Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Susie "Jinx" Fujii Interview
Narrator: Susie "Jinx" Fujii
Interviewer: Betty Jean Harry
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: May 20, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-fsusie-01

<Begin Segment 1>

BH: Today is Tuesday, May 20, 2014. My name is Betty Jean Harry and I'm a volunteer with Oregon Nikkei Endowment. I'll be interviewing Jinx Fujii as part of the Minidoka Oral History Project. We're in Jinx's home in Portland, Oregon, and our videographer is Ian McCluskey.


BH: Let's start with some personal details. When and where were you born?

SF: I was born in Brooks, Oregon, and it's very close to Salem, and Salem is the capital.

BH: And what year were you born?

SF: Oh, I was born in 1930.

BH: And what was the name you were given at birth?

SF: Well, Mom and Dad named me Suzuko Tamiyasu, and later on, because of going to school, they started calling me. Susie is from Suzuko.

BH: A more American name. And, but now everybody knows you as Jinx. So where did that come from?

SF: Well, my sister, Pauline, started calling me Jinx. And the name, I didn't know where it came from, so I had to ask her, and she said her favorite movie actress at that time was Jinx Falkenburg. [Laughs] Can you believe that? She picks a movie star name?

BH: Okay, let's talk about your parents. Your father was born in 1899, and he was given the name Shigeto, but what did most people call him?

SF: Well, yeah, his given name was Shigeto, but they used to call him Tom.

BH: Do you know where that came from?

SF: Well, Tom is from Tamiyasu.

BH: Oh, that makes sense. And where in Japan was he from?

SF: He's from Hiroshima.

BH: And do you know what kind of work your father's family did in Japan?

SF: Well, they were farmers.

BH: And did they have any brothers and sisters that you're aware of?

SF: Yes, he did. The only one that I know was here in the United States.

BH: Did he come before or after your dad?

SF: He came after.

BH: And did your father have an opportunity to become educated?

SF: I don't think he went to school. He was trying to make his life fortune like everyone else. [Laughs]

BH: So how and when did he decide to come to America?

SF: Well, he came when he was fifteen years old. And then he figured he's going to make it rich in the United States.

BH: Okay, now, your mom was born in 1904. What was her name?

SF: Kisayo.

BH: And what was her last name?

SF: Kisayo Sadakuni.

BH: And was she also from Hiroshima?

SF: She was from Hiroshima, and they lived on a farm, also. Mother had... I know she had a brother that died with the atomic bomb.

BH: And did she have an opportunity to become educated?

SF: Here in the States?

BH: Or in Japan?

SF: I really don't know, but when she came here, she didn't. She didn't go to school.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

BH: And how did your parents meet?

SF: It's through the picture, the picture wedding.

BH: Did they know each other before?

SF: No, they did not.

BH: And were they married -- so they were married here in the States.

SF: Well, if you considered, yes, when their, she traveled alone from Japan.

BH: Did she ever talk about that?

SF: Oh, she was talking about that a lot. It was a scary time for her, traveling by herself and can't speak the language. But when she came, she was at Seattle, and she met some friends over there, so they kind of watched over her. Dad was too busy working.

BH: Did he meet her up in Seattle or did she come from Seattle down here?

SF: I don't know exactly where they met, but he wasn't there when she first landed here in the States.

BH: So what kind of a person was your mother?

SF: Mother was... she did everything, and we looked up to her for anything.

BH: How would you describe her personality?

SF: Well, gee, I don't know. She was... well, she wasn't that outgoing, but she was very considerate, very thoughtful, whatever goes with that.

BH: And what was your father like?

SF: He was outgoing. And he was... well, before the war, he was busy on the farm. My folks leased the ground from Ronald Jones. And they had a truck farm there in Lake Labish.

BH: How would you describe your parents' relationship?

SF: Well, like most Isseis, they don't show their affection. But whatever they told us, we understood and we followed.

BH: Did you notice a difference between them when times were good and when times were difficult?

