Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Yoneko Hara Interview
Narrator: Yoneko Hara
Interviewer: Margaret Barton Ross
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: July 18, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-hyoneko-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

MR: This is an interview with Yoneko Hara, a Nisei woman, eighty years old, at her home in Portland, Oregon, on July 18, 2003. The interviewer is Margaret Barton Ross of the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center's Oral History Project 2003. Thank you for having us in your home for this interview. Let's start out talking about the circumstances of your birth, and where you were born.

YH: Well, I can remember we lived in a little tiny red house, and it had one bedroom, a living room, and a kitchen. And we all slept in the one bedroom, we lined up in there, and I can still remember reading the comics on Sunday morning there. And then that's the only recollection. Then we went to the new house. We had too many kids, illnesses, and we were told to move, build a house or move, we needed more room.

MR: You say you were told to move?

YH: By the doctor, a family friend. We kept getting colds and sick, and so he said, "You should move to a bigger place with more bedrooms."

MR: And when did you move?

YH: About 1928, thereabouts.

MR: Let's go back to when you were born and where.

YH: I was born in Portland, I don't know where. I think it was a midwife. I believe they went to the midwife's place when my mother was ready to deliver me, and that's all I know.

MR: And your birthday?

YH: September 12, 1922.

MR: Thank you. So you were just saying that you moved to this new house. Where was that?

YH: The new house is right next door on the property that my folks had, and he built a house that had five bedrooms. It was huge, it was the biggest house in the neighborhood, and there are six children, so we had room for the boys, the girls, and the spare for a guest and a little room we could play in downstairs, and then the folks had the master room. And it was just wonderful. We would run around the house, and we'd go upstairs, downstairs, and at that time, it was before the Depression, so things were going quite well. And then the Depression came, but we still had the house, and it made a little difference.

MR: What did your parents do?

YH: My father grew flowers, he was a greenhouse man. My mother would go out there and work with him, and then he was mostly a wholesale grower, and then he had a little retail place on the property there with the greenhouses.

MR: Now you say Portland, but where in Portland was this greenhouse?

YH: Southeast Portland on, oh, it's between Powell and Foster Road on Sixty-third, Southeast Sixty-third. And he had about nine greenhouses in a row, and it's all residential area there. And this is right, I'm sure the houses were as old as the greenhouses were at that time, because he bought it from somebody else.

MR: Was that an area where other people had greenhouses, too?

YH: No, no, they were all residents, all single dwellings, no apartments.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

MR: You said your mother helped in the greenhouse. Did the children help as well?

YH: We were supposed to help, and I could still hear my mother calling up to us to hurry up and get up, because Pop would get angry if we weren't out there working. And so we would sort of lumber out there after we washed up and had breakfast, but we didn't do an awful lot. We would maybe help pull the weeds or string up the chrysanthemums and things that were a little tedious. And then we'd help transplant when we got old enough, but we played mostly while we were young.

MR: So you played mostly. What did you do for fun?

YH: We'd climb, we had cherry trees on the property next door. We'd climb the cherry trees. My older sister Ise has since passed, but taught me how to climb up the tree, where to put my feet so that I wouldn't fall, what to hang on to, and we'd climb. But the minute I saw a caterpillar, I'd just come shooting down so fast. That's the one thing I didn't like. But we'd get a little basket and we'd get some cherries. We had an apple tree and we'd climb that, made a little ledge in the apple tree where we could sit up there, and we'd just look over the neighborhood, and just play, sort of play-play. It was really fun. We'd have nothing to do, we'd go up there and play.

MR: What was the neighborhood makeup like? What kind of people lived there?

YH: Oh, they're just average workers, I think. I don't know... one man in back was a streetcar conductor, and they had no children, but he had a beautiful pond, and we'd go over there and he'd let us come in and sit around there and look. But there were a few children. Two of them across the street, lot of rentals so they'd come and go. And two down the street, we were the biggest family by far.

MR: What did your family do for recreation as a group, say? Would you take trips?

YH: Boy, we didn't take... we would go up to Hood River when my dad had business, we'd all pile in the car and go there, and maybe spend a night at a good friend's up there, and then we'd come home. But we didn't take big trips. When I was young, my father started, he wanted to do something with my older brother to keep him out of mischief. And so he started American Legion, he joined a baseball team. And my brother would get to play in left field? Right field. Let's see... right field. [Laughs] And he'd play there, and then pretty soon he was in Babe Ruth, and then he became American Legion, and then he left, but he had all the neighborhood children play, the young boys. And so the summers were involved, we'd go to all the games they had, we'd chase the balls, and then they'd come home, and then we'd have a watermelon feed and then they'd all go home. But they were all most of 'em young, you know, teens. Maybe seventeen, playing ball for him. And it was a nice thing; it was very nice.

MR: Was it a Japanese ball team then?

YH: No, it was Caucasian. He got a few came and played, Japanese, but I think they came from outlying areas that didn't have a team or something. But the rest were boys in the neighborhood, and we were the only Japanese family within a radius of about ten, fifteen blocks or more, I guess. There was a family on Sixty-seventh, and that's four blocks, but it's up north -- south more. And so we were brought up mainly in a Caucasian area.

MR: What was your position in the family? I mean, how far down were you?

YH: I'm in the middle. I was... one, two, three... fourth child, and there were six of us. So I'm always the middle child, consider myself the middle child, and always thought I was left out of things and had all the hand-me-downs. Stopped here because my little sister was a little chubbier than I was. [Laughs] So family-wise we played a lot together in an odd way. 'Cause my oldest brother and sister were old enough to do other things, but us in the middle, we'd play. The neighbors would come, we'd play kick the can out in the street, and all these games that you don't hear of nowadays. And we'd stay out in the summer until someone got called and it's getting late, you have to come in. And so it's just a real nice neighborhood. And you just, they come to the back door and knock, you know, and we didn't ever let 'em in the house very much. But we'd come out and play, and it was just, it was a nice thing. I don't know if they do it nowadays. You're sort of isolated from your neighbors or you don't really know much about them like they did in the old days.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

MR: In those days can you talk about modern conveniences or lack of?

YH: Lack of... we didn't have, well, there were no refrigerators I don't think when I was growing up. It was an ice box. [Coughs] Excuse me. Ice box, you'd have a card, and you put it in your window, and the ice man would go by, look who had the cards, and how many pounds they want, so you'd put a twenty-five or a fifty sign up, whichever one you wanted for the day. And then he'd come and put it in your ice box, and then you'd pay him. And that went until refrigerators came in, but we were a long ways from getting a refrigerator even then, because they were a little bit spendy for us. And so we still had the ice box, and then they quit delivering so we didn't use it very much. And buying food for the day or having vegetables and keeping it as cool as you could. You could walk to the grocery store, it's only a block away, two blocks, and carry what groceries you had. We never bought like a week at a time in those days. I think it's because of the cashflow. So that was about it that we did those things.

MR: If it wasn't too hot, how long do you think a block of ice would last?

YH: I think it's... I don't think it lasts more than three days. I mean, I don't know, a week. It's supposed to last a week. When he comes, it'd be a small little chunk in there. Of course, it'd melt down, so you have to empty the water down below, but I don't recall how often he came. We couldn't make jell-o either, because it wasn't cold enough, the jell-o. The only time we could have jell-o was when it was in the winter or there's snow or it's freezing out, and we could hurry up and make it, and we set it out on the front porch, and then we'd have jell-o, so sort of a treat. And that was really something, people probably thought, "Oh my gosh, what are they doing?" But for us, that was a treat.

MR: Did anybody else make deliveries in the neighborhood?

YK: The milk man came... he came from Redland Dairy, which is, I know it's out Mulino way now, and I see a Redland Avenue and I thought, "I'll be that's where the dairy farm was. And nicest, I don't know if he was Swedish or Norwegian, but a tall man, he'd come and deliver our milk, set it on the porch so we'd have to get it on the hot days before it got hot, bring it in the house. And we had it up until about '60... Alpenrose, when we moved, we had Alpenrose delivering milk for us when the kids were small. And then we moved here and we quit. I don't think they deliver it anymore. Well, they wouldn't come here. [Laughs]

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

MR: When you got old enough to go to school, where did you go?

YK: We walked to Joseph Kellogg school, it's on about sixty-eighth and Powell. And my sister right above me, Yaeko, she and I would go. And then when my younger brother, Mineo, and my sister Kazuko, we had to take them. And they would go along with us, and then all of a sudden they'd stop on somebody's lawn, and they'd say, "We're not going to go to school unless you give us a nickel." And we'd get so angry, but, you know, you played with them, and then they'd finally get up and they'd go, 'cause we had to take care of them to see that they got to school, too. And it wasn't bad, but when it rained, and in the winter it was cold, it was really, you wonder how kids don't walk like that nowadays. The bus comes by and picks you up. But we walked to school and if it was rainy after school, my dad would be there with the truck, and he'd call the neighborhood kids and us, bring us home. So if it's raining real hard we'd look for his car after school. And, you know, just sort of neat, 'cause then we didn't get all wet. We rarely had umbrellas with us. If they did, they broke right away.

MR: Can you talk about the school itself a little bit?

YK: It was a big school considering it's still standing, and they still use it. I remember it had two floors, and the rooms were huge. It's just day in, day out school. We had principal's... they wouldn't let you in the building. They had a new ruling, you couldn't come in 'til a certain hour. And if you got there early and it was cold, he made you wait outside. And I never liked him after that. [Laughs] I remember his name was Mr. Kiggins, to this day I thought that was sort of mean because so many of the parents maybe work, and we'd just wait outside, and it was cold. In the warm weather it doesn't matter, but rules and regulations, I guess they still exist. But that was one thing I remembered. It was sort of fun, though. They had the open houses and things like that. My folks, they would participate in... they have an open house, and she would send a cake that she made for PTA bake sale or something. And then they had a Japanese tea room which the Japanese in the neighborhood would set up. And the girls would wear Japanese kimono and serve tea, and that was sort of neat, a little different. And they did that as long as... I don't know how many years.

MR: Are there any teachers that you think back on and remember especially well?

YK: Well, there was a third grade... I remember my first grade teacher 'cause she was a little bit heavy, but she was so gentle and sweet, had white hair. I remember my third grade teacher 'cause she was real flashy dresser, and she was single. Her name was Miss Snook, and she was really, she'd come out to the place and buy flowers from my dad every so often. And the janitor was always hanging around in there, 'cause she was sort of attractive. I remember these little things. And then my eighth grade teacher, I remember she kept telling us stories. She read The Raven, and I'd look at the half of of the class was asleep, but she'd read a little bit every day. And do this day, it's still in my head, The Raven. And other than... and the gym teachers were great, and that was something I really looked forward to having gym, 'cause I liked physical education, and play in there, play prison ball, I guess they still play that. Softball out in the fields, and we'd line up and then go in partners or whatever and have to line up the shortest first and then go all the way up, so you're always in the same lineup unless someone shot up real fast. So it was, that was about it.

