Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Nobu Suzuki Interview II
Narrator: Nobu Suzuki
Interviewer: Dee Goto
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 11, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-snobu-02

<Begin Segment 1>

DG: So today is June the 11th and we were here last week, and this is the second part of an interview here with you, Nobu. We talked about your life and your activities up through your being in Minidoka camp. So let's take it from there.

NS: Did I go into activities in the camp?

DG: Yes. Uh-huh.

NS: I had an appendectomy while I was in camp, and just as I was recovering, the YWCA leaders decided to come through camp. Did I go into that?

DG: Yes. You did mention that. Let's talk a little bit about the medical facilities since you had your appendectomy.

NS: Oh. Well, I had an attack and so I went into the hospital. And, of course, my husband, being the doctor, did the appendectomy...

DG: And you did it there?

NS: And I did it right there at Minidoka.

DG: So they had all the equipment for operations and anesthesia?

NS: I think they did by the time I was there. It was in February or so, and so camp was open for about...

DG: Nine months or so?

NS: No. We went there the first of September, so about five months, uh-huh, five or six months.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

DG: So did your husband help set up the facilities?

NS: Yes. The hospital was built, and there were doctors assigned. I think we had a doctor from California or someplace, and also the local doctor from the small town near Minidoka. He had just finished his internship, so he didn't know too much about administration or medicine even. Paul had more experience, so he had a lot to do with setting up the facilities and getting things ready for the evacuees. A good many of the early evacuees were taken to neighboring hospitals because Minidoka wasn't set up for patients. But by the time I was operated on, I stayed in Minidoka.

DG: Do you know what other kinds of operations and things they did there?

NS: They didn't do complicated ones like brain surgery or anything like that, but mostly tonsillectomies and appendectomies, and the hospital took care of a lot of disoriented people. It was surprising that the change in the facilities and also the change in their lives affected some people and they were disoriented.

DG: What do they do when they're disoriented?

NS: They took them in the hospital and had them for a while and took care of them in the hospital.

DG: What...

NS: They couldn't do very much with them, excepting to feed them and take care of 'em. But -- and eventually it took a while, but eventually they came out of it, or their families could help take care of them. But there were a good many of disoriented people.

DG: And depression?

NS: Depression, (yes).

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

<Begin Segment 3>

DG: Now, there were then three doctors or so for the ten thousand people?

NS: There were three or four doctors, Japanese doctors. Then there was a couple of white doctors, one from the neighboring town who had just finished his internship.

DG: So were they real busy?

NS: Yes. Everybody was busy because there were a lot of disoriented people, and people who... and then there was a certain number of...

DG: Well, by disoriented, do you mean, psychologically they were, you know...

NS: They didn't know where they were, they didn't know who they were, and they would wander around camp. So, being dangerous for them to be out, why, they were put into the hospital and supervised.

DG: So, how many of them would you say were there at a given time?

NS: I don't know what the capacity of the hospital was, but it might have been thirty or forty, offhand.

DG: And you helped with a little bit of that, right?

NS: No, I didn't help at the hospital at all. When I first went there, I helped the "Student Relocation" people and got in touch -- I found out which schools wanted the transferred evacuees, and then I got a list of people who were already...

DG: But when you were through with that, you mentioned something about...

NS: But it took about a month, the month of the September, by the time all of the students who had applied and were accepted had been transferred to their respective colleges. And then there were newer, just graduated people that wanted to go, but didn't know where. And so at that time I left the "Student Relocation" and went on to something else.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

DG: Okay. Now, we kind of covered a lot of that the last time, but in general, what I want to get to is that you were constantly, in some of your letters, saying something about yourself, you wanting to leave.

NS: Yes. Well, really I didn't think it was a place for children to grow up. The younger one was in kindergarten and ready for first grade, and I wanted him to go into a normal situation, rather than in a camp situation.

DG: Okay, and what was wrong with the camp situation?

NS: Well, the teachers were not -- were pick-up teachers from the different areas, and there were... I don't know. I just felt that, being in a situation with children of all Japanese parents, and in a forced camp situation, was not normal. And so I wanted to be out where it was more of a normal situation.

DG: Now you were thinking of going to Chicago or someplace?

NS: I was thinking of going back East someplace, but since my husband was a Japanese citizen at that time, there wasn't -- he couldn't get citizenship, that Washington state was the only one that he had a license for. So we decided that Spokane was the best place to go.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

DG: So when you were getting ready to leave, you had some correspondence with Floyd Schmoe?

NS: Yes. Floyd was to bring our car, which we had kept with some friends, and he brought the car to camp to us so we could drive to Spokane.

DG: So how did you know Floyd?

NS: Floyd was very active with the evacuees, and also with the Friends Service and in helping with, helping evacuees and also with Gordon Hirabayashi. So, I got to know him through all this evacuation experience. When it came time for us to move, why, he was very willing to bring our car to the camp so that we could move to Spokane. So, when he came to Spokane, he made -- we bought a big house, and he was able to come and stay with us when he did come to Spokane. When he was going back and forth to camp helping people, why, he was always a visitor, as well as Gordon.

DG: So Gordon didn't ever go to camp?

NS: No, he never -- he was incarcerated in different areas before he was released.

DG: So he was going around, too, helping relocate these students, you say?

NS: Who?

DG: Gordon.

NS: Not Gordon, he was in prison. He was...

DG: But he got out of prison...

NS: Yes. He got out of prison and then he helped people.

DG: ...because there's a letter from him to you about living in some house. Had you left a house?

NS: There was a house in Spokane that was maintained by the Friends for evacuees.

DG: But this is after?

NS: We bought a house in Spokane.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

DG: Oh, okay. Let's go through that in a little more detail. Before we get there, let's finish leaving camp, okay, because there was an incident or two.

NS: When we stopped to get gas, the man saw our Washington license and knew we were evacuees, and he refused to serve us. So, we went to the next town.

DG: Where was this?

NS: I think it was Walla Walla or someplace on the way.

DG: And then so you drove to Spokane?

NS: No. We stopped at some other little town to get gas and then go on to Spokane. And, the Friends had a house there that they maintained for evacuees to stay in until they can find their own, their own facilities. And so we stayed there until we found a house in the Spokane valley.

DG: So did you have to make arrangements to stay there?

NS: Yes, with the Friends. And when we found our house, we moved there.

DG: So what period of time are we talking about here? How long did you stay there?

NS: About a month. Oh, no. We only stayed there about a week or so. Then we found this house so we moved there. But the -- and we bought it from a German woman. The real estate agent... did I go into that before?

DG: Not yet.

