Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kiyoko Morey Kaneko Interview
Narrator: Kiyoko Morey Kaneko
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Watsonville, California
Date: July 29, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-kkiyoko-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Let's go to your mother. What was your mother's name?

KK: That's Fujino Iwatsuru.

TI: And where, where was she from?

KK: She's from Akao. Akao, Nakamura.

TI: And tell me a little bit about her. Her life was pretty interesting growing up, also. She was a strong woman.

KK: Sort of, I guess. But part of that is her own doing, I think. When she was born, her mother was dry, so she, most of the women, when they had that problem, they farmed their children off to a wet nurse. Well, for some reason or other, she happened to stay with the wet nurse for five years, and that's a pretty long time to be away from one's parents. And of course, I don't know what the actual relationship was between that family and her family, but when it came time for her to leave and go back to Iwatsuru farm, she, of course, didn't want to go. Of course, all the relationships were in that other family. But anyway, the family seemed to think that they should treat that as, like, a homecoming for her. So they treated her very nicely, put her in a yellow kimono. And to the day she died, she hated the color yellow.

TI: So the family was really excited about her coming back. And so it was the family, the wet nurse, put her in a yellow kimono? Or was it her Iwatsuru family that did that?

KK: No, the wet nurse put that on her.

TI: And so she was disappointed about going back, and that's why she hated yellow?

KK: I think so, but she never talked much about that. It was just when I visited her in the nursing home that she mentioned that. But that kind of explains why she never felt that her own family was hundred percent behind her. So there was sort of, a little bit of, I don't know, disloyalty or enmity, whatever. I think back there, way in the back of her mind, she felt like her mother didn't want her.

TI: And so growing up, how did that show up? I mean, what was she like growing up with her mother or her family?

KK: Well, I think she was a little difficult, because she, I think she still felt that her family was not her family. But anyway, whatever it was, she didn't quite feel like a cohesive family member. So I think that she was a difficult child. But she was going to show 'em, so she diligently studied and went to all the school that she could manage to get. And when she graduated from the... what was it? The girls high school, as far as high school, I don't know whether that was, how many years after kindergarten or whatever. But anyway, she stayed in school as long as she could. And she vowed, and I guess she was determined to show 'em that she was somebody. So then when all the other children, all the other girls in the family were married off at fourteen or fifteen, she refused, and she just kept refusing. And she finished all the schooling that the local place offered, and so they shipped her to town, to Wakayama, someplace or other, I don't know where, to sort of a female finishing school. And after that, she went to a sewing school in order to stay in a school someplace. By that time, she was eighteen or nineteen, somewhere in there. But all along, I think the local matchmakers were offering one after another, but she wouldn't have any part of that.

TI: And I always heard, though, that sometimes the women didn't have much choice. I mean, once the family decided, wasn't it pretty hard to refuse?

KK: Well, it must have been, because that was the, that was the thing that everybody did. That all the girls got shipped off before they really grew up.

TI: Well, so how was that, finally, that she got connected with your father? What was the connection there?

KK: Well, that's also a long story. [Laughs]

TI: Go ahead and tell me. This is, this is what I'm curious about.

KK: Yeah. My dad had come over to the United States, and all the other young men, how old they were, I don't know. But all the other men that came with Dad would send for "picture brides." And so they waited on the shore for the gals to come off of the boat. And that's the way most of them were hitched up, so to speak. [Laughs] But Dad decided, I don't know whether, whose decision that was, but Pop insisted on going and getting his own bride. So by that time, he was, he was... well, he wasn't a young, young man anymore. He was about thirty-seven or forty or something like that.

TI: 'Cause he was born about 1860...

KK: 1868, I think it was.

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