Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Natsuko Hashitani Interview
Narrator: Natsuko Hashitani
Interviewer: Alton Chung
Location: Ontario, Oregon
Date: December 5, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-hnatsuko-01

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

<Begin Segment 1>

AC: This is an interview with Natsuko Hashitani.

NH: I just go by the name Natsu.

AC: Natsu.

NH: It's an abbreviation of my full name.

AC: Natsu Hashitani, a Nisei woman, eighty-eight years old. This interview is taking place in Ontario, Oregon, on December 5, 2004. The interviewer is Alton Chung of the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center's Oral History Project 2004. Thank you so very much for agreeing to speak with us today. Let's just start off with something very simple. Where were you born and when were you born?

NH: Winslow, Washington, in 1916. It was May the 5th, 1916.

AC: And how many brothers and sisters did you have?

NH: There was eight of us all together, three sisters and four brothers, but there's only three of us remaining.

AC: And where were you in the family?

NH: I was the third child.

AC: What were the names of your brothers and sisters?

NH: My oldest brother is Manuel Wakatsugi, and then my, the second one is Chieko, and then I'm the third, and Kazue is the fourth, and Harumi is the fifth, and Mary is the fourth, and Aiki is the third, and Sam is the second... first, I mean the last, sorry.

AC: And when did your father immigrate to the United States?

NH: You know, I'm ashamed to say, but I really don't know. All I knew is that he came to Seattle, and then he was employed in the fishing industry in Alaska, and that's about all I know of his first coming to America.

AC: So what did he do for a living?

NH: Well, he just was a cook, and worked in the fish canneries, and then he eventually went into farming on Bainbridge Island.

AC: So what did he grow on your farm?

NH: Strawberries, mainly strawberries on Bainbridge Island.

AC: How large a farm did he have?

NH: Oh, I really don't know that, but I assume it was around fifteen, twenty acres.

AC: What about your mother? When did your mother come to the United States?

NH: That... I really don't know when she came either, but she came as a bride to marry my dad. So he was a total stranger, but that's the way they were coupled in those days among the Japanese.

AC: She was a "picture bride."

NH: Yes, yes. See, you know more about that than I do. [Laughs]

AC: So I guess how would you describe your father?

NH: Well, he was a hard-working man, but his health failed at a young age. I think he was in his thirties, so his life was quite a struggle after that, so my mother really carried the load.

AC: How did he get sick or what happened?

NH: Well, he had a disease of the eye. Whenever it was bad, it blinded him, and whenever he was able to see halfway is when he worked on the farm. But it was a struggle for him.

AC: So how did your mother carry the load?

NH: So my mother, she carried on with the farming, and then my older brother helped her a lot, too. So without his help, she couldn't have made it, because there were so many of us children. So we all had to help towards the family pot by working and helping on the farm, so we were more like child laborers, I guess.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

AC: What kinds of things did you have to do to help out on the farm?

NH: What kind of work did I do?

AC: On the farm, yeah.

NH: Well, it was in producing all the crops that we raised, just cultivating it, and keeping it growing so it would produce the crops. So we really had to work, but we didn't have a choice; it was matter of necessity for us to all pitch in and help. But we struggled and made it through that way. Being I have a strong mother and older brother that, he kind of took over like he was the father of the family by just taking on the responsibility. So it was hard for them. But I think we were raised to face that responsibility, and we did our share.

AC: So what was it like going to school?

NH: Yes, we all attended school. That was one thing they didn't deny us, other than after graduating from high school, then it was impossible for them to send any of us to college, because we had to work toward the family pot, you know. So I know my older brother would have made a wonderful student if he had gone to college, but he was so busy helping to provide for the family that he was denied that privilege.

AC: Were other people in the family being able, gone on to college afterwards?

NH: No, there wasn't.

AC: Did everyone finish high school?

NH: Yes, oh, yes, they all finished high school. That's one thing the folks did manage to sacrifice so that we could get the high school education.

AC: So after school, did you all come back and work on the farm?

NH: Oh, yes. Saturdays and Sundays and after school. It was hard to believe that we had to work like that. But it wasn't that we had to, we were, felt like we needed to do that.

AC: So that meant that there was almost no time for anything, extracurricular stuff at school?

NH: No, there wasn't.

AC: Tell me more about your mother.

NH: She was a very hardworking, sacrificing mother. If it wasn't for her and my older brother, I don't think our family would have been able to get along as we did.

AC: Well, tell me about your older brother. What was he like?

NH: He was... he was a very conscientious person, and one that would sacrifice a lot, and he felt the responsibility. I really respected him for that, because he did feel the responsibility that the family was able to carry on.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AC: So did you attend Japanese school at all?

