Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Jack Dairiki Interview
Narrator: Jack Dairiki
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: March 15, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-djack-01-0004

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MN: What was the demographics, the ethnic makeup of the school?

JD: Demographic, we had a few, a few black people, a lot of Spanish people, mostly Caucasian, of course, and then our Japanese group. And a Buddhist church was about a block away from the school, so we used to attend Japanese school after the grammar school and on the weekend.

MN: And at this Japanese school, did you enroll in judo or kendo?

JD: No, we had no physical activity there. It was just a literature school, just learning Japanese language. There were judo classes, but that was separate. You had to take it on your own separately.

MN: How would you define the Japanese school? Were they strict?

JD: Well, it was, it was developed by the Buddhist church and supervised by it. The teachers were sometimes the minister and their wife and some hired schoolteachers, and it was classrooms, for sure, and we used to go there from three o'clock to maybe four o'clock, a one hour class. And as I mentioned, for me it was one block away from the, our grammar school, so it was very convenient to get there.

MN: Now, on Sundays did you go to church?

JD: Yes, Sunday, being a Buddhist family, I went to church, but my parents did not take us there 'cause they were too busy working, so our neighbor used to pick us up and walk to school, to the Buddhist church. And Buddhist church wasn't that far away, about four, four blocks away from the hotel.

MN: So every day you went to school, regular school, and then you went to Japanese school.

JD: That's correct.

MN: And then Sundays you went to church.

JD: Yeah, church in the morning.

MN: What did you do in your free time?

JD: Free time, well, we used to play around the neighborhood, mostly around the homes area. As I mentioned, Japantown was only a couple of blocks away. We were on Sixth Street, Japantown on Third, so about three blocks away, and so we used to intermingle with friends, as we were allowed to. And I, seems like remembering going to movies on the weekend, especially Saturday, and there was just, we had a lot of theaters, Sacramento being a main, capital city, we had many movie theaters. Saturday night was a special night; at the Buddhist church they had a Japanese movie, so the family used to go there. My father was very excited to go to and take us to the Japanese movie.

MN: What kind of Japanese movies did they show?

JD: Oh boy, they had Japanese, mostly samurai movies, or sometimes the romantic movies. Generally sort of Japanese culture movies mostly, sometimes the war events stories. I guess whatever that came out in that period movie was very popular and people used to congregate there.

MN: Now, you're growing up during the Great Depression, 1930s.

JD: Yes.

MN: Were there people in your hotel who committed suicide in the rooms?

JD: The people in our hotel was?

MN: Committed suicide in your hotel rooms?

JD: No, we didn't have that kind of situation. We do, we did have people were, had difficult time paying for their rent so they'd barter with my father, and that's how we obtained a camera, said, instead of paying, "I can't pay, so could I give you my camera for the payment?" And that was acceptable. And that's how my father obtained a camera to take a family picture. And there was, the issue was there and, of course, I was too young to probably recognize the hardship on my parents, but I know they worked seven days a week. They didn't have much time off. I had a uncle, who was my father's younger brother, who occupied a space on the ground floor. He had a restaurant called Tom's Cafe and Tom was his name, so we used to enjoy attending, going to his restaurant to eat, more American food.

MN: American food.

JD: Yes.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.