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

<Begin Segment 1>

TM: Today's date is Friday, June 13, 2014. We're conducting this interview at the Oregon Buddhist Church in Portland, Oregon. This interview is being conducted by the Oregon Nikkei Endowment as part of the Minidoka Oral History Project. There are two observers present in the room, Janet Kakishita and Cameron Boyd. Our camera operator is Ian McCluskey from Northwest Documentary, I'm the interviewer, Todd Mayberry, and today we're interviewing Frances Sumida Palk. Okay, Fran, we're going to actually start with your father's side of the family. Can you tell me what your grandparents' names were on that side?

FP: Sumida was my grandpa's name, the one that came over from Japan.

TM: And what was his full name?

FP: Yukio Sumida. And Grandmother, who was married to Yukio, her name was Mizuhata. Oh, and her name was Tsuneta, right, from Mizuhata. So I will be mentioning Mizuhata as we go along, because it was a dear aunt. Not a dear aunt, a dear uncle.

TM: And what's the date of births for both of your grandparents on your father's side?

FP: Let's see. Grandmother's is on the grave, and it's 1988, and I think Grandpa's was about '87.

TM: 1888 and 1887?

FP: Right, not 19.

TM: And how about the places of birth for both of them?

FP: Okayama-ken. And they were farmers, so it would be up in the mountains and in the rural areas around Okayama.

TM: For your grandfather, what was his rank and age?

FP: What was his age?

TM: Was he the oldest brother or the middle one, or...

FP: He was definitely not the eldest brother, because the eldest brother would have stayed at home. It was the younger brothers who needed property that came to the U.S. And so he came, and within a short period, there were three brothers, so they might have come off the same ship. (...) One went, one was adopted by his wife's side, his name was Mita, and he moved over to Chicago, okay. And then the other (two) were named Sumida.

TM: What did your grandfather's family, you said they were farmers in Japan?

FP: Yes.

TM: And so your grandfather and his brothers came to America roughly around...

FP: In the early 1900s, around circa 1905 through about 1908.

TM: And do you know where they arrived?

FP: In Portland. Oh, they may have landed in Seattle. I don't know exactly, but I have read that some immigrants came in through Seattle, and some immigrants came in through California. And maybe it was, if our seaport was large and deep enough at the time, they might have come directly here. I never did find that out.

TM: And for your grandfather and your grandmother, when did they marry?

FP: In the old country, and Grandma was very young when she had Dad. She was, they had Dad in 1910, so let's say that she came over mid, early 1900s, okay, and then we were calculating the other day it would be about sixteen or seventeen when she had my father, you know. So it was, they were married in the old country, that's all I know.

TM: Okay, so your grandparents came together to America as a married couple.

FP: Yes, they did, yes.

TM: Okay.

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

<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.

<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.

<Begin Segment 4>

TM: So with your mother, she went to Japan with your, her younger brother as well. Who was with her? Was there a grandparent with her?

FP: To take them over?

TM: Well, when she was in, when she was in Japan.

FP: Right. It was... let's see, it was over to our grandparents' side, and I'm not sure if it was Dad's mother and father or Grandma's mother and father, but she got left with a grandmother who raised her from four to five years old up to twenty-one, although she did go to attend high school in Okayama. She had to come into the city from the hills and the rural areas to attend.

TM: And that was a school run by Notre Dame?

FP: Yes. And then after that, the fine ladies in Japan, culture-wise, would learn stitchery. They would learn fine music on the koto, that's the very long stringed instrument on the floor, and/or they would be sent to... depending on the status and culture, they would be given a, like, sewing for if you were, like, maybe from the lower farm group or something.

TM: Did your mom talk about her feelings living there and growing up there away from her family?

FP: Oh, she was... right at first she was so unhappy to be left there. And so she has traumatic memories of being abandoned in a closet, where, oh, she screamed and screamed for hours. And she often said, "Fran, I will never, ever leave a child behind." And so she just swore that she would never abandon me or do anything like that to me. So I felt secure in that aspect, you know.

TM: What time period was she left in the closet? Was this when her father was returning back to America and leaving her there?

FP: Yes, right. Some time, maybe a couple hours, I don't know. But it was so traumatic for her, she never forgot it. Right.

TM: So you said your mother was in Japan 'til she was twenty-one.

FP: Right.

TM: So when did she come back to America?

FP: She came back at twenty-one, and by then she was, she was a fairly educated young lady. And she was fortunate because most young women at that time did not receive a high school education, and this was when she was, what, about fourteen or fifteen, and that would be in the twenties.

TM: So she graduated from high school.

FP: Yes, she did. She did.

TM: And what year did she come back to America?

FP: I can't remember exactly, but we can add twenty-one to, in 1914, add twenty-one. So that'd be 1934... would be twenty years.

TM: Right.

FP: Right. So anyway, it was shortly... well, and then twenty-one, 1935, that's about right. That's about right.


TM: So your mother retuned when she was twenty-one to America. Did she go to live with her parents?

FP: Yes.

TM: On the farm in Kent, or Auburn?

FP: Right, right. But, at that time, they were raising two other daughters that were still at home, and they were struggling farmers, so they decided to marry Mom off. And she was very eligible because she was considered fairly educated, and she had had sewing school and everything. And the other grandma, the one in Portland, Dad's side, was looking for a wife for Dad, but there was a component there, there was a catch there. She wanted a wife that could labor beside them, you know, mend clothes. And she passed the bill because she could certainly mend clothes, and she was physically strong, she could make the beds in the hotel, right. And, of course, she could speak perfect English to my grandma which was really nice. But, I mean, compared to today, where women are so free to go and pursue their own paths, the difference was almost like a little bit, a notch or so above slavery, you know. It was just, it was a hard life on Mom, and she got browbeat a lot, because that's what mother-in-laws would do, they would browbeat their daughter-in-laws to no end, because they were just, the women were just not highly regarded at that time. So she did get used almost as a... well, I would say probably more like a servant. And so Grandma had a choice in that selection of when the matchmaker at Bainbridge Island off of Seattle arranged... because the matchmaker's name was Sumida, the same name was my dad, dad's side. And so the matchmaker did match them up, and this was, I think, within a year or so of when Mom came back. And Mom was a bit bitter about that, she said she felt like, "My folks don't even want me, they just want to marry me off." And there was, there was that element, yes, because they were raising two daughters on the farm yet who were young, who were young teens, right. So, I mean, that element does play into it, that you have to have saleable skills to get married so you could serve as a good servant.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

TM: So your mom finds herself at the Taylor Hotel living with her husband, now newlywed, and she's working in the hotel, it's a hard life.

FP: Right. Oh, and I have to make note, it's an aside, but it's important. They lived together, they loved each other. But you know, in those arranged marriages, oftentimes love blooms, you know. Oh, they were a devoted couple. They were married for sixty-two years, and I never saw the two of them quarrel, they just loved each other.

TM: That's amazing. For your parents, in the Taylor Hotel, did they have other businesses in the 1930s? Were they involved with anything, your father, any other type of work that he was doing?

FP: Yes. Dad was, Uncle Mizuhata was in town to kind of mentor Grandma, to kind of guide Grandma because there was no man about. So he combined with Mr. Mizuhata, my uncle, and they opened up a small mom and pop store on about Twenty-seventh and Sandy Boulevard, where today, there is a H&B loan store, which is a pawn shop where they take, and they advertise that they take in silver and gold and so forth and so on. But it was a nice, I went in and looked around. It was a nice size little shop, and he was often behind the butcher counter, butchering.

TM: Did it, for the shop, to describe it, there was a butcher shop portion of it? Were there vegetables that were being sold?

FP: Oh, yes, it was general purpose. And then they did fine, the market did fine until Safeway came in, and that was just too much competition.

TM: So it was your father, his uncle, and were his brothers involved with the shop as well?

FP: They were very young at the time. So they might have been, it was a family business, so they were probably going in and out, maybe making deliveries, but they were kind of behind the scenes because they were much younger.

TM: And your mother and grandmother, were they working or spending any time at the grocery store as well as the hotel?

FP: Not too much, not too much. They were very busy with the Taylor Hotel, right.

TM: And do you know who the customers were for the grocery store?

FP: It was the people in that area, okay, so it would be the, what we call the hakujins, the Caucasian customers that would come in. And so for a few years, they did fine.

TM: The Taylor Hotel, who was staying there?

FP: The Taylor Hotel? It was often... it was a mixed, mixed crowd, okay. But it was people primarily, that worked. Like on the weekend, the laborers would come in and want to clean up and so forth. Uncle Mizuhata and his wife opened up a bathhouse. And I know at the ONE that there are photos of the bathhouse and so forth, and that's what Mr. Mizuhata and his wife did. Okay, so Grandma was still running the hotel, and Mr. Mizuhata was close by, this is in Japantown. And if you walk to... you know, Taylor Hotel's within walking distance to wherever Japantown is, right. It's very close. It's where the big Chinese lions are, the entrance to Japan and Chinatown, right.

