Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Nancy K. Araki Interview I
Narrator: Nancy K. Araki
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: September 3, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-anancy-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Today's September 3, 2010. We're at the Centenary Methodist Church in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. We're here interviewing Nancy Araki. On camera is Dana Hoshide and interviewing is me, Tom Ikeda. So this is gonna be fun, Nancy. So let's just start from the very beginning and just tell me when and where you were born.

NA: I was born in San Francisco, October 16, 1937.

TI: Okay. And before I get to your life, I always like to learn a little bit about your family, and so let's start with your father. Can you tell me your father's name?

NA: My father's name is Fred Hachio Moriguchi.

TI: And where, where was he born?

NA: He was born in Daijuji, Hyogo-ken in Japan.

TI: Okay, so, so tell me a little bit about him. How did he come to the United States, what was his family? Just tell me a little bit about him.

NA: There's a book coming out about him eventually, when I retire. [Laughs]

TI: Okay. This is good, then. So give me the, yeah, give me some of the...

NA: Yeah... no, no, because I was able to do a lot of oral history on him and then now trying to tie it in with the social, political, historical factors in the eras of his growing up. But he was the, the eighth -- there were nine brothers, and he was number eight. And part of that is his name, Hachi, eighth man, and which he really questioned, "How come it's so common?" But his father assured him it was after much research by the priests and that they came down with the name Hachio. But anyway, he, the father and grandfather actually established quite, I think it's the grandfather that established quite a wealth and big household. The grandfather was, there was also nine in their family and two sons. He was the second son, but the father then divided this... see, I'm getting a little bit mixed up here. Slow down. His father was ending up being the second son and then the father, the, so it'd be my great-grandfather, divided the property in half, left the oldest son with what would be one part and that became maybe the honke, main family. Then the grandfather, great-grandfather, then took his second son and established another household, and since he was the head at that time it became a different kind of branch. It wasn't just a branch family, but it started to become the head Moriguchi household and that's what my grandfather inherited, and that's, and my grandfather had the nine boys.

TI: So it was your great-grandfather who, it sounds like, had quite a bit of wealth to, to do that split, because that would be unusual. Usually everything goes to the eldest son.

NA: Right.

TI: But he had enough to feel like he could create two halves, I guess, or two households.

NA: Two households, yeah. And so it's really, my father's growing up time, it was just full of all kinds of things, but it really shows where if there is wealth you had all -- the mother had help and, in the family and all. But it's also interesting that this grandfather with his wealth and all ended up being, I guess, influence, had influence within the community and at one time was... I forget the name, the term right now, but the head of the area, so I guess it's like a mayor, equivalent to that, and had enough influence politically, otherwise. But he also was, I guess his, he inherited from his father to be a patron to an orphanage, and so there's all kinds of stories like this that we learned as we were growing up. But eventually my grandfather decided, because right now, the Western influence is coming in, all kinds of new stuff, and he was in that way a gambler at heart, I guess, because he even went, invested in dairy farming up in Hokkaido, and of course, you know Japanese didn't drink milk or they didn't eat butter. I mean, that was Western taste, so that didn't fare well. He tried at lumbering because he had a lot of land and with forest. He also went into making buttons, getting shells from South Pacific, bringing it in, and they all tried to make buttons for Western style clothing.

TI: So that was your grandfather, really interesting.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Tell me about your father. What was, what was he like, growing up as a kid? How would you, how would people describe him in terms of, of personality, character?

NA: Very friendly, I guess. I think people would think about as a very thoughtful person. It's just very, there's a lot to say about him if you really want to know, but partly during his funeral I know Steve Nakajo from Kimochi just ended up sharing with us that "that was a man," because he would -- and this was when he was in his late eighties and nineties -- he took upon himself to help those in the senior center who were just recovering or coming out of their hospital stay, and he would just kind of help them walk the streets of Nihonmachi and he would have the person's arm and then would on the other hand have kind of like one of those cane seats, and so if the person got tired, opened the chair and let them sit. But he was really kind of like trying to get people thinking about getting better and healthy and all that.

TI: And do you think comes, in some ways, from... you talked about your grandfather and even though, you mentioned even though he had wealth he got very involved in community affairs. You mentioned the patronage at the orphanage. I mean, there was almost this family history of community service?

NA: I think so. There's always, even within the family, and I think my father must've inherited a lot of that. I know that he has stories of being very young and accompanying his father to the orphanage and, and other places, including geisha houses and going up for matsutake hunts with his grandfather and his father, and things like that. There was a lot of, full of story, but I know he was exposed to a lot, I'm sure, the adult going on. But he's also an entertainer. And one time I had said, because the grandfather eventually brought six of his nine sons to the United States as soon as they became old enough at the age of, my dad came over when he was twelve. Others came over when they were fifteen or thirteen, but soon as they were old enough he'd bring 'em over, or he'd call 'em over. Therefore my dad was a yobiyose.

TI: Well, so explain, so your grandfather emigrated from Japan to the United States? Or what was, what...

NA: Yeah. Well, as I was saying, that he was kind of an entrepreneur gambler type in that sense, and so, but as I said, dairy farm, how far do you go when nobody drinks milk and all of that, and eventually he, with all the land holdings and all he found himself in debt. And so there was some kind of scaling down of his property and in a way it's kind of like saving face now, and in order to do that he was trying to figure out, okay, where could he go? Some, my, my older uncle had told us that, well, the grandfather was thinking maybe about places like some southeastern, south Asian country, or maybe going to Brazil and all that. But at that time his second, second oldest son was asked by the somen association of the area, the Ibo No Ito association to go and to represent at them at the World's Fair and, and that was the first World's Fair, I think in San Francisco area. But he was to also go up to Seattle and check into the Fujiya because they have not paid for their somen shipment, saying that it was, had bugs and stuff. So in that process of coming to the United States, that son, Kinjiro, said, "Hey, you might like to think about the U.S., 'cause it might be a place." So that's how Grandfather came over, at the recommendation of this, his number two son who was here.

TI: So tell me, what did your grandfather do with his sons? What kind of business or work did he find?

NA: Well, as all immigrants or people who come over find, I mean, it isn't as easy and, and you can never really achieve what you could be or was in the old country, and so he ended up working, doing farm work. Now, back in his own property he had land, he had farming, he had, but he had workers doing it, but he certainly knew what to do, so I think looking at his records, he did do a typical Issei type of checking out and working at different farms and areas because shows that he was coming not quite down to Southern California, but in Monterey area, Merced area and Central Valley area and in the Delta.

TI: And when he came, did he come with your grandmother?

NA: No.

TI: So it was him and the six boys.

NA: No, not the six boys. He's all by himself. He just had that one son over here, and my grandfather didn't come on a immigration or, or... he came on a special visa and he came as a representative of Hyogo-ken to check up on the immigrants from Hyogo. Now, Hyogo-ken has very little immigrants because it's always had good weather and never had to face drought or any of that, so basically it was a political pass to come over and that's how he came, checking out, also laboring at the same time.

TI: And what year was this roughly?

NA: Oh, good grief.

TI: When he first came.

NA: Early 1900s, I guess.

TI: Okay, so early 1900s.

NA: Yeah.

TI: And what was the advantages of coming --

NA: No, no, it can't be. It can't be because my father would've been -- I mean, all the boys wouldn't have been born, 'cause he would've had to have been there to father the kids, right.

TI: So how, when was your father born? Let's try to figure out the math here.

NA: Yeah. Good grief.

TI: So he was --

NA: '08.

TI: '08?

NA: Yeah, I think it's '08. I should've brought all that with me. I didn't, I didn't even think about --

TI: No, that's okay. Well, it's part of why, you mentioned the, I wanted to kind of get into, he came over with a, kind of a more, a different type of visa, not, or, not to come as a laborer, so I was curious if he came after the Gentlemen's Agreement and that's why he had to come across, and that's why I was just curious about the date, in terms of in 1908 or so. So can you --

NA: No, he was here way before 1924 because by that time he had five of his sons and two of them went back to get brides before the close of the '25.

TI: But then you had also the Gentlemen's Agreement in 1907, 1908, 1907, and then it was hard to come over as a laborer, and so that's why I was wondering if that's why this particular relationship, political sort of thing, was important for him to come over, 'cause otherwise it'd have been difficult to come over.

NA: No doubt. Yeah, I mean, I'm sure all of that plays in there, but just having access, too.

TI: So your grandfather is over. He checks it out.

NA: Yeah, and he says, "Well, this is a possibility." So he starts to bring his sons over. The one is here, Kinjiro's here. Next two sons he brought over was, it was Satoji and Torao, the next two sons, and then, then came Tatsumi and then came my father. The last son, the number nine son came over after the Gentlemen's Agreement and came over for, in, as a worker in, I guess, it was a trade company, but he came there, so over here he has six sons. And the grandmother came only... so the thing goes, the boys get established and all and the father goes back to Japan. The, I guess, my father and the youngest son, Hideichi, they were gonna get married or were gonna announce the engagement. They all chipped in, brought the father and mother back to the United States for about a year, almost two year visit so that they could spend time with each of the families, and then that was the first and only time the grandmother came.

TI: Interesting.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So let's, let's focus on your father a little bit.

NA: Yeah.

TI: So he comes over as, essentially as a boy. He's about twelve.

NA: He was twelve. He's traveling on his own, he's in second class on the boat, and so, but he said being by himself and traveling companion was an older person who was supposed to watch out for him. But being young he ended up, says it was like being the monkey general because he'd go down to the steerage and they'd all rally and they had the run of the ship -- as much as they could -- and fuss around. But in Hawaii he would talk about being, going off the boat and he bought bananas and oranges. And oranges was just so great that he wasn't gonna share with anybody. Banana, bananas he gave to all his boat friends. And so when they arrived to San Francisco he got off at the embarcadero and not on Angel Island, and that's where he was met with his father and one of the older brothers, Satoji.

TI: So explain that. Why, why not Angel Island?

NA: Because he's second class and it's the steerage that went and people who were in steerage that went to Angel Island. If you were first class or second class you'd disembark in San Francisco right by the embarcadero by Ferry Building.

TI: And you would just go through immigration there?

NA: Right.

TI: I see. I didn't, I didn't know that.

NA: Yeah, I didn't know that either.

TI: You also used a term to describe him earlier... we'll come back to that later. I can't remember what the term you used, I wasn't familiar. Yakisoba? What was it?

NA: [Laughs] Yakisoba? My dad was not a yakisoba.

TI: No, it was... I'll come back to it later. I think it had to relate by being a young... anyway.

DH: Yobiyose.

NA: Yobiyose.

TI: Yeah. So explain that term.

NA: Yobiyose. Yobiyose is a term that there is an Issei over here, okay, and that is my grandfather, and he then calls over a child who was born in Japan. So yobiyose, and that was a term, I don't know who created this Japanese American term.

TI: Okay. No, that's good. I didn't know that either.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So your father, second class, gets off in San Francisco, and then pick up the story there. What happens?

NA: Yeah, he's met there by his father and his brother, Satoji, and they spend one night and then he's shipped off to be a houseboy to polish up his English, go to school, learn the American way. And the father and Satoji returns back to, I believe they were in, like, the Delta at that time, on one of the islands with celery farming. And so my father's on his own from the age of twelve, almost thirteen, and...

TI: Did he ever share with you kind of how it was for him, the very early times?

NA: Yeah.

TI: So what was it like?

NA: You know, he's got this kind of spunk spirit about him, too, I'm sure. And then, so I think it was, well of course it was difficult, and he had stayed, he was placed in a home and with the lady in charge and he was to do house cleaning, help some of the cooking and then go off to school, so his parents, knowing that these boys would come over, they had prepared him. So my dad, he says, "I was," he was taught to cook a bit and since he was now probably number five in the line of sons that were brought over as yobiyose, so they had a pretty good idea what, how to prepare him, so he was taught to cook and he also said he had English lessons. So it wasn't really like duh, but still, it was just a whole different environment. And yeah, in fact there was one classic story that just kind of stays in my mind is at one point this teacher says, he says they, they were pretty racist and anti-Asians. And so this one teacher especially was kind of riding on him and eventually he ended up just couldn't stand it anymore and called her a garbage can. He says that's the worst, worst thing he could call anybody at that time, and call her a garbage can, of course he got promptly thrown out of her class and was suspended, so then he transfers or goes to a different school, which was a much more friendlier environment, I guess. But he manages to go through high school in San Francisco area.

TI: So he goes to public school and is able to graduate.

NA: Right. And he would also end up finding outside jobs eventually. He was also befriended by some of the Japanese community members in San Francisco, very, people that you realize became his family, that would invite him to come over on weekends for Sunday dinner after service and all that. So he has this kind of sense of what, to survive you needed this kind of network, and he's always been very deeply appreciative of members of the community. But also he was very athletic, so he took a very active role in the community. He was on the first Proto team, which was a Buddhist basketball team in San Francisco. There's a photo of him and the, what, seven other guys decked up in their uniform.

TI: And during this time would he live with the family he was working with?

NA: Yeah, and eventually, as he got older, he had gotten a room and board. I don't, I can't remember clearly. It was in, I think it was in a Japanese home, and he would work and one of the jobs that he took on was at the San Francisco Tennis Club. And, and he -- no, I take that back. He was, I guess he was working for an Anglo family and that man was part, a member and so he somehow got that connection and that was a segregated, but he learned to play tennis there and excelled and started to teach people how to play tennis. It's very, he's a natural athlete as well as a natural musician. Yeah.

TI: And during this time, how much interaction did he have with your grandfather and his other brothers?

NA: They would, every so often, but not, it's not on a weekly or monthly basis. He talks about really, you're on your own and even if the, they come in it's just like to have dinner together or something and, you know, whatever. But you're, you're growing up on your own and what, what's, I think is really, I think it's a, it must be a trait. I mean, you had, start to have me thinking about these patterns, and I think there is definitely teachers in our family, people that really understand about nurturing or whatever, because I know, think about it, my father could've gone any which way and yet he had this sense of, well, duty to family, community, all. There's a, when you get down to it in the life of our family, the Moriguchi -- this, by the way, the Moriguchi family, our growing up, my growing up family -- there's a strong sense of do your best, be honest, and give back to the community. Those are kind of like said and unsaid kinds of values that was just kind of thrown in.

TI: And was that with your grandfather, or did it start more with your father? When did those values sort of...

