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

<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.

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: Your father, can you give us a portrait of him physically and personality-wise?

GK: Well, yes. My father, since he lost his mother when he was fourteen, his father remarried and that's when he decided to come to America. And he was nineteen at the time, in the year 1900, and he was a slight man. I think he must have been, I would say, maybe 5'5", but he was thin, on the thin side, had high cheekbones, and a short crew cut. And he was a gentle man, but he was also strict. He was strict. I think up to me -- I'm the sixth child -- from the top up to me, I think he was a lot more stricter than... my younger sisters, I felt like, got away with more. I think he kind of mellowed out, and so he wasn't as strict with them, maybe, I don't know. But anyway, that's the way it seems, yeah.

RP: Can you give us his, his full name?

GK: His full name is Taneji Koshio.

RP: Where in Japan did he...

GK: He came from Fukuoka. Fukuoka, island of Kyushu, I think.

RP: Do you recall how much education he had in Japan?

GK: You know what? I don't think he had much education because he couldn't read or write. My mother said that when he was supposed to be going to grammar school, his mother would make him lunches and he would play hooky and go fishing, but then he'd always come home at the right time, and so I don't know what happened. He didn't learn to read or write, but I think it was always a handicap for him, because I always remember that Mother would read -- there was a Japanese newspaper that came from Denver, and whenever they were getting along, he would sit alongside of her and she would read him the newspaper. But if they'd been in a fight, he'd sit next to her, and she read to herself. [Laughs] And then when things were okay, she was reading, you know, she'd read the newspaper to him again. But he did sign our report cards, I remember his name was Tom T. Koshio, you know. He did, he did sign our report cards, and he did look at our report cards and made sure that our grades were good. And signed our excuses if we were absent from school, but that was about the only time that I remember him writing in English and never saw him write Japanese. But I think my mother was very good with that. And because he didn't know how to read or write, she always took care of things. And I remember when they would come out for donations to the church, they would always have this sheet of paper with the name of the person and how much they donated. And so Mother would always stand behind my dad and she would read that to herself, and she'd always say, "I think this is how much we should give," and it was probably right down the middle of the road. So I'm not, I'm pretty sure that other people didn't realize that he couldn't read or write, 'cause Mother always took care of that, and I always admired her for that. That was such a good thing.

RP: When your, when your dad's, your dad and his parents came over to America, where did they first settle?

GK: Oh, I think my dad came, I think, to Seattle. This is where he came, and he worked along the coastline, went down into California, and I remember him saying that he would go and work for food. And when I see signs now where they have little sign, "Will work for food," I think, "This is exactly what my dad did." And he would work at a place enough so that he would be fed, and then he'd go, if they didn't have, I'm sure he stayed there as long as he was needed. But once that was done, then he'd go on to the next place. He worked alongside all the way through, down in California, I think, and then he worked on the railroad. And he would say, a lot of times, he would get, he called it dango, dango means a dough, dango is like, like, well, dough, I think. And they would make... what do I want to say, dumplings, okay, dumplings. And he said by the time he got to where he could eat, there was nothing left but the broth. He never got the dumplings, 'cause everybody before him would eat. And so he ate a lot of broth, he said, and that's what he lived on a lot of the time.

RP: He worked in, he worked on the railroad in California?

GK: In California, uh-huh, and I think, I'm not sure how long he worked on it, but I think when the, whenever the tracks met, then he came to Grand Junction. And I'm not sure why he chose Colorado, but he said that when he came to Grand Junction, he saw the mesa up there, but they also had a band. And they were playing, the band was playing and he, and I don't know how many other Japanese fellows came with him, but he said they were wondering what the band was all about, and they told him that the people around there had come to see the Japanese. So they were the attraction. [Laughs] The attraction.

RP: They were welcoming them to the community?

GK: I think, I think so, I hope so. I think that for them to have a band for everything, so I think it was a welcoming committee.

RP: Considering how the other Japanese were --

GK: Yeah.

RP: -- treated by the West Coast. So he didn't, he didn't go to Grand Junction as part of his railroad job...

GK: No, no.

RP: ...he decided to leave that job.

GK: Yes, yes, he was ready to settle down, I think, move on. And so as far as I know, I think he worked in that Grand Junction, Paonia area where they grow, have a lot of fruit trees, and he said that one of his jobs was to prune the trees. And he said he pruned them real, back a lot, and they were just horrified, but they next year, he said the peaches were just so big and so beautiful, and they were very happy that he had pruned it. So I guess, I'm not sure, that's what he did, I think they did farming, he was a farmer in Japan, and I think his folks were farmers. So I don't know where he learned to do the pruning, but he said it turned out well, thank goodness.

RP: And then he eventually worked his way over to Fort Lupton?

GK: Yes, and then eventually he came to Fort Lupton, and he just always, I think he must have settled down, settled in Fort Lupton around 1904 or '05, something like that, I think. And he might have, I think they moved two or three times. But then, then where I was born, they were there the longest, so the farm is still there.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

RP: And your mother, what was her name?

GK: My mother's name is Shime, and her name was Shime Morimitsu, and when my dad was ready to, felt like he could take a wife and support a family, he wrote back to Japan, and my mother was five at the time my dad came over, so they didn't know each other. But Mother said that when he wrote back and asked for a wife, she said that the only thing she was concerned about was that he was not a drinker, he did not drink. And they said, "No, he does not drink." And so she said, "Okay, then, I will come over." So she was nineteen at the time in 1913, she came over on the ship, that took a couple weeks. And my dad met her there, and she said they were married immediately after she got off the, off the boat.

RP: And that was in Seattle?

GK: Yes, this was in Seattle. So, but in the meantime, my dad had been sharing a farm with another fellow, another Japanese fellow, so I guess he lived with them for the first year of their marriage, and then eventually he found a place. And I think at that time, he probably got a wife, also. So then the community started growing. Because I think there were bachelors that came over first, and then got things going.

RP: Decided things looked well enough to establish themselves and have, begin a family.

GK: Right, uh-huh.

RP: You were mentioning a little earlier about the reason that your dad married your mother right off the boat.

GK: Yeah. [Laughs] My, well, you know, yes, I guess he wasn't gonna take any chances of her marrying anybody else. And that was prearranged, and so that was where she was going. But yeah, I mean, they talked about this other fellow that, as "picture brides," she did not send her picture, and so she had sent someone else's picture and didn't match. And I guess he said that he wasn't gonna marry her, and Dad took him aside and said, "You can't send her back to Japan, that would be a disgrace," so he did marry her. It worked out, it worked out.

RP: And what can you share with us about, you mentioned about your mother a little bit helping your dad, taking some of the responsibilities of personal affairs and that type of thing. But give us an idea of what she was like as a person in your eyes.