TM: So for the Taylor Hotel, who owned that hotel, or what was that situation?

FP: It was an Italian gentleman named Amato who owned a lot of property in early Portland. And then they were the, and Grandma was the manager. Years later, she did receive a small compensation reparation for the business, but Grandma was never the same. She loved that hotel. So she was never the same, and she always wanted my dad to find a hotel for her that she could run, it was always in the back of her mind until she passed away at age seventy-one.

TM: We're going to come back to that and those details.

FP: Okay.

TM: The grocery store, was that leased or owned?

FP: It was... I don't know about the grocery store, but I know that Taylor Hotel was leased from Mr. Amato.

TM: How long was the grocery store run by your family?

FP: Let's see. I think the 19... see, Mom and Dad got married in about, what, mid-'30s? They lost their first son, and then I was the second child that was conceived. It was stillborn, the first one. So that was probably in about '36, they lost their first son, and then I was born in 1939. So they were married probably about 1935 or '36, okay. And I think... and in that time, that first child was conceived and born in '36 or '37. By '37, definitely, I think. Right.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

TM: So you, what was the date of your birth?

FP: July 31, 1939.

TM: And what was your full name at birth?

FP: Frances Yoshiko Sumida, and Yoshiko means sweet smelling like a flower.

TM: And the significance of Frances is, as you explained earlier, you were named after a Catholic saint. [Laughs]

FP: Yes, yes. But it got to be an onus to me in high school. I didn't want people teasing me and ribbing me about being a saint, so I changed it to Fran, right, which was more Americanized.

TM: You came up with the name Fran, the short name of it?

FP: Yes, uh-huh.

TM: Now, at the time of your birth, the grocery store was no longer being operated, is that the case? Had your father moved on to any other...

FP: Yes, yes. He had, about that time, when the grocery store closed... but I think, if I remember correctly, he had, my Uncle Mizuhata was strongheaded, and he had a fight. He had a disagreement and a falling out with Uncle Mizuhata. And then he went and hired on with another relative named Mark Sumida. And Mark Sumida would send representatives all around the Oregon and Washington area and sell seed. And then later, Mark grew his famous gladiolas to sell nationwide, but this was when Uncle Mark was just starting out.

TM: And that was in Eastern Oregon, Uncle Mark, his business later?

FP: Yes, yes.

TM: After you were born, did you have any other brothers and sisters?

FP: I had my one brother, and for a long time it was hard to share that, because he is severely mentally retarded.

TM: What is his name?

FP: His name is Richard, and his nickname is Dickie, but for obvious reasons we don't use Dickie. [Laughs]

TM: And when was he born? Do you know his date of birth?

FP: He was born September 1, 1940, he's a year and so, and a few months, well, two months apart from myself.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

TM: So with December 7, 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, leading into the evacuation, you had mentioned your family still had the Taylor Hotel, and you talked about your grandmother and how she felt losing that. Do you, did your parents ever share, or your grandmother ever share memories about what happened during that time, the fear, worries, confusion?

FP: Right, right. Because they... not an awful lot, but you know, some, like they could only take one suitcase per person, and so the most traumatic thing to me that rebounds to today is they had to burn all their Japanese artifacts that marked them as of Japanese heritage. And the one that was very precious to me now would be there was a large set of the emperor and empress, and the court from Japan, and that was burned because obviously they couldn't take it with them with one suitcase. And it would also mark them as being traitorous if they saw, if the authorities came and saw the statues and the dolls of the emperor and empress and the court.

TM: Was that your hinamatsuri set?

FP: Right, it was.

TM: For Girl's Day.

FP: Yes, it was.

TM: And who bought that? Was that a gift from your grandmother or your parents? Do you know anything about where it came from?

FP: I don't know exactly. I don't know exactly. So it was probably a gift from the grandparents up in Seattle, I'm thinking. But I'm guessing on that, I don't know for sure.

TM: Was your... at this time, was your father involved in any Japanese American organizations?

FP: Yes, he was in the JACL, Japanese American Citizens League. And he was quite, he was quite active. And he was one of the founding people of the JACL.

TM: Do you know when he became a member?

FP: Let's see. It would be when he was in his twenties. I was born when he was twenty-nine, right, so it was when he was in his twenties, and he was a young man, that Mom said, "He drank a lot and he loved to run around a lot," I mean, you know, sowing his oats, right.

TM: What about your mother? Was she involved in any groups, or did her social life at this time, did she do anything but work?

FP: Well, I think she might have been doing some handcraft, because she was very skilled. She went to that sewing school and they did fine embroidery and everything like that, and sewing. So Mom was a very competent seamstress all her life, and would often sew most of my clothes and her clothes, right. And so, you know, in those days, often hard work was considered their entertainment, you know, and a leisurely outlet like sewing or embroidery, she would do these beautiful pieces of embroidery. She bought one from Japan, it's a complete scene that's embroidered with fine stitchery, and it's right over my mantle today, and it has a samurai who's stopping for a drink of water at a waterfalls. And there's a story involved with that, but I do not remember that.

TM: So at this time period as well, you're just toddlers, you and your brother.

FP: Yes.

TM: And were your parents attending, and your grandmother, were they attending church, or what church were they attending?

FP: Well, when they did, they attended the Henjyoji Daihon Buddhist Temple.

TM: Temple.

FP: Right, right. And so that's how I was introduced to Buddhism, was of course you go where your mom and dad go, with a short stint at the, at a very fundamentalist church right on the corner. It was the Chinese Baptist Church.

TM: And that was later, much later.

FP: Yes, yes, when I was born, so you could ask me later.

TM: Okay, so packing only what you can carry. Do you know how you and your family ended up at the assembly center, how you got there?

FP: Probably by bus or car, maybe. Because there's pictures in ONE of people boarding a bus and taking one bag. Those are well-known pictures in the museum.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

TM: So early May, 1942, your family is at the assembly center in Portland. And do you know the circumstances when they left the Taylor Hotel, do you know if anyone said goodbye to them, those that were staying there, the family that owned the hotel, do you know the circumstances, were those ever shared with you?

FP: They lost a lot. But I imagine they put things in storage that were awful loss, because Dad was starting all over again, basically. So there was very little left, if any. And some Japanese families had a tougher time than others. If they had very, very good friends who would take in their things and kept it for them, that would be great, but then there were others that were not so lucky. They came back and all their possessions were gone. So there was quite a difference there.

TM: Did your parents ever share memories of what it was like raising you and your brother at the assembly center, what life was like there?

FP: Yes. I remember very... oh, the assembly center? I don't remember. I just don't remember, other than what was passed on to me from Mother and Father. I do remember that... and I read afterwards, and then Mother confirmed this. She said, oh, the stench was just horrible, because it was at the Pacific Expo, and the boards were laid over manure from the horses and cows, sheeps and goat, and we had to endure it. So it was, the odor was really hot. It was hot and sultry and that would make more of the odor come up through the cracks, so it made it very difficult.

TM: Did your parents ever share what they did as far as activities at the assembly center or any other memories at all that they shared any part of at the assembly center?

FP: I don't remember an awful lot there. And it was before my memory developed.

TM: Well, just even stories that they might have shared with you later in life.

FP: Right, right. But that was all for sure I remembered was the terrible odor, and the waiting and waiting and not doing anything, that was pretty horrible.

TM: And so just to get a picture here, your grandmother, your parents, you and your brother, your two uncles were there as well at the assembly center? Is that the case?

FP: Let's see, at the assembly center. Probably, probably. But, see, I was only a year, not even a year old. So, let's see... no, wait, wait. I was born in 1939, so I would be two years old. Just barely beginning to remember things on the cusp. And then after, from there on back, it's from what Mom and Dad shared with me, and what I have observed at the museum for example.

TM: So which camp did you go to with your family?

FP: Minidoka, which was just a thrill to me about three or four years ago, I got to introduce my son. This is, we were on the way to Yellowstone, and we made a side trip, and it took about two or three hours but we found Minidoka, so we had a pilgrimage there.

TM: That's great, we're going to talk about later.

FP: Right.

TM: So what block did your family live in?

FP: I believe it was 31.

TM: And what were your living quarters like? Do you recall your early memories of your living quarters?

FP: Yes, yes, because memories started to come in about, it was, what, about September, and I would be September of '42, three years, okay.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

TM: Can you describe while you were at Minidoka any memories that you might have of your living quarters?

