Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Bennie Ouchida Interview
Narrator: Bennie Ouchida
Interviewer: Stephan Gilchrist
Date: September 13, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-obennie-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

BO: My name is Bennie Kiyoshi Ouchida, born April 10, 1917, and true name is Kyoshi, but then in grade school, they couldn't pronounce it, so they nicknamed me Bennie. And when I went to high school, they thought I was a girl, so they had to go to the school district and get that all ironed out. From then on, I was Bennie. I went through the army as a Bennie.

SG: Did your parents call you Bennie also?

BO: No, Kiyoshi. I'm Kiyoshi. But with the dual citizen, well naturally when I got drafted in Fort Lewis, corporal, I got notice from Japan to report. Oh, Dad got real excited, and we can't leave one here and the rest of them go back, so he went to the consulate and got all the citizenship cancelled. I was a dual citizen in the army. I didn't tell the army anything about it. [Laughs]

SG: So your parents, you're second generation, and your parents came from Japan; is that right?

BO: Yeah. My parents, well, both of them came from Kyushu. And Dad, he was the only son of a rich family, and he came to Hawaii and was married and had a daughter. And the first wife passed away, and he sends the daughter to his mother, who they call grandmother, and she took care, and Dad, he decided to come to Washington. And he came to Tacoma, then he went to Yakima and he didn't like it. And then he drifted over to the Boring. That's where he called my mother which is the second one. They always give the oldest daughter away first. And my dad said that he knows the family, the Nishimura family, and he would like to have the second one. She's the prettiest, best. So then my mom, as she came at the age of nineteen, I think, came to San Francisco, then came back up to Portland, then to Boring and got married in Boring.

SG: How old was your father when he came first time to U.S.?

BO: I don't know. It's in that report. That part I don't know how old he was then.

SG: What made him decide to leave Japan?

BO: Oh, they would get, they came out to make money and send money home because he's the only son and then go and support the family. But then again, when the mother passed away, he went back and donated property to the city hall, and city hall sits right on top of it in Japan. I don't know what town that is. My brother Jack, he knows where's this is at, but I didn't see it.

SG: What kind of work did his family do in Kyushu?

BO: They were kind of farmers. Yeah, Nishimuras, they were farmers. Nishimura family, well, my mom's family was a large family, but my dad was only a single son, so he had, but later on as we started growing up, Shigeta, he's the youngest brother to my mom, we always call him "Uncle," and the age difference was as if it was my mom's child, so they called him over to help out on the farm. And he came over and joined up, and so his name is Ouchida. Actually, supposed to be Nishimura. He, heard of Hideo Ouchida, Frankie, Roy. That's supposed to be Nishimura on my mom's side. Come in illegal. Agree?

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.