach. They had to be single; once they got married, they could not teach. That was for the females. The males, of course, it was alright if they were married. But the women teachers had to be single. And so this type of thing has really changed.

MA: Yeah, going back to what you said about discrimination, how would you characterize attitudes about discrimination back then? Was it sort of, it's just the norm?

KB: Yeah, I guess we were different, and so people thought differently about us, I don't know. I don't think I thought deeply about it.

MA: So when your, it seems like, then, when your teacher kind of told you that about your aspirations for becoming a teacher, what were your feelings after she said that? It seems like that was the first time maybe that you really kind of were struck by...

KB: That I was different?

MA: Right, right.

KB: Yeah, that I was different. And yeah, it bothered me a lot. I remember being quite upset to hear this, that I'm not sure that I realized it was discrimination per se, but here she's making me different from everybody else, and it gave me more of an incentive to prove that, "Okay, I can do whatever I need to do or want to do."

MA: Yeah, that's interesting because then you said that that kind of made you realize that you could do other things, that you could go into medicine, for example.

KB: Right, yeah. I said, "Well, I better go into something where I don't have to depend on an employer." It seems to me at that time, well, okay, a doctor is independent. I guess I should have thought maybe a dentist or something, or maybe there are other professions, but I just happened to come to my mind, that, "Well, yeah, a doctor is on his own." At least, that was my thinking at that time.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

MA: So when you sort of started high school and were going through high school, was it always a given that you wanted to go to college? Or when did you start thinking about, that you wanted to continue in your education and go on to college?

KB: Probably not 'til maybe later on in high school. I did very well in class, however, in the back of my mind, I wasn't sure whether I would make it to college. So I took courses like typing, bookkeeping... what other? Mostly some, what they called the commercial classes.

MA: Why didn't you think you were --

KB: Huh?

MA: Why didn't you think you were going to go to, why you may not go to college?

KB: I just didn't know financially if I would be able to make it, if my parents would be able to support me. I knew that my grades probably were good enough to get me in. You never know, the common thing for girls in my community, in the Japanese community was to get married as soon as they graduated from high school. Most of my friends, some of them were in arranged marriages, and maybe that's what was expected of me. But I wasn't about to do it. [Laughs] I mean, I knew myself that that's not the way I wanted to, to go. So just in case my parents were gonna set a fuss over my going to college, I thought, "Well, I might get a job," so I took those so-called commercial courses. But I also did other classes which would make me eligible to go to college. And I was a good student, so I could handle it without any difficulty.

MA: How did your parents feel about you wanting to go on to college and continue your education? Were they supportive?

KB: They were after I talked to them about it. I hesitated for quite a while, to say anything, but they were supportive. In fact, they encouraged me to go.

MA: What were some of your, I guess, activities and hobbies that you did in high school, maybe after school or on the weekends?

KB: I wasn't very much of an athlete. [Laughs] I was trying to think, we had some, like cooking classes and sewing classes and woodworking classes, things like that, that I took. Seems to me I volunteered in the library. I was also, in my senior year, a member of the service club. I can't remember exactly what it was called, but we got to wear a red sweater with a big 'C' on the sleeve, and monitor hallways and things like that. And I tried to be as active as I could in school, but not sports-wise, not athletic.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

MA: What about, like, socializing with your friends? What would you do to have fun on the weekends or after school?

KB: Well, let me see. In high school?

MA: Uh-huh.

KB: You know, I don't think we socialized in the way that the kids do now. I think we mostly socialized with the family, and with our family's friends. So I'm not exactly sure what all we did in high school.

MA: So what are some things you would do with your family, like, on the weekends?

KB: Well, the big events were like picnics. There were these kenjinkais, did you hear about those? And they would have picnics, the Japanese language school would have picnics, families would get together and have picnics, or maybe they would get together in the home in the wintertime and we'd have all the Japanese goodies, sushi especially. My parents, my father was very active in go and shogi tournaments.

MA: Those are Japanese board games.

KB: Board games, uh-huh. And we always had people come to our home to play, and they'd play on into the wee hours of the night.

MA: Were these all Issei men that would come over?

KB: Issei men, yeah. And he, even after he was quite elderly, he still participated in the go, I think it was go tournaments in Seattle. They were living in Spokane, but he'd come over and play in those go tournaments, he just loved it. So... but for us as teenagers, it's not like these days when they have their own activities so much. My younger sisters were maybe a little more (sociable) than I was, they liked to go to dances, and I never particularly liked dances. But there were some parties for young people (...) available. But maybe I was just more studious, I don't know. [Laughs]

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

MA: I'm curious about your parents. Did they maintain ties to family in Japan, or did they ever talk about, like, current events in Japan with you or maybe in the home?

KB: Okay, I'll have to tell you about Japan, or ties to Japan. Because when I was ten years old, my father took me and my brother to Japan. And actually, his parents were quite elderly, and he heard that his mother was ill, and he wanted to see her before she passed on. At that time, we had to take a boat from Seattle, and it took two weeks. I think it was about two weeks. And unfortunately, she passed away during the time that we were on the boat. However, I did get to meet his father, and he was ill also, and they were in their eighties at the time. And he passed away when we were, while we were there. Now, he had the idea -- I think this happened with other Japanese families also -- had the idea that the children should stay in Japan and get some education there, and so he enrolled us in the school. I immediately felt prejudice towards girls.

MA: Towards being a girl?

KB: Towards being a girl. They always favored the boys. It got me upset because I was a good student, and I felt like they were looking down on me. Even though I had to go to a Japanese school, I think I did very well. In fact, I did better in, like, math, arithmetic or whatever it was, than the Japanese students. But I still felt like, okay, they promote the boys and they kind of look down on the girls. On the other hand, my brother, who was not very studious, got a lot of attention because he was a boy.

MA: From the teachers and adults?

KB: From the teachers, from the relatives, they kind of played up to him, and he loved it. So when the time came for my father to leave and come back to the United States, I said, "I'm not going to stay here; I'm coming back with you." So, but my brother, especially, was babied by my aunt who didn't have any boys, she had four girls, and she really doted on my brother. And so she was gonna look after him, so he stayed in Japan. And as it turned out, about maybe five years later, five or six years later, before World War II, my uncle, who was then taking care of my brother, said, "Please come and get him. He's getting too old for us to handle him," because he was a teenager by then. So my mother went back to get him, she went with my youngest sister Heidi, who was Paula's mother, and brought him back to Seattle. And it so happened that this was just before Pearl Harbor. And we kept saying, "If he had stayed there..."

MA: Who knows what would have happened?

KB: We might have lost him, yeah.

MA: Wow.

KB: So it was very fortunate in a way that we were able to get him out of Japan. Later when I visited Japan, I talked to a woman who was a neighbor, whose husband had been a good friend of my brother, and said he had to be, he had to serve during World War II and was killed. And I think a lot of the young men in Japan lost their lives in World War II.

MA: Did your brother talk to you much about his experience in Japan? I mean, I'm guessing, like, 1940 and the late '30s, there was a growing sense maybe that there would be some sort of conflict. Did your brother ever...