NS: Well, the real estate agent in that area was jealous because I had bought it directly from the owner, and he didn't get the commission. So one night he came by and threw a big rock in the front window, which had a plate glass in it. It was a nice old brick house built by this German lady, and it had a big barn. And, of course, my mother's house had a lot of her friends' things in it, too. And so when the relocation agency moved the stuff, they moved everybody else's things, as well as ours, to this house. But then since we had this big barn, we put it all up until we came back.

DG: Okay. Now the Relocation Authority moved your things. Now, how did that happen?

NS: Well, there was an agency set up in Spokane that arranged for moving, moving articles from the restricted zone to Spokane, which was unrestricted.

DG: But everybody didn't get their things moved by the WRA, did they?

NS: If they wanted to, I imagine they did. There was an agency there that could, that would move them if they wanted it, and they would specify.

DG: Because there was some correspondence having to do with your husband being a doctor or what not. Was he hired by any of these agencies?

NS: No. He set up his own practice. You mean in Spokane?

DG: Right.

NS: Yes. He set up his own practice, but he wasn't able to transfer his hospital privileges. That was one of the reasons why we came back to Seattle, when the Seattle area was open for relocation.

DG: Okay. Let's go back to your house incident, because you didn't quite finish. What happened?

NS: Well, one night... the Friends found this house and it was a nice big brick house with a plate glass window in the front room. One night, this real estate agent from the area came by and threw a big rock through it, and then boasted in the beer parlor that he was going to come and force us out of this house. We found out about this, or -- one of the priests, Catholic priest, I think, heard about it and so he let us know. And we told our friends about it, and they came that night and were sitting in the living room.

DG: Now, who were these friends?

NS: These friends that the Catholic priest got from the neighborhood, and also our personal friends who we had in Spokane. They all came -- and they were all white people -- and they all came. We were sitting in the living room when this gang that this man gathered from the beer parlor came walking down the street, and we could hear them. But when he came to the door, it was opened by one of our friends, and he invited him in and said, "Let's talk about this." But, of course, that wasn't what he wanted. But he came in and looked around, and then he didn't say much, excepting that he didn't want us there and that he had a crowd of people outside who didn't want us there either, and he went out and left. But he was grumbling and they all went away. So nothing else happened excepting for this rock that was thrown into the window.

DG: Weren't you worried for your family?

NS: Not especially, because we figured that it was just that one person and that some of the people that we had -- the Catholic priest and some of the ministers in the area, had canvassed the people, our neighbors around, and they had no objection. And so I was not worried. And we had a big house with a big yard and so we were not worried.

DG: Now this was an area, where in Spokane?

NS: It was toward the valley; that would be east of Spokane. It must have been about a mile or a little more, so that it wasn't in the Japanese community. It was a little bit farther out into the valley.

DG: So you were one of first Japanese people to move in?

NS: Into the valley, yes.

DG: Let's...

NS: So then we were very thankful for our friends who were there. We did have a room full of people who met this gang and told them that they were not welcome.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

DG: Now, some of your papers suggest that you had a lot of activity with the YWCA in Spokane.

NS: Yes. I was on the board of the YWCA when we were evacuated, and I was on the camp committee and I was interested in camping for the girls. I had, also, a group of "Girl Reserves" that I was advisor to. And so -- and I had been a YWCA member ever since I was growing up as well as at the university. And so I kept up my affiliation with the YWCA, and they kept me on the board. Even in camp, they had sent letters to the neighboring Twin Falls YWCA. And so we were welcomed into the club rooms at Twin Falls if we could get out and have a day on the town, which we welcomed because camp was getting a little bit claustrophobic. So after we moved to Spokane...

DG: Now, you moved when?

NS: After, we moved -- I think it was September.

DG: Well, it was '43, because you went to camp in '42, and then you were there through the winter and spring. And then...

NS: And then in the summertime, in August, I wanted to, my son to go to normal public school. So, the end of August, I think, we left to go to Spokane. We found this house and that was when that incident came. (My husband) didn't have hospital privileges, but he did have a license to practice in Washington. So, that that was why we stayed in Washington. And then we came back as soon as the coastal region was open for resettlement.

DG: So now you were in Spokane from about September of 1943 until the war was almost over?

NS: Well, I don't know whether the war was over or whether the coast was open for relocation.

DG: So about a year and a half you lived in Spokane?

NS: That's right. And then when school was ready to open, we came back to Seattle. I found a house for my mother, and she moved in, and we moved shortly afterwards.

DG: Okay. I wanted to talk a little bit more about your YWCA work in Spokane.

NS: Uh-huh.

DG: You were on a committee for race relations, I think it was called.

NS: Could be. Yes. At that time, why, it was quite a bit of... we were meeting with "F.O.R.," "Friends of Reconciliation," I think it was. It was a Friends group.

DG: And that's the Quakers.

NS: (Yes). And that was what Floyd Schmoe was.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

DG: Now, Spokane, let's talk a little bit about the geography of Spokane and why so many people moved there.

NS: Well, Spokane was not a restricted zone. The restrictions came about the middle of the state.

DG: Okay.

NS Spokane was outside and so they were not evacuated. And since Paul's license was good in the state of Washington, it was a natural move for us to come.

DG: For you, but several people were moving there.

NS: Yes. Because they wanted to get out of camp, and they might have had relatives or people from Seattle moved to Spokane, because it was closer. And they needed to get out of Seattle, so they went to Spokane.

DG: So a lot of them moved there?

NS: A lot of them moved there. The people who were in camp moved to Spokane, too, because their friends were there to join them.

DG: I have heard quite a few stories of people having relatives.

NS: Of people moving to Spokane, yes.

DG: So there was quite an influx of people for Spokane.

NS: In Spokane, yes.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

DG: And I notice that in the minutes they talk about different issues, and so I'm going to go through these issues one at a time, and maybe you can comment on them.

NS: Okay.

DG: Okay, one was caring for the aging and elderly.

NS: Uh-huh. Yes. You mean of Japanese?

DG: Well, probably, influx of people in general. And then among them were a lot of aged.

NS: Yes. Well, people were getting older. After all, they came to Seattle in their middle age, and then had their work and their children and their families and decided to stay in Seattle. There was a lot of people who came to Seattle in the early stages, of early 1900s, who made their money and went back to Japan. But the people caught in evacuation were the people who selected to stay in the Seattle area and make their homes and livelihood in the Seattle area and didn't have any hopes of going back to Japan to live. And so Spokane, being close and a step outside where there were -- and more of a urban place -- a lot of them who were farmers went to Ontario and Oregon, and that area. But people who lived in the cities would rather go to the cities; and, therefore, they went to Spokane and found some jobs. But if they didn't, why, they found temporary work someplace.

