Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Hiro Heidi Inahara Interview
Narrator: Hiro Heidi Inahara
Interviewer: Betty Jean Harry
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: July 2, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-ihiro-01

<Begin Segment 1>

BH: Today is Wednesday, July 2, 2014. My name is Betty Jean Harry, I'm a volunteer with the Oregon Nikkei Endowment. I'll be interviewing Heidi Inahara as part of the Minidoka Oral History Project. We're in Portland, Oregon, our videographer is Ian McCluskey. So let's start with a few personal details, Heidi. When and where were you born?

HI: I was born in Portland, Oregon, in Montavilla, which is in East County.

BH: And what name were you given at birth?

HI: Hiro Shiogi, that's it.

BH: Okay. Now you go by Heidi. So how did that come about?

HI: Well, when I went to college, people kind of massacred the name (Hiro). And actually, it's a boy's name. So I went to Pacific with my friend Reiko Miura, and she wanted to get a different middle name, too. So I picked Heidi and she picked Robin, and that's where it started.

BH: You still kept with the H and she kept with the R. And when's your birthday?

HI: February 2, 1928.

BH: And were you born in a hospital, or were you born at home?

HI: I was born at home with a midwife.

BH: Okay, right, most people were at the time. Let's talk about your parents. What was your father's name?

HI: His name was Kikuo Shiogi.

BH: And where in Japan was he from?

HI: He was from Miyada-mura in Nagano-ken.

BH: And what kind of work did his family do in Japan?

HI: I think they were farmers, his brother, and I think he had a couple of sisters.

BH: Okay, a brother and two sisters. Did your dad have an opportunity to become educated before he came over here?

HI: No. They were very poor, and so I think that's the reason they gave him a few bucks, actually, about fifteen dollars, and sent him across the ocean.

BH: Did he come by himself?

HI: No, he came with his brother, the two of 'em.

BH: The younger brother?

HI: The older brother.

BH: The older brother, okay.

HI: They landed in Seattle.

BH: And they came here to find jobs?

HI: Right, find any kind of jobs that were available. He did a lot of different kinds of work, like dishwashing, houseboy, worked in the sawmill and whatever job they could find.

BH: And when did they come to Portland, or how did that come about?

HI: I'm not sure what year it was, but they weren't married yet.

BH: Okay. And what was your mom's name?

HI: Her name was Tsuneko Karaki, and she was from the same town in Nagano-ken.

BH: Okay, and what kind of work did her family do? Were they farmers as well?

HI: I'm not sure. I didn't hear too much about that.

BH: Okay. And did she have any brothers or sisters?

HI: Yes, she had about five sisters and two brothers. And one brother was in the war during World War II and he died, and then another one had TB and died. So five sisters were left. I met them all, in fact, they all came here together to visit us later on in years.

BH: How nice. How did your mother decide to come to the United States?

HI: Well, it was a picture marriage. I don't know when, but she was only nineteen at the time.

BH: And was there an age difference between...

HI: Oh, yes, about thirteen year difference.

BH: What kind of person was your father? What was he like?

HI: He was a very mild-mannered, gentle person, worked hard. I don't think, I can never remember a time that he raised his voice at us.

BH: Wow. And your mom?

HI: She was a little more boisterous. But she was a wonderful mom, and worked hard on the farm, too.

BH: So when your mom came over, was your dad still up in the Seattle area working, or had he already come down to Portland?

HI: I'm not sure about that.

BH: But eventually your dad was working a farm out in the Montavilla area. Now, at that time, the Isseis weren't allowed to own property. So was it in somebody else's name, or was he leasing?

HI: I think it was in my brother, my oldest brother, I think it was in his name.

BH: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

BH: So tell me about your house where you grew up.

HI: Well, it was an old farmhouse with a potbelly stove as heat, no hot water. But we had a bathhouse, so we had our bath built out there. And in order to get the water heated you had to build a fire underneath the tub. And it was either us or my dad or somebody started the fire before dinner to get the water hot enough. And my mother used that water for washing clothes. She had a washer, but no dryer (...).

BH: Let's talk about your childhood. Tell me the names of your brothers and sisters in order of their birth.

HI: Well, my oldest brother, his name was Fujio but they call him Fudge. And his birthday was April 10th, I can't remember what year, he's seven years older than I am. And my sister Miye, she was four years older. Then my youngest brother, Ko, he's seven years younger than I am, so I was kind of in the middle.

