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-01-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

TM: Okay, we're going to come back to the Taylor Hotel, but let's talk about your mother and her side of the family. Can you tell us what your grandparents' names were on your mother's side?

FP: Mother's name was Misao Korekiyo, and she had no middle name. Grandpa's name, I cannot remember his first name, but it's, his last name, of course, is Korekiyo.

TM: Do you know when and what year they were born?

FP: They were not too different in age from my other set of Grandma and... grandparents. Because their oldest son was about the same age as Dad, within a couple, two or three years.

TM: How about the place of birth for your grandparents in Japan?

FP: Okayama. And they were very clannish. The different cities that formed the kens, the provinces, they're called provinces rather than states, would tend to immigrate to the same cities, so they had a support system, right. So they went to Seattle and Mom and Dad came to Portland, or Grandma and Grandpa came to Portland.

TM: So were they married before they came to America, your grandparents on your mom's side?

FP: You know, it's so long ago, you just never assume. You don't know if it was commonlaw and they just came together, or if they had an official marriage. They probably did, that's all I know.

TM: Probably arranged after your grandfather came to America, do you think?

FP: That I don't know. I don't know for sure.

TM: For your grandparents on your mom's side, their families, and what, were they living in a village, were they farmers?

FP: They were farmers in the outskirts of Seattle.

TM: Well, in Japan, their families in Japan.

FP: Yes, they were farmers, right.

TM: Okay. So for your grandparents on your mother's side, you're not sure when they arrived, or do you know roughly when they might have arrived in America?

FP: I read a history one time of the Seattle area, and it was around 1905. So within five or six years when the other set of grandparents came.

TM: And before your mother was born, what did your grandparents do as a business or occupation?

FP: Okay. They were, they would raise pigs, and they would go around to the hotels, and they would collect all the vegetable garbage and feed it to their hogs. And it might be that Grandma made like a barbequed pork or roasted pork or something with some of the pork and then deliver it to, that I don't know. But I know in Seattle that was very common. Like there would be a tofu man that shows up at your door, and in Hawaii, what Larry, my husband, said was, the pork man would show up at our door every two weeks or something like that. So traditionally, they often did that, they made homemade products. And they delivered, like, tofu to the... 'cause by that time there were a lot of Japanese families, you know, that needed to eat ethnic food.

TM: So they went around the hotels and actually delivered tofu.

FP: Maybe. Because that was a common practice. Or pork, barbequed pork, if they were raising pork, I don't know.

TM: But that was in Seattle's Japantown. And the farm that they had, was that just on the outskirts of Seattle?

FP: Yes, yes. It was either in Auburn or Kent, and I think it was the one that they had for many years, they had ten acres in Kent, Washington. Right.

TM: Was that where your mother was born?

FP: Yes, yes.

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

FP: Misao Korekiyo.

TM: And her date of birth?

FP: Her date of birth was May 10, 1914.

TM: And how many siblings did your mother have?

FP: Let's see. One sibling died, and then there's my uncle Tsuyoshi, who was the eldest, around Dad's age. And then... let's see... oh, and two sisters, right, who were very fortunate, they got an American education and they got to stay in America, they never got sent over to Japan. So there were some hard feelings there.

TM: Can you explain that a little bit further? Who was sent to Japan?

FP: Okay, who was sent? My mother, the younger brother, and Tsuyoshi may have gone for a short time. But for sure the younger brother who died of diarrhea from eating persimmons, that's the story, from eating persimmons. And he was just a young toddler, but he got left.

TM: And where did he die?

FP: In Japan.

TM: In Japan.

FP: Right.

TM: How long was your, how long was your mother in Japan and who was she living with?

FP: She was in Japan from the time she was about four or five to the time she was twenty-one, right. And in that time, she was very fortunate; she got to learn some English because Grandpa would send back money regularly. His purpose was to acculturate his children in Japan, the eldest children. So then Mother got to go to a Catholic school run by Notre Dame. And there she met one of her favorite nuns named Frances, and that's who I'm named after. So I'm a Buddhist named after a Catholic nun -- not a Catholic nun, but a...

TM: Saint.

FP: Saint, right, going back even further to the saint, like Francis of Assisi. So I used to get teased a lot. [Laughs]

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