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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-01-0012

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TI: When you were talking about the shops, you mentioned the car dealers, the Ford and they Chev dealers where your father bought cars at the Ford, as well as a Chevy for your sister. When I have interviewed other Niseis, it wasn't that common for Niseis to buy new cars. And so I'm curious, you mentioned also earlier when you went to the Japanese language school, you went to the one out in the fields, you didn't go to the "classy" one...

FK: Right.

TI: ...closer in town. So maybe the first question is, why didn't you go to the other Japanese language school?

FK: Well, for one thing, they were a bit farther away. You'd have to be going by car. Moneta would have been, gosh, from Vermont all the way across to Western Avenue, that's two miles, three miles? And then to go to Compton Gakuen, it was the opposite way up the hill towards Dominguez Hills and all, yeah. It's on Avalon and Rosecrantz, I think. It was a distance and you'd need a car. Because otherwise, you're walking out on the field.

TI: Okay, so it sounds like a lot of it had to do with proximity. That was probably the most convenient.

FK: Right.

TI: Maybe the, what I'm trying to get at, maybe, or I'm curious about, your father was a very prominent person in the community. And I'm just wondering in terms of how other community members perceived your father. I mean, how did he get along with the rest of the community, that relationship? Can you describe that?

FK: Well, as far as I know, I didn't know the difference. It was after the war, when you hear things that people are saying. But at that time, I wasn't aware of anything about class or position or whatever. Because none of my parents, neither of my parents made us aware of such things. But it was... I don't know. My father loved to talk their kind of language, sometimes it's coarse, sometimes it's... it's just like some people talk to each other in, like they're Okies or, you know, hillbillies or whatever. But there's a Japanese group that talked that way also, and he would use that, certain phrases to make them feel at home. And I'd hear this kind of language and I'd think, "Oh, must be Mr. so-and-so who's here." I mean, you could kind of tell by the twang or whatever. It was interesting to listen to. And my father wasn't the kind who would whisper, and it was always loud and backslapping kind of...

TI: And your sense was he did this just to make his patients feel just more comfortable?

FK: Uh-huh. 'Cause it's just by chance that he was where he is, or at that time, where he was. I don't think he believed that he was all that high-falutin'.

TI: That's interesting. Because, so he was, there was quite a bit of range in him in that, in one way, you described him as being scholarly, he liked to read and study, and would underline, sort of, passages for other doctors to read.

FK: Right.

TI: And yet with the more sort of common man, he was very at ease and able to converse there also.

FK: Right. I think he prided himself in being able to get along with everyone. He just loved being with people and talking their colloquial slang or whatever, and relaxing people.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.