DG: So housing became a problem?

NS: It was a problem then.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

DG: The second point that was in one of the minutes is that the professional people needed help in getting into organizations.

NS: Yes. My husband was a member of King County Medical Society. He applied for the Spokane Medical Society, but they wouldn't accept his transfer. And so he could practice in the state of Washington because his license was for practicing. But he was stymied when it came to hospital privileges because the hospitals had their own standards of acceptance; and you had to be a citizen, I suppose, and a resident of Spokane. Well, since he didn't have his citizenship, why, he was refused staff membership at the Spokane hospital. So in order to take care of people who needed hospitalization, he used some of the Spokane friends and doctors who became his friends in Spokane.

DG: So it was important that you -- just like nowadays, it's who you knew in a way. It's important who you know in a lot of ways.

NS: Well, not only that, whoever made the rules that only citizens could be members of a staff, I suppose it would mean a whole staff of doctors. It could be who you know and who was champion of your cause as to whether you were going to be accepted or not.

DG: What about the nurses?

NS: The nurses were the same way, I guess. They were all fired, of course, at the time of evacuation. And my good friend Masako went to Denver, and she became -- and she got work there and she was there until she retired. But I know that when the coast opened, she came back. But she didn't find a very friendly atmosphere here so she chose to go back to Denver.

DG: And not very many people could become teachers so that was not a problem yet, I suppose.

NS: What? Teachers?

DG: Right.

NS: No. There weren't too many teachers.

DG: And I don't know what other professional people there were, not too many yet.

NS: Not too many as yet. There were some nurses, but some of them went to Chicago, which was open, and also -- well, I know of one or two that went to Chicago and maybe to the East Coast. But outside of that, they waited until the coast was opened and came back.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

DG: Well, we talked about the fact that housing was a factor, but maybe we can talk more about that when you talk about resettlement in Seattle. But, what about welfare?

NS: Welfare in Spokane? There weren't too many people on welfare in Spokane as far as I knew. People had their own jobs or their own businesses, and there were a few people who came to Spokane, but I don't think they went on welfare. They took care of themselves and their families, and I don't think there was a welfare program as such.

DG: But, what did you think about welfare?

NS: Well, I think that if you, as a temporary measure, if you need it, why, you might as well have it and...

DG: Well, how did the Japanese community as a whole feel about welfare?

NS: The community as a whole looked down on people with welfare as to people that couldn't find a job, and a good many of them were ill and couldn't find a job that way. And they might have had temporary jobs, but because of their illness were laid off. There weren't too many people on welfare even at that time. I don't think there was any in Spokane, and after we came back to Seattle, I don't think there were as many. 'Course, the welfare people I took care of before the war were single men who were, who had worked in Alaska or some menial job and were ill and could no longer find a job; so those were the only people that were on welfare. And what welfare there was was administered by the (Japanese) chamber of commerce; all they did was give them some rice. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 12>

DG: Number five was "Investigation of escheat cases," it said.

NS: What?

DG: Investigation of escheat cases.

NS: Of cases of...

DG: Of problems, I guess, that occurred because people were Japanese, or where they were -- I don't know. I'm not sure what the word escheat means either, but maybe...

NS: Well, a lot of people had lost their jobs. For instance, there were a good many nurses that were laid off and there were teachers -- people who had graduated as teachers -- and they were all laid off at wartime. Most of the girls, I think, were teachers, and they were slow in coming back because of the calendar. But I think they did find jobs when they came back. Slowly there were secretaries and people in those kind of service jobs that was open to people as they came back. And a lot of them came back to their own stores and opened them and had their own jobs, so that they resumed their activities after they came back.

DG: Number six is "Unfair legislation against Japanese workers."

NS: In Seattle?

DG: In Spokane.

NS: In Spokane and Seattle. Well, I think it was unfair that they discriminated and said it was because they were Japanese; they couldn't be hired.

DG: Did it have to do with unions?

NS: With what?

DG: Unions?

NS: No. It was more race than unions. The unions weren't as strong then as they are now, and I don't think that there was too many unions at that time.

DG: Could the Japanese not get into unions at that time though too?

NS: No. They couldn't get into unions because they were restricted to whites only. Very few unions were open to Japanese at that time before the war. I think, perhaps after the war they opened their ranks so that Japanese could join.

DG: There was an incident with grange.

NS: With the grange? I don't know too much about that.

DG: Evidently, they didn't allow any Japanese in the grange either and that was more farmers.

NS: Farm areas, uh-huh.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

DG: Seven was "Business licenses."

NS: Well, business licenses were hard to come by in the restricted area, in Seattle area.

DG: But about, what about in Spokane?

NS: In Spokane that I imagine it was possible.

DG: Well, they list it as one of the problems and so was...

NS: Well, could be, certain ones, certain ones might be prejudiced and couldn't get their licenses; but, of course, Paul's being for the state of Washington, Spokane didn't matter. And the Spokane, I think, the Spokane Medical Association accepted his transfer so that he could practice in Spokane.

DG: Number eight was "Finding jobs."

NS: Jobs at wartime were hard to find, but then, depending on the jobs that were available.

DG: But there were more jobs also because of the war.

NS: That's right. Yes, because people needed more help with what they were doing, so there were more jobs; so there were more people coming into the area.

DG: Because a lot of the people in the service had gone and so they need to be replaced.

NS: That's right. Uh-huh. So there were a good many that found jobs.

DG: Why would they list it as a problem?

NS: You mean the jobs were a problem? Probably, because they didn't -- they discriminated against the Japanese and made it a problem rather than the job being a problem.

DG: Because there were plenty of jobs, actually, because all the servicemen were gone.

NS: That's right. And so it depended on the owners whether they would hire Japanese or not, and some of them were above the race question and did hire Japanese.

DG: Were there a lot of women going to work?

NS: Women in Spokane?

DG: Japanese women.

NS: Japanese women? I don't think there were too many.

DG: They mainly stayed home.

NS: I think a lot of them went back east more than they did. They went to Chicago and Philadelphia and New York.

DG: If they were single.

NS: If they were single. Or if they had any skill at all, they went to the Midwest, or some went to Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois, and Indiana.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

DG: Now, so you relocated mostly single people not so much families; is that right?

NS: In the East, yes, because the families wanted to come back to Seattle, and wherever they -- they were more familiar with Seattle; they probably left possessions here and they probably still owned their land here.

DG: Was there a lot of talk about coming back to Seattle?

NS: Oh, there's always lots of talk. After all, it was home for a lot of people, and everybody wanted to come back home.

DG: Was there very much discussion about the unfairness of the whole thing?

NS: The what?

DG: Unfairness of the whole situation?

NS: I doubt it.