NA: Well, I can't say that for my, my grandfather because really I only met him when I was only about a year old, I guess. I never had that relationship with that man because he was, was only the time that he and the Japan obaachan was brought over here, but they left by the time I was, like, barely one. What I know about the grandfather is mainly stories from my father, but definitely I know my, when my brothers and sisters and I get together, but especially the older, the two other brothers that are closest in age with me, we talk about the, really the strong kind of influence that our father had, and he was really kind of a... he taught by doing, but there's some great lessons that we all remember and partly of how you treat people. This, kind of jumping ahead, but I know that it was, it's amazing the three of us just recalled this one incident so well. When my dad was farming after the war back in the Mendocino coast, he kept his picking crew really small because he felt that they then could make a really decent living and he had also gotten his picking crew annually because it's kind of like trained and they know what he wants and they worked really well, and so he really purposely kept it small. And we remember this summer when there were, like, three cars that came up from Delano and filled with Mexican families wanting to work and seeking out work at my dad's fields, and my dad says, "You know, I'm really sorry I can't hire you, but I think you came a long way and all so," he says, "you, you can, there's accommodations. You can stay there, the bath house is here." And he made sure they had food. Next day he filled their gas tanks and gave each car, I think it was something like twenty-five, thirty, forty dollars. It was big money in those days, but gave them money and sent them off. And we were all kind of, we were watching all this process and were kind of like saying, how come? But the point is the appreciation, couple... appreciation is one. They really were seeking, but he couldn't do anything without them jeopardizing the crew that he has already. And so, yeah, that was a lesson that the three of us really remembered, all independently, but that kind of sunk in.

The other thing was in the beginning, when we got old enough to really start working on the fields, he would, the first, we would move up from the San Francisco to the Mendocino County and he would put us under the field supervisor -- this is the boss -- and the boss, I mean, the picking... I don't know if you've ever picked peas, but there's rows and you come down the row and then you come back up this row. It's like other picking produce, but Mr. Ochoa would put us on the back end of the slowest of his picking crew and so we would have to pick this way and we would do that the first day. And you know, you're like, "Oh, why we got to learn to pick and all that?" My dad would just tell us, "You have to understand how hard this work is, so you all gonna man the weighing station and you're gonna be receiving it. You're gonna be packing it. You're gonna be putting it up there." But he says, "I want you to know that that is hard work and that's your responsibility to be mindful of that." As teenagers sometimes we'd pop off because the pickers don't come all the time, so you got time and you're kind of goofin' off, and if you get caught on that, boy, dinner hour, we'd get the look and the talk to anyway, but at dinner hour when we were at home, oh my God, we would get it. "Who the hell do you think you are? The boss's kids? You guys are nothing. We're nothing without these people. You remember that." I mean, it's lessons like that that he just makes you mindful of your own position, whether you're high or low, the point is it's working together and to be honorably respectful and understand that codependency.

TI: Yeah, that's a great story. I think back to your father growing up on his own as a teenager in San Francisco and, and how there were times when the community might have helped him out and maybe there's an appreciation too of this sense of community also.

NA: Yeah.

TI: And not, even though at times, he may own the place, not feeling this sense of privilege in those situations because he was really on both ends of it. I mean, there were times when he was on the receiving end of, of help and so that was...

NA: And so I think, and I think part of it comes from his father and, and grandfather, because he did speak later on about his grandfather and having enough wealth and thinking in terms of the community in, back in Japan, with the orphanage, things like that. But so I think there are elements of that that influenced him, but certainly he really practiced.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: And, and during this time when he was in San Francisco pretty much on his own, I'm trying to place the time, if it was about the Depression years, so we're kind of in the early '30s?

NA: Early, yeah. It'd be, I guess, after he graduated high school. He really ended up, said by that time his brother above him married a Morimoto. This Morimoto Tsuji and Moriguchi would become very interrelated, extended family, but so Auntie Shii-chan's American born. She's a Nisei, and so Tatsumi married Auntie Shii-chan and the father felt by marrying, he took away the most productive person for the Morimoto farm, so he said, "Hachio, you go over there and you work for Morimotos." And my dad just got out of high school, graduated, so he went over and he really worked for them and the big joke later on came out at a family reunion when one of the younger sisters said, "Hachiyo-san, did we ever pay you?" And he says, "Not a dime." And so in whatever they, obligation kind of thing within the family and all, because the Morimotos, though there was an older son who then passed on early, had, like five daughters and then had three younger sons who were, like, six, five, six, seven, so they weren't of, couldn't do the help, but the girls, and especially Auntie Shi-chan, she was always there. We used to always say, "Oh yeah, she could throw a hundred pound rice sack on her back and walk up the stairs." She was a really genki, healthy woman.

TI: And so your father was sent to replace her because she could do so much work?

NA: Basically. And so the stories coming out of there is, they says, oh, they all remember him driving the tractor and singing on the top of his lungs, driving the tractor as they did cultivation and all that, but during that time he also was trying to figure out what the heck is he gonna do. And part of it, of course, getting that farming experience there and all, he decided, okay, this isn't a bad work, but he really doesn't like irrigation and so, and he started to figure this out that maybe natural irrigation is possible and he thought about green table peas, the English peas, and so he started to plot it. And it goes that -- he also had a motorcycle, so he was a pretty cool guy, right -- and the story goes is that when it seems to be, starting to be foggy he would just kind of get on his motorcycle, go up the California coastline, going up north to find the foggiest place possible, because he figured that would be, and in spring and summertime because that would be natural irrigation.

TI: I see, so just the moisture in the air, the fog, would, would water the plants.

NA: Exactly. So that's, and then, of course, he had this other thing. He really didn't want to work twenty, twelve months of the year doing truck farming as most of the farmers were doing. He just wanted one crop and then to go fishing the rest of the time, winter time. And so that was his plan and he did find such a place, and that was up the coast of California to Mendocino County where there was no Japanese and it was mainly dairy farming and maybe some grazing cattle, but there was no (farms), if there were any kind of farming it was for feed, so, and lumbering, redwood lumbering, so he kind of went up there and it's a new adventure, right? And, but he was successful in getting in with the community there, and he said he really, at the beginning, felt little bit guilty because he knew there was that alien land law and he wasn't a citizen, but he, he just kind of had to rely that these people were trusting, friendly people and didn't have their hearts or minds into that kind of arena. And one way, we asked him, "Well, how'd you get into this?" And the nice thing is we were able to go in, go up to the, that area while he was (alive), celebrated his eighty-eighth birthday and ninetieth birthday up there and was able to meet one of the early people that he befriended and who was much younger than he, but he broke into the baseball team of that area and he being very athletic was able to gain respect from the kids. 'Cause he figured, well, if the kids kind of like you and you can gain their kind of friendship and be genuine about it, he says, then he's pretty sure the other people will like him, too. So he eventually is able to get one bottom, he calls it the bottom land and so it's kind of a little swampy and not worked over land right near the Point Arena lighthouse, and he tills and gets the first crop up and it's very successful. It all worked. His planning of putting peas in there, a foggy place, came out and the peas were good. And so -- do I, you want me to jump ahead because this connects up with interesting story?

TI: Sure, go ahead. This is, this is good.

NA: So he did very well, by the way. It was, sometimes you go like, God, how did he do that with only one crop? I asked him, as I got to be a teenager one of my job was get on the phone and call all the markets, like down to Los Angeles, Eagle Market, wherever the peas got sent, and Oakland and San Francisco, and I'd call 'em, say, "Okay." They'd say, "Okay, the peas went for three cents, your dad came in at thirteen." "Alright." Write it down. Another guy would say, "Okay, the peas came in, like, two cents, but your father got twelve." "Alright." This is by the pound. So I'm just writing this down and all, but later on (while doing his) oral history, I said, "Okay, Dad, I want to know, because in college I realized the average California farmer was making about thirty thousand a year, but you were, like, tripling that. And on one crop only, so I don't understand this." He says, "Well, what's the label? Fred Moriguchi sweet quality peas. That's why." [Laughs] "That doesn't explain anything, Dad." He says, "It does. I guarantee sweet and quality." I said, "What do you mean? You're putting the price on yourself?" He says, "Yeah. I tell 'em if you can't give me twelve cents, 'cause I know its value is twelve cents, you dump the whole load." And I'm goin' like, oh my God, but that's how, he said, "That's how much I put my faith in what I'm producing."

TI: So he got a really premium for his, his peas.

NA: And so his peas would have been sold at, like, equivalent to what Gleason's or, you know, the high end shops, and that's the guarantee that he puts on. And so that's when you, then you think back, okay, then his pickers are really trained to do that quality work. That's why he keeps the team and, and this whole interrelationship, then you begin to see how his mind worked. I mean, if you want the best you got to treat equally and well and then you get the best and all that, but one of the things that all of us kids, all five of us kids really, I think one of the things is my dad always planned ahead. Always plan ahead, don't, if you're going, if you got a name you always plan ahead. You could deviate as you go, but plan ahead. So there was that kind of lessons, right, but this, this whole thing with the peas, part of it is really coming back to us as we've become adults.

TI: That's, that's an amazing story. I mean, he's an incredibly savvy businessperson.

NA: Surprising. But, but yes, but no. [Laughs]

TI: Well, you know, yeah, I mean just in terms of how he thought things through. It's very, it can be a case study for a Harvard Business Review. Really, in terms of how to succeed and, and in terms of focusing on not only quality products but how you get there and how you market yourself. It's really, really great story.

NA: Yeah, and then on top of that, he did not want to use chemical sprays, so every year we'd go up there to Shasta, going up towards Placer County to ladybug country and we'd be coming, driving back down to Mendocino coast with ladybugs kind of flying, escaping. But we'd come down with the load of ladybugs because aphids are primo, right, and so the ladybugs would be released and annually have to drive up there and get more ladybugs.

TI: That's a good story.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: So I kind of want to move on now, so we've talked your, your father now has this pea farm, one crop. How does he meet your mother?

NA: From what I gather, he, I think... well my mom, my grandmother had somehow got, gotten to know through mutual friends one of the brothers. This would be, which one? Terao. And my mom would visit her mom, I guess, or however this was going on and it's through Terao that introduced my mom and dad together.

TI: And talk about the courtship. I mean, how, so your father is farming and where is your mom?

NA: She's in San Francisco.

TI: Okay, so let's, let's first talk about your mother first. So why don't you tell me her name and where she was born?

NA: Okay. Her name is Masa Sugiura, and she was born in Oakland.

TI: Okay, so she was Nisei. And do you know about when she was born?

NA: '11, I think.

TI: Okay. And tell me a little bit about her family.

NA: Okay, in order to do that I got to talk about my grandmother, because Grandmother becomes very critical in my life, anyway. My grandmother was born Sata Asakura and she comes from a very notable family, I mean long history and all. That family right now has, is in its twenty-fifth generation of being physicians. They have their own hospital clinic area in Ibaragi area. They were originally, real long time ago, ancestors, ancestor home was in Fukui. They're right now digging up that site as an archaeological site, and so if you ever get to Fukui you could go to the, what is it, Ichinodani area, and it's been a site that they start digging in '53, I think. But so they're doing, replicating the town of that castle town, and the castle is now coming up and the gardens got to be a cultural asset and all that kind of stuff, so it's real, this is the myth of our family that we had to discover after our dad died and all of the sibs went and we said, "Well, while we're here let's go check out all the 'myths' that we grew up with," because we knew that there was this archaeological dig. We knew my, enough about the family history on my grandmother's side. We know enough about Dad's side and all that, so we did this grand tour and like, wow, okay. And then all of a sudden some things came together, some of the inside family jokes between my father and mother, 'cause it, as it turns out -- and we knew this -- that my father, his place he grew up is near where Miyamoto Musashi birth home and where this ancestral area of the Asakura is where, what do you call, who's the guy that got defeated?

TI: Okay, but they were on opposing sides?

NA: Sasaki. Yeah. Yeah, the big battle that eventually happened. But anyways, so then, then one side is somen, because my great grandfather had brought in somen as an industry, and that's a big industry in the area right now, and then this side, Fukui, is soba. So all of us, oh, you begin to say, these are the kind of stuff that you didn't quite understand until you start digging up history.

TI: Because your mother and father would kind of banter or, or they'd have these little things about soba and somen and these great warriors?

NA: Yeah. And my, yeah, my mom, my dad would be very amakuchi, sweet tooth, and my grandmother, mother would be much more on the savory side, and that's Kanto. That's the, you know... and he's the Kansai, and so it's really, it's kind of, I'm sure other families must do that, but in our family it was like, okay, what's going on? But it was just part of the family.

TI: But not as much sometimes, 'cause a lot of people we interview, their, their grandparents tend to come from almost the same village or there, there isn't as much of that. They're almost from the same clan and things like that, so this is, this is interesting.

NA: Yeah. This, this was, yeah well, it was our discovery after everyone's gone, or our realization. My grandmother came over, she had a real kind of interesting story, she, coming, her family for generations after their defeat ended up becoming physicians and her father and grandfather became very well known burn specialists. And kaji, or the fire, is one of the feared thing in Japan, and partly they were well known, so they had the opportunity to go down, especially the great, great grandfather had, great great grandfather, I guess, had opportunity to do down, travel down to meet with the Dutch or Nagasaki area, and so in the family, if you go to their home now in Ibaragi you find plants that were unusual because they would get it from the Dutch. There're trees, an archway by a maple, not maple but pine tree that's over four hundred years old that they make as an entryway to their hospital area, another one for the family resident area. So she grew up in kind of a different family. Here's a whole different story, but she came over wanting to come over to study medicine, because she wasn't allowed to in Japan. The closest she got was to go study what would be equivalent of pharmacy, kusuri, and the family was enough so that they could go to the imperial, what would be imperial university at that time, when, very early. And her, and she couldn't get into medicine and so she eventually goes to, she's by the way engaged to an up and coming physician, but before they could get married he dies, so she goes off to Tokyo and Aoyama Byouin and start to think in terms of nursing, but that's a real, those days, it was a very low class occupation, but she really didn't know any other way, but started to learn English and all. And this is where she starts to learn that there was a person named Maria Braun in the United States that became the first woman to graduate from medical school and there was hope, and she found out about UC Berkeley, maybe and all, and along the way -- I'm cuttin' this real short -- but she learns that there's a distant relative or, I don't how she, how this came about, but there was this young man wanting to, looking for a bride to go, to live together in California, UC Berkeley, that area. So she says, and she happened to overhear her younger sister asking her father if she could marry, overheard the father says, "Until Sata gets married you can't get married," so that kind of said, well, and here's a way to fulfill her dream. So she marries Sugiura. They come -- I mean, then he's, I think he is already in the United States. She comes over and it ain't the way it is, as one dreams it's gonna be. [Laughs] And he wanted to become an import export trade; he wanted to go into that. And he's from Nagoya area.

