Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga Interview II
Narrator: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Torrance, California
Date: July 7, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-haiko-03-0017

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TI: So let me see if I can summarize this. So from Jerome, you went directly to New York?

AH: No, from Jerome I went to, while Jake was still in Germany, I went to Denver, Colorado for several months, because part of the Miyazaki family, my in-laws, were living there. They said, "Come out here, 'cause it's nice in Denver." So I went to Denver, but I just didn't dig it. I just wasn't comfortable, I didn't care for it. And so I said, "No, I think I'll just pick up, go back to California." And without any, it just shows how stupid and non-thinking, and didn't consider the future. I just picked up with Geri and a few suitcases and went to, came to Los Angeles without even knowing, when I left, where I was gonna sleep when I got here. [Laughs] And by sheer coincidence, when I reached here and I checked into a hotel, Geri. (...) I decided to go to the Relocation (office of) the War Relocation Authority relocation office, to see what available facilities I could look into, apartment or something like that. And on the way, I met one of my in-laws, and he said, "Hey, what you doing here?" I said, "Well, I decided to move from Denver to here." He said, "Where are you going to stay?" I said, "I don't know, I'm just going to find out." "Then come home with me, and we'll put you up." Holy Moses, what luck. I had, born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I thought. Well, they were so kind to me and they took me in, and I was one of, I think, twenty-one in a three-bedroom house. We took turns, as I recall, sleeping, eating. But this family was so generous and wanted to help way beyond the call of duty. This sister-in-law of mine and her husband had three kids. They had Ted's father, mother, brother, and a daughter, and two brothers and me and Geri. I think there were about twenty, twenty-one of us. And we just made do. I don't know how we did it, but they were amenable, friendly, respectful of each other. Imagine. All one related family. Such generosity. He said, "Come home with me." [Laughs] I'll never forget that.

TI: And what did you do in Los Angeles during this time?

AH: Oh, I first went to, with the blessing of my sister-in-law and her husband, they said, "Okay." I said I wanted to go to a stenotype institute. At that time, before tape recorders became the easy way to record things, the stenotype institute taught people how to use this very condensed, abbreviated typewriter-like (instrument), where you had to learn the combination of keys for the missing keys to take dictation or to take speeches at conventions, which I learned to do. And I was working to take speeches at conventions, or get hired out from this institute to a letter shop, where I would be rehired by, say, lawyers who worked in that building to take dictation and do temporary work. That was the first time I had direct experience with a guy. I went with my stenotype instrument, walked into his office, and he looked at me and he said, "Are you the temporary secretary?" I said, "Yeah." "Are you Japanese?" "Yeah, my parents are from Japan." "I don't want you. Tell your boss to send me someone else, not Japanese." I was shocked. I had never had somebody tell me right to face, because I'm Japanese, "I'm not going to use you." Didn't know what I could do, what I couldn't do. I was really devastated at that. Well, I took this course and I graduated, so I got some work as a court reporter, but I never had to go to court. I went to conventions (like) Veterans of Foreign Wars conventions, (or taking) dictation and things like that, and then transcribing them. So I did that for a while until Jake came back from Germany, and then we split. So I moved to New York, back to my family again with Geri.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.