Densho Digital Archive
Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL Collection
Title: Kitako Izumizaki Interview
Narrator: Kitako Izumizaki
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Watsonville, California
Date: July 28, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ikitako-01

<Begin Segment 1>

MA: So today is July 28, 2008, and I'm here with Kitako -- I'm sorry, Kitako Izumizaki. And I'm Megan Asaka, the interviewer, and on the camera is Dana Hoshide. And we're in Wastsonville, California, at Kizuka Hall, which is the home of the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. So thank you so much for doing this interview.

KI: I'm happy to be here to meet you.

MA: So when were you born?

KI: November, 22, 1921.

MA: And where were you born?

KI: Right here in Watsonville.

MA: And what was the name given to you at birth?

KI: Kitako, Kitako Tsuda.

MA: Tsuda.

KI: Yes, T-S-U-D-A.

MA: And what was your father's name?

KI: Yomoya.

MA: Yomoya Tsuda.

KI: Uh-huh.

MA: And where was he from in Japan?

KI: Ehime-ken, Shikoku.

MA: And we had talked earlier about Shikoku, and not very many Issei came from there.

KI: Yes.

MA: Can you talk about why?

KI: They were very particular. They didn't want members from their ken to come to a, go to a foreign country and then be destitute and then be in somebody else's care. So they said, "You must have a way to make a living," a trade or something. So he had brought over a barber... no, it was clockmaking tools just as an excuse, 'cause he didn't know a thing about clock or watchmaking. [Laughs] So that was the excuse, and he was able to come over.

MA: And what year did he come over to the U.S.?

KI: I think the closest I can figure would be... I must have, 1914, probably, I don't think any earlier than that.

MA: And did he settle in Watsonville when he first came over?

KI: Very close, yes, all around. Watsonville seemed to have been a very open place where they all gathered, evidently.

MA: And when he came to Watsonville, did he start farming then?

KI: Not on his own. It was all working for other people. Most of them -- you know in the olden days, they used to, all the bachelors, they used to get together, sort of like live in a camp-like, and they'd all hire out work, and that's the way he did.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

MA: And how did he meet your mother?

KI: I have no idea, 'cause my mother used to always say that when she came to America to marry my father, that she had gone to see his family, because he was already in America, so she didn't know what he looked like at all.

MA: And do you know how old she was when this happened?

KI: She was only, she was only about nineteen or twenty. She was very young.

MA: And was she from the same, from Shikoku?

KI: Yes, Shikoku, Ehime-ken. You know, in those days, the go-between would go and look up the family and try to get, you know, that's the way. So she went and looked at all his relatives, but she didn't know what...

MA: And what was your mother's name?

KI: Matsue Hayashi.

MA: So when your mother joined your father in the U.S., they continued to sort of farm?

KI: Yes. The first time she met my father, he had gone to the boat, and she was very short. In fact, I'm only an inch taller than she was, so she was very short. And the first thing he said to her was, "Man are you short." [Laughs] She says he could hardly see her.

MA: So they, so they saw each other and then came down to Watsonville?

KI: Yes. And you know how in those days, well, he had borrowed the horse and buggy or wagon from the boss, and so naturally when she met him she thought, "Oh, gee, he owns a horse and wagon," said, "that's pretty good." And she used to laugh and say that they, as they were traveling down to Watsonville, that the, he'd mention, "Oh, this is," the name of the place or something, and finally he came to this lovely house, which is so, she thought, "Oh my, what a beautiful house." And he says, "Oh, that's not the house," and he kept on going, and it was way in the back like a pigpen or chicken shed, you know, and that's where they were all staying. 'Cause the boss's house, and it was the boss's horse and boss's wagon. That's, I think that's the way most of them were, anyway. [Laughs]

MA: That's a great story. So how many children were in your family?

KI: Seven, yes.

MA: And are you the oldest or in the middle?

KI: No, I'm right in the middle. I have three above me and three below me.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

MA: So your parents did sharecropping for a while, and then you were telling me they --

KI: Yes, then they rented out, as the kids, like as we grew older, we would be able to help more. And he used to be -- I remember we had the truck farm, and we had patches of everything you can think of from turnips to carrots and spinach. And my father used to supply the stores in town, they'd say, oh, they want two dozen turnips or something, we'd go out in the field and dig 'em up and wash 'em and bunch 'em and he'd deliver them.

MA: And when did they start the truck farming? How old were you?

KI: Oh, I was, gee... I wasn't, I remember living there since I was a kindergartener, and we moved out of that ranch when I was in high school, so we were, I know it was in the early '30s.

MA: So he started truck farming in the early '30s?

KI: Yes, in the early '30s, late '20s and early '30s I think. And then after that, we moved out and we did sharecropping and strawberries and that's all we did until the war broke out, we were on our own. We had rented our own, by then, we were, the kids were all older. So my father said, "Well, why don't we rent our own place?" and that's what we did. And then the war came and so we had to leave it.

MA: I see, so you started out sharecropping, and then once the kids got a little older to help out, then the truck farm, and then farming, but you were on your own.

KI: Yes, we were on our own.

MA: So I'm curious, with the sharecropping and how that worked, how many families were working?

KI: Well, we, when I was a little kid, about three, I remember they used to call it the cannery, and there were several homes all in a bunch. And in fact, even today, one of the family, the boy is my age and so he remembers living in a cannery and how, yes, but when I was in high school and my father was sharecropping, at that time, we had three families living right around, and we call it the "camp."

MA: Were the families Japanese American?

KI: Yes, Japanese, they're all, the parents were Isseis and the kids were all Niseis. In fact, you will interview Nancy Iwami, and she used to be our neighbor, 'cause she was one of the three families that lived there at one ranch, that we were all sharecropping, I remember.

MA: And who was the owner of that ranch?

KI: It was a Mr. Toda, he was a Japanese, yes. I know that they evacuated, I don't think they went to camp, I think they evacuated when the war came, I don't know, I don't remember 'cause we weren't living there at that time.

MA: So that's interesting that it was a Japanese owner. Was that common for the Japanese to have...

KI: Well, maybe he, well, since he was the, I don't know if he owned the property or if he had rented it all and then sublet, I don't know that. 'Cause those kind of things, business things, we never bothered. But anyway, he was the one that came around and did what the boss does for a sharecropper.

MA: And what was your house like at that time when you were sharecropping?

