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-01-0005

<Begin Segment 5>

SO: Your father was also involved with the church?

LK: Yes, we went to church all the time, it seemed, because two other fellows, Mr. Nomura and Mr. Maeda and my father, they founded this Japanese Epworth Methodist Church right there in Portland. And that must be the congregation at that time. And then a lot of our Sunday school teachers were.. what would you call them? Evangelists, and they were Caucasian. It was good because they spoke English and they would teach us songs like "One door and only one, the other side makes two. I'm on the inside, which side are you?" I still remember those songs. [Laughs] I'm glad it didn't have too much influence on me as I grew up, but we were raised Christian and church was very important to them.

SO: Is this a congregational...

LK: It must have been. Or maybe it was after Sunday service and...

SO: Okay, and Mr. Nomura was Judy Murakami's grandfather?

LK: Grandfather. Right. And then we used to have a bus, a bus used to pick us up. This old man used to pick us up, I remember, a Sunday school bus because a lot of us didn't have cars and rather than taking a streetcar or something, he used to pick us up, I remember that. So that was sort of a plus.

SO: And was your friend, you knew your friend around the same time?

LK: Right, Sherma, right. I knew her from kindergarten until sixth grade. In fact, when we were put into the temporary camp and we had gas rationing and all that, her father drove her to see me behind the barbed wire and we talked, and she said she could still remember that, seeing me behind there. It made her so sad. But she was my good friend.

SO: Why were you such good friends?

LK: Well, I don't know, during the classes we must have been... In Portland it was different, in our grade school we didn't stay with the same teacher, we had a wonderful school system, I still remember. We went from room to room, the whole class moved from room to room to different teachers. I still remember second grade. We learned nature study with Ms. Rainier. She had this starfish and all her little terrariums. I tell you it was just a good education. I could still remember the librarian making us learn the alphabet backwards Z-Y-X. I can't do it now. And so Sherma and I were always together. I wish I could go to one of their reunions, their high school reunion, because they all must have gone to that. It would be fun to see them, because I still remember a lot of their names of the kids that I used to hang around with.

SO: You said that you didn't go to Japanese school?

LK: No. We didn't go, but we were at Shattuck School and this principal, Baker was his name, Mr. Baker, every year we would have a Japan Day. It must have been near, I would guess, March 3rd, Girl's Day, maybe it wouldn't have to be but it was near Mother's Day too, because my mother used to make carnations out of crepe paper and donate it, and then we would sell them for five cents each. That was the contribution that she would do. So we must have done dances or something at that time and I think they wanted to emphasize our heritage. Of course that school had a lot of Japanese students. And the Shattuck school, it's interesting, it's now the University of Portland. And we went back to visit it and the drinking fountains are still only two feet high, you'd think they would have raised it. I think there were two...

SO: Where are you? [Indicating photograph]

LK: Oh, I'm right here, looking proud, and Esther is there and then Eunice, I don't know why she doesn't have the Japanese kimono on, and she's there.

SO: All right.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.