Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Akiko Kurose Interview I
Narrator: Akiko Kurose
Interviewer: Matt Emery
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 17, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-kakiko-01-0004

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ME: Can you tell me a little bit more about the neighborhood, the surrounding neighborhood around the apartment?

AK: Uh-huh. On the corner was the Chin, Fung, and Pang, family. They all lived there. And they were the pioneer Chinese family. And it was a huge house, and all the extended family lived there. And we just had a good time, you know, always interacting with them. And then next door to them was the Romanos -- it was a Sephardic Jewish family. And I still keep in touch with Emma, and also with the Chinese girl, Irene. We still keep in touch with them. And then Janey Bacher was a black girl that lived right across the street. We just interacted all the time, had lots of fun. And then my classmates, you know, the Japanese American girls, too, would live in the periphery of that apartment. And we just had a good time.

ME: I'm curious, what's standing in this area right now?

AK: And where... the apartment that I lived in still stands, except it's been combined with the next door apartment, it's made into one building and it's housed... it was a Model Cities project, and I think it's a low-income, senior citizen type of housing. And it's still there. It was a solid brick house. And in the corner was the Brenner's bakery, which was a family bakery. And we used to run in and out of there all the time. And then up the street, two streets up, the Gai's bakery was situated, and it was a family home where the mother did the baking in the kitchen. And we'd go and buy bread from them, or you know, they'd share it with us. And so these were small businesses which have turned out to be great, big businesses now, you know. And then on the corner was a little grocery store that we ran into, and the other corner there was a drug store where we'd go and get our milkshakes and...

ME: Sounds like it was a very diverse neighborhood.

AK: It was. And a very friendly, happy neighborhood.

ME: Everyone got along?

AK: Everybody got along. And... so... I was not very sophisticated, and not very political, not very knowledgeable about government or anything. I was just a happy-go-lucky person, and when the war broke out it was a great shock. Because we just assumed that we were "great Americans," you know. And never did it occur to us that we would be ever considered anything but an American. And so, it was a great shock. And we, of course, appreciated the culture, you know, the cultural things about the Japanese tradition and whatever. And we did celebrate -- in fact, it was very interesting because we celebrated the Jewish holidays as well as the Japanese holidays. Because it just worked in nicely, Passover, people are cleaning the house and my mom thought that was a wonderful idea, so... you know. And then living in the apartment, well, we, we interacted with all the tenants also. And there was a Jewish rabbi who lived in the apartment, so I carried his prayer book to the synagogue every Saturday morning. And also the tradition was that you do not use electricity, or cut, or anything, on the weekends, Sabbath or whatever, sundown until sunrise. And so I'd go around turning on all the lights and turning off the lights the next morning so that they would not use the lights.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.