Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Mabel Shoji Boggs Interview
Narrator: Mabel Shoji Boggs
Interviewer: Margaret Barton Ross
Location: Philomath, Oregon
Date: April 11, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-bmabel-01-0001

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MR: This is an interview with Mabel Shoji Boggs, a Nisei woman, eighty-two years old, at the Philomath Public Library in Philomath, Oregon, on April 11, 2003. The interviewer is Margaret Barton Ross of the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center's oral history project, 2003. It's nice to be with you today, Mrs. Boggs.

MB: I'm glad to be here and I hope I do all right.

MR: Where were you born and when?

MB: I was born in Multnomah County, Portland, Oregon, in August of 1920.

MR: August what?

MB: August 3.

MR: Okay. And do you have brothers and sisters?

MB: Yes, I do. I have a sister, May, who is the oldest, and a brother, George, and a second sister, Orga. Orga was, there were, people asked me why the name Orga. They'd never heard the name Orga. Well, her name is supposed to be Olga, but the Japanese cannot pronounce the letter L, and it came out Orega. And so when they registered her birth, the lady asked what is the baby's name, Orega, Orega. And so it was put down as O-R-G-A on her birth certificate, and she's been known as Orga ever since.

MR: What about your father and your mother?

MB: Okay. My father was born, both my father and mother were born in Japan. My father was born in 1882, and my mother was born in 1889. My father died in 1925 at the age of forty-one, and my mother was thirty-four at the time, and he left Mama and four children all under the age of ten to support, to raise. Soon after he died, my father died of pneumonia. He was a gandy dancer for the Union Pacific Railroad. And after his death, his older brother wanted to send my mother to Japan because he said she'll need someone to help raise the family, and my mother told him, "No. I came to America to live, and America I'll stay, and I'll raise my family." And my uncle says, "Don't expect me to help you. I have my own family to raise." And my mother says, "Well, I never asked for your help," but, and I couldn't work. I'll raise my family alone, and she did. And after my sister and, older sister and brother graduated from high school, both of them were honor students, my uncle came to apologize to my mother because he told her, "I didn't think that you could raise your family by yourself and raise such outstanding children."

MR: Just to go back to your father, just, could you tell us what a gandy dancer does?

MB: A gandy dancer is a person that works on the railroad. They check to see if the ties are straight, that the rails are on. They keep the railroad free of debris. I mean, their work is just to keep the railroads in working order so the train doesn't slip off. That's as best as I can tell you what a gandy dancer is.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.