Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Alley Watada Interview
Narrator: Alley Watada
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 15, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-walley-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historical Site and the Densho Legacy Project. Today we are talking with Alley Watada. We'll be discussing Alley's experiences 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 our interview is Thursday, May 15, 2008. The interviewer is Richard Potashin and our videographer is Kirk Peterson. Our interview with Alley today will be archived in the Manzanar National Historic Site library. And, Alley, a pleasure meeting you.

AW: Thanks.

RP: And an honor to be able to, to share stories with you today. First of all, can you give me your name, your given name at birth?

AW: At birth my name was Al and middle name, Japanese name, was Eiji Watada. So it's Al Eiji Watada.

RP: So, and how did you end up with Alley?

AW: Well, I'm making an assumption here. When I went to first grade, my brother took me to school and he introduced me to the teacher. And he probably said, "Al." And middle initial, middle name is Eiji, which starts with E. So he probably said, "This is Al E. Watada." I'm making... and so when I got my first report card, my father and my brother was discussing my name. And it was Ally, A-L-L-Y, and they thought, well, maybe this is part of an extension of Al, but they weren't sure about that. And my second grade teacher spelled it A-L-L-I-E. She said that, "No, you don't spell Alley that way. It's A-L-L-I-E." And my third grade teacher informed me that's a female gender. So it should A-L-L-E-Y. And, of course, those days we took whatever was given to us, I guess. And it wasn't until when I was in the military, I was getting a security clearance, and the fellows that were doing the clearance said that at the court house there is no Alley E. Watada, but there is a Al E. Watada. And so they gave me a choice. I either have to change my records to Al or go to the courthouse and change it to Alley. So, that's what I did. I changed it to Alley.

RP: That's a story in itself.

AW: Yes, uh-huh.

RP: Alley, your birth place and your full birth date?

AW: I was born in Platteville, Colorado, which is about 26 miles north of Denver, maybe 30 miles. Born in July 20, 1930.

RP: Were you born at home?

AW: Yes, yes. I come from family of twelve children and I think six of us were all born at the house.

RP: You had a midwife or doctor who came out?

AW: That I don't know. I don't know.

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