Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Pearl Yoshikawa Interview
Narrator: Pearl Yoshikawa
Interviewer: Carolyn Nayematsu
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 12, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ypearl-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

CN: Your parents divorced when you were a baby, is that correct?

PY: Right, so I hardly knew him, but they were in partnership with Hirata, running this vegetable farm in Vancouver, Washington, so I'm sure Hirata took care of me a lot. I remember him very much because he really did take care of me.

CN: And what did they do?

PY: Truck gardening. Lettuce and celery were their main products and then they had green pepper and spinach and cabbage and all the other little...

CN: Your mother and Hirata then eventually were married, and so he's your stepfather.

PY: Yes.

CN: But they had no children.

PY: Right.

CN: So you and your brother Robert and your sister Minnie.

PY: I had two brothers and a sister, my sister was the oldest and the next brother, he was about five or six years old when he fell out of the car, an accident, and he fell out and passed away. And then I had another brother and myself.

CN: You were telling me that your sister and your brother both went back to Japan to study, correct?

PY: Yes. My brother was about sixteen and my sister graduated high school here and then was sent to Japan. I don't know for what reason my parents decided to send them to study over, I don't know. But they, of course, their future was uncertain too and so I imagine they were preparing us for either situation.

CN: Your sister, you said, really did know there was going to be a war.

PY: She tried to alert my parents, saying that there will be a war, but my parents really didn't think that Japan would attack America so they got caught over there.

CN: Just to backtrack a little bit about Miyo's daughter Tama.

PY: Tama.

CN: Tama, you said five children? Six children, but there was some tragedy in your family, wasn't there? Unusual for Japanese families.

PY: Right.

CN: Of the six children, one was murdered, right, by a Japanese person?

PY: Yes. She was promised to be his wife and he was waiting for her to be his wife, but she refused him and so he apparently killed her while she was asleep and then he killed himself. But they say that she was one of the prettiest girls of the family.

CN: That's right, when I was reading about your family in the Oregon papers, it's interesting. And then another brother, a son was killed in Idaho.

PY: Yes, for what reason no one knows. They have no story about him. But that was after the war, after they resettled in...

CN: Even though your parents divorced, did you kind of keep up contact with your grandmother and great-grandmother?

PY: Yes, my mother always made sure we made an annual trip to see them in Multnomah where he was caretaker of that building. And my great grandmother, I remember her as being ill towards the end of that time that we used to see her. So we kept in contact and my grandmother and grandfather, they were in Minidoka also. I used to see them once in a while, but I never stopped to talk to them. I'm sorry, I kind of resented my father for leaving us. I just never, I should have taken time. I regret it now.

CN: You said later that you didn't realize it at first but your father did come and visit the neighbors.

PY: Yes. He used to come over on him motorcycle and leather high top shoes and leather coat and he would visit our neighbor Mr. Ida. And later on at one of the reunions I found out from my neighbor friend that, "Oh no, he wasn't coming to see my father, he was coming to see you people." So I didn't realize that he was checking up on us.

CN: Well, and in a way your father was a lot more westernized than the other Japanese at that time, wasn't he, because he'd been...

PY: Right, he was an American. [Laughs]

CN: Right, he was an American, he was born there and for the generation that is in my head, I keep thinking they were sort of new. But in your father's case he wasn't.

PY: As a matter of fact, there was another sister, sister Margaret, I didn't know her but apparently she died early also, but my sister, who is six years older than I am, I just spoke to her recently and she said she was a flapper girl, you know. [Laughs]

CN: Interesting.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.