Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collectiom
Title: Toshi Nagamori Ito Interview
Narrator: Toshi Nagamori Ito
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Laguna Woods, California
Date: November 9, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-itoshi-01-0024

<Begin Segment 24>

MN: So when did your parents actually return to the West Coast?

TI: Right after that.

MN: So was it January of '45?

TI: Yes.

MN: So before, you know, your family left for Santa Anita, your parents rented out their home. Were they able to move right back in when they returned to L.A.?

TI: No.

MN: What happened?

TI: The family that rented our home wouldn't move out. And so my mother went back to Mrs. Douglas again, and she said, "Well, the way to do it is to go to the sheriff." And so my parents went to the sheriff and had them evicted. And in the meantime, they got out, but they vandalized some of our furniture before they left.

MN: And so what kind of reception did the neighborhood give to your parents?

TI: They knew that my father had his car, 'cause he got the car when he came back. And so when they drove up to take possession of the house, they had nails strewn across our driveway, and they had a big sign, "No Japs." But my father and mother took possession of the house anyway.

MN: Was your father able to get his old life insurance job back?

TI: No, not at all. No, they wouldn't hire him to do anything. He offered to do some bookkeeping for them because he was so good at figures, but they said no.

MN: Now, your mother, where did she have to go to do her grocery shopping?

TI: Oh. The people in the neighborhood, the grocery stores in our neighborhood, knew we were Japanese. So they told my mother, "We don't sell to Japs." So my mother had to take a bus and a streetcar and go to Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, near Chinatown, to hopefully pass for a Chinese woman to buy her groceries. And she would go down there once a week with two great big shopping bags, and bring back the food for the week.

MN: Now, when did you return to Los Angeles?

TI: I returned to Los Angeles in May, the end of May of 1945.

MN: And you did not finish your senior year at National College.

TI: No.

MN: Now, a lot of Nikkei families who were fortunate to have homes to return to allowed other returning Nikkei families to stay with them 'cause they had nowhere to go with the housing shortage?

TI: Yeah, that's what we did, too.

MN: How many families were in your house?

TI: Let's see. We had, we had our neighbor, the Yamashita, June Yamashita came to stay with us while she got the house down the street vacated. And she got a job, and then she called her parents to come back to their house. And then we had a couple staying with us. They were both pharmacists, so they got a job right away. And they stayed with us until they saved enough money to put a down payment on a house, and then they moved out. Let's see... oh, we had brief stays from a lot of, a lot of girls, Irene Abe and, let's see, who else came to stay with us? Everybody had it so tough. Going into camp was a piece of cake compared to coming out. Coming out was so stressful, especially for the Issei. They had no money, no job, no place to go.

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