Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Sumi Ikata Interview
Narrator: Sumi Ikata
Interviewer: Janet Kakishita
Location: Gresham, Oregon
Date: May 29, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-isumi-01

<Begin Segment 1>

JK: Today is Thursday, May 29, 2014. We are taping Sumi Ikata's interview in Gresham, Oregon, for the Oregon Nikkei Endowment Minidoka Oral History Project. There are two observers in the room. They are Todd Mayberry and Betty Jean Harry from the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. Ian McCluskey is the camera operator. I am Janet Kakishita, and I will be conducting this interview. Sumi, let's begin the interview with some personal information about you. When and where were you born?

SI: I was born in Portland, Oregon.

JK: When?

SI: When was I born? (March 3, 1918).

JK: Or how old are you?

SI: I'm ninety-six (years old). Oh, I must have been born in 1918.

JK: And your full name at birth?

SI: Is Sumiko (Inouye). Oh, just a minute. Ikata is my married name.

JK: Oh, okay.

SI: It's Inouye, like Daniel Inouye.

JK: Are you related?

SI: No. [Laughs]

JK: Oh, okay, it's a good way to remember.

SI: But that's the name.

JK: And what does Sumiko mean? Was that a special name given to you?

SI: Yes. Our parents would pick out Japanese characters that have a nice meaning to it, like my older brother was Koichi, and "ko" means "very fortunate, and "ichi" is "one." He's the number one son and they wanted him to have good things happen to him. And I'm Sumiko, and it's three characters. And I think she said the "su" is "beauty"... no, "mi" is "beauty." "Su"... I forgot what that stands for.

JK: But it's true you're very beautiful.

SI: Oh, so beautiful. [Laughs]

JK: So the name is very appropriate. [Laughs] Okay, and so did you have other siblings?

SI: (Yes).

JK: Did you have other brothers and sisters?

SI: Yes. My oldest brother Koichi, and me, I was the second, and there were seven more following. So there were nine children. (My oldest brother is deceased, and my younger brother is still living).

JK: And what were their ages or names?

SI: Well, the one next to me is Yoshiko. The girls' names end with K-O. Yoshiko, and she was born soon after. She is ninety-four, I'm ninety-six. And then after her was Ritsuko. (Narr. note: Koichi, deceased, 99, Yoshiko, 94, Ritsuko, deceased, Mary, deceased, Tomiko, Miyoshi, Shingo, 89, Matsuye, deceased.)

JK: So a girl.

SI: Uh-huh. And of all the kids, she was the prettiest, and my mother favored her. She always made her pretty dresses. [Laughs] And then after Ritsuko there was Nobuko, and that sister was very independent, and she did not want a Japanese name. So they decided to keep the Japanese name, Nobuko, and then they added Mary, so she was Mary, and she insisted we all call her Mary. And then there was Tomiko, and she was very tiny, and she still is, and she's still living. "Tomi" means "wealth," so she would be wealthy when she grew up.

JK: Is that true?

SI: And it turned out that she is.

JK: Okay, so your parents did a good job naming everyone.

SI: Yes, she's been very comfortable. She's still living. And then did I say Ritsuko?

JK: No.

SI: Oh, Ritsuko is before Tomiko. Ritsuko is the pretty one.

JK: Oh, maybe you did say.

SI: Uh-huh, she was pretty. And she died a few years ago. Their family had lived in Chicago after the war, everybody went eastward, and they lived in Chicago, and she lost her husband. She had two daughters, the older daughter died of cancer a few years ago in Chicago, so there was just her and her younger daughter. So the younger daughter in the meantime had moved around, she'd been to Hawaii for ten years and she came to Los Angeles. So then the sister Ritsuko, her daughter said, "Mom, you have to come and live with me in Los Angeles." So she did. She didn't live with her, but she lived nearby in a nursing home.

JK: Did you have any other brothers?

SI: Oh, the brothers, they're at the top and at the bottom. Let's see now. Oh, Ritsuko and then... no Miyuki came before... there are so many, I can't keep them straight. Oh, I think Tomiko was first, and then Miyuki, and then my (mother) named her Miyuki. "Mi" is "beauty," and "yuki" is "snow." And it happened to be a snowy day when she was born, so my mother was good at picking names.

JK: She was, huh? They all have stories to it. How about your brother?

SI: Well, and then after her was my brother Shingo. And "shin," I don't know, there's several Shingos. She told me once what that meant, but I can't think of it right now.

JK: Okay, that's fine.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

JK: Now, let's talk about your parents individually. Your father, what was his name?

SI: His name was Sanji. "San," like "three," and Sanji is "(third)." In his family there was, I think, four boys, and he was the third son.

JK: Okay, so they named him by their birth order?

SI: Number, uh-huh.

JK: And where was he born in Japan?

SI: He was born in Fukuoka.

JK: And do you remember, what did the family do, his family do for a living?

SI: Well, they were very poor, and I'm sure that it must have been farming. And then as he grew older, when he should be out making money, there were no jobs. So I just heard about this a few years back, he had gone to China or somewhere to look for jobs, he couldn't find, so he came back. And then his oldest brother had come to America, and I wish I could remember what year. But anyway, he got involved in the lumber business, the older brother.

JK: And what part of the...

SI: He came to Portland, and I notice a picture in the Buddhist church where my uncle is in that picture, he was one of the board members. But then he... I think he got ambitious and he got into the lumber business and went to Seattle. And he was buying and selling lumber to Japan. And so he was making a living and he told his brother, who was my father, to come to America, there's more opportunity there. "There's nothing for you to do in Japan." So he came over, came to Portland, and he didn't go to Seattle. He stayed in Portland and he had a job at the Multnomah Hotel and he was cooking for a while. And he said he didn't know how to cook American food, and they said, "We'll teach you." So in a very short time, he was a cook at the Multnomah Hotel.

JK: And American food, he learned how...

SI: American food, yes. And then he heard about this opportunity in Independence, Oregon, where they grew hops. "There's a good opportunity for you to make a living there. Why don't you go?" So he did.

JK: So where is Independence? What city...

SI: It's south of Salem, south of Portland.

JK: Was he married then?

SI: Oh, yes, he was married. And by that time, there was my oldest brother and then me, so the two of us went to Independence and lived on a ranch. I lived there until I got married.

JK: So did he work on a hop farm or did he own it or lease it?

