Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Clara S. Hattori Interview I
Narrator: Clara S. Hattori
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 8, 2014
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-426

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so today is December 8, 2014, and we're in the Densho offices with Clara Hattori. On camera is Dana Hoshide, and we also have your daughter Karen, who is watching the interview. And my name is Tom Ikeda, and I'm the interviewer. So Clara, I'm just going to start with the question, can you tell me when and where you were born?

CH: My birthday is May 21, 1919, and I was born by a midwife in Sacramento, California, and it was a Japanese midwife. I didn't... we lived in Rocklin, I mean, we lived in Penryn, California, which is not far from Rocklin. And my parents, when they came over from Japan, they were... well, first of all, my dad came over first.

TI: Before we get to your father, so go back to the midwife. Did the midwife come to your house?

CH: No, the midwife had, it was in Sacramento, a little home, in a home, outside of Japantown of Sacramento, California. It was just a home, and I found out that at that time I didn't know too much about it, but later on my dad drove us there and told us that this is where I was born. And so it was just a home, and the lady was still there, that delivered me. And I must have been about seven or eight years old at that time.

TI: By any chance, do you remember her name?

CH: No, I don't.

TI: But when they did midwives, so your mother, after she delivered you, would she stay at the home?

CH: Yeah, she stayed there, uh-huh.

TI: And do you know how long they might stay there?

CH: Gee, I don't know. I don't know any of that. It's just kind of vague, I mean, I've forgotten all of that.

TI: Well, you were a baby, so you wouldn't know that, but I was just curious.

CH: The parents talked about it, and so that's how I remember some of that. But anyway, later on, as we grew older, my dad took us right there. We used to go to Sacramento to the Japantown and buy Japanese food, and it was always pointed out to me that that was the house that I was born in.

TI: And that was in 1919? And so that makes you ninety-five years old.

CH: Ninety-five.

TI: And you'll be ninety-six in a few months.

CH: In May, next May.

TI: So you look... I'm sure people are amazed when you tell them how old you are, because you look so good.

CH: [Laughs] Thank you.

TI: And when you were born, what was the full name given to you at birth?

CH: Just... my dad didn't know, when we lived in Penryn, we worked for, my parents worked for a hakujin couple, and they, when I was born, they said Clara Bow is a very popular actress at that time, and she was very well-known and a Hollywood star and all this. And they thought that would be a nice name for me, and so that's how it got stuck. [Laughs] And then my parents thought, well, the girls, if they have girls, they just won't give them Japanese names. In those days, it was popular to have a Japanese middle name. And being that we probably, the girls would get married and go away, so they didn't, my sister and I never did have a Japanese name. And I have two brothers, of course, they have a Japanese name. My brother's name is Joseph Yoshito Sasaki, and my other brother's name is Ernest Nobuto Sasaki.

TI: But then your sister, what about your sister?

CH: My sister is Mildred Sasaki, with no middle name.

TI: So really, that is interesting. So your parents thought that the girls didn't need...

CH: Girls didn't need any, because they're going to get married and go away from the family, and they don't have to carry the family name.

TI: And in the same way, your sister, was she named after, like, a movie actress?

CH: I don't know how... I really don't know much about my sister's name. Could be that Mrs. Kelson, that was her name, Mrs. Kelson  was the owner of the farm. They were quite an influence on my parents, I think my parents, when they came from Japan, they didn't know too much of anything. And so Mrs. Kelson helped them out a lot, so that's how we were named.

TI: And so growing up, did your parents call you Clara growing up?

CH: In Japanese could you say "Kurara, Kurara." [Laughs]

TI: I was going to ask you about that, because it's not the easiest name to say.

CH: It isn't the easiest name to say in Japanese, no.

TI: So is that what they called you?

CH: Yeah, Clara.

TI: Good.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: And so you talked about your sister and your two brothers. So you're the oldest.

CH: I'm the oldest. My sister is two years younger than I am, and then two years younger than my sister is Yoshito, or Joseph, Yoshito Sasaki, my oldest brother, and then I believe my mother had a miscarriage in between Joseph and Ernie, because Ernie was about seven years younger.

TI: So Ernie was, what, about ten, eleven years younger than you are.

CH: Yeah, quite a bit.

TI: So did you ended up taking care of him a lot?

CH: Yes, I was babysitting. [Laughs] I remember in those days our farm was more or less a lot of it was all hand labor, and my parents would be out working out on the farm, and they take us, myself and the babies, out in the field with our blanket and let us play with the dirt and whatever that's around, sticks and rocks and things like that, we'd play. But a lot of times, it's an orchard, so when the trees are being pruned, there were always limbs on the ground, and us kids had to pick those up and burn 'em. My parents let us play with fire, we burned them.

TI: Well, when you were then watching Ernie or the younger ones, what was the one thing or what were the things you had to be careful about? Was there anything dangerous out there that you had to watch out for?

CH: Well, we were just under a oak tree, and the blanket, and I remember Ernie was taking a nap. I don't think we paid much attention to him. I think there were flies coming, and we had to make sure the flies weren't bothering him. By the time the baby drools and stuff, flies would be... [Laughs]. And then I remember one time it was time to spray the orchard, and they made us... well, this is after school, and I had to go take care of my brother, and my brothers, they were babies. So I went out in the field and put the blanket near the trees where they had already finished, and so I took the babies and put 'em there and let 'em sleep while my parents were out there working. My mother was helping spray, my dad... well, we had a helper. I remember his name was Jim Morales, and he was a neighbor, Spanish people that lived next door. And they, Jim worked for my dad for many, many years. So he did a lot of heavy work for my... so my dad would have him drive the horses with a spray rig on it, and then my mother, both my mother and father sprayed the trees as he pulled the rig with the horses.

TI: So your mother had to really be a hands-on worker.

CH: Yeah, she was just one of the men, had to work. And she was really kind of frail, you know, as I recall. I didn't think she was that... but she did a lot of hard work.

TI: And I just wanted to clarify something. You said Jim Morales was... was he Spanish?

CH: Spanish, uh-huh.

TI: So he was from Spain, or he was Spanish-speaking?

CH: I think the parents came from Spain. They have, there were about ten kids in that family, and Jim was kind of my dad's handyman many, many years.

TI: So was Jim kind of like a Nisei, or was he an immigrant also?

CH: I'm almost sure he was born in this country, but I couldn't say. They were kind of immigrants, too, so I'm not sure. Because he was... I'm sure he must have been about nineteen, eighteen, maybe twenty years old when he was working for my dad. I think he was born in this country because I remember he had older sisters, too. When you have ten kids, they were just running all over the place. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So let's talk about your parents a little bit now. So tell me what was your father's name.

CH: My father's name is Kokichi Sasaki, and I think that's how he spelled his name. But he's always been... because he was heavy, heavy-set, and President Taft was president at that time, and so they called him Taft, and that name Taft stuck on him. So he always was called Taft. All the people that he's associated with, the hakujin people called him Taft. So he was known as Taft Sasaki.

TI: And that's because of his body type.

CH: Because he was heavy.

TI: Just like the President.

CH: Just like the President, yeah.

TI: Oh, that's funny. Do you know who gave him that nickname?

CH: The Fruit Association where my dad would harvest the fruit and take it to be shipped through this association, either back east or to Hawaii or to... generally back east. There was a Harvey Carlisle, and Harvey was very close to my dad, I mean, knew my dad. I kind of think Harvey named him Taft, because he was kind of heavy and boisterous. My dad was very sociable. He spoke quite a bit of English, I mean, it was a little bit on the broken side. And he joked around with Harvey a lot, and I kind of think Harvey named him Taft, as I recall, I'm not really too sure.

