Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga Interview
Narrator: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga
Interviewers: Emiko Omori (primary), Chizu Omori (secondary)
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: March 20, 1994
Densho ID: denshovh-haiko-02-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

EO: So tell me, what was your family doing before the war broke out?

AH: My family, you mean, my father. My father was running a little family vegetable and fruit stand at the time Pearl Harbor was attacked. I was going to high school, my brother was going was going to college and older brother was also in the fruit stand business. I had a younger sister going to school, high school, also. My mother was like other Japanese mothers, working, struggling hard, supporting the family, keeping us fed and clothed. Wonderful, gentle woman.

EO: What was life like? Was it hard?

AH: I think my parents protected us from knowing how really hard it was for us. I recall my mother working from morning to night, taking care of us, making our clothes from hand-me-downs, and actually, I think I thought I was, our family was rather well-off because my parents permitted me to take tap dance and ballet lessons, something that was quite a treat, and something that was rather unusual, I think, among Japanese families at the time. And so, later on, when I found out we could barely make the rent, and yet my parents were permitting me to have these lessons, I felt very privileged and spoiled, and grateful for my parents' consideration of my needs.

EO: Tell me a little bit about your mother.

AH: My mother was not, was so busy taking care of us that when she came over here from the old country, she actually never had time to learn the language. She was working from dawn to dusk, taking care of the house, of course, and sometimes going out to earn extra money to keep our family going. She was my father's second wife, and she, herself, had been married once before, and so I guess they both felt they were lucky to have hooked up with each other. You recall what it was like for a Japanese woman to have been, say, divorced in those days. It was, "Forget a second marriage, you won't have a chance." But my father needed her after his wife died, and so it was, it was a blessed union.

EO: Where were they born?

AH: They came from the prefecture called Kumamoto, which is on the southern island of Kyushu. They were both from the same prefecture. I don't really know what my father's family was doing, I know my mother's family had a tea farm and she often spoke about working on the farm and growing and picking tea leaves.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.