Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Gloria Toshiko Imagire Interview
Narrator: Gloria Toshiko Imagire
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: October 17, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-igloria-01-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

RP: Let's pick up the thread of your life a little bit when you returned to Sacramento, you're working in your dad's soda fountain/card business. And you entered junior high school at that time?

GI: Yeah, I was in junior high, and then I went to Sacramento High. And then I worked... I think we started that fountain when I graduated Sacramento High. Until then, my mom was working in the cannery and my father was doing his gambling business in Lodi. And then when I graduated high school, he started that fountain. So that's, that was our livelihood.

RP: Was that your first job working in the fountain?

GI: Oh, I guess so, yeah. My mother used to always say, "You know, there might be a depression again, so you have to do any job that comes along. So that if anything happens, you won't starve." So I did all kinds of cleaning and babysitting. One time my girlfriend's father, Mexican guy, was a farm labor contractor. And she says, "Do you want to go pick tomatoes and try to earn some money in the summer?" I said, "Okay." So we went out there, and we we're looking at these tomatoes and then putting in the box. And then lunchtime came, we got so many cents a box. Those Mexican laborers, they had piles and piles, and we didn't even have one box. I said, "Oh my god," I said, "I don't want to do this anymore." [Laughs] So we quit doing that. That was the end of my tomato picking career.

RP: And you said you spent some time in the cannery?

GI: No, my mom worked in the cannery. I never did the cannery, but I worked in the city library when I was going through college. I went to junior college for a couple years here, and then I went to San Francisco to nursing school. And that's where I met Art.

RP: So like in most Japanese families, education was really a key factor?

GI: You know what was funny? My father and mother never really stressed education. I don't know why on earth I thought I should get educated. Because they didn't ever... in fact, my father wanted me, when I graduated high school, he wanted me to be a state worker like everybody else, and help support the family. And I didn't want to do that, I wanted to go to school. So I went. And when I graduated, he was proud I graduated, but until then, here he wanted me to... and so my three brothers were kind of influenced more by him. They didn't want to go to school or do anything. But my sister... and so people asked me, "Your sister and you are so different from your brothers." And I tell 'em, "I think it's 'cause we had my mother's influence." And I said, "And we were the only two that were breastfed." In between, she wasn't able to breastfeed the three brothers. [Laughs] And I said I think that's why there's some sort of a linkage, that's why we are different that way. But my brothers turned out all okay. They never went to prison or anything, they all were decent, hardworking guys. They just didn't, they didn't, they weren't interested in going to school. But that's why I always think, "Wow." And when I read later in Japanese families they really stressed education. I thought, "That wasn't the case in our family."

RP: What was stressed?

GI: What was stressed? I think not... my mom used to say, "Do everything well." Like if you cleaned the house, she'd say, "Sumi kara sumi," which means, "corner to corner." You clean from corner to corner. You know, you didn't do this haphazard kind of a job. So whatever you did, do well. I think they taught us to be honest, and they taught us to care about other people, I think. And my brothers even, to this day, they're like that. Where we always say, we never go to someone's house empty-handed. You know how some people come and they just... we always think, "Oh, they're just sponging off of you," or something. But all of us have this mentality that if we go someplace, we have to take something with us before we go to that place. I think those are the kinds of things they stressed to us. And my mom loved animals and children, and I think all of us do that, too. So something must have rubbed off on us.

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