Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Setsu Tsuboi Tanemura Interview
Narrator: Setsu Tsuboi Tanemura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 12, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-tsetsu-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so we're going to start. First, today's date is Thursday, November 12, 2009. On camera is Dana Hoshide. I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda, and we're in Seattle at the Densho studios interviewing Setsu Tanemura. And so, Setsu, the first question is the basic one. Can you tell me when and where you were born?

ST: I was born on February 28, 1930, in Portland, Oregon.

TI: And what was the name given to you at birth?

ST: Setsuko Tsuboi. No middle name. That was one thing I used to ask my dad: "Why didn't you give me another name?" [Laughs]

TI: And did he have a response?

ST: Oh, yes. See, all my friends had American names that they could be called by. And here I had this name "Setsuko," which was difficult for all Caucasians to pronounce. And I said, "Why couldn't you give me a nice American name?" And he said, "It's a good Japanese name," you know, "and I chose it." And he said, and so then I had to ask him what did it mean and everything. So he gave me this elaborate, you know, meaning. He said, "Well, 'Setsu' means a holiday, but," he said, "it's just not an ordinary holiday. It's one of the major holidays." And I said, "Oh, which one is that?" And he said, "Well, Girl's Day is on March 3rd." I don't know if that's the real reason, but then that's what he gave me, so I accepted that.

TI: That's good. Well, but growing up, did you ever have a nickname?

ST: No, never did. People just shortened my name down. Most people used to call me "Sets." I hated that. [Laughs]

TI: And what did you like to be called? "Setsu" or "Setsuko"?

ST: Well, when I got old enough to be more demanding, I said, "I want to be called "Setsu." I didn't want to be called "Sets."

TI: Good. So tell me about your, your sister, your sibling. I think I know about your sister.

ST: Yes. She is five years older than I am, she was born on March 8th. And when, so when she was... the thing is, I always used to tell her, because I went to live at the age of two with the Browns, she never had to endure the problem of having a kid sister tagging along. I used to tell her, "Well, you were lucky I wasn't tagging along. I only came home and visited on summer vacations for a short time, and you had to take care of me then," I says, "but I wasn't there. You never had to take care of me until I came home when I was eight years old." And she said, "Yeah, but..." you know. [Laughs]

TI: So she was born March 8, 1925.

ST: Yes.

TI: And what was your sister's name?

ST: Miyo, Miyoko. She has a very pretty name, it means, one of the characters means "beautiful."

TI: Now, did she have a middle name?

ST: No, no.

TI: At least your father was consistent. [Laughs]

ST: He was consistent, yes.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Well, so we mentioned your father. Can you tell me your father's name?

ST: It was Kumajiro Tsuboi, and he was the second son. So that meant that he could get out of Japan. His father, his family were fairly large landowners, they were farmers. And he got along very well with his dad. His dad and he used to drink, he said that he didn't like it, but his dad would ask him to talk with him after dinner, just the two of them would talk, and he enjoyed talking with him. And they'd always share, have a glass of -- I said, "Sake?" And he said, "No, it was something else." I don't know, some kind of a brandy or something like that, that was his, that would be his father's favorite. And they would sit and sip this and discuss life. And so when my dad was probably around... he would have been about twenty-four, twenty-five, he decided he wanted to leave Japan and go to the United States and be, have an adventure. And his father did not want him to leave. And he said, "I can't, the land has to go to your oldest brother, because that, you can't split up the land." He said, "But," he said, "I'm going to deed over to you a portion of land." He said, "It's not enough to really make a big living, but," he said, "it's enough to sustain you. And it'll be here for you always, so you can always come back, and it will be there for you so you'll have a place." And he hoped that he would go have his adventure and then return to Japan, but my dad did not. And so it was in his name all the time. But when the occupation came, and the government said there could be no absentee ownership of land, so the relatives wrote and said, "Instead of putting it up and letting somebody, a stranger buy it, we're selling it to one of the family members who liked this piece." And so they did that, and then they took the money and put it in an account for my father. However, they could not send money from Japan to United States at that time. So they said, "We'll have it in the account, and you let us know what you want to spend from it." So he spent from that account to pay for things like what would be koden over here, and gifts that he might want to give to some of the people graduating or something like that. And the interesting thing about... the last part of the account was spent when first my sister got married, and he was a very traditionalist because, of course, he was fifty-three years old when I was born. So he was like a grandparent, one generation removed, you made an investigation of the groom's family. So he sent... so it would be two of our aunts, traveled to, it would be my sister's fiance's family to investigate the family and send the report to my father. And the same thing happened when I was married in 1960.

TI: Oh, so he had an investigation of your husband's family in Japan.

ST: Yes, yes. And everybody was... well, see, at the time I married Kaz, both his parents had died. And then, of course, you see, they were both out-of-towners, so he had no, my father had no one to ask anything about the family because he didn't know any of them, because they're both Seattle, Washington, people. And so he sent them, and the comment was, after we were married," Boy, if our dad had known that, he would have hit the ceiling." And I says, "Well, my father's reply would have been, 'You're welcome to do the same thing.'"

TI: Interesting. What an interesting legacy, from that land that your grandfather deeded to your father.

ST: Yes.

TI: It sounded like such a special relationship between your father and your grandfather.

ST: I think it was. I think there was a better relationship between my father and his father than there was with the oldest son, who was not as, probably as, maybe as outgoing. It was just different. But then chonan is chonan.

TI: So you mentioned they were landowners. Can you tell me what part of Japan...

ST: It was a prefecture of Okayama, and it was a very small village. In fact, my mother and father both came from the same area. It was near the, what is now the city of Kurashiki, which is a beautiful town. They call it the "museum town," there are some very fine museums there. Which makes another interesting statement, that one of the people who was born there made big money. And so he wanted to do something for his village, for Kurashiki, which was still a very small town at that time. So he donated, and this would be back in probably '50s or so, he donated five million dollars for -- this is what I heard -- for a museum. And there are some very nice artworks, I can't remember the artists now, but some well-known and reputable European artists, mostly modern art.

TI: Did your father ever return back?

ST: No, he did not. And I think there are several things involved here. One is that when people came to the United States, they did not always come as themselves. Some people came in as cousins and nephews who had no relationship, and this was after, when you had to start having proof of who you were, I think before you just came in. You didn't have to have anything. But when he came, the last time he came with my mother, he had a passport from Japan, and it was stamped. And he had, it was, the date was on there, it was a date in March. Well, when he entered into United States and it was stamped by the U.S. officials, it was one of those rubber stamp kind of things where you move the month and date. Someone made an error, and so when they stamped it, it looked like he arrived in the United States before he had left Japan on the boat. Well, it's obvious when you look at it that it was a mistake, but my father was, you know, very worried about this. He never mentioned this to us, but this was, I think, one of his worries, because he was always afraid that depending upon the official you ran into, were they going to say, "Oh, well, it's just a mistake," or were they going to use this for an excuse to exclude him and say, refuse entry? So I think that was kind of governing part, that was kind of in the back of his mind, because he told us, when we said to him, "Why don't you go back and visit now that" -- this was after I graduated college, and I said, "We both have jobs now, and we can send you, pay for the tickets and everything, and you could take the omiyage and go and visit." And he said, "No," and he said he was worried, and he said he knew people in Portland who would not dare to go back because they had no proof of who they were, and they would not be able to reenter. And he was just... and we said, "Well, you have proof, you came through legally." And he says, "Yeah, but you never can tell," and he says, "I would never last in Japan." He says, "I don't want to live there."

TI: Interesting.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: Okay, so we talked about your father, but let's go back to when he was about twenty-four, twenty-five years old, when he was going to go on his adventure. Where did he go in the United States when he came?

ST: Well, I'm not too sure about his very early years. I know he must have landed in Seattle, because I think that was the port he entered. And he spent some time in Oregon. There's, my sister said she thought he spent time in Oregon. And then there was the, he has some documentation of the hospital association that he joined to take care of himself. I think he was one of those that wanted to be sure everything was taken care of. Later he worked on the railroad, and he assembled a group of men, and they would offer themselves as a team, a platoon or whatever you call it, gang. And he was a section foreman. He, we talked to him about this once. What did they do and how did they make the money and everything. And I said, "Did they make enough money?" And he said, "Well, a lot of the men that came over on those gangs were sending everything back to Japan to support their family." And he said, "So a lot of them were trying to save by eating practically nothing." And we said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Well, they'd make soup with bacon and flour and rice and that was pretty much..." he said, "but that was not a good meal," he said, "but people did that and that's why they got sick and everything." And he said he didn't believe that was a good thing. And, but when he was relieved of his, or finished his section, he received this letter from the roadmaster. And he kept this letter because it said to him that he had done a, he felt, said he had done a good job, that they would welcome him back when he got another group, and they would find a place for him. So he always kept that as, that he had done a good job.

TI: And so for him to be the section leader, he was kind of a leader. He had leadership qualities so that other men would work with him?

ST: Well, I think so. You know, when you come to think of that generation that came over, they were all pretty much rebels in a way. They, and especially, I think he was because he came from a comfortable family. It wasn't that he was coming over here to find some way to live. He was, you know, he had been in a comfortable situation, although there was probably nothing for him to do in Japan. See, that was, he lived on a farm and he probably had no, you know, didn't know what else he could go to, because Japan was pretty limited class-wise and everything. And at that time, he was educated probably more than the average person even in the United States, and yet he only, he finished what would be, we would consider eighth grade. But that was considered fairly educated at that time. Even in the United States, a lot of children still did not read and write.

TI: And maybe a little bit older than the other men, too. At twenty-four, twenty-five, many of them were probably more twenty to twenty-two.

ST: Yeah, that's true. That's probably true. But he didn't speak English. I really don't know how he managed this because all his life, he's never been, he never was fluent in English. And, but he had a store and everything, dry goods store, men's furnishings, and customers and everything. But he managed to get by, you know. It's amazing how that generation did things.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Well, personality-wise, how would you describe him? You mentioned him being somewhat of a rebel or a maverick.

