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-01-0025

<Begin Segment 25>

SY: And as far as other students coming back to Pasadena Junior College, or was it, it was called Pasadena Junior College?

EN: At that time, yes.

SY: Were you still there when other Japanese American students started coming?

EN: Yes, I was there until 1944 sometime, and so, let's see...

SY: '45.

EN: '45? So by then students started trickling in from the camps.

SY: And that was when they were just releasing people from camp.

EN: Well, they were coming, yes, coming back to school, which was really wonderful.

SY: So you got to be friends with the people that were coming?

EN: Yes, we're still friends. I think in '45 or six the girls that we met at the Pasadena Junior College formed a Nisei women's club and we called it Pasonas. It was, no one knew what that stood, it sounded sort of exotic, they didn't know it had any meaning, but it was Pasona onna, Pasadena women.

SY: Pasona onna.

EN: Onna.

SY: I see, that's the, very nice.

EN: So we still have some of the original members with us today, I think. We're still friends after all these years.

SY: Wow. And that was a group of how many women back then?

EN: I think at the time we, the most we had were about fourteen, fifteen members. And then as we all got married we became Mrs. Pasonas.

SY: So it started as primarily a social group?

EN: Yes, it was a social group.

SY: And did you intermingle with other, with other groups?

EN: Yes. When other groups formed we had socials together, and it was a very fun time.

SY: There were, there were groups like this all over the city, right?

EN: I believe so, yes.

SY: Did you, was that something that you got to know other people in other parts of the city? Or was it just, did you pretty much stay to yourselves?

EN: Well, in Pasadena we were the first group to form a women's group, and then a little later there was another group called Mesdames. There was another group, so there were two women's groups.

SY: And how about the men?

EN: And the men, let's see, there was a men's group. I forgot, I can't think of the name of it, but they were quite active and they were sort of a social and service organization.

SY: I see. And was that your, that how you would describe your group?

EN: Well, we were more social, I guess. We participated when there were things we could join to help the community, but it was mostly, we started out as a social group.

SY: And this, can you describe some of the things you did? Were they...

EN: We had dances, sponsored dances, and the Nisei would come and we'd have a live band.

SY: So you put these --

EN: We called, had, I guess it was called the Christmas Eve ball, so that got to be quite a big thing. We had it in a hotel somewhere in Los Angeles and it was quite a big shindig.

SY: I'll say. And these were all women about the same age?

EN: Yes, we were all the same age. We met at school, so that was around '45, '46.

SY: All of them at Pasadena Junior College?

EN: Right.

SY: I see.

EN: Now we're in our eighties. [Laughs]

SY: But you're still here.

EN: We're still friends.

SY: Yeah, 'cause I know that whole women's group, it was kind of a phenomenon, really, because there's nothing like it today.

EN: Is that right?

SY: I think so.

EN: Well, it was something we needed at that time.

SY: You wanted to sort of stick together.

EN: We needed to stick together.

SY: And then also was a way of meeting...

EN: Others, true.

SY: So at that time were you dating a lot of guys who were coming out of camp?

EN: Yes.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.