KB: No, he, you know, I'm not so sure that he experienced too much of that, living in the village. And he wasn't that interested in politics or what was going on.

MA: And then how long were you in Japan? Was it a few months?

KB: It was a few months, it was like maybe six months.

MA: And you left because you felt, as a girl, you were treated very badly?

KB: Right, yeah. Not badly, but I felt I didn't mean much to them, that I was a girl, so I was kind of insignificant. I mean, that's the way I felt. I don't, I don't mean that they really treated me badly, but it just -- [laughs] -- I wasn't getting the attention that I might have.

MA: Maybe compared with your experience in the U.S.

KB: That's right, yeah.

MA: What about being an American and going over and staying in Japan? Did you, were you treated maybe differently because you were seen as an American, or were you, by maybe other kids?

KB: No, I think, I think I was accepted pretty much because we were still small. Now, later on, when I went to Japan, and I tried to speak to a clerk for instance, in a store, they'll say, "Oh, come and talk to this gaijin," they called me gaijin. But at that small age, I'm not -- well, maybe they were talking behind our backs, I don't know. But I don't think I really felt that different. This was in a small village, and it seems to me there were other immigrant children there in the past, because a lot of the villagers had come to the United States, and some of them had returned back to Japan, and they had children. So maybe they were somewhat used to it.

MA: Right.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

MA: Okay, so we're back from the break, and we were talking about your experiences in Japan and also your high school experiences and your memories from high school. So what year did you graduate from high school?

KB: 1938.

MA: And then at that time, had you already decided on a college, or did you already have plans to go to college?

KB: I wanted to go to the University of Washington.

MA: And had you already applied?

KB: I'm trying to think how that went. I must have. I think I must have applied.

MA: And then did you start at the University of Washington...

KB: In the fall.

MA: That fall of 1938?

KB: Uh-huh.

MA: From your high school, were there many other women that went on to college?

KB: Women? I only know of one other, my very good friend. She was a friend for life. I'm trying to think if, I think she and I were the only ones from Cleveland. There were several other fellows who went, maybe five or six from Cleveland went on to the University of Washington. Now, I'm not sure how many went to other colleges, but probably not very many. Because the students at Cleveland high school were mainly from working-class families, and it was not as rich as some of the other schools in Seattle. In fact, it was sort of overlooked by many people in Seattle because it was just a small school in kind of an industrial, agricultural area.

MA: So most people kind of went on, maybe, to farming or other...

KB: Right, yeah. Other type of work.

MA: So then you went on to the University of Washington in 1938. What were your first impressions of college life?

KB: Well, I was very fortunate that from the first day of school, almost the first day of school, I got some very good friends. So I enrolled as a pre-med student, and so we were what we called lower campus. And let's see, I was taking, we had to take English, which was not a science course, but then I was taking zoology and chemistry. And I don't know whether you're familiar with the campus, but as far as I know this building is still there, Johnson Hall, that's where most of my first classes were. And so I carried my lunch like I did for the most part in high school. I carried my lunch, I went to the lecture hall, and thought, "Well, okay, I'll eat here, it's empty," big empty room. And actually, when I got there, it wasn't quite empty, there were other students there having their lunch. And we just met each other, introduced ourselves to each other, and some of the people there became my lifelong friends. We just, just hit it off right at the beginning. In fact, I kept contact with them until they passed away. So it was a good start for me, I didn't feel like I'm all alone in this great big institution.

MA: Were your friends mainly Caucasian women?

KB: Yes. There was one Japanese, and the others were Caucasian. They were in my class, I've forgotten, they were in one of my classes, and we just happened to meet at lunchtime.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

MA: At that point, you were pretty, you said you went into pre-med, so you were, then, on your way to becoming, to going into medicine and becoming a doctor. Was that...

KB: Well, not really. I was enrolled in classes, which were required to go into medical school, put it that way, okay. At the same time, I was still a little bit interested in journalism, so I used to go to the, I think they called it the Daily Shack, the UW paper is the UW Daily. And where it was produced was called the Shack. So I volunteered to go there, and they knew that I was not a journalism student, but they accepted me and asked me to write some headlines for the newspaper. And then they gave me an assignment to interview the assistant dean, which sort of was shocking to a, you know, freshman student. But I said, "Okay, I'll do it," so I made an appointment with this person and interviewed him. And he was very nice. I don't know whether he was always the one interviewed by a beginning journalism student or what, but he was very nice. I can't remember his name now. So I had to write it up and present it to the people at the Shack. And gradually I kind of lost interest in going over there, because I was more lower campus and I had my friends in the lower campus, my classes were lower campus.

MA: And the Shack was sort of in a different area?

KB: Sort of more in a different area. So I said, "Oh, forget about it." And I got involved in, more with my pre-med classes.

MA: And those were mainly science classes?

KB: Mostly science classes.

MA: Were there many women in these classes?

KB: Not very many.

MA: Majority men?

KB: Yeah. They were, oh yeah, overwhelmingly men.

MA: How did you feel being in that sort of male environment in class? Did it affect the way that you felt in class?

KB: I don't remember that it bothered me that much. I think I was competitive enough that I felt I could do just as well as anybody. I got along with, it seems to me I got along with everybody. And I had my friends who were female, and we kind of stuck together. We had similar classes, some of them same classes, and so I felt like I had somebody besides all these men. [Laughs]

MA: You had a support network, yeah. What about some of your professors that you had? Were there, did any sort of stick out in your mind as being great mentors or not so good? What's your reflections about your professors?

KB: Okay, I had my, well, actually, he was in the department of biology, but he was my zoology teacher and parasitology teacher, he was wonderful. He always started out by giving some advice, general advice to young people, how they should behave and so forth. And really, I felt very close to him. Under the system in the university, however, you never worked with the professor, you worked with assistants. So I never got personally involved with this man, but I really used to enjoy his lectures. Then there was a bacteriology professor who was a female. She, my friends who were microbiology majors knew her very well, and I happened to take her class, I think it was, like, in my senior year, close to my graduation. And when the evacuation order came, she was so nice to me. She gave me -- oh, I should tell you that I was a good student, and I was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and she gave me her chain that her Phi Beta Kappa (key) was on. She didn't give me the key, my friends bought me my key. And also she was very generous with gifts before I had to leave Seattle. And I often think about her because she was Jewish, and maybe because of her Jewish background, she felt this way towards me.

MA: What was her name?

KB: Her name was Rachael Hofstadt.

MA: Were the Nisei students at the UW a close-knit group at all, or did they have events or activities or social things?

KB: I think they did, but I never got involved with them. I'm, in a way, I'm sorry about that. When I was a freshman, I told you I got involved with these other people, and we stuck together. And one time we were having lunch, somebody came to look for me and said she was a member of Fuyokai and she was my big sister. I can't even remember her name now, but, you know, I had a little chat with her, and she invited me to one of the meetings, but I just never went. I didn't seem to need to meet other Japanese students, and there were not very many Japanese females on the lower campus. There were many in the upper campus, I don't know whether you heard (of) upper campus, lower campus.

MA: Was the lower campus more science?