MR: Were there any organized activities for the children?

YK: Not really. Well, maybe in the spring they have the relay races, a track meet, I guess you'd call it, and have relay races. And it was just sort of an all-school thing, so it was, I remember running in a relay. And I don't know why this tall boy was in the next relay, on the other team, and everyone was laughing because I was so small and he was so tall. But we were racing, I guess, to get to the other side, and I remember that really clearly. But other than that, I don't remember too much about activities.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

MR: Sometimes families send their children to Japanese school after school.

YK: They do, they do. We were so out southeast that there were no schools there. And one lady came out, she moved out in southeast, and so she had a school. And so we went about a year, I think. She wanted to teach us dancing and singing, and she taught us how to try to read and write, but I can't remember any of it. That was the extent of my education in Japanese. And like George, my husband, he went every day after school to regular Japanese school, and we never had that, and so we just sort of played. But my father always said, "You don't go to Japanese school, so I want you to learn your English really well." [Laughs] And I think... well, I don't know if he really... because when we'd speak Japanese, what we learned at home, he'd always correct us. And to this day I don't know what was right or wrong about this one little phrase I had. Which one was the correct way? I keep thinking about it, and I'm not sure. Was it de or no de? And he always would correct us. My mother never said anything, but my dad would correct our... and he never went to school; he was self-taught. So even reading, he said he read by the candlelight when he was small, because he couldn't go to school. And he learned how to read Japanese and speak it, and then when he came over here, he learned to read English, and write it, and speak it. And so you think of that, and you think you should work a little harder, 'cause we have all the privileges that he never had. And he would tell us these things to probably instill in us a little bit more ambition and desire to want to succeed.

MR: What do you think his hopes were for his children?

YK: Oh, just to be happy and do something that you're happy with in the work somehow. He never said, "I want you to be such-and-such." It was just, "Be good, be good citizens," and he always stressed the fact that we were born here and we should be good citizens and learn. And we had to excel in school, though, because things would be harder for us because we're Japanese. If they had to choose, they wouldn't choose us, they'd choose the Caucasian. So he always stressed that: "You're going to have to work a little harder than the other person," and that sort of stayed with me.

MR: Did he or your mother keep you connected to the Japanese community in any way then if there was no school?

YK: Well, you know, they were very active in the Japanese community themselves. They didn't go to church all the time, but they were mainly Buddhists. And they were active in, they call it Nikkeijinkai now, but it was called... I forgot. Not Japanese Ancestral Society, that's next. But he would become a part of that, and he'd be voted president for one year or whatever, and my mother joined, they had a women's club that she helped organize, and she would help run that. And so they were very active in the community. And so we'd go when there was a community activity, they'd take us. The women's club had a program, they were going to have the program, so everybody's doing something. And my mother cannot carry a tune, she can't sing. And so she didn't know what... they said she had to do something, so I guess she really wracked her brain, so she came home and she said, "I offered you and Yaeko to play the piano." I said, "What?" And she said, "You play a duet on the piano." And we're not really very good. And so she said she couldn't sing, and we knew that, and so we did our share. So my father calls the music teacher up and tells her, "You have to come," and we were taking piano lessons, "you have to come and help us." And so she got two pieces, "Nola" and the "March of the Wooden Soldiers," and she brought those and she worked on us. Taught us how, helped us get it down pat. And so then we got, had got new dresses, and my mother then got twin dresses, 'cause we're only a year apart. And then we had our hair cut, and then we got up there. And we played for it, and she was just so relieved and so happy. And then I thought, well, we did our share for her. But it just was something that just really, I think it made her feel like she contributed, and we were part of that. But I still remember us trying real hard. I'd poke my sister and she'd poke me back if we hit a wrong key or something. But that was sort of fun.

MR: What were your feelings being on stage the first time?

YK: It was really scary. [Laughs] We just weren't used to that. And one thing is different, is we didn't know all the Japanese children that might have been there, or the families. We know a few that was within our circle, but other than that, if we go someplace, you know, they all know each other 'cause they go to Japanese school, but we didn't know anybody. And my older sisters starting going to this, call it Girl Reserves, and this Japanese organization associated with the YWCA. And they'd go to those, and then they'd have dances and things. And they never asked me to come. I was just a year younger, but all those years I thought, they never, and I'd mentioned a couple times, they acted like they didn't hear me. They didn't want me tagging along. That was up until the war, so I was left at home all the time, and I was sort of not a part of that. And so when evacuation came, they didn't know there were any more children in our family. He thought there were just the two, my older sisters. And I said, "No, there's more." [Laughs] And you learn, and met people there at camp and stuff.

High school was... going backwards, high school was sort of fun for me because I like sports and I'd play on the basketball team, and we'd do gymnastics. The new gym teacher was just a college graduate and she had a little car, a rumble seat type, and she'd take us to the different schools so we'd play against them, high school basketball. And so it was really fun, and they were all... well, I was maybe not the shortest girl, but we'd have such a good time, and that was, to this day, one of them, I have lunch once a month with my old grade school, high school friends to this day, and it's really, we enjoy it a lot. Goes to different restaurants and have lunch. But high school was just very fast, I thought, fleeting. I had no social life, you know, just stayed home, come home, played basketball or sports and that was it.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

MR: What high school did you go to?

YK: Oh, I went to Franklin High School in southeast Portland on 50th or so, on Division.

MR: What years did you attend high school?

YK: All four years there. I graduated in 1940 from high school.

MR: And did you follow your father's wishes there and get very good grades?

YK: I tried, but I wasn't really into it, I guess. [Laughs] I'm like that to this day, it's all last minute. I knew I had to do certain things. I took French, and it was hard for me, and I finally gave it up my third year. I decided I didn't need to punish myself anymore. And so I told the French teacher, "I'm not going to take your class next year," and she says, "Mademoiselle Inazuka, that's too bad," but I don't think she really mattered much because I wasn't a star pupil then. But I just took average work classes. And I may have a scholarship program, I don't know if I ever made that even. But my sister did. I couldn't follow that.

MR: Besides basketball, what other activities did the students participate in?

YK: Well, I don't know if there's that much. Basketball, maybe softball, and in the fall, I don't think there's an awful lot. This one teacher instructed because she wanted to make something happen, I guess, so we had basketball. But other than that, I don't think we did anything else.

MR: Not socially either?

YK: I didn't. I belonged to a couple of clubs, and we'd have meetings, and then you'd maybe have a party someplace in between. But I didn't socially go with them. And I had these girls that I grew up with, and we'd get together, but pretty soon they started having boyfriends, and so that, I'd be a third walking along with them, like a wallflower walking along. But I was real good friends with them, we'd get together that way. But other than that, I didn't have a real social life in those days.

MR: Were you working in the nursery then?

YK: Yeah, I'd help a little bit. I'd get up and go straight, if I wanted to go to the movies I'd work real hard, and I'd pester my mother to go see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies. And I can just see her, we're making cuttings or doing something out in the yard because it was so hot in the greenhouse. And I start in at Bob White Theater up the street, and it's only a nickel or a dime, and I'd say, "You know, they're showing movie tonight." And she never answered. And I said, "I'd sure like to go." [Laughs] And then I'd say, "If I work real hard, would you let me go?" And I was just sort of persistent at that point. And so my older sister and I, we'd go, she'd finally dig out twenty cents or whatever it cost. So we'd happily go up, and we'd go in the evening, it's an evening show, and then coming home we'd just run home. It was only like three, four, about five blocks. But you're not really scared, but the dark. And so we'd come home, and that would last for a while, kept me happy. And still, to this day, if I see an old Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire on TV I'll stop and I'll look at it, and I get a bang out of it. And George'll get up and leave. [Laughs]

MR: When you were in high school, what were you thinking you would do?

YK: I thought I'd teach school. I told that to my father from way back, that I'd like to teach school. And then a couple times he said, "Maybe you'd like to be a lawyer," 'cause I was pretty mouthy. [Laughs] He didn't like it, but I was very lippy to him. Between twelve, thirteen, fourteen, I just really think about it, he'd just get so angry. He didn't hit me. I think he was really tempted to, but he just said, he was just trying to control me, I think. And if I did anything that was unladylike, it would bother him. We would be in the living room, and our family would be sitting there, and my older sister played the piano very well, so we'd get together and she'd play, and maybe I'd get up and we'd all sort of dance or do little stunts, summersaults. And then once in a while I'd grab the chair by my foot and dragged it toward me, and he got so angry because that was the most unladylike thing he ever saw, and he says, "Don't ever do that again." And to this day, I can remember that he was really... I thought, "Well, what's the big deal?" I just pulled a chair toward me. But I was rather a defiant child, I think. [Laughs] And I was sort of a tomboy. My sister right above me was not like me, she was very nice, very gentle. She'd never let me get the better of her. I could never, no matter what I did, she was always ahead of me. If she knew what I was up to, she'd squelch me. But we had a lot of family, I guess, interaction at that point. Evenings we'd watch the radio, there was no TV. We'd huddle around and we'd listen to Myrt and Marge. I don't think people know about them. It's not like Fibber McGee and Molly, but we'd listen to Myrt and Marge. And then when boxing, we'd all be huddled listening to who on the boxing, it would be on, and then hear the baseball. It was just, that was what we did before we went to bed, we listened to the radio. And I could just see us all huddled around wondering who's going to win the Joe Louis fight or something. And the elections, I can still remember my dad talking about Al Smith and... I forgot who he was running against. But listened to the elections on the radio, so that was our social life.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

MR: As you were growing up, did your parents talk much about their time in Japan?

YK: Well, not an awful lot, but my dad was the youngest of a family of about four or five boys and one sister, and he'd talk about that. He'd talk about swimming in a lake or something underwater, but he didn't go to school. He said he'd read books by candlelight. And then he was too short to draft, I guess, with the Russians, it was a war. And he'd go up there, and he was an inch too short. And it really bothered him; he'd go back every year and they wouldn't take him. And so finally he decided to come to America, and he's very proud of the fact that he came on a businessman's passport. He kept telling us this, it was very important to him. So he came over in 1903 and he worked out in the woods, lumber, I guess they were wood, and then I don't know if he worked on the railroad, but he worked out toward Boring someplace. And this Caucasian lady and her husband took him in, and it was a farm-like, and they taught him, he'd hold the string -- he told us all this -- and they'd hold the other one, and they say, "When I say 'to you,' that means toward you. 'From you,' you go the other way." And he learned that, and he kept telling us that those were the first words he learned. And then at night he'd go in the house and he'd do her dishes, and then she'd teach him English. And so that went on until he moved on. And they came and saw us one day when we were in our new house, and they were real nice people, you know. They were getting elderly, but they had to look him up. And so he learned his English, and then he had a dictionary, Japanese-English dictionary. And he said he went to the store and he saw an apple, and he pointed to it and then he'd look it up in the dictionary and pronounce it. And he bought an apple and learned to speak English that way. And so he learned to write, and he writes some nice letters when he was in camp. I'd get nice letters from him.

