Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Miyoko Kaneta Interview
Narrator: Miyoko Kaneta
Interviewer: Virginia Yamada
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 12, 2018
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-449

<Begin Segment 1>

VY: Well, today is Friday, October 12, 2018, and we are here in Seattle, Washington, in the Densho studios. And today our videographer is Dana Hoshide, and my name is Virginia Yamada. So, Miyoko, thank you so much for joining us for this interview today.

MK: My pleasure.

VY: Thank you. I'd like to start off by asking you when you were born and what name you were given when you were born.

MK: Yes, I was born in El Centro, California, on December 16, 1926. And name, Miyoko.

VY: Miyoko. And where were your parents from in Japan?

MK: My mother is from Kurume, Fukuoka, and my father is from Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima.

VY: And do you know how old they were when they came to the United States?

MK: What was the question?

VY: Do you know how old they were when they came over to the United States?

MK: Oh, my mother was left behind, so she joined her father and stepmother in Los Angeles. She came over, I saw her passport, she was dressed in a kimono, and her hair was beautifully done in the Japanese style, and she was twenty-one.

VY: When she came to Los Angeles, did she work?

MK: Not that I know of. I remember seeing a picture of her going to barber school.

VY: So she went to barber school, and that was in Los Angeles?

MK: Yes.

VY: That's interesting. I'm going to ask you more about barber school later. And what about your father, where was he from?

MK: From Hiroshima city. And I don't recall his age when he came over, but he came over as a young man, I guess to seek his fortunes, because he was a police officer back in Hiroshima. And when he came over, he first landed in Hawaii, and then came to California and settled in Los Angeles. And I guess he went to barber school, too, because that's the only work I remember my parents doing.

VY: Interesting. Do you know why he went to Hawaii first?

MK: I guess it was just a stopover.

VY: And so I take it they met in Los Angeles?

MK: Yes.

VY: Is that where they got married?

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

MK: Yes, at the Buddhist Temple there in L.A.

VY: And what did they do after they got married?

MK: Let's see. I guess they moved to El Centro where I was born, and my father started his barber shop.

VY: Okay, so it was your father's barber shop or was it like a family barber shop? Did your mom work there as well?

MK: She helped. She helped in the shop, but I think it was my father that started it.

VY: And did they own it then?

MK: Yes.

VY: It was their business.

MK: Yes, it was their personal shop.

VY: Did they have other employees there?

MK: No, but I remember behind the barber shop, there were several rooms with bathtubs, that they took in customers also.

VY: And who were the customers at the barber shop?

MK: You know, I don't remember too many people going into the baths, but there were a few Japanese men.

VY: Okay, and how about people who came in to get their hair cut?

MK: They were mostly laborers who worked out in the farms. So on Saturdays it was most busy with laborers coming in from the farm, Mexicans and a few other... Filipinos. And they would also drop in to get their hair cut.

VY: Okay, they mostly came in on Saturday because they were working during the week?

MK: Yes.

VY: Were there any other customers?

MK: During the weekdays a few, I used to remember coming in. But, of course, after I started school, I don't really remember how the business went.

VY: I see. Were most of the customers -- other than the laborers -- were most of the customers Japanese American or Japanese?

MK: Japanese, and I would also say a few Caucasians that dropped in.

VY: Do you remember any of the conversation you used to overhear in the barber shop?

MK: Only between the Japanese men and my father. And the only thing I remember, I hear the word fukeiki, which meant "depression." It was during the time of the depression so I guess they would just talk about the unfortunate circumstances and all that. I didn't really know the rest of it.

VY: Were they speaking in English or Japanese?

MK: Japanese.

VY: But you, so you understood enough Japanese?

MK: No, not at that time, no. [Laughs] But I heard that word fukeiki so often, I happened to ask my mother what it was all about.

VY: I understand.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

VY: Going back a little bit to your earlier days in El Centro, what was your relationship with your parents like?

MK: Oh, very good. My mother was left with rearing the children Japanese-style, and there were a few times, I remember, when I was old enough to know about Shirley Temple and Deanna Durbin, and we would ask our mother first. We always asked Mother first because she was the easiest to get to, if we could go to the movie. And I would tell her, "It's not a bad movie because it's Shirley Temple." And then she would say, "Go ask your father." And we would go to him, and he was a little more strict. But now and then he would give permission, and so my mother would give me the money and we would take off and go to the movie.

VY: Now, when you say "we," would that be you and your friends or your other siblings?

MK: My sister right below me and other friends.

VY: How many siblings did you have?

MK: I had two younger sisters and one younger brother.

VY: So you were the oldest?

MK: Yes.

VY: Did you feel like you had more of a responsibility by being the oldest?

MK: Yes, my mother put that on my shoulders. She said, "You're the oldest, so you have to set the good examples for your younger siblings," and watch my manners especially.

VY: Do you think you did that?

MK: I tried. [Laughs]

VY: How would you describe yourself then? Would you say you were more shy or more outgoing?

MK: Well, at home, my siblings teased me and called me "Tiger" because at home I just roared. And I was born in the Year of the Tiger also. But outside, I was very shy, and it was difficult for me to even talk to my friends, to initiate a conversation. But if they talked to me, of course, I would respond. But other than that, I would just be very quiet.

VY: Did you have a lot of friends?

MK: My classmates, yes. And my friends that attended the Japanese language school all in one grade, we were all friends.

VY: How often did you go to Japanese language school?

MK: Monday through Friday right after public schools were over. We spent about two hours at the temple all studying Japanese.

VY: And was it the same for... well, let me back up a little bit. So you were born in El Centro, Did you grow up in El Centro or did you move a little bit?

MK: Yes, we grew up in El Centro, partly, and then we moved to Brawley, which was not too far from El Centro, but it was, I think, north of El Centro. And then we were there, and I think I must have been about seven when we left El Centro. And from Brawley we moved to Bakersfield and I started, I remember, seventh grade in Bakersfield. And spent about three years, seventh, eighth and ninth grade, and then the war started.

VY: Okay. So was it the same in all those cities or all those towns? Did you attend Japanese language school in each town, and did your parents' barber shop business, did they kind of bring that with them to each town?

MK: Yes, in Brawley we had that. And Bakersfield, my parents did the barber business for a short while, and then my father became ill with diabetes, so at one point he had to give his shop up. And then my mother took in, if I remember, it was home laundry. They gave up their barber business. And so after my father became ill, then we moved down to Delano, which was not too far from Bakersfield, and my father passed away in Delano in April 1940. And shortly thereafter, another Japanese woman who knew our family introduced my mother, and we acquired a stepfather and moved back to Bakersfield.

