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

<Begin Segment 1>

DM: Well, good morning, I think it's still morning here. We're here today on May 13, 2008, in beautiful Denver, Colorado. I'm Daryl Maeda, and this is Mariagnes Aya Medrud. So let me just start out by asking where were you born and when?

AM: I was born April 9, 1925, in Malden, Washington, M-A-L-D-E-N, Washington, it's just south of Spokane.

DM: And what was your full name when you were born?

AM: Aya Uenishi.

DM: Okay. I want to hear a little bit about your mother's and father's stories. So where were your grandparents from in Japan?

AM: My grandparents were from Wakayama-ken in Japan, and my father and my mother were married. My father came to the U.S. in 1906 with his parents, went back when he was twenty-three to find a wife, and they found my mother who was a nurse in Kobe, Japan, who also came from the same community, Hoshikawa, in Wakayama-ken. And so that's how they met. And my father married my mother in Japan, I believe it was a Shinto marriage ceremony, and then they came to the U.S. and they got married in a Christian church. And there's a wedding picture of her in a white dress and a veil, I suspect that the veil and the white dress was rented, it looks like it, anyway. So they got married again when they were in Seattle, and then they moved to Spokane, Washington, from Seattle. And a couple months after they arrived, I think they were married in June of '23, 1923, and came to the U.S. immediately after that, and they landed in, she landed in Seattle, but my father brought her, 'cause he had gone back to Japan to get the marriage taken.

DM: What kind of work did your parents do in Spokane?

AM: They started off, my grandfather was the one who started, I think, working for the Great Northern Railway, which was building the railroad across the northern tier states like North Dakota. I think they started in Minneapolis, and they went through North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and then ended up in Spokane. And I think Spokane was sort of a central point where most of the railroad construction took place. And my grandfather, as I understand it, was in charge of the roundhouse, it was called a roundhouse, where they refueled and got coal and water for the trains. And so that's as much as I know about what, how they happened to be in Spokane. And my father, after he got married and he brought his bride back to Spokane, they lived in a railroad community, I think.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

DM: After Spokane, your family moved to Seattle. So why did they do that, and where did they end up?

AM: In 1929 when the stock crash took place, I think this is what I recollect from what I know now, and that when the stock crash took place, the Great Northern Railroad was sold to, I think, Chicago Northwestern or something like that. And so the people who were working for the Great Northern lost their jobs, and so my grandfather and my father and my mother and my sister -- at that point, my sister, my brother and I moved from Spokane to Seattle, Washington, in 1929. And the only thing I remember is the house on Yesler, Sixth and Yesler in Seattle is where we lived. And my grandparents at that time, and my father had a younger sister who lived with us. So there was a family of grandparents, son, a daughter, and the son's wife and three kids. That was a big family.

DM: Sounds crowded.

AM: Yeah, it was.

DM: And once they were in Seattle, what kind of work did your parents and also your grandparents do?

AM: Well, my grandfather, at that point... I should back up a little bit, but my grandfather at that point didn't have a job, so one of the things I remember his doing was going to the salmon cannery in Alaska. But then, of course, that meant that he was gone for the summer and the fall, but he would be home (...) spring and winter. But I don't remember that he ever had a job beyond that. My grandmother didn't have work either, but my father did, and he supported all the family. And I think I told you earlier that it was the Encyclopedia Britannica, but as I recall, it was a set of encyclopedias called Book of Knowledge, I looked it up. And my father was a salesman, and he tried to sell these encyclopedias to Japanese families. He was, because he spent time in Japan as a young child, he went to school, actually graduated eighth grade in the grammar school. So because he spoke, read and could read English well, he was hired to sell those encyclopedias to Japanese families, and that's what he did. My mother did not work, but I remember my grandmother on Sixth and Yesler having a big garden, and I now realize that the garden was essential to the family's survival. She had a huge vegetable garden. But my, I have to sort of back up a little bit, when my father and my grandfather and his brother who was two years older than my father, I think it was, registered for the military service in 1918 in Spokane, and I just got some records showing their registering for military service, this is in 1918, it was still during the first world war. But that was a real surprise to me because I did not know such a thing took place.

DM: So how many siblings did you have?

AM: I had a sister a year younger, and a brother that's four years younger than I am.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

DM: And when you first moved to Seattle initially, what grade school did you attend?

AM: Bailey Gatzert, famous, with Ada Mahon as the principal. And I remember when I first got, I can remember walking from Sixth and Yesler up to, and I think it was Twelfth Avenue, where Bailey Gatzert is now, off of King Street. And I remember walking there, and one of the neighbor boys took me 'cause I could not speak English when I was five years old, to start kindergarten. And I remember his walking me up that hill, sort of following him 'cause he didn't want to walk with me, he walked ahead of me. But he's the one who took me to school, and that's where I got registered for school, at Bailey Gatzert.

DM: You changed schools shortly after that.

AM: Well, I went to Bailey Gatzert, I think, until I was about third grade. I remember that in second grade was when I broke my collar bone. For anyone who knows, Yesler is a hilly street. There was a kind of retaining wall, and I think it's probably the boy who took me to school the first time. Anyway, he challenged me to a "chicken fight" on this retaining wall, and I took him up on it, and I think I was about eight years old. And he knocked me off the wall and I rolled all the way down to the bottom of the hill. And when I got to the bottom, of course, I had broken my left collar bone. And my grandfather came running out and told me it was perfectly fine, "Don't worry, just get up and stop crying." And swung my arm around, and I remember passing out because it was so painful. And my father rescued me and took me to the doctor's after that.

DM: Wow.

AM: So I had a broken collar bone, and I had a cast all summer long. And the mother of the boy was so upset that she, that I was hurt by her own son, so every day she would bring me a cup of ice cream during the summer. I just remember that. And I felt a little guilty at the same time that I was enjoying the ice cream.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

DM: Can you tell me about how you became, you came to be named Mariagnes?

AM: When I was ten years -- no, I guess that summer that I was ten, so it had to be 1935, my father decided that it was important for me to get a better education than what we were getting at Bailey Gatzert, I guess. I'm not sure how he made the decision, but he decided that it would be good for me to go to a Catholic school because of the discipline and more regimentation, I guess, that would be good for me. And that's how I ended up going to Maryknoll school, which was a Japanese, there was a mission school run by Maryknoll order of priests and nuns, and it was focused on the Japanese family in Seattle. So that's where I started Maryknoll school. And that following spring, I think it was, after I started it, that I became a Roman Catholic.

DM: And did you choose the name Mariagnes, or was that chosen for you?

AM: No, it was given to me by the Maryknoll priest. He said it was named after his Irish Catholic mother who would never have children of her own, I mean, that she would never have grandchildren of her own because of his priesthood, so he asked my mother and dad if I could be named after her. So Mariagnes comes from a very Irish Catholic, Roman Catholic name. Did not fit me very well.

DM: So at the school, was it mostly other Japanese American students?

AM: Mostly, yeah. There were a few scattered Filipino families, but mostly Japanese. Some Chinese, I think there were a couple of Chinese families, but essentially Japanese. It was not a big school. Eighth grade, the graduating class probably had twenty-two, so most of the school classrooms were probably twenty or more, but not more than that.

DM: Do you have any memories from attending school there?

AM: I tell the story only when I tell how I always ended up feeling as though I need to protect people. There was a nun who was Sister Mary Bartholomew or something crazy like that, and she would always pick on little boys, and she would pick up the boys by the ears and drag them across the room to punish them. And I used to think it was horrible to do that. My father never laid a hand on us, we were never punished physically. So I thought it was outrageous for a nun to do that to a child. So one time she was, we had a study circle, and we were sitting down and going to be reading. And so we were, put our chairs in a circle, and she was sort of sitting down on one of the chairs and she was sort of trying to find the chair to sit on, and I pulled the chair out from under her. And she fell with a big thump and broke her tailbone, I found out later. My father was called to the office, he was, he could not understand how I could possibly do something so horrible. But I remember now that it was because I thought she was such a terrible person to do such physical, punish somebody physically, so that's why I did that. But when I tell the story, I tell it only in the context of how I was always interested in protecting other people. I mean, as a child, this is when I was probably ten years old.

DM: So you had a real sense of social justice at a very early age.

AM: Well, I didn't know that was what it was, but that's what it was.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

DM: And did you go to Japanese language school?

AM: Yes, I did.

DM: How long did you go there?

AM: Well, Maryknoll had attached to it a Japanese language school. It was run by a Japanese teacher, but, so that, that was where I went, had my Japanese language. And I was, I really enjoyed it and did a very good, I think, enjoyed it very much. And until -- I have to tell you this story -- years later, after my mother died, I found some letters that I had written to her in kanji. I cannot even begin to tell you what I had written, but at one time I was, I could write kanji quite fluently. Today, I have kanji flashcards and I can't recognize any of them.