TI: So it sounds like the, the relationship wasn't that, that strong then, or it didn't work out that well?

NA: Well, it did, I guess. It's kind of like one of those things. I mean, I grew up from under her influence with the ideas of, like, yamato nadeshiko, that's the female version of yamato damashii, right? So there's a lot of that kind of stories that come in, so I could only imagine, and they had, ultimately they had five children. The oldest, Taruo, and then they had four girls. My mother was the third girl and there's a younger sister. Turns out two, the older two daughters die, one from the typhoid epidemic that went through, the other one falling off of a trolley car or something in San Francisco. The father struggles, and he apparently was a real good natured guy, so part of his problem is any wealth that he would amass he would also help out his fellow immigrant, and so it was part of a struggle that way, but apparently a very kind and generous, sometimes all too generous kind of a person. So I never heard anything that it wasn't a good match.

TI: Oh, and maybe I misunderstood when you say it didn't work out the way she thought, so she didn't pursue a medical degree? Was that what you were saying?

NA: Yes. Yeah, that's, her dream. And his dream, too, because he ultimately ended up opening a laundry service and, which tended to be successful enough that they provided for the family and all, but he ends up becoming very ill and she suspected it was appendicitis, knowing enough, but the physician who came said, no, just put hot compress. And for her, hot compress and appendix is disaster, but, but I guess the husband also encouraged that. "Follow doctors." And of course he died of a burst appendix, so she's widowed now with three kids and leaving Japan, being the class she was, and her sisters had married into the head of Bank of Tokyo, married into the Kikkoman family, who was doing shoyu and manufacturing in the imperial grounds, stuff like that. And, and the other sister became a bohemian, but that's a whole different story. So, and it was really, some of the parting was really difficult because she was really going out of the norm of her class, so she herself felt, well, she can't go back, so somehow she's gonna have to strike out and do something. And so a friend of the family, a man who ends up, we end up calling Ojichan, who really was a good friend to both Sata and her husband and who traveled back and forth to Japan periodically. He said he will take the three kids to Japan and put them into the family household to be raised. So my mom goes and is placed with the Asakura side, my mom and her sister, and then my, the, her older brother goes to the Sugiura in Nagoya area. Yeah, so my mom ends up being a Kibei ultimately.

TI: Yeah, so she goes to Japan, right. And about how old?

NA: She's five years old.

TI: She's five.

NA: Her sister's four years old, Taruo is twelve years old.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: And how many years did your mother spend in Japan?

NA: They, she brought her back when my mom was fourteen, fifteen years old, so about, almost, whether it was almost ten years, about ten years. And...

TI: And during this time your grandmother stayed in, in Oakland or the Bay Area?

NA: Right. And she ends up becoming a personal nurse to the T.H. Williams family, and the T.H. Williams family ends up being one of the early businesspeople to go to Japan and also T.H. Williams is one of the investors to build Tanforan.

TI: Interesting.

NA: And T.H. Williams and other relatives are in the San Francisco society and politics. They were mayors, supervisors and all of that in San Francisco history, but my grandmother enters this household as a personal nurse to Mrs. Williams. And then came the Depression, and she would send monies for upkeep of her three kids. Ultimately, before I go on, she ends up supporting her son to go through Imperial University. He graduates with pharmacy degree, like her, and then she wanted to bring him back so he gets into UC Berkeley, fulfilling her dream, but so as a graduation gift of graduating from the university and a farewell tour of Japan, she gives that as a present. And so while on that, he ends up coming down with pneumonia and dies.

TI: On this trip? Wow, must've been devastating for your, your grandmother.

NA: Yeah, so now it's the next kid, 'cause she's determined to bring all three back again, so now she concentrates on bringing back my mom. Yeah. So it's, my mom's story's something else, but anyway, so my grandmother then works and then the Depression happens. Stocks fall and obviously the T.H. Williams is fully much into all of that. Mr. Williams commits suicide, leaving them, his wife, two kids, and so Mrs. Williams and Miss Beatrice and Mr. Tom. That's how I know these people. And Mrs. Williams decided she's gonna now convert -- and by this time they were, they were living in Berkeley, Berkeley area, Oakland Berkeley area -- and she decides to convert her mansion into a fashionable young ladies' dormitory, and so my grandmother is asked to stay on. I don't know if she's, I don't know how that went, but my, my grandmother stays on and I think her... anyway, that's part of the story, and into that environment my mother is brought back. And so my mother, who was immersed now in Japan, (whether), if she knew any English by the age of five I don't know, but then she is immersed in Japan in a kind of... I could get into that, too, but she then comes back and she's into this environment of a fashionable women's, young women's dormitory. She promptly becomes the pet of everybody and so she picks up English really fast. In her album you'll see Cal games, Cal Stanford games, you see her going with these young women on, canoeing down Russian River, all that, and she's also enrolled in a high school so she could finish up. She ends up then graduating from high school and then goes into a design, garment design school, fashion design school, and graduating from that she finds employment at Madame Clara, who was, I guess, a fashion house in San Francisco, worked with Madame Clara. And that's kind of like a time then, the mother by this time is living not in the dormitory but she's living in San Francisco and, my mom, that's the kind of environment, and then this man, Yamaguchi-san we end up calling Ojichan, is part of that family. My father ends up calling, "Ah, that's your grandmother's boyfriend." I go, well, nobody ever called him that, but it was always Ojichan. So that's how they met.

TI: Okay, so at this point, this is when your grandmother, or your, I guess your uncle introduces your father and your mother together.

NA: Yeah, my uncle was very good in goh and my father was also a good goh player, all the strategy and loving that and all that --

TI: But what, what's interesting to me, though, is based on your mother's background that she would be interested in marrying a farmer.

NA: Well, that's, that's a story on its own. [Laughs] I mean, I don't know, maybe she succumbed to his charm. I mean, 'cause he could be a very charming man, very entertaining, very...

TI: But she seemed very kind of urban and, and your father was a pea farmer.

NA: Yeah.

TI: Who liked to fish.

NA: But he was also very dapper. He's a tennis player. Some of the exchange of photographs shows her with her tennis racket, him with his tennis racket with all the whites, nice white outfit with his tennis racket, and so I don't know, maybe they found love over at the courts. But he, again, being a realist, saying if he really wants to make sure that she knows what she's getting into and so he has it so that (Sata), Masa and her mother (Sata) come up to really witness what it is to be at a pea ranch through the season, and if she feels that she understands and could accept this as her life with him, then, then, "Let's get married, but this is only fair."

TI: And so she does that and apparently it was okay for her.

NA: I guess so, because right after the, the crop that year, then he builds a house, which we call the main homestead house and that house still kind of stands out in a field up in Mendocino. If you go down Highway 1 and it's now, I think, my brother who just was up there, he says, yeah, it's kind of starting to fall down, but the three rose, climbing rose bushes that, which was planted after each one of us, the first three kids were born before the war, which was planted when we were born, is climbed all over the house and is still there. Just...

TI: Well thank you. That was, boy, that was a really interesting connection, how your, on your father's side and mother's side, the histories and then how they, they got together.

NA: Kind of different.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: So, so Nancy, the first hour we really talked about your mother and father and their families and so we got to the point where they got married. Let, where I want to jump to next is let's talk about your siblings, just in terms of, of how many children your parents had.

NA: Okay, all told there are five of us. I'm the oldest. I have a brother Eugene Takeshi who's a year and a half younger than me. Then year and a half younger than he is Arthur Hiroshi, and then, think he's, like, five years after that is Francis Yutaka who's born in Topaz, and then postwar baby Claudia Taiko, so she's fourteen years younger than me.

TI: When we, earlier you talked about working on the farm, but you, you at the very beginning said you were born in San Francisco, so I just want to get a sense, because I, from what we've covered so far, your mother sort of grew up more in an urban environment and your father had the pea ranch, so let's talk about your life. So where, what are some of your early childhood memories? Where, where was that?

NA: Should I explain the hospital first, why I'm born in San Francisco even though the family lived in, the address would be Elk, Mendocino County, California?

TI: Sure. Right.

NA: It's partly because, remember, it's just a one crop farm, one crop season, and my father and my mom, it's interesting, her multicultural background truly, one in Japan but also here in the United States and having been under this kind of sphere of Anglo young women's dormitory, I mean, that's a whole different kind of life, and knew that influenced a lot about how she understood about being, what it is like to be in America and herself being an American. Her language --

TI: Because these young women that were in this dormitory --

NA: They're college women.

TI: Yeah, so tend to be from affluent families, families of privilege in some ways.

NA: Yeah. And in Japan my mom was placed into families of privilege. It's the bank of, the banking family, even though she told, I mean, at least she relates to us, she always felt like Cinderella because she was young, but she knew that the, the garments, the kimono that they would receive at New Year's were kind of lesser than the, the daughters of the house, so she understood and she says the other part about it was that she knew that she knew that she needed to be appreciative, and so she'd always be kind of like the appreciative person, whereas her younger sister was a little tomboy and wouldn't behave and all that. So there's those elements when she comes to America and she really is immersed in whatever's American college life, basically, even though she's just going through high school. So my mom actually, we talked to her about, talked to her about, "So how come you were, in a way, different than all the other aunties?" 'Cause all the cousins, if they got in trouble at home or got kicked out, our house was where they all came, some of our mischievous cousins. I don't know what, they had loggerheads.

TI: So when you said she was different, she was like, her doors were always open? What, explain that. How was she different?

NA: She was always just very generous and gracious and hospitable and open door. My, my dad was this kind of same way, too.

TI: Well, from your, say, from some of your cousins' perspective. They would come to your house and your mom would, would welcome them or let 'em stay there. How would they describe your mother?

NA: Well one, one cousin brought home a German bride from after the war and, oh man, that was, like, all kinds of conniptions. Another cousin married a Chinese man and that was a whole 'nother thing. And we're talking about (late) '40s, (early) '50s, and, but it was my mom who kind of was very genuinely open and welcoming and when their kids came she would make sure that the children always (...) got Christmas gifts. And they always did that kind of thing, not just think that they were ever gonna get it back, I don't think, because both of the cousins weren't ever gotten into the economic arena that, but she would just do those kinds of kind things. But I know Josie would always say, "Oh, if it wasn't for Auntie Masa," says, "My life was hell, but she was really an angel," and her children, would be my cousins, they, they still, they still remember that whenever we meet in family gatherings, say, "My mom always talked about how your mom really, really made life bearable, which was unbearable, but your mom really remembered."

TI: And, and it sounds like part of it was your mom's upbringing. She was exposed to so many different things growing up that she was, it just, she was more accepting of when your, some of your cousins would...

NA: Right. But also down the road we, in a kind of an interview I did with her, so I said, "You know, I know that you always felt that you wanted to raise your children as individuals, as equally as possible. Where did you get those ideas?" And she says, frankly, she didn't know how to raise kids. She was never around little kids, so what she did was to write to the U.S. government public health and got all the pamphlets and there's a man named Dr. Spock that was coming on the horizon, so she read all those things.

TI: That's interesting.

NA: Okay, so there's like, oh. I'm a U.S. government-raised kid? [Laughs] And she says, oh yeah, she did a lot of that, kind of like understanding that her mom was her mom and her husband kind of was, grew up on his own, and who does she turn to? Her sister ended up being stuck in Japan. I don't mean stuck in a bad way, but she ended up marrying in Japan, so she really didn't have anybody other than herself and her husband. I mean, there was enough sister-in-laws, but that's a, that's a different thing.

TI: So that's an interesting combination. So you had your mother who, who read Dr. Spock to help her think about how to raise you, but you also had your grandmother there and, and she had, probably, her ideas of how you and others should be raised. And was there, was there sometimes, what's the right word, not, maybe not conflicts but differences in approaches in terms of what your mother or your grandmother? 'Cause it's almost like, when I think of reading Dr. Spock, very kind of American philosophy and way of doing it, and then you have your grandmother who's more Japanese, and so how did that play out?

NA: The, from my perspective, the only time, I almost remember this when I must've been, like, around eight, this is the, this is the one moment that all of us and I understood, "I could play the two off of each other." I mean, it just, whatever the incident was, I began to understand what is this and what power I could have. Nasty little kid.

TI: 'Cause there was this difference. You saw all of a sudden that...

NA: Right. I mean, there was this conflict, and I can't name it off because all I could remember is this "Aha" moment that I had, right, but basically I don't think on the whole there might not have been that conflict because there were enough kids to go around. [Laughs] So almost everybody knew I was Baachan's kid. My mom had, well, my dad, my brother, my brother next to me, Gene likes to think he was Dad's kid, and Mom's kid was Arthur. This was the prewar birth order, right? I get troubled with that a little bit. I could see that before the war, but I get troubled with that kind of statement after war because we have Francis and we have Claudia, for god sakes. But in, in one part it was that alignment also, before the war, and so going into the camps, of course, one, one adult, one kid, one, one hand, the other hand suitcase kind of image. But I was definitely Grandma's child, moving in with her when I was three months old.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: And so your earliest childhood memories are almost more with your grandmother?

NA: No. I have bits and pieces. I think I could remember things like playing in the sandbox with my brother underneath the, the windmill water tank, but I guess the strongest remembrance is Jichan, passing of Jichan. My brother and I were in the cab of the pickup truck out in the field and Gene and I were playing there. Mom was in San Francisco giving birth to our third brother. Ojichan comes walking to the driver's side and says, "Kei-chan, grow up to be a good girl," or "you be a good girl," and Ta-chin is Eugene's baby nickname that, you know, ii ko ni, so it's all in Japanese -- and that's, by the way, my first language -- and then he walks in front and then he falls down. And I don't know, I just, I just know that, I don't know if, how it happened, but honking of the horn and Dad comes and they, they ask us what's happening. And of course I'm just relating this to everybody over and over, so I think that kind of got stuck in my memory, too. But it was also big jolt seeing someone we called Jichan just kind of collapse. And, and I really remember the funeral and the smell of stocks and gardenia, and really, to this day, I think, I don't like the smell of stocks.

TI: Going back to when your, your grandfather collapsed, so was it like a heart attack or just a, a sudden... and when it happened, I'm trying to think of a young child and they see this, what did you think, like did you, yeah, what thoughts went through your mind?

NA: I mean, I can't, I was like three years old.

TI: So just something you just remember.