TI: That's a good story. So going back to your father? Where in Japan was he from?

CH: Fukushima-ken.

TI: And do you know what his family did back in Fukushima?

CH: They were farmers, rice farmers, I think. So I think my parents, my mother too, her parents lived in the same village. I'm not sure they knew each other real well, but their kind families knew one another. Because when my dad decided to get married, well, she was a "picture bride," so they called, I guess, wrote to the family to say, "Send a woman over." [Laughs] So she came over.

TI: So it was an arranged kind of marriage.

CH: Arranged marriage, uh-huh. In those days it was very common.

TI: Because the families knew each other.

CH: Uh-huh. And then, yeah, if you want a wife, you just say, "Send me a woman," and so they pick somebody age-wise. And, well, of course, the families kind of knew each other, and if she was willing to go to America. But in those days, America was a big deal, you know, to go to America. So she came on a boat.

TI: Now, do you know if your mother knew who your father was?

CH: They were... you know, they didn't know each other that well. The family kind of knew each other, but I think it's in the same village, but they didn't... I don't think they talked to each other or anything. That's the way I understood it, I don't know.

TI: So now that we're talking about your mother, can you tell me your mother's name?

CH: Mother's name was Asa, A-S-A, Sasaki.

TI: And what about her maiden name?

CH: Oh, maiden name is Goto.

TI: And do you know what village they came from in Japan?

CH: Fukushima-ken. Village? In...

TI: Fukushima, right. But that's a larger kind of area, I was wondering what the village name...

CH: I don't know. Just Fukushima-ken, that's all I knew, that they were...

[Interruption]

TI: Yeah, it's interesting, because sometimes, for these arranged marriages, although it was a big deal to come to America, a lot of people didn't want to come. So it's, I guess, a comment that possibly your mother was previously married?

CH: She must have been married once before, and I don't know what happened to the... whether he died or what, but evidently she was willing to come, so she got on a boat and came.

TI: But I guess that's kind of interesting when you go back and do some research in the family, these things kind of emerge.

CH: Yeah.

[Interruption]

CH: He was going to do some, he was doing some...

TI: Some research?

CH: Research work, I think. But I never did hear... oh, yeah.

TI: Oh, so in the papers they noticed that she was previously married.

CH: Well, I guess I didn't know that.

TI: Well, it was probably the type of thing that, thinking of the Isseis, it wasn't probably information they really shared very much.

CH: Oh, no. That was kind of, you know, a no-no, in those days.

TI: Right. And I'd think probably back then, if you were previously married, you were perhaps viewed as sort of not as good.

CH: Well, yeah, not as good.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Let's go back to your father, and do you know why he came to America?

CH: You know, I thought of that, too, because I really don't know. But he did talk that when he first came to America, he ended up at the Vashon strawberry farm, and it was... it seemed like there must have been a recruit for labor.

TI: So like contract laborers.

CH: Contract labor, and somebody contracted it, and a bunch of men came. And he was, he ended up in Washington, evidently. But it was just pouring rain every day, and he had to go out. I mean, they made him go out and pick strawberries, and so he said he got, I guess he got pneumonia, he got sick. And because he got sick, he decided this isn't the place he wanted to stay. And his brother was already in Loomis, California, or they called it Folsom. I think at one time there were a bunch of men working on a farm in Folsom, California, and my uncle was one of them. That's where my dad decided to go and join him.

TI: Now with contract laborers, sometimes they had to work a certain amount.

CH: They had to work a certain time, yeah. So he and, I don't know just how long he stayed, because he said that he got on, he quit and he got on a train, and instead of getting off in Sacramento, he went on and ended up in Reno. So then he had to turn around... now, I don't know how they communicated in those days.

TI: So he essentially missed his stop.

CH: Yeah, missed the stop in Sacramento. And I always wonder how they communicated, you know. I'm sure my uncle was waiting for him, and it takes days to get there, it was horse and buggy, to get to Sacramento. So I just wonder if my uncle had to stay overnight and wait around, or how they communicated, I don't know. But anyway --

TI: Well, before we go to Loomis, going back to Vashon Island, because I know the folks on Vashon Island are trying to get as much information about the Japanese workers...

CH: Oh, is that right?

TI: Do you recall any other stories about Vashon? Like do you know which family you picked berries with?

CH: I have no idea of Vashon. All I know is they ended up in a strawberry farm. And it was time for harvest, but he just, it was just pouring rain, and it was just cold, he got a cold and was sick. And I don't think he brought that many clothes, because it's all Japanese clothes there, that he wore. So I'm sure that he had a hard time. [Laughs]

TI: Did he ever talk about maybe how many other workers were there that came with him?

CH: No, he didn't say. I mean, this is just vaguely, I could kind of remember him talking, but I don't hear him say if he came with a contractor, or whether there were a bunch of men or anything. He just said that it was cold. And so he went to, he looked up... I mean, he let his brother know that he wanted to join him.

TI: And this was his older brother?

CH: Uh-huh, older brother.

TI: And how many other brothers or siblings did your father have?

CH: All I know is he had only that one. And it sounded like he was, he came over again with a kind of contractor, I mean, men working together.

TI: Well, it's interesting to me that it'd be, I guess, your grandparents, that both their sons, they would send to America, that usually maybe I've heard that maybe one son will stay and one son will go.

CH: Yeah, uh-huh. I don't know if they had any more at home or not, but... you know, I never did know too much about their family in Japan, other than I know they're farmers. They never said too much except for the two boys being over here.

Off camera: I've heard the name Sasaki was not really their family name.

CH: I don't know about that. It could be, I mean, it might have been something else.

Off camera: They took Sasaki because the family didn't have sons.

TI: So it's like a youshi.

CH: Youshi, that's very common, in those days. It could be. Gosh, I can't remember that at all.

[Interruption]

TI: Okay, so we'll get started again. So your father takes a train, misses the Loomis stop, goes to...

CH: Reno.

TI: Reno, comes back, and then his brother picks him up.

CH: Picks him up.

TI: So what did he do in Loomis? What kind of work did he do?

CH: Oh, he worked in... sounded like he worked... you know, like the contractor type of thing in an orchard.

TI: So just like a farm laborer?

CH: Farm laborer, oh, yeah, just farm laborer, do whatever they tell you to do. And they lived in tents, all kinds. So when they called, when he called my mother to come over, I mean, he wanted to get married, and so, well, my mother thought America would be a nice place to go, and he's got a job. And so she came over, and then found out that they were living in a tent. [Laughs] And she was so disappointed.

TI: So she was disappointed. Now, when you said he lived in a tent, was it because...

CH: A canvas tent.

TI: So did they move around? Was it like a migrant, like a migrant worker?

CH: Uh-huh. So if they were, you know, job with another farmer over there, then they moved over there.

TI: And he would do it with his brother or with a group of men?

CH: Well, this is... the first part of, I believe it was a group of men. Because he always talks about... and there was a certain bunch of them that I know of, and these are families that were established. When they ended up in Loomis, California, evidently some Methodist minister had gotten hold of them and tried to teach them Christianity. And so they were, they started up a church, this is for Japanese, because they didn't read and write English. And so it was a Japanese church, and the foundation, I mean, the people that started that church are all the old-timers, Loomis people. So my dad and his brother, uncle, and there was a Nitta family, and there was... I can't think of the names right now. But they were all people that, they have families and then the kids, we all grew up together.

TI: So when you said started, so did they donate money to build a church?

CH: Church, uh-huh. They worked hard to get that church going. Because in those days, labor... I don't know how much they got paid, but not very much, I'm sure.

TI: So in my notes I have that your father, when he went to Vashon Island, that was about 1906?

CH: 1906 is when they...