ST: Well, my father was a very -- and I think he's passed some of this along -- he was a very stubborn person. And he would ask advice of people, but he kept his own counsel, you might say. He would think things over, and then he would make his own decisions. And once he'd made his own decision, that was it, there was no changing. And he had, he had a fairly good, hot temper, but he never, ever hit us. His idea of discipline, and it was really bad, was he would sit you down and he would talk to you about how disappointed he was in how you had handled yourself, and how it hurt him to feel that he had failed. And you heard this over and over, it would go on for about an hour. Of course, see, my Japanese was very poor. I understood very little, and I had been raised much differently. So by the time I would receive these lectures, I was about eight or nine years old when I went home, and my sister would have to interpret the lecture. And so it didn't, it didn't hit me that hard, but I knew that if I didn't say I was sorry, "I'm sorry," I wasn't going to hear the end of it. So I would apologize and say I was sorry. I don't know if I was always a hundred percent sorry, but you know, I knew I had failed him. And that was his main way of disciplining, that you failed.

TI: Well, and you mentioned that he was stubborn, there was a stubborn streak in him. Can you think of an example that would kind of, sort of describe that or show that?

ST: He, I think when he, when Mother died, here he was, he was fifty-five years old at the time. And that would have been considered quite old at that time. And he received a letter from Japan, from my mother's sister, saying, "Please send her home, send the youngest one, at least, and I can take care of that one because you're, you won't be able to take care of a baby."

TI: To send you, essentially, to Japan.

ST: Yeah, send me. But my sister, being seven and in school, see, she would be taken care of for most of the day. And, but my father wanted to prove that he could be a good father, and he could do it all on his own. He wasn't going to, we asked him, "Why didn't you marry?" And he said, "That's true, there were a lot of widows, lot of widows out there looking for a man." But he said he had seen families where they married, and then the husband died, and even if the husband hadn't died, the second wife was not kind to the stepchildren, and she favored her own children over the other children. And so he said he didn't want to see that, and so he was going to try something different. And so, and about my mother's sister writing, many years later her oldest son also decided, he was chonan, but he also decided he didn't want the property, he was going to go, so he went to Brazil, to land, they had kind of a section where a whole bunch of Okayama farmers went over. And he became quite prosperous down there, and so he came back to visit Japan and then he came to the United States and he stopped by and he stayed with us for a while. And so we were able to ask him many questions about what happened, you know, and he said, yes, he remembers the day that he was a young boy playing, and he was playing underneath the house. They had just an open area under the house, and he said it was underneath the living room section where everybody was gathered. And he said the letter came and his mother was so happy because she thought maybe Dad was going to say that she could have me. And she opened the letter and she immediately started crying because she said, "He says no. He says I won't get her, and he says he won't send her." And she was just heartbroken because to her, of course, that was also a connection with her sister, her older sister, who she hadn't seen for quite a while. And so that, she was really upset about that. And so he remembers that part, so he shared that with us, and that was a nice memory.

TI: Now, do you ever think or imagine what your life would have been if you...

ST: It would have been terrible. Because I discovered, when I was eight years old, that the reason I had been ill quite a bit when I was younger was because I had allergies. And I had what, at that time, they used to call it hay fever. And all summer it was just terrible. And my eyes would be swollen red, and I would be sneezing all the time and coughing, and I would catch colds. It was just miserable. And so you could imagine, if I had to go to live on a farm, I would have been in bad shape. [Laughs]

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So let's go back to the chronology. So we talked about your father, he was in the United States, how did he meet your mother?

ST: Well, now, you know, he was at this age -- when he reached his, it would be, he would be in his mid-forties or late-forties, and he hadn't married. And he was adventuring, and he was trying to invest in things and become, he wanted to make his fortune like all of the young men did. And he got the letter from Japan saying, "You know, you've come to an age now, it's time for you to settle down. And come home and let's see what we can do." That's the general tenor of what he said to us. There may have been something more specific in the actual letters that he received. But we discovered that the reason why they brought him home was because my mother was a widow, and she was a young widow, she was nineteen years younger than him. So she was still in her early twenties, and he, so he met her, and she was staying with her family. She had a boy, and we never knew this. She had a little boy, and she was staying with her family, had been sent back to her family. And my father met her and decided that I guess he was going to get married, she was okay. And according to the relatives who we met later, she was considered, she was the oldest daughter in that family, and she was considered the beauty of the family. And so he said to her one day -- this is what we found out when we went to visit, Kaz and I went to visit the families in the '80s. And one of the women told me, I said, "Do you know what happened, how they met, and when did he ask her to marry him?" She said, well, he didn't exactly ask her. He said to her something like this: "I'm going to be leaving for the United States on Thursday. If you want to go along, be packed." It was essentially that. And, of course, he did not want the son because it wasn't his. We didn't find this out until many, many years later, and it was after he had died. So the family, his family kept the secret from us, but, of course, we had no contact with our relatives, so we wouldn't know. But nobody else who had been from that part of the country of Japan ever told us either. And that's kind of interesting, we felt that nobody, they all respected him for that and never told us.

TI: And did you ever make contact -- I guess this would have been your stepbrother?

ST: Stepbrother. Well, this is kind of... this is where it gets kind of cloudy. We... let's see, this would be after I was married and my sister was married, my son was in, oldest son was in the second grade, so that would be about 1967, '68, my aunt and her husband decided to go down to Brazil to visit their oldest (son) who had been in this group of farmers that had purchased this large section of land in Brazil near Sao Paolo, there's that large Japanese community outside of Sao Paolo. Well, in Sao Paolo, actually, but he had the farm several hours from Sao Paolo. And they had heard stories that everybody wasn't doing well. And, of course, nobody would reveal this in letters home, they would all say, "We're doing well." Several had died from illness and stuff, and she, they wanted to know because their son was a very proud person. And since he was the oldest son and had left everything, they wanted to see for themselves whether his letters were accurate. So they took the trip down there on a Japanese ship, and one of the... and coming back to Japan, there were stops at Los Angeles and San Francisco. So they sent us letters, and at that time it would be... what did they call that? Well, you know, you used to get the telegram, only it wasn't called a telegram. But anyway, to tell us when they would be at different ports, and they asked whether we could come and visit. So my sister and I flew down to San Francisco because that was the closest port for us. And we met them for the first time, and that would be my aunt and uncle. So when we met them at the -- and we had to get a pass to go on, and then they couldn't come off. Oh, they could get a pass if they were accompanied by us, citizens, they could come off the ship. So we met them at the ship and took them out for dinner to a sukiyaki place, very nice sukiyaki house in San Francisco, and tried to show them around. Of course, San Francisco wasn't our town, so we didn't know a whole lot about it, but at least we could show them around a little bit, and we talked. And they said, "Would you like to see our cabin and the ship?" And we said, "Oh, that would be nice." So we walked to their cabin, and as soon as she opened the door and she closed the door behind us, and she reached for this envelope, and she pulled out this picture, and she said, "This is your brother." And it was just, you know, such a surprise.

TI: Oh, so at that point, that's how you found out about him?

ST: That was when we found out. And, see, he was a good ten years older than us, I'm sure. And he was a very nice-looking man. We asked the circumstances, she told us the circumstances. My sister's Japanese is much better than mine, so, you know, we did this back and forth thing, and she said that he was adopted by a family, a couple who had no children. And they were just so happy to have him, and that he was well-raised and cared for, and he kept in contact with her, the sister. And so she always knew how he was, and he had a good life and he had a good job. But he, I don't think he had married. He more or less felt, he was so attached to his parents that he just, his new parents, that he stayed with them. And he had sent a letter and asked for us to contact him if we wanted to. He didn't want to contact if we didn't want to. And I can't write Japanese, but somehow or another, I think either the address was misplaced or something. But somehow the contact was never made, and I really, that's something I really regret.

TI: And has he passed away?

ST: Yes, he has. When we went back in, when Kaz and I went back in '87, '88, and when I, first thing I asked my aunt when we entered her house was, "Is my brother, is my brother still alive?" And she said, "No," she said, "he died last year." So we just missed him by a year.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: You know, as we talk about your mother's family, what did people tell you about her? What was she like?

ST: Well, the family was a prosperous farming family, so that meant the girls did not do farmwork. And they were all raised to... how shall I say? They went to finishing schools, the so-called. They took lessons in flower arranging, needlework, sewing, all that sort of thing. And, in fact, on my father's side, I think, two of his sisters were teachers at those type of schools. And all the family was... so I would say the family was very prosperous, and so she was well-trained, well-brought up. It seems that she was the child of the first wife, and that after his wife died... there were several children, and after his wife died, he remarried, of course. And then things were not as prosperous. They were, my, her younger sister's husband was an upcoming young man, and he was prosperous. And so he bought land from his father-in-law, that would be.

TI: Your grandfather.

ST: Yeah, my grandfather. And so much of the land that my sister, my aunt's family has is actually her land. So it's kind of interesting the way that happened. So it could be, at the time my father went back to Japan to marry my mother, the family was just, you know, doing well, doing okay, but not that well.

TI: And what about personality? What had you heard about your mother's personality, or what was she like?

ST: See, no one really tells you anything, you know. And my father never spoke of my mother. And my sister doesn't remember very much, because, you know... and I think, we had no relatives, it was just, in the United States, there was just my father, my sister and I. None of the rest of the family ever wanted to come to the United States. So, and we had no one to tell us stories about her, no close friends whose mothers would tell you, "Oh, your mother used to do this," or something like that. We know she was considered accomplished in needlework and stuff because in the trunk were unfinished pieces of embroidery and needlework, and things of that sort. And she, her clothing was, we had her clothing, she was a very petite woman, of course, and we think she was probably, maybe 4'8", 10", something like that. She was very tiny. Her feet, she must have, we had an old pair of shoes, we had a lot of her old shoes and her jewelry, and she must have worn about a size 3. She was a pretty lady, and that's what most people would tell us. And they would look at us when we would go to the picnics, the undoukai that they would have. Oh, and they would look at Miyo and I and they'd say, they would say to my sister, "Oh, you look just like your mother. She was so beautiful." And so that's pretty much what we heard. Past that, we really didn't hear much more.

TI: Okay. So let's go now, so they returned, or your dad returns to Portland where he's working at sort of a men's furnishing place?

