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Title: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga Interview II
Narrator: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Torrance, California
Date: July 7, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-haiko-03-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: I wanted to ask you about community events when you were growing up. Did you participate in Japanese community events in Los Angeles?

AH: Yeah. During those days, many of the young folks, say, high school age and college age, had established little cliques and clubs. And there were clubs with, oh, anywhere from, say, ten or a dozen, or maybe fifteen young girls or young boys who developed these little clubs. And then we would have a lot of baseball games, competing with other girls' teams, or once in a while, maybe competing against boys' teams. And they were scattered. I'm sure there were groups like that in San Pedro. I know there were several different groups in Los Angeles. I belonged to a group called the Junior Misses, and there were about a dozen of us. And we would, quote, "sponsor" dances just as an excuse to be able to meet the boys or have little bake sales. Any excuse to try to reach out and meet other people. Our group was concentrated in the uptown area. There was another group, young girls, called, I think, Debutantes, that was in the Crenshaw/Senshin area. And then there were boys' groups called Mustangs, Cougars, the Knights, K-N-I-G-H-T-S, and they would compete mostly baseball, sometimes basketball, volleyball. So that was... and then in the church, we would have Japanese language school, that was another occasion for us to be able to have co-ed activities. I belonged to the St. Mary's Episcopal Church, and as I recall, on Saturdays, we had Japanese language school, which I resisted terribly. Because during those days, not like today... today, you walk down the street, you can hear all kinds of languages, and people don't, you know, don't think twice about it. But during those days, you open your mouth and you spoke Japanese, you got dirty looks. So we tried to be so "American," two hundred percent American, that there was reluctance on my part, anyway, and resistance to learn Japanese was a detriment to my development, especially my relationship with my parents.

TI: I wanted to go back to those clubs, and especially the boys. When you had all these different clubs, did they ever get into fights or anything like that? Was there that kind of competition?

AH: I didn't keep up too much with that, but I remember hearing that there was. And regionally, I think that the young boys' clubs in Los Angeles didn't get along with the San Pedro group, or the Terminal Island group. As a matter of fact, I think when we went into the camps, they would refer to each other as yogores. I'm not sure how you translate that in English, it means... yogore, of course, means "dirty boys." But anyway, there was not too much love lost, I heard. I had never, and I heard that even in Los Angeles, there were little competitive teams or groups that didn't get along. I guess they called them "gangs" instead of clubs.

TI: How about the girls' clubs? Did they ever compete against each other in different ways?

AH: I don't recall any feeling of competition. There must have been, it's natural, when you think that young girls are competing for attention with each other and with boys particularly. I guess they existed, but I somehow didn't get that sense of real hostility or animosity. We were so busy doing our own thing that I don't recall that too much.

TI: Now, in your club, the Junior Misses, did they have, like, different positions of authority? Like a president of the club and things like that? What was your -- the question, I guess, what was your role in the Junior Misses? Did you take a leadership role? Were you like a leader of the Junior Misses?

AH: Isn't that strange? I can't even think whether we had a chairman or a president. We just all met periodically, maybe once or twice a month, and planned to maybe support a church activity or to try to sponsor some kind of sport event and make plans for dances. But I... you know, isn't that strange? I think there were a few girls who always sort of had the leadership quality, but I do not recall ever saying, "Oh, she's the president of the club," or, "She's treasurer of the club," and things like that. I think, I'm not sure if this is standard, but as I recall... I'll have to ask one of my, the few of us who are left to see if they recall.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.