DM: And you said that you had converted to Roman Catholicism, but what did your parents think of that and what was their religious background?

AM: Well, my father was a Buddhist, and he was, did not want me to become a Roman Catholic, he told me he thought I was too young, that I was pretty dead, determined. Well, you can imagine that I was a pretty determined child, only I would never say that out loud, but I was pretty determined, I think, about what I thought was right and wrong. And when I told my dad that I wanted to become a Roman Catholic and said I wanted to become baptized, he said he did not think it was a good idea, I was too young, I didn't know what I was doing, but he would not stop me. So that was my, sort of, left-handed permission, so I became a Roman Catholic. I was a very dedicated Roman Catholic for many years.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

DM: During those, those years in Seattle, did your parents participate in any of the community activities or community associations?

AM: Well, I know there was a Wakayama-ken, there was a Wakayama-ken gathering that took place every year, and I remember we always went to a Chinese restaurant, which I always thought was amazing, that Japanese would go to a Chinese restaurant only when they were celebrating. And I don't know whether it because the food was cheaper or whether it was different, I don't, all I remember is that when the Japanese celebrated, they always went to a Chinese restaurant, which I thought was interesting. My father became quite interested in kendo, and he joined the kendokai, I think it was called, which was run by a, somebody from Japan who taught kendo. And so my father learned kendo and became quite good at it, apparently, because he did tournaments and demonstrations, I remember 'cause I went to some of his programs when they had them. And I remember once asking him, "Could I please learn how to do kendo?" and he says, no, that was not for girls, only for boys. And the reason he did this, he said, was because he felt that the discipline was good in that he thought that the Nisei boys needed to have more discipline. So that sort of follows with my going to a Roman Catholic school for more discipline.

DM: So did your father also teach kendo?

AM: Yes, he was also... one of things that I found out in looking at some of the National Archives archival materials, is that he was actually a treasurer of the kendokai, and that's probably what got him in trouble.

DM: We will definitely follow up with that.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

DM: So in December of 1941, you were sixteen years old, so do you remember anything about the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed?

AM: Well, I remember I had a toothache, I had an infected molar or something like that, and I was physically miserable but terrified of what was happening. We listened to the radio, and the next day was, for Roman Catholics, December 8th is a day to celebrate the immaculate conception of Mary. So that was the holiday, and that was also an obligatory mass attendance. So I remember walking to mass the next morning, and being terrified of walking on the streets. Because by this time, my mother was nearly hysterical, she said she didn't know what was gonna happen to us because of the war. She thought that we would all be shot or something, I guess that's what she was worried about.

DM: Did people gather to talk about what was happening?

AM: Not that I know of, but I know that my father disappeared, and he went with his friends, I think.

DM: Did you notice any difference in the way that people treated you or your family at school or in town?

AM: Well, at school it was pretty normal, except that the nun, who was at that point my favorite nun, was very sympathetic, and came and put her arm around me and said she was, "So sorry to hear what has happened to you, to your family." But the thing is, that I remember is that they, she just made the assumption that we were Japanese and that we were not Americans. She just assumed that we were Japanese, meaning the fact that we were all citizens did not make a difference. She thought of us collectively as Japanese, as well as the rest of the community.

DM: And how did she show that?

AM: By telling me how sorry she was that war took place, that war happened. She didn't say any more than that, but I remember seeing her saying to me, with her arm around my neck, my shoulders, she was so sorry that we're at war with Japan, was the way she phrased it. Which implied to me that she thought that the war included me, too, and sort of denied me sort of by the fact that I was born in this country. And she didn't, it wasn't so much that she said it explicitly so much as implied it.

DM: Now, you had mentioned that at the Maryknoll school there were Chinese and Filipino students. And Japan was then at war with China and the Philippines as well, so did you notice any tension with the Chinese or Filipino Americans?

AM: No, except I remember, one thing that I do remember, the Chinese wore "I am a Chinese American" buttons that suddenly appeared. And so most of the Chinese wore these buttons so they would not be mistaken for being Japanese. Most people couldn't tell the difference between Filipino, Chinese and Japanese, obviously.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

DM: Now, you mentioned that your father's activities with the kendokai got him in trouble, so what did you mean by that?

AM: Well, he was picked up by the FBI, I do not know what day, it's just like I don't remember the hills of Seattle when as a child, I walked those streets. I think that I do not remember, I think it's a selective forgetting, but I don't remember when he was picked up by the FBI. All I can tell you is that he was picked up in the middle of the night, the FBI came pounding at the door, and my dad opened the door and he let them in, and they immediately ransacked the house. They just took everything out of the cupboards, out of the dresser drawers, my sisters and, my sister and I shared a room and we shared a dresser, and I remember that when they left, they had everything in a pile on the floor in the middle of the room. And that was true of the rest of the house. They did not find, I think my father -- one of the reasons that I think he disappeared that day after war declared was I think that he must have gone to the kendokai and they were getting rid of papers. I think that's he... it's the most logical thing that they would do. However, the National Archives has those papers; they have the kendokai papers, so I don't, this is just something that I assume might have happened, but that might not have happened. All I know is that the National Archives has, today, papers from the kendokai in Seattle in those, from those years.

DM: So the FBI came and took your father away. Did you know where he had been taken?

AM: No. Did not know until quite a bit later, but the first stop that he probably made was to the detention center, which is, used to be part of the Smith Tower in Seattle, if you know, sort of a landmark. And part of it was in the prison, jail system, and I think that's where he probably went. And I remember that when they took him, he went in his pajamas and slippers. So the next day, or two days later, my mother and I gathered up -- we couldn't, first, he always had one of those old-fashioned razors, the kind that sharpen on a leather strap, and we were told that we had to buy a safety razor so I had no idea what a safety razor was. I remember going with my mother to buy safety razors to take to him, so we had to get safety razors, soap and towel and things like that and took him, but we could not see him, we just had to leave it at the desk. They told him, they told us that they would give it to him, but that we could not see him. So that's the, so the last time I saw him until 1944 was in, at Seattle that night that they took him.

DM: You mentioned that he was pretty much the sole provider for the family, so this must have had a big impact on the family.

AM: Well, the reason for my mother's hysteria was 'cause she was worried about how we were all going to be taken care of. And it was very hard for -- I can understand it. She did not speak English, or she spoke some English but not speak, could not say she spoke English. She had no job, and she, suddenly faced with having to take care of my sister and my brother and me. But when my father left, he said to me that it was my responsibility to take care of the family, so today my sister and my brother always say that I was very bossy, but I was given permission to be the head of the family. And so I took that very seriously, and I took care of my mother the best I could, and my brother and my sister, they all look at that period as just something we don't remember at all. But I remember being very responsible.

DM: That's an incredible responsibility for a sixteen-year-old girl to take on.

AM: Yeah, but I was stupid enough to think I could do it.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

DM: Do you remember hearing the first time, for the first time that you had to leave home and go to camp?

AM: I remember that they posted signs on the telephone pole near the house that lived in, we lived in. That was on Sixth... at that point, I cannot remember what it, house looks like, but I remember that we'd only been it maybe six or seven months because we had just come back from living in Kingston, Washington, we were there for about a year. And that's at the other end of Bainbridge Island, Bainbridge Island is not just a real island itself, I don't think. But anyway, at the other end is a place called Kingston, it's all part of Kitsap county. And I actually went to school there for one semester, and that was not very successful. My father moved me back, and we commuted to Seattle from Bainbridge, from Kingston, it was, on the ferry. And that's when I started the Roman Catholic high school, Immaculate Conception High School, which was near Providence Hospital. I think the school no longer exists, but it was a school for girls. And again, because she felt that, we had to pay tuition, of course, so it was not exactly easy for the family, but they thought it was better for our education. And I think that we got a good, I think that I had a good education.

DM: What kind of things did you do to prepare for going to the assembly center?

AM: Well, I had to help my mother most of all, meaning I was responsible for helping her clean up the house, store things the best we can. And I remember going down to Bon Marche, I think it was, and bought four suitcases, one for each of us. And if you think about this -- and I've since, subsequent to this, of course, when I talked to the students when I was teaching, I would tell them, "If you're going on a vacation, you know where you're going, you know how long you're gonna be gone, you know what the weather's gonna be like when you get there. But to pack without knowing where you're gonna be going and what you could pack, what was needed." So people who are in Seattle, going to Minidoka was an incredible, not just cultural shock, but physical shock. Because Seattle is a pretty temperate climate; it rains a lot, but it's temperate, never really gets really cold. But in Idaho, of course, we had freezing -- well, it's north of Yellowstone National Park, so you could imagine. Yellowstone National Park is closed in the wintertime, so if you were living in a place that was north of Yellowstone Park, you can imagine what it was like. I remember the first year we were there, they issued great big World War I army overcoats, men's overcoats, and you could see all these kids walking around with these long dragging overcoats because, until they got cut off. But I remember wearing one of those because it was the only warm coat that I had.