NH: Yes, I did. Oh, up until I was the eighth, grammar school age, I guess, I did attend Japanese school then, 'cause they had one of the Issei teachers come out to that farming community where I lived, so he taught us Japanese. But that was our second language, so we weren't serious about it.

AC: So were you, in school, were there very many Japanese or Asian people in your school?

NH: Well, I think there may have been about ten, fifteen of us. 'Cause we were in a farming community where we raised strawberries, so all the strawberry growers around, they were Japanese, and so that made a little community of Japanese then.

AC: And how was your relationships with the other students?

NH: Fine. We just, it was fine. It was nothing unpleasant at all.

AC: So what happened? When the Depression came, what was it like?

NH: Well, I think we struggled like everyone else.

AC: So what kinds of things did you end up having to do or sacrifice?

NH: Well, it was just regular living expenses that were cut down. Other than that, we managed to live.

AC: Did you have to do without anything or give up things that you really wanted to have?

NH: Well, no, there wasn't other than college education after finishing high school. For our particular family it couldn't be done. But there was others that managed, but like I say, we had a handicapped father and so many of us children, so couldn't manage the college education.

AC: So growing up, did your parents speak very much about life in Japan?

NH: Now and then, but they didn't elaborate too much. We had a little language barrier, I guess. [Laughs]

AC: So they only spoke Japanese?

NH: Yes. So it was a very simplified Japanese that they used on us. So as far as elaborate into their history in Japan, they didn't because they knew that we wouldn't be able to comprehend, you know.

AC: So did you date at all in high school?

NH: Did I...

AC: Date at all?

NH: Very little, 'cause that was one of the rules that, among the Japanese, that girls did not go out on dates. So after I was able to date, well, then my two younger sisters had the liberty of making their own dates, which I was denied that.

AC: What did you do?

NH: Well, I felt like I was shorted on that. But after they felt like the others, Japanese society didn't think that girls of any respect at all would go out on dates, so they wanted to keep us from having that reputation, I guess.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AC: So what did you do after you graduated from high school?

NH: I just remained on the farm, helped toward the family pot, you know, as one of the helpers to keep the crops going.

AC: What did you want to be when you grew up and you just graduated from high school?

NH: Well, I guess I just didn't have a choice, 'cause I knew it was impossible. So I just took my daily chores as I went along. So it was something I accepted.

AC: Was there something that you wanted to be?

NH: Well, I didn't... I guess I just didn't have that opportunity, so I never gave it a thought, seriously.

AC: Did your family stay on Bainbridge Island the whole time?

NH: No. See, I was six years old when I moved from Bainbridge Island to a place called Hillsboro, it's a farming community in Oregon, and we moved there. So then there we continued on with the strawberry farming in that Hillsboro community there for about, until I was in eighth grade in grammar school, I guess. Then we moved on to a community called Banks, Oregon, and continued on with strawberry farming. The reason why we kept moving like that, to raise good strawberry crops, if you got on virgin soil, it produced a good crop. So at that time, I was unhappy with having to make these moves, but it was due to having the different soil to raise the crops, 'cause it always did produce better crops. Of course, the folks could see that, but we siblings thought that was so much trouble to keep moving on like that. So that was the last place I remember, to Banks, 'cause after that is when I met George, my husband. Then it wasn't long after that that we were married and I moved to eastern Oregon, which was a big move again. Then I continued to... and George was a farmer. He had gone to college in BYU for a couple of years then, I think, and then he went into farming after that. So that was about the size of our moves, which was pretty frequent, I thought.

AC: Well, why didn't you just rotate crops? Why did you just, growing just strawberries?

NH: Well, that's what they were equipped to raise that, and that was their type of farming. And they knew that having different soil to raise the next crop, produce so much better, so that's the reason why they just kept moving on like that to different soil. And it did produce very good crop by the move, 'cause they kind of burned the soil out, I guess, by keeping it, raising it in the same soil for so many years.

AC: What about... it must have been really hard on you kids.

NH: Yes, to change, have to change schools and leave friends and such. But that was the type of living so many of the Japanese, they lived that way until they got to the point where they could purchase land. And so that's why I lived in a place called Banks, that community there, is a place where my folks finally bought that place. So they didn't have to move anymore 'til after, 'til the war broke out, they had to leave it then. So they had some Caucasian neighbors that offered to take care of the place during the time that they were gone since it was purchased in my family.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AC: So were there other strawberry farmers in Hillsboro and Banks?

NH: Oh, yes, most of them were strawberry growers. We did some truck farming along the side, too, while we lived there, too, but the main crop is strawberries. It seemed like the Japanese at that time, they had the experience of raising strawberries and knew what they were doing, so I think that's why they continued with that, too.

AC: So your husband was also a farmer. Was he a farmer in the nearby area?

NH: Excuse me?

AC: Your husband, the person who became your husband, he was also nearby, he was also a farmer?

