Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Ayako Murakami - Masako Murakami Interview
Narrators: Ayako Murakami, Masako Murakami
Interviewers: Dee Goto (primary), Alice Ito (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 14, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-mayako_g-01

<Begin Segment 1>

DG: So, let's start talking about your parents and where they're from, from where?

MM: Kumamoto. You gonna do the talking?

AM: You could talk.

MM: She tells me I talk too much.

DG: So tell us where your family, your father, is from. And, when he came to America.

MM: When did he come?

AM: I don't know the exact day, year.

MM: No. I really don't know, yo. We never asked him. [Laughs]

DG: We guessed that it was early 1900.

MM: Yeah.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

DG: Okay, and so, tell us about your father, and what you know about what he did.

MM: I know that he went to work at a...

AM: In a restaurant.

MM: In a restaurant. Yeah, and then he learned to, he became a chef. And that's why he has a picture, you know, you know, you know how those pictures with a cleaver. So, and when he, then I think he had a business, ne, he bought a business or this variety store. And after it, it started paying off, then he quit his job at the restaurant, and went into the retail business.

AM: And then got married to Mother. [Laughs]

MM: Yeah. But, yeah, I guess kocchi kite kara kekkon shita no kana. But anyway, my mother, I think, ano, she wanted to come to America but her folks didn't want her to go. But she was, ano, but she wouldn't back down so finally the parents reluctantly ano let her go. So then she got married to Dad and...

DG: And she's from where?

MM: Huh?

DG: She was from where?

MM: Kumamoto. And my folks, my father, is from Kumamoto, too.

AM: And their first store opened at 673 Weller Street.

AI: Do you remember when that was? Or do you know when they opened that first store?

MM: We weren't around then. [Laughs] We weren't around there yet. But, we have pictures of the Higo Ten Cent Store. They used to call it Ten Cent store at that time. And he enlarged the store and I guess it started paying off and then Mother came. And then that's where our life began.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

DG: I heard a little bit about how he saved money.

MM: I think at the beginning, I think he did save his money. Didn't... he told his friends, "Don't drink, don't gamble." You know how young men were. But, I think he was wise not to drink and not to gamble. So he was able to buy the store. I don't know how much he paid but at those days, you know, prices were quite low but the value, the money was better. And then, what, what more do you remember? You were born first, Aya. [Laughs]

DG: Did you know anything about the first business at all, Aya? Okay, so then, let's talk about how he got this place.

MM: I think he worked overtime and things like that, and saved money.

DG: And he got the land...

MM: Yeah, and then he...

DG: And the story about that, you told...

MM: Oh, about Furuya?

DG: Right.

MM: Oh, the, what was it? A Pacific Commercial Bank, was it the name of the place, Aya?

AM: Commercial Bank, I think. I don't know the exact name. Pacific Commercial Bank, maybe.

DG: So, we're talking about 1930 now.

AM: Pardon me?

MM: 1930s?

DG: We're talking about 1930, right?

MM: Yeah, when is it, though, that the Commercial Bank, ano, collapsed?

AM: Around 1930, I think.

MM: Around 1930, somewhere around there. The bank was going downhill, and, I think Mr. Fukuhara, one of the Japanese employees of the bank, I think, approached my dad and said, "Would you please help the bank?" They didn't want it to collapse, so, "Would you buy the land?" so I think that's my father. I think, my, minna no tame to omotte, he bought the land. But, I mean, he bought the land but no use just hanging on to something that you can't do anything with, so then he decided to build this building and that was real bad Depression time. And like Aya says, the workers were working for a dollar and a half a day.

DG: And how did he get the money?

MM: Saved money. He didn't gamble or anything.

DG: And where was it saved?

MM: He had it in the bank.

DG: In...

MM: In then, that Commercial Bank, probably, huh? He must have gotten it out to buy the...

DG: Here in the United States?

MM: Uh-huh. Down Second and the Main, where Furuya... do you remember Furuya no store down there? There's a bank around there anyway, Aya. I don't know the exact date, but it's in that vicinity.

DG: Well, you mentioned he also sent some money to Japan.

MM: Well, that was strictly on the QT, supposed to be. Helping...

DG: Then that's how come he could amass...

MM: Well, I don't know exactly how much money there was but I think Japanese government wanted help. It wanted dollars. So, how that went through the bank, I don't know.

DG: And there was somebody who helped you legally.

MM: Oh, yeah, Tom Masuda, ne? He was a real nice guy and... he was the only Japanese lawyer, ne, that we knew then and he did all the legal work for us. And you were there, too. But she was under, were you underage then?

AM: What?

MM: You were underage? So...

DG: You would have been around, what? Seventeen?

MM: Quite young.

AM: We sold it as a stock, you know.

MM: Ano, and they formed a corporation, not... you know, you had to... because Papa couldn't own it. So I think your name was in it and then Tom Masuda, and then, and another banker, I think, it was that, name.

AM: So, we bought shares in the stock.

DG: I see. So what did you think about all of this? Were you involved in the business at that time at all?

AM: Pardon me?

DG: Were you involved in working?

MM: She was helping in the store, too. You know more about it, that, than I do, 'cause I was, she's the oldest and I'm the youngest, so...

DG: So you were about how old, yourself?

MM: Not high school age yet, I don't think. But I knew they were talking about banks and stuff like that. I didn't know exactly what was going on but ...

DG: Well, we've talked before and your father encouraged you businesswise from when you were really little.

MM: Well, we took it for granted that, you know, we'd help around the store. Papa never pushed us to do it. He never told us do this, do that. If some things came in, well, we'd unwrap it and things like that. But, how would you say Papa...

AM: He was a soft gentleman.

MM: Real quiet. So he let Mama do all the talking. Man of few words.

DG: But you talked about how he wanted you to know about the business. And about how he nurtured you, just like your brother. You had a brother, right, between the two of you. And his name was...

MM: Kay, Kazuichi, but they called him Kay.

DG: So then you were born when, Aya?

MM: 1913, ka?

AM: Yeah.

MM: And the Chiyo's 1915. And Kay was born 1917. Then I was born 1919. Two years apart.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

DG: So talk a little bit about your family, and how your father [Interruption] wanted you to stay together as a family. Can you explain a little bit about...

MM: But still when she wanted to go... when you wanted to go Japan, Papa was, mo, gone, ne? Yeah. 'Cause when we were growing up we always did things together.

DG: Right.

MM: And he was quite a family man. So on Sundays wa, Papa had a, those, that mukashi no, is a Model A Ford, big windows and very, you know, se ga takai cars. And he'd take us out to parks, inaka no ho. And he took us to, where is that, ano, where the Art Museum is...

DG: Which one is that?

MM: Up on Capitol Hill. They took us there. And then to another public park where they had big pools. I forgot the name of that place. But then our family is around the pool and the photographer was telling us, Kay and Papa on one end and Mama and I were in it, and you and Chiyo were together on the other one, I think so. But I haven't seen the picture for a long time now. But he used to take us around.

DG: Did you ever go to Playland?

MM: Oh, yeah. But not that... we were a little older then, so we went with friends. On the bus. None of the kids had cars then.

DG: There was supposed to be a whoopie ride where you could take the cars. Did you ever do that?

MM: Oh, that I don't know. Do you mean an old car? No, that I don't know. When we went to Playland we weren't at an age where we could drive, we were under that. So. But that Playland was...

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

DG: You stayed in the Seattle area? Did you ever go further?

MM: To live?

DG: A trip, or...

MM: Oh, trip? Oh, we used to drive down to Wapato 'cause we had cousins. And down to Portland and... my brother loved to drive. So he wanted to go. So, dakara, what's the farthest he drove, Aya? I don't know.

DG: This was on Sundays?

MM: Sundays, weekdays, whatever, you know. So...

DG: Your father would close the store?

MM: No, Father was, Father... yeah, sometime when we down to, ano, some church no conference down in Portland, I think he drove down, without Dad, just he and his friends.

DG: This is what church?

MM: Nichiren. At one time he went Nichiren. And, and mostly social. He went to Presbyterian church, too, but... [Laughs] Oh, I shouldn't have stuck my tongue out.

DG: That's okay. But you grew up in the Presbyterian church?

MM: Yeah. And she was the Sunday School teacher.

DG: Tell me a little bit about going to school, Aya.

AM: Pardon me?

DG: Going to school.

MM: Something about going to school.

AM: Bailey Gatzert School.

DG: Okay.

AM: But it was called the Main Street School, wasn't it?

MM: Yeah. You know where, ano, that, ano, dentist shop is? Ano, across the street from Uji's? That used to be a school.

AM: Where... let's see, that...

MM: It used to be a Chinese, it used to be a Chinese restaurant there.

AM: No.

MM: And then, ano...

AM: They had that...

MM: H. T. Kubota no...

AM: H. T. Kubota's son had, has that building (now). That used to be the kindergarten. I used to go there in first grade, first grade.

DG: So did you walk?

MM: And then the whole school moved and they all marched up to Twelfth Avenue, she was saying.

DG: Did you live here? At that time? Where did you live?

MM: Oh, yeah. We had upstairs naka rooms. What else is there to say?

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

<Begin Segment 6>

DG: So, like when you were going to school, tell me a little bit about your friends and the neighborhood.

MM: It was mostly Oriental kids, ne? School attendance, ne? I know there was one black girl named Evelyn Peterson, (who) went to school, to Bailey, which was unusual because there weren't any other. It was mostly Japanese and Chinese, huh?

AM: Hmmm.

MM: Hakujin.

AM: Orientals.

DG: So that's how many blocks from here that you had to walk?

MM: Up to Bailey Gatzert School, Twelfth and, Twelfth and Weller.

DG: This is what?