ST: Well, he, yes, he had a men's furnishing shop. There was another family, there is another family in Portland with the same last name, Tsuboi. And there were two brothers and their families, and so they were the Tsuboi brothers. And so when my father kind of joined up with him, they said, "Well, you're part of the Tsuboi brothers." So we had no actual relationship. But they were the Tsuboi brothers, and so most people are sure that we are related to the others, you know. [Laughs] They were, they were jewelers, and they had a very nice jewelry shop on Burnside. Burnside is the division between north and south in Portland, and it used to be the central part of Portland in the beginning. And they had a shop there, and they used to be kind of like a... the way, the first I remember about this was probably when I was seven or eight. I remember going there to visit during the day, in the summertime, my sister would take me and we'd go for a walk. And my father's store was connected to the jewelry store, but I don't really remember anything about his shop because, of course, the jewelry store was far more fascinating.

TI: But it was under the umbrella of the Tsuboi brothers?

ST: Yes, yes. And then later, I think this was probably about the time I went home to live with him in 1938, he opened a shop several blocks away.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Okay, before we get there, though, I want to get back... so your mother and father come to Portland, and then they have you. Well, no, first they have your sister and then they have you. Your mother passed away when you were quite young, and I kind of wanted to go through that before you went on.

ST: Yes. She passed away the day before my second birthday. And she had, my father explained it to us that she had a brain tumor, and it was pressure on her brain, and she was in terrible pain. In those days, of course, you didn't know what to do, they didn't have CAT scans or anything, so you couldn't see what was going on. But the diagnosis of the doctor was that she must have a brain tumor, because the pain would sort of come and go, and sometimes it was very fierce. And so the doctor said, "Well, she can't go on this way," and that surgery was the only thing. Of course, this was back in 1932, and so he said he didn't know whether she would recover from the surgery, but that was her only chance, because the pain was so terrible. and so the surgery, they had surgery, and then my sister recalls going to the hospital when her mother was in the hospital. And she remembers that part, and my mother lingered, I think, in a coma for probably, for a short time, I don't know how long. Couple days, maybe, or so, and then she died, because that was just too traumatic.

TI: And so she was, like, in her late twenties?

ST: She was about, let's see now. She was born in 1896, I think, let's see. She was born in 1896, so in 1932, she would have been...

TI: Oh, so about thirty-six or so.

ST: Yeah.

TI: Okay. But very young.

ST: Yes. For us, we would consider it young. For that time, she was probably considered rather old to be having children when you think about it.

TI: And so at this point, your sister is seven.

ST: Seven, and in school.

TI: And you are two.

ST: And I was two. So, like I was saying, my father decided he was not, he was going to do this on his own. He was gonna prove that he could be a father and mother, but he knew he could not handle the baby, so he knew he had to have someone else take care of me. At this time, he did not want to get married, he did not know of anybody who he trusted to raise me during the day, you know, have like daycare or something like that, so he was talking with one of his good friends who was on the, who had a nursery, a very large nursery over in southeast Portland. And across the street from him lived this family. It was a widow, and she had six children, and she was a very fine, respected member of the community. Everybody looked up to her because she was able to raise these children, they were all well-behaved, they were fed and clothed and they were, she had good control over them, and they were a nice family. And she was a staunch Baptist, she was a church-going person. So he said to Dad, "I'm sure they could use the money," because she had no money, really. And he said, "I live just across the street, and so if anything happens, I can be there, and I can kind of keep an eye on things." And so that's where I went.

And she was Swedish. She was actually an immigrant, her father had had a very large farm in Sweden, and he was an adventurer. He wanted to come to the United States and seek the new life. So he and his wife and all of his younger children who were six girls, it was a huge family... he was actually only going to bring five girls, and the oldest one was this one who lived across the street, her name was Marie. And she begged to go, too, because she wanted to go to the United States. And he said, she begged and begged, and finally he said, "Okay, I'll take six." The oldest girl stayed home and the farm was ample to sustain them, and they knew how to run the farm. I think they were prosperous because she said to me one time when I was asking about her life there, she said, "Well, we had a big old farmhouse because we had a big family." But she says, "I think we were fairly well-off because my mother had the only sewing machine in the whole valley." So that was the mark. So they landed in New York, they took the train across, and her father was set to, he wanted to have some kind of a lumber mill or something. So he bought some equipment or something -- this is the story. They got on the ship, and they went up the river until he said, "I'm going to decide when I find the right place." I'm not quite sure, but they stopped at Baker, Oregon. And as I think, Baker, Oregon, is kind of in a not very, lumber type place, but kind of a hot place, but I don't know. But anyway, that's where she landed, and she went to high school. And somehow she met this young man from England. And she fell in love and married, and they moved to Portland, he built her this house, and she had six children, one right after the other. And unfortunately, he was not, he was a good provider, but he just couldn't take six children. And so one day he went to the store to get cigarettes or something, and he didn't come back. But later, he contacted her, he was in California, he became a building contractor, but she never considered herself divorced, because she believed in marriage for life. And she was a very loving person, and her whole family was very loving, and all her sisters. So to me, that was a really giant leap of faith for her to take me, even if it was she received money from my dad to, for my room and board.

TI: Well, really both ways, though. It was a leap of faith for your father to entrust you with this --

ST: Well, no, I think he had more control, see. But for her, the way she approached it, it was like I was just a new daughter. And I called her "Mommy," and in fact, I asked... and her youngest daughter, Mary, I don't know whether she was assigned me or whether she took it on herself, but she was my mentor. And she felt it was up to her to raise me up into a proper young lady. And she would always be giving me etiquette lessons, you know, how I was supposed to... I received more etiquette lessons from her than I ever gave my children. How to sit at the table, and how to keep your elbows in, how to drink your soup off the side of the spoon, you're not supposed to just push it in your mouth, and, you know, all those lessons. And she felt if she tried hard enough, I would be perfect. And, but the whole family never treated me any differently. They were really very protective.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: But this is interesting. So you were kind of raised in a Swedish American culture.

ST: Yes.

TI: From two 'til about eight years old, you said?

ST: Uh-huh. And the interesting thing is that I never heard any disparaging words about where I came from or Japanese, or that I was not white, or anything like that. In fact, you know, I never really felt different. I knew I was, after a while I could see my father and my sister, and my father and my sister came every Sunday afternoon. That was a weekly visit, and they would come to, and my sister was the interpreter, and ask how things were, if there was any help that they needed. Of course, I spoke no English when I went to join them, and the first thing they -- and they would write down what they thought I was saying. And the first visit, they had written this down because they said, "She keeps running around and saying the same words over and over for several days." And they said it, and it was, "Pon pon itai." And when they told, they had written it down, so when they told Dad and my sister and they interpreted, they were just so hurt. Because they said, "Here she was hurting, and we didn't know." And they just were so upset that they hadn't caught that. But it was...

TI: And what you were saying as a child was your stomach hurt.

ST: Yeah, I was saying my stomach hurt. And they didn't recognize that, you know. But, and the other thing I was told was we did not have a car, of course, and so we rode streetcars in Portland. And Mary said that after I got a little older and we were riding the streetcars to go visit somebody, she said, I said, "Was anybody paying any attention to us? Did they look at us?" She said, "Not really." She said we were perfectly, just like any other passenger getting on, she said, "Until you would pipe up and say, 'Mommy, look at that.' And all the heads would turn." [Laughs] And she said, "And after that, yes, they would look at us."

TI: Everybody trying to figure out how did this little Japanese girl end up with this family of Swedes. Interesting.

ST: Yes, yeah. Well, they weren't really, you know, she was proud of her Swedish background, but we never spoke any Swedish. I learned a few words, her in-laws would come over, her sisters and their husbands would visit, and they would teach me some words. And they would say, they taught me "Svenska flicka," which meant "Swedish girl," and things like that. And "tack sa mycket," which meant "thank you very much." They said, "Now, those are things you should know," you know. So they taught me that, and they were all great tea drinkers, they drank tea.

TI: How about other traditions? Like during the holidays, Swedish holidays or anything like that?

ST: No, no, we never did that. However, there were certain foods we ate that were really Swedish. We didn't have the... what do you call that stuff? Well, anyway. One thing she was very set on was boiled potatoes, and we had salted cod. I think we had that at least three times a week for lunch. That was not terribly great, but it was Swedish. [Laughs]

TI: Well, during this time, how much exposure did you have to Japanese things? Like did you ever learn how to use hashi?

ST: No. I used forks and knives always. I didn't really go back to visit, you see, my family, until I was what you could call old enough to be on my own, you know. And that was only for a short time, maybe a week in the summertime when my sister would be out of school, of course, and be able to take care of me. So I had to be old enough so that she would be able to take care of me. So I was probably, I'm guessing, I would say, maybe I was six or seven before I went to stay for a vacation, already going to the local school. And so at that time, I was kind of learning how to use a chopstick there, but not very good at it, but you know, I would use the chopsticks when I visited. I really don't remember getting lessons. But Ms. Brown was very, she was trying to keep some Japanese in me, so she would serve, she would make rice for me. But, of course, you realize the way I had rice at her house was with cream and sugar. It was cereal. And so, but she was very proud that she served me rice with cream and sugar. [Laughs]

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Well, so when you were around eight, you're going from a very matriarchal environment back to your father, which now would be very patriarchal.

ST: Yes.

TI: So talk about that transition. What was that like for you?

ST: You know, I really never noticed it. It was, of course, you realize that when I lived with the Browns, I was always the baby. I was the youngest, I was spoiled, I was the only Asian around, people would pick me up, they always wanted to pick me up and hug me. I was used to being the center of attention. When I started kindergarten, I remember one of the last days of school, we went to get our report card to see if we passed to first grade. One of the teachers came down the street and she picked me up and hugged me, she says, "Oh, I can't wait 'til you're in my class." And, you know, I was, frankly, teacher's pet all the way through, I was in the, I had finished the first half of the third grade when I left that school. I was so protected. I don't think anybody would have dared to say anything nasty to me, somebody would have squashed it. And at the church, I was entered on Cradle Row, and I was not Baptized because, of course, she felt that Dad would not want me Baptized. However, she asked Dad whether it was okay for me to go to the Christian church, because she knew, of course, he was Buddhist. And he said, "Oh, yes." He was always very open-minded about religion, and he said, "They all have a good base, and it's better to get some kind of good religious background and that kind of philosophy than nothing." And so he said, yes, he could see nothing bad in it. And so I went to the Baptist church. And this is, lot of people don't, haven't been to these old-fashioned Baptist churches where they had the complete immersion in the, on Baptism night. It was like a huge, huge ofuro. And in the back of the, back of the altar, the wall would rise, and then there was this huge, it was like a ofuro, square. And the women would all come that evening dressed, they would have their best clothes on and their hair all done because this was an important occasion, especially if they were an adult. And they would both go and stand in this, in this ofuro, and he would put a handkerchief over their face and lower them into the water and say a prayer. And I always used to wonder, at that time, "What if they can't hold their breath long enough?" [Laughs] But, and when I left that church, they called me up and they presented me with a Bible inscribed from the church. It was usually given to you when you joined the church and when you came of age. But because I was leaving the church, they made a special... so you know, they were all very nice.

