Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frances Sumida Palk Interview
Narrator: Frances Sumida Palk
Interviewer: Todd Mayberry
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: June 13, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-pfrances-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

TM: So you said your father was born in 1910?

FP: Yes.

TM: And where was his place of birth?

FP: It was in Portland, Oregon.

TM: And what was your father's full name?

FP: George Katsuichi Sumida.

TM: And what were your grandparents doing when your father was born? What business were they in?

FP: They were, let's see... they were running a hotel, and it was, (...) but they managed two hotels in succession. And I can't remember the name of the first hotel, but it was, they opened up a business to help the railroad workers who had come from Japan, you know, for when they came in on the weekend so they could have a comfort, little bath. And then they would send them on their way to have a little swig of beer or whatever. And so it was, they had the, they ran the hotel business.

TM: So for the first hotel you don't recall the name of it, but do you know where it was located?

FP: It was located very close to Nihon town, to Japanese town. That's all I remember.

TM: For the second hotel, then, that they had as a business, do you know the name of that?

FP: It was called the Taylor Hotel.

TM: And where was that located?

FP: The Taylor Hotel is on about fifth and Taylor, and it's (still) on the same street except (...) on the right-hand street was Macy's (and) Meier & Frank's was. So they were in a choice part of town, which became choice time later. But it was close to the waterfront and close to the laborers coming in that needed to take a shower and a bath and have their clothes cleaned and so forth, and do whatever they had to.

TM: And were there other Japanese American businesses run and families living in this part of town?

FP: Yes. Uncle, who came to take care of Grandma, this is Uncle Mizuhata, because Grandma lost her husband very, very early.

TM: When did he pass away?

FP: (1918).

TM: Now, going back to your father, did he have siblings?

FP: Yes, yes. And Uncle Ro, which was the second son, Dad being the eldest when Grandpa died, was about four years old at the time, 'cause Dad was about eight. See, there was about four and four years. And then so the little guy was just, Uncle Nobi was just a little toddler. There was a big picture that hung in our hallway upstairs, and when I found it recently it was all torn up, and I need to get that recreated.

TM: So going back to Uncle Ro, he was born in, probably 1914 if he was four years after your father?

FP: Yes, because he was about the same age as Mom, and Mother was born in 1914.

TM: And then Uncle Nobi, he was born how many years later, or what year, do you know?

FP: Well, let's see, that would be eight years from Dad.

TM: So 1918?

FP: Probably somewhere around there, right. Because the picture that was taken, the large picture... this is what I'm speculating. I think that Dad, it was a beautiful, big huge picture about this large, and it hung in the hallway for years and year and years. And Dad was so proud of it. And I think that Dad, when... it had been ripped, you can tell it had been ripped. It wasn't just a corner broken off here and there. I think Dad was so upset when Uncle Ro and Uncle Nobi went before him, he wasn't expecting that at all, that I suspect he may have torn it. But I want that picture restored, I have the three or four pieces, so it's restorable, I'm sure.

TM: Going back to the Taylor Hotel, when your dad was growing up with his two brothers, with his parents and your grandparents all as a family there in the Taylor Hotel, did your dad describe what his childhood was like growing up in the hotel, in the community as well?

FP: Well, he became a man when Grandpa died in 1918 of a ruptured appendix. So he helped Grandma from the time he was eight years old because he went to an American school and he spoke English. Grandma spoke very little English even all throughout her life, she never learned too much. She spoke very little, right. So he was helping behind the counter and doing those things when people came in as a receptionist and so forth, and then he would do whatever handyman (do) or... I think even at an early age, I mean, if there was business that had to be negotiated, I think Dad was involved in it. Because he was always so responsible, and there was a reason that he was so responsible. He had to grow up so fast when he was eight years old.

TM: So there he was, your father, his two brothers, and your grandmother, your grandfather had passed away, running this business. A young man, he's the head of the household.

FP: Yes.

TM: Did he go to the Japanese language school at the time as well when he was working and going to regular school?

FP: Probably, because there was a strong educational component in Portland, so probably. But if he did, it was very limited because he could never, he depended on Mom to write Japanese letters and things. He might have for a while, but not for long, because he was needed so much at home.

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