MM: This is Sixth, Maynard. But we were, we were on Weller Street when we went to Bailey Gatzert School.

DG: Okay.

MM: Where the Sun Mae Restaurant is now? (...) My father had a store on the ground floor and there was a Presley Hotel on the upper floors. And there was a lot of Japanese around there.

DG: So you got up in the morning and did you go by yourself or did you meet...

MM: Oh, always a bunch of kids walking up.

DG: Did you play around at all?

MM: No, we had to be in school in time. And then after that, we went down the hill to, for, ano, Japanese School.

AM: 1414 Weller Street.

MM: You know that language school it is now? That place, we went.

DG: So you got up and school started about...

MM: Was it 9 o'clock?

AM: What?

MM: Was school started at nine o'clock? I can't remember if it was 9 or 8. I think school started at nine o'clock.

AM: I think, around 9.

MM: Nine o'clock. And then...

DG: Your father cooked breakfast for you?

AM: I'm not sure.

MM: Did you eat breakfast? 'Cause I didn't care to eat breakfast.

AM: I rarely did. Rushed to school.

DG: And then so, then you met, and then you got out of school around...

MM: American school, about 3, 3:30 kane? And then we trudged down to the Japanese school.

DG: And how long did that last?

MM: Summertime it was about half an hour longer. Wintertime it gets dark quicker so it was only one hour (session) and, but we had to go summer school, though, Nihon gakko.

DG: And summer school was how many days?

MM: Every day of the week. Weekday.

AM: Uh-huh, about an hour.

MM: Summer school? Yeah, about an hour, too.

DG: Did you go to Japanese school on Saturdays?

MM: No. No, after American school, only. Nowdays, it's only Saturday, (...) desho? But we went every day.

AM: I don't know.

DG: What did you do on Saturdays?

AM: Library.

MM: Walked to the library.

AM: That was my favorite place.

MM: And we'd walk...

DG: How far was that?

MM: Over where (...) the library is now.

DG: Oh, on Fourth Avenue?

MM: Fourth kane? Yeah. We used to walk...

AM: On Madison.

MM: Fifth Avenue.

AM: Madison, around there.

MM: Yeah. Tell them about that. You were old enough to know that postage stamps were two cents for mailing and... [laughs] She's smart and, and, she'd ask Dad, "If I'd...," Papa has to pay his bills every month desho? And most of the wholesale stores were congregated...

AM: On First Avenue.

MM: Around Second Avenue, ne? And she says, "Papa, if I walk down there, can you pay me for the stamps no?" [Laughs] So, how much did you used to make?

AM: Two cents each.

MM: Two cents for each envelope. And I think the Jewish owners, they mo, they get a bang out of a little (girl)... she and us trudged behind her. And then we go home and collect the two cents for each of those envelopes. How many? About five or six?

AM: Yeah. So it'd be twelve cents.

DG: So what did you use that money for?

AM: Something.

MM: Candy, and split it. [Laughs]

DG: Tell me about that.

AM: That was the only cash we could get.

MM: I think candy bars were five, was it five cents a bar?

AM: I don't know how much they were.

MM: I think it was about five cents a bar. Baby Ruth bar, was very popular. I remember that.

AM: And popcorn.

MM: And Hershey. Hershey chocolate. Those two I remember quite well.

AM: And popcorn in boxes.

DG: Did you go to the movies?

MM: She loved movies, ne?

AM: Huh?

MM: You loved to go movies.

AM: Oh, Ruth Rolloland.

MM: She's an old-time actress. She still remembers the name. She's always in distress at the very end. You come back to see what happens to her.

AM: Hanging by... hanging by the piece of a string. Oh, boy.

MM: You said, "I gotta go back." But then remember you were saying at one time there was a Bison Theater, they had swinging doors. And so little kids could just march right under.

DG: And that was right up the street here?

AM: Right there, by Jackson Street.

MM: Jackson Street. Where the bank is, around there, huh? Around there. And I guess they needed to chase you kids out, huh?

AM: Yeah. No, the swinging doors. You just go.

MM: So you could just go under it. But I think the kids were well-behaved, so they never chased them out, I think.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

DG: So, did you get kozukai at that time from your father?

MM: I remember Fourth of July he used to give us a quarter and that was a big deal.

DG: So what did you use your quarter for?

MM: She naturally went to the theater. The movie house. I think I was -- I think I -- as I grew older, I didn't care too much for movies. So I didn't go, but the rest of them went.

DG: But you learn to save, too...

MM: Yeah. And then in the school savings. Every, once a month, every first Tuesday or something like that, you know, they have a bank book and then you take your money and the school bank, well, Washington Mutual used to take care of that. And you save money and you get interest on it so you see your money grow.

DG: So do you remember how much you saved at all?

MM: I don't even know how much.

AM: I don't know what I ever did with that money.

MM: I thought fify dollars was big money. [Laughs] But we never withdrew, we just left it in there and as you...

DG: You didn't take it out later?

MM: I didn't take it out. I still have an account with Washington Mutual. I don't know if they still...

AM: I don't know why...

MM: I don't use the same account now, but we still have an account there.

DG: You should check it. [Laughs]

MM: No, I'm sure we took it out. It can't be. We might have something. Can't remember, but...

DG: Tell me a little bit about your mother. And you were telling me about how she taught honesty.

MM: Oh, yeah. She used to say, ano we used to go visit friends desho, and she says, "When you come home don't bring anything from their house." You don't, you're not supposed to bring back. And then sometimes they'll, ame, you know, one ame, and so they bring (it home and) -- Mama says, "I must see what you get." So we come home and we show Mama (...) and then ask her to, "Mama, cut it in four pieces." She said that was kind of hard. But to share equally. Those things you don't forget. It was important that, "Whenever you get anything from anyone, please tell me." My mother said that.

DG: Did your mother and father treat your brother any different?

MM: Well, we were kids, I don't notice it. But tokubetsu kawaigatte moratteru kane, Kay?

AM: Special attention? No.

MM: They were just, just...

AM: Natural.

MM: Same as ever.

AM: Of course, maybe we got scolded if (we) did something wrong.

DG: Like what?

MM: What did you do?

AM: I don't know. I think I was (in) all kind of (...) mischief.

MM: We didn't do anything bad. We knew that we'd get scolding if we did something wrong. But Halloween time nanka de, those paper lanterns with pumpkin with a candle in it. And we didn't go trick-or-treating because we didn't know anything about that. We just wanted to march around the, ano, area where all the kids are living, you know, dakara... Two blocks wo kuru-kuru aruite then, ne, that's about all. There's paper lanterns and they had candles in it, but that'd be awfully dangerous now.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

DG: What about other celebrations?

MM: Fourth of July, I know that ano...

AM: We went to Bon Odo... dance, dance.

MM: July, right up here.

AM: On Main, Sixth and Main they used to have odori.

MM: They built a platform there.

DG: So, did you dance?

MM: We didn't join, but other kids did. Uchi no mother odori sukidakedomo, she never forced us to go. And then they had entertainment on that stage. They had a stage and then the Bon Odori, the big ring, on the side. That was quite a big social gathering for Japanese, and to come up to town to see that.

AM: From the inaka.

DG: What kind of entertainment?

MM: That was, who put that on?

AM: Nihonjinkai.

MM: Nihonjinkai, I guess. They built a wooden stage right in the middle of the road there.

AM: Bon Odori.

DG: What did they do?

AM: Well, just dance.

MM: Entertainment.

DG: But what was the entertainment?

MM: Odori. Odori. Nihon no odori. Or shamisen, that type of... and the kids would do, who were taking odori lessons, would perform there on the stage. But down on the street it's everybody who wanted to join, who could dance.

DG: Did you ever go up to the Nippon Kan?

MM: Oh, quite often 'cause they had Nihon gakko no graduation services at the Nippon Kan. And they all had all those Japanese entertainments at Nippon Kan. That was quite a gathering place.

DG: On a regular, like, a weekly basis?

MM: There was, ne, lot of activities going on, ne?

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

DG: Let's go back now to when you were little and you had your store on Weller. And we're talking about how your father nurtured your family to be in business. Can you, could you...

MM: He let do you quite a bit of buying later on. One year when he got...

AM: Sick.

MM: Operation -- ulcer kane? He was in Swedish Hospital and he came out and then that must have been before Christmas. Aya did all the shopping, buying for Christmas, and Papa was flabbergasted at how much she bought. But she said, "We sold them all." [Laughs]

DG: Where did you go to buy?

MM: Oh, through, ano, catalog. There used to be a big wholesaler called Butler Brothers and they sold, sold everything that belong in a variety store, I think. And she's... Papa bikkuri shitatte. Takusan katta no. She says urerukara ma, she said, "See there, Dad?"

DG: Then you kept buying from then on? So were you about high school age by then?

MM: Yeah. Mo.

DG: You were here. You're talking about this store, now?

MM: Was it? Yeah, yeah.

AM: This store.

DG: So did you have to gear up for Christmas, then?

MM: It was mo, ano, the kids get excited. We get excited so we have to do the everyday things (and make room for the) Christmas things, ano, dashitari suru desho? Dakara, it meant extra work, but we enjoyed it.

DG: Did your own family celebrate Christmas?

MM: Oh yeah, what did we do on Christmas? Christmas and New Year's (when we were young)? On Christmas morning, Papa would have envelope box (by our pillow with goodies, and) bananas, so we (saw) a banana or two in there...

AM: (And) Mikan...

MM: And chocolate candy goodies, ne, is in the box and that's the one time we could eat in bed. [Laughs] Well, that was our... you know, nani, Christmas no. And Oshogatsu, of course, was very, you know how...

AM: Omochi...

MM: Nenshimawari. So all the menfolks would come nenshimawari and Mother was...

