Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Lynne Horiuchi Interview
Narrator: Lynne Horiuchi
Interviewer: Brian Niiya
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: April 5, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-501

<Begin Segment 1>

BN: Okay. So we are here in... where are we? Emeryville, California, on April 5, 2022, and we're interviewing Lynne Horiuchi. The interviewer is Brian Niiya and Dana Hoshide is the videographer. And let's get started. So, Lynne, as we discussed, we often start by asking about the narrator's parents. And I wanted to start, actually, with your mother, who was a pretty well-known figure in Denver, I may have even met her, I think, Chiyo and the Nakata family. And I was wondering if you could tell me a bit about her and what you know about her grandparents and their story of coming to the U.S.

LH: Okay. So, yeah, Chiyo was the middle child of seven children. My grandparents were both from Shikoku near Tokushima, and the Nakata family lived in a village just close to Hanoura, Japan. And so my grandmother, Han Goto Nakata, was born in Hanoura. And I know the Hanoura relatives a little bit and I visited. And I know a little bit less about the Nakata family, but my grandfather apparently immigrated first about, I'm guessing, fairly early, like 1895 or something like that, but one of the earlier immigrants. And he worked for a family on an island, I don't know which one, but it was a very wealthy family. Of course, in the tradition of Seattle, you built your house on an island, and he apparently learned to cook and do all kinds of things there. And then he went back with the money he earned to marry my grandmother, who, like a lot of Issei women, was very educated. She had graduated from high school and was teaching. And their first child, I think, was, Matsuye was born here in the United States, but their first child (was given) to a very wealthy auntie in Tokyo. It was my grandfather's auntie, my great aunt. The great aunt was his aunt. And that was just one of those things that happened to the Nisei children. So she was brought up in Japan and that nuclear family in Seattle didn't really have much interaction with her for that time. And then the family most of the family was born and raised in Seattle, but I think Tatsuo, the eldest son, he went to Japan very early on. So I know that when he was five years old, my mother's cousin, Kane Goto, told us that he went to school and he came back crying the first day of school because he thought he was a Goto, and he was a Nakata. And so at least at age five, he was in Japan. So that left five of the other children, which would be Mike Nakata whom you might know of, he was pretty famous in the redress push in Seattle. I can't remember them... it was Shosuke, Mike, and one other person that really initiated that whole push for the redress in Seattle.

BN: That's right, yeah. I didn't realize there was that connection. Okay, great. So that's your uncle?

LH: Yeah, that was my Nakata (uncle), yeah. And then my mother Chiyo, oh, Katsuko was the eldest, she was older than Mike, actually, but Katsuko was the eldest and she basically, like, ran the rest of the family for my grandmother, I think. So Mike was the second born son, but he had a lot of privilege, of course, in Seattle as the only male child in Seattle. And there were four sisters, and they're, I think, pretty infamous or famous in Seattle, too. It was Katsuko, Chiyo, my mother Chiyo. Her next sister was Teru Nakata who became a Kiyohara, married a Kiyohara, and then Hisa Nakata Watanabe. She married Mas Watanabe. And then my mother married Robert Horiuchi, Robert Masanori Horiuchi, my father, in 1942, April 1942.

BN: So just to go back, the two eldest, you said the oldest sister pretty much was raised in Japan, did she ever come back or did she stay there throughout?

LH: No, she stayed there and she married there.

BN: So she was there during the war and everything.

LH: She was during the war, yeah. She apparently, she had a pretty difficult time, pretty difficult life. She married well and she had children. So we know... so we're actually in touch with our cousins.

BN: Okay. Do you know if there was communication even during the war?

LH: During the war there was some, because my auntie Katsuko was engaged to a wealthy Japanese man and she took the last boat out of Seattle to go to Japan to get married and then their marriage did not get formalized and she was left abandoned, really, in Japan. She had a very hard time, yeah. But she seemed to, I did interview, I have an interview of her. It was hard doing the family history because there were these four sisters and they could not agree on a lot of things. [Laughs] And so I would like, so I did the family history, here's the timeline, you know, and, "That's not right, where did you hear that?" "Who told you that?" So I sort of had to give up because I couldn't get any...

BN: Agreement on basic things, that's funny.

LH: Could not be agreed upon like what really happened.

BN: And it sounds like the son who was there in Japan, he did come back eventually.

LH: Tats came back when he was about sixteen or seventeen.

BN: So he'd be Kibei.

LH: Kibei. Uh-huh, he was Kibei. And he went to the camps, he ended up in Chicago, married my auntie Yuri, and then they were in Chicago for a very long time. He was a photographer so he was actually involved in with the early photography movement in Seattle also, and so he knew all of those people and was, like, a very accomplished photographer.

BN: Did he do that as an occupation?

LH: Both as an occupation and also in terms of art photography.

BN: Art photography.

LH: His art photography is beautiful. I just moved some of his pieces into my house, yeah.

BN: was he involved... because there was a pretty active art photography circle in Seattle even before the war, mainly Issei.

LH: I'm sure he was involved with it, but I don't have all the details. And it might be with Auntie Yuri's relatives, because they were closer. They eventually went back to live in Seattle or near Seattle, Cannon Beach. And then when Tats passed away, my auntie Yuri lived in Seattle, but they were very close to the entire family in Seattle.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

BN: And then what did your grandfather do as an occupation? Now he's got the seven kids, five or six in Seattle.

LH: So the family was fairly wealthy. I'm not... I don't really understand how we got all this money. It might have been the great aunt in Tokyo because they had a very, they had a very going business in the Eagle Stationery store in the middle of Tokyo. And they had one of the few concrete buildings in Japan, and I think my grandfather took photographs of the 1923 Kanto Earthquake and the result, and theirs was the only building standing for miles practically. There was just complete devastation, I think it was a 9.0 Richter scale earthquake, so just devastated Tokyo. I mean, there were the fires, but also the earthquake was just amazingly powerful. And so that building is actually a really interesting architectural building because reinforced concrete, 1923, and anyway, it was like Secession style. So by that time, by 1920, they already had, like, a significant amount of money, and then, of course, I think they were able to make more money after that. But my grandfather came as a regular immigrant, right? So he was like a houseboy and then a houseboy later. He worked as a janitor or something like that, he didn't really have a lot of means, so we don't really know how he managed to get the money to put together (to build) a pretty amazing entrepreneurial empire.

So he, by the 1930s, he had a place in Oregon, it was called Wawa, Oregon, I can find an exact name, it's on those photographs in the PDF. But, so, he had about, I think, five hundred acres, or that's the rumor, five hundred acres. But you could see in the photos he exported, like, an enormous amount of lumber from Oregon to Japan. And he had a very entrepreneurial mind. He was really adventurous, so he did things like a frozen pea factory in the 1930s in the middle of the Depression and that apparently sponsored a lot of... a lot of Nisei were able to work in that frozen pea factory and worked their way through the university. And he did it partly for that, according to my auntie Katsuko. It could be, I don't know. I got pieces of this from here and there. He did a lot of other export/import, because I found him in this photo standing next to the Singer sewing machines that he was exporting to Japan. So he's this very modern figure both in the transnational world of Japan and Seattle. But it's interesting because in the community, I can't find much information about him. But people apparently, I mean, think he was just like a tough old guy, and I think he might have gotten the money from my auntie, great auntie in Tokyo to start all this, but he also had the skills to carry it out, too. I don't know if you saw that picture, he's standing, he's this very stolid man like you wouldn't want to mess with, basically. So he somehow wasn't like a very well-known figure in the community, because I haven't found very many mentions of it, but everybody remembers my grandmother. She lived a long life, 'til she was ninety, but everybody apparently who ever met her remembered my grandmother and her kindness and her thoughtfulness. That actually is really important to me because she's Shingon Buddhist and Koyasan is her main temple in Japan. So I went to visit the Koyasan temple because that was really, her spirit was really pretty amazing that way.

BN: So she lived long enough so that you knew her?

LH: Not much, because she only spoke Japanese and she lives in Seattle, and I never had very much money so I couldn't go travel very much to see her. And I asked her once about, like, "So, Baachan, can you tell us something about this?" She said, "That was a very long time ago." [Laughs]

BN: Classic response. And then your grandfather sort of died youngish, right, she died before the war?

LH: Yeah, he was in a car accident, and apparently one of the young university students was driving him and fell asleep, and so he was really severely injured in that auto accident and he never recovered and then he died in 1941, December 1941, I'd have to look it up, but something like that.

BN: Oh, he died in December of '41? Wow.

LH: Something like that, yeah. But before the war, it might have been before the war, I would have to check the date. But all my aunties would say that they're very glad that he didn't make it to the war. In fact, the films, I don't think he was a Japanese veteran, there was no way he could have fought, like in the Russo-Japanese War, he was here in the United States. But he sponsored the Japanese Veterans Association, I think, and you can see that in the films that JANM has. I think I told you that my mother did sort of a unilateral decision and donated them to JANM which was probably good, because they're actually preserved there at JANM. The Nakamuras took care of the films very well, and they had some of that transferred into digital form. So you can see all of that, sort of, those kinds of community things that did happen, and he was part of them, but I don't know, the picnics on the beach and the veterans association, the picnics, the classic Issei/Nisei picnics, yeah.

BN: Yeah, you wonder, given his position in the community and the connection with the veterans, he might have been one of the ones picked up right after one of Issei interned.

LH: He would have been one picked up right away, he would have gone to one of the alien enemy camps. And you know, it's the whole thing that we really don't, we haven't interrogated it. So what was that sort of veneration of Japan? It exists all over the community, and we had displays of the emperor and bowing to the emperor and all of that. And like most of the community groups, the veterans association, that was like fealty to Japan, that we weren't able to really research or investigate for years. I mean, our parents would not permit it.

BN: But in recent years there's been a lot more, kind of, post-redress, we've been a little freer to talk about that and explore that a little. But the upshot, I guess, is that your mom's family is pretty well-off, and your mom's growing up in that environment.

LH: I think very elite. I mean, I never knew that as a kid growing up. My parents would say, like, oh, well, no, we didn't have anything. But then we found out they both had, on my father's side, he owned a grocery store. And my grandfather Horiuchi was also pretty amazing. I mean, these Issei were strong, they were really tough.

