Densho Digital Archive
Densho Digital Archive Collection
Title: Molly Enta Kitajima Interview
Narrator: Molly Enta Kitajima
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: San Jose, California
Date: March 20, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-kmolly-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so Molly, I'm gonna start with just where we are and the date, so today's Tuesday, March 20, 2012, and we're in San Jose at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose. And I'm interviewing Molly Kitajima, but Molly, the first question is, can you tell me when and where you were born?

MK: What do you mean when?

TI: Yeah, when were you, what's your birth --

MK: Birthday? I was born October the 10th, 1925, in Vancouver, British Columbia, at a midwife home.

TI: Now, was that pretty common for people in Strawberry Hill, to go to Vancouver, for their mothers to go to Vancouver to deliver?

MK: Yeah, either, or the midwife came out to the house.

TI: Okay. And what was the name given to you at birth?

MK: They were going to give me away. I didn't find that out 'til I was sixteen, but I was the sixth child in the family and it was very, very hard times. So the Japanese schoolteacher, the principal and his wife in Vancouver, wanted a child, and so they asked my mother and father, and so they didn't even give me a birth certificate because they were intending to give me away. But I guess after ten days my mother was there and she did not give me up. But when I was sixteen and I went to the train station to see another schoolteacher off on the train, the lady asked me who I was and where I was from, and I overheard her talking to the husband, saying, "Well that, she would have been our child." So I was very surprised, and when I went home and I told my mother, I said, "Why did Sato-sensei say that?" And she cried and she said, "We were going to give you to her, them." And she says, "I should have because you would've had a way better chance, greater education, everything." But so at that time I found, and I couldn't figure it out, when I went to school I didn't have a birth certificate, so the teacher said, "Well, you can't come to school. You have to have..." So I went home and I told my father that I don't have that paper that'll let me go to school. And my father said, "Oh," so my father went down -- so it was 1932 that I got a birth certificate.

TI: So for the first seven years of your life, six or seven years of life, you didn't exist in terms of the government.

MK: As far as, yeah, as far as the Canadian government was concerned. 'Cause see, I guess the way that, to make it very simple, I guess they would've just had me registered as their daughter, their natural birth child, I guess. But that was really the way they used to do it.

TI: Now, your, you mentioned when you told your mother that you saw Sato-sensei and she cried, why do you think she cried?

MK: Well, it was really funny, because when we were, when I was gonna go to high school, well, it got, really got to be hard times, and my father said, "No, the girls don't need to go to high school." So I was jumping up and down and saying, "I wish I was born in the Watanabe family," or something, see? 'Cause all my girlfriends were going to high school. And my mother said, "Remember when you said that you..." she said, "If you had been..." you know. But I learned after that they did adopt a child, but that child they sent to Japan. And so I would've been raised in Japan, never mind about, about being in the family.

TI: What a good story. So it's interesting because your mom was actually feeling a little guilty that they couldn't provide enough for you to go to school.

MK: Yeah. Well, it was very, very hard times 'cause it was, the, everybody, the Japanese people in town, they used to come to our farm and we used to load them up with all our, all our vegetables and stuff so that, 'cause they were all having a hard time. I could remember they loaded their cars down with produce because, I mean, that's just something to eat.

TI: Okay. And so when you were growing up, what did people call you? What was, was it Molly, or was there a Japanese name?

MK: Well yeah, it was Mari.

TI: Mari. But that's just how they said Molly, you mean? Mari?

MK: No, but the given name they gave me was Mary.

TI: Mary.

MK: Yeah. But when I went to school, when that teacher, when she said, "Mary," five of us jumped up, so she said, "Oh, we can't have this." So she said, "Well, what do they call you at home?" And I said, "Mari." And she said, "Oh, that's Molly."

TI: [Laughs] Okay.

MK: So that's why I was Molly from the time, I didn't even know my name was Mary, or registered Mary.

TI: So you thought it was Molly, or Mari, Mari.

MK: Yeah.

TI: Okay, got it. That's a good story. And did you ever have a Japanese name?

MK: No, but my mother always called me Mari, Mari.

TI: Mari.

MK: Yeah, my father too.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Well, let's talk about your father. What was your father's name and where did he grow up in Japan?

MK: Fukuoka, but his name was Yanazo. Yanazo Enta, and the name is written Ya, eight, seven, three. Ya-na-zo, eight, seven, three.

TI: Eight, seven, three.

MK: And all his family had names like that, the men of the family.

TI: Interesting.

MK: So I think his father's name was Kyusaburo, and that was numbers too.

TI: How interesting that they did that. But he didn't do that with his children?

MK: No.

TI: So he's from Fukuoka. What, tell me about his family. What did his family do?

MK: Well, he was the only son, and he had, he had five sisters. And I think he was the youngest, if I'm not mistaken, but he was one of the lower... and his oldest sister, his oldest sister, the mother died at, in childbirth, and I'm thinking it was his. I'm not, I'm not definite. But the oldest sister was like the mother to all of them. So what happened was she, I don't know, she had a child out of wedlock, and this boy, you know Japanese people, they, right away they put it under my father's name, so his name was Enta, this young, newborn child.

TI: So he wasn't really his brother, it was more like, I guess, his...

MK: His nephew.

TI: His nephew, yeah. But he was raised as his brother, kind of.

MK: No, his son. They, he gave, so he was like my father's firstborn, but he wasn't even there, see? My father was in Canada when she had this boy, but illegitimate children, I guess they just frowned upon, so --

TI: Okay. And they gave him your father's name, I mean, first name too? So he was kind of like --

MK: No, no. They had different names, but he was the son of Yanazo Enta.

TI: I see.

MK: So you know in Japan, if you know the, they have that koseki thing, well, in his family he is, he is the oldest in our family.

TI: Okay. Even though, was your father older, or was he younger than, than this --

MK: My father was around twenty, I think.

TI: No, but in terms of the age, because I guess, really, he was the oldest son, or the only son.

MK: Only son, yes.

TI: But this other boy, your, I mean his nephew, was he older than your father?

MK: No, no.

TI: He was younger, he was much younger.

MK: He was younger.

TI: Okay. Good. So being the oldest son, or the only son, why would he leave Japan? What was his reason to come to the United States?

MK: Well, his father was here. My grandfather, father's father, was here in the United States. And my father, when he was fifteen, had passage and was supposed to come to the United States, but he went to Hawaii and got off the ship and then all the relatives there, he... so he fooled around for about half a year, and then they closed the door to come here, so my father didn't, couldn't come here. He went to Canada.

TI: So your grandfather was in the United States.

MK: Yeah.

TI: And where in the United States was your grandfather?

MK: I'm trying to think. It's got to be like Sacramento or somewhere. I'm thinking he must've came for the railroad or, 'cause I don't think he was, he was a farm laborer. That's gonna be my next project, is I'm going to look him up.

TI: Yeah, how interesting, just in terms of all the different countries, the borders, everything. So your father spent time in Hawaii for about six months, and then do you know about what year this was?

MK: No, I was trying to think of... well, there is a time when they, that's the year that they closed the door, so I was going to look that up too, when they didn't allow anymore Japanese immigrants into the United States.

TI: Yeah, there were, there were a couple key dates. There's the 1908 Gentlemen's Agreement, which prevented laborers to come to the United States. And then 1924 they stopped it completely.

MK: Completely.

TI: Yeah, so those were two key dates, but ever since 1908 they made it really hard for men to come into the United States. So it could've been anytime during that time period.

MK: Yeah, I know that was the reason why. So my grandfather, before he went back to Japan -- and I guess he must've made money or something like that, I don't know -- but he came up to Vancouver and told my father that he's gonna send a bride. So his own wife died very, very young, so my grandfather went back to Japan and looked all over for, like a long life family, and he, my mother's family, apparently they lived a long life, so he picked my mother.

TI: Interesting. And so let's, so tell me your mother's name.

MK: Imayo Takao.

TI: And where did she live?

MK: In Fukuoka too, but she lived in the country.

TI: And were her family farmers, then?

MK: Yes, they were farmers.

TI: And do you know, in terms of age difference between your father and mother, were they about the same age? Or was there --

MK: No. My mother was a little over four years younger.

TI: Good.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: Okay, so your father is in Canada. He was supposed to come to the United States, but he couldn't come in so he goes to British Columbia?

MK: Yes, Vancouver.

TI: And did he know anybody in British Columbia?

MK: Yes, lot of... well, you know the Japanese people, even if you don't know them, the people from Fukuoka and Kumamoto, they all have a kenjinkai so they all help each other. And they, so there were a lot of Fukuoka people there. Hiroshima, we had a lot. And then they all came in different groups, like the fishermen all came from Wakayama, and the Hiroshima people, they all went into farming, and then, but my, the Fukuoka people, and like our relatives, they were staying in the city and being, having stores and stuff like that. So my father originally ran a transfer company.

TI: Transfer meaning kind of like moving things?

MK: Van, yeah, van company.

TI: And this is in Vancouver?

MK: In Vancouver.

TI: And then how did he get out to the Surrey area, or Strawberry Hill?

MK: Well, at that time, I've seen pictures for, they were affluent. I wasn't even born, I think. I saw pictures, they had touring cars and --

TI: This is your father?

MK: This is my father. And my sisters were in furs and they were, apparently at one time, like my mother says, they went through a few fortunes. But so they had this... and our name being Enta, it's a very unusual name, but if you write it in kanji nobody pronounces it at Enta. They pronounce it as Shiota. It's "salt land," shiota. So the transfer, the business and everything was all Shiota, Shiota Transfer. And like the trucks and stuff like that, they were... so my father, my father had, like, a trucking business.

TI: So it sounds like it was a very successful business for a while, at least.

MK: It was. It was very, very -- but he went through, he went through fortunes like you can't, he bought a mountain and sent big logs to Japan with our han on it. My aunt in Japan, she was telling me she saw this shipload coming in with my father's han on there, and I didn't know that until I went to Japan and visited, and she's the one that told me that.

TI: So he actually bought a whole mountain to get the timber --

MK: The timber. Logs.

TI: -- cut it, and then put his, his family crest on there.

MK: Yeah.

TI: And they were sent to Japan.

MK: Japan, right. But he, he went... so when the Depression came, my mother was smart enough to keep some of the money. So she went out, she went and knew some friends, they went out to look at land, and because she was a farmer herself she thought, "Well, how am I gonna raise all these kids in town?" So she went, she went and bought the land out there, but through her --

TI: Wow. So your --

MK: -- but through a friend.

TI: So your mother was a pretty strong person.

MK: Oh yes, and she came here when she was fifteen. So she was, she was a very, very religious person, very, very strong person.

TI: And what religion did she follow?

MK: She was Bukkyou, Jodo Shinshu. Yeah.

