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

[Ed. note: Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

SO: Today is October 13, 2009, and we're here with Lucy Kirihara. I'm the interviewer, Steve Ozone, Bill Kubota is the videographer. So Lucy, tell me where and when were you born.

LK: I was born in Portland, Oregon, February 27, 1931.

SO: And what was your birth name?

LK: My birth name? Lucy Isako Torii. And the reason I got my middle name is I come from a family of three girls. And so by the time I was coming they were hoping for a boy, and so they had a name picked out, it was going to be Isao. But I don't want to say I was a disappointment, but it was a girl again, so he just changed it from Isao to Isako, so that's my middle name.

SO: And so how many siblings did you have?

LK: I have two older sisters. One is Esther, the oldest, and she's five years older than I, and Eunice, she's three years older, and then Lucy, myself.

SO: And are they still living?

LK: My oldest sister is dead, but my other sister lives in Chicago. My mother, since she was from Japan, didn't know what to name us so she had this person name us. And so she didn't realize that Japanese people couldn't pronounce some letters. So they named Esther, Esther, but they could only say "E-soo-ta." Then Eunice, and they would call her "Yu-na-soo." And Lucy was "Ru-shee," so they should have given us names like Ann or Mary or something like that, but anyway, that's how we were named.

SO: What was your mother's name?

LK: Tomaye. And my grandniece is named after her, Tomaye. That's pretty.

SO: Uh-huh. What was her last name?

LK: My mother's?

SO: Yes.

LK: Tamaki.

SO: And where was she from?

LK: My mother and father were both from Wakayama-ken. That's sort of in the middle part of Japan, near the coast. It's very difficult to get to by train, unfortunately. Many times we've gone to Japan and I've never been there. Just haven't taken the time... too difficult.

SO: Do you know what type of work your father did?

LK: I think he was a Shinto priest, he didn't work. He really didn't work I don't think, and he used to raise birds of some like a hobby, I guess, but I never heard her saying that he worked or anything.

SO: What about your mother?

LK: I'm sure she didn't. I don't think they worked.

SO: Okay, do you know how old she was when she got married?

LK: She was eighteen years old.

SO: What was she like when you knew her?

LK: She was... what should I say? She was very organized and she wasn't as warm, I mean, she was a wonderful mother, but she wasn't like our father who was just always telling us stories, taking us here and there. She was always busy. She was a good seamstress and she so she knew how to sew, and she would sew kimonos for people. I think that's how she made some money, too. And so she didn't really have any leisure time, whereas my father would, he seemed to be going from place to place, different places. He would write the Japanese newspaper, they had a little weekly newspaper, and so we would go with him to deliver it from house to house in Japantown. So he knew people and we were always with him, it seemed. We had more of a connection. He was always so proud of us. He would always say that we were "A-1." He's the one that encouraged us, gave us self-confidence and built up our self-esteem. Like my sister said he saved all of our papers that we would bring home from school. When we were evacuated we had to destroy everything and so he burnt them. It just broke his heart -- all the papers that we had done. Education was his prime goal for us.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

SO: Let's back up a little bit. What was your father's name?

LK: His name was Tokichi Torii.

SO: And he was from Wakayama too?

LK: Correct.

SO: What do you know about his father?

LK: His father was a carpenter, so he had a profession. But his mother died when his little sister was born, and so the father had, the mother died, and then the little girl died too. So he was really like an orphan because his father had to go out of town to be a carpenter. So he was entrusted to his aunt. And the aunt had a child and her name was Otomo and she was very, very cruel to my father as he was growing up. And they would give him the brown rice and they would eat the white rice. But as my sister said, that's why he lived to be ninety-four years old, because he had all that good nutrition. And then my father would pay them for it, for his lodging and so forth. It sounded like a very sad childhood. When we were little we'd always say to him, "Oh, tell us about Otomo, Otomo, tell us about her." And I sort of think he liked telling us about her, trying to relate to us how lucky we were that we weren't orphans. I sort of see the psychology of him bringing us up, I really do. And that he would say how mean, and that he survived all that, they would be so mean to him.

And when we used to fight when we were younger, he used to come home and say, "Oh, if you could only be like the Teraji sisters." And we said, "Who are these Teraji sisters?" we got to hate them because he said every time he went over there they never fought. And we thought he just made it up because we didn't know who they were. However, about fifty years later when I went to a reunion in Portland, I saw the name Teraji and so I thought, "Oh, my gosh, I have to meet these girls." And so we met them. They were older than we were and so I said, "Oh my father used to rave about you when we were little and he said you people never fought and we must have been fighting all the time, I don't know." And she said, "Oh, we fought, but why would we fight in front of your father?" It really was true I guess. But again, he would use that kind of psychology on us. It didn't work, though, because we got to hate them. [Laughs]

SO: So your father had to pay rent?

LK: No, he had to pay his, whatever relative it was, to take care of... my grandfather had to pay for them to take care of my father, otherwise they most likely wouldn't have done it. I don't know what would have happened to him.

SO: So why did your father come, why did your father leave Japan?

LK: Oh, he left in 1881. He was twenty-two years old, and my sister sort of thinks that maybe there was a war on at that time, the Russians? So maybe he was trying to avoid the draft. Not only that, he didn't have anything, a future in Japan, and he must have thought America was going to be a place where he could make a good living, so that's why he came. I think he went to Canada first and then he ended up in Portland, Oregon, and he settled there.

SO: Do you know what he was doing before he left?

LK: In Japan?

SO: Yes.

LK: Yes, he had a civil service job in Japan. And again, since he was like an orphan, growing up, he must have been a good student because he used to tell us how he didn't have enough money to buy books to go to school. But then he would copy his friends' books and he would make his own books and he would bind them together, I thought that was quite amazing. And he must have had enough education. I don't know how far he went, but he was able to pass a civil service test and then he had a job. I don't know exactly what he was doing. Whereas my mother was fortunate enough to finish eighth grade and high school too, because she was certified to be a teacher, too. When she came over here she could have taught in the Japanese schools but she didn't choose to do that.

SO: Do you know how your father got over here? Which ship it was?

LK: No, sorry, I don't know any of that, how he got over here.

SO: Do you know where in Canada he was?