DM: Now, this is in Minidoka, Idaho.

AM: Yeah, we left Puyallup Assembly Center.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

AM: When I think of Puyallup, I think of only one thing, and that is we lived under a grandstand. Because my mother and I were not very knowledgeable about processes... I now know what to do, but in those days, I didn't know. We just waited until somebody told us we needed to do something. And so when we signed up for our quarters, we ended up with horse stalls, I mean, literally horse stalls. So we had one horse stall in which they had four camp cots and one naked bulb hanging from the ceiling. Open to the grand -- because it's under the grandstand, so you know the top, there's no such thing as a ceiling, you had the grandstand ceiling. And dirt, the floor was, well, horses stood on dirt and that's what we slept on. And it took me quite a while to understand what, what I had, was contending with, because I was on my bunk, because there's, you don't see the daylight 'cause you're under the grandstand. You had this one naked light bulb, and I was lying on my bunk and I was looking at the wall, and I was flicking away at the wall when I realized it was whitewashed, and underneath it was dog, I mean, horse dung. And I realized what I had scratched up was horse dung. And that was probably the most difficult time, I think, and that is because you're in an open grandstand, you hear noises, everything, people crying, people, babies crying, women groaning, men groaning. Not in pleasure, obviously, they were elderly who were very, well, it was very uncomfortable. You had no mattresses, we just had camp cots. And later on, I think we were able to get mattress ticking, we went down and got straw and filled it so we could at least get things other than camp cot. But there was a negative side to straw, and that is that you can't sleep quietly on it. Every time you move you can hear the straw crackle, and you could imagine what it's like hear everybody else, noise from other human beings.

DM: Was there, were there organized activities for kids at Puyallup?

AM: Not that I know, ever aware of. All I know is that I had mostly the responsibility of helping my mother maneuver whatever processes there were. So I don't, there was nothing that I ever participated.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

DM: So after Puyallup, they sent you to Minidoka. But what do you remember about that, that journey?

AM: Well, we all went by bus back to King Street Station, which was the railroad station in Seattle. We boarded trains in Seattle, that's what I remember. I'm trying to think of, did we go from someplace other than Seattle? No, I don't think so. Most of the trains that I remember were leaving from Seattle, from the King Street Station, which is, for those of you who know, King Street Station is still there. And I remember that... I don't remember the food piece of it because I think we were given sandwiches and things like that to eat, but I remember also that we were, because it was my mother and my sister and my brother and I, we had one set of two benches and we faced each other. The hardest thing was that you could not go to the restroom except in sort of an organized way. You couldn't just pick up and go to the restroom because you had to have an armed guard walking down. And of course the windows were all darkened. And I just remember occasionally thinking about what it was, life was like trying to sleep on those hard benches, it's not plush, and we left, I think it was three nights and two days before we got to Minidoka. Today, you can go from Seattle Minidoka in one day by car.

DM: Did you know where you were heading or had you heard any...

AM: No, we had no idea, no idea. All I know is that the landscape was pretty desolate, what we could peek out underneath the shade, it was getting more and more desolate compared to Seattle.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

DM: So can you describe the living conditions in Minidoka?

AM: Well, I remember when we first got there, the only thing I could remember was the dust. And I remember we came by train to a stop, and then we got into army buses and army trucks, not buses, army trucks I think it was, and taken to our, taken to Minidoka. And today, Eden must be about, maybe about ten miles, I think it's about ten miles. So we went by army truck and got there, and when we got dumped there, then we were, there were other evacuees -- call 'em "evacuees," a euphemism -- evacuees who then directed us to our quarters.

DM: And what were those quarters like?

AM: Pretty barren. The only thing that were there was, again, four camp cots. But this time we had mattresses, cotton mattresses, so it was a little better. But there was a potbellied stove in the middle of it, because my, it was my mother and my sister and my brother and I, the four of us, we got a room rather than have to share with... there were people who were, smaller families like families of three, had to share space with somebody else, like another bachelor or usually another woman. Not too many single women, but they would -- but because there were four of us, we had four camp cots and we had a, I remember thinking we got one of the smaller rooms, but at least it was a room that we had of our own. And with a potbellied stove. The potbellied stove implied that we had to have fuel for it, had no idea where it was coming from until we were told that if you go by the railroad siding, and this is when I'm wondering why we went from Eden by bus, army trucks to the camp when there were railroad siding. Because that's where the coal was dumped, and that's where we went to scrounge coal for our potbellied stove. In September it wasn't too bad, but by October and November it was clear that we needed to go, so we would rush out to go get the coal. When it arrived, we would be notified that the coal had arrived and we all rushed down with our boxes and bags to go get the coal so we would be able to heat our rooms. The interesting thing was that the coal piles became places where rattlesnakes would crawl up, so you had to be careful. I remember, I remember seeing it only once, though. But I would help my mother go get the coal, so I remember that.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

DM: And what were your school experiences like at Minidoka?

AM: Well, we had nothing in the camp, in the assembly center we had no school, but we did not really have school until almost the end of October, so that meant that we arrived there, first, end of August, first part of September, and we had no school of any kind until then. I don't, I haven't found any records to know exactly when school started, but I remember when school started, we were told which building we should report to. And there were no desks, no chairs, we just sat on the edge of the barracks building, inside, we sat on the floor. And most of the teachers were recruited from Indian reservations or other places. Only a few of them came for altruistic reasons, most of them came because it was a job. I remember taking an American government class from a woman named Ms. Gilbertson, and I kept thinking, "I wonder what she thought about teaching American government at that point?" You know, you look at the civics books and you think, "This is, this doesn't make sense." And you have to remember, I went from a Catholic girls school, which was highly disciplined, to this place that we were sitting on the floor, with most of the time no books, no paper, no pencil. Eventually we got them, of course, but for a long time we didn't have any semblance of a school or classroom. Somebody told me several years later that we had a gymnasium, and I said, "You're kidding. I don't remember a gymnasium." Well, they built the gymnasium in 1944, towards the end of '44. So there was indeed a gymnasium, which still exists today, parts of it that still exist there in Minidoka. But when I grew up, when I was there in school, there was no building to spare.

DM: And when did you graduate?

AM: 1943.

DM: So you're Minidoka High School class of '43.

AM: Well, it's Hunt High School.

DM: Oh, Hunt High School.

AM: They didn't name, they named the school Hunt. In fact, they named the postal office Hunt, Idaho, and since then, I've been part of a Minidoka Internment Memorial (Committee). Anyway, it's a National Park Service (committee), and when we were talking about what should be preserved from that period, I said I thought the U.S. Postal Service, the post office should be the most important building in that place. They said, "Why?" and I said, "Because our life revolved around going to the post office to mail things," or getting, eventually when we started getting Sears-Roebuck and Montgomery Ward stuff, that was our connection to the rest of the world. And I said that most of us don't think of it that way, but I always think of it as the most important building in that place was where we communicated with the rest of the world, in whatever form. But I don't think that they found the building.

DM: That's really telling; that's an interesting way to think about it, that you were so isolated that the postal service was your only real link to the rest of the world.

AM: That's right. And Montgomery Ward and Sears-Roebuck were very important in our lives.

DM: What kind of things did you get from those catalogs?

AM: Well, I remember my mother saving enough money that she could get me a pair of ice skates, and I remembering treasuring -- I still have them. I haven't worn them in many years, but I still have them. It's something that I connect, just as I still have my suitcase that I bought at Bon Marche. I never use it, but it's still an important remembrance of that time. And I think about it and I think, "Why would I keep something like that?" And I realize it's because it's the only pieces of what I call sanity that still existed for us, for me, anyway. Different people look at different things differently, but I sure remember that.

DM: And what kind of other social activities were there for kids?

AM: You know, for kids, it was, if you played baseball they had baseball. For boys there were a lot of activities. They had very few things for girls, that's what I remember. And the ice skates was because I learned to skate before I left to go to camp, and I remember always thinking -- Sonja Henie was the Norwegian, I think, ice skating star, and girls my age thought that she was super, right. And I remember getting a pair of ice skates and then had to leave them behind, of course. So when we were in camp, my mother got them for, pair of ice skates for me. I used to think I was a pretty good skater. But in the recollection of the camp itself, I said, I remember wearing my ice skates and walking from my barracks building to the pond. There was a canal that runs through the camp, alongside the camp. Can't remember... anyway, they trapped enough water into an excavation so that in the summertime kids could swim, and in the wintertime it would freeze over and we could skate on it. But then I realized, when I looked at the map of the place, I realized why I could walk to, Block 32 where we lived was close to that place where they made a pond.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

DM: So you mentioned that your mother had, was able to save enough money to buy you ice skates. Did you or your mother or your siblings work in camp?

AM: No. And, but I think that everyone got an allowance of some kind, and that's what she saved, I think.