TI: Okay, so she's the one who found, essentially, the property at Strawberry Hill.

MK: That's right.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So let me back up to your father a little bit. Tell me a little bit more about him. He sounds like a really interesting person.

MK: Yeah, he was really something. He was an entrepreneur that...

TI: Do you know any other businesses he tried? So he was a transfer business, he did logging.

MK: Logging. Well, he would try anything. Like, I don't know if you know fern, you know fern?

TI: The... you mean to eat?

MK: Yeah, you know the fern, zenmai they call it.

TI: Yeah, I know what you're talking about.

MK: We had, in Canada, mountains of them. And my father, they went, a crew went to pick it, they salted it down and they, and they shipped it -- well, in Japan they don't know my father, so it was, that was a complete loss. But that --

TI: Because the Japanese didn't like it? They didn't buy it?

MK: No, I mean, they got their own fern. Why would they, you know.

TI: I see.

MK: Yeah, so, but they went, he would do anything to make money, even with us kids. He'd take us as a team and we'd all go down -- and when we moved to the farm, well, other famers come and they'd, they need like eight kids or six kids or something to pick up potatoes, well we'd go harvest that whole field in two or three days. So my father took us all out of, like a crew, and that's, he never, said we would never rely on getting what we call relief. Well, over here it's welfare, but in Canada it was called relief, and he said, "We're never going to get relief." So we just, didn't matter what, we all went, all of us went to work.

TI: And within the Japanese community in Vancouver, how was he viewed? Did people like to work with him, or what would you say?

MK: Yeah. But he was a drinking man. "Good Time Charlie," you know everybody. People remember him for his drinking, but all Japanese men, especially successful men, they were, they were really, I mean, sake drinkers.

TI: Now, when he was doing businesses, and say there was a failure, like something that didn't work out, how would he react? I mean, do you, did he get angry or did he get sad, or how would you describe that?

MK: Well, being an only son, he'd blame, he'd blame Mom or blame, you know. He was really, really kind of a, I thought all Japanese men were like that, but if things weren't done or if anything failed, he was, he would, it would be somebody else's cause and my mother would have to take the... but he was a very, very far-thinking person. For our kumiai, he's the one that brought the water in from the mountain, he's the one that put the electricity through. He would try to get everybody together and be the first to put pipe water in our chicken houses and stuff like that that he... so I'm sure he's the one that started the kumiai. We had Japanese school, they built the Japanese school, my father. Even the American, I mean the Canadian school, if they're gonna put in a cement floor my father went down there and put the cement basement in. He was very...

TI: So anything that was, like, new or innovative, he would be part of it.

MK: He would be, yeah.

TI: And so the kumiai, I mean, so this is like a cooperative of Japanese farmers in Strawberry Hill?

MK: That's right, yeah.

TI: About how many farmers were there?

MK: There was like fifty farmers or so.

TI: And what kind of farming did the group do?

MK: All truck farming. But mostly it was like strawberry, or the berries. But we grew everything. It didn't matter. My father would come back, "We're gonna grow beans this year." One year we grew, we went and grew acres of beans and it got to where it'd be only worth half a cent a pound, and my father, he plowed it all under and he took us all to pick hops in the prairie.

TI: So because he lost money on the beans, he took --

MK: Yeah, was no sense picking beans at a half a cent, so we all, all five of us went with Dad to hop yards, and we picked hops for a whole, one month and made enough money to live through the winter.

TI: Interesting. And so going back to the cooperative, so you mentioned he brought, like, piped water in, so before that people were just using wells or something?

MK: Yeah, and the wells would dry up and they'd have to buy water. So they went and piped, got these big pipes and they piped it all the way down to the, to what they call the River Road, and then everybody brings their trucks and fills their water and takes it. And we had one of these, it looked like a reservoir, huge, huge tank, and they would dump the water in there and then we'd feed our chickens. Not so much the land, because Vancouver rains like Seattle and so, but the chickens had to have, and the animals had to have water, clean water, so they did.

TI: Okay, so that was the water. And then you also mentioned electricity?

MK: Yeah, well, BC Electric, we used to have lamp and, kerosene lamp and stuff, but when they brought in electricity, the British Columbia Electric Company, they came, so my father got a few of the Japanese people and they all, I don't know how much it was, but they went and put the seed money down. And they, all these farmers that put the seed money got their electricity pulled to their place. Well, when the, later, the people, other people wanted to get in it, they charged them more and so it was like my father was reimbursed, or all the people that were the first, first investors got reimbursed for... so it was kind of like a, what do they call that, investment type of thing. So because that, I know my father was saying, well, when we pipe the electricity into the chicken house, the Canadian winters, it gets sundown at four o'clock and then sun rises probably like nine, and the chickens wouldn't lay any eggs, or every other day maybe.

TI: Because it wasn't enough sunlight, or light?

MK: Yeah, so then when they went and wired the whole chicken house, they would put two sets of lights, a light one and a bigger light. And so they would put the bigger light on and then they'd put the little light on and the chicken would go up to roost, and in the morning it would be the other way and the chicken would get up, and all the chickens would lay one egg a day. And so my father figured, so he would... and he did it himself. He wired the whole place himself and all were thinking, "How weird." But he'd say, "As long as you can read, you can do anything." So he wired all the chicken houses. We had two story chicken houses.

TI: So he was essentially a self-taught electrician?

MK: That's right, everything. Yeah, even the, you know the water for the chickens, just like a toilet. The ball would come up, when the ball went down the water'd come, go in, just like a toilet bowl.

TI: So he'd invent these things.

MK: Well, I don't know whether he invented it, but he made all those things. Yeah, so the, you can't go away unless you, so in the summertime the chickens, never have to worry about them dying of thirst or anything like that. So he really invented everything.

TI: And how many chickens did you have?

MK: We had like two or three thousand chickens.

TI: Two or three thousand chickens. Wow. That's a lot of chickens.

MK: That's a lot of -- and then that's an industry. We have to go and collect the eggs, and then every day we have to clean the eggs and grade them, and then morning and night we have to clean the chicken house. We had the cleanest chicken house you could ever, you could... my father was a believer in neatness and tidiness. And every fifteen days the chicken house, every room would be cleaned.

TI: Okay, so this makes sense, so electricity, if you got another extra egg a day, it would make a huge difference when you've got a thousand, couple thousand chickens.

MK: Yes, that's right. That's right.

TI: Now, the electricity, did he also wire the house? Did you guys have lights?

MK: Yes.

TI: So you got a house...

MK: I could remember when we used to bring the lamp, kerosene lamp down, and we used to use newspaper and clean that, the lamp, the lampshade. And then after that, so I was very little when we already got electricity and water. Ofuro, we'd bring the tap water into the ofuro and we would, my father built the ofuro every place we went.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: I now want to go back and ask you about all your brothers and sisters, so can we go down the list and you could tell me all your brothers and sisters?

MK: I have an older sister.

TI: And what was her name?

MK: Yuki.

TI: Okay.

MK: And then an older brother that, the one who, it's Tsuruo. And his name is King, they used to call him King.

TI: And he died of (heart failure).

MK: He just died. After he was eight-eight.

TI: Okay, so just recently, eighty-eight.

MK: And then I have a sister, Jessie. And she was born in a hospital, so she doesn't have a Japanese name. And she's ninety-three. My oldest sister is ninety-seven. She's still living.

TI: Okay, wow.

MK: And my, Jessie is still living and she's ninety-three. And then my brother Fred Kiyoshi.

TI: Okay.

MK: And he's ninety-one. Then I had Billy, Waichiro his name was, and he would've, he would be two years older than me. And then me. And I will be eighty-eight this year.

TI: Okay.

MK: Then my mother didn't have any children for six years, and then she had one year every year for four years. So I had a brother George, the one that died, spinal meningitis. Then I had a brother Tom, who is a doctor in Calgary. So Tom is a Japanese name and a Caucasian name. Then came Kenichi, Kenneth. He's the one that got killed by...

TI: The car.

MK: A drunken lady. And then I have a kid sister who's ten years younger than me, and her name is Sueko Bernice. And she will be seventy-eight this year.

TI: So there were ten kids and --

MK: In twenty years.

TI: And two died quite young, younger.

MK: Yes, they're both nine years old when they died.

TI: Then other than that you just had your other brother who died? King?

MK: My, in fact, two brothers died very recently. My brother Billy just passed away. He had aneurysm. And my brother King, he had a heart problem, but he lived 'til he was eighty-eight.

TI: But still pretty --

MK: And he lived in Nova Scotia.

TI: But your sisters and Fred --

MK: All my sisters are living.

TI: Yeah, so I guess your grandfather did a good job when he found a, your mother.

MK: My mother. My mother lived 'til she was seventy-nine. And my father died at fifty-six.

TI: Yeah, but going back to your grandfather, who was looking for somebody who had a family history of long life.

MK: That's right, the genes, or the, we talk about genes now.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: So going back to you, what are some early childhood memories of growing up in Strawberry Hill?

MK: They were very pleasant. I was my father's sidekick, and I, when I look back now, I think he also felt guilty because I think when they thought about giving me away or something, 'cause you know how when, after I found out, I'm recalling all those things and I was, I would tag along with my father everywhere. I was just like his little sidekick. And he always took me everywhere, so that, so that... like my older sisters used to say to me, "Dad loves you the best," or something like, you know how they do. But he would go to the market, wholesale market and then he'd bring a banana or peanuts or whatever, it would always be for me. So I used to think I, I mean, when I was a kid I was thankful, but when I think about it later, I always thought, yeah, they really thought I was a privileged kid or something. But I think maybe they did, he did feel that he might've lost...

TI: But then age, or birth order wise, in some ways you were almost like the youngest child too, because there's, there was such a gap between you and George.

MK: That's right, and the next one. Right.

TI: So that, yeah, for a long time you were like the youngest child.

MK: That's right. So yeah, like I was really surprised when -- and my mother was a big, big lady, so we didn't even know she was having all these babies. Every time she'd go away there'd be another baby. Yeah, so in fact, my oldest sister Yuki had, when Bernice was born she already had a child.

TI: Okay, so Bernice had a --

MK: Auntie that was...

TI: -- auntie that was older.

MK: I mean niece, niece that was older than her.

TI: That's right. Wow. In terms of just, like the chores, you talked about being a sidekick with your dad and also the egg, the egg business in terms of cleaning and all.

MK: Every morning we were, we had pecking orders. From the smallest to, me and my brother up to the older brothers and sisters would clean the drop boards where the chickens roosted all night, they'd clean the drop board and we would bring buckets of dirt and we'd throw it all over the top of the, where they would roost and then, so that next night they, it wouldn't stick to the board. And so that was our chore before we went to school.