KI: We used to laugh. When the wind blew, it blew in from one end of the rooms to the other, like. I used to think to myself, "Gee, we need to plaster another roll of newspapers on the wall." And today, the Mexicans, the farm workers, they get good homes, and I said, "My goodness, here we were just freezing to death." [Laughs] Yeah, 'cause nobody cared, you know. It was pretty bad, but at least it was a roof over our heads.

MA: What about when you went into truck farming? Did you move to a different area?

KI: Well, we had a, we had a nice house there. The property had a real nice house, and I know my mother -- well, I don't know who it was -- put an addition to it. And you know, during that time it was Prohibition, and my mother used to brew sake, and she was real good at it. And she used to supply the Japanese restaurants in town with sake, yeah.

MA: Interesting.

KI: And my, my older sister told me once that our family never did have a black spot except that my father had to go to jail, because when he was delivering the sake, he was going through this apple orchard and it was during apple season at, and it was just at that time there was a lot of thievery on the apples. And so when the cops saw this covered pickup with, coming out of the apple orchard, he was stopped. And then they saw what it was, and so...

MA: And he was put in jail?

KI: Yeah, bootlegging, I guess. [Laughs]

MA: That's interesting.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

MA: So I'm curious about the effect of the Depression on Watsonville and your family.

KI: Watsonville being a farming community did not suffer as much as places, because you know, well, like when my husband's family, they had, they rented apple orchard and stuff, and they just shook the apples off the tree 'cause it wasn't paying enough to get 'em picked and stuff like that, but at least we could eat 'em. And then, like, if you were living on the farm, you can always have plants in the ground. And I know when the times were rough, we used to go through the apple orchard and pick the nice mustard greens, and my mother used to cook it or pickle it, you know, things like that. And when, and even if it wasn't a bad time when the apple crop was picked, when the leaves fall off the tree you can see the leftover, we used to go get a long bamboo pole and put a sack on the end, and we used to pick 'em off the tree, and they used to keep for a long time, and we'd eat them. I mean, go through the apple orchard when they're pruned and pick up all the leaves and branches and bring 'em home. Because in those days, ofuros were more or less separated from the house, and we would always have to burn. And wood was, I guess it wasn't as expensive as it is now, but still, you had to pay for it, so that was our job, to go and pick up all those wood. I remember doing those jobs. [Laughs]

<End Segment 4> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

MA: So most of the people that went into farming were Japanese American?

KI: Yes.

MA: What were some other ethnic groups that did, went into farming? Was it mostly Isseis?

KI: Most... I think, yeah. Well, see, in town, Watsonville had a little Japanese community, there was a tofu-ya, there was a family that made tofu. And there was, like, Ben Torigoe, he was a watchmaker and a bicycle repair shop, and there was barbers and a pool hall operator and stuff. There was a little business community, but most of us were farmers.

MA: And there was also, you were telling me earlier, a Chinese community in Watsonville?

KI: Well, yeah, Watsonville used to have quite a bit of that. The Chinese families, a couple of 'em had grocery stores, and a lot of little places like herb company and stuff. But there was one family of Chinese that was farming, the Kwoks, I don't know what happened to them. We always marveled that there was one Chinese family that was a farmer, and that was the only one. All the rest were business or something.

MA: Do you know why all the Chinese went into business and the Japanese went into farming?

KI: They're smarter than the Nihonjins. [Laughs] The Japanese would work their tails off all summer, and then we said, then they bring it to the Chinamen. [Laughs] Oh, how stupid. I said, see, I said, "They sleep all during the day and take your money while you slave in the daytime." That's what we used to, when we were growing up, we used to laugh and say that, "My goodness, they were the smart ones."

MA: And there was also Filipino workers as well on the farms?

KI: Oh yes, we had lots of Filipino workers. And they were such dandies, you know, because they were made to dress nice. Because I guess, I don't know who made that rule, maybe they saw all the Nihonjins not that well-dressed going into town. But by the time the Filipinos came over, they made a rule that you had to be -- so they were really in the fancy pants and silk shirts, and we had a Japanese school on lower Union that, right across the street where there was houses. And we used to watch, and I know the school instructor used to get mad at us and says, "You kids get inside," said, "don't watch those things." [Laughs] Those ladies will be piggybacked and getting their picture taken and stuff, and they would all be in dressing gowns and stuff. Oh, we used to, you know kids, anything.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

MA: So which grammar schools did you attend?

KI: Radcliff was the kindergarten, and that school is still standing. And then I went to, I don't see... the other three schools I went are, I think they're all, they're all destroyed now, but I went to, from first grade I went to Minty White, which is still standing. And then when I got to the sixth grade, I came back to town, and I don't know what they call that school. Grammar school, did they -- no, did they call it the grammar school? Anyway, that's destroyed, and then I went to the high school here.

MA: So you went to a few, a few different schools.

KI: Yes, uh-huh.

MA: And a couple, so one of 'em you went to was in town, you said.

KI: They're all in town.

MA: Oh, they're all in town?

KI: Yes, they're all in town. Radcliff is right on Rodriguez Street, and Minty White's on Palm Avenue, and the grammar school that I went to was right on East Lake. It's, the YMCA building's there now. It's, it's all local.

MA: So how many Americans or Niseis were in your classes?

KI: Well, in high school class, like I said, there was about, over forty that we have a picture of. When graduation, said, "Let's all take a picture," and that was 1940 just before the war, this was about forty people. And I don't think it was every one of us, neither, you know. I think there were some missing. But it was a big... oh, every class had quite a bit, because you know, in those days, almost every family had from five to seven or eight kids, and then they were all... and at least the Japanese kids, they all went to school.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

MA: And you mentioned during this time you also helped out on the farm.

KI: Oh, yes.

MA: So what was a typical day like for you?

KI: Well, when, when we had the truck farm, I wasn't old enough to do much. But then whenever they told us to go and pick so many crates of raspberry, we used to go out and pick it and bring it in. And I remember going out and digging, pulling up the carrots, bringing it home, and my mother would wash them. Did all kind of work. I was a better worker than anything else because I had an older sister, and she did all the house, cooking and washing and cleaning, so she wasn't a very good field laborer like I was. Which was all right with me, you know, I liked to be outside anyway.

MA: So did you usually work after school and before school?

KI: Oh, after school, before school, after school, all summer vacation, yes. And I remember when the berries, what they call sakari, the peak, my father would just say, "Well, gee, you guys are gonna have to stay home a couple of days this week because we can't catch up," you know, don't have enough workers, they can't catch up. So then we'd have to, then we'd be behind in our school. [Laughs] I used to hate that part, but then, you know, it was something we had to do.