SF: Yeah. When times were good, well, everyone's happy and jolly, and when the times that weren't good, it was more quiet, you know, more... or it could be the other way. [Laughs]

BH: In the pre-interview you mentioned that your dad was active with you kids. What kind of activities did he do with you?

SF: Well, when he's not working, he used to... I can remember swimming in the Willamette. I wouldn't be swimming, but Dad would be swimming and I would get a ride on his back. He would roller skate, he'd play baseball, I think that's about it.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

BH: So let's talk about you and your childhood now. You were living in Brooks. Tell us what your home looked like.

SF: The standard home. We added on an upstairs. There were seven of us in the family, and I was the youngest.

BH: So at that time, your mom and your dad, older brothers and sisters, and you. And then two more, a brother and a sister born during the war. So tell me the names of your brothers and sisters in order of their birth.

SF: Okay. The oldest one is Masao, and we called him Mutt. And after Mutt was Pauline. Her Japanese name was Haruye, but they couldn't pronounce it in high school, so she legally changed it to Pauline. And then next is Miki, and after Miki was Toshi, and after Toshi was me, Jinx.

BH: And what was Miki's Japanese name?

SF: His Japanese name is Mikio. Mikio, and that's where he got the Miki.

BH: So how did Pauline come up with Pauline from Haruye?

SF: I don't know. [Laughs] Because she was in (grade) school when (her friend gave it to her), I guess she liked the name Pauline.

BH: And then you have a brother and a sister who were born in camp?

SF: Yes, after thirteen years, my brother Ed, Ed Shigeo Tamiyasu was born in Tule Lake. And then a year later, my sister, Lynn, Lynn Keiko Tamiyasu was born in Minidoka.

BH: Now, you mentioned that your parents were farming. They didn't own the land, they couldn't own the land, so were they leasing, or was it in somebody else's name?

SF: The land was... well, everyone in our community, Lake Labish area in Brooks, were leasing the ground from this Ronald Jones. And I don't know whose name it was all under.

BH: About how many acres did your dad farm?

SF: I thought it was roughly about 70 acres.

BH: And what kinds of things did he grow?

SF: Okay, we had mainly celery and onion. But I was pretty young at that time. My brother and sisters would go to work before they went to school, and then they would change clothes and go to school. But summertime, everybody would be out in the farm working, and I would be home alone. So I would wake up, get dressed, and go out to the field in time for their snack, morning snack. [Laughs]

BH: Seventy acres, that's a lot for your mom and dad and older brothers and sisters. Did anybody else help with farming?

SF: Well, no. We had, yes, we had some Filipinos helping out, working for us.

BH: And did they live on the farm or near the farm?

SF: Yes, they had a little place, they lived close to our place.

BH: So what was life like for them?

SF: Well, basically work. I think it was harder for them because they didn't have their friends around. And then we lived in a community, and we would get together. There were about nine to ten families in our community.

BH: Japanese families?

SF: Uh-huh, all Japanese.

BH: Did these Filipino workers speak English?

SF: Yes, they did. Their, I thought their lifestyle was a little different, but other than that, I didn't associate too much with them.

BH: When you were growing up, what were typical meals at your house?

SF: Well, naturally rice. [Laughs] Your typical okazu, the stir fry. And your, I don't know, typical Japanese food.

BH: So where did your mom purchase Japanese foods?

SF: There was a store... well, sometimes we would come to Portland. But, oh, there was a... I can't think of his name right now, he used to come around to sell fish, and he had some Japanese items also, and he would go door to door.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

BH: How did your family celebrate Japanese holidays?

SF: That was... first of all, your meal was more elaborate. And I don't know whether... I mean, this is a no-no, but Mom used to make sake in a huge vat. And we would even, at our young age, would take a sip of sake, I could remember that, in the holidays. [Laughs]

BH: And did you get together with those other Japanese families?

SF: We... well, they're busy working. I was close friends with the people... well, Umemotos were next door, but my age friends were Kawatas, and I used to play around with the, their four girls, with the two younger ones. But we would have a Japanese community hall, and we would have Japanese movies. Summertime we would have this, we called him Fukuda-sensei, he came from Wapato, Washington, and he taught us Japanese fude writing, reading, sewing, the bunka, and he taught us odori, and he taught the guys judo. And he would come every summer.

