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-01-0005

<Begin Segment 5>

MA: So I was curious about your elementary school. What elementary school did you attend?

GO: Raphael Weill.

MA: And where was that located? Was that near your house?

GO: Just a couple of blocks down the... let's see, it might be four. San Francisco one direction is very short blocks, they're kind of oval -- not oval, rectangular. The road to, the street that went to, directly to the grade school were the short streets. So even if you call, I walked five blocks, it really was probably two longer blocks.

MA: And were the students in your school mostly Niseis or Japanese American?

GO: Yes, I should have brought a picture. Yes, it's, I would say it was more than fifty percent Japanese in class.

MA: What about your teachers? Were they also Japanese American or did you have Caucasian teachers?

GO: It's all Caucasian. In those days, we didn't have any Japanese or other nationality teaching. I mean, there was no black teacher, of course, I just don't remember any foreign-looking teachers. It was just all white teachers.

MA: How was the relationship between your Caucasian teachers and the students? Was it how would you characterize the relationships that you had with your teachers?

GO: Very good. I don't know whether you realize that in the old days, the students give teachers Christmas presents, and you see how Japanese would be, "Oh, this is for your teacher," so it had to be special and so forth. And so that was one reason maybe we were treated so well. But then also, we studied, too. We were serious about work in this, classroom work. And we were quite often chosen to do favors for the teacher while the rest of the class is doing book work. Of course, we could keep up, too, I guess, right along with them. And of course, like I said, it was just, just at the end of Japantown, so many of the students were Japanese that it was almost like our school.

MA: How involved were your parents in the Japanese American community events or activities?

GO: Nil. I mean, language barrier, of course, but Japantown meant Japantown, almost every other house was occupied by Japanese families.

MA: Were there festivals and picnics that --

GO: Entertainment, yes. The graduation, they called it graduation exercises, and there was a once-a-year performance and a play. My having a loud voice, I could be heard to the back of the auditorium, so they gave me good parts. [Laughs] I got out of book learning for a long time.

MA: So you mentioned that you were very active in the Buddhist temple. Can you describe the temple a little bit, what it looked like and the people that were there?

GO: I'm sure you've been to Buddhist temples now, very similar. It was very similar to that. I don't know, originally I think it was built or at least renovated to conform with what a temple chapel would look like and so forth. It was very similar to all the Buddhist temples of the present-day.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.