TI: So you were really embraced by the family, by the community, by the school, everything.

ST: Everything. However, having said that, it was quite a lot of surface acceptance. You all know that below the surface, there's always the, "Okay, we accept this in theory, but..." Because looking back, you know that I had really no friends that would come to play with me at my house, and I was never invited to their houses. But I never noticed this, because I had the family, and I did have actually one friend, he was a half a year younger than I was, who lived down the street. And he came over to play almost all the time. And we, I used to bully him because I was a half a year ahead, and I could read and he couldn't. And so I could read the comics to him. And he was just a very nice little boy. In fact, the Christmas before, the last Christmas before we left, I left, the doorbell rang, and it was his mother, who I had never met, because I never was invited to his house, and him. And he handed me a Christmas present. And she said -- and I didn't want to take it, you know -- and she said, "He saved his money up for this, and he insisted that we go down to Meier & Frank's and buy this." And it was, it was a small pearl necklace. Well, you know, imitation pearl, but pearl necklace in a jeweler's box. And that's the last I really remember of him.

TI: And this is, like, third grade?

ST: Yeah.

TI: Oh, wow.

ST: Well, I wasn't in third grade yet. I would have been the -- see, in Portland you could start school midterm, it was semesters. So you could be first semester, second semester. So because my birthday was in February, they let me start in January.

TI: Okay, so you were just going to enter into the third grade.

ST: Yeah, so I was a midtermer.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: Okay, so we're going to go to the second hour. And where we ended up the first hour was we were just talking about your time with Mrs. Brown and her six (children). And we had just, at that point, were just starting to talk about going back and living with your father and sister.

ST: Okay.

TI: And so let's talk about that. So what was it like going back and living with your father and sister?

ST: Well, you know, there was nothing really strange about it. I mean, you know, it wasn't a new experience because I had visited a little bit. My father had... well, because he did not speak good English, I was always used to my sister being the go-between, and this continued. In a way, I suppose that's why my Japanese never really got very good. And, but my dad did have kind of rules that he wanted to kind of... but he put it a good way. In the first place, I was left-handed, and at the time, Mrs. Brown, the doctor told her that I was going to be left-handed, she asked him, "Is it okay, the doctor suggests it would be good not to try to change her." But you know, at that time, everybody tried to change their child. And so I was raised, I could use my left hand for eating and everything. Well, I was using my left hand for chopsticks. So my dad said, "Well, it's all very well for you to use your left hand for chopsticks, and it's fine at home." But he says, "You have to practice to use your right hand, because," he said, "when we go to these banquets" -- 'cause there were frequent banquets that you had to attend to, and he said, "They're seated very close together." And he says, "Everybody has their elbows out," and he says, "If you have your elbow out on the left side, you're gonna have a very hard time, and the people next to you are not gonna be happy." So he said, "It would be very good to practice so that you could be able to not have any problems." So that's the way he put it. And so I would practice, you know. So I got so that I could eat fairly decently with my right hand. And, you know, like he'd say, "Well, you should practice a little tonight," so I would do that. So I got so I could do that. Now, I felt very proud of myself when we would go to a banquet, that I could pick my chopsticks up in my right hand and eat, you know. So there was that.

The other thing was that he enrolled me into the Japanese language school. Now, this was a very interesting experience because I did not really speak Japanese. And I found out that most of us started the first grade, we were all third-graders. But like most families, they just waited a little bit, you know. So that's where I met several people from the east side who were in this situation. And, but they spoke Japanese and I didn't, so I just memorized everything. I didn't know what I was saying, but I could memorize it. And I could stand up and read because I learned the characters and everything. But it was every day after school from four to six, and then Saturday morning from nine to twelve. And the Saturday morning was kind of like performance time. You were supposed to read something that you'd written, or you were supposed to tell a story in Japanese. Well, I couldn't do that. I could probably, I could write a little bit, figure out how the words went together and where the nouns were and the verbs, but, and then I'd have my sister check it over for me. But in order for it to, for me to say it, I'd have to memorize it phonetically. And that was pretty hard. If you made a mistake, you were shot. And so... and the teachers knew this, but they had to say that everybody had to do it. So I would avoid it as long as I could, and then they would say, "Well, Tsuboi-san, you haven't, it's your turn, you know, you haven't done yours yet." And so I'd have to do it, and of course all the kids were ready to laugh, because they all knew I was memorizing. And it was very hard. But you know, kids tease, but it was okay.

TI: So besides the language, when you start spending more time with other Japanese children, your upbringing up to that point was very different than theirs.

ST: Yes.

TI: I mean, were there other things that you noticed that you were different that others?

ST: Yes. I always raised my hand in class. I always spoke up. If I didn't agree with something, I spoke up. If I wanted to know something, I spoke up. Because that's what I'd done all my life and I was used to being answered immediately. I didn't think I was doing anything different. But the grammar school I went to was Couch Elementary, and it was a K through 8 school. The Japanese community in Portland, the central area, was largely divided into two groups: those north of Burnside and those south of Burnside. We lived north of Burnside. So, and the community was not as large as it is in Seattle. So although most of us in that part of what is called Japantown or Chinatown went to Couch Elementary, there were more Chinese than Japanese. And in my class, I was the only girl, Japanese girl, and there were two or three, two Japanese boys. So there were just three Japanese in that class. There were more Chinese, actually, probably twice as many Chinese, but over half the class was white. We didn't have any blacks in school. And so it was, you know, it was not probably like Seattle where Bailey Gatzert was really quite high percentage.

TI: So for you to raise your hand and speak out didn't seem odd at all in this environment.

ST: No, we all did it. I mean, but I didn't realize this until later on. [Laughs] But even so, I always liked to talk. And so, you know... and I was competitive. We'd have spelling bees and everything, and everybody's jumping up and down. I noticed the other Asian kids were, the Chinese were very quiet also. So you could say that they were also very retired, they weren't the kind that waved their hands. They knew the answer, but they would not raise their hand.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Now, after you mentioned earlier going to the Baptist church, I mean, after you returned to your father, did you start going to the Buddhist church?

ST: No, no. He decided that that was a good idea, my going to the... and his particular branch of the Buddhist church did not have a church in Portland. He belonged to a small branch, a smaller group, not like the larger one that's here in Seattle. And so he looked, my father looked for a church that he thought we could go to, because he felt that was a good thing. And so he looked around, and he found out there was a Catholic chapel that was not too far from our house that we could walk to on Sunday morning. And this was kind of hard on my sister, because she was, at that time, of course, thirteen, and she would be ready for, you know...

TI: Confirmation?

ST: Yes, yes. And she was the oldest one attending this Sunday school. Some of my friends went to this. So whereas the younger ones of this got the little cards and stories and we did little games and things and sang, she had a one-on-one with one of the nuns who was trying to convert her. And it was getting very difficult for her, and, you know, it was uncomfortable. And so we didn't stay with that too long. Except the one thing, very beautiful thing that happened to us when we went to that chapel was Easter Sunday came. And the nuns took us to the largest cathedral in Portland at that time. And you know that the Baptist church is very strict and ordinary, and the Catholic church was so gorgeous, and all the incense and the processionals and beautiful windows and the whole atmosphere. Of course, my sister had to have something covering her head, so one of the nuns took out a hanky and put it on top of her head. But it was, it was just, to me, I thought, "Wow."

TI: That's good.

ST: That made quite an impression.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Besides Japanese language school, any other Japanese activities like picnics and things that you remember from Portland?

ST: Well, the Japanese language school had an undoukai, they called it, every year at the end of summer, I mean, in the summertime. And we would all gather, we would bring picnic lunches and there would be competition, the running with the egg and the three-legged races and tossing the raw eggs and that kind of stuff. It was lots of fun, and that's when I think both schools got together for this, north and south. And so it was a big community event. It was probably the big social community event. We went to other things. There was lots of, what do they call those? Oh, they'd have kind of like talent shows. There was one hall on the east side that had a stage, it was a very nice Japanese hall, and there would be programs there. My sister was taking shamisen at that time, the family had sent her a small-scale shamisen, and so she took lessons for that. The teacher was actually my, had been midwife when I was born, and so she was sort of our godmother, you might say. She wanted to be sure we were raised properly. And so she would, we would go visit her quite often, and I took, I started taking koto lessons. My sister had been taking the shamisen lessons for quite a while, so she was quite good. She would play in these events. The relatives from Japan, in Japan would send us, send my sister beautiful kimono and obi and all the gear so that she would be properly dressed for these. And, but I started the koto. It was kind of a failure because as you know, I didn't know what I was singing. And it was very hard in the knees, because you had to kneel. And I would use all these cushions, and my girlfriend decided she was, her family decided she was gonna have lessons, too, so we would both go to the lessons. And all we would think of was, "When can we stand up?" And she was, she was a very nice teacher, but she had been raised very properly. And the funny thing was she had the hotel, and downstairs was a restaurant. And we had lessons on Saturday, which was when this, my girlfriend would come in from the country, her father had a place out in the country. And we would practice, we would go through the lesson. And one day she said to us, "You know, you two have got to get these lessons down better and advance," she says. "It's so embarrassing. I was talking to the owner of the restaurant downstairs and he says, 'Seems like those two have been on that same piece for an awful long time.'" [Laughs]

TI: [Laughs] Oh, that's good.

ST: Well, it was because we couldn't memorize any of that. [Laughs]

TI: That's funny. What's interesting to me is how other community members kind of pitched in to help raise you with things like this.