BN: I feel like there's a school that all the Nisei parents went to where they had to tell us all the same thing about how they didn't have much, regardless of what the truth was.

LH: The Nisei really did that. I mean, they had our number, Brian. And they had us, like, okay, jump this far up here. Well, they never told us that, though, that was the weird thing is that every Sansei that I know, we never got instructions on what to do. There were just these expectations, right? But my parents were both, yeah, they were like school of hard knocks, you have to do this, you have to earn your own money or whatever because I had a tough life here. [Laughs]

BN: Then you find out later, well...

LH: Yeah. So I found out later they were pretty wealthy. My father's father was a grocer, and he had to rebuild his business like three different times because first he lost all his money in the Yokohama Specie Bank crash, which was 1923, '24, something like that. I should know, but something like that. Then he rebuilt it, right, and he lost it all in the Depression. Then he rebuilt it again and then lost it all with evacuation. And by the time he got to Denver, he was pretty well spent, so he had a little corner store in Five Points.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

BN: We'll get to the Nakata --

LH: Horiuchi side?

BN: Horiuchi side in a bit, I just want to finish up with your mom's side. And I wanted to ask you about her, this essay contest and the trip to Japan that she makes in 1939.

LH: Yeah, I feel a little guilty about that. I think we all did, probably, because she would always be sort of bragging about that. But she had bragging rights, it turns out, right? Because I found out that she submitted an essay for this, I think this is the Japan Tourist Bureau, actually, because they were associated with the Golden Gate International Exposition, 1939 to '40, which I know well because I actually wrote this article about the Japan Pavilion there. And she was part of that. And as I write about it, the Niseis really participated, the community participated. There were a lot of people... there were people designing, actually, for the Golden Gate International Exposition, that's (what) Gail Dubrow (researched). So there's this really sort of deep connection to Japan, and there was this, of course, Japanese imperial narrative running through all of those displays and programs that were being held. It was their chance to sort of showcase the empire, the 1939 fair, both in New York and in San Francisco. So my mother apparently submitted this essay, she won, they were, like, four people were awarded the trip to Japan. One was a man, and I can't remember all the names, and I can't remember all the names, it's in her diary and records, but he was a Stanford student and she just, they were really good pals, and there were two other women, I think, on the trip.

BN: At this point she's a Berkeley student, at that point?

LH: No, no, she's University of Washington.

BN: I'm sorry, Washington. Okay, I'm getting mixed up, yeah.

LH: University of Washington, they were both University of Washington grads.

BN: Right, okay. But she's in college at that point?

LH: Yeah. She's part of the Fuyokai and just really, there was this very tight Japanese American community which still exists in a lot of ways, right? The legacy of that Fuyokai there. Yeah, so she was very tightly integrated into that sort of community. She also wrote a letter with Gordon Hirabayashi protesting the evacuation. So this trip was in 1939/40, and so because it was sponsored by the Japanese government, again, she got to stay in the Imperial Hotel. There's this photograph of them in front of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, that's where they started. And she's actually chronicled, I found her diary which chronicles the whole trip. She travels all over Japan, but then they ask to go to see Manchuria, which is a pretty adventurous thing to do at the time. And they actually make it all the way into Mukden and then back. And she chronicles this, which is pretty extraordinary. Just this relationship of what she sees in terms of the Japanese military and government and what she'd seen there.

BN: Have you read through the whole diary?

LH: I have, yeah.

BN: What's her general, is there skepticism and embrace of more objective... what was your sense of her, what she was taking from all of this that she'd seen?

LH: You know, not that much. I think she was just very carefully chronicling her day, which was very much a Japanese tradition to maintain a diary. It was that classic Japanese diary.

BN: More, "We did this," "We did that," type of thing?

LH: Yeah.

BN: As opposed to reflection.

LH: Well, there was interesting internal reflection that she did about her family and about her connections, but not too much politically.

BN: Did she get a chance to see her older sister?

LH: I'm sure she did. Because they actually, there's a lot of back and forth between Japan and with the children, and I'm not sure how much my grandmother went back and forth, but the children definitely went back and forth. I know my grandmother's at least on one of those trips, and they knew (Matsuye) in Japan, they knew their Shikoku cousins, and they were very close to them. And I didn't realize that until really... I didn't realize how close the connection was until I started going through all the photographs in the papers and then I could see that they formed, they bond these friendships that lasted their entire lives. So we went back, I think, in 2006 and we were able to see the younger cousin Mariko Goto, but she was married. Maybe she was Yoshi, but she's Goto, in Hanoura. Before that, when I was younger, 1983, my mother took me to Japan and I met Kane Goto, that was her cousin. I guess Mariko was her cousin's daughter, yeah, that's right, second niece. So Kane-san was, like, amazing. She was the matriarch of the Goto clan, and she was still working in the fields until very late in life, yeah.

BN: How long was she -- your mom -- how long was this trip?

LH: How long was she in Japan?

BN: Yeah, the '39/'40 trip.

LH: I'm not sure, I'll have to check the dates. I think it's about six to eight weeks, something like that.

BN: So substantial.

LH: No, no, it's a very substantial trip.

BN: Must have been covered in the papers, too, right?

LH: I have found very little mention of it, yeah. So I looked for it, and Greg has never sent it to me and he's the one that, he's been the newspaper now, right, he's been through all of the papers.

BN: Although I wonder if it might be more covered in the Japanese sections.

LH: That's my problem, I do not read and write Japanese.

BN: Yeah, nor I, nor Greg.

LH: That was, I can tell you about that, but anyway...

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

BN: So just to kind of close this chapter, you mentioned your grandfather dies in this accident, then soon after comes the war, so what happens to all his business ventures at that point?

LH: That is a very sad story, like many of those stories. So there was a woman that the family apparently trusted, they entrusted her all of the funds and all of the titles and deeds and whatever and she ran off with everything.

BN: This is someone not Japanese American?

LH: I never got the whole story. This was kind of what I got, and then, of course, it was such an emotional subject. I really didn't get much. And it might be, some of that might be in my interview with my eldest aunt, Katsuko, and I have it digitized, I've digitized all these tapes, interviews. Yeah, so when they came back, they had no documentation. And then for some reason, they still had the house, which was a really nice house near Yesler Way in Seattle. They tried to buy into a nicer area and, of course, they couldn�t because of racial covenants. So they ended up in this pretty nice house near Yesler Way. My mother said she used to just walk down Yesler Way into Japantown. They were able to stay there for a while, and for some reason, Tachan, Tatsuo, who was the eldest son, who of course had control of everything as the eldest son, he was in charge. And I guess he worked with Uncle Mike, too, on deciding what to do. They sold the house, which was really hard on my grandmother, she was really sad about that, I know. They sold the house, and then they lost the property in Oregon because they couldn't pay the taxes. And that was a bone of contention in the family for a very long time, because it was the male family members that had complete control over what was going on.

BN: Right.

LH: And the sisters were pretty fierce.

BN: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that, I mean, your mother just, looking at her bare biography, just comes off as a very formidable, highly educated person. Was that, were all the sisters sort of like that in terms of education? Many Issei families, they chose not to send the girls to college, right?

LH: Oh, yeah, no, that was one of my grandfather's desires, that all of his children be educated. So he sent his girl children, his girls, they all went to the University of Washington. And my mother was, clearly she was quite intelligent, she managed to do very well. She was like, "You did what?" "I wanted to have a career in the State Department and World War II came along." "Why did you do that, prewar?" [Laughs] She wanted to work in the State Department. That would be something that would not be the best projected career, right? But she wanted to do that. And this trip was something that sort of bolstered all of that, but she apparently, she won an honorary prize from this very vaunted group of Seattle women that I came across, it's in part of that PDF. I just came across that and I was like, oh my god. This was when she was twenty-one, she was a very...

BN: She had this ambition that was, the sense that, I think so many women of that time, Nisei women, there was a constraint on what you could do, those expectations, a certain point you get in your career and so forth, and you don't necessarily see that in her.

LH: You're right. So maybe my grandfather's recognition, and his trust, actually, in Katsuko to run the company, because he trusted Katsuko more than Tachan to run the company. Maybe that really made a difference in her life, I don't know. But if you look at the Fuyokai women, they were all very strong and they became professionals and experts in their fields. And my auntie Teru was part of that, yeah. I'm spacing a little bit, but she also had, of that group, Tomoko, the poet, the novelist, anyway, she was always in touch with that group for many, many years. And they were really, they figured how to strategize, negotiate, and they would do this by sort of, they exchanged between each other, like, "Oh, how did you do that?" I would hear that, yeah. So she, I think she learned things from the Japanese American community about how to navigate the dominant culture, but she also knew, she had these capabilities of making those connections, like, early on. But she, so when she went to Denver, she ended up in Denver, Boulder and then Denver, it's like Puyallup, Minidoka, Boulder, Colorado, and then Denver, Colorado. She wanted to stay in Denver. I think she always wanted -- I hate to say this -- but my mother always wanted to be a white person. She wanted to be accepted into white society, that was one of her big goals, I think, really. She wanted to prove that she was as good as they were, that was one of her goals, I think.

BN: So do you think staying in Denver was, in some ways, not wanting to not to be part of the big Japanese communities?

LH: I think she didn't... I'm not really sure. Because she was so tightly knit into that group and I used to think it was, that she didn't like that clubbiness. Because even in Denver, she wasn't connected to the Simpson Methodist group or the Buddhist groups at all, and they were very active early on even. Because there was a large Japanese American community postwar, and it was like ten thousand and then it dwindled down. But even during that period, she didn't want to go there. That's why we didn't go to take Japanese lessons when we were, like, five or six. And she sent us off when we were eleven or twelve and my brother and I were both like, no way we're sitting with those kindergarteners to learn Japanese. Unfortunately, my stubbornness got a hold of me, and I didn't learn Japanese.

BN: Me too, unfortunately.