BH: So unlike children in the Portland area who would go to Japanese school after school and on Saturdays, yours was in the summertime due to the availability of the teacher.

SF: Yes.

BH: How'd you feel about going to Japanese school?

SF: I felt that's the thing to do. We didn't question it.

BH: Tell us a little bit more about bunka.

SF: Oh, the bunka, the stitchery. He would bring in, it's a, like paint by numbers, and you have to have a board to hold this, and you just, your thread is your typical Japanese type of, like nylon type of thread, and you just poke up and down. And it takes time, but that kept us busy. It kept me busy.

BH: Is that something you and your siblings continued with after Japanese school?

SF: Yes, I did that, and I worked on it about three months to finish the picture. My other sisters didn't do anything like that because of, they were busy working, you know, and school work. I took it up later on when my sister started taking it again.

BH: Now, the boys learned judo. Was bunka just for the girls, or did the boys learn, too?

SF: No, the boys didn't think of doing bunka.

BH: And what about odori, the dancing? Was that just the girls?

SF: Dancing? Let's see. No, the guys didn't join in on the dancing. We used to have a little program, and I can remember my sis and I, we were nezumi, the little mouse, with their costume. We would do things like that, and it was fun.

BH: Where did you go to elementary school?

SF: Brooks, Oregon.

BH: And when you first went to school, what language did you speak?

SF: English, but broken. Because we, at home, all we talked is Japanese.

BH: And how far away was your school?

SF: We were about, roughly three miles. And I talked to my sis about that, and we would either ride our bicycles back and forth, or walk, or Mom had a license at that time, driver's license, and took us to school.

BH: That's unusual. Not very many Issei women learned how to drive.

SF: Well, I think she was forced to. [Laughs]

BH: And there were other Japanese Americans in your community and undoubtedly in your school. At lunchtime and recess time, did you socialize with just Japanese kids?

SF: No, not necessarily. We used to have some good friends that were pretty open. They accepted us like anyone else.

BH: And what about lunch? Did you take your lunch?

SF: We took our lunch. It's usually sandwich, it's more simpler than nigiri.

BH: Was your family involved in a local church or temple?

SF: Well, yes, they would have this, a different place, a hall, and a reverend would come, and that would be our church. And I don't know whether it was every Sunday or not, but I could remember going.

BH: And was that a Buddhist...

SF: Buddhist. That's all we knew around there, is Buddhist.

BH: You mentioned that you were the youngest growing up on the farm in Brooks, and your brothers and sisters had chores, but you didn't. What kinds of things did you look forward to as a kid?

SF: There wasn't... we just played around, tried to get not in the way of our folks. We would even pop some popcorn and go around selling it. [Laughs] We had to think of something to do, you know. We would get in some kind of mischief.

BH: How often did your family come into Portland?

SF: Not too often. I can remember that I fell and I sprained my ankle that one time, and... no, that wasn't the time. I had to see the dentist. My brother Mutt drove me to see Dr... is it Kayama, Koyama, in Portland. Maybe not too nice to say, but maybe that's why I don't like to go to the dentist. [Laughs]

BH: Did you take any family vacations?

SF: Yes. Went to, the community would go all together, and we would go to Netarts in Oregon. And I felt that it was about (two weeks) we were there, we had so much fun, but I talked to my sister about it and she says, "No, it's a little over a week." And folks did fishing and clamming, and we played in the sand dunes. It was a lot of fun.

BH: What did you learn from your parents about being Japanese?

SF: I don't know. Well, strictly we're Japanese, and I don't know whether you learn to be a Japanese, it's just you, the way you are.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

BH: Let's start talking about the war. How did you hear about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

SF: We were in Portland, we went, came to see the Japanese show, they were from Japan, I think. It was a kabuki show. And that's when we heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and we were really afraid. Folks were really afraid, but we made it home fine.

