Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yone Bartholomew Interview I
Narrator: Yone Bartholomew
Interviewer: Tracy Lai
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 1, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-byone-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TL: Today is Friday, May 1st, 1998, and it's part one of our interview. Could you start by giving your full name, including your maiden name?

YB: My present (name) is Yone Vivian Bartholomew. Previously I was married to Clarence T. Arai. And then my maiden name was Yone Utsunomiya.

TL: Okay. Could you tell me about your parents, their names and when they came to the United States?

YB: My birth parents, Father was Fujitaro Utsunomiya and Mother was Toyo Utsunomiya. And they came here, I know, shortly before I was born, which would be about 1905 or another year earlier. Father was employed at the sugar beet factory, where he was very fortunate to be able to help employ other Japanese who were in need of employment at that time.

TL: Did he already know someone in the area? Or...?

YB: Not that I know of. Unless he just came there, knowing that he, seeking for employment and knew that he would get some sort of employment there.

TL: So you were born what city or town?

YB: I was born in Betteravia [Inaudible] actually. [Laughs] It doesn't exist there anymore, but it's nearby Santa Maria.

TL: Okay. Did your parents intend to return to Japan or did, were they seeking a new home to settle into?

YB: I think at that time they had no intention of returning, but seeking a new home and raising a family there.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TL: You've mentioned in past conversations that you were fostered out, so to speak. And I'm wondering if you can tell more about that experience, how, how old you were and the family, tell us a little about the foster family.

YB: Well as I look back, I'm told, that when I was born -- toddling, barely toddling around -- there was another couple who did not have any children. And having seen me, they said, "Oh I wish we had one like that. We'd sure like a child, but I'm not able to have any children." And so my Dad says, "Fine I expect to have a big family. I have two in Japan and this one, and will have many more, but if you want her, you can have her." Without even consulting poor Mother. And Mother said, "I had nothing to say" -- because she felt sorry for the family, too -- "but I was so happy to have my firstborn here because I missed my two in Japan." But she gave me up in order to make the other family happy and I was raised by the, I would say, Yamada family, actually their legal name was also Utsunomiya. And my foster mother was very well educated that she looked into the family history background to find that at one time, all those Utsunomiyas were together and then spread all over, so that they may end up in different parts of the prefecture (or Japan).

TL: So that by legal name, do you mean legal in Japan and somehow when they came to the United States they were, on paper named... Yamada?

YB: Paper name both Utsonomiya. And then, because most people could not pronounce the name Uts, they'd say uts, uts... and Papa says we got to change that name. And to a very simple name of Yamada. Only it turned into a Spanish name because when I went to school, instead of Yone Yamada, they'd call me Yone Yamada, so it became typically Spanish. And that's the way I was known as Yone Yamada.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TL: I'd like to return to a few more details about your birth parents. Where they farmers or peasants in Japan as well, or is that simply what they ended up doing when the came to the States?

YB: Well in Japan, when I did go back there, they had this huge silk farm. They raised silk worms and that was their profession. I know that they were a very religious family. My grandmother was able to heal and treat people. When I went there, more people would come in, with thank you offerings to visit her little shrine, and the door was never locked or closed. And I used to think, gosh people walking in without even knocking. Mother, Grandmother says, "They never knock, the door is always open to them."

TL: What is the name of the religion that she practiced?

YB: I imagine it's a branch, branch of the Bunkyo Buddhist.

TL: And is this --

YB: Shinto Buddhist.

TL: And is this healing, art, was this practiced also by your mother?

YB: No. Grandmother seems to be the only one that had it in the tip of her fingers or in her hands.

TL: Uh-huh.

YB: And somehow she could heal people, and they were very grateful. And they would come with little offerings of vegetables or fruits, for the little shrine, and they would put in incense and leave. And at first I used to think, how can people walk in without knocking? Which is not common here, you have to knock first. But she says she never leaves her door locked, they are free to come and go.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TL: How many other brothers and sisters do you have from your birth parents?

YB: At the time Mother and Father came to America, they had left behind two children... a daughter, two daughters. And then I was the first born here, of which there was four girls and four boys. So that made eight here and two in Japan, that would have been ten.

TL: Wow.

YB: At present, there is only four of us left. A younger sister and I have two younger brothers.

TL: Did the two that had been left in Japan, did they eventually rejoin the family?

YB: No, because they were married and established there and they eventually passed away in Japan.

TL: Oh, okay. Oh, I meant in their younger years, once, once they --

YB: No, they were with gran, the grandparents.

TL: Okay and they just stayed there with that part of the family.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TL: In another conversation, you mentioned something about, Santa Cruz Island and collecting...

YB: Yes, I remember that... I was very little then, but this is what Mother would tell me. And I certainly regret the day that I threw the papers away. When I got married and came to Seattle, I was cleaning house. And even before then, I think I threw it away, papers that were kept -- the bookkeeping they had of the expense, the cost and the money, little money that they made off of the abalone business they had on the island.

TL: Uh-huh.

YB: Evidently they had a big storm that came across the island there. And both Mother and Father, and my first late husband's parents went into business, abalone business. They sold the meat for canning, or for eating, and then the shells for making into different things. But one day there was a terrific storm that swept through the island and washed away all thirteen ships. Mother says that was it, the thirteen ships were bad luck. And it just cleaned them out, so they had to give it up and came back to Santa Barbara.

TL: So this must have been your foster family that did --

YB: Yes --

TL: The abalone?

YB: My foster parents and my first husband's parents, who were pioneers also.

TL: Yeah. I should ask the names of your foster parents, as well, their first names and...

YB: My, well, my, birth name would be Utsunomiya. So was... Father's name was Fujitaro... Utsunomiya. Mother was Toyo Utsunomiya.

TL: Okay. And you mentioned, that Toyo Utsunomiya was married --

YB: Fujitaro was my father's name. Now all the brothers... I get confused, they all have 'taros' on the end of it. [Laughs]

TL: Was your foster mother the one who had a lot of education and...?

YB: My foster mother was, because in the old days, if you recall, they didn't believe the women should be highly educated. It was necessary for them to be, well, taught in the way of being a good wife, a mother, raising a good family. And school was not necessary, but Grandpa couldn't see it, he said, "Oh, that's hogwash." He said, "That's crazy." So he hired a tutor for Mother and her sister -- they outdid the boys. Because my auntie did the most beautiful painting and Japanese (poems), on the folding fans, the silk fans as gifts. And Mother could outdo anytime. And the men would come and ask her, "How do you write a certain character, what does this mean?" And she could tell them. She believed in education. And she looked into the Utsunomiya family and found that at one time all the Utsunomiyas belonged to one clan. And had spread out to various parts of the prefecture, so that they were, spread out in different parts of Japan.