SI: He worked on it, and he was the foreman. They made him, they appointed him foreman. And he'd never grown hops before, but he learned real fast. And he was supervising, and in the spring, they had to plant new hop plants and they needed help. So they said, "In the winter, you go to Portland and round up a few people to come and work for you in the springtime. And then after that, we won't need you." So he would come to Portland in the winter, and oh, he must have (known) three or four people around town that weren't doing anything, so they came to work for him. (My father's permanent home was in Independence, Oregon).

JK: So he was good at getting people to help on the hop farm.

SI: Yes. So I can't remember their names but...

JK: Were they Japanese?

SI: They were all Japanese.

JK: Okay. He was kind of making a little Japanese community.

SI: Yes, uh-huh.

JK: Well, let's find out about your mom, her early history. What was her name?


SI: Her first name was -- I think they only had one name -- Taru, and her last name was Hirano. That was the last name. And there was three girls in the family and a boy.

JK: What did her family do for a living?

SI: I think it probably was farming. And they were struggling, you know.

JK: So when did she come to America?

SI: Well, they said that if there's an oldest boy, that's very convenient, but they didn't have an oldest boy. So the oldest girl had to stay behind with the family, with the folks. And my mother was the second daughter, so they decided to send her to America and she did not want to go. But you just didn't say no to your parents in those days.

JK: So did she come by herself?

SI: Yes, she did, (on a freighter, with hundreds of others).

JK: She came to America, she came to get married, or was she going to work?

SI: Well, my father knew that he was going to marry her. He hadn't seen her, but he had heard that in this family, there's four girls, "So I'll take the second one." And my mother had finished grade school, and she had gone to high school for two years, and that was pretty good for those times. And she learned how to sew and cook in high school, so it came in real handy when she came to America.

JK: So she came to America to marry your father?

SI: Yes. He had pointed her out. He hadn't seen her, but he wanted the second daughter because he knew that the first one couldn't (leave home). So she came, and her sewing really came in handy because she had all these girls.

JK: You're right, a lot of girls in the family.

SI: And she made up her own patterns, made up all our dresses, she was real good at it.

JK: So when they got married, they lived first in Portland?

SI: In Portland.

JK: And then they had your brother and you?

SI: Uh-huh.

JK: And then they moved to...

SI: Independence.

JK: And that's where you grew up mostly?

SI: Yes. (Up to age twenty-two, when I got married).

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

<Begin Segment 3>

JK: Tell me about your childhood growing up in Independence. What was that like?

SI: You know, we had, we were very poor, but we always had plenty to eat. My father made a big garden and he raised chickens, so we had eggs, and we never worried about not having something to eat. And as we grew older, I was oldest girl. My brother was real smart, and the teacher didn't want him to spend eight years in grade school, said that was waste of time. So they skipped him, and when he was sixteen, he was out of high school, and he wasn't very big, you know. But he came to Portland, and... I'm not answering your question.

JK: No, you're talking about your family life, so that's perfect.

SI: So he came to Portland and he went to business school. And he knew he had to learn something new. He knew a man from Independence who was living with Mr. Matsuda. His name was Owada, and he was a single man, and he had left Matsuda's home and was living in Portland in the basement of the... I think it was some building, he was living in the basement. So he told my brother, "You come live with me and I'll pay the rent. Don't you worry, you go to school." So my brother went on to business school, he went to Behuke Walker, and then he took a civil service exam and got a perfect score. When he took this card to the civil service to get a job, they looked at him, looked at the card, and they couldn't believe it. "This kid passed?" This clerk took that card and went in the back and talked to them about it, and they said, "This looks suspicious, he's so little." But it was true, he was real smart. And so he got a job in Washington, D.C because of that, his good...

JK: So what kind of job did he get? Did he work for the government?

SI: Yeah, I think he went to the government.

JK: So he had a success story coming out of...

SI: Yes, he ended up after... and then he was, later on, of course, he was drafted, and they sent him to Minnesota, what was that school up there?

JK: Oh, the Military Intelligence?

SI: Yes. And so, of course, he had to learn some Japanese, because he knew his English, but where they were going to send him, military intended you have to know Japanese or you're of no value. So then he started taking Japanese classes, and, of course, that was sort of difficult, you know.

JK: So he had an interesting life. What were you guys, all you girls going back home when you were growing up? Were you doing, I mean, what did your family do for enjoyment?

SI: I mean, in those days, our parents didn't run out and buy toys for you, you know. You made your own entertainment. We played outdoors in the summertime, and we had the Willamette River, we went swimming, and we had a big maple tree out in front of our house, and we'd climb trees and just make our own. And then we had one bicycle, I recall, took turns riding the bicycle.

JK: Do you remember what your school days were like? Did you go to school in Independence?

SI: Yes. Well, it was a grade school first, it was called Oak Point. And I don't recall what the total attendance was, but the whole school, you know, from first grade, there weren't too many students. But our family, it turned out that we all got good grades. We had report cards in those days, and send 'em home, of course, our mother was very strict. We had to have all... I think it was 1, 2, 3 rating, or A, B, C or something. And so we all had good grades.

JK: Education was important to your parents.

SI: Oh, especially my mother. She was real strict, and she wanted all of us to get the best. And the teachers all remarked that all of our kids had the best grades.

JK: That's nice. Were there other Japanese in your school, or were you the only family?

SI: In our school, I think there was a Mitoma family that lived at another hop ranch close by. And I think those kids went to the same school, if I'm not mistaken. Mitoma, they had two children. Did I mention Matsuda family? Anyway, that Mr. Matsuda must have come earlier, because he had his own land. He didn't lease it or anything, it was his own property, and he grew hops on it. So he did very well to not owe any money, and grow hops on your own land. But I can't recall him hiring a lot of people. It seemed like his family did it.

JK: What with the kids.

SI: Now the oldest son, they had one daughter and four boys, I think it was. And the oldest boy, Bill Matsuda, is still alive. And, in fact, about a month ago, I talked to him on the phone. He had left a message for me, so I called him back, and we started talking old times. We talked for a long time. [Laughs]

JK: Lots of memories to share.

SI: And he became an accountant, and I think he's still doing some accounting work. Anyway, he had worked for Hiro, Hiro Takeuchi. He was his accountant, and Hiro had a big store. So I said to Hiro one day, "How did you pick him out?" And he said, well, he knew Bill, so the first name that came to mind was...