ST: Yes. Well, there was that... well, and then we had some other family friends. One was a, she was a, they had a cleaning shop, laundry or cleaning shop where she was, of course, a good seamstress because that kind of goes along with it. So I remember her sewing dresses for us. We had two beautiful dresses that she designed, and they were alike, my sister and I, and we were given that one year for a present. So there were people that were looking out for us.

TI: Going back to the home life, like who would do the daily cooking and things like that?

ST: Well, my sister cooked, kind of. My father really did... I have to say, my father believed that he should do everything, that the children shouldn't do anything. This is the way we were raised. And we actually lived behind the store, so it was a small living quarters, we had an upstairs and downstairs. But he did all the laundry and ironing. Even, but my sister did, started doing the cooking. I think by the time I went home, she was starting to do the cooking. Oh, that's right, she did the cooking because she had to have the rice done by dinnertime. And so that sort of thing, and we, my father would teach her how to cook. He would tell her what to do because we had no one to... and of course there were no such things as recipe books then. And so that was pretty much it. I knew how to, by the time we went to camp, I knew how to make one dish, and that was shoyu wieners. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Well, so you mentioned camp, let's move on to December 7, 1941. And at this point, you were, I think, in eighth grade? Like your last year...

ST: No, I was seventh grade.

TI: Seventh grade, okay, seventh grade.

ST: Well, at that time I was still sixth. I wasn't seventh until the next...

TI: Okay, right, the next month.

ST: '42.

TI: But do you remember that day, December 7th?

ST: You know, I was talking to my sister to see if we could refresh each other's memories on this, and I don't recall. I really don't remember anything special about it because we had a radio. But my father felt radios were frivolous, so he didn't have the radio on all the time. We had the newspaper, but, of course, it wouldn't have come out yet. So I think my sister says that she would have, she would have been in high school at this point, and it probably happened to us in elementary school. I think they called an assembly, or maybe somebody came and told my dad. But I really have no recollection of anybody coming over and saying, you know, anything.

TI: So when did you start noticing changes?

ST: Difference?

TI: Yeah, differences.

ST: Well, I have to tell you that something happened at school that I thought was kind of, I didn't realize it was unusual 'til later. The principal of the school got his staff together, and he wrote a letter, printed a letter up on a small piece of stationery, and it had, it was on the elementary school letterhead, and it had my name on it, and it said that I was a student enrolled at that elementary school and a student in good standing and so forth and so on. And it was a kind of, it was, I think, what he felt was the best he could do for us as identification, to give us something that said our name, the fact that we were a Portland resident, and that we had attended the school, and that we were enrolled there, so that we weren't just somebody from out of town or something. And we were handed that letter in an envelope, everyone who was Japanese descent was handed that letter to carry. And he said, well if would help, but it would at least show identification. And I thought that was something different.

TI: Do you recall when this letter was given to you?

ST: It was almost immediately. It was almost immediately. I think he realized that it could be trouble. So he was, they, the school was very, very interesting.

TI: Yeah, that is... I'd never heard anything like that. That's good.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Your father, any reaction from your father during this time period that you can recall?

ST: No. My father, because of the business, and because he didn't leave us alone at night, you know, he always was there, he didn't involve himself in community affairs. He didn't join community groups or anything like that, so there was no, he wasn't on any lists, you might say. He felt his business was to take care of the two of us, and that was it. He knew the people, of course, but he just didn't involve himself in that. So there was no, there's no one that would be knocking at the door, you know, or anything like that. So, and then he was... and I think this was probably true of all parents. They protect their children, they don't talk about things that might upset their kids and make them uncertain or uneasy. And he was always rather to himself, and I think this was a generational thing as well as a Japanese thing. And so we didn't know about very many things, what was going on. When we got the order to, that we were going to have to evacuate, he still didn't talk too much about it, but he started organizing. He started building, he said, "We're going to have to store our things away," so he started building crates to store, to store things in. Because we had the Girl's Day dolls, and we had things of that sort. And at this time, we were still very close to the Browns, and they had a big garage. They did not have a car, but they had this big garage, and it had a good roof on it (and everything). And so he asked them if they would store our things for us, we didn't know how long that would be. And of course they said, "Yes," and they were very supportive all during this time. And so we crated everything up, and I don't know how Dad got it over there, we had a car. But slowly, all the things were in the crates, were over there, and he set it up and got tarps to protect it, because he said, "You never know how long this is going to be." But he did this very quietly. The other thing was we tried to sell off everything we had. The store inventory, we had a sale, and I remember at this time, my dad said, "Well, is there anything of yours that you don't need anymore?" He said, you know, "Like all your dolls or things, do you really need them?" I said, well, at this time, I had just passed my twelfth birthday, and, of course, I had all these dolls, but of course, I was twelve years old. So I remember my very favorite doll, I took out and put in the store window. We put a lot of our things out there. And it had handmade clothes because Mary Brown, the youngest daughter, who was my mentor, had made a lot, a whole wardrobe for this doll, 'cause it had been my favorite doll all along. So I put the clothes out for that alongside the doll. And a father and a little girl came in and bought it. And I told, showed her how they worked and everything, and I gave it to her. The father... she really liked -- it was a worn doll, it had been much loved. It had worn spots on it and everything, but you know, it was still cute.

TI: And during this time, do you recall whether or not your father had to really slash prices or sell things?

ST: Yes, he did. And the one thing I remember was that one day, this man came in and just kind of, he was looking around at everything. You know, there were people coming in and trying to, buying, bargaining down. And he said, "I'll take everything you have here," and he mentioned the price. Now, I'm not sure if I remember this correctly, but I thought he said, "I'll pay you fifty dollars for your inventory." And my father was angry. I could tell, 'cause his face went red. And he said, "Well, it's worth a lot more than that." He says, "Well, that's what you say," but the attitude was, "take it or leave it." And, of course, you know, that was pretty much it. So I think my father took it. Now, I'm not hundred percent sure on this part, I just remember that one little incident. And so that's what we did. We sold the car, and, but I was really surprised when we ended up at the assembly center. What my father had arranged for us to have, you know, we had, he decided that in order to make things right, we were gonna have to do things. So somehow -- and I don't know how these things arrived -- there was a small washboard, he had a bottle of bleach, and he had a package of soap. And this was all in the bucket, and there was a bucket. And so he said, and so when we went to the assembly center to do laundry and things, I had all this to take. Because my father said, "Okay, we're in the camp now." Up to now, he had done all the laundry. We had never touched laundry. And he said, "Your sister is, has a job as a waitress there at the assembly center." And he says, "It doesn't, it isn't appropriate for me to be doing the laundry now." And so he said he thinks it would be a good idea if I took over the laundry, to be my contribution. And I said, "Okay," because all my friends would help me, because we did everything together. And so that's what I did. And especially that sticks because the first time I went to do laundry and my girlfriends were with me, I took out my washboard, and Dad said how much bleach I was supposed to put in with the soap and everything. And so I was doing that, and I brought my bottle of bleach out. And immediately one of the other women, one of the women came over, running over to me and said, "Oh, you have bleach. May I have a little bit? Just a little bit?" And I said -- she was being very smiley, smiley, but she was very aggressive. And it scared me. I'd never been pressed like that. No one had ever, you know, pressed me. And I knew that, I'm not sure, I might have given her one, and then immediately, I think everybody, the women. And I knew that if I gave everybody some, I would have none left, and Dad would be upset. Because after all, this was supposed to be ours, and how long was it supposed to last? I didn't know. So I said, "I can't give you any." And so then the other women just turned around and they were muttering to themselves. But that scared me. That's when I realized that all Japanese are not smiley-smiley. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, that's interesting.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Any other memories from -- so you were at the, when you say assembly, so the Puyallup?

ST: No, no.

TI: I mean, not Puyallup, but the Portland --

ST: Portland assembly center.

TI: -- assembly center. Which was converted...

ST: It was an Exposition place. It was very much like Puyallup. But the other thing my dad did to make thing better was he told us to go shopping before we went to camp. And he said, "Now, I think it would be a good idea for you to have a pair of pants because," he says, "you never know what kind of situation we're gonna be in." I was thrilled. I had never been allowed to wear pants, because he did not, he believed girls should wear dresses. And then the other thing we shopped for were those enamel pans. He says, "I think you should have a set of dinnerware, and something that could be washed easily and wouldn't break." So we bought the enamelware, you know, we bought a bowl and cup and a tin... a cup and a bowl and sort of a dish of some sort. And to then we each had a set. And the other thing he bought but he didn't tell me or show it to me until we got to the assembly center was, he had friends in the wholesale departments, of course, 'cause he was a businessman so he knew all the wholesale people. At this time, chocolate was already very short. You couldn't get candy bars. And he bought, he had these, they used to have these full boxes of candy bars. And they're not like the candy bars you see nowadays. They were about the size of what we'd probably pay a dollar for. And they were these full boxes of 'em, twenty-four, forty-eight in a box. And he bought maybe three or four boxes of those, and he packed them. And so then when we went to camp, went to the assembly center, he brought them out for me and he said, "Here." He says, "These are for you," and he says, "and you can share them with your friends."

TI: So, I mean, boxes of chocolates. So, I mean, you had lots of pieces.

ST: Well, no, the chocolate bars. They were individual bars.

TI: Oh, the bars.

ST: Boxes of individual bars. That's the way they sold them at the wholesale store. They would be, there would be a box and they were sealed. It would be probably twenty-four, forty-eight in a box, and that's the way they were set up at the grocery store. They'd open the box, and then you just take a bar out. And in those days, of course, the bars were large. Eight ounces.

TI: That was a treasure.