KB: More science, and the upper campus more liberal arts, home ec., literature, English and so forth. So I never really got involved with the other Japanese students except the ones who were in my classes. In a way, maybe it wasn't a good idea, but that's the way it was. [Laughs]

MA: Well, it seems like you had a close-knit circle of friends.

KB: I did.

MA: Who were of different races. Did you ever talk about race or anything like that, or even like being Japanese with this group of girlfriends?

KB: If we did, I don't think we did seriously. I just don't remember. Just one of them. I'm not sure that the race came into the picture very much. After Pearl Harbor, we were always worried about how our friends would treat us. And as far as my friends went, it didn't make any difference. We were just as close as before.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

MA: So let's talk about Pearl Harbor and that day, December 7, 1941. Do you remember what you were doing when you heard about the news?

KB: Yes, I remember exactly. As you know, we were on a farm, so on that day we were bunching onions. And when we worked like that, especially my brothers, liked to have the radio on. So then they had some kind of music, and the program was interrupted by this announcement that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. And of course it was shocking to everybody, and we sort of stopped work for a while, but then we continued and spent the rest of the day the best we could.

MA: Were your parents with you bunching onions and listening?

KB: Yes, uh-huh, because this was wintertime, so there wasn't any outside work that they could do, so we were in, like, in the barn I think. We were together bunching onions.

MA: What was their reaction to the news?

KB: Oh, they were shocked also. They had no idea that anything like this would happen. And that night, it was kind of a disturbing day for us, and, but we got through and then everybody had gone to bed, and about midnight, there was a knock on the door. And I was the one who got up to see who was at the door, and here were these three big men, I mean, they really looked huge to me at that time. They were... I'm not sure exactly if they were state patrol, they were officers, and they kind of pushed open the door and came in and started searching around the house, and then they asked where my father was, and he was already in bed, so I had to tell them he was in bed. And woke him up, told him to get dressed. And then in the meantime, one of them went through all our papers, books, took a bunch of stuff, and also took my father with them. And I said, "Where are you going? Where are you going?" "Oh, we'll let you know. We'll let you know," they didn't give us any information. And it was not 'til the next day that we found out that he was at the immigration station. And it was really a very frightful day for us. Just unbelievable what could happen to somebody in this country.

So the next day -- that was Sunday -- and then Monday we had to talk about, "What are we going to do?" And my mother said, "All right, you're going to school. No use in sticking around at home, you go to school," so we all went to school. And actually, the reaction of our friends was, of course, shock also, but they had no bad feelings towards me. It was, it was the Japanese in Japan who had done this. So I didn't feel, at least from my friends, I didn't feel any kind of antagonism towards me.

MA: What was the feeling like in general on campus on Monday after Pearl Harbor?

KB: I think, I think it was upsetting to everybody, but I don't think it was personal against any of the students at school. I think it was all towards Japan and the Japanese.

MA: So you didn't feel like you were sort of looked at as...

KB: The enemy? No, I certainly didn't feel that way.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

MA: So why do you think your father was targeted by these FBI or authorities that came over?

KB: Well, he was considered one of the leaders in the community, the South Park Japanese Association, and also the Nichiren Buddhist Church. He did services for the church, and also they had officers in the Japanese Association, and I can't remember, I mean, they probably took turns at the different offices. And he also had some communication with the Seattle Japanese community neighbors. So the people who were picked up were actually the leaders of the community, but he was one of the first ones in South Park. And some of our neighbors who also were active, kind of, it's funny in a way, but they were waiting to be picked up, and they actually were, two or three days later they were all taken to the immigration station.

MA: So then your father was pretty much, like you said, one of the first ones then, to be taken in.

KB: Yes. I'm not sure exactly when the FBI started to round up the Japanese, but I imagine pretty much after Pearl Harbor happened.

MA: So you found out that he was taken to the immigration, the INS building in Seattle. Did you have any communication from him?

KB: No.

MA: Or were you able to see him ever?

KB: No, we went, my mother and I went the next day when we found out he was there. They wouldn't let us see him, they just said he was there. And one thing we were concerned about was financial, because he was in charge of all the money, and he knew where the banks were, and he'd write the checks. So then I got, I had to get a -- what do you call that now? I've forgotten. Some kind of permission from him to, some authorization -- there's a certain term for it, I just forgot that now -- to draw money out of the bank account and to write checks, that sort of thing. But it was all (done) without seeing him, they wouldn't let me see him. They took care of it, the officials took care of that. And let's see. That was one day, and then the second time -- oh, we got a phone call saying, "Please bring a suitcase with his clothes." So then we did that, and then the next day we went back, they said he was no longer there, that we will be hearing from him about where he is going to be.

MA: So they moved him within days.

KB: Yeah, it was like three or four days without ever us seeing him. And then I can't remember, maybe like a week or so later, we found out that he was in Montana.

MA: What was that time like for you, I guess, as the eldest child? Did you have to take on more responsibilities with your siblings, younger siblings?

KB: That's right. I think my mother and I shared the responsibilities, but I felt I needed to help her because of her lack of language ability, and also she really didn't have that much information about finances and so forth. So we kind of tried to work things out together.

MA: And at that point, what happened to the farm? Were you able to maintain the farm in those months after Pearl Harbor, after your father was taken?

KB: We did, but see, that was in the wintertime and there isn't a whole lot to do on the farm in the winter. My brothers, and then I think we always had some other helper around, so they were able to take care of the farm. Let's see, and then we were there until May, is when we had to move to camp.

MA: What was the feeling like in the South Park community in particular after, you know, the Issei men were taken away? What was the talk in the community at that point?

KB: Well, I'm not so sure. I think everybody just tried to get along the best they can. There might have been some feeling that they should return to Japan.

MA: The family should go back to Japan?

KB: Right, some families were thinking about going back to Japan. I'm not sure if anybody did, though, but it was very, very disturbing for everybody. I think we tried to make the best of it, as far as my family was concerned. We continued to go to school, and tried to get by the best we can.

MA: And you had younger siblings, five younger siblings.

KB: Right.

MA: Who were all in school at that point.

KB: Right, uh-huh.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

MA: So, I guess, let's talk about now the Executive Order 9066 and the evacuation orders that came down from the government. What was going through your mind when you heard about how you had to leave and go into camp? What was that time like?

KB: Well, I think it was a big shock. It was pretty, I should say it was a pretty bad time for us, especially when we didn't have my father and nobody knew what was going to happen. But again, I think we tried to make the best of it, we accepted it, we didn't try to fight it. I know that some of the, some people did try to fight it, which I thought was very admirable. But most of us just tried to do the best we can with the order and conform.

MA: It seems like with, especially with the fathers gone and the husbands gone, that it kind of left these communities, and what were people gonna do?

KB: That's right. It's just like we were helpless. So the best course of action I guess was just to do what we were told, which maybe was not the right thing to do, but that was what was open to us, I should say.

MA: And so you were in your, was it third year at the University of Washington?

KB: No, I was in my senior year.

MA: Your senior year, okay.