TI: So how long did it take you in the morning to do that?

MK: About half an hour. We'd just get the, there's a pile of dirt and we'd just get it and go from room to room.

TI: And was this after you had eaten breakfast, or was this --

MK: No, no, all before.

TI: Okay, so you'd wake up and go do your chores.

MK: That's right, yes. My older brothers would, some of 'em had to go and clean the water pan, and then others would have to feed the mash. It's a, it's the animals and the chickens that we had to take care of, so that was a chore.

TI: So for your parents, it was an advantage to have so many kids 'cause they had all these, this free labor to do this.

MK: Yeah, that's right. And we had, and there were, it wasn't written, but everybody did... and my oldest sister made all the lunch for the school, and she'd make all the sandwiches or onigiri or whatever to, and then we'd just all eat. And we mostly ate rice and misoshiru and a Japanese breakfast, and we'd go off to school. And then we'd have to walk. We didn't have no bus to go to school.

TI: And how far would you have to walk?

MK: It was like, I would say about a mile we'd have to go to school.

TI: And they would see the whole Enta clan come, all these kids. [Laughs]

MK: That's right. And the way the municipality was cut, here's Scott Road running down here and this side is Delta, this side is Surrey, and the school district for Delta side, they, all the people that live on this side have to go to this school. And then we had to go, we were closer to the Kennedy School, but that was not our district, so we had to walk all the way down to Strawberry Hill School.

TI: And so some of your friends, your neighbors, would go to one school and you would go to the other school.

MK: That's right.

TI: I see.

MK: Yeah, and the kumiai, I mean, they had the Kennedy kids and the Strawberry Hill kids. But we all went to Japanese school in the same school.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: But going back to your regular school, tell me about your classmates. How many, like, Japanese were, were...

MK: There were not too many. We had, probably in every class there were only about two or three Japanese kids.

TI: And then the other kids, what kind of nationalities or races were there?

MK: Mostly like German and Italian and then English, Irish and Scotch.

TI: And were they generally the children of other farmers? Or what kind of...

MK: Well, they didn't do much farming. Lot of the men went to town to work, and they had houses, maybe about an acre or something like that, but they didn't have any big acreage. Our neighbor, which was the Adams, they had a strip of land and so we, my father sectioned off a strip of land next to theirs. So we had a co-op cow, so we shared the cows, and every time our cow gave milk theirs were breeding so that we always had milk. But they found out that Japanese people can't drink milk, cow milk, so my father went and bought two goats, and so now he went and had the same routine with the goats. And so we all drank goat milk 'cause we couldn't tolerate the cow milk. But the goat milk was free of lactaid so we...

TI: And he did this also with the Adams, that goat sharing?

MK: No, they didn't care about the goats.

TI: They just wanted the cow.

MK: Yeah, but every so many, about every year or so we would have a, we would have to breed the goats so that we would have...

TI: Did any other people -- so you couldn't drink cow's milk so you had goat's milk --

MK: That's right.

TI: Were there other people that also wanted the goat's milk?

MK: Yeah, but we didn't sell it or anything. But there was a man from town that had a daughter that couldn't drink milk and she was, they were Caucasian. And so he would come maybe about five or six miles on a bicycle every morning and my father would have these little cans like that with the handle on, and he put milk in there, leave it on the, what we call, when I think about it now, we used to sell cherries and stuff like that, it's a little dinky shed-looking thing and we used to sell cherries and stuff like that from that. He put that bucket there. Well, when evacuation came my father said, "We'll give you the goat." He lived in town and he couldn't take the goat, and we just watched that grown man cry. He couldn't, he couldn't, and I guess they couldn't buy goat milk, or I don't know what it was, how it was.

TI: So go back to this man crying because, he was sad because he didn't have any more goat milk, or he was --

MK: That's right.

TI: Or he was sad because, or touched that your father would give him the goats?

MK: Well, we'd, he was giving him free goat milk for, this was years. It's not like, I mean, it was just like we can't eat, drink all that milk, so my father, don't matter who it is, if they want the milk... but my mother cooked and baked with goat milk all the time. Only thing that we really shared with the cow was the butter, and so we would, everybody made their own butter.

TI: I want to go back to this man crying. I'm trying to understand why he would cry, whether he was, one, sad that no more goat milk, or two, that he was maybe touched by the kindness of being offered the goat, or maybe three, that he was sad that the family had to go away?

MK: Yeah. Well, there would be no more goat milk for his daughter.

TI: So you think it was that, he was just sad that --

MK: Yeah. And he was very upset that --

TI: 'Cause he must've been very appreciative that he got free goat milk.

MK: Yeah. I mean, that was, anything that we had, unless we could sell it, we did, we... I mean, like going back to all of us, there was the hospital in town, which is like the closest, where the New Westminster, which is the closest town, and there's a hospital there, and I used to wonder how we would, any time we were sick or had to do something we would go to this hospital, you know? Well, one day my father loaded up the truck and cases and cases of apples, and he'd take it to the hospital, and then he goes through that entrance and they unload all the apples. And that's how we paid for our hospitalization. It was like a barter system, potatoes and whatever we could barter for. That was our care. So I guess when you really think about it, it was an ideal way to go because they would've had to...

TI: And this was probably, again, during the Depression time and so, yeah, food was really valuable, to have that.

MK: That's right.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Okay. So Molly, earlier you talked about how a lot of the Niseis knew how to speak Japanese, so did you go to Japanese school?

MK: Oh, yes.

TI: So tell me about the Japanese school.

MK: The Japanese schools we had Saturday and Sunday all day, from nine o'clock 'til three o'clock. And we had a husband and wife schoolteacher, and they were from New Westminster. They taught all the Japanese kids in town from...

TI: Monday through Friday?

MK: Yeah, Monday through Friday after school. So I guess then, I don't know, I never went to that kind, but we went all day Saturday and all day Sunday. And they had two rooms, and half of us were in one room and half of us were in the other room. And I always had the man teacher, but the lady teacher, she just died, and we went, when I went back to a reunion she was there, and I was very, very surprised.

TI: 'Cause she would be quite old, then.

MK: Yes, she was, I'm thinking she had to be a hundred. Yeah.

TI: So this was a pretty big commitment for the family, because if your work crew is busy all day Saturday, Sunday going to Japanese school they can't work. Right?

MK: Yeah, but if it was to be cut it would be the English school.

TI: You mean so Japanese school was more important than English school?

MK: That's right. Because all June we didn't go to school, and they allowed it because we had to pick strawberries. And then September we're harvesting, so we don't go to school 'til October. And then, but all the Japanese kids, we took all the top, all the grades, the school grades were graded by one, two, three, four, and it, so both my friend and I, we would compete for first place all through the years. Because he was, his name was Leo Otsuki and he was same grade as me, and I'd come home and I'd have second in the, that month or something, and my father goes, "What happened to first?" And then, so the teacher said, "Tell your father that one month you're first and the next month Leo's first." And so it was, so we competed all, even in Japanese school, him and I were, so we just grew up together.

TI: Interesting. So that was pretty common, so every, every class it was usually a Japanese that was sort of the head of the class.

MK: And you know, and I felt so sorry because if, like my little friend, neighbor, closest farm neighbors, she was like thirteen or something and she changed it. She'd rather get thrashed at school than to get thrashed at home. It was that kibishii. I don't know if you... the Japanese parents or especially the fathers would be very, very adamant about being on top of the class.

TI: So this neighbor was only thirteenth, you said?

MK: Yeah, she was thirteenth in her class and, and...

TI: So she'd get punished at home for that.

MK: Yeah, so she changed it to three instead, and the school punished her, but...

TI: But she would rather have that.

MK: That's right. So it was, I used to think... but I never ranked below second, so I didn't, it wasn't something that...

TI: And how about your other brothers and sisters? Were they also --

MK: Yeah, they were tops in their classes.

TI: How about any other childhood memories in this, when you were a kid? Like fun things, what would you do for fun?

MK: Well, they would, my older brothers would do a carnival and they'd catch snakes and put eggs in there, and then we would, and they would have carnival. And the kids would come with one cent or they would, they would buy candy and stuff like that. And all the neighborhood kids, we used to, at night after work we used to play Ante Ante I Over, we'd throw the ball over the house and then if they catch it they come over and tag you, and stuff like that. We had a ditch running right beside the house and we would pole vault, we would pole vault across there. I mean, we didn't have money. We did, we made our own, we made our own fun. But we had our own team.

TI: Your whole, your family, your brothers and sisters.

MK: Yeah. Because we all... so we really, really had fun things.

TI: Now, what would happen if one of you got in trouble? Like if, what, at school or someplace else where you did something bad.

MK: Well, we would never, we would never tell on our brothers. Because my father, he would, he wouldn't even flick an eye, he'd hit first and then, I mean, all Japanese fathers, they hit first and... but I was so scared by watching my brothers gettin' walloped that I'd, I would never, even my sister, I mean, I would, I toed a very narrow line, I'll tell you, because I just didn't want to. But all the Japanese kids, we couldn't play along the way. We'd have to, so Father bought us a bicycle and we'd all come home, be home in fifteen minutes, and we'd have to go out, we had a little bit of some kind of tea or cookie or something and we'd have to go out and farm until sundown.

TI: So what were some of the chores you'd have to do after school?

MK: We have to pick weeds or we have to pick the berries. Berries have to be picked every day, otherwise they would rot. And we, so it was work. We didn't rest, rain or shine, if it rained we had to clean the chicken house, and then at night we have to come and count all the eggs or clean the eggs and get ready, so it was, but it was, that was the kind of life that... and everybody lived that way. We didn't know no better.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: So I'm gonna now jump to, there's a time period when your father decided to return to Japan, so can you talk about that? Why did he go back to Japan?

MK: Well, he's the only son. He fell heir to the property, and my father went back to Japan. Well, he decided that, I don't know how much the fortune was gonna be, but he thought he's gonna live his life out in Japan with that fortune.

TI: Wasn't that a little unusual for him to leave his family? So his wife and all his kids and he would just go to Japan?

MK: Well, I don't, I think my mother and him were not very, very compatible. My mother had the kids and she figured... and my father was very selfish 'cause he's the only son, and he just, he, everything was for him, he was first. I don't know if you were ever raised that way, but even like my mother, doesn't matter if there's only so much sashimi, Dad would get it, nobody else would. That would be the way they, they took care of the men. So we really, so my father... and then I think how it was was that if he didn't go that year, or go then, something was gonna happen to the property, and so my father decided on going.

TI: But he was thinking at that point of just staying in Japan?

MK: That's right. So he went back to Japan, and I don't know whether he was there a year or half a year or what, but then all of a sudden he... in fact, when he went back he went back first class. In those days everybody, all the immigrants went on the hull of the boat or something like that.