MA: And did your father ever hire other workers to help out?

KI: Yes. In fact, I remember that we had a Filipino that used to usually come and work with us pretty steady, and we got to know him well, and my father talked him into staying all year. There's always a little bit of work. And I remember he lived with us for several years, yeah.

MA: And he was from the Philippines?

KI: Uh-huh, yeah.

MA: That's interesting. What religion did your family practice?

KI: Buddhist. From the very first, Buddhist.

MA: Did you go to Sunday school?

KI: Yes, from when I was small. In fact, I have to tell you that my father used to always give us money, and I didn't know you were supposed to bring it for saisen. I figured it was payment for being good or going to Sunday school, so we'd stop at this candy store that was right next door, you know. [Laughs]

<End Segment 7> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

MA: And what about Japanese American, like, community events or festivals?

KI: The only thing they had when I was growing up that I remember is a community picnic that, because -- but every, the Christian church used to have their Christmas programs and we used to have our programs, and the Japanese school used to have their programs. So you know, if you wanted to be involved, there was a lot of things to do.

MA: And this picnic, when was, when did that take place?

KI: It was in the spring, and there was a man that had a cow pasture right by the beach, and he'd let us, let the community go in there, and people would just put out some trails for the races, and everybody would bring a big lunch and have a good time. [Laughs]

MA: In general, how did, what were the race relations like in Watsonville, before the war especially, like between whites and the Japanese?

KI: Well, you know, Japanese are not very pushy. So we, we tried not to rock the boat, and so we never, you know, I never tried to break into anybody's clique or anything. Whereas like today, there is nothing like that. They're just the same, you know, 'cause my... well, from my daughters, with YWCA and stuff, they got, they got friendly with everybody. But during my generation, more, we more or less stayed to ourselves.

MA: Were most of your friends other Niseis?

KI: Well, but after I, after the war and I came back and got involved with the city a lot, then I noticed I was the only Nihonjin, so naturally everybody I was getting involved with was hakujin. And so one day I asked this very active woman, she was one class below me in high school, I said, "What did you think when we were," 'cause she had no idea that we were sent off. And she says, "Well, I didn't even know you guys were gone," you know, because you weren't that friendly. So naturally, I think the grade school people noticed it more 'cause you sit in a, one room and you notice when all the seats are empty. But when you're in high school where it's just several in each class, and each class is different you don't notice it as much. Because she said she didn't even notice, and I thought, "How sad."

MA: So in high school, the Nisei students would sort of do their own thing, and the white students would hang out?

KI: Well, more or less, unless you were, like, active in sports or something, the girls, then they had more communication with them, but no.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

MA: And you were class of 1940 from Watsonville High School?

KI: Uh-huh.

MA: And did you have any, when you were in high school, any career goals? Or what did you think you wanted to do?

KI: Well, I thought that I wanted to go to college, so I had to take a college prep course. And when, when you do that, you just don't know anything. But today, I was happy that I had that, because I had, I had typing which I use today because of what I do, and I had news writing which I, you know... and what else? Oh yeah, and I had, see, I was one of these, I didn't like to take just ordinary subjects, so I took public speaking and I took drama. And those are the courses that, it's hard to get an 'A', so you know... [laughs]. Yeah, but I really enjoy it, and I use the, every bit of what I learned in high school. Because I was going to Hartnell when the war started.

MA: How did your parents feel about you wanting to go to college and continue?

KI: They, they thought it was okay because I was the fourth one by then, you know. You think, well, gee, the first ones sure didn't -- and if it wasn't for my sister, my older sister, she would always go housework. And during the winter, that's, her wages was what we used to just about live on. Because during the winter, farmers just... and when the crops come in, you pay off your old bills. Because we were lucky, the grocery stores would put you on the chit, you know, and they'll wait until the crop come in. And I don't think anybody does something like that anymore. If it wasn't for that, I don't know everybody would survive.

MA: So your sister and your older siblings would support the family.

KI: She always went, she always used to go housework and bring 'em because she was already out, out of school. And my two brothers already were out of school.

MA: And did your brothers help on the farm, mostly?

KI: Well, by the, until, until evacuation, and then my older brother went to Detroit. And my second brother from camp, he went out to Gunnison, Utah, and helped farm, somebody farm. Then later, much, much later, they came back to California.

MA: So after you graduated, you mentioned you went to school in, was it in Salinas?

KI: Yes, I went to Hartnell for a while until evacuation, and then I got married, and then I had a kid, so then I was home.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

MA: So let's talk about December 7, 1941, so the day that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. What were you doing when you heard about this news and what were you thinking?

KI: You know, that's when we had our own strawberry ranch, we had rented the land, and it was a shock, just a real shock, you know. That's, but I remembered, though, that, was it before or after Pearl Harbor that they told us to put out blackout curtains. I can't remember if it was before or after. And we really felt like everybody was staring at us, 'cause we were the only Japanese in Aptos, because Rio Del Mar was quite an elite community of whites, lot of people used to just come in the summer. Now it's a bedroom community like everywhere else, but at that time, it was people from the city that had lots of vacation time.

MA: And you had moved, your family had moved out there prior?

KI: We were, we were living in Arana ranch, I mean, there was a community, her ranch was on one side of the highway, and the Rio Del Mar community was on the other side of the highway, but it was a single highway.

MA: So you felt like you really were, stuck out because there weren't other Japanese Americans.

KI: Yes, 'cause I remember sometimes people used to shout at us, you know, "Douse your lights," and just to be mean, maybe, but you know...

MA: How did your parents react to this news?

KI: Well, not, they didn't get too excited because we were all living together, but I told 'em that, "Now you have to move across the street," 'cause we were on the wrong side of the street, you had to be on the other side of the highway. And then we had to go look for a place for them to live, and they had to, and they don't speak much English or understand English, and so I felt sorry for them. And then we had to stay home and run the farm.

MA: So there was that law that the Issei couldn't live west of the, of Highway 1?

KI: Yeah, Highway 1.

MA: And your folks did that at that point and had to move.

KI: Yeah, so we had to move 'em out.

MA: Where did you find housing?

KI: In Soquel, 'cause we were living in Rio Del Mar, by Aptos, and so the close one was a motel. So we went and rented one of those. 'Cause all they'd have was a place to stay, so that's what we did.

MA: And they couldn't even go back to work on the farm?

