Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Ruth Sasaki Interview
Narrator: Ruth Sasaki
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Ontario, Oregon
Date: April 22, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-sruth-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So today is Tuesday, April 22, 2014, and we are in Ontario, Oregon, with Ruth Sasaki. So, Ruth, the way I start with this is just, can you tell me when you were born?

RS: When?

TI: Yeah, when. The date?

RS: April 6th.

TI: And the year?

RS: 1929.

TI: And where were you born?

RS: In the Dalles, Oregon. D-A-L-L-E-S.

TI: Okay. And what was the name given to you at birth?

RS: It was just Ruth. And then later on, this minister said, "You should have a middle name," and that's where Ruriko came in, R-U-R-I-K-O, but that's not on my birth certificate.

TI: So he thought, this minister thought you should have a middle name and also Japanese?

RS: No, this minister... yeah. This Japanese minister said, "You should have a Japanese name."

TI: Okay. And do you know why he thought that, or he just thought that was appropriate?

RS: Yeah, more or less appropriate. I don't use it.

TI: Did you ever use it?

RS: Well, I know it's on my driver's license, but that's about it.

TI: And did you have any siblings?

RS: I had a sister, older sister, and five, I think... trying to think. I had an older brother and sister, where they died, they passed away before the war. And then I had, there was a lot of age difference, and then I had myself and three brothers. So that's, what, six?

TI: Yeah, six, you and three brothers. And then your sister and brother who died before the war, what happened to them?

RS: They had tuberculosis.

TI: And do you recall their names?

RS: I think my sister's name was Fuji, Fujie, and my brother... you know, offhand I can't think of that.

TI: Okay. And how about your three younger brothers?

RS: Jim, Roy, and Tad. So only... Tad is my youngest brother. He's the only one, him and I are the only ones surviving.

TI: And so in some ways, you were the oldest sister then.

RS: Yeah, well, with the four, but Jim was the oldest. He was older than me.

TI: Okay, got it.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So let's go to your father. Do you know, do you remember what your father's name was?

RS: Toichiro, T-O-I-C-H-E-R-O, Toichiro.

TI: And where in Japan did he grow up?

RS: Kyushu, same as my mother.

TI: And do you know why your father came to America?

RS: I really don't know. I think they just wanted to venture out. That's the only reason I can think of.

TI: Now, did your father know your mother before he came to America or did he come here first?

RS: Huh?

TI: Did your father know your mother before?

RS: Oh, yeah, they were married in Japan.

TI: Oh, okay.

RS: And then they came over.

TI: They came over together?

RS: Yeah.

TI: Okay, so that's a little unusual. Most of the stories I've heard, the man comes over first, they start working, and then either they sent back for someone or they go back.

RS: Yeah. Yeah, they were married in Japan and they both came over.

TI: So do you know how they got married? Was it an arranged marriage?

RS: I have no way... but I imagine in Japan it's all arranged.

TI: So your mother's name, what was her name?

RS: Sumi.

TI: And her, do you know her maiden name?

RS: Inouye. All I know is that she had about four or five sisters, and so there was no brother, all sisters. Maybe that's one of the reasons why she wanted to get away from there.

TI: And do you know what kind of work your parents' families did in Japan, in Kyushu?

RS: I don't.

TI: And your father's last name is Kuga?

RS: Kuga.

TI: Kuga. Okay. And so when they came to America, where did they go first?

RS: Well, that's a hard thing because I don't remember a lot of that. All I know is I was born in the Dalles, and then I think then Hood River, and then we moved to Troutdale, Oregon, where I started first grade.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: Okay. So can you remember your house when you were in Troutdale, where you lived?

RS: We were, my dad and mom, they worked for some farmer, Japanese farmers, and so we lived in the house on their place.

TI: Okay, so it was kind of like a little house that the workers stayed in?

RS: Yeah.

TI: And so did they move around quite a bit, then?

RS: No. From there, I don't know how... well, first grade there, and then we moved to Gresham, which is just a little ways from Troutdale. And then that's where I started, I think, second grade, second grade until the war broke out.

TI: Okay, so it's really the Gresham house or place that you remember the most then. So let's talk about that. So can you describe that house?

RS: It's just a small, I think, two-bedroom house, and a kitchen and a living room. Then outside toilet, and then as for taking a bath, we have these Japanese tubs, you know, they call it outside ofuro.

TI: And so there was you and then...

RS: My three brothers.

TI: Three brothers.

RS: And my mom and dad.

TI: And so how did the six of you sleep in two bedrooms? I mean, how was it arranged?

RS: We all sleep together. Well, the boys, brothers all slept together, and then I would have a bed of my own.

TI: In the same room as your brothers?

RS: Same as my mom and dad.

TI: Oh, okay, so you did that. Okay, that makes sense. And so just tell me when you were a kid, as much as you can remember, like a typical day. Like waking...

RS: A typical day? Well... a typical day was I had, Mom was out there doing gardening, I mean, planting, taking care of my dad's farm. He was more or less a truck farmer where we grew vegetables, and he would take that, the produce to Portland, which was about ten miles, twelve miles away. And then I would, my job would be to kind of prepare the meal. Now, can you imagine me... I'll never forget, because many times I would cook rice, and I would fall asleep. And so I would have to dump that rice and start all over again.

TI: Because it would burn on the bottom?

RS: Yeah. And then, but I never told my mother that, you know. I have to hide these things.

TI: And do you remember how old you were when you had to make the rice?

RS: Well, I imagine it was early, about third grade, third, fourth grade. And I didn't know, she showed me how to do things, you know. Then another thing, interesting thing was we would plant vegetables with plants, from plants, you know, we'd buy the plants. And Mom would do the shovel work, and my job was to put the, when she does the shovel work, then my job was to put the plant in that hole, and then have to cover it. Well, you know, that's hard on your back. [Laughs] And another thing what I used to do was I'd see all those plants, then I would get a whole bunch of them and throw 'em away. And Mom never knew what... she never questioned. She didn't think I was that smart enough to throw plants away. But it just, but it was just hard work.

TI: Because you threw 'em away because then fewer to plant.

RS: Yeah. I didn't want to keep doing, planting, and it's hard on your back.

TI: So I'm curious, when you do something that maybe your parents didn't approve of, what would they do when they found out, like, you maybe threw away plants or burned the rice or something else that they found out about? What would they do?

RS: I don't think... you know, I haven't even come face to face with that, but I don't think she, they would be really upset with me. They would say, maybe, "Why did you do that?" or... and another thing that my job -- and here my brothers got away scot free. You know how Japanese families are, they favor the sons. And so there's me, and then so where we had that outside bath, I mean, taking a bath, ofuro, well, then it was my job to burn, put the logs in so we would have hot water, you know, in that big wooden tub. So I had to do all those things while my brothers got away scot free. But I didn't say anything, I thought I had to do that, so I did it.

TI: So your brothers didn't really have as many chores as you did?

RS: No. I think they'd go out and help Dad do, maybe hoeing or something, the strawberries and all that.

TI: So going back to making the rice in the morning, so I'm imagining really early in the morning your dad and mom would get up, and because you slept in the same room, they would get you up also?

RS: Sometimes they do. But they got to make sure that we get up to go to school.

TI: But it sounded like they made you get up earlier to make the breakfast and let the boys sleep in a little bit longer?

