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Title: Elliot Yoshinobu Horikoshi Interview
Narrator: Elliot Yoshinobu Horikoshi
Interviewer: Patricia Wakida
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: April 6, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-503-7

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PW: So at this point, too, in your age, you're older and you're more conscious of what's happening around you. Did you feel much, any kind of hostility or feelings about you being Japanese American? I imagine like either in school or even on this train by yourself, was there any issue?

EH: No. I never thought about those things, and I never had any incidents, especially negative, of people saying things to me or anything. I don't know why. Either that, or maybe I didn't hear them. But still, we lived with mostly all of these people who were Caucasian, the families that we lived with. But socially, my parents met Japanese who were students at the different colleges. Because in Boston there's Harvard, there's MIT, a lot of famous Universities and they were Japanese students coming over to study, and the my parents would meet them. And we also met a couple of Japanese that were living in that area, and we hooked up with them. So that was basically our social group that we interacted with. And then what would happen is a lot of those students were interested in American history. My parents would take them and we would go, too, but to like the famous sites in Boston, so Plymouth Rock, and then downtown in Boston, the areas where the first war with the British...

PW: Revolutionary.

EH: The Revolutionary War, right. And things happened, Paul Revere rode the horse into town and stuff like that. So we would take them to all these places. We also went to New Hampshire, there were some famous tourist spots there, and also to places like Cape Cod that the Japanese had heard about or were interested in. And so we got to see them all, too. Because at that time, that was kind of interesting to me as far as the American history, because a lot of it happened all in that between Massachusetts and New York and Philadelphia, you know, that whole area is where a lot of that happened, not out here.

PW: Was there a Japanese church that your family joined also in Massachusetts?

EH: No. In those times, we went to the local Methodist church. Or to a church where my father knew the minister in the town or something, so that's what we would do.

PW: Did your father eventually finish the seminary work and start working in a church again in Massachusetts?

EH: No. So what happened was he got his master's degree, and then so he was working on his PhD. But in the last year of his PhD studies, two more kids were born. I had another sister and then a brother, and so that was four of us. My dad said they ran out of money, so they decided that all he needed to finish, he said, was to do a thesis for his PhD, but he couldn't get it done in the time. And I think he was planning to do that, you could do that, you didn't have to be there, you could be somewhere else, and he could send the thesis in or something like that. So a job came up at a church in Oakland, and so they decided to take that because they needed to take care of the family first before the studies, and that's why we moved from Boston to Oakland.

PW: Before we leave Massachusetts, tell me the names of the two children that were born, and do you know when they were born?

EH: Yes. My sister is (Katherine) Aiko Horikoshi, and I can't remember... she was born in Milton.

PW: Massachusetts?

EH: Yes. And I think that was 1950. And then my brother was born, Peter. Peter is... I forgot his middle name, I can give that to you later. But you know Peter (Yoshiro).

PW: What year was Peter born?

EH: So I think he was 1952.

PW: And do you know which town he was born in?

EH: We were living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at that time. So that's where he was born.

PW: Do you have any idea what your father's thesis was supposed to be about, even though he didn't finish it?

EH: No, no, I don't know. He never talked about that too much.

PW: So it sounds like because he felt he had so many children to support, it was time to leave graduate school and go to Oakland.

EH: Yes.

PW: So you must remember that whole move, yes?

EH: Yes. My dad especially always liked camping. In the summertimes we would go camping out in the state parks and things. He bought a car from, I guess, Mr. Wyman, an old car, and then he had a trailer. And so we drove that from Boston all the way to Oakland. And I was only fifteen, so I couldn't drive, and my mother never learned how to drive, she never did, so he had to do all the driving. But along the way, we stopped... first of all, we stopped in Washington, D.C., because there was a Japanese minister there in his family that my parents knew. So we stayed there for a day or so and then we went to Chicago because a lot of people from the Salem church had moved to Chicago after the war. And so there was a group there, and so we spent a couple days there.

PW: That's Salem, Oregon, right?

EH: Yes, yes. And so I guess my parents had kept in touch with some of these people over the years, and so we stayed there. But then from Chicago, we went straight to Salt Lake City, I remember, because there was no other Japanese families to meet and talk to. And then from there we went to Reno and Lake Tahoe and then came to Oakland. So that was my first trip in the Sierra Nevadas, going through that. What I remember though is... oh, actually, it was more in the Rocky Mountains before we got to the Sierra Nevadas, so when we were going through the Colorado area. Some of the roads were very steep. You probably don't remember, but we had a stick shift car. And so my dad had to, I had to help him. He would put, have his foot on the brake and then I would have my foot on the accelerator. If we slowed down so much, then he'd have to shift the gear to a different gear, and then I would have to help him drive the car a little bit up those hills or down those hills. But that was all... I couldn't drive, so that was all I could do. And then we got to Oakland and California.


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