Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: George Hara Interview
Narrator: George Hara
Interviewer: Loen Dozono
Date: February 5, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-hgeorge_2-01-0020

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GH: As my family grew, first I had a boy then two girls, another son and then along came a third child. I had a family of five, two boys and three girls. And because of my past experience, I was sort of a curious student as to what kind of experience my children would face because they were Sanseis, all Japanese. But they went to school that was predominantly hakujin in the area where we were, and they progressed on to high school at Lincoln High School on the west side. Now besides the country club, I had found myself signing admission blanks to join the Multnomah Athletic Club which is a social club of sorts with an athletic facility, and that club too had racial discrimination policies, and there were no Nisei members. But with the help of my medical colleagues that sponsored me, I gained membership there, and so my kids naturally as members of the family could use the pool, and they learned to improve their swimming abilities, and the younger ones learned to swim there. And so at Lincoln High, a lot of the students were from Council Crest from the high-class residential area. This time, I don't think my kids had any qualms about talking about where they lived or what their fathers did for a living. I was getting established, and they had a nice home. So their cultural upbringing was entirely different from what I had experienced. We tried to instill some Japanese teaching or beliefs or festival, things of Japanese cultural value. My kids weren't too interested in that at the time. I couldn't even get them to go to the Japanese Methodist Church and go to Sunday school, and they went to nearby Methodist church. And although they knew kids in their age, Sanseis, who were my friend, Nisei friend's kids, they only met on certain occasions like birthday parties. They would be invited, and we would have a whole flock full of Sansei kids at the house. But otherwise, their upbringing, their friendships were made with Caucasian kids, and they thrived on this relationship. They didn't have any second qualms about racial inferiority, and I don't think they saw too much discrimination. And so theirs was more of a tranquil existence in a society they felt very much a part of.

So as they grew, I, you know, really studied them to see how they, things have turned out. And the interesting thing is when they got serious with their partners, each one of my kids that got married, married, had an interracial marriage and married into a hakujin family. And interesting enough, my in-laws, the parents, the fathers were physicians, retired pediatrician and another was a surgeon. And as good fortune would have it, these were wonderful people, and there was harmony, and we got along fine. The kids themselves seem to fit in well. They divided their times between our house and their in-law's house. And as they began having their family, it was an interesting study again to see how these kids who are really hapas, I use that term endearingly not with any derogatory meaning. I think it's a good term. It's better than the other Japanese term called ai no ko meaning "love child." Hapa is more deserving and a correct terminology. Anyway, my kids were all hapa. And as they grew, they had Oriental features, dark hair, some had a little reddish tinge. I think one had red hair. But as each grew, they maintained their Oriental features to a certain degree, but their thinking was all-American Caucasian. They didn't revert back to their Japanese background at all. But when they came over here, they got used to using chopsticks. And although we didn't feed them all Japanese menu, they got to enjoy Japanese food, and we take them to Japanese restaurant, Chinese restaurants, and they had a taste of all kinds of food, and they made their pick. They attended school, and it was interesting to me to watch my grandkids and I had nine grandkids, five girls, two boys, that's only seven. Maybe seven... no, anyway, two of the grandkids live in the Portland area. The others, the good features were the kids, they're pretty intelligent and physically attractive, and the thing I enjoyed the most was they're good athletes. They competed because their folks sort of pushed them along the line. They were good soccer players, and now that they're attending high school, their playing varsity soccer along with their hakujin teammates and doing very well. Vicariously, I was sort of going through their experience in getting the benefit of how well they're performing, and they fit in. But like I say, other than what they might eat that's Japanese, I don't know if they make any particular effort to really establish their cultural background. Sometimes on a homework assignment, they might come up to me and, you know, the usual question, "What did you do in the war?" and I would start in, but their attention span would be quite short, and so I never pushed this, and maybe some of these tapes would help answer questions later on.

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