Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Miyoko Tsuboi Nakagawa Interview
Narrator: Miyoko Tsuboi Nakagawa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: South Bend, Washington
Date: April 30, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-nmiyoko_2-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So today is Wednesday, April 30, 2014, and we are in South Bend, Washington. And we are here this morning with Miyo Nakagawa. And so, Miyo, the first question is, can you tell me where and when you were born?

MN: I was born in Portland, Oregon, on March 8, 1925.

TI: So that means you're now eighty-nine years old?

MN: That's correct.

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

MN: Miyoko Tsuboi.

TI: How about, did you have a middle name?

MN: No, no middle name.

TI: And did you have any brothers or sisters?

MN: I have one younger sister.

TI: And what's her name?

MN: Her name is Setsuko Tsuboi... you mean right now?

TI: Yeah, and Tanemura?

MN: Tanemura.

TI: And she's, I think, five years younger?

MN: That's correct.

TI: Good. And then how about your father? What was your father's name?

MN: My father's name is Kumajiro Tsuboi.

TI: And where in Japan did he come from?

MN: Kurashiki, Kibi-gun.

TI: And do you know what kind of work his family did in Japan?

MN: Well, not exactly. My father didn't talk about things too much. But I know that he, they owned land, and he used to talk about the hill and the back of their place, which had kaki, persimmons. So we used to get dried kaki from Japan in the '30s.

TI: Oh, so they would send it to you from Japan?

MN: Pardon?

TI: So the family would send you kaki?

MN: Well, they have... well, I think maybe it was just, you know, like you have apples in your backyard type of thing. And I think they had persimmons growing in the hills, so I don't know how big of a place or what, I do not know. But I know that they always sent kaki in the fall, I guess, when it was... but anyway, it was very good. I looked forward to it.

TI: And do you know why your father came to America?

MN: No, I don't, but I think since he was the second son, he had, he could travel around more because he wasn't tied down to the land and everything. So that's what I... or maybe he heard of opportunities over here in the States.

TI: And so when he came to America, do you know what kind of work he did?

MN: Well, he worked for the Tsuboi brothers in Portland. The Tsuboi brothers had a jewelry store, and I think my dad, my father probably did watch repairing and that sort of thing. But later on, they had a men's furnishing store adjoining the jewelry store, and so my father worked there and they sold Stetson hats and ties, all men's furnishings.

TI: Now, the name of the store was Tsuboi Brothers. Was he related to the brothers?

MN: No, he wasn't. There were two brothers, but Dad was not related, but perhaps they came from the same village or something like that. But no, we didn't really have any relatives, that is, I mean, he didn't have any brothers or sisters living over here at all. So people would ask whether we were related, but no.

TI: Now, did your father ever have any stories about working at the store? Like with a customer or anything that you can remember?

MN: No. You know, the thing is, we spoke Japanese all the time. In fact, I didn't know any English until I went to school, grade school. But no, he never did discuss anything about customers or anything, incidents that happened.

TI: Now, how did your father meet your mother?

MN: Well, I really... I really don't know as a fact, but I do know that he came over here, and then he went back to Japan and then brought my mother back, I mean, married her and brought her back. And I don't have too many details.

TI: So what was your mother's name?

MN: My mother's name is... on my birth certificate it says Hatsuko Moriya, I mean, she was a Moriya, but then Hatsuko Tsuboi.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: And tell me about your mother. I know she died when you were young, but what memories do you have of your mother?

MN: Well, I tried, I've been trying to recall. One of the only things that I remember was... oh, a couple of things. When I was very sick, she was there taking care of me, and also I remember we, I think both my, maybe both my father and my mother, I went to get my... what is it, not tetanus shot, typhoid shot or whatever? And I remember going to the doctor's office and that's about all. You know, I can't recall her cooking and all that sort of thing, which I should. And I think maybe it's, could be that I kind of blanked it out because prior to my mother passing away, that one week, she was feeling very bad, and I think that was happening on Monday, and then on Wednesday they took her away in an ambulance. And then Friday my dad and I went... [Interruption] I remember going with my dad to see her, and she was kind of in a coma. And then the next day, on Friday morning, we got a telephone call from the hospital saying that she had passed away. And so that was rather traumatic. I had to accompany my dad everywhere, whether it was funerals or anything, he couldn't leave me home by myself. But anyway, going to see my mother, I can still remember that in my mind. And I also remember the funeral and all that, everything else that happened after that.

TI: And how did your father react to all this? What was he like after your mother died?

MN: My father was... well, he did the best he could. He had to take care of me, a girl... I think if I was a boy, it might have been easier for him. But he had to figure out how to be sure that I was dressed correctly, and had to do the meals and everything. And I think I used... it seems to me like sometime later on, when I was a little bit older, that I did maybe wash the rice or something. But my dad had to prepare the meals and everything, and he never complained or anything, he just went along. And, of course, he was a widow, he never got married. Maybe I might have voiced an opinion when I was little, and I didn't want someone else taking her place, I don't know. But my father endured me during all this time.

TI: You know, I've done other interviews, and other families, if the mother died like this, there would sometimes be talk about sending the young children maybe back to Japan to live with relatives. Did that ever come up, anything like that in terms of maybe having another family take care of you and Setsu?

MN: Well, probably my sister, since she's a baby, it would be hard for my dad. But I could sort of take care of myself, so I don't recall anyone saying anything. I mean, I don't recall my dad saying anything to me about me, but probably my sister, she would be the one to be... it would be very difficult. It was difficult, I'm sure. Because he had to have her being taken care of by another family, and it wasn't a Japanese family, it was a Swedish family.

TI: So how did he choose that family? How did that happen?

MN: Well, he had this friend who lived across the street from this Swedish family. And they said that she was a very... well, she had five children I think it was, but she was a very Christian, very loving person, and they... we didn't know any Japanese people, Japanese families that would take my sister and take care of her. And there was no way I could do that. So anyway, these, they recommended this family that lived across the street from them, and our friends thought that this lady would really be good. So my sister... so anyway, that was agreed, and so my sister went to live with this family, she only knew Japanese, of course. So the conversation was rather difficult for the family as well, but they were very loving, very Christian people. They took care of my sister very well, I would say, and I'm very grateful to them.

TI: And how did you feel about seeing your sister go to another family?

MN: Well, it was kind of... it was rather strange. Not only strange, but kind of a lonely thing. Because even if she was only two, there was someone else to be close to and everything and grow up with. But when we, my father and I would just usually, every Sunday, take a drive out, I think it was about five miles, and we would go in his Model A and putt-putt around twenty-five miles or whatever it was, and go out to see my sister to find out how she was getting along, and if there were any problems and things like that.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: Well, I was just thinking, it was such a transition for you because you had both your mother and sister, and then shortly after, they were both gone, and it was just you and your father. So that must have been a big change for you.

MN: Yes, it was. They talk about "latchkey kids," well, I'm very familiar, I always had a key hanging on a string. And I would go to grade school, come home, call my dad on the phone, we fortunately had a phone. Call my dad, and tell him I was home and I was preparing to go to Japanese school. So there was school all day long from morning 'til night. Japanese school lasted two hours, like four to six.

