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-01-0021

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MA: And how did you meet your husband, Frank?

HC: [Laughs] Okay, I worked for a year in the Presbyterian Church of Norfolk, Nebraska, in education, and I learned then that I needed to go to seminary. So I went to McCormick Seminary and started there in 19-, let's see. I graduated from college in '56, so I started McCormick in '58. And one of the few people that I knew at McCormick Seminary, was acquainted with, was the person who sat next to me, we had required chapel at Hastings college, and we had to sit in required seats so they could take attendance to make sure that we were there. And the one next to me was Mark Hartsock. "Hanson, Harano, Hartsock," I mean, alphabetical. And Mark went to McCormick Seminary, and so I was acquainted with Mark, and it turned out that Mark was Frank's roommate, and so I met, so Mark pointed out Frank to me after, after, while we were at McCormick. But it wasn't until my second year at McCormick that we started dating.

MA: And how did your parents feel about, about Frank and, I guess, interracial...

HC: Interracial marriage.

MA: ...marriage?

HC: Uh-huh. Well, I knew that in North Platte, the Japanese kids who married non-Japanese went to Kansas to get married. 'Cause there was that misogyny law in Nebraska. I intentionally went with my sister and her fiance at the time when they went to get their marriage license, 'cause she married Frank Akiyama, whom she met when she was in nursing school in Colorado, and he was going to Colorado School of Mines in Golden. So I went with them when they got their license to find out what this law said. And it said something to the effect of, that Americans could not marry "Indians or blacks or coolies or other undesirables." And I... it was interesting, the wording. And so I, I thought, well, yeah, there it is, that's the law. Because they had to sign that this was not the situation for them so that they could be married.

MA: I see.

HC: And so my sister was married in the North Platte Presbyterian church, so then my brother, meanwhile, was stationed in Europe. Bob is older than I by a year, and he met Solange there, and he wrote home that he was going to marry Solange, and that brought up a lot of upheaval.

MA: Who was of what...

HC: French.

MA: She was French, okay.

HC: French descent, Caucasian. And so, actually, she lived in Luxembourg, but she called herself French. And so she, then my parents were -- or my mother, especially, was not at all happy about that. My grandmother was a bit upset. I can't say that my father was all that happy, but he was, did not express -- as far as I could see -- that much disappointment in Bob's choice. But when he, but of course then they were married in Europe, and when he brought her home, then all they could do was accept her. But I'm sure by then they were saying, "Okay, he's married to her so we're going to have to love her and take care of," and see that they have a happy marriage and help them get settled. 'Cause he would have then been discharged from the army, and he would have had to have all the adjustments that came from, came from not only being discharged from the army, but also being married and starting a family. 'Cause by then she was in the early stages of being pregnant. And so, so they accepted her, and they lived in our house in North Platte with my parents, 'cause by then my, my sister Betty Ann was married and I was off to college, and so there was room for them. And so by the time I came home with Frank -- and meanwhile I had been writing letters, I knew what had happened with Bob, so I was, been writing letters telling about these different people that I'd been dating. And so they knew by then that I was not going to be... although I did date a Japanese young man there at McComick, but I did get proposed to by, by Frank, so that's who I took home to North Platte. And Frank is a gentleman, a gentle gentleman, kind and loving and caring. And my family accepted him right away, and my grandmother told me he was yasashii, a gentle, kind person. And I, so I knew there was immediate approval. And Frank told me right away that he could talk to my grandmother even though they didn't speak the same language, because they could talk with their eyes, and he knew that he could communicate with her and with the rest of the family, and therefore then it was going to be all right, that he married into the family.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.