NA: I just remember that and somehow, I don't know if looking forward, leaning on the horn or whatever, but I called people. Somehow people came. And because he was in front of the truck, so it isn't like so visible necessarily, when you really position this whole thing, but he came and I know I had to get on the, they put me on the phone to tell my mom that Jichan... I mean, I want to talk to my mom, too. She's in the hospital, but just remember relating that to her. And I remember events around that time pretty much also, but that was, that was one really solid... other things, before even that, I remember helping, helping, trying to help with the wash and, or playing around with the neighbor's girl. We're, we're really like three, really young, two and a half, three, but these are just snapshot remembrances or trying to chase the frog into the furoba and the neighbor girl falls into the furo and she's a little bit older than me and "Ah," all this panic and, but just snippets like that. And I remember koinobori that my father had erected up for the Boy's Day, they had only one at that time, so that's Gene, right? So I was, like, two and a half, must be two and a half going on three.

TI: It's amazing that you can remember those things at such a young age.

NA: But, well you know, it's those things because I remember the koinobori and partly, and I could only figure it must've been after Pearl Harbor, because there were kind of, our neighbors who were really nice, to me nice, there were kind of angry voices and my dad saying something about the koinobori, so I couldn't figure out what, and later on was, I guess, they all thought that maybe that was the shortwave antenna, because when you think about it after the war, they laid the telephone communication lines from the United States to Hawaii off of Point Arena. That's where, and then to Asia.

TI: And so potentially people were thinking that if there were sabotage or something someone would cut those lines and...

NA: Well there wasn't any phone lines then. No, no, no.

TI: Okay, no phone lines, but just in terms of, of...

NA: Yeah, but then this tall tree stump and then this flying, the koi and the, the Boy's Day celebration, maybe that's when signals were being sent out or, I mean, at least that was the filtering down assumption that later on was told to us.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: At a very young age, so you mentioned the war started, what memories do you have of, of going to camp? Again, you're very young, you're like four years old when, during the move. What can you remember?

NA: Two parts. One is I remember, because the whole family, the uncle that was farming with my dad at that time had picked up his family and went off to area in central Cal because this is when everyone thought that there was a safe zone, but my father has end up, end up minding or cleaning up the farm area or whatever if you're gonna move. The hitch, he said, was that if you didn't farm and plant your seeds and do what's regular, you were definitely an enemy, so you had to do that, but then you also kind of got the sense that you're not gonna be around to pick this thing and profit from it. So he had to figure out all that and eventually had it so that a friend from, of his, actually from the Half Moon Bay days with the Morimotos. It was Paul Pera, who was a field buyer for the market, and he had got, gotten to know Paul real well and so Paul seemed interested in taking over the farm when he left with the understanding that if and when it's possible my dad was gonna come back. Now, my dad did not buy any of this land because, I guess they could've, but the land up in that area has been a long time family-owned property, so it wasn't like land wasn't up for sale anyway, but because they were in dairy farming or in lumber, they really liked my dad's crops because it brought into new, the nitrogen back into the soil for whatever other kind of crops they may go for, which is usually feed, but the peas themselves were great for the dairy farmers. They loved it, or their cattle, right, because really the dried plants really became good feed for additional milk production and all.

TI: Oh, that's interesting, so did your, did your father, rotate's not the right word, but move where the plantings were to help enrich the soil?

NA: Well, inadvertently that's, I don't know if that was in his plans, but certainly the local farmers understood the benefit of leasing land to my dad. By the time the wartime started he had over four hundred acres that he was, one crop, he was, he had out. And through, from '35 to then the wartime years he, and they got married in thirty, January '37 and they were doing very well. He got, he got an article. They came up from Santa Rosa to do an article on him and local stuff like that.

TI: And so this gentleman, Paul Pera...

NA: Is a, he was a field, one of the guys from the wholesale market, produce market, that would go out and buy products, and he was doing that in Half Moon Bay when my dad was helping Morimotos and they got to be friends.

TI: So, so did Paul come in and run the farm?

NA: Yeah, he was gonna run then and take care of the farm and possibly grow and continue and see if... you know.

TI: And do you know what kind of business arrangement he had with, with Paul, in terms of who would get the money from the crops and all?

NA: I think it's, I think there was some kind of arrangement, but I don't know the specifics. It's pretty much a handshake. And then at the same time, which would be of interest to you, is when my, at that same time Fred Wada, who was a market person, a produce market person in Oakland, wanted to start the Keatley Farms, the Victory Farms in Utah, and so he was trying to amass farmers and people to go and start this Victory Farm. And he had already arranged where, where that was gonna happen in Utah and he had asked my dad if he could have, or use my father's equipment. And by that time my father had bought a brand new set of farming equipment, so he had two equipment and he and Mom talked about it, what should they do? The future's really unknown and they knew they were gonna be leaving here to join the rest of the family, because it was so unknown they felt, I guess, as brothers and that better to be banded together and face whatever together instead of separate, so that was the arrangement, that they were gonna meet where, the Tsujis had a farm near Merced and that's where they were gonna gather. So my parents apparently, because Dad says, "Mommy and I, we talked about this and decided," well, here's a man that they kind of knew but they weren't tight friends, they knew him through mutual friends, but they weren't, but he was trying to do something good, so, "Well, let's support him." So there was a deal where my father would loan him the equipment for five thousand dollars, 'cause it was brand new. The old equipment he'll leave with Paul Pera 'cause that's all you need, is one set of equipment, and so my Dad, my Dad shipped it on the railroad to, railed it out to Keatley, so that was one thing -- that's a whole another story that...

TI: 'Cause my understanding is that, that didn't happen, the Keatley, did it? Or the land wasn't very good, or there's some problems with it?

NA: Very much. It was, it was not the Life magazine story that was promoted. It was really bad, because my dad, once we all ended up in the, in Amache, he got permission to go out and check on his equipment and so he stayed with them, trying to make best, but really in a sense, he says, "I need to protect my investment, my equipment," 'cause he wasn't getting anything from that. He says the man just didn't know land. Another interview that I did with the, one of the Keatley families that were there but didn't stay with Fred Wada's group, but went on to get another land said, "Oh yeah, the man was," they're pretty sure he leased the land in the winter when the snow had covered the rocks and then, and didn't know enough that there was no water for, to even nourish the crops, so it was just a really trying period, and a number of people who went with him were not farmers, so it was, it was just real difficult, good intent, difficult planning. No planning, I guess, basically. But ultimately -- anyway, that gets ahead in the story -- but we go down as a family, down to meet up with the rest of the family. By the time we get there the house is completely full, so our family stays in the barn, and that's the other thing, so what we could remember was sleeping on the hay or something, I don't remember, but I know there was hay around somewhere, but looking up through the kind of roof we could see the moon and the stars. And I think my parents, my mom and my grandmother, and it must've been very hard for them, 'cause here they are in a barn. For us kids it was like, wow. We're like really camping.

TI: Sleep in hay and see the stars.

NA: But what's the other interesting, afterwards, was because I think it was shortly after that that we might've all had to go get our numbers, the family numbers, because as I look up the camp records at the museum I could see that my family got one number and then after that sequentially every other family's number followed, so my mom, being the strong English speaker, and so there's a lot of that. And when my mom married my dad all the businesses went under my mom's name, 'cause by that time Auntie Shii-chan and their family had moved on to elsewhere, so after my dad and mom married it became the, basically the Moriguchi Sweet, Fred Moriguchi Sweet Quality Peas, with Two Brothers family working.

TI: Okay. Yeah, I maybe --

NA: Kind of jumped around here.

TI: Yeah, I was actually, wanted to find out what happened to your, your father's equipment.

NA: Okay. So from Amache, as I said, he had, was able to go, so when it was obvious that the Keatley farm was gonna fail, my dad kind of looked around and found land to lease, and he did that and made sure his equipment got to that area. I just know that area as, we used to call it the "Chamba house," but it's Chamber house, so that's the name of the house and maybe the farm or the landowner, but we used to call it, as kids, you know, that was a, like saying "potty house," Chamba house, so it was kind of a joke, childish kind of joke. But my father got release for our family to leave Amache on our own and we boarded the Greyhound bus, I remember that, and rode from the Rocky Ford area, or the Amache camp area all the way to, it would be like Spanish Fork, Utah.

TI: And that's where the, the Chamber house...

NA: Yes, around that area. We, my father also, his brothers who also were in Amache -- there were four other brothers, one brother, the younger one, Hideichi had gone with his wife's family, so they were in different camps, but all the rest of the brothers were there, so they were, also came out. At one point Chamber house was back being like what it was before the time of, when we all gathered near Merced. And so we, I could remember all the kids were having great time, mischievous stuff like trying to give my brother a haircut and really getting into trouble, watching my uncle try to chop the neck off the turkey. I mean the turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner, and the poor bird, he kept hiding his head behind his wing and we kept, you know, empathy with the turkey. But, so it was probably that time of year, but ultimately from there people scattered, and our, I don't know who remained at that property, but my father got another land that was closer to, I want to say Provo, Utah.

TI: And what happened to the Keatley group? So when that failed what, what happened?

NA: Okay. People, I mean, those who, I guess, who had the know how probably went to get land on their own or they went into Salt Lake City to get domestic jobs or anything, 'cause they're outside of the war, war, I mean the boundary areas, so they could go and look. Others, I heard that others found relatives who had relocated to some area and kind of connected there, but it just basically, no, you couldn't do anything with the land and the Wadas themselves had left early. Basically my father just recaptured his equipment and made sure that that was safe and... yeah.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Going back to Amache, what memories do you have of Amache?

NA: I started, I guess, kindergarten there, preschool, kindergarten. It was a very short time that we were there. I just know that we, the school was at the top of this hill, which now you see and it's barely a slope, but you forget that you were very short. And it was up the hill and so it wasn't too far away. I made a friend there that after the war we just kind of reconnected, but we were there a very short time. What I remember were kind of like quibblings going on in both the camps that I went in, I was too young to be running on my own and so I was really around, if I were out walking anywhere, it was a lot with my grandmother or my mother. There was always that kind of relationship, and as I said, Japanese was my, my main language, my strong language, and so you're right there hearing all this, too. But I guess the remembrance is not just kind of like bickering but also a lot of crying among adults. Now, I had already gone through losing my grandfather, so I knew big people do cry, but this one was troubling and a puzzle and I know I remember asking my grandmother, "How come so many big people are crying?" She explained, "Well, you know how we're, had to move and we all had to be where we have to be and all without really knowing, so everybody's kind of mixed up and wanting to go back home, so naturally," so it was told to me that way, right, but I knew that's strange, adults crying.

So that was kind of like, that's kind of the remembrance I have of, the biggest, I guess, remembrance, the going up the hill. But then we left and then remembering the bus, boarding the bus. But I remember, this is the one, I, just struck me, I do remember getting, our trip from Merced on the train and here now the Moriguchi family's kind of intact, and I remember being on the train and then being able to visit my auntie in the one end of the train and we might've been in the other, but going back there and one time somebody says, "Oh, look, it's the Grand Canyon." So Grand Canyon, what's that? And just trying to look out but not seeing, what is a Grand Canyon? So I don't even know if I really saw it or not and maybe I was on the wrong side of the train. Who knows? But I just remember people saying Grand Canyon and it must've been something to observe, but didn't, not in my remembrance. But the other part was just kind of like leaning against the train window and trying to see through, as it was going around the curve, to see if I could see whoever on that part and all of a sudden a train passing and just throwing me on a loop. So those are kind of remembrance, but I remember when we got off the train and getting frisked, you know, pat down. And I had, my grandmother had packed a little valise for me with, from my little play toys, and I had little kitchen stuff, like a little toy knife and... I'm almost saying it all in Japanese, I, mamagoto, and it's all the play toys, but they took away my knives. [Laughs] And I, like, what? So it's that kind of remembrance of getting off the train.

TI: Good.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: So we talked a little bit about Amache and we talked a little bit about the farm in Utah, so when the war ended, what happened to the family?

NA: I need to tell you a little bit about that Utah, because I go into another camp. I was in, I was in Amache, but the family ends up in Topaz and partly as, as I led you to this one house, farm that my dad leased, he was hoping to at least, with his equipment and all, do onion farming. Now, had to be irrigation because it's dry. Otherwise couldn't produce anything. And I remember that whole area really kind of vividly because my brother and I would go walking down, or we somehow picked up a tricycle and we would trike down, look for berries and all that, bring it home, but we'd also go out to the field towards the end of the day when we knew my dad was coming back with his Caterpillar and my brother Gene and I would jump on and he'd let us drive the Caterpillar, things like that.

But two things happened. One is that ultimately my father was dried out, his crop was burnt out because the farm before him would not release the water when it was my father's time to bring in the water and the irrigation and by the time the next farm down from him was supposed to get the water, then the water was released, so my father couldn't pull that water. It was that guy's, so they really burned him out. That was one. I guess I have two things, 'cause I started school also, on the yellow school bus, and it was probably one of the scariest times. My, my language skill was not up to par, I mean in English, even though my mom was fluent, bilingually fluent. My father was also and so was my grandmother, but main language up 'til then was really stronger in Japanese. So I went off to school and that was really scary 'cause there was no other Japanese or, even in the bus and all the buses looked alike. How am I gonna get on the right bus to get home? Getting scolded by the teacher because I painted the crown on the coloring thing -- and this is kindergarten, right, or first grade, barely getting into first grade, I guess -- I colored it as close to gold instead of the yellow because, after all, crowns are gold. [Laughs] Getting into problems like that, but it was very difficult and scary, and of course what town kind of trips we had, being denied getting an ice cream cone. You'd go, "How come?" And, well, they just kind of like, I don't know what they said, but we just knew that we were denied.

But one night, the house was like, it had two bedrooms and a living room area and kitchen eating area, but the living room had a front window and then the, the highway was running right in front, and my parents had put a daybed as a, kind of a daybed that served as couch during the daytime and at night folded out where, my grandmother and I shared that bed. And my mom somewhere along the way also had this monk's cloth, which she used as curtain and closed it at night, and I kind of remember that monk's cloth in other ways, through this whole camp time, and the big reason for mentioning that monk's cloth then is 'cause this one night I was tucked into bed and I think I fell asleep, but the whole front window crashed in on top of me 'cause there were bricks that were thrown into the house, the window, and basically vigilante activity, right? My father called the sheriff and all, and... but the interesting thing is that my brother and I, as young as we were, we said, "Dad, Daddy, he looks, how come the sheriff's parked right there? If he's gonna catch the bad guys he should be hiding behind the bushes or something." But it was obvious, as kids we even say that's no way to catch bad people. And so...

