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

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

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.

<Begin Segment 2>

DA: And I'd go home, back to school, and I... when I was in the third grade -- they had three school rooms in the third grade -- one morning the teacher said, "Dorothy, you have to go to the other room." I told her, "I don't want to." She says, "But you've got to." And I said, "I don't want to." "But you've got to." So I went into the other room. Because the little children said that that teacher was mean, but I didn't find her mean. I got hit once. I was reading, and I didn't know this word, so I pronounced it and she hit me with a ruler right on my little finger. But I told her, "I don't know it. I don't know how to pronounce it," and so she told me. So I stayed in that schoolroom and they had three grades. And then she told me, "I'm sorry, but you have to go to the next room." She says, "You're too advanced for this room," so I went to the next room. Oh, every day, walking from home to school, even in the winter. But I'm not gonna say that the snow was that deep, no. It was just several.... and it was fun in school, too. I mean, we had our recreation time. The teachers were nice, I felt, at least to me. But I don't know what it was like for the boarding students. I guess some of them had a hard time. And so I stayed in there until the eighth grade.

And then the eighth grade, you were sixteen, and you had to finish school. So before we finished school, they told us, told me and my cousin, "You'll have to go and take a test for high school." And they said, "You have to go to a white school for that." I said, "I don't want to go." But she says, "I'd like you to try to see how you can do." So we decided to go. And we came before the superintendent of schools and we had to take the test for two days. And a little while after that, they said, "Well, you passed the test. The passing test was 360, and you had over 410." So, I was ready to go to high school and so was my cousin. So I told the teacher, "I'm sorry, I can't go to high school." Because I have an invalid -- my mother was starting Parkinson's disease. Her eyes would turn up, then she started shaking, then her legs started shaking. And soon after that she was in bed and if she wanted to go someplace, my dad had a car. My dad wouldn't carry her out to the car, I had to carry her out to the car. I'd carry her out to the car and sit her down, then we'd go take her out for a ride, come back, and I'd carry her back in the house. So this went on for about, oh, I'd say eight years. And she got worse. She, you could just see her... very soon she couldn't talk. You had to ask her, "Do you want this? Do you want that?" And she'd say, well, she... you could tell her eyes, so we'd do it, I'd do it. And very soon after, she couldn't eat, so I had to feed her. I had to chew her food and put it in her mouth. But I had to stay with her like twenty-four hours, I had to sleep with her to turn her over.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

DA: And so this went on until finally, in 1942, she was forty-two at the time. And... I thought to myself, my grandma goes away every year, and every year we ask her, "Where do you go?" She says, "I go to Boston." She called the United States "Boston." And I said -- she says, "I go pick raspberries -- no, strawberries." So I thought, well -- this is 1942 -- "I'd like to go with you." And she said, "No, you can't leave your mother." I said, "But my sister is fourteen now, and my father should take responsibility." Now, he should put her in a nursing home, but he wouldn't put her in a nursing home. And so I said, "Well, I'm gonna go on a vacation. I'm gonna go with Ta'a." Ta'a was my grandmother. That's what we called her. Everyone called her Ta'a. And she was the most wonderful woman. So I told her, "I'm gonna go down with you." So the lady that was hiring came to the house, and I had, did night shift work at a fish cannery. That was during the war when they had the blackout and we used to go to work at eight o'clock and work 'til four o'clock in the morning. And when we'd go, going home, the shipyard workers would be going to work, and they would call us fish 'cause you could just smell the fish off of us as we went by them. So I worked there for about a month, I made enough money. So I told my Ta'a, I says, "I'm going with you." So, I didn't have very much. I just had a little small suitcase. But she knew how to pack. Because each year for years she was coming down to Bainbridge. The first year she came down she said she, they got from Seattle to Bainbridge in a little small boat that came across. So that morning I got ready and I went across on the ferry and went to the ship and got on board, paid the fare. Then we sailed, we stopped in Victoria. In Victoria you had to get off of the boat so you could pass through customs. And they let you wander around for a while, but not too far away from the boat. So going back on the boat, I was lagging along behind the others, and they had gone through the customs. When I came to the customs, he pulled me aside, and he said, "Where do you think you're going?" I says, "I'm going to pick strawberries." And he says, "Where is your ticket stub?" I said, "They didn't give me any." He says, "Then how do I know that you can go back on board the ship?" And I thought to myself they were gonna send me back to Vancouver 'cause I didn't have that ticket stub. So I said, "Do you see those ladies going down there?" I said, "You call every one of them here and they'll tell you who I am." He said, "Okay." He says, "I'll let you go, but don't you try that again," he says. I says, "I won't." So we sailed again.