RS: You know, it never dawned on me. [Laughs] Probably. But I don't cook breakfast anyway. My main thing was cooking the rice. My mom was out there working.

TI: Okay, because that took a little longer.

RS: Yeah.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: And besides rice, what else would you eat in the morning?

RS: Well, like eggs, we had some chicken, eggs. We didn't have much; that was what was sad. And but we never, but we never complained. And so our thing was like for school, we have jam, mom makes the jam because we have strawberry. Makes the jam, and so for our school lunches, we have like peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We had that practically every day to take to school. That's why it was embarrassing, you see these other kids with their fancy lunch pail and their food. And here's me in there, wrapped up in newspaper and in a brown bag.

TI: And the kids had sandwiches in like waxed paper or things like that?

RS: Yeah. So you kind of... but they never, but they never made fun of me that way.

TI: So tell me about these other kids. Were they farmers' kids?

RS: No, they were city people. And then there were some Japanese, too, that lived in Gresham. There were quite a few Japanese people. And so I knew a couple of 'em, we grew up together. And so we had something in common. But I had a lot of Caucasian girlfriends, and they were very, very nice. But just certain things, you can't dress like these other kids, I mean, they dress so nicely and here Mom would have maybe, she would make a dress or something. She would make, maybe out of the same materials, she'll make two, three dresses out of that same material, and then so people think, "Gee, don't you ever wash your clothes?" things like that.

TI: So it was really when you went to school and you saw what the other kids had for lunch and what they wore, was when you started noticing that maybe your family didn't have as much as you had.

RS: Oh, yeah.

TI: How did that compare with the other Japanese families? Did you feel the same way with the other Japanese?

RS: No, about the same. Because they went through the same way I did. Some of their, like some of my Japanese friends, their siblings were older, so they were farmers. But, see, they were out working and all that, so they make money. See, like in my situation where my brothers and I... I don't know. They got away. They got away with a lot of things.

TI: Now I'm curious, when you started school, were you speaking English at this point, or was it more Japanese?

RS: It was all Japanese before I started, when you, when I was little. And then I picked up a lot of the English.

TI: And how did you do that? Was it through the teacher or the students?

RS: Just in class. And so that's one thing, I think that's one of the characteristics of Japanese people. They learn something and they improve that, and then they do... I mean, they don't go backwards, they go forward. See, that's the same way with learning English language.

TI: Because you just had to learn it so you learned it and just went forward?

RS: That's right.

TI: And were you able to retain any of your Japanese once you started doing English, did you still speak a lot of Japanese?

RS: Oh, yeah, because of your parents. But other than that...

TI: And then how about with you and your brothers? Did you speak Japanese...

RS: English.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Now going back to your schooling, do you remember the name of the school you went to?

RS: Well, it was because just like Troutdale, it'd be Troutdale grade school. That's the name of the town. And then just like Gresham where I went from second grade up until the war broke out, and that was like Gresham grade school.

TI: And you mentioned there were other Japanese. First, how large was your class usually at the Gresham school?

RS: About... I think about same as what it is now.

TI: So maybe about twenty to twenty-five.

RS: Oh, yeah, or more. But there are more or less, because there wasn't very many Japanese, see, in your grade.

TI: Yeah, that's what I wanted to know. So how many other Japanese would be in your grade?

RS: Well, a lot of time it'd just be... or because we'll have two classrooms, same grade. But to this day, my friends that are Japanese, the family, we lived close. And they're my dearest friends.

TI: So in those two classes, same grade, would there be more than five Japanese?

RS: No, would be maybe one. Maybe I'll be one, and one, you know.

TI: Okay, so very few.

RS: Yeah.

TI: And then the rest of the kids, were they all Caucasians?

RS: Caucasians.

TI: Any other races?

RS: Not that I can think of.

TI: And how were you treated?

RS: Real good, real good. I mean, but once when the war started, boom, that changed.

TI: So we'll get to that a little later. I just wanted to talk about other, so you had a lot of chores, but were there any other activities that you did outside of school?

RS: Yeah, I told you I helped my mother plant.

TI: [Laughs] Not all of them.

RS: Doing the weeds, things like that. And we don't dare miss the school bus, because otherwise we'd be walking.

TI: And how far would you have to walk to school?

RS: Oh, about two miles.

TI: So you made sure you were there.

RS: So you could make sure you'd get on the bus.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Going back to your father first, how would you describe him, his personality?

RS: Oh, he was a quiet person. You know, he hardly says anything. If there's something he... if it was just him and Mom, they just wouldn't talk. But he was good to us, to the kids.

TI: And why do you say that? What did he do that makes you feel like he was really good to you?

RS: Well, he was... you know how in some situations where there, how they abused their kids, you know. But that's one thing my dad never did. He took good care of us, made sure that we ate, we didn't have lot of the luxuries like the others. But I think that was the most important thing.

TI: And so when he was around you and your brothers, you mentioned how he took care of you. Was he more of a gentle man or was he more stern, or how would you describe his kind of demeanor?

RS: Well, he was... I think he more or less left the disciplining up to my mother, but he was, but he always... I can always remember, he always treated us good.

TI: And how about his friends? Did he do things with friends?

RS: Well, not really. We more or less, I think, kept to ourselves, them years.

TI: So let's talk a little bit about your mother, how would you describe your mother?

RS: Oh, she was a smart person. When I used to... besides all that work that I had to do, like if I'm going to, if I had a problem in math, especially in math, Mom would be out in the field and I would run out there and have her help me in math before I catch that bus. And she was very good in math. And so I would have to explain my math problem, and then she would help me.

TI: And so do you know what kind of schooling your mother had back in Japan?

RS: I think just regular, what they all go through. I think they came up okay while in Japan, growing up.

TI: And were there any times, being the only daughter growing up, did your mom treat you differently than she did the boys?

RS: No, not really.

TI: Were there ever times when she talked to you, "So, Ruth, because you're the daughter, you have to take care of the..."

RS: So you have to do this, don't do that. Oh, yeah.

TI: And so what were some of the things that you remember?

RS: Well, like... see, we didn't have running water. We had pump, so here I am pumping water so my brother can carry that bucket of water wherever they have to do, like feed the chicken or whatever, or out in the garden. But would they pump the, for the water, no, that was my job.

TI: And you mentioned your mother was more the disciplinarian. So how would she discipline you and the others?

RS: That's why that, you know, that's one of the things you don't... that's where I think I blocked things out. And all I, to me, I'm always thinking I want to, I never want to have any bad feelings about my parents, I just want to remember the good things, and I think that's why a lot of this I just block it out. Does that make sense?

TI: Yeah, that makes sense. I'm curious, I usually don't ask this question but I'm curious, just because of your mother-daughter relationship. How did people talk about things like sex and things like that? Did they ever talk about that?

RS: No.

TI: So that was something that was kind of left to the schools to do that?

RS: Yeah.

TI: And how did the schools talk about that? Do you remember when they did that?

RS: Well, that'll be in your health class, you know. But I don't know.

TI: How about boys? Did she ever talk to you about boys?

RS: Uh-uh, no. I guess you just have to use your common sense. [Laughs]

TI: Yeah. No, I was curious about that.

RS: I never had boyfriends anyway.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: How about things like Japanese school?

