Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Shigeko Sese Uno Interview
Narrator: Shigeko Sese Uno
Interviewers: Beth Kawahara (primary), Alice Ito (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 18, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-ushigeko-01-0022

<Begin Segment 22>

BK: What kind of reaction, when you say they didn't and they weren't aware of the whole evacuation, as you would retell your story and share some of that, what was their reaction?

SU: Well, of course, they were surprised, especially when I told them that so many of us were citizens. I can understand when they would round up all the aliens, not that they were guilty or anything, but even including little babies and everything. We had Alaskan Indians that didn't even know they're Japanese that were sent down, see, so, Eskimo people.

So -- but the weather was okay. It snowed in Boston from around Thanksgiving, and the snow never left the sidewalk 'til March. And then all of a sudden it would get so hot. But I learned a lot, like how to heat up a building using a big furnace in the basement. And you have to chop up the wood first, put it in, and then start the coal. I mean, after it's going. But then I would also -- it was all steam-heated, this house. We lived in the duplex next to the landlord. Then I'd forget, that you're supposed to turn down the steam or do something, and they'd be steaming away, all that steam would be coming out from the hot, from the top of the thing, and I'd run down. And by that time, the landlady would have heard it, and she came through. So we learned how to chop wood and everything, because my husband was so busy with his work.

And it was quite a distance from Boston, where we lived. And then I remember going into town when I became pregnant with my third daughter. I had a real nice doctor, woman doctor, in Boston. I had to go in the surface train first, and then the elevated, and then get into the Boston that way. And the trains would be so filled. Well, there were a lot of soldiers going back and forth. And here I am, as big as can be, but I had to stand up a lot of times. And then when I was gonna give birth, they rushed me to the New England Hospital for Women and Children. And because the nurses were so busy, they would bring you the tray to eat, and also bedpan, which they would put at the end of the bed.

SU: All in one?

BK: Oh, yes. And that's the only child I had with birth pains. The rest of my children were, well, I was given some spinal thing, and then I'd go under. And they'd have to wake me up and just tell me the baby's come. But this one, they didn't believe in anything, I don't think. And I remember telling them, "In Seattle, we don't do things this way. Doctor puts me under, and I..."

BK: So it was very natural, a very natural childbirth?

SU: Oh, my goodness, yes.

BK: Painful? Right.

SU: Oh, well. So this third daughter, she had sort of an accent, when she came back to Seattle from Boston. And she didn't pick that up. It was just sort of natural for her. And they would say for the longest time, "Oh, no wonder, she was born in Boston. That's why she talks like that." And then she was my third daughter. My husband wanted a son. So when the third daughter was born, he says, "Don't tell anybody that you had another daughter." So I couldn't write to any of my friends who were already back in Seattle. So when we did come back in '47, they said, "Who's this?" Poor Debbie.

BK: Stranger.

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