FP: Yes, yes. It was very uncomfortable, and the walls that were created if we packed the whole family in there with extended members would be just blankets hanging there. And cold, cold, cold. And I'll never forget the dust, the dust and windstorms, and mother trying to protect me by wrapping me around, her coat around me as we went to the latrine and/or the cafeteria. And, let's see... oh, I do remember like an incident where my little brother was, we were out on our trip, just either walking around, and we were near the barbed wire gate. And my little brother Dickie heard something, it was a rattlesnake rattling its coils, and he was starting to crawl towards it, and we got, my mom got to him right away. Oh, that was so shocking that it reminds me, my other memories are... they're odd memories, but they're traumatic to you as a young child. I remember being potty trained by my Auntie Mizuhata, and let's see, and things like that. And the cafeteria, I remember the long, long set tables, okay, and there was one very kind of a bulky, strong guy, a Japanese guy that was serving as a waiter or a cook, and he would bring, if we went a few minutes early he would bring us some tempura sweet potato, right. So we grew quite attached to him. Later it turned out that he was a gangster, kind of like mafia style, you know. But he loved the youngsters, he would bring tempura sweet potatoes to us, 'cause he knew that we loved it. Because, really, there wasn't much in the way of treats for us, you know, right.

TM: Do you remember any play activities, or did you have any toys at that time?

FP: I don't remember much in toys. What we did were maybe from branches and twigs or whatever, you know. And then, well, of course, we'd play things like jumping rope or something like that. But then, let's see... but mostly when you're about three years old, you're under the skirts of your parents. And by that time Dad was gone. After a period of time, Dad was transferred over to Anderson Dam. He was considered trustworthy enough as a foreign alien to be transferred to Anderson Dam where he had, where he had skills as an accountant. So that's what he did at Anderson Dam, and then visit us occasionally, like on the weekend or so, right.

TM: And Anderson Dam is in Idaho?

FP: Yes, not too far from Minidoka.

TM: Did you have friends and relatives, family friends and relatives in your block or there in the...

FP: Yes, yes.

TM: And who were the relatives, the other relatives that you might not have mentioned?

FP: Well, my Uncle Mizuhata and his wife, and his two children, right. And then there were other friends there that occasionally Mom would recall, and she said, "Oh, we were in camp together," you know. And she would introduce me. And it was a close, tight-knit community, just really tight-knit. It was like the attitude was -- and this was partly cultural, too, the Japanese tend to be somewhat, very supportive and community oriented, you know. So the ones that had been trained were the local nurses and the local, well, the doctors, the Nisei were a little young to be, have really highly trained people like doctors. But the local nurses and the local teachers would often teach... of course, it was right before I started kindergarten. I do remember in the Minidoka Interlude book that we have, that we have that. And that we did have a unity built up there. So that affected me. So for the rest of my life, I realized that working together collectively and being community oriented, you can do things that you cannot do individually, and you keep each other's moral support up in times of very difficult trials like camp was.

TM: For your father, he was working at Anderson Dam and coming home and visiting occasionally on weekends?

FP: Right.

TM: Your mother and your grandmother, what were they doing with their time? Were they just concentrating on raising you kids?

FP: Right. Most of it was just concentrating and raising me. And I think they were involved with their lady friends. You know, where they could go walking along... or they might have had a type of job, like there was a farm there where they raised crops. And when we went to our personal pilgrimage to Minidoka, it showed. This area here was a crop farm where everybody, where the community went to raise their crops and things. So they might have been doing the gardening or something like this, or working in the kitchen. It soon became almost self-sustaining.

TM: So for you, going back to your earliest memories, do you have any other vivid memories that you can think of at all?

FP: Let's see. Lot of blowing wind, dust, dust, dust everywhere.

TM: Cold?

FP: Right, right. And... that's okay, it'll come back.

TM: Do you remember a feeling at the time about this place? Or even looking back about, did your parents ever talk to you about why you were in camp later, or even then?

FP: They tried to avoid the subject. For a long time they wouldn't discuss it. It was like, "Oh, it's behind us, it's behind us, let's move on, let's move on." And, "Let's integrate, let's integrate." And not just integrate, but actually assimilate, assimilate. And so that thought came through quite strongly, right. And so maybe that was a helpful feeling because the Japanese believe highly in education, you know. And so we were geared toward, "Get a good education." And then in terms of, like, Grandpa would often say, "Oh, we've got to educate our children so that they won't go hungry." And so being that mentality of a farmer, he would say, "Okay," his thinking was more like community college level training, you know. So one aunt is a very meticulous seamstress, and uses her skills to... and she was in sales with that, for the neighborhood and things. And then the other was, maybe for the older teenagers, maybe mechanics or something like this.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

TM: Going back to camp and that time period, on your father's side, your grandparents, where were they?

FP: Grandpa was gone, he died in 1918.

TM: On that side.

FP: Right, right. And Grandma was struggling to raise three boys all by herself.

TM: I'm sorry, my mistake. Scratch that. On your mother's side, your grandparents up, outside of Seattle, where were they during...

FP: During camp years? They were in camp with us. Now, the only people in our area that didn't go to camp with us were the "no-no" men, the ones that would not sign the paper saying, "Oh, I'm willing to serve for my country, and I'm willing to abandon whatever ties there are to Japan." And it was important that they signed that paper, because if they did not, or if they checked "no" on there, then they were considered "no-no" men. And it's kind of hush-hush, but if you were a "no-no" person, but, you know, young people choose to live out what they believe, and so there were some "no-no" men that were shipped to Tule Lake. And the early seizures of our people, like not Uwajimaya, but Anzen, who were leaders in our community, they were shipped off, separated right away, immediately, probably around late December or January they were shipped off to Tule Lake, and it was difficult because the families were often split up. And (the Anzen, Matsushima), Dad was in Tule Lake and the rest of (the family) were in Minidoka, right. So that was a difficult time (for the Matsushima family).

TM: Your father was in Tule Lake?

FP: No. My dad was at Anderson Dam.

TM: You said, "Dad was at Tule Lake." Who was at Tule Lake?

FP: Oh, oh. Anzen's dad, Matsushima. Mr. Matsushima, I know, when there, okay. And then there were some other leaders that (eventually became) old and gray, and leaders in the community. And I'm thinking up in Hood River, (many Americans) had a lot of animosity and discrimination, (toward) some of their (Japanese) leaders that helped them build their (Mt. Hood) community, (the Japanese there also) got shipped off (to Tule Lake). There's a wonderful book called Stubborn Twig, and it describes (the Japanese experience).

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

<Begin Segment 11>

TM: Well, I'm going to go back to your parents and who they were as people. And they were loving, they had a loving relationship, and were they gentle and kind people, your parents?

FP: Yes, yes.

TM: And what was your father like, his personality?

FP: Very stoic. And the first time he ever hugged me was when I was in high school, at Washington High School. And there was a program, it was like it was daughter-father day. And the assignment was, the person that was the emcee said, "Oh, give your daughter a big hug." So that's the first time in my life I got a hug from my dad. Otherwise, he was always so stoic and never showed his expression, and kept anger and so forth aside from his life. Or it's kind of like the Japanese movies that you see. It's not verbalized, but you read the picture. You get to be, it's the nonverbal culture. It's like you see a person and you know that they're nervous because they'll be going like this, wringing their hands and stuff, and you know that they're worried. So then you make inquiries, "Well, gee, why are you so worried?" And that plays a big role in Japanese culture. The American culture is quite vocal and very confrontive, but the Japanese culture is not that.

TM: For your mother, what was her personality like?

FP: Mother was a very gentle being. She was just very sweet and kind, and a hard worker. So, but that was difficult because she was raised as a real dutiful daughter. Because when she got married, oh, my word. I think she rarely stuck up for herself, she did everything that was asked of her to do.

TM: Can you describe what their relationship was like?

FP: Mother and Father's relationship? Very loving. They lived happily together, and they had sixty-two years of marriage, and it was an arranged marriage. So it's very surprising for an arranged marriage. But arranged marriages can and do work out, because usually the matchmaker will kind of match the personalities, and they'll match up people that... I mean, I imagine they look into genetic types of things, I mean, I'm sure they do. I mean, informally it passes down through the generation, "Don't marry into that family." They've got genetic thing, bad genes for this or that or whatever. And things like that came out. But then, for the continuation of the culture and the race, that is kind of a protective (reaction) that occurs. And it does prevent a lot of genetic things. But this is where we have a question mark in our minds. My brother, who's severely retarded, we always wonder. The matchmaking... my mother and father were very distant cousins who was matchmade by Mr. Sumida on Bainbridge Island. And even if they were distant cousins, did they pass on a recessive type of gene where my brother was born genetically flawed? So that's always in the back of your mind.

TM: You and your brother were raised by this loving couple, gentle, stoic father. How would you say your parents, in your observations, how did they deal with difficult situations?