RS: Yeah. We had... Japanese school we had at... but this happened too late. This should have been... because in Gresham, see, we didn't have, like in Seattle, I used to remember my friends from Seattle way, they would go to Japanese school before they went to public school, I remember that. But like in Oregon, we didn't have things like that. So Japanese school, then I think I was in my, I can't remember what year. Then they thought, well, so it was all about this minister, Japanese minister. Then he had, he started Japanese school.

TI: So this is in Gresham, this Japanese minister?

RS: Uh-huh, yeah. And that's where... you know, I don't even know whether my brothers went. I remember I went.

TI: And when would you go to Japanese school?

RS: This will be after school, after my public school. But it's not a very long classes, or weekends.

TI: And do you remember how many other Japanese were in your class?

RS: There was quite a few, but then it was just one big... so your age difference, was different, I mean, not the same.

TI: But you don't remember if your brothers were there.

RS: No, I don't. I can't remember.

TI: Maybe they were helping your dad or something, or they were playing or something.

RS: But that's where I learned, I just learned the first step of the Japanese alphabets. And then we started that second step, that's when the war broke out.

TI: Okay, so this happened... okay. So you started, yeah, it sounds like you started Japanese school pretty late then.

RS: Yeah, yeah.

TI: Okay. And earlier you mentioned this Japanese minister. So was this a church that you attended?

RS: No, it's... I think he was a Buddhist, I think. I might be wrong. Because that was the time when I was going Japanese school, he started that Japanese school, and he was the one that said that I should have a Japanese name.

TI: Okay, so it started at Japanese school that he decided to call you (Ruriko). So did your family attend church?

RS: Well, no. Because at that time there was no Buddhist church.

TI: So it was much later that they had one.

RS: Yeah.

TI: How about any community events like picnics?

RS: Oh, yeah. We used to go... it would be the Japanese group, and I think especially around Fourth of July or something, we would all, that's when we would all get together and have, we'd take food, what we want, and then we'd all share it. And that was a happy time. But then that's when I was a little bit older, too.

TI: And describe the Fourth of July picnic. Where would it be held?

RS: This will be in between Troutdale and Gresham, where there was a lot of community people, Japanese that lived around in the area. So there was quite a few. And that's where my brothers and they all went, because they got to eat.

TI: And for these picnics, about how many people would be there? How many different families?

RS: Oh, quite a few.

TI: Like over a hundred?

RS: No, not that much, but enough. About maybe twenty-five or something.

TI: And what kind, would there be games, or what would you do?

RS: You know, I can't even remember that. I think everybody just played among themselves. We all played together.

TI: And then the adults would just sit around and talk?

RS: Yeah.

TI: And tell me about the food. What would be a, kind of the...

RS: Well, especially, like, nigiri, you know, that's rice ball. And then other things, what they make, something that's easy like chicken, and Japanese-style way.

TI: Any other childhood memories that you can remember? Any fond memories of being with your family?

RS: No, there really wasn't much.

TI: How about your brothers? Did they ever get into mischief growing up that you recall?

RS: Well, just like... yeah, boys, they do things. And sometimes they would pick on me. And so all I have to do is cry, and Mom's right there.

TI: So she was your protector at times.

RS: Yeah. [Laughs]

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: So let's move to December 7, 1941, that's the date that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Do you remember that day?

RS: Yeah. It was a big thing, you know. But, see, I was an eighth grader when that war broke out. And so we... and another funny thing is my mom and dad, they never talked much about it. And I remember them, because you know how Japanese people are, they would have the picture of the emperor and all that. And all I remember is they took those pictures down and burned them just in case they got into trouble. And that's all I remember.

TI: Do you remember where you were when you first heard about it, or what you were doing?

RS: I was at home.

TI: And did you and your brothers talk about what was happening?

RS: Not really. I think, you know, when you're older, like if you... see, where I was still young, it didn't affect me. I mean, I just figured it was another war, gonna be, what happens, Pearl Harbor being attacked, but I didn't take it as seriously. When you're older, then you hold that bitterness.

TI: How about that next week when you went to school?

RS: Oh, yeah, it was bad.

TI: So can you tell me what happened?

RS: Well, you got, used the word "Jap," you know, they used that a lot to us. "Jap" this, "Jap" that. And then they would try, they would avoid you. They won't play with you.

TI: Did that happen with some of your friends, the ones that before the war that you were friends with, did some of them change?

RS: Some of 'em were, yeah, there were just a few that they didn't, they just had feelings for us. But others, it was sad. Because when, like, on the swings and all that, things like that, they won't even let you use it because they said, "Well, it's saved for my friend," or something. And so you're just left out. That was sad.

TI: So it was a definite shift. I mean, after December 7th, then all of a sudden you were, it sounds like you were excluded from that.

RS: Yeah. But... and another thing too is that they... things changed along the way. And then that's when they told us we had to leave all, because we were on west of the Cascades.

TI: Before we go there, I just want to ask, so your classmates, some of them who excluded you, how about the teachers?

RS: You know, they never... I didn't notice any changes. I think they were all nice, the teachers were good to us.

TI: And that didn't change after December 7th? They were still nice to you?

RS: Uh-huh. I guess it was their job to be nice, I don't know.

TI: Did you ever see them reprimand any of your classmates who were mean to you? Like when they called you "Jap" or something, did they ever...

RS: No, nothing was corrected. Because otherwise it would be a big deal, and so, like me, I just accepted it.

TI: How about your brothers? Did they ever have difficulties or fights about this during that time?

RS: I imagine they did, but I never saw it.

TI: And your parents after December 7th, did anything change for them in those weeks after?

RS: Well, some of them, they were good to them. And some of them were hostile. But... because the main thing is my parents didn't speak any English. So it didn't, they just kept to themselves.

TI: You mentioned earlier this Japanese minister. Do you know if he was picked up by the FBI or anyone else in the Gresham area, Troutdale area?

RS: Uh-uh.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: So pretty soon, the people started getting the orders that they have to leave. So what did your family do? How did they prepare?

RS: Well, that was the hardest thing, because we were only allowed just a couple of luggage, I think, that's all. We had to leave everything behind, and that was a sad thing, because we couldn't take like your toys, if you're little, you know, you have your favorite doll or something. The main thing was taking our clothes, and that was it. And that's something, when they say you can't do this or you can't take that.

TI: So what happened to everything else that you couldn't take?

RS: Just left behind. Everything was left behind.

TI: Now at this point, the house that you were in, did your parents own the house?

RS: No, it was, we rented it.

TI: You rented it.

RS: Yeah.

TI: And so they just pretty much left things behind?

RS: Yeah.

TI: And was the property owned by Japanese at this time?

RS: No. It was by a real nice Swiss people. They were real good to us.

TI: Oh, so did they let you keep your stuff there, do you remember?

RS: Well, yeah. I mean, I don't know what we did with it or what. We had no choice, because it was just, all of a sudden thing. You didn't have days to plan anything or get rid of this or that.

TI: So tell me about this Swiss family you said was really nice to you. Do you remember their names?

RS: No, I don't.

TI: And so why would you say they were really nice to you? What made them nice?

RS: Just something, they were good to us, and they were good to me and the boys, and they were good to Mom and Dad. And little things, they would just help them. But that was about it.

