Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Ed Yoshikawa Interview
Narrator: Ed Yoshikawa
Interviewer: Steve Ozone
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 12, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-yed-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

EY: And as I said, we married in 1948 and our first child was a daughter born on August 12, 1949. And a question about what to name her, so we were debating what to call her, what to call her, and at that time we lived in a small apartment in the city where we had just one bedroom, one living room, and a small area where we considered it a kitchen. We had a little...

SO: Where was that?

EY: Huh?

SO: Where was that?

EY: 21 East 17th Street in Minneapolis. And we had to share bathrooms and that's the way we started, hardly any room. But in this bedroom there was a little heater, a radiator that said "Joy and Company." [Laughs] Oh, I like the word Joy, expressing happiness, "Let's name her Joy." So we named her Joy Pearl Yoshikawa.

SO: So she's named after a heater.

EY: [Laughs] Not the most glamorous thing. Well, and then the second child came and we decided to name her Candee, it's just a name we picked up, with a double E, not C-A-N-D-Y. And then to go along with Joy, happiness, we gave her a middle name Gay, but Gay is not a term that is very... well, anyway.

SO: It was fine back then.

EY: Yes. And then the third child came and the doctor came to me and said, "Mr. Yoshikawa, you have a fine healthy boy." Boy? Are you sure? I was so surprised, after two girls, you know. "Doc, are you sure it's a boy?" And the doctor says, "Oh, wait a minute," he goes back and checks. [Laughs] And he came back and says, "Yep, it's a boy." So what to call him? We named him Lance Edward. Lance was a name that some of the guys briefly called me Lance because I'm freelancing. So I said, "Hey, Lance is a very nice name." So those are our three children, they all live in the Twin Cities area. Yes. So we get, meet, get together quite often.

SO: And you were talking about your concern is that they were successful and happy. What about, so you didn't emphasize Japanese culture?

EY: No, we grew up in a community where very few Niseis were located, in the southwest part of Minneapolis, and I believe we moved out there primarily because our daughter was of school age, needed to go to school, so we found a home on 5517 Dupont Avenue South, and we purchased the home. And a few years later, we found out later that the real estate agent had made the rounds, neighboring rounds, getting their approval for a Nisei to move into a home. So I was surprised to hear that. Anyway there was a brand new school that was opening, Susan B. Anthony -- no, Kenny school, Kenny school, grade school, so our daughter was the first class there and she went through Kenny school and then Susan B. Anthony Junior High and Washburn and the University of Minnesota. But we were very active in our Baptist church and we were the only Nisei in this Baptist church. So our entire background is among the Caucasian group.

There were some JACL activities but we were so busy at our church that we didn't get too involved with the other Japanese groups. So pretty exclusively Caucasian friends. But the one connection there is that I was asked to, they had a Japanese American, JACL credit union they had started in the Twin Cities area, and the person that was the treasurer there had relocated to California or out west so they were looking for someone to take the treasurership and they asked me to take the... so I started and it was a non-paying job. And I continued as the credit union treasurer for fifty-one years until just a couple of years ago we finally merged with the national JACL credit union.

But our children, when they were young, we approached them when they were young, "Would you like to go to a Japanese school for the weekends?" There was a school available for them to go. "Nah, Dad, Mom, no, not interested in Japanese." So when they grew up they said, they signed up at the University of Minnesota night school to learn Japanese. [Laughs] But that was too difficult for them so they all dropped it. So they don't have much vocabulary in Japanese at all. We did have terms that we used: itadakimasu -- when you first eat, before you eat, and when you're all done eating you say gochisosama, so to this day they repeat those words every so often.

SO: Do they show interest in your upbringing as far as being in camp?

EY: Not too much. No, I have a lot of memorabilia about the camp life but they don't seem to show much interest in it. Maybe after we're gone they'll find it.

SO: Yeah, 'cause you were talking about that scrapbook...

EY: Oh, yes, I have a, maybe it's my self ego that made me put together different clippings from the camp paper, and I would underline my name whenever my name occurred, you know, and I clipped it and put it in this little scrapbook and then I also have these calling cards. When we graduated from high school we'd get a calling card, something similar to a business card, and we would distribute these among our friends. And I collected a handful and have them all pasted in the scrapbook with must be about forty, forty-five names, so I thought national JACL museum in Los Angeles might be interested in it, but I talked to one of my nephews who went to school down there and worked part-time at the National Museum and said, "Nah, Uncle Ed, they have all kinds of that. I don't think they'd be interested." So I said fine.

SO: So you were with the credit union for fifty-one years. How big was the Japanese community back then when you started working for the credit union?

EY: Oh, I would say in the state of Minnesota, maybe a thousand. But they were scattered about here and there, but basically they were all in the Twin Cities area and that was because of the establishment of Fort Snelling. Some of the families were relocated in the Twin Cities area and many of them had gone back to the West Coast but many also remained in the Twin Cities. So we have the strong group that has been active for, among the Niseis, Sanseis are the Twin Cities JACL, the JACL Credit Union, the Buddhist group, Nikkei, those are the four basic Japanese American group that has been active.

SO: So there's people you've known for over fifty years.

EY: Oh, yes, yes, many of them.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.