NH: Yes, but in a different type of farming in eastern Oregon here. It was like raising onions and potatoes and such. So his parents were in that type of farming so he can start off in his own like that, too.

AC: How did you meet?

NH: We met at a JACL convention in Portland. Let's see, I can't recall what year that was, but I was still in high school. So then after I met him, it was eight years later that I married him, So it was just seeing him, he lived in eastern Oregon, I lived over there, and it was just seeing him, oh, through the years, just a few times through the years, you know. But I made the right choice. I vowed that I would never marry a farmer because I was raised on a farm and knew how much work it was. And yet that's what happened, I did marry a farmer. [Laughs]

AC: That must have been quite a romance. Did you keep in contact with letters at all?

NH: Yes, yes, we did. And then he'd make trips over there to date me and such, you know. So the dates were few and far between. [Laughs] So that's why it took eight years.

AC: What did he study at BYU?

NH: Oh, I think it was business. I really don't recall for sure, but I think he was in business that he was majoring in BYU.

AC: But he didn't finish. Why?

NH: No, he didn't. Well, I think it was finances more than anything. 'Cause he had two brothers that were going to Oregon State, but he chose BYU, and I think he more or less had to work along with school. So I really don't know in detail what happened.

AC: So when, about when were you dating him, when he was in Ontario and you were in Banks?

NH: Well, it first started when I first met him, I guess. I met him at this convention, and we dated then. And we were both attending these JACL conventions that they had once a year, so we'd date then. Then, of course, he made trips over there in between, you know. So, like I say, they were far between.

AC: What year was about this when he was courting you?

NH: Oh, let's see. In about '38, I think.

AC: How long would it take him to drive from Ontario, Oregon, to Banks?

NH: It was about an eight-hour drive in. Of course, now it could be made in six, seven hours, but it was about an eight-hour drive then.

AC: And so when did you get married?

NH: In February the 16th of 1941. So then the war broke out that December. That's the reason why I was already living in this area where it was safe to move to. But my parents weren't allowed to move until they had the grant to move, which was in March of '42.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AC: So where were you when you found out about Pearl Harbor?

NH: I was at a meeting in Caldwell, Caldwell, Idaho. We were at a JACL meeting, and it was announced during that meeting. It was a terrible shock, then. So just never suspected, you know, like everyone else, never suspected anything like that would happen. I didn't encounter anything unpleasant, even after that. 'Cause it was in a community that you knew different ones quite well.


AC: How did you feel when you heard the news?

NH: It was just a shock, you know. It just felt like something that couldn't have happened. So I never even gave it a thought what was gonna happen, because my parents were in that restricted area, you know. At that time, nothing like that was known, but, of course, this came after that. So because I had already established myself over here, relatives were allowed to move, otherwise they had to go into the camps there that they had in Portland.

AC: So what was the general feeling of the community when this executive order came about?

NH: Well, the people that you knew was fine. Ontario was especially nice. The surrounding areas like Vale and Payette, they encountered some unpleasant things that happened, and they didn't treat us too well, you know. But Ontario was exceptionally nice. Of course, there was incidents there, too, but not like the other areas like Vale and Payette.

AC: What did you hear that happened?

NH: Pardon?

AC: What happened in those other places?

NH: Well, they were refused service in certain businesses, and well, they showed hostility in several ways, even were turned down by some of the churches. So in any way they could express their bitterness, they did show it.

AC: What kinds of things happened in Ontario?

NH: Oh, it was few of the business, very few of the business that denied their service. So other than... I don't recall anything drastic happening at all.

AC: What was the general feeling in the community towards President Roosevelt when this executive order was announced?

NH: Well, it was unpleasant, you know, and disappointing, very disappointing. Just certain expressions like that. But, see, it's been a while ago, so as far as the detailed reaction, don't recall too much.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

AC: So what did you... when you were out here in eastern Oregon, executive order came down, you had to relocate, and all of a sudden you knew your parents were in that area, what did you think, what did you feel?

NH: Well, it was sad because... it was sad for me when I got married and left the family, 'cause I lived with the family for so long, you know, so attached to them. And this meant that I may not be able to visit them, because I didn't know how long this hostility was going to last, you know. So when I first learned that those that... there was Japanese that had families over here or had someplace committed to go to, were able to come, well, then I was quite relieved then, because I knew that I'd be able to join my family again. I was very close to my family, being at home for so long, so it affected me a lot when I found out that I may not be able to see them again. So I probably was the only one that was happy for the evacuation, I guess, because they came over the following March, after the war broke out. They loaded everything up in two large trucks, all their personal things they had to have, household things, and farming tools that they needed, they were able to bring them over on their trucks and relocate over here.

AC: You said that some neighbors said they would take care of --

NH: Yes, had a neighbor there that they said they would continue to farm the place, and were very, very loyal as true American friends. And then after that, they would even make trips to come over here to see how my family was getting along.