JK: The son's name?

SI: Bill's name. So Bill did the accounting for Hiro all those years that he had his store.

JK: And you knew Hiro, too.

SI: And Bill is still... he said that he, when I talked to him recently, he said that he had had cancer for about three years, but he overcame the cancer, and he says, "I'm fine now." He's not ninety yet, he was younger.

JK: So he's young...

SI: Is he ninety?

JK: No, but he's young for the age group. And then how did your family stay connected with the Japanese community when you're living in Independence? Where did you go to church? Did you go to a Japanese church?

SI: They, we didn't have a church, but we had a religious gathering once a month. One person must have decided we're gonna do this, you know. And so once a month we had the minister from the Buddhist church in Portland, he would come to Salem, or Brooks, which was kind of in between Independence and Salem. And Mr. Fukuda owned a little grocery store, and upstairs was empty. And he said, "You can use my upstairs for the howakai," that was the religious gathering. So once a month we gathered there for church.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

JK: And did you have Japanese, were you able to have Japanese school?

SI: Yes, we did.

JK: How did that work?

SI: [Laughs] If you ask any of my sisters, they would say we hated it. We did, we just really hated it. But my mother said it's costing us a lot of money to hire this teacher from Willamette to come to Independence to teach, and so, "You'd better appreciate it. Someday you're going to be happy you know it." And I really do appreciate it, because I can read a little Japanese, and I can speak a little Japanese.

JK: And how did he teach you Japanese?

SI: Well, he was a student at Willamette, so he could speak some English, and, of course, his Japanese was perfect. So he would come twice a week, Wednesday evenings, and half a day on Saturdays.

JK: And so did he teach you conversational Japanese?

SI: Writing.

JK: Writing? So you learned how to read and write Japanese.

SI: Uh-huh.

JK: Did you do any other Japanese celebrations with the community? Did you do New Year's?

SI: New Year's was sort of a family thing, each family would make their New Year's gochiso, you know. But we didn't go someplace or go to visit somebody else's home, just the men did. The men would go from home to home on New Year's, and the wife there would have prepared Japanese food. And my father would go and other people would come to our house, but the children stayed home.

JK: How did they get all this food for New Year's, the more traditional Japanese food?

SI: There was a store in Portland that was called Teikoku. Do you recall? No, you're younger.

JK: I'm learning from you.

SI: So Teikoku, did Matsushima own that store? I can't remember. But they had a truck, and once a month they would load it with Japanese and come clear down to Independence. And my mother apologized, she said, "I wish you wouldn't do that. We appreciate it, we like otofu and all this, but for you to travel all those miles on account of us," we were the only family there to buy his food. And he said, "No," his name was Matsushima, the man who came. Nice-looking man, and he comes in a suit, and he brings this food. So we had it.

JK: So you were able to have Japanese treats and special food.

SI: Uh-huh, but not too often.

JK: Do you have other memories of growing up as a child? Did you have responsibility for the family, or on the hop farm, did you have to help with the farm?

SI: You know, our mother didn't ever tell us to go out and work in the field, she didn't think that was for women to do. So, girls, and then my oldest brother, when he was sixteen, he went away to business college, so he wasn't there. So my father just hired help from Portland. Every winter he would come to Portland and round up some people and hire them to get his crop going. The hops grow one season, but at the end of the season you cut down all these dead vines and burn them, and there's nothing in the ground. Next year you start over again. You have to get these plants, put 'em in the ground, and he had to have workers, so my father would go back to Portland and round up some people to do that.

JK: So did you help your mom around the house?

SI: Yeah, I did.

JK: What were your responsibilities?

SI: We had wooden floors, we didn't have carpet in those days. And so all of us, before we went to school, she would have us sweep the floor or whatever, and then go to school. And then weekends we'd scrub the floor, so that wooden floor was shiny. You could walk on it with bare feet, you know.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

JK: How did you... you got married before the war, right? Shortly before World War II, you were married?

SI: Yes, yes, I was married.

JK: Well, how did you and your husband, how did you two meet?

SI: That was a go-between. My husband knew somebody... somebody my father knew in Ontario, Mr. Kido, Yuhei Kido, he was Fukuoka, and my father was Fukuoka, so he came to my house one night, and we're upstairs listening, you know. We can't be present, and be upstairs. And they said, "You have a daughter that's marrying age," that's me, and I can't be sitting around the house, and we don't date people, you know, and find your boyfriend. You have nothing to say. And Mr. Kido came to visit our house, and one night, and they're talking to my mother and father and said that, "We know this very fine man in Gresham, but more than that, we know you and we know your children and your daughter, she's marrying age, she should get married." So they had found my husband, and they had a friend in Seattle who worked in the immigration office, they had become close friends. So my husband consulted that man. They felt that if they get an important man in here, "she won't say no." [Laughs]

JK: You or your family? [Laughs]

SI: So anyway, they arranged that he would come to visit me, and later on, my mother said, "Even if he came to see you, if you didn't like him, we would never force you to marry him."


SI: We were talking about my husband, how I met him?

JK: Yes, how you met him and when you first saw each other, and you liked him, and then what happened?

SI: Let's see. The first time he came, he only had a pickup. It was a fairly new pickup, but he didn't have a passenger car. And he came to see me, it was late in the afternoon because he had work to do at home. And we went for a ride, he said the people in Gresham were giving him advice, you know, if you're taking your girlfriend for a ride, you should take her here and there. You should take her to Council Crest, and there was another place that's really not the best place. But anyway, he went because his friends told him. So we went to a couple places, and then he didn't want to keep me out too late, my folks would worry. So we just were together in his pickup and riding around. And he spoke more Japanese, and I spoke English, but I knew enough Japanese I could understand, and I liked him. The very first time I liked him.

JK: Was it the same for him? Did he like you, too?

SI: I asked him, "What did you think about me?" He probably thought I was pretty stupid. And he said no, he really liked me.

JK: And what was his name?

SI: Well, his Japanese name was Masakado, which is strange, it's a long name. But let's see, I guess they all called Masakado.

JK: Did he have a nickname?

SI: Well, later on, they called him Buddy. It was just too much trouble to call him...

JK: Masakado.

SI: So after that he took on the name of Buddy, and a hakujin who was a business associate, said, "I'm going to call you Buddy. I can't bother with that other..." so everybody knew him as Buddy, rest of his life.