TL: Was your father as, was your foster father as highly educated?

YB: Yes he was, but Mother was more interested. She would keep studying. And very much interested in medicine and herbs, because for twenty-five generations, family had been doctors. In those days really herbs, that's all they knew anyway. And she learned a lot about herbs, tried to teach me and I couldn't stand the smell of them, you know how strong they smell, and so, I never paid attention. And my cousins (would) say, "Weren't we crazy not to learn when we could have learned everything then..." which we didn't. But she was able to go and pick up all kinds of herbs for sick people and help them. My foster mother was very good about that.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TL: Were you able to maintain some connection with your birth parents, and if so, in what ways and how often did you see them?

YB: We lived, in those days, horse and buggy days, it took so much longer than a car. But my foster parents, both being well educated; their only means then was farming. And so he went really into farming and raised the most beautiful vegetables and melons. And we didn't have a car, so it was horse and a little wagon, loaded a truck full, a wagonload of vegetables, and fruits and melons. And they'd go up into the oil wells and peddle them, and do very good business. And Mother never done anything like that, and my uncle and Mother would go up and come home at the end of the day. And then on weekends, we'd take the horse and buggy, the little surrey top buggy four of us could ride, and go to Santa Maria which was, I think it's about twenty miles or fifteen miles from there. In horse and buggy takes a little while, car didn't take any time at all. We would go visit them. Then at that time, there was two younger brothers and my youngest sister that were very little and I would go and play with them. And the oldest of the three, Ken, my brother Ken, say, "I want..." he would want to come. And Mother, my real mother, would say, "Oh no, you can't go today." And when we'd come home. I'd be sitting up in the front because it could hold three and in the back of the truck, we had a little canvas that would cover things. When we got home and we get off of the wagon, and who comes crawling out from behind -- my little brother. He'd say, "Hello, Grandma," that's my mother, he'd call her Grandma too. And she says, "Uh oh, I better call Santa Maria right now or she'll be looking all over for you." So she'd call up, she says, "Mamasan, if you're looking for Ken he's with us." She says, "(How) did (he) get there [Inaudible]?" She says, "We didn't know until we got here that he was on the wagon, behind the... the little wagon truck." And here it was he gets to stay another week with us, follows me to school and sits with me. So they're some very blood, close blood collection without either one of us knowing it. But he would follow me all over like a shadow, sleep with me, he was just a little tiny tot, he would sleep with me, go to school and sit with me. And if I crocheted he would crochet, he did beautiful crocheting. [Laughs] And he's passed (away) now with cancer. But he had moved to Los Angeles after he got married, and they kept, we kept very close (in touch). We were raised apart, but very close. And my brother Darrell and I, talk to him at least once month. Who married a very lovely Caucasian lady and they had no children, but he lectures on Buddhism and Zen philosophy. And doesn't do it for money, he does it to, for people who want to listen to the lecture. He's got a house full; they come two, three times a week.

TL: How many brothers and sisters did you have in your foster parent family?

YB: I was the only one.

TL: Oh, okay. So you were the only one --

YB: Yes --

TL: And so, for them it was really a treat for Ken to also come.

YB: Just one, yes, yes.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

YB: Then my sister, that came after me, didn't stay too long either with Mother, poor Mother didn't have a chance to hang onto either one of the children. Because then my foster mother's niece and her husband, were married for a couple of years, no children... and (when) they saw my sister Uta, and boy, "I wished we had one like that." And Dad says... so off she went to the Hagiya family, which made us... (let's) see, Mrs. Hagiya was my foster mother's niece, her sister's daughter. And that made me her cousin through foster parents. And she was just like a big sister to me. However, then she had my little sister as her daughter, and we grew up thinking we were cousins, second cousins. And the day came when my mother was going through a cri, very critical period of where the women change, what should I say... their period of...(change, menopause).

TL: Change of life.

YB: Change of life goes through. And she was very ill, she was very frightened. She said, "If I don't live to see the day the children grow up and get married, and know that I'm their real mother... can we have now a reunion of everyone, to let them know that I am the true mother." And I was eighteen and my sister was sixteen. So we all congregated in this big farmhouse -- I think it was from here to there, that's how big the diningroom was and we had a table that big, and Mother would cook for a crew of about ten or twelve -- and we all congregated in there. And I forgot which of the family made a little talk and then, Mother wept because she was so happy to know that the children would know. My sister cried and cried, she says, "Why aren't you crying?" I said, "Because I already knew." And she says, "How come you didn't tell me?" I said, "Because you'd never believe me." She was just the opposite from me; she never took things too seriously. And so she found out at the age of sixteen that she was a foster child. But her father, Hagiya, just spoiled her, no one could be as kind as he was to her and more than a father could be. And she was always the big sister, to this day; they still look up to her as big sister. Six more came along later, three boys and three girls. And they are all very good to her. And they (also) included me as their sister and they are very good to me. So I have a real big family, in spite of being raised alone.

TL: Looking back, do you remember having any adjustment problems or... you were quite young the way you describe the first years with your foster family. So did that effect you later, perhaps, as a teenager or...?

YB: No, I didn't. Because my mother, if I ever visited her, when my firstborn was born -- and that was the only child I had whom I lost in later years, nine years old he died of cancer -- if I go from here to Santa Barbara, Santa Maria is on the way. So naturally I'm going to stop there first. Get off the bus and go in there. And Mother was so happy to see her new little grandson and wept with tears, however at the same time she said, "You know, you should be in Santa Barbara first. She is the mother that raised you and is waiting for you, and you're the only one she has." So she said, "Hurry up and get on the next bus. Go over there and visit her as long as you like. Then what time you can spare for me, be sure to stop by and then you can come and visit me." In other words, she's reminding me that I should have the foster mother as the number one whom I should remember. And remember Mother secondly. She always put herself second. So the other parents were not denied at all... of their daughter. And I did, I always went to them first and did everything (I could) for them until they died. But Mother said, "Please remember them because they're the ones that gave you everything they could as parents." And she said, "And remember me as your mother."

TL: Well, it sounds like you had really close relationships --

YB: Very close.

TL: That's really wonderful.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TL: What are some of your favorite memories of activities that you did with your mother, your father?

