Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Jane Hidaka Interview
Narrator: Jane Hidaka
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Skokie, Illinois
Date: June 16, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-hjane-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so today's Thursday, June 16, 2011. We're in the Chicago area at the Hampton Inn in Skokie, and in the room we have Dana Hoshide, who's on the camera, and I'm interviewing, Tom Ikeda, and also in the room we have Jean Mishima from the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society. And today we're interviewing Jane Hidaka, so Jane, I'm just gonna start with a question. Can you tell me when and where you were born?

JH: August 18, 1933, in La Jolla, California.

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

JH: [Laughs] Well, it's kind of funny, I went for a passport a few years ago and I didn't know that Shizuko was the first name on my, on my birth certificate. So it's Shizuko Jane Sumida, and so when I filled out the form I made it Jane S. Hidaka, of course, but I thought, oh, when I saw the birth certificate I thought, are they gonna give me a hard time about this? And so I didn't say anything, and she says, "I see your first name is, was your middle name, really." And I said, "Yeah," I says, "I just realized that myself." But Mother always told me that Jane was my first name, and she just wanted an initial that was the same as my father.

TI: Which was S or...

JH: The J. S.

TI: Oh, J. S. Okay.

JH: Yes.

TI: And do you know where Shizuko came from?

JH: No.

TI: And how about Jane? Was there --

JH: Jane was just, a nurse suggested it because my father's name was Jack. So they said, "Well, if you want a J name," she says, "how about Jane?" [Laughs]

TI: Okay, good. So let's talk about your father's family first, and so how did your father's family come to the United States?

JH: Well, he was from Hawaii, and I know nothing about my father because my mother, I think they got divorced maybe two years, two, three years after I was born. And she never talked about him, and we had never met any of his family either.

TI: And so all you know, it's Jack Sumida pretty much.

JH: Right.

TI: And so you have no idea why he came to...

JH: They came, he came with who, he came with a good friend from, they both were from Hawaii and they came to work. Now, I think they were, like, in the produce market or something like that, and as it turns out his friend's son is my brother-in-law, married my sister. But they were good friends always, and Mother was still friends with his friend's family. Not with his. I don't know that he had any family in the States.

TI: And so your father, Jack, was, I guess, a Nisei. He was born in Hawaii?

JH: Uh-huh.

TI: And do you know anything about his father?

JH: No.

TI: Okay. So let's talk about your mother then. So is your mother a Nisei also?

JH: Yes.

TI: Okay, so let's talk about her parents.

JH: Her parents? Okay, her father was from Japan, Hiroshima, and her mother was from Hawaii. So I'm not quite sure how they, they met, but then they came to California and they started their own business, produce.

TI: What was your grandfather's name?

JH: Yamagata, and it was an N. Noburo.

TI: And then your grandmother?

JH: Was a, she was Asako. I don't know her maiden name.

TI: So your grandmother was Nisei.

JH: Yes, really.

TI: And so your mother was, was in some ways part Sansei, part Nisei.

JH: Right.

TI: And that'd make you --

JH: She spoke, she spoke very fluent Japanese, but she rarely used it.

TI: This is your mother?

JH: My mother, yes.

TI: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: And then tell me about your mother's family. Were there other children?

JH: Yes, my mother had two sisters and two brothers, two older brothers.

TI: Do you know the birth order of...

JH: George was the oldest, and I'm not sure where Henry came in, and then my mother was the oldest girl, and then there were two younger sisters after that. I asked my mother once, "How did you get your names?" because there's George, Henry, Margaret, Helen, and Mary. And she says, "My mother wrote these names down on a piece of paper and picked our names." [Laughs]

TI: [Laughs] Almost like randomly, like from a hat?

JH: Yes, yes. She had the three girls' names, and so that's how Mother became Margaret.

TI: That's so interesting how names happen. Like yours was J.S., and so...

JH: Well yes, because I'm sure, especially my grandfather, he wouldn't have a clue as to, but I think a lot of that generation everybody had a George in the family, right? And I think Henry was fairly common too.

TI: Right. And even yours, Margaret, Helen, and Mary.