LH: So she wanted to be... well, here's the story I'm telling now. Because I just sort of had to, like, really deal with all the legacy of that, and she had these... I remember when I was little, we used to spend this huge amount of time in this designer furniture store. It had the most up-to-date, most modernist furniture you could possibly, and everything, beautiful things that you could possibly imagine. And she bought this bedroom set for her bedroom. She really, like women at the time, they really styled their houses, it was very important, you know, that your bedroom looked like a certain type of bedroom, and dining room looked like a certain... hers was all modernist, but of this really good quality modernist furniture. So the chests that I just sold, or that I gave away, actually gave them away, they were worth six thousand dollars. They were midcentury modernist masterpieces that she bought. They were like... oh, what was it like? Winchester Planning Group, and it was a James McCooper, but they were designer quality. So that's what she was buying in the 1950s. And actually Gail Dubrow, you know Gail, who's a (well-known) architectural historian, and Greig Crysler), who's also a (well-known) professor at Berkeley, they have that set. Greig has the smaller one and Gail had a two-drawer set. And I tell them they can both look at them and think of my mother declaring herself as the modern woman of Denver. And that's what she aspired to, I think, for a very long time, and she loved it. She liked Denver, she liked that freedom, I think, and that independence, which you can't always have in the Japanese American community if you're born in that community and you grew up there and everybody knows you and they know exactly what you're doing. If you do anything, they'll know, right? So I think she liked that freedom of being in Colorado and being separate from that community but still connected.

BN: Okay.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

BN: And we'll get back to this, but I want to circle back now and talk about the Horiuchi side.

LH: Talk about... pardon me?

BN: The Horiuchi side.

LH: Oh the Horiuchi side, okay.

BN: Then we'll bring them together and then we'll get back to Denver.

LH: Okay.

BN: But yeah, tell me about your dad's family now.

LH: So my dad's family was actually from... oh yeah, that's right, my dad's family. So my Grandpa Nakata and Grandma Nakata were both from Shikoku, but my grandfather Horiuchi was from Chibu. So this is a whole different, sort of, cultural set, right? And they apparently had, Horiuchi apparently is a house on the moat by my mother's standards. [Laughs] Yeah, house on the moat, house on the ditch. She had these pretentions like samurai legacy and heritage, right? But apparently there is a real heritage there, that was a samurai heritage. And we visited the Onos in Japan, because my grandmother was, let's see, my grandmother's a Horiuchi and my grandfather was a yooshi, husband, right? So he took the Horiuchi name.

BN: He took on her name, right.

LH: And so they owned land there, which made them fairly wealthy already. So he immigrated from Chibu, and I don't really know much about my grandmother. My grandma Horiuchi, I don't know much about her past. I could ask, though, because now we have a second cousin in Japan who's really interested in the history. So he came later, like in 1900 or so. And same kind of thing, worked in agriculture, I think. I'm not really sure how he got established as a grocer, but that was fairly early on.

BN: And then this is in Seattle, right?

LH: In Seattle, yeah.

BN: Do you remember the name of the store?

LH: I can find it. So his most famous store was in the university area. What is that area right across the bridge from the university? It's like a residential area, very well-to-do. It's to the north of the bridge, you don't know? Okay.

BN: I'm from L.A.

LH: No, it was in that area. I can find it.

BN: Okay, that's fine. And then where was your father in the...

LH: Firstborn son. He was the firstborn son.

BN: Right. But there was an older, there was an older sister, then?

LH: Older sister, right, yeah.

BN: First son.

LH: He was the firstborn son, older sister was Chiye.

BN: Another Chiye? Or Chiye, Chiyo?

LH: Chiyo, my mother's Chiyo, she was Chiye.

BN: The sister was Chiye, right?

LH: And she had the classic responsibility of the girl-child for the family, so my father, and then there was a third child, Harold is the youngest boy and my uncle. And he got completely overlooked because my father got everything he ever wanted, he can go and play and he was in the tennis club, he was at University of Washington. He did very well, I think, at University of Washington. I know that he was like, he was a very smart man. And he was in... you'll see when you come to the house, I have these rolls of 1938 JACL, you know, meetings like the Japanese American Christian youth conferences and all of that. So they were like, my mother and father were like all the Nisei, they just sort of chose a church or religious affiliation. And then they had all of these, like, organizations that they worked with, and they had friends there, they would swap churches and things like that. But I think he was Baptist, my mother was not Baptist.

BN: But also Christian?

LH: But Christian, she was Christian. I don't know how involved, I don�t' think she was involved with my grandmother's Buddhist church very much at all.

BN: And then so your dad was involved with JACL even from before the war then?

LH: He was a big JACL...

BN: I know after, but before as well?

LH: Yeah, even before. Because he was an older Nisei, he was born in 1916. So by the time of the war, he had already been out of school and graduated, he'd taken his trip to Japan. He was really, I think one of his big disappointments was that he couldn't serve in the war because he had bad eyesight.

BN: With many of these older Nisei who graduated college before the war, the occupational outlook is sort of dim because a lot of places just wouldn't hire Nisei. What did he end up doing after that?

LH: Well, he was like Min Yasui and Bill Hosokawa, they were like his best friends, and Bill Hosokawa ended up in Denver, too. But my father, I don't remember, I just know the story of the trip to Japan, then I don't know what happened in that hiatus between that and '42. And then he, they both went to Puyallup. He was in the advance crew at Minidoka, and then he got an educational leave to go to the University of Colorado. And then my mother joined him, I think, about that time she was already pregnant with my brother. And then they got thrown out of the program because the Japanese language school, one of them got moved to the University of Colorado, and they told him that they thought it would be a problem for him to be in the program, so they kicked him out of the program. I remember my father telling me that was one of the lowest points in his life because he had nowhere to go, he didn't know what to do at that point. So he was apparently selling pots and pans from door to door just trying to figure out how to scrap together a living for his new wife and himself. He ended up working in a company that built fine instruments, the Hathaway Company in Colorado and Denver. So when he moved there, he actually had some kind of decent job. And I don't know if he was doing accounting then or not, he probably was. And then after that, he just stayed in Denver.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

BN: So to back up a bit, how did your parents then meet?

LH: How did they get together?

BN: Yeah.

LH: They were part of that huge group of Niseis that knew each other, right? Just hung out together. Yeah, I think... and they were dating. My mother had a number of different beaux. But she somehow landed with him and was sort of, like, they were part of that social circle because can you imagine four daughters, right, the four sisters, they were in it. So they, I don't know exactly how they met, but they made this decision to marry right before the war, they just decided. And they were pretty much, they were pretty much in love, I think. I just found these notes that they were writing back and forth to each other when my father went to Minidoka to help my grandparents move from Minidoka to Denver. And so I never knew it, but her nickname was Chubby. Oh, she would never have allowed me to ever say that again. Chubs, Chubby.

BN: But that was his nickname for her.

LH: [Nods]. So, you know, then my brother was born in Boulder, Colorado, in '43, and I was born in Denver in '45. Does that answer most of what...

BN: And then many Nisei couples did this, married, like, right before the war to guarantee they'd be able to stay together.

LH: Yeah, exactly.

BN: So uncertain at that point in time.

LH: So they could go through the evacuation together, yeah.

BN: And then before we get to Denver, I know that it seemed like a bunch of your mom's family ends up going to Chicago initially, or the Midwest?

LH: No. Most of the family... so Hisa got out on an educational leave and went to Rockford College in Illinois. She married Ed and some point, Ed Kiyohara at some point, so I don't know what happened. I'd have to ask the Kiyoharas what happened after that. And so my grandmother stayed in Minidoka and (Tatsue) was with her in Minidoka. And then he and... I don't know whether he married Yuri in camp or after camp, I think after camp. And he ended up in Chicago, but my grandmother came to live with (us) in '45. Katsuko, of course, was in Japan. And Mike, I don't know what happened to him, I don't know, actually, I'd have to ask.

BN: So do most of the Nakatas end up back in Seattle, then, eventually?

LH: Yeah. Then everybody migrated back to Seattle with the exception of the Horiuchis. And I think my father really wanted to go back. He was really plugged into that community, he really wanted to go back, but my mother prevailed.


BN: Do you know why they chose Denver in particular versus wherever, Chicago? Was there a connection there or was it just purely a school thing?

LH: No, just a school thing, happenstance. And then he managed to get the job in Denver.

BN: Once they were there, they just stayed, basically.

LH: They stayed, right.

BN: Then you were born there.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

BN: What part of... I don't know Denver much at all, but looking at their trajectory, they moved a couple of times. I got the sense that there was this trajectory going on, kind of moving up. But where, can you tell us about the areas that you grew up in in Denver?

LH: Yeah, actually. So I grew up on Pearl Street first. I was trying to remember the address. But anyway, it was near Washington Park, and I think part of what my mother, anyway, liked about Denver is there weren't that many Japanese Americans, right? So people didn't really know how to relate to her and so she was fairly free to move about. I remember she got me into a preschool thing. My brother was in a preschool thing for sure, and then I would tag along, she would take me with her, and I would play in the sandbox, it was an elementary school nearby. And then we lived next door to Charlie who used to take care of us, too, (a) classic old prairie dog, he was like this really rough and tumble guy. And my mother used to have him babysit us at times. [Laughs] And I remember, like, the house, I always remember the house as a big house and then I went back to look at it and it's this little tiny house, right? But when you're a kid you always think it's huge, right? But so there were very classic 1910 bungalows, 1915 bungalows, very small, actually, with backyards that faced each other and an alley. So as kids, we had, that was our playground in the back. And I remember us digging mud holes and traipsing all around. Marilyn Bowles was one of my friends, and I was always one of the youngest for some reason, so I was two or three, tagging along with all of these kids. And I remember all the different houses and going... I remember this one woman, I can't remember her name, but anyway, she had three kids. She had this bedroom that had a completely, like a fur white floor. It was completely white, a complete white bedroom with this sort of over the top 1940s (...) bedroom. And I remember that white fur floor and walking over it. And I remember actually, even as a tiny kid, sitting in the backyard just looking at everything. And my brother apparently was very rambunctious. My grandmother came to stay with us, Han Nakata. And he always had that reputation, so he apparently he threw the refrigerator door keys down the register, the air register, and he actually pooped in it once, I think. And my auntie, who was sort of like, had observed my mother's parenting for many years, once told me, "You know, once I went and visited with you in Pearl Street, and your brother was out the window. And I called your mother and I said, 'You know that Makoto's out the window here? I'm going to go get him.'" And my mother said, "What? Again?" [Laughs]

LH: So my grandmother lasted a year and left.