TI: Immigrated.

CH: I should have brought over...

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

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: But I was curious, about when did your mother come?

CH: Then she came around 1916 or something like that.

TI: So about ten years younger.

CH: Yeah, my dad had to work real hard to send money over to get her. And I'm sure he saved every penny that he could make.

TI: Back then, when he sent for your mother, what do you think his plans were? Was his plans to keep working and stay in America or to make enough money to go back to America? Back to Japan.

CH: I always wonder about that, too, because, you know, majority of them, I know that they came over to make money to go back to Japan, or send it back, send money to the folks back home. But I don't know, my dad decided to... I guess a lot of the men were doing that, because my aunt came over, too. Not together, but in separate occasions. The Kondos and Nittas, and they all, I'm sure they all decided to stay. I think they felt there was some future, I mean, there was enough work, and they could work on the orchard, and they could probably start a family. Because they were, the housing was pretty, I mean, they got to be living in a house, which was a part of the, when you work in a orchard, I mean, they always supplied your house. I know my dad, we have a picture of when I was little, right in front of this house, and I remember that house, too.

TI: So this was a house for the workers?

CH: Yeah, but it was a nice house. Of course, it didn't have indoor toilet, but it had running water.

TI: And these were housing that were supplied by...

CH: Supplied by owner, uh-huh. And I remember it was right next to a chicken house, and a horse barn, because everything was horses in those days. Of course, outdoor toilet.

TI: You mentioned so you're about 1916, your mother came.

CH: My mother came over, uh-huh.

TI: And you said that she was maybe a little disappointed that she had to live in a tent?

CH: Well, at the very beginning, yeah. He was still in a tent. And I don't know just when the transition came about, but he did live, he did find work with this, this Callison family, and they supplied the house. And I remember that house, well, I saw pictures of it. But I do kind of vaguely remember that house.

TI: And I'm curious, any other stories from your mother about what it was like when she first came to America?

CH: Yeah, well, I remember my dad saying that all she had on was kimonos, you know. So the minute she got off the boat and in San Francisco, he took her and bought some Americanized clothes, I guess skirt. So we have pictures, I have picture of her in a serge suit, because I remember when I was little, my sister and I used to wear, play in them. And we were playing.

TI: So these were clothes that your father had bought for your mother?

CH: For Mother, and she had it hanging in the closet, and she hardly ever wore it after that. So it's a serge, navy blue jacket and a skirt, real tight, skinny. And then kind of flared skirt, and then shoes were button-up shoes that came up to the button, and we had to take a button hooker and go in and get the button and then go through the hole and lace it all up. That was the kind of shoes that she wore.

TI: It sounds very stylish.

CH: Oh, yeah, well, he wanted her to wear American clothes. And a blouse that was a real thin lacy veil, and I remember my sister and I used to play in that.

TI: Now any stories about how your father bought these clothes, how he knew what to buy?

CH: No. I imagine he took her to a store and just said, "Put her..." they probably charged him for everything. They were nice material, I remember playing in there.

TI: Now when your mother arrived in San Francisco, do you know if she went through Angel Island, is that the immigration center? I'm trying to figure out if that was Angel Island back then, or if she went directly to San Francisco.

CH: Yeah, they didn't say anything about Angel Island. It looked like the boat came into San Francisco Bay.

TI: Because a lot of times at some point they would have the immigrants first go to Angel Island and be processed there before they would go to San Francisco, so I was just curious.

CH: I don't recall him saying anything about Angel Island. I never heard of Angel Island.

TI: And your mother never talked about it?

CH: Uh-uh.

TI: And so you mentioned earlier your mother and father came from the same village.

CH: Uh-huh, yeah.

TI: Tell me a little bit about your mother's family. What kind of work did they do?

CH: Same thing, I mean, farm. Oh, my mother talked about silkworms. They were, she said... it sounded like they made their material, and she said they take their material, the silk material, and they put color on it. And in order to let the color set, you float it down a river and get that cold water to just, hang on to that silk material, and let that cold water set that color. I remember her telling us about that. So they made their own cloth from silk thread.

TI: How interesting. Wouldn't you love to figure out how they did that?

CH: Yeah, I wonder how they did that. But I know she did mention something about her sister taking that, it got loose, and it floated down the river and they were chasing it on the side of the river to get down, and then he grabbed that cloth. But it was to set the color.

TI: And do you know how many sisters and brothers your mother had?

CH: Gosh, they just talked to, just mentioned about a sister, older sisters. No, I don't know.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Okay. So they're now in the United States kind of in that Loomis area. They're living on a farm, the Kelson farm?

CH: Well, that was in Penryn. And then...

TI: And then what happened?

CH: After he... I imagine they made enough money, and then he wanted to get away. So I think he wanted... as I recall, I think through... okay. This is quite a number of years. By that time, my uncle had, he had a girl and then a boy, and Barton was about eighteen, I think eighteen years old. Then he's an American citizen, and he could buy land. And so through Barton, my dad... my uncle had already established himself on the farm in Loomis. And my dad wanted to have his own place, so he used Barton's name and acquired this property in Rocklin. And it had an old shed on there, and had about forty acres. And it had some trees, some fruit trees. And then there was an old house there, and I remember living in that house. It was just kind of a shack, but the horses were tied up on the lean-to on the house, and there was just a, as I recall, there was kind of like a table, an eating quarter and a stove. And then I don't know too much about the bedroom, if there was any bedroom area or not. It was kind of one room type of thing. And that's where we lived for several years I guess until my dad was able to earn enough money to build a house on that property. And he did build a house.

TI: And when you say build a house, did he build it, or did he have someone else build it?

CH: He had the church people build a house. In those days, the PG&E... I'm kind of skipping from one thing to another. But anyway, the PG&E is Pacific Electric and Gas...

TI: Yeah, Pacific Gas and Electric.

CH: They owned the water rights, and so they had canals made to go through Auburn and Loomis and through Rocklin and then it went to a reservoir in Roseville. And I remember that canal getting close, it went through our property up on the hillside. They lived on a hillside like that, and there was a ditch that went down. And then you buy water, I don't know how they measure it, but they measured the hole, the pipe that goes into it. And that's how my dad got the water. And then he put a pipe in, took it down. No, that's right. First he had to dig a well for our house, and put a pump on it to get water. So first thing, that's what they had to do, is to make, get water and get a pump on.

TI: But it sounds like it was a nice piece of property, because...

CH: Yes, oh, yes.

TI: Because it had...

CH: It had the hillside, and the water, and all you do is the water would go up with the lay of the land. And so my dad would go with a horse and a plow, and he'd make, on the hillside, and go up and down the rows of trees, and then us, my mother and I and my sister and them are too small, but I remember I had to help cut the ditch around the tree and block that plowed one and make the water go around the tree and then go down and then go around the next tree. [Laughs]

TI: So it was like your own personal irrigation kind of canals.

CH: That's what we had to do. That's what we had to do, that was the way they irrigated their orchard.

TI: Now, between the trees, did you ever plant crops between the trees, or was it just for the trees?

CH: It was just the fruit trees in those days. Early on, before... of course, it took three years, you know, for the trees to bear. Up to that point, I remember my dad had a bare land that he raised watermelons and cantaloupes to sell on the market and get some money in that way. The jackrabbits used to come, and we had a man named... I guess he's a relative of ours, Saburo Umezu, and he had a tent, and he planted himself, or slept every night in that watermelon patch. And every once in a while the gun would go off. [Laughs]

TI: So his job was to watch the jackrabbits.

CH: Shoot the jackrabbits. [Laughs] And that was just to make a little money before the orchard was old enough to bear fruit.

TI: And what kind of fruit trees did your father have?