ST: Yeah. So I had... and they were good bars. I mean, we had Hershey, Hershey almond, I don't remember whether we had Nestle. I just remember they were very good bars. And so, of course, I was very popular, and I would share them with my friends, my little group of friends. And but I said, "I could only give you one, just to you." I said, "I can't give you two for your brothers and sisters." So one of the kids said, "Is it okay if I only eat part of it and take it home for the rest?" So that's what a lot of 'em did. But those lasted for quite a while. And in fact, right next to our assembly center was the army camp where the soldiers were that were our guards. And we could hear reveille every morning and we would look out and watch them do their marching. They were in a very cramped quarters. And they had the watchtowers over the edges, the fences and everything. But we had quite a large area we could run around. And so we would go out and play. And one day I said, "You know, I feel sorry for the soldiers up in that guard tower just standing there all the time. We should see if they, I'll give, see if they'd like a candy bar." And they said, "Okay." So we ran over there and we waved at them. They were always friendly, they would wave and say hello. And I said, "Would you like a candy bar?" And he said, "No thank you." And we said, and I remember saying something like, "Well, they're good, they're not poisoned." And I said, "I'll open it up and take a bite if you want." And he said, "Oh, we're not allowed to eat on duty, but thank you very much." And I thought, "Oh, how strange. He doesn't even want a candy bar," when I knew they were very hard to get. 'Cause he probably couldn't get 'em either. [Laughs]

TI: That's a good story.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Any other stories from Portland assembly center?

ST: Well, it was very hot. Portland is hot, and at night they could close the doors to this main, we were all... it was a very large exhibition hall. And of course, like other places, the walls went up only about eight feet or so. And so everything you could hear. And they had the big sliding doors that were always open so there would be better ventilation. However, at night, they insisted that those doors be closed and locked, and there would be guards. And they had civilian guards, members of the community volunteered to be guards. And they did the inside and I think the soldiers did the outside. Well, they had this closed, but after a while, I think they didn't lock them anymore because of, just in case of fire or something. And one night, it was just very warm, and we heard shots. Now, I don't know if I really heard these shots, or whether people told me they heard these shots, so of course I remembered I heard these shots. But apparently an elderly gentleman, it was too hot for him, and he wanted to get a breath of fresh air, and he went out and was walking. And, of course, he was hard of hearing, and he didn't hear the soldier telling him to stop or whatever they tell them. And I don't know whether he was hurt or not, I really don't know. I never did hear the, what had happened. But I did hear that he was shot at. So that, but that's the only incident I ever knew about.

TI: So you were quite young, you're what, twelve years old.

ST: Yes, and I was very immature twelve.

TI: Were you ever frightened or scared in this environment?

ST: No. It was a lot of fun. For my age, we were in the perfect age group, because we were old enough so that we could be independent. We didn't have to have a parent to tell us to do this or do that. We just got up when you wanted to get up, you went to eat, when you heard the call for breakfast, you went to the dining area and you ate. All your friends could get together, it was the first time you could be together with all your, anybody you had met. You met knew people all the time. There was, they had a very good... the people there were very well-organized. They had a, what do you call, rec. group, and they organized days, they would have some kind of day, they would call it, and then they would have events for that day, you know, and they would have games and things going on outside. They would have games for the kids to do, we would have, just like an undoukai outside. And it was a lot of fun. We had movies, but not very good ones. I remember we saw Citizen Kane, and you know, we had talent night. There was something going on all the time. The assembly center, the exhibition hall was very large, and so where we ate dinner was, ate meals, it could be cleared and become a very nice place to have, show the movies. We had an actual, it would be an arena just like at Puyallup where they had the arena, only this one was paved and everything. And so we played in that arena every time. We had the floor to play on, we had all the stairs and steps and railings, we did gymnastics on the railings. And so I hear about -- and our unit, of course, we were one of the early ones there. The Portland people were one of the early ones to go into there because they staggered the entries. We had iron cots and mattresses. And I kept, I know that the very late arrivals had straw mattresses, and we were always thankful that we had the regular mattresses because of hay fever. And so, you know, it helped that part quite a bit. But it was a very small area, you know, and we shared our quarters with another father and his daughter. She was a lab tech at the, at our hospital. We had a hospital, she did the lab work.

TI: Okay, good.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So now, so after several months, eventually you leave the Portland assembly center, what happened next?

ST: You know, that was very sad because that's when they divided up... you remember they had people who wanted to go back to Japan. People signed up for this, whether they wanted to return. And very often it was families with no father that did this. And some of my friends' parents had signed up, and they were gonna have to go. And we just all wept, even at that age.

TI: This was, this was when you were at...

ST: The assembly center.

TI: ...the assembly center.

ST: Yeah. 'Cause they were gonna be sent down to Tule Lake. And so the trains came right on the premises, just like probably at Puyallup. And so we would, we all went down there, and we hugged our friends. And we'd only been there for a short time, and yet, they seemed...

TI: But you recall this at Portland, because most people would have said is that it happened at Minidoka, that that's when the "loyalty questionnaire" and things like that...

ST: Well, that's true, that happened there, but there were apparently some kind of request, that you could make a request to go to Japan. And this was, this, I'm sure this was -- of course, you know, imperfect memory. But I'm sure this was then.

TI: But then you recall some families, someone, the head of the household or whatever, deciding to go to Japan, and that the separation was very sad.

ST: Yeah. Even if we'd only known them for a short time. And then the train came for us to go, too, it was different, and the train came for us to go to Minidoka. And that was an interesting experience. The soldiers and staff on that train were very nice. They really, I think they really looked out for us. We were very fortunate, these were ancient antique cars. But we were very fortunate in that we had the only car on the train that had lights. We didn't know this until it got dark and the lights went on, and we thought, "Oh, that's good." I said, "Gee, they're not bright enough to hardly see by," you couldn't read hardly, they were so dim. And then my friends from the other cars came to visit and they said, "Hey, you've got lights." And we said, "Yeah, don't you?" and it was, "No." That was the only car on the train that had lights. But the other thing was, of course, it was warm. And we had the thing down, windows down. But at nighttime, they had to have all the blinds down. And we said, "Gee, we can't see out." But they called the stations, just like on a regular train, so we knew exactly where we were. I mean, if you knew... we knew when we had gone into Idaho, for instance, because they called the stations. And I remember one time in the daytime it was warm, and so one of the women had wrung out a handkerchief in water and put it over her face for cooling. And the soldiers and the medical, there was a medical staff of some sort on the train, and so one of, either a soldier or medical staff person saw this woman there, and they were concerned that she was not feeling well. So they came back with a nurse and somebody to interpret for them. And they were concerned about her and they asked her if she was okay, whether she needed help. And she was so embarrassed, because here she was just trying to keep cool, and she was trying to keep a low profile and, you know, all that. But so they were, they looked, I think they looked out for us.

In fact, when we, when you look back, all through this time, people were, the people you knew were kind to you. And I'm sure we had many kindnesses done for us that we didn't realize at the time. Things could have been worse, people could have been mean, people could have thrown things at our store and broken windows or written things on the windows, that never happened. We were never hurt or anybody ever said anything to us like when we walked to school, 'cause it was a long walk to school. Nothing like that ever happened. Even when we went to the police station to get our passes to go to the cemetery, to take, make final arrangements for my mother's ashes, they were very nice. And so, you know, I think when you look back, people realized it was a bad situation, and they were trying to do their best to make it comfortable for you. But of course, I was at the age where I wasn't hurt anyway. I wasn't... now, if you were a newly married couple with a baby, of course, this would have been bad.

TI: And that's kind of what... it is interesting, I think age does make a big difference...

ST: Oh, gosh, it makes a big difference.

TI: terms of how this experience felt. And generally, the older you are, the more difficult it was, is what we hear.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: But let's go to Minidoka. And so any stories from Minidoka that sort of stand out?

ST: Well, let's see. My sister had graduated high school, and so she was a secretary in the ad building, and my father got a job as the night watchman in the mess hall. This was a very cushy job because he could sit around and visit with all his friends who came by in the evening. And he could do a little cooking sometimes. One time he managed to save all the old rice, the leftover rice, and he dried it carefully 'til he had enough. And they saved the sugar and syrup and things, and he made candy for the whole block. And so that was a treat, and so one day they presented it at dinnertime, and he came out and took a bow, you know. [Laughs] So that I remember. At that time, because we were going on the Seattle, or the Washington idea of what school systems were by, they went by the year for school year. So you started, to therefore, that meant that since I was a midtermer, I had to go back to the beginning of the seventh grade. I was very upset about this, but we repeated the seventh grade. And then they decided that it would be a good idea to let all those that were capable of probably being in high school skip to high school because this would help us later when we went out, we would be ahead in school, so I skipped the eighth grade. So that was nice. So I was with more people closer to my age, maybe a little older.

And then at this time, but 1940... that was '42, so '43, people were starting to leave camp. They were able to go out to the east to go to school and things of that sort. And there was not enough older, shall I say adult age people to do a lot of the jobs. So they decided that if you were thirteen years old, you could sign up and become a nurse's aide at the hospital. So my sister told me about this, so I went down and interviewed, 'cause I had just turned thirteen by February. So by June, I was already three months older. And so I went down and interviewed with the head nurse, and she asked me why I wanted to become a nurse, and so, you know, you say, "Of course," because you want to learn about this and that and so forth and so on. And so they had a regular class, we went to classes and the nurses taught the class, we had a little anatomy, we had medical terms. We learned how to make the proper hospital bed, and we learned to make it so tight that you could bounce a quarter -- it's like the army cot bed. We learned how to make those beds and learned how to do all that. And then in the afternoon, we'd go to the ward and help out. So then I did that for, until we left in '45, I worked there part-time when I was going to school, and then full-time in the summertime.

TI: In terms of, what kind of cases, what kind of patients would be in the ward that you would work in?

ST: Okay. I worked -- oh, we were assigned wards according to how we did in school. So the choice position to get was, of course, the outpatient where you met the people coming in. Well, you had to know them more. So all the older ones, 'cause they were high school age, there were some seniors in high school who were in this class, and they kind of pooh-poohed us younger ones because there were only two of us who were thirteen. And we just sort of were, they just sort of tolerated us. But we did the best we could. And so they, they got the outpatient department, and there were also some assigned to surgery. And I received... let's see now. I think I was on the medical ward because I had the dosages and all the Latin terms memorized well. I could read the prescriptions. And then, later, I was transferred over to the OB department, so I helped with deliveries. I actually, they had a delivery room there, and that was my first experience with deliveries.

TI: For someone that young, that must have been quite an experience.

ST: Yes, yes. It was very interesting. And the thing was, they said, "Now, you can't pass out. If you pass out, we're just gonna step over you." And I said I was not going to pass out, and I didn't. It was, to me, it was fascinating.