DM: And how did she, how did she cope during all of this?

AM: Not very well. She was worried about my dad, she didn't -- because we would hear from him but we would hear from him -- oh, and this is another piece that I recognized some of the way, strategies that people used, the government uses. And that is every time we got a letter from him it came from a different place. So you could imagine what it was like for my mother to not know where he was, and had no concept of where these were geographically. But every single camp that I know, now identify as the Justice camps, or federal camps were where my dad was. I can, I can remember North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Kooskia, Idaho, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Lordsburg, New Mexico, Sanford, Arizona. I mean, just time after time when I look at those places I can remember the letters coming from each of those places. So I had no idea why he would be moved like that, but I, then in recollection, in thinking about that time, he was forty... what was he? Forty-two at most, 'cause he was born in 1900 so he was forty. And he spoke and read English, so I suppose they thought that he had the potential, and because of his history as being part of the kendokai, that I suspect that they suspected that he was a potential "troublemaker," which could not have been more wrong. 'Cause the profile of him might seem that way, but he was a Buddhist and he never raised a hand to us kids at all. Just never thought... the only way he disciplined us was by talking to us about why we shouldn't do something. So I couldn't imagine him being a militant and organizing anything.

DM: So, so they moved him around from camp to camp.

AM: Uh-huh.

DM: Repeatedly.

AM: Yes.

DM: And you had mentioned also that you thought he was at one time at a, in a road gang when we spoke earlier?

AM: Yeah. Well, there was a place called Kooskia, it's pronounced "Kooskie," Idaho, which used to be, I understand now it used to be a federal prison which was abandoned during the war, and they put a prison there for people like my dad who volunteered to work. And this is, again, all of this is, historically finding out this through archival material, and that is the U.S. during the war wanted to build a transcontinental road. The road that they built, it was U.S. Highway number 12, and Kooskia, Idaho, itself was one of the road gangs that was built -- not built, but... and the workers were people who volunteered from the Justice camps like my dad. And I know my dad told me that the reason he chose to do that because Kooskia is only about a hundred miles north of where Minidoka was, and he felt that it would make it closer for him to reach us, I guess. But they built that, the Japanese Justice camp workers built Highway 12.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

DM: So at that time, your mother is receiving these letters from your father from all over the country, different place every time. Was that hard on you and your siblings to not have your father around?

AM: Oh, yeah, because my mother, my brother was four years younger than I, and he was a handful. And my mother just always had problems trying to discipline him, and she couldn't, cause he was just a recalcitrant kid, he's a boy. And when I think about him now as a child growing up, I think all the problems my mother said she had with him were because he was a boy and she was used to having two girls. And all of a sudden she gets this boy, who's a little big younger than the rest of, my sister and me, and he was spoiled because he was a boy and he was the first boy who survived. My father's family had all girls, didn't have boys. So yeah, to have a son was an incredible important thing for the family. And my mother didn't have any problems with me, because I was always such a good kid, right? And took care of everybody. But my sister was called "Happy" because she was always, her nickname was Happy when she was in camp because she was always laughing and smiling, she had lots of friends. I didn't have the same kind of experience in camp as my sister did. When there's a reunion, my sister had all kinds of friends, and I didn't have any because I spent most of my time tine trying to help my mother, I guess.

DM: So for you, a lot of your, your childhood or your young teenage years were really taken away from you, then.

AM: Yeah, it was. I spent most of the time worrying about my father and my mother and my... you know, I have to tell you something I found out. I did not know this, but I asked for my family archival material, and I can't remember how much we had to pay, but several pennies per page, and I spent quite a number of dollars getting the materials. Among them I had about twelve letters that I had written to the President of the United States, to J. Edgar Hoover, the Department of Justice, the general, and these letters, I mean, they're letters that I had written, handwritten in my handwriting saying that my father has not, should not be imprisoned, that they had no cause to imprison him, and please release him. And the amazing thing is each one of those letters had a response from whoever I addressed. I don't remember, the President's was from the office, not from the President, Office of the President, in which they said there's nothing they could do, and you had to stay in, in prison. But I wrote those letters and I do not even remember doing that, which led me to realize I must have had somebody who was a mentor who helped me do that. How would I have gotten those names and addresses? How would I know that? Where would I get the money to spend on stamps? It was three cents at that time, I think, to mail a letter, but that was a lot of money. And when I think about that, what is amazing to me is that I know that I must have had a mentor. I think that, I think I know who it was but I'm not sure. I just wish that I could recover that memory so that I could at least mentally thank him or her, whoever it was, because somebody had to have helped me. And I didn't have any relatives, most of my relatives were busy with their babies and little kids, these are my second cousins and first cousins. So I had no one that I know of that I could identify who was my mentor, but I had to have someone who would help me through that. 'Cause I, I mean, can you imagine me as a seventeen year old or eighteen year old knowing how to address a letter? I wouldn't have done, I don't think I could have done it. That's one of my regrets, is that I don't remember who that is.

DM: So you did get responses, but the responses didn't try to justify in any way.

AM: Oh, no. Just that sorry, he has to stay there. He sent you the message, but he couldn't do anything about it.

DM: So when did your father, when was he reunited with the family?

AM: Well, the closest that I could recall is that it was probably in July of 1944 that he was allowed to join us from Kooskia. And I remember, I remember one thing that I had sense enough to do, and that is I borrowed, I got two more blankets issued, and I remember putting blankets up so that my mother and dad would have privacy. And hang it -- don't ask me how I figured this out, but I did that, and I remember hanging the blankets up so that they would have some privacy when he finally got there. Because you know, after all, he was only forty-four at that time. So when I think about that, how did I know that, to do that? But I remember borrowing some hammers and nails and banging on the beams across the ceiling so they would have some privacy.

DM: Well, always taking care of other people.

AM: Yeah, I was always -- well, don't ask me how I knew that, but somehow it's part of the psyche, I guess.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

DM: And then when did you get out of camp and how did you get out of camp?

AM: Well, when my father came back, joined us in 1944, summer of 1944, I remember his saying that this was no place for kids to grow up, and he was specifically thinking about my brother, of course. Because by this time, my sister and I -- I had graduated in '43 and my brother was still in, at that point I suppose it would be eighth grader. And my dad decided that this was no place, and so he got the job that he could get, which was through the Catholic church, he was able to get a job with an Infants' Home, which is essentially an orphanage for babies in Utica, New York. And we left with a train ticket each, that's five train tickets, from I suppose it was Twin Falls, but some train station nearby, and twenty-five dollars each, I remember that. And my father being worried about it, but then I remember the food piece was the most worrisome for him to try to figure out how he was going to manage to feed us all from Idaho to New York, upstate New York. And I remember it being December, and the reason I remember is because we got stuck in Rochester, New York, because the trains couldn't go because we had so much snowfall. So we were stuck there overnight for, maybe it was more like one full day plus a night. And I remember food as being a very serious problem for, trying to find some food for us. And I don't remember any of the details, but I remember getting an orange, I remember that. But we were stuck there fully, a full two days, I think it was, and we finally got to Utica, New York, by train through the snow, and arrived in Utica, New York. And the snowfall was so deep that the house that we were assigned to, could not see the house across the street because the snow had been piled up so high. So that was my introduction to the Northeast U.S.

DM: Well, that was a rude awakening after coming from the relatively temperate climes of Seattle.

AM: To, and then to sojourn in Idaho, which was cold, but drier. I mean, we didn't have much snow.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

DM: And how were you treated by the community in Utica?

AM: Well, the Catholic community was very welcoming. They were suspicious of us, but they were welcoming. They were more suspicious of my dad than anybody else. It was because he was fluent in English, he got along fine, and his job was essentially the only male in an all-female orphanage, where all the nuns ran the orphanage, anyone who worked there were females. So my father was the only male, and I think he was sort of the all-around handyman. He kept the boilers running, he kept the maintenance of the buildings, he drove the nuns around as a chauffeur, he took care of all the mechanical things. Now you gotta remember, he's not a mechanical person, so he had to learn all that. And I remember once asking him, I said, "How did you know how to fix that?" He says, "Well, you just figure that you can figure it out." So he just went step by step, apparently, and learn how to do that. Which I thought was, well, he had sort of an innate intelligence that was, belied anything he showed. He was quiet and he was very thoughtful, but he also helped him go through learning how to do things, I guess.

DM: And so your brother then enrolled in high school in Utica?

AM: It was called Utica Free Academy, and he played football. And I remember that it was a good thing for him to do that because he needed that kind of physical involvement in something. It was good for him to do that. But I remember going to the ball games to watch him play, the opponents would say, "Kill the Jap, kill the Jap." And how they knew he was Japanese, I'll never know. 'Cause you've got helmets on, but he would really get beaten up pretty bad. But he stuck it out.

DM: So there was a, it was kind of a mixed welcome then? In some ways, the community was welcoming, and then in other ways not as much.

