Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Lily Kajiwara Interview
Narrator: Lily Kajiwara
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: July 24, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-klily-01-0012

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RP: So when did you leave Minidoka?

LK: You know, what year did the war end? Is it '45? It was September of '45 then. I went with my uncle, which is Tomiko's father and mother, to New York City. Instead of going... my father and mother and the rest of the family came back to Oregon, but I wanted to go to New York City, so I went with them. And they, we went by train.

RP: And why New York City?

LK: Because that's where my uncle had a job, working in a grocery store, I think, or managing a grocery store. So he was going there, so I decided to go with them.

RP: How'd your parents feel about that?

LK: I didn't think that they objected. I think they felt that I could do what I was probably, I was twenty-one, maybe.

RP: What was New York like for you?

LK: I don't recall too much, but I do remember that I... some connection, maybe the church or something, somebody sponsored us. And they found me a place to live with a Jewish family. He was a dentist, had a little boy, I think he was three or four, and I was sort of his nanny. And I took him to the playground and took him, and when they went out at night I stayed in because I got room and board. But I also got to go out to work part time.

RP: Where was that?

LK: It was some little factory where we put things together. And so I worked part time at this little factory. Then in the afternoon I'd go back to my, take care of the little boy, and I used to sleep at night over there, because the doctor, dentist and his wife had a busy social life. They would go out a lot, and so they needed a babysitter at night, so that was my job there. But I got room and board.

RP: Did you get a chance to do any socializing as well?

LK: Yes. My aunt, who also went with us, not Tomiko but another aunt, Reiko, she's not married. So on weekends we would go into the, New York City, we made all the shows, we stood in line to watch all these, Frank Sinatra or whatever. We would go to all these shows, and so we had a great time. So we have a lot of pictures of going to the theater. And I did meet some other people when I was in New York at that time, but I only stayed about maybe a year in New York, then I came back to Oregon. My mother said it was time I got some education, so she told me that if I came back, they would send me to business school. So I came back and went to Becky Walker, which is a business school, and learned secretarial skills, typing, shorthand and things. Then I got a job as a secretary.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.