DG: Your mother helped cook then.

MM: To some extent, but my dad knew how to cook. I think he was a better cook than Mom, maybe. And he was real fast.

DG: So you started helping?

MM: So (Aya) learned to cook from Dad, too.

DG: Right.

MM: She loved to cook. She used to cook chow mein dinner and invite all the church friends. But not no more. Tsukareru.

DG: She was telling that you started cooking the Thanksgiving turkey.

AM: I did a lot of... I did a lot of cooking after we came back from camp. They all came to eat...

MM: But about that gravy?

DG: But before camp?

MM: Before camp. Well she did some, but not as much as after. Of course, (afterward) you had to because, Pop died eight days after we came back.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

DG: Well, let's talk about your moving on toward wartime now.

MM. Towards wartime? What kind of... Papa used to say, "Senso ga, hajimaru..."

DG: So, you were in a depression time. How was the store?

MM: 19'? Depression was 19' when?

DG: Thirties.

MM: Thirties. Depression time when Papa bought the property, huh?

AM: Mmm.

MM: Yeah, well, he said a lot of people, when they found out Papa was going to (build) the building, (...) lot of people said they wanted to move, but then we found out they were in back rent and they couldn't move and Papa said, "I can't wait for them." So he decided to move here. He wasn't, I think he wanted to go back to Japan, and live there. And live off the income, I guess. But, that didn't...

DG: So were you planning to go to Japan?

MM: I guess Papa, ne?

AM: Uh-huh. He wanted to.

MM: Papa wanted to, I think. 'Cause he hadn't had a chance to go back at all.

DG: But had he prepared...

AM: To visit, I think. I think he wanted to visit and maybe live there for awhile. He bought a bamboo, bamboo...

MM: Bamboo ranch, ka farm, or whatever. Take no takebatake.

AM: Take yama.

DG: He bought some property...

MM: He bought some property in Japan, too. But he never made it so that property was given away. We told them we don't want it so give it away to the cousins.

DG: So did, did you think you were gonna go to Japan?

MM: Whether Papa was willing to take us, yeah. We would've gone, but... but not to live permanently, though.

DG: Oh, is that right? Well, as you were growing up and in high school, what were you planning to do with your life, did you think?

MM: The business. With helping the family business, but I was thinking -- she had different ideas maybe, but...

DG: What were your ideas, Aya?

MM: What were you...

AM: Hmm?

DG: What were you planning...

MM: What, if you, if you weren't, going to help Papa in the store, what were you planning to do?

AM: I don't know.

MM: We're more or less kinda tied down.

DG: Well, you were expected in a way...

MM: In a way.


MM: 'Cause Papa couldn't understand that much English to run by himself.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

AI: I wanted to ask you, especially Aya, because you are the oldest, Aya. I think I remember you were saying earlier that your father relied on you a lot for interpreting? And could you talk a little bit about sometimes when you would help, what you would help your father with, as far as interpreting?

MM: You went with Pop to, for interpreting?

AM: Mmm.

MM: So, what, what were, what were they?

AM: What?

MM: When you went with Pop, interpreting. But, ano, a lawyer was with us, too. Ano, Tom Masuda.

AM: We had to pledge our loyalty to, you know, for the, to the country, uh-huh. And my father used to explain that "America is my father," and...

MM: "Japan is my mother."

AM: "Japan is my mother. And they had to be in good terms. So, I'll always want that to be true." So, they questioned his loyalty. His is...

DG: And so where is this? That you're talking about?

AM: That was during, (...) just after war started, and people (...) got started (...) being picked up, you know. If they (were) too loyal to a certain Japanese cause, then they wanna take them over the mountain, I think. And, well... he got into the camp, the detention camp. That was the, how would you call it?

MM: Ano, hora, where they had the Puyallup Fair no toko ne. That's where we were sent. No.

DG: Did he go to the immigration office?

AM: No, he was stuck in the...

MM: Oh, he was stuck at Immigration for a while, but they released him. They questioned him, and Papa was telling us the kind of questions they asked and they came right out and said, "Who do you want to win the war, Japan and America?" And most of the gentlemen, Japanese gentlemen (said) America, but my dad says, "Neither." I said, oh you said that? He said, "Neither." He says couples fight like husband and wife in that and says, "I don't want neither one to win, or lose." And so they released him. I said, "Papa, you're really smart." I never thought it that way, you know. But he says, other Issei say, who do you want to win the war, he said minna America. Actually you don't, you know, you're not thinking that in your heart. But they say it thinking that it makes a better impression on the inspectors. But I said, "Oh Papa, you had a good answer." He says, "Neither, I don't want neither one. It's (like) a husband and wife argument."

DG: So did you have to go there and help interpret?

MM: No, that's after, way after. Oh, before, way before. Like, kono property no koto nanka, you know, he had lot of papers to...

DG: Right, that's what...

MM: Sono toki ni, ano, Tom Masuda and (Aya), and my dad would go and...

AM: They made it into a corporation.

MM: That was the only way Pop could...

DG: Whose idea was that?

MM: Lawyers. The lawyers told us what to do.

AM: Uh-huh.

DG: And so did you have to interpret for your father at that time?

MM: Well, then, well, too, because, eventually, it... was your name in it, too?

AM: Uh-huh.

MM: Yeah.

DG: Well, the family was involved?

MM: But father, but Pop's name is not in 'cause he's not a citizen.

DG: 'Cause, see, that's unusual for Japanese to...

AM: Not many, no.

DG: ...form a corporation.

MM: That was the only way, huh, that Tom Masuda, the lawyer, you know, is the one who helped us.

AM: So being a citizen, I would own most of the stock.

DG: Like how much stock did you own?

MM: I don't know.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

DG: Tell me a little bit about your preparations. I mean, did you think the war was going to be coming?

MM: My father was saying, kore, when he used to read that shimbun, he says, "Kore, senso ga hajimari so da ne." I know that he said that.

DG: And why did he think that?

MM: I don't know, reading the Japanese newspaper, I guess.

DG: What was happening that he...

MM: I don't know. Do you know what made Papa say that?

AM: What?

MM: "Nihon ga ne, Nihon to senso ga hajimaru ne."

AM: (...) Father and I used to say, eventually they have to come to a clash.

DG: And what was happening?

AM: Yeah.

MM: Well, like... like hayaku, Nihon o ijimeru no yo, ne?

DG: Right. So were you ordering anything from Japan at that time?

MM: Uh... right before the war? No.

AM: Not too much.

MM: No, not too much.

DG: You mostly got it from people here?

MM: But after the war we went and used to do our own buying.

AM: After war, when we went to Japan, did our own buying.


<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

DG: So tell me what you remember about the day Pearl Harbor happened.

MM: Do you remember that day, Aya? We came out of a theater? Coliseum Theater? And you heard, "Extra, Extra!" You know, the newspaper boy was shouting and we wondered what had happened. And we bought the newspaper and then we ran, we rushed home and my father and mother are having company, ne? And we told them, and they says... it didn't really surprise them, I don't think. Did they? Ne, Aya?

AM: Hmm.

DG: What were your thoughts?

MM: Oh, my. What went through your mind?

AM: I know some day eventually, they would have come to a clash. You know, my father and mother are talking about that and we knew it's bound to clash. So, it was not very surprising, but, but when it really happened, it's shock.

AM: Uh-huh.

DG: So what did you think was going to happen to you?

MM: We never thought we would go to camp.

AM: We never thought we would go camp.

DG: Right. So when did you start, that day, let's go through the day.

AM: We just say we have to wait and see what happens.

MM: And we were restricted. After certain time, we couldn't go beyond a certain (boundary).

AM: Yeah, at one time, we could not even cross the street after dark.

DG: The street right in front here?

AM: Uh-huh. Across the street.

MM: But later on they kind of made it a little easier, but there was...

DG: Well, let's talk about just the very beginning now and did your father get taken right away?

AM: What?

MM: Father wasn't taken in right away. They...

DG: So did you open the business on a regular basis?

MM: Yeah. But people who were more prominent, active in the Japanese no Chamber of Commerce...they were really picked up fast.

DG: You knew about that, right.

MM: They were picked up first.

DG: So were you worried about your family, too?

MM: Well, he was a member, but he wasn't a very active member. So they didn't come after him. They took him -- just when we were about to go into, ano...

AM: Camp.

MM: Camp, yo. To that ano...

AM: Detention home. Immigration office.

DG: Okay. So you open the store on a regular basis, and then you start having the curfew and then...

AM: After the war started, well, we decided we would have to close. So my brother boarded up all the ano, show windows.

DG: But before that, you bought some things in preparation...

MM: Oh, food.

DG: Right. Tell me about that, Aya.

AM: Shoyu, and...

MM: Sugar.

AM: Oil.

MM: Wesson oil.

AM: Salt, sugar.

MM: 'Cause those things (would be) hard (to get).

AM: Those things, that we might need in the war. In the years to come.

AI: What did your father think about you buying all those things?

AM: The what?

MM: Buying all those things? He was for it.

MM: He said, "Do what you think is..."

DG: By then you were doing a lot of the buying anyway?

AM: After war started, I guess, I told Papa, "Maybe we're gonna be short on sugar and oil."

MM: Uh-huh. And rice.

AM: 'Cause they need that in the war. So, "If you want that, stock up now. Do it now."

DG: And so you did that right after Pearl Harbor?

AM: Pearl Harbor.

DG: Okay.

AI: Where did you put all of this? Where did you store all of it?

MM: Warehouse.

AM: Warehouse.

DG: How much did you buy?

AM: Not too, too much. Two, three sacks of maybe two hundred, three sacks of rice or something. Not too much. But...

MM: Because it used to be 100 pound sack mukashi no ne?

