Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: George M. Yoshino Interview
Narrator: George M. Yoshino
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Bloomington, Minnesota
Date: June 17, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ygeorge_3-01-0022

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: So let me ask you a little about your wife a little bit. You met first in the '50s at this other furniture store, and then when that closed down, both of you went to this other one. At that point, were you dating, or how was it that you both went to the same store?

GY: We worked there from '55 'til '60, 1960 when we got married. (...) "Okay, we'll get married." So I went home, I told my mother, she says, "What nationality?" I said, "Greek." She didn't know what Greek was. So I had to tell her where it was on the map, said, "Girisha." "Okay." [Laughs] That was it.

TI: And how was your mother with you marrying a Greek woman?

GY: Well, she said, "Whenever you find somebody, just go ahead and get married. Don't bother with us." So I got married, and they attended the wedding and everything else at the church and everything. I didn't know what I was getting into. "Greek Orthodox, what's that?"

TI: Well, tell me how... what was it about your wife that you decided to start dating her?

GY: I don't know. It's just the two of us working there all the time. She was doing the selling and telephone answering and stuff like that and I was doing all the accounting work. I don't know, just came about.

TI: So I'm curious, when you got married, what kind of wedding or church ceremony did you have?

GY: Orthodox, Orthodox service. As far as that goes, the Orthodox, mainline church is the same. I mean, they pull it from the same book. Maybe they interpret it different, but it's the same meaning.

TI: Now, for you to marry a Greek Orthodox woman, did you have to go through any training or special meetings?

GY: There was a bunch of us going through a training, other couples. We went to, I don't know how many nights we went. The minister talked to us and stuff like that.

TI: And I'm curious how many other Japanese American men were in the Greek Orthodox church? Or were there any?

GY: That was something else. [Laughs] I think, to tell you the truth, I was the first Nisei to intermarry different nationality. And I didn't think nothing of it, but what the other people thought, I don't know. So I didn't have to be baptized because I was already baptized in the mainline church, so I didn't have to be baptized into the church at all. Some of the others did. So I muscled in there, and I was introduced to different people. The Issei group, Issei people, I thought I was going to get a bunch of racial deals, but no.

TI: When you say Issei, you mean like the Greek, the Greek immigrant?

GY: Yeah, just like our Issei parents.

TI: Okay, so like the Greek Issei.

GY: So when I came back from the honeymoon, I went to church with her, and the older people, some of 'em, community leaders, they asked me if I would usher. So I says to my wife, "They asked me to usher." She said, "Go ahead." So ever since then, I did different kinds of ushering and keeping their financial things and stuff like that. Even today, I stand at the front door every Sunday, so they know who I am. And the rest of the ushers, they have name tags. Last Sunday somebody asked me, "How come you have no name tag?" I said, "I don't need it. I think everybody knows who I am." [Laughs]

TI: So even though you're not Greek, you're like a fixture at the Greek Orthodox...

GY: Yeah, right.

TI: The Nisei --

GY: The funny thing is, now, currently, we have a Greek priest married to a Chinese lady. So I said to him when he first joined the, came to the church, I said, "Father Sean, I think we're all mixed up." He said, "That's great." [Laughs]

TI: Oh, that's a good story. So it sounds like the Greek community has been very accepting.

GY: Oh, yeah. When I joined up, everybody came to me and said, "Will you join this?" So I joined the American Legion. American Legion, there are some Issei veterans there, the World War II veterans, they'd all be in there.

TI: When you say Issei veterans, you mean like Issei Greek or...

GY: Issei Greeks.

TI: Issei Greeks, okay.

GY: World War I.

TI: And what did the Greeks, their first generation, do they have a name for their first generation, the Greeks?

GY: No, I don't think so. I didn't hear nothing else.

TI: So I'm curious, when you think of the Japanese Issei and then the first-generation Greeks, do you see similarities?

GY: Oh, yeah.

TI: Like what would be some similarities?

GY: [Laughs] You help out the family to get going. That's what I hear all the time. I mean, most of 'em were merchants, restaurants or something like that. And the kids that I got to know, they were Nisei people, and they'd tell me about how they had to help out this farm or shop, stuff like that, which was similar to us working on the farm when we were growing up, the merchants in Seattle trying to keep their end going. It was the same thing. As far as background like that, it's a similarity.

TI: And so when you think of the, in some ways, the Japanese, Japanese American story, it really is kind of like an immigrant story. That other races, other groups had similar experiences?

GY: Yeah, that's about it. It was all the same. I mean, I didn't have no difficulty or anything, no difficulty at all. They brought me in, stuck me in there, "You do this." Fine. And the World War II guys, well, they were all for you, you know. So I ended up pretty good. I kept their... one guy asked me to do accounting work for the church, which I did. I did it for about five, six years, until they come to computers, then I nixed that. [Laughs]

TI: Well, I'm curious, you talked about how accepting the Greek community was of you. How accepting was the Japanese community of your wife?

GY: Fine. They accepted her right away. She was a person that talked to anybody, and she got along real fine with everybody, and I think everybody liked her also. So she got along fine.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.