Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Chizuko Norton Interview
Narrator: Chizuko Norton
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 27, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-nchizuko-01

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: Well, as I mentioned, I wanted to start off, Chiz, by asking you about your parents and if you could tell their names, a little bit about their background, where they came from in Japan, and what you know about their immigration.

CN: Well, let me see. I wasn't going to say that. My, my father's family name is Tahara, but he ran away from home at the age of fourteen and changed his name to Tamaye. And we, in my family, we laugh about that. Tahara is written like ta is the paddy rice field and hara is in the middle of the paddy rice field. Tamaye is "in front of the rice field," so that goes to show you there is something about that, about my father. He had it legally changed years later, but my birth certificate has the name Tahara on it, so, (...) I always thought that was fascinating. But he ran away from home having an intense dislike for his stepmother. And his uncle, and my, later my grandfather, went to try to talk him to go back, and met with him in San Francisco. By the time my grandfather -- well, he refused -- by the time my grandfather came, he had located himself in a place called Fort Lupton, Colorado. And there is such a place. I did go see it. But he worked on the farm, and then spent some time as a, I think he called it a cabin boy, on a ship. It was a navy ship. He was not a member of the navy, of course, but he ran errands and washed stuff like dishes and all, I think. And then he spent some time in Denver. By this time, his oldest brother had immigrated to Denver, Colorado, and they spent some time there. His older brother ran a, worked in a nursery and then later ran his own place there in Denver as well as in Los Angeles. But my father made his way up (to Seattle). My dad, in many ways, was a real rebel, and I guess I took after him. But anyway, he made his way up to the Seattle area and, in Bellevue, and spent quite a bit of time farming and also on the weekends taking his products to the Pike Place Market. And...

AI: I wanted to ask you, did you, were you told anything about what your father's family did in Japan?

CN: Yes. They had a farm. I did visit both my father's ancestral home and my mother's, and I was able to view their, where they grew up. Of course, the houses that, in which they were born were no longer the same ones. They had both been rebuilt, I guess. Maybe many times. The ones that I saw were, were really much nicer than ones that I've been living in. [Laughs] But I, they had...

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

<Begin Segment 2>

AI: Excuse me. I was going to ask you moth-, about your mother as well. Where was she from, and...?

CN: Oh, they, he was from Fukuoka, and my mother is also from Fukuoka. And the two families -- at this present time -- by car they live about ten minutes away from each other. And...

AI: So, very close.

CN: So, very, very close, and the family crest on both sides of the family, it's the same.

AI: How interesting.

CN: So I've decided that they, years ago, belonged to the same tribe, I guess. But my, my mother came here with my fath-, no. My father was, when he was twenty-eight years old, called back to Japan, that they had, they had a young lady that they wanted him to marry, so he went back and married my mother. And they came back here, and he brought her back here to Seattle.

AI: Do you know approximately when that was that she came over?

CN: Yeah. She was born in 1900, and she was just graduated from high school, so she was, that was 1918.

AI: Well, that was rather unusual for farming families to have daughters that went all the way through high school at that time, wasn't it?

CN: Well, I guess. But anyway the whole family -- from what I understand, and also when I went back as a grown-up, I did ask questions, and they they were all, went through high school. And my, my uncles got their education, too, in Tokyo and so, and part of the family on both sides have located in Tokyo, majority of them in the 1920s. And not all of them because my mother is one of twelve. She was the oldest of twelve, and when I went, nine of them were still living and nine of them are still living. So, and one was, died when she was just an infant. My aunt, my oldest aunt, died during World War II as did my mother; and then there was one aunt who died when she was in junior high school. So, and my father was one of six.

AI: So your father had a brother who also had immigrated to the U.S. at one time, and then did your mother also have any siblings that immigrated to the U.S.?

CN: No. She had a father who wanted to see what this was all about so he came and spent about two years, is all, and didn't think that it was for him or his family and so that's, that's that, I guess.

AI: Do you know whether your parents intended to go back to Japan at first or whether, do you know whether they had decided to stay?

CN: Well, I think, though they didn't talk about it much, I think they did expect to go back because my sister, who is four years older than I -- well, if she were living, she'd say, "No, it isn't exactly four years," it's not quite four years older than I -- was sent to, was taken back to Japan after she finished kindergarten here. She went to Bailey Gatzert School. And it was in July of that year that she and my father and mother and I went to Japan so she could start first grade in Japan. And my mother fully intended to stay just a few months, but, and I was two at the time. And we stayed there until a couple, well, not even two months before I was to start kindergarten.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AI: Oh, so what year, well, what year were you born and then what year --

CN: I was born in 1924.

AI: So you went to Japan in 1926, would that have been?

CN: '26, uh-huh.

AI: And then you stayed for several years?

CN: Yeah. I stayed until I was -- well, for four years.

AI: Do you have any memories of that time?

CN: Well, I don't know whether they're really my memories or just what I was told. I have some visual memories of being carried on my mother's back and, because she would go visit her friends. And my sister had a wonderful time because my youngest uncle on my mother's side is nine years -- I mean, months older than me, and my youngest aunt is the same age as my sister, so they all went to school together. And then she came back right after she graduated from high school. So, to answer your question, I think there was some plan to go back because she was sent there to be educated, and I'm sure they were thinking it would be easier on them if she got a head start. So she came back. It was just before -- not in months, but in years -- just before World War II.

AI: So the late '30s, then?

CN: Yeah, it was very hard for her. I remember feeling sorry for her too because we were strangers, and everything was so new. And I remember when she started, it was special education classes at Pacific School at that time, and we still have class pictures from... and it was not just Japanese American, not just Kibei; but, you know, Jewish children (and) young, young people.

AI: Other immigrant children.

CN: Uh-huh.

AI: So she really had, she really had to learn English basically from scratch from the time she came back.

CN: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

AI: Now, do you recall a time when you spoke Japanese before you spoke English?

CN: Yeah, I do. I remember very distinctly just before I started kindergarten, I was given an easel. You know those little... they were green boards, not blackboards, and my father printing my name. And I was, I practiced printing my name, and I was -- he said, "Well, now you have to go to the bathroom," -- this is in Nihongo -- "So this is how you say it in English..." And, "My name is..." and just perfunctory things like that that he taught me.

AI: So his English was good enough that he had everyday English that he was teaching you?

CN: Yeah. It was good enough, not all that good, but he was able to... I guess I should say it was good because he was able to function in making a living and that kind of thing. So... but I do remember that very vividly and being taken by my mother and father to, to school that very first day.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AI: Well, let me back up a little bit and ask you, do you remember the trip coming back to the U.S.?

CN: No, I don't, not at all. I understand it was terrible. And it was, I know this because it's stamped on my birth certificate -- we came back on the SS Thomas Jefferson. And so it was... I thought it was one of the Japanese ships, but it was not. And that must have been hard on my mother, too, because I think we must have eaten bread instead of rice and that kind of thing.

AI: Right. And then when you arrived back, where, where did you live when you first came back here?

CN: In Bellevue. It was in an area which is now part of the Glendale Golf Course, and there were a number of Japanese who, Japanese families who farmed there.

AI: Off of Northeast Eighth?

CN: Yeah. The soil was terrible. I remember our parents breaking up these lumps of clay, clay soil I should say. And I remember that very vividly.

AI: Can you describe a little bit more about what that home was like, what that property was like?

CN: Yeah. It was a house that had a large kitchen and a dining, I guess it's a dining room, and then a living room, or we called it the parlor, and then one bedroom. And my parents slept in the double bed, and I slept in the single bed off to one side.

AI: And was that right on the farm acreage? The house was right there next to the field?

CN: Uh-huh. And the other thing I remember very vividly is that the well was -- you know, you pumped the water to get the well -- I mean, to get the water -- and our well was very special because we had a trout living in there. And it was a good-sized one, and someone -- I think the family's name was Koura who moved to Bainbridge Island, but I think... I was told now that their son had caught this fish and put it in the well. But it was fascinating. We used to spend what seemed like hours -- I'm sure it wasn't hours -- leaning over the well with everyone saying, "Get away. Get away. You'll be falling in." And we were watching this fish swim around. Those wells were not all that large, but we, for all I know -- well, I'm sure he's no longer living there, but he lived to be a ripe old age. [Laughs]

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AI: Well, so then you were saying that you recalled getting ready to go to kindergarten, getting ready to go to school.

CN: Getting my bangs cut. And I remember that and then putting on a red dress.

AI: Any other particular memories of your first days of going to school?

CN: That, I don't remember. What I do remember is that the teacher was giving some of my friends -- these were children that I didn't know who later became my, well, they were my classmates and became my friends -- that they were given hakujin names. And I remember that when it came to me -- I can't tell you why I objected, but I must have because... Chizuko is not an easy name to remember, and the others got names like Mary and Betty and Lillian and, and all.

AI: But not you?

CN: But not me.

AI: Do you recall the ethnic composition of your classes in the early grade school years?

CN: Yeah, it's a lot of Japanese American children, and then the others were all Caucasian. I don't recall any other people of color.

AI: And do you have any memory of when you first realized the difference between you, as a Japanese American, and the Caucasian peers?

CN: I think we were made to realize that at a very early age because we spoke Nihongo at home and we were learning English. So I know I felt different, and I think we all did. We were well aware of that, because our parents didn't look like other kids' parents, and they didn't speak English. And I remember we were asked what we had for breakfast, and we talked about having rice, having gohan. And the teacher saying, "Well, you must have toast and eggs," and this kind of thing.

AI: Was that difficult? Did you have some difficult or painful times over that difference?

CN: I must have. I must have because I always felt that I was different. It did help going to school with all these Nisei, Nisei kids because you weren't the only one. But we were made to feel different. At least, I felt it. And so, and at home, I don't know about other families, but in my family I had to speak Japanese.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AI: So that was really the daily communication between you and your parents, was in Japanese?

CN: Uh-huh. And my mother -- I don't remember this -- but my mother used to enjoy telling other people that I would come home from school, and I would say, "Now I'm going to teach you," and have her sit down and I'll be the teacher. And so I would come home and teach her new words as well as songs. I remember the songs especially and she went along with it.

AI: So in some ways, you were becoming a teacher for her regarding English and a little bit about American education and it sounds like she enjoyed that.

