Densho Digital Archive
Japanese American Museum of San Jose Collection
Title: Lily C. Hioki Interview
Narrator: Lily C. Hioki
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda, Steve Fugita
Location: San Jose, California
Date: December 1, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-hlily-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: And so the way I start this is just explaining where we are and the date, so today is Wednesday, December 1, 2010, and we're in San Jose at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, and on camera is Dana Hoshide and helping interview is Steve Fugita, and my name is Tom Ikeda. And I'm here with Lily, so Lily, let me just start by asking, what was the name given to you at birth?

LH: My birth certificate says Lily -- no, no. Excuse me, Chieko Takimoto.

TI: And do you know, Chieko, where that came from? Was there a reason why?

LH: I asked my mother one time what it meant because I found out Japanese names have a meaning, and according to what she said, chie, chie means strength and ko means child. Is that right?

TI: So kind of about strength. She named you in terms of strength.

LH: Chieko.

TI: Did she ever tell you why she named you that?

LH: No. I wish, I'm like everybody else, we, I wish we asked our parents more questions, and it's too late now, but I realized too late.

TI: So tell me where and when you were born.

LH: I was born here in San Jose, but I think it was at a midwife's place. I know there was one here on Fifth Street on this side of the street, and I think there was one by the Methodist church. I don't know if they moved, but, and I don't know which one I was born in, through a midwife, which was common in those days. And then there was a hospital on the, in the JACL building, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't born there. I remember running around and upstairs it was cold, but that's not where I was born.

TI: And what was the date you were born?

LH: July 3, 1925.

TI: So that makes you eighty-five years, years old.

LH: Eighty-five.

TI: I want to go back and ask, so "Chieko" was your given name --

LH: My given name.

TI: Where did "Lily" come from?

LH: A family friend, it was a lady and I think she lived in San Francisco, was visiting us on the farm in Burbank -- I lived in Burbank, which was a suburb of San Jose -- she named my brother and I. I was named Lily and he was named Carlo, which he didn't like at all either. [Laughs]

TI: And you're not particularly fond of the name Lily?

LH: At that time no, because all our schoolmates were Mary and Rosie and Margaret, Jane, and here I was named after a flower. [Laughs]

TI: And do you know why this woman was the one who named you and your brother?

LH: Oh, because I was going to start school. Burbank Grammar School, which is still there. The original building is not there; I think they rebuilt it. And that was the reason, because they, in my father's generation they wanted to integrate into the American system, so that was the reason they gave me the American name, 'cause I didn't go by my Japanese name, which is Chieko.

TI: And I'm curious, after that point, so you have Lily, that was used at school, and Chieko, so were, like the family members still called you Chieko?

LH: Yes, and all the family friends called me Chieko as long as they lived. I don't remember any of 'em calling me anything else.

TI: Good.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.