TI: When they said they were, like, nice to you and the boys, what would be...

RS: They didn't mistreat us or be strict, saying, "Clean that up," because it's their property or something. They're just good, all-around people, and they were older, too, I remember that. They were dairy people.

TI: So now, so you packed what you could carry, and then what happens next? How do you go from...

RS: Then we went from Gresham, we went to, by bus, I think bus, to Portland. They have this big livestock building there, and that's where we were all put into because they were still building this camp there in Minidoka.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So describe when you first get to Portland, what was that like for you?

RS: Well, great big building, and we didn't have beds or anything. You slept on the floor, it's just like a community thing. Everybody just had blankets and sheets maybe, and that was it.

TI: Describe your living quarters. What was it like, where did you live?

RS: You mean in...

TI: In Portland.

RS: ...relocation place? It's just like if you were going, like if you were a bunch of, like, Boy Scouts or whatever, you guys all stayed together. That's what it was over there, it was all of us together, whether you knew 'em or not.

TI: So sleeping on the floor?

RS: On the floor.

TI: With just a big room?

RS: Yeah, oh, yeah. Because, see, it was an expo building where they had their cattle places.

TI: Then for things like privacy, if you wanted to change, how would you change?

RS: You don't.

TI: So you just wore the same...

RS: Because even the shower is one big open area, bathroom and all that.

TI: And so during this time, what was the hardest thing for you? So here you're in eighth grade, so you're becoming a... just starting to get into adolescence.

RS: I enjoyed... I think, I mean, I loved it. I loved it because I got to know the kids. And we all had the same thing in common, we were all put there.

TI: And so what were some of the things you were able to do with lots of kids?

RS: Our biggest thing is like during... because this happened during, what, the war broke out in December. And so coming, we were there for I don't know how long. But like when the weather warmed up, you know, so all we had, all we got to do was just go outside and by the building, and set up and talk, meet your friends, and that's about it. And then we had sports and things like that. But I felt, I felt good because that poverty that I grew up in, this was more where everybody was the same, you know what I mean?

TI: Because everybody had to sleep in kind of similar situations, ate the same food?

RS: Yeah.

TI: Had the same activities?

RS: But I got to, I felt good because I met a lot of kids, too. And we had a lot of fun.

TI: So let's kind of walk through a, again, like a typical day at Portland. So you're in this big room, you're sleeping. When you wake up, what would you do first?

RS: Oh... well, there isn't much. Because you have your breakfast, you have to get up if you want breakfast. And then we'd go take a shower.

TI: So first, do you take a shower first or eat breakfast first?

RS: Shower.

TI: Okay, shower.

RS: And then you cleaned up. You know, I think that was pretty hard, because what we had to do. Because nobody had a room of their own, but you had to share. But I liked it because all of us were the same bunch. Where I was growing up, when I was small, that poverty thing, I couldn't have this or that, and now, with this, everybody was treated the same.

TI: And so after you shower, describe the food situation. What was the food...

RS: It was just like a mess hall, you have your table, and then you have, the older people helped cook back there, and then they served, bring the food out to you on the plate.

TI: And then who would you usually eat with? Would it be the family or your friends?

RS: Whoever. Sometimes with my family or, you know, it depends. Or with my friends.

TI: Okay, then after you finished breakfast, then what did you do?

RS: Well, there isn't much you can do. So we go outside, I mean, go outside, and then just sit there on the ground, I mean, the grass and just visit and then reminisce. This is more or less for the older people that did that. We did like games or something, just little things. And then that's where they got interested in doing, playing sports, softball and things like that, but I never did any of that. I was just busy.

TI: How about things like, I know at Portland they had a, I guess, a library, they had books and things. Do you ever remember that, going there and checking out books or reading books?

RS: No, not there, because this was our temporary home, see. So we didn't have any of that thing, excess, you know, until you got into Minidoka.

TI: And you mentioned some days would get warm. I've heard some stories that, I guess, depending on where you are, there were lots of flies and things like that? Black flies?

RS: Oh, yeah.

TI: So any stories about the flies or the smells?

RS: Well, it didn't bother me, I was just lucky to be there, I think. That was my thing, I mean, because of the poverty thing. And then I made a lot of friends and all that. And, you know, it's a very funny thing because a lot of the Isseis, which is the first generation people like my parents, they never... maybe because they didn't want the kids to hear about it, but they never showed any bitterness. This was something that happened, they knew that it was a bad thing that it happened, but...

TI: So you never saw people get angry during that time?

RS: No, uh-uh.

TI: So it was pretty calm in many ways.

RS: Yeah. I think they kept it to themselves, and then, you know...

TI: Now, with the, kind of the living arrangements where everything's wide open, did you ever hear sometimes when families would argue or things like that that would happen because there just wasn't much privacy?

RS: No. I think maybe I blocked it out, I don't know. Lot of that I'm trying... but it's just interesting. As far as I've seen, everybody got along.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So after several months, then people started moving to Minidoka.

RS: Yeah. Then Minidoka's ready, and so that's when we left. I can't even remember when we went, what part of the time we left. But we all got on trains, trains with the blinds down so you don't see out. I don't know what that was for. But we went by train to Minidoka.

TI: And do you remember what you were thinking while you were on the train? Like did you know where you were going at that point?

RS: No, we didn't.

TI: Where did you think you were going?

RS: Someplace east of the Cascades.

TI: And did your parents ever talk to you about what was going on at this point? I mean, here you'd been at this Portland Expo center for months, and now you're going on a train to someplace else. It must have been a little confusing for a lot of people.

RS: Yeah, I think... well, I think they were confused, too, because I don't think they realized, too, what was happening, you know, to us. But I think they, I think deep inside, I think they knew that was the best, whatever's happening was the best for them in the family. I mean, it's not like going into a concentration camp and being mistreated. That's one thing about the Japanese, we were all treated good.

TI: And do you think, when you think of your parents, when you think of your parents when they were, at first, Portland, how was it for them? You mentioned how many of the Isseis would go out and talk.

RS: They never said much, not to me.

TI: But I'm that when they were... before the war started, they had to work pretty hard.

RS: Oh, yeah.

TI: And now, all of a sudden, they had a lot more, maybe leisure time where they didn't have to worry about farming, cooking, raising kids, where they could just maybe relax a little bit more.

RS: Yeah, I think so.

TI: Did you see a change in them during this time period? Did they seem more relaxed?

RS: Yeah, there was. They didn't worry about the money or anything coming in or going out. But I think what hurt them was probably where they had to leave everything behind, that's what hurt them the most, I think.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: So you take trains to Minidoka. And so what were your first impressions when you got to Minidoka? What do you remember?

RS: Well, first thing, when you get to Minidoka, you see these towers with soldiers. That scared me, I mean, because we had to be careful. And then come to think of it, even in Portland, too, they had service people guarding the place. And so you feel like a prisoner, you do. But at my age I didn't... I just let it go in one ear and out the other and what I see, all I know is that they were there for our protection.

TI: Oh, so you thought that they were there to protect you or to guard you?

RS: Well, yeah, first was guarding. And that's another reason, too, why first of all, you state where your allegiance is. Whether your allegiance to the United States, or are you anti and then you're from Japan. Because you know that, don't you, about the history of that?

TI: So you're talking about the "loyalty questionnaire" that was handed out?