TI: And the people who trained you, the nurses, the doctors, who were they?

ST: They were, we had all Caucasian nurses. They lived, one of them had a child, and she actually lived in the hospital. We had an empty ward, because there weren't as many patients. And so she had a little apartment set up there. I'm not too sure where the other ones came from. They might have come in from Twin Falls, because that wasn't too far. And I really don't know where they lived. The people who were in the ad department, of course, they had housing up there, and I visited that because one of the director's daughters was a friend of mine, so we would go visit them and we'd say, "Wow, you get a real bedroom," you know. [Laughs] But I learned a lot. It was a good, it was a good introduction to life. And I learned about death, too, because I remember I used to help on the, sometimes I would help on the geriatric ward. They had a TB ward where my father did not want me to work. If anything, he did not want me to work there, so I never told him that I went and helped out once in a while. But, and so, actually, I did get infected by it. I never got TB, but enough so it shows in my blood. So when you run a test, it will show.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So eventually the war ends, or what happened? Why did, or how did you leave Minidoka?

ST: Okay. We knew that it was going to be difficult for us, because my father was, he was getting, he was past sixty-five at this time, he would not be employable. And my sister would be the only one working, I would be in school. So, and my father did not want to go east, you could always leave if you went east. And so apparently at this time, the WRA from the Portland office sent a couple people to camp to interview people who wanted to go to Portland or that area. So my sister went and interviewed, and they gave her, she said they gave her a typing test to see if she could transcribe her shorthand, to see if she's qualified to be a secretary. And she was, so in order for you to go out, you had to have a job at the other end. So there was a group, the National Association of Christians and Jews, and they were sort of a partner of trying to be a transition group to find jobs for people who went out. So what they did was they hired, my sister went to work for them. So she left before we did, probably right just before the end of the war. So that was in the early part of the summer of '45. And she got a job for them working in the office doing things, it was a temp job. And then the WRA had a warehouse there. They had a warehouse where all the confiscated contraband was, that meant the shortwave radios and the cameras and all that sort of thing, where you were supposed to leave your things before you left for camp. And so they used that as a temporary place to hire people. So when that person found another job, they would hire somebody who had probably been working for the National Association of Christians and Jews. So that's what happened; my sister worked for a few, a short time for the National Association of Christians and Jews, and then when the opening came at the warehouse, she moved over there to work. And she also had a part-time job on Saturday, on Saturday morning for a Methodist church. And the minister had her typing stencils for the Sunday program. And so it was all kind of the church, church-related. In fact, the church probably was the source of most of the help that I think people got. But the WRA was very nice, and she worked there, and she signed, when we finally had a place to go to, she signed our stuff out there. So I have a inventory of what we picked up. And then she, they would send her out for jobs. The WRA would send her out for jobs, to interview. And there was an opening for a job at Lewis and Clark College, which was, had just moved from Albany, Oregon, to the southwest hills of -- southeast hills, I guess it is -- of Portland. And it was near Lake Oswego. And so she went to interview there after some other interviews, and she hired on there. And she worked there for all the rest of the time until she was married. It was a very loving environment.

TI: So it was actually your sister was kind of the trailblazer that got established back in Portland.

ST: Yes. You know, because if she hadn't gone out and got a job, see, we couldn't follow. We couldn't follow. But we did, they, towards the end, I think they were trying to help us more. Because we were probably one of the last groups to leave. There were still people there when we left, but there weren't a whole lot. The blocks were becoming empty. And I remember what we did was we all used to order clothes from, I think from Montgomery Ward. Montgomery Ward had a very good mail order catalog, and they took very good care of our orders. So we ordered things to, for curtains and clothing, we had a clothing allowance assigned to us, so we could buy clothes from the Montgomery Ward catalog. And before we left, I had saved up my clothing allowances and I had pay from my job. I earned sixteen dollars a month. And then there was, what they called a community offering. And there were some that went around and collected something like fifty cents a house or something, and they divided it up. And the people who worked in the hospital got us a little bit extra.

TI: Now, why -- I haven't heard about this.

ST: Oh, really?

TI: So why, why did they do this? Just that they felt that the hospital people needed more money than they were getting?

ST: First, they felt that it was, I guess, that they deserved more, I don't know. I don't know who started this. I think it was principally for the doctors, because we had Japanese doctors, and of course the Japanese doctors were very good. They were the surgeons and the specialists, and the dentists. And so in order to give them something, they thought we should collect. And then I guess the doctors, they didn't feel that they should be the only ones, so then I think we got something, too. We didn't get as much as they did, but I remember we got, I think we got three dollars or something a month, and they got a little more. It was a way of saying thank you, because, you know, of course, their pay was, I think they got nineteen dollars a month.

TI: Okay. So, but you're talking about, so now you have this little...

ST: Stash.

TI: Money stash.

ST: Yes. So then we ordered, we ordered clothes from Montgomery ward, these were our "going out" clothes, you know, the ones we were going to go back to Portland with. And at that time, also, you could get passes to Twin Falls. This is all before my sister left. We could get passes to go into Twin Falls, so we went into Twin Falls, and I bought a hat because at that time you always bought, you always had a hat. And I bought gloves, because you always wore gloves. And I bought shoes. And shoes at that time, of course, you could not buy leather shoes because that required coupons. But they had quite a lot of fabric shoes that were very nice. And so I bought a fabric pair of shoes, and that was my going out of camp outfit.

TI: Okay. So you and your father follow your sister, you returned to the Portland area. And what did your father do?

ST: He didn't do anything. He couldn't. I mean, there was just, we told him, "We'll make it," and my sister earned enough so that we could make it. And the other thing was, they had what they called "old age assistance." They made, they came to the unit in camp and insisted that Dad sign up for this, because they said, "Everybody should have some money." And so they said the State of Oregon would be paying this in the county or something like that. And so that would give him something every month. And so he didn't want it, because he said, "That's welfare." And they said, "Don't look at it that way," you know. "Take it, because you deserve it." And so he did, and so he had that. So we said, "Well, there's no use working," because what could he do? He had arthritis, he had rheumatism, his eyesight was not good, all this. And there was just no reason for him to work. What could he do?

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Okay, so let's go back to you. So you're still in high school at this point.

ST: Yes. I was a junior, I would be entering the junior year that fall. So we, my sister was lucky enough to be able to get us housing at the Seattle housing, and it was called University (Homes). And it was a very large project.

TI: Oh, so at some point you moved to Seattle.

ST: That was -- oh, no. That was after we got married. I didn't moved to Seattle until after I was married.

TI: Oh, so I'm sorry, University (Homes) in Portland.

ST: Yeah.

TI: Oh, okay. When you said...

ST: It was a housing project. It was in the north end of town, it was near, not, it was near Vanport, I don't know if you've heard of Vanport. That was the big city they built for all the steel workers and everybody who came to work in the boat building industry in Portland, because there was no housing. So the government built these buildings. It was largely for the big influx of workers, wartime workers. And Vanport got flooded, and many people died in that. But we weren't living there, we were living up the hill a little, you might say, in University (Homes). And we were fortunate to get that, that we didn't have to live somewhere else. But the high school we went to, that I went to was called Roosevelt, and it was the northernest part of Portland. It was called, it had been an area that was called St. John's, it had been a separate city, and then they joined Portland. So it was always kind of separate, but it still was Portland. They had a lot of the workers, the out of town workers and people like that at that school, so they were used to people coming from out of town. However, we found out later that what they did was when they realized that there would be some Japanese coming back into the Portland area, that each school had a meeting deciding how to handle this. And what they did at Roosevelt was they decided who was gonna be your homeroom teacher. And they picked a special one for each grade, each year. And I was very fortunate that I always got who I always felt was absolutely the very best homeroom teacher in the whole school. He was the beloved teacher, the one that everybody went to. And our class had all the leaders in it. We'd had the school presidents, we had the ones who were, you know, in charge of everything. And it was very nice. They were very protective. All the kids in that class were very protective.

TI: Do you recall the homeroom teacher's name?

ST: You know, I was trying to remember that, and that's embarrassing.

TI: No, that's okay. That's all right.

ST: But he was. And...

TI: And so the acceptance coming back was, it sounds like, a pretty good or easy transition for you.

ST: Yes, it was. Everybody took, somebody always is looking out for you. I don't know why, but someone was always looking out for me. At that time, we got that class. Of course, there were not very many Japanese at Roosevelt, and we had only one black family, two kids who were star basketball players, of course. But that was when I first realized how bad it must be down in the South. Because, of course, we had Southerners who had come up to be workers, and they realized quite instantly that they couldn't do things like they did at home. They knew that. But you could tell they were fighting it, you know. They would blush. Some of them were very fair-skinned, and we had one from Texas. And it was very hard for him to be in the same class with a black kid. Whereas the girls really lapped it up. They thought it was wonderful. Well, of course, these were basketball stars. But these boys were just, if you could pick the perfect one to be the only ones in school, that were these two boys.

TI: Good.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: So let's go, so after you finish high school, what happened next?

ST: Well, I wanted to go to college, of course. I'd never not thought I wasn't going to college. My father had always said, "You're going to college." Well, my sister worked at a college. And so she said, "Well, why don't you take the entrance exam?" We had recruiters come to the school, and they would always invite me because I was one of the few minorities, and they were always anxious to see us. So I would go to the interviews, and they were always interesting. They would be very encouraging, but I knew the realities of the whole thing was we didn't have money. I had to go to a school where I could commute. And so my sister said, "Well, take the entrance exam, 'cause they offer twenty freshmen scholarships." So I took the exam. Well, I got one of the twenty scholarships, so I entered as a scholarship student. So that helped me very much. And then when I went to school, her boss was the comptroller for the school, and so he made sure I had a job at school. So I had enough money to pay for the bus fare and things of that sort. In fact, he said, I remember, the salary paid for your job was according to not the quality of the work you did, but your year in school. It didn't matter what you did. If you were a freshman, you were paid so much an hour, if you were a sophomore you paid a little, nickel more. That was the way you were paid at school. But he said, "That's not fair." He says, "You need more than that," so he paid, he made sure I was, I got a higher salary. So they just took care of you. And then he decided that they were going to have a, print their own material there. So he bought a printing machine, sort of, it was an offset printer. And so he said, "Now, you're gonna have to learn how to run this so we can, you know, you can run this and be the printer." And so I said, "Okay," so I learned how to run this offset printer. And so then that meant that I ran all the tests for the professors. I didn't run my own tests, but I ran everybody else's tests, and I ran the booklets and the registration cards and some things of that sort. And that was skilled labor, he said, so I always got more pay for that. And then he made sure that I had a job in the summertime. I worked at the school; I worked in one of the offices.