KB: I was in my senior year. So I was thinking about applying to medical school at that point, but of course, all that I had to forget. And... let's see. The university decided to give us our degree if we were eligible for a degree at that point. I don't know whether I should say all this, but I was a very good student, and actually, I was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and I graduated with honors. My friends did, too; we were in a very, we were a smart group. [Laughs] And only thing I could not participate in the graduation, because we had to leave in May, and I think the graduation was later on, maybe later on in May or first part of June, I don't remember. So I did receive my certificate while I was in camp, it was mailed to me. When we were in camp, they had a graduation ceremony for all the high school and college graduates, and I did participate in that.

MA: So you did receive your diploma, and you were recognized by the university as being a graduate?

KB: Yes, right. So I'm in that group that did get my certificate, but there were others who did not, and I think they're being honored at this event at the university in a couple of weeks.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

MA: So can you talk a little bit about the day that you left South Park and your journey to Pinedale?

KB: Okay. They told us to pack material that we could use for food. Not the food itself, but like kitchen equipment, cups and saucers and things like that. And also clothing, and I think we were restricted to two suitcases per person. Rest of the, our belongings, we stored with a neighbor who was Italian. From my standpoint, I put all of my daijimono, we used to call these things daijimono, I don't know whether you know the Japanese, the English translation of that, but precious things, I put into a box and lost them forever. Anyway...

MA: Did you give 'em also to the Italian family next door?

KB: To the neighbor, and I never got it back. And all, like my Cleveland journal, my, lot of my schoolwork that I was saving, photographs, all my baby pictures, they lost. My parents had big portraits, I was the oldest, the first child, and they had big portraits of me and all of those things were lost, never saw them again. I don't know what happened to them, but I think this is the story of many of the Japanese who had to leave for camp. So let's see... so we had to go to Renton, to the train station in Renton, and seems to me somebody drove us there. And we boarded this train, and it was the first train ride for most of us. So the only thing was that there were all these army men with guns guarding every part of the train. And it was very uncomfortable to be in that situation where these guys with guns would be at every doorway, I mean, they would be pacing up and down the corridor.

MA: Did you know where you were headed at that point?

KB: No, we had no idea. So after we boarded the train, we were, we found out we were going south, just by knowing direction. And the, actually, the military men became quite friendly. They were very polite, they were trying to make us feel more at ease, and when we got to... I'm saying Dunkirk, but that's not it. It's a place in California, after the California border, Dunsmuir, to stop the train. And they have to do something, switching the tracks or I don't know, wait for another train to come through. Anyway, we were stopped there for quite a long time, several hours. And of course everybody got very restless just sitting and maybe walking the aisles of the train. So some of us decided maybe we could get out. And I remember asking one of the guards, "Can we just get out and walk around?" And they said, "Oh, no, you can't do that." Eventually, they gave in because the wait was so long, we were just, the train was just stopped there, and they let us out. And it was such a relief to be able to walk, and there's the Dunsmuir River flowing there, and it's in the woods, very pleasant place to just take a deep breath of fresh air. So that was kind of a relief, and I think at that point the guards sort of gave in to being a little friendlier. And they were all young kids, they were like maybe twenty, twenty-five years old. And so the trip from that point on was a little bit more pleasant. And we got to Fresno, I think, where we de-boarded, and then we were taken by bus to Pinedale. Now, this Pinedale was supposed to be a, some kind of an army camp, but there were barracks. It was in the middle of orchards, no trees, there was just the bright California sun like in the desert. And very, very uncomfortable for those of us who were from the north. We were assigned to one room with cots, and it was so hot that during the day, like if we sat on a chair, the chair would be sticking into the tar floor. And I used to... crazy, I used to put a sweater on, sit in the chair, and I said, "I'm in Alaska, I'm not here." [Laughs] Just imagine that I was somewhere cooler than the hot room.

MA: So you had one room for your family with seven, at that point, seven people, right?

KB: Yeah, my mother and six of us, yeah, seven people.

MA: So it seems like quite cramped conditions.

KB: Oh, it was. So we had these cots, seven cots, I guess, scattered in this little room, and there was maybe a little table and that was about it.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

MA: At that point, so you'd arrived in Pinedale, did you have any communication with your father, who was at that point in Missoula?

KB: We were getting letters from him, they were censored. I had one that my sister wrote to him that we got back, and we had all these stamps, "censored" and "approved." She has, my sister in California, I gave it to her. Also, I don't remember if I told you that before we left Seattle, I was called to the FBI office. And I met with a FBI agent. This was maybe, like, maybe in the spring of '42, and he handed me all the books that they had taken from our house. It was a very friendly FBI agent, asked me how we were getting along, I told him we were having a terrible time without my father, and he had six young children and so forth. He was very sympathetic, and what I heard later was that he spoke in favor of releasing my father from camp, from the camp in Missoula, Montana. So maybe there were some second thoughts about what they had done to us.

MA: So the FBI had called you specifically to return these materials, and then asked a little bit about how you were doing.

KB: Yeah. And one of my neighbors went to Missoula to testify in favor of his father who was also in this camp, and he's the one who told me how this FBI agent spoke favorably in my father's case.

MA: And your father was eventually released, right? To Pinedale.

KB: Yeah, he was released in July to Pinedale. One of my neighbors came to tell me that my father was at the gate, and I remember running all the way down there from our barrack, which was over, not too close to the gate to meet him. It was just really a happy point in my life, to see him come back.

MA: After he came back, did he talk at all about what happened to him and his time in Missoula?

KB: Yeah, apparently they, they weren't treated too badly. What the main activity was to polish rocks. I don't know whether you heard how Montana has some beautiful agates, and so his suitcase had all these rocks in it. [Laughs] And they were really beautiful. They were all different colors, and I think we somehow lost them over the years, some of the, my brothers and sisters probably took some, but I know they were in my mother's house in Spokane for quite a while. And then when we closed her house, we just couldn't find them anymore, so I don't know what happened to them. But I know that that was one of the big activities, polishing rocks. And I think they also played go and shogi and cards and whatever to pass the time away. I don't think they were treated badly.

MA: So he didn't, he didn't return sort of with... I mean, I guess, what was his, sort of, emotional state at that point? I'm sure he was happy to be home --

KB: Oh, yes, very happy.

MA: -- or back with his family.

KB: Right. And I think he had lost weight, so I don't know about how they were fed, how they were really treated in that way, but yeah, he was very happy to be back.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

MA: So you'd mentioned earlier that you, before Pearl Harbor and before the executive order and all that, you had wanted to, you were thinking about applying to medical school. So when you were in Pinedale, was there any sense of, that you wanted to continue on to go to med school, that you felt like you could at all? Or had you sort of resigned yourself to feeling like it wasn't gonna happen at that point?

KB: Okay, there was, I can't... I was trying to think what medical facilities there were at Pinedale, but there was something, because I got involved in the medical laboratory. And there was... well, actually, there were three or four of us who were in this laboratory, and we did blood counts and urine exams and things like that. And there was one fellow who knew a little bit about it. None of us really had any real experience in this kind of work, but with books and some guidance -- and I'm trying to think if we had a doctor. There must have been a doctor, but I just can't remember who he was. Anyway, so I learned how to do some lab work, blood tests and urine tests and things like that. And this actually came in very handy for me later on. They had work for some people, not like in, after we went to Tule Lake, but my, I think my mother worked in the mess hall, we didn't call them dining rooms, but mess halls. [Laughs]

MA: So when you were working in the lab, I guess, what was the facility like that you were working in and what was the equipment like?