MR: And your mother, why did she come to America?

YK: He worked 1903, and then 1911 he went back to get married. And so he married, he was offered, asked to marry my mother's older sister, but he would have to take her name, they call it a yoshi, you accept the woman's name to keep the family name going because they had no boys. And he said no, he didn't want to give his own name up, but he said, "I'll marry the younger sister," and that was my mother. And so they said okay. So she's ten years younger than he. And she was teaching school, I don't know what grade or what, but she was teaching school so they got married, and she was only nineteen or twenty, and she was real naive and quiet. And they took the train from Chiba -- they lived in Chiba -- to Tokyo, and then they came over here. I'm sure she was real shy, 'cause she's not a real chatty person. And they came over here, and then they worked out in the hop fields. He did all kinds of work, but they had no children for seven years. And they went out to the hop fields to work, and she got pregnant. So he tells all young girls after that, "You have to go out to the hop fields if you want any kids," and that's really funny, and then he laughs. And then he had first the child, Ralph, and he died when he was only, like, three months, he got a cold. And it broke my father's heart to lose a child, 'cause they had just conceived. And then they said, "You shouldn't have any more children because your wife has a bad heart," so she proceeded to have six more. [Laughs] And they named my brother, oldest brother... he was in a greenhouse business by then, and so they called the greenhouse, Portland Seed man said, "General Grant, that's a nice name, why don't you call him that?" So he's named Grant. Everybody under the earth knows who Grant is, and his middle name was a Japanese name. And then my next sister had a Japanese name first, Ise, and then her middle name was Alice from the doctor's wife. They're the only two that have two names. The rest of us just have one name, and it's all Japanese. Oh, I forgot where I was... I went sideways. [Laughs]

MR: I was asking about why your mother came to America.

YK: Oh, and she came in, they got married in 1911, and she stayed home mostly, once she started having kids. And she didn't work in the greenhouse until the Depression, then she helped out in the greenhouse. But up until then, she's being the housewife, and I think she really liked that. So they had a dog, we had a dog called Pochi, and my dad would say he'd watch the buggy, that whoever was in there, no one could come near the baby, or any of us, because he just sort of watched us. But in those days, there weren't that many problems like there are today.

MR: Did she have anything to say about how different life was here for her?

YK: She was very quiet. I didn't realize this, but she wrote a lot to her sister in Japan. And they all knew, they called her the "Auntie in America," they called her "American Obachan." And one of them, we met her about three years ago, they came and they looked us up, we made contact. And it was really nice, and the things they said was really sort of surprising that they knew so much about our family. She must have written off and on to let 'em know what she was doing, and they asked about her children. Her side, for five generations, there were no males to carry the name on, so it kept getting yoshis, men to marry into the family. And I, to this day, feel like those women are very strong, and they sort of looked down on those men that they married. They don't honor them, I don't think, like normal, because they gave their name up. And I get that feeling inside of me, that the women, because we met three of them and they're all very independent women. You ask about their husbands, and they sort of titter. "Well, why didn't they come?" and they just sort of laugh. So I thought it must be because they gave their name up, that they're not held in high respect. I thought, "Well, that's sort of sad." Because they gave them a male, eventually, one of 'em did.

And so my mom, when she had the first child, a boy, but he died. And I notice, her family, they have a lot of, we have the lineage thing, and they all died within a couple of months, the male, not the girls. And that's why they didn't have any until the last generation, they had a male. But she was so happy, and then when he died, then she had Grant. And he was so cute in pictures and everything, and when he went, started school, he was a little bit, he was retarded to a degree, he was slow. And I don't think they even realized that until he was up into the, maybe the fourth or fifth grade and realized he couldn't keep up with the class. And then the sister right below him was very bright, and so he was excelling and he wasn't. And so I think, for that, she really sort of babied him, and it was a hardship in a way because he had a mind of his own. As he got older he would take off and wouldn't come home, and she always had dinner for him. He'd never show up sometimes, and when he did, she always had it there for him. She just was so patient with him. I took care of him after we got older. He was still in town, so that became my job.

But she was real active at the women's society, and she loved that. And then she did flower arranging. And when we were all left, the two of them, my father and her, they'd go out in the country and pick things that they thought that she could use for flowering, and they were very content. And it was really nice to see that. He was pretty gentle with her, and she in turn... it was nice. And then they got to the point when they got sick, they couldn't do it. But it was nice because they were separated during the war. And so when they got back, I guess, it was really meaningful to be together. They were gone, separated about four or five years. That's later on, though.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

MR: Earlier we were talking about high school and plans after. So you graduated in 1940. What did you do then?

YK: I worked at... my sister had a stand, we had property out on Eighty-second, on Division, and he had that for years and years. And so he made a little stand there and she sold flowers there. And she's really good at it. She could buy the flowers, go to the wholesale, and then she had a big dog, Barney, there to sort of protect her. And she worked there a year, and then it was her turn to go to college, because my older sister had just graduated college. And so then they said it's my turn to go to the store. I was just, well, okay. So I go, but I'm not really, I don't have the green thumb that she did, and she'd go out, she'd make a garden on the side and people would look at it and how pretty it was. And when I took over, I'd sit in the back and read magazines and listen to the radio. And he'd come up to check on us all the time, he'd come up, and I'm in the back all the time, not doing anything other than just reading. And he didn't say anything, though. Then she went and started college, so I knew I had, that was my job. And then the war broke out, I think, right... well, there was talk of it. And then, let's see. Pearl Harbor was '41, though, wasn't it? I must have been there a year. [Laughs] I didn't realize I was a prisoner. But then after I was there, and then we had to close up because people, the war started, and that's when we closed it up and left. That was the beginning of the end.

MR: I want to talk about the war, but first you mentioned your father owned property in several places. How did that work since there were rules?

YH: Yes, these were all before 1924. He owned them, the greenhouse that we had that was attached to our house, he owned almost three quarters of the block. But that was before, I think the law came in 1924. And he had purchased all that, and then he and this other Japanese fellow purchased a piece out in Eighty-second, and another one around there someplace, but they sold that one. And then he kept the one on Eighty-Second because it's about three acres, and he'd grow flowers there, and he had a greenhouse there. So we'd go up there, and he'd cut his plants and do whatever had to be done. And he had a little house there, and he'd hire somebody to live there. So he had all different kinds of people. And interesting, he had this family from Oklahoma or someplace during the dust storm, they're Caucasian, this man and his wife, and two or three kids. They lived in this little house that had, the toilet was about fifty yards away at the greenhouse, and there was no bathtub. They'd use a tub and wash up. And there was running water in the kitchen. But they lived there, and he worked for my dad until he was able to, didn't hire 'em anymore and he went and found another job, but it's a nice family. He'd take people like that and let 'em live there, and they didn't pay rent, and if they worked, he'd pay them as much as he could, but it wasn't much, but they managed, I guess. And so we'd go up there a lot, and that's where I learned to drive, too, because it's open there. And you could take the car and go the back roads, not have license, learn to drive. And so we all learned up there. But it was because of that, he had the property earlier. Not a lot did. Most of them leased their property, I think.

MR: So after the law was passed, if you owned the property, you would still be...

YH: Yes, you had it, uh-huh.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

MR: So going back now to the war, Pearl Harbor, where were you when you found out about Pearl Harbor?

YH: Must have been... we were at that little shop on Eighty-Second, we heard it on the radio. And we asked our dad, "Where's Pearl Harbor?" And he thought a minute, and he said, "I think it's in Singapore." And that night, they came and they took him. Before that, we'd get calls from, I think it was the U.S. somebody, we don't know who, but they asked for the consul general, and my oldest sister would answer and say, "You've got the wrong number." And they kept calling and saying different things, but I think they were checking up on my dad. And I didn't mention this earlier, but when the naval ships of Japan would come in before the war, they would come in as a goodwill or something, my dad's always involved. We have all these pictures of him with the admirals and everything, lined up, and he's there in his little white, sort of gray suit, right in the middle, a short little guy. And I think they had records of all this, and they had his whole history. And he was very active, and he belonged to this kendo thing, which was, they called it the Black Dragon, but actually it was a... I don't know if it is or what. But he wanted my brother to take kendo, and so he'd go there and do that. But he was very active in the community, but he was picked up that night. And the only way we were aware of it was one of the ladies called and said her husband had just been picked up, "So you'd better be aware."

And they came about midnight, I think, to our house. They knocked on the front door, and they said, "We have an agent at the back door. Would you let him in?" And our dog's sleeping in the kitchen, he's just oblivious to the whole thing. And they were very nice to us. I've heard other reports that they weren't as nice to some people. But maybe because we're girls, they were... you know. And they went through everything. They went through all the kimonos that were in our drawer, they went through just the whole house. And then they said they had to take him. And so my oldest sister said, "What about market?" the flowers. They he says, "Oh, I'll be back by then, don't worry." And he never came back until the war was over.

But they went to see him when he was at Missoula, Montana, because he was having a trial. We didn't know where he was, I guess, until we heard later. My two older sisters went with our family friend from Hood River because we didn't have a car that could go that far. And so he came and picked them up and they went to Missoula. My oldest sister sat in on the trial.

MR: And when was that?

YH: That was... I don't know when it was in relation to the war. Before we were evacuated, before we were evacuated. We could travel at that time, and the restrictions hadn't been put on us.

MR: And what sort of trial, do you know, was it?

YH: I don't... well, it was, I guess, I don't know if they had an interpreter or what, but he was found guilty and they kept in. All those men were there. I mean, the whole community, most of them, George's father wasn't taken, and he thinks maybe 'cause he said at one time, "You shouldn't send something to Japan," that might have been the key, because he was active in the association also. But every one of them, even the doctor, he's a close family friend, they were all taken.

MR: I guess I wasn't clear. What was the charge?

YH: They just said they were guilty. That's why they picked them up, guilty. Guilty of spy, what, they had no proof, they had nothing. They were really, we didn't realize this, but they were saying we had shortwave radios in our greenhouse, we had this, we had that. One man came, George Azumano's father's came to see us after my father was taken, and he brought us some groceries. He was picked up the next day, so we knew they were watching our house. It's just something, you think back about it, some of this fits in. But it was just really a very frightening time for us.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

MR: With your father gone, how did you manage the greenhouses?

YH: Well, that was the hard part. We did what we could, but my sisters would go to market with what was in there. And then they kept, when it would get towards spring, they kept transplanting, making plants to go to market, 'cause that was our livelihood.