VY: Do you think... why do you think that your mother remarried?

MK: Well, she was not very strong. And so I guess she felt that it would be helpful if we had a stepfather. And at that time, she started taking in home laundry.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

VY: Okay, I have a couple of questions about childhood and then we'll move on. Do you remember games that you played when you were a child with your friends?

MK: Let's see. Hopscotch was very popular, and roller skating. Oh, hide and seek, that was the other one, and tag. Jacks, those were the main sports that we were involved in.

VY: What kind of responsibilities did you have? For instance, did you help your mom with the laundry that she brought in later on?

MK: Yes, I helped wash, and later I was able to iron the hankies. [Laughs] I enjoyed it; it was fun.

VY: And how about school? What was elementary school like?

MK: I enjoyed it. At that time, we were somehow involved in Japanese culture at the school, too, and so we would dress up in a kimono and our teachers would invite us. I remember one of my classmates, a Caucasian boy, teased me. He looked at my feet, and we wear tabi, which has the big toe and then the rest of it encased in another section. So he says, "Oh, you have two toes." [Laughs] And later on I thought, oh, I should have told him, "Yes, it's better because you only have one toe." And I remember one of my classmates' mother would invite me over to their home, and she would ask me to sing a Japanese song. And so I would sing and then she'd give me a nickel. [Laughs]

VY: Did you like doing that? Was that fun?

MK: It was embarrassing, but I usually did what the elders asked me to do.

VY: How about the other students, were they mostly Japanese American, or were there other Japanese Americans?

MK: There were a few of us, yes, but it was mostly Caucasian.

VY: And did you go to church?

MK: Oh yes, every Sunday.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

VY: Okay, so let's talk about the day of Pearl Harbor. Do you remember where you were on December 7, 1941, and how you heard about the bombing?

MK: Well, we didn't have a radio, we never owned a radio. So I guess our neighbors informed us about it. And I don't remember too much beyond that except that it was a frightening period. We were very careful going about. And I remember when I got to school one day, one of my classmates, I didn't know her too well, but she stood up in our English class and she says, "All the Japs should be sent back to Japan." And I didn't know why she took off like that, but then years later -- in fact, it was after I came to Seattle, that's how many years later -- I was thinking about that and I thought, "Oh, she was protecting her back." And I said, "Oh, I bet," because her name was Barbara Kaiser, and it made sense. But the poor teacher, I really felt sorry for her because she was an elderly white haired English teacher, and she didn't really know how to handle it. And she just paced back and forth, back and forth in front of the class.

VY: So it sounds like she didn't really respond, she just didn't know how to respond, the teacher?

MK: Yeah, she didn't respond. And it was pretty much the end of the class period, too.

VY: How about your other classmates? How did they respond, or did they?

MK: I didn't have any other Japanese American classmates in that particular class. But no one said anything about their experience.

VY: So how did that feel at the time, then? Did it make you feel kind of alone?

MK: Yes, very much. And I thought, oh, they really hate us, was my feeling.

VY: Did you ever tell anybody about that?

MK: No, I just kept it to myself.

VY: Do you remember any other experiences that you had right during that time?

MK: Yes. One evening, it was early evening, I guess I must have gone downtown. Anyway, it was on the way home and I was just practically home, across the street, in fact, when I saw a very attractive older woman coming toward me. And before I knew it, before I was able to cross the street, she was right there in front of me. She grabbed both my shoulders and bent her head down to mine and she says, "Are you Japanese or Chinese?" And I was very scared. I thought I was going to be beaten up or something. So I just looked up at her and I said, "I'm Japanese." And she said, "No, you're not. You're American, and don't you ever forget it." And she just abruptly released me and walked on. And I was panicked to be told outright that I was an American, because during that period, even before the war, whenever we had to answer a simple survey, we were either Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, nothing else. And so as I ran home, I thought, "I can't be American because I'm not white." But then, at the same time, I realized I was an American citizen by birthright, that's the way I thought about it, but not outright American.

VY: So was that the first time you thought of it that way?

MK: Yes. And even then, I didn't tell my friends about that experience either.

VY: Why do you think she did that?

MK: Well, I don't know, and I had no clue who she was until I became a teacher. Then I thought, "I bet she was a teacher." That's the only way I could think about it.

VY: That's interesting. That makes me wonder, because I know you became a teacher later, do you remember, were there any teachers that stood out more than others while you were going to school? A teacher in particular that made an impression?

MK: Who taught me?

VY: Yeah.

MK: Let's see. Well, at the university, there was a Professor McKinnon, and he was a Japanese expert, and I was very impressed by all the knowledge he had about Japan and what he taught us. Oh, I can't think of any other... well, my Japanese language teacher was a Japanese American herself. And I was just impressed that we had Japanese American professors. Because I remember, way before the war, when I was still in grade school, I used to hear about these older... I was in grade school, so anyone that was in high school was so old. But these were high school graduates ready to go on to college, that was the first time I heard about our Japanese American people going to college. And I knew that was for further study, but other than that, I didn't know. And I used to hear the word "Los Angeles," so that must have been UCLA.

VY: Did you think you would go to college at that point?

MK: No, not even when I graduated high school. I was not college bound at all. But it was after my work experience in different types of office work that I finally got tired of being a secretary, so I just thought I'd try. This was after the war when we settled in Seattle.

VY: Okay, we'll save that for later, then. Yeah, I want to hear all about that.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

VY: So let's step back and talk about when you were sent to camp. Which camp did you go to?

MK: Poston Camp I, Arizona.

VY: Okay. And how did you get there?

MK: We were put on the train and then we went south to Barstow, California, and switched over to a bus that took us to the camp.

VY: So you didn't stay in any other detention facilities.

MK: No, straight to Poston.

VY: So what was the train ride and the bus ride like? How long did it take?

MK: You know, it must have been a day.

VY: And when you arrived at Poston, do you remember what your first impressions were when you got there?

MK: Yes, it was not complete. And it was very dusty, and I was really disappointed. And oh, I remember we had to fill a large canvas bag with hay, that was our mattress, and then we had the cots that we had to pick up to take to our barracks and set up our bedding.

VY: So you said it wasn't finished. Did your family help with any of the construction of the camp while you were there?

MK: No.

VY: And what were they constructed of?