YB: You know in those days -- I don't know if it is the same with the Chinese oriental family -- but the older parents, fathers especially, don't have, didn't have too much to do with children. It was usually the mothers. So whether it's education, or activities, or church going, or whatever it was always the mother that had to say something. And being raised by the Yamada mother, I did go to church, very faithfully. Went to language school, then she taught me the characters at home. I said, "I don't want to learn all that chicken scratch." She said, "Oh, dear." She says, "Don't speak that way." She says, "Respect your grandparents. [Laughs] They need you [Inaudible] in writing and reading and everything." So I really got called on the carpet. But she did, she was very well educated in character writing and speaking, she'd correct me every time. So that if I would be with other people, they said I was too polite. But then, having had teachers in our family for a... what do they call that language school. It's a school where nothing but nobility went. And that is where my aunt taught. And when her daughter came to this country, I could not understand her language, it was so polite. But Mother put me in her home for a year, and I didn't dare open my mouth. She spoke English much faster than I learned Japanese. And spoke beautiful English. They say if you speak good Japanese you can learn English as well. And she did, she learned very fast.

TL: You mentioned that your mother put her in her home for you? I mean that you lived in Japan or...?

YB: Here. In the States. She had two little children and I was there with them, and went to school. So I'd listen to her talk and I'd have to respond in the same way. And not use your everyday language. And if there was anything wrong, I would have to be corrected. So when I went to (Japan)... that was before, but if I did speak with people who came from Japan, they said, "Have you been to Japan before?" And I said, "No. I hadn't gone yet, then." They said, "Well for that you speak very good Japanese." But I was constantly being corrected, "That is not the language women use, or girls use; only men are permitted to use a sort of a rough type of Japanese." And when you have people working for you, men, and you hear it constantly, you're going to use the same language.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TL: What are some of the values that your, that your mother emphasized... that, that you remember clearly?

YB: Well I think like all of the older generation, respect your elders, obey your parents, your teachers, and try to get all the education you can and always be kind to others. Well, I know that my real mother was always teaching kindness to others. And the one thing that I respected of her and nobody wanted to do was, cleaning the church lavatories and doing dirty work. And Mother says nobody seems to enjoy doing it and you can't blame them. But she said, "When the children go into kindergarten or into Sunday school in the morning they leave such a mess and nobody cleans it. And I don't want anybody going into our dirty church." [Laugh] So, she runs in there, early in the morning, and cleans it up. And she said, "A clean lavatory or a bathroom will surely" -- this was their saying -- "will help you to bring up a family of clean beautiful children." And I used to think, "Gee, do I have to clean up the bathroom all the time?" [Laughs] But this was their way of teaching you to have respect, not only around yourself but for others too.

TL: Was this a, a Japanese American church? Or was it a...?

YB: It was a combination of both. We'd have English speaking pastors and Japanese speaking pastors. They have that also right now, we have that going. And it was usually, either Japanese or English. But regardless they'd all go to the same service.

TL: And what religious denomination was this?

YB: I think the church there is Presbyterian, I'm not too sure, or Congregational. But I was baptized by an American church at the age of, I guess I was in the seventh -- I went to a Catholic school prior to that, because that was the only church that was in this little tiny country, area that I went to. On the hilltop, a beautiful steeple church, it was Catholic. I didn't join but I did attend their Sunday school and their services. So I'm very well acquainted with the Catholic Church. And later I joined a Presbyterian Church, became a member. Then when I moved to Santa Barbara, they had a Japanese church, which was Congregational. So it wasn't that I wanted to change religions, but in order to help the young people there, I had to become a member of the church. So I join, joined the Congregational church.

TL: Going back to your relationship with your, with your mother and your father. What expectations were you aware of, as far as, what they hoped you would do as you became more independent and grew older?

YB: Well I'm sure Mother never versed it but I'm sure, as a mother myself, that I would always want my child to remember her and remember my father. And that we always did, I'd evenly go between the two. But the, my foster parents died first because they were older. And she always said, "If you're coming to California to visit, I'd love to have you all the time, but be sure that you go there first, spend what time you can. And whatever spare time you have left, then come and I'll be waiting for you." So she felt the obligation was to them first. And after they passed away then I was free to come and visit as much as I could.

TL: About how much older were they, maybe ten years or possibly more?

YB: Just about ten. Because my Yamada mother died in her eighty-two and the Utsunomiya mother passed away at eighty-seven, she wasn't quite ninety.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TL: Did they believe that you would very likely marry a farmer also? And continue farming?

YB: Well my foster mother was, you know they are always finding someone for you. I says, "Mom, please don't pick somebody up." I'd say, "Mama, please don't pick someone out for me. If it's a tramp walking down the street and he's real nice, and kind, and handsome, I'll marry him." She says, "Don't talk like that." [Laughs] I got tired of having them pick somebody out for me. I said, "Can't we wait until we find somebody?" She says, "Well, I guess there is no other choice." And we had a convention of some sort once... oh, you have heard of the Japanese American Citizens League. Well my first late husband was the organizer of that. And he, and he also happens to be, his parents were very good friends of mine. They were in business together. When he was born, he used to come over to my foster mother's home, and come to eat dinner and fall asleep on the dinner table, always. And they'd have to wake him up and feed him. Because he was five years my senior. Then I came along later. But that year, I had already organized, what we call a Japanese American Citizens League, which is JACL. Just like Japanese Americans, no, Japanese American Citizens... Club, is what I called it. And we had just organized it for two months in our town, then along came JACL. And they said Clarence would be visiting Los Angeles to organize there first, then on the way back would stop at Santa Barbara. So Mother said, "Oh, I knew him as a baby. You better go and watch, and see what he is doing in Los Angeles. Then accompany him and come back to Santa Barbara." (Since) my brother (lived) there, I went to Los Angeles, stayed there and then took the same bus as (Clarence) to come back to Santa Barbara. And (had) quite a good visit with him. And he came back and looked up his (childhood) neighbor friend, who also became a lawyer of all those wealthy people around Santa Barbara. Just the opposite from Clarence because Clarence was beginning as a poor lawyer. But they had a grand time together. And he got to meet the mother, who used to feed him breakfast, because he used to sneak through the bedroom window and hop across, and get in through their kitchen door and have breakfast with them. And so, she was happy to see him. And (my foster) mother was doubly happy to see him. Then, later to learn that we became very good friends and married. She didn't have to worry at all. [Laughs] Yeah.

