Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Esther Takei Nishio Interview
Narrator: Esther Takei Nishio
Interviewer: Sharon Yamato
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: September 21, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-nesther-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

SY: So you, as far as you can recall, you were there for about a year.

EN: Maybe not quite a year. And so when I returned I went to work for the camp newspaper. It's called the Granada Pioneer, and I, so I got a job as a reporter, I think a Sunday school reporter, something like that, and it was news. And then I graduated to having my own column, and then I decided I'd like to draw little cartoons, so I invented a little character called Ama-chan, short for Amache. So that was, that was what I was doing when I left camp to come to Pasadena.

SY: Wow. That sounds very exciting, enterprising.


SY: So can we talk a little bit more about this, working on that camp newspaper? 'Cause I think that's so, so nice that, so did you actually get paid to work on the camp newspaper?

EN: Of course.

SY: It was a paid job, then.

EN: I think it was also eight dollars, but it was fun.

SY: So you obviously were a fairly good writer if you wrote a column.

EN: Well, I don't remember. I've never seen a column that I wrote, and I don't imagine it was too wonderful because I was only, what, eighteen or so, nineteen, going on nineteen.

SY: And you don't remember what you wrote about?

EN: No, I have no idea. [Laughs]

SY: Well it must have been --

EN: Can't imagine what I could write about.

SY: But also to be able to draw cartoons.

EN: Yeah, that was fun. I have a couple of cartoons that I received from Valerie Matsumoto. She got them from somewhere and sent them to me.

SY: She found it. That's wonderful. So your mother was interested in the arts and that was, obviously you had some of her talent.

EN: Maybe, yes.

SY: So your mother was more interested in, what kind of art did she do?

EN: She did oil painting, landscapes and things like that, and then she loved the Japanese utai, and she played the Satsuma biwa.

SY: Okay, you're gonna have to explain. Utai is an instrument?

EN: Japanese kind of storytelling, singing, I think.

SY: Oh, so she actually sang?

EN: And I think she danced as she, sometimes, so she was quite talented. And she was a wonderful artist also, so she didn't get to do all those things while we were in Venice, but when they returned from camp she had time to pursue her hobbies.

SY: Wow. So these were things...

EN: So Dad loved Mom so much that wherever Mom went he went, so he also took the classes that she took, so he got involved in her activities.

SY: I see. So it was kind of an artsy family that you had.

EN: Yeah, they were. I don't think it rubbed off on me, but they had fun together.

SY: Yeah. The cartoon strip, though, that takes a little bit of talent.

EN: Well, it wasn't a strip. It was just one little square and it was this little girl.

SY: And it told a story? The little girl told a story?

EN: A little situation, not too clever. [Laughs]

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.