Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Lucy Kirihara Interview
Narrator: Lucy Kirihara
Interviewer: Steve Ozone
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 13, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-klucy-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

SO: Talk about college.

LK: Oh, yeah, college. I didn't have a friend in college because all of my friends are still a senior and I'm going there, and although my sister was there, Eunice was there, 'cause she transferred from Macalester to the University of Minnesota. Macalester was too expensive and the university was accepting Japanese at that time. And then she got tired of professors saying, "Oh, your sister did this..." and even in a college setting they did that, because Esther was sort of a good student there. And Eunice was too, but she wasn't like Esther. So she went to the U and she told me all the benefits of going to the university, all the football games, the basketball games, "Oh Lucy, you'll just love it there." And then she knew my husband who was a sophomore there at the U.

And my mother and father belonged to an independent Japanese church and they didn't have a church, so they met in homes. And Miki's -- that's my husband -- his mother also belonged to the church. And they had a dog, a little black Pomeranian dog, and she said, "Oh, my daughter just loves dogs." And so when he drove his mother to our house in August to show me the dog, then my sister went running out there and she said, to Miki, she said, "Oh, this is my younger sister. She's going to start at the U this fall." And he said, "Oh." He was always cute and he was nice. I didn't really know him because he lived in Minneapolis. So when I went to the U and enrolled, I don't know how he got to know my schedule or something, I was on St. Paul Campus and Main Campus, because Home Ec was on the St. Paul Campus, and there he would be waiting for me after class. And that was sort of nice because I didn't know anybody, and then we could have lunch together and so forth. I didn't know when he got to his classes, but anyway. [Laughs] And so, yeah, we always liked each other, he was always nice and so forth, so it was sort of fun.

Then he went into the service. He knew he was going to be drafted so he thought, "I might as well volunteer." And then he went into the army and it was during the Korean War which was really sort of scary because a lot of people went to Korea. But since he had taken some drawing classes at the university, he was lucky, they sent him to France and he got to be in the map drawing section, so he was lucky. Then he went to Fort Knox first, and then he went to France for a year, so that was lucky.

SO: So you continued at the university?

LK: Right, so then I got out of there in a hurry too, taking nineteen credits and so forth. And I got out. Then I was able to do a little bit of... since I was out a quarter or so early, then I got to do a little research for Dr. Rose in the Home Ec Department, and I majored in Home Ec. I always knew I wanted to be a Home Ec teacher or I wanted to be a math teacher, and the counselor said to me, "When you go into math, you are competing with both men and women, mostly men, and they never leave, they just teach. But if you go into Home Ec, usually the girls get married and they have babies, so your chances would be better to get a job." So I thought, oh, and I liked Home Ec anyway, so I went into that. Unfortunately, my sister wanted to be a teacher too, Esther, she would have been a good teacher, but in those days when she graduated, they said, "You will never get a job," and so she went into social work instead, and my other sister went into social work, I think just because of my other sister. Well, in those days you could only be a social worker, a nurse, a teacher or a secretary or an administrative assistant as they call it now. But I'm saying your choices weren't that... unless you were really bright and you could be a doctor or a dentist or something like that, but we were lucky.

SO: Why did they say that they couldn't teach?

LK: Esther? Because she would never get a job because she was Japanese. And so in that way it would have been difficult for her because she was out seven years before I am, and that was still during the war.

SO: So it had nothing to do with ability?

LK: No, no, exactly, right.

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