TI: Now, when you came home from regular school, did you make yourself a little snack, or was there food there for you?

MN: I don't remember. Oh, I might have taken a, like a Japanese orange, mikan, or maybe a little snack. I might have eaten something, kind of snacked, whatever was there, and left. But I really, truly wasn't, I don't remember being hungry.

TI: Now when you were doing this all by yourself, did you notice what other kids were getting? I mean, did you ever feel like you were missing something? Because other kids would come home and maybe the mother would have a snack for them, or they would have all these things, did you ever feel that you didn't have enough?

MN: I think I just had to make the adjustment. It was one of those things that you had to deal with, and I just did what... just did whatever was necessary, I think. My dad was sort of, you had to be self-reliant and take care of yourself.

TI: And so at the end of the day, your dad would come home from work and then he would cook dinner?

MN: Well, before I went to Japanese school, I think I enrolled probably maybe a little later, a year, well, I'm not quite sure. But the first, after my mother passed away, I would... let's see... I'm sorry.

TI: No, so the question is, so when your father... who cooked dinner at night? I mean, how would...

MN: Oh, that's right, I'm sorry. Well, after school, after coming home from grade school, before I was enrolled in Japanese school, I would go over to the store and stay with my dad until he was through with his work. And in the meantime, my father would write a lot of... that must have been second grade. Because my father would make a page full of additions and subtractions and math on there, and then he had a soroban, an abacus, and I would work that and do my problems as my entertainment from coming home from school, to keep me busy doing things like that. And then I used to wander in the jewelry store and look at all the rings and all the pretty things and things like that. But so that's what happened, and then on the way home... this is way back when, and I don't think, you wouldn't do this kind of thing now, but we would start from one corner, and he would, to meet at the opposite corner, you know what I mean?

TI: You mean go around the block?

MN: Yeah, right, go around the block and meet at the other. And oh, I'd walk as fast as I could. I didn't run, I didn't cheat, and I walked as fast as I could. And, of course, my father is going to have a longer stride, and he walked fast. That's why, to this day, if I kind of walk too slow, I kind of, I lose my balance. I'm used to walking fast. But anyway, that was kind of a fun thing.

TI: A little game that you and your dad... it was like a nice little game that you and your father played.

MN: Right. And in those days, you didn't think about bad things happening. Never gave it a thought, you just mind your own business and meet my dad.

TI: So how late did your father work? When did he finish work?

MN: I think it must have been like five, I think. I would imagine five o'clock. And then he would come home and then we'd have rice and whatever he made. I don't recall all... I remember rice, but I don't know whatever else we had. And my dad was very good. I remember going to, when I was going to grade school, you have to take a lunch, and my dad used to make... I don't remember peanut butter and jelly, but I remember like a fried egg sandwich, that's pretty good.

TI: So he was actually a pretty good cook then, he could do different things in the kitchen. A lot of the Issei men weren't, didn't, never cooked.

MN: Well, that's true. But I think he probably had to adapt to the whole situation and do the best he could. And when I think about it, I think my dad really did a lot. I could have been better. I could have helped him a lot more, I guess.

TI: Well, how about like church? Did you and your father go to a church?

MN: Well, the one he belonged to was not close. [Interruption] No, I think I visited several different churches, tried it out or whatever, and he kind of left it up to me whether I understood what was going on and whether it was Buddhist church or Catholic church. Of course, the Catholic people probably noticed that we... I remember going to, I think it was high mass or something, and probably in the morning, I remember going there. But I didn't belong to any specific church at that time. It's after World War II, then I went to the Methodist church.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Tell me about your home that you and your father lived. Where was this, where did you live?

MN: Well, we lived right downtown between... well, off Broadway and in front of the, there was a park, North Park Blocks. And it was situated close to the immigration, I think it's the Immigration and Naturalization building, I think it's still there. And the old post office, which was on the other side, we lived not close to those places. But anyway, this house that was situated, was on the corner, and on the side street, on this Flanders Street, used to be a railroad. And it passed by our back door, side, and the railroad engineer, I mean, the engine would come by, and I can't remember if there was many... I don't think so, it seems like it was just the front engine. Anyway, the engineer would come by, and I would be, of course, waiting for it, it was something exciting to pass the time away for me, and he would throw out Black Jack gum. So to this day, I mentioned it to my daughter, and a year ago or so, my daughter brings me a pack of, "Guess what I found?" and she gave me a Black Jack gum. [Laughs]

TI: So it was like this conductor was waiting for you, or see you, and he would just, like, throw candy, the gum at you so you could have a treat?

MN: Yeah, he knew... well, he saw me, I think, one day, sitting on the back porch by myself, and he probably had a pack of gum with him and just threw me some.

TI: Did it only happen one time?

MN: No, it happened off and on. So that was kind of strange, really, when you think about it, that there was a railroad track running right downtown.

TI: Yeah, right behind your house.

MN: Well, it was on the side, 'cause the... well, it's kind of hard to explain. But as our house faced the park, that is, the front faced the park, and the side faced this Flanders Street. So I would sit on the back porch, the back side, on the side.

TI: Now how about inside the house? Describe the inside of the house.

MN: Inside? Well, this house had about... what would you call, stairs, about ten or twelve stairs to go into the house. So there was a basement, and then the main floor more or less. And then upstairs was, were rooms, bedrooms upstairs. Then it had a little veranda thing out on top, so it was a real old house.

TI: But it sounds like a pretty fancy house.

MN: Well, I don't know. I mean, that's where we lived for a while. And then eventually I think we had to move. I don't know, this house probably... I don't know whether the owners wanted it back, or I don't know anything about the arrangements. And then we had a, there was a garage so my dad could park his Model A. And then curiously, there's, I think it was a Beacon Storage building on the end of the block, which took about two-thirds of the block from our house. Our house was at the corner, and then the rest of the block was taken up by this big storage building. And I think it was the Beacon Storage, but I'm not quite sure.

TI: And we'll get that to that later, because after the war, you worked there.

MN: [Laughs] I did.

TI: So we'll get back to that.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Earlier, you mentioned when you started school, that the only language you knew was Japanese. So tell me how, was it difficult for you to go to school?

MN: Well, yes. When I went to first grade, I got all U's, "unsatisfactory," since I didn't know, I spoke Japanese at home all that time. And so going to grade school, having no knowledge, really, of English, it was kind of difficult, but that's all right. They used to have, like, "A for Apple," you know, have a picture of an apple with an A and that sort of thing. And I think my class, I think, had... oh, my grade school, yeah, it was like a platoon system. But anyway, there was a lot of Chinese and Japanese in this school, it seems like. And yes, I had "Unsatisfactory," which was not a very good report card. But second grade, everything just came, just flying colors, just great. But during the summer, for my, after my first grade, during the summer for my entertainment or my, whatever you want to call it, I used to take the first grade books out and practice writing and everything.

TI: Well, that's pretty impressive. Did you do that on your own or did your father tell you do this?

MN: No, no. My father was busy at work, so I would, in the summertime I would be home all by myself in the house.

TI: And you would study?

