Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Gladys Koshio Konishi Interview
Narrator: Gladys Koshio Konishi
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 13, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-kgladys-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historic Site as well as the Densho legacy project. Today we're talking with Gladys Konishi. We'll be discussing Gladys' life growing up as a Japanese American in Colorado with emphasis on the period during World War II. Our interview is taking place at the Marriott Residence Inn in Denver, Colorado. The date of the interview is Tuesday, May 13th. Our interviewer is Richard Potashin and our videographer is Kirk Peterson. Our interview today will be archived in the Site's library and posted on the Densho website eventually. Gladys, thanks so much for coming over to share your personal history with us today. Really honored to have you here. And I'm going to start right at the very beginning. Can you tell us what your given name at birth was?

GK: Well, my -- excuse me -- my given birth is Shige. Shige Koshio, and I was named after my grandmother on my father's side. And then after they gave me that name on the birth certificate, I was given the name Gladys Yukiko. So I've been going by Gladys, and I use my middle initial "S" just to keep it legitimate, so that I'm Yukiko.

RP: Yukiko.

GK: Yeah.

RP: In Japanese, what would your first name mean?

GK: In Japanese, you mean Gladys?

RP: Yukiko.

GK: Yukiko? I think Yukiko is "snow." Yuki is "snow," and then they always give the girl child "ko."

RP: That's a perfect name to have, you know, living in the Rockies.

GK: Well, I guess so, today, when it's snowing. [Laughs]

RP: How about the name Shige?

GK: Well, I don't know too much about it except that it is my grandmother's name, and my father lost his mother when he was fourteen, so I think it was just given to me as a continuation of the name.

RP: And give us your full birth date and where you were born.

GK: I was born August 14, 1930, in Fort Lupton, Colorado.

RP: And were you born at home, or in a hospital?

GK: Yes, I was born at home. In fact, my, the house that I was born in is still there, and I see it whenever we go to Fort Lupton, we always see it and I think, "Oh, that's where I was born," how many years ago now? Seventy-seven years ago. So it's still there.

RP: Were all the kids born at home?

GK: No. I think my sister born after me was born in, in kind of, not exactly a hospital, but it was kind of a care center. And my sister was named after the nurse that took care of her, so that's how she got her name. But I think up to me, we were all born at home.

RP: And was there a doctor that would come deliver --

GK: Yes, we had a, we had a local doctor, his name was Dr. Monasmith, and I'm not sure whether he, he delivered all of us, but he would come to the house, he made house calls. And with nine of us children, it seemed like he was out there quite often. And I remember whenever he would come, it's like, "Who's sick now?" [Laughs] But my folks used to get medication from Japan, and they would be in pill form. And I remember especially the Japanese, the medicine, it depended on our behavior, and if they felt like we were behaving ornery, they gave us this packet that had these little silver balls in them, and that was supposed to straighten us out. And then we always had this black medicine that took care of our colds and stuff. I'd forgotten that, that we got medicine from Japan.

RP: Would those have been kind of herbal remedies?

GK: Could have been herbal, I'm not sure. They used to call it, this particular one was mushigusuri. Mushi is "bug," and kusuri is "medicine," so I think when we got ornery, I don't know, I don't know how you translate bugs and behavior, but whenever we got that way we always would get this mushigusuri. So they were just little silver balls, and we'd get 'em all. Just tiny, tiny.

RP: Like taking your cod liver oil?

GK: Yeah, kind of like that, yeah. Whatever ails ya, you know, supposed to take care of it, I guess.

RP: Traditional Japanese remedy.

GK: Yeah, it was a Japanese remedy.

RP: Did it work? [Laughs]

GK: I don't know. [Laughs] I don't know.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.