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-1000-476-16

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

<Begin Segment 16>

PW: So it sounds like your father had housing not only for your family, but he had rooms behind the laundry so he was able to give people jobs and a place to stay after the war, that's remarkable.

YW: Yes. That house is still there, but at that time, when we came back, we stayed at this house that was in the back of the laundry. Somebody else had lived in there. People, during wartime, I think the hardest thing for (anybody was) to find housing. So I don't know exactly who was there, I don't know the people that were there. But I know that the one thing I do remember is I tried to get back into my shop.

PW: What happened?

YW: When I knocked on the door, I could look in there and I said, "This used to be my beauty shop. Where's all my equipment?" Because I had rolls of dryers, I had tables and all my shampoo bowls and all the equipment, and a whole walk-in closet for the supplies. I said, "Where's all my beauty shop equipment?" And they said, "I don't know what you're talking about. When we moved in, there was nothing there." And I said, "Where's the owner?" "Oh, the owner sold this place a long time ago, and we heard he died, they don't know where the owner is." But anyway, they said they lived there, and pushed me out and shut the door.

PW: Do you remember the trip back from Cleveland to Berkeley?

YW: Yes, with two little ones, yes. Again, I have to thank the porters, because they were very helpful. But, of course, that was part of their job, right? That's how they got paid, in tips, but they helped you set up the beds, there was an overhead bed and a little bed. Because the kids were still young and small, they thought it was fun. On trains you could kind of run up and down the walkways. So the trip back from Cleveland to Berkeley was okay. In Cleveland, I don't know if you've ever been there, but there used to be a lot of smoke there. So you never saw anything white, even the houses, there was no white houses, there was nothing white. Because of the smoke, everything got gray. So when we were coming back from Cleveland, we left Cleveland and we went into another town and we said, "Look, there's a white house." There was even, I remember we even saw a white dog. And then when we got to Berkeley, and we saw all these white places, it was hard to believe that there was things that were still white and clean looking.

PW: And your husband stayed in Cleveland, or did he come with you to Berkeley?

YW: No, and then another thing, he came back on his own because he wanted to get everything ready for us. So he came back very early, too, by himself. So I did come back with just the two children, but that was fine.

PW: So the business was not there, but did you start work again?

YW: Yes. The business was there, because this Chinese man was running the laundry, so it was still busy.

PW: Right, your father's business. I meant your business. Did you begin again?

YW: No, I never did begin again. Because it would have been too expensive to set up a shop all over again. I didn't have that kind of money.

PW: But your father's business, you said it did begin again, which is incredible. Do you know the name of the Chinese man that helped?

YW: You know, I knew it, but I don't know. Do you remember, Lynnie, the name of that Chinese man? I heard he had children, I can't remember their name.

PW: So your family is growing at this point, where did you settle down? Did you live with his father and his new wife, or did you move somewhere else?

YW: No. And then on top of all that, I was going through a divorce. But because I was with my father, I was able to save a little money. Later I remarried, and he helped us. And because he was in the service, he got this... what did they give you? Anyway, with all his back pain and everything, he got this, it was some kind of a grant for servicemen, they helped him buy a house, and what they did was, they didn't give him money but you didn't have to have the down payment but you had to make monthly payments, and that's how he got the house.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.