JK: When... did he take you on more dates?

SI: Yes, like every weekend he would come to see me, but it wasn't that many weekends because we got engaged soon after.

JK: How did he, did he ask you or did the go-betweens arrange it?

SI: They introduced us, and they came to our house twice, I think. And my husband and I decided early on we liked each other, so it wasn't long, drawn out, you know, it was a couple of months. Then they set up a wedding date, and you have to think about the farmers, too. With me, it made no difference. And then we set a date, and then the man from Seattle said, "Well, we need to buy her an engagement ring." So he bought the ring for my husband, bought it up in Seattle, and then my husband, of course, paid for it. And it had a diamond in it, and I was so proud of that ring. [Laughs]

JK: Do you still have it?

SI: No. After a while my finger got so big, I couldn't wear it, and I had to have it cut off.

JK: And how did you get ready, what kind of wedding did you have?

SI: We had to have an engagement party first. And my mother didn't know all this process, you know, she had to be told. So anyway... I forgot. Anyway, he comes back and again and brings me this ring that had a diamond in it. I was so proud of that ring.

JK: And then you had an engagement party.

SI: Yeah, we went to, yes, my father said we had to have an engagement party, and there were no Japanese restaurants in Independence. So we went to Salem, and my father knew a Mr. Tanaka who owned a Japanese restaurant, sukiyaki place, in Salem, so we decided to have it there. It wasn't too far away. So we had a nice engagement party, and my husband and his parents came.

JK: Did you meet his parents before the engagement party?

SI: Yes. Ojiisan, he came with his son one of those Sundays when he came.

JK: So they knew about you?

SI: I don't know why the grandma didn't come, but anyway, maybe he insisted, or maybe my husband said his dad would come with him. And then my dad loved to drink sake, and the old man, my future father-in-law, he loved to drink, too. So he brought his father with him and they sat down together and had something to drink and were talking, and they thought, "Well, this is going to work out real good."

JK: Isn't that nice, both fathers agreed?

SI: Yeah.

JK: And then how did, did your mom make your wedding dress, I mean, did you have a wedding dress?

SI: I did. We went to a store in Salem, and I know there was Miller's department store, and I can't recall. I know later on my mother used to buy fabric from them, but we bought a ready-made satin dress. It was a heavy ivory satin dress. And I was pretty small, my waist was real small, not like now. [Laughs] And it had long, they call it leg of mutton sleeves, they're big up here and then they're snug down here, and had little buttons all the way down here. It was a very good looking dress, and something that my parents really couldn't afford, but they wanted the best for me.

JK: Because you were the first one getting married.

SI: Yeah.

JK: And where did the ceremony take place?

SI: At what is the Oregon Buddhist Church, which is in Portland, and we were in Independence, so we had to go there. That's where we had, and we had the reception at Ichiriki, have you heard of it?

JK: I haven't.

SI: Who was the man that owned that? They had one daughter, her name was Chiyo, and they had a reputation for serving good food. So anyway, we had the reception. I wonder if they not only prepare food, but maybe they had a restaurant.

JK: Do you think the reception, was the reception at church or at the restaurant?

SI: At the restaurant, definitely.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

JK: And then where did you go and live with your husband?

SI: In the same house.

JK: Where was the house, was it...

SI: On the farm.

JK: Okay, with his parents?

SI: With the parents. I lived with the parents until they passed away, which was like twenty-five years.

JK: Okay, so you lived on the farm?

SI: On the farm. And my mother, I remember when we were getting engaged, she said, "My daughter has never worked outdoors before, a day in her life. She does things in the kitchen, but she never..." and he said, "Oh, we'll never let her work on the farm."

JK: Was that true?

SI: Famous last words. [Laughs]

JK: So you did have to work on the farm and help.

SI: Yeah, I did.

JK: Did you start a family, too, when you were living out on the farm?

SI: Yeah. We had our first child. We were married in June, and our daughter was born in July, I think, of the following year.

JK: And then what kinds of things did they grow on the farm?

SI: Well, the first crop was strawberries, and then pretty soon the strawberries were gone. And then they had blackberries, loganberries. They had beautiful blackberries. And then pretty soon, the berries were gone, and then he had cauliflower and cabbage, that's kind of a fall project.

JK: So he grew produce for the fall.

SI: Uh-huh, and he took 'em to the market.

JK: Do you remember where the market was?

SI: Yes. Later on, he would take me there for lunch, Lidos, you know, behind Lido's was that marketplace? Have you heard of it?

JK: I remember that because it was close to my father's store.

SI: Oh, yeah? Oh.

JK: So you had Italian food for a treat. Did you... where was the farm in Gresham located?

SI: Well, it was on Kane Road. On this end there was Stark Street, here's Kane Road, and Division, it's between Kane and Division.

JK: It's not a farm anymore, is it?

SI: No. And the nearest neighbor was Murahashi.

JK: Which Murahashi?

SI: It was... let's see. Well, it's, you know Larry Murahashi?

JK: Yes.

SI: It's his dad. Larry and Roy and Oscar, their dad, mother and father, owned that farm. And I think the Murahashi brother must have owned it, but he wanted to go back to Japan, he and his wife, so they sold it to his brother. And then the brother that stayed behind, he didn't live long after that. He had a heart attack.

JK: So what was life like for you on the farm? Did you enjoy it, or was it hard?

SI: Well, because I love my husband, and he helped me love it, you know. But it wasn't my best. [Laughs]

JK: So he taught and would help you to be part of the farm.

SI: They told me that I would never have to, you know, well, like right away I'm out there packing green peppers or whatever. And then I don't remember picking strawberries. That's where you have to bend over.

JK: That would be really hard.

SI: And then we had to go to camp.

JK: Right. Did the family, did his family own the farm or were they leasing it?

SI: No, they were leasing it, yes. So anyway, they turned it over to another, the other people found out that we had to go, and also they, some...

JK: Maybe Filipino?

SI: I can't recall, but they were dark-skinned people, they approached us and said that they would take over the farm and take care of the crop, the strawberries were ready to be picked, they would come over and take. "And when you come home, we'll pay you the money." [Laughs]

JK: And that didn't happen.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

JK: So you were, you were on the farm, you're in Gresham when Pearl Harbor happened.

SI: Yes.

JK: How did the family hear about Pearl Harbor?

