Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: George Murakami Interview
Narrator: George Murakami
Interviewer: Steve Ozone
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 13, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-mgeorge_4-01-0002

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SO: Tell me about your siblings. I know that you were the middle child of five.

GM: Well, my oldest brother's name was Yoshikazu and then he went by the name of Bob. I'm not sure how that came about but he's been known as Bob for a long time. Of course, in camp he was a young teenager, and he kind of had a job, too, moving furniture and stuff. But when the war was over and my father came out to California, he followed almost right after, and they worked as farmers for a while. I don't think he finished high school but he left on his own, went down to Los Angeles and worked in, I guess, pretty tough, but he joined the army, became a paratrooper, and fought in the Korean War. Then he came back and helped my father on the farm, and he went into the beauty school business. He was doing quite well. He had, I think, had four shops going at one time. And then, just slowly dwindled down, and I think presently he still has one that his wife Sally manages and operates that in San Jose, California. My sister, she was a hard worker too. During high school she worked for Caucasian families as kind of a maid, childcare provider, and went to high school. She got married to a landscape architect, and she was working in the legal business as a secretary but she contracted cancer quite early. It was in her lungs, I think, but they couldn't operate. They thought maybe it was caused by the pesticides on the farm but she died pretty early. I think she was fifty-seven when she passed away. My brother, younger brother, he, of course, went to San Jose State to become an art designer, and he was in business for himself. And he still is doing it, and he's a graduate of San Jose State also.

SO: That's Ray?

GM: That's Ray, yes. And then Denny, that's my youngest brother. His name was Takeshi and he was six years younger than I am. I don't remember him too much in high school because I was gone and he was in school then. But he also had cancer, and he passed away a couple years ago at sixty-three or something like that.

SO: So you were under the age of ten before camp. What do you remember about school?

GM: I don't remember too much about Guadalupe. I think I was maybe a second grader, something like that. You know, being at home, out on the farm, we didn't have too much contact with other kids. But I kind of I mainly spoke Japanese so when I went to school, my mother started me about a year later than I was supposed to, I guess, kindergarten. I got along okay, English came okay, but they thought I was too big for the first grade, they skipped me to second, so I had a tough time with English. I think it might have been almost third grade before I really started to learn how to read, and that was in camp. Because I remember in camp, when you had to stand up and read, I had a tough time.

SO: That's tough for everybody. What about your friends when you were that age? This was still before camp. Were there a lot of Japanese kids?

GM: Well, Guadalupe was pretty heavily populated with Japanese. I don't remember any Caucasian friends. They were only in school. And after English school, of course, right after English school we went to Japanese school and then we came home. We lived a mile, a couple miles away from the school, and we always walked to and from school to the farm and stuff, but there weren't any neighbors we went by because it was all open fields.

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