FP: Well, in general, I only saw Mom (break down and cry one) time in her life. They would just deal with it. It was like, okay, and this is where stoicism does have a protective quality. You don't just break down into pieces and cry and let your emotions get away with you. Okay, the attitude is, "This, too, will pass, we will get through this." And that's how Mom and Dad's attitude always turned out to be, "We will get through this, we will get through this," instead of being all upset about being sent to camp and so forth, and breaking down in tears and having an emotional breakdown. Because there are some (Japanese) families that did have emotional breakdowns. The fathers sometimes committed, they felt useless because their occupation was gone, and here they lost their whole livelihood, and they had nothing to do at camp, so they committed suicide. They would run into the barbed wire fence and the guards would shoot them. And I think that happened occasionally as well in Tule Lake, it probably happened some more, because of the (incarcerated) people that were, the "no-no" people and the leaders of the community that just felt utterly useless and had lost everything.

TM: With your mother, the incident where she broke down in tears?

FP: Oh, later on, she and Grandma would... when Mother got a little older and she started to come into her own, she had quite a disagreement, falling out with Grandma. And so that's the only time, and then she, and then she ran away and ran up to Seattle to live with her (family), you know (for) two or three weeks. And then she came to her senses and came back (home).

TM: When was that?

FP: That must have been like in the '40s or the '50s.

TM: Going back to camp, when did your family leave Minidoka?

FP: They left in, they were there in Minidoka about maybe a couple years, okay, because... now, see, that was in, we were moved to Minidoka in September of '42. And then by late '44 or early '45, so it may be two years, two and a half years, we stayed in Minidoka until the two uncles who were in uniform and could be trusted (by the American public) because they had fought valiantly for our country, went inland. So they went and settled at a place in Minneapolis that we could go to, so we wouldn't have to keep living the life of a, as a POW in the internment camp. So they opened up Minneapolis for us, and so Dad went and joined them and brought the rest of us there.

TM: Just a pause here, your father, his two brothers, your two uncles, were in service, is that correct?

FP: My father wasn't.

TM: But your father, his two brothers, your two uncles?

FP: Yes, yes, my two uncles were definitely in uniform.

TM: Nobi and Ro?

FP: Yes.

TM: And can you tell us briefly what, were they in MIS or 442nd?

FP: Yes. My Uncle Ro was in the midst of it. He came home with more than one Purple Heart, and he was in the Italy, France and Germany area, you know, where they shipped them around. And so he was in the 442nd, right. And he was awarded, recently, a Gold Medal, so I purchased one of the replica Gold Medals.

TM: The Congressional Gold Medal?

FP: Yes, yes.

TM: And Uncle Nobi, he was...

FP: He was trained at the Monterey language school, which Dad pointed out when we went to Monterey, California, way after the war for a vacation. And so he was sent to the Asian Theater. And in the Asian Theater, he was one of our secret weapons, because he could integrate and speak Japanese, so he probably interrogated. He couldn't say much because it was very hushed. But later he said, "I interrogated the Japanese prisoners as they came through."

TM: So he was in the Pacific Theater as part of the Military Intelligence Service.

FP: Right, right.

TM: Interesting.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

TM: Well, going back to Minneapolis, and going from Minidoka to Minneapolis, do you recall -- I know you were very young at the time -- but do you recall if your parents explained where you were going? Or do you recall that time of actually leaving camp and how you got to Minneapolis?

FP: Yes, we got there by train. And every time I would ride the train, I would get, very young, I get motion sick easily, and I would be throwing up and throwing up and throwing up until I'd finally start spitting up blood. And so Dad was so worried, he would take me out every single (train spot) and then we (...) took the train back to Portland, too. (...)

TM: Well, let's talk about that a little bit after your return back to Portland. But going back to Minneapolis, a rough journey for you in particular. And you said that your family ended up in Minneapolis because your two uncles had found... how did they find, or what were the circumstances of going, "Oh, well, Minneapolis is it, let's go to Minneapolis."

FP: Right, because the West Coast, and especially Portland was closed down (to the Japanese Americans) for our returning. So we went the opposite way when it was open. And we stayed there, let's see, from... there were three years that I can remember because I did kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.

TM: And where did you live in Minneapolis?

FP: We lived near a place called Loring Park, and that was a wonderful, wonderful park, and it would freeze over in the winter. And there's pictures of me bundled up like a little bear. And I do look like a little bear, because I had this fur cap on, and it was all in brown. So I looked like this little overstuffed bear on the ice, on these really inexpensive blades, you know, skating. So that was wonderful. And I had friends my age.

TM: Who were your friends?

FP: Oh, okay, I have one favorite lady who looked me up afterwards and did write me a letter and I wrote her back, but then after that we lost track. Her name was Dolly Kennick, who was same age as me. And that was the manager's daughter.

TM: Can you tell me about her family and what manager? Was it an apartment house that you lived in?

FP: Yes, yes, right. And it was an apartment with the bathroom down the hall from, and the water for cooking and everything. You know, it was, it was very primitive, because they had to carry water to our temporary kitchen to wash dishes and everything like that. It was quite primitive. But then, you don't complain, you know, we just, we bore with it, right.

TM: Who was living, how many rooms in the apartment were there that you were living in, and who was living with you? Was it just your brother and you and Mom and Dad and grandma, or uncles?

FP: Right, right. And the uncles had apartments in, probably on the (same) floor with us, but this was a building that had either two or three stories, right. And probably took up, it didn't take up a whole block, maybe a half a block to a third of a block, right.

TM: And who ran the hotel?

FP: Mrs. Kennick.

TM: Can you tell us a little bit about her?

FP: Mrs. Kennick was this wonderful, warm-hearted woman, and we're fortunate that my two uncles found her, because she was not prejudiced at all, when every other person we ran into was prejudiced. And she kind of took us under her wing, and so that was extremely helpful, very supportive lady, yeah, very nice.

TM: Did she have a husband?

FP: Yes, she was separated. He was an alcoholic, and I think his name was Patrick, but he was a, right, hardcore alcoholic. And there were stories that she would say that she got beaten and abused by her husband.

TM: Who were your neighbors in this apartment building besides family?

FP: Oh, that I don't remember.

TM: You mentioned there was, there were not very friendly people. Was there discrimination, do you recall incidents?

FP: Let's see. Well, we just kind of kept to ourselves, so we didn't really make that many friends. We did know Mrs. Kennick and we were close to her, and I was close to her daughter, right. And what we did in Minidoka, probably the next question is, "What did you do?" in, not Minidoka, Minneapolis. Winter we would go ice skating for sure at Loring Park, and Todd, you said that you had been to Loring Park and you knew where it was. And then in the spring and summer, Mom would entertain us. We'd get on a bus or the trolley, whatever it was, and travel all around the city for a whole day. And that, to us, was entertainment. I don't remember going to movies or having TV, but we looked forward to that.

TM: Was it a cold and hot place as well?

FP: Yes, yes, it was. Summers were scorching hot and blistery hot, and you were just perspiring all the time. And winter, of course, was opposite, to know that there was Loring Park, that's completely frozen ice, which is not the case in Portland. I only know of (in Portland) once or twice when the water at the golf course froze over and we could go and skate on it.

TM: Do you remember other Japanese American families in Minneapolis, or playmates?

FP: Yes, my uncle. My uncle and his aunt, the Mizuhatas, the one that used to own the grocery store, okay. They were with us. And I think they were down the hall, but we would celebrate holidays with them and support each other.

TM: So you'd celebrate New Year's?

FP: [Speaking to someone off camera] Hi, Betty Jean.

TM: And you would celebrate New Year's, and what holidays were you celebrating?

FP: Well, you know what? The Japanese celebrate, many Japanese families celebrate Christmas, it's a big deal, and Thanksgiving. So we were Americanized in that sense.

TM: So you...

FP: And we had a Christmas tree, yeah, right.

TM: A big Thanksgiving dinner as well?

FP: Yes, probably.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

TM: Going to school, you were in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade while you were in Minneapolis.

FP: Yes, yes.

TM: Can you talk about the racial makeup of your class, your schoolmates? Were they hakujin?

FP: Right, most of them were Caucasian, okay. But there was one part of Vanport that --

TM: In Minneapolis.

FP: Oh, in Minneapolis, I'm sorry. I wandered over to Vanport. Let's see. Well, there was my friend, Dolly Kennick, who was my age. I wanted to do everything she did, but, you know, that's not realistic. But, oh, she was wonderful.

TM: What did you want to do?

FP: Oh, one time I wanted to be in a wedding party with her, and I remember I almost cried because I didn't get to go to the wedding. And it was her family wedding, but, you know, it's like, "Dolly, you get to do something that I don't get to do?"

TM: And why couldn't you do it?

FP: Well, that's not appropriate for some outside family member to all of a sudden pop up. And being in a wedding, you know, right.

TM: In school, do you remember any teachers that you liked?

FP: I remember my kindergarten teacher slightly, just very slightly. And, let's see... and I can't remember her name. I don't remember names until I get to third grade. And by that time, we were back at Vanport city, which is right outside of Portland.