And that happened, and then we had to move. Word came out that we had to move, and that was just every night, all day, that's all we talked. "Well, they won't take us, we're citizens. Maybe Mom will have go to, 'cause she's not a citizen." But we didn't think... "we're citizens," that's all we kept saying, "they wouldn't take us." Then word gets around, and curfew and everything. We were in the dining room one time, we were standing by the heater, they had wall heat, and my sister screamed, she said, "There's a man at the window." And we all ran out of there, and to this day, we know it was a neighbor, 'cause he's the only one so tall that could look in. And he's just probably nosy. And because later on, after the war and when my dad died, he wanted to make a talk, and he wanted to tell everybody now nice he was. I guess they let him. Sort of interesting, because he sort of repented after, realized that there was no foundation for what he was looking at, or what he wanted to do. That night was just unreal. My sister, oldest sister went, then she went and slept with my mother. Came downstairs and slept in the bedroom with her, and she slept with her through the whole, until she got married. She took care of her.

Then we had to pack up the house, we had the big house. We stayed up all night packing, and put everything of value in this one corner bedroom and we locked it. We got back and it was broken into, and they had just destroyed everything in there, all my mother's vases and things she brought back from Japan, everything was just ruined. I don't know, I guess I just can't imagine that a mother or father would let their kids do that. Maybe they participated, I don't know. But they... that was just part of the, sad part of all this.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

MR: When you were packing up and making plans to go, did you make arrangements with anybody to look after things?

YH: There were certain things we have that we thought we should do something about, and one was a sword that belonged to my mother. My mother's family were samurais, and when my mother went over there when my grandpa was dying, we didn't get there in time because we went by boat, but he gave this one treasured sword and said, "It belongs to your husband," to my mother. And so she brought that over, and so he really treasured that. And so we didn't know what to do with that. We thought, "Put it up in the attic where people can't get in." Well, somebody will go in there. Well, we'll bury it on the property, but what if we don't come back? All these ideas, and finally my oldest sister's friend that she knew from way back, asked them to watch it for us, and they did. He was... what do you call it? He made metal things, so he knew, he was more than happy to do it for us. So he took that, and we had this little bonsai plant that my dad cherished. And so this woman from Jefferson High School, the principal's wife's sister, said she would watch them for us. So those were the two main items that we left with other people. And all the rest we thought, well, we'd just make sure. And we could only take one suitcase, so that was, we didn't even have a suitcase, each of us. And so we thought, well, how are we going to, they say one suitcase each, we don't even have one. And so this friend of my oldest sister, he said he had a hotel, the downtown hotels where they leased, and there were a lot of suitcases that people left, and so he brought us all a suitcase. And we all had a suitcase to take our stuff in. And then I don't recall taking pots and pans.

MR: Where is the sword now?

YH: I have it here. And I've got some rust I've got to take care of. But it's just really, it's very precious. And this fellow came over to, he wanted to buy, George has some swords, so he wanted to buy them. And then I said, "While you're here, would you look up my sword?" And he thought I was going to bring out a toy sword or something, and so he has a book, and he sort of knows a lot about it. And he opened it and he turned the pages, and then he opened the sword. He looked at the signature in there, and he was so impressed... I guess it was, the crest was very good. And so he looked at it and put it back, and he said, "Thank you." But then he must have just gone home, and he came back on the phone, and he says, "I'll buy it from you." I said, "We're not selling that. That's a family thing." And he just kept, he did it for I don't know how long, he wanted to buy it. And I told him bluntly, "No," and so we still have it. But it's sort of, saying, "What are we going to do with it?" It'll become a thing of contention in our family, I think, and we don't know.

I suggested maybe giving it to the Oregon Historical Museum, and my brother said, "No, absolutely not." And so, okay, and then where should it go? Of course, everybody wants it. And to this day, I don't know what'll happen to it. And then my sister that passed away, the younger one, said, "Why don't we send it back?" They're going to have a museum on this family place, and, "So why don't we send it back there?" And at first I was real adamant, it was given to Pop, so why should we send it back? And now I think about it, maybe that's the best place for it. But I'm only one voice, and my older sister, she really wants it. [Laughs] If she sees this movie, she'll die, but she really wants it. She says, you know, her thinking -- I don't think she'll ever see this -- but she thinks her son, oldest boy, is married to a Japanese girl. And he's the only one that's married to a Japanese girl. Now, George Azumano's son Jim is married to a Caucasian girl, and he has no children of his own. And my son, oldest son, is married to a Caucasian girl, and my younger sister's is Caucasian. And my brother, who carries the name on, has three girls, and there's no one in that family that's carrying the name on. It stops right... well, Sandy is carrying her name on, but she has no children. So that leaves it... have to kill for it, die for it. [Laughs] It's just an object, actually, but you know, precious. They, all of them, it's funny, at that point, they all sort of got an interest. "Oh, the sword, the sword," you know. But I don't see them wanting to read all the history and everything, none of them. So my sister in California -- and their children all tend to marry Asians, so she thinks she's got the strongest pull on that. [Laughs] But I don't know.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

MR: So back to camp, so you took your suitcases, which were so kindly...

YH: Donated to us. And then we got in there and we got a number. I just saw it the other day, 16234, family number. And there's seven of us now, and they put us in this one big room, I mean, big considering some of the others. And so here we are used to all having separate rooms in a way, and we're in this room where we have... we had cots. I know down in California they didn't have regular cots, they had straw stuff. We had a mattress. And we didn't have any money. A lot of 'em came in with money because they had a business, and we just didn't have any. I don't know how we got by. I mean, we had food, we're eating there, but it was, to me, I was so bitter. It just really burned up inside of me, I guess, and I didn't have any friends there. My sisters did, and my younger ones, they'd find somebody, and I was out of school so I had no school contacts. They were going to, they set up school, so they had friends in there. And so I was just, I'd follow my sister around. And then I got this fellow, came around, and he showed a little interest in this poor little girl here, and he started coming around. And so I was friends with him, and it made it sort of nice for me. I still see him to this day, we'd just sort of smile at each other, we play golf up in Seattle, he says, "Hey, Yone." [Laughs] And it's nice. We've gone our ways.

But other than that, we'd do our laundry by hand. Everybody's lined up, clean people, always washing, and the toilets were terrible. They were just open stalls, and it was really hard. You know, you feel sorry for the older people. Not so much yourself, but all the old ladies, they were maybe fifty, sixty, eighty, seventy on up, it's just so, they're such a private kind of people, the Japanese are, and showers and everything, and it was, I think really difficult on them. And yet, they survive it. And the food, you line up for the food or you sit, and the family becomes disarrayed because the kids start eating with their friends, and the family unit's just gone. You eat whoever, with whatever you want. Unless you're a strong parents saying, "You must eat with us," but I don't think that happened. And the food was just something else. I ate food that I never ate before, but it's all right. It's wartime.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

MR: What camp did you go to?

YH: We went to Minidoka. We were at assembly center first. That's where we went into camp. It was the Expo now, and it was still a livestock area at that time, so the odor was still there. And they had a big yard where the parking is now, but they fenced, that was all fenced in and you'd look up and you'd see the soldiers with their guns. They're not faced out, they're faced in. And people look, on Sundays, you'd see them driving by looking at all of us like we're zoo people or something. And it just was... though the young people would make games, and this Dorothea Lynch, the park supervisor, was very kind, and made sure that we had equipment to play with, baseball, softball, things like that, basketball. She was really, went over, and then this Chappy King with the coach at Franklin at one time, but he came and helped. And you have to admire people that do that because they're not looked upon kindly when there's a war and you're doing something that you think is an enemy. Actually, they aren't, but they have to be brave, I think, enough to stand up for what they think is right. And so they came and helped. That, I think, is a good morale booster, in a way. And they had activities, other than that, I don't... they had dances, and I didn't dance. Poor me, just didn't know how to dance. And this guy I knew, he says, "Let's go," I didn't dance, and I'm just too shy, I guess. I don't know where that shyness disappeared to, but it's gone. [Laughs] And they'd have regular big dances on occasions, you know. And then they put out a call that they needed workers out in the beet fields in eastern Oregon.

MR: So now we're back at camp?

YH: We're in assembly center yet. And so my sister says, "Let's go out and work in the beet fields," and I thought... and so my brother went. I think he went on an earlier group. And then we went, signed up and went to eastern Oregon, Nyssa, and they had tents and wooden floor, and they're for the migrant workers, and so we slept in those. And there were a lot of young people from Wapato, Yakima, they were farmers, so they were, we went there. And oh, man, get on the trucks, find a straw hat, had to hoe between the beets. I think I knocked more down than I did weeds. The first day, my sister and I, we just sat in the field, and I said, "I can't do this." She said, "Neither can I." And we went with this family that are farmers, and they work hard, really hard. And when it's time to, we're going to quit, she says, "Let's finish the row for them," and we only get twenty-five cents an hour, and I said, "I'll be darned. I don't want to finish the row for twenty-five cents." And they're all going, so we got to tag along and finish. We decided we needed another crew. [Laughs] We can't go with this family that's working their heads off. And so we ended up with some boys. That was sort of nice except we couldn't keep up with them, so they couldn't talk to us because we all take two rows each. And we can't even do one and keep up, and we're way back, and so they're way up there, and I guess they realized this is not going to work. And so the next day, a couple guys came, and they do three and we do one, and that worked fine. [Laughs] We could chit-chat and talk and it worked out well. So we stayed there until I started getting nosebleeds, and they wouldn't stop 'cause it was too hot there or something. And they took me to the doctor's, and they teach us to hold my nose and pinch it 'til it crusted over. But we went back to camp because it was too hard. And then from there, it was shortly after that they decided we were going to go to Minidoka, so we had to get ready for that. And that was, you didn't know where you were going. There's all rumors, but you don't know. And then you get on the train, and then right away it's pull the shades down so you have no idea where you're going. And I think it took overnight, and we got there, and you could sort of peek, but you have no idea where you are. And so we got to Minidoka, and it's so desolate. All I remember is the dust storm just coming at you. You don't cry, though, you just sort of wonder what's going to happen, you don't know. And then you're assigned to this barracks, and we were still in one room. But our half of the block was a school, elementary school or something, so we only had half a block of people. And the big families have one room, but it's funny because every so often, somebody, the big family guys would come in with a bucket of water, "Oh, wrong room." They got to go out and find their unit where they lived. But it wasn't bad, but you had a big old belly stove in there, and you had to go get your coal where they had a pile of coal. You get a bucket and you have to haul your coal to keep warm. And so my brothers would be at one end and then the beds are lined up, and then my sister and I, our beds were facing each other, so it made like a sofa. So kids come over and they'd sit on it. And we'd have some Seattle boys, about the age of my older sister, knew her, so we had a lot of visitors all the time. The guys were just coming all the time, they were her buddies, I guess. And then she's pretty resourceful. She got a job at the canteen, and so she was working right away.