AC: You had mentioned that you had to move to new soil because the strawberry property exhausted the soil. Then they bought the property in Banks. What did they have to do different to continue to raise strawberries there?

NH: Well, they started to do some rotating, so that's how they managed to continue on. But they eventually sold the place because when they evacuated, living here and trying this farming over here, they decided they'd like to just remain here, so they sold the farm to the neighbor that took care of the place over there. So it worked out to our advantage for them and us, too.


AC: So it must have been a real shock, a change, from growing strawberries to onions and potatoes, totally different crop. How did your family make that transition?

NH: Well, my husband was the one who made the choice of the crop, because that's the way he was raised. It was onions and potatoes and crops like that, and strawberries was not being grown on a large scale here at all, just very little. So you had to have a market for them to really raise in, whereas on the coast, they had all those canneries, strawberry canneries, that processed the strawberries, whereas they did not here. Well, my husband wasn't a strawberry grower, anyway. [Laughs]

AC: Now, you had to have a place to move to.

NH: My family?

AC: Yes.

NH: Yes. They had to have a commitment, and designated place to go to, otherwise they were not allowed to move out of the West Coast there.

AC: So where did they live? I mean, did they move in with you?

NH: Yes, uh-huh. We had another building on the place, so they made up living quarters in a hurry in order to accommodate all of them.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

AC: So can you describe what this living place was? What kind of building was it before and how did you turn it into living quarters?

NH: Well, the home that I was in was a small home, so we couldn't take too many in there. But they had a garage that they just walled it inside, made a temporary living quarters, so they lived that way until they found a home in the area close by, on the farm that they were able to rent. So that's how they managed. It was very inconvenient for them, but also us, too. But it was a ways to get, to be able to leave over there.

AC: So your entire family moved?

NH: Yes, they did. My parents and the two younger brothers came by train, whereas the rest of them were on the trucks that moved all the belongings. So it was like pioneer days.

AC: That was an incredible journey. So what kind of reception did they have when they all arrived here into the community?

NH: It was fine. Younger ones went into school right away, and high school, and there was nothing unpleasant, which I worried about, being I'm the oldest sister, I worried about, but there was nothing unpleasant.

AC: Did any of your brothers get drafted into the war?

NH: No, but my next to the youngest volunteered. He was in the service.

AC: When did he volunteer?

NH: Pardon?

AC: When did he enlist?

NH: You know, it was after they all moved over. So the exact year... oh, I have to think about that.

AC: How did your parents feel about him volunteering and enlisting?

NH: They were fine. They were fine about it, yes. I think it was, he finished high school in Ontario, I think it was right after that was when he volunteered.

AC: So do you know where he was stationed or where he went?

NH: I know he was in Cuba. I think he was stationed there. Puerto Rico? I'm really not sure.

AC: Did he join the navy?

NH: Pardon?

AC: What branch of the service?

NH: No, army.

AC: Do you know what he did at all?

NH: No, I really don't know. All I remember is him in uniform, and I have pictures of him and photos of him in uniform. I'm sorry, I can't recall.

AC: Were your parents very proud of him?

NH: Oh, yes, all of us.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

AC: Can you describe what it was like living out here during the war years?

NH: Well, we just were cautious. We would hear from others, places where they were a little bit hostile toward the Japanese, so we were cautious to avoid patronizing those places. But as far as anything being extremely unpleasant, I don't recall.

AC: Well, how was... I know that they had ration books and everything, gasoline, sugar. Can you tell me a little bit more what it was like living like that?

NH: Well, you really didn't miss it, you know, to make that much of a difference. You knew you had to do without, so you lived accordingly. I just don't recall any real hardship at all.

AC: What kinds of things did you do without?

NH: Pardon?

AC: What kinds of things did you without?

NH: Well, gas, for one thing, I guess. And I think mainly the gas rationing, especially if you own your own farm, too.

AC: So how did you have to change the way that you lived?

NH: Well, just had to learn to cut down, you know, and live within those means, rationed means.

AC: What about, were there special collection drives or war bond drives, things like that? Do you remember any of those things?

NH: War bond, I believe. I do recall that. Other than that, I don't recall anything special. You know, that's a long time ago. [Laughs]

AC: Did they just come around and ask for donations or to buy war bonds? How did they solicit that?

NH: No, they didn't solicit door to door or anything like that. I think they just lifted up the individual responsibility. I really don't recall anything done specially.

AC: So out here in the farm, what kinds of things did you raise? Did you still continue to grow onions and potatoes during the war?

NH: Oh, yes, uh-huh. The same crops. Yeah, we used onion seed also, and it was mainly the crop of onions and potatoes, that was the major crop.

AC: Was the JACL organization very active during, out here in Ontario during that time?

NH: Yes, they were. And it's still active to this day.

