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Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Barbara Reiko Mikami Keimi Interview
Narrator: Barbara Reiko Mikami Keimi
Interviewer: Virginia Yamada
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 5, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-459-11

<Begin Segment 11>

VY: Now you said, talking about your... was it your uncle who owned the hotel?

BK: My granduncle.

VY: Your granduncle owned the New Olympic Hotel on San Pedro Street. And you said he got it back after the war. Can you talk about that?

BK: Well, I think that from what the conversation I heard adults talking, and because we used to always have dinner over there at my granduncle's house, because he's the one that had the house and the room.

VY: Sorry, was this also the Chili King? Was this the same granduncle?

BK: Yes.

VY: Okay.

BK: And then so my mom would do most of the cooking usually, and over at his house, because we were just in an apartment, and so in their conversation at dinner, you would talk about how he got the hotel back. I guess it was owned (by) a group of men, owned the hotel.

VY: This is before the war?

BK: Yeah, I guess. I'm not really positive.

VY: Okay.

BK: And I guess when we had to go into camp, (I guess) they had to do something to dispose of it or take care of the business of it. And so apparently, it sounds like one of the owners or partners had sold it to this American company, and so they were running it. And then when we got out of camp, then my granduncle said, "Well, I'm going to try to get it back." And then I guess the partners said, "No, you can't get it back, it's gone." But my uncle said, "No," he said, "I'm going to try." So I guess he hired two attorneys, and I don't know if Mr. Collins was involved, you know, the attorney that did a lot for the Japanese people. Because I know my granduncle used to talk about him a lot, all the things that he did for the Japanese community. And so I don't know if he was the attorney that was involved in it, and so they went to trial, the partner said, "No, you're not going to get it back." My granduncle said, "Well, give me your shares," or, "Sell me your shares," or something, and so he got it all for himself. And then he went to trial, and I guess at the trial, I guess it was one owner that signed off on it and sold the property without getting the signature of all the rest of the partners. And so when they went to court and the guy that sold it was to testify before the judge, and then the way my granduncle used to say, (...) they were going to question him. And I guess when they were questioning, testifying, he said, "Well, I sold it, I did it (myself)." And then I guess (the judge) just closed the case, saying, "Oh, okay, no." It wasn't sold, (told) my granduncle, "It's yours." So that's how we he got it back. So this is the conversation that I'm hearing in Japanese. Here I'm like ten, eleven years old, twelve years old. I mean, I hear the conversation because I heard it several times. But then I don't know really the true thing that happened. Yeah, 'cause it's more or less second or third hand, really, and it's like dinner conversation.

VY: But you remember the hotel?

BK: Yeah, because I used to help there. And then I know that he eventually sold it, and then he bought, on First and San Pedro, where the California Bank (now), that used to be Miyako Hotel, so then my granduncle bought that. (...) I don't know if they really ran a hotel. I think it was more office (in the building) at that time. Because I don't think my mom, she (was) working there anymore because by then she became a Japanese flower arrangement teacher, and so she was teaching Japanese flower arrangement.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.