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-01-0004

<Begin Segment 4>

SY: And your, so what happened when your father joined your uncle was, he had established a few of these booths and then when your father joined then...

EN: They expanded, and then later on they had a bingo parlor, or they called it tango, but it was a big building at the foot of the pier. And they had this tango, sort of like, what do you call, bingo, when you play at church socials, and you won these beautiful prizes.

SY: So it must've taken, by the time all these things grew, there were probably several people that were working, working for your father.

EN: Yes. It was quite a large enterprise.

SY: And as, were there others on, that also did similar things, or did he have a monopoly on the game...

EN: No, there were a lot of other vendors. And I think he, there was one other Japanese Issei, but I don't remember what he did. I just remember his name was Yama-san, but he left quite early, I believe.

SY: Right, because it was not a usual profession for Japanese Americans.

EN: Yes.

SY: And then, and what, how old were you when you first started helping out there?

EN: Oh, I think I was in junior high school when they asked me to help out. But until then I'd stay with them on weekends and play on the pier and sleep under the counter when I got tired.

SY: So you got, you had a very fun childhood in that you got this --

EN: Yes, it was kind of unusual.

SY: And were you going, now, do you remember, have memories of going to school during the week, and where was that?

EN: I went to, oh dear, Florence Nightingale Elementary School, and that was just a couple blocks from the ocean so that was a lovely little school. And I believe my uncle's daughter, Tama-chan, she was the only Japanese American to attend the school when she was there, and then after her I was the only Japanese American student, so it was mostly Caucasians at that time. And then the junior and senior high school was Venice Junior and Senior High School, and I'd go there by the red streetcar.

SY: And how, what was the Japanese American population?

EN: There were quite a few there. It was the first time I saw so many, and it was a lot of fun.

SY: I see, and all this time your father was still running the concession stands?

EN: Yes.

SY: And it must have been kind of unusual. Do you remember telling other kids that that was the thing that you got to do on the weekends?

EN: I don't remember, but I'm sure they all knew and they'd see me at the pier when I was a teenager, so it didn't seem special at all.

SY: It didn't? It was, it was just the job that your father and mother, your mother helped out, I imagine.

EN: Right. Yeah, she did.

SY: And I guess being the only child, what was that like?

EN: It was kind of lonesome sometimes, but I had a girlfriend that bummed, we bummed around with all the time, so it wasn't lonesome at all. It was always fun.

SY: That's nice.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.