AC: What kinds of things did they do during those years?

NH: The JACL, you mean? Well, just mainly the, what JACL meant to them, you know. And it's an organization among the Japanese American citizens to continue to... well, I don't know how to put it. Well, I guess mainly it's to continue to be good citizens, to show that they are, mainly.

AC: What kinds of things did they do? Did they have activities or something for the community, or how did they demonstrate that they were good citizens, or did they?

NH: Well, yes. For the community and for the, mainly for the Japanese Americans, their citizenship, mainly.

AC: In the farm, so everyone continued to work in the fields, the whole family worked in the fields that way during the war?

NH: You mean...

AC: Tending the crops?

NH: You mean after the war?

AC: No, during the war.

NH: During the war? Well, they mainly had other help that a lot of the Japanese evacuees that were in the camps came out to help out on the farms. And those people eventually were able to start farming themselves. But at first, there was quite a few of them, made a difference in the help, the neighbors in the fields, of the Japanese that came out, evacuees that came and worked in the camps.

AC: So did you have to find a place for them to live also on the farm?

NH: Yes. They had camps set up in different areas, and they had housing for them.

AC: How did they get from those camps to your farm?

NH: Maybe they were transported by the farmers.

AC: So in the cultivation of your farm, did you have horses, did you have tractors?

NH: Oh, it was tractors, mainly. No more horses. [Laughs]

AC: You didn't have to have any horses or anything like that to cultivate when you were in Banks or Hillsboro?

NH: Some of them did, uh-huh. They had tractors. We were one of the very few that had tractors. Because up until then, they mainly used horses. So we gradually worked up to tractors, made farming much easier.

AC: So when you were on Bainbridge Island...

NH: Oh, that was all horses.

AC: All horses. So you had horses tilling the field there. When you moved to Hillsboro...

NH: It was still horses there, too. So it wasn't tractor until we moved up to Banks, place called Banks.

AC: That's when you bought your farm, that's when you bought your tractor. You took that farming equipment with you to eastern Oregon?

NH: Yes, uh-huh.

AC: That must have been quite a journey driving a tractor across Oregon.

NH: Yes. Of course, I didn't go through all that because I was already living over here at that time. But my family did, though.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

AC: Yeah, I was just thinking, you said that your brothers had loaded up two trucks and they moved from Banks to Ontario, the tractors on the trucks, or did they drive the tractors?

NH: Well, we had some Caucasian neighbors over there that they used their equipment to haul some of the things that we couldn't manage in the two trucks. And then I think my brother went back for another load. Because he was the only one who was licensed to drive then, 'cause the two younger brothers weren't, they were too young to drive at that time.

AC: And still, your older brother was still the head of the household at this time?

NH: Yes. I don't know how me managed through high school, 'cause he'd missed school half a day at a time, in high school, 'cause he had to go there in the morning market. And what day he had left he went to high school, yet he graduated with his class he started from. So he made quite a sacrifice, because high school education was hard for him due to his time that he had to spend there. But I admire him for the responsibility he took over in trying to keep the family going.

AC: Tell me about the morning market. What was that like?

NH: We had to be there around 2:30 and 3 o'clock in the morning, 'cause all the other farmers are there with their produce, and all the grocery buyers who had grocery stores, their buyers would be there early, too, to get the first choice of everything. So I went along with my brother a few times to see what it was like, what he was doing, and I thought it was amazing to have to get there 2:30, 3 o'clock in the morning. But it was an experience.

AC: So who did he sell to?

NH: Pardon?

AC: Who did he sell the crops to?

NH: Well, there'd be the people who owned the grocery stores, they would be there, the produce was there, grocery store. So it was a quite large market, because for this town of Portland there was a lot of grocery stores. So that's how the farmers were able to get rid of the produce.

AC: Where was the market?

NH: It was on east side. I can't recall... is there a Yam Hill on east side there? Yeah, that's where the market was then, 'cause I kind of remember the name Yam Hill.

AC: And so you'd load up the produce in the truck and take it over there?

NH: Yes, uh-huh. So you'd have to start out about... oh, in those days, about one o'clock in the morning to get there in time for the market.

AC: And the market would be finished whenever he finished selling the last of the produce?

NH: That's right.

AC: And then drive back?

NH: Back. Then he'd drive back to Hillsboro where he went to high school and salvaged what day he had there. So it was a struggle for him to take care of the family and then trying to finish his high school education, too. Then like I say, he made it with the class he started with. Of course, he had to do a lot of extra studying, too.

AC: Was the market seven days a week, every day?

NH: Oh, I think it was Monday through Saturday, I believe. I don't think it was open on Sunday. It may have been, I'm not sure.

AC: So moving from Portland over here to Ontario, who did you sell your crops to out here?

