Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yae Wada Interview
Narrator: Yae Wada
Interviewer: Patricia Wakida
Location: Berkeley, California
Date: April 12, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-476-15

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

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PW: So your father, when he got out of camp, came with his wife and joined you in Cleveland?

YW: Yes. And then when they said that some people with a special permit can go back home if they show that they had a place to go back to, and my father did still have his business, because this Chinese man said he was ready to retire, he was so busy. Because in wartime, there was so many jobs, everybody was so busy working, making good money, they didn't have time to do the laundry. So the laundry business, he said, was booming, and he said he was ready to retire, so anytime my dad was ready to come back, he wanted to retire.

PW: He went first, right?

YW: So my dad and his wife went back first, and my dad started up the laundry again, and then as the people start trickling back, they went to him because they knew that they could get a job there.

PW: Meaning Japanese American people?

YW: Well, and Isseis. Isseis had the hardest time to get a job. But yes, Isseis and Niseis, so he had a lot of young people as well as Isseis. And then there were some Kibeis, there was also some of these boys that were drafted, or the ones that went into the service like the 442 boys. So they came back with Japanese wives, and they were looking for jobs, and they found out my dad had this laundry for those Japanese workers. And these girls from Japan were happy they worked there because then they had somebody to talk to, and they were good workers. But I know that some of them came from nice families, and they had to do work at the laundry. I felt bad, but they were very nice and everybody got along.

PW: And what about the house? Because I remember you left things in the house and just walked away.

YW: Okay, the house, yes, well, actually, I had a couple places that I was living. Because my mother, when she was living, she was living... there was no, she was sick, and there was no nursing homes for Japanese. There was a Japanese doctor that lived in Oakland, and he had his office, and in the back he had living quarters. And he had a room that was set up like a hospital room, and he let my mother stay there. And then he had bedrooms that were next to the, this hospital room, and... because he was a family friend, too. And he had somebody that cooked for him and cleaned for him. My sister and I stayed at this one room that was next to my mother's room.

PW: Do you remember his name?

YW: Dr. Yamada. And so we lived there half the time and then half the time we were in a house in Berkeley. But I'm sorry, what was the question?

PW: So we're going back to the house in Berkeley and your father's return. Is that house still okay?

YW: No. I meant the rooms that I stayed in in Berkeley at this laundry. There was a house that was back of the laundry, and that house was set up for the women who needed housing. So the girls, mostly single girls, and there was a single Issei woman that stayed when her husband had passed away, so she had one. The other rooms were for young girls who left the house because they were out of high school, and there was this kind of a special unwritten rule that after you're eighteen or you get out of high school, then you find a job and leave. It's nothing that parents made you do, it's to help your parents. Because the parents, Isseis were having a hard time, too.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.