And then I got a job, I went up to the hospital and I got a job as a baby food person. They had little pots like this for baby food that you heat up for the baby, infants, and they give you the food, canned food and whatever, so all I had to do was open it up, heat it up, and put it out to be served to the mothers that had babies. I'd do that three times a day, and that was all I had to do, and so that was really easy. I sound pretty lazy, don't I? [Laughs]

MR: Was the baby food already smashed up?

YH: It's all canned; most of it was canned, I think. Rice, I had some rice, and carrots, I remember mashing carrots. But whatever we had, if it was some of the food that the adults had, I could take just a little bit, learn and feed them.

MR: Did they come at... I'm trying to figure this out. Did they come at separate times from mealtimes?

YH: No, they all come together.

MR: Was it served at mealtimes but just off to the side?

YH: Uh-huh. The mothers that have babies, they carry them in their arms or whatever, and then they come by, I'm at the counter, and they'd pick their food up.

MR: Along with everybody else picking up?

YH: I think everybody else, I thought they sat down. I was sort of vague on that. I think they... I don't think they lined up. I don't remember, isn't that funny? I just don't remember how they... the cook at our place was a professional cook, so our food was very good, actually. And then we had a baker, and I know most of 'em didn't have a baker. And he was really good. We had real nice desserts and things. And I don't know how that... if you know somebody you get a little extra thing or how it works, but I'm sure that's part of the game. And our food wasn't bad at all at that point.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

MR: Did they serve any Japanese foods for you or was it all American?

YH: Mishmash. I mean, if it's Japanese, it's lighter, maybe rice and vegetables or something. They served hominy grits, which none of us knew what the heck that was. And it had sort of a lavender smell, sweet smell, and you see all this white stuff, you say, "What is that?" Says, "I don't know what it is." And you taste it and you go, "Yuck." And it's just so funny because, I don't know, maybe if they put shoyu on, it might have helped. [Laughs] Afterthought, but that was the one thing, that and there was something else. Was it liver? It was something that we weren't... heart, maybe it was heart, or beef tongue, that was it, they served. And that was another, "Oh, what is this?" But it passes, I guess.

MR: About the barracks, how many people were in your barrack?

YH: Let's see, at the corner ones, there's usually a parent, a family of three, a child, a mother and father, and then ours had seven. And then in the middle there was one that had just two, and then the other side was, he was alone, I think, maybe one. And then at the other end there was another family of seven, and then a three. So I think that's the way it was.

MR: So in your room, your whole family came except for your father.

YH: We're all in there, that's where we get together. That's our home base. We slept in there, and if you take a shower, they have shower rooms, so laundry room, shower room, toilet, it's all in another barrack, and so you have to go over there.

MR: What did you do, was boredom a problem? What did you do to take...

YH: No. They'd have classes and things, and they had an evening, people that liked classical music, they'd have a record player going and they have classical music. I stopped in there one time, and they all had their heads down listening to the music, and I thought, "I don't need that," and I just walked out. It was so somber. And then they had dances which I didn't go to, and then they had classes. I started a shorthand class, going with a couple of guys. They don't remember this, they're still around, and I asked them, "Do you remember when we went to shorthand classes?" and they looked real puzzled, like, "What?" And you walk, and if it's been rained, I mean, had rained, your shoe would get stuck in the mud and just suck it up. And all of a sudden you got your, you're hanging there wondering what to do with a foot that the shoe was still in there. It's like a suction thing. Probably because they dug it all up, and it's fine dirt, and then it rains, it's like mud. And that, to me, was bad. But other than that, they'd have... did they have games? I don't know what the heck I did, I can't recall.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

MR: And how did you keep in contact, or could you, with your father?

YH: He could write out, but it was censored, and so there were areas that were cut out, if he talks about the day or the temperature or anything of that type, it was cut out and censored. And I think he wrote to my mother. He wrote to me a lot when I got out of camp. Well, first my sister decided, they started saying we can go back east. You can't go back to the coast, but you can go the other way. So she signed up and went to Denver as a housegirl. And then she was there about a month and I thought, "Well, maybe I'll go to Washington, D.C. Maybe I'll become a WAC." And my dad wrote back saying, "No, no WAC." And then my sister said, "It's so lonesome here, come to Denver." And I've always been a tagalong of her, every place she goes, I go. And so I went to Denver, I signed up to do housework. And I said I couldn't do housework, and so they offered me sixty dollars a month, which was quite a lot then, and room and board. So this fellow meets me and he's Jewish, and he's the nicest guy I've ever met. And he meets me, and I have a room in the basement, and his wife is a blond Southern gal, they're sort of not the norm. And she's nice, too, but she had a bad back, so needed a housekeeper. And she would help me cook, because I'm not a very good cook at nineteen years old. And then cleaning house, well, I cleaned our house so I knew the basics, but I wasn't a real pro at it. And so finally one day she said, "You really aren't a housekeeper, are you?" And I said, "Well, I do what I can." We'd eat together if they're home.

And then I started, I decided I had to get out of this, and I went to night school to learn typing and shorthand, because I never took that in high school. And so I'd go twice a week in the evening, Monday and Thursdays are maid's day off, so I'd go get on the bus, go down, go to class, and I'm not very good on directions, I'm always on the wrong corner. My sister says, "What are you standing here for?" and I said, "I'm going home." She says, "You go on the other side over there to catch your bus." I said, "Oh," and I'd look around. I'm just never, direction-wise I'm not very good. So she'd see me off and then she'd go home. She didn't know where I was going to end up. But I did that, oh, maybe a year, two years. And then he asked me one day if I'd like to work in his office. So I worked in his office, and then I had to find a place to live. And so we ended up on Third and someplace, and it's not like Chinatown, but it's sort of like close to the old... it was, oh, let's see, in reference, comparison here. It wasn't in the good area, but it had some residents, residential area. So we ended up there, and it was Japanese-owned. So my sister got the place, and all she had was a basement apartment. And so we were in the basement where they'd do their laundry, and we were cooking down there. And she worked in a jewelry shop, and so I worked for Rodinsky's, and go to work.

And then we'd go to the dances. I'd learned to dance someplace in between, and we'd go to the dances at the Y, which was run by this Peggy... I forgot her last name, but she's a Quaker. The Quakers don't dance, though, do they? But she was so good, everybody was helpful. Makes you feel like you're a part of society, and you meet people from all over California, Washington, Oregon, and they have these dances. And I danced with this one guy and he said, "You know, you look like a guy I met downtown," and it was my brother. And he was in Denver, and we didn't know it. And I said, "Where'd you meet him?" I don't know why, I questioned him a lot, and then the next day we went looking for him. And it's funny, we found him, but I don't quite remember how we found him. And he was living with this old man and a young girl, and the situation was just not real good. And he was working at someplace, so I said, "Greg, you have to come and live with us." And he came, and he slept out on like a sofa or something. And then, so we started making, he was working, so we'd make lunch for him and he'd go to work. And then one day, I don't know how we discovered it, but he had lost his job and he was taking his lunch, and we don't know where he was going all day, but he'd come home by night. And we found all this, this all comes out in the process. And then we found out he had, my sister had my mother's gold watch, and he had taken that and pawned it, got some money, and she found the ticket. So she went down and got it out. And I thought, "We're going to have problems with this guy." But he's pretty good. I sort of get tough with him. And then we moved upstairs, they had a vacancy. But in the meantime, he disappeared, he's gone. And we don't know where he went. And I forgot if he called or he wrote, he's in Arizona, and he'd gone with this other Japanese fellow, and he said he needed to give his blood to his sister. And we had no way of reaching him, so we had to let him go forever. He ended up in Chicago. He worked in a restaurant doing pots and pans. And then so we moved upstairs and we were there until the war ended. But wait, in between, I was living in a, in a hotel in town with this other gal, sort of mixed up there.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

MR: Just to kind of get it straight, how long were you in camp? When did you leave to go to...

YH: Minidoka?

MR: Uh-huh.

YH: I got there in September and I left in about May or June, in there. I wasn't in there a year, and just left. I don't know how, who paid for my transportation or anything.

MR: And you said you worked for this man and his business, what kind of business?

YH: He had a linen and rag business, wholesale linens and rags, he had two. And I was in the linen side. And he had quite a few workers there. But he was so good. And then he had a party one time at his place, which was unusual, they're not real sociable people. And they knew that he had a girl, and one of the, he was an attorney and he was Jewish, and he yelled out, "Hey, Yone." And Ben right away said, "What do you want?" "What do you want? I'll get it for you." He didn't want me to have to go out there. And he said, "That's okay." So Ben says, "Well, no, what is it?" He just didn't want to put me in a spot that would be embarrassing. And so he came to the kitchen and got a glass of water and went back. But he's just very protective and such a nice man. Well, she was nice, too, but I think he was aware of what people, how sensitive you can be. And when you have someone like that, you feel like, well, he's protecting you, and you feel good.

MR: You mentioned earlier that the experience of going through their home and eventually working for him made you feel like a member of society again. Can you talk about how you felt?

YH: Well, when I was working for them, housework, it's... I don't know. I wasn't happy doing that, but I was getting paid, so I'm getting some money. And I really wanted to hurry up and get out, but I had to save my money to go to just the two classes I went at nighttime. And I wasn't very good at that either. [Laughs] Like shorthand and typing or something, not real hot. I mean, I wasn't the kind that, "Wow, we'll pick you up, we'll hire you." But he took me in his office, and I worked with the purchasing agent, and they were very good to me. And I did a little bookkeeping, which I didn't know much about, but they taught me. So I worked there until I came back to Portland.

MR: When was that?

YH: I don't know. We had an apartment, my sister and I finally got an apartment, and then when they said we could come back to the West Coast, she really got on it. My mother was in camp, so she picked her up, they went from there on the train, and they went, came to the Epworth Methodist Church. They had the old building, and that was used as a hostel, more or less, until people could find a place. And so she stayed there until a house became available, and that was, took a little doing. The people weren't ready to move out, and then, so she called the relocation man, and he went out there and told 'em to get the heck outta there by such and such a date, "This belongs to them." He was, and so that was how we got it back.

MR: So there people living in your house?

YH: Oh yeah.

MR: Were they paying rent?