GK: Oh, my mother was, I think in order for her to come over from Japan, she had to be a strong person, and she was a strong person. But I think she had a lot of spirit and just a determination. I know she said that when she decided to come over to America, her mother cried and said, "I'll never see you again," and she sad, "Mother, I'll be back in five years." And of course, then when she came over and got married, then she had two little boys, and she said it was, she never made it back. And it wasn't until -- she came in 1913 -- and my dad and my mother went back to Japan in 1957 for the first time. So by then she had lost all of her family and everything, and so had my dad, pretty much, I think, had lost a lot of his family, and things were not the same. And I remember like Dad said that here he had his half a grapefruit, his coffee and his toast, and when he went to Japan it was the rice and the miso soup and he said he just couldn't do that anymore. He like his coffee and his half a grapefruit and toast. [Laughs] And he said that the farms out there, I think at the time, were using human waste for the fertilizer, and he said that it was just so smelly. He said that he had to cover his face with his, with the blanket. Said they'd sleep with their windows open, and he said it was very smelly. And he said, I think they were there, like, three weeks, and he was ready to come home. Home was Fort Lupton, yeah, Fort Lupton. But Mother was very strong, and I think when you're growing up, you, a lot of things you watch your mother do and you think, "I'm not gonna be like my mother," but you find yourself just becoming more and more just like your mother and just really proud of it, actually. So you realize that she's been your role model all those years. But at the time, when you're growing up, you think... because we were so American, and they were still the Japanese custom. And being, trying to keep that tradition, they didn't want us to be, I don't know how to say it, but more, you know, more American, I think. And so she was a buffer. She was a buffer for us because Dad would say something and he'd be real strict, and Mother would be kind of... and so she was our buffer. I'm not sure, I think a lot of times we never heard what he might have said to her, but for us it was always a positive.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

RP: Share with us your, the names of your siblings, and if you can recall the dates that they were born, starting with the oldest.

GK: Let's see. Let's see, my oldest brother was Floyd Hajime, and I think he was born... let's see, September, must have been September (26), 1914. And then my brother Sam Masatoshi was born in January, I think January (23), let's see... 1917. And then my sister Evelyn Etsuko, she was born in November (28th), I think, 1919. My sister Grace Sadami was March the 12th, 1923. My brother Tom Takao is, was born in December 20, 1927. And then I was born, and then I have a younger sister, Bessie Setsuko, was born February 20, 1934. And then Jeanette Yaeko, who was born October 1, 1936, and then I have a sister who is now deceased, her, she was May Sakiko, she was born May 12, 1940.

RP: Quite a --

GK: A spread, isn't there?

RP: -- large discrepancy in age.

GK: Well, there's, there's four deceased in there. So my mother actually had thirteen children, but there were nine, nine of us.

RP: And Frank was sharing his large family of twelve, and he said that there were kind of groupings of, depending around the age. Was that the same for you?

GK: It's kind of, yes. It's like two separate families, the older ones and then I kind of am in the middle. I kind of teeter back and forth because I want to be younger with my sisters, and I like to have fun. And then I'm, and then I like to be a little more dignified, and a little -- [laughs] -- and be more like my older sisters and my brother. So I kind of, kind of teeter between. But I can do that, you know. I try.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: Talk a little bit about your growing up on the farm and the farm life. But your father didn't own his own land, he actually leased it from --

GK: Yes, he leased the farm, and we were on this farm where the owner was a local doctor. I think my dad tried, tried to buy part of the land, but the owner, Dr. Monismith, was very satisfied with us just leasing, and so that's what they did. But eventually, well, my dad and my two brothers were partners in this, in the farms, and eventually my brothers did buy parts of the farm. And I think we must have been, they were truck farmers, so they grew cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, cucumbers, I mean, the whole gamut, the onions and everything. And eventually, I think one of my brothers bought some land that was near the Platte River, we lived close to the Platte River. And just a mile from Fort Lupton, but only about a half-mile from Platte River. And I remember when the Platte River would rise, all the crops in that area would get flooded. So I guess maybe in a lot of ways, it was good that we didn't own some of that land at that time, but yeah, they never, they never owned as such. And I think, I was asking my sister about how much land that was, and she thought it was probably around 180 acres or so, of just nothing but truck farming.

RP: Truck farming.

GK: Yes, uh-huh. And so that meant transporting all the crops to Denver or there was one company in Fort Lupton that they were just really against the Japanese. But when they were in a bind, they would call and ask for, for the crop, for the crops. And it goes both ways; we needed them, but they also needed us. But when you think back and realize that they didn't want our crops because we were Japanese, it kind of, kind of hurts, yeah. But all in all, they needed us just as much as we needed them.

RP: Was that an attitude that prevailed before the war, too?

GK: No, I don't think so. I think when the war started, that's... I kind of think that they, just recently, this book that came out, Adam Schraeger, who wrote that book?


GK: Yes, he wrote this book and he's having a book signing this Friday. And we had bought one when it first came out, and we bought one in Boulder, and we read bits and pieces of it, and it's just amazing. He wrote a book about the governor, Governor Carr, and it was amazing to Frank and I, I think, to realize how many people did not like the Japanese. It was like, really, you know, they just were very vocal about it. And I think it was good that we didn't realize it, because I just remember my life was affected. When the war started, I was only eleven, and I was in the sixth grade, and of course, we couldn't believe that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor, and there was a lot of sadness. And being Japanese, you're an American, so you're loyal to the Americans, but you're Japanese. And I remember when war started, they said they would come out, but we had to get rid of some of our, we didn't have any shortwave radio, or we didn't have a good camera and a shotgun or any of that, but I do remember my mother having a little fire in the yard, and she was burning the emperor's picture and just some of the items that we didn't feel like we could keep, in order to show our loyalty to America. And when I think back on that, it's kind of sad.

But I would hear little comments about Japanese, and I just remember that one remark that one of my classmates made in the sixth grade when Frank's second cousins, five of 'em, were killed in a train car accident. And it was in cold February, and they were riding, all riding, the father had picked up the four children at school and they were on their way home. And I think they were all in the cab and one side of the window was cardboard or whatever, and the other side was window, but it had fogged up because it was so cold, and didn't hear the train whistle, and they were all killed. And next day, when I went to school, one of my classmates said, "Well, that got rid of five more Japs," and that just really affected me, I think. And after that, I just never really felt like I was as good as I thought I could have been, I think. I always felt like I could never be anybody. But that's, when I think back, that shouldn't have kept me, because my brothers were active, they became, my brother was, my oldest brother was on the school board at the school, and my second brother was a marshal in the parade. I mean, they've done so much for the community. So, but at that time, it really did affect me. And I think about that, and when we had our thirtieth class reunion, that was the first time... we went through high school, this fellow and I, we went through high school and I never really felt very close to him, and I didn't see him after our class graduated. And our first class reunion was thirty years after, and when I saw him, the it just brought back a lot of memories again. And he's no longer around, but I think how that affected me.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

RP: Let's go back a little bit, you were talking about the, about the farm.

GK: The farm, yes.

RP: Your father's farm, and tell me about what you remember about working on the farm, what a typical day was like.

GK: Oh, goodness. Well, a typical day, I think, started out very early in the morning, and we used to, the folks used to hire a lot of laborers, and of course they'd be there early. And one, I guess, as a child, a little child, I would be out there helping Mother do whatever needed to be done, because she used to sharpen those, the hoe, and she had just finished sharpening the hoe and I grabbed it to give it to her, and it cut my heel, and they thought that I had cut my tendon. I mean, they used to really sharpen it. But I remember they would start out so early in the morning, and watching the laborers. I really don't know when we started working in the fields. I think maybe, I think a lot of people didn't think women worked in the fields, but we had regular bonnets, the old fashioned bonnets, and Mother would make jeans in the winter when we weren't out in the field, she had the treadle machine, and she'd make us girls all jeans. And we'd have these denim work shirts, and we covered ourselves so that we wouldn't get any sun on our faces, and we used to work just every day. And if it, but usually had the weekends off, but there were times when the crops were growing, they needed to be, something needed to be done, lettuce had to be done, cut or whatever. It didn't matter what day of the week it was, we worked. And so we kind of sandwiched in laundry whenever we could, and took turns cooking so that not, instead of three people going home to cook, one person went home and everybody ate together. So that was two meals a day, lunch and dinner. And breakfast we had at our own house.