LK: No. A lot of things that I know, too, my sister had to tell me because she's older, five years older. And so that's how I would know the background.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

SO: How did your parents meet?

LK: When in 1924, the law was passed that no more Japanese could come, my father decided he needed a bride. He's forty-three years old now, so he goes back to Japan and it must have been a match-making deal, and he was, my mother was chosen for him. She was the oldest of five children and she was born in the year of the fire horse. That's not a popular year to be born in, because the saying goes that whoever marries them will have a short life, but that wasn't true because my father lived to be ninety-four years old. And so she married him and they came over in 1924. She was eighteen. So he was twenty-five years older than she, and then by the time I was born, he was fifty years old when I was born. He was even older than my grandfather, so that's sort of different.

SO: So what was he like when you were growing up?

LK: Oh, he was a very gentle, kind person. And even when I talk to my husband about his father, he really doesn't have much to say about it. I mean, he was a grand father, but he didn't interact with him. Our father used to tell us stories about "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," and he had so much expression that we'd just sit there mesmerized. I remember he was so good and tell us about the barrels they would hide in. I don't know if he made it up or whatever, but anyway, it was good, and we'd always say, "Tell us a story." And then since we didn't go to Japanese school, then he tried to home school us. I still remember those little booklets that he would teach my two sisters, I was a little young then. But then when I would yell out the whole page from the bedroom, my sisters got so discouraged that it didn't last too long at the Japanese school. But he tried. And every time we had a ken group, he was always the master of ceremonies. He was a people person, is what I'd have to say. Everyone came to him for advice. So he was very reassuring, and if someone wanted to go into business they'd come and he had some kind of cards and sticks that he would mix up and throw on the table and then he'd always say, "Yes, that's a wise decision." They just wanted that reinforcement I think. I don't think he had any insight. And then he named a lot of people, too. I think he had a very creative mind and he loved to tell stories. He was a good writer.

And then another good trait about him is when I talked to my sister the other day she said, "Oh I know I was the favorite of Dad's." And I said, "That's strange, I thought I was the favorite." Then my oldest sister, when she was alive, said, "No I was the favorite." So he had the knack to make us feel very special. We knew that my oldest sister was a favorite of my mother. That was just obvious because everything Esther did was right. Of course, Esther taught my mother a lot of things about how to live in America and she'd always say, "Well, ask Esther," or so forth. But my father had that knack so I thought that was sort of interesting. I hated telling that to my sister, because she thought she was... [Laughs]

SO: We got a little too far along that... can you talk about this picture?

LK: Oh, that picture is when my father must married my mother. They're the two in the back, and then the other children are her brothers and sisters. And the father, her father, is the one that's carrying that rooster and then the mother, her mother, is the one carrying her little sister. And her little sister is still alive, so that would be Aunt Fusemi.

SO: This one?

LK: No, the carried... yeah, right there. And so that must have been when she was eighteen and he was forty-three.

SO: And this is in Wakayama?

LK: Right, correct. And my sister still writes to Fusemi, that sister, because I think my mother was seventeen yeasr old, because she must have been only one at that time.

SO: Do you know the significance of holding a... oh, is a rooster good luck?

LK: I don't know. Maybe it is.

SO: There are three of them.

LK: Are there? Oh, I don't know. They must have just raised them. Maybe they had the hens and maybe they gathered eggs.

SO: Oh, talk about, let's see. Your father was older than your mother.

LK: Right.

SO: Then his wife's father was older?

LK: Maybe he could have been a year older. Maybe he was forty-two, that I don't know, but he was older, I remember. I don't know his exact age.

SO: So back in, after your parents were married, what did your father do for his job?

LK: He was, I think before he was married he was some kind of secretary for the farmers/growers organization in Oregon or Portland. He must have done some book work or something for them, but after my mother came back I remember him working in homes where he was a gardener and she was a cook or a maid, which was really good because then you sort of learn the American way of living. I don't know if they lived there or whatever. And they were forced to speak a little bit of English so they could understand and communicate. And then finally, they were able to save enough money to lease an apartment building and then they rented out rooms. I suppose you'd call it like a hotel, but I remember some people staying there a long time and yet there were some people who would come in for one night or whatever. Close to Japanese town on First Avenue. We went back there years later and it's gone, because they made a freeway going through there. It's right near the Willamette River.

SO: Did they have children right away after they got married?

LK: Well, she was eighteen and she must have been twenty -- two years and then she had Esther.

SO: All right.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

SO: Can you talk about growing up when you were, your earliest recollection when you were little?

LK: When we were little it seemed like the three of us were always together. My older sister Esther skipped two grades so that makes her, even if she were five years older than I, she was seven years ahead of us, myself. And she was always reading a book or something like that, and so my middle sister really sort of took care of me and would take me here and there and so forth.

And then I had, when I started grade school, I had my best girlfriend and her name was Sherma Neushin. I would pick her up going to school in kindergarten or first grade. Maybe Eunice was with us too, I can't remember. But it was safe in those days. And she, parents made Kosher pickles, so every time I'd pick her up she'd go to the barrel and she'd get a pickle for us and we'd eat it on the way going to school, it had a lot of garlic in there, I think. Surprisingly I saw her years later, she lives in California now, and she said, "Oh Lucy, remember the pickles we used to eat?" and I said, yes, and she said, "Well, we became quite famous." Her brother, they had a little business and they made pickles. In fact, one girl got married in California, she must have lived in Portland or something, and she said the only wedding present she really wanted was a Neushin pickle jar and so it did become famous. They did something with it after.

SO: Can you talk about this picture?

LK: Oh, that must have been... they took a lot of family pictures because they wanted to send them back to Japan. And so there is my father and my mother, and then Esther is the oldest and Eunice is on the other side and I'm in the middle. It must have been at Easter time. I'm born in February, so February, March, April, well, maybe... anyway, I don't know why I have a chocolate bunny on there, but that's a picture that they sent back to Japan.

SO: 1932.

LK: Oh, 1932, I was born in '31, so then I had to be over a year. I'm a year then.

SO: And let's see. This one...

LK: Oh, that's when we were little. We had many friends, and they were... I guess that's a little bit too young, but when we were older we used to go to the farm. In the summertime my mother would take the three of us and we would pick berries.

SO: Was it a special farm?

