Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: John Young Interview
Narrator: John Young
Interviewer: Rose Masters
Location: San Gabriel, California
Date: May 22, 2015
Densho ID: denshovh-yjohn-01-0004

<Begin Segment 4>

RM: What are your first memories?

JY: Well, my memories are happy ones. I had a charmed life, I think. [Laughs]

RM: Do you remember the area of Los Angeles that grew up in?

JY: Oh, yes. Well, we lived in Ferguson Alley 'til I was eighteen, then I got married. Imagine getting married that young, went to Vegas, got married in '42. So I was nineteen, I guess.

RM: Do you remember Union Station?

JY: Oh, yes.

RM: What was that like for that community?

JY: Well, that was a fairly new station at that time. Well, they were building it in '34, '35. I used to go by there, and that used to be Chinatown there, whole section. And they moved, they first evacuated the Chinese area and they went down toward Adams. And the one above Alameda moved toward new Chinatown. We lived in... my sister got married to Doyen Low, and they lived on Solano, that's where the Dodger Stadium, going up there. So when I came back from camp, I lived with them for a while. And my mother is the one that had the money, she never worked a day in her life. My dad was very simple-minded, he would, being an herbalist, he would have medicine for people. And he would say, "Oh, I'll charge you a dollar." My mother would go out and say two, two-fifty, and she accumulated the money and bought two homes with it. When I asked my sister, "Where the heck did Mom get all the money to buy two homes?" One down 29th and one down up Solano. But she told me the story of how she accumulated money, by my dad being stubborn. [Laughs] Kind of naive, and my mother is the one that kept the family together. That's how she made money.

RM: Can you tell me about your dad's work?

JY: He was an herbalist.

RM: And what did he do? Who were his customers?

JY: Well, customers were all Chinese people. It was like a pharmacist, and he would prescribe medicine for them. And he would give them medicine from his own store, that's how he made a living.

RM: Was that store near your house?

JY: We lived there.

RM: Okay.

JY: We were all born there. [Laughs] We were loft, and all the brother and sister, it's amazing how we survived that, and one toilet among nine people, it's amazing. We didn't have any bathtub, we had a tin tub, everybody took a bath that way.

RM: How large was your house?

JY: Oh, I would say about four hundred square feet.

RM: Was it above the store?

JY: Well, we lived above the store and below (on) the store. The store is in the front, and then the girls' bedroom, and then the father and mother and myself, and then the boys lived on top, the loft. And facing the store is a lot of packages with herbs in it, and behind the counter, there was a counter as you come in, come in the door and on the left is a counter, and behind the counter is all the drawers. If you could imagine that.

RM: Yeah, and that's the ones you described to us earlier.

JY: Yeah, yeah, the herbs.

RM: Where did you go to school first?

JY: I think he just learned from somebody else, the herb business.

RM: He was an apprentice?

JY: Yeah.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.