MK: Wood and tarpaper on the outside. And I guess in one barrack there were four units per family.

VY: Was there any adobe?

MK: Oh, that was a school building if I recall.

VY: That was separate. So what about the barracks? What were they like?

MK: Well, the wall between one room to another was not very solid. It was a piece of long wood, and some of them had knots, those round things. And you could almost look through the slat between each piece of wood, and you could hear conversation next door.

VY: Now, were all six of you in one room?

MK: Yes, and we put up a partition with sheets for the kids, dividing parents and kids.

VY: So that was you and your three siblings and your mother and your stepfather.

MK: Yes. And we just had a hanging bulb for a light.

VY: How about the food and the water? What was that like?

MK: Yes, we had to report to the mess hall. A person in charge would bang on the garbage pail, calling us that it was lunchtime. And so we would line up and go in, sit on those long wooden table with the attached... not separate chair, but like benches attached to the tables, and we had our section. But eventually... our family kept together, but I noticed that other kids, they sat away from their families and just sat among friends, and that was something new. And I remember one incident -- of course we ate whatever was offered -- but I remember our neighbor quite didn't like the food that was served or the way it was cooked or prepared. And so one day at lunch, this cook came out, held up the plate that he had prepared, and said that he had heard some complaints. And he was very upset and angry and he just threw the whole thing into the garbage. He didn't name the people, but he says, "If you're so unhappy, go elsewhere." And they did, they went to the next block from then on to have their lunch.

VY: Oh, so that was an option? You could go to a different block to have lunch?

MK: Well, no, that was just that incident, as far as I know, because it made the family very uncomfortable, too, to come back.

VY: Was the cook Japanese? [Narr. note: Yes.]

MK: No, (the food) was whatever. And I remember one day I heard that we were eating horse meat, and it was not like beef or pork, so maybe it was horse meat.

VY: How about when you first got there, the tap water?

MK: Oh, yes, I got sick. Just for a couple of hours I didn't feel good after drinking that water.

VY: Do you remember if anybody warned you about anything like animals or bugs?

MK: Oh, we were warned about centipedes maybe falling off from the ceiling, and the gila monsters, that they would hide under the barracks. And I did, in fact, see one scatter away.

VY: A gila monster?

MK: Yes.

VY: That sounds frightening. [Laughs]

MK: Yeah.

VY: So about the physical construction of the barracks, how did they fare during the different weather conditions?

MK: Well, when we had dust storms, it became very dusty inside. Because the wooden slats were not tightly constructed, and through the eves or something, between the walls and the roof, somehow the fine dust would get in, blow in. And the people that lived on both ends of the barrack got it the worst.

VY: Were you on an end?

MK: No.

VY: Actually, where were you?

MK: Block 14-7-C is the way it was.

VY: Camp I?

MK: Yeah, Camp I.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

VY: Now, there were a lot of different kinds of people at this particular camp. There were city people and more rural people. Do you remember any kind of interactions between, like, the two different kinds of, groups of people? Any conflicts or bondings?

MK: No. It was a fun time because we made friends from all up and down California or wherever they came from. And one exciting thing I remember was, of the young adults that reached marriageable age, they found partners from different areas. They wouldn't have gotten together except for being in camp. And when there was a wedding, we would all -- not invited, but we would all stand outside to watch the bride and groom and it was quite an exciting time.

VY: Did that happen a lot? Were there several marriages while you were there?

MK: Yes. And there were a few births that I remember, even on our block, and our neighbor.

VY: What was that like? Do you remember, were you close with anybody that was married or gave birth to a child while they were in camp?

MK: Yes. One family was right across from our area, and so I made friends with them, because we were all high school age. And one of the sisters was married and she had a baby girl, and I dropped in on her once in a while and I was able to carry the little baby and it was fun.

VY: And did it seem like the medical care was good for the women when they were pregnant?

MK: I suppose. We heard that we had good doctors, Japanese doctors that were at the L.A. hospitals, and they seemed to have quite a reputation.

VY: Do you remember when you arrived there, were you housed among other families from the Imperial Valley?

MK: No, we were scattered about. So it wasn't necessarily El Centro people right there, because I remember meeting a lot of new friends. But this was Bakersfield, of course, where we took off to camp. And there were a few families on the same block.

VY: Let's see. So you said you made a lot of friends while you were there, did you keep in touch with any of them later, after the war?

MK: Just a very few, because we scattered all over the place, and many of them got married and started their families and I guess they were busy. Of course, many of them settled back in California while we were in Seattle. So that made it a little bit hard.

VY: Why do you think you did not return to California?

MK: Oh, we didn't own any property or home or anything like this, and we were rather stuck. And so my mother had corresponded with her aunt, her family was farming in either Puyallup or Sumner in the area. And they went to Minidoka, and after Minidoka they relocated to Hazelton, Idaho, where they were doing farm work for a company. And so they invited our family up there. So that's how we got to Hazelton.

VY: So do you think they went to Hazelton just because, instead of returning back to Puyallup right away, do you think they went to Hazelton first because there was work there? That was the main reason?

MK: Or they didn't have a place to return to in Washington at that moment.

VY: I see. So, is there anything else about Poston that you remember happening while you were there?

MK: Oh. I remember we had a boy's baseball team, and there must have been a Native American tribe located somewhere, and they were invited in competition. The Native American boys came to our camp to play baseball with our boys.

VY: So did they play on the same team?

MK: No. Our camp boys were one team versus the Native American team.

VY: I see. Did that happen more than once?

MK: I just remember that one incident.

VY: How was the game, was it a good game?

MK: You know, I don't even remember at all. I just remember the occasion. And, of course, during our high school years we had dances. Jitterbug was popular then. And, of course, I was very shy, but some of my classmates would ask me to dance. I got a lot of enjoyment out of the junior high school boys coming to me to ask me to dance, and they were very shy. And I really got a kick out of that and enjoyed it.

VY: Would you dance with them?

MK: Oh, yes. I guess they treated me like a big sister, because I had a brother that age.

VY: During the baseball game, do you remember interacting with the other teammates?

MK: Not at all. But I do remember we also had volleyball games among our blocks, and we played volleyball. That was the one sport that I remember.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

VY: Okay, before we move on, is there anything else that happened in Poston that you remember that you'd like to talk about or that stood out to you?

MK: Yes. The first generation were very creative. We were just sand and barracks, but eventually, the menfolks started making gardens and putting plants, and even making little models of ships where they dug into the ground and made a little pond. Yes, that was very colorful. And it was fun to go by there and look at all the creative things they did.