YH: They were paying rent, but we didn't see any of it, I don't think. They weren't paying rent. My sister and I kept, we had to pay, there was a mortgage on the house and we were paying that off. We were paying it, every month we'd send a check in, the two of us, so that the mortgage would be okay. I don't know what happened to that money that they were supposed to -- they, well, the man that did the greenhouse and took over, he ran off. He cashed in everything he could and he sold the truck and he left the house, just left the greenhouse. And the woman, I don't know if she was, she paid the rent, where it went. I have no idea. And we came back after, well, the house, the greenhouse was all torn down. It'd just collapsed from lack of use. And so that was not our property either, because the tax, it had been eaten up by the taxes. Our house was okay 'cause we were paying the mortgage on it, so we were able to move in there. But then that property next is all greenhouse, and there's about six or eight lots there and they're all collapsed. And so my sister and I went to the city hall and we talked to the guy -- we went there and said, asked him about the property. He was an old, older man and he looked at us and he smiled, and he says, "I've been saving this for you." I thought, I just started... and so he said, "You can buy it back any way you want," and so we did, we paid. How often do you meet a guy like that? Just so nice. He must've been late fifties, sixties. And we came home and said, "It's still there, we can buy it," and he had, I know, people asking about it, and he said it's not for sale. And so we never did anything nice for him, and I just feel a little bit guilty at that point, 'cause... you know. But he, then when my dad came back he started, they cleaned it up. And my brother had come home from the war then, and so he helped and a friend helped, and they rebuilt two greenhouses. That was the extent of it. Then they had the rest in planted flowers and things. But it, see, 'cause my brother had gone... I think he volunteered, he went in the 442. 'Cause he came through Denver when we were there and we didn't know if we were gonna see him again. My mother sort of, she said she didn't really worry, she worried, but he's so short, she says he wouldn't have to dig a foxhole too deep. It's sort of cute, you know. I think that was something that kept her... and there was an older fellow that used to come to our unit in Minidoka, and he looked after my brother. He made sure, he just sort of made it a point to look after him, which was nice, 'cause he was only eighteen, I think, when he went in, and this other fellow must've been twenty-something. And so he looked after him, and he didn't get hurt or anything and he came back.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

MR: Now, your father didn't want you to be a WAC.

YH: No, he didn't know what the heck that was, I don't think.

MR: Did he, did he have any thoughts about your brother joining the military?

YH: Yeah, I... he's of the old school. He used to say, "If you," he told him, "If you go to war, you die for your country." And so when my brother, Mineo, said he'd, said this and we were rehashing this, that he, he went to see him. He says, "I'm going, I'm joining the army and I'm going to war." And he told him, "If you fight for your country, you fight for your country, but don't come back." He mentioned that. What an idiot. Who'd say something like that? [Laughs] But he wanted him to be, fight for the country, and he says, "Your country is this country." Which surprised me, 'cause he was sort of gung ho, very much pro Japanese in his thoughts. So he said that to Mineo, and then he got back and so everything was fine. Then my brother started college and then he re-enlisted. Then he went to Korea and he was in the Korean War, through the whole thing, and it was, we didn't know where he was or anything. And he came out -- he's funny -- he came out, he has every medal that's given by the government except the Congressional Medal, and he has, it's just a plaque like that, it's decorated. But he just, he's a little guy, but he just gave it all. He's alive, and he retired as a lieutenant colonel, which is surprising too. And he's in the Hawaii, what do they call it, Hawaii... it's not Medal of Honor, but Hawaii military honor. They have a museum and his picture's in it. They honored him by asking him to join, and so he's in there, so he's very proud. So we went over for the service. It was nice.

He's retired now and he's, he got a boat, had a man build a boat and he went around the world as close as he could. Damn near killed him. The other fellow was, went with him, and he jumped ship at Guam or some place, said, "I can't go anymore." And so my brother went on by himself. And he went, he went New Zealand, or Australia. He went all -- and he has this boat, it's a sailboat, motorboat, and it's fifty-seven feet but it's a steel hull, and he was doing all that hoisting and on, and he had, I think that's what broke his health. He's not really well now. But he did all that by himself, and the stories he tells are just great. He talked about the fish, the dolphins following him for miles, just, I don't know how many, but, and then the flying fish would land on his boat, so he'd throw 'em out and feed the dolphins and they kept following him. And then he said he got to the point where he had a bad tooth and he pulled it. And I thought, "Oh my gosh," you know? Then he said he, there're days there, all of a sudden he started not wearing any clothes. He's walkin' all around the ship naked, happy, happy. [Laughs] I said, "What if someone --" He says and then a boat did, a ship came up, and he was a little scared, so he went down, got his, he had a revolver, I guess. He had it in back of him and he asked what they wanted. They thought it was an abandoned ship, I guess, and they said, "Oh, you okay?" And he said, "Yeah, I'm fine. I'm doing alright. You want anything?" And they said no, so they went off. But he was a little bit scared then. But he went through storms that were unreal, just, he's, I don't think he'll ever write a book, but the stories are just real precious. Then he went to Africa, and the people there were so nice to him. They, these are Caucasians, and they took him in their home, they fed him, they clothed, they made him clothing, they fed him, just enjoyed his company. And they followed through and they asked her if she had gotten home yet. He hadn't yet, but he did get home, and it was a very beautiful thing. But I went on that and I got sicker than a dog. God, I got so sick. I was so excited to ride his boat when he came back and we went, and I just jumped on the little dinghy and got on the boat, and George was just amazed that I was so eager, 'cause I, he knows I get sick. And I was so happy, I got on and everything was fine until there was a little door opening, and I bent over to close it and that was the end of it. I was sick from then until, I don't know how many -- I says, "When are we gettin' back?" He says -- and every time I'd look it'd look like it was going two steps forward and three steps back. We just weren't making headway. He says, "We're getting there." He was getting a little worried 'cause my head was in the bag the whole time from then on. I just, and then my nieces were rubbing my back. I couldn't even talk, couldn't do a thing. Then he saw me and I was sort of pale. He's trying, his boat wouldn't go any faster. But boy, that's the last time I've been on a boat. I don't care if it's a dinghy; I won't get in it.

MR: Where was the boat trip you were taking gonna, going to go to?

YH: Just to the next, just around the corner. [Laughs] It wasn't going anyplace. It was just going to Diamond Head and back. We never got there. I got so sick. And that was sort of, he sold it finally, but it was nice to be with him when he got back. I just, I'm, he's my younger brother right next to me, so I'm pretty close to him. I used to beat him up all the time when I was a kid, and so... and he used to, I'd say something, even after we're adults, he'd sort of pooh pooh me. But I'd sort of get a little bit like, "Hey, wait a minute. I'm your older sister." [Laughs] And he, he'll listen. He's gotten over this "girls are just for nothing," so we get along. I call him once a month. In fact, I have an apartment with him. I had to twist his arm to make him put in his money, but he, I really had to talk to him, but he said okay. So now he gets some money every month and he's happy. He calls me, every time he gets it he'll call me, then we chit chat. So I'm hoping he'll come through this fall. But it's good.

MR: We were earlier talking about getting out of camp and coming back to Portland. What did you do for a living when you got back?

YH: Well, see, I lived in Denver in this business, so I left from Denver, and these people, they recommended, gave me a nice recommendation. I went back looking for a job, and I couldn't get in that field, but I got a job at the YWCA. It wasn't that as such; it was a student department, and it was, comes out of New York, National Student Council. And they, and then they had a world student service that was helping the European young people to go to college, and so I worked in that office and had real good bosses. They were very patient with me and nice. And so I found a job there, and my sister found a job as a, in the library, and she worked there until she got married and moved away. And so I worked the, I worked there I don't know how many years, because I got married and then I got, I was, worked there until I got pregnant, and then I quit working.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

MR: How did you meet your husband?

YH: That's such a long story. He knew my brother, younger, Mineo, and they're sort of, bunch of 'em are, pals around, and he came out to our house. And he saw me there, and I think he sort of saw the house. He lived in, grew up in a hotel. I don't mean to be disparaging, but he saw this big house, and he, they had just the one hotel, so he probably thought, "Oh, this isn't bad." [Laughs, coughs] Excuse me. And so he started hanging around and coming around, and then he got an old beat up Model T and he'd take me for rides in that. Then pretty soon he had to take the bus first, so he's staying overnight, and my folks weren't too... they'd wake up in the morning and find him there at the, down in the kitchen and wondering what, where he came from. But my mother and father liked him. My dad like him 'cause he'd drink with him. My mother thought he was okay. She says, "He's harmless." [Laughs] And so we got engaged, engaged a year and then he was finishing school, and then we got married the next year. And then he went to med school, so I was working while he went to med school, and we had a one-room apartment with a pull-down bed up in the, right by med school.

MR: Is that here in Portland?

YH: Yeah, right on the hill. And he was, well anyway, he got a bag of bones, to study, and we have a pull-down bed, so he's there and I took a shower -- no, I took a bath. We didn't have a shower in that... it was a brand new unit, though. Pulled the bed down, just getting to bed, and I looked and there's this head, skeleton head right there by my bedside. I looked at it and I screamed, and he's just sort of lookin' like, you know, "What's the matter?" [Laughs] Here's this skeleton of a head there, and I says, "That wasn't very nice, you know." But he thought it was such a funny joke. To this day I can remember him doing that. He doesn't do things like that anymore. He's gotten old. [Laughs] But it was sort of, we're going, he's going to school, I'm working, and it worked out alright. And then his folks helped us when we were, when I got pregnant and quit.

MR: So what years was he in medical school, through what years?

YH: Let's see, he finished in '53, so go back four, so that's '49? Yeah, started, he went that fall we got married, in '49. So he went four years. And we lived, we lived up on the hill for one or two years, and then we found an apartment, but it was farther away, but it was bigger and his folks got us a car. No, we didn't have a car then. I was taking the bus. No, he did have, they gave him the car. He rode to med school and I took the bus to work in town, just right downtown. And we lived there until I got pregnant. Oh no, we went to the Columbia Villa, the housing project, 'cause all the students were out there, and a lot of veterans there, so they were very nice. So we got a one-bedroom apartment, 'cause I was pregnant, and rent was reasonable and it was nice. And then pretty soon I had two kids, so we moved to a two-bedroom, and then another year I had another one, so we had, went to the three. Then we finally got to the four, four bedrooms, 'cause I had four children, in four years. I was in a big hurry 'cause I was getting old. Then he finished med school, and then they said we couldn't live there anymore. I said, "Wait, we don't have any income." She says, "I'm sorry, that doesn't matter." I said, "Why doesn't it matter? You have people here that don't have income." She says, "It doesn't matter." I says, I just argued with her. She just said, "I'm sorry. You have to move out in so many days." I said, "We have no money." And she says, "That's alright. You have to move out." I thought, you... you know. I was really, I mean, I couldn't understand their reasoning. So we started looking for a house to rent. And who wants to rent with four kids? And so that was sort of a big headache, and then finally we borrowed money from my one brother-in-law, a friend here, got enough for a down payment and found a house. And it's a colonial house in Irvington district, and it had three bedrooms. It was well-made, nice house. And the man that, the couple that owned it were pretty well off. They were very generous in their, way they handled it; we could pay 'em the balance that we owed. So I'd send him a check every month and I kept telling him how nice, he did all the woodwork in there, so I always told him how nice it was. So when we finished the payment, he wrote to George and said he was so glad that we enjoyed it, because he did all the work in there. It worked out fine, so we lived there eight years.