LK: Berry farms, and friends were very good to us, but we're older. I must have been about ten. We must have been visiting that farm at that time. And Esther was old enough to work and Eunice was, too. I remember when she picked, my mother bought her a typewriter and then Eunice got a bicycle. This is just before the war, and when we had to get rid of everything during the war I remember someone gave Eunice two dollars for her bicycle, so that was sort of sad. But we used to pick strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and...

<End Segment 4> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<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.

<Begin Segment 7>

SO: What was, when you had summer, when school was out and you were free for the summer, what was a day like?

LK: I must have just hung around with... I remember we used to play Kick the Can with neighbors and just sort of, I don't know, occupied ourselves. I remember going to movies. We used to go to Shirley Temple movies, I remember that, but they must have had double features, because I remember horrible movies like Beau Geste I could still remember the horrible people, the foreign legion in the desert and Les Miserables, I remember seeing that, and those poor people being whipped. Because I know my mother wouldn't send us to movies like that unless Shirley Temple was the feature, I guess.

SO: Did your father own a car?

LK: No, we never had a car.

SO: So did you ever go on trips?

LK: Yes, like I say, friends that had cars, particularly the farmers, Mr. Fujita, I remember he would take us to the Seaside for the day and we would catch crab and we would have this open kettle and we would boil them and just eat them all. We would have razor clams, oh, they were so good. That you have to cook. We would go crab digging and so we did have friends that had cars. And then we always celebrated Thanksgiving and holidays with someone else and our good friend owned a grocery store. But even if he owned a grocery store, you lived in the back, and so you didn't have as many facilities, they didn't even have a bathtub, as I recall. And so they'd come to our place and they would take their baths and stuff. But, so we had some good friends, the Niis, they were our good friends, and we would celebrate Thanksgiving with them.

SO: Where was Seaside?

LK: Seaside is on the coast out of Portland. Oh, it's really, I went back there and it's just like a zoo there. It's like, what is that in California? What's that muscle?

SO: Venice Beach?

LK: Yeah, Venice Beach, sort of like that. So I was a little bit disappointed that it wasn't like what I remembered, the beautiful beach and catching all that. So that was really nice that they would take us. And people took us to Mount Hood, as I recall, so people did have cars.

SO: Did you leave the state?

LK: I never did. I think Esther went to, my sister Esther went to Seattle for some church conferences, so she had a chance to meet some people up there, but we never did.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

SO: So you were ten years old when Pearl Harbor happened. What do you remember about that?

LK: I remember how scary it was and how we hovered around the radio at that time. We were so afraid and we wondered, "Oh my goodness, what's going to happen to us?" And then things changed at school, too. Some people wouldn't walk to school with us. Sherma did. That didn't bother her at all. But I remember Joyce Mo, my good friend, she was Chinese and her mother just thought that she shouldn't walk to school with us. At school she was all right, but we didn't get to walk with them. So that was sort of sad, and we were just sort of afraid, people looking at us, or whatever it was. It was sort of a sad time as I remember it. And then especially when the FBI came, and then of course the news gets around -- destroy everything, letters from Japan or anything that was connected to Japan. They took our radio, we didn't have any firearms or anything, but if we did they would have taken it all. Just barging in and taking it and we just sort of, we just let them do it. They didn't have a search warrant or anything. They just came in.

SO: Were you in an assembly center?

LK: Yes, and then I can't remember, it must have been April or so, they used to post this up in Japantown that we had one week to get ready. And so we had to get rid of our things and I mentioned my sister's bicycle -- that was so sad she had to sell that -- she worked so hard for it. And then had a piano, I remember that. And so we sold what we could and then a lot of things we had to give away, but we had this wonderful friend, Mrs. Farmington, they owned a hotel. My mother and father used to work for them at their home a long time ago, and so they were nice enough to store our trunk. We didn't save many things. And then after the war they sent it out to St. Paul for us and everything was intact. Because a lot of people stored their things in churches and so forth and it was all vandalized and taken away. So that was sad. Another good thing is my sister had given some of her nice things, some dolls and things to some teachers, and they were nice and after the war they sent them back to her and that was good. They knew that they were our precious things and it would mean a lot to us to have them back.

SO: Which assembly center?

LK: We went to... what was it called? It was right near Jansen beach, but it was still quite far from... and I don't know what it was called. Isn't that strange? But it was an old racetrack exhibition hall is what it was, and so they had the big arena in the middle. Then they had horse stalls and that's where we were put, into the horse stalls. They had a canvas door and we had curfew every night and they would check.

SO: What time was the curfew?

LK: I think it was 8 o'clock. And then they had, it was wall-to-wall cots, as I recall, that we all slept on cots. I remember little Judy was next door to us and she must have been one or two, and if they cried, they were crying,

'cause you just had little partitions. And then my father would snore, and so he would snore, and then next door, they were most likely fighting, and so you could hear all this commotion. There was no privacy. And then you really didn't have anything to do there because there wasn't any school, this is April and school would have still been in session April, May, and part of June. And my sister was just going to graduate at that time and she couldn't go back for graduation. I still remember how sad it was. Her teacher sent her a little corsage and they had a makeshift graduation in this arena, and they sort of marched and they did all that. They did get their diplomas, though, even if they weren't there for a couple of months.

And then everyone shared their talents, because we didn't anything to do. My sister was good at knitting, so she taught knitting to people that were interested. This Haruko, I remember, was a good tap dancer and so she would teach us how to tap dance when we were in sixth grade. There were about six of us that would learn how to tap dance, once a week she would teach us. I remember playing badminton and so forth. Yeah, it's remarkable, no radios or anything that we could listen to. And then we would eat in the mess hall and... we were there quite a while. Oh, and then the showers were all open, because it's just partitions, and so when you were talking a shower, people could be walking above on a little, what they call a catwalk. And so you had to take a shower in your bathing suit and then sort of wash yourself. There was just absolutely no privacy. And I remember one couple got married in there and then everyone going to the bathroom and everything with walking by. It was just sort of an open free for all is what it was.