BN: Now, was your mother, was she working outside the house at this point, even with two little kids?

LH: No, I don't know what she was doing. But my family is like, it's a very unique family. And I don't know, I always think about my parents, I always thought that maybe they made a mistake marrying before they went, because it was like they never seemed to quite fit in some ways. Although I read these letters, and they were just like, it's amazing, it was really great to find those letters and find out how attached they were to each other. Because they fought for their whole lives, practically. [Laughs] I don't know, they were not very good parents in the sense that they just didn't really pay attention to us. That was all the aunties' observations, like, "Poor Lynne and Bruce, they never learned anything from their parents, they're completely undisciplined." Which is probably true, and probably why my life is so non-normative, I don't know. Well, that and the combination of Denver. I was thinking about that since you started asking me about my early childhood in Denver and growing up in Denver.

BN: And at a certain point from Pearl Street, you moved to...

LH: I'm sorry, yeah. Then we moved to Race Street. 2586 Race Street. So that was interesting because I have to thank my parents, because they would always look at school districts in order to decide where to buy a house. So we were on the outer edge of the school district, right? So it was a mile and a half to University Park elementary school, but one of the best elementary schools in the city. So I got the best public school education this way. That one is like, University Park elementary school, I was put in one of the first AP classes in the country in fourth grade. And from then on, I was with this sort of elite group of kids. We didn't, of course, understand what was going on. We sort of did, we sort of thought we were better than the rest of them. But we didn't really know what was going on, we were just moving through these classes.

BN: But your parents were very conscious of moving to places just to have this?

LH: Yeah. So then from there, so that was part of my childhood, these walks back and forth to school, they were very long walks. Or even... and that was just sort of my parents, they were very hands-off parents. Like I remember snow five feet up, and I remember looking up at these snow drifts and my mother's going, "You're going to school today." I'm like, "No, there's snow outside." And she sent me, and I remember getting all the way to the school, and there were two kids there. There was me and what was her name, Marilyn, who lived across the alley from the school, and those were the only two people at the school, right? And then I had to walk back. [Laughs] So I don't know what my parents were doing, but I was kind of on my own as a kid, too. There was, I'm just looking back on it now, I'm figuring out there was a lot of sibling (rivalry), well, my brother would really exclude me from a lot of things and didn't want to have anything to do with his little sister kind of thing. So I ended up just playing by myself for a lot of time, I guess until I went to school. And then, of course, I made friends at school, it was a little bit different.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

BN: And then at some point, your mom starts, well, she goes to continue her own education.

LH: Not 'til later.

BN: So this is later.

LH: Yeah, my father had an insurance company that he started up, his job on the side was an insurance company. And that's actually, that's interesting you brought that up, because I was sort of this prop on his insurance route. So he would take me along and people would feed me stuff, and I would go to the chop suey, chow mein place, and they would feed me and we'd go to the... what do you call it? Where they sold the sweets, and I would get sweets there like omanju and sometimes some ice or something like that. And that was really totally cool. They were, of course, all Japanese people, that was when there was a really robust Japanese American community in Denver. They have a big Bon Odori, too.

BN: So this was his own business?

LH: Yeah.

BN: Was he affiliated with a particular agent or company?

LH: Right, right, yeah. I think Prudential.

BN: And then he's selling to other Japanese?

LH: Exactly, yeah. So he had this niche in the Japanese American community selling insurance.

BN: Right, right. But he had a pretty significant day job, too, right?

LH: I don't know. He started working in the civil service because he realized that was one of the places he could really, he could make money. He could have a steady job and have all the benefits and whatever. But unfortunately, they really discriminated a lot against him, I think. Because he scored at the top of his exams, civil service exam, but they wouldn't promote him for the longest time.

BN: How long did he stay, though? He stayed for quite a while, right?

LH: Quite a while, until the '60s, yeah, until the '60s. So he was in the State Revenue Department. And during that time, we were connected to the Japanese American community, but mainly through the JACL. And there were certain spots. I mean, if you go to Denver, you can ask them about that. So the Japanese American veterans had their own veterans organization memorial site. And in that hall, we used to have these big banquets, right? And that was one place that the Japanese American community would come together. So there were these things that would happen in the community where you'd have all these, just like it is now, right, those long tables? The folding tables come out, but the throwaway tablecloths go on and there's all the... that's just the organization of Nisei women, right? I mean, they could organize these things flawlessly. And they still do that over at J-Sei, it's just amazing to watch.

BN: And then I know he remained active in JACL, too, right after the war?

LH: The JACL conventions were a part of that, too. So oh yeah, you reminded me. So when we were really young, we would go with them to the JACL convention. I remember going to San Francisco, and my brother and I, we were really young and they just sort of left us on our own. And I remember going in to... we went in to order breakfast at the hotel, it was like the Palace Sheraton Hotel or something like that. And I recognized the space, you know, it's that open garden atrium space. And we sat down, Makoto and I realized we didn't have enough money to cover it. [Laughs] So we somehow slunk away. And I remember we were walking down the street and we were, like, making fun of these sailors because they reminded us of Popeye. I remember that. But we were kind of, I don't know, parents then, they didn't really care. You were okay if you... it wasn't just my parents, but a lot of parents were just like, you were free to roam. They didn't care that much.

BN: It was a different era from our "helicopter parent" era.

LH: Very different, yeah.

BN: And then there was, from Race Street, there was another, one more?

LH: Oh, sorry, yeah. 1480 Cherry Street, which was at Florida and Cherry, which was, it's still in southeast Denver. And that was the time they got their first new home. So for my mom, I think, that was great, it was modern, but it was basically a box, a rectangular box. I think they were really thrilled to have their own modern home and fill it with modern furniture. She really did have some amazing pieces, yeah. And she had all the other stuff that went with it. She had the Russell Wright dining set, she had a Dansk set. But this Russell Wright dining set for everyday use, I don't know if you know Russell Wright, but he's also a very well-known midcentury designer, he was, he's very famous. And that dining set that he made is also extremely famous, so those were the plates we ate off every day, that was my mom. She was a collector, she loved material things.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

BN: Did your, did you have an interest in design and architecture and stuff from a young age? Because you're describing...

LH: No.

BN: Not at all?

LH: I liked art. And she actually took us... that was the other thing. They did provide us with these opportunities, so they would take us to, there was an art school at the Denver Art Museum, so both Makoto and I went through that art school, and that was a lot of fun, I really liked that. And I loved libraries, and that was my main love, was libraries. And I was also a modern dancer, so my mom found -- it was just classic Mom -- she found this Martha Graham student, and so she enrolled me in her classes and I took them for a fairly long time 'til I was about... I think six or seven, something like that. And actually, Jose Limon, who was a famous modern dancer, came through Denver to give a workshop, and so she took me to the workshop. And he asked to take me to New York City, and I was... I don't know, I must have been about nine at that time. And my mother asked me if I wanted to go, she let me decide. So I thought about it for a day, and I wanted to go, but I got scared and I said, "I'm not going." And then I changed my mind and she wouldn't let me go. But that taught me, that was actually one of the things I learned as a kid is never make a decision you think you're going to regret. It's not a good idea. [Laughs] You just go with your gut.

So I had... and I also took violin lessons, which, I'm a pretty good violinist, but I never practiced. And I used to practice with (Karen) Nakamura, I think. I used to practice with her, she was very diligent, she was very good. And I could read fairly well, but I was not good because I just didn't practice. And it made my teacher, Mr. Reynolds, crazy. So that was growing up. But I was mostly, my entertainment was the library. I would come back from the library with books stacked up to my chin, I would carry them home. And the swimming pool, because when I was seven or eight, I figured out I could take swimming lessons and then I could teach swimming and I could lifeguard and I could get access to the swimming pool. And I was part of one of the best teams in the region. And I always like, came in second. Occasionally I came in first, but not very often. I was usually second, but I always got the blue ribbons when I was on the freestyle relay team. That was a lot of fun, that was my summertime. That was my thing. And I rode my, that was when I was living on Race Street, and I would ride my bicycle to the University of Denver. But that was the other thing, we were completely free to ride our bicycles everywhere. So that was like my freedom, my bicycle. And I was a terror. I would ride all the way around Denver.

BN: Because you could at that time.

LH: We could, yeah.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

BN: I'm just trying to get a sense, were most of your friends and stuff other Japanese Americans or were they largely white?

LH: Well, for family outings, we often went with the Matsunagas and the Hirokawas. So they were friends of ours, so we were connected 'til the very end of their lives with the Hirokawas and the Matsunagas, we still have the connection.

BN: So they're like family friends, or your parents were friends?

LH: Yeah. So when we celebrated New Year's, that would be with those families. Sometimes Christmas, Thanksgiving potlucks. But my school friends were all white. So basically I had this whole childhood growing up with white people, basically.

BN: So the schools you went to were largely...

LH: Very un-diverse.

BN: ...largely white.

LH: Yeah.

BN: Were you involved in the other Japanese community institutions, either church or sports leagues? You mentioned briefly Japanese school briefly later.

LH: No, no, not at all.

BN: Even though your dad was active in the community?

LH: Yeah. My mother was really standoffish. And even... we did things, of course, with my uncle Harold and auntie Edie (Horiuchi), and they lived in Denver, pretty far away in Denver, in the southwestern side of Denver. And he's famous as a skier, he was inducted into the Colorado Skiing Hall of Fame. They have trail named after him and a memorial to him in the mountains. But my mother was always sort of standoffish with them, too. So I had these talks later with my auntie Edie and uncle Harold, we sort of sorted through that. My mother is like this sort of central figure that never really... she kept us apart for some reason, I don't exactly know why. But even my auntie Chiye was, she was a very generous woman and she took care of my other cousin, my two cousins, Horiuchi cousins, Barbara and Jeri. But I think my mother did allow her to take me to places with them. And my poor auntie Chiye was the one that ended up taking care of the (Horiuchi) parents in camp. She took care of the parents in Denver and she remained single because they wouldn't allow her to marry the man that she really loved when she was younger.