MN: And so I have to find out... I used to go out and mark the sidewalk and play hopscotch by myself, you know, you could draw with the chalk. And I used to go across the street, which was the men's... well, there was the men's park and children's park. Children's park was another block away. But since this park was right across the street, I could just go out the front door and go down and swing on the bars. So I used to be pretty good at swinging on the bars, I'd climb up those bars like ladders, you know, that horizontal thing, and I would go back and forth, and so I got my exercise there.

TI: And how about lunchtime? Did you make your own food, or what did you do for lunch?

MN: I must have had something to eat, otherwise I wouldn't have survived. [Laughs] I think there were things there that... well, you could always survive on crackers and... not cheese, but peanut butter or whatever. You wouldn't have to eat much. I was little, I didn't eat that much.

TI: Now, growing up, did you have any other families that you were close with, I mean that, like, go visit during the holidays?

MN: No, we didn't... the only thing I recall, one of the things, is... well, holidays, too. But the people, when we lost our mother, they were very supportive, you know. We were given, like, for Christmas or whatever, nice dresses. I remember... so I can't recall who these people were, which is unfortunate. But they did try to help out, because my father, of course... I thought he sewed me a polka dot, a red and white polka dot dress, but then I don't know, in my mind. But anyway, we had really very nice friends that would give us, sort of like party dresses. So when you had dress-up time or something, if there was some kind of entertainment that we went to or whatever, we would be properly clothed.

TI: Now how long did your sister stay with that Swedish family?

MN: Well, my sister was there from two years old through eight years old. So she was gone for six years. In the summertime, she would come... summertime we would have her home. That was after she got, when she was five or four, I don't know, we would have her home off and on, but not a long time, maybe bring her home for a visit and so forth. So she would be familiar with the place.

TI: But after she turned eight years old, she came back to the house?

MN: She did.

TI: And what was that like? Did it change your routine, because you were thirteen years old. So what was that like?

MN: Well, it was nice to have someone else there besides myself. And, of course, I don't know... I hope I treated her well. [Laughs]

TI: Well, did it seem different? Did she seem different because she was raised by kind of a Swedish family rather than a Japanese family? Did she do things differently?

MN: Oh, I would say she had a marvelous... her English was perfect, marvelous, probably vocabulary and everything. And, but, I guess just being sisters, you just, you don't think about things like that. But I did notice that she did have a wonderful vocabulary, English, spoken English. Of course, everything about her was more Americanized. But she got used to being around Japanese community because of where she was, of course, it was totally Caucasian.

TI: Now, did you ever sense any, maybe, resentment from her, that she had to go live with another family? Or was she confused or anything about living with the family?

MN: I don't think she voiced anything like that. Since we've been going to visit every... keeping in touch closely, I don't think, I don't know how she felt, but I thought it was great having a little sister.

TI: So what are some of the fond memories you have before the war of, for you, just playing and things like that? Is there anything that you remember that was fun?

MN: My fond memories of...

TI: Of growing up. Of anything that, like what would you do for fun?

MN: What did I do for fun? Well, for fun, well, I loved to read, so I used to always go to the library. And that was quite a way, we walked, everywhere I went, I walked. But I was trying to think of what did I do? Oh, I had some great friends, girlfriends, they were very nice.

TI: Now were your friends Japanese, or were they Caucasian?

MN: Japanese.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: So now I want to move to Sunday, December 7, 1941. So this was the day that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Do you remember that day?

MN: I think, you said that was Sunday, so Monday we went back to school, in high school by then. We had an assembly, and they talked about Pearl Harbor and so forth. Of course, it was... it was really a shock to me. And being Japanese, even if I'm a, was born here and everything, but being of Japanese origin and my dad being Japanese, you know, you kind of wonder what's going to happen. And we... but that's when I heard all about it, is an assembly center in the morning.

TI: And what did they say at the assembly, do you remember?

MN: Not really. I think they just spoke very briefly about the attack and so forth, and then just, that was it for the assembly. They didn't go into any length that I can recall. But nobody treated me differently that I could...

TI: And how about your father's work? Did that change at all? Like did the business go down or did anything happen?

MN: Oh, it kind of remained the same. He never said anything about what would be happening to us. We didn't discuss things like that. But, I mean, really deeply. But we did try to kind of put things in order just in case, about whether going to Japan, or I don't know about that. So none of our immediate families or relatives are here in this country.

TI: But eventually the family had to leave Portland. So what preparations did you have to do to get ready to leave Portland?

MN: Oh, one of the things we had to do was you had to turn in your cameras and any, I remember that you were supposed to go to the police station and turn those contrabands, I guess they called it, in. And so naturally I'm elected to do it, my dad wasn't gonna go. So I did go to, that was the first time I've ever been in a police station. We did have a nice policeman that used to patrol around, very friendly, very nice, real big, tall policeman, and he was always very kind. But anyway, I did have to take the camera and binoculars and stuff, and turn it in, because we did have a few. And I went into the police station, and when you turned it in, it was like that, what is it, not Joe Friday, but like the movie scenes that you see where you have a desk with the officer sitting back there with a... what is, lamp there, and you turned your stuff in. Well, I was, there was a man behind me who was a Caucasian, he could have been a German, I don't know. But anyway, I went in and handed it in and they had me sign, because you're turning those things in so you could get it back. They said it'll be returned, but that was the ruling there, that you had to turn those things in. My dad always complied with things, so that was my duty.

TI: Now, did they give you like a receipt?

MN: I was just trying to think of... I must have had a receipt somewhere, or I must have been given a receipt, I don't know. But eventually we did get it back.

TI: Now how about all the things in the house? What did you do with that?

MN: Oh, well, where we lived, well, everything we had to get rid of. We lived at that house, but then we eventually had to, we moved to an apartment and so forth. But along the way, we had to, Dad had to sell his car, and all the, the cases that they used to have, the display cases and all that, everything had to go. And I don't recall everybody, I mean, I don't recall people coming and picking it up. They must have picked it up after we left, because we just left everything as-is, the car, I don't know who he sold it to or anything, I have no idea. But there was one cabinet thing I really liked, but had to leave that, too. And like oak table and stuff like that. But we, after... well, we just got prepared, just took whatever they said. I think it was one suitcase or two suitcase apiece or something like that, so immediate things that you would have to have, my dad thoughtfully packed. So he took care of things very well. So we were all kind of prepared when you went into assembly center.

TI: Now was there anything maybe unusual that your father packed that maybe was a little bit unusual?

MN: Well, he wanted to make sure that we had clean clothes, I'm sure, and all the things that went along with it, house-wise.

TI: There was one thing, when I looked at your sister's interview, that she said that your father packed that was maybe a little unusual. There were chocolate bars. Do you remember that at all?

MN: No, I don't.

TI: She said that he packed a big box of chocolate bars.

MN: Oh, yeah, my dad probably did. But I don't recall them. I think I was working while she was given that. [Laughs]

TI: Apparently she got one or two, like, a day or something, so it was a real treasure.

MN: Uh-huh, right. Because she wouldn't be working in assembly center, I was working. My father kept me busy working.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Well, so when the war started, you were sixteen years old, or sixteen, seventeen years old?

MN: When the war started? I was still in Portland.