AM: Yeah. I think that the community of Utica was a mill town, and so they had the Germans in one side of the town, Italians on the other side of the town, and then Hungarians I think it was, or some Slavic group, Poles, maybe. So the town itself was pretty divided; there were ethnic rivalries anyway. So having a Japanese family move in was something that threatening to most of them, because we were Japanese.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

AM: But I remember one thing, I need to tell you this one. The chaplain, there was a Utica General Army Hospital, which was installed in one of their, one of the hospitals as a military hospital. And what they did was take the soldiers wounded from combat from Europe, European Theatre, in transit from the European Theatre to where they would be going to live in hospitals near where their homes were. And so Utica was a transit (point). The chaplain there found out about the Japanese family, so my dad was called on the phone and asked if my sister and I would go visit some of the GIs who were wounded from the 442 and 100th battalion. So this must have been spring of '45, sometime in early '45. And I remember we were asked to come and visit, and I had no preparation of what it meant to come and visit something like that. We were brought to a ward, and there were all these GIs from the 442, 100th Battalion, mostly Hawaiian. But they were guys just like us, I mean, we were Asians. And that was my first experience with what war really meant. I mean, you can talk about "raise the flag" and rah-rah-rah and stuff like that, but the human cost was something that I had never known. Nobody prepared me for this. The chaplain didn't prepare me, all he did was say, "There are some people you should say hello to." So my sister and I -- and she's always behind me, of course, I'm leading the way and she's behind me -- walking up, and then for the first time encountering people with faces blown away, missing limbs. And the thing that -- and bandages. And you could see that they were Asians and you could see, and they would say something in Hawaii, if they could speak, they would say something, and say hello. But can you imagine what it was like to be at that point, I suppose I was nineteen, probably my nineteenth birthday, to encounter something like that without knowing what to expect. And I don't know what I said, I probably said something stupid like, "How are you?" and then walked along.

Well, when I walked through, and left that place, my sister and I had to catch a bus to go back home, but we had to transfer to a bus in downtown Utica. And while my sister -- Hope was all over the place, she was looking at the windows and stuff like that -- but I was standing there sort of in a, still in shock from what I had observed and that experience, and I was standing of the corner of the street waiting for my bus to come, and this woman came up to me and stuck her face right in my face like this and screamed at me, "You goddamn Jap, you have no right to be here. Get out of here or I'll kill you." And I was, having had that experience in the hospital, I had, you can imagine this frustration because I didn't know how to respond to her. I was angry, but at the same time, I was just terrified of what that meant, and I couldn't wait to get home. I couldn't go home and tell my dad because he would be so upset I don't what he'd do. I couldn't tell my mother, either, my sister, of course, was standing looking at the window, so she wasn't even part of that. And I absorbed that thing, that experience, in ways that I didn't realize how it would work itself out. But I think that in the end, what I did was accept the fact that she was inappropriate, to say the least, but that I took it, I took it as that I deserved it, maybe, that maybe I deserved that. I don't know, all I know is that it was sort of a life-forming experience for me, and I didn't even talk about it until years and years later when I could begin to process what it meant to be who I am, that I began to realize and accept the fact that that was inappropriate, it was the wrong thing for her to have said. I should not have accepted it, but I did. Since then I've learned that I shouldn't do that, but at that time, I was too young to know what to do.

DM: But what a traumatic experience to have to internalize, especially after you had just seen the cost that this kind of raises and causes.

AM: Yeah. And the thing is that I couldn't say to her, "Do you realize what I just saw?" So that these guys are no longer human beings. The thing that I remember about that experience most of all was how bad everything smelled, how rotting flesh smells. That was probably the thing that I took away from there. I'm a smelling person, you know, so that it was an experience that I sort of -- just like I told you about the wet cedar in Seattle, the trees that, in the rain, that sort of smell. Well, I sort of took away the smell of rotting flesh from that, and I just still remember that. It's an unpleasant thing to say, but the fact is, that is, that is what it was. And I had, never knew who these guys were. There were probably about twenty of them in that ward, they had 'em all segregated in one place, they didn't have them with the rest of the wounded.

DM: Oh, you mean racially segregated?

AM: Uh-huh. All the Hawaii boys from the 442 were in one room, one row. There was, nobody else was in there. So I don't -- I mean, when I think about that now, I think about what that meant and why it was like that. It's just part of the whole notion of the unfairness, it's not just inequality, injustice, it's just the things that are not right, I guess, more than... the things that are wrong more than what is right.

DM: Well, that's really an amazing thing, that they could be wounded terribly, grievously, and still return home to segregation.

AM: Yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

DM: So I want to move on to the postwar years, and you mentioned that you had graduated Hunt High School in 1943, so did you go to college after that?

AM: No, I never went to college, but I, when we were living in Utica, New York, I had always wanted to go to an art school, and my father was not too keen about that, but in 1946, I think it was, there was -- for the spring semester of, the fall of '46, I think it was. It was after the war, and we were still living in Utica, New York, and my sister and I decided we'd go to school in New York City. Now, when you stop and think about what that meant for my mother to let two girls go out to New York City to go to school, but they found a room for us with some friends of friends. And this was my first interracial marriage that I encountered, because Mr. Takiguchi was the Japanese, he was a Japanese citizen who lived in this country for many years, but had a business in New York City. And his wife was English, and she, her name was Mary Takiguchi, very prim and proper. So my parents apparently thought that it was safe to have my sister and me room with them. They lived at 135th and Riverside Drive, and my school was, was about out 50th or so, off of Riverside Drive, actually. So it was not very far in terms of distance. So my parents thought it was perfectly safe place for us to be. So I started a school called Traphagen, T-R-A-P-H-A-G-E-N, run by a woman named Ethel Traphagen who thought she was Hans Holbein, the artist, so she went around with a black cape over her, she was a tall woman and had a black, huge black beret, and she would smoke a cigar. She was a real character. Anyway, she was a director of the Traphagen School of Design, and it was after the war, so it was hard to get facilities, so we had, they had cooperative classes with Parsons School of Design. So I went to there, and then I also took classes at Pratt in New York City, of course, which meant that we had to travel from place to place. But it was, you know, I mean, at your age, at that age, it was great. I loved it. I thought nothing of taking the subway and coming home at midnight. Could never do that now, but in those days, it was nothing to do that. So I went to school and learned... learned design, fashion design mostly, but design in general.

And I got, apparently I was good enough that I interned with a fashion designer. Her name was Valentina and she was a white Russian immigrant, but was a sought-after socialite designer. The reason I tell this story is something that I experienced. So I'm her intern, so I'm following her around, and she's kind of, quite dramatic. But the thing that I remember about this is that all these fashion designers cater to the socialite group, so they had an inflated sense of themselves, I guess. But anyway, I remember one time she had this Mrs. somebody or the other, she was getting a design, clothes, she was being fitted for it, and I remember that there was a woman who was probably either Slovak or Italian seamstress who was at the bottom of her skirt and trying to fix it or something. And Valentina didn't think she moved fast enough, so she kicked her. And I was just, (...) I just stood there in just absolute disbelief that anyone, any human being would do something like that to another, just because she was in the way and she was crawling around on the floor to try to fix this thing. You know, I quit because I thought, "I can't do this. I mean, if this is what I'm going to be doing, then I don't want to do that," so I quit. And shortly after that I quit school and signed up to go to, work for the Department of Army, that's another story.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

AM: But New York was wonderful when I was, when I was there. I remember once a group of us students decided, and there were about, three of the guys were ex-GIs who were in the school. And there were about four of us girls, and we all, seven of us decided we'd stay up all night just to see what it was like to stay up all night. It was just one of those stupid things. Well, Manhattan closes down after two o'clock, there's no place to go except bowling alleys. So we sat out the rest of the night in a bowling alley, all seven of us, bowling, and we couldn't afford a whole lot of food, but we ate something, I don't remember what. But I remember that was our wild night out, these three guys and four girls.

DM: Now, the people that you hung out with and apparently stayed out all night with, and your other friends in your social circle, were they Japanese Americans?

AM: No, no, they were, one was an Irish Catholic girl from New Jersey, Bound Brook, New Jersey, I remember. And the other one was a Jewish girl from Manhattan, the other girl was -- my sister was always with us, she just sort of tagged along. Because she, at point she was... well... so yeah, there were, it was a really mixed bag. And the guys were all white guys, and they were ex-GIs, and so they were on GI Bill. And they were just... I mean, there was nothing, I mean, it was just a real nice experience. Because there was nothing sexual about it, it was just hanging out with friends. And that was the first time that I had experienced that kind of thing, 'cause at home, of course, I would never dream of doing something like that, staying up all night.

DM: And did you ever get funny looks from people, going out in a mixed group like that?

