Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Shyoko Hiraga Interview
Narrator: Shyoko Hiraga
Interviewers: Art Hansen (primary), Frank Abe (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 28, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-hshyoko-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

FA: How would you describe Jimmie as a person? How did he look, how did he dress?

SH: He was very thin, and I believe he had a mustache. And kind of talked fast. He was never a person who put on airs, he dressed very casually. But I thought he seemed smarter than a lot of people, and a nice guy.

FA: Not a nice guy?

SH: He was a nice guy.

AH: If you were a little bit older and he wasn't married, would he have been an attractive person to you in terms of the intellectual stuff and the frankness and the general interest in learning?

SH: I think so, yes. But I was a kid then. [Laughs]

AH: Yeah, I know. I know. I said "if."

SH: Right.

AH: Okay, so now, he starts to write these editorials, and they create a brouhaha of major proportions swirling around the newspaper. And even if you're over in Denver, you must have heard something about this. Do you recall that at all or not?

SH: Somewhat. In fact, I knew there was something going on with Heart Mountain. Because... and there might have been some talk between my husband, who was then the editor, and Jimmie. Because I remember the, I believe that they went together to Heart Mountain once.

AH: No, they never went to Heart Mountain. The only camp that Jimmie was ever in was Amache.

SH: Oh, he didn't go to Heart Mountain? My husband had gone to Heart Mountain, so I thought maybe Jimmie went with him then.

AH: No, Jimmie didn't. But, now, speaking about your husband -- and he became your husband a year after the war was over -- so when we're talking about this 1944 thing when you were still young, you were pretty young, too, when you got married. What was it about, what was the nature -- I had asked you in correspondence if that was a semi-arranged marriage and you said no, and neither was Tetsuko's, etcetera, so it was a romantic marriage and everything like this. What was the commonality that you found in your husband?

SH: Oh, I thought he was very, sort of a gentle person then who seemed to care about his family, and who was worried about his family in Japan because he had come right after his father died, and he had two younger brothers and a sister who were still very young. And he was quite worried about his mom and how she was getting along at that time and whether he'd ever see her again. And I guess I felt really sorry because he had lost his dad like that, and then my dad being gone like that, maybe we had a feeling about a commonality there. But anyway, and that he did help my dad when my dad was gone, he kind of kept it up for a while by working.

AH: And why did he get forced out? I know why Jimmie got forced out, why did your husband get forced out by the government over his position?

SH: I think they felt that the general feeling of the newspaper was not going along with what the government felt should be. I don't really know that either.

AH: Now they replaced Jimmie with a guy named Roy Takeno.

SH: Yes.

AH: Who was very pro-JACL.

SH: Exactly.

AH: And then who did they replace your husband with?

SH: I believe that was when Mr. Muronaka came in. Because Muronaka-san, I'm quite sure... but there were different people during that time. There was Takeuchi-san, and Kikunaga, so there were different people working around with my husband in all those years. So I don't know exactly, but I think it was Muronaka who came. And he had been in a paper in California before, and so he was used to running a newspaper. And Roy Takeno, I always felt like he was a government person who came, and that's almost like a...

AH: Spy.

SH: Spy. [Laughs]

FA: Why do you say that?

SH: Because he just was doing... I thought he was... oh, he was a War Relocation Authority who pointed him in, and he seemed to be just talking with, I don't know whether it was JACL or what, but it didn't seem to me that there was much of an interest in the newspaper doing better or doing anything. He never was talking to us, or I didn't talk to him much at all.

AH: I'm trying to understand how the paper limped along after both your husband and Jimmie were picked up, and how they put Takeno in, etcetera. Who was really, was your sister still staying with it for a few years?

SH: My sister was there all the years, yes.

AH: So even after the war? Because you weren't sure when your dad came back to Denver and when he got back involved with the newspaper.

SH: No, I'm not sure. Because my father, when he came back, was just sort of like a defeated man, and he didn't talk much, and he was not his kind of pompous self. He was just very quiet. And he didn't even want to go in the newspaper part, and he instead stayed in the other area. And he even went out to look to see if he could find tailoring jobs, and came back, and he was so disappointed he couldn't work in tailoring anymore. I think he worked for one day and he couldn't take that. And so he was trying to decide how he could support the family. And so I remember that he started to publish or print magazines where they would have Japanese magazines that he would copy. He bought a printing machine, a copy machine like, and then he would print copies of this Japanese magazine and he would try to put those together. I don't think that went through at all. And so he just was not very willing to try back in the newspaper.

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