We landed in Seattle. I had an uncle and a cousin. They really knew Seattle because they had been with my grandmother when she came down other years. So the three of us took off and took a tour of Seattle. And the others went down to what they called the totem pole, the square. That's where they were gonna stay, at some hotel down there. So we didn't know where the three of us were gonna stay. So my uncle said, "I know where to go," so we followed him. When he came to, I believe it was the Fifth Avenue Theatre, was an all-night theater. And we went in and we fell asleep. Five o'clock the next morning, manager comes and says, "You gotta get out now." He says, "We gotta clean up." So we got up and then we went down to the totem pole. He says, "I know where they are," so they had the hotel room. So every one of us, we had to catch a certain ferry. So we all packed up and went down the street, but we had to have breakfast. So the elder lady says -- they were all widows, the ladies were all widows. So they went, we went in the restaurant. [Laughs] We went in this restaurant, you know, we're going in for breakfast. And they looked at us, and we were in a bar, in a bar. They said, "No, no, no," so everybody went out and we found a restaurant. So from there we went to the ferry. And they had these little small ferries. It cost, they charged you twenty-five cents a passenger. So I gave 'em our quarter. But you stay downstairs on the car deck, that's where you stay. You have to pay more to go upstairs. So we stayed downstairs. Took us about an hour to get across 'cause it was a little chug-a-lug ferry. In fact, I think it stopped down there at, in Winslow. So, I don't know what I'm doing because I've never been here before, and I'd never been away from home before. But I just followed them. So we got to the Winslow side. And we got off and we all walked up the ferry dock. And we looked and there was a man with a truck. I looked at him and I'm telling you, honest, I fell in love. I don't know him, but I fell in love with him. It was the handsomest man I ever saw. And I thought to myself, "I'm gonna set my trap for you." So we all get on a truck, but he preferred one of the other girls. Well, I got on the truck, then we started from Winslow to Port Madison where I lived. And I thought where on earth is he taking us? Where's the city? Because I come from a city, Vancouver, North Vancouver. And then we finally came to this farm. I think it was... no, Furukawa?

Off camera: Furukawa?

DA: Yes. And my grandmother said, "We're here." I looked around, all I could see was just old shacks, you know. And I looked and I saw the strawberries. I guess Mr. Furukawa had, you know, taken care of them. And I said, "Where are we gonna stay?" She says, "We're gonna stay here." I went in and it was an old chicken house. But the Filipinos had put little tin stoves inside. And I said, "Where are we gonna sleep?" She says, "There." There was this wooden bed and there was straw. And I said, "You and I are gonna sleep there." Well, I didn't mind sleeping with her 'cause I had slept with her when I was a little girl. So that night we went to bed and she says, "Now, I'm gonna tell you, in two days we're gonna start picking berries." And she says, "The next day you're gonna be awfully sore." And she says, "You're gonna walk like this." And I thought to myself, no, I'm young. Sure enough, two days later we were out in the field picking berries. And they taught me how to pick the berry. I guess I picked a lot of green ones the first day. [Laughs] So, sure enough, the next day, could hardly move, but I went out. You couldn't just lay around, you had to make that money. That's what you came for. So, anyway, we all picked, and then we got the hang of it.