CH: Well, first it was plum. And when I say plum, there's all different kinds of plums that come at different times. And the first ones were called Beauty plums, and my parents had quite a section there of Beauty trees. And then in between, there were some plums that were called Dewarde, and oh, I can't remember. Then he had peach trees, and there were different kind of peaches, cling peach and there were free... what do you call it?

TI: Freestone?

CH: Freestone. Freestone peach. Albertas are freestone, and the clings were, I can't remember what they called.

TI: How did your father learn how to do this?

CH: Well, of course, like I say, the Fruit Association helped out a lot, I'm sure, Harvey, and then my dad, you know, talking to the rest of the farmers around there.

TI: Now when you say Fruit Association, was this a company or a cooperative... or a company?

CH: Well, you know, it was just a Fruit Association, it was Loomis Fruit Association, and I don't know if... let's see. I know there was a man in the office, and he was more or less the president or the owner, and then there was, Harvey was, I don't know what he was, I don't know his title, but anyway, he was my dad's advisor for everything.

TI: Yeah, I was trying to understand if it was owned by the farmers.

CH: No, I don't think so. I think this was a separate association.

TI: And then they would just help the farmers as much as they could, because the more they raised, the more they could sell.

CH: Yeah, uh-huh. And then the shed and this office was right along the railroad tracks, and everything is put on the rail and went back east.

TI: And your dad's friend Harvey worked at the Fruit Association.

CH: Yeah.

TI: Because we'll get back to him later, because during the war, the Fruit Association took over the farm, so I want to talk about that.

CH: Well, then I don't know about... by that time, I was...

TI: You were about twenty-one, twenty-two years old?

CH: I was in San Francisco, well, anyway... I don't recall.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Let's go back to your parents a little bit. You described your father a little bit as being pretty sociable?

CH: Very outgoing. He's speaking English.

TI: His nickname was Taft.

CH: Taft.

TI: How about your mother? Just tell me a little bit about your mother?

CH: Typical Japanese woman, stay home and take care of the kids, and looked like my dad did everything.

TI: What about her personality, what was she like? Was she talkative?

CH: Well, I don't know. Do you remember Grandma? [Asking daughter]. She was very quiet... I mean, not quiet, but then she wasn't like my dad. I mean, my dad was more, his voice was loud.

TI: Well, let me ask you this question. So when you got in trouble, who disciplined you?

CH: My dad.

TI: And what would he do? So what would be an example of you doing something...

CH: Well, you know, if things are my fault, then the little kids can copy me, so I'd better straighten out. [Laughs]

TI: So would your dad just --

CH: I mean, he just talked to me. I don't think he's ever spanked me or anything like that. I don't recall being spanked. I've been scolded at. And my dad had a voice that was loud and scared the heck out of you.

TI: Well, how about your mother when she was displeased with you? What would she do? Would she just tell your father and he would scold you?

CH: [Laughs] I think so. But I don't think she ever... well, I think she yelled at me. I remember being yelled at for either not getting up in time. See, another thing, every spare moment we had to work. I mean that was... well, as we were growing up, I remember we liked to sleep in. My sister and I had one bed, and my two brothers had another bed, another bedroom, and like on Saturday mornings, my mother and dad were out there working early in the morning. And here we were still sound asleep, and I could hear my mother yelling, calling me from the packing house, which was about a block away. And I could hear her, and here we're still sleeping. [Laughs]

TI: And how early would that be, do you think, when she would call you? When you say you were sleeping in...

CH: Oh, I think like seven or eight o'clock.

TI: So still pretty early in the morning.

CH: Yeah, it's early in the morning. Maybe it was... well, it could be later, nine o'clock. But anyway, we got bawled out for, you know, just can't get up in the morning.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Going back to the house that your dad built with the help of his church friends, describe the house. How many bedrooms, and how was it, what did it look like?

CH: Well, from the back entrance, there was a screened porch, and then it had one of those floor, cellar door that had a step down into the basement. That's where my mother kept all of her canned foods down there in the cool place. And then we also had an opening on the outside, on the lower, which was another part that was not cemented. It was just a door opening, and all I saw was just a dirt floor. But that's where my dad had about three or four, a shoyu keg of tsukemono with a rock on it. And that's how we ate during the Depression and during the wintertime, we had tsukemono, daikon and nappa and nasubi and everything else salted down.

TI: So especially in the wintertime when the crops weren't coming out, you would have rice?

CH: Rice and chicken. We had a chicken house. My mother had eggs, you know, we always had eggs. We always had eggs, there was no problem having eggs to eat. We had chicken for Sunday dinner.

TI: So go back to the house, tell me more about the house. You told me about the basement.

CH: House was, okay, the back entrance there was a screened porch, and then the kitchen. And there's this, you know, a sink, and the window, sink, and there was a wood stove. And then at first it was a wood stove, but then later on I think not too much later, they had a gas stove, one of those tank, gas tank, and they piped it in.

TI: Kind of like a propane?

CH: Propane tank, yeah, outside. Or out there in the garden. But the wood stove, that was for heat, and so California is still quite cool in the mornings, and I remember us kids would get up and my mother would have the wood stove going, we'd open the oven and turn our backs and put our nightgown on and heat our back and warm ourselves up and we could put our clothes on. Because there was no heat in the house except for that wood stove, and the kitchen was always warm. And then, so then that was the kitchen.

And then the parlor, then we had a parlor, and it was just a davenport, overstuffed chair and a davenport. What else did we have? My dad had a fireplace, no, I take it back. The living room was just one open room, and it was just a, yeah, davenport, and a rocking chair. I think we had an overstuffed chair in there. But no dining room table yet. And then there was a bedroom right next to that, and that's where I think my sister and I slept on a double bed there. And then there was another... and the kitchen was here and then there was another room here, and I think my... no, I take it back. My parents slept in that room and my sister and I slept in this other room next to the kitchen. And my brother was still a baby yet, so he was sleeping with the mother and father, and there was only just the two bedroom, kitchen, and the living room. And then as the family grew, then we got older, my dad added on a living room and another bedroom. So the boys got the father's and mother's room, and let's see, how was that? Oh, and then they also ended on a bedroom in the back of the house for Mother and Dad, and then us girls had the front room and the boys in the middle, that was it. And then that little room next to the kitchen got to be the junk room. [Laughs] Junk room, we called that junk room because everything went in there during the war, when the war broke out and we had to move out, that was the room that we locked up with all our... well, things that we couldn't, we only was able to carry a suitcase.

TI: Oh, so now you're talking about the wartime where you would store those.

CH: Yeah.

TI: Okay, we'll get to that later.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: But growing up, when you're sort of an adolescent, like eleven, twelve, thirteen, what were some of the chores that you had to do? You said you always were working. Tell me what would that look like.

CH: Okay. In an orchard, there's always spring and summer and fall. The trees always have to be always like... okay. In the winter, in the late fall and winter, where my dad pruned those trees, and then when the trees are pruned, they drop all the limbs on the ground, so we have to go pick those all up and then tie them up. And that's in the fall, too. Well, anyway, it's damp, it's cold, and so we built a fire and burned those up. not a big fire, just a little small fire, we'd burn 'em up. and then that's in the winter months, there wasn't anything going on until spring. Then now the spring, the fruit trees are starting to bud, and then my... I remember, of course, the plums and everything are okay, but like our pear trees, I don't know why, they seemed like they always had to spray the pear trees, and I don't know if it's because there was always bugs that came on them, but it always, springtime it was always the pear trees. And of course, in that meantime, my mother has a garden by the chicken house, and we had quite a bit of chicken. In those days, the chickens were just kind of roaming around, even in our...

TI: Now, did you have to tend the chickens?

