Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Sue K. Embrey Interview
Narrator: Sue K. Embrey
Interviewer: Glen Kitayama
Location: University of California, Los Angeles
Date: September 11, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-esue-01-0005

<Begin Segment 5>

GK: What did you do after you came back from Chicago?

SE: Let's see, I came back to (Los Angeles), from Chicago in '48. I found my family living in a two-room, I would say it was a shack, but it was a medium house, I guess, there was only two rooms. But it had no running water, everybody had to use the faucet outside, I guess. There were about one, two, three, about three or four different living quarters, and there was a house in front. Now, people who lived in the house in front had to keep their bathroom open so we could all use it to take a bath or shower. And I thought, "Oh, this is awful," you know, here they've been back for two years. "Can't you find a place to live?" "No, we haven't been able to find anything." And my mother actually wanted to buy something 'cause she had some savings, but not really enough to make a down payment, so... as soon as I got back, I went around looking for a rental, anything. It was amazing, I found a lot of discrimination again. You know, I would get on, take money with me, go to a public phone, 'cause they weren't building, they weren't making telephones yet, because the war had just ended and all of the companies had gone into war work, so they were converting, and so we applied because my brother was a veteran, and they were giving preference to veterans. But we didn't have a telephone, so I would go into these public phone booths, and call all these numbers in the papers, you know, advertising rentals. And amazing, the minute I said my name, "Oh, we don't rent to Japanese, we don't rent to Asians." Orientals at that time. Had a hard time looking for something. And then I thought, "Well, maybe we could try buying something." So I called the real estate agencies, and they'd say the same thing: "We don't sell to," you know, "we don't sell to Japs, we don't sell to Orientals." So then I thought, "Well, my mother likes to go to the" -- she's a member of the Koyasan Buddhist Temple -- "maybe I could find something around Little Tokyo." And south of, south of Little Tokyo there were some small houses a lot of black families had moved into. And I came across a three-bedroom house for rent. And I thought, "Oh, this is great." And so we moved in there, and so my mother lived there for a while until my brother bought a house in the Crenshaw area, and she moved out there with him. But in the meantime, in 1948 I came back, I went to work for L.A. County Health Department, and I was a secretary to the County Health Officer until about '52. I got married in 1950. I think after that I went, I went to work as a legal secretary and put my husband through school. And then after he finished, then I went to school. [Laughs]

GK: And where did, where did both of you graduate?

SE: Let's see, he got his degree in, Master's Degree in Psychology. He went to work at West (Los Angeles), Community College and I got my Bachelor's in English at Cal State L.A., and then I went for my Master's at USC and got my teaching credential. So we both ended up as teachers.

GK: Oh.

SE: Uh-huh.

GK: Interesting.

SE: Yeah.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.