KB: In Pinedale?

MA: In Pinedale.

KB: It was, there was hardly anything. It was just like a small room, and we probably had a washbasin and maybe some tubes. It was very minimal, minimally supplied place. And I don't remember too much about it, actually, except I know that, that we did have this lab.

MA: And you eventually started working there?

KB: Yes.

MA: Did you get paid at that point, in Pinedale?

KB: I don't think so. I don't remember that anybody got paid in Pinedale.

MA: Okay. So you were in Pinedale until, was it around September?

KB: September, right.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

MA: And then were sent again on another trip away to Tule Lake.

KB: Right.

MA: So what was that journey like? Did you have a better sense of where you were going at that point? Did you know...

KB: No.

MA: So you still...

KB: We still had no idea where we were going. The only thing is that they, we were not the first ones to go, some of my friends had gone before us. I guess they, I think it was by bus, and so they only took us maybe two or three busloads at a time. So it took maybe a week or so before everybody from Pinedale was transferred to Tule Lake. So when we, when I got there, some of my friends were already there and they came to greet us, meet us. So it was kind of nice that way, that we weren't going to a completely foreign place.

MA: Were these people you knew from back, back in South Park, or people that you'd met in Pinedale?

KB: People we met in Pinedale, uh-huh.

MA: And so what was your, can you describe that day of arriving in Tule Lake and what your living situation was?

KB: Okay. I don't know whether you're familiar, have any idea what Tule Lake was like. It was a huge place in the middle of a desert. And the camp had, like a moat, it was like a... didn't have water in it, but it was like a ditch, let me say, okay. And that was at the far end of the camp. I can't remember... let's see, it was probably on the north side. So what, that area was called "Alaska" because you had to go across this ditch in order to get there, and there was like a wooden bridge that crossed that ditch. We were assigned to the most, farthest cabin in that Alaska section. So it was like the most remote area from the entrance to the camp that we could get to, right under the guard tower. I think there was a mess hall that was probably at the far edge of the camp, and we were next to the mess hall. So it was a long, long walk from the entrance where we were left off with our luggage and a few things that we had, we had to walk over there. And so some of the people that had been transferred there earlier came to meet us and help us carry our things over there.

MA: So you were pretty isolated then, I guess, if you were so far...

KB: That's right.

MA: There was actually, like a bridge that you had to cross to get to the main camp.

KB: And I don't know why we, I think most of the people were put there were from Washington. The rest, the large area was made up of people from California, and some of them had already been there, and some were to come later, but they were in the majority, the ones from California.

MA: Were there people from South Park that you knew who were in Tule Lake with you?

KB: Oh, yes, uh-huh. South Park and then maybe from Kent, Auburn, that area. Tacoma, there were quite a few people from Tacoma.

MA: So at that point you were in Tule Lake, and did you have any idea how long you would be there? Or was it sort of like this is where you're gonna be for a long time? What was your family's, I guess, thinking at that point about your future?

KB: I think we didn't know what was going to happen. The future was very indefinite. And the way we were treated felt like, just get prepared for a long stay. And they, like accommodations were a little bit better. They gave us three rooms, our family, so the girls had one room, the boys had one room, and then my parents had the third room. You could try to set up a little kitchen with hot... what do you call it?

MA: A hotplate?

KB: Hotplate, and many people decorated their rooms. Somehow they -- well, the Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs were used a lot, so that they can get clothes and supplies and cloth to make draperies and whatever. People innovated any way that they can, and tried to make themselves as comfortable as possible. Because it felt like we were in for a long stay. As time went on, things improved, especially the food became much better.

MA: What was your memories of the food when you first got there?

KB: It was terrible. I think they were opening cans and they were using material that was like C-rations. But then they started farms, they raised pigs and cows. I know my father worked out on the farms to raise vegetables, so we got fresh vegetables. They were raising the animals so they were slaughtered for meat. There was plenty to eat, and the cooks prepared food that was more suitable for the Japanese, so there was rice and tsukemono maybe, even. I don't remember that, but... I personally worked at the hospital. There was quite a large hospital in every camp, and since I started doing lab work in Pinedale, then I was able to get a job in the hospital at Tule Lake, which was much better equipped. It was a regular laboratory, we had technicians who were trained laboratory technicians, mostly from California. The hospital was staffed by doctors from California.

MA: By, were they white doctors?

KB: No.

MA: They were all Niseis?

KB: They were Japanese, yeah.

MA: So the whole hospital then in Tule Lake was mostly Japanese Americans?

KB: Right. The director was... wait a minute, I know the camp director was not Japanese. Seems to me the hospital director was not Japanese, I think he was a white doctor. So... let's see, we were talking about food, so the hospital food was very good, and I had a friend who was a dietician, and she would tell us, "Okay, eat at the hospital today, we're gonna have steak." [Laughs] Then we'd all eat there instead of in our camp dining room.

MA: And so this was food that was prepared for the patients at the hospital?

KB: No, it was prepared for the staff.

MA: Oh, for the staff?

KB: Yeah. I don't know what the patients ate, I don't think they had steak and the good stuff. [Laughs]

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

MA: So we were talking about your, about Tule Lake, and your job as a lab technician in the hospital there. So I wanted to go back and ask a little bit about, about the hospital. And if you could describe what the camp hospital looked like and how it was run and all of that.

KB: Okay. It was one of, one of those buildings similar, similar to the barracks, but I think a little better built inside. And it was long, one story, and the facilities were fairly good. I mean, they had operating rooms, they had laboratories, they had, I know they had a place for a demented patient. They had isolation section, there were some tuberculosis patients, then they had the men's ward and the women's ward. They were quite large, I think they maybe took thirty or forty beds. That may be a little exaggeration, I don't know. Anyway, it was a good size hospital, and we had doctors from the San Francisco Bay area. I think they were especially assigned to Tule Lake because their families, their families were with them, but a lot of the other Californians who were in Tule Lake were not from the Bay Area, they were from Sacramento, more inland, Fresno, Sacramento, Marysville. So I think these were, I'm not sure they were volunteers, but anyway, they were assigned to this hospital. And the nurses also were from the San Francisco area, and actually, well-trained RNs were in charge of the wards. And then they had the evacuees work as, in the lesser important, or lesser jobs like there were these girls who were nurse's aides, there were dieticians, kitchen help, helpers, and secretaries and so forth. So, and then we had two interns who were students at the University of San Francisco, University of California at San Francisco medical school, young, young doctors. And then we had this laboratory, which was very well-supplied. It had almost all the equipment that any hospital laboratory would have. And we had, the one fellow was a registered lab technician, and I think he was from Tacoma. Then we had, a bunch of us were pre-meds, some from California and some from Washington. So the registered technicians taught us a lot more about the lab work than I had ever known.

MA: How many lab technicians were there working with you?