RP: So you had a, you had sort of a family hour there between lunch and dinner.

GK: Yeah, we used to, yeah, we'd go home at eleven o'clock and get the meal ready for about thirteen people in one hour. [Laughs] And go home at five o'clock and have a meal ready by six o'clock, that's what we used to do.

RP: And as you grew up, did your responsibilities change on the farm? You told me that you ended up driving a truck.

GK: Oh, yes, we learned to drive that truck, as soon as we were sixteen, we were driving. And since we were truck farmers, we needed to take loads of cabbage or onions or whatever to Denver, and so my brother would send the girls with the truck because when we got to the market, they would have people, guys that would help us unload, and they would help the women, but they wouldn't help the men. So they -- [laughs] -- he sent us women. And being sixteen, of course, these guys would really help. [Laughs]

RP: [Laughs] I'm sure, I can imagine that.

GK: Yeah. So maybe sometimes we could get two loads in instead of one.

RP: Some of the other memories that you shared with me are about washing clothes on a washboard.

GK: Oh, yes, I did. When they were really, really busy and this was before we had the washing machine, I remember washing clothes on the washboard with a bar of soap, and the sheets, trying to wring out sheets and towels was just so hard. And hanging 'em on the line, because you're so tiny, and then you have this long sheet and you're pinning it here and then pinning it here and pinning it here. And so it was kind of... I don't know how long I did that, but I think we were very happy to get this putt-putt washing machine that had a wringer on it. And there were many times when we got our finger caught trying to get that towel or whatever in there, and then in would fall into a tub of water, and then we'd move that thing, the wringer, and rinse and throw it in, into a basket. But yes, I did do wash on the washtub, yeah.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

RP: Tell us about the farmhouse that the family lived in. Did you have electricity, indoor plumbing?

GK: No, no, we did not have inside plumbing, and we did not have electricity, and we always had those chimney, those lamps, the oil lamps, and always needed cleaning because the wick would somehow get in and it'd get black inside, so of course that was my job to clean those. And then we had the ones that were made out of nickel or brass or whatever that had the tall chimney with the net, I don't know what you would call that now, but that would be my job. And trying to get that clean, so thin on top, yes. And so, you know, I have those lamps, funny enough. When my folks broke up the farming, I got a couple of those oil lamps, and have electrified them. And got pretty lampshades on them and I've gone, actually, I've gone back where I like those things, antiques.

RP: That you used to take care of.

GK: Yeah. It's, now they're electrified, but I do like the old things. And I've gotten some of Mother and Dad's furniture, yeah, and the old still. [Laughs]

RP: The old still. Well, now that you brought it up, Gladys, share with us a particular talent that your mother had.

GK: Well, yes, this is Mother's talent, and like I say, she may not like me telling about her, but yes, she did have a still in the basement where she made sake. But that wasn't, my dad was not a drinker, and she made it mostly for, for bachelor friends or friends that drank. And she would put 'em in gallon jugs and friends would come by, and she'd give it to 'em. And yeah, I have the copper base for that, and I didn't realize at the time what it was. So I have, I use it as a plant stand at home now, but, and she had all these tubes and rubber tubes and glass tubes, and they'd be going, and go into the gallon jug. And the only time we ever had sake was we always had, New Year's Day, we always had a ceremony, and we always had the traditional mochi, that's that, you pound the rice in these big old vats, and that was always quite a, quite a fun thing, because you would have neighbors and friends, and would come and would do that. But whenever we had, New Year's was a special time for us. And they made the traditional mochi and they'd have the different sizes, and then for breakfast, though, we would always bow to each other and say, "Shinen omedetou," "Happy New Year." And then Mother would have these little sake containers with the little dish, and she would serve my dad three drops, and then he would drink that, and then she would give it to my oldest brother and the next brother, and then I have, the younger brother, older than, but the men always got that first. And then my sister would give my mother the three drops, and then my mother would do the rest of us. So when we were little, we thought that was a big deal for us to be able to taste three drops of sake on New Year's Day. So, you know, that was, Dad would always say, "Okay, now don't cry and don't get scolded and wear your best clothes, because that means if you cry the first day, you'll be crying for the rest of the year. And if you get scolded, you'll be in trouble all year," so boy, we just always tried not to do that.

RP: You shared with us a little saying that you remember seeing every day of your life growing up on the farm. Can you share that with us?

GK: Oh, that, yes. On the wall we always had this sign, and it's funny, you know, my sisters and I would talk about this and how it has affected our lives, and it says, I think, I forgot how it went.


GK: "When a task is once begun, never leave it 'til it's done. Be the labor, great or small, do it well or not at all." And it's amazing how that has always stuck with me, because not long ago, I have windows up there, and I went up there because I have some stained glass things up there and it lost its suction and it fell. When I went to put it up, I realized how dusty and the cobwebs were up there. And I thought, "Uh-oh," so I went back to this, I got the ladder, I did the whole thing, it was like three. But this has always been our motto. It's funny how that just sticks with you.

RP: Did you pass that along to your kids, too?

GK: Oh, yes. I say this, and you just don't leave things half done, you just do it right the first time. And I, in fact, remind my husband. [Laughs]

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

RP: Gladys, you mentioned earlier about, that you always had laborers helping on your family farm. Can you tell us who they were? Did they, were they Mexicans, other Japanese?

GK: Well, you know, when, they were mostly Mexicans, yes, they were laborers that came from Mexico, and they did their job, and I think they pretty much went back to Mexico. But then when the evacuees -- I call them evacuees -- when the Japanese were evacuated, I remember that we had a fellow that my brother hired for the summer. But I also remember that we had German prisoners that were incarcerated in Brighton, which was just about nine or ten miles from there. And they were in a brick building with bars, and right across from where they stayed, they had an ice cream store that we always used to stop in whenever we went to Denver. And I always, my sister-in-law would run in to get the ice cream, I would look up at the window and see the prisoners looking out. But I just remember the one time when they did bring some prisoners out to the farm, and they did have guards with guns. I'm not sure, I don't think we fed them, I think they must have brought lunches out for them, but I just remember that one time when a truckload of prisoners came in, they were just, they weren't in buses, they were in the back of trucks, where, with the high sides. But that, I think, I'm not sure, they might have come other times, but I just remember them coming into our yard just that one time.

RP: What was that like, or did you have any feelings about that when you saw them?

GK: Yeah, I just thought that was very strange, that we would have German prisoners working on the farm when the Germans and the Japanese and the Italians were our enemies. That just seemed rather strange. But you look at 'em, and just like anybody else, they look like, just like other people.

RP: Just to follow up on your comment about one of the, quote, "evacuees" working on the farm, did they also live on the farm, too?