JH: Helen and Mary. I says, but Margaret seems a little... but leave it to my mother to pick that one.

TI: So your grandparents on your mother's side were in, like in produce you mentioned?

JH: Yes.

TI: Okay. And this was in the La Jolla area?

JH: No, they settled in Long Beach. Mother was, moved to La Jolla after she got married. I think she was eighteen. She graduated high school and she took off.

TI: Okay. And so has your, did your mother tell you any stories about how she and your father met?

JH: No. I mean, she rarely spoke of him.

TI: Does she ever talk about the divorce? Was that difficult for her?

JH: No, no. She divorced him because he was a gambler, so she was very nervous when my, I showed an interest in playing cards. When we were in Santa Anita I'd go down, we were all in the same stall area, so when Mother would be gone I'd go over to my uncle's place and I'd say, "Uncle George, can we play cards?" He says, "Where's your mother?" I says, "She went wherever," and he says, "Okay, go get the cards." So he taught me how to play gin rummy and those kind of games. We never played poker or anything like that, except when I got older. [Laughs]

TI: But everyone kind of knew that your mother was really against gambling.

JH: Oh, yes. She was very concerned that maybe it was something in the genes.

TI: Now, did you have any siblings?

JH: I have sisters who are twins.

TI: Okay, and they're younger?

JH: They're younger. They're two years younger.

TI: So you mentioned how your parents got divorced two years later, so it was right after the birth of the twins?

JH: Yes. Because I remember, I don't remember my father at all. I have a seen a picture where we were, the whole family was at the beach, but other than that... and then during the war we went to different camps, and we went to his funeral. He died in camp.

TI: Your, your...

JH: My father.

TI: Your father did. I see.

JH: He died in Heart Mountain.

TI: Okay. But you went to his funeral.

JH: We went to his funeral.

TI: So you went up to Heart Mountain?

JH: Right.

TI: Okay, we'll get to that later. That's, I want to, first why don't you tell me the names of your sisters, the twins?

JH: My sisters, they always went by their Japanese name, which was Asako and Nobuko, but their other names were, let's see, Nobuko's first was Arlene and Aline.

TI: Arlene and Aline? Okay. And were they identical twins?

JH: Yes.

TI: Okay. So that was a little unusual in the community to have twins.

JH: Right. People would say, "I don't know how you can tell your sisters apart." To me it was, they don't look alike at all, but to everybody else they looked very much alike.

TI: Now, did they tend to wear similar clothes?

JH: Well Mother, when they were little Mother used to know, she used to dress one in pink and one in blue so she could tell them apart.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So 1933, La Jolla, so do you have any childhood memories before the war of La Jolla?

JH: No.

TI: So the first kind of memories are more like in camp?

JH: Right. Maybe, probably when I was seven, which was right before camp, I found a penny. We were living in San Diego then. And so I asked my mother could I go to the store and get some candy. She said okay, and in those days if you were seven you were old enough to go, so I had to cross at the corner, so I went into the candy store, crossed the street, went into the candy store, bought my candy. When I came out there was a car parked beyond the corner, so it was a dilemma for me. Do I go around, and then I'm out in the middle of the street, right? Or do I go in between the cars, then I'm at the corner? So I decided to go in between the cars, and I was hit by a car going this way.

TI: So, 'cause you were sort of hidden, so when you came out --

JH: Yes, and I came out he was, who know? I mean, he didn't expect to see somebody come out between cars.

TI: And how badly were you hit?

JH: Well, when my mother, the neighbors ran to get her, and she said when she saw me she thought I was dead because there's, I think head injuries you bleed quite profusely, so, and I had a cut on my lip, I lost a tooth, and I had a concussion. Which wasn't, you wouldn't think there was so much blood, but I guess just that. I think I had a cut over here [points to lip] and I used to have those scars, but over time they disappear. And so anyway, it was very interesting. Maybe ten years ago my sister happened to mention that Mother said that the money she got from the insurance company for the injury, right, is what helped her through the war.

TI: So tell me about the insurance money. What insurance money would that be?

