Densho Digital Archive
Topaz Museum Collection
Title: Norman I. Hirose Interview
Narrator: Norman I. Hirose
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: July 31, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-hnorman-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So today is Thursday, July 31, 2008, and we are in Emeryville, which is right next to, to Oakland and Berkeley. And on camera we have Dana Hoshide, and then I'm interviewing, Tom Ikeda, and we're here with Norman Hirose. Norm, let me start by asking when and where were you born?

NH: Well, I was born in Oakland, which is south of here a little bit, June, 1926. That's a long time ago.

TI: And when you were born, where were you born? Were you born in, like, a hospital?

NH: Oh, no, no. I was born on Twenty-sixth Street, which was the home of a midwife. And I don't remember her name, but it's on my birth certificate. It says birth, on my birth certificate it says "attending physician," well, the "physician" is crossed off, it says "midwife," and Mrs. somebody or other, I don't remember her name, but anyhow... but then all, and I have, well, I had two sisters and one brother, one sister has since passed on. But all four of us were, had the same midwife.

TI: Was that, and that was pretty common for people to have midwives back then?

NH: Oh, it was... in 1926, I don't think anybody got born in, was born in a hospital. I don't know, maybe a few of us were, but that's a long time ago.

TI: And then when you were born, what was the name given to you at birth?

NH: That's my name, Norman Iwao. Yeah, I think my father picked the names.

TI: And do you know why he picked Norman?

NH: No, I don't know. I have no idea. But he picked, when he came to, he came from Japan and he went to Seattle and then came down south to the Bay Area. I think his name at the time was Thomas. I mean, that's what he did. But as time went on, I think he changed his name to, his name was Harvey. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, that's interesting. [Laughs]

NH: So I think, I think he had a lot of fun looking for names, English names. Like my sister's name is Lillian, and my brother's name is Clarence, and my, the sister that died is Alma. Where would you get these kind of names?

TI: Yeah, and they're so, kind of --

NH: Way out there.

TI: Well, they sound good, too. Clarence, Lillian, Norman, Alma. Yeah, that's interesting. And I like Harvey and Thomas.

NH: His first, when he came, I guess he must have heard Harvey somewhere. This is, I'm just guessing, and he said, "Oh, that sounds nice, I'm going to change my name," and he just did. And they could, you know, 'cause who would know what their names were in the first place? Didn't matter.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.