So we must have been in there April, May, June, July, and then the camps were ready in about August, I think. Maybe we were there only three months or so -- April, May, June, not for too long. And then when we were going to be sent to Minidoka, Idaho, my sister at this time was applying for college and she had gotten a scholarship to go to a college in Oregon, but naturally she couldn't go there. And this one friend, her teacher, suggested going to Macalester College because the university wouldn't accept Japanese people at the time. And so she applied to Macalester and the day we were going to Minidoka, she was able to catch a train and go to Macalester. She was sixteen years old at that time. And she said that was the happiest day of her life, but then she didn't know going to Minnesota how... she was alone and here her parents are in camp. It was really sort of a sad time.

SO: Was it the International Livestock Exposition?

LK: Right, that must have been it. Thank you, yeah, it was the livestock. And they still use that place, because we went back for a reunion, it's an exhibition hall, and I did want to see it, so we did go back and looked at it.

SO: Okay. Yeah, they have trade shows?

LK: Yes, they still do that now. It was a big place.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

SO: Okay, so you were there, and you were in the assembly center. Your sister had gone on to school.

LK: Right. Took the train and got 25 dollars. She had to go through a lot of red tape though to get released, to go to the mid states. And then maybe Judy mentioned, too, that her aunt, Ruth Tanbara, they were here earlier in St. Paul, and they were sort of the greeting party that when Esther came out here she didn't know a soul. And so they were very nice to at least get her settled. It must have been too early for the dorm, oh, she had a job as a babysitter in a home and so she must have stayed there. But then during school, you had to have enough money to stay at the dormitory for the first semester. And so she took our only suitcase. All our bank accounts were frozen at that time...

SO: So how did she get the money?

LK: Yeah, I'm just trying to think unless they took, they had some with them. Then after she went to Macalester for a semester, she found out that she got a scholarship. Oh, and then they also helped out that national, remember the Quaker group? Right, so she got a scholarship from them and that helped, and I don't know how much it was, two hundred dollars or so, and then she found out, gosh, if you get good grades, they give you a scholarship, so then she said she tried harder. And she was lucky that she was able to get some kind of help throughout. Then she had three jobs while she went to school. She worked for her room and board and she worked for Glen Clark, who wrote a lot of religious books. She was a typist there, and then she worked at the college for Miss Gwen Owens who was the drama teacher and she used to type for her. It was good that she knew how to type. So she had three little part-time jobs to put herself through. She would write to us and that's why we had contact with the outside world and so we knew how sad it was to be in camp. When I wrote to her that we all had food poisoning, she got so sad and she was crying. And I would write to her and when I got out of camp I said to her, "Did you save my letters?" Because after hearing about Anne Frank and all her letters that were written. She said, "Well, don't you remember, you always misspelled words, and so I circled them in red and sent them back to you so you would correct the spelling?" So she said, "You have all the letters that you wrote to me." So I guess it didn't add up to anything.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

SO: What were the conditions... so after the assembly center, did you take the train to Minidoka?

LK: Yes, because that was quite a distance, it wasn't a bus. It was a train that they made us keep the shades down and not to... I think we traveled at night and we got over there. And oh, it was so dusty, you just can't imagine. It was just such a desert place with sagebrush and tumbleweeds rolling all over. And it was in the fall when we got there, and yet it rained. The sidewalks, no sidewalks, they just had wooden planks. If you missed the wooden plank your shoe would get caught in the mud and you'd get up and you'd have your stocking feet, it was just something else. And you could only take what you could carry, and we just had this one room and I just wondered, that we had four cots or four beds with a pot bellied stove in there, and I can't remember how we hung our clothes. We must have driven nails into the wall and hooked up our clothes or lived out of the suitcase during that time. But after two years my other sister applied to Macalester and she went out of camp early too. We were eager to get out of camp, but then for me, since I was just in junior high, there wasn't any urgency for me to get out as much as my sisters that wanted to continue their education.

SO: So what were the conditions like in camp? What kind of food did you eat?

LK: Oh, I could still remember. [Laughs] Well, I was there three and a half years. That's a long time. Sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade, and people that I didn't even know that lived in Portland appeared. Because I only knew Sato, Sato Hashizumi, my good friend. But all of a sudden all these other people were there so I made a lot of new friends. Martha and I used to go to eat at eight o'clock, twelve o'clock, five o'clock, they'd ring the gong and you'd go in there.

And they would have rice, rice, rice and they would make stew out of mutton and, nutrition-wise, I tell you, so we would ask, "Please don't put the stew on top," because it was so terrible, "Give us plain rice." Then they'd have potatoes and so we would have rice and potatoes and corn, so you could imagine the nutrition part of it, it's a wonder. And they always had apple butter, it was always surplus food that we got. And fortunately, they did start farms on there. They farmed the land so we did have some fresh vegetables and so forth. But to this day I can't eat apple butter. I can't eat... although curry, I've gotten to like curry, but it was always that yellow and they had it on the rice. My husband talks about they had stew made of liver, so I never have cooked liver, all this time. And once we thought, "Oh we're going to get meat." And so we all went and we said, "What are all those pimples around there?" Well, it was tongue sliced, and they didn't even take the skin off. I know it's a delicacy now in salads now, chef salads, but in those days they had just cooked it so it was really not that good. And they always had oatmeal. And my mother was a waitress there, because everyone sort of worked. And then she got the lowest pay, eight dollars a month. But my father had an interesting job. He interviewed the Isseis that had their Nisei sons in the service, and so he was like a reporter and he went there. I still have some of the reports that he wrote, that when they were inducted in the service and where they were stationed and so forth. So I think he had a nice little job. I don't know what they did with it, but...

SO: And so did he work for the newspaper?

LK: Yes, he must have done that. And then, see, he could write English, surprisingly. He self-taught himself and so he could interview them in Japanese and then he could transpose it into English, so that was sort of good. I found some of those. It was interesting.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

SO: What was school like?

