Densho Digital Archive
Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL Collection
Title: Eiko Nishihara - Yoshiko Nishihara Interview
Narrators: Eiko Nishihara and Yoshiko Nishihara
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Watsonville, California
Date: November 19, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-neiko_g-01-0003

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TI: Let's go to the next one, born after the war had started, but during the war, was Masako, born January 1943. So Masako was born, it looks like, in camp.

EN: Yes.

TI: So, Eiko, do you remember Masako and what was...

EN: Yes, I remember my mother having pains, and so I had to call the hospital. And then they came after her and Masako was born. But my mother had a hard time when we were coming back, because she was a baby. I think she had measles or something, so it was rough for her.

TI: Okay, so that's Masako. Yoshiko, any thoughts about Masako?

YN: There's so much years in between that, you know, we don't, we're not, we weren't that close then. She's... what should we say? She was quiet. You know, every one of us are quiet.

TI: Okay. So let's keep going. Now, there's a four-year gap where then Emiko was born after the war, in July 1947. So this is probably after, you may even be married. I mean, this is over twenty years younger than the two of you. But tell me about Emiko. Yoshiko, I'll ask you first. Emiko, what comes to mind?

YN: Well, she took care of our mother when she got older, and she's kind of like a rock for us, too, now. 'Cause she's younger, then she can do so many things, and know so many things, I can't believe. And she does the computer real well, too.

TI: Okay, good. Eiko, any additional thoughts about Emiko?

EN: Well, she's, being the youngest sister, when you have get-togethers, she's the one that brings everything up, and we get together and she arranges things. So that's how she arranged my eightieth birthday. I'm really thankful for her.

TI: So it's nice to have younger siblings.

EN: Yes.

TI: And then we come to the last one, born in July 1949, Tommy. And so Eiko, tell me about Tommy.

EN: Well, we were married when he was born. I was in San Francisco then, but I had to come back home because my mother was in the hospital with bronchitis. So I had to take care of him until she was well.

TI: So you were kind of like the mother, then, for Tommy?

EN: [Laughs] Even now, I have to go see him every Sunday, see if he gets into mischief or not.

TI: Well, now, it's '49, so he's almost sixty years old. [Laughs]

YN: Just a baby.

EN: Still the baby because...

TI: That's funny. Yoshiko, any other thoughts about Tommy?

YN: Well, I can just remember the tragedy he had with the sunflower seed that he got caught in his throat. And Eiko went with my mother on the ambulance to San Francisco to get that out. It was a matter of life or death.

TI: And so it got lodged in his, in his throat or his air passage?

YN: Yeah. That was something. Eiko knows more about that.

EN: He had a fever, that's why they had to bathe him in ice to bring it down. And nobody here in Watsonville could take that out, so they had to have a surgeon from out of the country that came.

TI: That's interesting, yeah. Well, it was lucky that, I guess, you were close enough to San Francisco where you can get a specialist like that to come in and do that.

EN: They asked me if, I said, my mother says, "Oh, you'll have to go with me," because she can't speak English. So I told the ambulance driver and then he says, "Well, you'll have to sit in front, but if we get in a crash, then I can't help you," he said. "It's your life," he said, but we went okay.

TI: That's good. And everything turned out okay, so you were able to do that.

EN: Yes.

TI: So I guess -- we just went through all your siblings -- and I guess one question I just have to ask is, did you ever ask your mother why she had so many children? Or was that pretty common for other families to have...

YN: We thought nothing of it until it got to Tommy.

EN: Well, it was before Tommy, and my oldest brother said, "How come we have to have so many brothers and sisters?" you know. But that's how it is with the Issei family, I guess. They don't know about birth control and things, that's why.

TI: Well, do you think they wanted to have this many children, though?

EN: Somebody wanted to adopt one of us, but she said, "No," she said she'd rather go hungry than to give any children away. She wanted all of them. So I guess she wanted all of us.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.