BH: What do you think your parents were afraid of? What did they think was gonna happen?

SF: Well, I assume that they were afraid that since they definitely can tell that we're Japanese, that they'll put them in jail or intern them. I guess that was it.

BH: This kabuki theater, was that a special occasion or did that happen on a regular basis?

SF: No, I think it was a special thing, that's why we made a point, folks made a point to go see it, and we all went.

BH: Was that in Japantown in Portland, do you remember where that was? It was a long time ago.

SF: It was a long time ago. I don't know where it was.

BH: Did your parents talk about the war?

SF: No, not too much. Well, just like everyone else, we didn't understand why... oh, they did know at that time, they felt that, yes, there would be a war, because how things were going. Not nationwide, but the problem they were having between Japan and U.S.

BH: Did your parents take any actions regarding their possessions or anything?

SF: Well, in our community, everyone was so afraid that the men, head of household person, would be shipped somewhere else, so we... well, Mom and Dad, they burned books, all, anything that gave something of Japan, even the koto, shamisen, got rid of it because they were afraid, and everyone else did, too.

BH: You're a little kid watching your mom burn the kimonos, the musical instruments, books. What were you thinking at the time?

SF: I don't know. I felt that, you know, it's why, that's my main question was, "Why do we have to do this?" But we have to help Dad so Dad won't go to jail. That's what we were told.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

BH: When you were fairly young in elementary school, how did things change at school after Pearl Harbor was bombed?

SF: Well, you mean after Pearl Harbor?

BH: After Pearl Harbor, before camp. Did the teachers or the other schoolchildren treat you and your brothers and sisters differently?

SF: I don't remember any of that part of it. They must have been okay, because otherwise it doesn't ring a bell.

BH: And a couple months after Pearl Harbor there was Executive Order 9066. How did that change things? How did you prepare?

SF: Well, you mean to go to camp? Well, we only could take what we can carry, and my roller skates were very important. [Laughs] So I tried to pack it in my suitcase and Mom kept on taking it out.

BH: What did she want you to put in your suitcase instead of the roller skates?

SF: Clothing. [Laughs] Things that are more necessary. But, you know, you're kind of in a daze, going to the train station, and I'm just following the family. Don't know what to take.

BH: Was the Filipino family still, were the Filipino workers still working your farm and your land?

SF: Yeah, they were still there. They said, "Don't worry," some of the things that were left in the house, they'll watch over. But I don't know what happened to it.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

BH: Now, your family went directly to Tule Lake without reporting to an assembly center. How did you get from Brooks to the train station to Tule Lake?

SF: Well, I don't recall... oh, I think we went on, you know, those army trucks, to the train station. And then after we got on the train, shabby old, it felt so dirty train. And we all got on and the blinds were all pulled down, and we were told not to touch the blinds, to leave it down. So that's the way we left it until we got to Tule Lake.

BH: So you didn't know where you were going, you left home in the back of an army truck with your one suitcase each. What did you think when you arrived at Tule Lake?

SF: I was really shocked, because at the gate were army people with a gun, with their gun, and they directed... well, we got into the truck, army truck, and we went to our barracks, assigned barracks.

BH: What did it look like?

SF: It's just rows and rows of barracks. And there's no trees. Tule Lake was built on a riverbed, it's just sand. And we had one, the barracks were divided in three, family housing, and we had one on the outside. My brother, had, because of our large family, we had two. And my brother, both of my brothers had the middle one. And we would have dinner at the mess hall, if you have to go bathroom, the building was in the middle of the unit, and the laundry room would be there also.

BH: And showers?

SF: Showers were there with the laundry room and the bathroom.

BH: So there was a different sense of community and privacy. How did your mom and dad cope with that?

SF: Well, I can remember when we got, we divided our room kind of with a blanket, so, you know, you really didn't have that much privacy. And I was surprised because you didn't have too much privacy, well, the lady folks, plus Mom, they would all wear smocks all day long. And when Mom was pregnant with Ed, even the neighbor lady didn't know. They would shower next door, but she didn't know.

