Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Alfred "Al" Miyagishima Interview
Narrator: Alfred "Al" Miyagishima
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 13, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-malfred-01-0004

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So let's talk about your mother now. So what was her name and where was she born?

AM: Her name was Kiku Endo, and she came across from Japan with her father and mother, which would be my grandparents, and they settled in Hillrose, Colorado. And I believe my aunt Louise, that's where she was born, and she was the only daughter, and in time, they moved to the Scottsbluff area. I think my dad and my mother married in Denver. It seems like I've seen a picture of, they had a wedding and then it appears that... Hillrose is just a one-horse town, you know, it was a little farm town, and it didn't seem like that was appropriate for a wedding. It looked like the way she was dressed and everything, I think it happened here in Denver. My dad had lots of friends here in Denver, and whenever we used to visit Denver, we used to go visit some of his friends and stuff. And I have no idea whether they were ken people, you know, from Shizuoka or something like that.

TI: So I'm curious, what was the connection between Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and Denver? Why, what was your father connected so much to Denver?

AM: Well, my father opened up a store that had a lot of Japanese goods in Scottsbluff, and he called it the Mount Fuji Company. And of course, lot of his goods and stuff came from here in Denver, and that's where he would do most of his ordering for things. And, of course, fish came from either in the San Pedro area, or it came from Seattle Fish, and they would ship it. I remember Dad used to go to the railroad station, and then tell everybody to get their orders in for some sashimi and things of that nature, mackerel. So then my mom would cut it into serving size, I guess, and she would, I guess you'd call it butchering the fish, and then my dad would deliver it. They had, Mabel, all of my siblings were all born in Scottsbluff, so after they were married, then they came to Scottsbluff. So evidently, I'm thinking that my father probably had established himself in Scottsbluff before they got married.

TI: Going back to your mother's family, what type of work did they do?

AM: Oh, they were, they farmed. They were... I think most of the Japanese didn't have any kind of skills, and of course farming was relatively, just back-breaking work and the will to work. So there was, a lot of Japanese all went to farming for other people with a share and this and that, and eventually they saved up enough money to buy their own farms. Of course, I think, at that time, I don't believe that there was, the law said that you couldn't own, that aliens couldn't own land. And I don't know whether that was a federal law or what it was.

TI: Usually they were state laws, so each state had their own separate...

AM: Probably, but I don't know whether that held, held up in Nebraska or not, because there was a lot of Russian and German and whatever, immigrants there, and they all had big farms and whatnot. So I have no idea if that was true or not. But that's what they did.

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