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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-01-0022

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: So you were, in Seattle, you were a sophomore at the University of Washington. You were in Sheridan, and from there, you were able to get accepted to the University of Nebraska.

EK: That's right.

TI: So can you explain why you chose Nebraska? What was it about Nebraska?

EK: Well, for the simple reason that many of the colleges refused to accept Japanese. Those that accepted Niseis had a quota system of, "We will accept only five," or something like that. But Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, was a strong church town. And maybe because of the nature of the populace there, they said, "Welcome, come." So that's why we went there. There was a large contingent of Niseis at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. So I'll be forever grateful for the people in Lincoln, Nebraska.

TI: And how did you hear about the welcoming nature of Lincoln, Nebraska?

EK: Well, oh, I think it was from word of mouth, plus the fact that we had been told Lincoln was a very strong church town. And then we do remember Gerald Kennedy was the minister there who later became a, Bishop Kennedy of the Methodist Church. But it was a strong church town. That may have been instrumental to the fact that they did not ostracize us to the extent that some of the other universities did.

TI: And so when you got there, not only was it a university, but the other townspeople were quite welcoming to you and other Nisei?

EK: Not all, not all. The students there, of course, were sheltered, they were taken care of more readily by the university, whereas my mother and I was a quote/unquote "family unit." So I went to one home there and they looked at me, and they slammed the door in my face. But then I said, "Well, shikata ga nai, it can't be helped." So, but then, there again, some of the more Christian, more Christian women, people, rented us a upstairs apartment. So in, well, in Lincoln, Nebraska, I lived upstairs.

TI: And when you got to Lincoln, Nebraska, and you were attending school, what would your mother do?

EK: Stayed at home. To keep her informed, I went to the local library and got some new books on flower arrangement and so forth, but in essence, she didn't do anything. I do remember some family came with a captured Japanese flag and wanted my mother to translate the things on that flag, the writings on the flag. So that's the only contact concerning Japanese. Oh, another thing, I fell, my mother fell ill one day. So I knew that there was a doctor about two houses, oh, about two, three houses away. So I ran over there, rang the bell, and I said, "My mother isn't feeling too good." Apparently, this doctor was entertaining somebody, a group of people, and surprisingly, he looked at me and said, "You should have used the back door." But at this point in time, I wasn't going to argue with him. I said, "Would you come over and look at my mother?" Apparently my mother recovered from whatever she had, but that was the, that episode I do remember. "You should have used the back door."

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