GK: No, they had a labor camp, and I think they were mostly for the laborers that came from Mexico, they lived there during the summer. And I imagine some of them stayed the whole year, I'm not sure about that. But I think when the evacuees came out, they were provided with housing there. And so I think that my brother was always hiring people for, on the farm, and he just happened to, I think he lived at the labor camp. And I'm sure there were other Japanese living there, I'm not sure. But he did come from the labor camp, so he was a big help, big help. But he ate with us; he became part of the family, and he ate dinner, lunch and dinner with us.

RP: And he didn't appear to have a family at all?

GK: Oh, he was with his family, he had, yeah, he was... and I don't know that I've ever met their parents, his parents, and I'm not sure he had brothers and sisters, I'm not sure. But I just remember him coming out, and he became part of the family then. But our laborers, most, if they were a small group, my family always gave 'em snacks, you know, gave 'em something to drink, and there was a bakery, and they'd run into town and get baked goods. Or if we didn't, we gave 'em sandwiches for snacks or whatever, so...

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: You talked about the Japanese American community in Fort Lupton and wanted to kind of expound on that. How tight was that community, and what institutions did they gather around? Your church...

GK: Oh, goodness, yes. It was, yes, I guess you would call it a tight community, because we, I think we had, when the gathering was big, it was huge. I mean, everybody would make lunches, they would have sushi and they'd make fried chicken and teriyaki chicken and whatever, and we would spread out and we would share. Everybody shared each other's food, but I think most of all, the time that I remember the most, the most fun was when we'd have, the services, Hanamatsuri, we didn't have a temple at the time, it was at the old Japanese school building. It was a two-story building, and it was really getting kind of rickety but we used to have a lot of things, and they would, we used to get dressed in kimonos and we'd do two or three dances, and the older fellows would do plays. And it would start in the morning and then we'd break for lunch, and we'd share lunches and then the program would start, maybe about two o'clock or so, and it would go on 'til probably six o'clock. And we got a lot of culture there because the stage was set so that it was almost, probably almost felt like we were in Japan because they would have these, you know, these big blocks that would, somebody would pull the curtain across, and they'd be, you know, so it's not like the silent curtains that parted, it was all done by hand. That was always exciting. Other times, they brought Japanese movies, and a lot of samurai movies. I didn't care too much for that, 'cause I used to go like this [covers eyes] and watch it. I didn't like all that sword fighting. But we would, somebody from Japan would bring those, and that was a big outing for us.

RP: As far as family outings, you said your folks liked to go to the mountains?

GK: Oh, yeah, my dad loved to go fishing, yes, so we used to, whenever, whenever they weren't really, really busy on the farm, we would go to the mountains and have a picnic near a brook, babbling brook, because my dad liked to put, we would buy a watermelon and he'd find a spot where it wouldn't get away, the stream wouldn't take the watermelon. We used to see watermelons going down the stream. [Laughs] But he always kind of wedged it so it wouldn't get away, and while we're eating and everything, then it would get cold. But he loved to go fishing, so we did, we did do a lot of picnics in the mountains. And then we used to do a lot of picnics in Denver also, at the city park.

RP: Was that with other Japanese families?

GK: With other Japanese families, yes. It could be a church picnic or whatever, but, and then my brothers used to play baseball, so we used to go to a lot of baseball games, too, yeah, and I think like Denver had their own team and Fort Lupton had their own team, and Greeley, so almost every Sunday, I think there was a game, so we'd go to the games and that always made our Sundays.

RP: Now, these teams were made up of strictly Japanese Americans?

GK: Japanese, uh-huh, Japanese. Yeah, Japanese fellows.

RP: Kind of like a semi-pro league?

GK: No...

RP: Not even that.

GK: No, I don't think so. I think they were pretty much just playing for fun, yeah. It just gave them an outlet and thank goodness my folks liked baseball.

RP: They really took to it.

GK: Oh, they really loved baseball. They had been, they were Yankee fans forever. [Laughs] They loved baseball, and even when my mother, at the age of a hundred and three, and she was still interested in baseball and football, she couldn't remember John Elway's name, but he was always number seven. He was always number seven, rooting for seven. So we were really interested in athletics.

RP: Sounds like you had a real bicultural upbringing.

GK: I guess so. I think because my brothers were probably, yeah, we really admired our brothers, I think we were brought up, and they were our role models, too. They probably read that thing about, "once a task is begun," you know. [Laughs]

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

RP: Now, what grammar school did you attend, Gladys?

GK: I went to Fort Lupton grade school and high school from the first grade to the twelfth grade. I graduated from Fort Lupton high school, it's my sixtieth class reunion this year.

RP: This year?

GK: I know.

RP: What do you remember about your school experiences and recollections?

GK: I think I can remember from the first grade, and I remembered all... you know, it's so funny, not too long ago, a couple years ago, I met this friend that I used to spend a lot of time with, and used to spend a lot of nights with her, and she said to me the other day, she goes, "You know what, Gladys? You made me flunk the first grade." And I go, "How? How did I make you flunk the first grade?" She says, "Because I couldn't speak English, and you didn't help me." And I said, "But Catherine, you and I have never been in the same grade, I mean, in the same, we didn't have the same teacher." And she said, "We didn't?" And I said, "I'm so glad you brought that up, because you would have gone on the rest of your life thinking I made you flunk first grade," because we did not have the same teacher. So I was glad that she brought that up, but anyway, I just, all my teachers were really, I think I can almost remember every teacher's name. And I really enjoyed, I enjoyed school. The only thing was, because Mother didn't speak English, anytime there was any kind of a program, my sister-in-law would come in her place. If there was any conference or anything, then my sister-in-law came for my mother.

But I have to tell you this about my mother. When my mother was ninety-nine, she said -- my sister and I had been taking care of her for three years, and at that time, at the end of three years, she said, "You know, I need, I should go into a nursing home." And before that, she used to say, "I don't want to go to a nursing home," and we kept saying, "Mother, we're not gonna put you in a nursing home," I said, "unless you get to that point where we can't take care of you anymore." So one day she said, "I'm ready to go in," and she was still doing well, I mean, she was walking with a walker and everything. So I said, when she was saying, "I can't go in a nursing home," I said to her one day, "Why can't you go into a nursing home?" and she goes, I said, "why can't you?" And she says, "'Cause I can't, I can't speak English," and I said, "Mother, you've been here for over eighty years. Why didn't you learn English?" And she goes, "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I would have." [Laughs] Isn't that funny? That was so funny. So you know, it's like... and when we were ready, when she wanted to go into the nursing home, she had to take some tests to see if she qualified, and she was so alert and so smart, she really didn't qualify. But the person that came to interview us felt like we needed the break, and so she said they would put her in, and that was the reason why she went in. But yeah, she didn't learn English because she didn't know she was going to live that long. [Laughs] Then she would say, "At my age I can say anything and do anything," I said, "No, Mother, you can't do that." [Laughs]

RP: So were your friends in school predominately other Japanese Americans?

GK: Yes. You know what, during the grade school years, I don't think I had Japanese friends. There weren't any other Japanese girls in my class, and I don't know when, I think it was when the outer schools, they just went up to the eighth grade and then the outer schools came in when they were freshmen, I think that's when we got more Japanese. And then I found that all those years that I've been friends with the Caucasians, from the ninth grade, then we started being with Japanese. I don't know why that happened or how that happened, but I find that Japanese did that. I don't know whether at that point, whether we felt like... I'm not sure why that happened. We just had Japanese friends.