BH: Quite a span.

HI: Yes, it was.

BH: Did they also take American names later?

HI: No, well, except for my oldest brother, they called him Fudge. Miye was just Miye or... the Caucasians called her Maya, or May.

BH: So what did your parents grow on the farm?

HI: Well, they grew mainly raspberries and some strawberries, and then they had a truck farm of rhubarb and cabbage and cauliflower, that type of vegetables.

BH: And where did your dad sell his produce?

HI: He took it to early market on Belmont in the industrial area. They had an early market where he got up at three o'clock and had to take the produce down to sell it.

BH: Growing up, what were typical meals at your house? Did you have Japanese food or American food?

HI: (...) I think mainly Japanese food. And we had a mixture of both. But then holidays we'd have (turkey for Thanksgiving) and my aunt and uncle's family. We got together on the farm.

BH: Did your family celebrate Japanese holidays like New Year's?

HI: Oh, yes. We made mochi, too. We had a big garage-like (building), and even some of the (...) families in Montavilla area came because we had such a large space.

BH: In what ways was your family connected to the Japanese community? Were you involved with one of the local churches or temples?

HI: Well, they were working so hard, I don't think they had much time. But they would go to the Buddhist Church for movies or whatever, sometimes. Then later on in life, they joined the... Shinnoyen church, which was a type of Buddhist out in Milwaukie.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

BH: And where did you go to elementary school?

HI: I went to Russellville.

BH: Okay. And where was that located again?

HI: About a 102nd and Stark, what is now the Russellville Commons Retirement Village.

BH: Right. When you first went to school, did you speak Japanese or English or both?

HI: Oh, I spoke English, because my older brother and (older sister) all spoke English.

BH: Right. And was that close enough to the farm where you could walk to school?

HI: Not really, a bus came by.

BH: And there were a few other Japanese Americans living in the Montavilla area at the time.

HI: Quite a few, I would say.

BH: So at school, were your friends Caucasian or Japanese, or both?

HI: Mainly Caucasians, but I had a few that were Japanese (and) became good friends.

BH: Did you take your lunch to school?

HI: Well, yes. My mother made lunch and we took it to school. (On) the first day of school, (...) my mother said, "When you eat your lunch, you can come home," and I literally took her word for it. After lunch, I walked home, which was about a mile, and pretty soon my sister comes (running) home. I don't know if she called on the phone or what, but she comes running home to see if I was there.

BH: Because you weren't at school for the afternoon.

HI: Right.

BH: That's funny.

HI: I just followed directions.

BH: On the farm, did you have, what were your responsibilities?

HI: Well, we were young. I kind of watched (and) babysat my brother, because I was seven years older. And then I had to wash the rice for dinner, just things like that, that I can do.

BH: And then when you got a little older, did you help more outside on the farm?

HI: (Oh, yes). And then we had to pick berries in the summertime, and help transplant the plants. They'd plant the seed, and the seedlings would come up, and then they would transplant it into the fields, so I would help with that.

BH: Do you remember going on any trips with your family, any vacations?

HI: Oh, about the only time was after the berry season was over, we all took a trip to the beach for about a week and went crabbing down at Netarts. That was fun.

BH: And did you camp or did you stay at a motel?

HI: No, I can't remember. I think we rented a cabin (...).

BH: Many Niseis attended Japanese schools. Did you?

HI: Well, as I got older, there was a Japanese school in the community in Montavilla and my older brother and sister went before I did, of course. (...) I just went a few years before camp.

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

HI: I really didn't care for it. It was too hard. (...) But it was a gathering place for the community, too, because they taught judo there, and they'd have tournaments or whatever. So we'd go to (those events).

BH: What did you do for fun outside of school?

HI: Outside of school? Oh, I don't know. (Not very much, we had too many chores to do.)

BH: Did you play ball or anything?

HI: Well, in grade school, about seventh and eighth grade, I played softball a lot. And I was in, like the A class, which was a smaller class that had midterm graduations in order to graduate in January. But the war started in '41, and everything was so uncertain that I stayed on an extra half a year to finish out the year supposedly to graduate. But, of course, we had to leave before graduation, so I didn't have a graduation.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

BH: That leads us to talking about the beginning of the war. How did you and your family hear about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

HI: On the radio, I think.

