Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Aya Uenishi Medrud Interview
Narrator: Aya Uenishi Medrud
Interviewer: Daryl Maeda
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 13, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-maya-01-0025

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DM: So skipping forward to how you ended up here in Colorado... so I know that Med was, at one time, working at the Pentagon.

AM: In 1965, 1965, we moved to Washington, D.C., and at that time, he was a lieutenant-colonel, I guess it was. And he had a job at the Pentagon, and from the planning for the Vietnam War, long-range planning, but nevertheless planning. And he was part of the weather, he was a climatologist, so he was the weather component of the planning, which meant that he had to say when the best time to bomb was. And, and of course there was a Far East Command, but the Pentagon was still the headquarters and the command. So he was on the, as a climatologist, attached to the planning session. And he came home one day and he said one of the things that he felt that was unconscionable was the carpet bombing that took place, which was a strategy that they were using. They just completely napalmed and bombed out villages. [Interruption] (Narr. note: His mother was disabled and his father died, so he left the U.S. Air Force.) At that time, he didn't have any idea where we were gonna go, had no idea what he would be doing. He thought that he had a job that he could get at one of the smaller colleges in, I think it was in Maine, they had a climatology professor's job that he thought he could get. In the meantime, someone who knew him at the National Center for Atmospheric Research here in Boulder, Colorado, knew that he, knew Med, and so (called him and said), "There's a job here at the National Center for Atmospheric Research that just is perfect for you, so come and interview." When he left, I said to him, "Don't ask them how much they're gonna pay you, just say, 'Yes.'" So that's our history of coming to Boulder, Colorado, and his working at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which at that time was a very anti-establishment place. Today, it's much more government-funded.

DM: When you came to Boulder, were there other Japanese Americans in Boulder, or did you have to go elsewhere to find the community?

AM: Well, at that time, I was so busy with teenage boys in high school, and I was going back to school, so I was much more involved in the University of Colorado art department life. And at that time, the only other Japanese that I knew of, knew at all, was a graphic artist, Ken Iwamasa. Did you ever meet Ken Iwamasa?

DM: No.

AM: He was the only other Asian that I knew in the art department. And he... well, anyway, he's no longer there, but he was the only other Japanese that I knew. And I went to Denver from time to time to do grocery shopping in Larimer Square, well, Pacific Mercantile was one of... but Granada Fish Market was where I used to go. And then at that time, there were some Japanese restaurants on Larimer Street, and we used to stop and eat there. But other than that, no, my life was pretty much wrapped up in going back to school.

DM: Now, Boulder in the mid-'60s, mid to late '60s was a pretty exciting place.

AM: Yeah, it was.

DM: What did you see as far as some of the protests?

AM: Well, all I can remember is that the very early part of our life in... well, back up. There's a man who was in charge of, who was the founder of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, his name was Walt Roberts, and he was the one who started, who staffed the Climax Solar Observatory. Then he was given the job of starting the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He was an astronomer, basically, but this was his job. Anyway, his wife was Janet Roberts, who became the mayor of Boulder, and was a very, very discerning woman. I mean, there's a lot, you look it up some time and find out. But anyway, she invited some of the scientists' wives who were -- 'cause this is 1966, and this was when National Center was just beginning to develop into a large institution. So there were probably about four or five new scientists who came. And she invited us to lunch with the rest of the wives, and I remember her saying to us, she said, "Don't expect me to (...) hold your hands. You're gonna have to find your way here in Boulder, you'll find your niche and follow it. This is a wonderful place, and find your niche and follow your dreams. Find your niche and contribute to this wonderful community," I think is what she, I remember her saying that. So by this time, of course, I had started back to school to get a teaching degree, teaching certificate, 'cause I had enough art by this time. But because of that, I think I've always felt that I had a place that I could find for myself in Boulder, and I think essentially I did.

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