TI: But after maybe, I want to get clear about this, so your father called the police and the police came and then after that they parked a car out there, essentially to prevent more of that happening? Is that...

NA: Or catching whoever's doing this.

TI: I see. During this time, do you ever remember when you're at school or in town being taunted?

NA: Yeah. It's this whole thing. Yup. Very much. And that's partly, like, it's not so much, it's not like a nursery rhyme kind of thing, but, "Oh," but, "Oh, we don't serve Japs," or it's that kind of thing, so you knew Jap was a bad word, or at least it was said to you and it didn't feel good.

TI: How about schoolmates, sort of children your age? Did you remember anything?

NA: I think what I remember most is they, they didn't have much to do with me, even the kids who I rode on the bus, I think maybe I kind of recognized them in order to make sure I'm on the same bus, or the right bus, but it wasn't like somebody befriended me. So I remember on the school bus I'm sitting by myself and I always try to sit in the front because then I know where to get off, 'cause that's the other scary thing. Partly, that kind of, I mean, I guess that kind of fear of being left behind started fairly early because even, I think, getting on the train or getting off the train, you just gotta make sure you know where Mom and Dad and Baachan were 'cause somehow you knew, you didn't know what was happening and, but they did, so you better be nearby, so oftentimes I think my kind of needing to be prompt comes from, from that time, of not being left behind. So appointments -- other than this morning, which was right on time [laughs] -- was, comes from that kind of, I think, as an adult I think, yeah, why do I have to be there, like, forty-five minutes before or even half an hour before?

TI: 'Cause if you're not there you might get left behind.

NA: [Laughs] Yeah, might get left behind or something, least that's what I thought when I got into my college days, or those days thinking about it.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So you're at the farm in Utah, your father's crops get dried out, and, but you've had this experience with school, you mentioned going to Topaz, so...

NA: Yeah, so this vigilante activity happened and I think my father probably even told the local whatevers because then a WRA man came out or some federal or military guy or, I think it was a WRA person 'cause that's, I don't know, but that's what my father said later on, and he's just saying, "You know, you've got a very young family and your wife's expecting momentarily, and I think you better get yourself back in. That'd probably be the safest thing for your family and, but you don't have to go all the way --" I mean, 'cause, do we have to go all the way back to Utah, I mean Amache? And he said, apparently said, "No, just get yourself into any camp and Topaz is the closest." So I think the farm equipment my, my uncle was able to take that because they were farming, and my father went and put us into Topaz and we arrived there in December, it must've been December four or five of '43, so you could see how short a span this whole thing is, lot of activity, '43 and on December 7, 1943, my brother is born.

TI: Oh, on December 7th, interesting, so two year anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

NA: My mom, later of course, everybody says, oh my god, what a birthday, but my mom says, all she knew is she gave birth and then for supper or whatever the meal was it was all this kind of like red bean rice and stuff like that, and she said, "Oh, my god, do they do this for every birth?" And they said, "Oh no, this is Pearl Harbor Day," or anniversary, so whatever the mess hall people were, they were kind of celebrating the anniversary, I guess. But for my mom it was like, oh my goodness, she just felt like this was gonna be, perhaps, a burden. So my brother was born, and what I remember about that is he came home, and we were in Block 23 in Topaz and it was just one of the end units, and there were, let's see, there were six of us about to become seven in this very small end because they were trying to clean up the unit two units across the way in Block 22 for our family, 'cause by then people were leaving camps, and so there were units being opened and so they were gonna give us an end unit and the next unit, and so our address later became, shortly later became 22-9-E-F, but in the beginning, that first couple of weeks, we were in this small unit in Block 23, which little was I aware that that's where my future husband's family was, in that same block.

TI: So your brother Francis was born there.

NA: Born, and he came home in a, he came home and his crib was a banana box. [Laughs] And we came home from, like looking for him and there he was in a banana box. Poor baby.

TI: What other memories of Topaz?

NA: Lots. Lots. I don't know where to start, but one of things is, when you think about it it's the most ridiculous image possible, in a confinement site. Here, I remember I used to hate it, every morning I got to get up early and to have my hair done in Shirley Temple curls.

TI: And whose idea was that?

NA: I don't know, but there I was. I had to get up early and huddle by the cold stove because it was so cold in the wintertime and here the iron hot, gets hot, and here I'm getting Shirley Temple curls. And we have pictures like that, Nancy with the bangs and Shirley Temple curls.

TI: And who would do that, your mother?

NA: Either one.

TI: Your mother or your grandmother.

NA: My grandmother, yeah. It was probably most like, I don't know which one. I just did, I just remember it was cold, but I had to be, I had to be coiffured, I think. The other thing is that I remember the school. I was, I don't remember the first, the first half of first grade. My first grade teacher remembers me and all, but I, frankly, did not recall her. I think it's a blurry blending into the second grade. I remember my second grade, of course, very well. Her, the teacher's name was Emily Light and Emily Light, we got reconnected after the Third World Strike at San Francisco. We put on a program and she was one of the teachers we found and came and shared. I mean, there's all kinds of wonderful stories about that, but Emily Light originally practically volunteered to become the person to establish schools in Tule Lake before it was a segregation center. You know, when Tule Lake first opened it was where Northern California folks went and all, and she apparently had a lot of, she was a woman born and raised in the Midwest and then, but she was talking about being a teacher, but eventually, by the time she came to Berkeley area, that's when the U.S. government established, like, teaching credentials. Before that it was a different system. And so she went to Berkeley to then really firm up her teaching credentials and got to know a lot of Nisei students there, and so when this came about and her friends were being taken away and she being a teacher just thought, wait a second, or whatever, so she started to write to the government. They said, "Well, if you're so concerned go up there and establish." And that's the story she told me later on.

TI: So she first went to Tule, Tule Lake.

NA: Yeah, and then when the segregation camp happened, and she was a little bit of, I guess, a rebel herself because she had told me where, the children weren't getting milk. There wasn't milk. There were, and yet the staff were getting ample, and so she would kind of try to, not sneak, but get it to the internees as much as possible, the inmates as much as possible, but so there was that kind of discrepancy, that she was not happy and made enough noise, I guess, that they sent her to Jerome. So she got to Jerome and was there and they closed that camp and then was sent to Topaz, and it's about that time that I landed into Topaz and our paths met. And she's the one that just said to my parents, "You know, we're just gonna have to beef up her English. We don't know what's gonna happen, but once you all get out of here, Nancy's English language is gonna have to be a whole lot better." So she had a summertime program, which was clear across the other side of the camp, but I was to be part of that program and she was gonna give me intensive English language training. And I remember that she had me do bulletin boards, and bulletin boards, what do you do? So she kind of gave me ideas of making flowers. I became a very good bulletin board monitor.

TI: This was really above and beyond what she had to do, to do a special summer program for English, just realizing that it would be useful for you and others to, to really improve your English.

NA: Exactly. And so, and I think in some ways my class must've been mixed. I don't remember any of my other fellow second graders, or first graders or second graders, there, but I surely trekked that long trek. I mean, we were at one end of the camp, seeing the mountain view and going all the way to the desert view, or it's the reverse, I forget. One end of the camp to the other end of camp because elementary schools were laid out that way with the high school in the middle somewhere. But part of that also, I remember all kinds of stuff between our barrack and the school. School was in Block 8, we were Block 22 and the, we were on the outlying area facing, I think it must've been desert view because the mountains were way far away, so my dad, whenever, and he would go out and do farm labor, go out and do stuff and he also apparently got permitting to go check out in California at one time towards the end in '44, but anyway, he was doing that, but every time he'd come home and all he would really be the social director of the block. And he'd gather all the kids and we'd go out into the desert and he would do a little kind of like relay races and all, or we'd go do some kind of scavenger hunt or stuff like that, so in, when we had Dad around it was like oh, and all the other kids loved him, too, I guess, so we'd be going out there. My dad was also, I think, I guess I said, he also was very musical and he had, I guess our early, just early, early remembrance was that every night he would play his mandolin and sing. And even when we were in Elk before the war, just remember songs that he would sing both in Japanese and English. And then after the war, of course, he would be asked to sing at weddings and we'd all crawl under the table, but it was, he was very musical that way. Self taught. And later on he has his own little... that's another story.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: So let's... any other memories that you want to share about Topaz?

NA: Oh, I guess all the kids and how, I remember some of the, I remember some things of why people can be so mean to other people. I mean, there seemed to be... and I can't explain it, it's kind of like... I mean, I guess old enough to know, and I know all children are like this. They know what's fair and sometimes you know that there's some kind of bullying or unfairness happening, and you wonder, what can I do without getting beaten up, all that. So I had very good, nurturing parents, because I would go and just say, "Yeah, Baachan, you know, some blah blah blah," and she would listen and give, impart some wisdom and all that, so you could kind of think about it and maybe do plan of action, I guess, in adult terms. But I remember there was this one girl that was getting really picked on a lot and apparently what happened, later on found out that she had some infection, but that emitted enough odor that kids would really shun her and all that, so I made it a point to be as friend, or at least have lunch with her or whatever without, I mean, she wasn't my best friend or anything, but you knew she was out. I think in some ways, too, I also by that time understood, and we were out of the camps, and this is the other thing that I think, in a way, we ended up having, being more advantageous, too, because we were outside of the camp, because my parents had the T.H. Williams overseeing our property and because my parents had bought, well, it was more than a house, a three story flat, one of those Victorian flats with a two story cottage in the back. It was a pretty big, substantial house or property in San Francisco before the war, and then of course with all of the banks and everything closing, my parents had their money in Giannini, they didn't, Giannini, maybe I'm pronouncing it wrong. It eventually becomes Bank of America. Giannini. Well, you'll...

TI: We'll look it up.

NA: Yeah, we'll look it up. Or I'm not pronouncing it right. The idea that it could be frozen and, as I said, Mrs. Williams had enough connections to all this kind of stuff, so she went in and said, "Look, I'm gonna be the trustee of their account," so she took full charge of that and the property and all that. So when we left, she --

TI: But I just want to clarify, so the account, was it under your mother's name? And as a Nisei, that was still frozen? I would think that was only the Isseis.

NA: No, it wasn't frozen, but there was enough kind of noise that all Japanese, I mean, this is the time where anything Japanese, the frozen comes later on, but there's enough kind of, I guess, rustling in the winds that you don't know what's gonna happen even though you are American citizen. And by that time I'm sure the orders were coming of the, being, being put into camps, or all these rules are coming out.

TI: So Mrs. Williams sort of, because of who she was and what she knew --

NA: And her relationship to the, to my grandmother, basically, my mother, looking at them much more like family now, and so she, she went and Mrs. Shields, too, whose husband was a mayor of the city, that's funny little stories, like each time one of us kids was born in one of the hospitals there would be flowers coming from these hakujins, right and the nursing staff, knowing the names were high enough, publically known, would be like, "You're getting flowers from these people?" kind of thing, so it was that kind of situation that my parents were fortunate to be in. And so Mrs. Shields and Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Williams stepped in and became then the trustee for the bank accounts, so she had full ability to pay the taxes and all, because a lot of Japanese, even if they owned property, lost it because they couldn't pay their annual taxes on the land or, or even mortgages or whatever. But Mrs. (Williams), and then she made a point to manage the property, made sure there's a woman that then became the, well, the manager was there already 'cause my parents were living there, but made sure she then oversaw and made, just kind of did that, stepped in, so, and my family was fortunate because a lot of our valuables then we were able to store in trunks in that basement of the building that they owned, property that they owned, and so it was all there when we came back after the war, to that site.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: We got into your, you were talking about sitting next to the girl that people kind of ostracized and then you were talking about by being out --

NA: Oh, because here we were out and so my mom was, and again, this is very hard because I was, we were also taught you don't ever talk about how privileged you could be, but my mom was able to have a washing machine when we were outside in Provo and all that, so that we all took into camp, so into the camp, into the, the community laundry room, my mother has a washing machine that then she has everybody using and all. I end up being able to come in from the outside with at least ten different dolls, Shirley Temple curls to boot. I mean, being able, the family had the means if we needed warm clothes they can afford to buy warm clothes or my dad's out there working, so he comes in with new clothes. In one of the pictures that was in the America's Concentration Camp, the original one, the poster picture they chose, it just shocked me 'cause it was a picture of us with Dad just coming back and we're dressed up in our new winter clothes, new snowsuits for the boys and I had my nice, and with Shirley Temple curls.

TI: So what was the reaction of others, with all the things that you had, the washing machine, the new clothes?

NA: Well, it's like, I'm sure it's just like anything else. I don't know, but there was this sense of, there was a sense of, again, back to, well, it's not your, it's, I guess you just, it's your fortune, but it's not a fortune that you abuse or you taunt or you display, but you share kind of thing. It's like that somehow, because that's a real kind of deep seated value and it's, knowing your place, to have gratitude but also know that it's just a matter of chance, as well. Something like that. I can't, I'm not explaining it very well. I almost have to revert to some Japanese, but I won't. And, but it's kind of like that kind of ingraining. I remember coming, after the post war, man, we'd go to school and all and even Nihon gakkou and, boy, there was a lot of people who were of samurai descent and I came home one time and said, "Baachan, there's a lot of people who say they're descended from samurai," and she said, "That's good." "But how do I say I'm descended from daimyo?" She says, "You don't." "Well how come, Baachan, because then I'm the big boss?" Or that's the feeling you have as a kid. She says, "Because if you really know it and if you know it you don't have to flaunt it." So it's kind of like...

TI: So it's kind of like United States, almost a difference between, sometimes they say old money versus nouveau riche, in terms of old money, there's a just a way people carry themselves. They don't need to talk about their wealth, versus a new rich, or nouveau riche, they flaunt it more.

NA: Yeah, I guess that would be the equivalent to what she was trying to say, or, but it's, now it's really in the sense of identity, right, because that's what everybody was trying to capture after the war. But it's something like that to illustrate what is the dilemma in the camps. And part of this is my interpretation as adult looking back, too, but I just knew there was some differences and, in a way. And the other part was I was always being, I hate it, put on stage to, on these, I guess they would have block programs or something, and I would be, had to go and stand in front and do a recitation or whatever in Japanese. I also started koto, which then I had to, I had to drop and I asked my mother later why and she told me, but then I got into piano. But...

TI: So why did you have to stop koto?