TM: Do you recall any classmates, anyone, any classmates, young, memories of any classmates ever asking where you were from?

FP: Probably, but not a lot. And then at that time, like my folks' thoughts were of assimilation, assimilation and integration, especially assimilation. And up to five years old, I never spoke any English. It was a shock for me to go into kindergarten and not be able to understand the teacher. And she had given a command, "Please bring the chair here," because we were in a circle, you know, like reading stories or something, and I misunderstood. I thought, "Oh, she doesn't like me." So I took the chair and sat in the corner because I thought, "Oh, she's punishing me," or something, you know. And I went and sat in the corner.

TM: How did you learn English?

FP: Well, yeah, I just... it came gradually during that period.

TM: In Minneapolis?

FP: Yes. And Grandma, my mother was raised, remember, at the Notre Dame high school (in Okayama-ken), so she would speak some English to me, and then, but mostly Japanese. But the expectation was that I would answer in English.

TM: And how about your father? Did he speak to you in English as well at that time?

FP: Right, because he was a Nisei. Mom was a (Kibei), hanbun Issei. Hanbun Issei means a half Issei, and because she had gone to Japan and assumed Japanese membership there.

TM: So for that reason, Japanese was spoken primarily when you were very young in your household.

FP: Yes, yes. And then later Mom would try to teach me to read, because she could read, very simple children's books, she could read that. So she would tutor me in English that way. The very, very elementary levels.

TM: What job was your dad doing at this time in Minneapolis?

FP: I don't remember an awful lot. It was probably just something to get by on. And, but I do remember that he tried to go to mechanic school, but he wasn't cut out for it, so that didn't work out. And then after a while, as soon as the West Coast opened up, and that was after we defeated Japan. So that would probably be, we defeated Japan in '45? Right, okay, and then so shortly after that, we came back to the West Coast.

TM: Okay, we're going to talk about that.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

TM: Your grandparents back on the farm in Washington, were they, did they return at this point, or where did they end up?

FP: Yes, they went back to Kent, Washington.

TM: Okay.

FP: Right. And it had been a farm that they had, they had purchased through my eldest uncle. Because the only people that could hold property were those people with American citizenship. So for many years, Uncle Tsuyoshi was a young teen, they would worry and worry and worry, they're going to come take the farm away from us. And so that's how they had acquired that farm, because there was a law. And I don't know in Washington or if it was U.S., but along the West Coast, there was a lot of discrimination, right, and they could not buy property (without American citizenship).

TM: Preventing, yes, the Issei to own property, the alien land laws up and down the West Coast states, very restrictive. So in this case...

FP: Right, so it's often put in the son's name.

TM: Nisei son, American-born son.

FP: Right, right.

TM: So your grandparents had a farm to return back to in Kent. Do you know who took care of that farm while they were away?

FP: I don't remember. I don't remember. Probably a caretaker neighbor, I think.

TM: While you were in Minneapolis, did you ever spend time ever, did you ever go out to the farm in Kent, a summer there maybe?

FP: Yes. When we got back, the summer that we got back.

TM: When you returned back to Portland.

FP: Yes, uh-huh, so that would be about '46 or '47, right in there, you know. We did go back... well, I was sent out to help out with the farming, so I learned to really appreciate the land and the farms then, you know, 'cause, my goodness, we would be, it was a truck farm. And we would pick radishes, all sit there together, the women would sit there together picking radishes, and the men would be running around the field with the irrigation pipe that squirted water. And there was a little stream going by that we could use for irrigation. And they would be moving that, or they would be on the tractor spraying fertilizer or whatever. And I think Grandpa was smart enough to, the extension agent would come and visit every so often and give Grandpa advice. And there, of course, Uncle Tsuyoshi was the one that spoke English fairly well, fairly well, right. So they got the extension agents in some way or other... well, I think regularly, the extension agent from the university probably made the rounds of the larger farms. So the women would sit there all day and pick radishes and what else? Package lettuce maybe, and the men would be doing the heavy work like the pipes I'm talking about. And the real big nappas, they would be hacking the big nappas down and packing them into cases and so forth, right.

TM: So just to put this in context, your family is living in Minneapolis, and in '47, actually, returned to Portland that summer.

FP: Yes, around there.

TM: Yeah, around that time, that summer was the first summer you spent at your grandparents' farm up in Kent.

FP: Yes, yes. And it was just an eye-opener to me after being in camp, and in a little tiny, well, it wasn't that tiny of an apartment, but, you know, being confined to an apartment. And all of a sudden the world opened up and just this green came about.

TM: It must have been an amazing summer.

FP: Right, right.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

TM: Well, can you describe the circumstances of your parents and your family returning back home to Portland in '47? Did your father, was it something your father decided to do?

FP: Yes, yes, right. And he either came to get us in his rumbly gray Ford, which he acquired -- jobs were hard to find if you were Asian -- which he acquired by catching the plentiful salmon in the Willamette or the Columbia River, and big, big... we have pictures of him with big giant Chinook salmon that you don't get nowadays. And they were like, and they'd be holding these salmon, and then two or three people would be here, they'd be holding these salmons up. And so he sold some salmon and got the car and came back.

TM: That's amazing, wow. So do you remember the journey, your parents saying, "Guess what, we're going to move to Portland"? Did you know that was home for your family, and did you know where you were moving in this place?

FP: Yes, yes.

TM: Did they talk about Portland with you at that time?

FP: Right. Or over the kitchen table you kind of, as a youngster you just kind of absorb. When Mom and Dad were talking, you would absorb.

TM: So it wasn't really a strange new place for you, even though you didn't have memories living there.

FP: Right, right.

TM: What was the journey like driving in that car? How did you get to Portland?

FP: Well, since he drove, since he drove the gray Ford all the way back, this old rumble bumble Ford that, you know, had the shape like this, and with big fat bumpers on it, gray, we probably came back (and forth from Kent, Washington) at first I thought that we had come back on the train. But apparently we came back in the car, because Dad drove, I know that Dad drove out there, and he had caught these salmon just so that he could have a car for his family. And, oh, he had to go on the black market to get it, because there were no cars on sale then, because everything was for the war effort. The metal and everything was devoted for the war effort.

TM: So when you arrived in Portland, do you remember that day? Do you have any memories of the early days that you were first in Portland, any impressions that you might have?

FP: Well, we immediately drove to Vanport city, which is on the outskirts of Vanport. And Dad had found a place in Vanport city for us. And it was a pleasant place to live, you know. I went to school there for a year with (teacher) Mrs (...) Veggie.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

TM: Can you, we're going to talk about school. Can you describe your new home in Vanport, what that was like?

FP: It was a small apartment with I'm going to say two bedrooms but I don't recall the second bedroom if I did. It was, I think, maybe a small one with one larger bedroom to accommodate us as a family.

TM: And your grandmother was with you, your mom and dad, your brother and you.

FP: Yes.

TM: Who were your neighbors?

FP: There were quite a few Japanese neighbors in there, right. And then my brother, I had shared with you previously, my brother had left. Well, they put him in the Fairview State Home for the disabled, and that was when he was six years old.

TM: Was that in Salem?

FP: Yes, and so that would be, what, he was born in 1940, so '46, okay. '46. So about the time when we got very close to home. He wasn't seven, I know that, I think six sticks in my mind. So I, like, '46, and then that's the summer I went to Seattle to work. And Grandma and Grandpa loved that, because they had no relationship with me otherwise, right.

TM: So right before you went to your grandparents' during the summer, your brother was sent to Salem?

FP: I don't remember the exact particulars, I just know that he was, the choice was made. And in those days, the choice was institutionalization rather than your raising a disabled child by yourself. And what determined that decision was (my parents) felt that they had to put me in a situation where they had a chance of educating me and so forth. So I don't want to dwell on unfortunateness for other people, but for me, it turned out to be a really helpful decision on my education and so forth, and my effort, Mom and Dad's effort to assimilate me and integrate me. So it worked out okay. But I always, I always carried that on my shoulders, that there was so much riding on, that I do be successful. And in the Asian community, you get that: "don't you slough off, you study hard," and so forth and so on, right. So, but I felt it even more because I knew that they sacrificed my brother for me. So I'm grateful, but I feel a bit of guilt there, which is, I guess, would be natural to feel both ways.

TM: In Vanport, can you describe what Vanport was like at that time? Who lived there?

FP: Right, it was a conglomerate. One section of town had the Afro American, and it was mostly served by an Afro American school. And then in my area there were Asians and Caucasians and so forth. But it was a polyglot that formed, because these people, it was housing for the shipyard buildings, right. And we hear a lot about how the black district, the Afro American district got integrated into the north by places like Vanport city.

TM: So the black migration from the southeast (of the USA), and here they are living in Vanport and Portland together, and there is, as you said, a Japanese American community was actually there in Vanport as well.