And Felix Almazon was our boss. He was a nice man. But he talk, talk, talk, talk. So we, I picked berries for almost two, a month and a half. But I ate a lot of berries, too, that's very tempting when you first start. And so pretty soon I got sick of berries, but I kept picking. And then, from Mr. Furukawa's field we used to have to go and help. My husband had a, he leased a bit of ground and the house. And he had a field so we had to go over and help him. And I watched him every minute. And one time he was helping that girl, you know, and I said, "Hey, why don't you come and help me?" 'Cause that's the... he's the boss. And he never said anything.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

DA: Yeah, I'll tell you about Tom, about what he told me about when he came here. He worked in Manila and he worked on a streetcar, you know, on the streets. He was one of those that broke up the streets. He worked there for years and all the money that he made he would give to his parents. And so one year he decided he was gonna come to America because he had some uncles here. So he got on board this ship. What little money he made, he paid his fare, and it took them twenty-one days, on that ship, to get to Seattle. And there was other boys that were with him, they were all sick. They were right at the bottom of the ship, right close to the engine and everything, that was the cheap rate. And he said he just wanted to die. He said, "I don't care if I never get there. I want to die." But he hung on 'til he got to Seattle. He didn't know anything about Seattle. So... I think he had his brother, younger brother, was here already, his brother Garcia. And then he came over to Bainbridge where his uncle had a farm, a small berry farm, out by Flodin? Flodin corner. Yeah. Way back in the woods there, yeah. And so he lived there and he helped his uncle. And then he would go out and help the Japanese on their farms. And they, I think they worked for ten cents an hour at that time. But finally, I guess he made enough money that he knew these people, Mr. and Mrs. Clinton Cave. They had a piece of land and an old house that they would lease to him for two hundred dollars a year, and so he moved there. And he had this big house that had a kitchen, empty room, and his own bedroom, and bedrooms upstairs. Excuse me. And every year that he... he was, he came in 1932. And every year the boys that were traveling to Alaska to the canneries would stop there. Sometimes he'd have ten, thirteen boys there. But they would help him in the field, you know, clear the land for strawberries. Then he planted, strawberries, and every year they would come and help him, then they'd go. Sometimes when he and Felix got together, he would go to, Tom would go to Alaska. And like they'd work two days, two nights, in the canneries. And that's what he did, and then he came back. And then he finally made enough money to continue there.

So ten years later is when I came. And he had pickers from Vancouver Island, and I heard one lady talking about him. She says, "If he wasn't married, if I wasn't married, if I didn't have a husband, I'd marry him," she was telling this lady. That put an idea in my head. So in 1942, as I said, we got together. And I don't know, that girl did something, I don't know what she did, but it turned her, him against her, so I stepped in. But he used to have us pick for him. And he would have the boys, the Filipino boys that stayed with him, put up our, make up our lunch. That was the best food I ever tasted. So they would have lunch there and we'd go home. So we, we picked and picked, and I got to enjoy it. So one day, I think it was about two weeks before we were to leave to go back home, he asked me to marry him. So I said, "Well, I don't have anything," you know, clothes or anything, just what I had. He says, "Come on. We'll go to Seattle." So we went to Seattle, went up to Penny's, I believe. And he bought me a veil, a dress, the whole thing. He bought me that and he bought me my ring. And then I thought to myself, "But there's a superstition that a groom doesn't see the bride 'til the morning of the wedding." So anyway, I went to my chicken house and he went home. He had a car that one of the boys had left with him, a nice little car. And the morning of the wedding, we... I dressed up in the chicken house. That was just beautiful, a bride coming out of a chicken house. But I didn't care. We got in the car, went across to Seattle, and he had some relatives in Seattle. We went up there and she had made arrangements with a church. I think it was on James, James Street, a Catholic church. Because I told him, "I won't marry you outside the Catholic Church." So we went across and the boss lady, the one that hired me, came along with us, and just a few. And the priest was a Filipino, so he talked to me and he talked to Tom. So the morning of the wedding we got married and a relative of mine was the bridesmaid, and his uncle was the best man. We did our vows and everything, signed our papers, came back to Bainbridge and went down to his house. In the meantime, all the boys had fixed up a platform for dancing, and they had put fir trees with little decorations. And I felt like Cinderella coming to a kingdom. And the orchestra, it was the Filipinos, 'cause they could really, you know, they were really good. And so we danced the evening away. And Mr. Daniel Bucsit, he had set up everything. For the kitchen they had three cooks, they had killed a cow, chickens, and a pig. And people came from all over, even from Port Orchard, came over. They gave me presents, but I didn't know them. And to this day, I don't know them. But everybody had a good time.

