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-01-0005

<Begin Segment 5>

SY: So you remember when you were in, I guess by junior high school, or even in elementary school, what kind of student you were?

EN: I think I was okay. I think I was supposed to be a good student, and if I did an art project or something and if I was messy I got bawled out because I was expected to do, be better. [Laughs]

SY: Really? Your parents were strict that way. And were they Japanese-speaking, or did your mother, your --

EN: My parents?

SY: Uh-huh.

EN: No, they both spoke English quite well.

SY: Quite well.

EN: Uh-huh..

SY: I see, so they learned, they must've learned when they came to this country.

EN: Well yes, I'm sure. My mother went to this missionary school in Japan and her favorite teacher was a Canadian missionary lady, and so I'm sure they spoke English together. And my father, I don't know where he learned his English, but he spoke quite well.

SY: So did you learn Japanese at home, or did you speak only English?

EN: No, we only English. They spoke Japanese once they retired and went to Japan. Then they spoke a lot of Japanese, but they spoke both, both to me.

SY: So you did learn Japanese as a young...

EN: I went to Nihon gakkou, but I wasn't a very good student.

SY: [Laughs] Yeah, that's a problem I think most, most of us had, especially because of your speaking English with all of your friends. But did you, did you become better in Japanese as you got older?

EN: I don't think so. [Laughs] Well, I guess I did get better because once I started going back to Japan about once a year and spoke to my relatives, I was forced to learn a few words.

SY: I see, so yeah, but it must've been, I guess it was not too unusual for you because that was what you knew, but growing up in an area like that which was, which, I mean, I assume it was very, very busy on the weekends right?

EN: Yes, it was. But it was a lot of fun. Met all sorts of unusual people and met a lot of Hollywood people that would just come to bum around.

SY: So it was a little bit glamorous.

EN: Yes, it was a lot of fun. And then the ballroom would have dance music on the weekends, and being a little gal I'd get to go and sneak in free and dance around by myself. It was really fun.

SY: Wow. That is special.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.