DG: Why would that be?

NS: Well, I think they just took it as a matter of war and that people were not in too friendly a situation and were taking advantage of the war; and, therefore, people were like that. But, then there was always the opposite too, who were more kind than they ever were. So it was those people who welcomed the Japanese back to Seattle.

DG: Number nine was "Fair treatment in restaurants and stores."

NS: In the stores?

DG: And restaurants.

NS: And restaurants? Well, I think with the stores and restaurants, it was a business with them; people had to eat and people had to shop and buy things. And so I don't think that they had too much problem with discrimination at all. And if you were refused service in one place, you went to the next. But I don't think there were too many places where one was refused service.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

DG: Then maybe we can start with the resettlement, coming back to Seattle. How did you start making preparations to come back?

NS: Well, we... my mother had a house here. But during the war, before we decided to come back, the lawyer had sold the house. And so he was instructed to find another house for my mother, which he did, and Mother, of course, wanted to come back to Seattle and so...

DG: The house was in your name.

NS: Was in my name, uh-huh.

DG: Because there was some correspondence related to it.

NS: That's right. And so it had to be in my name because Japanese nationals couldn't own property, and so a good many put their purchases in their children's names and that's how my name got onto the purchase of the house.

DG: So why didn't you hang onto the house?

NS: The house had renters. The things that Mother left in the house were all shipped and sent to Spokane, and the people that were in the house wanted to buy the house. So the lawyer thought that would be better and made negotiations to sell the house. And when Mother decided to come back...

DG: Well, did you get a fair price for the house?

NS: I imagine for the time, it was okay. And so she was able to buy another house in a different location, probably about the same price, which the lawyer did for her. And so we came back to Seattle.

DG: Was that a exciting time or how did you feel about it?

NS: Well, it was time for my, the oldest boy to start school. And so we came back and we looked for a house and we lived with her for a while until we found a house for ourselves, but it was a place to start.

DG: Was there a lot of bad feelings when you came back at all?

NS: No. We were fortunate in that we found a house that -- and a good neighbor that made friends very easily. My mother lived there until she died. And the neighbor, of course, was very friendly.

DG: Where was this; what part of the city?

NS: This was on Thirty-first, and it was in the Madrona district. It was not very far from Aki's house. Up in the -- I think she was on the same street.

DG: Were there areas where Japanese couldn't go?

NS: Yes. I think that there were areas that were restricted. And in a good many, good many places there were restrictions put on, so that one couldn't move into the area. But where we were there were a lot of war workers that came in and a lot of the war workers were colored people. And so I don't think the Japanese people wanted to go back to the same areas again. And so my mother found, or...

DG: This was more toward the central area you're talking about?

NS: It was in the Madrona area, which is central.

DG: So you went outside the real central area though.

NS: We were on Eighteenth and Lane, which was on the border of the Japanese community. And then when the colored people moved in during the war, why -- and all of the houses around there were not available for purchase, my mother moved to this other area. There were a few other Japanese families that moved into the same area, and my mother found the neighbor very friendly and helpful. So she lived there until she died.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

DG: Let's talk about housing in general because you mention it in another committee that you were a part of, but we can talk about that later. There was a lot of people coming into Seattle so it wasn't just the Japanese returning.

NS: You mean during wartime or after wartime?

DG: Well, at this time.

NS: At this time, yes. There were a lot of Negro people came in from the South because they were stationed at Fort Lewis. And this being, Bremerton being take-off point for a lot of the ships, there were a lot of people who moved into this area, and so...

DG: And then you said earlier that a lot of the Filipinos replaced...

NS: The Japanese in a lot of the store and work areas in the downtown districts. The Filipinos and then the Chinese expanded and moved there during the war and afterwards.

DG: And then all the efforts were towards the war so there was no new housing, right?

NS: No. And so we had to find what there was available, and what there was available were usually older houses.

DG: So a lot of families had to...

NS: Had to live together. So we lived with my mother for a while until we found a house for ourselves. By that time there were quite a few other Japanese families that moved into the same Garfield area, and it was close to schools and available for purchase.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

DG: So did your husband set up his practice right away?

NS: Yes. His office was -- he had to find an office; and, of course, there wasn't any place excepting in a building downtown. So he set up his office there until he found that he wanted to move into the district with more Oriental people.

DG: Because the office downtown wasn't convenient.

NS: Wasn't convenient, and he had to park his car in a garage and walk a couple blocks before he got to the office. Patients found it difficult because it was downtown and had to park and go to see him. So Dr. Nakamura had built an office building, and so we...

DG: He's a dentist.

NS: A dentist. So we rented the upstairs part for a few years. Then he found that the lot across the street was vacant so he bought that, and we built an office building there. So he practiced there until he died.

DG: So now right when you came back -- and this is 1945, early in '45, were there enough Japanese for him to have Japanese clients, totally?

NS: People were... yes. People were coming back by -- as soon as they could come and find a place to live, they were coming back. And so he found, he found, his practice was slow, but still he could practice. And the hospitals were generous. Like Providence said, "Well, we never took you off our rolls and so you're welcome to come back," with which he was very pleased.

DG: Do you remember the kind of problems that he dealt with at that time?

NS: Uh...

DG: The patients?

NS: With the patients? No. People came back and found -- a lot of people had their old houses, and they came back to their old houses and found new jobs.

DG: But what kind of illnesses were what he dealt with?

NS: Well...

DG: TB was no longer a problem?

NS: No. TB was not a problem as much. It was mostly, oh, minor problems, I guess: colds or fevers or cuts or bruises.

DG: Or pregnancies?

NS: Pregnancies and the usual.

DG: Because I know a lot of people that say that your husband delivered...

NS: Delivered them, yes. Well, he had a lot of OBs and so he delivered a lot of young people. [Laughs]

DG: I think a lot of Niseis waited to get married until after they...

NS: After the war. And so then a lot of them were right here and came back. So that was convenient.

DG: Well, did a lot of people get married in camp too, or did most of them wait?

NS: A lot of people did get married in camp, or they went to Twin Falls and got married, or they waited until they relocated. And then a lot of them went to Spokane and got married.

DG: Because camp was really kind of a meeting place, too, for young people.

NS: Spokane?

DG: Camp...

NS: Camp? Oh, yes.

DG: ...was a meeting place for...

NS: A lot of people met in camp and so then they got married.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

DG: Before we took a break for lunch, we were talking a little bit about your coming back to Seattle in 1945. And one of the things that happened was that there was a Japanese Resettlement Committee, and I think it was headed by Ruth Rolfes? Can you tell me a little bit about who she is and what about that committee?

