Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Judy Murakami Interview
Narrator: Judy Murakami
Interviewer: Carolyn Nayamatsu
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 13, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-mjudy-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

CN: So your father came out to Minnesota with Ruth. So it was just your mother and your father?

JM: No. In camp, so our family was in camp for about a year or so, and Ruth was never in camp. So my father, after about a year, you could apply to leave the camps, so my father went and applied to leave the camp because he had a place to go, which was to the Twin Cities. So he left, and my mother and my older brother and I remained in camp for about five or six more months while my father came out here to look for employment. When my father came to the Twin Cities he tried to find a job as a pharmacist, and no one would hire him. So he was about to take a job filling oil drums in the Twin Cities. And then he went to a man named Sam Grais, G-R-A-I-S, who owned a small chain of drugstores in the Twin Cities named Grais Drugstores. At that time I think there were five drugstores. And Mr. Grais was Jewish. So my father applied to be a pharmacist at one of the drugstores. Mr. Grais went to the pharmacists or the managers at each one of his drugstores and asked if any of them had an objection to having my father, who was Japanese, being employed there. One of them objected and my father never found out who it was. He didn't find out exactly what the objection was or how it was worded, but Mr. Grais could not then hire my father as a pharmacist, so he hired him to be to work in the warehouse. And I don't know if he was the foreman of the warehouse or he became the foreman, but eventually my father worked his way up from that, and he became the buyer for the whole chain of drugstores, which became, eventually there were six drugstores. Probably the most well-known one was over on the campus, the University of Minnesota campus over on Fourteenth and Fourth. And my father also worked as a registered pharmacist, part-time, but his main job was to be the buyer for the whole chain. But that was kind of ironic because Mr. Grais wanted to help him out partly because of the own Jewish background that they had and the difficulties that the Jewish people were feeling or experiencing during World War II. And yet he was not able to do exactly what he wanted to.

CN: So your mother had to stay. Did she mention what it was like not having your father in camp?

JM: No, I don't think so. So we were sent for then shortly after that and came. My Uncle Earl --this is Ruth's husband -- was very helpful in helping our family to find a home. They found a home on the corner of Goodrich and Fairview, which is near Macalester College in St. Paul. We found out later that the realtor told the next-door neighbors that a very nice Swedish couple and their children were moving into this house, but it was actually my family that moved in, and we actually lived in that house for about thirty-nine years, with the same neighbors for there practically the whole time, and we became really good friends with them.

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