AM: Uh-huh.

MM: And then now you bought Mazola oil. And you bought sugar.

AM: I said sugar and oil is a war need.

DG: How did you know that?

AM: What?

DG: How did you know that?

MM: Well, there's a area, in case of war or something, if you have to evacuate or you have to be in, the shelters, those are the main things that you need.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

DG: Okay, so you start boarding up the store...

MM: Before evacuation.

DG: And then you had tenants, and what did you think you were going to do with the store?

AM: We didn't know that we would be closed up and be sent away. They...

DG: Why didn't you have somebody lease it and...

MM: Yeah, some Chinese wanted to come and take over the store, but no, (we said) no.

DG: Why was that?

MM: You know, we just -- didn't want them.

DG: So, tell me about what you did with the store.

AM: We boarded up all the glass, and then -- that's all. We put all the things away in the cellar.

MM: So if you came in, you see nothing. Just a empty co-, you know. Empty tabletops.

DG: And then you had somebody taking care of the building?

AM: We had a man on the corner, he told us that he would watch our store. And he was a wonderful Jewish ano ne, loan man. He worked, and he stayed during the war, all the time.

MM: He was one of our longest tenants.

AM: Uh-huh.

MM: He was a Jewish fellow. And his older brother had a wholesale, so we knew them. And, we told, my Pop says, no hot water or heat because we'd be gone, but he said that was alright, he wanted to stay. And it was a blessing. And we get a letter in camp, saying, "Clean your alley." So we sent the letter to him, the letter, and we told him to have it cleaned, and then deduct it from his rent. So he, he (did)...

AM: I don't know what...

DG: So were there several people renting while you were gone?

MM: No, he was the only one. 'Cause he was the only non-Japanese.

DG: So then who was in this building at this time?

MM: Well, there was Chihara Jewelry. And then...

AM: He was a loan office.

MM: Oh, Jackson Loan Office. That's the Jewish fellow.

DG: Did they all closed up theirs?

MM: No, no he wanted to stay open. And I think he made a bundle.

DG: Who else, Chihara?

AM: Chihara (Jewelry).

MM: And then Uji no barber shop. And of course the upstairs, the young lawyers and doctors, well, of course they all had to go.

DG: And so did you close those...?

MM: Yes. Upstairs was completely closed. No heat or hot water because...

DG: So what did you do about finances?

MM: Finances? Well, we didn't owe anybody as far as I know.

DG: You didn't have any payments, either?

AM: We paid the taxes from the, Minidoka. The bills came through, so we paid the taxes.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

DG: So tell me about getting ready personally. What did you decide to take and what did you decide to leave?

MM: That was hard.

AM: What?

MM: What to take and what not to take to camp.

AM: We (were allowed) one duffel bag to Puyallup.

DG: So what did you take?

MM: They said maybe we'd have to work on a farm.

AM: So we bought, ano...

MM: Slacks mitanano ne.

AM: And we thought we might work in camp, in a inspection camp or something. So, something to work in.

MM: No party dresses. [Laughs] But in camp, though, they had, dances and parties, you know. But...

DG: What did you do? Go in slacks?

MM: The Sears, Roebuck was the catalog, it was the Bible there. [Laughs] So, but that was a help, too, 'cause, you know, we didn't take very many with us. (...)

DG: What did your parents, what did they take or say or...?

MM: We went -- Pop was picked up just before we went into camp, wasn't he?

AM: Yes.

MM: But then he was released after we got to Puyallup. So he was one of the fortunate ones to come out. I think he's the only one who said, when they were asked, "Who do you want the, which country to win the war?" And Papa said, "Neither." I think it struck them. I think other people said, of course, Amerika-yo. And you know darn well isn't so. [Laughs] So I thought, well, Papa's pretty, pretty smart, I thought.

DG: Well, tell me a little bit about going to the assembly center.

MM: We had to congregate at... do ka, Lane Street, ne? Yeah, Lane Street, kind of a quiet road. And then all the big buses were there and we, they checked your name off as you boarded the bus. And then they took the back roads to go to Puyallup. They didn't go on the main highway, you know what I mean? Side roads. And I don't know how many buses there were, but quite a bit. And we were allowed only one duffel bag each.

DG: So, what did you think you were going to?

MM: We couldn't imagine what it could be -- but at least we didn't get into the horse stalls. We got into the, the newer built, ano, that, what they call, shacks, or whatever you want to call it.

DG: So you were how old at that time?

AM: Did you ever see, they had camp life?

MM: Yes, you have...

DG: I went to visit once. What was it like, for you?

AM: Like? It couldn't be any more barer than that. [Laughs]

MM: Bare, very bare.

AM: The toilets had holes in it.

MM: Oh, yeah, you could peek through next door neighbor's. You know, what's going on next door peeking through a peep, you know that knots (...) poke out? [Laughs]

AM: No privacy at all.

MM: But there was a mess hall so you really didn't have to cook for yourself, which in a way some housewives appreciated that. But, of course, ano, food ga oishikunai desho, so they cooked their own rice, and bring home whatever they were serving, so, but...

DG: So did your family stay together?

AM: Uh-huh.

MM: In the meantime, my brother wanted to go out and he did go out. But he did farm work, and he never farmed in his life.

DG: This is after you went to Minidoka?

AM: Uh-huh. After we got into camp.

DG: Okay, let's finish with the assembly center. How old were you, at that time?

MM: High school. High school. Mine, I think, high school? Deru denai gurai, dattakane? Detetakane?

AM: I don't know.

MM: I was about sixteen or seventeen, seventeen, maybe, 'cause I, yeah...

DG: And you were how old, Aya?

MM: Six years older than that. So about twenty-three.

DG: Had you gone to school, beyond high school?

MM: She went to business college. Papa asked her if she wanted to go to the U. None of her girlfriends went, so she said, you know. That time I guess you think about friends more than education. But she really didn't need an education 'cause she did well in business. And she took the bookkeeping course in high school, so. So she finishes her course before the rest of the kids, so she's helping the teacher.

DG: So your intent was to stay in business and...

MM: Help Pop.

DG: ...directed in that direction.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

DG: Okay, let's talk about camp itself. What was your impression when you first got there? Minidoka, we're talking about.

MM: Oh, how close your neighbors were.

AM: Camp life?

MM: Yeah.

AM: Oh.

MM: It was an experience.

DG: Did you know where you were going?

MM: Puyallup.

DG: Or...

MM: But beyond that we didn't know.

AM: We didn't know.

MM: Beyond that we didn't know.

DG: You took the train?

MM: Yes.

DG: So what did you think when you got off?

MM: We're in the sagebrush out in the desert, that's all. Oh, my, I thought.

AM: Wind and the sand...

MM: ...dust storm. You didn't have that experience.

DG: Oh, I lived in that already. [Laughs] So, you were at camp, and then, so what did you do? How...

MM: What did we do to keep busy?

DG: Well, you start, you know, you got settled? How did you do that? Your...

AM: What did we settle?

MM: We got, we settled down and we...

AM: I went to teach school.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

DG: Tell me a little bit about your, getting your jobs.

MM: It wasn't hard.

DG: But you told me an interesting story about how you first went to where?

AM: First went to where?

MM: First, we went into...

DG: Your first job was where at camp?

AM: I went to live...

MM: Oh, you...

AM: Dining room.

MM: Mess room, mess hall wanted a helper. And she, she didn't like it at all. [Laughs]

AM: I quit on the first job.

DG: Why did you quit?

AM: I hated the ladies (gossiping) about other people's business.

MM: Hito no warukuchi nanka itteruno. She said, I don't even want to listen to those.

AM: I (said), I can't stand it. To hear that all day long.

MM: And the, the chef, of the (mess hall) says, "I knew that she was out of place there." You know, people chigau ne. Then, it's kind of, ano...

AM: Chitchat, and back, back of...

MM: She doesn't like that, ano, nante iuno? Hito no warukuchi iuno kikitakunai, she says.

DG: So who did you go to when...

AM: I can't stand it.

DG: quit?

AM: Huh?

DG: Who did you...

AM: So I quit went to another...

MM: Who did you, did you tell him or did you tell Mom? Or did you tell the cook-san, Ogawa-san?

AG: I don't know who got told. But I got... I went and got a job, another job.

MM: She said, "I'm gonna get another job, I don't want..."

DG: How did you do that?

AM: Hai?

DG: How did you get the other job?

MM: You just go down there and ask for it.

AM: Well, I guess we ask for it. I...

DG: Now, where do you go?

MM: Administration building.

AM: Administration building. And I took about four bookkeeping course in the grade schools, I mean, high schools. I knew I could do a full secretary's job. Shorthand, typing, and so I went down to teach in the high school and I said, "Well have you got an opening?" And he said he (had)...

MM: Bookkeeping.

AM: Hired me on the spot. This is... and then...

DG: Was this a hakujin man or...?

MM: Yes, a hakujin.

AM: And then after I got the job I was walking up to Block 32, towards my home. And then I went to the grade school, and I says, my gosh, this grade school is closer to my home. Then I don't have to walk every morning down to the administration section. So I went down back again to the superintendent and I says, "Have you got an opening for grade school?" And he said, "Yes, I need one right away." So I said, "I'll take that job and I went." I (resigned from) the other one.


AM: I got hold of the superintendent, and he became very good to me. One day he came to me and said, "You know, you're, your class is doing a fifth grade job, when you're still the fourth grade." And he was so tickled pink. Okay. He was feeling very good. I said, "By the way," I (said), "On the winter months we had to walk in the snow. The American teachers get a bus and we don't get a bus. We do the same kind of work. Aren't we entitled to the same privileges?" And he said, "Yes." So we got to go ride on the bus. So, he was very fair about that.