SI: That night we were at a Japanese movie, I think it was, which is scarce, you know, that kind of occasion where people get together, because we had no theater. So, but most of the Nihonjin were there watching this movie, and then all of a sudden they stopped the movie, and I think it was Mr. Tamiyasu from Brooks, he was kind of a leader, he made the announcement that... they turned on the lights and said that the war had started between the United States and Japan, and we're gonna all have to move inland. So that's when we found out.

JK: How were you and your husband feeling about this? Did you have any fears or uncertainty?

SI: Well, yeah. We didn't feel good about it, you know.

JK: Uh-huh. And I know the Murahashis were your neighbors, but were there other neighbors? How did they react to the war starting if they weren't Japanese? How were they...

SI: I think we all felt the same.

JK: And then when you heard that you would have to move inland, or to an assembly center, and you talked about this family promising to take care of the land, but how else did you prepare with your personal belongings that you couldn't take with you?

SI: Well, you know, we had just bought a new refrigerator, and I recall that it cost a hundred and fifty dollars, which was pretty big money in those days. But we needed a new one, so, oh, put that refrigerator in, there was an empty building behind us, and there's a small place, but we thought we would put that in there. And there was a hakujin family that lived close by, and they said, "Well, why don't you let us use it?" you know. "And when you come back, we'll give it back to you." Well, you have no choice, you know. And let's see...

JK: Did you get that refrigerator back when you came back?

SI: No. It wasn't even there anymore.

JK: Oh, wow. All your other personal things that you couldn't take with you...

SI: We had put in storage. The government told us that we could all put our stuff in this big warehouse downtown someplace, and so we put most of the stuff in there, had a sewing machine and washing machine and put it in there. And they said later on, after you get settled in camp, you can send for it.

JK: Was that true?

SI: It was. We were able to send for my sewing machine, which I really wanted, and I could make clothes in camp. And the washing machine, I was washing it in the tub, you know, at the camp, and I was thrilled to get that washing machine.

JK: They sent it to camp?

SI: Yeah. But the thing is, as soon as I got that, Mrs. Matsunaga, I don't know if you know her, she and I were about the same age, and she had several children, and she was washing on the washboard. And she came over and asked, "Since you have the washing machine and it's sitting in the laundry room, do you suppose we could use it?" And I didn't want to loan it to anybody, you know, but I couldn't say no, I thought that would be cruel. So I said, "Sure. When I'm not using it, you go ahead and use it." Well, it turned out she didn't use it, she was letting her daughter use that. And it had a wringer on it, you know you wash here and put it through the wringer. And the daughter was doing the laundry and she put a blanket through there, and it got all twisted up, and that machine stopped right now. So we hardly used it, and it was no good anymore.

JK: Damaged from that blanket. What other things did you have sent to you when you were in camp?

SI: Sewing machine, washing machine... I can't recall, but those were the two important things that I wanted.

JK: That's an interesting... I didn't know that you could have things sent that were in storage.

SI: Yes, they made an announcement that you could send for these things.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

JK: We'll go back to while you're on the farm preparing to evacuate. What about cars, your cars or trucks or equipment, how did you deal with that?

SI: We had a tractor that wasn't too old that we had bought from Mr. Murahashi, who returned to Japan. And I think somebody wanted to borrow it or buy it or something.

JK: It would be a hakujin?

SI: Yeah, but we never saw it again.

JK: So you had many losses in the preparation, things that were going to be returned or paid back.

SI: Like this brand-new refrigerator, you know.

JK: Right. What things did you take that you carried? 'Cause you had Pat, she was still, was she an infant, a baby, or a toddler?

SI: Oh, my daughter?

JK: Uh-huh.

SI: She was born already, and we had a suitcase, and my daughter, Pat, that lives in Washington now, she told me that she went over there to the legacy center and looked at the stuff, and she said, "Mom," she was here recently for Mother's Day, and she said, "Mom, remember that suitcase you took to camp? I saw that over there."

JK: Oh, isn't that nice, that it's being saved and being part of history?

SI: Yeah.

JK: And that Pat remembered it and recognized it.

SI: And then I had this big house, my husband and I had this big house that we bought on Southeast 24th.

JK: Was this before the war?

SI: Let's see...

JK: Or when you came back after the war?

SI: Oh, it must have been after we came back, yeah.

JK: Afterward.

SI: And a big house, and we were really proud of it. And we needed a big house because it was the old folks, and the three kids, and my husband and me, and then his brother came home from the service and he came to live, so there was eight of us. We needed the big house, so we had that. And then my husband had gone house hunting, and he ran into Rowe Sumida who was selling real estate, and bought the house from him. And we really liked that house, it was so comfortable. And then through the years we made improvements on it. And just this year, maybe two or three months ago, we finally sold that house.

JK: You have lots of memories.

SI: My daughter, oldest daughter in Washington has been selling real estate all this time, so I said, "Why don't you take charge of it? And when we sell, we're gonna split the money," and I was already settled over here, and I had just about everything I needed. And the things in the house, let the kids, everybody come over and put your name on a sticker and stick it on the item that you want. So they did that, they had a potluck dinner and they did that, and no two people wanted the same thing. It was completely furnished, you know, 'cause we had lived in it for fifty-six years. And my daughter's not taking anything, and she said, "Well, I shouldn't do it, should I?" And I said, "Well, sure, you should. You're doing all the work, you decided, I mean, you should get two percent more than everybody else." But anyway, she arranged, and everybody got their stuff, and they didn't pay a penny for it, they all took stuff home. And it made me feel so good because this last Thanksgiving we went to my grandson Scott's place, he's Ron and Marianne's second son. They were using my dining room table and chairs, which cost a couple of thousand dollars. But I gave it to them. There's no point in me holding it, you know, and nobody else wanted it, but he needed it.

JK: And they're going to be using it, and it means something.

SI: They had it for Thanksgiving dinner, and it fit in their house perfect. And I had a big mirror over the fireplace, and they put that mirror on the wall right by this table, beautiful.

JK: So it's nice to see the things that you loved are still being loved by your family.

SI: Yes. I sat in the chair and I just looked around and admired all this stuff. [Laughs]

JK: What a nice feeling.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

JK: Okay, let's go back to the farm, you're getting ready to leave the farm to the assembly center. How did you get to the assembly center with your things that you packed? Did a bus come and get you, or how did they do that in the Gresham area?