AM: No, never. Not that I ever remembered. I don't remember any time in Manhattan that anyone ever even looked twice at me. It was amazing. It was such a contrast from Utica, New York.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

DM: So you had started to mention that you signed up to work for the army. So I was wondering if you would follow up with that.

AM: Well, when I quit school, I couldn't tell my dad and my mom, because they were paying our tuition, although I worked two part-time jobs to help pay for some of it. I'll explain that later, I guess. But it just seemed to me that, that it was not what I really wanted to do, but I didn't know how to get out of it. So one of the, the Jewish girl that I was telling you about said she had decided she was gonna go to Germany. This was after the Holocaust, and she knew something about what had happened to the Jews in Germany, so for some reason she wanted to go to Germany. So she signed up to go to Department of Army job in Germany, and so I thought, "Well, I don't want to go to Germany, I want to go to Japan if I go anywhere," so that's what I did, signed up to... we had to pass a civil service examination. And I did not know what that meant, but it was a rigorous examination. The criteria was that you had to be able to type sixty words a minute without mistakes. I flunked the first time, and having been a good student my whole life, I couldn't imagine flunking anything, let alone typing, but I flunked typing.

So I was working at that time at Mount Sinai Hospital in the cancer, the first cancer detection clinic that existed in the world. This was in 1947, mind you. And so in 1947, then I started working for Mount Sinai Hospital, and that's where I learned medical terminology. Because I took dictation on one of those wax cylinder dictaphones that doctors would dictated into, and then my job was to transcribe it. And I think that the fact that I studied Latin in parochial school helped because I had no problems with spelling, learning the terminology, and it was really a good thing for me to have a skill that I didn't know that I was getting and later on I did find useful. But that's what I did, and took my second or -- I guess it was my second typing test, and I passed. I made eighty words without making a mistake, and that's pretty fast.

DM: So you did end up being able to go to work for the Army.

AM: Yeah.

DM: And did they...

AM: Army of the Occupation.

DM: So you ended up in Japan.

AM: Yeah.

DM: And what did you do there?

AM: Well, I worked for the General MacArthur's headquarters office. And most of it was, most of the work that was done -- and the guy who was the head of the department was a Navy captain, retired Navy captain. And he apparently knew a lot about Japan and was a Navy captain during the war, I think. But his job was, in particular, interested in the Zaibatsu, so most of the work was working with the conglomerates and things like that. So that was an interesting time in Japan, when the conglomerates were being dismantled. And I was thinking about this this morning because I was, I put this on this morning, [Ed. note: referring to necklace] and I thought about the woman who gave it to me. And, and because of the Zaibatsu connection, some of the people we worked with were pretty poor, but they were, had had, at one time, a lot of money and a lot of property. So this woman gave this to me, and she told me what this was was one of those things that you put, women in a formal dress, it's a decoration for it. It's platinum and gold, and she gave it to me as a gift. And I made it into a lavalier, to wear on my neck, 'cause I don't wear, obviously, elaborate hairdos. And so I put this on this morning, and I wasn't putting it on for any reason other than the fact that it was what I was putting on. And I thought about the woman who gave it to me, and so I just wanted to mention that. I often wish that I had delved more deeply with their lives, and I didn't. I just was, just secretarial, administrative assistant.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

AM: Well, anyway, so that's, that the job that I had. And I had that for about two years, and in 1950, was when the Korean War started. By this time, I had been married to an Air Force officer, and I had the luxury of quitting my job and then volunteering to work for the Tokyo General Army Hospital. Because the wounded were coming in in droves, and they were asking for volunteers who knew anything about medical terminology. So I was immediately assigned to the orthopedic, general who was in charge of orthopedic surgery, and so that's the job that I had.

And again, this is my second experience with the collateral damage in war, and cost to human beings. Now remember, I got there in 194-, December of 1947, and January of 1948 was the two months that I remember. Tokyo was still absolutely leveled, there was nothing, no building, no nothing. The only thing they had was the railroad station -- I don't know how that survived considering that everything else was damaged. They had the General MacArthur's headquarters building, it was the Dai-Ichi building, it was called, it's an insurance company building, that was not destroyed. It was this selective bombing that took place, that saved some buildings but destroyed others. The people who suffered the most were the ordinary people whose homes were just completely decimated, firebombed. So I saw Tokyo in a time, end of '48 -- I mean, end of '47, December of '47 is when I got there, to the early months in January, when there was nothing. I mean, it was just completely leveled, and occasionally you'd see a building still standing, and all I could think of is, "How did they manage to destroy everything but not destroy this building?" Very targeted bombing, obviously. But I saw what it meant... what war means is the loss of human dignity, the right to live safely, the right to be able to find food, have food, lose the right to a safe home, a place to sleep, all of those things are gone. So this is sort of the beginning of my beginning to question war and what that meant. Don't forget, I'm still married to an Air Force officer at this point. But my biggest, my biggest question was, "How can you target human beings who are women and children?" We're not talking about hand-to-hand combat, we're talking about children and women who are, who suffer the most from war. So that sort of began my journey into looking at why I was opposed to war, why I was a pacifist.

I was not a Quaker at that time, I was still a practicing Roman Catholic, and the Roman Catholic Church was obviously in favor of doing things to Asians, who were "bad people." So for me, the, life in Japan at that time was a complicated one. Because on the one hand, I was one of the -- although I looked like everybody else, I was taller than everyone else. So most of the women I was much taller than, sometimes even the men, and I'm only 5'2". For me then to suddenly find myself in a place where people were destitute, and enough that this woman gave me this thing because she was thanking me for some things that I had done for her. It was nothing, I mean, it was just nothing, but she said it was the only thing she could give me that she had. And it was at some cost, when I look -- when I look at this, I think of the woman and I think, "This must have been an incredible parting for her."

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

<Begin Segment 23>

DM: Can you tell me, too, a little bit more about... you had mentioned that you felt like your work at the Tokyo General Army Hospital kind of further... sort of reinforced your, your suspicion about the usefulness of war.

AM: I said earlier that I had, was the... I worked for (...) the orthopedic surgeon, he was in charge of orthopedic surgery. And in warfare, the one thing that happens is that people lose limbs, and orthopedic surgeons are very important to this process. And when the Korean War was at its worst, when the Chosin Reservoir was overrun by the Chinese, they brought in the wounded just one after the other. It's just like the MASH unit, films that we see where the wounded are on stretchers and they get carried around on stretchers. Well, they were just put on stretchers and put in the hallways, so that each side of the hallway was filled with these stretchers full of the wounded. And most of the wounded were frozen feet and so on, so again, the smell of the rotting flesh. At one point, we were so backed up with cases that the surgeon put my desk into his, the surgery, so I could be, he could dictate while he was doing, performing the surgery. I think I was okay most of the time, except that one time, there was a, there was a Turkish battalion, the United Nations had a Turkish battalion there, and one of the Turks was going to lose his leg. And he asked the orderly to go get his camera from his bedside. So the orderly went and got his camera, and he was anesthetized from his waist down, so he was able to function above his waist. And he started taking pictures of his own orthopedic surgery, of his amputation. I almost threw up right then, I ran out of the room and I couldn't go back. And the surgeon came running after me and said to me, "Are you all right?" I said, "No." I was all right up until the time that I watched this man watch his own leg being sawed off, I just couldn't do it, and I left. So after that, he still kept my desk in the surgery because the traffic was so heavy, but I could handle it because I saw not, that sort of thing didn't happen. Turks were considered fierce soldiers, and that was an example of how one could see his own leg being amputated and take pictures of it, it's just beyond my imagination.

But it was the time that I began to realize... how we all glorify war as the solution to everything. And when I think about the collateral, the physical damage of human beings and human psyches, it just became very clear to me that I was anti-, opposed to war. I was not an anti-war, but I was opposed to war, that's the way I would describe myself. Opposed to war for very pragmatic reasons, not anything other than, "Why kill people?" The religion, Catholic religion says, at least the Commandments say, "Thou shall not kill." What does that mean? You have to start asking yourself what that means. So yeah, it became sort of my journey into looking at why war is not the answer. I mean, seriously, it is not the answer. And what it is that it costs human lives, human beings. And it's not just one human being, it's (that) the human beings are attached to families, mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. So yeah, that sort of was my journey. So I became a pacifist long before I became a Quaker.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

DM: Now, as you mentioned, all during this time, you had been married to your husband Med Medrud, and he was a Air Force officer. Just kind of skipping forward...

AM: He was on bombing raids over, over Korea, in B-29s.

DM: So he, he was...

AM: He was a navigator bombardier.

DM: He was on the missions that were dropping bombs, and then you were seeing some of the injuries that were coming back from that very same war.

AM: Of course, they were supposedly bombing the Chinese, but...

DM: And how did your increasing pacifism go over with him?

