Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Don Maeda Interview
Narrator: Don Maeda
Interviewer: Carolyn Nayematsu
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 13, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-mdon-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

CN: So you two married, and tell us about your family. You have five children?

DM: We had five kids.

CN: And how many are still here in the Twin Cities?

DM: Four.

CN: I know one is Janet and she's a former professor at Macalester and Hamline, and then Joan...

DM: Works, she has a masters in English or something but she has five children and so she never really used her education. She's happier, she's worked in different bookstores and she's still working in the children's bookstore on Grand Avenue but she preferred to just take care of her family and live that way.

CN: With five children she's busy.

DM: Yes. Then Donna is a professor at Occidental College in California. My son Bruce is a junior high principal in St. Paul. And Dave is a city clerk in Minnetonka.

CN: Now your sister that brought you out here, is she still in...

DM: No, she passed away almost twenty years ago. She had Parkinson's.

CN: But did she live in Minnesota?

DM: She lived in Austin, Minnesota, that's where Hormel Company is.

CN: Oh, so she went down to work there?

DM: Yeah, her husband is a chemist and he didn't work for the Hormel Company, but the Hormel Company and the University through a grant system they have a laboratory, they call it the Hormel Institute. And they do different testings, I don't exactly know what they do but George is a chemist. He couldn't find a job here in the city so they moved down to Austin to raise their kids down there.

CN: That was kind of unusual too, where there aren't many Japanese...

DM: No. Very few -- now there are quite a few Latinos but they were not happy and it was a company town, and a lot of company factory workers are rednecks in a small town and their kids met a lot of, a lot more than my children did. They were not happy in Austin.

CN: It sounds like it might have made a more difficult place to...

DM: Yes. One girl went to work at the Hormel Institute so she's still in the family home, but my sister Jane was not happy in Austin.

CN: And you said your wife passed away a few years ago?

DM: Ten years ago.

CN: Your children, she was able to see all of them graduate from college and do extremely well.

DM: Right, yeah. And then she got to, Joan has five kids and Janet has one son, she got to see all of them but my son Bruce, who is the fourth child, he got married, he was almost thirty when he got married, so he has three children now, and the two are nine year olds, they're twins and then they have a seven year old daughter, and my wife did not get to see them. And that is in my mind that Kay should have seen Bruce's, the twins, you know, the only twins in our family so she missed out on that.

CN: Well, she was able to see quite a bit.

DM: Yes.

CN: Did you visit much with her family in Nebraska?

DM: Almost every year we drove back to see grandma.

CN: What was that like?

DM: Long trip. Long trip with five kids. [Laughs]

CN: But that was an active Japanese community down there. Did they continue a lot of the New Year's traditions?

DM: Yeah, we were always there in the summertime.

CN: Because I have a relative who came from Nebraska too. It sounded like it was a very active community.

DM: Oh, very, very much so.

CN: Is it still?

DM: No, Kay and I would go back to the service and it's, there are a few Japanese but I would say it's more or less than fifty percent Japanese now. They're all getting old too and then their kids I don't think continue on there.

CN: Is there anything we left out that you'd like to cover?

DM: I really, I'm surprised that I talked this much. [Laughs]

CN: You did well. You know, working as a dental technician, you were pretty new, I mean, there weren't many Japanese in the dental field, were there?

DM: Well, when you really think about it, when you, you ask anybody, do you know anybody, or my kids would ask, you never hear of a dental technician, you don't even know they're around really. I think most people assume the dentist does the work, they don't think any further than that. But I don't know of any other Nisei that are in the dental -- there are dentists over here, a lot of them are retired now, but I don't really know any other Japanese dental technician here in the cities.

CN: Because you make crowns and bridges and you know, not so many years ago I remember hearing on TV they're talking about how they were shipping a lot of that work out to China, but then some of them were coming back with, I don't know, lead...

DM: Well, they, a lot of, I've had brochures from labs that send the work to China and you think that's a long way to send it but with air express it takes one day to get to China, they do the work, and send it back air express so that within a week it's no different than if you send it to a local lab. And then they were sending work down to Mexico. A matter of fact, a big lab here in Minneapolis opened a lab in Mexico, but the dentists weren't happy with the work they were getting.

CN: And I heard the materials you had to be careful.

DM: Yeah. But it's getting, gold crowns are getting, gold is over, I think it's a 1,040 dollars an ounce now. And so the gold crowns are getting very expensive.

CN: And people are still using gold crowns?

DM: Gold crowns, for the posterior teeth, they're still using them.

CN: Do they last longer?

DM: Well, actually, porcelain is a glass really and glass is hard. And back on your molars where you chew, the glass will wear out your natural teeth because of the abrasiveness, where a gold crown is relatively soft and it'll wear with your natural tooth, so it's kinder to the opposing tooth.

CN: And how about silver, was there some kind...

DM: Oh, silver, there's been a lot of controversy about the amalgam where they put in mercury to mix with the silver powder, so there's been a lot of controversy about that mercury in the...

CN: I see. Well, it's good you've been able to keep busy and how much longer are you going to do this?

DM: I don't really know. Until... my hands are still steady. And I've been very fortunate. My eyes are good and my hands are good and this is gone. [Points to head] I would say another couple years. These dentists, apparently they like my work, because they keep sending it to me. As long I can still function and stay in that house. I have to stay in that house because my lab is there. And where I reach a house that I have to move and my health starts deteriorating, until that point I'll just keep plugging along.

CN: Good for you. Well, thank you.

DM: Well, thank you, I didn't think I would talk this long.

CN: You did fine.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.