DG: Good for you.

MM: But I kind of wondered how come the other teachers, why didn't they ask for it? I guess they were too backwards, well, you're not. [Laughs]

AM: Yeah. I'm doing the work. So what I'm entitled to... I went to the obenjo, even going down when it was (slushy), and I said, "What the heck am I doing this?" I said, "I could ride the bus, ne, if I'm doing the same kind of job." So when you talk to him the next time, and I (will ask) him...

MM: So he was friends with us until way after the war. And my brother, when he wanted to visit camp, he went to visit them.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

DG: So what gave you the idea that you could teach?

AM: Teach? Sunday school. All years.

DG: So where was that?

MM: Seattle.

AM: Presbyterian Church, in Seattle, Washington.

DG: So, how many years did you teach?

AM: From the junior class to the adult class.

DG: So, did you ever think of going into teaching?

AM: What?

DG: Did you ever think of going into teaching?

AM: No, I didn't, because we had the store and I was helping Dad.

DG: Let's get back to your classroom. Tell me a little bit about your class.

AM: My thoughts about teaching?

MM: We had good kids.

DG: The class itself.

MM: We had good kids.

DG: Think about camp and the class that you taught.

AM: My class, the fourth grade class. They're wonderful.

DG: Tell me what you did.

AM: In Idaho, you have to do a little farming. Plant sunflower seeds, and then plant tomatoes and things like that. And something they do at a farm. That's what we did.

MM: Nappa nanka tsukemono shitan desho..

AM: Then we had to grow some...

MM: Turnips, nanka...

AM: Turnips. So after we got the turnips, I made sunomono.

MM: Sunomono and tsukemono.

AM: And (...) I told our class, you go into your class...

MM: The mess hall.

AM: The mess hall and get our...

MM: Rice.

AM: Rice and then get a pair of chopstick and come to school. So I made sunomono and we all had the sunomono.

MM: Onigiri, too.

AM: And onigiri.

MM: And the kids loved it.

DG: So did the kids make the onigiri?

MM: Yeah.

AM: Umm.

MM: They had, some of them.

DG: How did you think up these things?

AM: Huh?

DG: How did you think of what unique...

AM: Well, when you try and utilize what we had on hand...

DG: Why did you want the kids to do this?

AM: What?

DG: Why did you want...

MM: Why did you want the kids to do it?

AM: I think you learn something from it.

DG: What?

AM: Learn how, what things are made. Fruits of the labor. That you work hard and you get something in return. And we (planted) the pot with the sunflower seeds. Then we (...) wiped them, we dried up the seeds and then we had the class (count how many seeds there were) and do some arithmetic. (And) dividing the class in group and then (finding) out how many sunflower seeds you got out of the whole stalk. And then (...) I had them write to a classmate. (...) The superintendent (and) the principal told me to write an article on my schoolwork, so I wrote on schoolwork and (...) she was so tickled pink, she says, "That paper was accepted by the state paper."

DG: Ooh, what did you say?

AM: And I said, "Oh, is that so?" [Laughs]

DG: Tell me what you said.

AM: Well, I said that we planted the seeds and then counted it. We nurtured it during the summer and all that and... fruits of the labor. Making some food out of it and enjoying it. And the state paper accepted the...

MM: It was a national paper.

AM: ...article. And then the superintendent and the principal were tickled pink. That they put Idaho on the map. So I used to do a lot of article writing for the, ano, principal.

DG: You had a word of the week.

AM: Pardon me?

DG: You had a word of the week.

MM: What sort of...?

DG: What were some of the words?

MM: Think of it.

AM: What, nani?

DG: Like responsibility?

MM: Yeah, to teach the kids, nanka. Responsibility's one.

AM: We all had to share in it. Uh-huh.

MM: What else did you say? With... honesty?

AM: Doing a lot of addition, dividing, I think it's -- we worked together as a whole, everything.

DG: What did you think was going to happen to these children?

AM: You know what? Every day I had the feeling that someday they (were) going to (get) out of the camp, they must be ready, be suited to get into the world again. So that's what I was very anxious, that they got all the knowledge they could while I was teaching them.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

DG: Did you teach anything about geography?

AM: All the subjects. Social studies and everything.

DG: Did they know where they were?

AM: What?

DG: Did you teach them about where they were? In camp?

AM: Yes, Uh-huh.

DG: Did you teach them anything about Japan?

AM: Not too much about Japan. More or less the subjects that pertain the fourth grade activities.

DG: And you helped, Masa?

MM: Uh-huh, Uh-huh. I wasn't there once when she gave the whole class five minutes to do whatever they wanted to do. And so they're visiting each other, they're away from their seats and here comes the principal. [Laughs] But then she explained to them, then after five minutes they're very quiet, very well-behaved. And there was two hakujin boys in the class. They were twin sons of the ano principal.

AM: Principal.

MM: Principal, kane.


DG: So your kids were smart.

MM: They're smart, uh-huh. They're all smart.

AM: They were doing fifth grade work. And that superintendent was so tickled pink.

MM: And his wife took over that class after they finished her class and she said, "I never had such a class like that." That was, it was nice that we had really nice kids. Then we still keep in contact with some of those.

DG: I know. I know some of the class members and they loved you.

MM: Well, she used to take -- she used to march them to the canteen and treat them ice cream.

AM: After getting my nineteen dollar check: "Let's go."

MM: And then when we get a day off we'd go to town, ne? And then we'd go to all the candy shops there. It was rationed, desho? We could only buy one pound at a time. And of course one pound doesn't cover all those kids, so she would go in and get a pound, I would go and get a pound, go to another store and get a pound. And Papa would say that some of the kids won't, can't wait for that, they come asking, "Are they home yet?" [Laughs] But then the next day the kids get it. They all know they're gonna get it. So those kids are, very nice kids. No problem. (...)

AI: I was wondering, the kids in class, did they ever ask you any questions about why they were there in camp? Or did you ever talk with them about that?

MM: They never said anything. But they took (it for granted, everything would be good, to be) with their parents.

AI: Did you ever talk to them at all about citizenship, or... fourth grade's a little young, but I imagine, did you have a, I know some classes had the Pledge of Allegiance every day and did you do that?

MM: We didn't do that, did we?

AM: What?

MM: American allegiance -- not every day.

AM: I had to do in the eighth grade class. When I was going to Central Grade School, I was a flag girl, so we used to have once a week, "I Pledge Allegiance to the flag." I went through that procedure. But I never did that during camp.

DG: Was there a reason you didn't do it?

AM: No one requested of it.

MM: It wasn't demanded of us. But anyway, we had a real good class.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

DG: Let's talk about your own family, in camp. Tell me about how your parents handled camp and how you were as a family.

MM: Of course, they wanted to...

AM: Nani?

MM: Of course, they wanted to get out of camp.

AM: Every time we had a chance to go out of camp, we did. To go to the candy store or to pick up a few a cigarettes for some people that wanted cigarettes.

MM: We don't smoke, but then they said, "Cigarettes katte kite chodai. And then we'd sneak the rounds and get what we can for them.

AM: And give them...

DG: So, you went to town on your days off?

MM: Twin Falls.

AM: And they shopped around to, for some friends who might be hungry, cigarettes, or things like that.

DG: Were there any other social events in camp?

MM: Not very many stores, ne? There was a restaurant called No Delay?

AM: That was the No Delay Cafe.

MM: Yeah, there was a No Delay Cafe. But was not spectacular.

AM: But it wasn't, but very small.

MM: But was nice... just to get away.

AM: Not too many candy stores.

MM: Kress, ka, Woolworth's, kane? Were there.

DG: So did your family participate in any of the social events in camp?

MM: Uh, my father would have stuck... ne? Papa didn't -- he was always reading.

DG: Did he have a job?

MM: No.

DG: Your mother?

MM: No. No.

DG: Your brother?

MM: Yeah. What, what did he do? Oh, he was -- he's top woodworker at school -- and then a bunch of boys decided they want to go to Salt Lake. Never farmed in their life. And then he said, boy, was it erai. [Laughs]

DG: So he went with them and left camp.

MM: Yeah, he left with the boys and then he came back. (...) what I'll never forget is -- my birthday -- he was gone when my birthday was here, but he came home and, with his hard-earned money he bought me a little, small, gold, gold heart with a little tiny diamond in the center. And I said, "Oh, my gosh, he did all that hard work for it and then he bought this for me?" I thought, oh gee, kansha shitayone. That he would think about it. I thought he could have forgotten it. But he remembered.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

DG: How long were you in camp?

MM: Three years. Not, well, three years, kane, Aya, kyampu?

DG: So you went in '42 and you stayed 'til '45?

MM: Came out. We were the first ones to come out. In January, ka? January 22nd. And then Papa died February 2nd.

DG: Okay, let's talk about your leaving camp then. Did you, your father wanted to leave and...

MM: He wanted to go. I mean, he was anxious to go --

DG: How did you leave?

MM: By train. We took the regular train.

AM: Uh-huh.

MM: The regular train with hakujin no passengers were all on, too.

DG: The whole family?

MM: Yes.

DG: And you...

MM: And then, we got off the train right here. And then, ano, the Jewish people, (our tenant) had a hammer and a stepladder, was it?

AM: Uh-huh.

MM: And then he was able to unloosen the front door (...) and we got in. But there was no gas. So this, ano, Naval Intelligence man came to see how we were doing and since we have no gas, oh he called right away for us. So...

AM: Everything came out smoothly.

DG: Uh-huh.

AM: No trouble.

DG: Back to camp once more. Your brother, did he have to answer the loyalty questions?

MM: That I don't know but he, they didn't take him because of his eyes. Service -- he was, ano, cons-, was it 4-F, or something like that.