AM: Well, it was, for him, I think, acceptable, because I think he was beginning to ask questions himself. Like we would have conversations about just wars and unjust wars, and I remember one conversation, I said, "I don't think any war is just. How could you say that any war is just?" And I remember him saying, "There are some wars that are just, like World War II, when we went in and saved the world." I mean, that was the theme song, right? That everyone said the U.S. saved the world. Well, I don't know that they did, but the fact is, at that time, they stopped one war, but just think of the cost of that one war.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

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.

<Begin Segment 26>

AM: But I spent the first two or three years back in school, and I was in the fine arts department, and that was a good place because the people are much more liberal there than the rest of Boulder might be. And I remember carrying a lot of petitions against this and against that, and petitioning for this and petitioning for that. So I remember that I spent a lot of time -- in fact, a lot of people remember me from those days from... I always had a sheaf of papers, "Will you sign this?" and explain why I wanted them to sign. But I think that the thing that really culminated in an experience that sort of made me think about what I needed to do, and that was Cambodia was invaded during the Vietnam War, and the students were all -- this was 1968, I believe it was. The students were rioting, and they seized the Twenty-eighth Street bridge, which was the connection from Boulder to Denver. And I remember I was taking a class and I was coming out of the classroom, and one of the students, one of the guys said to me, "Let me walk you to your car." And I said, "Why are you, why do you, why are you worried about that?" And he says, "Well, I wanted to walk you to your car because students are rioting," and he was worried about my safety. And I remember saying to him and looking at him and saying, "I'm not worried about the students, what I'm worried more about is the police." And I was absolutely right because just at that very moment that he had offered to walk me to my car, a very good friend of mine who was professor -- well, he was at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and we'd known him for many, many years -- and his wife were beaten up by the police because they happened to be in the wrong place. The police were roaring down to the Twenty-eighth Street bridge, and walked, and were running down University Avenue, which is just above Twenty-eighth Street. And they beat them up and they broke his jaw. He's probably the most gentle person you ever saw, but he had a martini in his glass, and he was walking out to the front yard, and this sheriff's deputy came and hit him immediately with his truncheon and broke his jaw, broke all his teeth, broke I don't know what else. Anyway, and his wife, who came out to see what was going on, got the same treatment and got beaten up by the sheriff's department. So the next time I saw the student who had offered to walk me across the street, I said, "Remember when you offered to walk me across to my car, and you were worried that I wouldn't be safe?" I said, "'Cause at that moment, and I told you that it was the police that I was worried more about?" I said, "Absolutely, that's exactly what happened." So I think that was a lesson for me about the people you, most people trust are not necessarily the ones I trust.

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

<Begin Segment 27>

DM: So, so you were involved in the anti-war movement.

AM: Yeah. And about that time, I became involved with the American Friends Service Committee, the Quaker organization. In fact, I got involved with the organization before I became a Quaker, because they were at the forefront of the anti-war movement. And yeah, it wasn't just about candidacy and political campaigns, trying to choose anti-war candidates, it was that, it was the acknowledgement of suffering of the people in Vietnam, for instance, during the carpet bombing, what that meant to be bombed out and burned out of your own homes, things like that. So yeah, it was a very difficult time for me because we're talking about Asians. And at that time, people kept talking about Vietnamese as being... certainly not human beings like the rest of us. And they're talking about the Viet Cong, of course, when they're talking about this. But the Viet Cong are no different than the rest of the Vietnamese. Anyway, and the understanding of what it meant to, to have the right to feeling safe, the right to be able to find food for your family, take care of your family, all of those kinds of rights were being completely obliterated because of war.

DM: So in some way, did you kind of relate to the Vietnamese people as fellow Asians?

AM: I certainly did, yeah. 'Cause if you just look at their faces and you look at yourself in the mirror, yes, there are some differences, but they're not, we're not really different, and that was my acknowledgement. And I remember that, my telling you the story about the woman who was a Zaibatsu family member who was obviously clearly impoverished. And because she was on the wrong side, it just seemed... I think the human beings have the right to certain things in life, and then if they're being taken away because of somebody's idea that they shouldn't have it, then I think it's not something that we should support, I guess. I don't know.

DM: Do you think that your own experiences of having had your own dignity taken away earlier in your life impacted your understanding of the Vietnam war?

AM: Oh, yeah, absolutely. It's the idea that you're removed from someplace against your will. And yeah, when I think about the cumulative effect of what the internment meant, and being put in a prison camp or being removed from your home, I can relate to that. And at different levels, it's the same thing as being unable to stay where you want to stay, and that's, that's what it is.

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

<Begin Segment 28>

DM: So you mentioned that you had started to become involved with the American Friends Service Committee. What other kind of volunteer work did you start to do over the years?

AM: Well, I remember supporting... one of the things that I did was I was on a task force to look at human services in Boulder, City of Boulder. The city councilman, who at that time was Tim Fuller, was gay. So he tried to support a human services ordinance against discrimination against gays and lesbians. And I was part of that group that tried to push that in the city council. Finally passed, but at a great cost because he lost his seat the next time. And the only black (African American) who was on the city council at the time nearly lost his position, too, but he managed to hang on. So I was part of that, and then, yeah... so I've been part of the kinds of initiatives, too. One thing that I can never forget, remember we had a lot of "hippies," quote, "hippies" living in Boulder, or hanging around in Boulder. And so I was part of that human services alliance task force, and I remember at the end, after having gone through the whole series of why we need to take care of, how we treat people, the only thing that the city came up with that was non-harming but would move the hippies out of the city park, and that was to turn the sprinklers on. And I remember looking at Tim and saying, "This is the best we can do?" He says, "Well, it's not, doesn't harm anybody, just wets them up, wets them." But it was that kind of understanding that there were certain things you can do and certain things you cannot do because the forces are not there. And how to make that change is really a hard one.

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

<Begin Segment 29>

DM: You've been involved in many, many causes over the years. Are there a few that stand out for you as really close to your heart?

AM: Well, when I was teaching, one of the things that I realized was that issues of race were... I mean, kids would say to me, "Well, I never think of you anything but, but just like the rest of us," and I said, "What does that mean? Are you not seeing me for who I am?" "Oh, no, I know who you are." But then I said, "Then why are you telling me that I'm just like you? But I'm not. Because if you look at me, I don't look like you, but you're still telling me that I am okay because I'm just like the rest of you. So what does that mean? What is it you're really saying to me?" And I've said this to adults, too, as well, other teachers who have said the same thing. And it's that whole idea that, "You may be different, but you're gonna be accepted because you're okay." And why am I okay? Because I do things just like you do, so that's okay. But what I look like is not something that is being accepted. So that was sort of the beginning of my looking at how do you make that change from people, to go from, "You're okay because you're just like us," I mean, "You behave like I do, you do the things that I do, so therefore you're acceptable. But the fact that you look different is something that we're gonna forget, we're gonna forgive you for that." Right? And so that's the beginning of my crusade -- if that's the word I want to use -- to make people think differently about this.

In fact, last night I was working with the city human services department, and I'm working with a hotline to try to be available to people who have problems of discrimination or anti-, hate kind of crimes. And the city funded us for one year, they didn't fund us anymore. So my question was, "What are you going to do about that?" And they said, "Well, the city council says we can only fund you for one year." But I said, "But the need is there, so why would the city human services not see the need and want to continue to fund it?" So the conversation was about that. So she said, the head of the human services said to me, "Well, what do you want me to do?" and I said, "I want you to try to understand what we're talking about." And she said, "Well, I've gone through diversity training and I know what I'm supposed to do." I said, "Well, then what does that mean? How do you play that out?" So it's a, it's a never ending journey, I think, and every time I talk about it, I tell people, "It's not something you do one time. You have to accept it as a way of life. You have to accept it that when you see me, then you have to see me for who I am. But at the same time, appreciate who I am rather than say, 'Well, you do this and you do that.'" But it's not that, it's, "Who am I and how do you accept that?" I don't know that we came away from it last night with a whole lot of way forward, but at least I said, "Just got to remember, this is the beginning of a conversation that we need to continue to have." I don't know how successful we'll be, but I think that we'll have to continue to have that.

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

<Begin Segment 30>

DM: Can you tell me a little bit more about some of your, some of your volunteering and activism? I know that you've been doing volunteer work with Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and also with some immigrant dialogues in Boulder.

AM: Yeah. The Pine Ridge work was something that got started about 1978 when I was still on -- not still, but was on the board of the American Friends Service Committee. And they had a Native American Peoples Task Force on the committee, on the board. And I visited Pine Ridge for the first time in 1978. And what struck me when I was there was not just the poverty, but the sense of hopelessness more than... it was the aura that I was struck by. And our project was dealing with women and children and health care issues, because clearly the Indian Health Service was not fulfilling its obligation to the Indians, American Indians or the Native Americans, whichever term you want to use. And so we're trying to build clinics where people could be taken care of for, better than they were getting from the Health Service. The Indian Health Service is a lot better than it used to be, but in 1978 it was just pretty desperate. The hospitals were non-existent, and those that were existent were horrible condition. So I think that that's the one piece that I got involved in. And that's my first experience in an Indian reservation. The people that I worked with then at that time were pretty, American Indian movement activists, which was really different than some of the people who were actually living on the reservation. Today, lot of people are coming back to the reservation, it's been rejuvenated, people want to come back and live (...) where their ancestors are buried. But in those days, it was really quite, quite different.

