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_2-01-0028

<Begin Segment 28>

LD: You grew up in the Methodist church then because you were on the south part of the town. And when you were exposed, were you exposed to the Buddhist religion in funerals and weddings like you spoke of?

GH: Yeah. We went Christian wedding with a Methodist minister. I remember going to church. Although I'm not a singer, I was part of a singing waiter group. The other thing that I felt important at language school was they formed a military Nisei choir, men and women, and I signed up for that. And we were fortunate in having a hakujin choir director was a music major finished Stanford. And our big program was to sing on the world-wide military network, and the song that he chose was "My Fairest Lord Jesus." And to this day, I think that choir did a marvelous job on that song. I heard it the other day at a funeral, and the vocalist, you know, didn't touch the meaning of that song at all. But there, I sort of faked my way through, but I'm right in the picture with my mouth open.

LD: Did you ever have any trouble with prejudice or anything when you were trying to buy a home on either the east side or the west side?

GH: We moved into our northeast home, the realtor explained, "We want you to, if you like this house, we want you to, you know, buy it and live in it. But to make sure that there's no problem, I'll canvass the neighborhood to make sure that there's no neighbor that would object to a person of your, you know, ancestry moving in," and I said that'll be great. Although I should have said, you know, forget that, we're moving in, you know. But our neighbor was very nice to us; and both sides, kids made good friends, so it was a peaceful transition. Then when we moved up here, there's no other, you know, this is isolated.

LD: In speaking of those transitions, when you got out of the army and came back to Portland or even to go to medical school, were there feelings that when you had left, had you lost friends? Were there bitter feelings and what, was there any inhibition or negativity about coming back to Portland?

GH: No. There were enough Nisei friends that had come back to Portland, so it was a nice congenial group. And those of us that were, you know, had been in the army, we'd meet weekly at one of the government centers to collect our 52/20 check. If you were unemployed, they gave you 20 dollars a week, see, for 52 weeks. It was our meeting ground, spending money for the week. So we lived on that, and then we started going to school, and then we took advantage of the GI Bill. And after we came back, there's enough of us that enjoyed playing basketball. We formed a basketball team, got white T-shirt painted stars, called ourselves Portland Stars, and we went up to Seattle, play basketball, had a good time. We won one game, lost another. It was sort of good to get back to Portland. I enjoyed it. And I was wondering if, you know, people that stayed back east were enjoying themselves. Apparently, they thought theirs was a, their new environment was the best, you know, having conversation with people that came back for the reunion. But Portland, you know, going to all different places, Portland is a very small town. It's a nice place to live.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.