CN: Well, I think she did, and she said she did. I do remember her asking a neighbor Nisei girl who was in high school -- she's no longer living now, but asking -- and she was taking Home Ec. and foods, and she would ask her to come and teach her how to bake, make pies. I remember the pies especially. And also, and this when I was in junior high or was it high school? Do you remember -- maybe you didn't, you're so much younger than me -- do you remember a dish called "eggs ala goldenrod"? That you, this is for breakfast now. You toast a white, piece of white bread. I guess it must have been Wonder Bread and then have white sauce. And then you run the yolk, hard-boiled egg yolk, through a sieve and so there would be, in the middle of this white, there would be this yellow yolk that was put through a sieve so it would look like a flower.

AI: So it sounds like your mother was interested and curious about American ways and American ways of life.

CN: Well, she was, she was an interesting person. I grew up eating not just Japanese food, but other food as well. Like she would ask, she asked Margaret Nomura if she would teach her how to bake pies and cakes. I asked, my sister and I asked her how that happened, that we were, we used to have, I remember distinctly, the... oh, you know that Irish dish that they have during Saint Patrick's Day.

AI: Mulligatawny?

CN: No. Not Mulligatawny. It's a hunk of corned beef and cabbage, and stew and stuff like that. And, so she said that when she came, she was just eighteen, and didn't even know how to cook, didn't even know how to cook rice. And what she would do, since she lived in Seattle in that Yesler area, that she would go to the neighbors and watched the lady of the house cooking dinner, and then she would go and purchase these items and then go home and try it. And whether they were Jewish people or Russian or Japanese, it didn't matter. And she said, "None of us spoke English anyway." [Laughs]

AI: How interesting.

CN: And so we would say, "Oh, Mama you were so smart," and she said, "Not smart. I didn't even know how to cook rice." [Laughs] And so that was interesting. And I, since I spent a lot of my, the major part of my growing up experience as an only child -- since my sister was going to school in Japan and living with our maternal grandparents' family -- we did a lot of, a lot of talking, my parents and I. So my experience growing up with parents is quite different from some of my friends who lived in a larger family. And so they had each other to communicate with, and, therefore, not as much with their parents.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

AI: Well, in that regard I wanted to ask you then if either your mother or your father conveyed much to you or discussed much about behaviors or values or lessons or ways of living that they wanted you to, to learn?

CN: Lots of it. And I think in every Japanese family there is much emphasis on behavior and etiquette and manners and that kind of thing.

AI: Anything that stands out in your mind? Especially anything that would be emphasizing the Japanese cultural heritage or any particular principles or values?

CN: Yes. You're you're not to explain yourself. They called it "back-talk." All you had to do was say, "But," or "No, it wasn't like that." It was, "No, you don't. That's enough. We know you did wrong." Which I thought was terribly unfair because we all have to... well, we all do things because something else was done to us and maybe that's a poor excuse, but I thought it was very difficult trying to explain myself because I wasn't given the chance to explain myself. But... this business of you have to always be on your best behavior because we don't want the neighbors or other people to quote, "laugh at you." Really what they were saying is, laugh at them. And so, very much so. And, of course, you, we learned a lot of that, too, not only at home, but at Japanese school. And we, in Bellevue, went to Japanese school on Saturdays and spent most of the time fooling around, really. Playing school in school. Because we had two teachers and they had four grades each. So while they were spending time with one grade, all the others of us had work that we were supposed to be doing. [Laughs]


AI: Well, you were talking a little bit about what your parents taught you, some of the things they taught you and things you learned from them.

CN: Well, I'd, I'd like to say, just to tell people that it's my mother who taught me how to jump rope and also juggle beanbags and, and play some of the Japanese games, and, of course, songs. I taught her the American songs and oh, even taught her the "Pledge of Allegiance."

AI: Did you ever discuss the "Pledge of Allegiance" with her? Did she have any commentary on that, or --

CN: No, I don't think I did. In fact, I don't think we were even... we just -- well, I can only talk about myself. This was through rote, you just... and some of us didn't even know what we were saying, I don't think.

AI: At such a young age.

CN: Yeah, because we started at, you know, at least at the first grade level. And I was going to say kindergarten, but I remember the first grade.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

AI: As you got a little bit older, do you recall having any discussions with your mother or your father about Japaneseness or Americaness or becoming American or staying more Japanese?

CN: Yeah. I remember complaining a lot, that I wish that I didn't have to go to Japanese school. And, you know, what good would it do. But they made me very much aware that I am Japanese, first and foremost -- American, too, but really Japanese. And by that I know that they were talking about the culture. And also how important family was. I will always remember that I would come home and say... well, some of the kids would be teasing me. I am very dark compared to most Japanese, and so I was teased about that. And I was told by both families, both parents, that, "You might be dark" -- my father was dark -- "but in Japan, if you were in Japan, you would not be ashamed of yourself. You can hold your head up high so remember that when anyone teases or gives you a bad time about the way you look and who you are." So that has stayed with me throughout all these years. And after that... well, I have to admit that I did a lot of complaining about being different and also having that called to my attention by my Nisei friends as well. Because to be dark was -- and I still think it's not all that much appreciated among the Japanese. And I remember sticking adhesive tape all over my hands. You know, when you tear off the tape, your skin is light. Well, I thought that that would keep light for longer than just a few seconds. And the other thing is that praying to be white for just one day. And I think about that and I think, "Oh, such a sad Chizuko." But I got... well, shikata ga nai, you know. You kind of grow up with it and that's, that's okay.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

CN: But you might be interested in the fact that my parents, including my father, gave me lessons in sex education, verbal, that is. As a family, we bathed together. And when I was ten, I was told that I -- it was noticed that my breasts were forming -- and that I would hereafter bathe by myself. And I said, "Why?" "Well, that's because you're going to be a lady soon." And also, some men or boys will take advantage of girls and women, so it was recommended that I not sit in the middle on a bench seat in a car because of the gearshift. And if a man or a boy would put their hand on your thigh or your knees or your legs, be sure and stand right up and get away. Or if they would hold your hand and go like this [Ed. note: Narrator uses index finger to trace circles in palm of her left hand] I don't know what that means still. And so I remember those lessons extremely well.

AI: Was it a shock to you to get this kind of information or did it just seem a like normal deal?

CN: No. It seemed like normal, especially since I was going to be a lady. And my... see, we were in this furo -- this part came a little later -- but I know in the furo that he said, "Your mother will tell you more about what happens when you get to be a young lady." He, of course, was talking about menstrual periods and all.

AI: And then she did later on tell you?

CN: Yeah, she did. Uh-huh. So, I thought others got the same kind of information, but obviously not, not everyone did.

AI: So you found out later that, in some ways, your parents were very progressive.

CN: Yeah. I kind of thought it was because we were such a small family. And if you don't talk to one another, then you don't talk at all. So, I guess... but I certainly appreciated being given that kind of information.

AI: Right.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

AI: Well, now this must have been as you were growing up, you say, starting in about the fifth grade and progressing on as you got older. And sometime along this time, did you move to a different place?

CN: Uh-huh.

AI: When was that?

CN: When I was in the second grade, I think it was, that we moved, no, no, no. Excuse me. We moved from, we called it Peterson Hill then. We moved from there when I was in the fifth grade because all this business about if a man or boy should touch your knees and that kind of thing took place there. And that was just off 405 about five or six blocks from Eighth. And we lived there for a short time, and then -- I mean, very short time, and then we moved to Kirkland. (Narr. note: We lived on Peterson Hill while I was in second grade. In the fifth grade, I attended Bellevue grade school.)

AI: And was there a particular reason? Did you know why you made these moves?

CN: I think my mother and dad decided that they would like to run greenhouses and raise flowers rather than vegetables, though, they did raise vegetables, too. They raised cucumbers and tomatoes, but not, not the strawberries and all the other back-breaking work. Strawberries and cauliflower and cabbages and all where they, each one had to be tend to individually. I remember that.

AI: Were you, did you have some of that yourself, responsibilities on the farm in the early days, the vegetables?

CN: Uh-huh. Not so much the vegetables. I remember having my own vegetable garden and how proud I was that my cabbage and cauliflower were much larger than the ones that my parents grew. [Laughs] But we had to make -- we called it "pounding boxes" -- make, make boxes for the tomatoes and other vegetables that they could pack to take to the commission houses and all.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

AI: And then how did your life change when you moved to Kirkland? Can you describe what --

CN: Yeah, it changed a great deal. The... my immediate friends, school friends, were all Caucasian now, and we didn't live near any Japanese families. There were two that lived several miles away, but not within walking distance and so that changed. And also going from actually raising cauliflowers and cabbages and strawberries and all to the greenhouse was also very different. And our house was different, too.

AI: Can you describe that -- the house and greenhouse area?

CN: The heating... the greenhouse was heated by oil, and so the house was also heated -- it was right next to the greenhouse -- and the house was also heated with oil rather than the way that we had done it before. Although in the kitchen, it was a wood stove. And then we had (an) indoor bathroom whereas before we had to go outside. And so that was also a tremendous change.

AI: And what types of things did they grow in the greenhouses?

CN: Flowers, you know, chrysanthemums, and lilies, and also bedding plants, and, as I say, cucumbers. I think we had tomatoes, indoor tomatoes, too, and lots of bedding plants like daisies and pansies and stalks and things like that. It was, life seemed to be much easier, though I'm sure it wasn't, but it seemed to me to be a lot easier than those back-breaking work that had to be done. And also the soil in Bellevue was not all that -- where we lived anyway, those two places where we lived -- weren't really conducive to good farming, I didn't think. Well, I shouldn't say good farming, but easier farming. And there in Redmond and Kirkland -- I say Redmond and Kirkland because we were right on the dividing line. Everyone living across the street went to Kirkland school and on my side of the street went to Redmond. And across the street on the south side, they all went to Bellevue. [Interruption] But anyway, so life seemed to be much easier, and we were able to take trips whereas before, trips meant around here. We did go up to Anacortes and also went fishing and that kind of thing, but it was day trips. There, we had more time, it seemed, during those off seasons, during the summertime especially. We were busy with bedding plants and all, but it seemed to me that we were able to go to Yakima and Spokane and Portland.

AI: So you had more free time?

CN: Yeah. We seemed to have more free time. And I don't know whether that was, those were the reasons, but at least we seemed to have a little more time.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

AI: And can you think back to your high school days... let's see. Did you say that you went to high school in the Redmond district?