JH: I guess he, they figured because he hit a child that he was at fault and maybe those were damages. I have no idea.

TI: I see. Okay.

JH: I was in the hospital, not for very long. I think I had a broken collarbone too, besides the concussion. Gave me headaches until I was about eighteen.

TI: And so I'm wondering, when you mentioned that the insurance money helped your, the finances, so how did your mother support three girls and her?

JH: She opened her own, she opened her own business, the produce business in La Jolla. And that's how she supported us.

TI: And how did she juggle raising three girls and, and...

JH: I have no idea. She was fairly remarkable.

TI: Okay. That is amazing.

JH: Especially those days. First of all, she was very young and out on her own, and Japanese people frowned on divorce. I don't know that, there weren't very many at that time. 'Cause that would've been, like, maybe '36, 1936, '37.

TI: Now did she ever get help from others, like other families or friends that would help out?

JH: I don't think so. Her parents didn't approve, of course, because she more or less ran away from home and got married, so they didn't.

TI: But did you ever go up to Long Beach and visit your grandparents?

JH: Oh yeah, sure. In fact, when the war started we were staying with my grandparents in Long Beach.

TI: Okay, so on December 7, 1941?

JH: Right, we were in, we were in San Diego, but we moved as soon as, after December 7th we moved to be with our grandparents.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Let's first start with December 7, 1941, so do you have any memories of that day?

JH: Only what my mother was saying. She said that when she heard that on the radio she was on her way home in the car. I don't think we were with her. At least I don't recall that, because she said in her haste to get home she got into an accident with some sailors, and so as soon as they saw, the police saw her, she, it was her fault. They figured she had to be to blame, so she did get the ticket. I don't know what happened with that because, well, we went into camp on Easter Sunday, the following April. But other than that, her saying that, I really don't remember.

TI: Did you ever find out her decision to go up to her parents up in Long Beach, why she did that?

JH: No, I don't know why she did that. No. We never talked that much about that part.

TI: Okay. Long Beach is, I'm thinking of my geography, it's pretty close to Terminal Island, in that area, right? I mean, it's...

JH: Well, it's very close, it's right next to L.A.

TI: Right. Yeah, so it's a little farther up. Okay. But do you have memories when you went from Long Beach and had to leave with other Japanese to go to camp?

JH: A little bit, because from there we went to Santa Anita, and while there were barracks in Santa Anita, we weren't, we were in the stalls. So they said, well, they had these canvas bags and we had to stuff it with hay, and that was our mattress, which was laid on the ground. But I don't really remember that period very much, other than wanting to play cards with my uncle. He was still single at that time.

TI: And even though you don't remember, like details, how about just, do you have a sense of the feeling of what camp was for you? I mean, was there a sense of excitement because you're interested, or fear, or do you have any of those kind of feelings?

JH: No, I think we all sort of just, it was just taken for granted. This is where we were living. Okay. And we went to school and we, all we did is we played in the, we did play baseball because I remember falling on the gravel. There was no baseball fields or anything.

TI: And this was in Santa Anita or...

JH: No, this was after we got to Arkansas. But Santa Anita I don't remember at all. I even asked my mother once what, where did we go to eat? And I guess there were mess halls for us. There had to be, right? But I don't remember any of that.

TI: Okay, so let's go, so from Santa Anita you went to Arkansas, like Jerome?

JH: Jerome. We went to Jerome, and when Jerome closed we went to Rohwer.

TI: Okay, and first with Jerome, any memories of Jerome?

JH: [Laughs] Well, my mother first was a letter carrier, and the next thing I remember -- they used to have a special canteen for the teachers, the Caucasian teachers -- she was in charge of that canteen. So my mother was always, anyway, she was always looking for something more to do, but, and I remember on one of my birthdays -- but I was thinking about that the other day. How could it, there have been school on my birthday when that was August? But maybe, did we go to school all year round? I can't imagine we would.

TI: But your recollection was that...

JH: That there was a special, she happened to, my mother got my classroom a case of Coke, which was the one and only time that we had a soft drink in camp. It was very special because a case was twenty-four and with the teacher there would've been twenty-four, because this one girl was sick, but she came to school the next day, which was when, which was my birthday. I think it was my birthday. I'm not positive. Why else would my mother be sending a case of Coke?