DG: So by the time you all left in January he was back with you?

MM: Yes, yes.

AM: Uh-huh.

DG: And you all left together and came back to Seattle?

AM: So we all came back together.

MM: My folks wanted to come back.

AM: And then Papa died the eighth day after we got back.

MM: Eight or nine days after. Heart attack. I think he was so relieved.

DG: Okay...

MM: And then -- we didn't have any doctors, no. So Aya looked through -- the books, ne, and she found a doctor that came right away. We're thankful for that. But he says, "There's nothing I could have done for him." And he says, "Your dad died of the same thing as Roosevelt."

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

DG: So, tell me a little bit about helping the people and who you helped and...

AM: Most all the people that came back, they dropped in. So we were feeding now army.

MM: Of course we were boarded up. We were still boarded up.

AM: Uh-huh.

MM: 'Cause my dad, shinda kara, sugu, we didn't take the board down. So lot of people come knocking at our door. So naturally, well, we couldn't open the store. We had too many people coming and going. But eventually we -- we got the boards all down and...

DG: So when did you open the store?

MM: How many days after? What day? I'm sure we got it written down somewheres.

AM: And we had lots of food stored -- we had sacks of rice and sugar and everything. We didn't know whether, what would happen through the war. But I told Mama, Papa, I (said), "You know, in wartime, oil and sugar is always needed in the wartime. So that'll fall short. So let's be ready with some, ano, sugar (...) and salt (and etc.)

MM: I, I remember Chiyo Ogo. She says -- I, we had forgotten when -- she (said), "I went to, to see how you folks were," and she says, "Aya cooked miso salmon. Was it good" She mentioned that. [Laughs]

DG: Now the war was still going on.

MM: Yeah.

AM: Yeah.

DG: At that time.

MM: Uh-huh.

DG: So tell me about helping somebody start a restaurant?

MM: Yo, Egashiras...

AM: Next door.

MM: Jackson Cafe. She did a lot of running around for her, for him.

AM: He, he wanted to open the Paramount Cafe again.

MM: Across the street. Under the Bush Hotel.

AM: But the lawyer said, "I do not mind him taking it over but there might be some other crazy people that might have queer ideas. So I can't very well rent it out." So that was (that), my mother and I had discussions. Mother mo, "This is the time to help other people, so what shall we do?" So we decided to...

MM: Rent out.

AM: Have the old book, old bookstore changed into a restaurant. And so we, I helped 'em. He didn't know what to do first. So I said, "Well, maybe you'll have to fix your place to open for a store." I mean, restaurant. So, I looked up all the...

MM: Restaurant supplies.

AM: And the engineers and restaurant operators. And I found out a man who could help and start a restaurant. So...

MM: You remember, Nils Mortenson.

AM: He made a, I mean, $4,000 in just a short period.

MM: Got his expenses back in four, in a few months.

AM: Three months.

DG: The restaurant.

AM: Next door.

MM: Right next door. Used to be Jackson Cafe. And the man that came to fix the place was a Swede, I think. Nils Mortensen is a big company. And he was really nice. Ano, and I think he understood what we went through, what the Egashiras went through.

DG: And then you did this despite the fact that you, your mother had said...

MM: She really -- the restaurant is really not a good tenant, lot of bugs and everything. But she said, "Well, this is the time to help them." (But) that across the street no people owners (would not rent to the Egashiras.)

AM: Used to be Paramount Cafe. Many years ago.

DG: And then... the other tenants?

MM: They all, like Dr. Shigaya, had a practice in, in Spokane during the wartime. But he decided he wanted to come back, so he came back. And Dr. Fukuda, of course, came back. Mr. Watanabe, most of them all came back. They all wanted to come back.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

DG: And we didn't talk about what the condition of the store was when you came back.

MM: No problems.

DG: Because...

AM: Nothing.

DG: Right.

MM: There were a lot of... the wood boards, you saw a lot of nails, 'cause there was, an old English gentleman came and took all the, the advertising. And so, he didn't want us to see all the ads on the wall, on the boards. So I heard that he came and took it all off.

DG: But there were some derogatory things also?

MM: I don't think so. It was all advertising, ne?

AM: Mmmm.

MM: He didn't say anything about... it's advertising.

DG: Okay.

AM: There're a lot of nice people.

DG: Uh-huh. And so anyway, when you started opening the store again, your brother and you, what did you do?

AM: We started to open, we opened, but all the things were inside the tables. So we just have to open that up and re-sell it.

DG: What about buying?

AM: We had quite a bit about that, I think.

MM: The wholesale people come to see us. And then (they said they will send), "Whatever you need, we'll send."

AM: And we had no trouble getting at all. I even helped equip the restaurant man, his, all the food. It was awfully hard to get food in the beginning. But we were very lucky to get him some help.

MM: I remember him. Mr. Egashira, ga mo, you have to go through so much red tape, he said, "Mo naki taku naru, te iuno." Then I heard you say he keeps on saying it...

DG: You felt like crying.

MM: ...but she kept on going, yeah, uh-huh. So he was able to open it. So he was really thankful.

AM: And he made it back in four months, ka?

MM: Yeah, he said, "I got all the expense back in four months."

AM: All of the expenses back in four months. I was happy that he, that I was able to help him.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

DG: And so by then, was it, did the war end, by, pretty soon?

MM: Yeah. War ended August, August, datta?

AM: Uh-huh. 1930?

DG: '45.

AM: Two.

DG: '45.

AM: '42.

MM: Yeah, and they were marching up and down the street there. People yelling and screaming.

DG: What were your thoughts?

AM: What?

MM: Glad that it's over.

AM: What? That was a world war.

MM: Glad that it is over. And some people were very nice. They said, "You shouldn't have gone into camp," and stuff like that but some people were nice enough to say.

DG: Talk about...

AI: Excuse me, I was wondering, what was business like, in those first few months after you re-opened?

MM: Oh, oh, Mother told, ano, Billy Tashiro, you know, Billy Tashiro, "You're gonna be swamped." 'Cause we had prewar... she says she couldn't believe it. They opened the store and they were swamped. And she says they had every, so many customer, (they) locked the door. So many customer, lock the door. That's how it was.

DG: The hardware store.

MM: They all wanted prewar things, which is why they came in. They wanted...

DG: Oh, not just for necessity for the household. They wanted it because it was prewar things.

MM: Before, prewar things. And Billy Tashiro says, "I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe what your mother said." I...

DG: You mean hakujins came, too.

MM: Hakujins, every, yeah, any, mostly hakujins then.

AM: Uh-huh.

MM: They wanted fish, fish and tackle stuff, I guess. I don't know. [Laughs] But she says, "I couldn't believe it. But their mother said that," and -- sure enough. We had to lock the doors ever... after allowing a few customers. So... so they wanted Nihon no mono.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

DG: Tell me a little bit now about going to Japan.

MM: Yo.

AM: Japan.

MM: You wanted to go to Japan and she...

AM: Uh-huh.

MM: She...

AM: No, no, when the war ended my father says, "I will give you all a thousand dollars," or over something. And, "Because you all behaved so nicely." So I says, "Okay, I wanna go to Japan the first thing. If you hold the money you gonna give me." So...

DG: And you said this during camp?

AM: Yeah, uh-huh.

DG: Okay, but you were also preparing to go before camp.

AM: Pardon me?

MM: No. Yeah, no, she couldn't go to Japan.

AM: I couldn't.

DG: But you wanted to go.

AM: I wanted to go. I couldn't go right away. I didn't go until...

MM: After the war.

AM: After the war.

MM: After the war. Well, the war was still there. No, war was over when you actually went. By the time you went, the war was over.

AM: Yes.

DG: But when did you go?

AM: Because I saw MacArthur in Japan, Tokyo.

MM: When you saw him there but then the war was over there. So what month was it?

AM: Yeah.

MM: I remember Kay driving up to Vancouver to catch ano, the boat. One of the American Mail Lines...

AM: I had to take ano a freighter, I had to take rice, food and all sorts of things.

MM: All sorts of things.

AM: My bedding. I had a girlfriend, she was a missionary in Tokyo.

MM: Taul Watanabe's sister. You've heard of her.

DG: Right.

MM: (Taul).

AM: I went and stayed at Seiko's place. And had my first taste of Tokyo.

DG: Okay, now let's try to figure out when this was.

MM: After the war ended, yo.

AM: I don't...

DG: Winter? Fall?

MM: After. No.

DG: Summer?

MM: Harugoro datta ka ne?

AM: Ma, spring, I think.

MM: Spring, goro.

DG: Spring. So probably in '46.

AM: Yeah. I was on the freighter ship with pregnant cows. And telephone poles. That was, you know, the freighter. Uh-huh.

DG: Do you remember about how...

AM: Pregnant cows?

AI: Do you remember how long the trip was on the boat?

AM: Took about twelve... twelve to fourteen days, I think.

MM: And you said it was pretty rocky. So it's spring, datta ne? Natsu dattara, it'd be a bit smoother.

DG: Then you landed in where?

AM: Landed in Yokohama.

DG: Yokohama. So what did you see in Yokohama?

AM: Pardon me?

MM: What was your impression when you first landed in Yokohama?

AM: So I'm in Japan. [Laughs]

DG: What did you see?

AM: It's just... you're on a freighter, on the ship. So you don't see too much.

MM: No, no. After that.

DG: But when you went to Yokohama.

AM: Yokohama? Went to Tokyo naturally. And I met a group of Japanese...

MM: Church students.

AM: Church students.

MM: That's where, ano, Seiko Watanabe met her.

AM: I met Seiko there.

MM: Was it war-torn?

AM: Hmm?

MM: Was it war-torn? How was the building? Were there...?

AM: Wasn't ummm...