CN: Yeah, Redmond, junior high and high school at Redmond.

AI: And can you think about what a typical day was like for you when you were in high school? Starting when you first got up in the morning. What would a day be like?

CN: With my mother yelling from downstairs. [Laughs] And then I would, I would start walking and go next door and pick up my three friends. And then we'd walk some more and pick up a couple more people, and then we went on a bus, which was, to me, a new experience. And it was, it was fun. And we had a nice bus driver who had pet names for everyone, and he was always so jolly and so nice. And then it was... I will stop right here and say that the best thing that happened to me was moving to Kirkland, because I made -- not that Bellevue was not good -- but the, the kids didn't tease me about my dark skin. And also it was, well, I got into school (activities) and all sorts of extracurricular activities. I'm sure they had it in Bellevue, but I was not aware of it. Even in junior high and grade school, they had class officers and all, even though, with one of my classes, one year, that is, that we chose the colors black and blue for our, our class colors. And we were just not very, not very nice, nice students, but we had fun, though. But I enjoyed my time in Redmond very, very much.

AI: So even though you had mentioned that there were, one of big changes was that there were quite a few more hakujin classmates and quite a few less Nisei classmates. For you, it was, on the whole, a positive change.

CN: It was an extremely good change. I still keep up with my friends in Redmond because several of them, or quite a few of them, still live there in the houses that their grandparents and parents and great-grandparents had built.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

AI: Well, and high school is, for so many people, it's a time of wanting to fit in, wanting to be accepted among one's peers. And sometimes, of course, something like an ethnic or racial difference can really affect that fitting in, but it sounds like for you that really wasn't the case.

CN: No, it wasn't. This is why I say it was the best thing that really happened to me because I thoroughly enjoyed myself and got lots of recognition and that kind of thing.

AI: Do you have any memory of what you felt inside yourself as far as your Americaness or your Japaneseness at that age in high school?

CN: To be very honest with you, I felt very comfortable with it because my classmates seemed to be comfortable with it. If they weren't, I know I would have had lots of difficulty.

AI: But at the time there really wasn't a conflict for you.

CN: There was not and they accepted me like anyone else. And though I... and my mother became interested in the PTA, though I'd come home and tell her that -- so you see, I had, some of me had this discomfort being different -- that I would tell her that the PTA wasn't meeting this month and that she didn't have to go, and, because her English was not very good. And she didn't think anything about serving dried cherries and tea to people who came. It was all right to serve those things to the Japanese guests, but not, not to the hakujins.

AI: It would have been possibly embarrassing for you?

CN: Yeah, it was embarrassing for me. And I almost died when I found out that one of my teachers had visited my parents to let them know how well I was doing in school. And in, in those years, if you made honor roll or got a special recognition that they, instead of writing a letter, they would visit the home to bring the good news. Well, I just about died, I mean, of mortification when I found out that this one teacher...

AI: Visualizing what that interaction might have been like?

CN: Yes. I said, "What did, you didn't feed her anything," oh yes, she did. She served sembei and these dried cherries and, oh my God -- and tea, not coffee.

AI: So a part of you was very conscious of the differences.

CN: Yeah. I was very conscious of the differences. But...

AI: But on a day-to-day level...

CN: It was, that didn't come up except when my father and my mother would appear at the school, and then it would be very uncomfortable.

AI: Well, now then --

CN: I'm not proud of this, mind you.

AI: No, but it seems like a very typical thing that many, many Nisei felt in that situation.

CN: Yeah, because you were very conscious of the fact that you were different, and you behaved differently with your parents, and at home things were very different.

AI: But on the whole, positive, until we come up to the time of Pearl Harbor.

CN: Yeah, uh-huh.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

CN: I remember the day of December 7, 1941. We had a flower shop on Twelfth Avenue and Spring Street, just a few blocks from Seattle U. And my sister at that time was running the shop. My father would bring the flowers and would spend time, and on the weekends I would go in and help. My mother would tend the things at home, and my father and my sister and I would be working at the flower shop. And got this call from, from home saying, telling us what had happened, that father would be in to pick us up, and we would be spending time at home. And so I remember that and what did this mean and, and why? And it seemed like immediately people in Seattle, around there, behaved differently. I can't tell you. I think it was just our feeling that we were different; and, therefore, we were, we looked just like the Japanese. And part of us, whether we liked it or not, we were Japanese. And so why did they do this horrible thing? And it was hard for me to separate myself saying, "Well, I'm an American Japanese and, therefore, I didn't do any of that so I'm okay." I didn't, I didn't feel that way. I, there was a lot of, I should say some of the guilt associated with what the Japanese in Japan had done, and so I should say what the military had done, the Japanese military. And so it was very difficult. And then the very next day, having to go to school. And I remember very distinctly, I sat, my seat was toward the back of the room, and our, we all had to listen to President Roosevelt giving his famous speech and how very uncomfortable I felt and feeling that I was, I was different. And there was another Japanese girl in my class; and her family, just within a month or so, maybe two months, moved to the east of the mountains to Quincy, Washington, where they joined some friends of theirs. And I, then, became the only one.

AI: What kind of, what kind of reactions did you have from your peers or the adults, the teachers? Did you have any negative kinds of things directed towards you?

CN: Not, not from my, my peers and my teachers. They were, at least on the surface, and I think they were sincere. They felt a lot of sympathy and saying, "We know it isn't you or your family." And that helped, but not all that much because you still felt different. And not only different, but you felt like you really stood out. And, which is funny to say because we stood out anyway, way back. But the feeling within us, within me, was obviously -- within us, I guess I should say, because we all felt different, and we all felt terrible. And I remember my hakujin friends and I watching the notice to evacuate from that area going up... you know, they would tack these up on the utility poles. And that was very hard. What did this mean? I don't know what it means. I guess we had to leave before -- I don't know where we'll go. And my family talked about going somewhere, but where can you go unless you really knew someone extremely well who would ask you to join them in Spokane or wherever. But anyway, we had to stick around. A family in -- just days before we were evacuated, we had to clear out where we were living, and I remember how hard it was to say goodbye to our pets. And, but this family in Bellevue offered us to stay with them for a day or two so that we could all go together. And I don't even know where we, where we were taken, where we met to get on the train to go to -- well, as it turned out, we were on our way, we went to Pinedale. But how, how wonderful it was for, to see most of all my classmates who had come to say goodbye.

AI: So it was, sounds like a really wrenching experience.

CN: Yeah, I'm getting all choked up right now, but it was very nice...

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

AI: Okay. Well, then I think I will back up a little bit and ask you, before the evacuation time, a little bit about the Japanese American community and some of the activities that went on and what you and your family were involved in.

CN: Well, I didn't participate in any of the... what am I trying to say? The athletic events because, well, I wasn't all that good and none of my friends took part in it. We played baseball and that kind of thing, but just having fun. Lots of activities during those days that we were at Japanese school. It was fun to get together with, with friends that you, I hadn't seen for a whole week. And, of course, the Japanese community there had their picnics, and also the Japanese films were shown there. And the whole families would go, and if the little kid got sleepy, why you just fell asleep with your head in your mother's lap. [Laughs] And so, and it was, it was fun. None of us drove so we really used the Japanese school time to get together. And as we got older -- I kept on until evacuation, but some of my other friends dropped out so that they could do some other things whether it was helping at home or, or what, I don't know.

AI: So it sounds like there, on the Bellevue eastside there was quite a lively Japanese American community.

CN: Yes there was, lots and lots of fun. And, and we would go to those... watch the boys do judo, the judo matches and the kendo matches and all. So any, any activity was a good way to have the whole community enter in. And my sister and I did start taking lessons in naginata and also flower arranging with Mrs. Fujikado and so...

AI: And what were those flower arranging lessons like for you? Was it a very foreign kind of activity?

CN: Well, it was not so foreign. It was, you know, we were very restless and wanting to get this over and done with. I hate to say this, but it's true. And with flower arranging as well as with judo and kendo and naginata and all that, that you really have to center yourself first, and none of us -- well, maybe I should talk about myself -- did really get the meaning of all that, though this would be drummed into us. But looking back, though, we, I really enjoyed it. And it was fun and we did, this was another way to instill the Japanese culture as well as etiquette and all, because we certainly learned a great deal of that, too. And I should say that our Japanese school teachers were, were really wonderful. And I'm sure we gave them a bad time, but I think every one of us appreciated all the time and effort that they put into educating us even if now we can't remember too much of what we learned. [Laughs]

AI: So, by the time you were in high school it sounds like you were quite busy. You were very active in school activities, you were maintaining your ties of the Japanese language school, and activities with the Nikkei community on Saturdays. And then you also had your work in the florist shop on the weekends.

CN: So it was, it was busy, but it was fun. And I got to know something about living in the city on the weekends. I was still very much a country girl, but -- and loving every minute of it, of course -- but I really did appreciate all of that. And I'm not just saying it to be saying it. I really did, even if I did grumble quite a bit about it. [Laughs] And I, well, we really had fun. And I look at some of the young people now and wish that we had the opportunity to share some of that with them. They wouldn't like as much as we got because the young people now are involved in the wider community as a whole, but it, we gained a great deal, I think.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

AI: So there were many positive things about having such a close-knit and very rich Japanese American community.

CN: I think so. Everyone knew everyone else. We knew when, when anyone had a new baby or someone was getting married. It was as if the family, as if it was happening in the family, kind of thing, and that's nice. And I look back now and think, well, that's part of our identity. I identify myself as having grown up on the eastside in Bellevue and Kirkland and Redmond, and so I don't regret any of that.

AI: And then, and then all of that came to a very abrupt halt when you found that you were going to be, so-called, "evacuated," forced to leave everything. And it sounds like your parents' business was really thriving at that time. Do you recall much of what they had do or what you all had to do in preparation for leaving?

CN: It just seemed like we were carting things to this hakujin family and that hakujin family and then just leaving. To me, in looking back, it was just all very precipitous. I know that my, my mother was so proud, so happy with -- well, proud, too, with her new washing machine, and then having to sell it, and her new stove or cooking range, and then changing her mind, and, of course, it was too late. And then I remember very distinctly spending, throwing things into the fire that we burned to heat the furo water, the bath water, throwing Japanese records as well as photographs of people and relatives in Japan, especially those, we had several uncles who were by this time in the Japanese army or wherever.