FP: Yes. But not super well-met, because it was considered temporary housing, temporary war-era housing.

TM: And were the other Japanese American families, do you know if they were from Portland originally, or was there people from all over?

FP: Most, most. I would say seventy-five percent.

TM: With school, you went to a school in Vanport, grade school?

FP: Yes, I went one year, right.

TM: And you had your teacher, Mrs. Veggie?

FP: Right, right. Isn't that a catchy name?

TM: Yeah, it is. So what was your class like, your classmates? Was it, can you just describe that in a little bit of details? They were, you said, maybe, Japanese American?

FP: Yes, yes. It was just a mixed bag. Okay, but I don't remember any blacks in my class, because I know that they had been segregated to one area of Vanport.

TM: So they had a different school?

FP: Yes. So even back then there was segregation.

TM: Did you see discrimination, either yourself or were there incidents like that, or did you observe with your African American neighbors, hardships like that?

FP: Well, I don't remember... yes, I was very young, and the teacher was very protective and was very accepting and gave out a lot of praises. So it didn't make much difference.

TM: Do you recall anyone asking you at this time about where you were from, Minneapolis or camp at all?

FP: They could have, but I just don't remember. That year just kind of flew by. And it was a year there because I just did third grade there. And by the time Memorial Day, when the flood occurred, the famed Vanport flood, we fled the waters.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

TM: So can you describe the days leading up to the flood? Did your family know that something was going to happen? Did they make any preparations at all?

FP: Right, about two weeks before, to a week and a half before, prior to the flood, we knew that the levy was very likely to go. And so Dad, in preparation, had made arrangements with, Janet's name used to be Hachiya. And we made arrangements with the Hachiya family to stay in their hotel. We had a place to go if... Dad was a wonderful preparer, he would just prepare everything down to the tee. But that's getting off the subject. So we knew where we would go, and we had a destination, right. And then so we knew for about a week to a week and a half to two weeks that the dam may go, the levee may rupture.

TM: And, sorry, what hotel was that, where was it?

FP: It was where Marriott is right now in downtown Portland, and right in front of, facing the Waterfront Park, before Waterfront Park even existed. And let's see...

TM: And what was that day like on May 30, 1948? Were you there in Vanport?

FP: Yes, yes. And we were warned that if you hear a loud, loud buzzer, like an alert that goes over the city, that just goes continuously and does not stop, that that is the warning. And we woke up, and for one or two days we had heard that the levee was starting to leak, and so we, and that day, Memorial, 31st, it burst. I remember a man -- and this haunts me -- I remember a man running through the water where it was like a waterfall into this gulch area. And I remember him running across the top of the waterfalls, and I never knew what happened to him. I don't know if he got swept away, because there were some deaths involved. There was one Japanese elder that lost his life, and I know that that's a fact because the Vanport is mentioned on the back of one of the Rose City Cemeteries, of which I'm a cleanup chairperson.

TM: Is there, I know there's a Memorial Day service at Rose City that the community would be involved with. Was that happening as well?

FP: Probably. But by that time, things were so serious that Dad and Uncle Ro were close to home, because there were leaks developing.

TM: And did you get into the old gray Ford and drive out?

FP: Yes, yes. Oh, and I think by that time, Uncle Ro had an old gray Chevy, right.

TM: And so your family, it sounds like they didn't lose a lot in the flood, because your father had prepared.

FP: Right, and they had taken out pieces of furniture and valuables, and they had already made about a couple trips at least.

TM: Do you know what happened to your neighbors?

FP: No, no.

TM: Do you know what happened to other Japanese American families that you were friends with?

FP: Well, that one gentleman, I know that he perished. We heard that one or two died, and his grave in on the side of, it's a large gravestone. And you walk around the back, and it said he died in Vanport city.

TM: In (the Japanese) Rose City Cemetery.

FP: Right. (He was buried at Japanese) Rose City (located within the Rose City Cemetery at 57th NE Fremont).

TM: Rose City Cemetery. And so your family relocated to, once again, a new home. And in this case, you're in downtown Portland?

FP: Yes.

TM: And what's the name of the hotel again?

FP: The Columbia Hotel.

TM: The Columbia Hotel, okay.

FP: Right. And Mrs. Hachiya was, oh, she was a wonderful woman, and her name was Yamasaki by then, because she had married a second time.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

TM: Now, leading up to the Vanport flood, what work was your father doing?

FP: He was, this is the time when he was transitioning, and I think he had just quit Kaiser Permanente because his lungs couldn't take it anymore, and he said, "Boy, if I work in this, I'm going to be gone by the age forty or fifty, so I have to get out of here. So he was probably in between jobs.

TM: And Kaiser Permanente, that means he was in shipbuilding?

FP: Yes, the shipyards.

TM: The shipyards, okay.

FP: Right, right. And then he found a job a little bit later after we fled, but I know that Dad didn't have a job at the time that we fled because that summer we picked green beans by the sackfuls, gunny sackfuls, that we would drag behind us.

TM: So you were out there doing that as well?

FP: Right, right. It was like a typical immigrant family that's just starting up.

TM: And with other Japanese American families?

FP: Right, right. And I believe the owner of the farm was named Spada, he was a well-to-do Italian farmer.

TM: And where was this farm?

FP: It was out near probably, you go straight out Powell to Sandy Boulevard? Not Powell. You go on Sandy Boulevard straight out, and there's the Spada Farms there, and some other farms. Right around the area of Costco, except across the road.

TM: Columbia Boulevard?

FP: Yes, yes.

TM: And you said your father's health was not good because of the shipyard in Kaiser Permanente? Was that a condition because of the asbestos?

FP: Right, we suspect that. And at that time, too, I remember him being very, very ill and recovering from surgery, he had varicose veins, and so he had his veins stripped so that he was able to work okay. So then we had the Vanport flood on the 31st of May.

TM: So living in the hotel and working out on the farm, your grandmother, your parents and you and your uncles.

FP: Were all dragging bean bags behind us, string beans.

TM: Were your uncles and their families with you?

FP: I don't remember. I think Uncle Ro might have been working at the, what is it, the Northwest Fruit & Produce Company, something like that. Right, and it was hard physical labor, but that's the only job he could find. He had gotten educated after the war on the GI plan, and probably from University of Minneapolis in business. But he, of course, he couldn't find, there's so much prejudice, he couldn't find any work. And Uncle Nobi used his grant from the...

TM: GI Bill?

FP: Right, GI Bill, and he attended Vanport City College, which later turned out to be the foundation of Portland State.

TM: Portland State University?

FP: Yes.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

TM: So how long was this hotel home? Did you have a new home after that?

FP: Yes, and this is very clear, 'cause it's coming closer in time. It was, we moved in the day of my birthday, into this big house, the three families, Dad and my two uncles, and Uncle Ro's family at that time. Nobi was kind of footloose and carefree. He maybe had been staying at the dorms, I don't know. And let's see...

TM: So when did you move into this new home?

FP: July 31st, that's what I was about to say, and that was my birthday.

TM: And what year was that?

FP: The same year that we fled, '48.

TM: '48, okay. Wow. So this new home was, what neighborhood was it? In Portland?

FP: In Ladd's Addition, where I inherited the original home. And I'm just thrilled to be living there.

TM: And that's where you live today.

FP: Right. And for so much of my life, I took it for granted. So we moved in in July 31, 1948. I'm one of the very oldest residences right now, alive there.

TM: And so it sounds like it was a fairly packed house, is that correct?

FP: Yes.

TM: What was that like?

FP: Every upstairs bedroom, which was fairly large, because they were fairly large old... it wasn't exactly a mansion, but it was a large house built back in 1910 that leads up into the circle in this plated community. And it was my uncle's family in the front bedroom, and Dad and Mom and I in the second bedroom. And then later... (...) anyway, I stayed with Grandma in the back bedroom, and I don't remember where Uncle Nobi was.

TM: And your neighbors in the neighborhood, were there other Japanese American families?

FP: Quite a few, quite a few. And I think that had a bearing on Epworth Methodist Church, which has quite a few Japanese (from) the area.

TM: In Ladd's Addition?

FP: (No, there were several Asians in the SE Hawthorne Area.)

TM: And what job was your father doing at this time? Did he find work?

FP: Yes. He found work shortly after we picked the summer, picking beans. He found a similar job to Kaiser Permanente in the shipyards at Zidell, and that's another big scrap company, you know, disassembling large (ships) and things like that. And it was quite a lucrative (trade in ports) right after the war.

TM: So was that how he was able to... did he pay the mortgage for the house, or were the uncles as well paying?

FP: Right, (dad and) the uncles would pay, and then when they left to buy their own homes a few years later, Dad eventually paid, (and) helped them pay for their house. So it was a communal plan, but it worked out. 'Cause we had to all go somewhere with our family, we were kind of in tight quarters, but we were just glad to be out of Minidoka and have a home after being flooded out of Vanport city.

