Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frances Midori Tashiro Kaji Interview
Narrator: Frances Midori Tashiro Kaji
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Martha Nakagawa (secondary)
Location: Torrance, California
Date: September 21, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-kfrances-01-0011

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TI: Okay, so we're going to start the second hour, now, Frances. And at the end of the first hour, I had just started in the beginning of the war. But before we go more into the war, I'm going to back up a little bit. And I wanted to go back and get more information about Gardena. And you mentioned earlier how you lived on Gardena Boulevard.

FK: Right.

TI: And there were shops there. Can you describe sort of the type of shops and what was there when you were growing up?

FK: Well, across the street from us was a Ford agency, Les Arkenburg. And my father now and then would buy a car from Mr. Arkenburg. And then on the next, on the same block, on the corner was Rush Chevrolet. I remember Dad bought a car from them for my sister Aki when she was graduating high school. So she bought a four-door Chevy. But those days, you had to shift gears. And then across the street, just a block away, was a Safeway, and my job was to go there and buy a quart of milk and loaf of bread. And then close to there was this Kameya, the Japanese store that sold rice and, I don't know what all they... I don't know, well, I think had those little Japanese candies, I don't remember. But that was just across the street. And then further down, to Vermont, there was a store called Daniel's Cafe, and they used to have, I guess in today's terminology it would have been a beer joint, but I didn't know. But my ambition was to get grown up enough to go to Daniel's Cafe one day to have a hamburger and a malt. All those years, my sister used to tell me about it, my sister Sachi. And I said, "Mom, I want a hamburger and malt." To this day, I've never had one. It turns me off thinking about it. [Laughs] I was so deprived.

TI: Because you had to be a certain age, you had to be old enough to go there?

FK: Yeah. Well, my sister used to go with her girlfriend who always had money. Her name was Anna Kurata, she always had money.

TI: Oh, so it wasn't so much, when you say a "beer joint," so like teenagers could go there and get a hamburger and a malt.

FK: I guess, uh-huh. Well, it was a small town, everyone knew everyone's kids. And then a block away from there was the Kurata Depaato, the Kurata family ran this dry goods store. And that store is still there, but it's a Mexican grocery store now. And you could just walk from door to door to door within a five, ten minutes. A small town, it was very comfortable.

TI: And during the break, you also mentioned a tofu-ya?

FK: Oh, now that was the opposite way, across the street and half a block east. It was a tofu-ya, but they would always have tofu in these tubs. I didn't know what was going on, but sometimes I would be sent across the street with a pan to get fresh tofu. So it was... or otherwise, the fish man, there used to be a Japanese fish man who came around every week with fresh fish on ice, and that was our dinner, I could figure that out.

TI: Well, when you went across the street to the tofu-ya with a pan, what would happen? You'd bring the pan and then what would happen next?

FK: Oh, whoever was working that day would, it was family business. They would dip their hand in, into the big pool of water, and lift up a square of tofu and put it in your pan with some water in it, and it was fresh tofu. That was it.

TI: Now, does the tofu back then taste different than the tofu you get today?

FK: I don't know, I don't know. I was just the eater.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.