AI: And did you have much discussion with your parents as you were doing this?

CN: Yeah, it was that we're being watched, and that's what the scuttlebutt was and the rumor was, and so... and we were being watched. So anything that had anything to do with Japan were destroyed. Which is really too bad, isn't it? It's so sad, but I do remember and it wasn't just, not my family, others did the same.

AI: And do you know whether your parents were able to sell any portion of their business or were they able to keep part of it? How was it --

CN: No, it was... my sister and I were too young to help with that, meaning we were not of legal age. And some families -- a family in Seattle said that they would help us. This is a Caucasian family, but, of course, that went by the wayside. No. So everything was left and when we came back, we had so start from scratch.

AI: So your family lost everything that they had worked for?

CN: Uh-huh. So that's how it was. We left a lot of -- all the Japanese in Bellevue left a lot of things in the Japanese community hall that we called kokaido, and I don't know what happened to those things. And some of our things were, eventually ended up in the, in a storage place. I think it was called Hunt. No, Beacons. And all I remember is that the rose-colored rug that was in my room upstairs was the only thing that was left. If there were other things, I don't remember.

AI: So basically you left everything.

CN: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

AI: And you were saying that you, on the evacuation day that you all gathered together. You saw all the other folks from your community, and then you were, you eventually boarded the train to Pinedale. At that time, did you know, realize where you were going?

CN: No, none of us did.

AI: So it was...

CN: And I remember distinctly how dirty that train was. And we, of course, kept our, we didn't change our clothes. Once we got to Pinedale and got settled, we took our clothes off and the... you talk about ring around the collar. It was black. But...

AI: Do you recall much about that trip?

CN: Some of it, yes, I do. Sleeping sitting up. And I know my, my mother and sister and I -- we were amongst friends so we were, we didn't run up and down the aisles -- but we did some talking and laughing and that kind of thing, but not too much. It was all, "Gee, I wonder where we're going," and, "I wonder what would happen." And so there was --

AI: Sounds like a lot of sharing your anxieties with each other.

CN: Yeah, uh-huh. And then once we hit Pinedale and saw this place that I'm sure that the dust was not three feet deep, but that's what it felt like. And then it was, then we'd see these people all lined up in long lines waiting to get into the mess halls and being fed Vienna sausage. And instead of jelly or jam or butter for your bread, it was apple, apple butter, which we got -- or I should say, I got to hate so that I refused to eat it up until a couple years ago when my friend made some apple butter. And she said, "I know you hate apple butter, but I made this because we got so much apples when we went to Wenatchee." Well, her son lives in Wenatchee now. And so she said, "Do me a favor and just take a taste, and I'd like you to have this jar." Gosh, I liked it. [Laughs]

AI: But did it bring back some memories?

CN: Yes, it did and I do eat it now, but Barbara and I had to laugh about that. But I thank her to introducing it to me. But it was, it was pretty bad really, and I'm not just talking about apple butter. But the fun we had was going around trying to locate (our) friends and where they lived and the new people that they had met and that we had met.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

AI: Did you have much discussion among your friends about your situation or do you recall the nature of that kind of talk?

CN: Sure, about, we didn't call it our civil rights, but, you know, what is this? We're supposed to be free, and we're American citizens, and we had lots and lots of discussions about that.

AI: So that was a very conscious topic for many of you at high school age.

CN: Uh-huh, very much so because by that time we were in high school and ready to graduate from high school.

AI: And your lessons in civics must have been fairly fresh in your minds for some of you.

CN: Yeah, uh-huh. And so it was, that's... we did a lot of talking of that. And, we talked about boys, too, but it was -- and I'm certainly not one to have attracted any of the boys -- but some of my friends attracted them like bees to honey. [Laughs] And so they would tell us about cute, how this cute boy came up to them and we're going to go to the dance and that kind of thing.

AI: So it sounds like, it sounds like a mixture of very normal everyday kind of teenage life combined with this very bizarre abnormal...

CN: Yeah. It was very abnormal and it was, you know, was having to go to the bathroom in these, in this latrine with many holes, and you were doing your business while someone else was -- of course, they were just as embarrassed and uncomfortable. But I remember the Issei women saying we've got to go to the bathroom. You're going to get sick. And so to be begin with we tried to go very early in the morning and we're a little afraid to go late at night, but it was...

AI: It sounds horrendous.

CN: Yes, and I understand... we shared a room about this size -- maybe it was a little larger -- with another family who, a family of three and we were four, so there was seven of us, with an army blanket between the two families, to separate the two families. And how, one night, I dreamt and I spent the whole night crying and laughing. I don't know where the laughing came (from), but anyway, and I said to my parents, "Why didn't you wake me up?" And they said, "Well, we felt sorry for you." But I'm, and the, our neighbors didn't complain. So they were very sweet about it, but I don't know where the laughing came in. But anyway, obviously, I was having nightmares.

AI: So it was really a time of no privacy, a time of where people could hear everything that went on with each other.

CN: And how, how we, how I handled that, I can't even tell you.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

AI: And you also mentioned that, of course, your senior year in high school was interrupted. Did you have any idea what would happen to your graduation status?

CN: I was told before we evacuated -- in fact, I still have that note from the principal saying, "Of course, that you will graduate with honors, and we will not forget you."

AI: And, in fact, what did happen?

CN: Well, they sent me --

AI: They did?

CN: -- the diploma as well as you get this thing that you hang on -- I don't know what you call it -- a tassel and stuff like that. And also the yearbook, they were careful to mail that to me, and I was on the yearbook staff so it meant a great deal to me. And my friends sent pictures, not just their graduation pictures, but also candid shots that they had taken on the senior sneak and that kind thing. And so they tried to involve me in that, which was very thoughtful and very nice and I really appreciated it.

AI: So you were, so you stayed in touch with some of your classmates? Your hakujin classmates?

CN: Uh-huh, some of them, uh-huh.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

AI: And then you were in Pinedale for several months, was it?

CN: Yes. I can't remember. I think we left Pinedale to go to Tule Lake. I think it was in August or September, but while we were there in Pinedale we took, some of the older Niseis taught classes. So we went to learn how to embroider and drawing and also flower arrangements using not flowers, but whatever we could find. So, so we all kept busy.

AI: So even in these strange circumstances, you had some community activity that the community itself...

CN: Yes, yes. The older Niseis were very careful to make sure that we didn't spend time idling around. Oh, I learned how to play -- it wasn't canasta -- pinochle and also learned how to shuffle cards like a pro. [Laughs]

AI: Well, do you remember very much about when you found out that you would be moving on to the other camp, the next camp?

CN: I don't remember that. And I really, I'm sure that we...

AI: Or the trip itself, memories about the trip itself?

CN: No. Isn't that funny? I don't remember the trip itself at all.

AI: Kind of blanked out...

CN: I do remember about Pinedale, but not from Pinedale to Tule Lake, not at all.

AI: And then arriving in Tule Lake or some initial impressions?

CN: Uh-uh. I don't remember.

AI: Not much?

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

AI: When you got to Tule Lake, who were you living together with then? Was it just yourself and your sister and your two parents?

CN: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

AI: And, let me see, I think we had taken a look at an illustration of the Tule Lake camp picture.

CN: Yes, we did, didn't we? I'm going to give this to you.

AI: And let's see if I can find this. Could you show the block where... [Ed. note: Shows a map of the Tule Lake internment camp]

CN: Yes. It's, it's 67, right here. And there's the school and the administration buildings here and the hospital.

AI: And what do you... you were saying, I think, earlier, that you all came in a group, of course, from Pinedale and some of the folks were all people that you had known before and that some of you did live together in and around that same block area.

CN: Yes. We've, this Block 67 was... a few of us from Bellevue, but majority from Tacoma and Hood River, Oregon. And then a lot of our friends lived over here in "Alaska" way back there. [Laughs]

AI: Way on the other side.

CN: Way on the other side. And we, we didn't visit "Alaska" all that much. We did some, but not all that much.

AI: Can you tell me a little bit about, as you think back -- my understanding is Tule Lake was quite large, somewhere in the neighborhood of 8, 9000 or so, and at it's peak, even larger. So it was really bigger than some small towns. And I wanted to ask you a little bit about what community life was like, if you can call it community life. For example, around your block and that, that area of blocks, did that become like a community to you?

CN: Uh-uh.

AI: No.

CN: I didn't think it was. We, they had some dances and that kind of thing, but there... it was not just this one block, there were people from all over who had come. And then we also took classes, and they, they had schools and lots of... Oh, I'm trying to think of the name of people who would put on some... anyone who was able to do anything, would, like sing or dance or play any instruments, would, we would have -- oh, talent shows, lots and lots of them, not that I had any, and I was not, I was one of the, in the audience, certainly not a participant. But that was always fun. And played lots... lots of baseball teams.

AI: So there were a number of organized activities, but you wouldn't really say that there was a community identity?

CN: Well, other than the fact that you said, "I'm from Block 67," and, "I'm from Block 66," and that kind of thing, but not like it was in Bellevue.

AI: Right. Not nearly the same kind of, sense of...

CN: And by this time, I felt that we were all kind of in it, all in the same boat together. And the idea was to go to school, get jobs, and meet as many people as you possibly could.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

AI: So before you had been forced to leave your home, you were on the point of graduating from high school. And so you must have, at that time, some plans for your future. What were some your plans?

CN: To go college. That was a definite plan from way back.

AI: Something that your parents had encouraged you in.

CN: Uh-huh. And so that was, that was a given. And in those days, anyone living in the country, as they called it, all went to, most all of them went to WSU. And the city folk went to the University of Washington. So since we had the flower shop in Seattle and we were close to Seattle U, it was a choice between UW and Seattle U. And my parents thought well, it would be closer, but more expensive going to Seattle U, but by bus the University of Washington wouldn't be so bad. So it's at that point that we were evacuated.

AI: Right. And then finding yourself in Tule Lake with your plans cut off so abruptly. What did you end up doing there in camp? Did you take a job?

CN: Yeah, we took a job. I took a job. I signed up to work as a nurse's aide. And they put us through training. We had a Caucasian, elderly -- maybe I shouldn't call her elderly -- older nurse, very prim and proper and very nice person. And she had extremely high standards. And so we went through training, and then we were placed in various departments. They placed me in major surgery, if you can imagine.