NS: She was a member of the board of the YWCA, and also she was also connected with the Friends Service Committee, I believe. Anyway, she was a school friend and also one who was interested in resettling people, and also in students, International Students Foundation. She was a fellow YWCA worker. And she gave me a lot of moral support of all kinds. We used to meet together and do things together until she died.

DG: Now, you knew her from before the war.

NS: Before the war while we were still in school.

DG: Now, this Japanese Resettlement Committee had a number of people on it, and -- for instance, there's an Orville Robertson?

NS: Yes, he was, he was secretary of the Family Service, which helped families in need. And I used him to -- there were very few Japanese people in need, but when necessary, it was available for their use.

DG: And...

NS: But he was very supportive in many ways.

DG: Arthur Barnett was on it?

NS: Yes. Arthur Barnett also was on the committee.

DG: And he was from...?

NS: He was a lawyer and he, he could help in any situation with the law involved.

DG: And he's the one that took Gordon Hirabayashi through his...

NS: Yes. He was interested. He was also a Friend, Friend Service Committee, and also a friend of Gordon's and did a lot of the legal work for Gordon.

DG: O'Brien was on the committee?

NS: O'Brien was a professor at the university in sociology and also a member of the Friends Service Committee.

DG: Genji Mihara?

NS: Genji Mihara was a secretary of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, and he took care of Japanese affairs. The only contact I had with him was trying to locate people in the Japanese community that needed help or wanted to have many of my services at that time.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

DG: Didn't you mention something about that typhoid fever shot situation?

NS: Yes. The typhoid fever -- the city, city was, would give typhoid shots for people who were going on trips. We thought it was necessary for the evacuees to have typhoid shots because we didn't know where we were going. If we were going to be crowded into a certain areas, the water supply may not be as good as we wanted it to be so that a typhoid shot would be very helpful. So, I went to the city health department, which was authorized to give typhoid shots. When I went to see him, made an appointment and went to see him and told him our situation; "Please could we have a typhoid shot?" He got angry at me. That was the day that the PI in the morning paper came out with "Japs Attack Pearl Harbor." Anyways, he had the newspaper in his hand and he says, "No. I won't give any shots out of this office." And so I, well, I just about cried, I guess, and left his office because his assistant was the one that I knew better; he was the one that told me that there was plenty of medicine available if we wanted to have the shots. So I was so disappointed, and at the point of crying, and left his office. I went to the -- I guess, somebody must have -- I don't know how it came about, but, anyways, I found out that the cannery union, Cannery Workers Union, had some money left over and that if I wanted to purchase shots that I could have the money. So I went ahead and got some, and my husband got some nurses to help him, and we gave the shots to whoever came. And I think there was a whole bunch of people that came in for these shots.

DG: Like hundreds?

NS: I think so. Anyways, I think there was a picture in the paper where there was just a room full of people with him giving the shots.


DG: Okay. If you want to go ahead and finish talking about that incident...

NS: About, oh, the shots. Everyone was advised to get typhoid shots because we didn't know what kind of a water supply we would be having and that it would be...

DG: Who would determine that you needed these kind of things? I mean, where did you get that advice?

NS: Well, it was general knowledge that we didn't know where we were going and that wherever we were going that the water supply was the most important. And if we went overseas, we were advised to get typhoid shots. So we thought that it would be a good idea for people to...

DG: Who is, "we?"

NS: The medical profession and also my husband thought it was a good idea for getting these shots, and that was one of the reasons why I went to the city health department to get these shots. And when I was shouted out of his office and said, "No," why, I left his office. But the cannery -- someone from the Cannery Workers Union heard about it and said that they had some funds and they would furnish, give it to us if we wanted. So we set up the office, cannery workers' office building, and bought the medicine and gave the shot.

DG: And that's where the Japanese community service came in?

NS: That's where -- no, the Japanese, not the service, but it was open to anyone who wanted to get the shots.

DG: But who spread the word that, you know, you had these shots?

NS: I think it was in the (Japanese) newspapers, probably, that these shots would be given and that the Cannery Workers Union was furnishing the money to buy the shots and that my husband and the crew were going to give the shots on a certain day, and...

DG: So it didn't have anything to do with the Japanese organizations helping with gathering people or anything.

NS: No. It was just open to the Japanese people to come and the Cannery Workers Union supplied the money.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

DG: Okay. Then back to this council, this Japanese Resettlement Committee, and we were talking about the different organizations that seem to be represented on this committee. And we were talking -- I don't know -- was this a name that you knew, Merlin Payne?

NS: I don't recall.

DG: From the council of social agencies?

NS: Could be.

DG: So now we have the YWCA represented.

NS: Yes. The YWCA was always interested because I was on the board.

DG: And the Friends.

NS: And the Friends Service Committee...

DG: And then some of the social agencies.

NS: ...with Floyd Schmoe and the "Family Service Committee".

DG: Right. So a lot of the service organizations in the city were represented on this committee?

NS: Yes.

DG: In the minutes they mention some numbers that they dealt with. Somebody gave a report. And so maybe I'll have you comment. For instance, in this four-month period -- and I think by this time it's 1946. Okay, they had 483 that they helped with housing.

NS: For what? To come back?

DG: Probably.

NS: Four hundred, eighty-three people wanted to come back?

DG: Right. In this four-month period, this committee dealt with 483 people.

NS: With all the people that were coming back.

DG: Right.

NS: Yes, could be.

DG: And what do you think that they might have done?

NS: Well, they came back to their own businesses, which probably was taken care of by either their friends, or -- was still open for them to come back to; and their houses, probably that they had rented but were able to come back and repossess; and businesses that they had that -- a good many were in the hotel business and they probably could come back and reclaim that; and other grocery stores and other businesses that they had.

DG: Well, did they provide... now, what I assume is that this committee was known somewhere so that they could contact this committee. Was there anything like houses that they set up like that Spokane house you were talking about, the Friends set up?

NS: I think there might have been.

DG: Temporary housing places?

NS: There might have been. Of course, at that time there were -- the Baptists had a home for single women and so did the Methodists at that time. And so I imagine those homes were open for people who needed temporary housing. And then there were a lot of hotels that people had, and they were probably open for people who wanted to come and come back to Seattle.

DG: Now, we did an interview with the Murakami sisters, and they talked about how they provided a lot of meals for the first people.

NS: Could be.

DG: Rice. Were there any other organizations you could think of that were involved at this time?

NS: Well, I was mostly involved with the YWCA and the Family Service and the "American Friends Service."

DG: What about Japanese organizations? Churches?

NS: The churches, yes. The churches were back and they had -- of course, their churches were full of people's belongings, but I imagine that when they were all distributed that they had their churches open again. I don't know whether I went back to the Japanese church. I don't think so. I think when I came back I went to the neighborhood church, which was mostly all white people.

