Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Masako Yoshida Interview
Narrator: Masako Yoshida
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Monterey Park, California
Date: August 14, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-ymasako-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

KL: Did your uncle come to Los Angeles also?

MY: Yes, he was here before us.

KL: Why did he come here?

MY: I guess he was called... well, he was in Yakima, too, I think, I'm not sure. My cousin Mrs. Miyake was in Yakima, Washington.

KL: That's Ren?

MY: Ren, uh-huh. Jun was a piano teacher in Japan. She went to a college in Washington.

KL: How do you spell Jun?

MY: J-U-N. J-U-N-K-O, I guess, I don't know, it was never -ko, though, I don't know if they were.

KL: What else can you tell us about Seizo and Tami's lives in the '30s and early '40s?

MY: Okay. Well, I don't know too much about them after that because we didn't live together. And then they went to San Diego, he was a minister at San Diego at the Congregational church down there.

KL: So Seattle, maybe Yakima and Los Angeles and San Diego?

MY: Yes. Just before the war he was in San Diego. And then when he retired he went to live in Glendale for a short time with my cousin then, and her husband was Isamu, I guess George I. Miyake was Ren-chan's husband. They had a real cute little Chinese restaurant which they just were starting to really grow on Brand Boulevard because I used to go. The building is still there. In those days, there were all those Japanese and Chinese restaurants and I used to go on Saturdays and Sundays by the red car to be their waitress.

KL: Where was the restaurant?

MY: On Brand Boulevard in Glendale.

KL: You said it was a Chinese restaurant?

MY: Uh-huh, and they made real good shrimps, fried shrimps, they were famous for their shrimps. My cousins, Ren-chan's husband, Mr. Miyake was very talented, but everything he started, it would go broke. But they came from Yakima to be down here to start a new life, too. It was just going good and then the war came, so they had to close everything, they went to Manzanar from Glendale. I don't know how, but I guess there weren't too many Japanese from that area. I know they went to Manzanar.

KL: Did Isamu cook for the restaurant?

MY: I'm sorry?

KL Did Isamu cook for the restaurant?

MY: Yes, he did. He was very good.

KL: How did he learn Chinese cooking?

MY: He was good in everything, I think. And then I used to be the waitress there on Saturdays and Sundays.

KL: Who were the clients?

MY: Caucasians, families, and boy, if I got a twenty-five cent tip, it was really something. Mostly ten cents, but it was good. It wasn't all the Chinese food that's right now, it was American Chinese food. It was very good, but his shrimps were very, very good, so people used to come for that. It was just growing and growing, it was just too bad.

KL: When did Seizo retire?

MY: Well, just, let's see, war came in '41, huh? I would say about '39 or '40 maybe, I'm not positive.

KL: And they retired to Glendale?

MY: Yes, they did, from San Diego.

KL: You gave us really nice kind of personality sketches of your parents. Would you do the same thing for Seizo and Tami and Ren and Isamu?

MY: Okay. Reverend Abe loved to tell us stories, children's stories, and they were very short.

KL: The stories?

MY: Short, the stature. They were very tiny people. And my mother was very tall, but she used to call him Niisan, Niisan, which means "older brother," and that was it. And we used to call him Abe Sensei, and he would tell us stories at Thanksgiving, he would give the longest prayers, and we would just say, oh, gosh. My father was a very good cook, and they always joined us for Thanksgiving. And Ren-chan, she was much older than I, she was my mother's age, my cousin Ren, and very nice. But I know that she had cancer in Manzanar, and they sent her to the county hospital but she didn't want to die there so she asked to go back. And she loved classical music, and I understand she used to play records very, very loudly when the pain got real bad. And she had to give herself shots because there were, I guess Dr. Goto was there, but in those days, they didn't have too much medication for cancer patients, because this was, I guess I have, I could go to the cemetery, they were buried at Evergreen Cemetery, and I know just about when they passed away. I know she passed away in Manzanar. And Mr. Miyake was still alive then, and he went to Japan, and he wanted to become a missionary.

KL: When did he go to Japan?

MY: Oh, after the war. Right after the war he was a houseboy in Philadelphia. We all had to go back east. I went to Detroit and I also went to Chicago at the end.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.