Densho Digital Archive
Topaz Museum Collection
Title: Grace F. Oshita Interview
Narrator: Grace F. Oshita
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Date: June 4, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ograce-01-0018

<Begin Segment 18>

MA: What were your impressions of Salt Lake City, especially the Japanese American community? I mean, you were coming from San Francisco. What were some differences that you noticed?

GO: Oh, let's see. Well, I think at my age I didn't think of that much difference, being so different. Nisei were still Nisei, the Isseis still stuck to their ways. But it wasn't that huge a difference.

MA: Were you able to continue your koto and shamisen?

GO: Not that much, because there was no teacher here. And so it would be pieces that I liked, which I remembered, and which had a lot of songs in it, instead of just the plain, like the Rokudan, the six-step one, it sounds the same to me. But, well, you sure forget it, unless it's pieces that you participated in entertaining others, you know, on the stage, then you'd practice a lot just to play the one piece. And so those are the pieces you remember, and very few of the others. I understand my teacher did die a few years ago at the age of hundred and four.

MA: Wow.

GO: Yeah, I think the musicians live long. [Laughs] You know what I do when I can't sleep? I practice the piece just by playing it, by saying it, singing it.

MA: And that helps you relax?

GO: Like the playing, old koto, ten ton shan, you know, I just play the whole piece and then I'm ready to go to bed, sleep, and I can, usually.

MA: Going back a little bit to Salt Lake City, how were you, how were you treated by the Caucasian community in Salt Lake City, especially when you first arrived?

GO: Of course, I didn't know anybody, we didn't know anybody, so nothing ever happened, or we hardly got acquainted with... and with the wide streets, you don't cross those streets every day to say hello to your friends, you see, it isn't like that. So I think especially the west side was that way when we were living on the west side. But working for my dad was really an advantage because my mom will say, "There's a big sale, let's go." And so it's my mom telling me to go. [Laughs] So I'd go there, I'd go shopping rather than sit in the office. Besides, it's mostly correspondence, anyway.

MA: Your job was a lot of correspondence?

GO: Well, I wasn't writing letters, my dad was writing letters because they're Japanese-speaking grocerymen, you know. And so it was easy for me.

MA: Was your mother involved at that point in company? Did she help out your dad with the company?

GO: No, no, she wasn't helping at all. She was home with plenty to do. But she was quite a seamstress, that's what she trained to be, and she worked for a Caucasian lady who had quite a business in San Francisco, and she got friendly with her sister, too, her sister was just the opposite from the, her boss, because she was a schoolteacher. And her boss was always getting acquainted with people who were famous, or sewing for an actress or something like that. Her sister was strictly a schoolteacher, but then when evacuation time came, she took her dog, my mother's dog, and in detail, she would write how much she struggles to go up the steps now, she's getting old, and little Queenie is doing fine, but she's slowing down, all about her getting sick and then dying. She really took good care of her.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.