DG: Why did you do that?

NS: It was necessary because the children were still little. I felt that they needed to know their neighbors more and could go to a neighborhood church and meet them rather than taking them to a foreign situation.

DG: Was JACL involved at all?

NS: I don't think so. I wasn't involved too much with JACL at that time.

DG: Were there any kenjinkai organizations?

NS: There were kenjinkai organizations, but I don't know that they helped individuals that much. I don't think they were organized as yet coming back.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

DG: Well, the next item was that there were thirty-seven per month that they helped with employment.

NS: Who helped?

DG: This committee.

NS: Which committee is this?

DG: This Japanese Resettlement Committee.

NS: Oh, was that the Friends?

DG: Could have been.

NS: Could be.

DG: And there's a item here that there were five to eight people per day who contacted Father Kitagawa.

NS: Father...

DG: Is it Kitagawa of the Episcopal church, is it? Father Kitagawa?

NS: Kitagawa? Oh, could be.

DG: Okay. And that three people per day were asking for counseling.

NS: Uh-huh. That was after the war.

DG: Well, so this committee has a list. There's a report on their minutes.

NS: Oh. Which committee is this?

DG: This "Japanese Community Resettlement Committee."

NS: I don't think I was on the committee.

DG: Oh, maybe you were just on the early part of it when it was started?

NS: When it was dispersing, I was on the committee. But coming back, I'm not sure that I was on the committee.

DG: You were listed on the committee, but maybe you weren't so involved with the rest of it.

NS: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

DG: Let me list some community organizations and maybe you can tell me about your involvement, because after that you began to become involved with the community agencies and activities, right?

NS: Uh-huh.

DG: So we're talking about 1950 now. Is that right?

NS: (Yes).

DG: Okay. Well, so in your list, resume kind of list here, you have "Seattle Family Society".

NS: Yes. I was always interested in that because they were interested in helping families that might have problems, adjustment problems, and so forth. So I spent time with them.

DG: "Seattle Creative Activities Center."

NS: Yes. That was a fun organization of an outgrowth of YWCA, I think; a group of young mothers that had young children about the same age and wanted to have some creative children's activities. And we would meet at the YWCA and do things together.

DG: Now, what kind of creative...

NS: Like the children having -- letting them draw or play together and do something.

DG: You didn't think they got enough in the schools?

NS: Well, they were too young for the schools. They were nursery age.

DG: Okay. Let's see. You were board member of "Children's Home Society of Washington."

NS: Yes. That was a -- Children's Home was one with unwed mothers and children who were abandoned or had no place to go. There was a home, I believe, that these children were taken to and cared for, and I was on their board for a while.

DG: Now, when you joined these boards, did it make a difference that you were Japanese?

NS: No. Partly I think they included me because I was Japanese. But once I was there, it was just like any other board.

DG: Did you pay any special attention to needs in the Japanese community?

NS: No, not especially; not unless it was involved in some way.

DG: The "White House Conference on Children and Youth."

NS: Uh-huh. Well, I was on the Children's board at that time and also on the PTA, I think. And there was an invitation to go to the White House Conference. I was one of the... I think there were so many from the state, and I think I went as a delegate from the state.

DG: So then that was your PTA involvement?

NS: I think so.

DG: Can you tell me how you got involved with the PTA?

NS: Well, the PTA -- my children were in public school and I became president of some of the school PTAs. That way I got involved with the Seattle council and served a term there until I was vice president, I think -- the state organization.

DG: And then you went to the national.

NS: Yes, and I went to several state organization and some of the PTAs around in the district and also to the national PTA meeting.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

DG: Now, you did some things that even white people don't do, much less Japanese people.

NS: It didn't make any difference. It was just something I wanted to do, and as my mother said, "You could do (it), so you might as well." And with her encouragement and her baby-sitting, I was able to do these things. She said, "Not everybody could do it," and as long as she was there to take care of the children, why, "You go ahead and do these things."

DG: Was there any thought about proving yourself at all?

NS: No. I just enjoyed doing it and so I was doing it.

DG: But most Japanese would worry about sticking out so much, let's put it that way.

NS: I think their worry is just unfounded and quite selfish, I think. I never thought of anything like that. I just thought of it as a job to do and did what I could.

DG: But most people would worry about what people were saying.

NS: I never worried about that. [Laughs] I think that people say what they want to say anyway, so what difference does it make even if you don't agree with what they're saying. So it never really bothered me. I just went on and did what I wanted to do and could do.

DG: The term they use now is "breaking the glass ceiling."

NS: Oh.

DG: Was there any restrictions because you were a minority?

NS: I don't think so. I think that they -- most of the people accepted me as I am, and as long as I could do the job that I was assigned to do that that was sufficient.

DG: Was there some tokenism involved?

NS: No, but there was one instance when I felt very much, very much, what, voted against, but -- so I kind of left the meeting at that point.

DG: Where was this?

NS: I won't tell you. [Laughs]

DG: So how did you deal with it?

NS: That was just the one instance when I felt badly, and I just left the meeting.

DG: And what did you do after the meeting?

NS: I didn't go anymore. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 24>

DG: Okay, there is some more organizations here: The Japanese American Citizens League?

NS: Yes. I was active in that for a while. And I went to San Francisco to some meetings and I enjoyed my association with them, for a while, anyway.

DG: What do you think was the most important part of what they were doing?

NS: I think -- I'm not sure. I think they were encouraging people to resettle and to maybe educate the community as to what was available and encouraging the people in their reactivity into the norm of things.


NS: The AAUW, I enjoyed because it was an association with a lot of my friends who were members of AAUW.

DG: And that stands for?

NS: "American Association of University Women." And having gone to the university, I had a good many friends in the organization.

DG: That's a real prestigious organization.

NS: What?

DG: That's a prestigious organization.

NS: It's a good organization. I met some people who were...

DG: But you can't just join.

NS: No, you have to be, you have to have graduated the university.

DG: And be recommended by someone.

NS: I suppose.

DG: There were no Japanese, other than yourself?

NS: Not when I joined.

DG: I don't think there's a lot of Japanese even now or lately.

NS: Uh-huh. Well, I don't think Japanese people, as a whole, join organizations.

DG: Okay.

NS: Do you? You find that a lot of them don't, that they stay with their own Japanese groups. They feel more...

DG: Why do they do that?

NS: I don't know why. I suppose they feel more comfortable with their Japanese friends rather than to try to make new friends. And making new friends, of course, is a different...

DG: But you didn't feel that way.

NS: I never did, so it never bothered me to go into a new situation.