SI: I think... my husband was pretty stubborn, he would fight. He said, "You take away everything, how am I supposed to get my family over to that that warehouse to put the stuff in?" and then everybody had to go to the church, Oregon Buddhist Church, where they slept on the floor. And he said, "How am I supposed to do that with no transportation?" He says, "You've got to let me have (a) car." So they let him keep his pickup until the very last. And he said, "We're not going to sleep on the Buddhist Church floor. My wife is pregnant, we're not going to." [Sneezes] Excuse me. "And my mother, she couldn't sleep on that floor. We have to go to housing, government housing. And there was, in St. John's, there was this place called St. John's Woods, and it was housing for the shipyard workers during the war. But after the war was over, then the buildings were still there, nobody living in 'em, so we all moved into a house over there.

JK: That's interesting. Until you had to report to the assembly center? Or did you not go to the assembly center?

SI: We went to the assembly center.

JK: Okay, but they put you up in housing instead of the church floor?

SI: Oh, no, no. That housing that, we moved in there later. I wonder if that's after the war when we came back.

JK: Oh, when you came back.

SI: And we have no place to go to, so that's when we moved into that house.

JK: But you still, you still had to, you still didn't have a way to get to the assembly center.

SI: No.

JK: Your husband, (the WRA) allowed your husband to keep the truck to get you there.

SI: Uh-huh.

JK: When you got to the assembly center, you're pregnant, you have Patty, who's probably...

SI: Oh, no. I had her, but I was not pregnant.

JK: Okay, you weren't pregnant. Okay, so you have Patty, and is she like a baby or a toddler?

SI: She was barely walking. And then she had a little tricycle, and she would ride around on the tricycle.

JK: So how was your routine like in the assembly center? What was your day like?

SI: Well, we didn't have anything to do, you know. We just had this little cubicle that we're living in. And we went there in (May), first part of (May) we went to Minidoka.

JK: So you had this time that you were spending, what did Buddy do? Was he assigned any job?

SI: Oh, my husband? Yeah, right away he went to look for a job, he wanted a job right now. So there was employment office, I guess, and the only thing there was for him was to be a fireman. So he took it. And you got, if you were a doctor you got nineteen dollars, but if you're a fireman you got sixteen dollars a month.

JK: Okay, so he was able to earn some money. How about, were your in-laws housed with you, were you all together?

SI: We were. All through thick and thin, we were together. And Ojiisan died at ninety, and to that day, he was still living with us. And then seven months later, she died. (Narr. note: We were living in our permanent home at 1826 SE 24th Ave. when they both passed on.)

JK: So how big of a space did you have?

SI: In camp?

JK: At the assembly center.

SI: Oh, I don't know what you call it, but everybody had one the same size. And the floor, they had boards, but there were cracks between, and some people claim they saw snakes, you know. And then they had canvas walls, and they didn't go clear to the ceiling, they were about this far short, the top was open. So when you talked, if the husband's talking to his wife, he'd have to whisper. When you whisper, you can hear better. [Laughs]

JK: So your in-laws were also in the space with you?

SI: Yes, yes.

JK: So it was very crowded.

SI: Oh, in camp, I think we must have had two cubicles in camp.

JK: In camp, but at the assembly center...

SI: Not camp, but in the assembly center. But when we went to camp, we were in one unit.

JK: Well, let's go to camp now, the internment camp Minidoka. When you first got there, what was your reaction? You get off the, you come by train, you probably, they took you by truck and you get off. What was your reaction there?

SI: Well, we didn't expect too much. And a lot of people were there ahead of us, so we didn't, it wasn't total shock to us.

JK: Okay, so they had been filling you in what to expect.

SI: Yes.

JK: And tell us about your living quarters. You said you had two cubicles, right?

SI: No.

JK: No, just one?

SI: They only gave us one.

JK: With your in-laws?

SI: Yes.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

JK: Okay, Sumi, you've been telling us a little bit about internment camp, what life was like. Can you tell us a little bit more about your life in camp? Was it difficult, or were there anything, was there anything enjoyable about being in camp?

SI: No, I have no sweet dreams about camp. Every day you did what you had to do, and like my job, well, mealtime, breakfast, go over there and come back, then I did the laundry for the family and take the dirty clothes over to the laundry room and wash on the washboard. And I don't recall ever ironing anything, but all the dirty work I did. And my mother-in-law lived with us, but she loved to visit. So she would take Pat, baby at the time, and put her on her back and walk clear up to Block 4. We were in 34 and she would walk up to 4. The hospital was up there, but she had a friend from Seattle, Mrs. Yasutake, she would go up to visit her with our daughter on her back.

JK: And so you were left to do the chores...

SI: Uh-huh, yeah.

JK: ...of keeping up your...

SI: But I didn't think of it having to do, because I was doing it all the time anyway.

JK: And how about your husband? What was his daily routine like?

SI: Well, he worked for the fire station. So when I got up, he was long gone. He didn't even go to the mess hall with us, he must have eaten over there.

JK: Maybe they made a better meal at the fire station.

SI: Maybe. And when he was, then when I was at Ikoi no Kai one day, Frank Nakata came over to me, and I recognized his face but I did not know him, I just knew he was a nice man. He came over and he says, "Hey, you know, when we were in camp, your husband and I were on the same team, fire station." And I said, "Oh?" And then he told me, said what a nice man my husband was, and he says, "All the other fellows in their spare time would be playing poker or doing something," you know, but my husband would be off to the side and reading a book. He was a serious person.

JK: He enjoyed reading. Were you able to do any activities that...

SI: Yes, I was. I was able to do one activity that they told us that there was going to be a sewing class. And I knew there was lots to learn about sewing, I had the sewing machine, so I went and this lady, her name was Kojima, I think, and she was from Seattle, she volunteered to teach, and she told us how to make a pattern and how to alter a pattern. And I thought, "Oh, this is good, I can make my mother-in-law a dress." I tried to please her, you know, and I was going to make her a good dress out of black material. And so she, her back was humped like that, you know, she was old, so she told us how to straighten that. If you have this pattern like this, if it's straight, it's not going to fit her. So you take your pattern and cut it right here and open it up so that it makes more room here. And so I did that, and then after I got my pattern made, I ordered the fabric from Salem, from Miller's department store, and got some nice black material, kind of crepe-like, and I made her a dress. And it fit her just right and she loved that dress. For every special occasion she wore that dress, and in my room, there's a picture of her wearing that dress.