Today, when I go to Pine Ridge, I'm struck by how you don't see old cars. Isn't that amazing? Because 1978, the only thing you saw was old cars, just barely moving, rattling. Today, you find people who've come back to the reservation, there's the Oglala Lakota College, which is the university that was started from sociology department folks from University of Colorado. I don't know if you remember any of the people, but Howard Higman... well anyway, the people from the sociology department sponsored some of the students from, some of the people who had graduated from different universities and colleges, and who came to the University of Colorado to get a masters in sociology. And that was sort of the beginning of my connection with the reservation. One of the men I met who was the former tribal chair of the Oglala Nation said the State of South Dakota, which funds most of the educational programs does not have, does not fund art and music, and how important that was. And he asked if I would somehow manage to run the art and music programs for at least one of the schools. So I went to Oglala, which is one of the communities in the southeast corner, southwest corner of South Dakota, which is the more traditional Oglala Nation communities, and started running art and music camp in the summertime for Loneman School, it was called. And that's sort of my connection to them. So I've gotten, and that was, I think I've been doing it for about twelve years now. So every summer I take artists and musicians up with me, and we run a summer art and music camp for about two weeks sometimes, sometimes three weeks, but mostly two weeks. This year I'm gonna go -- I'm just gonna do the logistical stuff 'cause I can no longer walk around the classroom, but I'll take care of the, setting up the schedule. And I know everybody so I could set up the things like that. So we're gonna take two artists and one musician and run summer school.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright ©2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

AM: And the other thing is, Colorado Trust is the organization that saw the need to look at immigrants in our communities and how to integrate them into the community. And so they have funded ten communities in the state of Colorado, and Boulder County is one of them. And I was asked to be -- and most of them are service organizations like Intercambio, the organizations that are Latino organizations that are serving the Latino population, recognizing that immigrants are beginning to add to their population. So they took the challenge, and so I'm on the steering committee for the Boulder County Immigrant Integration Committee, and what we try to do right now is to run dialogues, using the dialogue format to start conversations with the receiving community (and) immigrants. And it's really hard to get immigrants to come and be part of this, because it's at a great cost to them. The receiving community doesn't understand this very well. They don't realize what a cost it is to them, and don't appreciate it the same way. But I know what it is to them, it means that they have to give up time from their work and come and answer stupid questions. Because for the most part, people are very, very ignorant about immigrants and... and I keep saying, "All of us are immigrants. We all were immigrants at one time or the other." It's just that the far right today takes it upon itself to sort of trumpet the anti-immigrant -- for whatever reason -- sentiment, and focusing on that. So our job with the Immigrant Integration Committee, Steering Committee, is to try to continue the conversation. So I think we've been pretty successful. We had one at the University of Colorado, at Sewell Hall residence, and had all the students who were part of the Sewell Hall residence participate. And one of the things that one of the students said to me was, "You know, she cleans my toilet bowl for me, but I didn't even know her name." So she got to know them, and they now, you know, they're not ever gonna really understand each other, but at least they're beginning to understand that these are human beings that are doing this, and that they're taking care of you. So this one student, anyways, said to me how grateful she was for the opportunity to know her by name, which I think is really a recognition of one's humanity, to know somebody's name, and to have the students actually acknowledge it. So we've run that program two years in a row now, and they're doing -- I'm not saying that we run the Sewell Hall program, but we run the dialogues for the students.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright ©2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

DM: Well, I should mention that you were the winner of the Min Yasui Volunteer Award for your many, many contributions to the community and Boulder and Denver. And I want to ask you one other question. Because when I met you first, three years ago, I was introduced to you as Mariagnes, but now you're known as Aya. So I was wondering if you would tell me about that transition.

AM: Well, as you know, Mariagnes is, as I said earlier, is an Irish Roman Catholic name. I was named after the mother of a Catholic priest who baptized me. And one day, three or four years ago, I was writing my name on something and I thought, "I'm not really Mariagnes, I'm really Aya." Mariagnes is a Roman Catholic name, which I have not been a practicing Roman Catholic for forty-two years, and Aya is my real name, and it's a name that my grandparents and my parents gave me, and it means "love and affection." And I thought, "Well, that seems to me, be me more than anything else." So that's when I told friends that I was gonna use the name Aya, and that my friends can use, keep calling me Mariagnes. But it's really for myself that I'm doing it, so, "Don't feel bad if you don't remember." And it's really because Aya is, was not just that it was given to me by my grandparents and my parents so much as it feels more like me, and it feels right. And when I see the characters, "Aya" and what it means, it feels more like me. So that's why I use Aya. And I keep saying, when people say, "Oh, I'm so sorry, I forgot your name was now... what is it now?" And I say, I say it and says, "That's okay. I mean, you don't have to apologize. It's for myself that I'm doing it."

DM: It's even more complicated than that, though, right? Because the name that you were given is Ayako.

AM: Oh, yeah. Well, "Ayako" means, "ko" is child, so, and on my birth certificate it doesn't say "ko," it says "Aya," A-Y-A. So that's why I use Aya, because it's on my birth certificate, the identification of who I am.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright ©2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

DM: Well, are there any other things that you want to get down on tape as long as we have you here?

AM: Well, I have to tell you about Min Yasui first.

DM: Yes, please.

AM: My obligation to the Min Yasui award was that I have undertaken a recognition of Minoru Yasui's life. City, you know, he worked for the city and county at Denver, and community services for twenty-five or thirty years. And when he died, then Wellington Webb, who was the mayor, designated one of the buildings in the city and county of Denver to Minoru Yasui. It's a building called the Minoru Yasui Plaza. And Ron Abo, who's a Sansei, Yonsei, I guess, who was the architect who designed it, came to JACL and said, "Would you be interested in looking at the lobby and trying to see what we can do about depicting Minoru Yasui's life in the lobby?" And again, it was one of those situations where nobody said, "Yes, we should do it," so I said, "Well, I think it's another situation where we cannot not do it." So I said I would take responsibility for that, which has been a long journey because we're still talking about living Yasui family members, so we're trying to involve them in it. But in the process, I have learned so much about Minoru Yasui that, that we all know the PR pieces about Minoru Yasui. This is an incredible human being. Do you know that when he was in prison, in solitary confinement, he still wrote letters to his baby sister and his family saying, "This is a good, America is a good country, it deserves our respect," and so on. Can you imagine that? He was a steadfast -- you can say all kinds of things about that, but for me, it's not so much what he said, but his commitment to something bigger than himself, and acknowledging that and then pushing that his whole life.

So we're, I think we're getting to a point where we can say we're arriving at a place where we can put up a lobby description of Minoru Yasui's life, and it's going to be much more about one person's place in this, in this country, that's what I think of it. Because it's, you know, we all are in this country, in the United States of America, which means that we have a certain obligation to it, I think. But Minoru Yasui saw that obligation in quite a different way than most of us do, and I wanted to sort of make sure that we present that side of what I think should be presented. So yeah, we have a graphic artist, Ron Abo, who is the architect, graphic artist Elaine Shiramizu, and she's, she and I and Robin Yasui and the Yasui family members, Holly and Iris and Laurel. Minoru Yasui named all three of his daughters after flowers: Laurel, Iris and Holly. And all three of them are involved in it, which means, of course, it's a little more difficult than just plowing through and doing something. But anyway, that's one project that I hope that I get done before I die. [Laughs] Well, I know I will, but it's just... yeah. We've been in the process two years now, and we've collected enough money that I think we can do it. But we have to work with the city and county because the city says, "If you put up any kind of exhibit, we want to make sure that it doesn't get destroyed, and that's it's the quality and the kind that will not be destroyed easily." So we're working on that, and I think we have a theme now that will work. And that is -- I hate to use the word "patriotism" but it's really not that so much as "One man's place in this country," is what I would like to think of it that way, and how he had impacted the rest of us in ways that we do not know. And that's sort of the value of a human being, is based on what, how you impact other people without really knowing who they are and how they are impacted. I think it's the value of, that any person is based on that. I don't know if that makes sense, but...

DM: Is there anything else that you want to add?

AM: No, I think Minoru Yasui is a good exit. [Laughs]

DM: Well, you said earlier in the interview that it's a never ending journey and it's a lifelong endeavor, and I think you're also a wonderful example of how that endeavor can lead to really great things and building bridges between different groups of people, and to restoring, as you said, human dignity to others. So thank you very much.

AM: Thank you.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright ©2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.