RP: Gravitated to your own group.

GK: Uh-huh.

RP: I would like to -- oh, we were talking about sort of the bicultural upbringing that you had, and it sounds like your dad really stressed the fact that you feel, make you feel like an American, take pride in that fact.

GK: Yes, uh-huh.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: Principally, you were raised as Buddhist?

GK: Yes, we were raised as Buddhists, but my dad was very, he was strict, but he wanted us to have, have everything that all our friends had. So even though we were Buddhist, we celebrated Christmas and we hung stockings, and being in an old country home, we didn't have central heating or anything like that, so we had this old coal stove in the kitchen, and oil stove... I want to say oil stove, but I think it was also heated by coal. Anyway, there would be a wire that was stretched in the back of the stove, and usually in the winter we would, you know, we'd come in with wet mittens or whatever, but Christmas Eve, we always hung Dad's very long wool socks, and we'd pin it onto the, onto the wire, and in the morning we usually found an orange, some walnuts, a quarter, I think that was about it. But we were -- never coal. [Laughs] Or lemon, so I guess it was okay. But yeah, but we always had a Christmas tree, and he always decorated that and always had those, what I call antiques now, those little birds that you pinched on there, and I have one from my, from the tree, I own one, and then also the bubble lights that are coming back. So we always felt like we were, we were, we had everything that the others had. I think he made sure that we felt like we were like everybody else.

RP: Not being out left out.

GK: Nothing left out, yeah.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: Gladys, this is, you shared with me a story about this cultural ceremony that you were involved in, and you had a special uniform that you wore for that. Can you describe the uniform and tell us about the ceremony?

GK: [Holding up clothing] Well, yes. I'm not sure, you know, what ceremony it was, but there were several of us. I think about... must be around eight, nine ad ten year olds that wore this, because the older ones, I think, wore regular kimonos. But anyway, this is the top part, and it's kind of gauzy. And this was being stored at the Fort Lupton Buddhist Temple, and they were, I think they were afraid that these things were gonna just get where they wouldn't be, you know, they'd fall apart, so my brother asked me if I would like to have this and I said, "Yes." So anyway, this is the top part that we wore, and the belt, and the skirt. I'll just put this here. And this is the skirt, and it tied on the side there, and I think for us it must have been floor length, but then the most interesting part is this headdress that we had. And actually, this sat on a little, kind of like a pad, and I don't think I got the pad for this, it didn't sit directly on the head, we had a little padding that it sat on, and it tied under the, under this, under our chin. But it was, it's very delicate, and so this is one of the things, I think I was around nine years old when we wore this.

RP: Did you do any type of a dance or a ceremony?

GK: I think it was just a, I don't think we danced in this, I think it was just a ceremonial thing. And I think when the Denver Buddhist Temple opened, and I'm not sure because the Fort Lupton temple was born in 1940, I think we wore this before the temple was built. So when the Denver temple was opened and I'm gonna say... gosh, I don't know. It was after the Fort Lupton, that they had a ceremony, and there were children wearing this very same thing. So I think they used it for Buddhist ceremonies, I think, because before the Fort Lupton temple was built, our church services were held at the school where a lot of the things were held. So I think that's this part of it. But it's very, it's hang... these things are just like in the temple. They have a lot of these intricate, delicate things hanging, and so I set it on -- it's hard to store, so I have it sitting on a jar so that it wouldn't... at home.


GK: [Holding up a photograph] This is a picture of me in that ceremonial gown. I would say maybe, I think I must be nine years old in this one, and I think we always felt like it was really something special to be able to wear this and be in the ceremony because you know, living in Fort Lupton and being with everyone, it was just a normal, normal life. But then when we got to do something like this, it just made it more special, very special, I think. So I remember this.

This is one of my favorite pictures. This is me, this is 1934, so I guess I'm four years old, it's dated 1934. This is me with socks that need to be pulled up, I think they were always telling me to pull up my socks, and this is my sister Grace and my sister Evelyn, and they look so much older than they really are, I'm just amazed because I think, if I'm four, then my sister Grace is only seven years older, so she's like eleven. And then, then my sister Evelyn would be like... let's see. She would be, like, what, about sixteen, I think. They look much older.

RP: Big sisters.

RP: Yeah. But this is one of my favorite pictures, and I don't know where it came from. I think we enlarged it from something. Okay, this is me and my sister Grace, and this is my sister Evelyn.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: Gladys, I wanted to share, have you share a few stories about the wartime in Colorado. First of all, let's talk about the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed. Do you recall...

GK: Yes, I do recall. When it first came on the radio, I think we thought it was a program. And we used to listen to the radio a lot, and when they said the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, I think it was with disbelief. And you know, you have so much emotion because you're American but you are also Japanese. And to think that the Japanese would do something like that, it's just like, "How could they do that?" So you're, you know, you're thinking, "Okay, I'm American," but do you have any loyalties to Japan, only because you're Japanese. And you're ashamed that they did it. So you, I think you realize that you're ashamed of them, so you must be American. And there's just a lot of emotion and dreading to go back to school.

RP: What was that like when you went back to school the first days after the attack on Pearl Harbor?

GK: I don't, you know, that part, I think most people were very, must have been polite. I don't remember any derogatory remarks made by them. So I think it was okay. I think I was holding my breath all the time, though, just wondering how the people felt about me, because most of the students that I were with started from the first grade, so I'm not sure that they even thought anything of it, but I was just always afraid that they might realize that I was Japanese. So I, at that point, and that's when my classmate made that remark, I think that really changed my life as far as who I was for a long time. And even though the group that I was, in class, I had journalism, and we did a lot of running to the publishers in town, so we would walk from the school to the publishing office in Fort Lupton Press. And I always felt like one of them, but whenever there were any social gatherings, then I felt like I was not part of that.

RP: Were not included.

GK: Not included, yeah. So yeah, I just always felt like -- they might have included me, but I wasn't forward enough to...

RP: Project yourself.

GK: Yeah, that maybe I could have been with them, I don't know. I never said anything, I just always felt like I needed to be in the background. All through high school, I think I -- and pretty much into my adult years, I think I always felt like I wasn't...

RP: Good enough?

GK: Good enough, yeah. Good enough. So I think at my later years, I think I'm starting to bloom. [Laughs]

RP: No time like the present.

GK: Yeah, I guess so.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

RP: On the West Coast, and I imagine it was all over the country, that the Isseis' assets, bank assets were frozen. Was that the case, do you recall happening to your...

GK: Yes. My brother, my sister -- of course, being so young, I don't think I was aware or if they had any discussions I was probably out playing or whatever. But they said that, yeah, that the bank closed their accounts, and particularly in Fort Lupton when my brother's bank account was closed, there was a gentleman who owned the drugstore, Mr. Kauffman, and he told my brother that if he needed any money at all, he would be there to give him whatever he needed. So I have no idea how long the bank accounts were frozen.

RP: You say this was your brother's bank account?

GK: Yes, my brother.

RP: Was he in partnership with your dad?

GK: My dad, uh-huh. And my other brother, the three of 'em were in that partnership, yeah.

RP: So you had people in the community like Mr. Kauffman who stepped up and offered support.