KI: No, no, no, they can't cross those, they had to just stay there. So we have to go visit them and take 'em stuff.

MA: How did the relationship with the Chinese and Filipinos change after Pearl Harbor, or did it at all? Did they have reactions to...

KI: Well, the only bad reaction I know is what I read in the paper, where the Chinese people would say, "I'm not," that, "I'm Chinese," and walk around. But in Watsonville, well, one of our good friend was Chinese, you know, who was my classmate and everything, no.

MA: Do you remember hearing about any, you know, anti-Japanese violence or anything that happened to people in Watsonville?

KI: Not in Watsonville, I don't think. The only ones that we hear is out of town, you know, where some people got shot at, and a girl got raped or something. But in Watsonville, I don't think so. Maybe I was so busy worrying about other things it never occurred to me to think anything like that happened around here. But I know we were all very, very nervous, stayed, tried not to, you know...

<End Segment 10> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

MA: So was there any talk about the community being removed into camps before that actually happened? Did people know that that was coming?

KI: Not exactly, no one knew anything. Even in the, even when they told us to just pack a suitcase and go to the veteran's building, nobody knew from there what was gonna happen. Of course, maybe some of 'em knew about Salinas Assembly Center, but I knew that we were gonna be taken somewhere. And then from there, nobody knew -- at least we didn't. Maybe the top people knew but we didn't know where we were going. That's why I said, well, what are you going to pack when they tell you go pack one suitcase, when they don't tell you where you're going or how long you're gonna be there. I said, "Well, what if it's going to be a real cold place?" But then, of course, people from Watsonville, it's such a mild climate, the clothes, they only had one kind of clothes. But I remember my sister's husband's family, they all said, "Oh, you guys better buy boots, 'cause I think we're gonna be sent to a desert, and there's rattlesnakes." So we all bought cowboy boots. [Laughs] Such unnecessary things, you think, but you don't know. And then, like I said, well, packing clothes was no problem for me 'cause I didn't have much. I says, I had one dress in the wash, one dress for Sunday school, and one dress that I was wearing, I said. And a clodhopper to go to work in, so I said that was so, my suitcase was full of sanitary napkins. I said, "Well, what if there aren't any stores?' I said, "What am I gonna do?" That's what I worried about. And I just brought a dictionary and a book of poems and the Bible, 'cause I said, "Well, I'm a read, but I can't be taking books, so I'll just take the Bible." I said, "With all the 'begats,' it'll keep me busy for years." [Laughs] So that's what I did.

MA: And what did your family do with all your other possessions?

KI: Well, my brother was working for this family, he says, "Oh, they have this barn here so you could bring it there." And we thought, well, the Japanese Association's gonna have a room that you could bring stuff, and he says, "Oh no, bring it there." And they just went through all our stuff, and my mother had Japanese doll in a case, and they broke the glass and the mice got in it, and it was just a mess. And they got tired of, I guess, leaving it at their place, so they finally took it to the -- but it wasn't worth, hardly any worth keeping. But my husband's side of the family, his, they were living there and that guy kept their car and all, and the house, he just locked it up. It was a small house, but everything that they kept locked in there stayed there. It was still there when they came back. So you know, you don't know, if you're unlucky, you're unlucky.

MA: What about the, your parents' farm? I mean, you just kind of had to leave it?

KI: Oh, yeah, everything. You know, you had to build their own house there, we built our own house there and had to leave it, leave the crop, leave it, everything you leave. And nobody wanted our dog, so I had to take it to the pound to have it put to sleep, 'cause they didn't want us to bring dogs. It was pretty bad.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

MA: So you mentioned going down to the vets hall to leave for Salinas.

KI: Uh-huh.

MA: And were you on buses then to Salinas?

KI: Yeah, they took us to, by the bus to Salinas.

MA: And what did you think when you got there and...

KI: Well, we weren't the first ones there, you know, so I thought, "Well, I guess this, they looked like they were okay," so we weren't that worried. And they gave us a room and you stayed there. And the young people, you know how they are, right away, they want to play baseball or something, they got together. And, but Sunday school was started. But I don't remember doing it -- and the smart people, I don't know how, but they all got little jobs, you know, working in the kitchen and stuff. But we being country bumpkins, we didn't know how to do anything. We just sat around until...

MA: And it was you and your parents and all your siblings together?

KI: Yeah, all our siblings.

MA: And what were your living conditions in Salinas?

KI: Well, it was just one empty room, and they gave you the cots and they gave you a canvas bag that they said, "This is your mattress, so go and stuff it full of hay," and that's what you got. A couple of blankets and that was it.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

MA: So can you talk about your journey, then, to Poston and what that was like?

KI: Well, to me, it was, it was very hot in the car, the train. And when we left, everybody had, I think they gave us two sandwiches. And it was so hot that before I had eaten my sandwich, somebody came down, hollering, "Don't eat your sandwich because I think it's spoiled because it's too hot." So none of us got sick that I -- not in our car, 'cause we didn't eat it. And after we got there, I don't know if it was a rumor somebody started or not, but somebody said they had the heat on all that time, but I don't know. You know, there's always somebody that starts rumors. And it was a real slow train, I don't know how long it took, it seemed to have taken so long to get there. And then after we got there, it was so disappointing, just flat, hot, 'cause you know, it was around the Fourth of July. And no trees to speak of, I thought, "Oh, what a terrible place." And, like, army trucks were out there, and I don't, there was a couple of buses, but a lot of trucks, and you just stand and then when they start to move, the dust would come up. I thought I would die, it was so hot. 'Cause I'm used to this kind of a climate where the fog comes in. And I hardly ever wear a sweater or a coat, just, so I had nothing to take off 'cause it was so, and it was so hot. And then you had to line up and they made you sign a piece of paper. I remember that, 'cause I said, "Well, I'm not going to sign anything I haven't read," I told my brothers. They got so upset, they said, "Well, gee whiz, if you don't do what they say, they're gonna send you to a concentration camp." And I said, "What is this?" you know, I said, "What is this?" But I'm pretty sure -- I can't get anybody to agree with me, but I read that paper and it says something like, "Signing this paper, you agree that you're not gonna sue the government," or something. But I said, "I can't be the only one that read that crazy paper," you know, but I'm positive that's what I read. That's why I said, "Gee whiz, I don't want to sign this."

MA: So you never signed it, then?

KI: No, I had to because my brother said, "You're gonna be taken away and separated from us, so we need to stay together." So, oh yeah. And everybody's like sheep. And then, well, a lot of people didn't want to take the shots, you know, but they gave it to you, too.