LK: School we didn't have any... I remember in one class we sat on picnic tables and that kind of thing, and then we didn't have any books. The teachers we had, a lot of them were Niseis that just went one year maybe to college or they had an interest in teaching. They were our teachers, they were our core teachers. And we had to take notes. I don't know how we got the pencils and paper. And then in this core class I remember this teacher lecturing and we took notes. And that was just about the time, this is in seventh grade, this is just about the time that they broke up Tule Lake, because they were saving that for the people that wanted to go back to Japan. So the people that didn't want to, they were put into other camps. So this girl comes the night before the test and her name, she became my best friend, Matsuye. And she said, "Oh, Lucy, could I borrow your notes for the test tomorrow?" And I said, "Oh sure," I should really study it myself, and so I showed her and then she studied my notes. And the next day we took the test and she got the highest mark and I thought, "My gosh, if they were my notes, I should have gotten the highest score." But teacher questioned her and wondered how she could have gotten the highest mark when she didn't even attend the class, but she happened to be an extremely gifted person. She's the one that taught me how to play bridge in camp because we had to pass the time somehow. And as seventh graders learning how to play bridge, I think that's pretty good. To pass the time and you could learn.

And then the other classes, I don't think they were... I remember art class and a little newspaper that we had and so forth, but surely it wasn't the best... without any of the equipment that we should have had. I know they had Home Ec, they had some sewing machines, because my girlfriend whipped up a dress, I was very impressed. But they didn't have any labs. And you can imagine high school, they didn't have any science labs or how do you learn chemistry? And then my husband was older and so really his background in high school was nil. It's a wonder he made it through... when you think about it, that the background. And then, you didn't know what was going to happen to you, so you didn't have that motivation to really study hard and so forth, at that point. My sister did because she knew she wanted to go on to college right away. And then I'm in junior high so it didn't really... I think you learn a lot of your fundamentals in grade school anyway, how to read, write and all that.

SO: So you were living in, you used to live in Portland where it didn't snow.

LK: Right, I know. And then it's cold in Idaho. I know it, it would snow and we don't have boots and we don't have a winter coat, we don't have a winter jacket. We just have a little raincoat because it rains in Portland. And they gave us a little allowance of... I can't remember what it was, a month and then we'd have to order out of the Ward's catalog or the Sears catalog, and then if they were out of stock, they didn't back order, you just lost it. So you had to gamble or else they would send a substitute, something. And I remember, I had red socks that they sent me and when I went to St. Paul, I remember vividly, I went to school and I wore my red socks 'cause that's all I had. I went to gym class and the teacher, in front of everybody, Miss Bowen was her name, she said, "Oh, we don't wear that kind of colored stockings in school." And here that was the only color that I had because we just came fresh out of camp with no clothes. And I'd always go home and told my sister, "Gosh, she really embarrassed me." So it was sort of good, because when I became a teacher, I was really sensitive to all that kind of stuff, and I hope I never embarrassed anyone or did anything like that to a student, because I could remember episodes like that, when if you don't have anything, you don't have it. You do the best you can. But we had the clothing allowance. And then, like I said, once we got food poisoning and you have to go to the bathroom outside and go to the bathroom there, and then you had to wash your clothes there and then you had to bring them back to your one room and drape a rope across the room and hang all your clothes up there. And they were not insulated and so the wind would come through, it was windy in Idaho. Then in the summer it's just hot as blazes, so we had a canal, I couldn't swim, but a lot of kids would go swimming there.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

SO: What about the medical care?

LK: Oh my gosh, my teeth. It's a wonder I still have teeth. Because they didn't have fluoride in the water in those days, so you'd get cavities. I don't know what kind of dentists there were, but anyway they'd fill it with whatever they filled it with and when I came out to St. Paul we had to find a kind dentist that re-did all my teeth for me. He was appalled at what they did. And even glasses. We couldn't see too well and I remember this one optometrist, or whatever, he prescribed bifocals for my sister, this was in camp, I mean, in the assembly center, and she would get some kind of bifocals. But truly the medical care, I don't know what kind of doctors we had. We did have real Japanese doctors that were practicing in Portland. They got the top pay which must have been eighteen dollars a month? I think it was eight dollars, twelve dollars, maybe the teachers got twelve, and maybe the professionals got eighteen dollars a month. So you didn't dare get sick. I remember my father when he got to take the truck to work to go to the administration building, and once he jumped off and broke his ankle and then they didn't set it right. After he got out of camp he always limped. And it stuck out at the ankle, the bone was still sticking out, and it was gross. So we didn't have, but fortunately we didn't get real sick or anything in camp other than that food poisoning.

SO: Were there more than, was there more than one dentist?

LK: That I don't know. I can't remember. There must have been because we had a lot of dentists in camp, but they most likely didn't have the facilities either, of what to use, and they had to scrimp and save. And the teachers that we got, it was interesting. I looked in the yearbook, and a lot of them had their MS and MAs. And you wonder why they came to teach in the camp. Number one, I do know that they were paid a higher salary, and in those days teachers didn't get paid much... and then some must have had a kind heart. But my sister did say that some of her teachers weren't really that nice to her, but that could be the exception, too.

SO: What about the... you said that your sister told you about one of the doctors?

LK: Yeah, she said there were rumors -- and I don't know if this is true or not -- but that the head of the whole hospital facility was a veterinarian. And so rather than a people doctor, he was for animals. [Laughs] But I don't know if that's true or not, but she said rumors were going around, but maybe they're just trying to scare us or whatever it was.

SO: How big was the hospital, do you remember?

LK: It must have been, well, it would be barracks put together or somehow as I recall. I remember there was a chimney in there but I can't remember. There are some pictures in the yearbook showing wheelchairs and people. And people had to give birth in there, too. We must have had a cemetery, where they must have... although I know they went to Twin Falls, which was a small town outside of camp. They must have taken them there if somebody died or at least to be, if they were cremated or if they were embalmed I don't know, but there had to be some deaths there.


SO: And you were going to say, you were going to talk about your outlook on camp.

LK: Right. In camp, it was really sad to be, even if I were young like that, we knew we didn't have any of our privileges or anything, we were behind barbed wire and you see those guards. But I think what got us through is we were optimistic and we had a lot of hope, and particularly since by this time both of my sisters are in Minnesota, and so we know, "Gosh maybe we could someday get out of here." We knew we wouldn't go back to Portland. But still, we didn't know what was going to happen to us. "Are they going to keep us here forever?" And then suddenly they sent a notice saying we had to get out by 1946, by that December, that the camps were going to close, and that was terrifying, too, because we didn't have any place to go. And then our sisters were so happy...

SO: Yeah, but before you go on, let's talk about this picture.