GK: Yes, I think so.

RP: Were there other individuals that you recall doing that? Coming and...

GK: And...

RP: ...and saying, "We don't hold this against you?"

GK: Yeah. Well, I think, I think Frank was talking about the Ford garage, the Ford dealership, yes, he was supportive. But you know, all the years that the war was on, I, there was always a sign in all the stores that said, "If you're an American, speak the English language." And that just would hit me all the time, and I felt like my folks weren't, you know, they weren't able to go to town because they didn't speak the English language, and I don't know that they did go. I think my sister-in-law and I did all the grocery shopping because my older sisters were gone, and I think, so my sister-in-law and I would do most of the grocery shopping. I'm not sure that my mother went shopping. And because of that, if you didn't speak the English language, you didn't want to get caught.

RP: There was a sense of hostility in that regard.

GK: Uh-huh.

RP: Your sisters had married and gone away?

GK: My sisters, yeah, my sister, my older sister, I think, she was gone. She got married in February of '42, so she was gone. And then my next sister, Grace, I think she lived in Denver and she was going to, she was working and going to a beauty school, so she wasn't at home. So the next one was me, and so my sister-in-law and I would go shopping, do the grocery shopping.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

RP: There were a number of restrictions that were placed on Japanese Americans in your area.

GK: Yeah. My brother was married Christmas Day in '41, so that was just a few days after the bombing. And I know that it was a very small wedding because you weren't allowed more than two cars in the yard. So they were restricted to that, and I, we were restricted to, I don't know, maybe twenty-five miles' radius. But we didn't plan on going anywhere, anyway, so that didn't matter. But yeah, I think that was the only restriction that I could remember, just always being sure that we spoke English, that just made a real impact on me. So I think that probably had an impact on Mother, too, because she never, you know, went to the planning committees or had any, come to the assemblies or anything.

RP: Very isolated from all those activities.

GK: Uh-huh.

RP: So this ban on two cars or a, quote, "number of people who could assemble" really affected your social and cultural life.

GK: Oh, it did.

RP: Japanese school probably ended.

GK: Yes, Japanese school certainly ended.

RP: And as far as large gatherings...

GK: Large gatherings, and I really don't remember when it, we were allowed to have large gatherings then. So I don't know, we had the new temple, I don't know if we were allowed to have services or anything. I think I was just too young, my older brothers, probably. But I really don't know about that.

RP: How about, Frank was talking about some of the items that had to be turned in.

GK: Oh, yes. We, I don't think we had anything that, I mean, we certainly didn't have a shortwave radio, we didn't have a real good camera, but I just remember Mother burning a picture of the emperor and just getting rid of things that would show any signs of loyalty to Japan, I think.

RP: Did you take, or express any acts to support the war effort like saving aluminum or string or those kinds of things?

GK: [Laughs] Oh, yeah. Yeah, I think so. Even the gum wrappers, we would separate the gum wrappers and try to, yeah. We were doing that, yeah. And then, I mean, that was a very slow process, right? I don't know what we ever did with that. Yeah, always that "Uncle Sam needs you," those signs and stuff. But my brother was, got a scholarship to go to school in '45, but then he was drafted after a quarter. He went to school for a quarter and then he was drafted. And so, you know, I always felt like, okay, now, he's in the army now and doing our, our... to support whatever, however way we could.

RP: And where did he go?

GK: Well, he was, I think he was at that school where they, he spoke Japanese very well. And so he went to that school, I think, in Minnesota.


GK: MIS, yeah, okay, and then he was stationed in Japan then.

RP: He was?

GK: Yeah, he was with the...

RP: In the occupation?

GK: Uh-huh, occupation, yeah. He was with the CIC, counterintelligence there.

RP: And did he, did he share with you what he did? I know that was kind of a secretive organization.

GK: No, he really didn't, but I know, I know that Mother made one remark that when he got back -- well, he did come home for a furlough, I think. And she made the remark that because of him being in that unit, his eyes were always, like, looking, looking, looking, you know, always darting and making sure. [Laughs] I don't think I noticed, but she thought she did.

RP: How did rationing during the war affect your family life? Did it at all?

GK: You know, because we were a large family, I think the rationing didn't affect us because you got so much sugar, and you can't possibly use as much sugar as we were allowed when you're from a large family. And the gas, because being on the farm and you needed the gas for the tractors and trucks and stuff, we had a big old tank in the yard that they would come and fill. So as far as rationing, I don't, I don't remember it being a hardship for us.

RP: Because your father was producing the farm crops, you were given an extra preference as far as that.

GK: Yes, I think so. I think we were allowed to have the gas tank, and so every now and then this truck would come in and fill the tank. So...

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

RP: Did you have any, any awareness of what was happening to Japanese Americans on the West Coast and being removed from their homes and sent to camps?

GK: Well, yes, I think... well, you know, my brother-in-law was one of those that was evacuated, and he just left just in the nick of time, I think. The last day, he got a truck and he got his dad and mother and grandma and grandpa and loaded everything. I think they had to have a friend help 'em, but his older brother was in the army, and he was stationed here in Denver at the Fitzsimmons, and they were on their way to Michigan, I think. That was one of the states that were allowing the evacuees to go to, and he stopped in Denver to see his brother, stopped, and I think his brother said, "Why don't you settle here?" he says, "This is a good place to settle." So they did, but they had a farm in, near, in Turlock, I guess, near Modesto, and that's where they had a farm. And they just really left in the middle of the night almost, just to make that deadline to get out of there.

RP: Did they lose the, I imagine they lost the farm.

GK: Beg your pardon?

RP: Did they lose the farm?

GK: I think so, yeah. I think they lost it all.

RP: Did stories like that prompt any suspicion or rumors that something like that might happen to Japanese families in Colorado?

GK: I don't think so. I don't think we ever...

RP: Did you feel safe where you were?

GK: I think so, yeah. I think we felt safe here. We were away from the Coast. But I used to hear all the stories from in Hawaii and things, and I think we were so lucky, we didn't have to uproot or have slop as they say, slop thrown in our faces or whatever.

RP: Good old SOS?

GK: Yeah. I think we were okay, we were fine.

RP: There was an effort in 1944 to pass a law that would strip Isseis of their land ownership in Colorado. Fortunately, it was defeated.

GK: Yes.

RP: But you don't recall that?

GK: I don't recall that at all. I didn't, I didn't know that, yeah. I just remember, I think when the war ended, it was August 14, 1945, and that was my birthday. And I thought, "Wow, this was really something to remember for the rest of my life." I think it was August 15th in Japan, but it was August 14th here. I thought, I just was glad it was over.

RP: Did those, did that sense of prejudice that you, did you feel a little bit relieved after that?

GK: I think so. I think so, because...

RP: People might go back to being...

GK: Yeah, and the fact that America won, you know. Although I really felt badly for all the people that got killed in Hiroshima, and when we went to Japan for the very first time, about six years ago, we did go to Hiroshima peace, with the peace conference, and we went to Hiroshima and they had all these cranes just everywhere, where the children and everybody had made those cranes. But they just had that one section where they kept. And it makes you realize what devastation they must have gone through. So you feel badly for them, but you're still an American. But it did, it brought it to life, really, when you see that and realize the suffering that they had gone through. It's just too bad it was Japan.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

RP: You graduated from Fort Lupton High School in 1948?

