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-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

MA: So I wanted to talk about Pearl Harbor, the day that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. What are your memories about that day and first hearing about Pearl Harbor?

GO: It was just an ordinary Sunday morning, and we went to church, and this church was going on, and the speaker or the reverend was interrupted by one of the other lay teachers or reverends. And whispered something in his ears, and then the reverend came out and announced that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese and, "I think we should all go home now." So that was the only thing that they said, so we all hurried home.

MA: What was the feeling like in your family or even in the, in the temple at that point? Was it, were people scared?

GO: Well, I imagine. I certainly was, I didn't know what was going to happen the next day in high school. But no, it so happened that that Monday was first period first and then homeroom, not homeroom first. And this first period teacher spoke about it and said, "This is our school, and we have lots to learn, and nothing's going to change. And so just remember that, it's just going to go on the same as before." And I was so relieved and happy, I just couldn't keep my tears back, and I started crying and she took me out of the room and soothed me out in the hallway. The next affair was the declaration of war, that was broadcast in the auditorium. But practically everything went smoothly, just as usual.

MA: So it sounds like the teachers were supportive of the Japanese American students?

GO: Yes, uh-huh.

MA: What about the other non-Japanese American students? Was there any trouble with them, or how did they respond to this?

GO: They were so much in the minority, and the Japanese just dominated the whole school, that you had to go along. I mean, it would have been like if Hawaiian Niseis were interned, there would not be a Hawaii. So being a majority, I think, kept the problem minimum.

MA: What were your, your parents' reactions to this news and to Pearl Harbor and the war and everything?

GO: Of course, my dad, my parents, they subscribed to Japanese newspaper, and so they were informed. And he would talk about it sometimes, and he says, "Well, I don't know what happened," but he always mentioned, "This is America. They won't treat you badly," all the way through the time that the FBI came and took him, arrested him separately. It wasn't the first day of Pearl Harbor, but gosh, I can't remember when, maybe about February. And gradually -- not gradually -- my mother had to step in and become the miso boss, you know. And so since it's something that could be kept and had a long shelf life, if it, if it didn't, well, it was made wrong or a recipe was altered too much or something. And so as long as they stuck to the original recipe, it worked out fine.

MA: So at this point, going back, then, a little bit, your father had remarried your stepmother, right? And that was, you said, 1940?

GO: Let's see. No, actually, it must have been, it must have been soon after my grandparents went and married her to him. I have a wedding picture without my father. My grandparents are in their best kimono or whatever, but my father's missing, and that was the family marriage picture

MA: And your stepmother, what was her name?

GO: My stepmother's name is Rae Shizue Nakamoto.

MA: And was she, was she born in the U.S.?

GO: Yes, uh-huh. They were not a whole generation older than us, but still, like my mom and I, we kept saying, "You and I are only seventeen years' difference." And so that's about what the age difference was. In other words, I think her family probably came to the United States a lot earlier, sooner.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.