MA: What type of shots?

KI: I don't know what it was.

MA: Some type of vaccination?

KI: Some kind of a shot, yeah.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

MA: And you were, you were telling me you were placed in Poston I?

KI: Yeah, at first, uh-huh. Because by the time we went, a lot of people from L.A. way were already in Camp 1, and there happened to be several empty barracks in between lots of different blocks. And so just pot luck, you know, you just happened to get put in a certain block, you had no choice at all, and then we happened to be put in with these fancy Los Angeles people who really -- you know, you could tell by looking at 'em they were different. More, more modern, more fancy, yeah. They weren't naive like us yokels that came from the coast district, farming area.

MA: What was the relationship like between the Watsonville and the L.A. people, or maybe the more rural people and the city people?

KI: Well, we didn't stay long enough to build up any friendship, that's for sure, you know. As soon as they said, "Oh, Camp 2 is opening up, so if you want to move." So I think the Camp 2 people, most of them is the one that moved out from Camp 1. And we were lucky that we got with a bunch of local people, Monterey, San Juan Bautista, Hollister, Watsonville. It was, it was great, it was people we knew. There were some people that did stay in Camp 1, though, and they were happy. Some Santa Cruz family I know that stayed in Camp 1. But we weren't happy at all so we went to Camp 2.

MA: You were telling me that you felt that the people, especially kind of from L.A., looked down on you a little bit.

KI: Yes, yeah, you know, they were different. But then I wasn't the only one that felt like that. We all felt like that, that's why we were so happy when we all saw who were our neighbors in Camp 2.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

MA: So what type of work did you find in camp?

KI: Well, I was trained by a Ms. Aihara, and she taught us how to be a nursery school teacher. 'Cause every block had a recreation room that you could use in certain ways. And like our block was used as a canteen-like, but the 220 block, or was it 221 block was used as a nursery school. And we used to scurry around the kitchen trying to find egg boxes, crates, and make, like, little cupboards for the kids with their name on it. We had fun. We were taking, we used to take the kids for a nature walk, because it's boring just doing nothing much. And I remember this little boy, he had found little rabbit droppings, and he had picked them all up and put 'em in his pocket. And when his mother was washing his pants, she saw and says, "Oh, why'd you, where'd you get these?" And she says, he says, "Oh, we went for a walk." And she said, "Why did you bring 'em?" and he said, "Oh, they're so round and so cute." [Laughs] He didn't even know what it was, see. And so we said, "Isn't it sad?" I says, "kids don't even know what rabbit droppings are." But there was a lot of teeny-tiny blue, little teeny-tiny dragonflies. There was a whole bunch of them, too, and says, but I don't know if they were able to catch those or not.

There was one fellow that, a local boy, who, even when he was living here, he used to trap all kinds of animals. So when he got to Poston, he trapped foxes and he skinned them. And he made quite a bit of shoulder wraps. And there were others that went to the Colorado River and caught snapping turtles, and the cooks would make turtle soup. And oh, there was a couple of people that got rattlesnakes, and I'm glad that he didn't live in my block 'cause I know he kept it right close. I knew when we were out one day, a sidewinder, you know, the snake that... came and I thought, "Oh, look at that, look at that," and my brother says, "Oh, that's a sidewinder, get away." They were scouts so they knew what it was.

MA: Did you ever have any interaction or contact with the native Americans who were living around that area?

KI: Well, one day, I think this woman, she said, "Let's go to Camp 1," and we were walking.

MA: And how -- I'm sorry, how far was that? A few miles?

KI: Couple of miles. I don't know how many miles, but it was within walking distance, but it was much better riding in a, in a truck or a bus. But I don't know what made her, she said, "Let's go," so a couple of us went. And then a car came along, and I think he was an Indian, and he stopped and said, "You guys want a ride?" and says, "Oh, yeah." And so he was asking a lot of questions. And this woman, she was saying, she was telling him that most of the women there were widows or their husbands weren't there because, just because hers wasn't, because he was being, at Crystal City, you know, that was, for those, she was over there. But of course, like my father was still... so he says, "Oh, really?' 'Cause he's, and I said, and then she asked him, "What do you do?" And he said, "Oh, I'm working at Camp 3," or something, 'cause they were building another camp, see. So then he says, "You mean to tell me all these ladies are widows, or, you know, or single over here because they're separated?" but just... oh, there was enough, I guess, separated, but then, yeah. So that's the only one, outsider, 'cause like I say, I was only there for six months.

MA: So did, then, a lot of the Native Americans who lived around that area work in camp, maybe just to build the camp?

KI: Not that I... I don't know. Maybe he wasn't an Indian, so what do I know? He said he was working. But do you, have you read some articles lately that our camp, they put us in there because they wanted free labor to build the canals and stuff that we did build? Yeah. You know, they build all those -- because my mother even had to go make her quota of adobe bricks, yeah. Everybody had a quota, they had to go and, and the bricks were all made into those schools. See, I wasn't there at that time. And when you think back on it, I said, "Hmm," because the canal is very useful, 'cause we made that desert bloom. 'Cause I never ate better melons than what was grown there. It was just, it was so sweet and everything.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

MA: So you mentioned you were only in camp for six months.

KI: That first, uh-huh, but then I did return.

MA: Right. You had met your husband in, it was in Poston?

KI: No, he was, we knew each other from before, 'cause he was living across the street, yeah, and he was already in the army. Because he was, he had a very, I don't know if it's a high or low draft number, so he knew he would have to leave within a few months. And he decided that he'll volunteer and go early because that year, '42, in the spring, it just rained and rained and rained. And we just, he knew that he wouldn't be able to get any work done anyway, so he decided, "Well, if I go in now, next spring early I'll be home," 'cause, you know, one year. So he did go, but then on December, when he thought he was going to come home in a few more months, then there was Pearl Harbor.

MA: So he was in the army before Pearl Harbor?

KI: Yeah. And so one fellow was from Washington, Puyallup, Washington, and he was already twenty-five. And so he thought, oh, he's gonna get to go home, too. I think they did send him home but they called him right back after Pearl Harbor.

MA: And so when did you get married?

KI: January 7th in '43.

MA: In '43, okay. So, okay, so he was stationed... where was he stationed?

KI: Well, Fort Ord. You know, they get, they get, they go to Ford Ord first and then they get to San Francisco, and then they went to Camp Roberts. And then he was -- at the time, after the war, he was way down south, L.A., around L.A., yeah Los Angeles something.

