Densho Digital Archive
Topaz Museum Collection
Title: Helen Harano Christ Interview
Narrator: Helen Harano Christ
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 18, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-chelen-01-0018

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MA: So in general, how was your family received by the community, I mean, I guess, by the Caucasian community in North Platte, and also by the Japanese American community that was already there?

HC: Well, I think we had not had a bad time getting incorporated because my uncle was there first. Uncle Earl was a photographer and had the Brown-Harano Studio, and his wife was Kim Motooka, whose family lived in North Platte. And they were, they had been an integral part of the North Platte community for, forever. And so, so that he became incorporated into the Japanese community by way of her family. And so then since we were related to Earl, Earl would have been my, my father's, one of my father's younger brothers, then we became integrated into the community as well. And my father as a florist, then, had ways of reaching them by way of taking flowers, taking plants. I remember that Christmas and Easters, my dad would take plants that were left at the, the shop, to the Japanese people because they would bring in their extra vegetables and potatoes and things like that. So my, and soon after we arrived, even, the young men of the Japanese community played basketball in Hershey against each other, the Japanese guys were playing against each other. There were a few Caucasian friends who were a part of it, too, but they were mostly almost all Japanese guys. And we were invited as kids, I would be in junior high then, were invited to, to go along and watch the basketball games, and which was fun. That way, then, we became incorporated into the community as well as the fact that since we were Christians, my grandmother immediately became part of the Episcopal church, which was already there, and which had been served by Father Kano for years and years and years and years.

MA: So it was a Japanese Episcopal church?

HC: So she became -- uh-huh, it was a -- well, it was a Japanese Episcopal church, but then it became incorporated into the wider Episcopal church after, after Father Kano was no longer able to serve the Japanese community. But so then she became easily incorporated into the Japanese community, and we... and as far as school was concerned, I was just a new kid. And there were a couple of other new kids, in fact, there were, by junior high, the rural kids started high school, junior high and high school in town, and so there were always new kids in junior high.

MA: So did you ever feel like you were singled out or anything because you were Japanese or because of your race?

HC: I didn't, no, I didn't. I don't know if any of my brothers and sisters did, but I didn't. I felt very much a part of the, the school community. I took sandwiches to lunch, my mother says she took rice balls, and that made her a little different, because the other kids took sandwiches when she was little and going to school. But I took sandwiches to school, and so I wasn't any different from anybody else. And I don't remember feeling that because I was Japanese I needed to do anything different, except my parents always said, "Do good in school, do your best." And the expectations were high for us, but we weren't forced. We weren't, we weren't told that if we didn't do well, there would be any consequences.

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