And so... I had to learn how to be a housewife. I didn't know how to cook because my uncle used to do the cooking at home. He was a crippled man and my father had promised his mother when she died that he would take care of two of them, two crippled, and they, they were cooks. So I didn't know how to cook. So I told Tom, "I don't know how to cook." He says, "Okay, come on." So he taught me how to cook. And then the first year is when Tom was born, and people from all over came to see this baby. He was nine and a half pounds. When they brought him in at the, it took me from twelve-thirty at night until, oh, the evening of the next day before he was born. But they had to use the clips to pull him out; I could have lost him. And everybody came, and they put money under his pillow. I guess that's their custom. I didn't know, I still don't know them, but I just learned the ones that lived on the island. And they were Tom's uncles and cousins, they were, they were all related. So I enjoyed that, you know. And so he, he grew up and was about... my mother died in the meantime. She died six months after I left her. And the doctor says, told my father, "Your daughter kept her alive." He said, "She had two lives." So when I left, my sister couldn't do that. And, but I couldn't go to her funeral because I was just as big as a house with the first one. She died in January, and he was born in April. So I brought him home. He was such a crybaby. He, they had given him a little crib, and at night I used to have to rock him. Rock him, rock him. If I didn't rock him he cried. So anyway, but he got over that.

Eleven months later, that one came along. I was expecting her, she was born in March. She was... at that time when Tom got a call to go into the army, he got that call from the President. But he says, "I'm sorry." He says, "I can't go, can I be deferred for a while because my wife is expecting?" So they told him, "Well, we'll give you two weeks." So she was two weeks old when he was, he was away. And then he landed in California. So Mr. Almazon and his wife -- his wife was from my reserve. And they got married a week after we did. -- Mr. Almazon took care of us. If we wanted to go somewhere, he had a little truck and stuff and he'd take me and the kids along. But somehow or other, we managed. We got the allotment from the army. Sometimes my uncle, my uncle stayed with us; he was a bachelor, he stayed with us. He used to walk down to the Bainbridge Gardens for food or sometimes Mr. Almazon would drive me down to the grocery store. In the meantime, Tom would get leave. You know, like a two week leave or a week leave and he'd come up from California. And while he was away, his brother took over the farm, because that was in the spring. And he took care of the farm and one of Tom's uncles, they took care of everything. So, he would come home, then he'd stay home his two weeks, and then he'd go away. And then one time I got a phone call from one of the neighbors that I got acquainted with. She came and she says, "You have a telephone call." She said, "That's your husband." So I went to the phone and he told me they were leaving to go overseas the next day. And I thought to myself, this is the end of it, you know. I couldn't do anything about it. But in the meantime he was going to the Red Cross to ask them if he could get, be... get out of the army, 'cause I had nobody to take care of me. Well, they did their best. So just the day before his troop were to leave, he came home. They let him out of the army with a honorable discharge, and he was a private first class, and he was in there nine months. So I got him back. I was happy. I was happy.

And then the next year I was expecting again, so that's three in a row. Her brother, her, and this one, was fourteen months younger than her. So anyway, I was happy. I had this little boy then. But the nurse at the hospital was the same nurse that had, was there when I had my first one. She says, "Look here now." She says, "Don't you come back next year," she says. I told her, "I don't think so." [Laughs] And I didn't. So they grew up, you know. Nine years later, I had my fourth one, was a little boy. He was nine years from the last one. There's nine years different. Then I had, four years later I had another little girl, so I had five children. The first three were well-known when they started school. Of course, you know, they had their problems, which I'm sure your people had when they went to school.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