TI: Yeah, Portland, but you were still in high school, right?

MN: Pardon?

TI: You were in high school?

MN: Oh, yes. I was in high school, and my father bought a portable Royal Magic Margin Typewriter for me, and he felt that I should learn office procedures, that is learn typing and shorthand and accounting, bookkeeping, that sort of thing. Because after I graduated, if I wanted a job, I would have to have something necessary so that I could get some kind of a position. But of course, I took college prep, hopefully, that my dad was a great one for education, and hopefully that I could go into college. But that, of course, never happened. And when I went to high school, I took all the college prep courses, I took foreign language and all the math, and things like required subjects. And I don't know why, but I doubled up on English lit and American lit, which was a lot of reading to do and everything. Besides, I was taking accounting, bookkeeping at the same time, so lots of homework to do.

But anyway, my dad... not my dad, but I finally, after we went to assembly center, I found out that I was going to get my graduation, I mean, I was going to get a diploma from the high school. I was rather surprised, but they informed me that I had all the credits or all the college prep course completed, and that they were going to give me a diploma. So that's what happened.

TI: So you graduated with like a year early then?

MN: Well, I'm thinking I must have been a midtermer. But I would have graduated in the following year, I mean, I wouldn't have graduated in '42, no way. So I was fortunate that they granted me a diploma, I was really surprised.

TI: And how did you get the diploma? Did they have any kind of ceremony for you or anything?

MN: Oh, what happened is at Portland Assembly Center, which was located in Livestock Exposition Center, and they had an arena. And they set up... there were several other people, graduates that received their diploma, and they had a little ceremony there. So a few of us... I don't know who gave us the diploma, but anyway, we were presented our diploma at a very small ceremony.

TI: And so was there very many people watching when you got your diploma?

MN: I think I was not... well, I probably didn't walk around. I probably went there, sat down, and received my, get called up and receive your diploma. And I didn't look around, I think I just... so I don't recall if there was any crowd or anything.

TI: And the people giving the diploma, were they from the school that came?

MN: That I don't recall either. See, I don't recall all the things. [Laughs]

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: And so tell me more about the Portland Assembly Center. Like where did you live in the Portland Assembly Center?

MN: In Portland Assembly Center we lived in a small stall. I don't know if that's a horse stall or what, but it was very small. And I'm kind of thinking we might have shared this little small space with another family with a curtain in between. But it was partitioned off so you could hear everything, more or less, that was going on. And, of course, if you're going to speak about, talk about something, you really have to talk about it, whisper it, otherwise people could hear your conversation. [Laughs] Very public.

TI: When you were growing up, things that maybe a mother might talk to their daughter about, whether it's puberty or sex, how did you learn about those things?

MN: I just learned it by accident. [Laughs]

TI: So no one told you about these things.

MN: No.

TI: So how was that for you?

MN: That was really rather... I think we were visiting somebody, I don't know. It seems like it might have happened then. But I had to find out for myself what to do. Sort of, kind of a hard thing, not growing up without... I didn't talk to any other friends about things like that, and I don't think we discussed anything like that either.

TI: So how did you learn? I mean, who did you go to? Was there someone you could ask, like a school nurse or someone like that?

MN: No, I didn't ask anybody, I think I just sort of kind of found out what to do.

TI: So you just had to figure it --

MN: Of course, by that age, I should, I didn't have to go investigate. But I don't know whether I heard other people talking or whatever. But never thinking about things happening to yourself, so it was sort of a rude awakening, so to speak.

TI: So at the Portland Assembly Center, you finished high school. So at the Portland Assembly Center, did you get a job when you were there?

MN: Yes.

TI: What was your job?

MN: I was doing waitressing, so that was about the only job that was available. That was kind of fun. But we had to be on the job at seven a.m. in the morning, ready to greet the people coming in for breakfast. So we had to be there a little earlier, I'm sure, set the table or whatever. But it was fine.

TI: So a waitress, did you serve the food, or was it more cleaning the tables, or what did you do?

MN: No, the food was already in a, sort of like a potluck thing, I think. And so everybody took whatever, served themselves. But like coffee and water, I think coffee and water and things that like, I kind of feel like I must have poured something, I had to do something, I couldn't just stand around.

TI: Yeah, because I've seen pictures where people would have trays, get their food, go sit down, they would eat and then they would take their dirty plates to the side, too, so I was wondering what a waitress would do.

MN: Gee, I don't recall plates. I don't recall trays. I remember the busboys, they used to come down and collect all the dishes and everything. So I feel like they were all out there.

TI: Just out there?

MN: Yeah. I think it was set. That's my recollection; I don't recall trays.

TI: So when you weren't working, what would you do?

MN: Yeah, I was trying to think to myself, what did I do? Probably went around with my girlfriends and... I don't know what kind of entertainment there was.

TI: Okay, so after Portland where did you to? The Portland Assembly Center? Where'd you go next?

MN: Well, in September... see, we were in Portland Assembly Center from May through August, and September, we went to Minidoka. We rode in these old-fashioned trains. It seemed like they had lamps, but I don't think so. It's just probably thinking that... but I remember when we went through Hanford, passed by, we had to put our shades down, we weren't supposed to, they didn't want you to be looking out at things, I think. And we had, of course, we had the soldiers walking through. But there were, nobody bothered us or anything. I don't recall anything happening.

TI: Going back, you said when you went by Hanford, so this would be kind of the Hanford where they did the nuclear processing? Was it because they didn't want you to see that, or was it the town?

MN: I was trying to think of where the... I can't... I'm trying to think. I know we didn't go exactly by it or anything, but the rail... I'm trying to recall why or where. That's the thing; I should have been looking, but we'd be sitting and chatting, I think, with a girlfriend or something and going, or maybe... but I'm not quite sure. All I know is that they said we had to, that they were going by, it was necessary for us to pull the blinds, that's all I remember. [Laughs] Security, I guess.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: So eventually you get to Minidoka. What were your first impressions when you got there?

MN: A very desolate place. We went, landed in, I think we landed in Hunt, Idaho, then there were military trucks to pick us up and take us to camp. And when we got there, I think our portion where we were going to be, we had... anyway, when we first got there, I remember it was dinnertime, I think, or anyway. And as we entered the mess hall and sat down, you know, it's so dusty that I recall the fruit, I don't know whether it was peaches or what, were already set out, the table was set with the fruit out. And it seemed like there would be a little bit of sand around it, because the sand would be drifting everywhere. And, of course, that was quite a change to come out to something like that and be walking out on the... not on the outskirts, but the pathways, and not right by, on the outer part of the barracks. Anyway, we were walking, and I remember there was a snake, and I figure it could be a rattlesnake, I don't know, and sagebrush, all around. It was quite a different thing altogether, I was very surprised to be at a place like that.

TI: And how about your living quarters? Describe where you lived.