DG: Did you ever feel lonesome?

NS: Oh, I suppose there were times when I was, but it doesn't last forever. [Laughs] It just means a matter of going out and making new friends.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

DG: Talking some more about the PTA, I was noticing the roster. You started in early '50s, and there were no Japanese involved, at that time, in that either.

NS: No.

DG: But later on in about 1960, I start noticing quite a few Japanese names, especially where there...

NS: I think it always needs somebody to break the ice, and I imagine that a lot of the young people feel that they don't want to because they'll be the first ones. Well, once the ice is broken, I think that people, maybe because they're Japanese, feel that I'm not the only one and can and would like to do something.

DG: Is it important to break the ice?

NS: I think it is. I mean, how else can you -- I mean, "Who else is going to do it," like my mother used to say. She says, "If you can do it, do it."

DG: What is she referring to, you can do it?

NS: Well, these activities that I would go to. There would be, there would be others, there wouldn't be too many others involved. And so I say, "Well, why should I do it," and she'd say, "Well, if you can do it and want to do it, then do it."

DG: Well, does it have to do with assimilation?

NS: I think so.

DG: Why is that important?

NS: Well, we live in a diverse community. And the more assimilation we have, the more understanding we'll have between the peoples. I think it's important to have an assimilation of talents and people and a sharing of ideas rather than being in a select group.

DG: And you understood this from early, it seems?

NS: I think that my mother instilled that to me a long time ago and that I've always practiced it as much as possible and that's why I came in here. [Laughs]

DG: Right. Here is where?

NS: Here is Park Shore where it's a retirement home; and, of course, it's a new idea -- It was a new idea ten and fifteen years ago that people retired into retirement homes, and they were built for retired people. And so I became -- well, I was on the board at Horizon House. Then I was on the state board association and read and knew about them. When my husband died and a year later, I decided that I needed to go into a different situation at that point in my life, why, I chose Horizon House to come to because -- I mean, I chose Park Shore, because I knew that it was closest to what I had, and I would enjoy being -- and I had friends here, too.

DG: Do you miss rice?

NS: What?

DG: Do you miss rice?

NS: Not particularly. I mean, not every day like the Japanese have. No. I adapt myself so that I can have it occasionally. Since I have a kitchen of my own, I can make it if I wanted to.

DG: But that adaptation takes an attitude, I think.

NS: The what?

DG: Takes an attitude, willingness to be...

NS: Oh, yes. Uh-huh. And one gets used to it.

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

<Begin Segment 26>

DG: Let's see. You were counsel of the King County in Washington, the State Medical Association, Women's Auxiliary of the Medical Association.

NS: Yes. Well, he was a member of the King County Medical Association and so I automatically was a member of the women's group. And so I took, I took, I mean I had some activities with them and put on a Japanese luncheon when the American Association met here in Seattle. And we put on a luncheon with all the people sitting on floor cushions that I borrowed from the church, [Laughs] which they enjoyed. And it was just one way of -- it was, maybe you might call it a gimmick, but then it was still...

DG: Promoting...?

NS: Promoting some Oriental features into our American culture.

DG: So you did quite a bit of this in various organizations?

NS: When I could.

DG: Explaining...

NS: Just being in an organization was something that not all of my contemporaries agreed with.

DG: Did it ever bother you when they looked at you and said, "What about your people and want to know about them?"

NS: Well, no. They didn't -- no. I don't think I got too much references to "your people" and all. I probably would have frowned on them if they did, [Laughs] and they probably knew that I didn't agree with them.

DG: Good for you.

NS: I didn't want to be categorized.

DG: Let's see. League of Woman Voters.

NS: Well, as long as we were citizens, we had a responsibility to know what was going on in our government, and that was one way of studying and finding out more about it. So I was interested in their meetings and went to...

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

<Begin Segment 27>

DG: What did it mean to be an American?

NS: Well, having spent that year in Japan, I knew I didn't want to go back to Japan or be -- well, I didn't want to be, go back to Japan and be a Japanese citizen -- that I was content to be back here in the United States and become an American citizen. So that was one hurdle already passed. And as long as I didn't feel that -- I don't think the American people that I meet characterize me as so very different anymore.

DG: What about your own feelings? Did you think of them as hakujin and yourself as Japanese?

NS: No. I just took people as people, and I hope that they did the same thing. And so the more you practice that, the more your feeling is one of community rather than a difference. And I always promoted that rather than differences.

DG: So what was Japan or where was it?

NS: Japan was a different, was a different country. 'Course, there were relatives there, but they had different life than I did and not the life that I wanted.

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

<Begin Segment 28>

DG: This is totally different: "Mountaineers."

NS: Oh, the Mountaineers was a fun group because we had children and we enjoyed going out into the mountains and hiking and skiing. And we even took our children and went up to the Mountaineers' cabin and helped them build a new cabin up at Mount Baker. It was one of the fun groups that we joined. And I would cook blueberry pancakes for 'em and help them. It was just kind of a fun weekend when we took our sleeping bags and joined the Mountaineers.

DG: Tell me about starting the ski school.

NS: The ski school? Which one?

DG: The public school.

NS: The public schools, yes. It was just when skiing was beginning in the Northwest. There was a friend and I that thought a ski school would be a good idea, and I think we had the cooperation of the Times paper. And we got together and chartered a bus, signed up students who wanted to go skiing, and took them up to Snoqualmie Summit and had a few women that would act as chaperones. And I think we started with one bus and then ended up having many buses go up.

DG: And this is the Seattle public schools.

NS: That was Seattle public schools. That was when my children were still in the public school.

DG: In the 1960s, late '60s?

NS: Oh, I don't know.

DG: I think around there, late '60s, '70s maybe?

NS: No, it was earlier than that because my boys were, I think, my eldest son was a sophomore when we went to private school.

DG: Oh, so that was in the late '50s.

NS: Yes. Uh-huh.

DG: Because almost everybody goes to ski school now.

NS: Yes. So this was when they were still -- that was ten years before.

DG: Okay, in the '50s.

NS: Early '50s.

DG: Early '50s. Wow.

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

<Begin Segment 29>

DG: You got an award from the Japanese government.

NS: Probably. I was the only woman, too. They were giving out those awards for public service, I think.

DG: Why did they give out those awards?

NS: I have no idea. Maybe it was the chamber of commerce and the Japanese consulate activity, but I knew a lot of the Japanese consular wives. We used to go mushroom hunting together [Laughs]...

DG: Where did you go? Where's your secrets?

NS: ...which was one of the things that we enjoyed doing.

DG: How did you know where to go?

NS: Oh, we had our secret spots.

DG: Mount Rainier?