TI: And so your recollection was in celebration of your birthday every student and the teacher was supposed to get one can of Coke?

JH: Yes. It wasn't, a can. It was a bottle.

TI: A bottle.

JH: They didn't put 'em in cans in those days. So I remember being very angry that this sick girl came to school, and so the teacher, of course, said, well, she would give it to all the students. She didn't need to have one. But yeah, but other than that, nope, don't remember too much. I think we were in Jerome -- were we in Jerome? Could it, were we in Jerome, or I don't know if we were in Rohwer when my mother came to Chicago to go to school to get a job.

TI: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Going back to the Arkansas camps, what were the living arrangements? Did, was it, did you live with anyone else, or was it just your mother and the three girls?

JH: Yeah, it was my mother and the three girls. Yes, us three girls. The barracks were all uniform. If you had a family of four you probably had the one on one end, and then the one in the middle was two compartments, or a larger apartment for those with big families. Then the two on the end were supposed to be for bachelors, maybe two to an apartment. So I remember Mother making furniture out of, I don't know where she got the wood, and let's say that's my mother for you. She, I'm sure she had no skills at all on using a saw and hammer and I don't know where she got that, but she made tables, chairs, 'cause there were no, there was no furniture there.

TI: So she would just figure it out on her own, get some nails and a saw.

JH: She'd figure it out on her own, yes. Right. She did. She was quite resourceful.

TI: She sounds like a remarkable woman.

JH: She was.

TI: Any recollections of school?

JH: Well, we have pictures at home. We have pictures of classrooms, but nothing really memorable. I don't really remember any of my friends from school.

TI: Now, did you mother's brother and others in the family, did they also, were they also in the same camp?

JH: Yeah. She had one sister there whose husband was in Italy in the 442nd, and then that single brother that taught me to play cards. I don't know why he wasn't in the army. There must've been some reason why he wasn't drafted, and because the other brother was drafted. And so that single brother lived with my grandparents, and they were like in the next block over. And when my mother came to Chicago to go to school, I went to live with this, with my aunt whose husband was in Italy fighting. And my sisters went and stayed with my grandparents. And my aunt told me, I think it was, it was way after the war, she said, "You know, you used to sleepwalk." I says, "Really?" I said, "Wow, I didn't know that." I says, "Where did I go?" She says, "I don't know." I says, "Well, what do you mean you don't know?" She says, "Well, you would take the bucket of dishes or the bucket of diapers" -- she had an infant -- "and you'd go out, but you would only be gone like five minutes." And it would be like midnight or middle of the night. I says, I'm thinking to myself, my god, this woman, she used to let me walk around in my pajamas with this bucket of whatever and be gone and then not follow me? Well, I guess she didn't want to leave the baby. Anyway, she said, "Yeah, you did that a couple of times, but I never woke you up." I said, "Well, they say you're not supposed to, right?" So I don't know if I was very disturbed or what.

TI: And maybe that's a good lead in, so with your mother gone and you were probably around ten or so, how'd you feel about your mother leaving?

JH: Well, it was okay. My aunt, I think being a young mother and her husband she never knew from day to day what was happening, she used to do, I used to remember she used to do a lot of screaming. So maybe I was disturbed. I don't know.

TI: You mean screaming at you in terms of...

JH: Yeah, or, I don't remember how she directed, but I just remember she did a lot of screaming. So I would go over to see my uncle and grandparents a lot of the time, but she hadn't, I did the dishes and I did the diapers, and so I was only ten, but what the heck. I could do it.

TI: And so your mother, do you know why she chose Chicago to go to school?

JH: I don't know why. A lot of people came out to Chicago, and probably because other people said, oh yeah, you should go, and so she went to what they called comptometer school. It was like a calculator, like an adding machine calculator, one of those big machines. That's how they used to, bookkeepers used to use that to do calculations, and so you went to school.

TI: Was it similar to like a ten key type of thing? I'm trying to think.