TM: So all that change, all those places you've lived, and here you are in your home now.

FP: Right.

TM: And (it's a) two story full house.

FP: Yes. (Full of too much memorabilia).

TM: What were mealtimes like there?

FP: The three... oh, and then eventually the third bedroom, Uncle Nobi had married Aunt Alice. Now, this is not the Aunt Alice you know, this is the second Aunt Alice. So the three wives would take turns cooking, and (we would all) split the food bill. So it was a pretty crowded table, but very jovial table at evening time.

TM: And did you have chores, did you help your mom or your aunts?

FP: Let's see. Not an awful lot, because I was expected to study. Like it's very similar to Japan, the expectation is, "You do well. You go do your job which is study hard." So the three wives would pitch in and do the housework duties.

TM: What temple did your family go to?

FP: It was on Twelfth off of (SE 12th), Powell, very close to the Ross Island Bridge, and it was the Buddhist Henjyoji Daihon Temple, a very, very small (congregation).

TM: And your father, was he again engaged in the Portland JACL?

FP: I think he was, but maybe not quite so much as earlier years. Because he was older and young people were starting to step up and fill those roles. So in those early years, like the late '50s and '60s, and maybe it was '70s, both of my uncles served as president, and if you look on the names, you'll see a couple of Sumidas in there: (my uncles) Nobi Sumida and Hiroshi Sumida served as presidents, (in Portland) JACL.

TM: Of the Portland chapter of the JACL.

FP: Right, right.

TM: Do you recall making trips into Nihonmachi, Japantown, at that time? Do you know, sort of, during those years, when you were young, what it was like, your impressions of it? Was it a thriving place?

FP: It was pretty busy, but it was like, to some degree, a lot of homeless lived there, so it wasn't too terribly different. But in that Maloo, George Kido opened up a general store, right.

TM: Kida, I believe.

FP: Kida, Kida, right. And so we would go down there to shop occasionally. And I don't know if there was a grocery store there or not, I don't think so.

TM: Anzen was there.

FP: Oh, yes, yes, we went to Anzen, I remember that, and Tofu-ya, right. Like that would be the Otas. So those we regularly frequented.

TM: How about the New Tokyo restaurant?

FP: Yes, and (...) the owners of (New Tokyo) became our shirttail relatives.

TM: The Tameyasus?

FP: No, is it... Kawasakis? Right, right, okay. And then that was my Aunt Alice (Kawasaki), my new Aunt Alice, she just got married, (her) mother and father that owned (and managed the business).

TM: The New Tokyo restaurant?

FP: New Tokyo, right.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

TM: Okay. So do you remember, or do you have memories of community events, going to picnics at this time?

FP: I remember the Obon. The Obon's always been there, and it's wonderful. It used to be at Washington Park a few years ago, that's when I was very young. And we would all dress up in our kimonos and everything. And for a few years I wore the kimono, the silk kimono that Mom had managed to save somehow with the cummerbund.

TM: Saved it throughout all these years?

FP: Yeah, somehow. Wow, because they were only allowed one suitcase, you know. But this beautiful silk kimono came out of storage, and embroidered, so I do remember that, dancing in that, and then later she would sew me a summer-weight...

TM: Yukata.

FP: Yeah, yukata, which is very convenient.

TM: Do you remember celebrating Japanese culture or learning about Japanese culture at this time through your household, or was that always present in your house?

FP: Oh, it was always present in my house. Especially because Mom was raised in Japan, right.

TM: Do you remember celebrating Girl's Day?

FP: Yes, we would celebrate that.

TM: Did you have a hinamatsuri set?

FP: Yes, I had a doll collection, but it would be an odd assortment of dolls. It was not that wonderful collection with the emperor (and empress) on top with all the court sitting there (in rows in front).

TM: But you had an emperor and empress again?

FP: No, no, I just brought out all my polyglot assortment of dolls, and we called it "doll day," right.

TM: And do you remember the type of food you ate in your household?

FP: Yes.

TM: Can you describe just some of your favorite Japanese...

FP: Okay. When Mom had time, since she was raised in Japan, she cooked very good Japanese dishes, okay, like teriyaki, chow mein, tempura, and umani. Umani is like a steamed stew, you know, with gobo in it and with chunks of konnyaku in it, which is kind of a jelly-like substance. And, let's see, sushi, of course. Mom was an expert at sushi, and she carried that through to her church attendance years a few years later, you know, after Grandma passed on. So I miss the homemade sushi a lot.

TM: Did you see any difficulty balancing Japanese and American culture and life at all? Was that ever an issue for you?

FP: It was not, because I spoke English well. And the passage through for any country is, and the passage to being integrated is the skill to be able to use the language. And I think that's about everywhere. I might be generalizing, but in general. You can communicate with others if you know the language, right.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

TM: Okay, so with school, you attended the same school, as I understand, through eighth grade, is that correct?

FP: Yes, from third grade on to eighth grade. And it was a neighborhood school called Abernathy, and it's still there, right.

TM: So Ladd's Addition, that's where you were. And what high school did you attend?

FP: Washington High School, when it was very, very (full), it was at its peak population, three thousand-plus. And it was so crowded and filled that we would have to sit on the stairs and eat our lunch, right.

TM: So this must have been '53 or '54 that you entered high school, all the way through '57, '58?

FP: Right, right.

TM: And what were you, what activities were you involved with at school?

FP: Okay, let's see. In the eighth grade, well, I was safety patrol. I went out and held the flag, I remember that. But I don't remember... oh, and Girl Scouts.

TM: Were there other Japanese American kids that were in the Girl Scout troop?

FP: No, in general, Abernathy, the classes I were in were primarily Caucasian students.

TM: Did anyone ever ask you about the war at that time, classmates or friends that were...

FP: I don't think so. I don't think so. It wasn't a curio to them. It's like, "Oh, here's my friend. She speaks English as well as I do."

TM: Were you involved in any Japanese American clubs or organizations?

FP: Yes, yes. In fact, Veleda... you know, I said Sorrelles the other day, but it wasn't. It was Veleda that gave me the scholarship, the ladies club, Japanese club, right. But I was member of Sorrelles, which was a Japanese young ladies club, teenage club. And let's see, in the neighborhood... that's all I can remember in the neighborhood.

TM: So the Sorrelles, you must have gone to a lot of dances?

FP: Yes, it was fun.

TM: And beach trips, maybe?

FP: I may have gone to a beach trip or two, but I don't remember an awful lot about it.

TM: And can you just tell us a little bit about your involvement with that club?

FP: With the Sorrelles?

TM: Right.

FP: There was a lot of dances, social get-togethers. Right, because it was, we would have opportunities for girls to meet Japanese young men. And in some cases, like I think (friends) like Keiko Dozo, they would get married, right. So it was a nice place to meet young men and women.

TM: And for you, was it a role of leadership in any way?

FP: Not in Sorrelles, not in Sorrelles. I didn't stay in that long. It was like maybe freshman/sophomore, maybe part of junior. I got so busy with school activities, I just couldn't stretch it any further.

TM: You were working hard in (high) school and doing all kinds of activities.

FP: Right. Oh, and then I was a member of JACL. (I was on the National Honor Society, Girl's League, and president of the Neak Social Club).

TM: Oh, at that time?

FP: Right, and then I entered a speech contest, and I won the speech contest for the local, and so we went to Salt Lake City to compete nationally, right. So it was very exciting.

TM: Do you recall picking berries during high school?

FP: Yes, that's a rite of passage for most teenagers that live in the Portland, Oregon, area. And then by that time, we had Japanese farmers living here, like Hood River and the Dalles, (up and) down the road towards Salem (or the Columbia Gorge).

TM: And you'd be with other kids, young and a little bit older as well.

FP: Right. And there were a few Japanese kids there, because I slept in a barracks-type setting so we could be right out in the field early in the morning.

TM: And what farm and where?

FP: The Fuji Farms (or the Fujimoto Farms).

TM: And where was that located?

FP: It was towards Gresham, Gresham/Troutdale area.

TM: How about razor clamming?

FP: We loved razor clamming. We would go razor clamming, and let's see. Previously, we would go, we would get crabs, go out as a family and get crabs. And steam them, oh, they were so good. And then in a great big pot right on Netarts Bay, and the whole family -- oh, that was a family-building time. And we would all, you know, reach in and get the crabs, they'd turn from green to red while you watched them. So it was wonderful.

TM: So these were family trips.

FP: Yes, uh-huh.

TM: What else did your family do as far as trips? Were there other, did you go matsutake hunting?

FP: Oh, yes, definitely. Every fall. And then we learned that you pass a matsutake for identification through three hands.

TM: Interesting.

FP: Right.

TM: And where did you pick?

FP: We picked generally in the Mt. Hood area around Zigzag often.