MA: But he was in, you mentioned he was in Texas when...

KI: Oh, yes, after, uh-huh, after, you know, they decided to take all the guns away from the Nisei, because, you know, nobody trusted them or something. And for a while, he was sent to Wyoming to guard a tunnel and stuff like that. And then they were sent to, a whole bunch of them, local boys, were sent to Fort Bliss, Texas, and he, he was there for a while, so he says, "It looks like I'm gonna be here for a while so why don't you come out here and we'll just get married so you can get out of camp?" and so that's what we did.

MA: Okay, so you got married in Texas?

KI: Yeah, in, I mean, in New Mexico. Because Las Cruces was only a bus ride away from El Paso, which was where Fort Bliss was.

MA: Why did you have to go to Las Cruces?

KI: Because Texas had a waiting period, blood tests or something, but Las Cruces didn't. So since it was a short bus ride, he says, "Oh, let's just go over there so we don't have to fuss with that," and so that's what we did.

MA: How were you able to leave camp? Did you go through some process?

KI: I applied for a, they said, how do you apply to get out, and they said, "You get a couple of people that's not your relative to write you, write a letter, recommendation," this and that. And so it was very easy.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

MA: And so you left in January, early '43 and then married. And where did you live in Texas after you got married?

KI: We had an, I had an apartment, you know.

MA: Like around Fort Bliss area?

KI: It was right in El Paso, and then my husband and his friend were very good mechanics, so they picked up an old Chevy and fixed it, and he used to come home every night, except when he had to be a bugler in the morning or something. And I got a little job at the... first it was at the YW or YMCA, and oh, that was terrible. I had to be a maid to the whole place, and I just couldn't take it anymore, so I said, "Oh, I quit." And then I got a job as an office girl at Jose Fuentes Paint Company. I had to walk about ten or twelve blocks, 'cause way down, but I didn't mind. So that's what I did.

MA: What were your impressions of Texas, of El Paso?

KI: Well, I thought it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter, but to me, I didn't mind, I didn't mind. 'Cause my husband was on the, they were, they had a great baseball team, they used to play the semi-pros, and then play other camps like Biggs Field and stuff. They didn't win too many, but they had good players, and they are, Japanese are so small, and then the other hakujins on the team, they weren't that big. But when you play people like Biggs Field, they were great big people. So I... and then, see, the catcher was, I think he was, was he a Mexican? I think he was, Spanish or Mexican. And his wife invited us to this house and we had parties there. And we used to go, yeah, it was, it was nice. The army people get along very well. It wasn't that bad. I think it's outsiders that's worse.

MA: And there was a group of Japanese Americans there?

KI: Yeah, well, I had friends that was, she already had two kids and she was living about six blocks away. And then she, her husband and my husband, they owned this car together, and so they shared all the expense. And then, in fact, if they gave somebody a ride, they'd charge 'em so that they paid for the gas. Yes, it was good.

MA: And then how long were you in El Paso?

KI: I was there until, until he got shipped out to go to, see the 442 -- no, the 100th were getting beat up pretty bad and they needed new recruits and stuff, so he got shipped out to Camp... was it, gee, which camp was it?

MA: Shelby?

KI: Yeah, I guess it must have been, one of their... anyway, and then shipped to, he was shipped to Italy.

MA: And that was in '43?

KI: Yeah, '43. And so, because I moved to camp in '44 before the summer, 'cause my kid was born in October. So I know it was real hot when I was pregnant.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

MA: So after your husband was shipped off, you decided to go back to Poston?

KI: Yeah, because I said, I told Poston, "Well, this baby is a government baby and no matter where I have it, it's going to be free anyway." So they said, "Oh yeah, come on back." Because by that time, in '44, there was a quite a bit of empty spaces because people were starting to go out. And so they gave me a great big room all to myself, the one that when we first went in, that whole room was for the whole family, but now I got one -- they didn't give me a little apartment, they gave me a whole big room to myself, so I had lots of room.

MA: And then you had, was it a daughter in camp in '44, you said?

KI: Yeah, '44.

MA: And what was that, I mean, how were the hospital, hospitals in Poston?

KI: Well, the hardworking people were all Nihonjins, and I think they were more adept than the people that were above them. I remember the colored nurses and a doctor, and I guess if I had my druthers I would have picked another doctor maybe, but then when you're there you just take what you get. 'Cause I knew that I was going to have the baby when I got up in the morning 'cause I had what they call a show in the morning, but I didn't have any pains or anything, but I couldn't eat, I just wasn't hungry. And toward the evening, my mother says, "Well, I think you shouldn't stay here because the hospital is so far away, so you better call the ambulance and, have you be in the hospital." So when the ambulance came, he said, "Okay, where's the patient?" and I said, "It's me." And he said, "You're not sick," and I said, "No, I'm gonna have a baby," so, "Oh, that's the kind of patients I like to take." And I just sat up in front with the, you know, I didn't lie down, I just sat up in front because I wasn't feeling any... [laughs]. And the doctor came in, I think it was about seven or eight o'clock and says, "Oh, she's not going to have anything. She's not gonna have the baby tonight." And then by ten o'clock, here she was, the baby was here, just a couple hours.

MA: And what's your daughter's name?

KI: Sandra. In fact, she's visiting here from London right now. I told her, "I'll bring the junk car with me so you could take the car, better truck and go someplace," and she said no. She makes her yearly visit for Obon, you know, so she's here right now.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

MA: So when, then, did your family leave Poston? How long were you there until?

KI: We were there 'til almost the very end. Because we had nowhere to go, you know, we didn't own any houses like some people did. And we didn't know anybody that would take us in, so says, "Well, we'll just wait and wait." But then we knew there was a hostel here that we could go to.

MA: A hostel in the Buddhist church?

KI: Buddhist church, yeah. And there was, it was, quite a bit of people were there, you know, but my mother-in-law says, "No," she says, "I can't go in a hostel," because her oldest son is like a schizo, and he wasn't violent or anything, but, you know, real weird, so she says no. So when she came back, she decided that she's gonna have to find a place anyway, and says, "Well, there's just no place to get." But we're lucky that the Musler family, which was an old German family that was very, we knew very well, said, well, he'll talk to the Salesian fathers, and because it was their old house. It was just a shell, the roof was still good, but no windows. And so, says, "Well, if you fix it up, you can live there," so that's what we did. We went in and fixed it up, put in the windows, got the water connected and stuff, and we lived there. Then everybody, my mother, my side of the family and my in-laws' family all lived in that one house until my, my side of the family was able to move out. It was, you know, it was pretty rough.