MN: Well, we had the end room of the barrack because there were only three of us. And we had... what is that, a potbelly stove, and it seemed like it was iron cots, but I could be wrong. And let's see. We had... I was trying to think, did my dad make a shelf or something to put things on? But it was just a small area. And just for living, you would figure, that was just our living quarters, because we wouldn't be cooking or doing anything else, because we ate at the mess hall. And then bathing and everything would be... the bath and laundry was in another building. I remember being really sick one day while we were there, I think it was summertime, thank goodness... not thank goodness, but anyway, summertime, and I recall I had to, of course, go to the bathroom. But fortunately, since we were in the end barrack, end apartment, I was right close to the facilities, the laundry and the bathroom facilities, so I could get my bathrobe on and go out in the midday and go to the... [laughs]. But everybody else had to do the same thing. But that was awful, but it was one of those things.

TI: Now, when you would get sick, would your father try to take care of you? Like who would take care of you when you got sick?

MN: Where did what?

TI: So when you would be, when you were growing up and you would get sick, who would take care of you? Like if you couldn't go get food at the mess hall, would someone bring food for you?

MN: Gee, I don't know about that. I think we always ate at the mess hall. If I was too sick, I probably didn't want to eat food. But I don't recall anybody bringing anything.

TI: Now, when you would go to the mess hall, who would you eat with?

MN: Who did I eat with? Oh, we all had to eat at our own block. So I think when it was time, I think I just went there... I don't recall too much about who I went with or anything.

TI: So would you usually eat with your father?

MN: Well, my father, I think... no, I think we kind of went independently. Come to think of it, since I was working at the ad. building, I don't know exactly... I must have had some kind of lunch, you're gonna be there all day without eating. [Laughs]

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So tell me about your job at Minidoka. What was your job?

MN: Minidoka? I worked in the procurement office, and I started out... since I didn't go to school, I mean, since I finished school, I worked, started out as a clerk typist. And then when the position for the secretary to the procurement office officer was available, somehow I was chosen to replace this person who left. And so that's what I did until I left, I was secretary to the procurement officer. And the wages were sixteen dollars, I think. I think I started at sixteen doing clerk typist, too. But anyway, sixteen dollars, and then a little... I can't remember if it was just before, maybe before I left, maybe a year before, or maybe not quite that long. But anyway, I got promoted, not promoted, but they gave me a raise, and my rate was for a supervisor's rate, I mean, supervisor's rate, and that was nineteen dollars. And so I was still a secretary, but then they gave me a raise.

TI: Now that was like the, wasn't that the top rate, or was there a... nineteen dollars was the highest rate that you can make.

MN: Uh-huh. So I was given that. And when I left camp, my procurement officer, my boss, and his superior, who was a supply officer, they both gave me, I mean, they bought a purse, and gave me a handbag when I left camp, which I thought was really nice, nice of them.

TI: Do you remember their names?

MN: Uh-huh.

TI: So what are their names?

MN: Well, my boss's name was K.G. Merrill, M-E-R-R-I-L-L. And the supply officer's name was Howard Mann, M-A-N-N.

TI: And in general, what would you do as a secretary?

MN: What did I do as a secretary? Oh, I took dictation, typed his letters, took phone calls and whatever else that was necessary. So I guess I was quite reserved growing up, and I think some people thought I was being stuck up or something, because I didn't talk around too much.

TI: But all those skills that your father wanted you to learn in high school, I guess, paid off in this job. Learning how to type, take dictation, do all these things.

MN: Yeah.

TI: Good.

MN: I think when I was doing typing, somehow I have it in my mind that when I was either, probably a sophomore, I don't think I was, it was during my freshman year, but I think around sophomore year, 1939 to '40, that has to be my freshman year. I couldn't have been taking typing, well, at night. I remember going to night school to take my typing, because I couldn't fit it into my day schedule. So my dad, you know, thought I should learn how to type. But that's beside the point.

TI: Now at Minidoka, what did your father do? Did he have a job?

MN: My father, he was a night watchman, I think, night watchman.

TI: For... what did he watch?

MN: Night watchman, I think that's what his job was. And seems like he was at the mess hall, but I don't know. Because we were, I mean, he was gone during the night, and I was gone during the day.

TI: So during the day he would sleep, and then at night he would be up? Is that the schedule?

MN: Well, I don't recall my dad sleeping that much. But I think that's what his job was, a night watchman, as I recall. I could be wrong.

TI: And how about your younger sister? She'd be only like eleven, twelve years old. So who would watch her?

MN: Well, she was, she had a job at the hospital working there, I mean, at her tender age, after school and everything. She was working after school, so that would be kind of late. But I do remember her working at the school, I mean, at the hospital.

TI: So other memories at Minidoka. Do you recall any fun times at Minidoka?

MN: Fun times? Well, they had movies, they had dances. I'm sure they had baseball and all that kind of sports, but I'm not very good at sports. [Laughs] So I didn't do any of that. Let's see, what else did they have? I was just thinking, of course, there's Saturdays and Sundays, but...

TI: How about hard times? Were there any hard times for you when you were at Minidoka?

MN: Hard times? Oh, let's see... of course, there's always people you don't agree with or whatever. But all in all, I guess I just went along, work and whatever.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So let's talk about when you left Minidoka. So when did you leave Minidoka and where did you go?

MN: Well, I left in June of '45. That was before the war was over. So they were trying to... I'm sure they were trying to relocate everybody. But anyway, I was called into relocation... there were two ladies from the relocation office in Portland that came out to interview people that were, probably wanted to go back to Portland. My father, we didn't have any relatives or anyone like that back east or anything. So anyway, I got... anyway, these two ladies came out, and I was interviewed. I think I had an opportunity to go back east to work, but, of course, we had all our stuff back in Portland and everything, and I didn't think my dad wanted to go back. So anyway, getting back to the story, so these two ladies came, and they called me in to get, for an interview, and they gave me dictation, and I had to type this letter that they dictated and so forth. And I guess it was satisfactory, and so they, so I got clearance to go back to Portland, although the war was still going on. And I had to... my father's friend had gone back to Portland prior, and I was able to stay with them at this University Village in North Portland, the federal housing, and I stayed for about two months, couple of months, anyway, try to get established in my work, and also to find housing for my sister and dad whenever they were able to come. And so I started work with the WRA. I worked as a clerk typist at the National Conference of Christians and Jews. It was in the same building, I think, as the WRA. But anyway, so I worked there during the week, and then on Saturday I would go out to this church and type their bulletin, church bulletin, you know, their church program. So that was my job, first job.

TI: So it kept you pretty busy?

MN: Huh?

TI: It kept you really busy.

MN: Oh, yes. Well, I had to ride the streetcar all the time, buses. And then after that, I worked at the evacuees' property storage building. I was secretary to, or rather I was the property secretary, and I processed all the papers for people that were returning to get their property out of storage there. And I think that's where all the contrabands and everything was stored. And this building happened to be the building that was next door to our home when I was growing up. It was very... I don't know, it was... kind of stirs memories. I didn't realize that this place, actually, I used to go by there all the time and never gave it a thought. I see people in the loading platform and everything. And they used to give me paper, that was it. I remember the writing paper, they had scraps and things, they used to give it to me when I walked by.

TI: Now when you, did you ever get a chance to see what was stored there? This was for the War Relocation Authority or the government holding all the materials of Japanese Americans.