BH: When you lived in Brooks, there were a few Japanese families near you. But when you went to Tule Lake, there were thousands of people. What was it like to be surrounded by people who looked like you?

SF: It was... well, I don't know. I can remember standing in line because we had to be vaccinated at the beginning, and that's when I noticed the amount of people. But you know, you're in sections, so you don't see that many people all at once.

BH: Were you able to continue your schooling?

SF: The school, I felt, at Tule Lake, was very good. It felt like school outside of the camp, and we went every day. Not the weekend, but we went to school every day.

BH: How did you pass the time after school and the evenings and on weekends when there wasn't school?

SF: Well, they would have classes of... it could be flower making or flower arranging, it could be tap dancing, it could be... they had a lot of different activities going on. We played softball, and I was into flower arranging and tap dancing, that's why I know the activities, what activities they had.

BH: How did your parents pass the time at Tule Lake?

SF: Oh, do you want me to... [laughs]. Mom was busy, they would even, built some garden area in front of their barracks. And Dad would work, and he was a warden, I think, for Tule Lake area. Oh, I better let you know about this other incident. Well, since Mom and Dad didn't have anything to do, anyway, my brother, Mutt, and Mom were talking, whispering, and this was in November. So I thought, "Oh, they're going to get me a dog for Christmas." And I was so happy. And then I forgot about it, and when I came home from school, this other kid says, "Oh, your mom had a baby." I said, "No, she didn't." I was getting mad at him. But sure enough, she did. And that dog, the puppy that I thought I was going to get, turned out to be my brother Ed. So he's my puppy. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 8>

BH: In Tule Lake there was a "loyalty questionnaire." Do you know how any members of your family responded to that questionnaire?

SF: Well definitely, Mom and Dad told Mutt, the oldest, that he will not be going to the army, so he was listed as one of the "no-no boys."

BH: Why do you think your parents felt so strongly?

SF: Well, you know, you think about it, and you go over there and fight, you don't know what section they'll be. You'll be taken as, you could be taken as a Japanese, a Japan fighter. So that's one of the reasons that they said no.

BH: Do you think there were any other reasons that you were aware?

SF: The other reason is they put us into a camp, so why should he go fight for them?

BH: Now, after the "loyalty questionnaire," some families moved to other camps. What happened to your family?

SF: Well, when we found out that we have to, they're going to close Tule Lake, I think Dad requested that we go to Minidoka because his brother lived there, was there. So we moved to Minidoka.

BH: Do you remember how you got from Tule Lake to Minidoka?

SF: I never even thought of that. It must be by train.

BH: What were your first impressions when you got there?

SF: You know, another camp. It didn't look as organized. They moved us into the Washington group, so I made a lot of friends. You know, this whole camp thing didn't bother us, me, that much. One good thing about it for me, I made so many friends from all over, so after the war we'd come back, and we have some friends to go visit. So that's one good thing about it. The others, this is what they're gonna do, and so we just accepted it.

BH: Describe your barracks at Minidoka. Was it similar to Tule Lake?

SF: It wasn't as crude... well, not crude. It wasn't, in Minidoka it was a little more refined or added. In Tule Lake it was just the barracks just put together real fast.

BH: What was the food like?

SF: The food, where?

BH: Either one.

SF: I can remember at Tule Lake, we all go to the mess hall, and you don't have to sit with your folks, you can sit wherever. And I was sitting with my neighbor lady from Brooks, and we had fish that day. And we were all eating, and my neighbor lady would be eating her fish, and all of a sudden, inside the fish, maggots. [Laughs] And that cured me. I didn't eat fish for a long time. There's a lot of things I stopped eating after I went to camp. I stopped eating sashimi for a while, I stopped drinking milk. And I don't know, maybe outside of camp, maybe everyone else didn't have milk, they had that powdered milk. That, I don't know.

BH: Now, your dad was a warden at Tule Lake. Did he have a job at Minidoka?

SF: Minidoka, I don't know.

BH: As a warden, what were his responsibilities?