TI: So third class.

MK: That's right. So he, and so big shot Dad, you know. I was, by that time I was like fifteen or so, and so it wasn't too tragic and I wasn't in on the loop about him not coming back or like that. But anyhow, he went back and sold the land, and this, this sister that had that boy, that, now he's a grown man, and all he did was left them the house and sold everything around 'em.

TI: So they probably weren't very happy with your father.

MK: They were very, very mad. And so, and my father was having a great old time. We heard from people in Japan, "That [inaudible], he's spending his money like it was never gonna go out of shape." And when I went back to Japan, relatives, they all tell me, "Boy, he was a fun guy." Well sure, it's his money and it's, but my mother's sister was very, very upset, very angry. She didn't like my mother's side of the family didn't like my father's side of the family anyhow, so it didn't matter. But, so when we got a wire saying, "Send money to come home," Mother was upset. She was saying, "What?"

TI: "You had all this money. What happened to it?"

MK: "What happened to it?" and all that. And on top of that, the sister's writing to my mother and telling her what a rotten brother he is and so forth, so this is the reason why. So my mother sent him third class fare. Well, it happens to be the same captain is on the same ship, and my father was about ready to throw us off, off the gangplank, I think.

TI: He was so upset about having to --

MK: He was, yeah. But Mother said she didn't care. She was saying...

TI: But then he had to come back because he ran out of money? Or what, why did he have to come back?

MK: Well, he was either gonna get jailed or he's gonna get thrown out, because when they started coming to the house and take all the iron and steel and all that stuff from his house, he said, "What?" And then they said it was for the war effort. So he starts saying, "Don't be so ridiculous. You're gonna fight against the United States? It's like when you build ships out of tin cans," and stuff like that. And they told him, they said, "Either you go or you're gonna get..." so that's why he took that, he took the last boat.

TI: So this is like in 1941, when Japan's ready to, almost go, to go to war?

MK: Ready, yes. It was in the summer of '41.

TI: Summer of '41. And your father's being critical of the Japanese government.

MK: Of the Japanese government.

TI: And so they essentially kicked him out.

MK: Yeah. Otherwise they were gonna jail him or something. And so, and I'm sure he was running out of money because of the fact that, I mean... we tried to figure out how much, how much he could get, but then for us, it was the first year that strawberries were selling like two dollars a crate and eggs went up to twenty-five cents a dozen or something, and we remodeled the house and we did all, we did all these things because, gee, we never had it so good. So when my father comes home and he saw the house, he was more mad because... [Laughs]

TI: He had to come home third class. [Laughs] 'Cause he said, because he could see that you were doing okay with the money.

MK: Yeah, well naturally. But we were doing, the first time the farm was doing so good, and we were... and that's another thing that upset us, because the war broke out and we were, when curfew came on and all that, and then when we heard about the evacuation, my father said, "We're not doing a stitch of work. We're not gonna, we're not going to..."

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: Okay, yeah, let me ask this, make sure I understand. So before, yeah, before we go there, let me ask a few more questions, then we'll go there. You know, the farm was being really successful during this time, who was running the farm?

MK: My brothers and us. My two sisters and I, we didn't go to school. We stayed home.

TI: To work on the farm?

MK: To work on the farm.

TI: And so was there a brother in particular who was --

MK: Yeah, my brother Billy. And then my two older brothers were going to school, so we had to run the farm, my mother.

TI: But how about the business side, in terms of negotiating, selling the produce and the eggs?

MK: Because the kumiai did all that. They had kumiai trucks come at twelve o'clock midnight, pick up all the strawberries. We didn't take it by ourselves. The kumiai had trucks coming in. When we buy, they're called shiyoka, I think it is, with the boxes that you make the strawberry boxes, we buy them and then we make the boxes ourselves, so every farmer orders so many. At twelve midnight every day, every day the strawberry truck comes and they pick up everybody's strawberries and they take it to the, or to the cannery, wherever it's going. It was all done by the co-op.

TI: Okay, so that really helped the family, to be part of this co-op because they would --

MK: Oh yes.

TI: -- they would handle a lot of the business, make sure you got fair prices.

MK: That's right. And like the bird food, the chicken food and all that, I mean, when you buy in tons and tons of it, it's, you have a bargaining power.

TI: Okay. No, that makes sense. That helps. And so your father comes back, like the summer of 1941.

MK: It was almost, it was almost September.

TI: September, okay. While your father was gone, what did the family think of him? Did you guys talk about your father very much?

MK: I think most of us thought good riddance, you know? Because he was so demanding and he treated Mother like... I mean, if you really, I liked my father, but the rest --

TI: Yeah, I was gonna ask how you felt because you were sort of his favorite.

MK: Yeah, that's right. But my brothers and my sisters, I think they, they just felt like, because he was so, the word wagamama, or he's just so... they didn't even... and when he came back he'd dyed his hair, and he came and we couldn't figure it out. And there he, he looked like ten years younger. We were just surprised. Well, then when he comes back, and here comes these letters from Japan from these ladies, "When are you gonna call us, call me?" and stuff like that, my mother hit the ceiling. She threw him out, and we helped her. [Laughs]

TI: Okay. [Laughs] So he wasn't that welcome.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So let's go to December 7, 1941, and this is the date that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Can you describe that day and what you were doing?

MK: Well, that day, it was the custom for most of the Japanese families, when the daughter -- she had to be like sixteen or she couldn't go out on dates or anything like that -- so they had this big meeting at the next farm, next co-op community, and it was the same thing as JACL except it's JCCA, it's the Japanese Canadian Association, so my father took us there, my sister and I, took us to this meeting. And it was at like nine o'clock, and so when it got to lunch break time, some guy comes running in and he says, "They bombed Pearl Harbor, they bombed Pearl Harbor." All the people, the older boys that were running the meeting, said, "Wow. We better disperse." So the people that had cars and stuff like that, they all went home. But I had to wait for my father, so I was sitting on the sidewalk --

TI: Well, before you tell, so where was your sister? You went there with --

MK: My sister went home with somebody, or somebody took her. And I could understand; she was a beautiful, beautiful girl, and she was five years older than me.

TI: So she was twenty-one.

MK: Yeah. And so, so...

TI: She just left her kid sister there.

MK: Yeah, she left me there, and so I'm sitting on the (stairs) all by myself. So I'm sitting there, and pretty soon this guy comes out of the co-op house and says, "You got to go home." I said, "Well, it's pretty far to walk, so I'm waiting for my father and he's coming at four o'clock." Well, this is now two o'clock. So he says, "Oh, well wait. I'll, as soon as I finish the books I'll take you home." I said okay, I said, "Well, I live in Strawberry Hill." He says, "Oh, that's okay." So anyhow, when he finished it was around 2:30 or so, he took me home to my house. And I went running inside and telling my father, and my father said, "I knew they were gonna do that. I told you when I was leaving Japan, when I was leaving Japan they were building already," ships and stuff like that that he could see. So that was the beginning of the whole...

TI: I want to go back to the boy who took you home. Was this Tetsuo?

MK: He was, yeah, Tets Aoki, and he was going to UBC, the University of British Columbia, and working nights at the bookkeeper for that co-op, which was the next co-op from us, and he was a bookkeeper. So he came and my mother and father invited him to stay for dinner 'cause he brought me home. And then, I don't know, a couple days later he came over and wanted to know if I'd go for a show or whatever, and so we started to go out.

TI: So this was a date.

MK: This was a date, and we started to go out.

TI: And so how much older was Tets than you? He was...

MK: He was only like, he must've been eighteen or nineteen, and I was sixteen.

TI: Okay, so two or three years older.

MK: Yeah.

TI: But he was a college boy, so that was --

MK: That's right. And I think he was either first or second year of college. But he was the son of a, in Vancouver Island there was a Cumberland, Cumberland District, and his father and mother were Japanese school teachers.

TI: You mentioned that he stayed for dinner, and I understand that your mother was pretty famous for her chicken dinners.

MK: Yeah, well she... well, that's all we could do. Every time people come from the city she, we had a long driveway to the house because we were on a farm. We could see and my mother, "Oh, Auntie So-and-So's coming." So she'd make us run to the chicken house and catch a chicken, and we'd have it dressed and in the oven and she'd be entertaining the relatives. Yeah, we would cut the chicken head off and get it all...

TI: So would you do that too? Could you...

MK: Yeah, that was, that's how they entertained. My mother'd be, it was kind of like, we had a chicken, it's kind of like a, not a nursery but like a ward, and all the chickens that, a chicken, when they jump or get, or fight or do something like that, their egg breaks inside their, the womb and it starts leaking, and all the other chickens peck at it. And the chicken is good, but it will eventually die, so we separate them and then those are the ones we kill.

TI: To eat later.

MK: To eat, yes, because they're very, very... so we would separate them kind of like a hospital ward or something like that, but we, that's where we would go. And then we were so used to it we'd cut two or three heads at, and put hot water and skin 'em. Oh yeah, so all of us knew to do that.

TI: Now, what made your mother's chicken dinners so special?

MK: Well, she roasted, she roasted the chicken and with lots of salt and pepper and oil, so that it would be so juicy.

TI: And crispy on the outside.

MK: Yeah, right. But she was, we'd, I mean, she would bake seventeen loaves of bread every week, even though bread was only five cents a loaf or something. I guess it must've been cheaper making 'em or something. I could never understand. She made anpan, she did, I mean, coming here at fifteen and she... I just wondered how she ever, ever learned, but I guess when you have to you would.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: So after December 7, 1941, that's a Sunday. Now, I think you said earlier you weren't going to school now? Or were you, were you...

MK: No, I wasn't going to school. We were, we had to work on the farm, so...

TI: So what happened next, though? I mean in the days after, did anything else happen now that...

MK: We were working the farm because we didn't know whether we were gonna get, you know. So farming went as usual and we were selling, we were selling... but this is winter now, so there's no strawberries or no fruit, but we were selling napa and daikon and stuff like that, the Japanese vegetables, and keeping the farm weeded and stuff like that. But when, around, I think it was late January or early February, they confiscated all the cars and the guns and cameras, radios.

TI: Now, why cars? I understand guns and radios 'cause they could be perhaps used, but cars, why cars?

MK: Transportation, I think. So everybody rode around in U drives. But we, I know like some Japanese people had swords, stuff like that, and so my father said, "Well, we're probably gonna get evacuated." So we had a lot of young, I would say in that picture half of them were young Kibeis or immigrants from Japan.

TI: So this is a picture of the co-op, all, and there were men, probably about forty to fifty of them.