CH: Yeah, every day, they had to be fed, chickens had to be fed. And we just take their chicken feed, and my dad used to buy it by the sack, hundred pound sacks and he'd feed the chickens. Yeah, they had to be fed every day and put, fill the water, the tank with the water.

TI: Now would you ever have to kill the chickens for the Sunday dinner?

CH: [Laughs] After I got big, older, but my mother did that all the time. And she took an axe and cut the head off and then put a box on top of it, and the chicken would flop around, flop around, and then it died.

TI: And so eventually you had to do the same thing?

CH: Later on, yeah. But I didn't do too much of it, I don't think. I remember doing it, cutting the head off, but it was something I didn't want to do. [Laughs]

TI: You didn't care for it, you didn't like to do that?

CH: It was hard, a live chicken.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: Now, I want to talk a little bit about the community life around there. Like did they have, did you attend a Japanese language school?

CH: Saturday morning my dad would take us to the Loomis Methodist Church. And in the entertainment... there was a building next to the church, there was a building, they called that entertainment building. They had movies in there and classes, and they had just one room, it was just big, open room, and they had chairs. And us kids had to go to Japanese school in the morning, and my dad would take us. And all I learned -- I hated it -- all I learned was the easy Japanese, hiragana?

TI: Or katakana?

CH: Katakana. And when it came into kanji, I just, I wasn't interested.

TI: And how large was your class?

CH: It's more or less the church people, so they were just... I remember there were Miyo and myself, Fuji, Helen... gosh, I think there was about six of us in one class, and then there were some kids that parents have been, sent them to Japan, I mean, they're a little bit more advanced and they could read and write a lot better, and they had their own class. It was, it was just a small... because I remember there was just a small area there, not too many. And you know, I don't think it lasted too long. I mean, during my growing years, I remember going to Japanese school. But I think they either discontinued it or they had another area. Okay, now I remember. I think there was a grammar school, and I don't know if it was a Buddhist church or if it was some just Japanese community thing that taught Japanese. So I think eventually they got to be a little bit more larger, and they were, at this community hall, they had Japanese classes there. So our church group, I think it eventually died down.

TI: And did you go to that other school?

CH: [Shakes head]. But I remember they had... not graduation, or what do you call community... well, I guess it was some kind of ceremony, graduation that we went to. And I remember sitting and watching them, but I never went to the Japanese classes.

TI: How about other Japanese community events? Like did they have, like, picnics and things like that?

CH: Uh-huh.

TI: So describe that. What were they like?

CH: Well, you know, around there, this Loomis, well, there was a Methodist church, and then I think the Buddhist people, they were kind of, Penryn had a big Buddhist church, and so it was just more or less people weren't too... other than when it comes to this community picnic, and I think Penryn always had a big picnic. It was at some fairground, I think, some open space. And they had races and things like that, and then they had a table with Japanese food, like sushi and things like that, that I remember. But other than that, it wasn't very big. Let's see... it was in Penryn, yeah, it was in Penryn, all right. I don't remember too much about that.

TI: When you mentioned the food, like a table for food, was it more potluck?

CH: Yeah, people brought their own.

TI: Brought and then shared it?

CH: Shared 'em, uh-huh. And it was under a tree in the shade. Not a big table or anything like that. So I guess those that want to bring it, they bring it. Otherwise... and then I remember the Japanese movie, samurai kind of movie, where they come and kill and everything. We used to go to that, my parents, I guess they're the ones that wanted to see that, and took us along. And so we all sat in benches, so the kids were all in the front there, and then adults in the back. And I remember the samurai just beating a drum, and then they had swords, and then they'd go around and they killed each other. [Laughs] they had big fights.

TI: Now when they showed the Japanese films, where did they show that?

CH: At this community hall. I think at the Penryn Buddhist Church.

TI: Do you know how large it was, I mean, how many people could sit in there?

CH: Oh, I don't know. It's not very big, because it was just for the community. I would say, well, maybe forty people. It was just a general... because I remember us kids sitting on the bench, there wasn't any comfortable chairs or anything, sit on the wood bench, and all the kids in front, parents were in the back.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: I wanted to ask you about now school. What was school like? What school did you go to?

CH: I went to Rocklin. I started first grade in the Rocklin grammar school. And at that time, there was a big old building, and it had first grade, then the next room, there was a wall, then the next room was second and third grade, that's all. There was an anteroom, anteroom was where you take your coats and your lunches and leave it in there. And that's all there was. And that and a stove in the middle for heat. We played, and then outside we played acting bar, we used to hang on that like a monkey. [Laughs] And then there were a couple of swings. The swings were taken most of the time. But I remember swinging one time, it's quite a tall chain, I mean, a swing was, had a real long, so it was the swing that went quite a ways out. And I went up as high as I could, and then I came down, I slipped, my foot slipped and then fell flat on my stomach and knocked myself out. And I don't know what happened, but I guess they carried me into the classroom. And when I came to, or what I could remember is everybody around me, and then I saw my dad. [Laughs]

TI: Wow, so you must have got knocked out.

CH: And my dad must have come and picked me up. So it was all my fault, I mean, I thought I'd be smart and pump as high as I could, higher than anybody else. [Laughs]

TI: Now, how large was your first, second and third grades?

CH: First, second grade? Not too many. Not very large, I would say maybe... gosh, I think twelve, maybe twenty at the most in the class. Because there weren't that many kids. No, there weren't that many kids at all. I think maybe in the second and the third grade together there must have been twenty kids, because in my first year... and then I remember my mother, my mother used to drive in those days, and we had one of those Ford... let's see. These old Fords that had great big windows, and then the running board and the fender like that, and then...

TI: Like an old Model A?

CH: Model A. Then we'd get on the fender and then we'd get up on the, well, fender, over the wheel, and then go through the window and sit in the backseat. [Laughs] Us kids.

TI: No seatbelts back then.

CH: Oh, no. It's a wonder... of course, I don't think they traveled that fast on a country road. My mother used to drive us and come and pick us up at church. She did the driving while my dad was still working.

TI: Going back to your school, your class, how many of your classmates were Japanese?

CH: Oh, in Rocklin, I went to the Rocklin school, and it was our family and the Hori family, and that's about all.

TI: So very little.

CH: Very little. And then the rest of them were... it was quite a Spanish colony in Rocklin, and even in town, and the Finnish, that was another... yeah, there were a lot of Finnish there, so there were a lot of steambath, Finnish people liked steambath. We didn't, never been in one, so I have no idea what it was like or anything, but they called it steambath. And then the Spanish people were kind of on their own, too, they have a little area, they have large families, and I know there were always kids running around. And then in our classes, too, there were quite a few Spanish classes. But as a rule, they didn't go to school. They kept them home, I don't know why. And then the Finnish people were all blond, and I remember Melvin Barquist, yeah, Melvin Barquist and what was her name? Perkins? There were a few people there like that, I can't remember.

TI: And how did the kids get along from different races? Was it pretty good or were they were any fights, name calling or anything like that?

CH: Yeah, I think we had... we had problems with Spanish kids, they always were picking on us. And we were calling them a lot of names, and they called us a lot of names, too. And we had to walk two miles to school and two miles home, and it's a country road. And, oh, I remember we had to cross this little creek that had a bridge, and under the bridge, there were all these tramps. And during the Depression, there were a lot of men out of work, and they had no place to stay. And under the bridge, I guess, is kind of warm or something, but they have, they cooked their meals and the smoke comes up, and us kids would just be scared of them, so we'd just run across that bridge as fast as we could to get home. And those tramps used to travel by railroad cars, and you'd see them on the top of the railroad cars, or if it's an open boxcar, you'll see a bunch of men. And Rocklin was one of the, kind of a rail stop, and the train would stop, and all these tramps would get off. Like I say, they tried to find work.