SF: I really don't know what his responsibility was. I just remembered them saying that he got a little bit more pay. [Laughs]

BH: So was he, do you know if he was a warden over a certain area or people or anything like that?

SF: No, that I don't know.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

BH: So in Tule Lake you were involved with softball and tap dancing and flower arranging. What about in Minidoka?

SF: Well, Minidoka we went ice skating. They would freeze the pond, so we went ice skating. And I can remember in Minidoka it was also summertime, there was a, they call it the swimming hole, and I wasn't too good of a swimmer at that time. But I can remember some kid had a garden snake, he was ready to throw it in the water. Boy, I sure learned to swim real fast. [Laughs] I swam across. The other activity, oh, we go to dances a lot, in the mess hall.

BH: Who'd you hang around with?

SF: Well, in Minidoka, there were a lot of gals my age, and so we kind of hung around together. There were about seven of us gals, and we would all give each other a nickname. I saw them after the war for a bit, and after that I kind of lost track.

BH: Do you remember their names or their nicknames?

SF: No, I don't remember all of them, so I won't say.

BH: What were the winters like in Minidoka?

SF: Winters in Minidoka? We had snow. It was cold, but that's... I don't know, that's about it. I could remember the movies that we went to. Something like every Friday night we would have, they would show movies. We didn't care what kind of movies. Each of us would buy our little bag of pine nuts, and we would go see the movie and eat our pine nuts at the theater if you want to call it theater. And after the show we stood up and you can crunch, crunch all over. [Laughs]

BH: Did you ever think about why you and all those other Japanese Americans were in camp?

SF: Yeah. Only thing that they were... at first I thought, well, they're afraid that we may help the Japan people somehow or the other. Because like a long time ago, before the war, we used to, all the foils, we used to roll it up in balls and we would send it to Japan.


BH: Tell me more about aluminum foil.

SF: Oh, well, since we were young, you know, the candy foil wrappers, we would save 'em and roll it into a ball. And after the ball gets so big, then I guess Mom sent it to Japan.

BH: You were talking about why people, or what people thought about being in camp. Did anybody ever talk about it, being in camp?

SF: You mean when we were in camp?

BH: Yeah.

SF: No, we didn't talk about when we were in camp.

BH: Why do you think that was?

SF: Well, I think here again, this is what they did, and so we have to live the life. We had to go on living.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

BH: Eventually the war ended. What was the general mood in camp when people learned the war was over?

SF: Well, naturally, our family, we couldn't go back to the farm. Didn't have anything there. And so Dad decided, talking to other families that lived in Portland, and the going thing was they would lease a hotel, so that's what we did. And so we moved into the New Earl Hotel on Sixth Avenue.

BH: When did you realize you weren't going back home to Brooks?

SF: In camp, while we were in camp, when the discussion was that we can't go back to Brooks, because we had nothing there. So just starting something new, this is what Dad decided he's going to do.

BH: How did your mom and dad feel about the fact that they didn't have anything to go home to?

SF: Well, it's scary, scary thought. And they never had, they never were in the hotel business before, or any other business. They were farmers before. But they have to do what they have to do, so we moved into the hotel. Mom, Pauline, they made beds and all that. Later on, after we were there for a while, then that's when Dad opened up New Tokyo restaurant. And then that was a busy time after that.


BH: When you were released from Minidoka in August of 1945, did all your family leave at the same time?

SF: Let's see. I know Mutt was there. I was just wondering about Miki, I think... no, he went later because he was in Japan for the occupation work.

BH: How did your family, how did your parents feel about Miki being in the war?

SF: By that time everyone else was volunteering, and so they accepted the fact. It was after the war.

BH: Now your parents ended up going into the hotel business. What was it like for you living in town instead of on a farm?

SF: It was very different. I went to Lincoln High School, and this is Portland, it's so new to me. But Dad introduced me to Marian Hara, Ed. [Laughs] But she took me to Lincoln High School. And so we were in a group after that, we would go see movies together or whatever and do things together. And they weren't just Marian and I, there were about three others.