RS: Uh-huh. Because the ones that were loyal to Japan, they had another camp that they went to.

TI: Now, many of them were sent to Tule Lake.

RS: Yeah, there was another one, too.

TI: And so tell me about your family. So when they had to answer the "loyalty questionnaire," how did your family answer it?

RS: I think I... they didn't say much, but I think that's what their allegiance, their allegiance was to this country.

TI: Did they ever talk to the kids about that?

RS: No.

TI: When that was going on, you were younger, so you didn't have to do much. Did you sense the tension in the camp when people had to answer these questions?

RS: Well, it kind of surprises a person, because you hear so and so's allegiance is to Japan, and right away they're taken out. And these were the older Niseis that a lot of 'em were for Japan. And that's why they were put into another camp.

TI: Did any of the people that you knew from the Gresham area, did any of them leave?

RS: Yeah, oh, yeah.

TI: So there were some of those families.

RS: I knew a couple of them. So I figured that's them, because they are known as, okay, you know the word Kibei?

TI: Uh-huh.

RS: And that's where a lot of those are. The Kibeis are the ones that were for Japan, because they're the ones that were born here, but they went to Japan to study. See, my brother-in-law, my late husband's brother was one that went to Japan, I forgot how old he was then, but he studied in Japan and all that, and came back, but then he joined the U.S. service. So he was one of them that was loyal to the United States.

TI: Now when families, when you heard that they were going to be removed because of the "loyalty questionnaire," did people treat those families differently when that happened? Did you ever notice anything, when they family said, "Okay, so we're going to go to answer the loyalty questionnaire," in a way that they're more, say, maybe pro-Japan. Did you notice any differences that happened?

RS: No, I didn't. Maybe I was too young, I don't know.

TI: So going back to your life, describe your living quarters at Minidoka. Which block were you in?

RS: Yeah, we were in this one block, and there were my brother and me, so there were six of us. So we have this one room, okay. It was small, and so we had to put a blanket to separate. So it was just like, it was just like a small area, that's all you could have.

TI: So just like one room that you shared using blankets to kind of partition it?

RS: Yeah, uh-huh.

TI: And so tell me about the partitions. How would you partition the room?

RS: Well, they have rope, so you put your blanket on there. So me and my brothers and mom and dad.

TI: So they had like a, almost like a partition for your parents' bedroom.

RS: Uh-huh. So you used blankets for the partition.

TI: And so you had the sleeping areas.

RS: Yeah, that's your sleeping area.

TI: And then the other area was more like a living room type?

RS: Well, not really, because it was a small unit. Because we go to the mess hall. And then the laundry, we have a laundry room, and then you have a shower, but it was nothing like in Portland. You have that privacy.

TI: So the facilities were better at Minidoka.

RS: Oh, yeah, yeah. So if you have to go to the bathroom, you have to use the, it's a public thing. But that was okay.

TI: So let's talk about like a typical day at Minidoka. So you wake up, and what would you then do?

RS: You go take a shower.

TI: And when you took a shower, were there very many other people there when you took a shower?

RS: Sometimes. It depends on, you know, because it's come and go. And then you go to, you go to the mess hall for your breakfast.

TI: And who would you go to the mess hall with, usually?

RS: My family. Or by then, you know, I had friends. And so a bunch of us, we would go and have breakfast. And then school, we had to go to school.

TI: Back to the mess hall, how would you describe the food at your mess hall?

RS: It was good. That's one thing the government did, they fed us good. So you had your breakfast, your lunch, and your dinner.

TI: One of the things I heard from people at Minidoka, they said that some blocks have better cooks than others.

RS: Probably.

TI: So they would talk about how, like my parents were --

RS: But then you'll get the same food, whatever, but it's how they prepare it.

TI: Right, exactly. So my parents were at Minidoka, and my dad would say, so sometimes they would go to different blocks just to see the different food, and they noticed that some blocks had different food, or it tasted better than other places. The same ingredients, but how they prepared it.

RS: Yeah, yeah. I didn't complain. You didn't have to cook, you got fed.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So you then eat at the mess hall, then you said you would go to school.

RS: Yeah.

TI: So how did school compare to when you were at Gresham, what you would learn?

RS: It's the same thing. All the teachers... that's one thing about the camp was all the teachers had to have master's to teach there.

TI: At Minidoka?

RS: Yeah. We had good teachers.

TI: Now why did you, how did you know that?

RS: Because I had heard that. We had heard that, these teachers, and we had good teachers.

TI: And so did you feel like these teachers were better than what you were getting at Gresham?

RS: To me they were all the same. It's just that because of this, the war thing, I think that's what, one of the requirement, because I think they were paying real good.

TI: And were your teachers Caucasian, or did you have...

RS: Caucasians, all Caucasian.

TI: And was it the type of situation where you had the same teacher all day or did you go to different classes or different courses?

RS: You know, I can't even remember that.

TI: So after school, then what would you do?

RS: Played, do nothing.

TI: And things like lunch, from school, you'd just go to the mess hall and then back to school?

RS: Yeah.

TI: And then dinner, same thing, mess hall?

RS: Because at school you have your lunch at school.

TI: Okay.

RS: But then in the block, like parents and all that, they had the food there at the mess hall. And then my dad got a job driving these convoy trucks, deliver things. And so a lot of times we'd... bunch of us, 'cause we lived way up there in Block 39 where the school was way down near where the officers' buildings and all that.

TI: And so every day you'd have to walk, then, to school?

RS: Oh, yeah. And then so when Dad got a job as a truck driver, so we would hitch a ride on the truck and get to school.

TI: Oh, that was a nice perk then.

RS: Yeah.

TI: [Laughs] So you didn't have to walk all that way.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: So other, so school, like during the summer, did you also have to go to school?

RS: No, I can't remember. You know, that's something I can't remember. Maybe not, because the one year, a bunch of us decided we want to buy this or that, clothing. And so at that time, the farmer that lived outside Minidoka, the Caucasian people, see, they needed workers, especially for harvest time. And so we signed up and we got to go outside and make money. We were treated good by the people there.

TI: Yeah, so what kind of harvesting, what kind of crops did you have to harvest?

RS: Well, like the main thing was hoeing the sugar beets, keeping that area clean, or I can't remember what other product there were, but mainly corn and things like that during the summer.

TI: So describe that. So the work group, was it your family or was it...

RS: No, just a bunch of us, the kids.

TI: And was it like a day thing where you would just go out and hoe?

RS: No, we stayed at the place, at the farmers'. They have a place. And so like there were, I think, four or five of us girls, and then we became real good friends. See, this was because, see, freshmen and sophomores, those two years, we were in camp. So that's when they needed workers outside, and so the farmers that had the row crop and all that, see, they have a place where we stayed, and they treated us good.

TI: So describe that. So you would leave camp, a group of four or five girls...

RS: Uh-huh, you'd stay at the place.

TI: You would stay. So what were your living quarters?

RS: It was nice.

TI: Better than your place?

RS: Oh, that was... you mean in Minidoka? Oh, well... when you live outside, you have to do your own cooking, see. Where you're in camp, there's somebody that takes care of you.

TI: So how did the four of you, or the five of you figure that out? Did one of you guys take turns cooking?

RS: Oh, we'd do it together. We had fun, I think, just being away.