NA: Well, apparently the, there was, the teacher's husband was a lecherous old man and my parents got kind of wind of it and just, just instead of any confrontation just kind of cut it there, so that I didn't know until I was an adult, because I often wondered, well, 'cause I loved koto music and I wondered why I didn't pursue that. And it's things like that that you find out as an adult.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Well, lots of rich memories from, from Topaz. Anything else?

NA: Including... oh well.

TI: This is good. I'm getting this from a child's perspective. This is really...

NA: One thing, and I think it was just fed into me as a kid that I could draw, so there was a contest in our second grade that we were to draw, and there was the teacher, Miss Light, was offering the first prize winner gets a Hershey bar. Oh boy, right? 'Cause we all knew about that canteen and getting Hershey bar, but she was gonna, oh, I was determined. I know I was gonna get it, so we drew our pictures and all the, it went all up and all, and I didn't win, but I remember who, I remember exactly who won because in this program, as an adult and after the strike and we created the San Francisco Center and we had the teachers come, there was this one guy that walked in and I was doing all the hostessing, "Hello, what's your name?" and putting name tags 'cause I figured we, that's just what I felt, and he says, "My name is Shin Mune," and I said, "Shin Mune?" And he goes like, [looks confused]. I said, "You were in my second grade class." He said, "Oh, well, to tell you the truth, I'm here because I don't remember anything about my camp days and began to realize that my brother, who went to kindergarten, first grade, second grade, has really tremendous memories after the war," but he has absolutely no memories, and so he says he heard about this program and the teacher was second grader and he just felt that, well, maybe she could, he was in this self discovery mode, but here I knew his name and I said, "And you beat me out of that Hershey bar." [Laughs] Here I am in my thirties, I think, telling this guy and going like, oh my goodness, and so Emily, Emily, the name, she says, "Oh, Shin." She, she remembered all of us, even when I first ran into her, and so that was kind of amazing. And Shin beat me out and I could even, I described to him what he won on, and he said, I said, "You drew a desert scene with the bluffs going back. With the sun, and you painted, you colored the bluffs purple." And I, even I had to admit, darn, that's right. That's what the bluffs look like. And what did I draw? I drew a house with a garden with flowers, with trees, with apples and birds and butterflies and... I remember that.

TI: Now, when you reminded Shin of the painting, the contest, the teacher, did that help him remember any of that?

NA: [Shakes head] And he's been on that search and so he comes to the museum often. He's, he's, I guess he's a single guy, 'cause he travels the world whenever he accumulates money and then he goes through the world, but he's been coming to the museum often, time he passes through. He also has gone to each one of the conferences that we had. I saw him at the Tule Lake pilgrimage just this summer, so he's, he's working on his own, but it's, that was... so camp has all kinds of memories. Little grandfathers making little, little pins out of seeds, and one man made a little, out of a small pit, I don't know if it's a little cherry pit or not, but it was a little monkey that he then strung and gave that to me, and somehow he got it so that the eyes would pop out. I could never figure out how he did that. My father, in a way, we thought he invented this, but he made a high chair out of scrap steel welded together with a, the tray to flip down, and it was heavy like anything, but that he created. Stuff like that I recall, and I recall my, my first remembrance of mochitsuki. It was done in Block 22. We went and I remember it so well because first time they say, don't forget to dust your hands with the mochiko because it's sticky, so not knowing anything, I thought I dusted it enough. I picked it up and my hand was like, like stuck together, and so embarrassing, and how do I do this? Do I eat it off or, it was just, kind of like that panicked dilemma, like oh my gosh. And some adult coming to the rescue, kind enough to laugh about it instead of being angry. And that was the first time I remember mochitsuki.

And then remembering waiting in line for mess time, especially during dinner time. Everybody, all the kids would go out earlier and people would be lining out, up, and we were too young to be eating on our own, so my mother would line up and, but we got to play with the other kids and we would play things like jintori or, or red rover or some games like that. Falling down, scraping your knees. And then getting my tonsils taken out by Dr. Goto, who apparently went into several camps, but I remember Dr. Goto because there were four of us in our, in the ward, four kids, my brother, myself, a girl named Frances, and I don't remember the other person's name, but when I was wheeled out to be put under, Dr. Goto kept calling me Frances. I kept struggling with this... "No, no, calm down, Frances. Just keep counting down." "I'm not Frances," or trying to get, but by that time I was knocked out, I guess, but I came out okay. [Laughs] I remember that panic.

TI: Hopefully Frances wasn't there for her appendix or anything. [Laughs]

NA: Yeah, I think we were all in together for the tonsils, so that was a good thing, I think, but I just remember that little panic and how hurt, but you got to eat ice cream. Getting, getting an injury that was kind of almost blood poisoning, so I had to have it tended to, and it's only because I was being mischievous. A good, chanto little girl being mischievous, I can confess why I got hurt. But anyway. [Laughs]

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: How about difficult memories? Anything that was difficult in terms of, like, an emotional level?

NA: I guess probably, well, "difficult" is an interesting word, because I ended up getting chosen to be the May Princess out of our school, grade school. We had two princesses and a queen, I guess it's a queen. I don't remember, but the whole camp May Day kind of celebration, and I remember how hard that was. I didn't like that.

TI: And what was it that you didn't like?

NA: Well I knew, I guess because, I mean, you got a pretty dress, you got this thing on your head, you got to be in front of other people and you knew other people wanted it and you didn't care, but so you, and I guess by that time you know enough about... part of, part of what I had gleaned on very early through the camp time, and I think it's because I hung around with adults, listening in on adults, and I think I've mentioned before of hearing the, the malicious gossip kind of thing. And the hurt that was, you can't imagine, or there was hurt because there were these kinds of things happening among people, and so even, I don't know if I'm as an adult thinking and giving you the words, but it's really that kind of sense of I don't want to be put into that kind of place of being the taunt or because of somebody else get some other feelings or something. It's along that line, and so it's, but being an obedient daughter, I wouldn't just go onto a protest and say, "No, darn it, I'm not gonna do it." That, so that kind of conflict, I think, I really felt early.

TI: Was it almost like, you hear this saying sometimes from community members, "the nail that sticks out gets, gets pounded," it's almost like whenever a person stands out in any way, whether good or bad, they're, they're noticed. Is that kind of the feeling?

NA: Yeah, that interpretation is kind of, has multiple ways to interpret that because you're taking it out of the context of Japan where it's the conformity everybody needs to have for survival, and in a way it's here, but in, in America it's kind of like, yeah, you need that for leadership vision, all the things that we kind of talk about, but at the same time, the ones that aren't doing it, you kind of fall back into a pattern of saying put, you get put down kind of thing, but yet you need it because you're in a different culture.

TI: Because even, in your case, sometimes when you take a leadership position, sometimes as a leader you sort of, you know people talk about you probably. Is that kind of the theme sometimes?

NA: That's why I don't take leadership roles. [Laughs]

TI: Or you're, or you're the princess --

NA: Well that, yeah, I don't know, that part I don't know. It was just an inside conflict that I was having. I can't tell you what they were really saying.

TI: That's why, when you paired it with the gossip, and that's why I was wondering if that was kind of so that somehow you were singled out as the princess --

NA: Yeah, but it wasn't just me. It was Miyoko Kaneko, the two of us were the princesses, right, so I mean, I know Miyoko's popularity and all that. And I was the, kind of the new kid, too, remember, coming in midway, but, and just sliding in. So you had the difference, the dynamics, but I was really conscious, I guess. Maybe that's all one could say is you become kind of conscious of, or at least I, I somehow became sensitive at a very early age of understanding human interactions and roles or, I don't know how I'm describing this, but it's just, it was more that emotional level. If I want to really do an analysis there might be other words I might use, but trying to keep it as how I was truly feeling, and perhaps all that other stuff is the actual going on, but as a kid it was just being really mindful of the environment and partly that I think comes in because I hung with my adult nurturers.

TI: Good.

NA: And the neat part is they also were responsive to inquiries I had, to the best that they could.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: Okay, so Nancy, we're gonna start the third segment, and before we start there's a question I forgot to ask. What was your given name when you were born?

NA: Nancy Keiko Moriguchi.

TI: Okay, and then when you were growing up what did people call you?

NA: Depends on, I was Kei-chan, Keiko-neechan for the family members, Nancy by everybody else.

TI: Okay. So do people still call you Keiko now?

NA: Only, only like, well, there's no aunties left now, but nobody ever called me straight out Keiko. It was always with an endearing term because it was much more heavily Japanese speaking time kind of name that, my aunties were all more Japanese speakers, so it's Kei-chan or Keiko-neechan.

TI: Okay, yeah, I just had forgotten to ask that. So let's go back to where we left off, and we're in Topaz and we had just talked about when you were named the May Princess and some of your feelings about that. Let's, let's talk about other memories at Topaz.

NA: I think I told you about my father becoming kind of like the social director and taking the kids out. I remember we were out there in the desert having some of these kinds of field games that he would organize and then a wind storm came up, and I just, it was just tremendous, 'cause we had to get back to, obviously, our block. Just seemed like miles. Of course, you're a little kid, but what was so astounding is, how could one side of my face hurt so much, being pounded by sand and wind, and the other side feel nothing, felt good, normal? And just kind of struggling as you're being buffeted, it's almost like being a sail, but you got to go that way because that's where the block was. And that, I had to share with Mitch Maki and Cayleen (Nakamura) when we were up in Heart Mountain after we'd gone through the barracks and we found ourselves at Medicine Wheel and caught in this kind of wind, it was a snowstorm, though, and it was coming horizontally. It was just that kind of same feeling, like how could the front of you get so cold and get thrown and the back side there's no, not one speck of snow? How's it coming horizontally, anyway? So it was that real strong feeling about that.

TI: And probably because you're, you're small, you're shorter, you even get more dust.

NA: Possibly, yeah. And then the, the thunderstorm, the lightning, one time we were out in, walking back from some kind of, some kind of event and the sky's kind of turning black and the thunder, and I swear there was a thunder that nearly hit me. But it was just that kind of feeling, like all of a sudden you just had to duck because you knew it was gonna, the lightning was gonna hit you. It didn't, but it was that kind of pressure in the air that you would feel. And we'd see lightning coming down over, several other blocks away and you hope it's not hitting one of the barracks, so that.

TI: How about community events? You, you mentioned the mochi pounding, what are some other community events you remember?

NA: Well, then they had the movie nights or, but we didn't get to go to many of them because we were little, but they would have these kinds of gatherings for poetry recitals or things. We had a piano, I think we had a piano recital that I had to do. There were events like that. There were flower shows. Oh, I know one, because that's another life lesson, or at least an "aha" moment. My grandmother wanted to go to a lapidary show. I didn't want to go. She says, "Well, if you go I'll get you something." I'm like, "Oh." [Laughs] It's those kinds of things you register and say, "Oh, okay." So I do have that one bribe heart, it's kind of crystal heart piece from Topaz, which I've given to the museum, but the story behind that is that's my, that's my first conscious bribe. I got it as a...

TI: And these pieces, were they made by people in the camp from stones and different things they found?

NA: It's Topaz, the central Utah, and they would find rocks. They would find it either, you'd find a lot of flint stones and arrowheads and you'd find chunks of rocks, and people would tumble them and make them into, or cut them. There's a lot of people that got into lapidary work. Topaz, as you know probably, had a real good, fine art school. I was too young to understand any of that, but certainly I know that with my grandmother went to see some of the exhibits, 'cause I remember paper flower stuff and I was amazed. One thing that my grandmother had, I guess it was one of the activities for me was I had a scrapbook and any kind of old magazine, whether my father brought it from outside or whatever, it was, magazines were very cherished stuff, I guess. But somehow it would end up on my desk eventually and out of the, out of the magazine I would cut out pictures, whatever I felt was fantasy or whatever. And I remember doing that, having this whole scrapbook full of images. And one image that I remember was, and it must've been in some kind of fashion magazine, but it was this beautiful woman with this '40s hairstyle, you know, swept up like this, dark haired woman, and she had this white strapless gown with a tulle shawl like this, and in her hair right here was this huge, it was a red lily, tiger lily, and she had it right on the, I thought that was the most beautiful princess style. When I get married that's how I want to look. It's that kind of fantasy book, but I was seven years old, six, seven, creating this. That stands out, as well as a lot of flowers. Seemed to cut flowers and put it in, but that doesn't mean I have a green thumb because I don't.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: During the break you mentioned a memory, I'm not sure if this is Topaz, but I thought it might, flags at half mast?

NA: I can't remember if I was coming home from school or whatever, but I just recall seeing the, a flagpole with the American flag at half mast, so I said, "How come?" because that was unusual. Flag's always up at the top. And I think it was my mom who said that, "Well, President Roosevelt died." "Who's President Roosevelt?" And it was just not something I was aware of, that I was, knew anything about why he, anything other than, "Well, he's the president of the United States and he died." "Oh." And that's why we all respect and had the flag at half mast. Along that line, I kind of also recall times when there were discussions about who's gonna win the war. And somehow this isn't, you say, the in house table talk, but I remember somewhere, and I don't know if it was outside or not, but there were people who were saying, well, of course Japan's gonna win, and my father would say, "I don't think so." But there was never any kind of clashing. And later on also I learned that my parents (didn't have) the questionnaire put in front of them because we were outside of the camp when that questionnaire had gone through, so that was never an issue that they had to make a choice. So, but I know my father just kind of said, just logically, you'd, this big country that could just drop bombs without even counting and Japan, even before, everybody having to give scrap gum wrappers and cigarette wrappers and send it so that they could, it's just it's a whole different, two different countries, one trying very hard but cannot. So he just looked at it from that part, too.

TI: And so you, I think you mentioned earlier, and I'm not sure if this was at Topaz also, but your father did farming when he was in camp. Was that his job?

NA: No, he was not ever, did no farming in camp. He always took a, what do you call those, release permits to go out sugar beet cropping.

TI: Oh, so he was gone quite...

NA: Quite a bit of time. Partly was he was trying to figure out what can he do. I mean, he kept the family safe is the way it is interpreted to me because of the experience of having taken them, us out and then having what happened in Provo and all that, and then at least the family is safe, but he's still trying to figure out, well, if, what does he do? What can he do? And they needed a lot of labor, so at least he was scouting around. He went to Grand Junction, met some people there, about farming there. He went to various places and I guess partly doing reconnaissance for himself as well as being out there doing the labor.

TI: And how about your mother? What, during camp, what did she do with her time?

NA: Well, she had the dressmaking skills and all, so I think she helped in some classes. She also did some, did some knitting type of thing. My grandmother, well basically she was watching the kids, right? Children. And my grandmother was very good in embroidery and all and that's where, I still have the little bag that we created and I did my first patterns of embroidery. I still enjoy doing that kind of stitch work. I did until, until I got involved with the museum and I don't have time. [Laughs]

TI: Maybe, maybe one day when you retire you can bring it back.