MA: And when did your husband come back from the war?

KI: Exactly on her birthday, so it was October 12, 1945. He had a lot of points, so he was one of the first to return from overseas because he was, that was, he was in there for five years, so he came back.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

MA: How did people, especially whites in Watsonville, react to you returning, the Japanese Americans returning?

KI: [Laughs] Well, like I say, when I returned, you know, I thought, "Well, I'll just go say hi to my old art teacher and Dean of Girls here." And so I walked in there and opened the door and said, "Hi," and she just looked at me and said, "Why did you come back?" is what she said. "Why did you come back?" So I thought, uh-oh, so I just shut the door and walked home. And I thought, "Gee, if she feels like that, what would all the other people feel?" So we had a pretty hard time. Go grocery shopping and they just ignore you, you know, and then like, like my mother-in-law and us, we had nothing, so we had to start from scratch and buy everything you can think of. So here I, I said, "Well, let's go to this story over here," and I filled I don't know how many carts full of stuff, and they just, just ignore you. I said, "God, gee, why don't they check us out?" And then I went, I said, "Oh my gosh, let's go home." So my mother said, "What's the matter, what's the matter?" I said, "That sign was so big I couldn't see it." It was an enormous sign that said, "No Japs." It was, you know, under the, along the counter, and I just didn't see it. I could see it all the other places, but I didn't, I said, "Oh, the sign was so large I couldn't see it." So then we came back home and then there's an Italian guy, and he knew my mother-in-law, so went in there. And he had a sales clerk there, a real anti-Japanese, and she would, she wouldn't wait on us on purpose. So one day I got real mad, and I said, "Gee whiz, she's not treating your customers very well," and after that, she started to get better. So we gave him the business, you know. But it was pretty hard.

MA: And you said your husband had some trouble, too, I mean as a veteran.

KI: Oh, yeah. They wouldn't sell him gas, but he was pretty stubborn. He said, "You know, I've been in the army, just come back from Europe," and all that, "Left a brother in France," and stuff. And finally he got it, but it was tough. I mean, but once the ice is broken, you just keep, 'cause we didn't do anything to antagonize it even though we didn't like it. But we were thankful, that's why we're very thankful for the people that were real good to us, like Dr. Marshall, you know. Just about every Japanese went to him because he was real good to everybody, his wife would go and buy milk and stuff if the store wouldn't sell it. But yeah, now... now, gee, everything's pretty good. Somebody else's turn to get treated rotten, I think that's a shame.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

MA: So did your parents, did your parents resume farming at that point?

KI: No, no, no.

MA: So they lived with you and your husband.

KI: You know, my father never was too healthy anyway, and my mother went day work. She went, gee, when she first came back -- 'cause she was still pretty young yet -- so she went working with the labor group, and then later she went to pick berries for Akiyoshi brothers. Yeah, she worked until she had to quit because my brother's wife died and left three kids, and my sister-in-law said it was her duty to go there. And I said, "It's not, it's not her kids," but she went anyway. And I think that's what really killed her early.

MA: And then what, what about your in-laws? What profession did they do before the war?

KI: Oh, they were same like everybody else.

MA: And then after the war, did they resume that?

KI: She, she was a... my mother-in-law went to work in a cannery and stuff, day work, yeah. And you know, before the war, the canneries in Monterey used to have that sardine. And for a while after the war it was pretty good, but it's petered out. But then the frozen food industry, I thought the frozen food industry would be here forever because they built a great big cooler and stuff, but now it's all gone, too. Because I remember I used to work at night shift on Russo's Frozen Food. My husband would work during the day, and when he'd come, 'cause usually I don't get called, would work on night shift. If it's peas or something, it might be twelve o'clock or two o'clock in the morning, and then I'd always be finished before the kids had to get up and he had to go to work. That's what we used to do sometimes when we were first starting out. I always laugh and said, you know, we couldn't, when we got married, I didn't have any money and he didn't have, 'cause I was coming out of camp, and he being a soldier, didn't have any money. So when we got married, we didn't take any wedding picture. And then his mother kept saying, "Well, gee whiz, you guys got married and everybody wants to know if you really got married, we don't even have a picture to show 'em." I said, "We can't afford it," so she sent us a twenty dollar bill. So we took the twenty dollar bill and got our picture taken. So I tell everybody, "If you work hard and you're, you know, be sensible, you could make a good living." But I think those days are gone forever, you know. Because I said, "We started out with really nothing," I said, "we couldn't even afford a wedding picture, and look where we are now." But oh, it's different.

MA: So what did you, you said you worked for a couple years at the frozen food place. What did you do after that?

KI: Oh, I worked for a while after that as a secretary to the Naturipe Strawberries, until they changed office location. And then my kids were bigger, so I just started volunteering for... I never did have to go to work after that 'cause my husband just kept getting better pay, better pay.

MA: And what did your husband do? What type of work?

KI: He was a, I call him an executive farmer. You've heard of Bud Antle company? Well, while it was still Bud Antle, inc., he used to run all the farming around here, all the way from Watsonville, Salinas, and the valley, out into the valley. But not, he never did have to go to Imperial Valley, but everywhere else, he did that.

MA: So they owned, that company owned a lot of the farms in this area?

KI: Well, no, the company, they owned some land, but then most of them are like, the big farmers around here would have a contract with them to get the lettuce cut and stuff. It's mostly all like that now, you know, big company, you sign with them and they handle the crop, they cut it and everything, pack it and ship it. But he used to do all the planting, growing.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

MA: After the war, did, what happened to the Japanese farming industry? Did a lot of people go back to it?

KI: You know, right after we came back, strawberries were getting, I don't know what it was about strawberries, but everybody plants. And like Reiters and Driscolls, they had these great big patches of land. And you go and you plant, you work for them, but every one of them, they made money. And then as they made money, they sort of scooted out and did their own. But now, I don't think, none of them that I know, most of those people, they're already gone. But the next generation, you have to, you can't do it on your own, little, I don't think, any more. It's all big companies.

MA: When did that start happening, that change?

