Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Ronald Ikejiri Interview
Narrator: Ronald Ikejiri
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 6, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-461-11

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

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TI: So this is what you were walking into, but before we go into the redress, you mentioned earlier, in terms of housing and who you lived with, when you first went to D.C., talk about that.

RI: Well, it's interesting, when I got to D.C., you pay courtesy visits, and I visited Senator Inouye and Senator Matsunaga, and I visited Norm Mineta, Congressman Mineta from San Jose. And Norm is just a very friendly, warm person, and so first thing Norm says, his welcome to D.C., is, "Where are you staying?" I said, "Well, I'm thinking about buying a house and probably ready sometime in September," and he said, "Okay. Why don't you live with our family, and my wife and children will go back to San Jose during the summer, and so in the summer you and I will be roommates?" And for three months I had the wonderful opportunity of being introduced to Washington, D.C, by Congressman Mineta. I learned so much more, not necessarily listening to Norm, but watching him. Probably what most people don't know, by the time Norm Mineta comes home, it's probably ten, ten-thirty, eleven o'clock at night. Norm will sit in his chair, and he will sign letters, constituent letters or letters to people. He would cross out their name at the top, insert their name by hand, and then personally sign the letter. And this would go on until he falls asleep, like this, in the chair. People don't know that Norm works probably twenty-four hours a day. And I'm thinking to myself -- and then every weekend or every other weekend, flies back to San Jose from D.C. and back, he would take the red-eye, and it's tough. And the dedication and all the things that Norm has been able to accomplish in Washington, D.C., is based on his work ethic and representation. And so I learned so much in the sense that if I can even just do ten percent of what he does, I think I'll be okay.

TI: And so why do you think Norm made that offer to you, to have you live with him?

RI: Probably because he was lonely. [Laughs] No, no. I think Norm has, over the years, has often had invited people to stay at his home, that if you're there for two or three months, or if you're there for a conference or a special assignment, and he really, in a very warm, cordial way, helps you get introduced to Washington, D.C. And then along the way, what was really nice about the JACL in Washington, D.C., it's a very close-knit community, because you live in Maryland and Virginia and some in D.C., and we would have get-togethers, and there would be impromptu potluck get-togethers on a Saturday or Sunday, and Norm would come by, or different people would just come by, and maybe you have thirty, forty people, kids outside, parents, and they're talking and having a good time. And I don't think that can be replicated in the sense that today, everyone kind of has their own things that they can do, but getting together, I have people that went, were in law school at the time that would come by, and now were litigators and lawyers in different cities in the United States, that they always talk like, "God, that was a great time." I think we all look at simpler times as being great times, and that was a pretty simple time.

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