Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Molly K. Maeda Interview
Narrator: Molly K. Maeda
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 17, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-mmolly-01-0001

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TI: So today is Thursday, April 17th, and we're in Seattle at the Densho office. And today, this morning we have Molly Maeda to do an interview. So, Molly, I'm going to start from the very beginning. Can you tell me when you were born?

MM: Where?

TI: Yeah, where and --

MM: In Dee, Oregon, November 23, 1919.

TI: And Dee, Oregon.

MM: Well, like here would be Bellevue, Bothell, all those. It's Hood River County and it's about thirteen miles out of the city of Hood River.

TI: Okay, so it's like a suburb or small town.

MM: Not a town, no, it's (in the rural) country (...). Fruit growers, cherry growers, (strawberry growers, and a sawmill).

TI: Now, when you were born, did they have, like, a hospital or a clinic that you were born in, or were you born at home? Where were you born?

MM: That I don't know. (...) Because Dee is the East Fork (at Hood River and there is the West Fork) and we're right in between there. There's the mountain (range) here, and it's a big sawmill, quite a good-sized sawmill, and my dad worked there. But that would be after Snoqualmie.

TI: Okay, so let me back up just a little bit.

MM: He came when he was nineteen and worked in Seattle, the Snoqualmie area railroads.

TI: Okay, so he worked at the old Snoqualmie sawmill, too, or just at the railroad?

MM: Not the sawmill, I think more the railroad he worked. And then he made enough money to go back to Okayama and get a bride. And then my mother came.

TI: And so, first, tell me what was your father's name.

MM: Yasuta.

TI: Yasuta. And the first time he came to America, how old was he?

MM: Nineteen. (He was born in 1885).

TI: And do you know about what year that was? Do you know like what year he came? Like 1800s or 1900s?

MM: (1904).


TI: Going back to you, what was the name given to you at birth?

MM: Molly? You mean Mariko? Mr. Yasui gave it to me, my mother always said, because my face was so round, they named me Molly. You know, in Japanese, that's ball, "molly" is a ball.

TI: Oh, so like Molly, even though it's kind of a European English name, there's a Japanese meaning for "Molly," too?

MM: No. Mariko, and then when I started going to elementary school, they started calling me Maniko or something, they couldn't spell it right. They thought the "r' was an "n." So then it became Molly in grade school.

TI: I see. So let me make sure I understand this. So the name given to you was Mariko, and that was...

MM: Mari, short.

TI: And that was kind of like a round face.

MM: Round face.

TI: But then later on in elementary school, the kids couldn't say Mari or Mariko.

MM: So it became Molly.

TI: Molly.

MM: Picked it up in elementary school.

TI: And the name Mariko came from Mr. Yasui?

MM: Mr. Yasui.

TI: So he looked at you and said --

MM: [Laughs] My round face.

TI: Okay, that's a good...

MM: Big round face.

TI: And then let's talk about your siblings right now. So can you tell me your, like, older sister and younger sister and younger brother, their names?

MM: Mikie is M-I-K-I-E, Mikie, is Japanese.

TI: Okay, and how much older was she?

MM: Two. We're all two years apart.

TI: Okay. And then you came next.

MM: Then I came next.

TI: And after you?

MM: And then Lena. It's Lena, but it's Rinako, R-I-N-A-K-O.

TI: Okay. So people had a hard time saying...

MM: Lena. Then they called her Charlee after a while, she got a nickname Charlee.

TI: And then after...

MM: Then after that, my brother Bob is Yeichi. His Japanese name is Y-E-I-C-H-I.

TI: Okay, good. And all two years apart.

MM: Yes. Oh, I made a mistake on my dad. It's Yasu they used to call him, but it's Yasuta, T-A on the end.

TI: Okay, Yasuta.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.