NH: Oh, well, they didn't have any of that fresh produce, it was just potatoes. So they had different produce sheds here that they would buy all the crops, you know. So they were able to unload it there, because his potatoes and onions is not perishable like your fresh produce.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

AC: What do you remember of when the war ended?

NH: It was... it was just like it was a big load, and felt like you were free. It just, it had that sensation. You didn't feel any of that hostility that some of the Caucasians that we were exposed to. But you just felt free.

AC: Do you remember your reaction when you learned about the atomic bombs being dropped in Japan?

NH: Oh, it was horrible. You just felt like it was a mass murder. Because you felt like, anything like that could happen. Of course, the reaction then is very intense. So shocking all of a sudden to...

AC: How did your parents feel?

NH: Pardon?

AC: How did your parents react to the news?

NH: Well, I imagine they felt the same. You just felt that... well, it was just a shock to them. It's hard to describe.

AC: What images come to your mind?

NH: Pardon?

AC: What images come to your mind?

NH: I still didn't hear you.

AC: What images come to your mind?

NH: What religion?

AC: Images, pictures.

NH: Oh. Just a mass murder. Hope I never have to hear of anything like that happening again.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

AC: Now you had mentioned that you had friends in Minidoka, and that you had to have, you traveled there to visit them. What was that like?

NH: It was a shock. I didn't realize that they had to live the way they did. Their apartments were just divided by just the wall, and the apartments weren't, just a single board wall, nothing lined to keep them warm or anything, and they had a little pot stove there. Well, it was just like living quarters that we had for our berry pickers on the farm, you know, just like camping. And I didn't realize that they were living like that. So I had relatives in there, cousins and uncles, aunt, and so as soon as I found out that we were allowed to go in there to visit them, my husband and I drove over there right away to see them. Of course, we had to have a permit to enter the camp to visit. So I was just thankful that my family didn't have to go there, because I didn't realize it was that bad in there. Of course, all the outdoor plumbing and everything, which was all outside, you know. It was a transition that I thought these people that lived in nice homes in Portland and such, they could stand to have to live that way, but it was a matter of being forced to. I was thankful myself that I didn't have to put my family there. And it was out in the desert area where there was no trees whatsoever, just setting up a camp out in the bare desert. So I really hand it to them to be able to live like that. Sad part is that they were citizens and had to put up with that. But wartime, I guess there's all kinds of conditions that unexpected to happen, too.

AC: How did that make you feel?

NH: That they had to live that way? I felt like it just wasn't right. They were denied their rights, denied their rights, and they were forced to live that way under strict rules like that. There's nothing that we could do anything about.

AC: What was the process to get permission to even visit your relatives in Minidoka?

NH: You know, I don't recall. I think all we had to do was apply. Soon as we found out, all we had to do was apply.

AC: Did you bring gifts or anything like that?

NH: Yes, yes. Because we were, it was mainly in the food line.

AC: What kinds of things did you bring?

NH: Oh, that's a long time ago. Probably fruit for one thing. Other than in detail, it's hard to recall.

AC: What was your impression when you arrived at the camp? You said you had, what was the process of even getting into the camp?

NH: I had to have this permit, all I had to do was present that, and I was able to go in.

AC: What did you think when you saw the camp?

NH: Well, it was... I didn't realize it was that primitive. I thought it was places that would be a little bit nicer than that, something that had more warmth to it. And then I went to their dining room, which was long tables just like, you know, just like they have in the army, I guess, long tables like this.

AC: You said they had to live by lots of rules. What kind of rules did they have to live by?

NH: In camp? Mainly going outside the gates there, I guess. I really don't know, 'cause I didn't live there. I know that they couldn't leave outside their territory there, the barbed wires, 'cause they had guards all around the camp there. But as far as the detailed rules they had, I don't recall.

AC: Well, after the war, did you ever go and speak to your relatives that were interned there about what it was like living in the camp?

NH: I believe I only went there to visit them twice in the camps there.

AC: But did you speak to them after, after the war about their experiences in camp?

NH: Oh, this I have. I have cousins that live out here, out past Cairo Junction there, they were in there. You know, I've heard too many stories from different ones that were in the camp. It was very uncomfortable.

AC: What kinds of stories did you hear?

NH: Well, mainly the living quarters, and the lack of comfort of heat. They didn't say too much about their dining. They more or less had to eat what they were served, you know. But it's mainly living under the conditions in their living quarters and their cabins, having to live with other families and such, too. Well, have you interviewed anybody that were in camp? Well, George Iseri was one of them. So they could tell you more about what it was like, 'cause I don't have that experience.

AC: I just wondered if you, if you had talked to your relatives and got their perspective.

NH: Oh, uh-huh.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

AC: So what was it like in Ontario after the war ended? Were there any big changes?