MN: No, I really didn't. It was just a huge storage place with all the boxes and bundles and whatever. So I never did... never did... and when I typed those things up, I really didn't look at everybody's paper. I mean, I wrote, did whatever I had to do.

TI: But what was the process? What did people have to do to get their things back?

MN: Well, I think they... all I recall is what my boss would tell me, to process these people or whatever, get it out of the file and I would type whatever was necessary to get the papers ready. But other than that, I don't know what people must have had to request when they came back through the WRA office, and then they would notify the Property Section that these people were back and had returned and would like to have their... they were cleared to have their possessions back. So I was just sort of, kind of on the receiving end where I finalized the papers.

TI: Now earlier you talked about going there and turning in your camera and binoculars at the police department. Now, were those things stored at this place? Did you get those things back?

MN: We got it, we did get it back, so I'm sure I must have, probably processed my own papers. But I'm sure we did get it back.

TI: But that was stored at that same place?

MN: Uh-huh.

TI: Interesting.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: You know, in these early months coming back to Portland, did you ever have any events or incidents of people not liking Japanese?

MN: I think, actually, they sort of might look at you, but they just left you alone. But I know one time while standing beside, hanging onto the bar, and these two women were conversing, talking, and it seemed rather unpleasant. And I decided, well, that's enough of that. I'm not going to say anything, but I sort of gave them a stare, and they finally realized I was kind of, I heard everything that they were saying, so they finally stopped talking. But other than that, I would say that people treated me fairly and well, and I was very fortunate in my employment and everything that everybody was very kind.

TI: Going back to these two women, so where were you when this happened?

MN: Oh, on the bus. I was getting ready to go to work. I had my suit that I bought in Twin Falls when I was preparing to go, and I had my suit on and my heels on, my gloves, and I don't know if I had a hat on or what. But anyway, I was dressed for work. And that's when it happened, on the bus.

TI: And do you recall what they were saying that made you upset?

MN: Not really. But probably commenting on me, and probably was wondering what I was doing. Because this is during the war, and it hadn't ended yet, and here I was, I didn't have a pin saying I'm not... that kind of thing.

TI: But that would take quite a bit of courage from you to kind of stare them down. I think lots of people would have maybe just ignored them, but you stared them down.

MN: Well, I didn't think that was right. I felt that we were as good as anybody else. My dad, I think, kind of instilled in us to stand up for yourself. Nobody else is going to do it for you, you have to do it for yourself. And I just didn't feel it was right for someone to act that way, especially if I'm in hearing distance, I'm standing right there. The buses used to have seats and those bars to hang on to, and, well, there wasn't any seat, so I was standing and going to work, and they were saying these things. I don't know how derogatory or whatever it was, but it sort of, I sort of kind of felt sorry for them. I thought, "Gee, ladies, I mean, what are you thinking?" They're not thinking, in fact. And especially saying things, right when the person is standing there that could hear you. And I just had to finally, just made up my mind, take a stand. I had kind of, I think, growing up by myself, and I had to take things, do things for myself and everything. I think that maybe prepared me for this particular incident. 'Cause I didn't feel... I felt I had to do something.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: And so after working at this property storage place, where did you go next? What was your next job?

MN: Well, the WRA had to find... well, this is sort of kind of temporary, of course, by the time all the storage thing would be completed, and all the evacuees, returning evacuees would have gotten their property back and so forth, they would have to close the office. But in the meantime, they decided that they would look, place me in a job. And I did go to one place, but I don't think I would have wanted to work there. It just... I could tell myself that I wasn't comfortable. And so this, they had a place for me at Lewis & Clark College, had a position open. And so I was fortunate enough, I went there and got interviewed. I don't remember being really interviewed. But anyway, I found a position there as a cashier in the business office. And I met the president of the college, he was very, very kind, and he later officiated at our wedding. [Laughs] So we were able to see... and later on, we did, when we went with our children, traveled to California, he had retired and he was at Laguna Beach, and we stopped by to see him and everything. So it was a wonderful, I met a lot of wonderful people at Lewis & Clark College.

TI: Now, did these people know what happened to Japanese during the war?

MN: Oh, I'm sure. I'm sure they did.

TI: Did they ever talk about it? Did they ever, like, ask you what it was like?

MN: No. but this was a... what would you call, Presbyterian related college, and anyway, I started working there as a cashier. And when the secretary left, secretary to the... well, let's see, business... when the secretary left there, I was given the position, and I worked there for twelve years as a secretary to a comptroller. And he was a comptroller and business manager, I guess. That was his title. But during that time, I... well, did all my secretarial thing as well as typing out financial statements. That was really hard, financial statements on a stencil, and then I had to go out and mimeograph, I learned how to operate a mimeograph machine. And so I had to type that for, it was for the school board, so I would type the financial statements and crank them out and have them ready for the board, when the board of trustees would get together. One time I, the secretary of the board of trustees came down and wanted to give me a letter, and I had to type a letter out. I was going to say, "Oh, my, I'm used to my boss." And the thing is, when we answer the phone, all the people on, they had no idea who his secretary is. And so when they come into the office, they see this little... [laughs].

TI: Japanese American there.

MN: ...girl sitting there answering. But no, I think they were not only surprised, but they were all very nice, of course, they were.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: So after the war ends, your father and sister come to Portland. So where did you find housing for the family?

MN: Well, while I was... I found the housing at the university building. I went over to the housing authority and tried to get FHA loan. For myself, I don't know why I did that, but I thought, "Well, I'll just find out what this was all about, the FHA loan." And everybody, of course, I'm not a veteran or anything like that. I wasn't in the military or anything. But anyway, I did find housing for my father. My sister wrote and said we have to, they have to leave. And so I found housing in the same village there, University Village, and I had everything prepared so when they came out, they had a place, that we had a place to stay. So I got a phone and I got, made all the arrangements, so they were able to come out and stay.

TI: Now when your father returned to Portland, was he able to find work?

MN: We decided, my sister and I... anyway, I decided that he was too old, and he, you know, other than... he wouldn't, he probably could have gone as a gardener or something. But there aren't very many jobs for Issei people in their sixties. And we felt, I felt that I had a job, that we would be okay, and that I didn't want him to get hurt or anything, which would be a catastrophe if he did get hurt. So we just told my dad, I told my dad that, "That's okay." Not that it was our turn, but I think we will get along okay. If he found something, of course, he could go to work if he wanted to. But my poor father, I guess I kind of made him feel real old. [Laughs]

TI: So what did he do with his time? All day, what would he do?

MN: Oh, he made friends with... I think it's an Italian farmer that lived close to the University Village. Because my dad would bring home zucchinis, and he would grow them real large, let them grow 'til they got quite large, and then he would slice them up and we would, he always incorporated my sister and I into a job. And we would peel the zucchinis in rounds and hang them up and make kampyo. See, you probably find that in your cookbooks nowadays about kampyo, my dad... anyway, that's what my dad would do. He would go down and walk down to this farm, and probably made friends with these people. I don't know how or what, I have no idea, but that's what he did. So he would have that, and we would hang it on hangers, and on a string that he had in front of our apartment. And I guess people would walk by and think he was a medicine man.

TI: That's interesting.