VY: Do you remember if there was any unrest while you were there among workers?

MK: Yes. I remember hearing about one of the JACL officers, I believe, being beaten up in camp. And the administration from the outside was going to handle that and arrest the, I believe it was a Kibei-Nisei man that beat up the person. And so in opposition to that, our block leaders, the menfolk, got together and asked all the members in the whole camp, Poston I, to assemble at the administration building. And so we just went there, and there was no riot or anything, it was a very calm situation. But we just did what we were asked to do, and then eventually we were told we could go home.

VY: And was it successful?

MK: Yes, it seemed to be. I don't clearly remember the after event of that.

VY: Do you remember who the block leaders were? Like what generation?

MK: Block leaders were the young second generation men.

VY: Okay, so Nisei men.

MK: Maybe college age or older. And we had also a stage built, where people who wanted to do some acting or entertaining got up there. And I was also interested in Japanese classical dancing. So I joined the group, and we performed. But I remember every time this one woman wanted to take us up on the stage, we would have a dust storm. So that broke up the whole thing and everyone picked up their little chairs and went home. [Laughs]

VY: So did you ever get a chance to actually perform?

MK: Yes, we did. And, of course, we had Bon dances, too. And that's where my mother made my first yukata, summer yukata.

VY: Do you still have it?

MK: I still have it.

VY: Still have it.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

VY: Okay, after Poston I know you said that you went to Hazelton where your mom's sister was?

MK: Oh, my mother's aunt.

VY: Oh, sorry, your mother's aunt was there. So what happened while you were in Hazelton?

MK: I had already graduated in 1944 in camp. And so I went to work for this... all I remember is a bean factory where the beans would come rolling down, and we would have to pick the bad ones. And that made me dizzy and I couldn't handle it. And so they sent me out to Ogden, Utah, from Idaho to Utah, where one of my mother's aunt's daughter's friends' family were situated. So they kind of looked after me for a little bit while I found housework, and I did housework for a Mormon family. And that was the first time away from home.

VY: How long were you there?

MK: Oh, maybe about, almost a year. And then within that time, my mother's aunt's family returned to Washington state, and we wanted to go back to California. And so from Ogden, I returned to Hazelton, and I discussed with my mother that maybe I should go to California with the help of one of the social workers in camp, and see if I could find a rental home. And so we planned it that way, and I met the social worker's friend in California, but it didn't do much to help because I was a little frightened to go out looking for a place to rent. I didn't know how to go about it. But in Oakland I was doing housework. And during that time it was not quite a year, and my mother became ill, and then she passed on so I received a telegram from my sister. And of course I went back to Hazelton, and we had her funeral service there. One of the Buddhist ministers who covered the Ogden, Utah, area, came over to officiate. And then we came back to Seattle -- not back to Seattle -- for the first time, where my mother's family made arrangements for where we would be staying and all that. And so we took that because we didn't have any place to go back in California, even at that time.

VY: So who came to Seattle? Was it you and your siblings?

MK: Yes, all four of us. And in the meantime, I couldn't take care of my stepfather, so a Japanese gentleman from Utah who ran some sort of a hotel or something, he heard about it through the minister. And so he took on the responsibility of taking the stepfather back to Utah and placing him in the home, and he said he'll be well taken care of, so we didn't have to worry.

VY: Did you stay in touch with him after that, with your stepfather?

MK: No.

VY: Did he speak mostly Japanese?

MK: Yes, he was a first generation.

VY: Okay. Is there anything else about that time you want to talk about before we move on to your later life?

MK: Let's see. The camp, well, it was an exciting time for me other than... because we made so many friends from different areas of California. And, of course, graduating high school, going to high school there. Outside of that... oh, when we left camp, we were practically the last family it seems. We were there for at least three and a half years, because we couldn't decide where we could go. And when we finally had to leave, it was very lonely because the barracks, you would expect to see the lights come on during dusk, and there were no lights on other than our room or something. It was a lonely time. And when we got on the train to come to Seattle, I remember disembarking, and I was wearing an overcoat with a little pin on my lapel in the shape of a shield, you know, armor. And it was my temple's logo on that pin, and one of the American soldiers was boarding the train, and he happened to see that seal. And he said, "Oh, are you a WAC?" And I said, "No." [Laughs] And he said, "Oh," and just let it go.

VY: Something about it looked similar?

MK: I guess. Oh, I wanted to become an army nurse.

VY: You did?

MK: I've always envisioned becoming a nurse when I was a child, and so this model, who was modeling the Army Nurse Corps uniform, I was taken by that. And I discussed this after I graduated, in fact, with my mother, while we were still in camp. And I said, "I would like to join the Army Nurse Corps." She said, "No," and that was the end of that.

VY: Why do you think she didn't want you to do that?

MK: Oh, she didn't want me to leave, alone.

VY: She didn't want you to leave her or she didn't want you to be out in the world alone?

MK: I think the latter, because I was only seventeen, and she thought it was too risky.

VY: Did she want you to get married?

MK: Oh, I think she did a some point. After I went to California, I received a simply written note from my mother saying that Mrs. So-and-So's son wants me for his wife, and he was a Japanese American. So I panicked, and I said, "Write back to her and get me out of this any way you can." So I guess she must have written something about taking on the responsibility, and I couldn't be free at this time or something like that. So I got out of that situation. But shortly after that, my mother died, and so I was left with my siblings. And this same woman whose son wanted to marry me earlier, wrote to me and said that she knows of a young man who is in the same situation with younger siblings, and he lost his parents, so why don't we get together? And I thought, oh, that's too much of a responsibility. So I politely said that I had other plans or something, I got out of that jam, too.

VY: It sounds like you had a really good relationship with your mom. And she wanted you to get married, but you didn't want to, not to that particular person, and she respected your wish and she didn't persist.

MK: Well, I was not actually ready for marriage, even then.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

VY: So later on, so you lived in Seattle with... was it just you and your siblings living together?

MK: Yes. Our relatives arranged for us to live at this Japanese Baptist home called Fujin Home. So they let us in, and we three sisters had one, it was a parlor in the room, one of the parlors, so we slept there. But in the morning, upon awakening, we had to straighten out the room and open up the doors so that it was, again, a parlor and not our private room. Whereas my brother had a private room to himself in the same building.

VY: What was the age difference between you and your siblings?