TI: Would they ever come to your farm looking for work or food?

CH: We never did hire them, no. You know, it was just like we had this Spanish family with us, they were good workers, too, so we didn't have to depend on outside strangers.

TI: Okay, good.

[Interruption]

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

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Okay, Clara, so we're going to get started up again. And let's continue with your schooling. You talked about going to the Rocklin grammar school. After you finished Rocklin grammar school, where did you go next?

CH: After grammar school, that would be eighth grade, we graduated from eighth grade, and then we have to... being that I lived in Rocklin, I went to Roseville High School. And the kids that I knew in church in Loomis, they were up in another district, so they had to go to Placer High School, which was up in Auburn. And we were all bussed to go to high school. And so I walked two miles up to the country road, and they had built a little shed there for us to wait for the bus. And that bus would come by. And where we lived, we lived on a hillside, so I could see the bus coming down the county road quite a ways up there from the house, I could run down and meet the bus. [Laughs]

TI: So you'd run two miles, and you could, so the bus was that far away?

CH: Yes, because I can't, I just can't get up fast enough to be there any earlier.

TI: Oh, so you're the type that will try to sleep as long as you could.

CH: Last minute, long as you can, yeah. [Laughs]

TI: But then you got to be probably a good runner, then, if you had to run?

CH: Yeah, I think I was pretty strong, because I worked on the farm quite a bit. I wasn't the only one, all the neighbor kids were running, too, and we never seemed to get up early enough.

TI: Now what was it like, or what was the size difference from your grammar school to high school? Was it like a big difference in size?

CH: Yes, because in Roseville it was a city. It wasn't as big as Sacramento, but it was... and it covered a lot of areas, too. Roseville covered all of -- I'm talking about Roseville High School -- all of our area. And covered... and Roseville was quite a large, kind of, city, and they had quite a little, I think, lot of graduating from grammar school. And then they had like two grammar schools and that kind of things, so they had quite a few, lot more than Rocklin, our little one-room schoolhouse. Anyway, let's see...

TI: So were most of the students in high school, were there like farmer kids?

CH: No. Roseville was, I would say, well, I think majority of the people, I don't know... let's see, what is the... railroad was one of the main things, you know, at that time. So I wouldn't say that they all worked on the railroad, I mean, the parents, but just, the town itself has gotten bigger and bigger, so I'm sure they all, grocery stores and everything that would constitute a city.

TI: So how was it for you going to a bigger school with lots of different kids?

CH: Uh-huh. And there weren't too many Japanese. I think we were, like I say, there were Helen and myself, gee, I don't know of any other Japanese. Oh yeah, I think you have Uyeda family, they went to Roseville High School, too. Most of them all went to Auburn and were the ones that I knew that were from church. They all went up to Auburn High School.

TI: Well, how did the Japanese students do at Roseville?

CH: I don't know, average. Not extremely brilliant or anything.

TI: And how were you treated?

CH: Very good. I mean, you know, just like anybody else, just like any other routine. We didn't have any such thing as discrimination or anything like that before the war. It wasn't... well, we didn't even think about it, I guess. And then, of course, the war came, so that was...

TI: But that came after high school.

CH: Yeah, oh, a lot after high school. But I mean, during the high school time.

TI: How about extracurricular activities?

CH: I wish I had, was able to go. But being that I had to catch a bus to get home and I couldn't join any clubs or anything. But often wanted to, some of the clubs from after school there, they had parties and they had things that they did together. I know they went on picnics a lot and stuff like that.

TI: So you missed a lot of the social things.

CH: Yeah, social things. And I think... I don't know what else. Well, they went movies and things like that, that was, you know... no, I had to go home and go to work, get to work. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: And so when you got home and had to go to work, what would be a typical thing you'd have to do after school?

CH: Well, after school, okay, we'd change clothes for one thing. We couldn't wear our school clothes and go out in the orchard and do whatever. Then I would look for something to eat, and then I could hear my mother calling, so we had to go down to the packing shed. And generally, if it's around fruit picking time, help my mother pack. See, the fruit was brought in by horses, and then my dad would put the lugs and then dump 'em on the grader. And this grader that he rigged up, would get the fruit, go down two rows where it comes narrow, and then it gets wider and wider, so they drop according to size as they go up. And then my mother, and it would be slanted down like this on the packing shed, the packing table, and then my mother would pack them in boxes, and the boxes were... that's one thing I had to do, is make boxes. I must have made thousands of boxes. We put four baskets in there, and the boxes were two ends and two sides. And the sides you had to have tack three nails on both sides, six nails, and six nails on the other side, and then the bottom. And I had to do that, stack baskets and boxes that I made, and stack 'em up, and so have it ready for the next day. And then there were times when I caught up on that, I had to help pack. Then you get all the same size plums and put 'em all in the basket, six by six or four by four or whatever. And then that's all, you know, it's all hand labor. And you have to do it all, four baskets have to be the same, so on the outside, it would be four by four or six by six, and the arrangement of the fruit, and it tells you what size they were.

TI: And then after you packed everything --

CH: Then my dad would put the cover on, and then he'd put 'em on the truck and take it down to the fruit shed, to the Fruit Association.

TI: And during the fruit season, did he hire additional workers?

CH: Yes. We always, the Spanish families, we always hired two or three women that come and help pack the plums in the boxes. And that's why I had to get home from school to make boxes, to keep them, to be ahead of them all the time. So I had to make a lot of boxes.

TI: Oh, so you were one of the main box makers?

CH: I made thousands and thousands of boxes.

TI: So you got really handy with a hammer and nails.

CH: Oh, yeah, I used that hammer and tried to hit the nails so it won't bend, and hit it hard enough to go down in two or three hits so you won't have to do it over. I got pretty good at it.

TI: And how well did your father do with this business? Was it something that, did he have good years and bad years?

CH: Yeah, there's always good... it was up and down all the time. There were times when the fruit, like certain plums or certain peaches didn't sell, and we just let it drop.

TI: So when you have a bad year, really hard, what impact would that have on the family?

CH: Oh, yeah, well, then my dad would have... you don't make any money, so there's no money coming in. Like I said, he had to do other things like have a watermelon to sell, grow. Let's see, what else? Well, for one thing, I never felt that we were starving, because we always had chicken and eggs and all the vegetable and tsukemono. My mother put tsukemono and all the canned foods. So I don't think...

TI: So in a bad year, what would happen? I mean, how would you know it was a bad year for you? What would be different?

CH: Growing up, I don't recall ever... I always thought everybody was that same way. I never thought that it was a bad year.

TI: How about things like school clothes? In a bad year, would you...

CH: It was always my mother made them.

TI: Even in a good year, she would make them?

CH: Yeah. And then she'd buy enough yardage to make two dresses alike, and my sister and I always had the same dress. [Laughs] That just got me. Same dress, I mean, just made a little smaller for her, I mean, the same style in the pocket and everything. It was just...

TI: So it sounds like in even a bad year, you always had enough to eat.

CH: We always had enough to eat.

TI: You had clothes made by your mother.

CH: She even made coats. And my sister and I had the same coat, plaid coat, I remember. [Laughs] She'd buy enough yardage.

TI: Now, were you ever teased about that, that you and your sister ever wore the same clothes?

CH: No, we don't wear it at the same time. It was just that it was, I have a new coat, she had the same thing, it was only smaller size. [Laughs]

TI: So let me ask you this. In a good year, what happened? Did the family do anything special when your father, when the business had a really good year?