KB: Well, see, we covered twenty-four hours, so during the day, maybe there were, like, ten. And then I know there was one guy that liked to work from midnight 'til seven, and so he was the only one on from ten to seven. And then there were, like, five or six of us from four to midnight. So there were quite a good number of technicians.

MA: And did you usually work five days a week, or every day?

KB: Seems to me we must have days off. I think five days a week. And the head technician made out the schedule. And it didn't really matter if one person was not there because there were plenty of personnel to carry on the work.

MA: So what types of things did you do every day? Like can you describe your typical day in the lab and what you would, what type of work you would do?

KB: We'd go and collect blood, do venipunctures, and we would then have to do the analysis of the blood, all different chemistries that need to be done, urine samples to examine, make solutions for the tests. A variety of work in the lab.

MA: What were the most common illnesses that you saw with the people in Tule Lake? What were some, yeah, the common ailments?

KB: Basically, almost any kind of illness that would occur in any community. I think there was a variety, female diseases, pneumonia, appendicitis. I know there were some cancer patients, because at one time, it was very common for Japanese men to get stomach cancer. There were psychiatric patients, there was a psychiatric ward. So quite a variety of illnesses. Female, I know there a number of female problems and then there were babies being delivered. So it was like a general hospital.

MA: And were you living, where was the hospital in relation to your family's barrack? Was it very far?

KB: It was far. It was far because we were, the hospital was near the entrance to the camp, and then we were clear over in "Alaska." [Laughs]

MA: In "Alaska."

KB: So there was a bus that would pick me up and take me to the hospital or I could walk, but after a while, I got acquainted with several other girls, and we had our own "apartment," quotation marks, in one of the barracks near the hospital so we could just walk over when we were on duty. And one of them was a dietician, and she would bring us food, extra food. One was a ward nurse, and one was, I guess she was more like a clerk. And then I worked in the laboratory. We got along very well, we shared this one barrack so we had four cots lined up in a row. We actually didn't spend too much time in there except to sleep. We were always doing other things.

MA: At that point, your father had been reunited with the family back in Pinedale, so it was your mother and father and your siblings. How was everyone, especially with your younger siblings, how were they dealing with being at Tule Lake and all of that?

KB: Well, my younger two sisters were still in school, so they had to go to school. And I think my one sister graduated from Tule Lake High School 'cause I remember there's an album that they made, like an annual, high school annual, and she's in there. My, the youngest sister, poor thing, I mean, she was at Tule Lake, and then after my family left, she had to go another school, and every time the family moved she had to go to another school. So it was kind of rough on her. But I think the children in the camp probably got a decent education. There were enough schoolteachers and also some outside teachers were there to help the students.

MA: Were you able to correspond with, I know you had a tight-knit group of friends from the University of Washington. Did you correspond with them? Were you able to keep in touch?

KB: Yes, we did keep in touch. I'm trying to think... they moved on with their careers also, and one of them stayed in Seattle, she was a schoolteacher, and another one was, she was a microbiology major, she went to Yale and got her nursing degree, got a master's in nursing, and another one was in microbiology, and she went into research. Another one went to medical school, so we all kind of scattered, but we kept in touch with each other.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

MA: At that point you'd been working as a lab technician for a while, both at Pinedale and at Tule Lake. Were you thinking then about pursuing medical school? Did you know that you could do that, or did you know about your options? What were you thinking about your education at that point?

KB: Okay, I still had not given up on medical school. There was a female doctor, a Japanese doctor from San Francisco, Dr. Togasaki, who had graduated from Woman's Medical College, and somehow, she wasn't that friendly, but somehow we got together on my career, and she was very helpful in getting me into medical school. She actually -- since she was a graduate of Woman's Medical -- wrote to them about me and I think she had a lot to do with getting me into that school. Also, it was an all-women's school, and they were not affected at all by the war in the way that the other medical schools were. I don't know whether you heard about what happened during World War II with the medical students. They had what was called... I'm getting the word. [Laughs] Accelerated program, and I think the fellows signed up to enter either the army or the navy, and then they were put through this accelerated training program in medicine, so that when they finish they will become an officer in either the army or the navy to help with the war casualties. So it was very difficult for a woman to get into those schools. At that time, the women were not accepted in the armed services as physicians. This gradually changed before World War II was ended, but at that time that I applied. So it was easier for a female to go into Woman's Medical College, which was completely all women. And since this Dr. Togasaki already was a graduate of that school, she encouraged me to go there, and she also wrote a letter of recommendation for me. And probably that had some influence in having me accepted. Plus, I had good grades, which always helps.

MA: So you had to apply to medical school. What did you have to do with, like, the camp bureaucracy? Did you have to do anything to...

KB: No, not to apply.

MA: Or to even leave? Did you have to do anything like sign any papers or fill out any applications with the camp?

KB: No, not that I remember. I think once everybody was in camp, my feeling was they were trying to get people out. My brothers were the first, one of the first ones to leave. We got there in September by, maybe by wintertime, I don't know, or early spring, anyway. They were crying for workers in the beet fields, the sugar beet fields and the farms around Idaho, Montana and eastern Washington, for workers, and they recruited in camp. So I know my brothers and some of their friends were, they left camp.

MA: Permanently?

KB: Fairly soon, to go to work in the, on the farms. I think in my case, I was with these three other women, and they wanted to get out of camp. And the options for them was to do housework. There was a demand for domestic work, so the four of us decided we'll go to Chicago, because there were offers, apparently a number of offers from Chicago. So we decided to get out of camp together. And this was in May, I think.

MA: Of 1943?

KB: 1943. My school would not start 'til September of '43, so I said, "Well, sure, I might as well go out with them," so I did.

MA: How did your parents feel about you leaving camp and going off to school?

KB: Well, by that time I think they were getting used to my being away from them, because I was already out of their barrack into this other barrack. [Laughs] They had no objections, they felt if I wanted to go, fine. My parents are a little bit like that, they said, "Well, yeah, if you want to do it, go ahead and do it." So we were driven by bus to Klamath Falls and we took the train from Klamath Falls to Chicago. And I still remember how we shared one compartment, four of us, and then we had partners sleeping upstairs and downstairs. [Laughs] It was quite an experience. We got close, got to know each other very closely. Because it took, I think, at least two days, maybe two and a half days to get to Chicago.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

MA: And Chicago was, I know, the site of a large Japanese American community, people who would leave camp to go to Chicago.

KB: Lot of, lot of them did go to Chicago.

MA: What were your impressions when you, when you got there? Was that apparent that there was a large Japanese American community?

KB: No, actually, I had very little to do with the Japanese Americans. I did know one guy from... not Auburn, Kent, who came to see me when I was in Chicago, and then I met another guy from California who was in Chicago. I know there were others, some people that I had grown up with were there, but I just, I was there for three months and I never did get together with them. I was with a Jewish family, he was a pharmacist.

MA: You were living with a Jewish family?

KB: A Jewish family. I did not pass the Missus as far as my housework went. She didn't like my housework. [Laughs] And so I ended up by taking care of her two little boys, and she offered me board and room for that. I got a job in this book factory checking out books. I had to look over books to make sure the pages weren't upside-down and this sort of thing. And the family that I was with were very generous in letting me stay there.

