Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Clyde Tichenor Interview
Narrator: Clyde Tichenor
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Independence, California
Date: March 23, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-tclyde_2-01-0001

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KL: Today is Friday, March 23, 2012. I'm Kristen Luetkemeier here in the West Theater of Manzanar National Historic Site to interview Clyde Tichenor. With us from the National Park Service also are Mark Hachtmann, he's operating the camera, and Caitlin Davis is observing. Also observing are Clyde's wife Laurel and his friend Steve Webber. Julie Webber may come and go. Clyde, do we have your permission to conduct and record this interview?

CT: Yes, you do.

KL: Thanks. Thanks for being here. What year were you born?

CT: I was born August 28, 1925.

KL: And where were you born?

CT: Chicago.

KL: What part of Chicago did you live in when you...

CT: The south part, and everybody I met came from the north part.

KL: How did you meet them?

CT: And that was... well, through life experiences. And it was very puzzling, I guess the people in the south part of Chicago were happier than the people in the north part, so they managed to stay longer. But eventually my family left Chicago for Los Angeles.

KL: And who were your parents?

CT: My father died when I was eight, so I was raised by my mother and my older brother, who was about seven years older than I was. And he was sort of a pseudo father. But being a brother, we also were very antagonistic towards each other.

KL: What was your mom's name?

CT: Ella.

KL: And she was Tichenor, too?

CT: Well, her original name was Seifert, her maiden name.

KL: Had she been born in Chicago?

CT: I think so, but I really can't tell you that for sure. She certainly lived there all her life up to where we moved to Los Angeles.

KL: Tell me more about your neighborhood in Chicago. You were talking about a park earlier?

CT: Oh, we lived in apartments. As a matter of fact, one of the interesting apartments we lived in was a basement apartment, and the windows looked out at the sidewalk. When people walked by, you looked out the window, you saw the legs and their feet all the time. And it was kind of, worried my mother because it was so accessible for somebody to break in. Nobody did while we were there, but my father being dead when I was eight, well, my mother had to more or less support the family as a waitress, and we had very little money. That's why we were living in a basement apartment because it was the cheapest.

KL: Did you move after your father died?

CT: He died because a nurse fell asleep at night and didn't alert them to him taking a, his appendix ruptured.

KL: Oh, I'm sorry.

CT: And she was asleep and didn't wake him up, by the time they did get in in the morning, they discovered he was practically gone, and by ten o'clock he was. So it was a big accident.

KL: Did you move after that happened? Did you move into that apartment?

CT: Well, we lived in Chicago probably about ten years more after that happened. I was eight then, I was about eighteen when I left, seventeen, eighteen.

KL: What do you remember about your neighbors?

CT: My neighbors in Chicago?

KL: Uh-huh.

CT: Well, like all city dwellers, rather self-contained except for the kids, kids are kids everywhere. We used to drive bicycles all around there, drive the motorists crazy with our getting in the way.

KL: And tell me about the park that you went to?

CT: Well, yeah, I lived about a quarter of a mile south of Jackson Park in Chicago, which is a very large park, and it's for golfers and kids, I guess. And the two don't mix well. But we used to, had great, wonderful places to play in the bushes, in the green where the golfers wanted to golf. We managed to get along all right between the two mostly. And otherwise Chicago is a city of apartment buildings and big rental structures. And they were very, just anyone who owned a house in Chicago was extremely wealthy, and they tended to live towards Lake Michigan side of Chicago. Because that's where people with money could buy property. The rest of us lived in apartments.

KL: There probably weren't many Japanese American people that you knew in Chicago?

CT: I didn't know any Orientals at that time.

KL: Were different cultures or different races part of your experience in Chicago or not really?

CT: Well, those were the days were every race had a slang name for the race. And it was common until I got a little bit older and began to understand what it was all about, and sort of rejected that line of thinking.

KL: Neighborhoods were pretty segregated.

CT: Yes.

KL: Uh-huh, so you didn't really have contact, personal contact with people from a different background?

CT: Right, we were Anglo Saxons, and that's who we associated with.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.