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Title: Richard Iwao Hidaka Interview
Narrator: Richard Iwao Hidaka
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Skokie, Illinois
Date: June 16, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-hrichard-01-0001

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TI: Okay so, Richard, I start this with the date and where we are. So today is Thursday, June 16, 2011, we are in the Chicago area in Skokie at the Hampton Inn. On camera is Dana Hoshide and I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda, and today we have Richard Hidaka. And so, Richard, I'm going to start with a question could you tell me when and where you were born?

RH: I was born in Modesto, California, April 11, 1928.

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

RH: Well, Richard, I was named after a friend of my dad's. And my dad always tried to call me Dick but it didn't come out Dick and it didn't come out Richard so it was just like a bark. And so many times a dog would bark at home and I would come running home.

TI: Really? So the way your father would say it was like a Rich or something like?

RH: Like, "Dut! Dut!" It was kind of rough 'cause he was a disciplinarian and he wanted, "If I call you, you come right now." So a dog would bark and I would go running home and, "I didn't call you." [Laughs]

TI: And so tell me about his friend Richard, the one that you're named after?

RH: It was just a guy that he met in San Francisco. My dad worked in the laundry, I don't know where Richard worked, but they were good buddies and my dad had a chance to buy a business in Modesto so his boss says, "Take it, go, it's a good job."

TI: So Richard was his boss?

RH: No, that was his boss.

TI: I see. Was Richard white or was he Japanese?

RH: Japanese. And because the Japanese can't pronounce Richard, I don't know how he got that name either.

TI: And your middle name is Iwao?

RH: Iwao.

TI: So Richard Iwao Hidaka.

RH: Yes, I hardly use it, but just so some people might recognize... well, there might be two of 'em.

TI: And then so we talked a little bit about your father. So tell me your father's name and where was he from?

RH: His name is Torao Hidaka, he came from Miazaki. I think that's an island off of the south end of Japan. That's all I really know.

TI: Do you know anything about his family in terms of the business? What they did or why he came to the United States?

RH: Well, he said that there was no money there, he worked on a farm and when United States opened up well he says, "There's a chance for me to go there and make some money." And my mother said, no, no, and finally after a couple years she says okay and then he came over.

TI: And do you know about how old he was when he came over?

RH: I think he said he was around seventeen.

TI: And earlier you mentioned San Francisco. So did he go to San Francisco first?

RH: Yes.

TI: And do you know about what year this might be?

RH: Well, if he left at seventeen then he would be getting there in 1915 about.

TI: So he was born right before the turn of the century?

RH: Uh-huh, '98.

TI: And so how did he meet your mother?

RH: You know, we don't... we never talked a lot about these things because he being the kind of a man he was we were afraid of him. 'Cause we thought he's going to beat us up or something, you know how those things work. But it seems that my mother was born in Hawaii, a place called Laupahoehoe, and she went to San Francisco and that's how they met each other there somehow. They never talked about it.

TI: So she was born in Hawaii, so that would make her Nisei?

RH: Right.

TI: But then --

RH: But see in '48 they had a (seiche) in Laupahoehoe and wiped out the whole town, and so all the records were gone. So she had to be naturalized because she couldn't prove anymore that she... because she didn't have her birth certificate and they couldn't prove that she was born in Hawaii.

TI: Interesting, well not only that, but I think there was a law that stated if a U.S., like a Nisei married an Issei they would have to give up their citizenship. I think that was called the Cable Act that did that also.

RH: I don't know. Now Jean would know, Jean Mishima, she knows all that kind of stuff.

TI: So what was your mother's name?

RH: Yoso.

TI: And you talked a little bit about your father, he sounds pretty stern. What about your mother? What was she like?

RH: She was just the opposite. And so anytime we had a problem we'd go to her, right.

TI: And you mentioned kind of "us" in terms of more than one, sounds like you had brothers and sisters.

RH: Yes.

TI: So how many brothers and sisters did you have?

RH: Two brothers and two sisters.

TI: And so birth order why don't you kind of walk through in terms of the oldest to the youngest.

RH: I was the oldest. And my brother, George was two, Bill was three, oh wait, there was a brother in between that passed away when he was only fourteen months old. And that was Ben, between George and Bill. And then my sister, Shiz and my sister Reiko.

TI: And when you say Ben passed away at fourteen months, do you know what happened to him?

RH: He caught pneumonia and boom, he died that afternoon.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.