LK: Oh, yes. My mother, like I told you, she was very good at sewing and she would sew kimonos, but she was also very good at doing embroidery work. And then this is the teacher, she was a very well-known teacher. And my mother had a chance, although she worked in the camp as a waitress, breakfast lunch and dinner, she still had some spare time that she could do this embroidery, and I still have them in my living room now, I have both of them in my living room. One son said he was going to take one picture and then his sister could have the other one or something. So they really treasure it, so she was very pleased that she had the chance to do it.

SO: Did she do anything after camp?

LK: No. Because her eyes, I think she got older, then he eyes weren't so good and so when she got out of camp, my sister got her a job at Peerless Cleaners and she was the alterationist there. And then if you're working full-time in there, it was hard for her, and then she's older, too, so that makes a difference.

SO: Tell me about this picture.

LK: Oh, that picture we look so happy. I don't know who had the camera. But that's my older sister Eunice, who is three years older than I. And then me, and we were in camp. You could see all the barracks in the background and how dusty and like desert it was. But we look pretty happy there.

SO: This must be a flagpole.

LK: It must have been. So we must have sent that to my other sister.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

SO: So the camps were about to close, and you didn't know what you were going to do. What happened after that?

LK: Okay, so then our two sisters were so happy, they said, "Oh you could come out here to Minnesota, there's no sense going back to Portland. We don't have anything there. And the way the people sort of treated us during after the war started, it was silly to go back there." She said the people in Minnesota are so nice and we'll have to go out there. And my sister said she'd look for an apartment and she said they went to over ninety apartment places and every time in the paper would say it was open, vacant, and when they'd go over there they would say, "Oh no, it's taken." They got so discouraged. So finally Eunice said, "Well, maybe we should just lie and say we're not Japanese," or something. But so finally they went to this place, it was on top of a barbershop, and this man, his name was Mr. Munson, they both went and said we want an apartment for five of us and so he said, "Are you Japanese?" And Eunice at that point said they were both thought, "Oh, well, let's walk away," and they were going to walk away. And he said, "No, no, wait, wait." He said, "My son was in the war in the Philippines, and he was nursed back to health by a Japanese American nurse," and he says, "This is one way I could pay that kindness." And so he rented us the upstairs of this barbershop, it was on Snelling Avenue. And my two sisters went to the Salvation Army and they spent fifty dollars on a round oak table, six chairs, I don't know how many beds, overstuffed ugly sofa and chairs and an icebox. And so they furnished this whole apartment and it was so nice, and he was so nice. And the rent must not have been that high. And then Eunice and Esther both dropped out of school for a while so they could help support us. And then she got my mother a job in a cleaners and she was the alterationist. And then she got my father a job as a dishwasher at Macalester College, and he's old now, how old would he be? So he's pretty old but he still had to work. But that was good that he worked at Macalester College, because then he got a little bit of Social Security that he built that up, and then Esther worked at this publishing house and she was a secretary there. So she got me a job there, being a file person for thirty-five cents an hour, while I was in high school. She got my father a job there as a custodian and he emptied out the wastebaskets. And she got her husband, who was going to school at the U at that time, he was out of the service, and got him a job as a shipping guy, 'cause it was a bookstore. So she employed all of us, which was sort of nice.

SO: And you were going to high school?

LK: Right. I started as a freshman at high school. The girls were so nice to me, I just can't really believe how nice they were. Their fathers were professors at Hamline University and Marilyn Bracewell's, he was head of Physics, and Isabel Rife, her father was head of the History Department and they went to school with me, they had me over for dinner, another girl would stay overnight. And to this day we're still best friends, and fortunately there are spouses and significant others, too. The five of us, after we got married and the children were little, we'd go camping and then we went to all the children's weddings and so forth, and once they were gone then we started to go up north every year and stay in a condo. So they're still my very good friends. I just went to my sixtieth class reunion, and that was fun. And so we all went together and reminisced about high school. I went my freshman, sophomore and junior year. And then my sister was getting older, Eunice, and she was helping the family. And she sort of wanted to get married, and so then it was sort of urgent for me to hurry and get out of high school and get into college and get out of there. So I didn't go my senior year. I had enough credits because I never took study hall and think I went to summer school and just took, I don't know, social studies or civics and English course, and then I enrolled at the University of Minnesota.

SO: In high school, what was that like? What was the racial background of students?

LK: Oh, I was the only Japanese in that school and I don't think there were any African Americans or Hispanic. So I was the only minority in that school, Wilson, in St. Paul. And they were very nice to me. It was good. Well, I was a good student, and just a few episodes with teachers, but you know, they always wanted me to be president of this or president of that or else they pick a Girls State when you're a junior and I think the teachers pick that and so I was chosen.

SO: What was that?

LK: Girls State. They have a Boys State and a Girls State and you go to the...

SO: What is that?

LK: It's to learn more about government and every high school has a representative and then you go there for a week during the summer. And then you learn all about, even that someone runs for governor and all that kind of stuff. But I declined to go because I wasn't going to go back my senior year, and I think it was to sort of develop leadership in you and I didn't think it was fair to the school to send me to that and then not going back, because I was going to go to the university. So the girl that was runner-up got to, Joanne Bloomdahl got to be that, and so she was very happy. She says, "Lucy, hate to see you go," but she was the representative. So that worked out all right.

SO: What was... outside of school, what was the reaction of people because you were Japanese American?

LK: I guess I didn't encounter too much during high school, as I recall. In college I don't remember because you're in an academic setting, but it's after we got married that, when we get to that, then we had a little bit more problems of buying a house and so forth. But during school, it wasn't that...

<End Segment 13> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 15>

SO: What kind of research did you do for Dr. Rose?

LK: Oh, she was doing something. They always have grants or something and you had to use, we didn't have computers, but it was really statistical. And I had to do all this stuff on there. I really don't know what it was, but she, I can't remember too much. But one thing I did remember is she taught me how to sharpen pencils, so they were real sharp. That's about all I remember. [Laughs] But it was good experience. It's always sort of good. And then I was able to... then I was lucky I could either teach in St. Paul or Minneapolis. I went to a small town first because, thinking, oh gee, you want a job, you'll take it, but they don't hire early in Minneapolis and St. Paul. They don't hire early, unfortunately. They hire almost when the school year starts, and then once I got the offers I really didn't want to go to a small town, but in those days again they said you'll be blackballed if you don't, if you break a contract. And they said, "It's not gonna hurt you," my sister said, "It's not gonna hurt you to go for one year to a smaller school." Which it didn't. Because she said, "Half the United States is from a rural area and so it's better that you," and it was a good experience.