MM: It wasn't damaged?

AM: No. No.

DG: But... there were some evidence of war.

AM: Yeah. There's still evidence of people running into holes. If the bell sounded that the enemy was coming, and they all had to maybe run into holes.

MM: Dugouts.

DG: Oh, you mean in the shelters? The bomb shelters. So you stayed how long in Japan?

AM: At that time? Maybe about one or two years.

MM: She went back several times.

AM: And then back again, uh-huh.

DG: And did you buy...

AI: Excuse me, I was wondering if you could tell a little bit, when you first got to Japan, could the other Japanese tell that you were American? Could they tell that you were different?

AM: No.

AI: Did you have an accent?

AM: No. I got along well with everybody. No trouble.

DG: Occupation forces were there?

MM: Oh, yeah.

AM: There weren't many out there...

MM: You saw MacArthur.

AM: Yeah, saw MacArthur walking around there.

DG: Oh, you did.

AM: Uh-huh.

DG: Where was that?

AM: In, ano, Tokyo city.

DG: Is that right?

AM: He was a tall man walking up.

DG: And so was he just walking around the streets?

AM: Uh-huh, walking, uh-huh. Around.

MM: Maybe going to his office, to downtown Tokyo.

DG: So what did you think of Japan?

AM: Feel like? I'll always like Japan.

DG: And you bought some property there?

AM: Yes.

MM: She bought a house.

AM: I bought a house.

MM: And then she took flower arrangement lessons. What else?

AM: Cooking lessons.

MM: Oshuuji. And then what else?

AM: Cooking.

MM: Cooking.

AM: Cooking classes.

DG: You also did some business.

MM: Uh-huh.

AM: Uh-huh. Yes, I went down to Yokohama. Masa joined me later.

MM: Later on, each one of us took turns to go to visit and stay with her for awhile. So, I remember going and shipping all those things that we bought. We have to fill out invoices and she and I (were) busy typing away for them. [Laughs]

DG: What kind of things did you buy?

MM: Nihon mono, like kinu kigi, kimono and obi and things that you couldn't buy for awhile. No food, but just dry goods. Nihon no fans yara, anna yonamono.

DG: Why did you come back?

AM: What?

MM: Why you come back?

DG: Why'd you come back?

AM: I had to help to build business up further along. Because Father had passed away. (...) Eight days after we got back from camp, Father passed away.

MM: But we managed.

DG: So when you went to Japan, did you intend to stay there?

MM: No, not permanently.

AM: Not then, not the first time, no.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

DG: And you came back because you had responsibilities, you say. And tell me a little bit about the store, again, as you went through the years. Like you're -- tell me your age now.

AM: What?

DG: And you're still running the store.

MM: Tell your age.

AM: Nandatte?

MM: Tell me your age.

AM: Now?

DG: Right.

AM: Eighty-four.

MM: Yeah.

DG: Why are you still running the store?

MM: Well, she, she wonders why I still hang on, but...

AM: Ano...

MM: To me, as long as I could do it, I have a feeling I'll do it, but I have to think about her, too. That she wants to take it easy. But, she knows that I can't do it by myself. Of course, we have a helper.

DG: Well, your father set you up, way back. You didn't have to work at all, if you didn't want to.

MM: But I like the public, I guess.

AM: She likes people. Talk to people.

MM: She says, "Oh, you talk too much." And then, I sometimes tell her, "You tell me I talk too much. Now you're telling me to talk." [Laughs]

DG: One of the things I want you to explain is how your father nurtured your family in staying together in all these years.

MM: Well, he was always a kind gentleman.

DG: But he thought family was important.

MM: Yes...

DG: You've told me stories about like you thought you had to help your brother and -- we didn't talk about your mother's passing. When was that?

MM: She died of a heart failure. So we knew she had a bad heart. But...

DG: She worked...

MM: She worked hard, too.

DG: ...until the end?

MM: She worked hard.

DG: Did she worked, back when the store first started, too, right? She did a lot of the working in the store...

MM: Yeah, after, after she came I think she worked in the store quite hard, too.

DG: So we're talking about a fifty year span now. The war ended and you went to Japan and came back. And...

MM: Oh, yeah, and --

DG: You're about the only store that's continued way...

MM: Yeah.

AM: Uh-huh.


DG: know, the Japanese community has to offer the future generations in terms of -- what we have to learn from people who've been in business. What the Japanese businesses offered.

MM: What have you got to say? Hmm?

AM: Nan datte?

MM: What have you got to say?

AM: About what?

MM: Ima yutatte no?

AM: Huh?

DG: Can you, can you hear what I said?

AM: Would I want to stay by myself, you mean? Work?

MM: No, no, what...

DG: No, Japanese businesses and the...

MM: Japanese businesses.

DG: ...the entrepreneurial spirit of the Japanese immigrants when they came. And let's kind of summarize it. And what you learned from being in business and kind of the change of the Japanese community here. You know, you're some of, one of the only ones left.

MM: Uh-huh.

AM: How...

DG: Just a minute...

AM: I don't know what is, the years will be, bring. It's hard to predict.

DG: Let's kind of summarize. Let's go clear back. You're one of the first businesses, and tell me how you see it changing.

MM: Well, that it's always been in our family, so I took it for granted that I should help them as much as I could. But, of course, there comes a time where you have to start thinking elsewhere.

AM: About us.

MM: About ourselves, too. She's ready to quit anytime. But, I'm still living and I says, "By the way you're buying, Aya," I (say), "I don't think you're ready to quit yet." It's still in our blood, I guess.

AM: That's the answer.

MM: But eventually, we have to...

AM: We can't live forever.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

MM: But ima goro no young people, are more, professional in life than business no konna, ne? Retail business. I think there's Vietnamese and the Koreans are the ones who are more into business now.

AM: The Koreans are very...

MM: Very aggressive.

AM: Aggressive.

DG: So...

AM: And they are quite different from the Japanese.

DG: So the landscape of this area was -- you started in business and there were a lot of Japanese for awhile, when you first started the business.

AM: Quite a few Japanese.

MM: Mostly.

AM: Uh-huh.

DG: Like maybe a couple hundred businesses?

MM: Oh, I don't know exactly how many, but most of the, ano, one...

AM: Groceries.

MM: ...groceries, and the restaurants and stores were all Japanese.

DG: Right around you.

AM: The Japanese population has fallen down quite a bit.

MM: They moved outskirts like you folks, moved Valley View and things like that.

DG: Then the war came along...

MM: Before the war it was almost, lot of Japanese business trade, ne. But after war, some came back but eventually they moved to outskirts. Dakara, it's changed a lot. And I think after we go out, it's, be some other. But... I don't want to sell the store. I mean, I'll close it maybe. But I don't want to sell this, I don't know. I don't want anybody to carry the name Higo. 'Cause we took all these years to get a good rating, and good nanidakara. I don't want someone to...


MM: What do you think about Japanese American?

AM: Oh, yeah.

MM: Well -- we can't, osewa anmari dekinai kedo mo, I (wish them) more power to, my hat's off to the JACL and those people who work for the Japanese community. Nihonjin no ho ga motto shikkari shiteru...

AM: Nihonjin, you can't beat them.

DG: Okay, thank you very much.

MM: You're most welcome.

DG: Right, that was wonderful.

MM: Sumimasen.

AM: Nihonjin.

MM: The end. [Laughs]

AM: Nihon, ano. The more I know Japanese, I respect the Japanese, ne. Because ano they're more stable and more deep-rooted in their things.

MM: Ima goro no wakai Nihon kara kuru hito, they're little different, though. They're getting kind of Americanized. And that I feel kind of sorry that, that they're copying the wrong things. You read a newspaper, I don't know where I read it. Couple years ago, two Japanese students, boys, came. And the second day they bought a snazzy little car to go to school. And the third day they were killed for it. It was in the paper. Down in California. And the hakujin envious narundesho?

DG: I think so.

MM: They come loaded, so...

AM: We have many races (of people) coming in now.

MM: Sometimes you don't know. I (asked), "Which country are you from?" Pitch black man. And then (said), "Aruba." Did he say Aruba or something? I said, I told my sister, I said, "I hate to see him in the dark, 'cause you can't see him." Real dark. But some of them, you talk to them, they're very yasashii, so...

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

DG: You've traveled all around the world. And you know people all over the place.

MM: People. You find good people. In any country there's always good people. (...) you learn a lot, too.

DG: Would you like to go back to Japan now?

MM: Oh, yeah. She's been there for so long, she says, mmm. But I don't mind. Asobi ni ikuno.

DG: But you don't wanna live there?

MM: No, no not permanently.

DG: You like being in the United States?

MM: Yeah. It's much free. Nihon no... if you really get into a Japanese community, urusai yo.

DG: Yeah, right.

MM: And mada kekkon shinaide hitori de iru. [Laughs] You know that's the thing they say. It'll be kind of katawamon kane, to omoudesho? You understand what I'm saying? [Laughs] If you don't get married, they think there's something wrong with you in Japan. But there are a lot of single women now. Independent women now. But in the years before, it was, it was a shame on the family if the daughter wasn't married off.

DG: Right. Right.

AI: But that never seemed to bother your father.

MM: No. Doesn't bother me, I'm independent. I don't give a hoot. I shouldn't say that, but nobody came to sweep me off my feet. [Laughs] When I was sweeping out here. Oh, I've seen some girls who got married. Having good marriages. But some not so happy. Sono hito no unmei. Our folks quit talking about getting married.

AM: No. I think our, my first desire, was to travel. That's all I want to do.

DG: And you got to do that.

AM: Get it out of my blood.