MN: But he occupied his time doing this and that. So I was thinking, I don't know... we were both, my sister and I were both away at school all day. And my father, he liked to read, and I'm sure, I think he got the local, maybe, Japanese... they didn't have a newspaper. But he kept busy, one way or the other.

TI: And how about your sister? What did she do?

MN: Well, oh, you mean this was during... after?

TI: After the war?

MN: Well, she went to school and finished her high school. Then she went on to Lewis & Clark College where I worked.

TI: Now, did you help her get into Lewis & Clark?

MN: Well, I knew she was very smart, my sister. And I knew she would make it, and I think she tried to, told her to take the exam, Lewis & Clark college is sort of like, not Reed, but anyway, I told her to go ahead and apply and so forth. And she got a scholarship and she went on through school and graduated there. So I was very glad that she had an opportunity during that time. It was a, I think she had a fun time, I hope she did.

TI: Now, did you ever consider going to college? I mean, you took all the high school college prep and foreign language, did you ever think about going to college?

MN: Well, when I was at Lewis & Clark College, it was mentioned to me by some of my friends. I don't think any of their professors said anything, but about taking a few courses. I can't remember whether my boss mentioned that, but I could have probably taken a couple of courses, they would let me, probably give me time off or whatever. 'Cause they were really, I was sort of spoiled, being, they all, seemed like everybody put two hundred percent in trying to help me along. So everybody was very nice. I'm really grateful for all the wonderful people there. But it was mentioned to me, why don't I take a couple courses, but I figured that after a full day's work and everything, and maybe I was lazy, but I just relaxed at home. And then we had church activities, and Beta Sigma Phi to go to, and other... so I figured I was just going to come home after a full day's work, I could just leave everything, and at work, you could buttonhole everything, file everything away, everything was in place for the next day. And so I just did that. I went home and I figured I'm going to relax. [Laughs]

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Well, so when you were working at Lewis & Clark, as you are getting older, like you're in your, now, mid to late twenties, was there pressure for you to get married? Did people think that you should get married?

MN: You know, my father, I think I must have said to him when I was sixteen or something, when I spoke up once, I think, and I think I must have, might have mentioned that, "I'm not going to just get one of these marriage things," you know. Because, since my father was a widow and we didn't have a mother, I think I might have said something. But anyway, but along the way, I was, of course, nearing my thirties, or rather, I was already thirty. I hate to mention my age, but it's all right. [Laughs] Anyway, and this man called, apparently some well-meaning person... I'm not, well-meaning person, he called, and apparently my dad maybe in the course of... might be an acquaintance or something, called, and my dad of course, his excuse was he couldn't hear very well, and he wanted this person to talk to me.

TI: And this was a Japanese man?

MN: Japanese. Everybody spoke in Japanese. I had to speak to this man in Japanese.

TI: Okay, so he was an Issei man?

MN: Issei man. He was an Issei man.

TI: All right.

MN: And so he, I talked to him over the telephone, and he wanted to know... oh, he tried, not lecturing me, but to know what my status was. That my dad was getting along in years, and he had two unsettled daughters. And since I'm the oldest, he was wondering if he could help in some way. I think that was what... and he said he found someone, he knew of someone that he thought would be a suitable person, and a yoshi would be, since we didn't have any, there was no, my dad didn't have a son, so they figured that this yoshi could come and move into the house, I mean, get married and take the family name to carry on and move into the house and so forth. And I was rather appalled, and I said, "Well, not really, I'm really not interested. Thank you for calling, but I'm not interested, and thank you, and goodbye." And I had numerous calls off and on, on and on, sort of like a guilt put on, if you know what I mean.

TI: Now, did you ever meet this man? Did you know who he was talking about?

MN: I did meet... I think I, I'm trying to recall. I think I met him, and I might have gone out once, but that was it. And it wasn't... this person, well, I don't want to say too much because, you know, but anyway, when the man called back and wanted to... I said, "He's a very nice person, but I'm not interested." But anyway, this man kept calling, the Issei man kept calling and calling, and after... he didn't give up, though. He called and said that he would, he's coming over. He never came over to our house, never talked to my father or anything. And he said he was going to come over, and he would like to talk to me, and would I please, he would park the car outside, and would I please come and sit in the car and talk to him. So when he did arrive, I sat in the car with him, and he, of course, put the guilt on me, that my father would feel unsettled until both his daughters were married, and especially the oldest one, not exactly obligated, but, to get married first. So then he kind of related about the, several marriage go-betweens that he had done that worked out well, and he mentioned this last party, this girl had several thousand dollars or whatever it was, he gave me a monetary amount. And then he asked me, "How much do you have saved in your bank account?" So I told him... I knew what I had, and I certainly wasn't going to tell him. And I told him, "I'm very sorry, but I don't feel comfortable in mentioning to you about my savings." And I didn't tell him, and I told him, "I'm very sorry, but I'm just not interested." He told me that, "You are a very rude, rude person." I guess he felt, here he was trying to help somebody and trying to help his friend, I assume he figured my father was, and help things out, and here I was not going along with this plan. But anyway, I was told that I was a very rude person. And all this time we're talking in Japanese. It's very difficult... how many years has it been since I've been out of Japanese school, and how many... I talked to my dad in Japanese, because, as I said, he never spoke English to us. But his conversation naturally is very... what would you say? Brief. He doesn't go into a lot of details or anything.

TI: Going back to this man, what was the importance of the money? I mean, was he expecting to get paid to do this? Or I'm not quite sure why it mattered how much money you had in the bank.

MN: Oh, this man? I don't know.

TI: Why was he so interested?

MN: I don't know whether the bride was supposed to bring the money along, or whether that I had enough money that, regardless of whether the gentleman that he was proposing for me would bring along his property, too, I have no idea. I don't know why he asked. Unless there was some token that my father would give him.

TI: Now, so what was your father's reaction when he found out that you said no?

MN: Nothing. My father didn't say anything. No, he didn't think anything about it. My father figured it was my decision, and if I didn't want to go along... I don't think he had any part of it. I think this man probably, this Issei man suggested to my father, noticed that, "You have two daughters, unmarried, and I have a nice young man that would probably be a good son-in-law for you." That's my impression, I'm not sure. But, so I don't know what kind of reputation I had. I might have not used the correct Japanese, you know. And I tried to speak very feminine-type. The male, they speak very, not harsh, but their language is a little different from the women.

TI: That's a good story.

MN: So I probably had a very bad reputation about being a very incorrigible woman. [Laughs]

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Well, earlier you mentioned that you were at Lewis & Clark for twelve years. So what happened after twelve years? Why did you leave?

MN: Why? Oh, I left to get married. [Laughs]

TI: So tell me that story. So after twelve years, you found somebody. How did you find someone?

