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Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yone Bartholomew Interview II
Narrator: Yone Bartholomew
Interviewer: Tracy Lai
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 8, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-byone-02-0001

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TL: May 8th, 1998, and this is part two of an interview with Mrs. Yone Bartholomew. Yone, I'd like to start by asking about your marriage to Clarence Arai. Could you start by telling how the families knew each other?

YB: This goes back way before I ever entered my foster parents' life as a member of the family. And Clarence's parents and my foster parents had come from Japan almost together at the same time. And, at one time they had leased the Santa Cruz Island, across from Santa Barbara, doing abalone... whatever you want to call that business. And they had been very successful using the meat, of course, to can and consume as food, and the shells for different things that they could make into. However, during a storm, it washed away all thirteen ships that they had -- boats, I should say -- and so Mother blamed it on the unlucky number thirteen. They had lost everything completely, and they couldn't afford to start again. So they came back to the mainland, to Santa Barbara, and Clarence's folks continued on back to Seattle, (and) my parents remained in California. And I don't recall exactly what he went into, but Father was always doing some sort of a business there. So, Clarence did for a time grow up in Santa Barbara, where he had a neighbor friend, a little boy that he used to play with. Early in the morning he'd jump from his bedroom window through theirs and go in for breakfast there.

And it so happened many years later, when I was grown up and out of high school, and taking active parts among the young people and in church work -- I was superintendent of the Sunday school in our church 'cause I was oldest Nisei there. However, in the meantime they were organizing a young people's organization, and I was thinking of the YMCA and the YWCA, and I thought, "A triangle. Why not start one for ourselves? American Born Citizens, ABC Club." And we had just started one when I knew that there was a JACL organization being organized here in the northern part of the country, here in Seattle. So then we learned later that Clarence was going to come down to California and help organize the same organization that they had organized, here. In San Francisco and Los Angeles. And so I thought, "Well, I'm gonna go over there and find out what it's all about, and maybe we can improve our group." And when I did go there, Mother was so happy. She says, "They're good family friends, and I knew him as a baby, and I want you to go meet him and listen well to what he has to tell you about the organization," which I did.

So we came back on the same bus together and he stayed with us for about three, four days, got to visit his former neighbor friend who was a very prominent attorney for all the wealthy people in Montecito. And he was rich, but Clarence was just starting from scratch. However, they had a very nice visit, and the mother was so pleased to see him, 'cause she hadn't seen him since he was a little boy. Staying with us for three, four days, I got well-acquainted with him, and he helped us organize the JACL, so we changed to JACL rather than continuing with what we had started. Four days seemed very short, but we got to know each other and we corresponded, and he came back again to check over or either to attend some of the conventions and meetings that they had in the California area. And I got to see him again at that time and attend some of the conventions. So the second or third time I think it was, of course there was a proposal. And I thought well, he was a very down-to-earth, open person. I mean, he never covered anything or hid anything; everything was out in the open. And if somebody had to carry a bucket or anything down the road, it didn't embarrass him. He would pick it up and carry it for you, where maybe some people wouldn't want to be seen with certain things to be carried, objects. So I kinda' liked the way he responded to my parents and everything.

Of all the people who were the happiest, was my mother. [Laughs] She'd been after me: I should get married, I should marry a doctor, and she introduced me to one, but I just wasn't interested. So when the time came that Clarence did propose, I very happily accepted. So he gave me his little fraternity pin. I still have the pin, and that was temporarily my engagement, you know, in place of a ring. And a year later, we were married in Santa Barbara at the Presbyterian Church. And from there I came up to Seattle directly, right after the wedding. We stayed a few days there at the El Encanto Hotel, which is one of the nice hotels that I had served tea right after attending the state normal college there, and it helped me, put me through school. So the manager there, the owner there says, "Yone, come up and spend two, three days in the honeymoon suite." So we got a beautiful room, and the meals that they served, and he gave us just everything.

But from there we (went) to Seattle, and all the way I was just... couldn't accept the fact that I had to leave California and the family. And when I did get here, what was worse: the rain. I just couldn't take it. Every time I looked out the window it was pouring. And I think I cried with the rain each time it rained. But he was busy, and I eventually got acquainted with the church members and kept myself busy. And then I went to the office to help him, 'cause he needed a secretary. And of course, I had to learn legal terminology and learn to type a little bit more, but... so I spent most of my time helping him in the office.

TL: Which church did you join?

YB: Clarence belonged to the Baptist church, from the time his parents and he was a youngster. So he said, "You don't have to join my church." He says, "There's a congregational church, Japanese one, that you can join." I said, "No. If I'm married to you and I'm here in Seattle," I said, "I'll join your church." So I was baptized in the Baptist Church. I was originally a Presbyterian, baptized by a Caucasian minister and his wife, who was an artist. And then when I moved to Santa Barbara and attended the Presbyterian church there, the Japanese church learned that I had moved into town, and I was one of the older Niseis. They needed some help and they asked me would I please come to their church and help them out, 'cause they had very few older Niseis that could help out. So Mother says, "Well, why don't you do that," so I (did). They appointed me immediately for, as the... what do they call it? Superintendent? That's how much I recall of what I did then. So I was kept busy with church work, going with the minister. They even thought I was a minister's wife, which I said, "Mama, I don't want them to think I'm the minister's wife." And she says, "Well, that's all right. Just do what you have to do." So I had charge of the Sunday school, and continued until I got married.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.