GK: Yes, I did, uh-huh.

RP: And kind of lead us on the journey from there.

GK: Oh, our journey from there? Okay, well, when I graduated in 1948, I wanted to go to college. And my parents said that I could not do that because my two older brothers had gotten scholarships and they couldn't go to college because they were needed on the farm. So Mother said, "If you ask your oldest brother Floyd, and if he says you can go, well then maybe you can go." So I went up to my brother and I said, "Could I go to college?" and he goes, "Sure, why not?" And I said, "Well, the folks said that I couldn't go unless you gave me permission because you weren't allowed to go 'cause you were needed on the farm." And he says, "Of course you can go." So I went to what is now UNC, it was Colorado College of Education back then, and so I thought, well, since I'm lucky enough to go to college, the least I can do is work for my room and board. So I went to the administration building and found a place where I could work for my room and board, and she gave me five dollars a week. And at that time, tuition was forty-eight dollars a quarter, so I felt like I was doing my share to be able to go to college, and I was very thankful because I was the first one to be able to do that. My brother Tom went, but then he was drafted, so I don't think that they had any qualms about him going, being a boy, but a daughter, that was something new.

RP: You broke some new ground there.

GK: I did, I did. So... but it didn't, I broke the ground, but my two younger sisters went to business school. They just, I guess they were more interested in that way, but I just wanted to go to college.

RP: And you went to college for a short time and then raising a family got...

GK: Yeah, I got married. I went, went two, two years and a quarter of my junior year. So Frank and I were married, and so this is our fifty-seventh year, and we'll be married fifty-eight years in December.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

RP: Frank shared with us, and I want you to share with us, the experience of moving to Carbondale, Illinois. You've got to tell it the way you told it to me on the phone, Gladys, that was such a great story. But how, being the first Japanese American, maybe the first Asians in that community, how were you, what were your perspectives on that experience?

GK: Well, I'll tell you, it was very, you know, Carbondale, Illinois, is just sixty miles north of Paducah, Kentucky, and a hundred miles south of St. Louis, so it's down in that Illinois thing. And it's essentially a coal mining area with a university. The only other industrial thing was a glove factory. So when we were there, we were such a novelty that when we first moved there, we went to a neighboring town called Murphysboro, and I was going to sew some curtains, so we went to the store. And there was this woman and another person pushing a stroller. And as we came out of the store, they were looking at us and they just kept turning their head until they pushed that stroller right into this lightpost. I mean, they just they were not... that was the funniest thing. And then, that was right after we got there, and we ate at a cafeteria, and I think most of us had fried chicken. And everybody in that restaurant were just looking at us. And we finally said, "Maybe we're not supposed to pick up the chicken and eat it, maybe we're supposed to cut it with our fork and knife or whatever, you know."

But I do have to tell you, though, my, we still, I tried to carry on the Japanese custom of having the rice bowl and the chopstick and everything. Well, our son at the time had a lot of friends that they played baseball, and they used to play around in our yard, and he would -- excuse me -- bring his friends in. And before he brought 'em in, if I had the table set, he'd run in and pick up the rice bowls and the chopsticks and put 'em away. He didn't want them to see that we were eating with chopsticks and rice bowl. So that was always kind of interesting. Oh, and my mother-in-law, when we'd come out to visit them in Fort Lupton, this is... and there weren't that many Asian stores at all.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

RP: We were talking about some of your experiences in Carbondale.

GK: Oh, in Carbondale, oh, yes. My mother-in-law would send us back with a hundred pounds of rice. At that time, they were hundred-pound rice sacks, and our children would not let Frank unload that until after dark, always. [Laughs] And they, that was, thinking back on that, people used to ask me if I ate a lot of rice, and people would say, "Your eyes are round, they're not squinty." But most of all, they asked me if I liked this country, if I liked America. And I would explain to them that I was born in America so I was an American, and they'd say, "No wonder you speak the English language so well." Well, after a while, after being asked so many times if I liked this country, I finally said, "I love America, I love America." And so I always felt like I was an ambassador, you know. [Laughs] I used to always think that way, that I was an ambassador. But I think it does work, because when you're a foreigner to people that never have been around Asians, then you are, you are an ambassador.

RP: An ambassador and an educator.

GK: Yeah. So I used to always tell my children, even though they were Americans, they had to really watch themselves. And I hated to tell them because of the way they looked, that they were different. But at one point, I did have to stress to my youngest daughter that she was different, and this was at a church. And she had gone with some friends to church, and apparently did things that were not, you know, like clapping after the minister gave a sermon and singing a hymn which she didn't know, she and her friend. So when she came home, my oldest daughter said that Laura had misbehaved, and so I thought maybe I needed to tell her that even though she was an American, she was, she looked different, so she needed to behave herself. And this was of course after church, so she said to me, "That's all right, Mom, I'll wear a mask next time." [Laughs] So even though I didn't want to stress the fact that they were different, they were different. So they were always on, also always on, on whatever.

RP: You were on, kind of, alert and very... you were talking about that experience after, after the man, or the boy in your class, that you felt sort of on edge.

GK: Uh-huh. So you know, I always felt like we're, if we do anything, it was always if it's, if it's anything bad, it was always a reflection on our race.

RP: Right, no matter what, not bringing shame.

GK: So that was always, you never wanted to shame your parents or disgrace them.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

RP: So later on, you got involved, when you came back to Boulder, you got involved with the JACL?

GK: Yes, I have.

RP: Had you been a member of them, a member of that organization?

GK: I've been a member, I think, you know, we were doing so much volunteer work we decided we'd become members. And so about, maybe about seven or eight years ago, we became members. But never, you know, they asked if we would become board members, and I just never wanted to be a board member. But then I got to thinking, this past year they asked me if I would be the vice-president, program chairman, and I thought, "Okay, it's time for me to give back to the community. And if I can do something because our JACL membership has been going down, I felt like maybe I can use my energies into getting people back. And by that, it was like I needed my family, you start with your family. So there's, that's where I started, my family, my two sisters have joined, and they were planning a big potluck at the end of this month, trying to get new members and bringing back old members and whatever. So Frank and I have really been working on this, getting together things that are donated, we hope to have an auction and make some money so that we can pay for the rental of this building and have some extra money. And then this year, also we wanted to have other, I mean, not just JACL members, but other people, and just maybe get them interested in that. And so this year is the hundredth anniversary of the Lakeside Amusement Park where they have the roller coaster and all that, so I have made arrangements with my sister, she used to be the bookkeeper there. And so we have already spoken and are going to rent the pavilion, and get the community together there with, I figure, friends and relatives and grandchildren. So I feel like we've all been kind of spreading out and not being very active, and we need to get back as a community. And I think I have the energy, so I want to, I want to do that, so I'm working on that.

RP: What racial issues locally has the JACL had to confront?

GK: Well, that's so funny, because we're still, I was talking to Tom about this, and I'm not sure what the goal is. I mean, we're still working for civil, civil rights and racism and all that, but funny enough, I think the younger generations, even my sister who is six years younger than me, she didn't realize that we were still having racial problems because she's never had to confront it. When we were in high school, even back in high school, being six years younger, she was the head girl. I mean, she didn't feel any racial tensions or anything, and she, even now, she gets together with her classmates and everything, she didn't feel that. And so whenever, when I was asking her if she'd join the JACL and the purpose, she said, "I didn't realize we were still doing that, that we were still fighting." So it's interesting, and so I think we have to keep in mind, still, that we're still working for civil rights, but I'm not sure that the younger generation is aware of it as much. And this is why...