BH: And your parents' reactions?

HI: Oh, they were shocked. They had a shortwave radio, too, and they listened to both sides. I'm sure they were very worried, but they didn't show it or explain to us what would happen. Of course, they didn't know.

BH: Did your family have any dealings with the FBI?

HI: Other than they came out and searched for contrabands and radios and stuff like that.

BH: So I assume they took the shortwave radio.

HI: Oh, yes. My dad had a gun, (and) he used to go pheasant hunting. They took that, radios, and cameras. Oh, and my dad burned all the Japanese books he had, for fear... I don't think they were anything to worry about, but he just burned 'em all.

BH: Did he ever talk about what he was doing or why?

HI: (No). They wouldn't tell us.

BH: Very typical of the Isseis. So you were in the eighth grade when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Did things change at school?

HI: I didn't think so. Everybody was still friendly.

BH: How did you decide what you were going to take with you and what you weren't going to take?

HI: I don't think we had much choice, just your clothes and basic needs. I had a fairly new Shirley Temple doll with the curly hair and the pleated red dotted skirt, and I wanted to take that, of course, but no, you couldn't take that. Then I got a brand-new bicycle after picking berries, I had enough money saved up to buy it, which I had, and couldn't take that, and so we had to sell it.

BH: When you were able to come home after the war, were your doll and bike still there?

HI: No. I sold the bike, so I knew the bike went to some person.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

BH: What did you think when you ended up at the assembly center in North Portland? It used to be the Pacific International Livestock Exposition. What was your first impression?

HI: It was terrible. I couldn't believe that the living conditions were just partitioned off. Of course, the plywood (was) eight feet high, and canvas doors for six people in a room, and it was stifling hot. That was the year that one of the hottest weather they had, I think it was a hundred and five or a hundred and seven.

BH: Wow. What kinds of things were you subjected to? I remember you told us about having to have typhoid shots?

HI: Oh, yes, we all had to have typhoid shots, three of them, in fact. So I don't know (why but) I just went by myself (...). Those shots really hurt. And when I came back through the hallway, I fainted. And when I woke up, I was still on the floor. And so I got myself up and went back to the room.

BH: Oh, my. Were you able to continue school at the assembly center?

HI: I don't think so because it was summer.

BH: I think it was pretty close to summer.

HI: It was summer so we didn't have school.

BH: Okay. And you were there for a few months. How did the kids in your family and how did your parents pass the time?

HI: I don't know what they did. I think my mother worked in kitchen. My dad played softball.

BH: And after a few months there you were moved to a more permanent camp in Minidoka. How did you get there?

HI: Well, they put us on a train, it was at night, or afternoon. We rode at night most of the time. When we passed a city, the train would kind of slow down and sometimes stop, and the soldiers would come around and say -- I think the lights were very dim -- (...) "Don't look out the window, keep the shades down," and that was the orders that they gave us. We fudged a little bit.

BH: So you didn't really know where you were going. What did you see when you peeked out?

HI: Kind of like a train station. There weren't too many people around.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

BH: And what was your first impression when you arrived in Minidoka?

HI: Oh, thinking what a desolate place. I have never seen a desert type terrain before. I thought, "Where in the heck is this?"

BH: Tell us about your barracks at Minidoka.

HI: They were just a room, and they gave us cots with straw mattresses. We had to take our own bedding. Well, they gave us a few army blankets, but as far as sheets and things, I think we had to take our own. (There was) a potbelly stove. I don't think there was any other furniture in there.

BH: What was the food like at camp?

HI: Not very good.

BH: Any particular memories?

HI: Well, in the spring, the smelt was plentiful. So every Friday we'd get smelt, and, of course, mutton, which I hated. I don't know what else they served, I couldn't tell you.

BH: How do you feel about smelt and lamb now?

HI: I still don't care for it. My husband and son loved it, 'cause they didn't eat that much of it.

BH: How did your parents cope? What did they do when they were at camp?

HI: My mother was a dishwasher, and my dad was, I think he was a carpenter for a while, and then a fireman.

BH: So as a carpenter, what kinds of things did he work on?

HI: I'm not sure if it was the buildings or what, but he was able to make some furniture for a little room.