MK: My sister right below me, I think we were about a year and a half apart, and she and my brother were four years apart. And my brother and the youngest sister were two years apart.

VY: So it sounds like you kind of had to finish raising them on your own.

MK: Yes, it was something like that. In the meantime, when we first arrived in Seattle, too, I was working as a housemaid up in Laurelhurst, and I would take off on weekends to come down to Fujin Home and visit my siblings. And my younger sister right below me worked at Fort Lawton while the youngest sister and my brother were still in school. My brother, I think, was in middle school, and my sister was still in elementary school.

VY: And did they all live with you until they went through school and graduated?

MK: Yeah, finally when I left Laurelhurst, I took on a government job for about a year with the IRS downtown. And at that time, we had taken on an apartment that was owned by a Japanese couple, right across the street from the Seattle University campus, in fact. And there we all lived together until my sister right below me got married and she left. And so that was my younger sister and brother with me. And eventually when my brother finished high school, he started the UW. But I didn't realize at the time how bright he was. And the first two years you had to take the same courses as other freshmen and sophomores, and it was, at that time, we called it a Mickey Mouse course, it was just too much for him. He was way beyond that, and so he got very bored and he just quit school and went to work for Boeing. And so my youngest sister finished school then, and my brother took on another apartment not too far from where we lived. And my younger sister then finished high school, and I don't remember where she worked. But she eventually got married, so that left me and my brother alone.

VY: And then what happened after that? Did you go back to L.A.?

MK: Yes. Well, I'm trying to think now. The owners of that apartment building eventually sold it, but that was sometime later. But while my sisters were still together, I did go down to L.A. and worked at UCLA.

VY: What did you do there?

MK: Let's see. I found work at the Issei History Project.

VY: Issei Oral History Project?

MK: Issei, first generation history project. And that's where they gathered historical facts from all the immigrants, the Issei folks, and built an archive. But I was there for maybe about a year, and then I came back up to Seattle.

VY: What kind of work did you do for that project?

MK: I was the secretary. I just made appointments, general secretary work.

VY: Did you meet any of the people that were being interviewed?

MK: Yes. There were a few JACL officers that I met just very briefly. Frank Chuman, I think, was one. I can't remember the names now.

VY: That's okay. Okay, so then after that, did you come back to Seattle or did you go somewhere else?

MK: No, it was back and forth from L.A. to Seattle, and then I took a job up here with Harborview. Before that, while I was at the IRS, I got tired of just being a file clerk filing the 1040 forms at that time, And I attended a nine-month medical secretarial course and became a secretary at Harborview in the department of pathology, for Dr. Clyde Jenkins at the time. It was back in, maybe about '55 or so, and I was there maybe for about a year or two. And then after that, I went on to... let's see. I also worked at the Seattle Art Museum. But before that, I think I took off for L.A. again, and I've been moving around so much I can't remember what I was doing in the interim.

VY: I have a quick question. It sounds like in the past, you had family in Los Angeles from when your parents were first there. Did you stay in touch with any of those family members, or did you ever know any of those family members?

MK: No, we never lived in L.A.

VY: No, but I mean when your mother and father met in Los Angeles.

MK: I had an aunt... in the meantime, they also moved down to San Diego, and we met them there briefly on a vacation, and that was the only contact. And then in the meantime, my (mother's) grandfather and stepmother and her stepsister moved back to Japan.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

VY: Okay, so let's talk about after the war and your time in the '60s. What kind of work did you do in the '60s?

MK: That was the year I was going back and forth from Seattle to L.A. And then, let's see, I spoke about the Issei History Project, having worked there for about a year. And then the second time I went down, I worked in the engineering department, and my boss, who was a young Mr. Ron McClain, I remember. I just found his name card the other day. And it was, at that point, when I was also involved in Japanese culture, so I met some people. And a Professor Noboru Inamoto from USC was going to take some twenty members of his class to Japan on a two-week tour. So he invited me to come along if I would like, and I told him that if I were going as far as Japan -- I always wanted to go -- but I wanted to live there and experience life there, and not come back in two weeks. And so he understood, and he said, "Oh, talk to so-and-so, she's a medical technician," a Japanese American woman who was coming back from Hiroshima, she did her stint there. And to talk to her, and I was able to meet her. And she told me, by coincidence, the American secretary was not feeling too well, so she was coming back, resigning from her secretarial position. And so then I talked to a Dr. Magden, I think his name was, at UCLA, who oversaw the whole U.S. program going to Hiroshima, sending his doctors and other personnel. So I talked to him, and put in my application. And this was under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, who paid all my way and everything. But in the meantime, my boss at the nuclear engineering department said, "Oh, you'll never get a chance like this. Go." And he almost encouraged me, in fact. So then I got word from the National Academy of Science, "Get ready in four months." And so I was able to do that and be on my way. And that was in 1960.

VY: And what was the name of the organization that you went with?

MK: In Hiroshima? Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission.

VY: Okay.

MK: And at that time, they had a co-joint Japanese research and American research, working together on the casualties, the victims of the a-bomb.

VY: So what were they doing exactly? Were they studying the...

MK: The people who were radiated.

VY: And were they trying to treat them, or was it more just gathering information?

MK: I believe there was some kind of treatment going on at the same time. There were other Japanese and American medical staff members who looked at the patients, checked in on the patients. And we had a fleet of those dark green Ford station wagons, which would go to the homes to pick up these patients. But the patients were very wary, because even they were discriminated against by their own neighbors for some reason. I guess they heard about the radiation sickness as they called it, and they didn't want to be a part of that.

VY: Do you think people were afraid of the radiation, they could be affected by the radiation or something?

MK: That might be part of it. And, of course, you know how marriage is so important in Japan? That no one would marry anyone who was affected by the radiation. And so the people who were the patient would tell the drivers to, "Please stay on the outskirts, and we will come to you," to get into the car. Because the neighbors would be aware of them coming.

VY: So do you think these folks were keeping it a secret, or do you think the neighbors actually knew, but the patients just didn't want to remind people that they were going through this?

MK: I think that's it, they didn't want to remind the neighbors of it.

VY: How often did they do that, these green station wagons that went and picked people up?

MK: I don't recall how often that was. I was mainly in the office, so I was not a part of that.

VY: And what kind of work did you do in the office?

MK: I took phone calls. When the American doctors needed anything, I guess I tried to help them out in some way. But my Japanese was not that strong, so Dr. Yamamoto, who was a chief on the Japanese research side, would help me out, because he was able to speak some English.