AI: At your age?

CN: Uh-huh.

AI: And with such little training?

CN: With no training, but once I got there -- and my other, my friends were placed in pediatrics and this place and that place, but I was placed -- it was kind of scary, really, with all these surgeons. There were several outstanding ones from UC Berkley.

AI: Were they Caucasian or Japanese Americans?

CN: No. They were Japanese Americans. And they started me off in making the sponges, or "cherries" they called them, but gauze balls so that you could pick them up and clean up blood and all that. So I spent hours and hours making those and gradually they taught me about how to scrub and keeping everything immaculately clean. And there were two Nisei men, young men, who worked as orderlies, and they would sterilize the instruments as well as all the lap robes they called them. Or lap... what it was was the sheets that were used to cover the area, (...) to be opened up. And so a lot of emphasis, of course, on sterile techniques, which I found was very difficult to remember, and I'd forget and touch things. And so... I really enjoyed it very much, and met some wonderful people.

AI: And was this a regular forty hour a week job?

CN: Yeah, it was a regular job.

AI: Every day you would be reporting in.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

CN: And during this time, my mother was in the hospital. (...) She became ill in early 1942. I was going to say around June. But she was aching, her neck and all. She was holding her neck like this. I remember her walking and my friends and I walking behind her, and you could tell how she was in pain. And so when she was not able to do much, she, it was recommended she have bed rest at home. And a very nice Issei lady, who was a visiting nurse, would come every day to help her. And another Nisei person, who was a nurse's aide, also for a visiting nurse service would come, until the point where they decided that she should be hospitalized. And she was hospitalized during the time that I was working, and I'd go see her. And she was there for six months before she died.

AI: That must have been so difficult.

CN: It was. It was very hard for her, too. She became just skin and bones.

AI: There was nothing that they could do?

CN: Well, they did what they could at the time, and I thought that the doctors there were... found out later they were excellent doctors, but they didn't know all that much about cancer as we do now. And so it was very sad. She was so young. But anyway... she, she died. Which left my sister and father and I. And we had her cremated and brought her ashes home when we came to Seattle. And once we hit Seattle, of course, we were on our own. We stayed at one of the Japanese churches. They turned the churches into hostels. And then from there, my father spent most of his time looking for a place to live. We lived, we got a place to live in through the housing office in Renton, in Renton Highlands.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

AI: Well, I'll want to come back to that, but before we go much further, I do want to finish up about the time at Tule Lake. And I was wondering, it sounds like personally such a difficult time for you with your mother's illness and passing, and at the time same time here you are, you're becoming an adult now. And your father's situation changed so drastically from being a prosperous business person to this enforced imprisonment. Did you have much discussion with your father or your mother while she was ill and your sister about any plans or thoughts for the future?

CN: Uh-huh, lots of it. I wanted to get out and my sister did, too, but my parents, of course, said no, that the family had to stay together. Especially since my mother was ill, and, well, terminally ill, that that was, they felt, out of the question to leave. And I was all for leaving anyway. And...

AI: What, I think around that time, perhaps in, what was it, late '42 and early '43? Wasn't that the time when a number of people were going out to college?

CN: Uh-huh.

AI: What were your thoughts about that?

CN: Well, I made plans to go, too, but...

AI: That's what you were hoping to do?

CN: That's what I was hoping to do and did make... well, I actually wrote in to the Student War Relocation, and, but that, nothing came of that, of course, because I was urged to stay on and certainly...

AI: By your parents?

CN: By my parents. And with my mother so ill, I was torn in two. I wanted to leave, yet I wanted to stay with her, too. Though, I will have to say that the desire to leave was a lot stronger for a time there until we found out that she would never be able to get well. It was terminal and so... then, of course, during this time -- you and I decided it was the spring of 1943, just a few months before she died, she died in June -- and we were given this loyalty oath to either sign or not sign, and my parents decided that they would not sign. And their decision was that, "You allow us to become U.S. citizens and then we will." But as my father said, he refused to become a person without a country, even if that other country did do this horrible war act on the United States. And I appreciate that now, but certainly at that time I was saying, "Well you got to sign, you got to sign it so that we can get out and maybe we can get Mom into a better place." And how are we going to pay for it, that didn't enter my mind, of course. But anyway, I have to say that I did say that I would... you know, my answer was "yes," but I wasn't able to say "yes-yes." And in the end, the family won out. And I really think that they would have won out anyway regardless.

AI: So in the end you ended up signing "no-no" on the questionnaire?

CN: No. I signed "yes-no." So... anyway, that's, that's what happened. And I stayed on. And it was, and I think it was okay. It was good that we really needed each other during that, during that time and we became really close. In fact, we used to laugh a great deal that all three of us grew up together. We all learned how to cook at the same time. And I know, and this is after we came back here and we lived at -- after leaving the hostel, one of the churches. I can't even remember which church it was. It was nice of them to put us up -- (then) we went to Renton Highlands and stayed there for several months. My father was there for about a year. I started school. No, wait a minute. I, my sister and I both went to work as domestics, and I lasted exactly four, four months, just enough to pay for tuition and get a couple of new things to wear.

AI: So during this whole period, your plan and your dream to go to college never died.

CN: No.

AI: But you had many things that you had to go through before you did that.

CN: And these people that I worked for were, they were okay. They were nice, but they didn't want to lose someone who was working out, and it wasn't because of me. They needed someone to take care of their child and also to clean their house and do some cooking even if I didn't know what I was doing. I will say that I read those cookbooks and studied them very well, and they wouldn't let me leave unless I found a replacement. So what I did was I talked my friend from Bellevue, a good friend, if she would replace me and she did. After a few months, she talked another one of our friends to replace her and this, the third person really worked out very well. She enjoyed that kind of work. I hated it. Learned a lot, but then I started at the U.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

AI: Which I do want to follow up with, but before we do, I wanted to go back and ask you a little bit more about the nature of the camp life at Tule Lake around that time that you had to make that very difficult decision on the questionnaire.

CN: Oh, that's right. Why am I skipping over that? It was a very...

AI: It's so easy to jump ahead, but please tell me about that.

CN: It was a very, very difficult time, especially after Tule Lake, after the loyalty oath.

AI: Was there much discussion within your circles?

CN: Oh, yes.

AI: Can you tell me about, a little bit about the nature of the discussions that you heard or that you participated in?

CN: Most all the Niseis, of course, said that they would say "yes-yes." There was no question. There were a few Niseis who said they couldn't because of their family and these were people who had family in Japan as well. I mean, immediate family members in Japan. So they were terribly torn. And then, of course, we were pulled apart again when everyone who signed "yes-yes" were allowed to leave Tule Lake and went to other camps or went out, period. And so we missed a lot of our, our friends. Some of them stayed on and we continued to hang around together.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

AI: And then, at that time, as some people had left to go to the other camps, others came from the camps and came to Tule Lake as it became the so-called "segregation center."

CN: And some, some of the Kibei men and women got together and started their own Japanese school. So what my friends and I did, there were three of us, we decided that we would enroll in the Japanese school while we were working, too. And it was run just like a regular Japanese school in Japan is run. And we'd all get together, they would have us get together early in the morning to do sitting up exercises, and we would learn all these patriotic songs. And we learned a great deal. My one good friend from Bellevue still is able to read and write Japanese because after she came back here -- she's the one, I talked her into helping me out by taking over my job as a domestic and that was when she met her husband, well, she met him in camp, was married, and then moved to Hood River, Oregon. Her mother lived here so she would write letters to her mother and her mother would respond by writing letters in Japanese to her. So she still reads and writes Japanese extremely well.

AI: So it sounds like there was really a rejuvenation of a lot of cultural pride with the influx of so many Kibei.

CN: I don't know whether there was pride, but it was one way of existing and learning. Because we weren't, we couldn't get out. And so, and we learned a great deal. I have a lot of respect for those people, but they were the gung-ho Japanese, you know, almost samurai types.

AI: Well, I wanted to ask you a little bit about that because from things that I had read, I got the feeling that some people maybe such as yourself who really in your heart did not... answering "no" on the questionnaire had nothing to do with your loyalty to the U.S. You were, definitely identified yourself as a citizen, as an American, that I read that some people actually felt somewhat intimidated after segregation by some of the folks who were perhaps feeling negative about America. Did you ever have any of that sense?

CN: Uh-uh. Yeah, they were feeling very negative, pro-Japanese and anti-American, of course. But I didn't feel that they took it out on us. And maybe it was because we were going to this Japanese school and the emphasis was on teaching Japanese culture and Japanese language, and we also learned about geography and we did math using the metric system and all that. So it was like a regular school. And though we did learn some patriotic songs, it was patriotism to Daihichiko, which is the Ward 7, Ward 7 school. So it was patriotism to that school and not so much emphasis on -- at least I didn't look at it that way -- on you've got to be Japanese and you have to be this way or that way.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

AI: And what about, can you tell me much about any kind of demonstrations? My understanding is there were some acts of even violence at times.

CN: We heard a lot and there was a lot of violence going on. Not so much in our block or in our, in our ward, it seemed. A lot of people in our block stayed from -- they were from Hood River and Bellevue and Tacoma -- and a lot of those people stayed on.

AI: So it was a fairly stable group?

CN: Yeah, uh-huh. So we didn't have the kind of experience that some of the other people had where a good many people from the other camps had come in and kind of taken over. So maybe that was, I think, that was the reason why ours was pretty stable. And we did observe a lot of this demonstration as they serpentined down the fire break, yelling and all.

AI: And did your father comment on this at all to you or have any opinion?

CN: Yeah. He was, he was worried about it, but I think this is after my mother died, and so he was not involved in any of those kind of things. I don't know what would have happened if he hadn't been grieving. And so we kind of, I guess I mentioned, we became very close. We coalesced as a family. Not that we were all, all that apart, but we, the three of us, really clung to each other and helped each other. We had friends. My sister had her own friends and I had mine. But, and my father played go and shogi and that kind of stuff with his friends.

AI: And did you have any kind of discussion at all about... I know at that time there was quite a bit of discussion among some people about expatriating.

CN: Sure, sure. Yeah, we discussed that, not that we would go back to Japan.

AI: So that was something that you and your father didn't really consider?

CN: No, nor my sister. Some of her friends were considering it.

AI: What were some of things that caused people to consider that?