TI: So it was kind of an adventure almost.

RS: Yeah.

TI: And how was the work? Was the work pretty hard?

RS: No. We were treated good, and that's what's surprising.

TI: And the people you worked with, can you describe them? Were they just like a couple, farming couple, or was it a family? Who'd you work for?

RS: Hakujin.

TI: And how long would you be gone from Minidoka?

RS: Well, just during... well, until school started.

TI: So this is maybe, like...

RS: Just during the summer.

TI: So like weeks you'd be gone?

RS: No, maybe more than a week, maybe a month or two, somewhere around there.

TI: And do you remember how much you were paid?

RS: No, can't even remember that. [Laughs]

TI: But it was fun?

RS: Yeah. Just being, just having that freedom.

TI: Now, besides working at a farm, were there any other times that you left Minidoka?

RS: No.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So like Twin Falls or anything like that, did you ever visit Twin Falls?

RS: Uh-uh. So that's where, that's where when we worked on the farm, see, that's where they took us if you wanted to go shopping. See, they would take us.

TI: Oh, so for your food and things like that?

RS: Yeah, whatever we wanted to do.

TI: So when the group went to Twin Falls, what was that like for you?

RS: It was nice. Nobody looked at us weird, you know what I mean, because of the war. They didn't... we were happy. If they did, we didn't hear it.

TI: How about did you have time to do anything like go see a movie?

RS: Oh, we get those movies in camp.

TI: So tell me about that.

RS: I think every block, I can't remember whether every block had the movie. So we did get to see movies. And then they have this one, each block had a side building, like a hallway, but it's a building. And that's where they have dances. So there were a lot of things for everyone, and then they had sports, baseball, because I remember my brother playing baseball. And then we would play with the towns outside, near like Jerome High School, or Twin Falls High School, they would come.

TI: And would you go watch those games?

RS: Yeah, 'cause I would go watch my brother.

TI: And was he a pretty good baseball player?

RS: Yeah, even though he was, when he was growing up. [Laughs]

TI: Earlier you mentioned that they had this building that was used for dances. Did you go to these dances?

RS: No, because at that time we weren't, us girls, we weren't interested in that. We'd rather just hang out.

TI: Any other activities that you were involved in in Minidoka?

RS: Oh, I played a little bit of softball, and that's about it.

TI: And how about your mother? Did she have a job when she was at Minidoka?

RS: You know, I can't remember, unless she volunteers. I think she probably volunteered in the kitchen just to keep busy. But my dad got paid for driving the truck, just not very much.

TI: So overall, it sounds like the Minidoka experience was pretty positive for you. You had friends, and it wasn't very stressful or anything like that, that things were pretty good.

RS: Uh-uh.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Now I think earlier we talked about how it was during the camp years that you met your husband.

RS: No. See, he never was in camp because he lived east of the Cascades. And the war ended, and he was, they come out, and looking for workers that, I mean, people that weren't going to go back to the coast. And then at that time, my late husband, he was farming. And so that's where we got our mom and dad and me and the kids, boys. See, we worked for him.

TI: So he was kind, essentially, recruiting families to come farm.

RS: Yeah.

TI: And where was he recruiting from? Where was he trying to get...

RS: He lived in Ontario. So he was my future husband.

TI: So he was older than you were?

RS: Oh, yeah, ten years. The best person. Yeah, the father of my kids.

TI: Okay, so this is after. Before, I want to ask more about that, but any other stories about Minidoka that you can remember?

RS: Well, that's about...

TI: So it worked out for your family because I'm guessing your parents had to figure out what to do after you left Minidoka. Where would they go, what would they do?

RS: Yeah.

TI: And so when your future husband came and talked about Ontario, that seemed to work really well for your family?

RS: Yeah. 'Cause farming, see, because it was my dad liked farming.

TI: So what was the, I guess, the situation? So was it like you would live, have your own farm, or you would work for someone?

RS: Worked for someone.

TI: And so describe that.

RS: We worked for them. And then we lived in this small house that was provided for us, and it worked out good.

TI: Now when you said you worked for him, did he own the farm, or was it his parents that owned it?

RS: He was renting it, him and his mom and dad.

TI: Okay, and how large was it?

RS: It was pretty big. They had, like corn, sugar beets and potatoes, things like that.

TI: Now when you say pretty big, like over five acres?

RS: Oh, yeah.

TI: Over ten acres?

RS: More than that. More.

TI: So that's why he needed help.

RS: Yeah, help on that.

TI: Now did he hire other families, or was it just your family?

RS: No, just us. And then the other, there were some that went to other farms. So that's why Ontario, Nyssa, they had a lot of Japanese people, 'cause that's where they... instead of going back to the coast. Because they lost when the war started. Then, see, these Japanese farmers at that time, they had farms, but they lost it. They lost everything. So that's where the Caucasian people got it.

TI: What do you mean they "got it"?

RS: They got the farm.

TI: Oh, I see.

RS: Scot-free.

TI: Right, on the west side.

RS: Yeah.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: Yeah, I know in the Seattle area, quite a few people from the Auburn valley ended up in this area.

RS: I think they lost everything, too.

TI: Yes, I know a lot of them relocated, or after the war, resettled there. What was the reaction? I mean, in many parts on the west side, people, Japanese weren't welcomed back. How did the Caucasians welcome all these Japanese coming around Ontario?

RS: Oh, it was bad because I remember a lot of these restaurants says, "No, Japs." They would have signs out there, "No Japs," and you were called "Jap." And even in school, see, 'cause I had two year, junior, senior, at Ontario. And some of 'em were real, real good to you, these kids, 'cause I have a lot of good friends, and there were others that called you "Jap," they just treated you like dogs. And the funny thing is, is mainly the athletes, the guys that are athletes, they're the ones that mistreated us. And the funny thing is, right there, is that these are the guys that mistreated us, and to this day, they are my dearest friends.

TI: So how did that happen? How did they become the ones who were the most different?

RS: I think they changed; I think they did. Because once in a while, I'll tell this one guy, he's Basque, and I'll mention to him, said, "Remember when we were in high school, how you hated us?" He'd laugh. But I think that's where the Japanese people are different, you know what I mean? Compared to the others, like how the Germans were treated and everything, and they would hold grudges. But with the Japanese people, they had to put up with all that, but yet they lived, we live here, and this is our home. So you either take it or you leave it. And to this day, my best friend, and to most of our Japanese people, best friends.

TI: So do you think it was just a gradual thing, because you were here so long and they knew you were going to stay, that eventually they shifted?

RS: Yeah.

TI: So going back to your high school, how many other Japanese were at the school then? Were there quite a few?

RS: You mean after the war?

TI: After the war.

RS: Quite a few. Ontario, we had, there was quite a few of us. Because a lot of them stayed, and just like in Nyssa, too, same way, lot of Japanese. Because it was a farming community.

TI: So like if you went into a classroom, and say there was like twenty-five students, how many of them would be Japanese?

RS: Oh, maybe four or five.

TI: Okay, so about... yeah, a good portion. So maybe about twenty percent. That's interesting. And when you went to school, to finish up high school after the war, how was your education? Did you get enough during Minidoka that you were okay when you started?

RS: Oh, yeah.

TI: So there was no dropoff or there were no problems?

RS: No.