DA: All this time I had my brother. I had an eight-year-old brother when my mother died. A few months later, my father brought him down. He says, "I want you to take care of him." I said, "Okay." And Tom says that was okay with him. But my father never supported that child. He never sent me five cents for that child and I had him for eight years. We got his clothes and things. In the meantime, on the reserve, they received what they called an interest money, to all the members of the nation. Each child and each adult all got money. It was like ten dollars a year or twenty-five dollars a year. My father took, was able to sign and get the money for this child, which he was supposed to send to me, but instead, he put it in the bank for ten years. So my brother had quite a little, you know, nest in the bank. And someone found out that he was puttin' in, money in the bank. He wasn't giving it to me. So they made him pay every penny and send it back in to the head office. So I didn't get it. But I didn't care; I loved my baby brother. Because he was born, he was born to my mother when she was invalid. That made me mad. And my father gave her a pill to abort the child but she didn't take it. Nine months later, she had him. She had two midwives, my grandmother and my aunt delivered him. The day he was born, a few minutes after he was born -- I was sick in bed, I had the flu -- my grandmother came in. She said, "Here's your baby." And I looked at him. So he was seven years old when I left him, and then my dad brought him.

So we had him, so I registered him at McDonald school. That's where that green section... this end of Winslow Way. In there, there was a school in there, so I put him in there. And so he went to school there, and he went right through to high school 'til the tenth grade. And then he turned eighteen. And when he turned eighteen I called up my father. I said, "Harold is eighteen and he's a young man now. What am I gonna do with him?" He says, "You let him go," so I let him go. But all this time, Harold was working with my husband. He worked in the berry fields, he went to school, and he did everything in school that they asked him to. So I let him go. And the first thing he did was get married. I didn't know at the time that the children at school really liked him and so did the teacher. Because I couldn't attend to any of the functions 'cause I had the three little ones. Then he got married and he had five children, then he divorced his wife. He got married again, this woman had seven children, they divorced again. But all this time, the day after he got home, my father said, "You're going to work." So my father called up his sister and told her to put him to work. And he worked right up until he was sixty years old. He was just like my husband. He told me -- he calls me "Mom." I'm not his mother, but he called me "Mom" and he called Tom "Dad." He says, "Dad taught me how to work," and he says, "I don't know how to stop." He meant my husband, not my father. So he retired just a couple of years ago. And the wife he has now told the Squamish Nation, "If you don't let him retire," he says, "he's gonna die. 'Cause all he knows is work." Sure enough, two years, he had a heart attack. And now he's... right down. But his friends from Bainbridge have been in touch with him. He couldn't graduate with him because he was eighteen and they were still sixteen. But he's been in touch with them. They call him, they visit him, from Bainbridge. So, anyway, he worked for Tom, he helped clear up the land. He had... and we paid him, we tried to pay him, and so Tom took over the farm, then he went to work in the shipyard. He worked in the shipyard for nineteen years. And when the Japanese came back, that was really something to me. Because right away, Mr. and Mrs. Suyematsu, Akio, they lived right across from where I lived, we went to, you know, pick berries. I think they had loganberries or something, and we picked for them, worked for them. And they had... I knew Akio. I knew Tosh, I know Tosh's dad, and Eiko, the daughter. Eiko used to come to my neighbor's and she would come and visit with us. And Mrs. Suyematsu loved my -- that, I had three then -- she loved the youngest. She called him "Duke." Yeah. And he really fell in love with her. So, we helped, you know, and visited with her. But her husband was too shy. Never got acquainted with him. 'Cause Akio is just the same, he's so shy. And Tosh was nice. So they were the first.

Then we met Mrs. Kitamoto. There was a nice lady. I used to pack up my two younger ones in the morning and go down and we'd pick for her, pick berries. I didn't know Frank. I know Frank by sight, but I've never been to his... you know, when he was a dentist. And I didn't know the girls, but I heard a lot about them. So Tom kept working, then he retired. And he kept farming, then he planted raspberries. He gave up the strawberries and planted raspberries. And we used to... we had, had about eight rows of strawberries -- raspberries. Then he started to grow peas and beans. We'd pick in the morning-like and go down to Thriftway, and he'd load up the berries or whatever we had, he'd load them on a cart. He'd have me bring them in, he wouldn't bring them in. And there would be me, I'd be over sixty years old, pushing, going in that produce department, got acquainted with all the boys. That's when I met Kay, I met her, and her husband Sam. I haven't seen her since Sam left. Then I got acquainted with quite a few, just by pushing the cart to the store.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