BH: Did you ever go back to Brooks to see the old house and the farm?

SF: Oh yes, I've been there several times. The last time was, I think I took Mom back there. And the house was still standing, you can barely recognize it, but she went to see the friend who was still living there when Mom, when I took her, and she was so happy to see him.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

BH: Let's go back. I didn't ask you a question about your sister Lynn being born at Minidoka. Ed was born at Tule Lake, and then Lynn was born in Minidoka. Did your mom ever talk about having kids in a camp hospital?

SF: No. Only thing, like I have said before, Mom and Dad, they were so busy before the war, and after the war, they were in camp -- not after the war, but they were in camp, didn't have anything else to do, and that's how Ed came about. [Laughs] I guess that's what happened with Lynn, too.

BH: It was quite an adjustment for your dad, he had never been in the hotel business. He was a farmer. Were those difficult times?

SF: It was difficult, yeah, it was hard. But Dad, he's a go-getter. So he felt that everything's going to be fine, and same thing as the restaurant. He's never been in the restaurant business, and I thought, boy, this is really a big step. And so he had a Japan cook, and that's how he opened up New Toyko.

BH: How long did he have the hotel before he opened up the New Toyko?

SF: He must have had it for at least, I don't know, five, six years.

BH: Did you guys live at the hotel?

SF: Yes.

BH: What was that like?

SF: It was different because the living room was the corner room. The kitchen was a few doors away, my room was another room. So everything was kind of scattered.

BH: What adjustments did your family need to make moving from first farmland to two different camps and then into town? Did they just kind of go with the flow?

SF: Yeah, they went with the flow, because, well, that's what everyone else had to do, too.

BH: Your dad was very prominent in the Japanese American community after the war.

SF: Yes.

BH: What kinds of things was he involved in?

SF: First of all... well, he was, first of all, he had the New Toyko restaurant, and he, that would be a gathering place. After a while, he helped with the, he started the Japanese section of the newspaper. He was doing that, also he was the (treasurer) of the Buddhist church. He also was friends with the, Mark Hatfield, and (Terry Shrunk). He was friends with them, and they became friends from bringing in Sapporo, sister city for Portland.

BH: And your dad was instrumental in that happening.

SF: Yes, he was.

BH: And Japanese Ancestral Society and JACL?

SF: Oh, yes, the Ancestral Society. He was involved in a lot of community work.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

BH: Now, how did you meet your future husband Jim?

SF: Oh, that's a long story. [Laughs] He would come to the... first of all, I think I used to see him playing basketball, and then later on he would come to the restaurant, and he would come and just sit around. So we became friends, so we would go out. And then things got a little serious, and Mom was telling me, "You sure that you want to marry a farmer?" So we got married and had five children.

BH: And when were you married?

SF: 1950.

BH: And where did you live?

SF: We lived in Troutdale, close to the farm.

BH: Tell me the names of your children.

SF: Well, the oldest one is Cheryl, and her nickname is Twinkle because her aunt couldn't say "Cheryl," and Twinkle used to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star all the time, so she started calling her Twinkle. Next one is Jill, she doesn't have a nickname. And then there's Ron, and after Ron there's Patty, and then Ray.

BH: And how many grandchildren do you have?

SF: I have four, and they're all graduated and out of school.

BH: And what are their names?

SF: Bailey. Bailey belongs to Cheryl, and their last name is Zhanheiser. And Nick, Nicholas, they belong to Cheryl and Rich. And then there's Ron, Ron has two girls, Rachael, and the other one is Kelby.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

BH: Have you ever talked to your children or grandchildren about what happened during the war?

SF: I have mentioned a little bit about it, but I think more so with my hakujin friends, I talk about it. Because some of 'em, they asked me questions about it. And, well, it's really a shame for my kids. Since I don't speak Japanese, the only time I speak Japanese is with, when Mom and Dad were around. But like Dad, I could speak English and it was fine. But so after they're gone, you don't use the language, so you forget. And so when my kids were growing up, once in a while I would speak in Japanese and they would say, "Mom, you're talking bad about me." [Laughs]

BH: Why do you think it is that most Nisei have been reluctant to talk about the war?

