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-01-0005

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So let's, let's talk about, in your writings, again, you talk about your first day at school. Why don't you describe what the first day of school in Sheridan was like for you.

EK: I'd say it was traumatic, because I was seated, I did not seat myself, but I was seated in the first row in the middle of the class. And then when the teacher's back was turned, a kid in overalls with white hair stood up and socked me in the eye. In other words, "Have a good day," and so forth. And my mother had always, my parents had always said that, "Don't do, create something to bring shame to the family, so tone it down." So that I didn't do anything at all. And then when I went home and told my mother about it, she said, "Shikata ga nai," that's the usual Japanese phrase, "It can't be helped."

TI: When, when this other boy socked you in the eye, what was the reaction of, of the other students?

EK: I think in general it was quiet, but some were gleeful, some were sort of shocked and so forth. It's like the general behavior of a large population, that you find people who were sympathetic, people who are, to you, people who are antagonistic to you and so forth. But in general, they didn't stand up and wave their hands or anything like that. Because I believe my teacher turned around, and then may have said something after a while. But I don't believe the teacher was entirely sympathetic to me. I was the only Asian in the room there.

TI: And so when you say you were the only Asian, do you think that is why this boy did what he did?

EK: Well, he didn't sock anybody else.

TI: And do you recall what it felt like being hit, or what you were thinking? You mentioned how you thought about what your parents said in terms of not bringing shame. Do you recall any other thoughts?

EK: Well, it ran through a gamut of surprise, anger, and then that's about it. Surprise, anger, and then hurt, my eye. I think that was the whole situation. Because I just kept on remembering my parents' admonition, "Don't create something to bring shame to the family." So it was the usual Issei phraseology and syndrome of shikata ga nai.

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