BN: Okay, so then the Nakata relatives were mostly in Seattle. Did you visit or make trips to Seattle?

LH: We went back and forth a little bit. Like once we took the train, I remember, when we were little, I was about three. Oh, yeah, that was when I was three and Makoto was five, we went back to Seattle and stayed with our relatives. We stayed with Uncle Mike first, I remember, because I took this walk when I was three years old, my brother had mumps or something like that. And my mother had left me to take care of him and I was three years old or something like that. I was three. And I decided I'd had it with it, so I walked over to my auntie's house, which was a mile away. Somehow I found my auntie's house at three walking. My cousin John is, like, "Here, I'm going to show you." You went from, like, Uncle Mike, he drove me, he went from Uncle Mike's house down to where he was... I remember being at the top of the hill and going, "I'm not sure I'm on the right path here." And then I kept going, and I went down two blocks. And I recognized this picket fence, and my brother and my auntie were sitting at a picnic table talking, and my cousin John was running around the yard in his diapers. So he told me that. He said, "You walked that." Why would I do that? I don't know, it was pretty crazy. So later, I didn't come back as often. Like I remember one time, my mother was really upset because I had an AAU meet and I refused to go. So I stayed home, I was like eleven or twelve or something.

BN: Stayed home by yourself?

LH: I stayed home by myself, yeah, and went to the meet.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

BN: And then what high school did you go to?

LH: I went to George Washington High School. That was when they... yeah, they moved to, that was from the Cherry Street house.

BN: This was another public high school?

LH: It's public, yeah.

BN: Public, but a good...

LH: I was so lucky, it was a brand new high school. They just built this high school with, like, a new pool, had a new indoor pool. They had a computer, they had, like, tennis courts, they had everything. Because it was one of the richest areas, but I was on the other side of the tracks. Again, it was a mile and a half, but on the other side of the tracks. So all of my high school friends were quite a bit wealthier than I was then. Because all through this time I'm getting a great education, really great education. So I was in the AP classes, so I didn't quite understand. Then, I don't know, I don't think my parents did either, because all of these eastern schools would come. Like the elite schools came to our high school to recruit. Had really high SAT scores, they were, like, in my classes. I always felt like I was relatively, I was not smart because I was mediocre (among) all these kids. I had five friends, fellow students who scored perfect scores on their SATs. And there were two of them who scored two perfect scores on their SATs, and that was my competition in class, right? It's not fair. [Laughs] But we got all the best teachers, we got all the, just really... these really wonderful teachers, they were really great. And so I got interested in history then. I liked history, literature. Of course, I couldn't compete with these people in chemistry or math or any of that stuff. I was pretty good at math, but I just couldn't compete.

BN: This is the early '60s, right?

LH: Yeah. So '63 was when I graduated high school, yeah.

BN: Did you feel any sense of discrimination or limitation or anything, as this Asian kid in this largely white school?

LH: Well, what changed, and it's interesting to look back at it now, is like when I got of dating age, and then I got really self-conscious, right? But I was never confident, I was never, I never felt I looked great or like I was, I was not the most popular kid in school. And like Laura Matsunaga was the cheerleader, I was kind of the like the rebellious intellectual. I just didn't fit in exactly. In fact, I couldn't remember, when I went to go back to my high school reunion, what I did in high school, I couldn�t remember. And I also, at this point, I'd sort of socially cast myself aside. Because I'd had this rebellion in the sorority I was supposed to pledge in. I was pledging, actually, and I got so upset with their blackballing, my big sister and I threw our pens down in a dramatic way and walked out to protest their blackballing of people. Sort of like snippiness, like maybe you don't know, but women can really get at it. It's a women thing, gong after other women. And so that really set me aside socially for the rest of my high school. So I dated mostly my mountain climbing friends. So I went mountain climbing when I was... Kurt Beam was actually part of my Cherry Street life. He eventually got a car, he had one of those bathtub Hudsons, you know, eventually got. And he would drive us back and forth to school, so I'd get a ride to school and back sometimes. And he got me into mountain climbing which I loved, I really loved it. So I was mountain climbing on the weekends from the time I was thirteen on. And then we ski in Colorado, right? We ski, did skiing, too. But I didn't have a lot of money because my parents never supported any supported any of this, so I'd have to figure out ways to do it, but I did. I'd pack snow in order to get a ski ticket. I bussed tables in the cafeteria at the ski lodge, and then get a ticket to go, free ticket. But climbing, mountain climbing was the best, really the best.

BN: And this is climbing with gear and ropes kind of climbing?

LH: Yeah, yeah. It's like... we were, what were they called? The Juniors, the Colorado Mountain Club Juniors. And so it was just all the younger people.

BN: So you're scaling all of these local peaks and so on?

LH: Yeah, yeah.

BN: Of which there are many.

LH: Yeah, exactly. Like we have, there's like fifty fourteen thousand (foot high) mountains in Colorado. There were forty-eight at the time I was climbing. And so that was like, we had crazy things like how many fourteen thousand foot mountains can we climb in one day? Only we started at midnight without having slept. And I remember on my fourth peak I was like, all I wanted to do was crawl on the side of the trail and go to sleep. [Laughs] But then nobody would find me, right? So I had to keep going. That was the kind of nutty thing we would do. We would pack typewriters up to the top of a peak so we could type in the register, our names. We did all kinds of things like that.

BN: Was that...

LH: We had a lot of fun. We got to name some peaks in the Gore range.

BN: And then at that time, did you have a sense of what you wanted to do in your life?

LH: I had no sense. [Laughs] I was kind of a clueless kid in a lot of ways, for many, many years, clueless. And that's sort of how I approached a lot of things, kind of clueless. And then I figure it out, that's basically what I do.

BN: It's a useful skill, being able to figure things out.

LH: Well, I think that's part of the parenting thing that happened, is that my parents were so loose about the parenting. I really remember, I mean, my mother would probably... she's probably groaning and moaning at this point. But at one point, I remember, I was looking at them and I thought, "These parents are not going to... they're just not going to do it for me." So I kind of figured this out for myself. And at that point, I basically set my own program. I was eleven, I remember that really clearly, I was eleven. Okay, so now we're just going to set our program. [Laughs] And it worked. Because I learned a lot of... it's kind of like growing up fast, so you learn a lot of skills. And I remember thinking, well, I get all these skills. I got a job, I figured out money, I had to pay my taxes, and I got all those skills out of the way by the time I hit college. And the weird thing was is that I never realized that I sort of had these capabilities until I went back to my high school reunion. I only went to one, which was our fiftieth high school reunion. And I was asking people, "What did I do?" I don't remember what I did, what did I do? And they said, "You were the one that we asked to do things. We wanted to get things done, we gave it to you," which was something I never knew when I was in high school. I was the, sort of...

BN: The competent one.

LH: I could get things done. So that was really interesting, it's like, wow. Yeah, that was really interesting.

BN: Yeah, that's something useful, as opposed to the people who were only book smart, often don't know how to do stuff in life.

LH: I think also, it's really different from this generation. Like I just started teaching when "helicopter parents" appeared, and I just actually think it's more fun to be independent and have that freedom to explore and to learn that way. So it's kind of the way I teach, too, like, do whatever you're going to do, but just jump really high. It has to be this level. Which is kind of what our parents did, the Niseis did, right? That's what they did.

BN: Well, they had no choice in many cases. They had to be on their own.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

BN: Anyway, one thing I want to ask is -- and this is kind of, one of the quintessential Sansei experiences is that they're parents didn't tell them about camp or about what happened. How, did your parents talk about that stuff?

LH: No. In fact, "camp" is a coded word, right? So those New Year's and Thanksgivings when everybody would get together, the question was, "What camp did you go to?" We had no idea what "camp" was. And, of course, we didn't know that until we were older and we're like, "Tell us about camp." And my parents just clammed up. They did not want to talk about camp. In the beginning of the whole redress movement, they did not want to talk about it.

BN: Even later they didn't talk about it?

LH: Later they were better. They actually got, like a lot of Niseis that got into the movement, they realized it was probably okay to talk about it and they really needed to right this wrong.

BN: But that was later.

LH: Later, yeah.

BN: And then you mentioned your uncle was one of the activists in Seattle, too.

LH: Yeah, yeah. And my father was really involved in redress. He did a lot of work on redress.

BN: Okay, we'll definitely get back to that. So, okay, you graduate high school and then you go on to University of Colorado.

LH: No, I had the most checkered past for my undergraduate.

BN: So you took a convoluted path there.

LH: Uh-huh, super convoluted. So just as a preview, so my life is very non-normative in many ways, and my undergraduate is a very good example. I went to a different college every year. So I started out at Knox College, and I realized it was like, everything was flat.

BN: Where is Knox College?

LH: In Illinois, Galesburg, Illinois.

BN: Why did you...

LH: I just... that was where I had no clue what I was supposed to do for going to college. You'd think my parents would have, like, schooled me on it. And I was in advanced placement, but then I didn't have that high of a GPA, I had a 3.3 or something like that. And then they didn't give you extra credit for being in the AP, and, of course, I was competing with those extra people. So if I'd gone to another school or just on the regular program, I probably could have gotten into a pretty good school, but I was in the AP classes with these people that were, like, super smart. And so I ended up at Knox College, because I could hit the mid-level liberal colleges, and I knew nothing about Knox College, I just wanted to get away from home. I didn't want to be close to home. [Laughs] So I went to Knox College and I got there and I realized... I had a great time there, I mean, I met Erica Overberger and we did a lot of stuff. I ended up going to New York City and visiting with her family and finding out Beats and White House Bar and all this stuff. My freshman year was like, first I was barred from the sororities because they found out about my rebelliousness in my high school sorority. And then, which I didn't really care about that much. And I was dating a Jewish guy who was also very rambunctious. And we'd do things like, when we went to see Irma la Douce I would wear green stockings. And we'd go into the upper gallery because it was a segregated movie house. And then... anyway, I had a lot of fun, and I also broke all the rules because we had... you may not remember this, but we had hours that we had to go, for women, we had women's hours. We had to be in the dorm and we could not go out of the dorm after ten o'clock. So we couldn't be in the library. They library would be open, we couldn't stay in the library, we had to go back to the dorm, which I found outrageous, so I took to going down the fire escape. [Laughs] And the authorities only found out about this hearsay, they never caught me, and hanging out with my friend in the fraternity. And so then we had this big rebellion that year, it was unheard of. And for some reason they thought I was the middle of that, I wasn't. I was just sort of going along with everybody else. And we encircled the administration building, like, holding hands and protesting women's hours and these other things that just, and the war in whatever, I can't remember. That was the year that Kennedy was shot.