SO: So where did you go?

LK: I went to Mora, Minnesota, and that's up about 80 miles up north. And it was all right, because Miki was in France at that time. And the superintendent, it was quite unusual, because when it was time to resign the contract, he said, "I know you're not going to be with us next September," because he must have heard that I had gotten those contracts from both cities and they were nice, they kept it open for me because I said I wanted to eventually teach in the city. And since I grew up in St. Paul it was fun to teach in St. Paul.

SO: What was it like living in Mora?

LK: Oh, it was fun. I had live in one room in a nice home. It was a nice home, the Cadwells' home and they were very nice. But you can't cook or anything, so we had to eat in these greasy spoons. And then all these teachers, we'd all hang out together and one girl had a car so she was nice, she'd take us to other smaller towns and we'd go to all the church dinners and so we'd have lutefisk and so forth, so it was sort of fun. And they'd have a spaghetti night and we'd go, because like I say, we couldn't cook and we had to eat. But unfortunately, every Friday night we caught the bus and we came home to the cities and we'd go back Sunday night, unless someone had a car that we could commute back and forth. But it was a good experience and I still have some good friends from there.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

SO: So you spent a year there and then you came back and taught...

LK: And taught in St. Paul.

SO: And what school was that?

LK: I went to Marshall Junior. High. It was right in the inner city, and it was a junior high and I taught there for eight years or so, seven or eight years. But in the meantime I did get married, Miki and I got married. And since I was teaching, we were going to live, and he was going to go back to school, 'cause he hadn't finished school, so he wanted to become an architect. And so we knew it was going to be a long haul. And we thought, oh, they have these inexpensive track homes in Bloomington. So we said maybe we should buy one of those, 'cause he had the GI Bill. So we went to the Orin Thompson Homes and every time we went to a model home, they ignored us and wouldn't sell to us. Finally they came out and said, "We are not gonna sell to you." So we had the JACL, they were going to try to do something that we could purchase a home, but in the meantime, my sister had a friend who lived in this project, they're all track homes, and she said, "Oh, someone is selling their home in Bloomington," and they have to move, it was only six months old...

SO: What year was that?

LK: It would be 1955. She said, "I bet you could buy that house." And then Orin Thompson has nothing to say about it, if an owner sells it. And he was very nice. I'll never forget Mr. Taylor, he said he'd be happy to sell to us, however, he went to the neighbor in front of us, we live on the corner, and asked them if it were all right, they said fine. The neighbor right next to us, he said fine, and the neighbor in back of us. And they're still the same neighbors almost. And so we thought it would be a good investment, that we were gonna live there five years or so and then we would move. And he finished school, but then after six, seven years, then we had children. Then our children got involved with friends and so forth and we're still there. It's fifty-four years and we're still living there. [Laughs] But we did have to put on an addition because we had three children and so forth, and so it's perfect now, because it's only one story and we don't have to climb stairs at our retiring age, it's just perfect. I have my porch, I have my addition and I have a third garage so it's perfect. I still like my old neighbors. So we're there.

SO: What was the Japanese community like in the '50s?

LK: When we first moved?

SO: Yes.

LK: Well, we had the JACL. Oh, we had a community center in Minneapolis. We had this nice, on Blaisdell, really a nice building, and we had an Episcopal minister who sort of headed it. But it was still, he had his church there, but still it was a community center, and then we would have activities there. I remember going there quite often. And then they would have... I think Miki belonged to a baseball team, he belonged to a basketball team. And they had dances and so forth. And when we first came out, when my sister was first here, they had all those soldiers from Fort Snelling, so I remember we had a lot of soldiers over for dinner in that apartment over the barber shop. They were all there. It's not that we had that kind of money, but somehow they stayed for dinner and I remember us always whipping up chow mein, because that you could stretch far. Cook the noodles and a little bit of meat and a lot of vegetables and it was really good chow mein, but that's what we would cook all the time. '45, '46, '47, they were still here, and they appreciated it, I remember. And so the Japanese community, they still... but like we were in St. Paul, and it was bigger in Minneapolis. We had fewer Japanese in St. Paul.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

SO: So you continued teaching?

LK: Right. And then I taught for eight years and then once we had children, the I told my husband I was not going to work again and that was it. I put myself through school, I helped him go through school, and then the three children. I thought they could do it on their own. And fortunately, I could say it, we did not pay one tuition. I mean, we helped. They all went to the university which I loved. I thought you could get as good an education there as any place. And our oldest son, he became a mechanical engineer, then later on he got his MBA at St. Thomas, our other daughter wanted to be an engineer, but it wasn't for her, but she was still in I.T. -- Institute of Technology, and the quickest way for her to get out was to be a math major. So she became a math major, but it paid of. She worked for Northwest Airlines as a fuel analyst and figured out all their taxes at every airport and we benefitted for eleven years travelling on her passes, it was great. And then she quit, I was so sad. [Laughs] And then our youngest one, Peter, at least one went to St. Paul Campus. He was a graphic designer and he became that and then he worked for Aveda in their art department. But then he got this notion that he wanted to have his own business. And so Lisa Chen and he started a coffee house eighteen years ago and it's still in business and it's become a cafe now. Then he opened up Bev's Wine Bar and then he opened up another bar, Jet Set. So he's having fun. And fortunately I get to help him every Wednesday and Saturday. It's good after I retired.

