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-01-0024

<Begin Segment 24>

SY: And you, you were at this point in your, what year of school? How many...

EN: I think I was in my second year of junior college.

SY: And were you working at the same time, or did you end up getting a job while you were going to school?

EN: No, I was just going to school. But seeing them work so hard, it just really broke my heart. I was really upset, so I quit school. I just couldn't stand it. You know, I was just going to school and they were working so hard.

SY: I see.

EN: They didn't complain. It was just really heart wrenching for me to see them doing this, so I quit school and I went to the Sawyer School of Business 'cause I thought maybe I could learn secretarial skills, so that's what I did. Just went long enough to learn how to type and take shorthand and a little bookkeeping.

SY: So how, do you remember how much more school you would've needed to graduate? Or was it just...

EN: I don't think it was much longer for me.

SY: But it was, it was...

EN: So it was probably a stupid thing to do. [Laughs]

SY: Well, apparently it all worked out in the end. But your, but so was, by going to -- business school, right? It was a business school in Pasadena?

EN: Yes. It was the Sawyer School of Business.

SY: You still had to watch your parents working, though, right?

EN: Right, so then I didn't even graduate. I just learned the skills and then went looking for a job, and I looked in all the Pasadena papers and went for interviews, but I got turned down at every job I went to. I was told, "Oh, we just filled that job," had no luck whatsoever in Pasadena. So then I started looking for a job in Pasadena...

SY: You mean you were, you looked in Pasadena first.

EN: Yes, I did.

SY: And then you went outside of Pasadena?

EN: Then I had to look for a job in L.A. and found a job with Prince Meski Lebov. [Laughs]

SY: What is that?

EN: He was a Russian import-exporter.

SY: Really?

EN: So that was my first job, but it was kind of fun.

SY: So he interviewed you, whoever this, this...

EN: Prince George. [Laughs] Meski Lebov.

SY: Prince George?

EN: Right, so I worked for him for a while. And then, then I found another job at, in the flower district in this war surplus store, and it was a bigger outfit so I got paid a little more. And I worked there until I got married.

SY: So you were able kind of to contribute a little to your family's...

EN: Yes, a little bit.

SY: A little bit, yeah. And were you, did people remember you as the person who was, were you known in the area, Pasadena area, as someone who came back from camp early?

EN: I don't believe so, no.

SY: So by then it had completely died down.

EN: I think so, yes. Well then my father, I guess after a while, he and his friends had decided to quit gardening and they formed a Rose, the Rose Frozen Shrimp Company, which was a frozen food company. And I think that was the first venture of that kind that was formed by Issei, so I think that went on for quite a while.

SY: So that was fairly successful? That got your father out of having to do heavy work?

EN: Gardening. Yes.

SY: And that was where, this Rose?

EN: In Los Angeles somewhere.

SY: So it sounded like it might've been a good move fairly.

EN: Apparently. I know they, the Rose frozen shrimp was sold in all the supermarkets, so it must've been quite a huge operation.

SY: I see. And your mother in the meantime, what did she do?

EN: She quit cleaning houses and worked in a garment factory doing power sewing machine work in Pasadena.

SY: So she stayed working as well.

EN: Yes, she did.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.