JH: Yeah. Maybe a little more complicated than that. So that's what she did and that's how she made her living. She was good at it when she came out to Chicago.

TI: And so how long was it before you and your sisters joined your mother?

JH: Well, she came back for us, because then we were in Rohwer. And she was, I recall her being there in Rohwer, so I'm not sure if, at what time she came back, but we left in '45. We came here in August of '45, and I think I had my birthday here. I was eleven.

TI: Okay. Going back to your mother, did she ever, like, date when she was young?

JH: I know she had a friend, but he came from California to see her in Chicago, and I think that was maybe once or twice. And so other than that, no, she didn't date. I don't know, when I was seventeen she got remarried, and I don't recall, remember her even dating, but she must have. [Laughs]

TI: For her to get married.

JH: I was oblivious.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: So you come to Chicago eleven years old, had your birthday.

JH: Right. Yes.

TI: This is August, so I'm guessing you now have to start school in September.

JH: Right. We went to, we were, we found an apartment with a lot of other Japanese people on the south side, and so I went to this school called Oakenwald. And that --

TI: Say that, say it one more time.

JH: Oakenwald, W-A-L-D.

TI: Okay.

JH: And so that was for seventh and eighth grade. And the teachers all loved the Japanese kids 'cause we were well behaved, we were quiet and we studied hard, and we usually did well.

TI: And so how many other Japanese kids were there?

JH: Oh, there was a lot in my class. I would say maybe, out of the whole class, maybe a third of them were Japanese.

TI: So was there ever any talk about the camps, 'cause I'm guessing that all the kids came from camp.

JH: Right, but I don't remember that, no. They probably asked us briefly where we were all from and they understood the situation, but no, I don't recall any talk about camp.

TI: And so when you say they understood the situation, meaning the other students, the teachers?

JH: The teachers, because they had to have asked us, they must've been curious, why is there this influx of all these Japanese children, right?

TI: Well yeah, I was curious if that came up.

JH: Not really. Not so much that I remember.

TI: Now do you recall in, given all the Japanese children, that any of them had any maybe emotional problems from camp, the moving around?

JH: Doesn't, I don't recall that, no.

TI: Okay. So you're going to school.

JH: Right.

TI: Tell me about life in Chicago. What was it like for you?

JH: Well, grammar school was probably quite a switch for most children because when we were in camp there were no libraries, and we really didn't have equipment. Nobody had a bicycle, although I probably was the only one who ended up with a bicycle because somebody was moving, one of the Caucasian teachers was moving and so Mother got, maybe bought the bicycle from her. I don't know. So I had a bicycle in camp, which was...

TI: In camp or in...

JH: No, in camp.

TI: In camp, I see.

JH: Yes, very rare.

TI: Oh, that is very rare.

JH: Yes, I'm sure. I don't know that I rode it around too much. Maybe I was too self conscious about it. I'm not sure.

TI: And were you able to bring the bike to Chicago?

JH: No.

TI: Okay, so you didn't.

JH: No, we didn't bring that. I don't remember it. I hardly remember riding it. I know I did, but Arkansas was so hot in the summer, right? All the women went with umbrellas and they were all faded from the use, it was so hot there.

TI: Now, in Arkansas, did you and your family, your sisters and your mom, ever go outside of camp?

JH: We went once to the little town that was nearby. I don't know how that happened, but just once, and I remember having ice cream, one and only time we had ice cream. And we went once to Little Rock. I don't know how that could've happened. See, I never asked my mother these things.

TI: And what was that like for you? I mean, I'm guessing when you're outside you'll see things like, you're in the segregated South, so you have blacks and whites and you have sort of, restrooms are for "white" and "colored," and did you see those things?

JH: I did see those things because I remember somebody saying that, it was pointed out to them when they saw the signs, "white only" and "black only," well, he didn't know where to go because he didn't think he was either. And so somebody, some Caucasian said, "You go there," and pointed to the white only section. Oh boy. So, but when we got to Rohwer I don't think we ever went out of camp. We weren't there that long, as I recall.

TI: Now, do you recall when you were in the Arkansas camps, seeing the Camp Shelby soldiers ever coming?