TL: Well --

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

YB: But he found that I had organized a citizens group already, but we hurriedly changed it to JACL, the same group.

TL: But you had formed a...

YB: A citizens group already.

TL: And this was without knowledge at all of this other development?

YB: Yes, uh-huh. And then I learned of this other group and I thought; well he's coming, so we'll see what happens. And so we just made that change from one group to the other, changed the name.

TL: Who were some of the people that you worked with to form that group?

YB: Our church group. Goodness.

TL: It kind of came out of the church group?

YB: More or less. Some of them are gone. They're all gone. Every one of them are gone.

TL: Were they, were they people that... I haven't actually asked --

YB: Buddhist church --

TL: Okay, uh-huh.

YB: Christian church, they were mixed groups.

TL: Uh-huh.

YB: And I'd go to... they'd even have Christmas service over at the Buddhist church. They'd say, "Yone, come over to the Christmas service, bring your children over." They'd come over to my church. So we were on the same block, we didn't know which was Christian and which was Buddhist. We mingled very well together.

TL: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

YB: It was a small... community of Japanese. So, we knew each other very much... closely. And then the American churches would come and help us organize. Which I originally attended, which was the Presbyterian Church and the Japanese was Congregation. But that made no difference, they would come and help us.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TL: Do you remember some of the activities or even the purpose that you saw for yourself as a citizens' club?

YB: It wasn't too long after that that I got married.

TL: Yeah.

YB: And, well, we'd, we'd participate in the Fourth of July parade, we'd always get first prize, twice we got first prize.

TL: Oh. Did you have a float or...?

YB: We had a float. We'd work on a float, all, a couple of days and two nights to put it together.

TL: Uh-huh. Do you remember what the subject of the float was?

YB: Always Japanese, of course --

TL: Yeah.

YB: They'd wear their Japanese kimonos. And, my, I call him my little kid brother, Iky, who is a Mason and married and had two, three lovely children. And he would always come to me for all his problems. But he was in ROTC, so he'd wear his uniform and I'd wear my kimono. So it was a combination of the two, bring the two together.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TL: Was there a, specific incident or event which, which motivated the people to form this organization?

YB: Well, we had heard that they were organizing various groups throughout the country --

TL: Okay,

YB: So we thought, well why, "We better do the same thing."

TL: The same thing, uh-huh.

YB: So we just fell in place with them.

TL: Were most of you about the same age, then?

YB: About the same... the group that organized it... well we had a lot of church groups going though, and we'd have conventions and we'd have some meeting, Santa Barbara occasionally, make a big affair; or go to Los Angeles or whichever.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TL: If we could go back to early childhood memories, one of the things I was wondering about is... at what point you got the name Vivian as a middle name.

YB: That was in high school. I thought, gee, Yone, maybe I need an American name. But the trouble of it is, that when I did get it I wished I hadn't. Because Japanese can't pronounce V, it turns to a B. And Mama says, "Where in the world did you get that name? Bibien, sounds like baby... Bibien." [Laughs] So hardly ever used it.

TL: Do you remember why you chose that name then, did you just...?

YB: I don't know, I was looking through names and there was a reason for it, but I can't remember that far back, why.

TL: Were there other of your high school --

YB: Yeah, I think --

TL: Friends who were choosing names at the same time?

YB: Yeah, I think, I think so... Japanese names and they wanted American names. But everybody used Yone, or they'd call me Ione. Never seem to be able to say Yone... or Yone.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TL: Well if we went really far back, what would you say some of your earliest memories of growing up with the Yamada family, like the house that you lived in or what the farm looked like?

YB: I think the farm days were the happiest... what would I say, none caring, no worrying... out in the open. Chickens, and ducks, and geese, and goats and horses. I had a... the colt was mine. The horse that we received as gift from our family doctor -- and in those days that's all they had was horse and buggy -- and everytime they had a Japanese patient, either Uncle or Dad had to go with the doctor, 'cause nobody understood English. And I was still a baby. But they would go away. And when the first Ford came out, of course, Dr. Brown was the first one to buy it in Santa Maria. And he had his first Ford and so, he turned around and gave us the horse and buggy. And that horse was a trotter, she would travel so fast. Get you someplace in no time. And then, she eventually gave birth to a little black colt, and her name was Cloud, Cloudy because she was swift as a cloud. I thought I'd go one better and call my little horse (the colt) Sky. It was coal black with one little white star, but I called him Sky. And from the day that he was born I'd play around with him, so I could get in between his front legs, underneath, any place. Never bothered him. And even hitched him to cart and trained him to pull a cart, and ride horseback on him. And I did it all myself because he trusts me. Those were the good days, that we'd go horse, back to school, either horse and buggy to school or bicycle.

TL: Uh-huh.

YB: And the trouble is, every time I go with my little tiny bicycle, this big friend of mine would say, "Can I try your bike?" Leave the big one behind and I'd have to stand in the middle of the air to pump to meet her wherever she's got mine. [Laughs] But, those were the wonderful grammar school days that we had. And before that, little Raymond, Ramon Goodchild, who was Spanish, their grandmother owned a beautiful hacienda and a farm, and a group of Palomino horses. Beautiful. She was very wealthy. And on the way home we'd stop and have a snack, and she'd have something ready for us. Spoke no English, rattled away in Spanish. That's how I learned Spanish. I said, "Ramon what's Grandma saying?" [Laughs] I wouldn't understand. So, I learned to speak Spanish and English first before I spoke Japanese.

But we had, I had my own horse. And then billy goats, they chase you but they never horn you. They take the forehead and push you when they get mad at you. But it's funny, once they're your pets they seem to be very gentle. But they chase you -- you'd better run because they're really going to boost you. But they never use their horn. And we'd have chickens that we'd hatch out of the incubator, geese, ducks, turkeys. So we used to have, and out of that we had a blind, one eye blind hen and a duck that I had taken care of because it couldn't waddle, and a geese, or a goose. We'd go for a walk, they're so closely attached to you, the dog, the cat, the duck and the goose would follow us down the street. I never did take pictures of them. But that was something to see. One would quack and the other would, geese, sort of, make a sound. And the little chicken would run along.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TL: I love the image that you gave us with yourself leading a parade of --

YB: Pets.

TL: Pets. [Laughs] And I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit more, about your experiences with those animals.

