Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Eugene Tatsuru Kimura Interview
Narrator: Eugene Tatsuru Kimura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 5, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-keugene-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So today is Friday, September 5, 2008. We're in the Densho studio. Dana Hoshide is on camera, and then I'm Tom Ikeda and I'm the interviewer. So Eugene, the first question, again, some basic stuff, can you tell me when and where you were born?

EK: I was born in Sheridan, Wyoming, September the 19th, 1922. And I was the, I was the younger of two brothers.

TI: So when you were born, were you born in a hospital, or do you know what kind of conditions you were born?

EK: I don't remember when I was born, but what I was told was that I was born in a hospital there.

TI: Okay.

EK: What really confused me was on the birth certificate, it says that I was the third child. I don't remember another child, so I wrote to the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Sheridan, and also in Cody and so forth. And they said, "No, this must have been clerical error, that you are not the third child. You are the second child." And I'm still wondering how come the physician wrote down three. But anyway, it doesn't make much difference now.

TI: And you mentioned you had an older brother.

EK: That's right.

TI: What was his name?

EK: Kazuo, K-A-Z-U-O, K. Kimura. So he had to go through life known as "KKK."

TI: [Laughs] That's funny. So, and when you were born, what was the full name given to you at birth?

EK: Tatsuru Kimura.

TI: And now people call you Eugene.

EK: Eugene because, for the simple reason that in grammar school, teachers had a difficulty pronouncing "tsu," Tatsuru seemed to be very difficult insofar as non-Asians are concerned. So sometimes, teachers in exasperation would say, "You." [Laughs] So that I just decided that, like most Niseis, I decided that it might be a good idea to get an English name. So for some reason, I chose Eugene.

TI: So do you recall, did you choose Eugene or did someone else choose it for you?

EK: I chose it.

TI: And do you recall why Eugene?

EK: Well, it seemed like an unusual name, not like Tom, Dick or Harry, you know. So I had some names on a piece of board, and then one, two, three, flipped a coin, whether it's heads or tails, so it came out to Eugene. So by the flip of the coin I became Eugene.

TI: And do you recall about how old you were when you decided?

EK: It was obviously past grammar school because the cumulative difficulty that teachers had with Tatsuru, you know. So I think it was in high school or slightly later years that I said that, well, look, just for, so that people wouldn't point to me and say, "You," I might as well get a name. Not You, it's Eugene now, instead of You.

TI: [Laughs] That's good.

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