NH: You know, I wasn't ever treated badly at all. It's hard to express my, if I had any mixed feelings. Though I did hear of others, but I myself did not.

AC: What kinds of things did you hear?

NH: Pardon?

AC: What kinds of things did you hear?

NH: Well, in being refused on service, especially in the restaurants. That's about all I heard, I guess. Being that I didn't experience anything unpleasant, you know, it's hard to remember.

AC: When did your brother come home from the war?

NH: When?

AC: When?

NH: You know, I'm ashamed to say...

AC: So what did he do after when he returned?

NH: Pardon?

AC: What did he do afterward when he returned?

NH: He just came back to the farm and continued on to help his brother, younger brother. So then that's what he did for the rest of the time.

AC: So did your family just remain on that single farm?

NH: Yes, they did. 'Cause they had purchased the farm there, so...

AC: So what happened, when did your mother and father, they continued also staying with you?

NH: No, they bought their own place after they relocated here. They stayed with us for a while. But in the meantime, they were able to get settled and find a place, so they were able to buy a place.

AC: And your brothers and sisters moved in with them?

NH: Yes, uh-huh.

AC: How did you feel about, when all this talk about redress came up?

NH: Well, I thought it was due, I felt like it was due. They made quite a sacrifice to adjust to a different living, and so many of them were set back, too, you know. So I felt like they deserved it, myself.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

AC: So do you have any children?

NH: Yes, I have a son who lives in Portland, and a daughter who lives in Missoula.

AC: What are their names and what are they doing?

NH: Pardon?

AC: What are their names and what are they doing?

NH: Well, my daughter married a Caucasian fellow, and he was with the forestry department, so he's now retired. And my son was in photography business there in McMinnville and in Portland, and then his wife was, she's a German citizen. But he met her in a photography class there in McMinnville, and she got a, she finished, she got a master's degree in Portland State, and got a very responsible job in Germany, which pays real well. And she wanted to take it but she would not go unless my son went with her, and his photography business wasn't doing anything anyway, so it's a matter of them breaking up, well, he went with her. It was supposed to have been two years, but it ended up being four years. Now they're back in Portland, so he's now working with a sculpture in Eugene, I think, is where he said. So he's just doing odd jobs, I guess, to keep himself occupied now that his photography business was interrupted. And she's with a German-speaking class because she's very well-versed in German and also in English. Her English is not a bit broken at all, it's just like she was raised here. Because when she was in Germany, all the schools, their primary language was English. They had to learn English, so I guess that's how come she can speak English without an accent at all. I was disappointed at the time when he said he was marrying a German girl. I thought, oh, it's bad enough to have the language difference to live together, so I was quite disappointed. And when I met her, I was shocked, her English was perfect, just like anybody else. So I passed judgment without knowing. So I just hope they find something permanent back in Portland again. She has a good chance because she has knowledge of both languages.

AC: So looking back upon all your life experiences, what lessons have you learned about living in America?

NH: Well, I feel very fortunate by living here. And just feel like I wouldn't want to be anyplace else, feel more fortunate by living here. I don't know how some of those people that had to go to camp and denied their citizenship and all their rights, but so I have no bitterness there at all because I didn't have to go through that.

AC: Are your parents still alive?

NH: Pardon?

AC: Are your parents still alive?

NH: No, they're both gone. And out of the eight of us children, there's only three of us left.

AC: If your father were here with us just now and he just listened to our entire conversation, heard about your children and grandchildren, what do you think he'd say?

NH: Well, I think he would feel thankful that he has his family, main thing. 'Cause after all, that means more than anything anymore, you know, to have your family, and where you live. So I think he'd feel the same as how I feel.

AC: What values do you think your parents have passed on to you, do you pass on to your children?

NH: Perseverance. 'Cause you encountered so many obstacles, so then they taught us that right there, I think.

AC: When did your husband pass away?

NH: When?

AC: When did he pass away and what happened to him?

NH: He... well, going back farther, when he was eighty years old, he had an awful accident, a drunk driver hit him head-on, disabled him partially mentally, at first fully mentally, but then it gradually was partially, and physically he wasn't able to continue working at all. And he was, he loved his golf, and fishing, so he had enough memory to remember what he liked, but he was very depressed 'cause he couldn't continue with it. So he lived sixteen years after that, just not being himself at all. So that changed my life, too, 'cause I had to be caregiver then, and were allowed to do a lot of things that we had planned in the future, just all that taken away from us. So I'm very bitter about drinking, because it changed my life so much, too, and changed his. He's been gone for six years, now. And I feel fortunate I live in a community, we have real close friends. I'm not near my children, which I'm criticized for a lot 'cause they want me near them, but I've lived here over fifty years, so people that I, the environment and people I know, I'm so used to, it's hard to just decide to take off, you know. But I have to make a choice one of these days. I'm handicapped the way I am, I've had equilibrium damage that affects my walk, and then now I've got rotator cuff, some damage on both arms. So I'm not in good condition but I can still take care of myself, so that, I feel, gives me incentive to keep going.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

AC: We've talked about an awful lot of things. Is there anything that we, that you would like to go and say that we haven't, that I haven't asked you?

