Densho Digital Archive
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection
Title: Dorothy Almojuela Interview
Narrator: Dorothy Almojuela
Interviewer: Hisa Matsudaira
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: February 17, 2007
Densho ID: denshovh-adorothy-01-0001

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DA: Well, let's say in 19... January 25, 1918, my mother was expecting her second child, she had one already. And then she was having me so they called my grandmother and... my two grandmothers, my father's mother and my mother's mother, to come because it was just a midwife, no doctor, and then I was born. And I guess they were surprised they had a girl because the first one was a boy. And so we lived in a... on the Indian reserve there across from Vancouver. It's called North Vancouver, but there's a small reserve, Indian reserve, there right on the waterfront, and so I was born there. And my father was a longshoreman. He started... my great grandfather and great grandmother came from Hawaii. They're both Hawaiians. They came over on a ship that my grandfather worked across with his family. He had one boy and two girls, and they settled in Vancouver. And my grandfather -- what's, what they call a longshoreman -- he worked on these sail ships, they were sailing ships. And he worked on there. Then my grandfather went to work and when my father was thirteen years old, he said to himself, "Well, I'm gonna go to work." So he put on coveralls and he went to the ship and they hired him. And so that's how he started longshoring. So then he and my mother got married, she was native, and my grandparents on my mother's side were all native, too. So, my father, my grandfather was Hawaiian, my father is half because my grandfather married a native woman. And so they, they had a family, and then I came along. Oh, it was a multiple home, you know, different families, but all related. So we had one little room in this house, we had one kitchen that everybody shared. So I used to get into mischief.

But when I got a little older -- I must have been about six -- I wanted to live with my grandmother, and she lived just a little ways from where I lived. And she was already a widow and she had five children that she took care of. So she would go to work in can-, fish canneries. And in the summertime she'd go up into the valley, up around Chiloac, a place they called Chiloac, pick raspberries and she'd take us along with her. So I lived with her; I loved her. I slept with her in a beautiful featherbed, and I'd be right close up to her. So I did that for, oh, maybe about two or three years, and then we started school. So she let me go to school, but if I didn't want to go to school, she'd say, "Well, just stay home, you stay home." My father heard about that, so right away he says, "You come home." So I had to go home and I went to school. And it was a boarding school where they had nuns as teachers. And I didn't go as, as a... I didn't board in the school as some of the other children did. I'd go to school every day. My brother was a boarding student.

And then we'd play, you know, play along the beach. And my great-grandmother, great-grandfather would go out and they'd bring a boat of clams and they set up on the beach. They piled up rocks, they put the clams, no, they made a fire over the rocks until they were hot, and then they threw the clams in. And the little children used to sit around, you know, and they were the cockle clams. So they would cook them, and then they'd string them, and they'd dry them. And so we'd be sittin' there watching 'em, so they'd finally give us the clam. So all day long we chewed on one clam that was like chewing gum, and we played and we went swimming. And later on we went to my great-grandmother's home. She had cherry trees and she had raspberries and plum trees, pear trees. That's where we'd spend our summer, all the little ones, little children. Eating cherries, climbing trees, and she wouldn't get mad at us. She was a widow then, and she'd be weaving Indian blankets and she didn't have a spinning wheel. She had one of these, like a spindle, and that's how she would card her wool, for making blankets. And she'd make blankets and she'd make shawls. She'd make baskets, you know, the cedar baskets. So that's what we did. But she never got mad at us, you know, for doing all these things.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.