DA: Yeah. And then Tom got sick. He, he and his grandson, her youngest son, put up a... what do you call it, a fence, around our property, around property. And when they got to this property here, there was people living there, and they used to cross our property to get into their property. Well, when he came to put up the fence there, it extended into their property, but he wasn't gonna put a fence to lock them out. Because he couldn't do that, they had the right of way. Then the mad came out, and I guess he just, he had been drinking. He just told Tom, you know, "That's my property. That's my property." And Tom tried to talk to him. He said he wasn't gonna close it. All he was doing was just putting a fence around. And I guess it wore on Tom's mind, so that he had a heart attack. He had one, he went to the hospital, he came out. He had another one, he went back in, but he wouldn't go back. And then he got sicker and sicker until finally... that's about thirteen years ago, yeah.

So in the meantime, the children... I'm telling you, I don't know how they ever went to college, because we didn't have money. The first one that left was Tom. He told me one day, he came home, he said... there were, that he was picked to try for admission for the military academy at West Point. And I saw a movie when I was a teenager about West Point, and I thought, oh, if I ever had a boy and I was rich, I'll send him there. But this turned out, so he went for tests, and another boy got it. So he came home. So he went to college for a year, Olympic College. And while he was there... he went because he was a good basketball player, you know, sports. So he went to Olympic College, spent a year there, and then he worked in the shipyard a little bit. And he said, "I'm gonna try again," so he tried and he passed. And I thought, "What have I done?" So he, he passed, and so, I think it was Thomas Pelly, he used to have, what do you call it, way down on the end of the island, a home, was the one that sent him. So he went and he went for four years and graduated. Myself and my youngest daughter went to his graduation. The first time on a plane yet, and we went there, and it was beautiful. Thousands and thousands of young men all in uniform on graduation day, see them marching out of the dorm. And all you could see was white uniforms, and then they got their graduation. I forget who was the Vice President who was giving out the diplomas.

And then this one left home [gestures to daughter in room]. And she, you know, we didn't know what she, how she was gonna get through. But she went to work in Bremerton, and she worked and worked and she went to school in Olympic College. From there she went to Western? [Looks at daughter] No, Evergreen. She went to Evergreen where she got her teaching degree. That's number two.

And then the number three, he went to Olympic College, to University of Washington, and from there he went down to California and he went to San Francisco University, Catholic University down there. And he went there and that's where he got his degree. He went to work for this company, I don't know the name of it. I feel so ashamed 'cause I don't even know the name of it, but he worked there and he retired from there. He's retired, he lives in Seabeck, but he still has his small office, his own business. Now that was those, those three. How they got through, I don't know.

And then came the next two. This boy here was different from them. He had a brain. The day... he was born in the clinic in Winslow, and from there they took us down to Lynwood to a home they had down there, and they took us in an ambulance. While we were in the ambulance, a man and his wife, the wife was holding him. She told her husband, she said, "Look at this baby. He's lookin' all around, you know." Just as if he were a month old or something. So we stayed there for a few days, then we came home. Then they started school, he started school.

He was four years ahead of the other one, before she was born, and she was born by caesarean. And Doctor Wilt -- I guess you know Doctor Wilt? I told him, "I want a girl." So when we went to the hospital, after the surgery, he came and he handed me, he said, "Here's your girl." So those two are different from these three. I don't know why. It seemed like I had two different children. The girl linked with the boy, you know, she'd follow him and she'd listen to everything he said. So when they graduated from high school -- they graduated with honors and scholarship -- went to Seattle University. And from Seattle University, the first one graduated with the highest engineering degree. Four years later, he told his sister, "Now, I want you to come to Seattle University, but you have to study math really good." Sure enough, she went to Seattle University, she graduated with the highest honors. She was the top student. He was the top student in engineering. And now the boy is one of the... he's an electric, electrical engineer and she's a civil engineer. And he works on planes, those big, what is it, 737, or something like that, at Boeing. And she worked for the Port of Seattle on the waterfront, she commutes to SeaTac. She's working on the third runway at SeaTac. I don't know how they did it, honest to God, I don't know how they did it. So I always tell them, "Oh, your poor mother. Just an eighth grader."