KI: Gee, I don't know, 'cause I'm not that close with the strawberry industry, but that's what happened. But most of the people that had made money was, they made it right after the war when they did strawberries. 'Cause I remember an old schoolteacher of mine and my husband in high school said, came over one day and he wanted us to plant berries for him. So my husband asked me, "Do you want to?" I says, "No." I said, "I don't feel like crawling around a berry patch." And I'm glad we didn't, because otherwise, he would have never got to be an executive farmer, and I wouldn't have been able to do what I did, too. So it turned out to be the right decision.

MA: So what are some changes that you've seen in Watsonville over the years, with people or the, you know, anything.

KI: I hate the way that Watsonville is turning out to be just a bedroom community. You know, I don't see why they keep building houses here, because there's no industry, no jobs. That's why like our kids, you send 'em to college, they don't come back to Watsonville 'cause there's nothing for them. Even the people that own land like Mines and stuff, all the kids, his sons, one's a CPA and one's, I don't know what else. I mean, they don't come back to farm. So I said, well... so my kids, well, I knew that they wouldn't be able to find a job here. Because even in the '40s, a local girl, she was very smart and very cute and everything, she got a job, and she was a very good stenographer-like, secretary, and she got a good job in San Francisco with Bank of America, and they just loved her. And then she had to come home and live with, I don't know if it was family problems or what, but she had to come home, back to Watsonville. And gee, she had a hard time finding a job until they said, well, the Bank of America over here says, "Well, she's a good worker," and she got a job. I mean, it's, then when you get a toehold. Yeah, it's hard.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

MA: So tell me about your, your children. You have three?

KI: Yeah. My oldest daughter, she went to, she went to, first -- both of my daughters went through Cabrillo, and then my oldest daughter, she went to Santa Barbara. She stayed one year, and she was working to make some money during the summer picking berries. And then one day she stood up in the ranch and says, "I'm not going." And I said, "Where aren't you going?" she says, "I'm not going back to Santa Barbara," she says, "I want to go to Berkeley." And I said, "Well, gee, it's too late to." And she says, "Well, I don't care. I'll stay at home six months, and then I'll go," and she did, and she graduated out of Berkeley. And then she went to... oh gee, Monterey, that college where they have all these foreign languages, she took a crash course in Spanish. Because by the time she got out of school, you have Spanish, you have to have Spanish or something, and then she got a teacher's credential, she's been a schoolteacher. Then she moved to England, she had a, she had met her husband-to-be in Berkeley, anyway. And the problem with that was, you know, it's the days of marijuana, and I think he had a little bit too much, and he climbed a tree and fell out and hurt his spine. And he being young -- I don't think he was twenty-one yet -- they couldn't operate on him until he got his parents' permission or something, something crazy like that, and they didn't put him on a board and strap him down, and so I think his spinal cord got severed and then he was paraplegic. Then he went back to England, and then she went to England and stayed with his family for a while and then they, and at the age of thirty, she decided that she's gonna get married to him. So I says, "Well, you're not twenty-one, and you ought to know which side of your bread's got the butter, so I'm not gonna, you know, I'm not gonna say, 'Don't do it.'" But I says, "You better think twice." But her father told her, "Well," he looked at that guy and he says, "well, you could come home any time you feel like it." But he was a smart person, but being Syrian, opposite of, opposite of... anyway, your, lot of Nihonjins, they marry, what do you call it? Israelites...

MA: Oh, Jews?

KI: Jews, yeah, but she's marrying a Syrian, his family comes from Syria. And his father was, worked for the CIA and stuff, and I thought, "My gosh." But anyhow, they got married anyway, and she stayed married to him for twenty years, but there, she says, "Gee, there's no future," she's getting older and older, and she can't handle all the heavy work of moving him around and all that, although he is capable of doing -- and he's a very smart person. They had a macrobiotic restaurant, and he had written cookbooks, and he had a great big natural food store, I mean, you know, very capable. So my husband says, "Oh yeah, he's okay," so he didn't worry. And she's been divorced now for almost... let's see, she was divorced at fifty-something, and now she's sixty-two, so about ten years.

MA: What about your other daughter? What's her name?

KI: Oh, Chris. Well, she, after Cabrillo, she went to San Francisco State, and she got her degree in social work, and she hated it. But I don't see why she didn't change her major, but she just hated when you have to go and do your, whatever you have to do, an aside to get your... and right away, as soon as she got it, she walked out and she got herself a job at the telephone company. And after she worked there for a while, she hated that, oh, she hated that, so she says, "God," so she says, "Oh, I'm going to go find myself another job," and she got a job at United Airlines. And she stayed there for thirty-five years, and so she took early retirement when they started to have a lot of problems with United Airlines. And then so she spends all her retirement days helping watch her grandchildren who are eight and ten now, see, so I'm a great-grandma. [Laughs]

MA: And then your son, Henry?

KI: Oh, yeah, Henry's the last one. And he, he was a funny -- I mean, he was very active when he was young, very different. I used to call him my little "Jap Jew," because he used to be a yo-yo champ, and he'd come and, come through my work, get all my crochet threads, and he'd measure 'em out and he'd sell 'em to all his friends. And with that money he'd go to the store and buy store ones for his own yo-yo, you know. He always was a little different. Anyway, he went directly from high school to Hayward State, and then he went to San Francisco State, and I think he was, was he treasurer of San Francisco State or something? Anyway, he was handling... and then he went to, oh, he went to Lone Mountain College. He didn't get a B.A., but he got his master's. I don't know how he did it, but he did it. He's had a very wild, interesting life.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

MA: So can you talk about the future of the Japanese American community here and what you see?

KI: Well, when I see, see the population of the churches, I see nothing but sadness, 'cause they're just... you know... and we have a group that has a cultural school here, and now, they're all hakujins. I mean, there's hardly any Nihonjins, they're mostly all mixed. Well, you can tell by the JACL newsletter, all the people that get these scholarships, they're all, there's no hakujins, I mean, there's no Nihonjins except maybe Kikuchi was the only one that was a Nihonjin, all the rest were all mixed. And I don't know, I don't know if they feel like they're Nihonjin or not, I don't know. Well, just like my grandkids, great grandkids -- my grandkids are still Nihonjin but my great grandkids -- they're half Chinese, half white -- no, quarter white and quarter Japanese, because my granddaughter is married to a Chinese.

MA: So are there any messages you want to share with people who are watching this interview, or anything else you want to talk about?

KI: No, not particularly, no. I don't know what you got out of it. [Laughs]

MA: Well, this is, it was great. So thank you very much...

KI: You're welcome.

MA: ...for the interview.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.