Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Alan Kumamoto Interview
Narrator: Alan Kumamoto
Interviewer: Brian Niiya
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 7, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-464-9

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

<Begin Segment 9>

BN: And did your mom work?

AK: So my mom actually ended up working at the parish church, at Our Lady of Loretto, so she became the receptionist. And then from there she went to Holy Family Adoptions as well as St. Anne's Hospital. So she followed the Catholic employment route, so to speak, that's where the contacts were, saying, "Oh, do you know anybody who can do the bookkeeping over here?" So that's what she was...

BN: And then you went to the school?

AK: I was at that school. So she was across the street at the parish church, and then she could take off after school. So that would be the hours that I was basically in school. And we were, like, three blocks away from the school.

BN: Did you remain in the house?

AK: Well, so when we moved out, it was, like, '53 that we moved out. So that was, like, seventh grade, so I had to go from Silver Lake to Bonnie Brae, over to Our Lady of Loretto, which is on Union and Belmont, it's near Belmont High School. And so (my parents' driving and my bike) would be my main mode of transportation.

BN: That's a long way to ride.

AK: Yeah, it's a little bit of a ride.

BN: But you were in the Bonnie Brae house for a good amount of time, six years?

AK: Oh, yeah, First through sixth grade or something like that. But when I graduated, I graduated out of Silver Lake. It would take quite a while to get there, but my folks would drive me, so that was the usual way. And then afterwards you'd try and figure out how to get home.

BN: And I assume the school is largely white?

AK: Yeah, and parts of the neighborhood around there is mixed, there's a black area and then there's a Latino area, and then it's mainly white. Belmont was, had a Wah Ching gang, the Black Wands over there, and those were a lot of the immigrant Japanese who were, I befriended some of them later. Because they knew I went to Our Lady of Loretto. So Belmont High School was a place where we'd jump the fence to play football on Saturdays, so it was close.

BN: Were you involved in, like, NAU or...

AK: No, I didn't do that type of thing. I did judo at Hollywood Dojo for a while when I got a little older. But I had health issues with asthma and some of those other things. I wasn't so much of a sports person, I'd participate.

BN: Boy Scouts?

AK: Yeah, a little bit of Boy Scouts and so forth, but again, in the local community, not in the Japanese community. So I was always bridging the Japanese and the non-Japanese.

BN: Do you think that was like a conscious thing your parents were trying to do for you?

AK: No, I think they just left it up to me. There were things at Maryknoll, but they were sort of more cliquish. It seemed like if you weren't Japanese a hundred percent of the time and everything, and everything seemed petty over there. Because you would see another side when you're in the non-Japanese side. When I went to Loyola University, I was in a fraternity and all that type of thing. But when I went to SC for grad school because I was three generations SC, the clique, the Japanese clique, seemed so petty. They're trying to figure out what's the latest color polo shirt you're gonna get. What kind of car are you going to get? And it's like competition, that's not that interesting to me, so there's that contrast and comparison. On the other hand, I (helped) start the Asian (American) Study Center at UCLA, I was part of that team, or at USC I started the Asian (American) support group, which became the Alumni Association. So I did that at Loyola High School and some of these other places. So I do see the need for ethnic grouping of one type or another, where there's some different kind of support. But on the other hand, it's not mainstream.

BN: Did your parents send you to Japanese language school?

AK: No. The language schools, I never had an interest in that. And then our side of the family, I don't think, we weren't interested in that.

BN: I think your Suski grandfather was famous for not sending his kids to language was very, very unusual.

AK: Right.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.