BH: That was nice.

HI: He made a desk (and dresser), and we had chairs (...). It was pretty nice.

BH: Did you, I know there were mess halls, did you eat as a family?

HI: Supposedly, but we never did. Because my mother worked, my dad was someplace else, and my brother was off roaming around.

BH: Well, and your dad probably had to stay at the fire station.

HI: I think so.

BH: Quite a bit. What was it like to be among all those Japanese people?

HI: I didn't know there were that many, for one thing. And then the Seattle people were in Area A, and the Portland and Oregon people were in Area B. So we didn't see them very often, but after going to school and different functions we got to know quite a few of the Seattle people, and made good friends with them.

BH: Did you ever think about or did anybody talk about why you were there?

HI: (Yes), they talked about it, but that was about all.

BH: What kinds of things did people say?

HI: Not knowing what was going to happen. And then our boys started going into the service. I don't think we got a newspaper, I can't remember reading things in the paper.

BH: Was one of your brothers in the service?

HI: Later on. He went to (the) language school in Minneapolis.

BH: Uh-huh, the MIS. Did you hear from him when he was there?

HI: A few times. Then he was sent to Japan. The war had ended then, but they still sent him to Japan for occupation forces. (...) I can't remember how long he was there.

BH: At Minidoka, were you able to continue your high school education or begin your high school education?

HI: Began (high school).

BH: What was school like in camp?

HI: Well, sometimes it was a circus. I felt I didn't learn that much, especially in math class. Algebra was okay, but when it came to geometry, I had three different teachers. I probably flunked it. But we had fun.

BH: Who were some of your friends in camp?

HI: Oh, there were some people from Portland and Seattle that we met in school, we became good friends through school.

BH: You had that issue with the fainting with the typhoid shots. Any other health issues among your family in camp?

HI: I was about sixteen at the time, and in December of '44 I got sick, and I couldn't walk for a bit. (...) The doctors in camp couldn't diagnose it, so they sent me to Boise. Right away they told me I had Poliomyelitis. I didn't know what that was. If they'd have said infantile paralysis I probably would have been scared to death. But it affected my left arm, the deltoid muscle, and they treated me with the Sister Kenny Method, which is to keep it immobile, and now I don't think that was the right thing to do. So they put me in a body cast and then gave me heat treatments and massage and stuff like that. So I don't have the use of my left arm very much.

BH: And did your mom or anybody go to the hospital in Boise with you?

HI: Yes, my mother was able to go with me, and they were able to find a home, a very nice lady that, they became friends later on, too. She stayed there I think about two, three weeks, and I was there a month. That was nice of them to take my mother in.

BH: Do you remember her name?

HI: I should, but I can't remember. Something (like) Goodall... it started with a G. And she used to write back and forth afterwards, too. My mother could write simple American English words. So they used to exchange Christmas cards for quite a while.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

BH: How did you find out about the end of the war?

HI: I'm not sure. Probably by radio. They might have announced it in the barracks when we had lunch or dinner, meals.

BH: When you knew that you would be leaving camp, what were you feeling about camp and about going home?

HI: That I would miss my friends. We didn't know for sure where we would be. Well, I guess my folks knew, they must have known, but they didn't tell us. It was kind of nice to know that we're going home.

BH: How did you get home?

HI: By train. My family was able to get a sleeper car because I still had the remnants of my polio. So we were able to get a sleeper car, and it was comfortable coming home.

BH: This time you didn't have to draw the curtains down.

HI: Yeah, right.

BH: Did you come back to the farm in Montavilla?

HI: (Yes), same house.

BH: And the house. What happened to the house and the farm while you were gone?

HI: Oh, I think they must have rented (it). (...) But they took pretty good care of it. I don't know the details of the arrangement that they had.

BH: And your dad continued farming?

HI: (Yes).

BH: Now by this time, your older brother was in the MIS. What about your sister and your younger brother?

HI: Oh, my sister got married in camp to (someone) from Seattle. So after the war, they went to Seattle to live. And then, of course, my younger brother was still in high school at the time. So he finished his high school going to Benson.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

BH: And what about you? Where did you finish high school?

HI: I graduated from Washington after just going one year, my senior year, which was not very enjoyable because I didn't know anybody. But there were a few Japanese people. I knew Reiko Miura before, so I was glad she was there. After graduation, she and I decided to go to college in Forest Grove, go to Pacific University, and we roomed together and had a good time.