NH: That I would like to have done?

AC: Anything that you would like to talk about that we haven't talked about?

NH: No, my life is not, I haven't had an eventful life at all. It's just normal life, you know, taking things as they come from day to day, and accepting it that way, because it wouldn't do me any good otherwise. So, no, I would like to have chances of doing some traveling and all that, though I did go to Japan twice, I was fortunate there. But that's about the only traveling I have done. Of course, trip across the States, and that's about it.

AC: How was that? Tell me about that?

NH: Pardon?

AC: Tell me about your trip across the United States.

NH: Well, it wasn't much of a trip, 'cause I flew from Boise to Washington, D.C., 'cause my daughter lived there at the time when her husband was in the Forestry Department. So places where I've traveled is just where my children have been, so that was what forced me to make the move, I guess, travel. Otherwise I probably would have stayed in Ontario.

AC: What about your two trips to Japan? Where did you go?

NH: To Kumamoto and Tokyo and Yokohama. And Kumamoto was where I, my relatives lived there. And since I made the trip to meet them over there, they'd been over here about three times, because I made that first trip to meet them. And the idea of being blood related gives them incentive to come over here. It was a worthwhile trip, and got to see the country and the place where my parents were from. So I really enjoyed that trip and was thankful. I shouldn't have gone the same place twice, but being that I have family there, I chose to do that. And I had friends in Tokyo. In fact, one particular friend there was a newscaster on the TV station in Tokyo, he was a very close friend. And then there was another friend there that came from the same community near Banks, he chose to live there, and I was able to visit him also. It was a nice trip for me. And then from there, leaving Japan, I went to Hawaii because I've always wanted to go there once. So I guess I should be thankful for the shortcuts I did have.

AC: What did you do in Hawaii?

NH: Pardon?

AC: What did you do in Hawaii?

NH: I just went sightseeing, mainly, because I didn't know anyone there to visit at all. So it was a sightseeing trip. It was with my brother and his wife, uh-huh, the three of us were traveling together. But it was experience. You hear so much about a vacation place in Hawaii, so I had to see that.

AC: Where in Hawaii did you go?

NH: Honolulu... went to two islands. I get those two islands confused, I did go to two different islands. Flew from one island to the other.

AC: Maui?

NH: Yes, that's right. Have you been there?

AC: I grew up there.

NH: You what?

AC: I grew up in Hawaii.

NH: You did? Well, then you could stand to live here? [Laughs] Well, yes, it's quite a vacation place. We got a hotel there in Honolulu right close to the beach, and you could see the beach right from the hotel window there, too. And then my brother, he didn't want to take a tour, 'cause they go to all these different places, he wanted to just take a trip that he would do the driving, so he rented the car. So we went all over driving... of course, you go so far, but, oh, so it's a place a person should see. Oh, do you permanently live in Portland now, then? Oh, that's quite a change.

AC: So looking back over your entire life experience, what advice would you give your grandchildren or great grandchildren?

NH: Well, I don't think they should sacrifice like I did and miss out in life that I would have liked to have gone to college, but that couldn't be helped, because my parents could not afford to send me at all. I'm thankful that I did send both of mine to college. And two of the grandchildren have gone to college also, so that's so important. 'Cause it's easier to meet your challenges if you have that background, college background. So I advised them, if at all possible, have that education so they can make choices after that. Right now my granddaughter is in Florida, she's with the border patrol there, kind of a dangerous job. She was on border patrol in Texas, but she got transferred to Florida, and she's still in border patrol there. And she seems, she hasn't encountered anything dangerous at all, but she says it's very interesting. She was the only girl to pass that, to be on border patrol in the class with all the rest of the men. She was the only girl to pass.

AC: Is there anything else that you'd like to say?

NH: No. Like I say, my life is very uneventful because I didn't have the opportunities to be different, though I'm thankful that I had a very faithful husband and had two children. So I should be very thankful for that.

AC: I think you've had a far from uneventful life. Thank you so very much for speaking with us today.

NH: Well, like I say, I didn't encounter anything exciting, or to benefit society any more than raising my family.

AC: Raising your family through the conditions that, this slice of history that you've lived, is an accomplishment. It is an amazing accomplishment, and I think you've had a pretty incredible life. Thank you again for speaking with us.

NH: Well, you're very welcome, and I'm glad to have had this opportunity in. If I'd kept a journal of my life, maybe it would have been different, but I just had to go from just short bits of here and there.

AC: That's fine. That's what we're looking for. Thank you.

NH: You're very welcome.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.