JK: Do you still have the dress?

SI: No, no, we don't have the dress. But every special occasion she wore that, she loved it.

JK: Isn't that nice that she enjoyed something that you made that fit perfectly?

SI: Yeah. I tried to please her, and I finally pleased her.

JK: Was it hard trying to please your mother-in-law and living with your mother-in-law? Was she difficult?

SI: She was difficult, yes.

JK: Was she critical?

SI: Yeah, critical, and I can't... I think I tried to block that out of my mind, 'cause I can't remember. But I remember I did not love her, but I liked my father-in-law, he was nice.

JK: He was good to you. When was your son Ron born? Was he born in camp?

SI: He was born in camp. Pat was already born, and she was walking a little bit when we got in. And then she was, Ron was born. And I remember having a very easy delivery with him. And then after he was born, I had my sewing machine, and I had fabric that my mother, I would go to my mother's place and ask her if she had any old clothes that I could tear apart, use the fabric to make pants for him.

JK: So your parents were also at Minidoka, or did they have to go somewhere first and then come?

SI: They went to Tule Lake first, and but then my father had a stroke while they were down there. And my sisters and my mother requested that they come to Minidoka so they could be near me, so that our whole family would be together. And they got their wish, and they were in Block... I think it was 37.

JK: Was that close to you?

SI: Yeah, it was close enough, because my mother used to walk from there to our mess kitchen to wash dishes.

JK: So that was helpful to have your sisters and mother close by?

SI: They didn't ever come to visit. My mother-in-law was not, she was not too cool. So, I mean, if she were nice, they would be encouraged to come, but she encouraged them not to come.

JK: So if you wanted to see your sisters and mother you would have to take the children...

SI: I would see my mother in the mess hall.

JK: Were there other things that you remembered about camp that, even though they weren't pleasant memories, made it hard for you?

SI: Well, I remember that we used to have dust storms, and everyone was told that if the wind started blowing a little hard, you better rush home and close your windows, or just be covered with dust.

JK: Were you able to make friends in camp, people you didn't know before, meet new friends?

SI: Not new friends, but people that I knew slightly before. The Nakashimadas I knew from before, and they lived right behind us. And then Mrs. Henjoji, she had a bunch of kids, and we were at this end of our barrack and she was down at that end of the barrack behind us. And she wanted to go to sewing class, and she was very independent. She'd leave her kids locked in their room, and go to class. And one of the mother said that, "Oh, that's terrible," so she offered to take care of the kids. "Don't lock your kids in the house."

JK: So you were able to get to know people better, so that might have been one of the more pleasant things that happened at camp for you.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

JK: When you were able to leave camp, after the war and you were allowed to go home, how did you get back to Oregon?

SI: Well, let me tell you, everybody else was so anxious to leave, you could leave if you went eastward. If you went toward Chicago you could leave early but nobody could go back to the West Coast. But then after a while, they made it a little easier, so some people gradually started coming back. But we had nothing to come back to, because we didn't own our property. It was leased, you know. And so we came back to, we lived in government housing.

JK: And this was in the St. Johns area?

SI: Yes, uh-huh. And Leke Nakashimada lived in the same place. We were quite far away, he lived on that side of the street and we lived on this side. And my husband used to go over and visit with the old man.

JK: How did you restart? You came back to this area... because family was here? Some of your family went back east.

SI: No, no family. We had really nothing to come back to. But my husband and Leke were friends, or they became friends, and together they went around looking for jobs to cut grass or do housework. They did it together. And then one day he found out that Mr. Shoji, he passed away soon after, his mother-in-law had a pickup that she wasn't using. You know, old lady and husband gone, so she said, yeah, they could use her pickup. So they used that and went around and they, I remember he said they went around to pick up old batteries, and I forgot what else. But it was junk, anyway. So my daughter Janice laughs about it, she says, when it says, "What was your father's occupation?" she said he was a junk dealer. [Laughs]

JK: Together Leke and your husband found work to help support the families?

SI: Yes, uh-huh.

JK: And was it difficult for them to find, I mean, was the community where they were going around, were people receptive or welcoming them or did they face...

SI: They were on their own, on their own. And they'd buy a paper, my husband would buy a paper, and the first thing, he would look down here for jobs wanted or whatever, and the two of them would go around and try to find something. And then I don't know if Leke found a job first, but my husband happened to go out to Latosh Laundry, which was an industrial laundry. They take rags from a garage or something, greasy, and they take it to this Latosh Laundry and they'd wash 'em. And my husband happened to go there, and they were looking for a foreman. And my husband was fast on his feet, he could supervise, and he was, could be on the receiving end. And he was such a good worker, they just hired him right now. So he was the manager there for quite a while, but we didn't have a car, so he would have to... and we lived in the government housing. He had to get up real early in the morning and eat his breakfast and catch a bus to get to this bus stop, and then he'd have to change and get on another bus several stops to get to work.

JK: Wow, he really had to work hard to earn a living to support his own family.

SI: He did. And then he'd get home at about eleven o'clock at night.

JK: At night?

SI: Uh-huh. And none of us can work, you know.

JK: Right, 'cause you're raising two children then. Did the youngest one come?

SI: His two parents and me and the kids.

JK: And so he was acting as a foreman at this Latosh place. And then did that lead to other jobs?

SI: In the meantime he got sick because he had worked long hours, get home at eleven o'clock, and it's cold, caught a bad cold, and I know he was in bed for several days, and we were in government housing yet. And our living room was here, and there wasn't even a wall there, our bed was right there. But we had a TV or something set up there, and he was on the other side and trying to sleep, and he had a hard time recovering, he was really sick. And then as he got better, then Bob Ando, I don't know if you've heard of him.

JK: I know Ando.

SI: He said, "Hey, buddy, let's go out to Gresham and pick some berries." They were both real fast, so they went out to pick berries, and that paid pretty good. But then the berry season isn't that long. Then what did he do? There for a while, I can't recall what he did.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

JK: Now he did finally start his own business?

SI: Yeah.

JK: And was that shortly after the war?