MA: Had you, how did you become hooked up with them? Was it through an ad?

KB: I think the camp had a list of places where there was a need for domestic help. So we were just, I guess just handed out to, they handed out the names of these people who were looking for help.

MA: And the three other women that you came with all sort of did the same thing? They stayed with families and did housework and took care of the kids?

KB: Right, in different parts of Chicago. In fact, one, I think was even out in the suburb of Chicago.

MA: What was the neighborhood like where you were staying with this family?

KB: It was a Jewish neighborhood in south Chicago, and flats, kind of interesting because there was a very loud neighbor. The children were all young in that particular section, and they would play together and she would shout out from her deck, "You, you fight for yourself. You're not gonna lose to any other boy. You hit him, you can do anything to hit him. You fight for yourself." And I'm listening to all this, okay, that's the way these people are. [Laughs] And I could understand why she felt that way, though. If you give in to somebody, you're gonna be stepped on, and she wanted to make sure her child wouldn't be in that situation.

MA: So you said the neighborhood was a predominately Jewish neighborhood? What were the professions that most people did. Did you get the sense that they were mostly professionals?

KB: I think they were professionals. The family I stayed with, the husband was a pharmacist, he owned his drugstore. His wife was very interested in books, and she would do book reviews. I think they were very well-educated. And probably the neighborhood had similar type people. And I think I mentioned to you before about the brother of this man who was a physician and worked in a relocation camp.

MA: Do you know which camp he worked in?

KB: I don't remember. It was not Tule Lake, but it was one of the camps. And he was killed in a car accident, which was, left me in a very bad position when they heard about this news. I was living with them, and here they were helping me, one of the inmates of the camps. And of course they were very upset over this.

MA: Did you feel like they would somehow blame you?

KB: Yeah, I felt very guilty that this happened, but they were very nice. I mean, I don't think they had any bad feeling towards me.

MA: Was he killed, or was he in the accident in the, in one of the camps?

KB: It was in one of the camps. I think there were these -- I don't think it had anything to do with the residents of the camp, I think it was like a military truck or whatever it was. It was the official car that he was in an accident with, and I don't remember the details of what had happened. It was kind of a shocking news to the family. This happened at, he had volunteered, apparently, to serve in a camp, and that he died there. So that was kind of a difficult time for the family. But they were, they were very good. I was like a country kid, and they were more sophisticated city people, and when she found out that I was going to medical school, she said, "Well, you gotta get your hair done and you've gotta get some new clothes." [Laughs]

MA: What did you think of that when she, when she told you?

KB: I thought, "Well, that's great. All right, she's gonna improve my appearance." I, actually, we left, when I left, we were good friends. At first, I don't know how she was gonna feel towards me, but I think, I think we left as friends.

MA: Did your, your girlfriends that you came over with, did they have similar experiences, positive experiences that you know of?

KB: I think so. One of them went into nursing after quite a while. She worked much longer than I did, and one of them got married to a Chicago fellow, and the other one returned to California, she married in California. And I think that, I think the families who asked for help from the camp people probably were ones that were a little more understanding of our situation.

MA: So the families would then, they would specifically ask the camps for help?

KB: I think there was some kind of employment service or whatever that handled these things. Must, there must have been some kind of advertising to let them know that there were people in camp who wanted to do work. I don't know who did this. I know the Quakers were very involved in getting people out of the camps into more normal life. Whether they were involved with getting domestic help out, I don't know, but they were certainly involved with getting students out.

MA: Were there Quakers in Tule Lake that you remember that, sort of active in helping that?

KB: I don't think, I'm not sure if anybody within camp, but they were working outside of the camp to get students out. I met some in, when I got to Philadelphia, I met some, they wanted to hear our stories, and we did talk about our experiences in camp, and they were particularly interested in getting students out.

MA: So going back to Chicago, you said you also worked in a book factory. Was this the same time you were also living with the family?

KB: Right, they decided that I wasn't very good domestic help, and they were, I'm not sure if they helped me get this job, but anyway, I think just from advertisement in the paper or whatever, I found this work in a book factory.

MA: Who were the, your fellow workers? Like what type of people were they?

KB: Well, they were very ordinary women, particularly the kind of work I did. In fact, they were more middle-aged, they were older than I was, and they apparently had been doing this kind of work for quite a while. But we had to go through the book, the books to make sure the pages weren't turned upside-down, the pictures weren't upside-down or something was missing. So it was like an inspection team. And they would chat with each other and turn the pages. And I'd go through real fast, and they said, "Oh, slow down, slow down. You don't have to do so many." [Laughs] So it was kind of an interesting experience, I wouldn't have wanted to do it for the rest of my life, but for the time that I was there, I knew I wasn't gonna stay there.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

MA: 'Cause you were only in Chicago, so you got there in May, right, of 1943, and you stayed until September?

KB: September, yeah. I think school started sometime in September, but I think I went back to camp before I went to school.

MA: Oh, to visit your family.

KB: To visit my family.

MA: So what was that visit like, going back to camp?

KB: By that time, they were in Minidoka. You know how Tule Lake became a place for the dissenters, and so my family had moved to Minidoka. So I went to see them there, and I don't remember anything really outstanding about that. My brothers were in eastern Oregon, so it was my parents and my two sisters. My third sister also left camp for Philadelphia. She got a job as a secretary.

MA: Was this around the same time that you also left? So summer, spring/summer of '43?

KB: I was already in Philadelphia, so she must have... let's see. Probably in '44.

MA: So when you saw your parents, did they talk at all about what had happened in Tule Lake and the sort of, I guess, tensions that happened surrounding the "loyalty questionnaire" and then the moving of people out and in?

KB: Not too much. I remember there was some disturbance while were still there, even, but I don't remember that they were involved in anything.

MA: What was the disturbance that you remember?

KB: I think some people from Hawaii were moved into Tule Lake. I was never quite sure of what happened, but some conflicts between the Hawaiians and the people who were already in Tule Lake. And shortly after that, the ones who were the 'no-no,' you know about the 'no-nos,' were left there, and the others were moved out. So I'm not sure that much happened while my parents were there, still there.

MA: And during that transition, your parents went to Minidoka?

KB: Right, yeah.

MA: And so you visited them before you started med school?

KB: I did, uh-huh.

MA: Okay.

KB: I also visited my brothers in Oregon.

MA: What were they doing in Oregon, were they farming?

KB: They were working on the sugar beet farms. I think they were working for a Japanese family. Okay, so, okay, I can describe an experience I had in Idaho. My youngest sister also wanted to see my brother, so she and I boarded a bus from Minidoka camp to Twin Falls, Idaho, and then we had to change... okay. At Twin Falls, somehow, we had our tickets, but they wouldn't let us, they were really discriminatory towards the camp people because it was just the regular bus, and of course, they let all the white people on first, and then if there were seats, then the people from camp could get on. Well, it so happened that there were no seats for my sister and (me), so we had to wait for the next bus. And then when we got to Boise to take the bus from Boise to Oregon where my brothers were, we missed that bus so we had to stay overnight in Boise. And people were very antagonistic towards us. We were spit at, and they would say, "Japs," and call us names. And that was the worst experience that I had during this period. Maybe worse things happened to other people, but in my personal life, that was the worst experience, where somebody spit at us. That has never happened after that, never before that. It was kind of scary.