MR: It must've been quite a challenge to have four children, be in medical school, and --

YH: I must've been an idiot. [Laughs] It was. It just, I don't know, I had one and then I had another one. I thought, well that's good. He says, "Let's have six." And I thought he was... I said, "You're out of your mind." And then the third. The fourth one wasn't counted on. I had him a year after the third. But then my older sister -- we had six in our family -- she says, "Why don't you have six like Mom?" I says, "Why don't you?" She only had four, and I'm the only one that has so many in our family. Loann has five, but... and it was, my youngest had started school and I got pregnant with Phyllis, our youngest. I thought it was immaculate conception. [Laughs] It's not nice to, I mean, but you know. Really, I thought, "Oh, I don't know." And so we had to move 'cause we didn't have enough room. And we found this house, came up here. And my two boys, they had a room each, which they really wanted 'cause they were, had the same room, and then we were here for, I don't know, not too long, and then my brother got in a, his radiator blew up and he got burned, he was in the hospital, and so I brought him here. I thought, "He can't take care of himself." And I told my Georgie, my younger son, "Only be for a while. Give up your room and go in with John." He says, "That was fifteen years, Mother." [Laughs] To this day.

But Uncle Grant lived with us fifteen years or more, and he was, there are so many tales about him. He just was slow, but yet he was a little sly, and yet he'd, we'd take him down to the bus stop. He'd work in a bakery as a, clean up, and so we'd take him to the bus stop. He'd take the bus to Jenkinson's on Hillsdale, and then he'd, he's come back, he's supposed to meet, we'd meet him there. He's there, sometimes he's not there. Then the kids say, "Mom, he's not here. What'll we do?" I say, "Wait a little bit. Wait." I said, "Well, come home." And he's out, he's at a pool hall or something. We went through that for fifteen years. Then I finally put him in an apartment that we had, we owned, and I watched him, made sure he had a lot of frozen dinners and money, and washed his clothes, and he was very happy because he was very independent. He'd go out and spend, go out all night and nobody can say anything. But he'd go, my kids lived upstairs, he'd go up there and bother 'em. They'd say, "Okay, Grant, you have to go back home. Go downstairs, go to bed." Then he'd get a little drunk and he'd be... [Laughs] All of 'em have stories to tell about him, but to this day, he died two years ago, but they really think of him and miss him, unlike the other cousins, 'cause they didn't have much contact with him. But they grew up with him. They'll talk about him yet. He was a character, but he meant well. So it, I still think, "Oh, I see a sale. I should get him some shoes or something," once in a while. And, "Oh yeah, he doesn't need shoes anymore." But I do, I think of him quite a bit, and I know one of my daughters, so she thinks of him, she thought about him. And so it's a good thing for them, to learn how to live with an older person. I think it was a good, good thing instead of putting him, he was away, but they'd take care of him. Even her boyfriends would know. They'd all ask about Uncle Grant. So it's a good lesson, I think. Hard on us, but it's alright. I miss him in a funny way.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

MR: It seems like, running through your stories, family's real important.

YH: It is, it's just really, I just think... yet I think we're sort of not all together all the time. Like, I compare, but I shouldn't. But we're pretty close. They're so close in age that they're, like, great buddies. But they're just unusual. They know what everybody -- when they were going to college, I'd say something, it got around to all four because they knew Mom said this and Mom said that and they knew, and I know this and I know that, so they knew. But last couple years I sort of lost track of, they were keeping things from me a little bit. I'd find out eventually. They say, "You better tell Mom." [Laughs]

MR: So how does it feel to look back on your handiwork, your children, and see...

YH: Well, pretty good except, I don't know, I should've beat 'em more, I think, make 'em a little bit more... I don't know, they're really good, but they're, I don't find them just dying to be top dog or anything. They're very... as long as they're happy. I wanted one to be a doctor, 'cause she was really bright. Usual answer. She's a nurse. She, to this day, I don't think would want to be a doctor. She's happy where she is. And I have two architects, and one of 'em hasn't got his papers or whatever, but I've been on his case forever. But I sort of laid off this year. And then my oldest boy just, he lost his job as Cisco and he hasn't had a job for two years and he doesn't seem terribly concerned. And he has three children. He has his priorities -- I don't think he'll care if I says this -- he has his priorities screwed up. He says, "First is to sell my house in Belmont." He has a beautiful house that he remodeled. It's just gorgeous. The second is to find another house to live in, and third is to find a job. I says, "Isn't that sort of backwards?" He says, "No, that's just the way I want to do it." So okay. So he sold his house, he found a house, and now he's gotta, I said, "You're on the third phase, then." He says oh yeah, they don't worry. Amazing. My other kids said, "They must have lots of money put away." But really, I don't know what. I don't ask. But they're... he's real good, helps a lot. He calls us all the time, always checks on us. And then the others say, "Oh, John calls, brown nosing." The usual. But he does, he'll... but he's the head of the clan, and he doesn't let 'em forget it. They know it too. [Laughs]

MR: Well, they have a pretty independent mother. Do you think that has something to do with the --

YH: Well, that's what somebody said, but you know, I've let them pretty much do as they wanted. And I think I spoiled the last one, 'cause all of 'em say she is such a brat. And she's the baby of the family, and it's just maybe so because she's the only one home for quite a few years. But they're, I look back and see how they all are, and they seem, they're good kids. As long as they're not mean and vicious. There're some people that are mean, they got a mean streak and they're not nice, and that to me is bad, and have hate, and that I wouldn't want to tolerate. They're not terribly religious, though I did send 'em to Sunday school, youth group, all that. They, I think they appreciate it, but it's not important to them right now. And they don't, none of them take their children to church. I said, they said, "Well, if you want them to go out, will you take them?" You know, to me. I said no. But then I thought for a minute, I says, "Yeah, I'll take, I'll take some." But they don't want to go. So that's where it is with them. But they will look after us, in a pinch. They would. They're, and they sort of, each protects us in a different way. They think Mother's getting trod on or something, they'll speak up. But it's... I hate this feeling of having them look at me like I'm totally incompetent right now. [Laughs] They do, the remarks. Sometimes they worry. And especially my physical, walking or anything, they're overly protective. Drives me nuts. Turn around, one step down, the hand is out. "Be careful here," this and that. And I think that'll come more and more. I haven't fallen yet. My sister has fallen four times, and I'm very careful when I walk, where I walk, what I step on, so I won't be a burden or fall.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

MR: You've been retired for some years now.

YH: Long time. Well, I didn't work a lot. I was a homemaker, actually, until Phyllis, the youngest, let's see, she was in high school, maybe a little before that. He was having problems at the office, so I went to help at the office and I ended up there, and I'd go a couple days a week, then it got more. I don't know anything about nursing, and I learned how to change, take the sheet off and put a new sheet on. [Laughs] And I was working, he'd take me to lunch, then pretty soon the girls, there were no girls left one day, so I was doing, man, I'd come home and I'd just be, somebody came, says, "Mom, you're so tired." I says, "Well, gol, you would be too if you worked all day in this office." [Laughs] And then shortly after, he got sick, so we went in with another doctor, then I just closed up the books, office. They said, "Yeah, you could go back to work," but no way could he go back. He was too sick. He had cancer, and it really took its toll on him. So we closed the business, and it's been pretty nice since then. We don't have a lot of money, but we're very content, I think. More so with the way the doctors are dealing with their business. It's tough on them. But he's very, I think he's very happy. He better be. [Laughs]

MR: You have a lovely location up here. What do you do, how do you spend your time now?

YH: You know, that is so weird because that's what my kids ask us: "What do you do all day?" They call up, we're not home, or if we are... I don't know, I get up, I read the paper for about two hours. I'm a slow reader. [Laughs] And my daughter said, "You know, Mom, if you quit taking the paper you'd get a lot more done." I says, "Well, why do I have to get a lot more done at this stage? I don't have to do anything." And so I just very leisurely, unless there are appointments on the calendar for one reason or another, and I don't do volunteer work. That's the one thing feel like I should, but I couldn't up until -- I took care of my brother all these years, so I feel like, they said give it a rest. But I feel like I've done a lot there. And I, when my younger sister was sick, I was going down to Kaiser and taking, helping her a lot. I don't know, I play golf. I enjoy that. And I used to sew a lot, but my eyes aren't quite, I'm not right into the mode, I guess. I have, and I have tons of material I've got to do something with. And I don't want anybody to open it, say, "Look what she's got hoarded there." I'd feel very, I got to get rid of this before anything happens. We don't do an awful lot, I guess. We'll go out to lunch with some friends once in a while, but he's working in the yard and I'll go out and help a little bit, but I'd just as soon he take care of that. Then, I'm not a real good housekeeper, but I'll go on streaks. Somebody's coming, I work like crazy, and otherwise I'll let it go. But we don't do a heck of a lot. I really can't -- well, I'm doing my apartment I have. I take care of that part. I do all the business, the money. He has no idea. He, but the other day, I was going to go to Bend to look at a piece, and he says, "I'll go with you." The last time I went he didn't want to come with me." I says, "Oh?" He says, "Yeah, I'll come." I said okay. I think he was real anxious to see it, so he, and I didn't realize he, it looked like he came from the garden. Just put his cap on and sat down. [Laughs] I said my god, he had his shorts on and an old shirt, and then, so we're going into the realtor's place and I go to the bank, and he's just sittin' there very calm. But he looked at the apartment. He really thought it was pretty nice. Then he started pushing me from behind, "Maybe it's a good deal."

But he's very supportive of what I do at that point. He never says don't do this or that. And I'll ask him what he thinks, he'll tell me, but he's very low key about that, so we get along great. And I rue the day he found out how to use the machine, the bank machine. It's real funny, one day he asked me, "What are those people doing?" one of the kids. I says, I don't like to tell him because he's pretty good at taking, writing checks. So I finally told him, I said, "But you can't use it all the time." He says, "Oh, you get money out of there?" Oh my, that was really something. He really thought that was great. But he's a little more careful now. He's not the big spender he used to be. [Laughs] So we go, we go walking in the winter. When it's raining and bad we go to the mall, because it's light, 'cause when it gets dark in the winter I think he gets a little depressed. So we go there and we walk, but he doesn't walk, like to walk too long. We walk about half hour to forty-five minutes and he says, "Let's go get coffee," so we go get coffee and sometimes he looks at some goodies. We do that, sit there. Our morning's shot, actually. And then afternoon, take a nap, whatever has to be done. But we're going to work on the kitchen and I'm just a little afraid we might have a little problem with communication between ourselves. He likes, I've been seeing what he likes. Well, if it, I wouldn't care if he cooked, but he doesn't cook. He did when I would, got, my back was bad; he just took right over. He said, "You don't have a good enough pan," he went out and bought a pan. He was doing all the cooking, and it was nice. He didn't miss a beat. He cut a flower, put it in a vase, put it in my room, and do little things that were neat. I don't like to get sick too often, so that's just a short term thing, but we get along really pretty good. We always still argue. Actually, it's bad. We're not the typical loving... we have our problems, but nothing, nothing that I, he won't give in, I won't give in. We give in now.