CN: A lot of these people were Kibei, and they were very much -- and quite a few from Hawaii and California. I didn't notice any other Kibeis from Washington being involved. A lot of that was southern California and Hawaii. We were saying that it was because they were hot. [Laughs] So we were well aware of it because it was in the newspapers and people would... my sister worked at one of the co-ops and she would hear a great deal and come home and tell us some of these horrible things that were happening.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

AI: Oh, let's see. I think we were still talking about the difficult time, after Tule Lake had become a segregated camp. And you were mentioning that one family in particular had a difficult time.

CN: Uh-huh. They were a young Kibei family. They had two little boys. And this is after the decision was made by many of them to expatriate. And it was arranged with the U.S. government that this should take place. And I do know of this one family -- a sister of one of the people who, a family who lived in our block, or in our barrack -- those people decided that they would go back to Japan. So I did go to where they were all congregated, being readied to take them onto the trucks to take them to where they could get a plane or a boat or something to go back to Japan. And they, like we, were cautioned that they could only take that which they could carry in their two hands as well as on their body. And they had a little toddler who was maybe not even around two and a little baby in arms, and this little toddler had diapers strapped to his back as well as his front. I felt so bad. We cried and cried, but they were determined, and they, to go. So there was a lot of... we felt sad, but some of the people felt, well, that's, that's their decision, that's their hard luck. And it was very hard luck once they got to Japan, we later found out, because the people in Japan were certainly having a very difficult time even getting enough food for themselves.

AI: Well, I was wondering if you had heard very much about, of the discussions among some of these families and what went into their decision to take such a drastic step.

CN: I didn't hear from them directly, just by rumors, that they felt that it was America's fault that we were in this predicament, and that they also felt that Japan needed them. And, of course, the camp administrator, Mr. Best, didn't do a blasted thing to calm everyone's anger and nerves. And there was a lot of griping about not enough money, I mean, not enough food. And the food that we get, got were not adequate nor were they up to par and so it was... so some of these people really had... I mean, let me put it this way: Mr. Best did nothing to try to improve the bad situations. And I'm not saying, therefore, they had every right to go to Japan, but anyway, it was...

AI: The conditions were so bad.

CN: It was really very, very bad.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

CN: And I should stop right here and say to you, you asked me about some of the community feelings and community activities and all. I forgot to tell you that we had lots of parties. Whenever they'd get a shipment of eggs, we would urge the cooks to set aside at least a dozen hard boiled eggs so that we could make egg salad sandwiches. So we did have -- and I know we ate more than the egg salad sandwiches, but that's all I can remember. [Laughs]

AI: So, again, a strange combination of some festive times, some happy times, and yet some really heart-wrenching times, too.

CN: Yeah, it was really... I will never forget this little boy walking around with all those diapers on him. But, anyway, those were, it was a very difficult time. In fact, the farmers went on strike, too.

AI: Can you tell me about that?

CN: Well, I don't remember what, what the issue was, but I do remember that we were all urged to go work on the farms, so my friends and I did go. We went to dig, well, pick up, I guess, not apples, but potatoes. And I thought it was lots of fun.

AI: So these were the farms that were actually worked by the Tule Lake inmates. And that at one point, I think I did read that the farmers had gone on strike.

CN: Yeah. As I say, I don't remember what the issue was. I think it had to do with food and maybe...

AI: Maybe the quality of the food that you received as compared to the effort that they were putting into the farm labor.

CN: Maybe, maybe so. I'm sorry that I don't remember 'cause I'm sure that was all written up.

AI: And I think you mentioned there were also, that you had heard that you were going -- not you, but the camp was going to be featured on newsreel?

CN: Yes, with all the demonstrations as well as -- well, not just the demonstrations. Well, I think a couple people were murdered and people were being hit over the head, the demonstrators against those who weren't demonstrating. And so we were, Mr. Best slapped a curfew on us, and so all the more, the chaos and fighting broke out. And we were informed that the newsreel people were at Tule Lake filming all this and that we did -- we were on, on the newsreel. You know, years ago when you go to a movie, they would run ads on what the new films would be, and then you would always have a newsreel of all the up-to-date news. And I guess we were on and I'm sure we were. We, I remember getting a letter from a friend who had left the camp saying, "What's the matter with you people?" And, "Are you people safe?" Because it made it sound as if all of us were in this turmoil. Well, we were, but not physically.

AI: So in those days, being on the newsreel was a very major exposure nationwide.

CN: Yes, it was and certainly nothing to be proud of. And it was during this time, during when we were, the curfew was instituted that it was New Year's Eve, that we were told because it was New Year's Eve, we would be able to stay out until midnight. My two friends and I thought it would be lots of fun to jump around in the snow that was... and there was lots of snow in Tule Lake, and there was just huge amounts of it along the barb-wire fence. And so, forgetting that we shouldn't get so close, we were jumping and stomping around when the MPs came and picked us up. And really we had to go before -- I was going to say the magistrate -- whoever the soldier was. He sat at a table at one side and the three of us were being interrogated as we sat on the other side. And we kept saying, "But Mr. Best said it was all right, that we would get to stay out until midnight." Well, he did not believe us. And there were two guards or soldiers with bayonets on either side of him, and we were quite intimidated. Anyway, we were released, (after) they found out that we were indeed telling the truth. And what really got us mad was not that we were picked up, but he didn't even have the courtesy to apologize. So the feelings, even on our level, was almost as if every little thing seemed to point out that the management of the camp was really lacking in...

AI: It sounds, it sounds quite oppressive and repressive at every level, and for almost every aspect of your life.

CN: It was. It was very bad.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

CN: And so then we were, since, then when the war came to an end and we could hardly wait to leave. Though you might be interested to know that there were a number of families who stayed until the very last.

AI: What was that about?

CN: That was because they had no place to go and it was, it was scary. And so what happened was that a good many of them waited until friends had gotten out, and then they would be able to at least have someplace to go. And we were, we came back here in August, and it was...

AI: August of '46, was it?

CN: August of '45. And so it was, there were a few Japanese businesses open on Jackson Street. And I remember very vividly the three of us sitting on the train, carrying my mother's ashes. And what we discussed, that's all I could remember, was not where we would live and what we would do, but what we were going to eat. And we were hoping that it would be breakfast so we could have waffles and ham and eggs and that kind of thing. So we went to a Japanese cafe on, on Jackson Street called Jackson Cafe and had our first meal as free people. And, and it was exciting.

AI: It must have felt good.

CN: Yeah, it did. I, and people have said, "Well, weren't you scared?" Well, no I don't think we were. We'd been frightened enough inside. And certainly I knew, we knew it wouldn't be easy because we certainly didn't have any money and didn't have anyplace to live or anything, but, but we made it.

AI: I heard that some people were apprehensive before leaving camp because they had heard about negative reactions. Was that something that you had heard about, too?

CN: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Yeah, and we experienced it, especially on the bus. We were allowed on the bus, but people would get up and go way to the back of the bus or the front. And I got to a point where I would sit up in front. So, and that was not very comfortable. And some of the people would say to us, "Why don't you go back where you came from?" kind of.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

AI: And, of course, you came back in August of '45, which was just immediately after the end of the war in Japan. And you had mentioned earlier that you stayed first in the hostel at the church and then moved out to the Renton Highlands. And, let's see, oh, and you mentioned that you had, fairly quickly, that you and your sister got jobs as domestics.

CN: Yes. The WRA really tried to get everyone settled in jobs as quickly as possible. And there was a great demand for domestics. And it was one of the hardest jobs I've ever had.

AI: Tell me what made it so difficult for you.

CN: Well, it was, for one thing, no one said you had to work all the time, I mean, constantly, but you got this feeling. And also you really didn't know how these people lived. I mean, they lived in nice homes and everything was just so. So, at least for me, part of me was on guard all the time so that I wouldn't make a mistake.

AI: Because their way of life was quite different from what you had been used to.

CN: Yeah, uh-huh. And then on top of that, you had to take care of a little girl. And it was interesting that years later when I worked for a social agency, I learned more about that about that family. But anyway...

AI: And you stayed with them for about four months. And by that time, you had already applied to school. Is that right?

CN: Yes, and was accepted.

AI: So when was that that you started at the UW?

CN: I started in winter quarter of...

AI: That would have been early '46?

CN: '46, uh-huh.

AI: And what was that like?

CN: Oh, it was exciting. It was exciting and new, and it was wonderful to be in class, certainly terrifically different from what I had experienced in high school, of course, but it was, it was exciting. I was just about to say something here...

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

CN: And it was interesting to meet other Niseis, except that one of the first things that we would ask each other when we would meet a Nisei is, "Where were you in camp?" And so if the word was Tule Lake, with all the, the horrible things that we had gone through -- and people had associated that with us -- that surely we must have been one of the "no-no" people. So we were...

AI: And so you received a negative reaction?

CN: Yes, of course. And not only by the returning veterans who really couldn't stand us, but by most of the women students, too, except two of them who said to me, "I don't care where you were in camp. I like you and I'd like to be your friend." And I will always be thankful to her, but so... you're going to ask me, "Well, then what did you do?" Well, what I did was what anyone would do, you just go and join other groups, and that's what I did. So I enjoyed... I look upon my college years as really the best years of my life. It was lots of fun, I learned a lot, made lots of friends, and it was wonderful.

AI: So really when you first started in school, you found quite a difficult time in that you were actually rejected by most of the Nisei on campus because they assumed that since you were in Tule Lake, they assumed that you were some kind of disloyal or they made all kinds of incorrect assumptions. And then at the same time, even though it was so soon after the end of the war, it sounds like a number of mainstream Caucasian students were welcoming of you.

CN: Yeah, they were. And I met my husband my first day at, on the campus. And we didn't start dating right away or anything, but he and I became good friends. And, but I made a lot of other good friends, too. And I'm sounding like Pollyanna here, but it's really true. And it was a disappointment to be rejected by so many of the Niseis.

AI: And you must have been one of the very few going to the UW who had grown up in the Bellevue eastside area. Is that right?

CN: Uh-huh, yes. It was because not many of them had made the decision to go to college.

AI: Right. So in that sense, you didn't have any of your old friends or peers from the old community either.