RP: You have to remind them.

GK: Yeah.

RP: There was one particular incident that you explained to me that happened on the University of Colorado campus? There was an article, can you share that with us?

GK: Yes, there was a student there in the journalism class, I think, and it was supposed to be a satire, but I don't believe it was. He wrote, it was online, and he, his remark was that, "If the Asians want war, we'll give them war," and that was the headline. He didn't think anything was wrong with that. He said, I think he felt like the Japanese hated the white people, and so I think he still, I believe he was one of the editors, but he still works for that, but he's no longer editor or anything. But yeah, there's always these issues that keep coming up.

RP: Another one, another story you shared with me was an incident that occurred in a market where Frank was shopping?

GK: Oh, Frank? Yes. I had sent Frank, this is maybe two or three years after we came back to Colorado, which would be about 1987 or so. I sent him to the store, grocery store, to pick up a couple items, and he came back and he was telling me this story and I couldn't believe it. He said he was, there was a gentleman with a cart right in the middle of the aisle, and he wanted to get through, so he just moved it over just a little bit so he can get through. And this gentleman got really mad at him and wanted to hit him. And he took his cart and he tried to ram Frank, and so anyway, he said, "Why don't you go back to your own country?" And Frank said, "Well, I don't see you wearing an Indian blanket." [Laughs] And so anyway, I could not believe this mild-mannered Frank would even say that, you know. But yeah, at that time, as liberal as Boulder is, I was, I was really surprised by that. But then I take into consideration also that he might have been in World War II, or somebody in his family might have been killed or something. So of course that's a feeling that you just have and you just kind of forgive and forget and that kind of thing. But yeah, I was really surprised, yeah.

RP: I think it just points out the fact that there's still work to be done.

GK: Yes, there is, yeah. That's why we're always ambassadors, we're always working on that.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

RP: I think just a couple more closing questions. Both you and Frank still have a very strong connection with the place that you grew up in, Fort Lupton.

GK: Yes, uh-huh.

RP: And you still attended services...

GK: We do.

RP: ..Buddhist services. What comes, what do you feel when you go out to that place?

GK: Oh, it's home. It's home, yeah. And you know, this is where our parents and Frank's parents are all buried there and everything. It's, we know the people well, we just feel at home, and you don't have to put on an act for anybody, you're just yourself. 'Cause they remember you as a young person also, so it's home for us, and we just feel very comfortable, we know everybody. I can joke with 'em and whatever. So we just are very comfortable at Fort Lupton.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

RP: You talked about how strong Issei women had to be to come over --

GK: Oh, goodness, yes.

RP: -- to a strange new country and start a new life. You talked about your mom taking a little more responsibility 'cause your father was unable to read and write.

GK: Yes, uh-huh.

RP: How have you seen the role of the Japanese American woman change in your lifetime using your life as an example? Do you feel there's, in your relationship with Frank, more equality there, less of a subservient role? Did your husband encourage you to find your own identity and voice?

GK: Uh-huh. Well, you know, I don't know if Frank told you, but when we were married, I'm not sure that my folks had anyone in mind for me, but when I married Frank, my folks disowned me. Did he tell you that?

RP: No, he didn't.

GK: Okay, so they disowned me for a year, and that was very hard because I was the first one to show any kind of independence in my family, and I just felt like some of my brothers and sisters, they were arranged marriages, and then there were a couple that found love on their own. But my folks did not want me to marry Frank, and so I was disowned. But I felt like we were in America and this was my life, so we were married. And there were times when I was really lonely for my parents, but then I also knew that this was a, this was my choice, I had made my choice. There were kind of hard times, but I know that that was not my mother's choice. If my mother had her say, I think it would have been okay, but my dad was the stronger one, so whatever he said was the way it went.

RP: What was the reason, what did he have against Frank?

GK: Well, I think, you know, back then, way back, I think the parents had different grudges, and I think Frank's dad was on the other side of whatever incident that happened, and just happened to be that way. And so my dad was that way, so for a year I didn't see them, but I know whenever, whenever I think about it, it seems so unreal now, but I always felt myself as more of a free spirit, I wasn't as subservient. So anyway, I made my choice, and of course, I've never regretted it, and I always felt like this was my life. I forgot what the question was, but anyway...

RP: So did I. [Laughs] Do you have any other family secrets you'd like to share with us?

GK: Family secrets? Let's see.

RP: How about gambling?

GK: Oh, gosh, no. No, my dad did not -- that's, I used to hear that my dad used to play pool. Back in those days it was not billiards, right? Pool. And then that's the smoky... but when he became a family man, he dropped that, he dropped drinking, and I remember Dad smoking. He dropped that, too, but I remember buying him, he smoked a pipe, and every Christmas I would give him a can of Prince Albert, that was standard, I'd go to the drugstore. Family secrets? Let's see. I was probably the most, the most independent, and they probably were afraid to say my name there for a year, you know. I didn't realize it until two or three years ago, one of my nieces said, "Remember when we couldn't even say Auntie Yuki's name?" and I thought, "Whoa." That was a painful time, but Frank was very cute during that time when I was disowned for a year. I would be very sad, he'd come home, got galoshes one time and got... [laughs] and different... but yeah, so from there, after we got married, he worked on his master's and did his doctorate. And then my dad, he never did apologize for my, for when he disowned me, but he was, told the rest of the family that they just thought that Frank was the best son-in-law he could ever have had, could ever ask for. So he was very proud, yes. So that meant a lot to me, to know that it was all right, that he was okay.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

RP: How were you personally affected by 9/11 and the backlash towards Muslims and Arab Americans in this country?

GK: Oh, gosh, you know, 9/11 was just so unbelievable, wasn't it? It was like you were watching a movie, and you're watching this all on TV and you see all these people running and everything. I, you know, I didn't think that they would be incarcerating the Muslims or anything, I thought we were beyond that, that they would not make that mistake again. And felt like it would be okay, once they got the terrorists and everything. I think, I just didn't think they'd do that again after, after the Japanese incident. And I have had friends tell me that they were really ashamed to be an American, as they see these programs about the incarceration, in camps for the Japanese on PBS, they said, "I am just ashamed to be an American," when you see those programs. So I thought that was interesting. In fact, they asked if this was gonna be on PBS, and I said, "I don't think so," but anyway... [laughs]. But yeah, so as far as 9/11, as horrifying as it was, I didn't think they would put anybody in camps anymore.

RP: Do you have a sizeable Muslim, Arab American community in the Denver area?

GK: I think they do. I think they have a Muslim church and everything. As far as Boulder, I'm not really sure.

RP: Well, Gladys, do you have any other stories or remembrances? You shared so many great stories with us, but any others that you'd like to share in our waning moments?

GK: I may think of some after we're through. [Laughs]

RP: Well, save 'em up, we'll be back July 4th weekend, and we can do any follow-up. But really honored to have you share some really great stories about life in Colorado.

GK: Thank you. I've enjoyed our visit; it's been fun.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.