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-01-0034

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SY: So the Japanese community, is there a reason you decided to stay in Pasadena?

EN: Well, I don't know. I guess I just fell in love with Pasadena, the way they treated me when I came back and all the wonderful friends we made here. Just became my home.

SY: Really, that's lovely. And now how is it that your parents, since your parents went back to Japan, how were you able to keep in touch with them?

EN: Well, because they were in Japan and I wanted to see them I wanted to work for an airline, and I was lucky enough to find a job with the Flying Tiger airline, which is an all cargo airline, and so that way I was able to fly to Japan at least once a year at no charge. And I did that all the while I was working there.

SY: That was from, from when to when?

EN: Let's see, I don't, I can't remember. [Laughs]

SY: That's okay. But it was quite a few years?

EN: Many, at least twelve, fourteen years. I could still use my airline benefits if I wanted to, but they're gone now.

SY: The Flying Tigers -- oh, your parents. [Laughs]

EN: Yeah, my parents. The Flying Tigers became the FedEx Corporation.

SY: I see. So your parents then were really well situated in Japan?

EN: Yes. They, let's see, I don't, I guess they built, they didn't build, but they built, bought a lovely home in Shinjuku, no, Koganei, which is a really nice community in Tokyo, in the suburbs. And they had a very wonderful life there until Papa passed away. And Mama lived by herself for a few years, but then my relatives said that she was having a tough time by herself so we brought her back to live with us, and we had her for eleven years after she came to live with us.

SY: How nice. But they were, they clearly were happy that they decided to move back to Japan.

EN: Yes. They had a very, very joyous social life. They followed their hobbies and had relatives they could visit. They had fun.

SY: And your mother, when she came here, what did she end up doing? Was she pretty --

EN: She immediately signed up with her music classes.

SY: Good.

EN: And she was busy. We were busy squiring her to all her music classes, and she had fun while she was living with us.

SY: That's great. So it was a nice rounding out of their, of her life, to come back and be with you.

EN: I hope so, yes. We really, really enjoyed having her with us.

SY: So really she had to leave family behind in Japan, then?

EN: She had an older sister and their family, and a younger brother, so she had people she could call out there.

SY: So your, so she, how long ago did she pass away?

EN: I don't remember. I should've looked it up before you came.

SY: That's okay. That's not that important. And, and when is it that you retired, roughly? How many years have you been retired from working?

EN: Let's see, when did I retire? I don't remember either. [Laughs]

SY: 'Cause it's --

EN: 1981 maybe, or '82. Somewhere around there.

SY: Really? So now what does your life consist of today?

EN: I'm just enjoying being a social butterfly, just flitting around and reading the paper from cover to cover and just taking life easy.

SY: And your husband, what does he do?

EN: He's retired also. And I feel really bad because in my younger days I wanted to fix the world and do really wonderful things, but I'm not really doing it right now. [Laughs]

SY: Well in some ways you have. I don't know, do you look back and think, I mean, having, being given all this attention that you've been given --

EN: No, I don't have any regrets. I'm just glad that I didn't do anything really bad in my life.

SY: But it's, but it was an important thing that happened to you, I guess.

EN: That's what I've been told.

SY: But also I'm wondering that, along the way you made some very conscious choices, one was clearly to stake out whenever nobody else went, right?

EN: Well I think I was very lucky to be able to do that. It was a great opportunity to strike out and do something, perhaps help other people, so I'm glad I was able to do that.

SY: So you feel, is that, is that something that you, that stays with you in terms of the way you approach life? Is it something that you continue to do? I mean, do you speak out about things?

EN: Usually. [Laughs]

SY: Wow. Well, Esther, I think this has been a wonderful interview. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It's a very important one.

EN: Thank you for coming. I'm so glad you came, and I hope that it will prove interesting to some people.

SY: It will. Thank you.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.