MK: Yeah, and at least twenty of them were, just came from Japan as, yobiyosei is what they call, they came to work on people's farms and then they finally bought a little five acre, something like that, now they start building their house. Well, it's really nothing to build because when they started to build all the neighbors would go and they'd put up that house in one day or two days. That was how well they cooperated. But then my father said maybe they better start thinking about not spending all their money because there's going to be, if we get evacuated...

TI: I see. So your father was telling people, "Don't put too much money into the farm right now."

MK: That's right.

TI: Save your cash 'cause you're not sure what's gonna happen.

MK: We don't know what's gonna happen.

TI: Right, that makes sense.

MK: But somebody, somebody turned him in. And so here comes RCMP and they hauled him, hauled him into, we call the compound, and so they took my father. And my father, I guess, was so noisy of yelling and screaming inside the place and kept saying, "Sign this paper says we aren't gonna get evacuated and I'll go and tell them to..." you know. Well, so finally, I don't know how long it was, they came and said, "Come and get your father. He's too noisy."

TI: That's funny. He was such a nuisance to them, he just said, "Take him away."

MK: Yeah. He was screaming and I guess he's banging the, banging the cell and stuff like that.

TI: But what's interesting was that someone turned your father in, so someone in the community probably turned him in, a Japanese turned your father in.

MK: Oh yes, they knew who it was. See, the young people, the young people that knew, they knew that, who turned him in, so they almost killed him. They beat him up mercilessly. So he did not come with the majority of us to Manitoba.

TI: Now, do you know why this person would turn your father's name in? I mean, what reason would he do it? Because he was, in essence your father was right, right?

MK: Right.

TI: I mean, because it would've been good to --

MK: I don't, we haven't the slightest idea. We couldn't figure it out. But so this, this man couldn't, I mean, they weren't, nobody wanted to have anything to do with him, so he went to Alberta and all the rest of us from our community went to Manitoba.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Now, during this time when the RCMP picked up your father, were they picking up other men at the same time?

MK: Oh yes, all of these, as soon as, right after my was father put in that place, these young men, especially the foreign born, they hauled those people in first. And in the middle of the night they took them, and the wives, some of them were, just came from Japan and they didn't know where, where they were gone. So all these young men, they were taken together, so I would say maybe fifteen, twenty of the, of the Isseis, young Isseis, were taken, and after, we found out that they were in the Rocky Mountains working on the, on the railroad tracks and stuff. So we, I don't know how we found out, but we heard via the grapevine that's where they were.

TI: Now, was the RMCP --


TI: RCMP, were they also picking up Canadian citizens?

MK: Well, then that came around March, late March. So all of the young boys, young fellows, including Tets Aoki, and they all come running to the farm. And Tets said they would bring all their friends, and people we knew too, and our farm, in the barns and, they were all over that place.

TI: So this was like a hideaway for them.

MK: That's right. They were, so we, my mother, she cooked pancakes for breakfast and we had, well, chicken, we had all the eggs, but it was a steady chicken diet. That's all, so my mother just cooked, cooked day and night.

TI: So explain to me, what were these boys running away from, the young men? What were they running away from?

MK: They were, didn't want to get picked up. See, they were picking up the men, and I guess they were gonna send 'em to road camps too, I don't know.

TI: But these were Japanese --

MK: Niseis.

TI: Japanese Canadians, Niseis --

MK: Yeah, Niseis.

TI: -- and then university students, so they would be, were they suspect? I mean, why would they get picked up?

MK: Well, that's when we decided, my father decided that they're gonna, they're going to evacuate in sections, I guess.

TI: So if they were gonna take those people they're gonna take --

MK: That's why my mother decided that if we're gonna go we're gonna go as a family, see? Because a lot of the people were, and then they were given first choice, if they went a hundred miles inward they could go themselves, see?

TI: But before we go there, I want to learn a little more about these, these boys who would come to the farm. About how many of them would be coming?

MK: Gee, at one time there was like ten or twelve. Then next time they bring their friends.

TI: And what would they do when they're at your farm?

MK: We'd play cards and dance. We, I mean, I was sixteen years old. I never had such a great time in my life, you know? And my sister and I...

TI: So you would sort of host them. You'd be the hostess and help feed them and do all these things.

MK: Yeah, that's right.

TI: So they had a pretty good time too, then.

MK: Yeah. I mean, it was really... so one time the girls came from town and they came in a U drive, and they're coming down the, we could see down the road to our place, so they all made a mad dash for the barns and chicken houses.

TI: They thought that they were gonna be picked up or something.

MK: They didn't, yeah, they didn't know who that was. Well, here comes all these girls jumping out of the car and yelling at me and my sister that, "What are you doing with our guys?" Stuff like that. We said, "What guys?" Naturally, we were with them. Well, and they were saying, "We know they're here." So pretty soon they came out and they said, "Go home, go home. The curfew's, time for curfew." So they had to turn around and go home because of curfew.

TI: The girls.

MK: The girls have to go home.

TI: And the boys stayed there.

MK: The boys stayed, yeah.

TI: Now, were the girls really angry, or were they just sort of --

MK: Well, I think they were thinking their boyfriends, they're boyfriends and girlfriends with the fellows that were there. We didn't have nothing... but it was really funny. It was, it was... we thought, boy.

TI: 'Cause I would think some of them would be appreciative that you were hiding them for, keeping 'em safe.

MK: You know, well, they're eighteen or nineteen too, like us, and they're thinking, "Oh, they're trying to steal their, their..."

TI: Their boyfriends.

MK: Yeah.

TI: That's an interesting story. Yeah. So you have all these boys, then what happened? Did they...

MK: Then they, I guess the RCMP now started, right around that time the RCMP started to interrogate all the families. So at our Japanese school the RCMP set up, set up the, like a table and office, and all the people were to come and they have to register and stuff. So we were all the interpreters and helped make their files for them, so that's, so our entire family, top of that, we're way out in the country and there's no restaurants or nothing, so the RCMP told my brother, he says, "Where can we eat?" And they said, "Well, if you want to eat roast chicken, my mother will fix your lunch." So sure enough, all the, must've been maybe a staff of fifteen or so, they would all come for lunch and my mother would roast up all these chickens and baked bread and made potatoes and carrots, like that.

TI: So for, like, lunch they would come to your farm and get fed.

MK: Yes, they would all come and they would all sit down and eat their lunch. They paid my mother. I mean, of course they paid. But every day, while they were doing that they came. In fact, when they went to Surrey they came to our place, because my mother... that went on for, like, about ten days.

TI: And so they got to know your family.

MK: Yeah, they got to know us personally. So when the time for us to go and get evacuated, the army trucks came to pick us up and then my, and they said you're only allowed a hundred and seventy-five pounds, what you can carry. My mother, she just said, "We're not gonna leave this rice and all that stuff." So she bagged all the stuff and tied it all up, and they even loaded it on the truck and onto the train, so we had like half a trainload of Enta, Enta stuff.

TI: And mostly food and things like, extra food?

MK: Food, and that's all it was. Because we didn't want to, 'cause we had just finished, in October we just bought a ton of rice, and that, we just buy rice once.

TI: So that was enough rice for the whole year.

MK: That's right, because it'll be the same old rice even if you bought it in April 'cause the harvest is... so it was, so we got to take, we got to take, like, rice and shoyu and stuff like that. Yeah, but that's, I guess, because of a favor too.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: What happened to the farm, like all the chickens? I mean, you had thousands of chickens.

MK: Thousands of chickens, and the Chinese people would come and they would, and we had to sell the chickens for twenty-five cents. When we buy the chickens we buy them for twenty-five cents.

TI: But they're chicks.

MK: They'd be baby chicks. And we raised those to be hens, and my mother said, "Well, what are we gonna do?" So then I, we can't take 'em, so they'd just come in those little, like a three-quarter ton truck with the little cages, and they would just... so the last few days before we left, there were just trucks and trucks coming to buy chickens. But my mother had just bought like a thousand chicks from the hatchery, which was a Japanese hatchery, so when we, so when we were evacuated and we all went and then they came, they were in Winnipeg too. And we worked and they all worked, and my mother paid for those chicks. And the guy at the hatchery, the guy said, "Your mother's the only one that paid for their chicks." My mother says, well, she bought 'em and she has to. And even at that, they sex the chickens and if so many are, you don't get to...

TI: 'Cause they're male.

MK: That's right. But, so I know the man, when I was leaving to go to Ontario I went to say goodbye to, because they're all from our area, I went to say goodbye and that's when he told me. He said, "Your mom and I told her she didn't have to, but, you know." So I said, "Well, I guess my mother doesn't..." and so we all worked in the city and put all our money into the same family, family bank so that she wasn't going to...

TI: But how about things like your other assets? So your bank accounts and things like that, did you still have access to all that money?

MK: No, it's all closed, everything. You know, and all the Japanese are putting it in Japan banks.

TI: Right.

MK: Yeah, they just shut those down.

TI: So those are all frozen.

MK: That's right. And they're, so I mean, it's, it was a tumultuous time because we didn't know whether we were, what, really what to, what to do or what to expect.

TI: So the farm, what did you to kind of prepare the farm for your leaving? Did you find someone to take care of it?

MK: Well, next door, we rented an acreage next door and they were friends, and so we had a barn there, so we took, because we knew them, we took, like, Japanese dishes and all that. Well, people went and ransacked and stole everything, so we didn't, we didn't have nothing.

TI: So during this time when, after Pearl Harbor, was there any, like, anti-Japanese feelings? Like did you observe discrimination?

MK: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

TI: Tell me about that. What was that like?

MK: Well, you know, but the thing about it was that my, the direct neighbor, when we had a reunion and we all went, all of us went back to Strawberry Hill and Kennedy and we had a reunion there, and my sister Yuki, the oldest one, she -- the hakujin people had a separate party and they invited us to one of the people's home, and my sister Yuki wouldn't go. Because she said they didn't even come, well, nobody came to say goodbye to us either. But so, but we went. Find out, they say one day they got up and they said, "Well, where's the Entas?" We were gone. So they were, they were not to be blamed because they didn't know, but Yuki never forgave, never forgave them, so she wouldn't go there.

TI: Because your oldest, older sister thought that they should've been there to say goodbye.

MK: That's right.

TI: They should've been more helpful.

MK: Right. But then, like, so when they explained it us, then we said, well yeah. But maybe we should've ran over and said we're not, we're gonna be gone or something, but we were tied up in everything that we needed to do to get going. They were changing the time and, because they were taking us to a train, and so they were saying, "We're gonna pick you up at six o'clock in the morning," or whatever, and before you know it the truck is, the truck is at our house. And so it was, there was no time to go around. And so only the people that were, that owned the lot next, the acreage, they were at the station. They found out we were leaving and so they came to the station to see us off.

TI: That's interesting. Now, was, how about cases of, like more discrimination in terms of maybe name calling?

MK: No.

