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-01-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

CN: What was life like for you in elementary school? You went to a regular...

PY: Yes I did. But I was the, I and, let's see... two other kids of Japanese descent, they were in our grade school. So we associated, I associated with Caucasians most of the time. I hardly associated with any other Japanese kids during my grade school, junior high school years.

CN: I'm surprised, I thought there were a lot more Japanese at that...

PY: No, because we were in Vancouver, Washington, and the Portland people, they gathered together a lot more than we did. We, in Vancouver side which was just right across the other side of the Columbia River, there were only about six other Japanese farm families and we were really scattered. And the Ida family, which was right next door to us, they were the only ones we really associated with as Japanese kids.

CN: Your mother and your stepfather then ran the farm?

PY: Yes.

CN: What was that like? It was a farm...

PY: Yes, my father Hirata, he did all of the bringing things to the market and making contracts with the other companies and so he would take all the orders and go to the market. They did very well. We always had hired hands, about four or five men. Most of them were Kibeis.

CN: Oh, Japanese who were, Kibeis were born in the United States but went back to Japan?

PY: Uh-huh, and then came back. And so it made it a real nice situation for them I think for them to be able to have a job and my mother always cooked for the hired hands so we got along really well.

CN: And you raised...

PY: Lettuce and celery, mostly.

CN: Then, so elementary school you were there. Did you attend Japanese school?

PY: Yes, on weekends, on Saturdays for about two to three hours. We converted one our packing barns and they set it up, and made a little classroom there and a teacher from, Japanese teacher from Portland would come over Saturday mornings. And he was practicing to be a dentist and then one summer for about three or four years, there was a lady that just roomed over in our little barn, they set up a little bedroom for her. And she stayed for quite a few years. She was a single lady from Japan.

CN: How many students were in your class?

PY: Oh, let's see. They would gather around from the other farms in Vancouver and so we may have had about fourteen, fifteen kids so we had fun gathering together at that time and we'd play a little baseball, or some game together.

CN: Then you went to junior high school in Vancouver and you went to high school when the war broke out?

PY: Yes, just started high school. But there was one girl, Caucasian girl, she was so faithful and she collected all the senior pictures and everything, you know, class pictures for me for my friends and she sent it to me. And the strange part was that she came from Minnesota, Watertown, Minnesota, to Vancouver when I was in the sixth grade and struck up a friendship and she's been my best friend since.

CN: That's interesting.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.