VY: So he would kind of translate for you?

MK: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

VY: What other things did you do while you were there in Hiroshima?

MK: Yes, I met a Canadian American, a Japanese American from Canada, who was teaching English at the Nagarekawa Christian Church right in Hiroshima. So somehow I befriended him, and he asked me if I would be interested in also taking one of his classes to teach basic English conversation, so I took that up in the evening. They were mostly young Hiroshima University students, mostly male. And I had a few, maybe two or three women, who were already office workers, not students, who joined the class.

VY: Now, do you think that's because most of the university students were male?

MK: You know, it might be, at that time.

VY: Now, this is also where your father was originally from. So did you have family there as well?

MK: Oh, yes. My youngest aunt, my father's youngest sister, he happened to be her favorite brother among, I think, seven siblings. And so when he left Hiroshima, she followed. Not right after, but sometime after, and when he left Hawaii to go to California, she didn't know that, and so she got stuck in Hawaii. And she married a Japanese and raised her family there. And so I was able to visit her and she was happy to see one of her favorite brother's children, and that was one high spot.

VY: How did you find her? Did you already know where she was?

MK: Yes.

VY: Okay.

MK: I was corresponding with my cousin, her children. They were older than I was, of course, but we were corresponding.

VY: Did you have any relatives there that were affected by the bombing?

MK: In Hiroshima, yes. In fact, when I was working at ABCC, one of the drivers of the Ford station wagon to pick up the patients, was married into the Kaneta family. And he figured I must be related because we write our Chinese characters in the same way. And so he told my aunt that he would like to bring me over to meet her. And she was a little bit skeptical upon meeting her for the first time, and she looked at me very sternly. Then I started to tell her about my background, and only I would know what the family was about, and naming my father and knowing that my father's youngest sister was married in Hawaii. So then she realized I was a real family member. And I met one of her, I guess it was her daughter-in-law, who was married to my cousin. And right after the bomb fell, when they heard about it, they were living in the outskirts of Hiroshima, I think called Asa-gun. So they were not affected that much, and he thought he would like to go into the city to see what he could do to help. Of course, at that time, they didn't know about the radiation or the effects of whatever. And so he went right into the city, and I don't know how long he remained there, but within three months he died of the radiation effect. Just going after where the bomb fell.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

VY: Okay. So after your time there, did you come back to the States?

MK: Yes. I served two years. I had two chiefs, one of them retired, and so my second chief wanted me to stay, but I said I had to go about this time, so I left in 1962, August, and came back to Seattle. And found work... let's see, where did I work then? That was in the '60s.

VY: When did you decide to become a teacher?

MK: Oh, 1968 and '69, I do recall now, I worked at the Seattle Art Museum as secretary to the second boss. And when Seattle Community College opened in 1966, I thought, oh, that might be something I would like to try. Because it was not a four-year university, and I wanted to see what it was like. And so I had a talk with my younger brother, and he thought that would be a good idea, so he encouraged me and I started. And I was the oldest in my class, of course, and the instructor was fresh out of Gonzaga University. And I think he had a degree in teaching college. And so he took me aside one day and we had to write a paper. And he noticed the way I punctuated and used marks that the other, younger, just recently graduated high school students were not using. And I said, "Oh, yeah, well, it's my experience working in an office." I had all that behind me, so I knew where the punctuations would go and all that, that was an interesting conversation. And I went there two years, it was a two-year college, but I just kept going and going and going, because I was not thinking of even transferring to a four-year university. Until one day the dean called me in and said that I had more than enough credits to transfer. So I thought he was giving me a message that, "You've got to go." And I, again, discussed the situation with my brother, and he thought that would be another good idea. And he lent me some money to get started, and I paid it back eventually. But the first year that I had been accepted, in 1970, one of the requirements was having to swim that long swimming pool. And it didn't make any sense to me why that would be a requirement, to gain admission.

VY: Oh, to gain admission, you had to swim an Olympic-sized...

MK: Yeah, that was a requirement. And I thought, oh, there I am, I'll never gain admission. But then they dropped that requirement, and I thought, whew, I guess I have one step in. And then I thought, well, I have to declare a major, and I had no clue, and I thought, oh, I enjoyed home-ec while I was in middle school, so I thought I'd major in home-ec. And before I was able to declare the major, they dropped the whole department, they closed it up. And so I thought, now what will I do, after I did my two years? And I thought, well, like we say in Japanese, "Shikata ga nai," there's no way out. So I declared the teaching. And I thought, well, I'll never be a teacher, but I had to declare something to get a degree to graduate anyway. But after I went my full four years, I thought, well, I may as well go for my fifth year just to complete that requirement. And now that I had the certificate for teaching secondary level, I thought, well, then I'd better go into the classroom, so that's how I became a teacher.

VY: What grades did you teach, then, after that?

MK: I taught both middle school and high school.

VY: And what did you teach?

MK: ESL, English as a Second Language, and Japanese. And in English as a Second Language I covered language arts and world history.

VY: So that means that some of your students did not speak English as a first language, so what language was their first language?

MK: Well, they came from different countries: Africa, Latin America. But by the time they got to middle school, they were able to speak. And there was one interesting thing that happened in one of my classes, ESL classes. One of the boys from Africa, they had to submit a written paper, and I gave an example on what to write so that they'll know just what it was about. When I got his paper, I marked, "Why, why, why?" In fact, he was so upset, he came to me and asked me, "Why all the whys?" And so I said, "Okay, now, if I give you an example like this: I'm writing to you and I invite you to Seattle, to come and visit Seattle, you're going to enjoy it, and you're going to meet a lot of friends, what does that tell you about Seattle?" And then he understood, "Why. I have to fill in, Seattle is such a beautiful city, and there's green trees all over the place, and we have sometimes snow in the winter, and the springtime is beautiful," all the description about the city. Then he understood. That was a teaching moment for me, too.

VY: Did you keep in touch with any of your students later?

MK: Just for a little while. And, of course, they went their own way. They went off to college or got married, and then they were busy with their family life.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

VY: How about later? Did you ever go back to Japan?