BH: How did you get to Washington High School every day? That was quite a ways from Montavilla.

HI: Right. I took the streetcar, the streetcar came to the end of the Eighty-eighth and Yam hill, and we lived on 108th and Market. So my dad had to take me every morning to the end of the streetcar. And sometimes I'd walk home, or I could contact him and make arrangements. We didn't have cell phones, so we said, well, "I'll be home at such and such a time," and he'd be there waiting or I'd have to wait for him.

BH: How was the transition back to a big public school after having been in high school in camp?

HI: It was very different. I don't think we were welcomed that well, because I didn't make hardly any friends after that.

BH: Were there people, students that you knew from grade school who also went to Washington?

HI: There were a few, but they wouldn't talk to me so I didn't talk to them.

BH: How did you feel about the whole experience of the FBI coming and taking your family's stuff, and losing stuff, going to camp, coming back, you were not as welcomed. How did that affect you?

HI: (...) I thought it was unfair, and why did they have to do that? Because we're not a people that would cause a lot of trouble. So I just was amazed that they would do that. And my uncle was one of the first picked up by the FBI on December 7th. In fact, the Legacy Center had a postcard with his picture with the FBI. He had a suitcase and the FBI was taking him off someplace, and that was my uncle.

BH: And what was his name?

HI: Sadaji Shiogi. He ended up in Montana someplace, Missoula (perhaps).

BH: In an FBI detention center?

HI: (Yes). And, of course, the family was left behind, so they had to go to camp. It took them quite a while to be reunited.

BH: During our pre-interview, you mentioned that you felt different after your experiences, and that prompted you to take classes at Washington High School that you may not ordinarily have taken.

HI: Oh, I was very shy, and I couldn't speak up in front of people, and also I forced myself to take public speaking. And, of course, you have to get a speech ready and talk in front of the class. I was very fearful, but I forced myself to do it.

BH: You were very brave to do that.

HI: I can't remember what I got in the class.

BH: Did it help you gain some confidence?

HI: A little bit.

BH: And overcome some of those feelings?

HI: (Yes), it did.

BH: If I remember correctly, you used the word "inferior," that you felt inferior?

HI: Sometimes.

BH: And do you think that was because of what happened during the war?

HI: (Yes), I think (so). And then we didn't have the income like the American families. So it was a little hard to have the clothes that you want in high school like others.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

BH: You and your friend Reiko decided to go to Pacific University. What did you study there?

HI: Well, I took a liberal arts course at first, and we had to take religion, because that's Congregational college. I just went there for two years and decided I'd spent enough money. So came home and came back and went into business.

BH: Yeah, you also went to secretarial school? And then where did you work?

HI: I worked for Bausch and Lomb, but that was so boring I didn't like it. So I applied for the federal job at the VA hospital, (...) some employment with the federal government, and I ended up at the VA hospital and worked for a pathologist there in the lab. That was very interesting and I really enjoyed that. This pathologist treated me so good (...). The pathologist does autopsies and they read lab, the slides, microscopic slides, and he would dictate all that to me. One day he says, "You're coming down to the morgue with me," and I said, "No, I'm not." He says, "Yeah, it's not bad." After a few weeks he kept hounding me, so I gave in and went down. And the first time I did, I went to a corner, the farthest corner and turned my back. He said, "I like to give my reports like this. I don't like talking into a Dictaphone or whatever." So I did that, and you get used to it. I didn't do that all the time, but I did that quite a few times.

BH: And how did you meet your future husband Yosh Inahara?

HI: That was at Pacific University, Forest Grove. And there were other, quite a few Japanese boys over there, too, and girls. But there were several from Hood River, (...) we just met one day. I worked at the library, too, so he came in the library and introduced himself. (...) He worked in the kitchen, so I'd go through the kitchen every day for meals and see him there.

BH: After Pacific, you went on to secretarial school. What did Yosh do after Pacific?

HI: He graduated with a chemistry degree and then decided to go to Oregon State for pharmacy. So he finished (there in) two years and finished (and) got his pharmacy degree. At that time -- he was an alien because he was born in Japan when his mother was on vacation, and he was only two or three months old when they came (back) and hadn't been back since. So he was an alien. That gave him a little trouble getting his license, because to be a pharmacist, you have to be a resident.