SI: It was not too long. He happened to be up on Northwest Thurmond Street. I forgot what he was looking for, looking for a job or what, but he stopped in at this place, and it was run by an old man and old woman, and the man, oh, it was called Abco Chemical Company. And the wife ran the business because the husband had gotten chemicals in his eyes and he became blind. And it was a two-story building, they lived upstairs and did the business down here. And my husband happened to stop in and was talking to him, and they said, "Oh, we're so glad you came by because we're trying to get out of this business. My husband is blind, and I'm by myself, I can't do it." So my husband said, "Well, I'll try it." He said, "I don't know anything about it, but I'll try it." So he used the main floor to sell his chemicals, and I think soon after, the old man died and it was just the lady, and then she moved out and went to live with her son. And so my husband started selling these chemicals. And then he thought that location wasn't the best place, so he moved (from) Tenth and Thurmond, moved over to Russell Street, which is black country, all black people. And there was a building open on the corner, and the man who owned the building, his name was Hank Williams, and he owned the downstairs and the upstairs, and he told my husband that he could rent this, and he'll use the upstairs and next door. And he had divorced his wife, he was a womanizer. Wife didn't want anything to do with him, so she said, "You keep the business." He had a business called City Galvanizers. They put some kind of a coating on metal things. Hank Williams who was doing this galvanizer business, and my husband used the downstairs for his office, and he started selling chemicals. And let's see, I'm trying to think what kind of things he sold. Well, first of all comes to mind is bleaches, you know, and it's things that get into bottles, anyway.

JK: And were they used, like, for cleaning, the chemicals?

SI: Yeah, I think so. It was a big space for building, you know. But my husband had to get out and sell it, nobody's going to come to him. So he had his little office, and then our Ojiisan, he wanted to get out of the house and get away from his wife, so he would come over on the bus with my husband, and he said he could be like a watchman, you know, when you have to leave the door open. And then while he was there, he said they'd all put the labels on the bottles for you. Well, anyway, he can't read English, my husband discovered that he was putting the labels on upside down. [Laughs]

JK: So Grandpa helped...

SI: Yeah, he tried in his own way.

JK: Your husband was very industrious, just by finding work and meeting people who were looking for...

SI: Yes. So then he found a secretarial service in the building downtown, I think it was the Cascade Building. And there was a secretary up there that had several phones. This phone is for this company, and so she would hold a phone for him, and he would pay her a fee each month, and she would take his messages so that my husband could get out and get new accounts.

JK: Right, and he wouldn't lose any orders.

SI: Yeah.

JK: So he was learning, he was learning as he went along how to start a business and run a business. How did he get financing, money? Did he just save, did you guys just save?

SI: Well, we did. We went to the bank where the money is, and in order to borrow money, if you were a married man, you got to bring your wife. You can't say I'm borrowing in my own name, because they knew for sure he couldn't pay it back. So I was working uptown in an office. So that day on my lunch hour I met him, we went down to the bank, First National Bank or something, and there's a loan office downstairs, and you have to sit down there. And the man inside of the box, he's the boss. And I don't have too much time, you know, I'm on my lunch hour. And the man wouldn't pay any attention to his. We just waited and waited, and we went to borrow money. And finally my husband got mad, and I remember he walked over to the boss's cubicle and he said, "God damn it, we've been sitting here this long, my wife is on her lunch hour, we're trying to borrow money from you, and you don't even pay any attention to us. How can you do any business? You're not going to loan any money just standing there." And after that, after my husband cussed him, he got to be really nice to my husband, treated him nice. He said eventually they became good friends. [Laughs]

JK: So he was able to borrow more money?

SI: Yeah, so we would borrow money, and then six months later we have to return that money, then we had to borrow money again to keep going. And eventually we got out of that rut, you know, didn't have to borrow money.

JK: So it sounds like you were also working?

SI: I was working at another office, yes.

JK: Right, and it must mean that Grandma was taking care of the kids. So everyone had to work together so you could move forward as a family.

SI: So when I got my paycheck, I would give her so much money.

JK: For watching the kids?

SI: Uh-huh. Well, by that time, my oldest daughter was already going to school, so she didn't have to watch her, so it was just the youngest one.

JK: So it took time to restart your lives after the war.

SI: Yeah, definitely.

JK: And that your husband really worked hard.

SI: He worked very hard, yes.

JK: And you had to work, too. Is there anything else you wanted to share about your memories or experiences?

SI: Well, we were making money gradually, and we were able to buy a new car. My husband said we're not going to buy a used car, we're going to get a brand new one, and I remember it was a burgundy-colored car. We were so proud of it, it was our first new car. And Henry Matsunaga, who lived a little ways down, he said he could still remember us, we'd go out and take a cloth and polish it. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 13>

JK: Are there any lessons that you learned in life that you would want your future generations of Ikatas to remember or strive for? From the experiences you've had growing up and doing the war experience...

SI: I don't recall too many fun experiences. We struggled; we struggled for a long time.

JK: So you would encourage them to just work hard?

SI: Uh-huh.

JK: And would you continue your mother's expectations to study hard?

SI: Uh-huh. You know our oldest daughter? She was always ambitious; we had three children. And when she was in the third grade, like on Saturdays, she would get up and vacuum the living room floor, it's big. And then my mother-in-law would sit on the sofa right smack in the middle, and she'd tell her, "You missed a spot over there," you know. I would get so disgusted with her. Here Pat's trying so hard to clean the house, and she's sitting there in the middle of it. She should be out of the room. But Pat never talked back to her. And she says, "You know, I'm gonna go to college for sure. If I have to pick berries or whatever, I'm gonna go to college." So she did, she went out, they went out to pick berries for different people, and she saved her money. And she had the first year's tuition, she had earned.

JK: On her own?

SI: Uh-huh.

JK: So she had dreams from her experiences.

SI: Uh-huh. And to this day, she's a hustler. If she wants something, she's lost her husband now, but it's no problem. She owns five houses.

JK: She had to really work hard to get where you were. Is there any advice you would give to future generations about life?

SI: Well, I think the couple should get along together, first of all, in order to work together. And the wife can't say that, "This is my money and that's your money."

JK: But you had a good relationship with your husband.

SI: Yes, we did; I loved my husband. He was really good to me.

JK: What would your kids say about you two?

SI: Hmm?

JK: What would your children say about you two? If you could imagine, what would they remember?

SI: It wouldn't be anything bad.

JK: They would remember the good things that you both may have done in life? Well, thank you for sharing today. You have really wonderful experiences to share.

SI: Well, it gives me a chance to recall.

JK: So it gives you good memories, too. Thank you.

SI: Well, I thank you.

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