YB: Well you get quite attached to them. And they figure that you're a part of them and you get treated as such too sometime. My little billy goat never used his horn, but he'd take his head and really give you a shove if you don't watch out. When he would, I'd grab his horn and sit on him and then he'd leave me alone. And the ganders, when they have a brood of little ones, trotting around, are very protective of them, even if you, they know that you're not going to harm them. But if the gander comes with his neck sticking out, you better watch it! [Laughs] Because he's liable to grab your pants and slap his wings and, at you then you really get black and blue. So, in a time like that, I would grab his neck and sit on it. And then it would take off and leave me alone. Other people would run away and it just chases after you and really grabs you. But it was fun on the farm, all the pets and animals that we had. And the horses that were really tame.

TL: Were most of your chores related to helping with the upkeep of the animals or were there other chores that you remember?

YB: Well, I'd feed them, yes, and water them. And then we had to keep the grounds clean, because if they're trotting around the grounds, which I didn't always do. But, they were usually limited to the back yard. But the pets would always come trotting around the front. We had, Uncle had built a swing, it was a seat, a huge old seat that he put on the swing, under our pepper tree. And on hot days we'd swing on that. Then, the pets would come. Our dog would be the first one to sit, a little dog, the big one couldn't. Then the goose that was tame would come and want to get up, and it would sit some where on the space that's left. But the duck couldn't make it; it would pull on my shoestrings, nibble on my pant legs and do anything to get my attention. And so finally I would pick it up and put it on my lap. The chicken could get up, the duck was the last one, just couldn't make it up so I'd have to pick it up. They'd all be happy and I surely wish I had taken pictures of it, which we didn't.

TL: So you'd be swinging along with all of your pets.

YB: Yeah, yeah. These were incubator hatched, pets, were left without a mother and so, they followed after me.

TL: So they adopted you as the mother.

YB: Yeah, yeah. So they'd follow me wherever I'd go, we even had a raccoon in a cage. And we would let it out and it learned to (go) back in it's cage every night. Because we would put food in there. And we used to give it a half a watermelon; it would dig into it. Just like humans would dig in and eat. And it would love nice warm biscuits out of the oven. And he would know just about the time the biscuits were made and it would be waiting for it, so we'd entice (him) back into the cage with the biscuit. But one night he never did return. And my uncle said, "That's funny." And he was sleeping up in the tree. So he says, "Well maybe he'll be all right up there." But when (my uncle) got up in the morning, one chicken was gone. And that's what raccoons will do, they don't eat the chickens but they draw the blood out of the chicken, kill the chicken. And Uncle said, "If we let him stay up there all the time, he's going to do this every night." He says, "I got to kill it." I said, "Oh you can't kill that pet." So while I was gone to school, I think he killed it. They didn't tell me, but it was gone. We didn't have a raccoon after that.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TL: So was this uncle living... in the household?

YB: With us, (yes).

TL: And were there other members of the family living?

YB: No, that was all that was living in the house.

TL: So he helped out with the, with your father's farming activities?

YB: Yeah, and then we had adjoining cottages that they could live in, or they lived in their own homes around the neighborhood.

TL: How many acres were in farming?

YB: Goodness, as a child I can't remember. I knew we were near a riverbed that I knew that we had to watch... overflow the river. And then the mesa, up the hill, up on the, across the riverbed where the spring poppies would bloom out, California poppies with just fields of orange. Was just beautiful. And I can look back to the days they would shoot jackrabbits, when I think of it, I feel so badly for them but that's what they would shoot and kill, and eat.

TL: So were the fields that you were farming, were they near the house or were they actually removed and you had to ride out to them.

YB: Well, if there is an orchard it would be beyond that, so that we would drive out to them. We had a little Model T Ford which I tried to drive one day, was going down the country road, they said the car's moving all by itself because they couldn't see my head. So Uncle ran up to it because it was going very slow. He saw me inside, finally got in there and put the brakes on.

TL: Well how old were you when you decided to drive that --

YB: I was only eight or nine.

TL: Ah [Laughs]

YB: It looked so easy... two peddles, no three, reverse and the one that you, the clutch and then the brake. But if you stepped (on) the brake, (and) the clutch too far, it would start going so you had to step on it a certain way. And that's what I wanted to try myself, and I couldn't stop it.

TL: But women generally, like the older women, your mother didn't drive did she?

YB: She tried to and she ran into something, so she quit. [Laughs] She said, "No more, I don't want to drive." So I learned to drive after my uncle (taught me) to drive. I could hardly reach the clutches but I learned to drive. And drove the Ford and the big Studebaker.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TL: So in your home, did you mostly speak Japanese?

YB: I would speak English to my uncle. My mother says that, "You're to speak Japanese at home. Otherwise you'll never learn." And if I'm wrong, she would correct me; (and say), "Women should never speak that way, this is what you should say." Or, "It's rude to... speak to someone," and you would say it in some way and make corrections like that. And then I got so sensitive... other people doing it, how come I can't. [Laughs] But sooner or later I learned quite a bit from her.

TL: How old were you when you went to the Japanese language school?

YB: I must have been eighteen, seventeen. I was late --

TL: And did you have to go far because...?

YB: No, it was just around the block.

TL: Oh, okay.

YB: Only to learn that the minister's wife, a very lovely person, came from Sendai, and the prefecture if you know it... Sendai --

TL: Uh-huh.

YB: And, there they speak the zsu-zsu, everything is... they can't say osushi, they say ozsuzsu. They can't say this "sh." And they can't shinbo, have a very, like it's in their mouth and they call it zsu-zsu languages. So she was that and when I came home from school, Mother says, "Well, how was your Japanese language school? What did you learn?" Well our teacher said, "Uh oh." She said, "You're all going to be speaking the zsu-zsu language!" So it didn't last too long because we would all be learning that type of language. So I concentrated more on character learning, how to write rather than language.

TL: And did you learn that mostly from your mother?

YB: The... basic... tool I learned at school. And then Mother would try to teach me, which I didn't -- would write me letters and then explain why this was used and where you can use it. And try to teach me through the letter writing. And then she passed away, so I didn't learn any more.

TL: Well --

YB: She was interested in education, very much so.

TL: Yes, yes.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TL: Well, what about your childhood experiences in public schools or whatever school was available?