JH: No, no. See, Rich has that photograph of some of those soldiers coming back, but I don't remember seeing any of that. I'm sure they must have.

TI: Yeah, I think they had a USO there. I think quite a few came through there. Even when they're training they went through there, and then I think when they're returning also they probably came through the camp. So I was just...

JH: No, I'm like in another world, I guess.

TI: So going now to Chicago, so your mother was trained in this machine.

JH: Right.

TI: So what kind of work does she do when she goes to Chicago?

JH: Well, she was a bookkeeper so she was able to get work, and she supported us. She had three girls.

TI: And tell me where you lived or what kind of house you had.

JH: Well, we lived in an apartment building on the south side, and my first encounter with bedbugs. God, I still can remember that. That was terrible. But I guess we got rid of 'em eventually. But we, after... I went to high school all -- oh, from that particular apartments, then we stayed at an apartment building that was further north but still on the south side, and it was owned by a Japanese family, huge apartment building. So we were, we lived there for a while, and I guess it must've been a small place because then we moved from there to another apartment building, but more like the ones that you see in Chicago that are, like, U-shaped and three floors. Somehow we were always on the third floor. No matter where we lived we were on the third floor.

TI: And so you had all those stairs to always have to walk up.

JH: Yes. It was nothing for kids. So anyway, because then I remember we went to Hyde Park High School here in Chicago, which was a very well-rated high school.

TI: Good.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: I want to actually go back and touch on one other topic I forgot about. So when you were in camp, you mentioned earlier that your father died in Heart Mountain.

JH: Right.

TI: And so Heart Mountain is another, another camp in Wyoming.

JH: Right.

TI: And you said you went to the --

JH: Yeah, we took a train.

TI: And so this was from Arkansas you did this?

JH: Yeah.

TI: And so your mother, you, and your --

JH: No, my mother and I. My sisters stayed in camp.

TI: Okay.

JH: So I remember we were going to, the town was called Denver. Denver, Wyoming, okay. So our suitcases went to Denver, Colorado, so when we got to Wyoming, Heart Mountain, we had no other clothes except for what we were wearing, and it was June and it was snowing. So friends of my father lent us clothes so that, and I remember them, one of the men saying in Japanese that, "She looks just like Jack." [Laughs] We did look very much alike.

TI: So you, so you had a resemblance to your father.

JH: Right.

TI: And from that service, what did you learn, the friends, what did you learn about your father?

JH: Not that much.

TI: And so during the service didn't people, did people talk about your father?

JH: They probably did.

TI: 'Cause you said one thing is that you found out that you look like --

JH: Yes, but this was prior to the service, right? I don't remember the service at all. Maybe it was, maybe it was a Buddhist ceremony. So that, I would've been, what, maybe I was nine, nine years old.

TI: Okay. Any other memories of Heart Mountain?

JH: No. You know, we went back there, though, recently, and they have a memorial there. And we put money in the, they have a space for you to deposit contributions, but my daughter went there last year, and they're building some, and they're supposedly, I think it's this year, they're having some kind of big ceremony.

TI: Yeah, in August they're gonna do the interpretive center opening, grand opening.

JH: That's right. Yes, yes. So that's kind of nice. We tried to find out what happened to my father's remains, and my sister did some research and she said that they thought, they weren't sure, but whoever she talked to, they thought that the sister had taken the, my father's remains. But they didn't have a name or anything.

TI: So this was your father's sister.

JH: Right, yes. 'Cause, well, my sister thought, well, it might be nice to know where our father is buried, but she couldn't find out anything.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Okay, so now going back to Chicago, we talked about you going to the Hyde Park High School. What are some of your memories from high school?