BN: Oh, right.

LH: It was a big political shift change, and even at this small liberal arts school. So I got called in and I was told I could not come back, so I had to find another school. And basically expelled, but they couldn't tell me why I was expelled because they didn't have, they didn't know any of it. And I wasn't part of that, they thought I was part of the leading, the cheerleader for that movement, but I wasn't. I can't even remember who was. So, I thought, okay, I got to find another -- so I applied to Colorado College, which was closer to home, and closer to mountains because I was in... I was like, when I got to Galesburg, I was like, I think the highest rise in elevation is from the street to the curb, that was it.

And so I was sent to Colorado College, and there I met this fabulous group of friends that I've had for a long, long time, they're just amazing. We were quite a bit early, sort of Beat movement, early hippie movement. And, of course, these were all white people, that's all I knew from the time I was, like, growing up. Through this period, everybody was white, but really intellectually interesting people. We did drugs, but I was not into drugs too much because I didn't like them taking over my head. But we did it in a completely different way than kids do it now. So we read Aldous Huxley and Ginsberg, and we read all of the culture. We found out everything about LSD that we could. So we had one guy who was going to law school so he did the law, and one guy who was, like, doing medicine, so he did all the medical things. And then we had other literature people that were like, we were doing all the happenings. [Laughs] But it was very studied, so we went on a trip, you had a group that was not taking the drugs, and a group that was. And so I was basically with the people that would, like, shepherd the people that were on the drugs. And we tried everything because that was what we wanted to do. It was interesting, that's what was happening in California, we wanted to be like the California movements. That was a very interesting group of people.

BN: It sounds like it.

LH: In fact, Ken Kesey was the one that introduced it to us, because he came through and gave a lecture. And then he was staying at the Broadmoor, so my friends found him at the Broadmoor. In fact, they asked us to go out, sneak out of the dorm in order to go and I didn't go. So the next day we got this report of him passing around the, passing around a joint to everybody, and that's when they first figured out what marijuana was. It was mostly the guys, I think there was one girl that snuck out of the dorm. But then what happened? Oh, I nearly got thrown out of Colorado College, too, because one night I got caught outside the dorm after hours. And my friend, Perry Lee, we would hang out with Gilbert, her friend Gilbert and we'd climb out the bottom window. But I told him I was up on the roof, and one of the administration said, "Oh, that was the only place I didn't look," and I was like, "Ah, home free." So I didn't get punished, but Perry did, because I actually went out to find her, because I'd left her at this party and she was really drunk, and I thought, "Oh, better go out and get her." And I couldn't get her to come back, so I ended up staying with a friend, and then interrogated the next morning, and she was on probation, actually. I didn't get on probation because they didn't find me because I was upon on the roof. [Laughs]

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

LH: So then Colorado College was this really great adventure. So the next year I decided I was going to leave college, I was quitting college, I was going to go do something else.

BN: What was your major or...

LH: Oh, god, I was so stupid. It was like the Science of Philosophy, or Philosophy of Science, sorry. I had no idea what I was doing. [Laughs]

BN: You were having a good time.

LH: Then we started making fun of it, oh, the absolute beautiful, this is the absolute... but I really didn't know what I was doing. I had a fairly good education, but I didn't know what I was doing, so it was time to drop out of school, which totally freaked out my parents, of course, right? Because I had paid for part of it. I was working as a cook during the summer for mountain climbing expeditions and so I could pay for part of my school, but they were paying the rest of it. So then I was working during the summer, they were regular Nisei, like you have to work. So I decided I was not going to go back to school and then we made this deal that they would pay for part of a year in Europe if, when I came back, I paid for the rest of my schooling. And so then I worked that summer and paid for part of it and I went off to Italy, which I only chose because I was really undirected in a lot of ways. I was just experimenting and having fun and just like everybody had had a European trip, right, of my friends, which were, they were fairly well-to-do, affluent, wealthy, they had more [inaudible] than I did, certainly. So I wanted to go to Europe, and also, all my teaching and learning, I mean, all my learning was about Europe. I was in that mode, so I chose Italy because I wanted to go to a country where I didn't speak the language, because I already spoke French. But everybody was going to Paris and I thought, I didn't want to do that, I just wanted to go to someplace that's completely new. And Italy in the '60s was a really interesting place because they were still recovering from the war. A lot of tradition in place and structure in place still. It was really interesting. So I went to the... it was Scuola Per Stranieri. It was this project that they had created to teach foreigners Italian, it was really effective. So you could learn Italian in two months, I was fairly fluent, you could learn it really fast. And then I did a program with Syracuse University for another semester where I got really fun literature classes and things like that. I can't remember... I went to the academy for a while, but that didn't really last. I was interested in art. Of course, art history, it was a fabulous place to be, traveled all over Italy with friends. We actually hitchhiked some of the way and trains were really great. That was one of the most important, probably, educational experiences of my life was that trip to Italy and studying there.

BN: So this is after, kind of, two years of college and this is like...

LH: Junior year.

BN: '65-ish?

LH: Yeah, sixty-five, sixty-six. And I had my first love there, Giuseppe Martorana, who wooed me. And he was a medical student and so I got to... I basically was only around Italians the whole time. And I didn't have very non-Italian friends because I was with Beppe most of the time and he was a Florentine, so to speak. His family was originally from Sicily, which I didn't understand at the time, but his friends were old-time Florentines. Even some of them were even the aristocratic Florentines, so I ended up in these villas occasionally. That was my youth, right?

BN: In the '60s.

LH: And it was before the flood, so I got to see Cimabue and Giottos and all of them before they were damaged by the flood.

BN: So were you developing more of an academic interest in art through this?

LH: Yeah. And I drew and things like that. Okay, we get to my fourth year. [Laughs] My fourth year at the university of my undergraduate was at the University of Colorado.

BN: And back?

LH: And back, that's all I can afford, right? Anyway, that was a long story so I ended up in the University of Colorado in the art program.

BN: And you did eventually graduate from...

LH: Did manage to graduate. [Laughs] So I guess that was a really odd start to life. But very... the only recognition that I had of being different was, like, I remember getting up once in the morning and looking at the mirror, and I'm like, "I'm really different. Nobody's talking about it, but I am really different, so I just eventually have to figure this out." And I actually did a paper on the incarceration when I was at Knox College for my history program. I was curious about it, you know, and I had some identification with it, but not a lot. No recognition of how different I really was. And a lot of my friends didn't really treat me as that different, right? But I think it was the dating thing that was really different.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

BN: So then what happens now after you, so you've graduated?

LH: So I graduated and I ended up in Aspen. I had such a serendipitous life. So what was I doing first? I was doing, working as a maid and a waitress and whatever because we were all hippies, basically. It was a hippie life. And we would have large gatherings in the mountains, I mean large, like a thousand, two thousand people wandering around the mountain somewhere. We went mountain climbing, of course, and we did all these different things, but we were hippies. So I ended up in Aspen which was actually, there were a lot of really groovy people there, right? Like the guy who started up Celestial Seasonings, Celestial teas, he started that in Aspen when I was there. And he was like the most spaced out guy you could possibly imagine, and he worked in the Mother's Natural Food Store.

So I was there and I was working for a friend who had a studio, where is that? Not in Aspen, but the other resort down the road. What's the name of it? But anyway, he actually bought property there, and of course, property at that time was like, it's pretty rugged cabins. And he was a potter and he had created this, sort of cell of pottery, well, stations where you could work pottery. So I was doing a little bit of work for him, but he had a big barn. And so I rented a studio for ten dollars a month from him. And I was working in the studio, because I really was into art by this time, like making art. And I was firing pots there and he was working on this model for Herbert Bayer, who was a very famous Bauhaus master who had a studio in Aspen. And he was associated with Aspen Institute, actually, designed the building and its environment. And Brad, I can't remember his last name, he was working on for him. But Herbert was, he was difficult to work with, he could be really prickly. So Brad threw down this clay for the clay model, like, "Here, you're going to be Herbert Bayer's assistant tomorrow." I went into Herbert Bayer's office, like, "Hi, Brad sent me in here to do this." So I was his assistant for a year, I didn't realize how, what a prestigious position that was, but it was. Herbert had a lot of, he knew everybody and he had a lot of power or whatever. Joelle, his wife, was also pretty prickly, but they were not easy to work with, but they were really interesting. So I ended up being his assistant, I would make his models and paint his paintings and do all that sort of stuff. And then, from there, I decided I would go to L.A. because you either had to go to L.A. or New York City if you were going to be an artist, you needed to be in that environment. So I decided to go to L.A., and I applied for a fellowship at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop. Little did I know how a recommendation from Herbert Bayer would land me that, but it did. So that�s' where I went next, was L.A. And then I was really in the middle of the art world there for a couple of years.

BN: So and then from there, what happens after?

LH: So there, we're quite a ways from the family. So what happened is I... so my boyfriend was David Trowbridge, who actually was, also, a pretty famous modern artist. He eventually became a, that was his goal to be. Which is a really crazy thing to do. I mean, there are very few people that make it as artists. But I was in that milieu and we went to the Edward Ruscha show and then we went to all those shows and all of those things at that time. We went to museums constantly, that was our life, we're artists, basically. And then I broke up with David and I applied for the Tamarind curator position because they were moving, it was the end of their Ford Foundation grant and they were moving it to the University of Mexico. They ended up at the University of Mexico for some very good curator training at Tamarind. I wasn't allowed to be a printer, so I was in the curator training program. Because women weren't allowed to be printers.

