Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Sally Sudo Interview
Narrator: Sally Sudo
Interviewer: Steve Ozone
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 12, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ssally-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

SO: And then did your husband get another job, or did he get transferred?

SS: No, actually what happened is he died in 1983 while we were there. It was a very sudden thing. He actually died of a brain aneurism. So he was lying on the couch of our living room watching the Yomiuri Giants play baseball on TV and the next thing you knew he was dead. It was just such a shock. Because all he had complained about when he came home from work was that he had a headache. And he said it was in the back of his, at the base of his head and I said, "Well that's a strange place to be having a headache. You'd better check in with a doctor," the next day and the next day never came. So it was just a real sudden shock .

SO: And what did you do after that?

SS: Well, I stayed on for an extra year because I really didn't -- by that time we had been in Japan for so long I didn't even know where to go back to in the States. And of the three boys, the older two were already back in the States going to college. Paul, my youngest one, was ten when he lost his dad, and so Paul and I were in Tokyo and I was teaching at an international school so I have a job, and we lived in a company house because --

SO: What were you teaching?

SS: I was teaching elementary school. I had at that time, I think it was a third grade class in Tokyo at an international girls' school. The company said that we could stay on in the house as long as we needed to, until I could make other arrangements, so we were living there without paying any rent or anything. And everyone said, "Don't make any major decisions while you're still grieving because you're probably going to do something wrong." So I kind of took my time and I told my son Paul, "We're going to stay here at least a year." I actually would have liked him to have the advantage of staying on through high school in Japan because it was so good for my older two boys, they really got a good education. But when my boys came over from college and they said to me, "Mom you can't stay on here. Look at how far apart we are and we can't afford to come back and forth like this. And we'll never get to see Paul or you." So they convinced me that I'd better start working on getting myself back here. So before I moved back to Minnesota I actually went to visit my other siblings who lived in different parts of the United States. I went to Seattle, I went to Upland, California, I went to New Orleans where another brother was living at that time and kind of scouted out other places, but I decided that Minnesota would be the best place because I had, at that time I think it was three or four siblings living here, and at that time I knew I was going to need family support. So I decided to move back here.

SO: And were your other two sons going to school here?

SS: One was just graduating from Macalester College, the oldest one was just finishing up his Master's at Columbia University in New York. So they were almost through school, thank god, because otherwise paying all that college tuition would have been something.

SO: Did you go through culture shock?

SS: I certainly went through culture shock coming back here. I think that you don't realize until you've been away from America how life is so different from, especially from Japan. I just found people here to be very open and frank and almost brusque in a way, whereas in Japan they're overly polite and very conscious of making sure that you're comfortable and that you fit in the group and all these kinds of things. But yes, I would say it was a culture shock.

SO: And how did you make that transition? Did you find a job?

SS: Yes, I didn't have any trouble at all finding a teaching job because I still had my teaching certification. I taught school here before we went to Japan so it was easy to get back into teaching here, and other than that, you know, you just had to jump in. I just had to get up and go every day because I knew that my youngest son depended on it.

SO: Where did you teach?

SS: I ended up teaching for the Minneapolis Public Schools and I taught at Ramsey International Fine Arts Center, which is a K-8 school. So in the beginning I taught in the elementary school and just had either third or fourth grade, but later in my career I specialized in teaching math, more to the middle school students.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.