TI: Were the Japanese one of the better students in the class? When you had about five in the class, did they tend to be...

RS: You mean after the war?

TI: After the war. Or were they just average?

RS: I think just the same, average.

TI: But it sounds like, in general, besides the athletes, the Japanese were treated pretty well.

RS: Yeah, some of them. Majority.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: And so after the war, you're now on the farm. Do you have lots of chores that you have to do after school and things like that?

RS: I never thought of that. [Laughs] Just what you feel like doing, I would go out there and help. But you just, everything, I think, to me, the hardship and everything, and the reality of what has happened, I think it changed. It changed for me in my family.

TI: So tell me about, describe, how did it change?

RS: You appreciate what you have, I think. See, after I got married, my late husband, his sister was a schoolteacher in California. And main thing what she wanted, she wanted all our kids, like Mike, going to education. So here six of my kids all became teachers. And her one thing was she wanted to have a little school with all my kids in teaching, but that never turned out, because she passed away.

TI: But education was really important to your sister-in-law, to the point where she really wanted all your kids to be teachers?

RS: Yeah.

TI: That's a little unusual, isn't it?

RS: Yeah, because that's what they... and they turned out to be good teachers.

TI: And how did she encourage them to be teachers? How did she make that happen?

RS: I don't know, ask Mike. Mike, what did Auntie say?

TI: Well, we'll ask him later. But I want to actually go back to, so your future husband hires the family to work at the farm. So at what point did you and he become interested in each other?

RS: Oh, I don't know. We just, all of a sudden, I mean, you know... because he wasn't going with anybody, and he knew a lot of, he knew a lot of the Japanese people that never worked, put in camp. And we would, so we would go to dances and that's how.

TI: Was this when you were still in high school or after you finished high school?

RS: After I finished high school. See, because after I finished high school, I went to Portland and took up sewing with some of my friends. And then we went, then we went back home.

TI: Okay, so when you went to Portland, did you think you might stay in Portland?

RS: No, I knew I was going to come home.

TI: Now when you went to Portland, were you interested in... I'm sorry, your husband's name was, what was it?

RS: Roy.

TI: Roy. Were you interested in Roy at that point?

RS: Yeah. I think before... I think before I went to Portland.

TI: And then when you came back, was that when you started going to dances together and doing things like that?

RS: Yeah.

TI: And then how soon after did you get married?

RS: [Laughs] I think it was, I think in '48, because, see, he was born in '49.

TI: Okay, so that's fairly soon.

RS: So we had a big...

TI: Because you graduated in, what, '48?

RS: '47.

TI: '47. And describe the wedding. What kind of wedding did you have?

RS: It was very, very nice. It was humongous; it was big. And his parents, they were very, very nice. And they're the ones that did it, we had this big place, and then on our honeymoon we went to Las Vegas and then through California and came home.

TI: Now Las Vegas in the late '40s, what was Las Vegas like back then?

RS: I guess I didn't pay too much attention. Just a gambling place.

TI: Yeah, I was trying to remember, that was like the very beginnings for Las Vegas, a long time ago.

RS: Yeah.

TI: And so after you get married, are your parents still working for Roy on the farm?

RS: I'm trying to think. Yeah.

TI: And so you move out of your parents' house and then you go live with Roy?

RS: Yeah.

TI: Now how did your parents feel about you getting married to Roy?

RS: They liked him.

TI: So they approved.

RS: Oh, yeah.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: And at this point, what are your brothers doing?

RS: My brothers?

TI: Yeah, where are your brothers right now? So this is late '40s, after the war, like your brothers.

RS: Well, they... well, two of my brothers joined the service. And then my youngest brother, he lives in San Jose. And so him and I, we're the only ones left.

TI: Okay, so Jim and Roy joined the service? Is this now during the Korean conflict, or occupation?

RS: No, that's a big... because they didn't have to go overseas or anything.

TI: Oh, okay.

RS: Yeah. But, see, they died, both of 'em passed away with cancer. This is after, after a while.

TI: And so you're left back at the house with Tad, you and Tad.

RS: Yeah.

TI: And so Tad is still at the house going to school at this time?

RS: Yeah. I can't remember how old he is, but he's my youngest brother.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Something else I have in my notes, that you started working at the Eastside Cafe? So when did you start working at the Eastside Cafe?

RS: Well, you know, I can't remember that. But all I remember is I worked there thirty years. See, my sister-in-law worked there.

TI: Is this the one that was the teacher?

RS: No.

TI: Okay, this is another sister.

RS: This is my sister-in-law that was married to my oldest brother.

TI: Okay.

RS: See, she's from Japan, and she worked banquets and so she got me interested in it. So I thought, well, I'll help a little bit. And then I had Grandma at home to take care of the kids, and so we're there.

TI: And so describe for me the Eastside Cafe. What kind of restaurant was that?

RS: It was, it was a family owned restaurant, served American and Japanese, Oriental food.

TI: And where was it located?

RS: Can't even describe it, but it's on the east side of town.

TI: Okay, of Ontario.

RS: Yeah. There's still a big sign there, it says Eastside.

TI: And who was the, who were the clientele?

RS: Everybody. It was the most popular place in town, in the area. People from Boise, they would come, just... and it was the food. This Pil, she was, her husband he was a wrestler, but Pil is Chinese, and she was one of those that, on this food thing. And he... but people would, on weekends, they would stand outside of the door, that's how popular it was, see. And to this day, after they closed and everything, and where I moved to, because my kids living there, he learned cooking at the Eastside. And to this day, they have this restaurant called... can't even think anymore, but Annie's. And he has kept... he served the same food and kept it the same, and we still have people coming because of the Eastside food.

TI: So describe... if someone said, "What's the specialty of the Eastside or now Annie's?

RS: Mandarin chicken.

TI: Mandarin chicken? So that's kind of a Chinese dish, Mandarin chicken?

RS: Yeah, but it's all white meat of the chicken with the sauce on it, and people, oh, they just love it. And then he has specials, you know, but he never changes -- because right how there's another Oriental restaurant here in town, and they have Mandarin chicken, but they cut corners, they use dark meat or whatever. And like Fun, he has kept it the same.

TI: So he really learned, or he learned what they were doing at Eastside and said, "I'm not going to mess with success, I'll just use the same."

RS: And we have, our weekend is something else.

TI: Now back at the Eastside Cafe, what was your job there? What did you do?

RS: I started out in banquet and then I started waiting on tables.

TI: Now, so they had a banquet kind of business, so what kind of banquets would you have at the Eastside?

RS: Any kind. We have... especially for like the area teachers, sports teachers, they would have the Eastside fried chicken, and that was, people, they would come.

TI: Now were there ever any banquets for the Japanese community?

RS: Oh yeah, oh yeah, they do.

TI: So what group would have banquets?

RS: Any kind. It was just a popular place. And we'd do weddings and things, funerals or things, we had to do it. It's just awesome.

TI: So you really got to know, in some cases, through the banquets, see the real Japanese community coming together.

RS: Yeah.

TI: And this was a time when the Isseis were still alive, too.

RS: Uh-huh.

TI: And so tell me how they were at these banquets? What were they like?

RS: Themselves.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: So any memorable kind of event at the Eastside Cafe, like a story or something that really kind of captures your time at the Eastside Cafe?