CN: I had one good friend, but she had made the decision to become a nurse. So she was on lower campus and I was on upper campus, so we didn't have the opportunity to get together as often as we would have liked. And also she was working as a domestic taking care of four children, and cleaning house, and studying, and I would go and visit with her every once in a while. So it was my father and my sister helped me through. So I have a lot of things that I, I owe them because it was, they made it easier for me.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

AI: Well, now tell me, at that time in that early beginnings at college, did you already have an idea of what field you wanted to go into? How did you decide on a career path?

CN: Well, it was... I think it was already set. I remember my mother saying that, "It would be well if you would do something to help other people." And she herself wanted to be become a Red Cross nurse rather than get married. And so even though I enjoyed the work that I did at the hospital at Tule Lake, I was told that it would be difficult to get to, get into medical school. So I put that out of my mind and decided that, it would be kind of fun to work with kids. And so I didn't say I'm going to be a social worker. I wish I had. But I sort of stumbled into all this because I found myself volunteering for the YWCA and Camp Fire and that kind of thing, and at Neighborhood House. So I just sort of stumbled into it.

AI: So it sounds like you had a very rich life as a student in your student years. That you were --

CN: Yeah, I did. It was lots of fun. I was in student government and learned a lot through my time on the Board of Control and the Association of Women Students and a group called Independent Women, called Phrateries, which I think is almost nil now. But, anyway... and spent some time with Valedas, but by that time, I was involved with, with other things on the campus so I did not spend too much time there.

AI: And also you were socializing and you had a dating life also.

CN: Well, yes, I did. But I've always said that that was the best years of my life.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

AI: Well, I wanted to ask you about dating. And I have heard from other women that it was really still rather uncommon, but that more and more interracial dating was happening in those years, things were opening up. And I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about that from, about your personal experience.

CN: Yeah. It was when, in 1946, it was very, not very common. And, but, as I say, we started out as good friends. I mean, as friends and became good friends. And I had, when I was in high school, though I didn't date, I had about three good friends who happened to be boys, and they're still good friends of mine. And so I really didn't think too much of it. Though it shocked me when I later heard that my husband went home and told his family that he had met someone that he was going to marry -- and this was early on. But we did become friends and then we married as students.

AI: Well, tell me what kinds of reactions did you have from your friends and your family.

CN: From both my Caucasian friends and my Nisei friends -- they suggested I not do it.

AI: Oh, really?

CN: And if my father -- my mother was already dead at this time -- but my mother, if my father and my sister really objected, I don't think that I would have gone through with it.

AI: Well, how, how did you break the news to your family?

CN: Well, it took me two weeks. And I will never forget. My father was reading the paper, and I was sitting in the rocking chair getting more nervous. My sister and brother-in-law -- my sister was married by this time -- I had discussed it with them, and they said that they would position themselves outside the apartment door so that when Father, or Papa, would explode, they would dash in and save me.

AI: So you were anticipating some kind of...

CN: Oh, yeah, I was. Though, my husband had come to the apartment, but a few of my Nisei men friends had come, too. I wasn't dating them, but we would all go out together. And so he finally said, "I wish you wouldn't be rocking like that, you're making me nervous." He was trying to read this paper, and so I said to him, "I have something to tell you." And he slowly put the paper down and he said, "What is it?" And so I told him and his response was, "Dame, dame," that's not good. And so I don't know what possessed me, I said, "Well, my mind is made up." And I almost flopped over dead when he said, "Well, if your mind is made up, I guess there isn't anything I can do about it, but we can talk about it." And, of course, "What about the children?" and, "You're going to face a lot of discrimination." And he said, "I think you could take it, but what about your, your friend?" And so I said, "Well, we've been, we've discussed it, and we know it's not going to be easy." So, so we got married. And...

AI: When was that? When did you get married?

CN: In 1950. And it was... well, we got married. His family didn't object openly, but it did take them a while to look upon me as their son's wife and that didn't upset me, I kind of, well, I expected it. And they were, they were nice to me, but I had some difficulty with my sister-in-law but, because she is almost twenty years older than my husband. And so as someone pointed out, I had two mothers-in-law rather than one. [Laughs]

AI: Right. She was almost another generation older.

CN: Yeah, uh-huh. And so for us to expect everyone to think this was great, was asking a bit too much. And I think we both went into it with our eyes wide open. And if I were to do it again, I would do it again.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

AI: And then, then you had a child.

CN: Uh-huh.

AI: Was that, when was your child born?

CN: She was born almost five years after we were married.

AI: So during this time, by then you had already graduated and finished your bachelors degree.

CN: And my masters, and started working.

AI: Could you tell me a little bit about that, the early years of your career path?

CN: I was... you know, in those days, it was very easy to get jobs.

AI: Even though you were Japanese American, you didn't face...

CN: Well, I was not too sure whether I would be able to get a job or not, because of my ethnicity. And in those days, I don't, I didn't see any social workers other than maybe one or two. Maybe there were more, but I was not aware of any more than that. And I took the first job that I interviewed for and that was at the Red Cross. And it was, there was a service called Home Service where we would work exclusively with families of servicemen. And I was given the job of doing marital counseling. I hated it. I didn't even know up from down and it was, it was tough going, but I decided I would stick with it for two years, which I did. And then decided that I would, we wanted a child, and so that I would stay home and see if I could get pregnant and nothing seemed to happen. So I was offered a job at the Children's Home Society working with kids and, of course, that's what I wanted to do. So I worked there full-time at first, and then after a few months I got pregnant. I had quit working trying to get pregnant. That was it. So there was another couple of years there that I hadn't worked after I left the Red Cross. Maybe I said that. I must be repeating myself. And then I, after being on the job for just a few months, I became pregnant. And it was suggested, because of what was taking place, that I would have to spend the rest of my pregnancy in bed and so I...

AI: Because of health concerns?

CN: Well, they were afraid that I would lose the baby. We were afraid that I would lose because I started bleeding.

AI: Oh. That must have been very worrisome.

CN: It was. I felt okay. And she was born early. And we went through some struggles there of worrying and all. But anyway, I, after she was about two years old, I worked part-time at the Children's Home for quite some time until I was offered a job at Ryther Child Center. And I keep saying, "offered a job." It's just that once you've been in the system, people hear about jobs and would give you a good "I'll talk to the director about you" kind of thing.

AI: A reference.

CN: And so jobs were, I thought, were easy to come by.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

AI: So in your experience, you didn't seem to face too much prejudice or discrimination in your job searches.

CN: Not in the job search. Once I got into this, into working, it was, it was hard for, at least under this one supervisor -- she's still living, you know -- to be promoted. And there was an Afro American woman and I -- we're still good friends -- that after a number of years, we found that we were still at the beginning level. We hadn't... we'd gotten annual increases, but we hadn't gotten any further than that. And we, when we found that out, well, we got, both of us got very angry. And I went in to see the director who didn't think there was anything wrong with that, "After all, you're doing good work and you should be satisfied." So I left and then along comes the call from Ryther Child Center and that, just like moving to Kirkland or Redmond was the best thing that happened when I was in the fifth grade, going to Ryther was the best thing that happened to me as a professional person.

AI: Why was that?

CN: They were not only wonderful, they appreciated good work. I'm patting myself on the back. And also they allowed me, and whoever else wanted to, to try different things to see if it would work and would give us recognition for a job well done. And it was through them that we were, I -- and I talked three other social workers to go in with me, two of them dropped out -- but to develop the very first alternative school program for the Seattle Public Schools. But it was under the auspices of Ryther Child Center and United Way.

AI: And when was that that you developed that the first alternative school?

CN: That was in, we started in nineteen-eighty, eighty... not, what am I saying? 1968.

AI: 1968?

CN: It was October 1 of 1968. And it was a demonstration and development program with the idea that if it would work, then Seattle public schools would take it over. If it didn't work, at least, we could say that we gave it a good try. And so with the D&D fund through United Way, we started this. And it was called the Ryther Central Area schools.

AI: And what was different about this school?

CN: What was different was that we worked with kids who were not dropouts, but who were pushouts -- they were pushed out of school because of their behavior. And so they, when we went to talk to the superintendent of schools as well as the principal at Meany Middle School then and Garfield High School, they said they would send us students. So they sent us their very best -- [laughs] -- and we did get space at the, it used to be called the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on Twenty-second and East Union. And I don't know what the, what it's called now, but the minister there -- a young man and his young family -- they were wonderful. And they went through a great deal just having us there because these kids were not the very best behaved, and they were getting into all kinds of problems. And also we were their last chance. Between, it was between us and the Department of Institutions for them. So I will say that I learned a tremendous amount from them and hope that they gained something from us, too. That I really did learn a lot.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

AI: Well, now during this time, this period of working with Ryther and then up to and including this time of starting the alternative school, you're also raising your own child. And I was wondering how, what you chose to discuss with your daughter about her situation of being a biracial child at a time when there weren't as many biracial children as there are now and what you chose to pass onto her.

CN: Well, we, we talked about biracialness ever since she was very little because, of course, she was growing up in a family where both parents didn't look like each other. And so she was very much aware of that and that there would be -- just like our parents said to us -- "There will be people who will discriminate against you, and give you a bad time. But remember" -- I'm repeating myself -- "Remember what your family, where you come from, and what kind of family you come from. And you could hold your head up high and know that you're, you're just as good as anyone else." And so using the same kind of thing -- not the exact words, of course -- I tried to impress upon our daughter that it would be difficult, but just think how exciting it is to have two different kinds of cultures that you could mix together and, and grow up. And she identifies more with the Japanese part. Of course, it depends upon what she's doing, I think, or who she's with, maybe, but more of what she's involved in. That she is, I think, comfortable with both. And if you were to see her, you would say, some people, the Caucasian people, would say, well, she looks just like I do. She doesn't. And the, but the Niseis, the Japanese part, would say, well, she looks more Caucasian. But you, you can tell that she's a mix.

AI: And do you recall what kinds of questions she had for you as she was growing up, about... or if she had many questions about her identity, or about how other people treated her, or how she felt about herself?

CN: She went to school at, in a racially mixed group, so she was, I think, quite comfortable. I mean, she didn't feel different. I think when it came to dating, perhaps, that she felt a lot more different than otherwise. Though she dated Caucasian boys, and, but she seems very comfortable with, with men from both sides. And she also has some very good Afro American friends, too.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

AI: And I was wondering, did you choose or was there ever a time when you decided to talk to her about what had happened during World War II and the camp experience?