MK: Yes. After I did my two years in Hiroshima... oh, the first year of teaching, I went to the university from 1970 through '75 and got my teacher's degree and I was able to teach in the Seattle Public Schools, high school, for two years and I got my tenure. And then we went on strike, teacher's strike, and so I felt kind of silly. I was for the strike, of course, but not comfortable walking around with a placard and things like that, and have people whistle, in agreement, of course, and toot their horns. So I thought, "This is not teaching," and I decided, well, maybe I'll try Japan. And fortunately, I was able to go teach English with a company in Tokyo, and that was my first experience in Tokyo, teaching company people. These were some kind of an automobile manufacturing firm, and so they were all men. And about a year after that, I moved on. I was scanning the Tokyo newspaper and found an actual teaching position for hire at the Tokyo Foreign Language College. And so I thought, well, I want to pick up my credits in teaching, so I think I'll apply there, and I got in. And that school hired teachers from U.S., great Britain, India, any of us who could speak English and teach. And we were all college majors, that is, having graduated.

VY: So did you get to know the other teachers as well? Sounds like it was a pretty international staff.

MK: Yes. And, in fact, there was one teacher, she was not actually a teacher back home in Seattle, but she was hired in, and she was from Seattle. And when I came back, we met again. [Laughs] And she was with one of the popular taiko groups. She's quite well-known in this area.

VY: So you're still in contact with her, you're still friends?

MK: Once in a while we see each other, out in the streets or when she's drumming the taiko for some event.

VY: So how long were you in Japan that second time?

MK: I was there from '79, and I came back in 1984, so about six years, was it?

VY: And while you were there, did you mostly speak Japanese, when you weren't teaching English? Did people think you were Japanese, or did they think you were American?

MK: By appearance, I guess I looked Japanese, until I opened my mouth. But there was one incident when I was looking for a certain train station, and I could not read the Chinese characters. And they had a map on the board, this was at the train station, and I was looking, but I couldn't find any familiar character, written character. So there was a gentleman purchasing a ticket, and so I interrupted him very politely, and asked him if he could show me where such and such station is. And he looked at me, and in a voice that almost had the tone of, "You stupid woman, it's written right up here," and he pointed to the map. And I looked at him and I thought, uh oh. And so in a polite way, I was able to speak enough Japanese then. I begged his pardon, and I said, "I'm sorry, I'm Japanese American from the States, and I have no knowledge of these Chinese characters." He looked at me in shock, and so he did a turnaround, and he was very accommodating, and he showed me where it was. He couldn't believe what he had gone through. [Laughs]

VY: So it sounds like, when you were speaking, you sounded like you were very fluent, and he thought you were Japanese. Then when he realized you couldn't read the characters, then he was surprised.

MK: And I was kind of worried about him later. I thought, when he meets a woman on the street, he's going to ask, "Are you a native Japanese, or are you a foreigner?" [Laughs]

VY: So it sounds like you had a good time in Japan.

MK: Oh, I enjoyed it. It was a learning period, and I got so much out of it. I even took a class in sumi-e painting, and trying to make pottery teacup, which I was not too good at. And tea ceremony.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

VY: Okay, and then after you spent your time there, you came back to the States, and did you continue to teach in Seattle?

MK: Yes. By then, I was not able to get into a full time position, so I was teaching as a substitute, and that was a very good experience. Because then I was able to cover from grade kindergarten through twelve, wherever I received the assignments. And I had one very interesting experience teaching kindergarten. There was one child -- these were mostly children from China. And the teacher in charge herself was Chinese American. But I was handling the class that day, and there was one young boy that just came from Hong Kong, and this was a period for drawing, and they had crayons. And I spent time telling them to draw a house or whatever. And when I collected the paper, this little boy's picture was all in black. And I was shocked, and so I took it to Cissy, the teacher in charge, and she told me that, yeah, he just came from China, having to leave his brother, and he was very depressed. He had family member here, too, but it was the first time he was away from his family in China. And he was very sad and lonely, and so then I thought, well, we got to do something about this. So I gathered up the class again, and I said, "Okay, let's all be friends." And we named each other, and they also took him in, and day by day, color started creeping into his drawings. That was a very interesting experience, and I thought, oh, if any of you have problem children, give them a set of crayons and you could really tell what's going on by the colors they use.

VY: It sounds like there were a lot of Chinese students at that particular time.

MK: Yes. I guess there were that many of that age group in that area. And two years later, I was assigned to another elementary school, third grade, and that same young boy was in that third grade. And I was attending to the row and I heard clatter of chairs, and he and another classmate were at odds, and they were about ready to sock each other, the clenched fists. And I said, "What's going on?" And I took them apart, and I said, "I guess we'll have to visit the principal." And so I took both their hands, and we were walking through the halls, I had each boy on either side and holding their hands. And finally, just in the middle of the walk, this little Chinese boy squeezed my hand, he looked up at me. Evidently he remembered me, and I remembered him by his name. And he said, "Teacher, I love you." And that made my day. In fact, I think it made my whole teaching career. [Laughs]

VY: That's a wonderful story.

MK: And I marched them to the principal's office and just told them the little story, but I think they got along fine. [Laughs]

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

VY: Well, let's see. Is there anything else you'd like to talk about before we conclude today?

MK: Yes. I got my first teaching assignment at Garfield High School. Mr. Roscoe Bass was the principal, and I taught Japanese. And Garfield had a large population of black students at the time, and of course, Caucasian students, a few Asian students. I was very surprised how quickly they could pick up a foreign language. And I gave them Japanese names and had them write it in Japanese block letters, and I posted it on the bulletin board and they really liked that. I remembered when I was at one period working at UCLA, Dr. King came. And it was not a staged visit, it was not in the hall or anything, it was held outdoors very informally. So I got excused because I wanted to go and see and hear his "I Have a Dream" speech. And so the car parked right in front of us, and the men got out and I thought, wow, Dr. King is very big and looks strong. And then another gentleman came out all suited up, and very mild and gentle looking, and I thought, oh, that's Dr. King. It was almost like a double, bodyguard, I think. And the first one that came out, he just practically jumped out of the car. And so I was shocked, thinking that was Dr. King, and not seeing the picture that I used to see in the magazines. But Dr. King came out, and he gave his famous speech, and I was so, we were all just taken by his "I Have a Dream" speech. When I started teaching my first year at Garfield, we had a Martin Luther King Day. And there was a young man, who was not a student, he came and gave that speech, and it reminded me of the way Dr. King gave it when I heard it. And so I wrote a little note to... I can't remember her name, she was in charge of this club. She was a black teacher, and I told her that this young man sounded just like Dr. King, who I personally saw and heard him give a speech. And when she read that note to her organization, they were so envious. [Laughs]