JH: Well, they were pretty, I did well and I liked school, and I was probably one of the few girls that went on to college. And so, I don't know, I lost track of everybody after I graduated because I was going to, going to school. I don't know what happened to, I kept up with some of the girls. We got together maybe ten, ten years ago. In those days, you see, all the girls, all the Japanese girls and the boys all belonged to a social club, and so we got together, our club got together. And we also always, usually you had a basketball team, and in those days that must've been about when the CNAA started, because all the girls' clubs had a team. All the boys' clubs had a team, plus the churches had teams, and you had to belong to the church in order to play on their teams. Now, after, now I'm in school, I can't play basketball. I don't have time for basketball, and I get married, and children, three children and they're growing up, and one day my husband says to me, he says, you know, Jeff -- Jeff was our oldest son -- he says, "I don't like the kids he's running around with." He says, "I think we have to get him involved in the CNAA. Let's see what's going on with that." And so he called up his old coach. Sure enough, he's coaching a team from the Buddhist temple. He says, well, he says, "What age are they?" He says, "Well, they're all sixteen, seventeen years old." And Jeff was like fourteen. He says, "But I'll take Jeff." He says, "He's not gonna play a lot, but I'm glad to get him started and teach him." So that's how we started, but, and then we found out, okay, they have a clinic for eight-year-olds, starting at eight, seven or eight, and they have leagues for all these kids. They have a E, D, C, B -- Jeffrey would be in the B league, that was high school -- and then they had adult guys playing. So that's how I got started in the CNAA.

TI: Okay, the CNAA, I'm guessing, is Chicago Nisei --

JH: Is the Nisei Athletic Association.

TI: And so this was going on when you were in high school.

JH: When I was, it started when I was in high school, and in fact, probably before that. But the girls only played when they were in high school, so, because I remember playing when we first started when I was a freshman in high school. We played this older girls team. They were all out of high school, and I think they all had to be at least 5'6" or 5'5" to be on this team, and so needless to say, we weren't much competition for them. [Laughs] But so this organization, this athletic organization is huge by the time my sons were ready. They used to have baseball, volleyball, basketball, of course, and the volleyball teams, that, oh my god, I don't even know how many teams there were it was so huge. I think it was co-ed and girls only. I don' t know if there was men's volleyball, but almost all the girls played volleyball. So anyway...

TI: So you said you got involved with this --

JH: Well, I got involved because the Midwest Buddhist Temple asked Richard to coach 'cause Richard had been playing basketball, he probably was on one of the first teams that they ever played. They used to play at the Y to start out with, before they got their own leagues going. And so a lot of, everybody knows everybody. Okay. But they're asking Richard, who's not a member of the church, of the temple, so Richard says okay. He says, "But if some, some boy wants to play on the team who's not a member of your temple, he gets to play. I'll take anybody that wants to play." So they were, I don't know if they were desperate or what the story was, but they couldn't get anybody to coach, so they asked Richard, and so that's how we started. And that's when my youngest son started playing, and he was eight years old, so I used to go to keep score. That's all I did was I kept score. And so I did that for I don't know how many years, maybe a couple years, and then get more involved, doing stuff here and there. And then president of the league said to me one day, he says, "You know, Jane, he says, we want to invite," -- I don't think that's the word he used. He wouldn't say that. He says, "We want to have some women on the board." I says, "Really?" I says, "Okay." I said, "That's a good idea, but don't think you're getting us women because you want us to work in the kitchen on All Star day," 'cause I could see what was, what would happen on All Star day. That was at the end of the season. They'd have games and prizes and so forth, give out the trophies. I said, "I'm not working in the kitchen, but if there's something else you want us to do," I says, "we can do that." And so we did. We took charge here and there, mostly for the girls' leagues. We started out that way. Then they asked me if I would take charge of all the referees, scheduling them, including for the adult men. So, and then I would get in charge of this and get in charge of that, and it really evolved into a lot of work. [Laughs] But it was worth it 'cause my kids were getting a lot of benefit from it too.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: But then eventually, after serving on the board for a while, doing more and more, then you later became the president?

JH: Yes. Well yeah, first I was the treasurer at some point, and then I was the vice president, and then usually what happened was the vice president would move up to be the president.

TI: Now, was that controversial? Because I'm thinking it's a sports league, usually I think of a more male dominated.

JH: Well, you know there are all these Nisei men then, and I had, I had some opposition, yes. Yes.

TI: Now did you try to make some changes?