NA: When I retire. Yeah. So I guess they were really just, I could only remember as they were just really there whenever we needed them, they were there. Parents.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

NA: So one day, here it is, that we were to leave the camps and I know my parents were talking to us about how it might be outside, saying all kinds of different kinds of people out there, friendly, good people, but different color people, and some of the soldiers were mainly white that we saw, so it was just mainly white and Japanese in most of the, if and when we got to go out to the town, which we did one time to Delta. I was denied ice cream cone, but again, that was all Caucasians. So I know they had talked like that, so okay, here we are, we get on the truck or bus, and we get to the train. We are, and it's on VJ Day that we are at Salt Lake City Train Terminal, on the train. I know that we didn't get off, but my father was able to get off because right alongside of our train was a trainload of soldiers. I was, I remember this 'cause it's one of these frightening things, I was wearing a little, a lounge, best way to call it is a lounge pajama. It was red with a little mandarin collar and all, kind of silky. And I was curious, so peering out to the train next door, and somehow the process, my father was, because they themselves, the soldiers couldn't get off, they had asked my dad to get newspapers and then they were, I guess, exchanging oranges and stuff, but, so my father had gone after. But so we were kind of curious looking over there, and there was this one soldier says, "Hey, look at her. Let's take her home as a souvenir." Promptly got ill with asthma. I just kind of, just fell apart and just scared to, I was petrified.

That, and years later I often wonder how, what, how I would feel if I ever got back to that train station, which I did as an adult, going towards the, going towards Heart Mountain, the barracks and doing outreach in Salt Lake City. And thank goodness I had worked enough of it out because it wasn't a freaked out place or anything. But of course it's changed and I'm not in a train sitting there or anything, but that, that I recall so, just really scared. The other memory's we get to San Francisco, or it's Oakland that the train stops at, and we then, my father had come out to the San Francisco before, before he moved all of us out and getting everything ready in the property that they own, so we got on the ferry and coming across, and that was really another kind of frightening experience, like the fog and were we going into an unknown, and so this whole thing of, again, just really be there on time because they know where we're going. I don't. If I'm lost I really am gonna get lost, and that fear kind of thing, and then looking around, of course you see different kinds of people. Oh, they're different, you know. But we get to San Francisco and I think Mrs. Williams was there at the ferry station and we got into cabs, I think, or one, some of us in her car or, I... anyway, we get to the place of the house on California Street. Now, my parents had bought this property before the war, as investment, and it was then, I think I described it, it was three flats with a basement, or kind of basement alleyway that brought you to the back and the three story flat Victorian, and back there was a two story cottage and with a garden around. The --

TI: Before you go there, I want to know, is this a place that you were familiar with?

NA: [Shakes head]

TI: So you had not seen it. And during the war, what, was Mrs. Williams able to, like, rent it out?

NA: [Nods] And then they had a good manager. Mrs. Reyes was the manager.

TI: Okay. So you have this actually large property, with three flats and...

NA: Three flats and they had converted the first two flats into two, so there were two, four apartments and the top third floor was one big flat, and then the two, the cottage with the two flats, two floors. So that's six rentable, seven rentables, and during the wartime apparently they were rented to families and then the top floor they had made into single rental for, single room with a communal kitchen kind of thing. So with us coming back they, one, the top floor of the cottage was vacated so that we could have a place, and eventually the top floor of the flat was being released and that's where our family eventually moved in after about a month or so.

TI: And what were your impressions of San Francisco, because I guess you grew up more on the farm?

NA: Well, we had come into San Francisco enough times, because my brother's birthing, I remember being right in front of the children's hospital, and those are real strong image before the war that I have. I remember City Hall because there were a lot of, lot of hatopopo, pigeons. And we'd be feeding and it turns out that's when my father was in court over a probate for Ojiichan's stuff, but playing around that area. So I guess I saw enough, but coming back and then living there, hey, just another adventure, I guess. But the, this is on California Street and that's when the cable cars still ran up to Presidio and all the way down to the Ferry Building on California Street. Right now it stops on Powell Street -- no, not Powell, Polk Street. So the California cable car ran up and down, and our school ends up being about two and a half blocks down, so we would walk to school, but sometimes when we were really late we would jump on the cable car. And we got to know a couple of the cable car guys, like, Tommy, Tommy the conductor, and so sometimes we'd see him and he'd ring the, clang the bell and all that.

TI: And he just let you guys jump on?

NA: Well, yeah, but he says, "Alright, come on. Get off, you guys. You shouldn't be on here." So it was that kind of thing, but that becomes kind of like that memory, but actually being in the city, of being in awe or anything, I think we're just too naive and it's a new experience and all.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: But what was the reception like at school, when you started school?

NA: [Laughs] You talk about all the scary times of my life. Or at least, of course, emotional times like that is what remains. We had come back, as I said, we were on the train on VJ Day, so that's August and September we go off to school. Lunch, got a lunchbox and new clothes and all. Buying shoes to go to school was, because we were not allowed, one, one store wouldn't sell us shoes and to my adult life I would not ever patronize that store, right, that, branches of that store, but so you got that in the, just in the sector. So I had to stand in front of the class. I think my mom took us to school, registered us. I was escorted or somehow got into the class, standing in front of class, everybody's staring at me, teacher's saying my name, I'm new, and so, you know, "She's in our class." And like, okay, what do you do? I just knew I just had to stand there and look as, just be there. And this one girl stands up, comes up to me, grabs my hand and brings me over. Now, I don't know if the teacher told her to do that or not, but she came and then she says, "You sit right here." And her name is Rosalind Croom. She's an African American girl, and she became my best friend. And Rosalind, my grandmother couldn't say Rosalind, so she was "Rosebuddy" to my grandmother. Rosalind eventually, and we connect up our lives in Los Angeles because she's, became a higher, high up kind of administrator type person in Union Bank and she was, had come down here. And somehow she had said my name in Union Bank. Paul or somebody remembered, so we connected up. But she ended up marrying a Sansei up in the Bay Area, but she said, "Oh yeah," she says, "I learned everything Japanese from your grandmother or hanging around at your house. And I, all this food," says, "my in-laws didn't know if I could eat it or not, but, gee." That was almost like, as much as I learned to eat fried chicken and greens at her house, right? And I love fried chicken. That became my favorite.

TI: Earlier you mentioned how your parents, when you were in Topaz, sat you down and said, you know, when you're, we're out there're gonna be all these different people, different colors, and so how much experience or contact did you have with African Americans?

NA: Oh, through school a whole lot, alright, because --

TI: But up to, up to this point how much did you have?

NA: Nothing. I mean, nothing because we were in camp, right? And out in Utah there were no African Americans, or not in my consciousness. And let alone Mexican Americans, it wasn't, it was soldiers or, or town folk and they were all white. And in the camps we were all Japanese. So here, somehow, was this kind of new adventure. I think there's kind of a deep rooted, like a, I think, I hope I tried to explain that my grandmother really planted a lot of things in my little head and, and she passed away when I was ten, and a whole lot, as an adult or reflecting back on values or stuff, goes right back. I mean, that's the only place I could've gotten it, or from my mother and dad, but it was there, some of it very deeply rooted. And part of it, I think, is stuff like, well, the biggest lesson was there are some guarantees in life and one of it is that you die. Another one, guarantee, is that things always change, and the other part is for sure if you get fixated on something you go crazy. So that's kind of like, in my little head, I was like, so change didn't mean something bad to me. There're gonna be challenges, but change is a natural way things happen in life. So I think maybe some of that kind of laying it over things allowed for more, I don't know, openness maybe, ability to just take it in and let it, go with it kind of thing. I don't know.

TI: Yeah, because when you would bring home your friend who's African American, I know that not all Isseis would've been so open to having an African American come to their, their home or to have you play with an African American, so I was just, that's something that...

NA: Yeah. There was, well, at the least, it wasn't in our house. Like I said, Baachan couldn't say Rosalind, but she sure could say "Rosebuddy" and we always laugh 'cause she thinks of that little ointment, Rosebud ointment that was a old kind of in everybody's medicine cabinet. It's a, kind of a salve that's almost like Vaseline, it's for anything, but it was called Rosebud. And we'd always say, " Baachan, you think she's a "Rosebuddy" because of Rosebud?" We used to tease Baachan about that, but, so I learned something about African -- well, at least a Texan African American family, and it wasn't a family. It was a single mom and a auntie with, Rosalind had an older sister, and they lived up the block and around the corner, so we're on California and there on Sacramento Street on, so it was Lyon and Sacramento and we were on California between Lyon and Baker. And part of our big favorite hangout place was on Sacramento Street between, again, Baker and Lyon was a public library that spanned both, from Sacramento to Clay Street. And in there it was a wonderful green, greenery lawn. It's a little slopey, but green around, but then inside was all this wonderful books and we became really regular hanger outers of that public library, getting to know the librarians and just, just immersed in that a lot.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: Now, did you, during this time, consciously compare and contrast how it was in San Francisco versus Topaz, in terms of schooling or just, like you mentioned this wonderful library, did you kind of appreciate that more because of where you came from?

NA: You know, when you're little like that I don't think you even get there. I mean, you, but who got there was my mom, because later on when I did her history I asked her, how did she, with three little kids, go through this whole thing and what was, what did she really feel like? And she said, "You know, in the beginning," she says, "I bought into the thing that we were cooperating to be good Americans." She says, "The more I think about it, I think I had to, I had to embrace that because otherwise it was insane. But," she says, "what really struck home," what happened to her, is that "when you kids, we came back to San Francisco and here it was in September," and San Francisco doesn't have very great seasonal change and what trees we have aren't really necessarily like beautiful Northwestern or Eastern tree kind of turning, "but here we had these street trees losing their ugly brown leaves and you were all so, like, excited." Falling leaves, autumn leaves and we would be, like, gathering them and we were just kind of, or we were up in the park, and again, it's not, just ugly leaves compared to what people, you think about autumn leaves, right? But it was leaves that were falling, and so we were so excited about that, and she thought, "Oh my God, my kids don't understand, or missed out." The pure joy of, I guess, what she witnessed, it struck her. "My kids were robbed of their childhood." And then that sunk in. My gosh, that's why we went to every parade, every big happening that brought in trains, freedom trains, seeing the Declaration, the Bill of Rights on the train or anything like that, we were, my mom took us there. Every parade. But one parade in particular I remember, it must've been right after we got out of the camps because it was Veterans' Day parade and we were, it's on Market Street in San Francisco, and we get down there by the cable car and all and, and stand there. And this one guy came and yelled at my mom for being a "Jap" and, "You guys shouldn't be..." You know. And my mom stood up and said, "I am an American and I have as much right to be here." And I kind of remember that. Like my mom who isn't anybody that, she's always kind of gentle, very hospitable, gracious woman and fun mom. And she kind of did that, and that, so that kind of stands out.

But yeah, us kids, we were taken, we were exposed to whatever. And my grandmother had, through Mrs. Williams' period of life and all, had friends that still were there, like Mrs. Siga and Mrs. Siga was an immigrant from, I think she must've been Jewish, but the name I know is Siga and it could've been Siegel, but Mrs. Siga had friends who were opera singers and so I got taken to the opera, and that's how I knew that word, opera. Of course, no American English speaker knows opera, but that's the way you spell it, right? Anyway, as well as my grandmother's... and there's also words like hippopotamus, and that's the way it's spelled. But so I was exposed to opera. I was, I went with her and her lady friends. We spoke still Japanese in the household because my grandmother was very adamant about that. She says, "Regardless, you're still Japanese, so you, we speak Japanese in here," which then kept up my language ability and even, so I was, I was a fluent Japanese speaker that time. As strong as I could English, so that's why I pronounce things weirdly sometimes still.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: Going back to school a bit, so when you were in San Francisco going to school, were you behind or ahead or just right on track? I mean, how, how...

NA: I was right on track.

TI: Okay, so the schooling at Topaz and other places were, were okay. It kept you...

NA: I guess so, because they put me right into what would've been, was it third grade?

TI: Yeah, been about, I was gonna say second or third grade.

NA: Yeah. Yeah, I think I finished second in camp and getting into third, at Emerson Junior High, I mean Emerson School.

TI: Now, were there other Japanese Americans at that school?

NA: Yeah. Now, remember my parents bought this property that was outside of Japantown. We were removed from Japantown, I mean, where this property was was really, at that time, I guess was French, Jewish community, just bordering on the Jewish community, but the French area at one time. And you know, much of San Francisco, like L.A. is right now, it was segregated into that kind of neighborhood, so there were people, there was one family that found housing and rented out on Lyon Street. There was another, my cousins came out and they stayed in one of our, our flats for a while and then they found a place, so their kids went into school, but not a whole heck of a lot of JA kids.

TI: I was wondering when you would observe, like other Japanese American students at school, did they seem different? I'm just kind of, get a sense of when, when people came into this new environment, if you noticed anything.

NA: No. No, I don't think, and whether that's because I was just trying to adjust myself with my new environment and my new friend and, and having, even though I call, in the friend one of the first real big challenge I had during the first weeks of this new friendship was Rosalind called me a "Jap." And I mean, it was like a, like, "I'm not a Jap. I'm an American." And really the only thing I could dig up to protect myself was my cousin who died as part of the 100th Battalion at, towards the final days of World War II, in Germany, that is. And I just, that was the only thing I, just grabbing him out and just putting, basically, I think in terms of, like, putting him, shielding me to say, "I'm an American and my cousin went and he died fighting in Germany. We are American." And I don't know, she kind of then, kind of lightened it or something, but that was the one time where there was some tension between Rosalind and myself. And it seems like me protecting, grabbing my cousin to protect myself. And I don't know how she received it, but after that there was no other ever mention.

TI: Now, when she used that term, was it, was it meant to be in a derogatory way? Or was it because that was just a common usage?

NA: I'm sure it's, as children, it's probably that's what everybody called. As much as the N-word was prevalent, the Chinese weren't graciously called Chinese either, the Polish people weren't called Polish folks or... you know.

TI: Right. That's why I was wondering, this was just what the adults would say, so they just picked it up and she used it, or did she really, did it because she was, kind of wanted to, to lash out at you in some way?

NA: Yeah, there was that element, because if I, we were having some kind of disagreement, obviously, but she just threw that out and that was it.

TI: So she, yeah, so she used it kind of in a...