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

HM: Before the war, Tom had his place already and then he was neighbors with some Japanese who moved away. Is that correct?

DA: To what?

HM: He was a neighbor of the Furukawas, and they had moved away. How many Filipinos do you think took over the Japanese farms?

DA: The farms? All I know is the Chihara farm, my brother-in-law, Garcia, took over that one. And Felix Alamzon took over the Furukawa. I don't know who Membrere, you know, Membrere, I don't know whose farm he took over. But I only know those two because we used to work there. But, oh, those strawberries. They don't have strawberries like that nowadays. You can't... you don't even feel like buying the California strawberries. My son, the one I told you lived in Seabeck, he grew two rows. First thing he did after he bought his home, he planted two rows of strawberries. Oh, they were good. He bought them from Sakuma, a Sakuma family up in...

HM: Burlington.

DA: What's the name of that... Mount Vernon.

HM: They used to live on Bainbridge.

DA: Yeah. Oh, that yet... Mrs. Sakuma, I believe, was from Canada. Yeah.

HM: Oh, yes, one of them.

DA: They had, they had two boys, yeah? I used to work with, work for the lady that Mr. Sakuma used to clean yard and take care of the yard work outside, Mrs. Burkheimer. I worked for her for a couple a years. She had my whole family working, you know, while they were in school. One was a chauffeur, she was a housekeeper. And... but I didn't... what do you call it? My grandmother would talk about Mr. Furukawa. She'd talk about when he'd be out cleaning berries and stuff. And they left a house, it was empty, and we lived in the chicken house. My uncle used to talk about their son. I don't know if his name was Tosh, he used to be outside at the tap washing the rice, gettin' rice ready to cook. He'd be out there and they'd go over and tease him. But I think she worked for him for a few years, but I don't know who she worked for before that.

HM: Can you tell us a little bit of the importance of, of this Filipino Hall? This place... I remember, right after the war and things when we came home, we used to, they used to have dances here, and the band would be playing, we could hear the music from our house.

DA: Oh, we did most of our dancing down at your place, or another place out at Bainbridge Gardens. There's a little house there, we used to go there and dance before they got this [points to surroundings]. Yeah. But they had no place, they were delivering their berries down at the waterfront. Finch? Was that Finch Avenue, down at the end there. That's where they used to take their berries. The man from Seattle used to come over, the buyers, come over and look at what you're picking. There was one year it was really bad. We had rain, and some of the farmers were sending in bad berries. So they sent somebody over to check.

HM: What are some of the events that you... what are some of the events that have taken place here in this hall?

DA: I have no idea. You know, Tom and I, we never came here. We didn't come here until they started, they took over. [Gestures to daughter] But my husband, he used to deliver berries here. I don't know, they have, had sort of a, bit of a squabble when they first started this. So that's why my husband wouldn't come. He was a very private person. Yeah. Very shy, you know. I don't know how we ever got together. [Laughs]

HM: Did you... then, did you socialize much with either the other Native, Native Canadians and Filipinos...

DA: Well, I'll tell you, when we first got married, it just seemed to bring out all the boys, you know, the Filipino boys, when they got married. So we would gather at different places, at weddings, at baptisms, and stuff like that there, to get together. And we all got along, I think because most of the girls were from British Columbia. There were a few from, like, Bellingham and Yakima, but not very many. The most of 'em came from Canada. They're all gone now, just like the Filipino boys. There's only two left, out of maybe fifty. But they were, they all treated me, you know, as if I were somebody. They loved my children. And their children are like that now when they see me. You know, you'd think I'd seen, see them every day, but sometimes I don't. I see them now when they're that and the next time you see them when they're that. [Indicates different heights with hands] But they get along really well when they're all together.

HM: I think you have a very strong community now.

