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-01-0008

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CN: So you were able to, you left camp then, you went to New York City.

PY: Well, I finished school, graduated. and so then we were told we can choose anyplace out east to go to school and so, or to even leave camp, I think, they offered for a, my girlfriend's sister was already attending NYU and she told us to come out and so I, looking through magazines I found this fashion school, the Traphagen fashion school and so I went out there for that.

CN: And you were hoping to become a dress designer?

PY: Anything in that field.

CN: Is that the skill you picked up in camp, how to sew?

PY: I loved sewing from the time I was making my clothes from the time I was able to run that sewing machine with a pedal, you know.

CN: Okay, so you went to New York City, where did you stay in New York City?

PY: Oh, at the YWCAs, we always chose that, the safest place.

CN: So it's you, your girlfriend and her sister.

PY: Uh-huh. So we did that.

CN: And you stayed there for three years you said?

PY: Well, my first, the location of my first YWCA, the United Nations stands there now, and so we had to move out. And so I went down towards Greenwich Village, the YWCA, they relocated us. And then my girlfriend, she went back home and she got married and then the older girlfriend, the one that was attending NYU, she went to another YW. So I felt very much alone and being the youngest in our family, my mother did a lot of decision-making for me so it was hard for me to be on my own. But I managed.

CN: So you were in New York City, where were your parents then?

PY: Eventually, after about a couple of years, they were beginning to close the camps and so my uncle was one of the MIS soldiers and so he found a place in Minneapolis for them, and so they got themselves relocated out here. That's the start of our...

CN: That's the start of Minnesota. But meanwhile in New York City, is where you met your husband?

PY: Yes.

CN: How did that happen?

PY: Well, he was, the port of embarkation for those fellows to go overseas was in Newark, New Jersey, and weekend passes, they used to come to the different Ys because that's where most of the camp girls were.

CN: Speaking of the Y, how many camp girls were probably there?

PY: In our Y there were about seven or eight of us, and some of them, they knew some of the boys in the service and so they would come over. And that particular night that, I was sick, I mean I had a bad cold and so I refused to go out. And so my roommate, my girlfriend, she says, "Come on down, there's a guy I want you to meet." And I said, "No, I'm not going out." And so she went down again, and she came up again. She came up a third time and I said okay, okay, and so I got dressed and we went out and we met him and several other fellows too, there were about six fellows there from Hawaii and different places. It was a real fun time, fun group, you know. But I guess it's kind of love at first sight or something that you might call. [Laughs]

CN: Did you feel any discrimination wandering around New York City or going to these parties where there'd be a group of you?

PY: Not really, not outward, no. I didn't feel any of that. However, I myself felt like, you know, hesitated a lot because of what went on prior with all these evacuation notices and everything that went on prior to our evacuation. I felt like I was, they would discriminate me or, very sensitive to it maybe.

CN: Then at school you never, New York City was much more international...

PY: They didn't even know about any evacuation, no one knew anything about it and so, and they were all in the same -- as a matter of fact I was working as a side job in the cafeteria at the YW and there was a Hungarian lady that was cooking, I think she was Hungarian but she would just weep and weep and mourn about the family members in Europe, what they were going through, you know, it was so much worse than what we were going through as far as tragedy was concerned. She was very sensitive to our situation so she just treated me so nicely and I really appreciated that. But I felt sorry for her, she was just crying.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.