YB: There was some prejudice -- as a whole everything was fine, but you'll find one that's always giving you a bad time. I don't care where you go, there's always one that's doing something different. And this was a boy who is, of course, prejudiced against Oriental, maybe the family was. And the rest of them said, "Don't pay any attention to him, don't pay any attention." But, it, it kind of bothered me, because I had never had that experience before, because I was raised with and among them. And then to come to school and have that happen. I said, "Why am I different?" But eventually he was being overpowered by the rest, he changed eventually. And he turned out to be a very nice boy. Because what he might have learned at home might have been the influence too. But with my patience of not getting too hurt or upset, he eventually... found that he wasn't getting anywhere with me. So he eventually changed.

TL: Were most of your schoolmates Caucasian or were there any of --

YB: I was the only Oriental in grade school and high school, until I went to (Carpenteria), which is a small suburb town of Santa Barbara. And went to high school there and graduated from there. There were two other, members from a family that were Japanese. But until then, I was the only Oriental.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TL: Were, you mentioned earlier, a young boy named Ramon, did he attend the same schools?

YB: He was going to the same grade school, we were in the first, second and third grades... together. (While) I was living in Sisquoc... (before my marriage). I went to Santa Maria, to see my parents. And then I was going to move to Seattle (after) I got married so, while (in) Santa Maria (I decided) to go to Sisquoc and see... the Ontirveros, 'cause I had known the grandmother for so long. And Ramon was there that day, he was 6 foot (tall). "Chona, you haven't grown one bit!" he looks at me. [Laughs] Never called me Yone... Chona, that was my nickname from him. And he picked me up like [Inaudible], "You're not going to go away already?" I said, "Yes." "You haven't grown one bit!" [Laughs] And he comes from a very wealthy family and married into a wealthy family, but I think because of that he's remarried a couple of times. And someone else says, "Ramon... oh, he turned out to be a naughty boy." [Laughs] But I imagine that was because of his wealth, he must have had too good of a time.

TL: Were there other Mexican Americans in your classes?

YB: Yes, there were. And a few Caucasians, Williams, and I cannot find where they might have disappeared to. One was my classmate and one was younger, the two sisters, and we were very close. I tried locating them but I don't know where they've disappeared to. And the Ontiveros are not there any more, everybody's moved away. And there might be someone there at the hacienda, this is a beautiful structure of a home overlooking the fields and I thought one of these days I'd still like to go back and see who's living there.

TL: Did the same classmates that you went to elementary school, continue on through the upper grades together?

YB: No because I moved from Siquoc out to Santa Inez (and then out to Santa Barbara).

TL: Okay.

YB: Which is completely another town. And then when I did go to high school where the children from Solvang, the Danish children (attended). One of the girls come and says, "Yone, you may not know it but you're not just a Japanese." And I said, "I'm not?" "You're a Japanese squarehead." (The Danish called themselves "squareheads.") And they were all really very nice to me.

TL: Were their families equally accepting, in the sense of inviting you or making you feel welcome to their social occasions?

YB: Yes, I've had, I've had quite a few, I've had... and the principal and his wife were just outgoing. In fact I became one of the closest friends of the principal's sister-in-law, Josephine Winters. And she wrote to me for years and I think she's passed on. And she and her husband used to travel abroad every year, they were both teachers. I lost track of them but they could have passed away. Lot of my classmates are gone now. I might have outlived them, I don't know.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TL: When you were in school, did your teachers treat all the children pretty much the same or did you find that they seemed to have different expectations of you or the Mexican American children?

YB: No. I felt that (we) were treated pretty much the same in grade school. I didn't see any difference. In fact, if I didn't have a ride, my horse was sick or something, the teacher would come horseback and I'd ride behind her, and I'd go to school.


TL: Were there any teachers in your early years or even in high school who became a mentor for you in some way?

YB: I, I know that I was well cared for and loved by the principal's family, because the sister-in-law and I became very good friends. And I was also a member of the... Camp Fire Girls, which the principal's wife, Mrs. Westcott, was our leader and guide. So I was a Camp Fire Girl there; and we'd go to their house parties and to outings that we'd have for the summer. And... and all the people came from Solvang picked me up for a ride, come by my house, the two of them, because they just figured I was just another square-head... only I was Japanese. [Laughs]

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TL: Did most of your high school classmates go on, continue in their family businesses or were they also thinking of going on for further education?

YB: Lot of them have continued with their businesses in Solvang I recall, and others have gone to school to Santa Barbara, and maybe Los Angeles and elsewhere they could study in colleges.

TL: What kind of encouragement did you receive to pursue further education?

YB: I think Mrs. Westcott, our Camp Fire leader, has helped me a lot. And my interest was really in art, so when I moved to Santa Barbara and entered Santa Barbara State Normal -- they changed that name so I don't know what it is now -- but it was on the hilltop, a beautiful college there. And there again I was the only Oriental. But there were students from all over the country, who loved being there because of the view, you get the whole bay... the sound, the islands. But it was a small group and it was very nice going to school while I did go. I eventually dropped out because my mother was ill and she needed care. I did make that trip to Japan in the meantime and took time out for two months. And then came back and returned but only to have to drop out.

TL: So your interest in art, evolved in your earlier years in school? Was there a favorite form of art that you had?

YB: I... had a teacher who was very much interested in my drawing. And he taught us stagecraft; we'd make miniature stagecrafts. And learned to make interior decorations by drawing pictures of an interior and also of an exterior, all in one, with different coloring. So that according to the color (lighting) cast onto the stage, it would bring out the interior scene or the exterior scene. And I was having fun working on that. And the teacher and his wife had no children, was very much interested in me. He says, "Yone, you know, we'd like to take you to Hollywood with us." He said, "We've been called to report over there for a position. We'd sure like to take you over there and get you interested in this field that you're doing so well in." And I told Mom, and Mom says, "I wouldn't think of letting you go alone in a strange town." In the old days parents were being very strict. And I thought, oh shucks and I wanted to go so bad. But there again I lost a chance of going to learn a career, which I still wished I had.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TL: But you were able to pursue some of your interest in art --

YB: Well --

TL: At Santa Barbara Normal school?

YB: To a certain extent, but I think I kind of lost interest because my teacher was gone. And I had to take up whatever I could. I was taking up stagecraft from him. And with the big earthquake a lot of it was crumpled. We had that big earthquake and everything was left up at the school. And I retrieved some of it but some of it was kind of crumpled.


TL: So we were talking about Santa Barbara State Normal and... that earthquake --

YB: My classes.

TL: And the classes. Let's see, so go ahead. Okay. How did your parents feel about your wanting to go to Santa Barbara State Normal?