TI: Or vandalism or anything like that?

MK: No, no. We grew up with these people, and they were, a lot of Germans and like the Italian people, they couldn't figure it out too. Especially Italian people, they just could not figure out why, why the big fuss. They weren't being taken.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Okay, so Molly, in the last section you were talking about sort of loading up the train with all these extra bags of food and everything, so let's talk about the train ride. And so what was that like?

MK: The train? We got the Pullman car, and we're first train from the engine. Well, you could imagine how dirty and dusty that is, but we had the Pullman car. And my mother, before we left my mother must've roasted fifty chickens. She got one of those, couple of those big banana boxes and we loaded in all the, all the roasted chicken, and we made these, out of rice sacks, we made these bags with cookies and candy and stuff like that, and then we started up on the way. There was a RCMP, what they call a cadet like, in front of the car, front of the Pullman and the back of the Pullman, but there was a, I guess a sergeant or higher in command that looked over all of the cars. So there must've been about four or five carloads, cars, and we started up the, up into the Rocky Mountains, and we went on the northern route, the CNN route, and so we were going, going through Jasper and up in the, and so seemed like we were about two days running around that same mountain, but it was a... so we, it took us four days to get to it. But as we were going through the Rocky Mountains, we would see Japanese men, but the train would just slow (down) because they were working on the track or something, and so we could see. And we didn't know them, but my mother threw out chicken and all that. And we, and then we got to one place and the train stopped, and there was all our people from our, our village.

TI: These were the men, you mean?

MK: The men from our village, and they were all asking about their wives, and we just saw them the day before we left, so we told them about that, their wives and stuff. And they were so grateful, and we dropped all the food and everything there. And then that was the last we saw of them, and then we went, came into Winnipeg. It was a four day train trip. Just before we get to Winnipeg, the train hits about four or five horses, and two horses, had to (be shot) and kill. Well, you could imagine, we're aggie kids, they're shooting the horses right there in front of us. All the kids are screaming and hollering, but of course, that's what they have to do. They can't have (lived).

TI: 'Cause they're hurt. They're... yeah.

MK: So we were late getting into, getting into... and first place where they took us was called Immigration Hall.

TI: Before we go there, I just wanted to ask about Constable Clifford Dan. So he was on the train?

MK: He was on the train. He was --

TI: And you guys sort of, kind of got a friendship.

MK: Yes, we became -- and he was only nineteen.

TI: So he was one of the cadets?

MK: Yes, he was one of the, they call constables. And so when, as we were going up, he kept saying, "I don't see you any different than me." He can't understand why we were being evacuated, and first time. So as we were going up, he said, "Oh," he said, "At the station in Jasper they have the best strawberry, I mean apple pie." And he said, "We're gonna, I'm gonna take you off and we're gonna have apple pie." And I said, "Oh, well that's nice." So then when the train stopped at Jasper he got off and, you know they put the little thing, and he put his hand out for me to get out, and the sergeant yelled at him clear across. And so he said, "Well, I want to go and get apple pie and get her --" and he said, "Get back in there," yelling at me. So then, so he gets off and he goes in and he goes and gets this apple pie. Well, it's about that high, and one piece is about that big. [Laughs] And so he comes in and, but he was so mad, he pouted all the way because he was so angry that they treated me like that. But you know, I'm, so I was saying, but he went back and forth picking up loads of, and every time -- we were the last family to leave the Immigration Hall, all the other families were taken out to their farms because their housing was ready or something, but ours was not, ours was not ready.

TI: So it sounds like you were one of the first ones to Immigration Hall, but the last to leave?

MK: We were probably, from, they were from all different districts, so Mission, I think, was first, and so they were the cooks and stuff like that. They set up the thing. So when we got there, there were already Japanese there, but we were the first from Surrey, and then so we greeted all the, all the trains that came in. And so, and so...

TI: But then gradually they all left and you were the last.

MK: Yeah, we were the last family.

TI: Now, was it because you're so big of a family?

MK: No, no, they didn't have the house ready. It was a brand new, the cabin, brand new little dinky thing, the skeleton of a house. And they'd bring it there and, just like a mobile home, and so we were there.

TI: Now, at any point did they give you a choice? I mean, I know a lot of Japanese Canadians went to what were called, like the ghost towns.

MK: Yes.

TI: And so it was more --

MK: They gave us a choice, but my mother, she already heard something, and then she wanted the family to be together. Well, after we, after all of that, she even said, "We should've went to the ghost towns. Then you could've went back to school and all that. But can't redo." But my father would not go with us, so he said, "I'm not going where the dogs are." So he went to the ghost town, and he said, he was telling me, he said, "You know," he said that, "Should've came with me." He said if you'd let the government feed you and all that, and he knew what he was saying. But can't, my mother said that's the way it was, so that's the way it is.

TI: Because the ghost towns had, yeah, so they had like mess halls or places like, for people to eat.

MK: That's right. And they even had kind of like a little hospital. Yeah, and it was like, they had a whole bunch of those little, it was like a, it's in the Rocky Mountains and it's just a little settlement, and they had a whole bunch of these little, same, lookin' like a beet house, but there's two, three families in every one of those little dinky things. I went there and I saw it, and I thought, "Oh my goodness sakes." But it was like a little community, and so my father went there.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: And so instead of going there, you went to your own little house, or farm.

MK: Yes, we went to a farm, and this farm was a hundred acres of sugar beets.

TI: And who owned the land?

MK: This Dutch man called Boone.

TI: And so what was the arrangement, that you would be on this farm, and then what would you do?

MK: We would thin the beets, and then we have to weed the beets, weed the thing. And they grew so fast. We only weeded one time and before you know it, all the leaves took over and it was just like one, forest like. And we didn't have to weed anymore, so we just waited for the, and the beets kept getting bigger and bigger every day, and they're like this. But the machine comes and they dig up row by row, and then you have to top 'em. And you're lifting, you have a machete and you lift up the beets, and you cut off the top and then load it onto a big truck. And for a woman, when you pick it up, and if you miss it the one time you can hardly get it up the next time. At night, when you come in and we go to sleep, we can't hardly lift our hands. It is, it is so sore. Next morning you get up, do the same thing. And that's one month, and if you don't get all those beets on the truck and out, you don't get paid. So once, if the frost gets in there and it snows in, they pay you by the tonnage, so... but the one thing about that is that they don't do nothing else.

TI: With the land. You mean, so --

MK: That's it. And so in the, my mother, she got a little patch of land and she grows our own food, tomatoes, whatever it is, spinach, whatever. And then she found out that we could eat the sugar beet tops, so she goes and picks all the sugar beets and we ate that every other day, I think. I mean, I felt like we ate it every day, but that's, but it was just like Swiss chard we ate. And so, but after we'd weed and then after, now we're waiting for harvest, there's all of, all of July and August and part of September, so all the men in the area are all gone to war, the husbands, hakujin husbands, so they would come and ask us to come and help their thrashing or whatever it is. So we would go, my three brothers and my sister and I, we would go and work at these fields. When they cut the wheat and then a binder comes, and then you have to stack 'em up so that they dry. Then you take teams of horses and you load it all on and then bring it in to the thrasher. So we learned how to, we never, ever did that kind of work. I ran a six horse team. Somebody has to do it. And they'd load up the wheat, the shafts of wheat on the back of that thing, and we'd take it to the thrasher. That's like a, like one month work. We never, ever got paid money.

TI: You didn't get paid?

MK: No. They all gave us a big side of bacon or...

TI: So they paid with you food and things.

MK: The barter time again.

TI: Barter. I see.

MK: But my mother said, "Oh my goodness sakes, that's wonderful. We get to eat meat." So we didn't have any money. Whatever we made, we got the money that we had.

TI: Now, did the government ever give you supplies to live on?

MK: No.

TI: So you're on your own.

MK: We were on our own.

TI: Now, did the government ever come to check up on you to make sure that you were there?

MK: No, but we better be there 'cause the RCMP, if you want to go and you got a toothache, you got to go to the closest telephone and be able to call the Commission and get a pass to go to the, get your, get dental work done.

TI: I see. So you're restricted to a certain place, unless...

MK: Oh yeah. And so, but we did, we did all kinds of work. I did, some farmer lady comes over and she wants me to help her with her housework, and I go over there, she gives me one chicken. And I'm coming home banging the chicken and my mother goes, "Oh, we get to eat meat." And I think, "Yeah, that's right." Otherwise we have to eat vegetables. And eggs, they give us a couple dozen of eggs for all day that we worked. But I guess that must've been worth fifty cents or something, I don't know. But it was, that's how we had to survive.

TI: But luckily, your family kind of knew how to do this kind of work. I mean, it's like if you're --

MK: If we didn't know we learned.

TI: Yeah, but you worked together as a team.

MK: Team.

TI: I remember thinking earlier how your dad would hire you out as a work team, all the kids.

MK: Right. Yeah.

TI: And now you and your brothers and your sister were kind of doing the same thing.

MK: That's right. I mean, we never, ever thrashed wheat or anything like that, but boy, we learned fast.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So you mentioned, like a sugar beet farm, it's only once a year, and then in the summer you helped with some of the --

MK: Other.

TI: -- farms. So when winter came, what would you do then?

MK: Well then, when winter came you get snowed under, and there was snow on the ground until April. So we got the, I think it was my brother, went and got permission to go to town, and so we all went out to, and there's a Greyhound bus that goes into town, so we would go on the Greyhound bus. Well, my sister got married and she got to move to town, so I got to go to her house, and we went to work, I went to work in a sewing factory. And I worked, both my sister and I, we both worked in the... but all that I made, I mean, it went to the family. So my, so I worked, at night I would, two or three nights I would clean offices, and then on Saturday afternoon I would go and work at a lampshade factory. So Sunday was only the day off that I had, and even at that, you're lucky if we made fifteen dollars all week. But I guess it must've went far, so that, so that we, 'cause I had three younger (siblings), a younger sister and two brothers that my mother and, we had to support. So we all went to work.

TI: Okay. So then what happened in Winnipeg?


MK: Well, all the girls, from the outlying (farms), they all went to work at the wealthy, wealthy Winnipeg homes that they... and I think they made fifteen dollars a month or something too, but they all went to work as housemaids.

TI: And they got to live there also?

MK: Yes, and they liked them. And Thursday was maids' day off, so every Thursday -- well, the fellows would all, would work at the arbiter or wherever they worked, and they all stayed at what they call the Frontenac, the hotel. And the girls would come in on Thursday and then, well, where would they go? They all went to the lobby of the Frontenac, and it didn't really look too good, you know? So we, my girlfriend and I, she was going to school and the two of us went down the YW and asked them, "Could we have a meeting room on Thursday so that the girls could, we could have a club meeting?" The lady there was very, very nice and so she arranged it and we had, we made a club called Niseiettes. And we, all the girls would come there, and then the fellows would come there. It was really, didn't look so bad. So that was our, we used to go roller skating and dancing and whatever it was.