MN: A blind date, so to speak. [Laughs] Well, my friend, my girlfriend called me one day, probably like Monday or Tuesday, and asked me if I was... well, a church friend, too, and wondered if I was free for the weekend or what I was doing. And I said I was free, I wasn't doing anything particularly, so she said, "Well, I have a friend who's bringing his friend for the weekend," and she was wondering if we could do double-dating. So I thought, well, okay. I knew her, so I figured I could trust her. And so that's how we met. So I think we went... I'm trying to figure out if we went bowling or what. But anyway, that's how I met Giro. And then after that, why, I thought he was a very nice man, he seemed very kind and everything, so he used to travel from South Bend down to Portland to see me, and that's quite a distance, you know, two hours' drive or more, hundred and something miles. [Laughs] And so anyway, he finally proposed, and so that was in, like (December). Then the following June I got married.

TI: Now, he lived in South Bend, did you ever visit South Bend before you got married?

MN: I've never been anywhere except to Long Beach to clam one time with our church group, adult group. But no, I didn't know anything about Washington, so to speak, nothing. And so after... oh, I received a letter from him, and it says South Bend on his address. So I figured, I said to myself, "Oh, South Bend, oh, we must be, it must be like the outskirts of Portland," and I figured it must be a small town. So I just left it at that. And so one day my sister and I, oh, we got a car. My sister and I decided that we would buy a car together. So we saved our money and bought our Plymouth, and we decided we'd take a drive out here. And we had, for preparing to go out in those days, we didn't wear jeans and all that kind of thing. Well, anyway, we put on blouse and a skirt, and I had heels on, all that stuff, for a regular casual whatever. So my sister and I took a drive out here, we got out, and Giro was waiting for us at the bridge. He had caught his two steelhead or whatever it was, and he was waiting out there. Anyway, we were driving and driving and driving, and figuring how, he had directions for us, I know it's Johnson's Landing now, but at this fork you turn toward Raymond, South Bend, and it was five miles from that corner. And that's where he was waiting, and we, my sister, we drove in here, and you know, it was, "What? It says South Bend." It's not even in town. [Laughs] And so anyway, here we were in our heels and tromping around here.

TI: So I have to explain a little bit, because where you live, it's very rural. There's nothing around here. I think your closest neighbor is, what? What would be your closest neighbor? It's pretty far away.

MN: Yeah, it was. The Yanas, they were very nice. Well, that's how... anyway, that's what happened, and I remember he took us out to Nahcotta and all the, Long Beach, that way and everything, and here my sister and I are in our heels walking around there.

TI: And most of the people, like, are in jeans and boots and things like that.

MN: No, we just had... yeah, we had our street clothes on.

TI: Now, so I have to ask you, so you grew up in Portland until you were in your thirties, and then did it sort of scare you to think about living in a place like South Bend, which was so not city-like, very rural? Did that kind of worry you?

MN: Well, first of all, I was very thankful that my sister and I had taken driving lessons from the AAA. Our ten, we had ten lessons and no car to practice on, but we made it, my sister and I both got our license. And then, anyway... it was quite a transition. But I couldn't walk anywhere to get my, you couldn't walk anywhere to a grocery store, you had to drive a car. So thankfully, I had a license. But then I had to take a... since it was an Oregon license, I had to take a Washington license, I had to go through that all over again. But the license examiner was very nice, he was very, very nice.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So what was the hardest part about moving from Portland to South Bend to an oyster farm? What was the hardest part?

MN: I think one of the things was that I just couldn't just walk down the street and get to the grocery store if I needed anything. I had to make a list, make sure that I got all the provisions or whatever I wanted right then and there. I guess that's the good thing, keep your mind sharp. But I always forget something, even now. And we... but it was really strange to be out here, no traffic lights, and they're going fifty-five miles an hour or something. And my driving, it was slightly terrifying to go around the curves. I'm only driving, what is it, twenty-five miles or something in town, and I had just really... well, I was a beginner, I guess, in driving, I would say, because I just, we got the car just the summer before, oh, the summer before I met Giro. So I had just got the car, we had gotten the car, we purchased the car, and then I met Giro soon after that. So I was very thankful I learned how to drive.

TI: So how many years have you lived in South Bend?

MN: Well, this will be our, in June it will be fifty-six years. And I keep telling myself, "I survived out here." [Laughs] And I have never opened an oyster yet. Because I worked here, well, after I moved out here, I didn't work for, oh, until my children started school, and everything was very busy here. But I started working for them... see, I started working as a bookkeeper and a payroll, took care of the payroll business, all that kind of stuff, here, anyway, there's an office back there. So one day they were very busy at the plant, and I figured, well, why don't I go and open some oysters and give them a hand? Well, I've never opened an oyster, but I figured I could always try. Well, the thing is, if you're not very proficient, you might stab your thumb or your hand. And I got over there and I said, "I've come to try my hand at opening oysters." I was going to get up there and take this place. And they looked at me like, "What is she doing out of the office?" kind of thing. And they said, "No, that's all right. We'll be okay." But I said, "I thought you needed a little extra help, somebody's missing." And they said, "No, we'd rather have you go back to the office. We don't want you to get hurt." I figured I can't type their payroll checks, you see.

TI: That's good.

MN: So anyway... and to this day, I haven't opened an oyster yet. I've got to do that before I die. [Laughs]

TI: You'll have to have Giro go out there and show you how to do one. That's a good story. So I'm at the end of my questions.

MN: Pardon?

TI: So I've finished all my questions. Is there anything else that you want to talk about that I forgot, maybe I didn't ask?

MN: I don't think so. I think my father, as I reflect, I think my father did the best he could, and I'm thankful... I hope, I keep thinking my father was a very, what is it, very organized man, I think. He had everything, kichomen, he always had things in the proper place, he used to always tell me to, "Put your clothes in order in case of emergency, you had to get up and be ready to get dressed in a hurry." So put your shoes in place, you know, everything in order. And he used to have, I used to have a big shelf with, yeah, a lot of shelves that I put my schoolbooks, everything was in order, so I knew exactly where things were. But I think he's gonna be appalled up there that things are not the way it is now.

TI: Well, I think you're still pretty organized.

MN: Yeah, I think life has really... I feel that life has treated me well. I mean, everyone that I've ever met, or have always been kind, and always twelve years at Lewis & Clark, I really got spoiled. Of course, I was the only Japanese American working there, secretary there. So I met all the deans and everybody. Oh, I know one thing I forgot. My grade school principal, Dr. Thaxter, when I went to Lewis & Clark College, he was a professor there. So I hadn't seen him since my grade school, since grade school, before the war. And he taught biology and the sciences, biology, and he was really nice. He used to write poems, and he wrote a poem about... he wrote a poem about all the... not all, but some of the teachers and some of the happenings and everything, and he wrote one poem about me and Giro, and it's in a book.

TI: And what's his name?

MN: It's... I think it just rhymes, but it was, they did it at school, you know, they had a printing shop and everything.

TI: But do you remember his name?

MN: Oh, Dr. Benjamin Thaxter, B.A. Thaxter, that's what he signed it as, Thaxter.

TI: And, you know, I forgot to ask, your children, how many children did you and Giro have?

MN: Three.

TI: And what were their names?

MN: Michael, Byron and Noreen.

TI: Okay. Now, did they all work in the oyster business, too, at some time?

MN: Well, they did punch shells, and they worked here, but, during their growing up, they had to get out and pick and whatnot. [Laughs]

TI: Well, so, Miyo, thank you so much for doing the interview. You did really well, this was fun.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.