NA: It must've been in, I mean, she probably, she knew how I'd react, so it was hurtful. And somehow we worked that through. Her, her mom, her mom and her auntie, they all came up from the (South), the Northern Migration process and they were from Texas, so got a little sense of whatever their community was like, or their foods and thing, but it wasn't like Louisiana or all. It was more Texas like cuisine. Cuisine, that's a new word. But yeah, so that was a good experience. The rest of the class, it was made up of, we had, that time she was called Spanish, Sofia Morales, we had a number of black students, including James Irwin, who was so tall. You know, you knew he was gonna be a basketball player, somebody who's really tall. And other, Anthonys and Melbas, and Victoria was another, your American girl. There was, it was a mixture, and there was one other Japanese girl, Lucille, who lived on Lyon Street, across the street from California.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: Okay, so I'm gonna switch gears. I want to find out about your father and reestablishing the farming, so what was going on in that arena?

NA: Okay. So for couple of years, I think, it's before he went back into farming, and partly, I guess, he was trying to, well, although he had enough means and to survive the three years and he was able to draw money out of the bank, keep the house up, all, he started back, I think, just, I'm not sure what work he got into, but I know eventually he was able to get a car. And I don't know if that's because we had the money to get a used car -- it was a used car -- but we had a car. And he also, I think, that's a little bit fuzzy to me, but I think it was more like day work or something like that, but I know that eventually when he decided he's got to get back into farming, I guess he had to, he interfaced with the market people again and they were willing to support him or give him seed money, and so I know that the first time, at least when the kids got, were able to ride in the passenger car with my dad and my uncle and his youngest son and my brother Gene and myself, we went up to Mendocino and it was my first car trip as, that age, going back to Mendocino. And I know that we camped out in the redwood forest, 'cause you go through this beautiful forest area, that night, both going up there and seeing the land and coming back, we camped out there.

TI: In terms of the timing, it's right about the time your grandmother also died? Is that...

NA: This, yeah, this is probably coming up towards, she died when, forty...

TI: You said about ten or so.

NA: Yeah, so it was '47, '48.

TI: '47, '48?

NA: February 8, '48. February 7, '48. Yeah, so it was probably just around that time when they were going, and before she passed away that they were trying to start to think about this.

TI: Okay.

NA: My mom, during that time, also went back to Madame Clara's to pick up some, to do some work, but, so because Grandma was home, and so primarily she went. And I knew that there were times that Dad'd be home and we'd ride the car to Madame Clara's and I'd have to go up to the door, ring it, and go in, fetch Mom among all these gowns and all and come on out. Like going through a wardrobe area and coming out. So there's that kind of thing. Around --

TI: So before you talk more about your dad and doing that...

NA: There was one thing that, yeah, that I wanted to share, is because it's kind of a more, something I found when I was helping him kind of clear some of his stuff after Mom had passed on in '91. I came across this certificate and the certificate was addressed to him, and it's all in Japanese, but it's one of these very ornate like thing with a stamp and all, and I see the signature at the bottom is Keisaburo Koda, and I know who that is. He's the big rice king, right? And so I go like, wow, okay, so what's Koda's signature here and it's signed to you, so I wanted that story. So we were having, I guess, a birthday celebration at Golden Gate Park, so I took this oral history, taped it, and he says, "Ah, that stuff." So he said, "Well, this had to do with getting the rights of citizenship." And I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Well, you know that we couldn't get citizens if you weren't born in the United States, and so there's a lot of things that we couldn't do and immigration was stopped and all that." And says, yeah. And he says, "So there was a, they were trying to get enough money so we could support lobbying to pass a bill." So I said, "What's the bill's name, Dad?" And he goes, "Walter-McCarran Act." I go like, "You know, I remember this when I was real little, 'cause is that the time that you and Hikido-san and Sawada-san and you'd be around the table, but you guys would all be dressed up and then you'd go off in your car and then later on you'd come back by yourself?" I mean, we kind of knew that. I don't remember what was told to us, why, what Dad was doing there. I don't remember, but just remembering that much and then seeing the certificate and now he's telling me the story.

So he fully told me the story, which is that apparently among the Isseis they were going to also help to overturn this. Now, to me this was a real part of history that I never heard of, and because usually lobbying and all that is given to the English-speaking group and that made it happen, right? But here it is and it was Dad's, so I asked him, "How was this organized?" And he said, "Well," and I asked him, it was throughout California or what, and he said, well, he doesn't know about how, whether it went to Southern California or where, whatever, but certainly Koda-san is from Central California, but he's more attached to being a Northern California leader. And he said, so it's a group of Isseis that really wanted to support the endeavor to ensure that this law passed with their own rights, right to become citizens. So the way he explained it was that they took San Francisco, there was a number of them involved and they were all mainly Japanese-speaking, I don't know if there was any Niseis involved, but they cut San Francisco into quads and then looked into to see who lived in this quad, and then they made a list of every known Japanese, and if they weren't in the directory, just try to ask anybody living, you know, "Do you know of any Nihonjin?" And my, since my dad had, the only one, apparently, that had a car, he was assigned the largest quad, and that was the Nihonmachi to the outlining Golden Gate Park to the Golden Gate Bridge area. And so it was this kind of concentrated area that these three, at least I remember three, maybe four men would go out and canvas the neighborhood. And I said, "So where'd you get all the names?" He says, "Don't you remember all the newspapers had Japanese directories?" And sure enough, the Nichi Bei or Hokubei, they would have these directories of businesses, but also people, where they lived. They did that from before the war as well, and so they used that as their, to identify where people lived. Most of the time they would try to call them to make sure that they could drop by and sometimes it was cold call apparently, but for most time they would try to hit about three to four houses a night. If I, thinking about night, we kind of stay up pretty late, but in those days people don't stay up that late and main transportation was streetcars or buses or cable cars if you don't have a car, and so this was the kind of activity my dad was engaged in. He says, "I couldn't do it all the time." He says, "I couldn't do it all the time because I also had to, to check out," but he really participated in that. He says, "Yeah, I, we don't need this certificate." He kind of brushed it off, but to me it was like, what is this?

TI: Well, and what did they do? Were they, they would meet with each one, were they...

NA: And ask for support and kifu. "If you donate even fifty cents or whatever you could, because we need to pay for our lobbyist to insure that we are able to apply for citizenship."

TI: Well, so during this time the JACL would say that they were doing a lot to, to get citizenship for the Isseis. When they were raising money, was this somehow aligned with that, or was this a totally separate effort?

NA: My dad could not, he could not, I asked the same question and he says, "I don't know what the ins and out was, but this was a necessary thing that had to do and if I could help," he wanted to help and the organization that he was within was under Keisaburo Koda, right? It wasn't JACL. And, and it was mainly hitting the Japanese-speaking population so that the Isseis could, I guess, hindsight, is yeah, so the Isseis really wanted, it's self help, as well. It isn't like somebody doing it for you. And it was an active movement kind of thing. And this is what I get so excited about, is that that is a part of history that we have to understand. We always think about, okay, the poor Isseis and all that, but you think about it, look at all the Japanese association before the war. I mean, they can't do it, or even the strawberry industry where, where, what is it? It's six Issei growers and six Irish growers getting together and forming this kind of cooperative. But they got that kind of sensibility to do things and they're not this precious people that, for a long time, people put on pedestals almost. I remember how delicate seemed to be the feelings about the Isseis because they were disappearing by the time the Niseis were really taking over community after the war. And part of it is because I had the Japanese language ability, even as a teenager, at somebody's wedding and, and all the -- not teenager, I guess I was, you know, whenever somebody's wedding -- all the Isseis would be in one room and they'd be singing and the younger Niseis and all would be in other parts, and the sentiment is, oh, isn't that nice? They're having a wonderful time singing songs about, must be about remembering old homes and all. And I would giggle to myself. Man, they're singing raunchy songs. You, you listen to the words, you're like, what are we gonna, I mean, even "Tanko Bushi," you translate the song, okay, the moon's going behind the chimney, come on out, we could go behind the chimney stock. Stuff like that. And so there's that kind of thing that was also implied, but to me, to find out my father and the certificate just opened up a whole different area. Now, I haven't, I don't know anyone who's done research into this further, if there's any document left behind this. All of that is, I don't know. It's just that one piece of paper, which the museum has.

TI: And so your father, so he was active, like a community organizer in San Francisco, and, and...

NA: He would say no. [Laughs] He would not, but look at, just being a social person, able to organize kids to go out and play. Yeah, he had that.

TI: Well I mean, every evening going out and meeting with people and talking, that sounds like community organizing to me.

NA: To me, too, but my father would say, "No, I don't do that kind of thing."

TI: Interesting.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: Before we talk about your, your dad establishing the farming, reestablishing that, talk about your grandmother's death, 'cause you were really close to her. So what, what was the impact on you at ten with your grandmother dying?

NA: That was pretty, pretty heavy for me. So as I explained, we shared a room all our lives together, getting bathed and, okay, I hate to admit it, everyone accuses me in my family that I was a little pea princess, but, yeah, she had my clothes laid out and my hair done. Yeah. But it was really very, and even when I was very young, bathing together. I was always the gobo, she says, and she's the daikon because, being a kid, you run around. And so there was a lot of, and I had, I would accompany her to Japanese movies. I knew one, one scene was just horrendous and I couldn't, I couldn't understand it and she would say, "No, I'll tell you later." And it was a rape scene, but she then later on explained it me, and so I had that in my head since, and not in any kind of fearful way, but she really presented things in a matter of fact kind of way.

Then there were times that she wanted to go to hear theater, like the joururi performances, the Noh plays, only there's no dancer, but it'd be the songs that are being sung or any of that that would happen. So I would be accompanying her and we'd sit there and I'd remember saying, [whispers] "Baachan, he sang for forty-five minutes." Things like that, but, "Shh," you know. And I'd know all of her friends as a result because I'm the companion, and we also started odori because I'm really, I guess I wanted to, and we checked out a couple of places, but we found this one odori sisters that we, I really liked, and so we started my odori. And I really loved it.

But shortly after that, one day as I got dressed and was ready to go to school, she says, "Come. I want to talk to you." And she brought me to the front window and, and this is the third floor flat of that property and it kind of hangs a little bit out over the sidewalk, so from the round window you could look down the sidewalk and you could see the cablecar from these windows, but she took me to that room and she said that she's gonna go into the hospital and that she may not return. What? It's, it was relayed to me just like that and I couldn't understand. She says, well, there's gonna, they're gonna, there's, she has a little growth that they're look at, "and I may not be coming back." So it was, I was sent off to school that way. Going down the stairs, 'cause steep stairs and out the door, and walking down and I turned around and I see her, and that was kind of like I'm not gonna ever see her again. Well it turned out to be a lie because she came back, but bedridden and dying. And I was moved out of the room that we shared because my mom became the caretaker, and so, and in my head it's like, is that really her? Is she, it wasn't her, because obviously she was now, what she had was cancer that was in her liver, and in those days, and even now, it's a very hard thing. They just open and close and basically brought home to then be as comfortable as she could to pass on. What little I could do or was asked to do is like make chipped ice, or then Obaachan one time wanted to have asparagus, so "Kei-chan, can you go and find asparagus?" Well, there was right down beyond the school, a block from the school, so it must've been, like, four and a half blocks away, was the, a very fancy, one of the high end grocery store that had pate and everything else, that kind of store, and still is, and so I went there. Mom says they might have asparagus, so I went and bought some, brought it back. So I was doing that kind of thing, but really feeling kind of detached. I ended up, I guess, trying to share a room with my brothers. You know, I really blank out where I was sharing because it was so just like that, my room was kind of distant. But we were there on hand when she did finally pass, and so I watched her die and really recognized, like, well maybe she's talking to someone because there seem to be very much of a, kind of a nodding kind of thing, at that time, like a "no" kind of thing. So I watched this process and, and her, one of her best friends, she had two good friends, and she seemed to wait until Minamoto-san from Oakland got over and was at the bedside before she actually passed on. But all that time was kind of like a vigil of watching and, and really observing a person dying, not in any undignified way or horrendously frightening way.

And all that time you just kind of realize it's that passing, but I guess emotionally I got, well, we went through the funeral and all, and emotionally I just got very ill after that and took to bed actually, and partly asthma, which ultimately started very, very early as my, when Ojiichan died and after his funeral, started asthmatic attack. I attributed it to stocks, which not necessarily, but it's that kind of thing. And ultimately when I eventually got to a place I knew that that was just a crutch for me, so after that sinks in I don't have asthma. Except one time, legitimately, as an adult. But it was that kind of a cocoon, I guess, where you could be alone but people watched over you and, but you could be alone and trying to work it out.

And it's at this time that my auntie comes and says, "I'm gonna sponsor an oshosan from Japan and it would be so, it would look very badly if your daughter," they tell my parents, "would be taking odori from this other teacher and not my teacher." And she brings a beautiful fan, sensu and a parasol and some other stuff that goes with classical dancing, and so the part, 'cause this is another life lesson, is that, I guess, this is a older brother's wife, so ooki neesan, so my parents, instead of making this decision, left the decision to me. And I remember just knowing that this is kind of like my link to my grandma. This is something that we chose together. And I just remember just feeling, like, in a dilemma because I also knew from a lot of this stuff that happened in camp between relatives or just community about this and that, and some of the stuff that my mom ended up being the brunt of within family matters, so I thought, jeez, this is, I have to do something right here. And when you think about it, I don't know if they were caught in a bind, and then Obasan, this is probably the obasan that I knew that I grew up with and I have an endearing term that I call her, but it was like, on the line and here I'm feeling really, I was still in that recovery mode. It was probably about a month after my grandmother had died. So I came to a decision. I had to do right by my mother and father, but I have to do right for myself, and what I decided, I said, okay, I will go with the oshosan, but I get the, I have the opportunity to quit when I want to quit. And they agreed to those terms. So I got a pretty fan -- no, it was serious, and here I was ten years old. So somehow you know, I'm not too young to understand that, and in my little, devious little head I plotted out what would be an appropriate amount of time that I could get out from it and still save everybody's face, including my auntie's, but that meant I'm not gonna ever dance again, under any other... and that was really sad to me. And, and that's why you see me out in Obon Odori being the fool that I am to dance in ondos, because that's the opportunity that I could participate in something that I really had loved.

TI: That was, that was beautiful, Nancy. Thank you.

NA: That was part of choices.

TI: Thank you for sharing that. At this point we're gonna take a break and stop today's interview. I think now's a good breaking point.

NA: Yeah.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.