Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Art Ishida Interview
Narrator: Art Ishida
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: August 24, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-iart_2-01-0001

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MN: Today is Wednesday August 24, 2011. We are at the Centenary United Methodist Church in Los Angeles. We will be interviewing Atsushi Art Ishida. On camera is Tani Ikeda and I will be interviewing, my name is Martha Nakagawa. Now, Art, can you share with us about your paternal grandfather? Around when and where did he arrive in the United States?

AI: It's around late 1800. He and his oldest son came to Hawaii. I have no idea which island but came to Hawaii, then worked there. I assume a few years he work then he decide to go back to Japan, but my uncle stayed at Hawaii and then a later year he moved to mainland. My understanding is that he might, came over to Seattle area first, then he worked down to Fresno area. He settled down there.

MN: And then when he settled in Fresno, is this when he called your father over?

AI: After he established himself in Fresno area, he called my father to join him in the Fresno area.

MN: And your father was the second son, the jinan, right?

AI: My father is the second son.

MN: Now how did your father come into the United States?

AI: At that particular time there was immigration law that he cannot come through legally into U.S. So he got onto one of the merchant ship and when they reached to Mexico I understand that he jumped off the ship at the Ensenada from there he walk right into U.S. and somehow he got to the Fresno area, joined my uncle.

MN: Now do you know how long your father farmed in Fresno before he decided to get a bride?

AI: I assume he was there maybe six, seven years or so before they decide to move to Los Angeles area which was in about 1924 or somewhere around there.

MN: Before we get into Los Angeles, let's stay in Fresno. And your father, do you know what year he returned to Japan to get married?

AI: Well, I was born in Fresno in 1921 so I would guess somewhere around 1918, 1919 or somewhere around there, went to Japan, got married and returned to U.S., which this time he had his passport to go Japan and re-enter the U.S. so now he's legally into U.S.

MN: Now which prefecture were your parents from?

AI: He's from the... there's an island in Hiroshima bay called Etajima and there's a village called Kirikushi, that's where our family was from.

MN: And so your parents got married in Japan and then they both came back. Now you were talking about one of your parents had an eye infection?

AI: Eye infections, which when you reach to the U.S. if you have an eye infection you cannot enter in the U.S. because health problem. But if you're first class passenger, they do not have the physical examination so you can walk right into the U.S. without, so that's what they chose. They came with the first class passenger and returned to U.S.

MN: So did they buy a first class passenger tickets or did they sneak into the first class?

AI: No, they bought the ticket and there's a lot of funny stories. I heard about it because at the time they had no idea... well, they're from the farm country and they had never been to a place in where like the first class passenger areas. So they couldn't go into the restaurant or the mess hall and have dinner, they didn't know how to order the food in the first place. So they have to stay in their cabin and everything ordered to the cabin.

MN: And now your parents are in Fresno still. In total, how many children did your parents have?

AI: Four altogether, two was born in Fresno and two was born in Compton, California.

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