MR: Who's to say what's typical, though?

YH: It's, he's changed a lot. Mr. Macho has realized there's the other half, and it's nice.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

MR: Earlier you were talking about your parents and their life as they aged, and I'm wondering when your, when the war was over and your father and mother were reunited again and back in Portland, how was your father's attitude about what he'd experienced?

YH: I don't know, but I was looking back, and my sister Kazi was home then and I think my other sister got there, but I wasn't at home when they met. And I was told, I read this -- this is from Kazi, my younger sister, and she went on the train with him, got to Portland, and then they got a cab, I think, and got home, to our house. And they said Mom opened the door, and there's a little anteroom there, brick, just a small room, like a closet, but she said they got in the living room and they just looked at each other and they don't hug or anything. And I mean, this is four years. And they, she said they bowed to each other, and I was reading this and I thought, well isn't that -- and I could just see my mother smiling and my dad, but she didn't say that in there, but she said they bowed and then they said, she said something in Japanese. I forgot what term it was, but meaning "it's been a long time." And then they just sort of looked at each other, and I thought, oh my gosh, they didn't shake hands, anything, but that, their feeling just seemed to flow between the two of 'em. And they went, from then on they were so happy. They were just real, I mean, it was so long for her. Well, for him too, but he did woodwork to keep himself busy. He made that table there, over there, out of a piece of oak. He brought it home from Santa Fe. He found it there, he brought it home, he carved it, with a saw, handsaw, did all of it, and he made that lovely table that I really like. My younger sister had it, and she said she didn't want to take it to Hawaii 'cause the, it'd get ruined, so she, I said, "I'll keep it for you." She came back and she wanted it, and I gave it to her. Then when she was ill and dying, I thought she'd give it back to me. I didn't ask her for it. She said, "That goes to Edwin," her nephew. And I didn't, I just thought, well, she wants to give it to him, that's her prerogative, so I didn't say anything. But I dearly love that piece, and I mentioned it to Edwin. I says, "Yeah, we still have it. You have to come and get it." He says, "Do you want it, Auntie Yone?" I said, "Well, I really love it, but she gave it to you, and if you want it..." He says, "If you want it," and he kept saying that, so I thought, well maybe he wants to give it to me. And then I talked to my daughter, and she said, "You know, Edwin really wants it." I said, "Well, why didn't he say so?" [Laughs] And she said, "No, he did, but he thought if you wanted it..." I says, "He, I don't want it that badly that he would want it. It should go on to the next generation." So I'm waiting for him to come and pack it. It's gonna stay here as long as, I decided I'm not gonna pack it up. If he wants it he can come and get it. And it's, it's really a neat piece. And the vase on top and that, he made all that. He'd get, that's what kept him busy, doing all this woodwork. And when, he'd get the pine needles and he'd weave them into rope, just to keep his hands busy. And he's made all these things. He made the stand below there, he's made vases, and I have quite a few. And the kids, he made little vases about that big that he'd carve out of branches, and they're about that big around and like that, and he'd pack them up. And he has one with me, "Miss Yoneko Inuzuka" on the back, and it's his handwriting and it's still stuck on there. I have that in my windowsill there. But it's, he did all this kind, and then when he got home he made us all a trunk, sort of like a hope chest thing. And we moved here and I had it, and all these years I've been looking for it, and I accused one of my kids of taking it to school and finally my younger says, "You know, I bet it was stolen when your house was robbed." And then it dawned on me, that's exactly what happened. I had forgotten. And the one he made for me had my initials on it. It's gone, but I think it's, that's the one that was stolen. But he kept busy. He's just one of those.

And my mother did, in camp, a lady from, I don't know where she came from, Idaho, and she had all this leather goods, beads, and she had all these ladies that were in Minidoka, "And if you work, make beads, we'll sell them and you can make money." And it was so little, but it was enough to keep them busy. My mother, when she came back, she was still doing it. And I said, she made not even, what, like ten cents -- moccasins, those two little moccasins that are clipped together -- I don't think she was making ten cents a pair, and yet she worked, put beads on them. And she did that for so long, until she, then she came back from the war and she did housework, which, she's not a very good housekeeper. And she did housework for this family; they're, they lived in east Moreland, and she's an artist, but a real nice family. Of course, you wouldn't go to someone that was a bad family, I guess, but she'd call her Tomi, and that sort of offended me. I thought, "She's not Tomi," but that is her name. But it just, 'cause she was such a gracious woman, and I sort of felt like it was sort of, it's like the doctors call you by your first name but they want to be called Doctor, you know? But she did housework for quite a few years, and I think it, she didn't mind. They treated her nicely and she learned things that she never knew before, and it kept her busy and she got an income. And she had a way of saving her money, and when I got married she wanted to buy me a nightgown and pearls that were, they weren't real, but she wanted me to have a pair, and little things that surprised me. But she had saved her money so I could have these things. And other than that, she just kept busy. She liked the yard. She couldn't work -- physically, she wasn't real strong, but she could do this night work and stuff, and it kept her content.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

MR: You said earlier that your father raised you all to be good citizens. How did he feel about this country when he got back?

YH: Well that's what, yeah. He became a citizen. He was, the truth is he was really very Japanese in his thoughts. He just, it took, I don't know, it took a lot, but everything he did, but I know he would, he would adopt American ways very quickly, but his heart was basically back in -- yet he left that when he was a young man of twenty, thirty. He left, and yet it's so strong in him. Yet he wanted us to be good citizens and he wanted us to do everything that was American. Sort of interesting. But he did, he had great admiration for this country, I think. After all was said and done, he realized that, the greatness of this country. He could never have any of this if he was in Japan. I realized that. And my mother, she was just happy to be home in her house. She worked, but she's sort of a, just so quiet, happy. And for the kids, all of us, I know she looked to my brother, younger brother, for support when my father died, 'cause when he came in from Fort Lewis, she looked at him and said, "Papa's gone." I thought... but other than, they're just, I think they did what they wanted toward the end of their lives, and they're very, they had a car. He'd drive her all over. She, this is going way back, but he tried to teach her to drive when they were young, and he'd get her back in the -- they, he told us this -- he'd try to teach her, and that's, those old cars, she kept, he said she kept going toward the telephone posts and just couldn't steer. So she, he finally, they had to give it up. But I mean, she would've been a really early driver, but I guess he just wanted her to drive so badly 'cause he really liked it, and she just couldn't do the things. It was sort of funny 'cause they'd talk about it. And so she had to have, go to the bus or have someone, and we'd all take her. When she had a meeting she'd ask one of us to take her, and we'd pick her up. She never, after that, didn't go on the bus very much. So then she'd want us to take all the other ladies home that were on our way. And when you're young, you'd roll your eyes and you don't say much, but you politely say hello but wish they didn't have to come with you, but you'd take 'em home. And she did that. She's real good about things like that. She was the only lady in the Japanese community that had gray hair like mine. They all dyed their hair. And somebody, they didn't know, "Who's that lady with the gray hair?" They found it's Mrs. Inuzuka. But she tried it once and didn't like it, and then we told her not to. All those years, we said, "Don't dye your hair." Then I turned twenty-something and I was dying my hair like crazy. [Laughs] I was white early and I was dying it. But when I turned seventy I said that's it, no more. And it took me a whole year to get it white. It was brown, it was black, it sort of in between. My niece said, "Auntie, your hair is three different colors." [Laughs] So, "Well, that's what's happening right now." But it took me that long. I'm glad I did it. I get preferential treatment when I go anyplace. They open the doors. Men are very polite, even ladies, so it's nice. I was getting something repaired and the man looked up at me and he kept staring at me. He says, "You have beautiful hair." I said, "Thank you." [Laughs] He just kept looking and I didn't know what he was looking at. And it took a long time for my kids to spot me in a crowd, 'cause they kept looking for a black-haired lady. And then he, it was funny, he'd meet me and he saw me coming, but he'd forgotten I had all white hair. He kept looking and looking, couldn't find me, and my brother-in-law, the same thing. We went to meet him at the airport and he walked right past me. I said, "Hey, Min," and he goes, "Oh?" He's looking for the black-haired lady. And so it's free. I am free. Yeah, I enjoy it. But their, in retrospect, their life was, I think, very good, very, that one, just in there where it was really hard. Other than that, they made things happen and were happy, content. And it, it's just one of those things that he used to talk about, when he got old and had to have a cane. We saw that day happen, but you just know, that's life and it goes on.

MR: Is there anything that I didn't ask you --

YH: Well, there was something, but I've lost it now. Something real funny happened, I thought, but I can't remember what the heck it was. No, there, basically, that's... I don't know, 'cause my youth was so, just very happy childhood, climbing trees, getting into fights. Oh, I know, I was gonna talk, we went, we were, went to 4H. I know it's in trouble right now, but my sister right above, Yae and I, were 4Hers, and it was so much fun. We'd got to these ladies' houses, they'd offer and you'd do knitting and this and that, and then you have the pledge. And then we went to, they have a camp and it was at Oregon State College, and I went for the first time -- this is her second year -- and it's one week or -- I don't think it's two -- one week, and you stay in the dormitory. And the program's all worked out, and it's just the greatest thing for, I was in grade school when it happened, and it was so much fun, and it was so nice. And then my sister was chosen president of the ladies, of the girls group, which was really unusual. We were all surprised, but she, people voted for her, and so she was sort of a celebrity. And it was just such a nice thing. Her picture was in the paper, and it, it was just such a good learning experience. That's when I saw The Invisible Man for the first time, and we could all, we walked back to our dormitory all so close together. We were all so scared. But it was so much fun, and that was a real special week for me. That's, and I think for her too. She'd, I like to say a few things about her because she, I asked her if she wanted to come up for an interview and she said no. And she rode on the Rose Festival float, and she was very active in that kind of thing. I didn't mention, I have a daughter that was a Rose Festival princess. Her cousin Betty was also the same year, they're the same age, and our Leslie was Rose Festival princess from Lincoln and that was sort of a fun thing. They'd bring her up here, the white suit and the car and everything. And to this day she, they meet together, the group that's available.

MR: What year was that?

YH: Let's see, seventy-some. I can't remember. I don't have any idea what it was. But it was, it was exciting. That, and then we'd go to the ball, and very, very nice. So my cousin, Betty, she was Azumano, and she went from Marshall, and it was good. It was good. And so when, my grandsons are going to Lincoln now and they see her. There's pictures of the princesses, I guess, and so they see her there. It's nice. So other than that...

MR: Well, is there anything that you did talk about that you'd like to say more about?

YH: I can't remember too much more. I don't know, maybe I didn't hit on the right highlights. I sort of jumped around a lot, so it's... 'cause I just, what came to my head. That's about it, I guess.

MR: That's just fine. That's fine. Thank you so much for having us to your home for this interview.

YH: You're very welcome.

MR: It's been very informative and enjoyable.

YH: You're very welcome.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.