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Densho Visual History Collection
Title: June Yasuno Aochi (Yamashiro) Berk Interview
Narrator: June Yasuno Aochi (Yamashiro) Berk
Interviewer: Brian Niiya
Location: Studio City, California
Date: December 18, 2018
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-453-15

<Begin Segment 15>

BN: And then when did you get married?

JB: I got married during the year I was Nisei Week queen, 1954. Like I said, he came back from the Korean War.

BN: You obviously already knew him.

JB: Oh, yeah. When I was in Denver, my girlfriend and I took a summer trip to Chicago, and I met a lot of people in Chicago during that 1947, I was fourteen and my girlfriend was sixteen, two country hicks going out to the big city of Chicago. Chicago at that time was really jumping. Everybody was on the stoops on 43rd and Berkeley, on the front porch. One guy, Nob Iyasaki had a car that he won in a raffle, that was the only car that anybody had. So everybody would jump in the car and go to the beach, we'd go to Aragon Ballroom and danced to, I think it was Vaughn Monroe, Chicago is where I saw Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. So it was the summer of '47, and I went to see the College All-Stars play, Doc Blanchard, and Glenn Davis, Charley Trippi playing against Buddy Young. So that was fun. But going back to, I got married and I had five children. During that time, we lived in Granada Hills, and I was pretty much cut away from the Japanese community. During the years that my children were growing up, that's the years of Yellow Brotherhood and the redress. So I wasn't involved in the community at all during that time.

BN: Did you work outside of the home?

JB: Yeah, I worked at Bel Air Presbyterian Church again.

BN: Bel Air.

JB: Uh-huh, Presbyterian church where Don Muma was pastor, and Reagan used to come to the church. The story there is Min Yasui came out from Denver with his wife and little girl, and we had Sunday brunch at the Holiday Inn off the 405. And Min gave me a letter to give to President Reagan, because he knew that he worshipped for the church that we're... so he gave me a letter. And I said to Min, "I can't really give this to him because we're not supposed to approach them when they're worshiping." So I gave the letter to Don Muma, our pastor, and I told Don that my friend wanted this letter to go to the President because it's to encourage him to sign the civil rights, redress act. And I saw Reagan. Reagan gave me a cowboy hat that he signed for the Taste of Bel Air Food Festival, and I said to President Reagan, "If your secret service men weren't standing next to you, I would give you a hug." So he just grabbed me and just gave me a big hug. So I now was President Reagan's big fan. [Laughs] Anyway, he gave us a hat for our silent auction. But I don't know whatever happened to that letter, but President Reagan signed the civil rights act, so I thought, "Oh, that's good." Signed it anyway, so I was happy that President Reagan signed that bill. It was really good.

BN: But you never did give him the letter.

JB: I didn't. I gave it to my pastor, I gave it to Don Muma. I don't know what Don did with it.

BN: Maybe it had an impact.

JB: I don't know whatever happened to the letter. I never asked him whatever happened. But I think he was going to sign the bill anyway. I think he was very kind, I liked him, he was a kind man. When he used to come to our church, I was working at the church at the time, so whenever he would come, we'd have to have the whole secret service go through everything, set up separate phone lines, we had the SWAT team out to guard from the rooftops and all that, and we had secret service stationed at every exit and door. And my curiosity got the best of me and when everybody was praying, I looked up to see if the secret service had their eyes closed or not. Were they watching to see the President or were they having their eyes closed? No, they were watching everybody. [Laughs] But Reagan and Nancy were members of the Bel Air church when I worked there, and they used to come every Sunday. It was fun.

BN: You really did know everybody.

JB: It's sort of like in the back doors.

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