YB: Well they were happy. They wanted me to really study and maybe do something outstanding, but I think I was in the wrong path. I was interested in art. And they said that if that's what you want that's fine, because they had artists in the family. And, having that interest she said that she didn't mind that if I wanted to pursue it that was fine. So that's what I was interested in and the teacher that was very much interested in stagecraft, was interested in me. He and his wife, having no children, was interested in taking me and sort of boarding me at their home and seeing to it that I would take (up) a course. And... or stagecraft and I thought gee that ought to be fun, working in Hollywood studios, but Mother wouldn't let me go. So he would, they would send me tickets for traveling shows like from Japan, the Cherry Blossom group came. So every time there was a well-known play would come through, they'd send me three tickets so that we could attend. And still keep in touch, but I, I wished I had, because doing stagecraft even now, I had made miniatures... samples of what I would like or would do. And we all made our own displays, but after he left then there was no more classes. So I didn't get to (continue).

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TL: You've mentioned that there were other opportunities that you wished that you could have pursued.

YB: Yes, I do because I later learned... it all started from a fishing trip, there was a barge out about three miles from the dock in Santa Barbara. And everybody would board the boats and go out with their fish lines and fish for mackerel, by the sackfull. Two of us went out and we fished, and I was interested, I was getting two or three fish on a bait and I thought it was fun. And I always (pulled) it up too hard that it would go over the cabins on the other side and by the time I'd (gone) to pick them up, somebody else has grabbed them. However during my fishing time there, I thought, "Gee, they even keep canaries on board this ship. How nice, what a beautiful bird," and I kept listening and listening, and I thought, "How unusual." I forgot about my fishing. And I turned and I thought, "Gee, that's coming from right next to me, the man is whistling." So I dropped my pole and I said, "Pardon me, but was that you that was whistling and you know, like the birds?" And he said, "Yes." I said, "I'm interested in whistling. By any chance do you teach or is there anyway of learning how?" He said, "I'll be here in town for a week." He said, "I'll be glad to." And he said, "First I'd like to test you out and see how good you are." And he said, "Do you know where the Santa Barbara... art school is?" And I said, "Oh, we live right across the street from it." I said, "What a coincidence." He said, "Well can you meet me at one (of) the little cottages where the piano would be. And I'll run you through the keys and see how you do." So I came home, I didn't care how many fish I had, I had brought sacks full of fish we gave to everybody. I told Mother... "The teacher's here that I can learn whistling from." And Japanese don't relish women whistling too much, that's an old superstition, girls shouldn't whistle.

And I used to whistle day and night, late into night and Mother (would say), "If you whistle at night the snakes will come out." Even then it didn't scare me, I was scared of snakes. So eventually she said, "If that's what you like so much, maybe there is no other choice." So she said, "Okay, we'll meet the teacher tomorrow." So we went to this little cottage and met the teacher. And he ran me through the scales, up and down. And he said, "Fine. When do you want to start?" So I said, "Any day, because I'm home now and not attending school." So I went once a day for a whole week and he says, "We're doing fine and I'm going home to L.A. tomorrow. In the meantime, I want you to practice every day, so that when I come back you'll have it perfect." And there wasn't a day that I missed. I whistled so hard that I couldn't get any air (or sound) out (of) my mouth was stiff and numb. And the day he came I could hardly speak, I couldn't whistle. And I almost cried. And he said, "I'm going to give you three days of rest. You've been doing too much." [Laughs] My tongue was numb. So, I rested for three days and then he went and set me through a new series of lessons. And he was very much interested in seeing me through. And there was a whistling school in Los Angeles that I would have liked to attended but Mother wouldn't let me go to that. He says, "You know, you can (whistle) enough. We can (whistle) a beautiful duet. We'd make a killing and bowl them over if we could go to Japan." So I (asked) Mama, "Can I travel to Japan with Mr. Nickels?" "Not [Laughs] over my dead body," she said, "The Japanese and the relatives would be bowled over to think a young man and young girl traveling together with no escort." And she wouldn't let me go, but I had that chance of going and doing something, and then learning further in Los Angeles too. To become a whistler and I whistled a lot when I first came to Seattle, for church assemblies, and group club meetings, and high schools and different places I did. And then I went through an accident and I lost part of my teeth. And I think I still can but I haven't whistled for a long time.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TL: Do you think that whistling was more... part of entertainment and culture then than it is now?

YB: Well you see a lot of whistlers around now. In those days there weren't very many, you could count them on your finger, one hand. And it's unusual, some people can pick it up right away. But as a rule, there's different formations one has to go through with your tongue and everything. And some people can't do it at all. And I was able to do most everything the teacher taught me. And then doing a duet of birdcalls and then, regular whistling. People thought it was beautiful. So he said, "You know, we could do pretty good." He hadn't found another partner that could, until he found me. And everything would've been all, fine... Mother shouldn't have even worried. When I looked back later, years after I was married and I came here, and he came up here, we found out that I wouldn't have had any problems traveling with him as a man because he belonged to a certain group. If you know what group I'm referring to.

TL: No, I don't think I do.

YB: Because there are groups that have nothing to do with women.

TL: Ah.

YB: Men... they're not interested in women. And I would have been perfectly safe. I didn't want to come out and mention the name, but... yeah.

TL: Oh, I see.

YB: And so I would have been perfectly safe travelling with him... had we known, but I didn't know anything like that at that young age. Until I got married and learned about different groups of people.

TL: So you weren't able to pursue the stagecraft or the whistling and did you ever find anything at Santa Barbara Normal School that, that you felt was a career that you would just follow or...?

YB: No, not anymore. Then Mother took ill. So that was it, I had to drop out of school. But I would have liked to follow through with some art. But I was interested in whistling really. And now, I don't think I could do it because I would have to reset my teeth or have spaces made in my front teeth, that I knocked out by the steering wheel. But while I could whistle I did quite a bit.

TL: It sounds like you also were quite musical.

YB: My family was. And if everybody else could play the piano, play the guitar and I forgot what other instrument... oh my one, my one brother was good with a ukulele. He'd listen to one and pick it up just like that. He was the one who used to take bits and parts in the movie, six foot tall and say, "Hi, kid sister." He's now a widow, a widower living alone and I talk to him once a month. I might have followed the stagecraft was most interesting to me. And I could have, perhaps, looked up the couple, but I would imagine they would have gotten old and retired by then.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TL: You've mentioned that you were able to take that trip to Japan and I'm wondering if you could tell a little bit more about how that trip came about.