MA: And these were just people on the street...

KB: On the street.

MA: ...seeing you and...

KB: We were trying to look for a place to stay because we had to wait for the bus in the morning and walking the streets, and that's what happened, which made me even more frightful about staying in this place. But, so we found a room and we hardly slept, but at least we found a room where we could lie down. And then we caught the bus the next day and got to where my brothers were, and they were working for a good sugar beet farm, which was part of the war effort to provide the sugar. I remember there was a sugar shortage during that time and sugar was rationed. So...

MA: And how were their experiences in Eastern Oregon? Did they have similar...

KB: They were fine, they were fine. It was just this one area, I guess, where the people were so antagonistic.

MA: In Idaho?

KB: I don't know why, what the reason was. Maybe it was just this one family or one group that felt that way. That was the worst experience that I had during this time. It wasn't the best of times, put it that way. So it makes you apprehensive about going anywhere during this period.

MA: When you were on your way back, did you have to go through Idaho again? You must have dropped off your sister then in Minidoka.

KB: Right, uh-huh. And I had no problems going back, and I had a ticket already for Philadelphia, and there was no problem. It was, I think it's just, maybe individuals who were treating people this way.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

MA: So you went from, then, from Idaho where Minidoka was, to Philadelphia directly to start school.

KB: Yes, by that time, yeah. I had already cut my connection with the Chicago family, so I went directly to Philadelphia.

MA: And that was September of 1943?

KB: Right.

MA: And did you start school right away?

KB: I probably got there maybe a few days before school started, because I was, promised to do lab work. So I had to be oriented in the lab, in the hospital lab at the school, so I probably got there maybe a week before school started. I was given a room in the nurse's quarters, and I had my meals there. So basically I got room and board for being a night technician at the hospital, and that was very helpful for me. Also, I couldn't take the full course.

MA: Because you were working?

KB: Because I was working. They had me as a part-time student, so from that standpoint, it gave me a chance to, to study, and I did very well.

MA: So medical school is usually two years? How long were you...

KB: Four years.

MA: Four years, and how long did it take you...

KB: Took me five years.

MA: Five.

KB: Uh-huh.

MA: So you were going to class during the day, and then, like, working after school or at night?

KB: Right. I was a night technician, so I would start, like, maybe five o'clock, five-thirty, after the day technicians left, and then I would be on call. So I didn't need to do a whole lot of work in the lab unless they had an emergency. And usually the tests were not very complicated, they were simple tests.

MA: So similar to what you were doing in the Tule Lake camp?

KB: Exactly.

MA: Just blood tests and urine samples.

KB: Right, urine tests, exactly.

MA: So when there was an emergency, what would you have to, what would that entail? Would you have to rush back to the...

KB: I would have to go to the lab and get my equipment ready and go and collect blood or whatever, collect urine or whatever. Sometimes the doctors would bring me the samples to examine. Since it was a training hospital, the doctors were learning to draw blood and bring it to me. And it wasn't that strenuous a job. I would have to get up in the middle of the night occasionally.

MA: But it wasn't like you had to stay there all night.

KB: Right, yeah. And I had a room in the building, so it was not like having to drive outside to work or anything like that. It was, it was a very nice arrangement for me, and for the school to do this, I think, was, it was quite nice for me.

MA: So they paid, they covered your room and board, you said?

KB: Right.

MA: And you had, but you had to still pay tuition?

KB: Right. And tuition, well, you know, I was gonna tell you about the tuition at the University of Washington, I forgot. [Laughs]

MA: Sure, yeah.

KB: It was, first, the fall quarter was thirty-three dollars, winter quarter was thirty-dollars, and spring quarter was thirty dollars. And that was, it was a good amount of money in those days. I can't believe what the tuition is now. [Laughs] The tuition at medical school was like maybe a hundred dollars the first year, and maybe it was because I was part-time, it was, like, a hundred dollars. Because I remember borrowing my brother's two war bonds that were fifty dollars (each).

MA: So you paid for your first year with your war bonds, your brother's war bonds.

KB: Yeah. And then I think I got scholarships for the rest of the medical school, of some sort, I probably had to borrow money for part of the time, but anyway, I managed.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

MA: So where was the school in Philadelphia? Was it sort of in the middle of the city?

KB: It was out in the suburbs, very beautiful area.

MA: What's the area called?

KB: What was that called? Oh, dear.

MA: Oh, that's okay.

KB: I can't think of it. But there were some rich families living in that area, there were some mansions. And I don't know why that school was located in that particular place, but it was in a nice residential area, away from downtown Philadelphia.

MA: And what, I mean, was the Woman's Medical School, was it the only one in the country that, do you know, that was only a women's school?

KB: I think it was the only one in the country.

MA: And do you know at all about the history of this, of the medical school and how it was started?

KB: Yes, I think, I haven't reviewed it lately, but there is, the history has been quite extensively written out because it was the only women's medical school for quite a while. It started way back in the 1800s, and it was started as a school for women. And eventually it did become co-educational. It started to take men after we graduated, several, actually, several years after we graduated because I think financially they couldn't get along just having women students, they needed more, more than women students. So it became co-educational, and then it had more financial problems, and combined with another medical school in Philadelphia called Hahneman, and still had financial problems. [Laughs] As far as I know, it was all finances, and now it's part of... what is it... I can never remember this. I'm sorry.

MA: Oh, that's okay.

KB: It's part of a big, big school in Philadelphia.

MA: So there's quite a history, then, being started in the 1800s.

KB: Right, yeah. So it's, I feel it's no -- it's Drexel University, it's part of Drexel University, which is a huge school in Philadelphia. And I sort of feel that's no longer my school, which I think maybe is not right, but it was, it was, like my class was thirty-five students, and now they have two hundred, three hundred students (in one class) in the medical school, so it's quite different.

MA: What were the women like that you were in school with?

KB: They came from all over. There were some older people, I remember one student was like in her fifties, and this was very unusual for a medical school to accept someone that age. She had been involved in the medical field, actually, I think she did very well. She was maybe a year or two ahead of me. My classmates, some of them had been, I remember one was a physical therapist who wanted to become a doctor, so she was older. And then there were some just out of school. So it was quite a variety of students.

MA: And people came from all over the country?

KB: From all over the United States. Mostly they were from the East Coast, I would say, but they, there were a number from California, some from Washington.

MA: Were there other Nisei students there?

KB: Yes, uh-huh. Dr. Inouye, she was my classmate. Do you know her?

MA: We did an interview with her, a few years ago, Dr. Ruby.

KB: Yeah. Yeah, she was my classmate, we became good friends. I didn't know her until we met in medical school. There was another Nisei from California I was very good friends with. And she went back to practice in California after she graduated. And there were some from Japan, some women from Japan were trained there, and some Indian women, they came from all over, actually, to this school.

MA: So women actually from Japan and from India came? Wow.

KB: Right, and went back to their country after they were trained. It had an interesting history.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.