BN: Even then.

LH: Yeah. There was so much prejudice against women, it's like, no wonder there was a feminist movement. That movement was like... because we needed it. I mean, we still do, but then it was, like, impossible. There were so many areas that you were blocked off. But anyway, somehow, at twenty or twenty-nine, something like that, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, I can't remember, I was the curator at Tamarind, which was actually a pretty big responsibility. But they were supposed to hire two other people, which they never did, and I ended up working, like, ninety hour, eighty hour weeks. And after a while, after about a year, I was, like, no way. And I'd been writing with my boyfriend, my first love, in Italy, and I was supposed to go back and marry him. So I was trying to figure this out, so I decided to go back to Italy. So that's why Italy is this very big piece. And we lived together for about three months and then broke up, and that was the end of that. But then here I was in Florence, completely broke. I had no support, so I had to figure out what to do. So I figured out a way to make it. I was a clerk in a store where they sell fine leather goods and things like that. And I went to the university because it only cost seventy-five dollars to enroll, and you just had to have nominal Italian, which I had, of course, by that time to enroll at the university. Then I enrolled at the University of Florence for a year. And the second year I realized that it was a time when the Communists take over the universities in Florence, and there's a lot of agitation, it was really difficult to get through exams and lectures and whatever. They were constantly being disrupted. And the university was changing because it had been this very elite, the most elite of a lot of the institutions in Europe up until this time, and they were having to change. They had, like, ten thousand students in the architecture department, they'd never had to any of this complete upheaval. So I realized it was going to be hard to graduate from the University of Florence even though I got close in terms of my exams. So I enrolled in the Middlebury School of Language program because I knew I could transfer my credits from there into an American university.

So I got an M.A. in Italian from Middlebury Language School, and their only requirement was that you take three courses at the university, which I was already doing. So I just had to go to their dinky little grammar class, and then that was all I needed to do. The courses at the university were intensive, so that was harder but I did really pretty well at my university there, and then I could transfer to the United States. Because by that time, they were making people do... before, you would be able to get, do a thesis and get done in, like, six months, but they were extending it to, like, two years. And I just didn't have the, I didn't have enough money, I just didn't have sources for supporting that for two years, so I went back to the United States. And by that time, I was pretty much heavily into my study of art history. I mean, I really knew the map of Florence, I knew a lot of art historians in Florence and was connected with some of the best scholars in that field in Florence, and access to the German Library and all kinds of things. So I had the libraries down, because I would travel from library to library in Florence to study. So then I went to UCSB and got my M.A. in Italian art history. So at this point, there's no, this is about the time I started the Japanese American Family Album Project after I graduated.

BN: What was your thesis on?

LH: It was on the... I can't remember exactly the title, but it was on the Pietro Strozzi tomb in Mantova. I was looking at the shift in Italian Classicism from the third century B.C., kind of stylistic interest to this more exotic interest in Caryatids and more exotic kinds of archaeological types, Egyptians, Etruscans and Caryatids and things like that.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

BN: And then were you still doing your own art at this point?

LH: Some, but not really. I was really an art historian by that time. I was studying with Peter Meller, who was another really amazing, amazing scholar and professor. But he wasn't really powerful politically. [Noise in background] I don't know what that was. But he wasn't powerful politically in the faculty, so I struggled a little bit. So then I just, well, actually, the story was that I applied for the PhD program and everybody assumed that I would be in the PhD program. But the head of the committee was a nemesis of mine because I had gotten to the university and in two months I had ditched him as my major advisor and moved to Peter Meller. But Peter Meller never attended the faculty meetings. [Laughs] Basically, that's the story. So Dr. scheduled the meeting after everybody had left the campus and then he barred me from... he banned me from the PhD program. And I went to ask him, I said, "What do I need to get into your PhD program?" And he said, "You need to publish." I said, okay. Which is crazy, then you never published before your PhD program, practically. But that's the way it goes. There was a lot of prejudice in the program, I mean, all kinds of things, like I taught Italian when was at UCSB. And my program would not give me, (...) not count Italian as my language. I had an M.A. in Italian from Middlebury, it took them two years to give me accreditation for that language, and by that time, I'd taken Latin and German. Those are the kinds of things that happened, right? And I'd tell my students, it's like, you just have to be twice as good, at least, you just have to jump a higher bar than all these other people because that's the way it goes, that's the way it worked. It's not an equal system.

BN: You think it's still that way now?

LH: Yeah, I do. I mean, we're making some gains. We're making some gains, but you know, as David Goldberg said, we live in a racist state. It's always been racist, it's just that it was not part of our, it's not incorporated as part of our history. When revisionist history came along, there were some changes, and now there are all parts of that, are bare and open for people to see and understand, but it's not necessarily part of our ideology or what we think Americans are. So we still have that leap to (equality), we still are forever foreign. So I can be born and raised in the United States, third generation Japanese American, I'm still not accepted as an American, I'm seen mostly as a Japanese American and very much of a foreigner in a lot of ways. They still have people that way with my work. I had people, when I was teaching at UNCC, saying, "You speak English so well." It was definitely there.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

BN: Then you were starting to talk about the Japanese American Family Album project.

LH: Project, yeah. So I was out of school, and I started doing different things. I worked in the Eames, Charles Eames office for a while, but then eventually I got, I went back to my... I had done, like, a civil service job in Colorado to earn some money to do whatever, I always did that. As an, what do they call it, engineering aide, or something like that. So Caltrans opened up their employment to women, this is the big one. So that was the first time they opened up employment to women, really. And so I applied for a job because I thought, what the hell, I can just do this because I get a regular paycheck, I get some benefits, my health coverage was, I got health coverage, might as well do this for a while. And I found an advertisement in the paper of all things, which is not normally the way you find out. So I went and they hired me, and I just stayed there because I found a very convenient way to pay for my avocation. So I had a vocation, but I paid for my avocation through Caltrans. Caltrans sponsored the Japanese American Family Album project. And I was in the traffic operation center working, so I could do these odd shifts so I could actually do the work. And I wrote an NEH grant for JACCC. How did that work? Oh, yeah, so I did the NEH grant and a California Council for the Humanities grant through JACCC and convinced them to be the sponsoring agency, and then I sort of sat up there and it was a small room. And I ran the project from there, because I got these, both grants were successful, and we were able to put together a good pilot. And then from there we, it took us a while, it took us two iterations of the NEH grant, I call it the mother of all grants, it's enormous and ponderous. And then we got through and we (received) $145,000 for the second part of it.

BN: How did you get there? Because you had an... that wasn't really your area to that point. I mean, how did you make the connection with JACCC?

LH: So the Caltrans office was two blocks from JACCC. So somehow, can't even remember how it happened. Well, my thought was this. So I graduated with my M.A., and I'd had a pretty good life by that time and just decided I needed to give back to the community, that was one thing. So I decided that I would do a project for the community. So I was sort of casting about for that, and talking to my friend, Elizabeth Chestnut, and we came up with this idea for the Japanese American Family Album project with Don Rundstrom and Suzie Rundstrom. So, but I basically drove all the administrative part of it and all the grant writing and all that sort of stuff. So that's how it came together. And I parted ways with Elizabeth, unfortunately, at a certain point, because she just couldn't deliver her chapters for the work for the project. And that was like a big crisis, like what do we do? Do we give the money back or we just keep going? So we just kept going, and Dick Chalfen, Richard Chalfen, whose name is on the book, this was another thing. I had an M.A., I didn't have a PhD, and I was doing this NEH grant, so I didn't have any clout. But we managed to put together a pretty good exhibit, and people were very receptive to the exhibit, they really liked it. And, in fact, the pilot, I met all these people, like Philip Gotanda showed up, and he said, "Lynne, I really love this exhibit." And that's when I knew, I was like, "Okay, great." And when I went to New York... oh, I'm spacing now. (...) Dorothy Rony, she was at the Chinatown History Project.

BN: Chinatown History Project.

LH: Right? Oh, you know this?

BN: I knew Dorothy.

LH: Okay, you knew her then, right? She's this ball of fire from Cornell, like, boom. I never met a (Asian) American woman like this. And so she sponsored the New York City (showing), Michi Weglyn went to see it, and she said, the report back was that she said, "This is an important exhibit." I was like, oh my god, that was my biggest compliment ever, from Michi Weglyn. But it was hard because I was Japanese American from Denver, I had no connection in the Japanese American community and I didn't fit in. I found out very quickly. I started playing taiko and I was like, oh no, this was not going to work for them or for me, it was immediately like, we're not compatible. And it partly is because I, you know, there are very formed groups in the Japanese American community, whatever your peer group. So you cannot easily break into them. But if you're from Denver... and then later I found, even if you're from San Fernando Valley, it might be tough, you know. So it's just the way that the community works. But I connected with a lot of people, and I'm still connected with people, the Miyamuras, which has been wonderful. But, of course, they have a base in New Mexico, and they were one of the groups that we worked with.

BN: This is the Hershey Miyamura...

LH: Hershey Miyamura's family. Because I was interested... because I came from Denver, I was interested in interethnic diversity because I could, I wanted to actually get people to think about that. We're so different, right? If you grow up in another area, you can be a really different component of that ethnic community. So, and actually just get people to see that, that maybe you thought you were a cowboy when you were growing up, which was really true. I was thinking about the difference regionally, because in Denver especially at the time of the '60s, it was still the wild, wild west. So I grew up with that sort of thinking about how you went mountain climbing or whatever, you were sort of, it's a different mentality.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

BN: And then as you were working on this project, this is about the time redress was also...

LH: Oh, yeah.

BN: So were you involved in that at all? I know you mentioned your dad your uncle, definitely.

LH: Not that much, because my family connections weren't that tight, right? I was in L.A., and I have to say, I was purposely fifteen hundred miles from my mother. And she has a very controlling nature, and (I have a) very uncontrollable nature. So I remember going, but what was, really impacted me probably for all the rest of my work, is I went to the congressional hearings.

BN: In L.A.?