TI: When the group got together like that, did you ever talk about maybe later on going back to British Columbia?

MK: No.

TI: Or did you ever talk --

MK: Well, there was no sense. All our farms, I mean, all our places were sold. We had nothing to go back to.

TI: Were, then, some people talking about maybe going more east?

MK: That's right, everybody's going east.

TI: To like Toronto, a place like that?

MK: Yeah. I was, if I did not marry, or if I didn't meet Robert, that's where I was going. I was gonna go to Toronto. I mean, that's the only place you could really get ahead, so I was already planning on going to -- my sister, they went to Quebec and so we, everybody was moving east.

TI: So really, for the Japanese American community, it was just go east because that's...

MK: That's right, 'cause Toronto has the biggest amount of Japanese.

TI: Right. And yet... well let's, we'll get there later. Let's keep, let's keep talking.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: After a while your mother moved to another ranch, on the main highway?

MK: Yeah. We stayed, the guy that, he was part of the Commission and he wanted our family to work at his father's farm, so he finagled and got us out of the sugar beet ranch. And the last, last year we got to move right on the highway, and we worked there. And they had another family, whom we knew, they were from the village, our village, and so we all worked. It was truck farming, so they would grow lettuce -- and this was kind of like what we were used to, growing lettuce and green onions and stuff like that -- and so we worked there, but in the winter, same, snows in. So we would take the Greyhound from the highway and go into town, and we worked, I worked every day. So it gets like twenty, thirty below zero and it's the most godforsaken place you would ever want to live. I mean, we called it the frozen tundra.

TI: So it was at this place when there was, I guess, a family tragedy. It was your brother that...

MK: Yes.

TI: So tell me what happened.

MK: Well, just before, just before that, we were living in this, we rented this house and it was, but they had no water and no well, so they had to go to the school, and they have a pump there. So my little brother, the nine year old brother, he and this neighbor kid, they would have a little red wagon and they'd put two buckets in and they would go to the school and pump the water in and bring it home. My mother used that water for everything. Well, one day she heard a big bang, and she ran outside, the two kids got hit, but Kenny was the one that was on the most outside and he got thrown about sixty feet or something. And he cracked his head open, and so he, he didn't die there, but they, the ambulance came and then, well, it was the RCMP's wife who was drunk that hit... but it was, I mean... and then the ambulance they sent broke down every time, every so many miles it broke down. But my mother says he was dying anyhow, so -- of course, that's how she would think -- so anyhow, by the time they got him to the hospital, by the time I got there from my sewing job, it was that death rattle that you can, you can tell. So I knew he was, he was going.

TI: How tragic. Did anything ever happen to the RCMP's wife?

MK: No. In fact, the write up was "a little Jap boy" or something like that. It was just, we, you couldn't read it, or you couldn't... you know. It just, it was really... and there was no investigation, no nothing. And we kept saying... but Mother says, "No, it was his time," as Buddhists will say. So we just... Mother's wish that we don't make a thing out of it.

TI: But then it was, I guess this event that had your father come back.

MK: That's right.

TI: Or come, 'cause he was in the ghost town and he then joined the family.

MK: Yes. And we sent him a wire and said that Kenny had died, and so he came. Then he stayed with us. And then shortly thereafter he, he was asked by the Canadian government to go on an agricultural thing, so my father's going back and forth across Canada, even in the, even in the confined zone. I was surprised 'cause he'd go all the way to Vancouver and then we were, we were not allowed to go there. [Laughs]

TI: So what did the government have him do, agriculture?

MK: And he was doing an agriculture study with the bunch of aggie farm people. And he was very knowledgeable, my father, very knowledgeable about different -- and he'd, he crossed so many fruit trees and got different kinds. We even, he even invented an Enta berry, which is the strawberry that my father, my father crossed. So I mean, he was, I don't know where he got all that knowledge or education, but he was a very, very learned person.

TI: Interesting. Now, during this time did he ever give you advice on what you should do with your life?

MK: Oh yes, oh yes. He was very, very... if you knew the Japanese Issei, the minute that you go out with somebody, you're supposed to, he would check up on your, on that person's background. And my poor sister, my older sister, she married the first person that they, they, miai with, my older sister, and she married, she's lucky he's such a nice guy. So my next sister, she's going around, boy, she's like a little butterfly. And boy, she had so many boyfriends running around, my father searched their background. He knew, next day already. "Nope, you can't go out with that guy no more." And we'd say, "Well, what's, what is, isn't he Japanese?" And he'd say, "No. Can't go out with that." He knew all their background, family background, everything.

TI: And what would the things he'd be looking for in a background -- so these are Japanese boys?

MK: Japanese. Especially like, I don't know if you know the bakuren?

TI: Yeah.

MK: And I'd say, "Well, we're dirt farmers. What are we talking about?" "Better to be a dirt farmer than..."

TI: So there were certain classes or certain...

MK: Very class system, yeah. So my father was very, very... so when my husband and I, when he asked me to get married, my husband, and my father said, "Well, we got to search his family." They're from United States. My mother said, "Oh my goodness, it's wartime and what the heck," all that she was saying. So when we announced that we were getting married, his side of the family is inquiring about us, and my father blew his stack, blew his stack, and he wrote the whole family history and sent it off. My sister-in-law said to me, she said, "Boy, your father was mad." [Laughs]

TI: But yet, he was probably comforted that that were looking too, don't you think?

MK: Well he, you give the bride away, see? If they, they should've looked you up before you asked. We should look and see that, where you're going. It's a tradition. I had to, I couldn't hardly believe it.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: But talk about how you met your husband.

MK: Well, he was in Minnesota at Camp Savage, and one day this dentist, Jewish dentist called up through the Y, 'cause I was affiliated with the Y quite a bit, called up and said, "We're having some Japanese military people coming in. I'm throwing a party, and we'd like to have some young ladies come and help us entertain, or a group." 'Cause he had a big rumpus room. So they called me up and they said, "Get a group together, Molly." And I said okay, so a whole bunch of us -- and you know that dress I was wearing, with the blue -- well, a whole bunch of us went. And who's there? Only one soldier. That's him. And so that night, after the -- and he didn't dance, and all the rest of us were just dancing and horsing around -- so anyhow, my brother was supposed to take him to his hotel, so my brother went. And so when he came home to the house, we were living in town now and he came into the, my father said, "Well, where is he staying?" "He's staying at the Bell. I dropped him off at the Bell." My father said, "Oh, that's a bedbug place." So my father goes down there and brings him to our house, so we were saying, "Oh well, a guest." So we made a bed for him, and I think it was in the living room or something. We didn't have any, you know. So anyhow, the next day they, a bunch of them all went out to see a movie or something like that and he was supposed to catch a train. Well, I went, my father and I went down to the train station to, at the designated time, and they don't show up. So I guess, I don't know what happened. Anyhow, he missed the train. So then the next, there was only one more train, next morning. So, well everybody else went to work in the morning and Father said, "Well, you better take him down to the..." we could, it's a walking distance to the train from our house, so then I took him down to the train and put him on the train, and we said goodbye and all that. Well, before you know it, here comes a bouquet of flowers and all kinds of things, and I'm thinking, "Oh well, it's a thank you and all that." Well, he was having a furlough coming up, and he wrote to my father and mother and asked if he could come up and spend his furlough. And my mother and father said that's okay, and so he came up and we started to go around. So he, when he left he was going to Florida and then going to the air force school, and then he went, overseas was Hawaii, which was home. That was a great laugh. Yeah, so we...

TI: So you stayed in touch through letters?

MK: Yeah. He wrote every day, every day from wherever he was. And you know how mail gets all tied up, sometimes there's three or four letters in one day or stuff like that. But he, and so he was telling me his whole life story and I was thinking to myself, "Yep, he's had a hard time too," so forth. So we, kind of common ground type of thing. So when he asked me to marry him, well, I asked my mom and dad, but they were saying, "No, not before..."

TI: You check out the family.

MK: Yeah. No, no, not before the war is over because he was going overseas.

TI: I see. So he asked you to marry him with a letter? Or did he do it in person?

MK: Yeah, or he telephoned. So this is, but he sent a ring and so I wore it around my neck, and so I didn't announce it 'til the year before we got married.

TI: That's a good story. And so the war ended.

MK: And his four years was up, so he could...

TI: And so where did the two of you live?

MK: So when he came to Manitoba -- we got married in Manitoba -- he got, he left that Camp McCoy in Wisconsin and came up and then we got married on February, February the 8th. Then we were gonna go to Oakland right away, and we get to the border and they said, "No, you can't go. She's an enemy alien." So we go back, back home.

TI: So let me, let me make sure I understand this. So this is after the war has ended. You're a Canadian citizen, born in Canada.

MK: Right.

TI: And the United States government wouldn't let you into the country because they thought you were an enemy alien?

MK: Yeah. Well, I mean, it's because of your heredity.

TI: But you're, but you're Canadian, not Japanese.

MK: That's right. They wouldn't, that had... so they considered me --

TI: And furthermore, your husband had just served in the U.S. Army.

MK: That's right. Well, that had, that had nothing to do with it. It's me.

TI: So this is Immigration that stopped you.

MK: That's right.

TI: So you were probably surprised when this --

MK: Yeah, I was surprised 'cause he went to the embassy before, and they said, "Oh yeah, you just have to have a marriage license and that's it."

TI: Now, if you were a white Canadian --

MK: Yeah, I would've been able to go clear across.

TI: I see.

MK: Yeah. So the YWCA got a hold of it and they splashed it all over the news, and before you knew it JACL is calling us and, well, in between, couple of weeks later my girlfriend Lucky, she gets married to Kimura and then another gal that I know, she marries a Kawagoe. We're all Ks, Kitajima, Kawagoe, so they called us the KKs. [Laughs]

TI: Married Americans?

MK: Yeah, we all married American soldiers. And it was so funny, they called us the KKs. But, so Lucky went to Japan. He was doing that...

TI: Working occupation?

MK: D2, yeah. And so she went to Japan, but both Edith and I couldn't go through. He was from Los Angeles. And so we waited, and so by that time they were trying to pass a special bill in Congress, and whatchamacall, our, he's still there... so he tried to pass a special bill, but it didn't go through. So it took two years of Congress and finally we came in on the Soldier Bride Act, so that was August of 1947.

TI: Okay.

MK: But in between time, my son Bobby was born in Windsor. And he's still trying to get an American citizen, and we're still, and we're, he can't even get a passport. So I'm, I'm gonna write Feinstein or...