NS: Yes. We were one of the first ones to go up to Mount Rainier after the war or even before the war, I think, or just right after the war, I think we went up there. And we used to find them right alongside the road or in the park alongside the road. But, of course, now with so many people going, why, it makes it harder to find excepting for a stray one. [Laughs]

DG: I do know that a person gets this award from the emperor because you did something to promote the good relationships of the Japanese fitting into the United States or wherever.

NS: I don't know what it was for, but anyways, whatever.

DG: Did you meet the emperor?

NS: No. It was given here in Seattle at a ceremony here.

DG: Okay. In early days they got to go meet the emperor.

NS: Well, no, I wasn't that.

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

<Begin Segment 30>

DG: So skiing was one of your hobbies.

NS: Yes, uh-huh.

DG: Did you have...

NS: When Crystal Mountain -- well, my third son, Howard, went into ski racing so he went to different areas to -- well, I took him to different areas to take part in the races. Of course, when I had to go, why, I had to arrange for the rest of them to go and arranged ski buses and accommodations for the ski team to go to different areas. And I enjoyed that very much; went all over the Northwest.

DG: How long did you ski yourself?

NS: I skied until I was seventy. Decided that that was a good time to stop. [Laughs] At least my children thought so too.

DG: Did you have any other hobbies, not that you could fit it in?

NS: No. We had a condominium at Crystal Mountain when they opened, when my youngest two were ski racing for them. So I was up there every weekend after just about Christmas time until spring vacation until they closed. As a family we went skiing there quite often.

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

<Begin Segment 31>

DG: Let's talk a little bit more about your husband developing his practice.

NS: Well, up until his, opening his office -- I think it was almost ten years before a new doctor came to Seattle and so the climate was ready for him to open a practice. He had a pretty good practice until the war; and then, of course, the war kind of interrupted a bit, but then he resumed again when he came back. And, of course, that was one of the things he liked to do and the only thing he wanted to do and so he did that until he retired. He was eighty when he retired and...

DG: Well, right after the war in the early '50s he was one of the only Japanese doctors, wasn't he?

NS: No. There were -- there was Dr. Shigaya and there were a couple of Japanese doctors, Dr. Kato and Dr. -- I don't know whether Dr. Koike was still living. Anyways, those were the only doctors here in Seattle, the Japanese doctors.

DG: And was his clientele mostly Japanese?

NS: I think there was an osteopath in there too. I forgot what his name was. Yes, most of them were Japanese. Uh-huh.

DG: Now, there's a interesting side light. He went to school with a couple of prominent people. Who were they?

NS: He went to school in the same class with Wallace Graham. You mean, Wallace Graham? And he became President Truman's physician, and so it was interesting. One year we went to Washington D.C. and saw the White House and then also Wallace. He was here in Seattle, to visit the governor here, so we met him then.

DG: Well -- and he also went to school with the governor.

NS: And he also went to school with Governor Rossellini, so we were invited to the Governor's mansion for a dinner. I don't know whether that was for Truman or whether it was for somebody else, but, anyways they were friendly. Governor Rossellini's brother was a fellow intern with -- he was a doctor and fellow intern with Paul, too, so they were good friends.

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

<Begin Segment 32>

DG: What of your life in general, can you summarize what you feel like maybe your goals were in general?

NS: I don't think I was looking for any specific goal in my life. I just wanted to be content and enjoy living, which I have. I've done -- I've had, I've done traveling and I've been on travel committees where I've taken people around the state and around the country.

DG: Seems like you were always one of the organizers.

NS: I like to do that and I like to -- I like to try new things and so I had fun doing that. I enjoyed doing it and so whatever I enjoyed, I did.

DG: Is there anything that you would do differently if you could do it again?

NS: I don't think so. I think I did what I wanted to do and probably would have done it over again if I needed to. But so far, I think I've had a very good life and one that I enjoyed in doing the things that I wanted to do and seeing a good many places and things that I also wanted to do.

DG: Do you have any suggestions for your grandkids, great-grandkids?

NS: No, I don't. I think, maybe they'll have to live in their own world. It may be different than the ones that I grew up in so that they will have to learn to live in their world and take part in whatever activities or duties that they might have.

DG: We were talking at lunch about how many of them are doing exciting, creative things and that maybe some of the foundations that the early people, such as yourself, provided allows them to do this.

NS: Well, I think it's probably just kind of inherent more than anything else.

DG: What did they inherit?

NS: Inherent.

DG: Oh, inside of them.

NS: Uh-huh. More than -- if they had something that they had to do, that they did it and to their own satisfaction, that would be, that would be the most I could contribute to their welfare.

DG: Well, is there anything about the Japanese community that you would want them to remember.

NS: I don't think there's anything so different with the Japanese community anymore. I think that we're getting to be where everyone is more or less -- that there aren't as many differences as there used to be. Of course, there used to be differences of custom more than anything else, but I think that's gradually breaking down and that we're getting to be more community-wise.

DG: Even in Japan.

NS: Uh-huh, even with the people in Japan, too.

DG: Well, the Japanese people want to become more westernized and that's been their goal.

NS: Uh-huh.

DG: Do you think that Americans should become more...?

NS: More Oriental? I think there's some good things in both, and that if you can get both, all the good points, together that you'd have a good society.

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

<Begin Segment 33>

DG: Well, is there anything that we forgot that you'd like to add?

NS: Not unless it's down there. [Laughs] Well, I think there have been a lot of good people in my life that's been influential and that I certainly have had a very good life -- and I've enjoyed myself, too, at the same time. So I'm very satisfied with what I've done.

DG: One last comment; looking over your life as I know it from what you tell me, you've gone through a lot of ups and downs, really highs and really lows.

NS: Uh-huh.

DG: And what would you say about that, for instance, the death of your son?

NS: Yes. Well, I think in every life there's a certain amount of real lows and real highs and that we tend to remember more highs than we do lows, which is natural, I guess. And so we might as well remember our highs and be grateful for the highs that we have had. Does that answer your question?

DG: Well, I think some people dwell on their lows, but I think you dwell on your highs.

NS: Well, why draw on the lows? I mean there's nothing gained by drawing on lows, and there's nothing, I'm afraid there is nothing you can do about the lows, whereas in the highs you can feel better. And that makes a lot of difference as to...

DG: Well, don't you think you created your own highs?

NS: Probably, but I think everybody does. Some people enjoy being low, I guess, and some people enjoy their misfortunes, I guess; but I don't think they're very happy people. And I think that if you have to be content with yourself that it's more helpful to be optimistic rather than pessimistic.

DG: Well, I've really enjoyed our talk. Thank you so much.

NS: You're welcome. It was nice to talk with you and share my experiences.

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