Densho Digital Archive
Friends of Manzanar Collection
Title: Sam H. Ono Interview
Narrator: Sam H. Ono
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: November 28, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-osam_2-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

MN: Okay. Today is Monday, November 28, 2011. We are at the Centenary United Methodist Church in Little Tokyo. We will be interviewing Sam Ono. Ann Kaneko's on the camera, and I will be interviewing; my name is Martha Nakagawa. So Sam, I wanted to start with your father's name. What is your father's name?

SO: My father's name is Seiichi Ono.

MN: And what prefecture is he from?

SO: He came from Okayama.

MN: Do you know why your father came to the United States?

SO: Probably like the rest of the Japanese Isseis, to seek his fortune and then go back to Japan.

MN: Let me ask you a little bit about your mother. What is your mother's name?

SO: My mother's maiden name was Sunada. Her given name is Toshiko.

MN: And what prefecture is she from?

SO: She's from Hiroshima.

MN: Now, during your parents' era most people married people from the same ken. Do you know how your parents met?

SO: I don't know how they met, but it must've been an arranged marriage because there's, there was quite a bit of difference in age between my mother and father. He was her senior by fourteen years.

MN: How many children did your parents have?

SO: My mother and dad, just me and my older brother.

MN: And where are you in the sibling hierarchy?

SO: I'm the second child.

MN: And what year were you born?

SO: 1926.

MN: And where were you born?

SO: In Sacramento, California.

MN: Was your older brother also born in Sacramento?

SO: I think he was born in Sacramento, but I think he says Yuba City. But that's on the outskirts of Sacramento.

MN: Now, were you delivered by a sambasan?

SO: Yeah.

MN: What is your birth name?

SO: My birth name is Samuel Hiroshi Ono.

MN: Now, it's very unusual for Nisei at your time to have both an English and a Japanese name. Do you know why your parents gave you the name Samuel?

SO: Well, I believe my mother was more or less a Christian. That's why the given name Samuel. But my brother was named Yoichi, and he only had that name, and he, I guess, chose George for himself.

MN: Later in his life?

SO: Later in his life, yes.

MN: I think that was more common, it seems to be, with the Nisei, to have only a Japanese name.

SO: Yeah. But you know, my younger days, all my childhood friends called me Hiroshi. In fact, my cousins, that's the only name they went by.

MN: When did you start choosing to go by Sam?

SO: Well, it was probably when I started grammar school, but I think it was in my later years.

MN: So in school you were going by Sam and at home you were going by Hiroshi?

SO: Yeah.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.