CH: No, I don't remember any good year, bad year or anything like that. I know there was a depression during the '30s and all. But in those, I would say that we always had enough to eat. The only thing is we never, my dad would buy a piece of steak, a sirloin steak about that size, and that would serve the whole family. You mix it with sukiyaki, mix it with vegetables and stretch it out. And I used to pick that meat out because oh, I loved beef. I'm sick and tired of chicken. We have chicken all the time. But that was, that's only during the Depression and all. Oh, I think everybody was in the same boat.

TI: Now, did you have family friends, maybe at church or something, who, during the Depression, had a hard time, that people had to help out or anything like that?

CH: Help out?

TI: Yeah, like maybe bring food, extra food or things like that?

CH: We never, I never thought of feeding people like that, uh-uh. Like even now, you hear where they, people are all in a bread line and stuff like that, and I'm sure there was. But maybe I was too young to even think about that kind of stuff. We always had prunes, so I never...

TI: Or how about this. When, during harvest time, did your family bring extra food to, like, the minister, the minister's family or anything like that?

CH: Uh-uh. I think, you know, my parents might have made some for the minister's family. I think we, a lot of people donated fruit and peaches and stuff to the church, I mean, to the minister's family, because they didn't have any, other than... they did have a garden, I remember the garden.

TI: The reason I ask these questions, I interviewed some other Niseis whose parents were like ministers or doctors. And in rural areas, oftentimes they were paid with produce.

CH: Produce, yeah, whatever...

TI: If people didn't have money, they would give them food or other things.

CH: That's right. We didn't give money. No, money was a little hard to get. I remember we wanted... every Sunday I think we got five cents, my parents gave us five cents, my sister and I, my brother, and my dad would take us to Rocklin and we'd buy an ice cream cone, and that was a big deal. A cone was five cents, and strawberry was my favorite. [Laughs] Of course, that was during, I think, in the '30s when it was real depression years.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: During the break you mentioned that your parents went to Japan?

CH: Yeah, they took two trips, and my aunt, yeah, it would be my aunt, Mrs. Umeda came and stayed with us and cooked breakfast and dinner, she stayed over and took care of us and washed our clothes and stuff like that. And I don't know how long they were gone, I'm sure it must have been a week or two weeks or something like that, but nothing too long.

TI: Probably even longer, because didn't they take a boat all the way?

CH: They take a boat, yeah.

TI: So that would take a while.

CH: A month, probably. I remember Mrs. Umeda came and stayed with us, but I don't remember how long.

TI: Now, did your parents ever talk about what they saw in Japan or any stories when they visited?

CH: Yeah, I remember seeing some pictures of kind of a shed, like that's where they lived, the house wasn't fancy or anything, it was kind of like a brown shed. They said, of course, they have a stove in the middle of the floor, and then tatami, it's all straw mats, so you have to get on your, stay on your hands and knees, I mean, your knees. And they got, you know, being in America, you can't stay like that very long, and they couldn't, they had a hard time with that down in the country. But you get into town, and they have chairs and stuff like that. But they said in the country, they really live from the house, and then the field is right there.

TI: Now, did their Japanese, how did their Japanese relatives think of your parents? Did they think of them as being successful in America?

CH: Well, I think, you know, when they talk about America, they thought everybody, place was lined with gold, because they thought America was lots of, make lots of money. And I don't know, I don't know what they felt.

TI: Because in some ways, when you describe your house and the business, it seemed like your family did quite well.

CH: Well, we did. My dad was...

TI: They were able to travel back to Japan.

CH: My dad, yeah, they went twice to Japan. And another thing, my dad was very, like a history minor, but he liked to take us, I mean, make us understand what America, history, like Lake Tahoe, what was those people that...

TI: Oh, the Donner?

CH: Donner party.

TI: Yeah, the Donner party.

CH: Oh, my dad would tell you the whole story of the Donner party. [Laughs] And then, of course, there's the monument there, all those people. And these people all came over that mountain and got caught in the snow and they died there. [Laughs] It was, I mean, my dad made this, not made it up, but anyway, this is the way he was told, so he tells it. And then he'd take us to Lake Tahoe quite often. It was about, I don't know, two hours' drive or something in those days. So he'd take us up there, and so we spent, like on, especially after the harvest, well, that's what we worked for, and my dad promised that they're gonna take us to Lake Tahoe. And if it's a nice summer day, you could still get in the, go in that cold mountain water. And we used to... of course, we didn't have fancy bathing suits or anything like that, but I remember going in the water and swimming. Not swimming, I don't know if I ever... well, I will say that I learned to swim because we had American River go right through our area. And on Sundays, after church, my dad would, my mother would make some nigiri and okazu, something, and we'd go to the American River with the Otanis and the other families. And they'd take us kids and then just let us play by the water. Well, as I grew older and older, I learned to get across the river, because the older kids were all on the other side of the river, and the river is swift. And so that's how I learned to swim, dog paddle all the way across and get on the other side.

TI: Well, that's sounds dangerous.

CH: I know. Because rather than go across, it's like going down, further down. And my dad used to... he was a diver. As big as he was, he'd jump off the rock on the side of the hillside and then make a big splash. [Laughs] And yeah, so us kids, they left us alone and we just grew up in the water. So that's how I remember swimming. To this day, I don't have any particular stroke or anything, I'd just swim across.

TI: But to this day, you still swim. Earlier you were saying that you used to swim like half a mile.

CH: I used to, yeah, when I was younger. And I can't do it anymore.

TI: Going back to Lake Tahoe, when you went there, did you stay in a cabin?

CH: Oh, no. That was just for the day trip, I'm talking about. But there was a time that my dad rented a cabin. It looked like there was a lot of little cabins around, in and amongst the trees. Not a cabin, it's a tent with a wood floor, I mean, it was wood on the floor. So we had folding beds.

TI: Cots.

CH: I remember cots, yeah. I remember sleeping -- this is after we got older, now. I remember sleeping on a cot in one of those tents, and it got quite cold at night, because it's up in the mountains, it's cold. And then my mother would get up early, and then the camp fire was near the tent, and get a fire going, because they have little rock piles all ready, and the wood there at this camp site, they give you the wood. So that's how we cooked our breakfast. Yeah, it was a treat to go camping, and that was our camping trip. We didn't have any fancy camping gear or anything like that.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: And just hearing about your father, he seemed pretty gregarious and out there, he could speak English, he had American, Caucasian friends. How did he, what did he say or think about America or living in America? Did he ever talk about that?

CH: Well, all I know is that since, after being in America and establishing himself like that, I mean, this is where he wanted to raise, his kids were born in America, and he wanted to raise his kids to be, to be American and stay in America and not go to Japan. A lot of the families were sending their kids to Japan to get some education and then come back. They were called Kibeis. A lot of them stayed, and a lot of them came back, they could read and write and they were not too Americanized. You could tell who they... I remember when we were evacuated, they had, the Kibeis, when I call them Kibeis, they're the ones that were educated in Japan. A lot of the men decided they wanted to go back to Japan, they didn't want to stay in America. And they were shipped back with the diplomats. In Tule Lake they had all the Kibeis gathered up, and they put 'em on the bus and shipped them over to Idaho somewhere. And then I think they were shipped back to New York and put on a boat.

TI: Now where you grew up, were there very many Kibei that you knew?

CH: I didn't know any, I didn't know. I didn't associate too much with them. I don't think there were any Kibeis in our church that were, wanted to go back to Japan. I don't remember anyone.

TI: Well, so as you were growing up, did you think of yourself more as American or Japanese?