TI: This is today? He can't get --

MK: Yeah, he can't, he has, and he served in the, in the...

TI: The U.S. --

MK: He didn't serve in the army, but he was in the, what they call the National Guard and all that.

TI: Okay. That's interesting.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: So we kind of finished the war years, and I want to kind of jump ahead because during the break you were telling me about an interesting trip that you took to Cuba, to meet some Japanese Cubans. So can you tell me, what year did this happen?

MK: I think it was 2002.

TI: Okay, 2002.

MK: I'm trying to...

TI: And tell me about the group that went to Cuba.

MK: It's called Tsukimi-kai.

TI: And what does that mean? Does that, was there a --

MK: Tsukimi is, you're looking at the moon. Tsukimi is moon-looking group.

TI: And what was the purpose of the visit?

MK: We went down to find out about their incarceration.

TI: The Japanese Cubans.

MK: We found out, yeah, we found out that they were incarcerated, so we went down and we went through, we can't go directly, we went through Mexico. Like some of us went to Cancun, some of us went to Mexico City, and then we landed in Cuba. And there was a whole contingent of Japanese people there, and so they took us around. Most of the time we were on this island called the Isle of Man, and we were there and there were some Cubans in, Japanese Cubans in Havana, but most of these people were in, and most of the people are from Okinawa. So when we went there, jeez, no wonder they thought it was Okinawa. There was orchids and pineapples growing. They got bananas. They thought, gee, it was just like home. They really, really, they really enjoyed it. But we went down and we saw, we saw the jail. And it, and then we were so surprised, I thought, you talk about Tule Lake's jail, this was even worse. This was even worse. It was like the size of this table.

TI: So during the whole war they were in these jails?

MK: They were in there. And I think eight men committed suicide. I know some of them did, I don't know.

TI: Now, in Cuba was it the whole community that, like men, women and children, or just the men?

MK: No, just the men.

TI: Okay.

MK: So the men, and then what happened was when the people that lived in Havana, they had to go by boat and go over to this Isle of Man and then go to this jail, and then they'd talk through the, through the glass with a hole in it. Fifteen minutes and the ladies have to go home, all the way back. So the husbands all said, "Teach the kids Japanese 'cause we're gonna go back to Japan after." and so they all, so they all speak Japanese, the Niseis. And they all sing those Japanese songs. I was so surprised. And what they celebrate -- before I went I wanted to find out what to take, and they said bring senko and candles. So we, I was surprised, so from the Buddhist thing they gave me, boxes of senko and boxes of candles and then I went there. Well, they celebrate Bon, and that's a Buddhist thing too, and then New Year. We went New Year's.

TI: So Oshogatsu.

MK: Yeah. And then first thing, one thing we did was we all went to the grave. And sure enough, they're all over the graves, all the Japanese are all together and they have, and so they all dance around these graves. And then one place they have this, on the Isle of Man they have this big columbarium, and all the ashes, all the ashes are in these... every Cuban Japanese could die and they'd fit in there. It's a huge thing. And so the other people went Bon time, and then we took taiko and we taught them taiko. And I took mochi and senbei and stuff, and some lady was going, "I remember something like this when I was a kid." Yeah, so we were surprised, but they were so... but I learned from them people that one Okinawan, two ladies' sister, her sister in Okinawa invited her to come to Okinawa and she went there, and they went there and after two weeks they said they want to go home. And they said, "Why? With all this luxury in Japan and all that?" Said, "No. It's too hustle bustle." They loved the...

TI: Simple, slow life of Cuba.

MK: Of Cuba. And like this, in this one place where the, most of them are married to other nationalities, but they're Spanish, they're Spanish from Spain. It's not like the Mexican Spanish. So the kids are pretty blonde, blue eyes, but this one area, they all intermarried, so there's three families of almost solid Japanese. And then, and this is where they have three continuous farms, and they, and they have a little shed, what is Castro's vegetables and stuff Castro gets, and whatever is left over they can sell on this little shed like they have. And they're... so it's really a, this one Fukuoka people that were, a family there, they were fishermen. They were lobster fisher people. And so I was interpreting them, so when I went there and I said to them, "Oh my goodness sakes, you get to eat lobsters," I said. And they said, "No. We don't eat, we can't eat lobster. They're Castro's lobsters." And I said, "What do you mean?" Said their boat never hits the land. It hits the shed, where they put, they drop all the lobsters off. And I said, "Well, who's to know that you ate the lobster on the thing?" He said, "Somebody else would rat on you." And he said, "We like, we like the fisherman's life." Said, "We can catch fish and we can eat all the fish and everything, but we can't eat a lobster." And I'm thinking to myself, and then I said, "Well, can you, you can buy it." And they said, "No, you can't buy it. We can't afford it." They get two hundred and fifty pesos, and the, so they can't... it is really, really amazing. So I was laughing, I said, "Well then," I said, "You can have sashimi and all that." And said, "Yeah, but we have no wasabi or shoyu." So when I came home I went to Canada and I shipped a whole box of wasabi and shoyu. But I blame the Japanese embassy in Cuba. Why they don't help them or see them, see to that? This gal and her husband, they work at the embassy and you'd think... so I'm thinking to myself, but they are, but they have all the education they need. I had a bite over here and I was having, I had a bump on here. This young girl, looked like fifteen years old, she comes over, she presses and she goes, then she goes over and gets a swab of something. And I'm going, "Who are you?" She says, "Oh, I'm Doctor Takasaki," or something. And I'm looking, everybody's either a doctor or engineer. They all get three hundred and fifty pesos. Can you believe that?

TI: Interesting.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Now your, this group, are there plans to do future things?

MK: Yeah, they, well see, I think after this year it's gonna be, we can go directly from Miami, I think. But we're waiting for... but we still correspond with them.

TI: Interesting.

MK: And one of the girls wanted to buy a piano, so we all got together and put the money in and sent it over there. So I mean, it'd take her ten years to get her a piano.

TI: Interesting. So this is an interesting story that I'm gonna keep following. I'm curious what happens with all this.

MK: Yeah. It was really... and then I went and I asked 'em, I said, "Well, what religion are you?" And they said, but then I looked at one corner and I saw this butsudan-looking thing and I said, "That looks like a butsudan." And they said, "I don't know, my father left it." And they had never, never opened it.

TI: So they're not, well, they used to be maybe Buddhist, but not anymore.

MK: Yeah, now they're not Christian, they're not Buddhist. But they celebrate...

TI: Obon.

MK: They celebrate Bon and Shogatsu.

TI: But they don't really understand, maybe, the history.

MK: Yeah, and then they wanted us to bring music for Bon Odori, so we taught them Bon Odori and we took their recording. We taught them taiko. And what's his name, one of our Okinawan guys that went with us, he took a shamisen, the Okinawan shamisen, and he left it there. We left taikos there. And we made a, we made one of those Okinawan lions and made out of -- you can't make it out of straw, you have to make it out of cellophane or whatever. But there're so many stories in Cuba. It just, it makes you... and all of them, they are so revered, the Japanese population there, especially in the Isle of Man. They are so revered that it is really something.

TI: What, why? Why are they so revered?

MK: Because they sent them over there and it was saltwater coming in and they couldn't, they couldn't farm. Well, some Japanese guy stopped the saltwater from coming in, and now per acreage they make the best sugarcane. And all the horticulture, all of the herbs, all these herbs that they are, these are the -- and this Japanese guy, he came from Okinawa and this loved this gal in Okinawa, and so when he wanted -- but the family wouldn't let him, her come. So he went and grew this orchid and he named it after her, and it's just the most beautiful orchid. And some of the things that you hear, it just, and he's, he died and his ashes are in that columbarium. But we, but they, it's really a, but they're... and I'm saying to them, "Well, why don't you want to get off this godforsaken island?" And they said, "How're we gonna go?" Two hundred fifty don't even get you the bus ride to the thing. But they get all the, every kid gets a quart of milk or something, every, they get ten eggs or something (a month). They get sugar, they get, they get everything. And there's a clinic every fifteen blocks, so nobody -- and then you get to be sixty years old, you retire. I mean, I'm looking at that and thinking to myself, nobody seems unhappy.

TI: Very simple, easy.

MK: Yeah. But that two Okinawan ladies, they wanted to come back. They didn't want to stay there.

TI: No, that's a good story. So Molly, that's all the questions I have. Is there anything -- I didn't cover the postwar -- is there anything that you want to talk about or a story during that time period before we, we end the interview? 'Cause I know we've been doing this for over two hours now, so this is, I don't want to do too much longer.

MK: What do you mean?

TI: Is there anything else that maybe is important for you to talk about, just to get on the record? Is there anything that you want to talk about?

MK: Well, you know, at one time I think all the Niseis are trying to run away from our, our... but when, since I've joined the Tule Lake group and learned more about the difference in "no-no's" and "no-yes," and that's what I've, I was very, very surprised about -- because I am in Union City and there is so many people from Tule Lake, and they didn't even want to admit it. They didn't even want to... and so finally when I started to work with the Tule Lake people, I said, "Didn't you go to Tule Lake?" And they didn't want to own up to it. Well, now when we've done so much work and we've got recognition and getting... so I feel like I wanted the people to come out and let it, let them shed their...

TI: The shame.

MK: Yeah, the shame or whatever it is. Because even the Japanese Niseis or Sanseis, they condemned some of those people, so nobody even wanted to say. So this is the reason why I'm, to me, I feel that, I mean, when my father was put into the compound, I'm thinking, I didn't say, "You shouldn't say that, Dad." I mean, he was trying to, he's trying to help his own people. Well, it's the same thing. To me, I feel that it's, you know. So now the only regret that I do have is that the Issei parents who did all of the hardship and all that, they never got any of it.

TI: The apology or any money.

MK: Or anything. I mean, you know? And they're the ones that bore their knuckles to buy the land or do anything. My mother, at the back of the truck, looked up and she said, "I won't see this again." And she was right.

TI: When she left the farm in Strawberry Hill.

MK: That's right. And so when, as the truck was moving out, we all had to stand in the back of the truck. And my mother was only forty-eight or something. I mean, I was upset 'cause, but then another old lady had to sit in the front, and when I think about it -- but as we were leaving the farm, my mother said, "Oh, I won't see this again." Well, she was right. But it's, there should've been something that they should have... but to me, like the Cubans were allowed to get back the land, but not all of it. If you owned a hundred acres you were, everybody was only given so many. But they're perfectly happy. They can toil there. And Cuba, they, it's all organic. They have no fertilizer, no, it's all organic, and so they learned. So to me, I feel that some things great come out of hardships.

TI: Yeah. No, that's a good way, that's, I think, a good way to end this interview. So thank you so much, Molly, for doing this.

MK: You're welcome.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.