And there was one point, when I was still at Garfield, I was heading towards the office, when I heard a basketball bouncing back and forth. And I saw a big crowd of students gathered in the hallway, and so I had to excuse myself to break through to see what was going on. And then one of the students told me that fellow, he must have been a basketball player, he was a black student, he was tossing the ball back and forth with another basketball player. I don't know what the reason was. And so students couldn't go by, lest they get hit. And so I thought, well, I'm going to try it. So the moment I stepped out in front, the basketball came whizzing by and I caught it. And the kids behind me just roared; now they could get through. And I just hugged the basketball, and I saw one of the teachers who stood by not daring to do anything, I guess, just keep things in order. I said, "Mr. So-and-So, you saw me catch the ball, I'm going to go straight to the principal's office now." He said, "Okay." So I marched into the vice principal's office, and he was a former Garfield student who had graduated and became the principal then. And so I told him the story and gave him the ball, expecting him to discipline the boys. And so I checked the next day to see what had happened, and Mr. So-and-So, the principal that I gave it to, said that, oh, he just gave the ball back. And I said, "What?" I was so disappointed, that I went out and I met the teacher who was on top of things but just keeping control. I said, "Mr. So-and-So, how come the ball was given back without any discipline?" And this teacher that I was talking to who was in charge of keeping control of the crowd that day, said, "You know, you're very brave. We're afraid of the black students." He told me that outright, and I was so shocked. And so when I was going back again to my classroom, I heard running footsteps behind me, and another black student behind me said, "Ms. Kaneta, you caught that ball, didn't you?" And I said, "Yes, do you think I'd make the basketball team?" And that was the background that I found out.

VY: That's an amazing story. So the teacher wasn't doing anything just because they were afraid?

MK: I guess. That's what he told me, he said, "We're afraid of the black [students]." And here I just dared to do things, not coming from that side. That was very interesting.

VY: Very interesting.

MK: I think I have my retirement paper in there alluding to that.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

MK: When I retired, the teachers put A, B, C, D, they put comments on that.

VY: That's interesting, though. Do you feel like you had a different kind of relationship, then, with your students?

MK: Yes. Because I remember in my Japanese class, one Filipino American student, she was very bright. And I gave her an A, she (was) doing A work, and she wrote me a thank you note. And she said in the past years, they had a native Japanese teacher, and she was getting Cs. And I figured that must have been, the teacher must have been a little prejudiced, racially, because this student was a Filipino student, not Caucasian or Japanese. And she went on to work for Microsoft, and I teased her about being one of the officers there. But anyway, that was one interesting aspect of that. I tried to be fair with all my kids, and establish a rapport. And I have a thing in there about that ostrich looking real stern. And I said, "If you start seeing me with this face, watch out." And I was teasing them as a warning, I put it on the bulletin board.

VY: Was it a picture of an ostrich?

MK: Yeah, with outstretched neck and, "Excuse me?" kind of a look. [Laughs]

VY: So you would put that on the blackboard?

MK: On the bulletin board behind me.

VY: On the bulletin board, and tell your students if you looked like that they should say something?

MK: Uh-huh. Well, I had some ins and outs. There was one experience as a teacher on how to handle things that go on. This was an Asian American male student who wanted to be sort of an assistant in my classroom, so I okayed it, not knowing that it was because he had a girlfriend in my class. Later on, that girlfriend came up to me and she said she was troubled by him, and at one point she wanted to commit suicide. And I thought, oh my, what do I do now? But I took it upon myself and I invited her to lunch on weekends and I spent even weekdays with her. And she got through that eventually, but I had to excuse that boy. But he was very unhappy; he thought I was just trying to get rid of him. But we were going into the new school year and I said, no, I won't be needing any more help. And we had a shout-out, that was very unpleasant. He made it unpleasant for me, but we got through that. So as a teacher, I learned a lot about the psychology of the students, too. And I managed to handle it.

And there was another student from overseas in high school. And one day, a teacher brought her to me and said, "Can you handle her?" And I thought, well, I was a freshman teacher and other teachers already had several years behind them. And I thought, well, gee, they're pushing everything on me. Well, anyway, she was mentally disturbed, and one day I was consulting with her in a private room that had glass window with curtains drawn. And when the bell rang, she heard footsteps and it frightened her. She said, "Oh, there's ghosts." And I said, "No," and I gave her a big hug. I told her, "No, this is a class change. Remember the bell? These are students walking." And I went up to the assistant vice principal, he was a Caucasian, and I told him about the situation. And I didn't like the response he gave me. In fact, he said, yeah, his mother came and said that they take her to the Buddhist priest or something for mumbo jumbo, and he thought that was kind of silly. So I thought, well, I'm never going to consult you for any students' problems. So I learned to take it upon myself, and we managed to get through it. In fact, this young student went on to community college, and I met her on the street once, and she gave me a big hug. And then this other student who was contemplating suicide at one time went on to New York to enter college to become a social worker. So it all worked well. It was such a learning experience being a teacher.

VY: It sounds like you really had a positive effect on many of your students.

MK: Oh, I hope so. They certainly helped me along.

VY: It also sounds like you didn't shy away from a challenge, and the other faculty recognized that and they gave you challenges.

MK: Yes, yes.

VY: It also sounds like your students really respected you and trusted you.

MK: Well, I was very happy. I even had one boy who was homeless, and I worked with him, and he was very pleasant. So I think he had a good time in class, too.

VY: Well, is there anything else you'd like add before we end for today?

MK: Well, the only one thing after that one year at Garfield, the administration decided to disperse the Asian teachers throughout the district. We must have been clumped in one area.

VY: Just the Asian teachers?

MK: Yeah. And so he said he went to the administration to request that I stay at Garfield, and they said no, I had to go also.

VY: What year was that, do you remember?

MK: Oh, it was... 1975 is when I graduated and got into the school system, so '75, '76. Mr. Roscoe Bass came to me and he said, "I fought for you but they wouldn't excuse it."

VY: Do you know why they did that? Did they tell you?

MK: Well, the only thing I heard though the grapevine was that Asian teachers were in one area, so they wanted us to just be spread all throughout the Seattle School District, east and west and south and north. That's all I remember about it.

VY: That's interesting.

MK: So that's about it for now.

VY: Okay, well, thank you so much for spending some time with us and talking about your life. I really appreciate it.

MK: Well, I hope I didn't mix up too many things.

VY: Doesn't sound like it. Thank you.

MK: You're welcome.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.