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-01-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

SO: So what were the race relations like pre-Pearl Harbor?

LK: Well, you can see that I had many friends. I remember the Farnam girl that I used to play with and they would invite us for birthday parties and so forth, and so it was integrated. I had Japanese friends, too. Sato Hashizumi was my good friend and I would say, "What's your middle name, Sato?" She lives in San Francisco now. She said, "I don't have a middle name." I said, "Oh, then I'm going to call you Sato Sato Hashizumi." She and I were good friends. In those days it was safe to walk all over, even if you were young, and we would meet halfway. She must have lived about ten blocks from me. So as far as I know at school we had a mixture of friends, my sister did too. But we did go to a Japanese church, it was all Japanese, and we would patronize the Japanese grocery stores so we were sort of a... we didn't get into any of that discrimination, I suppose, because we didn't intermingle as much at that time. The cleaners were Japanese cleaners and so forth, so we had both friends. My parents, of course, stuck with the Japanese friends that they had.

SO: When you were talking to your parents, would it be in Japanese?

LK: Correct.

SO: How much could you talk to them?

LK: Oh, I suppose I couldn't write, but we could speak, but then my sister, when she went to kindergarten, my father took her to school and he said, "You teach 'em her English." And then she came back and she said, "My gosh." However, we did go to church and I told you we had these Sunday school teachers who spoke English, and she came back and she said, "We're speaking a different language." She said, "From now on, from this day on we cannot speak Japanese at home." She was very good, that she didn't want us to be handicapped like she was going to kindergarten and first grade. And so we must have spoken English at least among ourselves, and our parents must have understood us, too. Because I remember even during dinner time we would always play the game of naming all the flowers, alphabetically like... or fruit we'd start with "apple" -- and so we were trying to learn all the vocabulary, too -- and banana, and then you were C, cantaloupe, and if you have to pass. So we used to play games like that. We played a lot of cards, however, the Methodist church didn't allow that, they didn't like swearing, dancing, drinking, they were sort of strict. But my mother thought cards were harmless and they were good educationally, so we used to play a lot of cards, I remember.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.