CH: More American. Because you know, Roseville High School, there weren't any Japanese type crowd, or there wasn't any... you know, unless I went to church, and then there were some young people's doings, but I was more or less away from that kind of stuff. So I don't remember any.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Earlier you talked about how your father with some of his friends established the Methodist Church. So let's talk a little bit more about the church. Can you tell me, what was the church like? With the building they built, how large was it, how many people would show up on Sunday?

CH: I can't tell you how large it was. It was just... well, I have pictures of, yeah, there were steps that came in. There were steps going up, and then there was a double door, and then that was one big room. And then there was a stage, as I recall, that was a little bit up. And then the stage had a door to go out, if you wanted to go out, and then the church bench was a regular church wooden bench, and it had one of those, on the ends were just the arm hole, and then the back was a straight board. And then every so far there was a place for the hymn, put your hymn, Bible stuff on the bookcase, book holder. And of course, they passed the donation plate around every Sunday. I don't know what that was for, I suppose it was for the church. But I don't know if it was for the minister or for...

TI: And on Sunday, how many people were usually there?

CH: I would say probably twenty or maybe more. Well, young people had their own services first, and then the older.

TI: Now, why did they separate? Was it one in English and one in Japanese?

CH: Japanese, yeah. Isseis were mostly Japanese, because they were all, they didn't speak English. A lot of the women didn't learn to speak English.

TI: So did they have two ministers, one who did English and one Japanese, or did one person do both?

CH: It was just one minister, he did the Japanese, Issei part. But the young people, it was all kind of volunteer type of thing, as I recall. There was always some young fellow that would get up and read the hymns and read the scripture and stuff like that.

TI: And tell me how important the church was to your family?

CH: My dad was very much into the church. He more or less tried to lead the church -- not lead the church, but I mean, he worked for the church for a lot...

TI: So he was kind of like one the church elders?

CH: Yeah, he was always the head of something or the other. If it had to be money-making stuff, then he was the head of that.

TI: And so would you consider your father as one of the community leaders?

CH: Uh-huh, yeah, he was. And as I grew older, I remember Penryn being the Buddhist church there, and they got together for certain things like some money-making thing for the community. My dad would contact Penryn, some people that lived there, and they worked together, yeah. And my dad, I remember, did a lot of... well, when you live out in the country, he has to drive and go to all these different places and areas. And so he was, lot of times he was gone. And he'd spend all day either getting donations or something, whatever they were working on.

TI: Because your father could speak English, was he often used to, what's the right word, kind of interface with the...

CH: Hakujins? Yeah. If there was something, a problem that had to be fixed, my dad was there.

TI: Can you recall an example of that? Maybe if there was an issue or something?

CH: Mostly it had to do with fruit, something to do with the fruit delivery or that kind of thing. Of course, fruit was pretty important to them, because that's the one money-making thing they have. I can't give you an example of anything. Of course, I was younger, and I didn't care. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: Now for you, going back to your story, after you finished high school, what did you do next?

CH: Well, it was popular in those days for girls to go and, go to the city, and either go to school. Two of my friends went to San Francisco State, and I went to business college, Healds Business College. Well, my parents paid for the tuition, but we had to find a place to say. And through the YWCA, I remember going to the YWCA and staying there one night until they could locate living quarters for us. It was very popular in those days where families would hire schoolgirls to do just, help with the cooking and take care of their kids after school, and then stay with them, live-in, and they supplied room and board. And it was called schoolgirls. And I don't know if we got paid ten dollars or something, but I remember it was very little. But right away, of course, a lot of country girls came and we were going to the city, and I remember if I didn't like this family, I'd just put an ad in the paper, and answer the ad, and take my suitcase and go over there and get into another family and live with them for a while. I was pretty bold in those days. There was, I think there was one place I moved about three times. [Laughs]

TI: To try and find a good family?

CH: Good family.

TI: And what made a good family versus a hard family? What were you looking for?

CH: Well, especially when they feed you, they don't give you enough, and that burned me up. And then another thing, one place I had to... these people, she owned a dress shop downtown in San Francisco in a real ritzy, so she was kind of high falutin. I had to help her with the dinner dishes, after dinner wash all the dishes and put 'em away. And she was very... well, maybe she didn't eat that much either, but anyway, she used to give me just a little portion. I mean, I was always hungry. And then on top of that, I moved because they didn't have, the living quarter had to be down in the basement where all the other help were. And I remember there was a Filipino guy, and he was, I don't know, worked in the building, I don't know if it was maintenance or what, he was down there. And I was kind of scared of him. And I'd lock the door, because I had to use the community bathroom, and it was down the hall. And I'd run into him, that guy, every once in a while. No, I moved out of there real quick. Yeah, with one suitcase and a few books.

TI: So did you eventually find a family that you enjoyed?

CH: Yeah, most of them had some kind of, one of them had kids that I had to be there right after school, when they got home from school, and give them something to eat, and made sure they got into their studies until their mother came home from work. That place, they didn't have a room for me, a separate room or anything like that, so I had to sleep, well, it's part of their, they had music instruments and a bookcase, and it was kind of the library-like. And it was kind of a community place that I can't sleep until everybody went to bed, and it wasn't very convenient for me to study either. So I just packed up my... no, I put an ad in the paper, got a call, so I went to the next place.

[Interruption]

TI: Oh, you found another family, a Japanese family?

CH: Well, it just so happened that their daughter worked at the fair, too. And then their daughter married one of the diplomats that came over to work with the fair, and so they got married and she took off for New York. So Mr. and Mrs. Moriyama had an extra room, you know, Kazu's room, so I paid rent and I stayed there. They were very nice, older people. In fact, he was a photographer. His studio was his home, too, and he was quite a well-known photographer, I mean, did portraits and weddings and funerals and everything like that for people. Anyway, I stayed with them, and they kind of wanted company, too, because Kazu had left. And she finally went to Japan and got caught in the war.

TI: Oh, because she married a Japanese diplomat?

CH: Diplomat, yeah, and she went to Japan. They went back to Japan.

TI: She was a Nisei?

CH: Nisei, uh-huh.

TI: Now, was there much difference between the Japanese and Japanese Americans who lived in the city, like San Francisco, versus the Japanese who lived in the Sacramento area? Could you tell the difference, or were they about the same?

CH: I would say the San Francisco ones were a little bit more sophisticated. They were more... San Francisco was kind of, like I say, people were more well-dressed. In those days we all wore hats and gloves, and always, well, San Francisco was cold, so you always had a coat on. Sacramento was more casual, it's a hot area, so you don't dress up as much.

TI: Going back to your friend who married a diplomat, so to me, that's a little unusual because a diplomat would have probably come from a very high class family in Japan.

CH: Well, he was... this is for the fair. And because he worked for the fair, he was, had a lot of privileges, you know. And being one of the diplomats, he wasn't a higher-up or anything, I don't know, his assistant, I suppose. But anyway, she married him. But because of his association with people that are, I mean, they did, when they went back to Japan, I think they went on that boat when all the diplomats were being, war was breaking out and they shipped all the diplomats from New York all the way around the other way instead of going across the Pacific, because Pacific is where, you know, they got bombed, they weren't gonna take a chance of having that boat bombed. So they went from New York all the way around to Japan. They were on the boat for quite a while, I remember Mother telling me that.

TI: But your friend, did she speak really good Japanese?

CH: My friend that got married to the diplomat? Yeah, she was raised in San Francisco, so she was... she was Americanized, I thought. I think she went to Japanese school, and at least she was able to... but she did, she was real subdued. She'd make a very nice diplomat's wife.

TI: I'm going to stop the interview now, because the next part of the interview I want to get into when you worked at the World's Fair. So this is probably a good place to stop, and then we can pick up next time right before you start working at the fair.

CH: Okay.

TI: So great job, this was really interesting. I learned a lot, and we'll get back together.

CH: Okay.

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