RS: Oh, yeah, we've had incidents, you know. Like some of these kids, they would come in, sit down, I'd be busy, and then they would mess around. We had jukebox then, and I remember this one incident where they tipped the soy sauce over. And so I got a couple of rags, and I threw it at 'em, and I said, "I want you guys to clean this up. And then after you clean it up, I want you to leave." And then everybody was just wondering what's going to happen, you know, and then just one, he was Japanese kid, said, "Do we have to?" I said, "No, you can stay." But I said, "No more of this."

TI: [Laughs] So you were like their mother almost.

RS: Yeah. But, you know, incidents, you know, just like this one kid would go, he's not of age, comes out of the bar with a drink. And I said, "What are you doing with that drink?" He says, "I got it at the bar." And I said, "Well, you know what? You've got to give that to me." He said, "Why?" I said, "Because if you were smart, you would go to the bathroom and drink that, because I know how old you are, and you know that." Nowadays, when they come visit or something, we chuckle about things like that.

TI: Because now they're grown up and so they can remember all those times.

RS: Yes.

TI: So do very many people from the old Eastside, do they go to Annie's?

RS: Oh, yeah.

TI: So they can reminisce and eat the same good food that they remember.

RS: Yeah. And Fun kept it the same.

TI: So I'm guessing that a lot of people in Ontario know you then, because, just through the Eastside?

RS: Yeah. And then the people that I got to know working over there, they're just... so I enjoy going to work. And then I don't do much, Kim doesn't want me to... if I overdo it or something, she gets mad at me, says, "Sit down and rest," or something, you know. And things like that, and so I... and I said, "Kim..." and then I do, I'll do anything for them.

TI: Well, it's amazing that you still work. So you're eighty-five?

RS: Five.

TI: -five years old, and you work, I think, what, four or five nights there?

RS: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. And I can't cut any day because certain days, certain people comes in, and they expect me to be there. But I don't do anything, like weekends I'm busy you know, on reservations and things, but I learned that she'll say, "Sit down and go visit with so-and-so or something," and I do, because I have a cashier. And sometimes I'll take cash, but other than that...

TI: Well, it sounds like some people like to come in, and part of the experience of going to Annie's is just seeing you?

RS: Yeah. 'Cause they say, "You know, if you ever quit, we're not coming in," and they tell Kim that, too. And they're just... you know.

TI: Now, how would people describe you? People from Ontario and Caldwell, if they were to say, "There's Ruth at Annie's," what would they say about you?

RS: Well, they would always... some of them would jokingly say, "Well, she's the mean one." "She's the one that hits me," or something. And I just, I don't know what it is. And I joke with them and things like that. Or if I'm doing something and then they'll come in and then expect a place to sit, I says, "You know what? Get out there by the desk and stay there until I get there, until I find something." Or somebody's coming in, I said, "You know, by the way, why don't you pick up the menu and take it to that table or something?" Things like that. I just...

TI: But these are people you know pretty well, so you can just do that.

RS: Uh-huh. Oh, I wouldn't dare say that to people.

TI: Because some of these people you probably know forty, fifty years probably?

RS: Yeah. And then a lot of them say, "Oh, you're still alive, huh?" [Laughs]

TI: And so now I'm getting a sense of why some of the people from your high school days who were kind of mean to you, just over time they've seen you, they probably have come to this restaurant, and they've developed this friendship.

RS: Uh-huh, yeah.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: I just wanted to follow up with your children, because we talked a little bit about them. So you had six children?

RS: Six kids, and one passed away with breast cancer. And I have eleven grandkids and five great-grandkids.

TI: Wow, that's amazing. And I just wanted to end with... because now you go to schools and talk about your experiences.

RS: Oh, yeah.

TI: And I wanted to mention the first time you went to Colorado and wanted to ask you why you did that?

RS: Well, it's because of my grandson. He was the same age, I was the same age when this happened, and so there was something in common. But the main thing was that these kids, see, it's not in the history books. And these kids, they would sit there and listen, and that's what made me... so when these others, they said, "Would you speak to my class?" and it was, without any hesitation, I do, and I enjoy that.

TI: And what do you tell them?

RS: That my... what they want to know mainly is the wartime, in camp, what happened.

TI: So a lot of the things that we talked about today, you would share with them?

RS: Some, yeah.

TI: Is there anything that you share with them that you didn't share today with me?

RS: No. Oh, except for this one little boy said, "Are you going to write a book?" and I said, "Oh, no, I don't think so." But one, I think, made me feel good, because when I'm talking to them, they listened. They weren't bored. And so when I get asked, then I said I would.

TI: Now, what would you say their reaction is? Are they surprised that this happened, or they're just... what would you say their reaction is?

RS: To what?

TI: Yeah, why they listened to closely to you?

RS: I think a lot of them, they're just interested, because for one thing, it wasn't in the history book, what I went through. I think that's what... that's what caught them. And then now, I heard, like the Kiwanis Club, they kind of want to see if I would speak to them. I think, I said... I don't know, I can't think of it right now, but I think their questions would be more, not like the little kids.

TI: And what do you think would be different from the Kiwanis? So these would be adults.

RS: Yeah.

TI: What do you think adults would ask?

RS: They'll go into it deeper, and then I wouldn't know how to answer some of 'em. They'll get to the deep end of it. They want to know... and I said, oh, well, maybe one of these days. Maybe before I kick the bucket, I will.

TI: But I'm guessing they'll be similar questions to what I'm asking, too, so I don't think I've asked you such hard questions. [Laughs] It's just wanting to understand your life and how you feel about it. So I encourage you to do that, I think it would be good.

RS: I'll see, I'll see. I've got your number, and I'll call you and let you know.

TI: So is there anything... so I'm done with my questions now. Is there anything else that you want to say while we're on camera?

RS: No, not really. I think we covered everything. But I got to tell you this: one interesting thing is my son Mike, he's my oldest son. And one day in Fruitland where we were living, I would see the tractor, he's on the tractor, he's going down, and then pretty soon in the middle of the field, he stops. And I thought, "Gee, I wonder what happened." So here he is, he's walking up from the tractor, and I said, "Anything wrong?" And he says, "No, but I'm not going to be a farmer." He quit.

TI: At that moment he quit?

RS: He quit. And Dad, did Dad ever get mad at you?

TI: And that's when he decided he wanted to become a teacher?

RS: I guess.

TI: But not a farmer.

RS: Not a farmer. He just quit.

TI: But isn't that true for lots of the Japanese families that came here to farm after the war, that next generation, the Sanseis, did other things, they didn't want to become farmers?

RS: Yeah. That's why I admire some of 'em that really stuck to it.

TI: But it's such a hard life.

RS: I know. I know some few that even their kids are farming. I admire them.

TI: And because fewer of them became farmers, did the Japanese community get smaller in Ontario, or is it still pretty...

RS: Well, after the parents had passed away... then the young ones had moved away from here. But they still come home, though.

TI: Well, Ruth, thank you so much for doing this interview.

RS: Did you get anything?

TI: Yeah, we got a lot. This was fun; I learned a lot by doing this. It sounds like you had a really rich life.

RS: Yeah, afterwards, you know. And I love everybody, especially my kids, and my grandkids, and my great grandkids.

TI: Well, thank you again, so much.

RS: Thank you.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.