JH: I did. One of the things I suggested at one point was, they used to have a clinic for these little kids, and you could be seven, eight, whatever, little kids who'd never touched a basketball. And I said I'm thinking for that league, the eight- to eleven-year-olds, I suggested, why don't we have the girls and boys play together? The girls are better at this particular age and then by eleven, now the guys are getting too good to play with, or twelve, too good to play with the guys, but up until then there is no girls' league. Except there's one girls' league so it was all ages, so you had girls from, mostly high school age by that time because you're not gonna get kids from grammar school playing in the same girls' league. So I thought, well, I had heard other schools doing this, girls and boys, and in fact, Rich would tell some of the boys on his teams, "Your sisters can come, too." And some of them did come to the practice, and they were better than the guys at that age, so Rich liked that 'cause, you know. So, "Oh my god, Jane, what are you thinking?" I says, "Well, it's, we can just try it." No, shot down. Shot down. That was okay. I knew I would be shot down, but I figured I'll try. [Laughs] But in fact, when I did become president, I sort of had to nudge the president, I said... what was his name? Now I can't even think of his name. Anyway, I said to him, "You know, you've been president for two terms now." I said, "I think it's time that you stepped down and it's my turn." He was reluctant, but he knew that, yeah okay, so that's how I became president.

TI: Now, eventually, did they adopt this co-ed --

JH: No, we never did that.

TI: Well, I think it was a good idea. [Laughs]

JH: It was a good idea. When I first started I had all these ideas, and I remember I was in charge of the younger boys' basketball league, and so I'm sitting at the scorer's table, and these boys were young high school age and one team was very good and this other team, they came for this game, they had five players and one of them fouled out, got five fouls, so now they're playing four against five. And it's halftime now, so the three fathers come to me and they said to me, "You know, you are not thinking. You don't have the best interest of the boys at heart." I says, "Oh, why is that?" "Well, we're playing five against four," and he says that's not fair. I says, "What has fair got to do with it? I'm going by the rules. You want to play four against four you can do that. I'm willing to let you do that." "Well, no, we were thinking you should let the boy that fouled out play." I says, "How can I do that? He's got five fouls." I says, "At what point would I take him out then, on the sixth or the seventh, or until the game is over? Is that what you're suggesting?" "Well, you just don't have the boys' interest at heart." I says, "I am. By following the rules I am." So I figure, okay, this is my, very early on, my first challenge, right? So, of course, they had to play five against four, and the other team got beat badly, but hey, you only come with five guys. See, we don't let them sign up unless they had at least eight, because this is gonna happen, guys are gonna foul out. So they came with five, this is the penalty. Because they, see, if they forfeit, there's a forfeit fee and you would lose that instead of it being held over for the next year.

TI: But this was an example of kind of the men challenging your authority.

JH: Yes, yes. Oh yes. They had to challenge me. So the next week one of the fathers, who I went to grammar school and high school with, he comes up to me and he says, "I want to apologize for last week." I says, "Your apology is not accepted unless you want to go out on the middle of the floor and yell it out like you yelled at me that I wasn't doing the right thing. Then I would accept that apology." He says, "Well, all I can say is I'm sorry, Jane." I says, "You should be sorry. You guys were way out of line." So that was the last time.

TI: That's a good story.

JH: But that's typical men stuff, and not just being Japanese men. It's, I think that's a typical male thing.

TI: So whatever happened to CNAA?

JH: Well, it lasted for many, many years, but after a time we couldn't get the young people to come, the eight through high school age, because they all now were out in the suburbs, they were... and they had their, there was a lot of activity that was provided to them from the schools. They had soccer leagues, some got wrestling, and so you really couldn't get enough kids. And even the churches had to give up after a while because they didn't have enough young people.

TI: Okay, so Jane, it's time that we have to end this, so we're gonna...

JH: Oh yes. Maybe that's enough.

TI: I think it is. I think we got the main things.

JH: Yeah, don't you think so?

TI: Yeah, so I think this worked out really well.

JH: Right.

TI: So thank you for doing the interview.

JH: You're welcome.

TI: And let's go have a nice dinner.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.