TM: Did you have secret spots that you know?

FP: Oh, of course, of course. And then later in Estacada. But if you say Estacada, that's not pointing out your hunting area, you know. Oh, and Grandpa Korekiyo, near Seattle, would take... you know, 'cause it's a family secret, all these su, they called them, mushroom su, niches. And he would take us and show us his secret place for matsutake up near Mt. Rainier.

TM: That's really cool.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

TM: So at this point, you're going off to college, and you said you got a scholarship. Can you tell us about that scholarship and how you got it and what it paid for?

FP: Right, okay. The Veledas gave me a scholarship. It wasn't huge, it was nominal. But I got this four-year scholarship from Oregon State, so that was very helpful, although tuition wasn't that much. It was like three hundred dollars, four hundred dollars per term. So that's pretty reasonable, that's about fifteen hundred, a thousand to fifteen hundred a year for tuition, which is unheard of now.

TM: That's a great honor to get that scholarship, you worked hard for that.

FP: Right.

TM: What did you study in college?

FP: I studied... first I started in, I was going to major to be a medical technician. And when I interned in a summer with Dr. Manuel, he was a pathologist, and I got locked away in a lab. I decided, when I came out then, I said, "No, I don't want to do that. I want to interface with people," so teaching turned out to be a good choice for me. And I majored in sciences, because, remember, in '57, that's the Sputnik era, okay. So I majored in science, but I ended up teaching general science and biology. I would take every biology course I could see, 'cause I loved biology. Which is fine, because now, Oregon has a reputation for being weird and green, and it just kind of was very appropriate to be an Oregonian and major in biological education and sciences.

TM: And did you find love in college, did you meet your husband?

FP: Yes, I met my husband, right.

TM: When did you meet him?

FP: When I went, the very first or second day when I was entering as a freshman, Oregon State, right. He was coming out of the forest. He had this long, shaggy hair, and a mustache and a beard, looked really weird. But he was a friend of a friend, and we went on kind of a group date at the Beaver, which is kind of a hangout for milkshakes and burgers and stuff like that, for after-hours.

TM: So '58, you must have been with the look, a little different than guys you saw before.

FP: Right, right, because he came out of the forest working at cottage grove as a firefighter.

TM: So he wasn't in school then?

FP: Well, he was in school, but he had gone for the summer.

TM: And what was his name, your husband?

FP: Larry Marchend Palk, a product of Hawaii.

TM: So with that name, what was his heritage?

FP: His heritage was three-fold Asian. He was Chinese and Japanese, and he had a Korean dad, Korean grandparent that had imported, had transported over to Hawaii, okay. So that's how he got his last name.

TM: And he, were your parents happy about your dating and marrying this guy from Hawaii?

FP: Well, my parents were okay because, you know, this is America. But Grandma Sumida, oh, she was so upset. She said, in those days, the daughter's family could adopt the name if there was, like in my family, there is no continuation. And we could have adopted, or he would adopt our name, that's how it would go, the other way. Which happened to my (younger uncle), Mr. Mita, (who was originally the third Sumida), George Mita (...) in Chicago, when they came over on the ship.

TM: And you ended up becoming a teacher.

FP: Yes, yes.

TM: And was that in high school? High school teacher, what grade level was it?

FP: Yes, I taught in junior high and high school for a few years, and eventually found my niche. And I taught biology and general science, and then eventually I decided, "I want to teach in the community college." So that turned out to be a very stable place for me, and I ended up loving it.

TM: What was the profession --

FP: Community college. (Full-time English teacher at Portland Community College). Pardon me?

TM: What was the profession of your husband?

FP: Oh, my husband was a chemist analyst. He would analyze the metal at Union Carbide, he would do the analytical chemistry part, because he was a pretty smart guy, and he could do that. He could read from a test tube how much iron it held, what percentage, and how much calcium it had or whatever type of metal that you wanted, you did by adding certain scraps to it.

TM: Did you have children?

FP: Yes, two.

TM: What are their names?

FP: Delcy, who turns fifty this year. In fact, she might be turning fifty-one this year.

TM: When was she born?

FP: August 19, 1964. (...) And my son,(Keith), born in '68, he would be four years younger than Delcy.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

TM: And so did you, through your twenties and thirties and then later, did you participate in Japanese American organizations?

FP: Somewhat in the Japanese American Citizens League.

TM: Did you ever, when did you join the Japanese Ancestral Society?

FP: Just lately. I was more or less unfamiliar with it, I think Dad paid his dues (...), but that was about it, right. And then recently my friend, Kenny Ono, said, "Why don't you come and work with me?" and I ended up being co-chair for the committee. And then we got a grant, so it was, you know, it was wonderful.

TM: And that work is concentrated on what, the grant?

FP: Yes, on revamping and modernizing and cleaning, a lot of cleaning and scrubbing of the Japanese Rose City Cemetery, right.

TM: So reflecting back, as a young person, would you say that you had opportunities that your mother and your grandmother never had?

FP: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, definitely. Like opportunities for the Pakistani women and the Indian ladies that have not had opportunities, right. (Examples: travels, education, choice of mate, choice of careers.)

TM: And looking at how you grew up in your household, and then later with your husband and your two children, how was that home different, or that household different?

FP: It was out in the country in Scappoose, which is twenty-five to thirty miles away from home, from my current home. And then we decided to settle there because we wanted to give our kids... my husband just loves the country 'cause he grew up in the country. And we wanted to give the kids a really nice (and healthy) environment to grow up in. (My love of "living things" as a biology teacher was also a part of the choice.)

TM: Kind of like your grandparents' farm and the summers you spent there as well.

FP: Right, right. And then having majored in biological science and sciences, especially the biology part, it was just an ideal fit for me, right.

TM: And what have you told your family about your experiences, your kids, going all the way back to camp?

FP: Once in a while it will come out in conversation, but I think this video will be a real contribution to their background, because I don't think I've discussed anything as fully as I am doing so here.

TM: And how do you think the wartime experience affected your parents?

FP: They became very determined that they were gonna succeed. And they were young enough that they could get the strings of their life and pull it back together again. And it wasn't like some man that, or some families where they ended up committing suicide because they had lost everything. But we were, Mom and Dad were of a hopeful, newer generation.

TM: As a Japanese American, how did the wartime experience define who you are today?

FP: I appreciate the Japanese cultural roots, right, because if it wasn't for camp, I wouldn't have realized that, and we were all congregated, the sense of community, the sense of family, and the sense of just working together so closely, you know, support.

TM: What can we learn from what happened to Japanese Americans during World War II?

FP: We could learn never to do that again to American citizens. I mean, it's a disastrous thing to go through, and especially for the Mideastern people that get discriminated on. (Today) sometimes that discrimination is, you can't say it's warranted, but the fear is even greater because of certain violent acts in the Middle East that's occurring right now. So it's difficult, but we don't want our American citizens to be discriminated against.

TM: Having such a wonderful life and such a beautiful family, what is the most important thing in life, do you think?

FP: Let's see... well, I think my family rates up there. I'll just say them unranked. And I think the value of education allows you to advance in America, and that includes the power of language and the sense of community that I got from our culture is wonderful, is a wonderful bond.

TM: And who among your grandmother, your parents, your brother, who's with us today?

FP: Okay, the only descendant I have now that's alive is my brother, who's one year younger than I, and in a nursing care type home facility. And everybody else is gone. Oh, except my... but then the cousins, I mean, the heads of their family are gone, like Uncle Ro and Nobi, but then the cousins remain, right. So we exchange notes a lot.

TM: And finally, did your grandparents, did they become citizens of the U.S. in '52 and '53?

FP: I don't know if Grandma did, I don't think she ever did. She felt it was just too late because she would have to learn how to read and all of that, study.

TM: Citizen test.

FP: Right, right. And then by that time, Dad was a very fine American student (and citizen) and an example, so she knew that she could depend on Dad to help her.

TM: And is the family farm still up in Kent?

FP: Let's see, is it? The one that...

TM: Your grandparents'?

FP: Right, (Mom's side). I think they sold it, right. I think they sold it. (But the immediate generation, myself and kids, go back and forth to Scappoose and keep Portland Home.)

TM: Well, is there anything you want to say that you haven't had a chance to say or been asked?

FP: Oh, thank you for this interview. It's been a fairly long interview process, but then I will have a product to share with my children, things I have never shared before, right. So it's very valuable. And I'm glad that it's going in the archives if it helps future generations understand, well, it's worth it. (Narr. note: My daughter Delcy, I'm very proud of her; she's an airline pilot of a small plane company, Reserve Air Force as a Lt. Colonel. She is currently stationed in Africa, in the country of Nigeria, due to conflict there.)

TM: Well, thank you so much for sharing your story, Fran.

FP: Well, thank you, Todd, and Ian and Cameron, all that you did.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.