LH: In L.A. And you know, Brian, I didn't even go to all the ones I could have. I couldn't do it, it was just too heartbreaking to hear those stories and know that they, this is the first time they had ever said anything about these things. It just tore me up. I couldn't watch it for that long. So I went for two nights of testimonies, something like that. But, of course, that kept happening, too, in my project. I mean, if I asked people about internment they would break out in tears, they never talked about it. My auntie, I'm (in) the Otani Hotel, this very professional woman that never breaks down, broke down in the middle of the Otani Hotel, I didn't even know what to do. So this is like this really searing experience that the Nisei had, that they just a very difficult time letting go of, really, in a lot of ways.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

BN: And then I noticed you were also involved, maybe as a consultant, with the Strength of Diversity? Because that was a significant project also.

LH: Oh, really? You saw it then, right? You saw the exhibit?

BN: It was little before my time. I know the book, and Alice Yang has written a lot about the significance of that project also.

LH: Oh, who?

BN: Alice Yang.

LH: Oh, okay. So, well, there's...

BN: And it lasted a long time.

LH: Well, Ros got together, Ro, who was the executive director, pulled together this committee that was like, again, it was that whole Nisei core, I don't know, actually, Alice Yang, so I have to go look for that article.

BN: Yeah, I can send you that.

LH: Yeah, I'd love it because I wish we had recorded those meetings, that's what I wish we had done.

BN: You had some really dynamo people working on there.

LH: Everybody, right? Everybody. I mean, Janice Mirikitani, who was the woman that... Nikki Bridges, and everybody, everybody was on that. It was just, the conversations in those meetings were just amazing, amazing.

BN: And were you up there, or you were in L.A.?

LH: I was here by that time, yeah.

BN: You were "here," meaning...

LH: I moved from L.A. to here.

BN: To the Bay Area.

LH: And then JACL became my sponsor for the rest of the Family Album Project, when I finished up the Family Album Project.

BN: So when did you move to the Bay Area?

LH: Pardon me?

BN: When did you move to the Bay Area?

LH: I want to say '83, '84. '83, something like that.

BN: And have you pretty much been in the area since?

LH: Yeah.

BN: Because that was, that started in, what, the mid-'80s?

LH: Well, '81 was our first grant, and then our last show was '85, I think.

BN: Yeah, I probably started getting involved just a couple years after that, so I missed that part.

LH: Well, and I was working full-time, the whole time.

BN: Sure, sure. Are you still working with Caltran through this whole period?

LH: I worked full-time the whole time, yeah.

BN: What were you actually doing with Caltran?

LH: I was working, well, that was the weird part is they hired me, right?

BN: Yeah. Well, they hired you as an art historian.

LH: They hired me as an engineering aide. And then, so I have this whole community, I have this humanities background. But they kept promoting me and promoting me and promoting me because they had no women. So every time I went up, it was insane. So I actually got up to a fairly reasonable amount of income as an assistant engineer just working in the, mainly working in the traffic operation center. And then when I came up here, I worked in surveys. And then I realized that there was this cultural resource department in the Environmental Resource section that did environmental review. So then I moved into environmental review and did environmental review for a long time. And then I became a cultural resource specialist. So I went through the whole Section 106 training and did a lot of Section 106 review and a lot of cultural resource review. It was a really interesting job because the environmental portion, you worked with interdisciplinary teams, so you worked with biologists and hydrologists and cultural resource people. The main people were like environmental analysts, I was an environmental analyst, and then I sidelined with cultural resources.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

BN: And then did that then play a role in your academic track, too?

LH: Well, I don't know. I have maybe three main tracks. I'm really a community activist from way back. So right after the Family Album exhibit part sort of fell down, I moved to West Oakland. I was living, my husband at the time was Edward Kikumoto, I met him at JCCC. And he was an exhibit preparer and he actually refitted this warehouse for us to live in for a while. It was fabulous, right? But we decided we had to buy, so we bought in West Oakland in 1989. So we lived there for, that's the house I'm selling now. Sadly, I love the house. But, so I got involved, Madeline Wells got me involved in the historic preservation project fighting to try to save the church after the 1989 earthquake, and I got really involved in Oakland, activism for West Oakland. At the same time doing all this other, working full time doing this, that's sort of been my life. I've had to juggle a lot of things because I never had a lot of resources. So I never really had money but I'd figure out how to pay for things, how to get things moving, how to do things. So community activism is a really big component. So what happened with the PhD is I didn't start my PhD until I was fifty. Because I was doing this cultural research stuff and getting really frustrated because it took forever to get it reviewed if we had to send it to the cultural resource people. I thought, "I can do this." So I went and got, worked with David Gebhardt at UCSB who I knew from my master's degree. And really got involved in doing architectural history, that's when I really began to really love looking at houses, figuring out what architects did, really writing about 19th century urbanism and, well, that particular moment in architecture from around 1879 through 1920. And working with David Gebhardt who was really the premier architectural historian, he was the California architectural historian. Because I knew I had to go there, because if I'm going to get the permission from the Caltrans people to do this work, I had to get the best kind of recommendation I could for the work. And he was great, so I was looking at my work on Charles F. Whittlesey. It was a (deceased) white architect, male architect. I was doing this monograph on him, basically. And I was looking at it going, "I think this is PhD material, what do you think? This could be my dissertation. He said, "Yep." "Do you think I should apply?" "Yep." So I did. And I went back partly because I kept, I was in these meetings at Caltrans, I'd be the only person of color and the only woman in the room. And I was working with senior engineers because they found out I could write. And this kind of change, it's like twenty years after affirmative action, right? And nothing had changed, this has to change. So I went back incognito, worked on Charles F. Whittlesey, this hagiographic study, this white male architect, center of the field with David Gebhardt who's major in this society of architectural historians, and he dies in the first year I'm at graduate school.

And I committed to one year, I took off school, worked for one year to do that one year for the PhD program. It was really stupid, I mean, who does a PhD program in one year, right? But I did. So for some reason, and I have no idea, I just took three courses at a time because that seemed doable. I didn't realize that by the end of the year I'd finished all my course requirements so I could leave. And so I ended up at Berkeley doing intercampus exchange. But at that point, I was actually doing both projects for some reason. Can't even remember why, but I was doing the confinement sites program, building the confinement sites. I can't even remember exactly how I got into it, but I was carrying two main topics at the time. I can't remember exactly how it happened. Because I started at Berkeley, and of course I had put together another dissertation committee. And it was a disaster at UCSB because nobody wanted to take Gebhardt's students. So I needed two people to be on my committee at UCSB. And fortunately the American art historian took me on, and then one other person sort of stood in for a while. And then Swati Pad who I knew at Berkeley as a graduate student, got the job at UCSB. And so she stood in as my other person at UCSB, I had to have two people there, thankfully, I thank her for that. But she didn't want to have anything to do with my dissertation, which was, I said fine. I'd like to do work with my Berkeley people. So I got to work with, do you know Dell Upton by any chance? Oh, anyways, pretty famous American architectural historian. Worked with him and two other really great people at Berkeley. And that was my core committee with my major advisor at UCSB who knew nothing about my topic or architecture. Architectural history was not [inaudible].

But that really worked out. I had this amazing... I had an amazing group of peers at Berkeley. So we, there are probably about twenty, at least twenty major scholars that came out of Berkeley in architectural history at that time, and so we all still really worked together. So my last book was with Anoma Pieris, University of Melbourne, we cowrote a book. So I did one and a half chapters in the book and then we co-wrote the introduction and then framed the whole book. So that just came out with Cambridge University Press this April, I mean last month, February it came out, you can get it on the table. So that was... Berkeley is my intellectual home. I love it, I love my colleagues, and I have wonderful colleagues, really.

BN: Then you have another one forthcoming, right?

LH: Hopefully. University of Washington Press just wrote me and said, like, "What are you doing?" [Laughs] It's like, oh yeah, that book. So hopefully beginning in June, May, well maybe June I'll be able to really start working on that. I'll have a lot of things off my plate, and then I take on no more commitments to anything. I have two publications I committed to, of course, my wonderful colleagues. One on race and architecture and then another one, No Small Acts, which is being edited by Ana Maria, who's a wonderful scholar at the University of Michigan that I love, (now Harvard), so I said yes to that. And then I'm not taking on any other commitments and it'll just be the book. But it's probably two years off, because it takes so much to put it together.

BN: And then it's easy to say you'll take no more commitments, but hard to actually...

LH: No, I can't. I absolutely cannot. This time... I mean, that's what happened along the way. You know, a set of essays and another book, this is like, I can't do it. I can't do it again, that's it.

BN: I won't ask you for anything then.

LH: [Laughs]

BN: I was going to.

LH: Well, I'm going to try to will you in on the Cooper Hiram Project for Asian American Architecture because we need to know about archives.

BN: There's a couple things I want to ask you about, too, but it can wait, there's no rush. Well, we should probably start wrapping up because I have someone else coming in at twelve. There's other things I want to ask you about, but we can do this off camera.

LH: Okay.

BN: But yeah, thank you, that was terrific. We haven't done many Sansei and we're starting do that, so this is great. So thank you very much.

LH: I'm totally honored, totally honored.

BN: We may want to do another part to talk about your academic work later on, but there's time for that.

LH: So I'll just cap this.

BN: Sure.

LH: Okay. So I would just say for people who are watching, if you want to go back to school, you can go back to school at fifty and get your PhD when you're sixty, and it's a lot of fun. And I actually got my degree on my sixtieth birthday, so my degree actually says, "June 10, 2005," Which was my sixtieth birthday.

BN: Wow. That's great, thank you. We share the same birthday, by the way.

LH: Our same birthday, June 10th?

BN: June 10th.

LH: Oh, my good. So the sixtieth is, like, a really important birthday, right? So that was amazing that I could do that. So I say that to everybody who's thinking about what, maybe exploring other things, you can do that late in life and it can be a lot of fun. And I serve as a model, that I (just) realized that I serve as a model for other people.

BN: Your mom sort of did that, too, right? She also got a PhD.

LH: She got an EDD from Northern Colorado State fairly late. Not too late in life, but fairly late in life, midlife.

BN: Later than is typical, though.

LH: Yeah, right, she went back to school. She did that, too, Mom did that.

BN: Yeah, so thank you.

LH: Thank you, yeah.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.