MM: And if you get the wrong kind of husband, you can't go no place. [Laughs] 'Cause some of the ladies said, "I can't even cut my hair, 'cause my husband doesn't want me to." I said, "Oh my God." [Laughs] Our marriage would be dissolved right away.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

DG: Tell me what your mother said about how you should not say things. You remember she said?

AM: Huh?

MM: What Mama said...

DG: Your mom used reprimand, reprimand you.

MM: "You can't take it back. Whatever you (have) said. Once you get it out of your mouth, you can't take it back." And she comes out pretty strong sometimes.

DG: That's what's good.

MM: But my dad says, atarimae no koto dattara dondon ittemoii. Like, camp no koto, he (didn't) like those things. Like the American teachers who were doing the same we were doing, how come they get a bus and we don't? And (Aya) gets it. So she wrote articles for the...

AM: The school paper.

MM: The teachers' paper. Not for the coun-, school no nani whatever. So she's, she's good in composition.

AM: This principal wanted me to write articles in the...

MM: For the teacher's magazine.

AM: Superintendent wanted (me) to write articles for the school. I said, "I don't know..." You would think the American teachers would do all the writing in English but they didn't do it. But I think they don't have natural writing, I think. They're too flat and they're not very imaginative. And they're all out for themselves, not the, you know...

MM: 'Cause, the other kids in the camp no school. They said, Gee, you folks get to eat ice cream. We don't get anything. Hakujin teachers get much better pay than what we were getting. But they're, they won't dish out for the kids.

AM: So when we get a $19 check, off we go to the canteen. Today a cookie. Tomorrow, maybe a piece of candy, ice cream. That was our pleasure.

MM: That's why those kids were real good.

AM: Uh-huh.

MM: And some other kids, like Jimmy, ano, what was his... that little short boy. He was in another class. He was a good pitcher. He'd come to our steps and says, "Gee, we don't get anything like that."

DG: This is from another class.

MM: Another class.

DG: Yeah, right.

MM: Jimmy Ogawa. Jimmy Ogawa. He was a good pitcher. Very cute little boy. "Gee, we never get this." [Laughs] But, they look us up sometimes. Those kids that I wanted to see, Billy Tomori, I think he studied to be a lawyer and now is down in California. Maybe someday I'll see him. Some of them died, like Kako Miyake, Kazuko Miyake, she died young. Howard Suyama died young. And George Kiuchi, we keep in contact with him. He was a cute little guy. He, they'd call him, what was that nickname for him?

AM: Cue Ball.

MM: Cue Ball. Pitcher. [Laughs]

AM: I enjoyed my kids.

DG: Yeah, he always talks about you.

MM: And George Sumino looked you up in Japan. He was a talker, smooth talker. [Laughs] Henry Odate was quiet boy. He was in the service, I think, he...

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

DG: What... how did camp affect you the most?

AM: Affect me?

DG: Affect your life?

AM: I think...

MM: You could face any situation and live through it.

AM: They make the best of any situation that comes along.

DG: Would you protest now?

AM: What?

DG: Would you protest?

AM: Protest what?

MM: The war?

DG: No. Going to camp.

AM: Protest what?

MM: Protest the, going into camp.

AM: Hmmm.

MM: Maybe now, but not then. We're too young then.

AM: I wasn't ready to protest. I had -- you had to be obedient.

DG: Why?

AM: You had your father, your mother. Your whole family with you. You had to follow them around.

DG: Why did you have to?

AM: Why? Family.

MM: Duty.

AM: Duty. Uh-huh. I would do... if I left them and went somewhere else I would be worrying about them. So might as well be with them. That's the feeling I have.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

DG: You said something about your father wanted his family because he didn't...

MM: He didn't have family (...) nothing but brothers. And he was the third son. Did he have a sister? But she died young and he always used to say, "My sister who died, Chiyo, was very similar," nite tatte to his one sister. So I think he had not a very, very happy life. Sabishii life, I think. So family meant a lot to him. So I don't know what year he bought that Ford, but he would take us out on Sunday outings. Mukashi no Ford with a big, 19' what is it? 19'...

DG: Well, I heard a story from Elmer Tazuma, that there was a period when you didn't buy it. He didn't buy a car to save money for opening the store.

MM: Who?

DG: Your father.

MM: My father?

DG: Uh-huh. That he thought that was too much of an expense and that's how he saved.

MM: That's a new one on me.

DG: You didn't hear that story.

MM: No.

DG: So the story is that your family didn't have a car for a long time, when you were really young.

MM: I remember having that, that Ford with the big glass window but not, what year model ka shiranai kedo but I don't think any other Japanese family had one like that. I don't know about Tazuma no family. I know who he is, but...

DG: Uh-huh.

MM: How did he know what, about...

DG: He said that his father told him about...

MM: He...

DG: Your father.

MM: Mr Tazuma had a store on Twelfth Avenue. But that's way after.

DG: Right.

MM: Way after. My dad was in business way before him. If I'm correct.

AM: Yeah, Tazuma was older man.

MM: Tazuma is. I think, uchi no store was older.

DG: He told me the story as an example of how your father saved and how he got his savings together. He was a real frugal man.

MM: Well, frugal, but we were not very deprived of anything.

DG: Uh-huh.

MM: 'Cause all the Isseis were frugal.

DG: They were, weren't they?

MM: Uh-huh. But I don't know Mr. Tazuma.

DG: Well, you told me a story...

AM: I never talked Mr. Tazuma personally.

DG: Oh, okay. You told me a story, I thought, about your father when he was working for the railroad? Or something? And how he saved money even then.

MM: He was working and then he got into that restaurant.

DG: But even before that, he, he got...

MM: Oh, yeah, I remember. Mr. Shiraishi is a buddy of my father, too. And, ano, weekends come and they used to go gamble and my dad was dead, dead against gambling. He saw all those men were all gambling on the weekend. And he didn't believe in that. That's where he saved his money. 'Cause I can't think of anything else.

DG: Right, right.

MM: 'Cause they all earned the same amount then, I'm sure. But they always had a Toyo Club yara.

DG: Well, see, and that's where that Kimpachi used to have his gang members recruit them into the gambling place. As they got off the train or something like that.

MM: I think he used to go and nante iuno...

AM: I never heard of Dad gambling.

MM: Yeah, my dad, oh my dad was, even in camp, de kara, we, ano, we (would) play, pinochle, or something, they nickel and dime, they'd back, no gamble surudesho, oh, he just hated it. And he says, "I don't like that. Warui kuse datte." So I know he would never gamble. And he used to tell Misa-chan no father, "Don't gamble your money away." And Mi-chan says, "Yeah, so look what happened. You folks got money and we don't." [Laughs] Yeah. So, yeah, I know my dad was dead against gambling. And maybe he never joined in with the rest of the men. Maybe that's why they didn't like him. I don't know. Ne, Misa-chan no papa used to say, Mr. Shiraishi no father used to say, "Your dad never went gambling." I think after work they all (would) go and gamble, but he would not go with them. Otherwise, everybody else made the same kind of money. But when the same men are single, no wives, I think they went there for asobunoni.

AM: Yeah.

MM: Kimpachi made a lot of money but I think he lost it all. He was nothing to look at, short, crew haircut, and comes in like this. Like a big shot, you know. Typical Japanese no...

AM: Gambler.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

DG: Do you like Seattle? Compared -- you've been all over the world.

MM: Oh, there's no place like home. Although I lived in Tokyo for a while, too. I didn't mind it.

DG: Why do you like Seattle?

MM: 'Cause we were born here. And Seattle's a nice city. And the people who come up from the south, they even say as you get north, the people are friendlier. But it's gonna change, you know. Pretty soon. There's a lot of Californians are moving up here. And then...

AM: Ano, Chinese people are hard to get along with, yo.

MM: Chinese, why, that old, old-style ones, ano, ones that have lived in America for a while, it's okay. But the newly arrived ones, urusai yo. Your grandma and grandpa would be... they did business so they know. Mo konna no mada, "You got some more?" Do you think they go back... Esther, at first, when she came to help us. Brings out the whole dozen to show. I say, "Esther you don't have show, they're all alike." She is shoujiki, you know. Chotto demo mark ga attara, and Chinese no ne, it's imperfect. You notice that, ano, blue and white, blue fish no pattern. Some plate the blue is light, some are dark, and some have brown spots in it. Not perfect. Sono ten, Nihon no ho ga kirei. But you pay more. But people don't understand that. They think that anything from there, it should be cheap.

DG: What do you learn from being in business? Meeting the customers?

MM: That there's all kinds of people. [Laughs]

DG: You talked to me about that.

MM: All kinds. But the majority of them are good.

AM: But you find a new class of Chinese people coming. They are kind of callous. No manners.

MM: You hate to say that, just maybe we see is a few bad ones and we shouldn't say that.

DG: Well, I think that's, like you say, good and bad...

MM: It is a good and bad, uh-huh. And they're very demanding.

AM: Muzukashii yo.

DG: But you've done a good job.

MM: Well, thank you. I don't know if it's really a good job, but we did it because we had to. [Laughs]

DG: That's right. Yeah. We really enjoyed having this conversation.

MM: Well, thank you for having to stand it all. I bet your folks there have lots to say, 'cause they were in business for a while, too.

AI: I think they would say the same thing, that you meet all kinds. I think they would agree with you.

MM: All kinds. On the whole, people are good.

DG: Uh-huh.

MM: But sometimes you meet a sour lemon. But not in the store, usually.

DG: There's a lot of people who quit business because of the sour lemons. And you stay in business. And you keep on...

MM: Well, the majority of them are good.

DG: Right.

MM: People are interesting.

DG: My family was in business, and so I believe in...

AM: But we're seeing a change of people.

DG: Yeah, we have...

MM: Sometimes she says mo akitekuru.

DG: Uh-huh, yeah.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.