TI: So Lewis and Clark has been really good for you.

ST: Yes. They were a Presbyterian-related school. And Dr. Odell was the president of the school at that time, and when I was finishing up my freshman year, he said to me, "Do you have a job? Have you found a job?" And I said, "No, I really haven't." Actually, I had two jobs, come to think of it. But anyway, I said, "No, I don't have a job." And he said, "Oh, just a minute. I'll make a phone call." And I had a job. One of the directors or the supporters of the school had a company, and he spent his summers in Portland, so as long as he was at the main office, he said, "You have a job." So, and I got a very nice salary. I was a terrible typist, but I had a job.

TI: During this time when they really, it sounds like, went out of their way to help you, did the fact that you, your sister and your father were in the camp ever come up? Did they ever talk about that or mention that?

ST: Well, you know, we talked about it somewhat, and I used to, in English class, what we called English class, you had to make little speeches, you know. And so I always used to try to bring up something of that in my presentation. But I found out that quite a few of the kids knew about this, that the ones who had friends who were in Portland schools had heard about it, and they had, some of them never had. And I think some of them really could hardly believe it. And then, of course, at that time, you didn't want to make it sound out terrible. You really kind of made a joke of the whole thing. And, but there were times that they would ask, but they would shake their heads. I think maybe they thought it was painful, too. But I think my sister talked to her boss, they were very close, and the families were very close. And so, you know, she worked there for so long, and everybody, it was just like family.

TI: I'm curious, going back to your sister, so she helped establish the family back in Portland, encouraged you to go to Lewis and Clark. Did she ever go on and get her college?

ST: No, and this is the sad part. Because, see, Dad always said, he told her when she was in high school, "Take the college prep course," and she did. And she was able to get out in three and a half years. But before this happened, his partners had older children, and they had sent their oldest son -- the girls, of course, didn't get to go -- but they sent their oldest son to school. And they were well-to-do, so he had his car, and he had an allowance, a monthly allowance, and he lived at the university. But my dad said, "Well, I can't do that for you," he said, "but I think I have enough money to send you away to school for a year," he said, "so you can some taste of it, some idea." But he said, "I think we can do that and maybe if you can find a part-time job when you're at school, we can, I think we can make a year." Well, then when the war came along, that was the end of that. So she missed out on everything. However, I know that other people in Seattle, for instance, they went to Wazzu and then that way they didn't have to go to camp.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: We have about ten more minutes...

ST: Oh, okay.

TI: ...and so I'm going to jump to how you met your husband.

ST: Oh, now that was interesting. It was because I belonged to a sorority, it was a non, what they called a non-academic sorority. I belonged to a sorority in college, and then I belonged, I joined this Beta Sigma Phi, which is an international sorority, non-academic, and it was usually all white. It was basically all white. But in Portland, a bunch of Chinese -- the Chinese had been there much longer than we had. They had a social group, and they decided they would like to be part of this. And so they petitioned the headquarters to see if they could open a chapter. There were quite a few chapters in Portland, and this Chinese chapter was the only all-Chinese chapter. Well, their numbers were going down, so they started inviting some Japanese to join. So my sister and joined, and there were several other Japanese in the group. It was, there were probably, in the Portland area, close to between four and five hundred members. So it was a large group, and it was, there were chapters all the way across. I later became president of the, what they called the city council, so that meant I was the president of all the presidents and the other, all the chapters. And the year that I was in there, they always have what they call the Sweetheart Ball. And they always chose, every chapter was to send a candidate to become the sweetheart. And we always laughed about that, because we said the judge was a Rose Festival judge, so he judged on that kind of qualities, and we knew nobody from our chapter would ever get it. Besides, we were all older. And they always chose some very young, almost high school age kid. And so we all kind of took turns in our chapter, who was going to be, "Well, who wants to be representative this year?" And my sister went one year, and they said, "Okay, it's your turn this year." So I went, and they said, "Well, you've got to have an escort." And I thought about who I wanted to ask, and there wasn't anybody I really wanted to ask. So my sister was married, and her husband had a great number of friends in the Seattle area. So I said to her, "Does one of Giro's friends," do you think she can get one of Giro's friends to come down and take me to this dance? And she says, "I'll check." So he called his best friend, and his best friend said, "Oh, I'm not available that weekend. I'm golfing in a tournament. I'll send my younger brother." Kaz was the younger brother. So Kaz brought his friend for moral support, I'm sure, and they came down for the weekend. And then I got a date for his friend, and we went to the ball. I went to the dance, and that's how we met.

TI: And from then all you started dating?

ST: Yeah. It was long-distance dating, gosh. But we flew back and forth quite a bit. At that point, it was very easy to fly back and forth.

TI: And so after you married, then you moved to Seattle.

ST: Yes. The children have always been amazed at how fast this happened. Because they say, "Dad always takes a long time to make up his mind, you take a long time to make up your mind." We met in February and we were married in October.

TI: Wow, that is fast.

ST: Yes. [Laughs] And in between this, you realize, my father had to send his little investigation.

TI: Oh, that's right. And plus, it was long distance. I mean, you were Portland, he was Seattle. So, while this was all happening.

ST: Yeah, it's interesting.

TI: So tell me about the family you raised. I know you talked about your children.

ST: We have two boys and a girl. Steve is, was born in '61. And actually, my father died the day before his first birthday. But we were always happy that he was able to see him. So he felt that his -- you know, they always talk about the family being settled. And so he felt satisfied, his family was settled, both of his daughters were married, and they both had children. So that was good. And then the next boy is Ron, and Ron was born in '63. And Andrea is, was born in '65. They all have done well.

TI: Good.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: So we just have a few minutes left, and so I wanted to kind of open it up and let you talk about anything that we may have left out, or you'd like to just talk about.

ST: Well, I guess there are things I should have mentioned that I haven't, but I think that my whole life, there's always been somebody to help me. I've never really felt that I was in a corner and had no one to help me. And I think this is kind of unusual because we had no family, it was always just my sister and my father and I. And yet, it seems like when you say it takes a village to raise a child, people, even complete strangers would help you. And I think this is always the way it has been, and people don't realize how much help they are getting from other people. And you have to look at that in your life. But I don't think you realize this until you reach an age where you can look back and realize that some of these things just didn't happen. Somebody was, noticed you and wanted to help.

TI: And so because of that realization, do you find yourself helping others? I mean, do you think about that?

ST: Well, I have to say, I'm not as helpful as I probably should be. But I do try to see things not so much as black and white as very gray and all shades. I think you can't say you're for this or for that. There's always circumstances that make you look at things differently, and you have to put yourself in the other person's position, and you just cannot.

TI: Well, Setsu, thank you so much. We're about, almost two and a half hours into it...

ST: Yeah, and I was looking at this and I said, "Gee, I didn't get to tell about these people." But have you, the other thing is, have you ever heard about the first guy who played, first Nisei who was on the Rose Bowl team for OSC?

TI: For USC?

ST: OSC, Oregon State College.

TI: Oregon State College, no. Oh, wait a minute, maybe --

ST: Chiaki Yoshihara.

TI: No, I don't know.

ST: He, it was '42, so that was right after the war started, he was on the team for the, went to the Rose Bowl for Oregon State. And because of the, they wouldn't allow us to travel anything, he wasn't, the government said he could not go.

TI: I have heard this story, yes.

ST: Oh, okay. Well, he was a family, his family were friends of ours, and we gathered every year for mochitsuki. He was one of the mochitsuki people, 'cause, of course, he was very strong. That was our last mochitsuki before we went to camp, and he wore his Rose Bowl jacket.

TI: 'Cause I think they acknowledged him, they did a ceremony down there I think in the last year or so.

ST: Oh, really?

TI: Yeah, so there was, I saw it on TV.

ST: Yeah, that was good. Oh, let's see, I have to see if I have anything else that I should mention. Well, there are other things, but... oh, yes. When I got out and got my first job, I was in a perfect position where I didn't, I wasn't interviewed, I interviewed all my prospective employees, employers. And I chose Union Carbide because they were a national, very large corporation. And so when I worked for them, went to work for them, I was the confidential secretary, which meant that I was the top secretary in the group. And so I had access to every, all kinds of records. I used to go through every directory that came in and look for an Asian name. You know, I never found one. And the corporate executives who came through Portland, because we were a very distant section of the corporation, they always had to be introduced to me. And my boss would always introduce me and they would -- I knew they were fascinated by the fact that he hired me, and I did flower arranging. They thought I was terrific. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, that's good. So eventually, did they change and hire Asian Americans?

ST: You know, up until I got married, which would have been 1960, I never found a name, unless it was at a small place where, you know... it might have been in a different division where I wouldn't have access to a directory. But the corporate directories in New York, I had a corporate directory, and for the Carbide, which would, you know, you had all the execs, there was never a secretary, never a staffperson there with an Asian name. And actually, because I was Japanese, my first boss was, he had been, he was big in the business, but he came out to retire in Portland and to manage the plant. He joined the Japan Society. He asked me first, "Is this a good Society to join?" And I said, "Well, it's very prestigious." I said, "I think you'll meet a lot of interesting people from Japan, but if that's, you know," I says, "it would be kind of interesting. And it's definitely not just, you know, they don't ask everybody." And so he said, "Okay," so he joined it. And then he became president of the Chamber of Commerce. And when the Emperor's son came -- or was he the new Emperor? No, I think he was still the son -- came over to visit in Portland, he got to be on the welcoming committee. And I always feel, "If it wasn't for me, he wouldn't have been on that Committee." [Laughs]

TI: Oh, good. Got a chance to meet the Crown Prince.

ST: Yeah.

TI: Well, again, thank you so much, Setsu, for taking the time.

ST: Oh, yeah, it was fun.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.