YB: Originally, I was looking at the Japanese newspaper and I think they had an English section if I recall, that showed that there were several people running for this contest. And we one of our, we had a couple of dear friends that would make the rounds, to come around and visit us from Los Angeles once in awhile. And approached me and said, "Would you be interested?" And I said, "I would, but what do you have to do? I need collect coupons or what?" And he said, "Votes." You had to have so many votes, the highest ten votes would get to go. So I tried to get as many subscriptions as I could and this friend said, "Well, don't worry." He said, "I'm going to go from here to San Francisco to all over and every place that I stop and any subscription I get, I'll put in for you." So I came in second, out of ten.

TL: And what was the name of that newspaper?

YB: There is a San Francisco and a Los Angeles one, Nichibei Shinbu was what it was if I recall, or Soko Nichibei and this Rafu Shimpo is the Los Angeles paper. And I think I worked through the L.A. group, at the time and they helped me get enough subscriptions and counts, so that I think I got a bicycle along with it, coming in second.

TL: Tell us about the trip.

YB: That was a wonderful experience. Two boys and eight girls, so before we left, said, "Boys this is America, you know, you know who waits on who." Two boys waiting on eight girls. But the minute that ship crossed the borderline for Japan, the boys said, "Girls you know where were at, get busy." [Laughs] So the eight of us had to wait on the two boys. For fun of course, but every once in awhile they'd take advantage of us and say this is a man's country. And we had a wonderful time. It... oh, I don't know what all that we did do, but the program was already scheduled for us. And we got to meet Prince and Princesses and nobility, Counts and Countesses, and had tea, wined and dined by them in their homes, and visit various schools. And in those days still, they were very, very interested in typing and we had one girl that was a night, an outstanding typist, so she would type. And one who had a wonderful voice, she could sing and I could whistle. And it was the whistling, that they would all sit there with their mouths open. [Laughs] And everybody trying to blow after that. And I understand recently from Japan, an elderly man, not elderly I suppose he's in his middle age, came and whistled at the Keiro Nursing Home. So it all stemmed from the time I went that I think whistling started. And there was no one there that whistled, really. So, I think it's, it took the country by storm, the students anyway. The students all trying to whistle.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

TL: During the trip, did you find that you appreciated or thought of your Japanese American identity differently?

YB: I think, well, you, you can, I would put it that where I could find even more respect than I was taught to have. To see what the background of our parents really had been, or was, or is at that time. And the students that we met and many girls among them going to college, university, which was maybe not as prominent then. And the cordial welcome, the warm welcome they gave us, whether they were nobility or just ordinary people -- they greeted us very warmly and very kindly. The only thing was if we went up into the country sightseeing, making tours where there maybe groups of students that were on trips also along with us. They would all follow us and look at us, wanted to see from America, they wanted to know if there was anything different about us. And they could practically stare a hole through you and we would let them. And they would talk to us and we would talk to them, and they would, "Oh, they can speak Japanese..." they'd be surprised. Then they wanted to listen to us speak English, so (we) would speak English, "Can you understand our English, what is your name?" And then they say, "What did she say anyway," in Japanese. So I'd translate it for them and they'd, "Oh..." But that's how much, what can I say, they weren't quite used to seeing people from America or other countries yet at that time. So they would follow you around, wondering what you might do different. Of course it's different now. But we were wined and dined by nobility and different organizations, YMCA, YWCA, women's group and large organizations that it was very, very interesting their reaction to our... and we had one girl who could speak very fluent Japanese, so she would speak in Japanese. So we had something. And then the girl who was a very fast typist and they were learning typing also, but no one that could type as fast as she could. And they would demonstrate the abacus, those little counting mach, boards, they could go fast on that, that we could never do. So they would demonstrate that for us. And it was really interesting. And then students that would follow you around and around... for days, wondering what you might do different that they didn't know about. [Laughs] Or if we're on a university trip we had once, and so the boys, there is only two boys in our group, so they said Yone, I understand you got a letter. And I said, "What kind of a letter?" I said, "I can get letters all the time." "Well you got one special one that we know of and we want to know what's in it." [Laughs] From one of the students... college students, I guess, that wanted us to write, correspond with him. And I did for awhile, until I got married and I think they eventually got married too. But it's interesting, they wrote beautiful English letters, I was embarrassed because I might have had mistakes in some of mine. But they would always check their own to make sure theirs were perfect. And I also corresponded with some of the girls, women.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

TL: When, in your travels, in, during that trip, did you realize more or realize things about yourself as an American, since you were...

YB: Well I could see that I could never be a true Japanese, to live there full-time. At that time it was more, not as Americanized, not as many cars. And I thought, gee, if I have to live out here, could I make it 365 days a year? And I would think about that. But the warmth and caring-ness of the people, and the way they lived and ate was not that bad, when you really come down and think about it. And I thought I could bear 'em, but I thought, "No, I'd still like to go back to America, that's my birth country and that's where I want to stay." 'Cause I, I, they had me practically married to a... when I say a "shirt tail relative," it was a relative through marriage. And he was out of university and into his father's business, which was a big pottery factory in Nagoya. And I thought, "No, I don't want to stay here yet, I want to go back to America." So my uncle said, "You don't know what a good deal you missed." And I thought, even then, "I don't care, I want to go back." So I came back. I didn't want to get tied up.

TL: Well, what other expectations did you have about a future husband?

YB: I didn't have anything in mind. That's all they thought of over there. Well, here she is, and in college and ready to get married. And all kinds of prospects, nice looking, they're all okay but I thought what would I do, Americanized as I am and as Oriental as they are. I'm going to have to have an awful time. Mother did train me in many ways that I should not behave this way in Japan, in America you can do this. I thought I'm ready for that, I wasn't, so I was ready to come home.

TL: Well how about an American husband?

YB: I wasn't quite ready for that either.

TL: Okay.

YB: Uh-huh. Because I didn't marry until I was twenty-four.

TL: Was that considered old at the time?

YB: Oh yes. Mother wanted me married off before I was twenty. They thought I was an old maid after twenty. And I said, "Mom, if I don't want to marry any of the people that you mentioned." I said, "There might be a tramp that will be walking down the street and that might be very nice and might like him, I'll marry." "Oh don't talk like that," she would get after me. [Laughs] But that wasn't trying to turn down anyone that was eligible and nice, but I just was not ready.

TL: More things to explore...

YB: Uh-huh.

TL: ...and see and do.

YB: Right.

TL: I think that's enough for today; thanks.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.