But to go back, I was out for sixteen years. I didn't teach because I was raising our children, and I volunteered everyplace, in the kitchen. I always wanted to be a librarian, but when I volunteered they used to make me file all the books back and the periodicals. You had to get on the floor filing those books, and I thought, "Oh, Lordy, why am I doing this?" And even if I said I wasn't going to teach again, I belonged to a bridge club, that was my hobby. And they were still teaching and they said, "You're foolish not going back to teaching when your kids are going to start college. You need to help them." So then, since I taught in St. Paul, in 1977, it was easy to get back in. The supervisor was different but I went back and I taught for eighteen more years, can you believe it? It was really fun. When I went back to teaching, it was interesting, the attendance cards didn't change after sixteen years, and the biggest change I saw when we were in Home Ec. we always had to make the coffee for the teacher's meetings, after school and do all the clean-up and all that grungy work. Well, when I went back, here I saw the principal carrying the coffeemaker and he was running down the hall and I thought, "Oh, my goodness, things have changed, things are better." So I enjoyed it. And just personally I think I was a better teacher after I had children, that I sort of understood them more. I don't care if you say you understand, unless you're in this situation, for me, you really can't understand it as well. I think I was a little bit more understanding. If I had a senior and he'd fall asleep in class, and I didn't condone that but I just said to him -- but I understood, our oldest son, they all worked thirty hours a week in the grocery store business, so I can see where you're tired -- but I did say to him, "That's not appropriate. Maybe you should cut down on your hours or you should get to bed early," but I didn't yell and scream at him or anything, just saying wake up. But I just think I understood it better, and I enjoyed it and I would have kept going on but it seemed silly when we had all these passes for traveling when I'm teaching. We might as well enjoy it.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

SO: Can you talk about your involvement with JACL?

LK: Oh, JACL. Yeah, we were always, I always believed in JACL. Such a good organization. In the olden days, even before I was married, I think I was secretary when Dr. Ijima was president, I was secretary for him. That was the time when, well, I must have been married then, because I wanted the house. He said, "We would try to get you that Orin Thompson house." And I was active in everything because my husband was studying, and so I belonged to investment clubs and bridge clubs and so forth because I had to do my own thing while he was going to school. And JACL, we... I don't know, we always danced in the Festival of Nations too, but that didn't have anything to do with the JACL, but we participated in that. We all did. Everyone. We just thought that was such an important thing. And then our children danced in that and Esther's grandchild danced in that and then I always... any project that the JACL had, I really enjoyed doing that. And I was sort of busy when the children were growing up, but after they were grown, and so I had more time that I could be more involved. All the exhibits that we did. I think that was a good time to meet more Japanese Americans too, because I made some good friends in the JACL. Right now it just seems like it's an ongoing thing, because I'm on the Education Committee. They seem to have a project every year, which is good. And then we go out and speak to different classes about internment.

SO: How did that start?

LK: For me it started when I was teaching. The social studies teacher would take my classes in Home Ec., and I would take his classes for the day. But that was double duty for me, because I had to do all my lesson plans for my classes when he sat in my classes. He didn't have to do anything, just sort of babysit. And then I had to do all that for five hours, but I thought it was worth it. It was important for people to learn about the internment. And then we would have, it was called Isabella, it's called Wolferage now. We'd go on a four-day retreat. We'd take the students for four days and we'd take two busloads, so that's about seventy students, and they would have an African American, they had Native American, they had a Hispanic, and one person backed out for or something for some reason so they asked me if I would go and teach origami. And so I said, "Oh sure." Well, here I'm teaching origami, and then everyone else is teaching all their history? I thought, hey -- I did that that year -- but I said, "If you want me to go again I'm going to teach the concentration camp thing, what happened to the Japanese Americans and the Japanese," and so they said, "Oh, fine," so I really enjoyed doing that. You could teach these kids in a small group, they all sort of went from class to class and then they did a lot of outdoors things, too, like snowshoeing and so forth. So it was really a good time. I did that for many years. Then since I was on the Education Committee, we would go to different places. Churches, at that time, churches wanted us to come so my sister and I would go and give speeches about the... and she wasn't in the permanent camp but she was in the temporary camp and then she could relate to them what happened to her while she was out here alone and then she would know what was happening to us. We've always been doing that.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

SO: How do you feel about redress?

LK: Oh, redress. I marvel at those Sanseis that really worked so hard for that. And I know a lot of people wanted just the apology, which I think was really important. But some people don't put as much weight on it unless there's some monetary value, I mean, other people that aren't involved in it, you know. They think, well, it really was something that wasn't the right thing to do that, that it's going to cost them something. I thought it was a good thing. I was happy to have that and that they acknowledged that it was not the right thing to do, and the reasons that they gave were not the right reasons. It was really an economic type of thing, and so I was happy. Although when I give talks in classes they say, "Oh, you got that much?" And the teacher would then insert, You can't even buy a car with the amount that," and, "Would you like to give up your freedom for three and a half years? Who is going to do that?" Which is true. You'd rather have your freedom and not have that money.

SO: In the Midwest, I know most of that was going on in the West Coast. What was happening in the Midwest as far as action for redress?

LK: Well, I know they had a lot of... what do you call it? There's a book on it that had all these testimonials of people and they traveled throughout the country, and so I know they had one in Madison, Wisconsin, where they had the people tell their stories. I don't know. I don't think they came to Minnesota, as I recall. So the Midwest, they were involved, and so anyone who lived near Milwaukee or so forth went there to testify and it took a long time and I just think it's unbelievable, the many years and time they put into it. I wasn't as involved in that, I have to admit. But going to all these reunions they talk about it and they've honor the gentleman that was the head of it and so forth. They worked hard. I think it was more to make people aware of what happened, too.

SO: Is there anything you would like to add that we haven't talked about?

LK: Oh, I just think these oral histories, it's just so nice of you people to do it. I think it is... just hope that people get something out of it, is what you're hoping. And to get to know the history a little bit of the Japanese and the Japanese Americans and how they progressed from coming from being children of immigrants and so forth, that we hope that our children will continue on. Our daughter has been active in JACL and will help. Our sons are interested, they aren't as active. Oh, Jay was active. He made a lot of our visual arts things, because his wife is a, she's a graphic designer. And Peter's always interested too, and they will donate to a lot of different things, like our Chrysanthemum Banquet. Hopefully they will still be active in it because you don't want to lose that. And it was nice to come to Minnesota. It's been good to us. We feel very fortunate, my husband and I. I mean, he's been retired for twenty years, that's almost as long as he worked, and so that's pretty lucky, I think. We don't have any grandchildren, which is sort of different, but we do have two grand-dogs, two grand-bunnies and two grand-cats, and I think that's all right. [Laughs]

SO: All right, well thank you.

LK: Well, thank you, Steve. It was nice talking to you.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.