DA: So, but as I said, well, now I live in Kingston. My youngest daughter just bought a new home, she just sold her home in Seattle, the one that works for the Port of Seattle. She bought a home in Seattle and she's been there for years. And she finally decided -- when I moved in with her in Seattle 'cause I had cracked my knee and I needed somebody to take care of, 'cause we were close to the hospital, the Virginia Mason. And she decided, "I'd like to buy a new home." So now they can go to the Internet, you know, whatever that is, the Internet, and she was lookin' through there and she saw this home in Kingston. She says, "I'm gonna go over and look at it." So she went over and she said she liked it, so she talked to the real estate lady. In the meantime, there were other people that had looked at it and they liked it, so she, she had to wait until they said. And just last, last spring? I think last spring, she said, "I'm gonna get it." She says, "I'm gonna get it," she put, you know. So now I live in Kingston. In a... from a chicken house to a huge beautiful home. And she's got a huge shop that the owner I guess used to use. It's a shop where you can put things. And now her brother's got two boats in there, he's got his car in there, she's got her truck in there, she's got her little car. She just bought a truck the other day so she could move her stuff from Seattle. And then she got a whole bunch of other stuff. Well, that's her.

This one here bought, got herself a home, had herself a home built. My, the one in Seabeck, bought a home. And he had two daughters, beautiful girls, that just got married, but they live on the East Coast. And the oldest boy, the one in Santiago, Chile, he has like what they call a townhouse, or condo type thing. yeah. And he plays golf, that's all he does now. He's retired; he plays golf. But he's got two bad knees. Two really bad knees that are just... because he, he hurt, he hurt one when they got, when they played sports. He twisted one knee so it's surgery there, then he hurt the other one and he had surgery.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

HM: Okay. What we want to know now is what changes were there with the Filipino community and the Japanese community, the interaction during the war and then what happened after the Japanese came back?

DA: Oh that, I don't know anything about. I don't know anything about, because as I told you, Tom was, you know, he just kept us back. It's coming out now with this one, you know. She's bringing up everything, waking up everything, her and the other girls. But I don't know anything about what you're asking me now.

HM: Okay, so your family was more or less set apart or set yourselves apart from many of the other Filipino families, and you didn't do the same route.

DA: The only time we get together is if we have something here. It's the only time I come. Yeah.

Off camera: What about, how did life change for your family during the war? From the time, from 1942 until when the Japanese Americans came back.

DA: During the war?

HM: Did, did your, did your own life change during the war? Right after you got married, did that change after the war?

DA: Well, I don't know. You see, the, when I came down here, the only thing I got out of my grandmother was what she told me, and she just talked about your people. We talked about the Filipinos, but not very much. So I know nothing before, I know a little after. That's all. I had one brother, one brother that came down here when I had my two little children, this one and the other one, and he fell in love with them. Well, when Tom went in the army, my brother went home. He tried to get in the army there and they said, "No, we can't take you. You got a heart murmur." So he came down here. He volunteered for the American army, he passed, they took him in. It was six months later, he was sent overseas to Europe. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and he was killed. So they kept him in a cemetery in Holland and few years later, they brought him back, with an escort, all the way back to the Indian reserve. But they don't... and then I had one brother that went in the war that used to come down here... in the Canadian army. That's the only thing I know about the war, was they took one brother and brought the other one home. And Tom, Tom, they brought him home.

HM: Okay. Your children changed... right now you just mentioned something about your, your girls talking about things have happened that you were not aware of. Could you share some of that with us?

DA: That I wasn't aware of?

HM: Uh-huh. Your children are talking about it now.

DA: No, I don't think so. I know I've lost family. All my family... I'm the matriarch of both sides of the family now. I'm the oldest. I have... I have lost three brothers, they left children. One of my brothers had fifteen children. He was... and that one that lived with me. I have one sister, she's widowed now. But I go back to that reserve, I don't know anyone, they're all gone. All those children I told you I played with and stuff, they're all gone. I don't even recognize a lot of my brother's and sister's children. And their grandchildren, I don't know them. I'm just a total stranger now. But when I go up there, these little ones come and say hello to me. I don't know who they are, because we didn't spend much time with them. I have one unmarried daughter, the one that I live with. She's not, she has never been married. But my gosh, she has a lot.

HM: I think that covered quite a bit, thank you.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.