SF: Niseis? I don't know about the other, but for me, I figure I'm not reluctant of talking about it, it just, I'm not going to come out and be bold about it and come out and talk about it. I'm not asked... when I'm asked about it, then I'll come out and talk about it.

BH: As you know, many, many photographs are donated to the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, we've really appreciated your assistance in helping us identify the people in those pictures. Are you affiliated with any other Japanese American organizations?

SF: Only one is the golf, the Japanese Ladies Golf Club. And I'm not with the JACL, but I am with the... what is the other one, the other golf... Nikkei... oh, I can't think of it. You know, they have a golf tournament.

BH: When your kids... well, when you were married, were you married in the Buddhist church?

SF: No. I was married in the Baptist church, because I was not going to the Buddhist church at that time. Oh, no, the kids were young. I don't know, I wasn't going to the Buddhist church, and so I picked a church in downtown Portland, and that was the Baptist church.

BH: Looking back, how did you balance being of Japanese descent while growing up in America?

SF: What do you mean?

BH: Did you feel sometimes more Japanese than American, or more American than Japanese? Did that cause any difficulties?

SF: Well, only in the certain environment. It would bother me if... sometimes it would bother me if I was in a regular, a big group of hakujins, and I might be the only one, it might bother me. But normally it doesn't.

BH: Have you ever visited Japan?

SF: I've been there one time, and that was enough for me. The experience wasn't that great. My sister, Toshi, her husband was in the fishery and connected with Japan, so he used to go to Japan a lot. And so he was there already, so Toshi, Jim and I, we went to Tokyo, and we, since Mas had, I don't know, a pass or whatever, we ate at the American commissary, and we had, we went to a party, a banquet, because Mas was very well-known over there. But there was no nightlife, and Jim wanted nightlife. So after about three days, he says he's going home, and he says, "You do what you want. You could stay or you could go home." Well, naturally I'm going to go home, so after three days it was, we went home. And he's not a traveler anyway. [Laughs]

BH: How do you think their wartime experiences affected your parents?

SF: Well, I think it... there's good and bad. I think it... well, that's in my opinion. They had to give up so much, and they got rid of so much of their belongings, that's the bad part of it. The good part would be meeting so many different people and being able to travel more, being more open. I think if we were, we stayed in Brooks, we would be typical Japanese, I think, and wouldn't be so, we will not be able to be so open.

BH: In recent times more Nisei have been willing to speak up, participate in interviews like this. We now have the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in Portland. If your parents were around, how do you think they'd feel about these efforts to remember what happened?

SF: How would they feel about it? I think, well, before, they were pretty quiet about it, they didn't talk about it. But I think, you know, later on, yes, I would feel that they would like to talk about it, be more open, and tell them their experience.

BH: What do you think we can learn from what happened to Japanese Americans during the war?

SF: What we could learn... I don't know, I have to think about that one. Well, I don't quite get the connection, but be more open, be more friendlier. It's getting... as far as race, it's getting much better now than before. So main thing is be more open.

BH: What are your hopes for your grandchildren and future generations?

SF: In what way?

BH: In any way.

SF: Well, I think it's fine because they blend in so much with everyone else now. I mean, as far as they're concerned, there's no different race. Everything is all one.

BH: What is... what do you value at this time of your life? What's important in life?

SF: Friends, family, is the important thing, and to get along with family is very important. Be, well, like Mom used to be, be thoughtful, be giving, be courteous, which I'm not always. [Laughs]

BH: Is there anything else that you'd like to add about anything we've talked about or that we didn't, that I didn't ask you about?

SF: No. There was something back of my mind, but it's gone now. [Laughs]

BH: That's okay. I want to thank you for participating in this. I've learned a lot, and as I said, this is a great gift you can give to your family as well as future generations, so thank you.

SF: At least... yes, thank you, at least I can give something to the kids, so that's great.

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