CN: Oh yeah. We talked about it a great deal. And it was because my husband was interested, too, so she was just included in all this. And I would, I would freely talk about how tough it was, and sometimes I'd give my husband a bad time to say, "You know, it's because of people like you that gave us such a bad time." [Laughs] Which was terribly unfair of me, but I have to let you know that I, that's what I did. And he would always say, "Well, gosh, that was really tough," and "I just don't see how all of you were able to go through that." And "I don't think we'll ever really fully understand what it was all about," I mean, "what it was like." So she was involved in all this.

AI: So unlike many other Sansei, she really grew up knowing about what had happened.

CN: Yeah, it was because -- and if I'd been married to a Nisei person, she would be just like all the other Sanseis, but my husband would ask lots of questions. He was very much interested in history and politics and that kind of thing. So... and I, we hob-nobbed with both Niseis as well as Caucasian people. I'm the gregarious one. My husband is not quite so, but he got to meet all the Bellevue people, and so he remained very much interested. And, as I say, if it weren't for that, she would have experience just like all Sanseis did, not knowing a blasted thing other than the fact that yes, we played baseball and had dances and that kind of thing.

AI: Well, that takes me a up a little farther in your timeline because, let's see... you mentioned that you had helped found the alternative school in the late '60s. And then now into the '70s, where did your career go from that because I know at some point you were, became affiliated with UW, teaching there.

CN: I started teaching there in 1972, and it was ten years later in, well, 1983, because though I was no longer there, I was asked to fill in and did some, also some teaching at the junior college, which I didn't really like as much as at the U. It was just different.

AI: And what, what courses were you teaching at the U?

CN: In social work and I enjoyed it. And that's where... at the time I was there, there were a number of Sanseis who went into social work, and they are all doing extremely well. We're all proud of them, but we, that's when they forced me to talk about my experience during World War II. They had just heard something about it, and their parents hadn't told them anything. So I was forced to lecture about it.

AI: What kinds of questions did they have?

CN: "Why?" "Why didn't you, why did you all go into camp? Why didn't you demonstrate? That's what we would have done." And I had to explain to them, well, for one thing, we didn't even hear about anything called "demonstrations." And for another thing, the majority of us were under the age of eighteen. And our parents, practically all of them, were citizens of Japan, and they could not become citizens of the U.S. So I, so we all had to look at what happened, how we behaved, our parents behaved, from, from that window and not from what was happening -- how we could handle things in the 1970s and 1980s.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

AI: So what impact did that have on you as you were facing these questions and having these discussions with these young Sanseis?

CN: Well, the impact it had on me was that it was like opening a Pandora's box and that was one called anger. My anger was frightening. I wondered if there would ever be an end to this bottomless pit called this box of anger. And what helped was to really talk about it. And not just on the surface, but really talk about how humiliating it was to have to sit -- and you asked me a question, you see how I glided over that -- how right after Pearl Harbor was bombed, how humiliating it was to sit there, have to sit there and listen to President Roosevelt's speech. And feeling that eyes were, were on you and also feeling that this is all not only so sudden, not only so unfair, but it was hard to understand why this was taking place. And now we could read history books as to what was going on at this time just prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. And it was a horrible thing, but the U.S. was blind to a lot of things, too. And so I'm not saying, therefore, it's okay, but we have to look at both sides, of course. And this is what the students and I had to do, to really study up on it, and read it, and discuss it. And also that I feel very strongly that our experience has certainly colored the experiences as well as the mindset of the Sanseis.

AI: Could you expand on that a little bit?

CN: Yeah. In studying all this, I really felt, and I think others have said the same, that our experience during World War II was so painful and so humiliating that without our discussing it with each other, we, most of us decided to raise our children as if they were white. Don't talk about what happened during World War II. In fact, don't even talk about the Japanese culture. We could eat rice and we could go to Buddhist church and all, but tread lightly and keep all this other stuff away. So what happened was that the Nisei parents didn't talk about any of this. They worked very hard to be prosperous, to be successful, and they made it, but their children grew up not even realizing that this was something that you can't erase and that the eyes of the public see you differently from what your parents see you. The Nisei parents wanted very much not only for them to be successful, but their children to be successful. And all of you have been successful. You are successful, but the core, the spirit of the Japanese culture as well as the pride, I think, was missing. And so it was -- and you can't blame the Niseis for doing what they did. It was, you know, as parents, we wanted to protect our children and as long as we could be successful, it'll be okay. And, as I say, you forget that our features don't change, our colors don't change. And that's one of the things that I think really was sad. But, because the Sanseis were full of questions and all, that you have plugged up the holes on what has happened. You try very hard to put yourself into the Nisei's shoes, and I think the Niseis -- you look upon the Niseis with more understanding and more appreciation than we Niseis gave the Isseis.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

AI: Well, then also in the '80s, as you were teaching and confronting some of these questions together with the Sansei and the class, that was also a period where there was quite a bit of activity and support of the redress movement.

CN: Yes.

AI: Did you have much discussion about that?

CN: Oh, lots. Lots and lots. And we did what we could and maybe we could have done more, but it was, it was exciting. And there, again, we were forced openly, publicly, to talk about our experiences during World War II.

AI: You're referring to the commission hearings?

CN: Yes, uh-huh.

AI: What was that time like?

CN: Oh, I... it was exciting as well as forcing us to go over it another time. And this time we were free to let our anger out. Whereas the very first time, the anger was just too much, and we couldn't even quite understand why this was happening and what the fallout of this would be so we kept the anger under control. And, but during the commission hearings and all that, all this came out and people were able to freely talk about theirs and their friends' experiences and reactions. And so, the JACL was... many people felt that they didn't do enough to protect the Japanese during and leading up to World War II and after, but, well, maybe I shouldn't say after, but during, I mean. But after, certainly they came through with flying colors, and they will continue to really work very hard for civil rights for everyone.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

AI: Well, we were talking about some of your activities during the 1980s, and you were doing so much during that period. As you mentioned, at an earlier time, you were involved in co-founding the Separation and Loss Institute. Can you tell me a little bit about that, the nature of the institute?

CN: Yes. The institute is now a part of Virginia Mason, and it's now called the Separation and Loss Services. But when we, when Dr. Rynearson and I first went into this -- he's the one who got me involved -- it was to do what we could to train professionals in this whole area of the effects of separation and loss. In the early 1980s, we knew we didn't really have that much understanding of the effects of loss on individuals, it involves not only the emotions, but physically as well as cognitively. That's something that we didn't feel at that time that not everyone knew about. So we went into this with the idea of doing as much training through conferences, getting people who've done a lot of research in this or were doing research in this from other parts of the country to come, and also from areas like England and Australia as well. And, at the same time, people would come to us with problems that we would work with them therapeutically. And we also wanted not just therapists and psychologists and psychiatrists, but other doctors and other professionals who work in any way with, with people, even, even educators.

AI: So it was very multidisciplinary.

CN: Uh-huh, uh-huh. And so we started in May of 1984, and it is still going strong. I left in 1983, or was it '84? No, it was 1983. And it was taken over by John Perrington.

AI: I'm sorry. You said 1983, you were at the institute?

CN: Did I say '83? '93.

AI: 1993?

CN: 1993, excuse me. It was taken over by a gentleman by the name of John Perrington for a few years, and now the person, Dr. Edward K. Rynearson or Ted Rynearson (...) is doing a fantastic job along with several of his colleagues.

AI: Well, with this pioneering work that you did in investigating all these various aspects of loss, together with the personal experience that you had of so much loss along with the rest of your Nikkei peers, what kind of observations or reflections have you developed regarding the impact of such great loss in people's lives as they went through the war years and the incarceration?

CN: I've noticed a tremendous amount of illness. And also the, I think that we Niseis have a lot of difficulty in -- Niseis will take me to task for this -- a lot of this is due to the fact that we have a very difficult time verbalizing our feelings. And that's one of the ways in which we can work out the grief around all these losses, because we're talking about loss not only through death, but we lost our homes, we lost our, really our identity as good citizens, and we lost our friends, and so it goes on and on and on. And also there is a tremendous amount of... when I say illness, I mean heart as well as cancer. And I feel -- not everyone believes me, agrees with me, but I think a lot of that is caused by the tremendous stresses over the years. And so anyway, I think that the Sanseis are better able to verbalize your feelings as well as your anger and frustrations better than, than we Niseis. And so I'll stop there. [Laughs]

AI: I also wanted to ask you about the connections with the post traumatic stress disorder, whether you saw, in your professional opinion, some impact there, some continuing impact, on the Nisei as a result of incarceration.

CN: Uh-huh. It's just that I can't say that I've done a lot work with Nisei patients, because we do have... well, we keep things to ourselves. But a tremendous amount of -- I'm repeating myself -- the illnesses that we see in the Niseis, I think, is due to what they had to sustain during World War II and afterwards. And though they have been very successful, more than most people, it was at a tremendous cost to their health, too, because we find that -- and of course, people will say it's rampant among the Caucasians as well as the Afro Americans and all -- but I think with us Japanese, we are feeling, still feeling the effects of it. So I'm hoping that you (Sanseis) and the Yonseis will, while you're able to be much more open than we ever will be.

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<Begin Segment 42>

AI: Well, and now in your own family, you have another generation. You have a grandchild yourself.

CN: Yes. And he is learning about what happened to us during World War II, and also he's learning about his, his background, his mixed background. And sometimes he sees himself as Japanese, and other times as Caucasian, which is all right because he is.

AI: And as you look at him and his future and the future generations, do you have any particular thoughts or messages that you'd like to pass on?

CN: Only that I hope that we will really be able to look at people, not just on the surface only, but from the perspective of their experience and their parents' experiences. And also, I guess, what I'm saying is to look at what has shaped this person just like what has shaped us. So I don't know whether that makes any sense or not. But it's been an interesting and sometimes not-so-good experience that we have had, but it does need to be told. And I thank you very much and also that this kind of thing will never ever happen again. But knowing how human nature, we have to be careful, don't we, and be on guard all the time that this kind of thing won't happen again.

AI: Well, thank you very much.

CN: I wanted to thank you and I want to thank you, too, Matt, very, very much.

AI: And today is April 27, 1998. And we've been speaking with Chizuko Norton. My name is Alice Ito, our videographer is Matt Emery, and we've been speaking here in Seattle, Washington. Thanks again.

CN: Thank you.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.