BH: Right.

HI: So when the Walters Bill went through in 1953, he was the first in line. And he studied the Constitution and everything, and the guy says, "Oh, you know more than I do. You're okay." So he passed and got his license.

BH: Okay, so he became a naturalized citizen then?

HI: (Yes).

BH: Okay. So Yosh studied pharmacy. Did he work down in Corvallis for a while or did he work up here?

HI: No. After he graduated, he got (...) an intern job at Seaton Pharmacy. I think his brother or somebody told him there was an opening there, so he applied and got the job. (...) And then after a few years, quite a few years, the owner asked if he'd become a partner. So he signed up to be a partner, and the owner retired in '72 and wanted to sell it, so we decided to buy it, buy the business.

BH: Seatons, and where was Seatons located?

HI: It was located on Sixtieth and Belmont in the Mount Tabor area, across from Portland (...) Sanitarium. So he kept busy.

BH: And it wasn't just a pharmacy. What else did Seatons provide?

HI: We had a fountain, like a soda fountain, which served hamburgers and fries and (...) milkshakes. Then we had a post office and a pay station for utilities, plus the pharmacy. So that kept us pretty busy.

BH: And did you work at the soda fountain?

HI: No, not as much, 'cause I had to hire and fire, and took care of the post office mainly, for me.

BH: You know, several Japanese Americans worked at the pharmacy. Who worked there?

HI: Well, Sherry Okazaki worked in the fountain for a while until she was able to find more permanent work. And Lennie Tanaka worked for us. She came in one day with Butch and Nobi Okazaki, Nobi came to pick up his prescription, and Lennie was a good friend of Butch. So she came in and was looking around, and pretty soon she comes to Yosh and she says, "I'm going to work for you," just like that. Yosh says, "Oh, okay." She started to work for us and was there for thirteen years. She was quite a lady.

BH: She was. And where were you and Yosh married?

HI: We were married here in Portland at Mount Tabor Presbyterian.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

BH: And tell me about your children.

HI: We have three children. One is deceased now, but I have a daughter and then a younger son. I have seven grandkids.

BH: And the names of your three children?

HI: Alan and Cheryl and Robert.

BH: And their spouses?

HI: Alan's wife is Neale, and Cheryl's husband is Steve, and Rob's wife is Tracy.

BH: And the names of your grandkids?

HI: Oh, my. Have to go from the oldest. Brandon and Stephanie is Cheryl's children; and Kyle, Justin and Greg are Rob's, and (...) Ryan and Emily, (Alan and Neale's children).

BH: And earlier your parents went to the Buddhist church in Milwaukie, and you were married in the Presbyterian church. Did you take your children to church or Sunday school?

HI: Well, we tried. We tried to take them to Epworth at first, they went for a while. Then we tried to have them learn Japanese a little better, so we took them to Nichiren and Reverend Kodachi was the teacher. And every Saturday we'd go, but they didn't get much out of that. So I thought, "Oh, that's wasting his time."

BH: And now you and Yosh are members at Epworth?

HI: (Yes).

BH: How did you get involved with Ikoi no Kai, the senior lunch program?

HI: Takae Okazaki talked me into it. She asked me if I would come, 'cause they needed some help. So I said, "Well, I don't know what I can do, but I'll try," so I started. I can't remember when I started. It's been quite a while.

BH: Yeah, it's been several years.

HI: Five or six years, maybe longer.

BH: And after you and Yosh were married, where did you live?

HI: Oh, we lived near the drugstore. And then I was still working at the Veterans hospital, so I commuted by bus.

BH: Now, unlike many Nisei, you've been willing to talk with your kids and grandkids about your wartime experiences. Did you initiate those conversations or did they?

HI: (...) Sometimes I may have. Yosh wasn't in camp, (his) family moved voluntarily, 'cause (they) had so many boys he didn't want 'em in camp. So he might have talked to them about that. But other than that, he didn't say too much. Then when (our) kids were like fourth and fifth grade, they wanted to hear about the evacuation and all. So we did go talk to them about that (in school).

BH: At their schools?

HI: (Yes), one's in Canby and (one) in Clackamas. So that's how they got to know about (the war and evacuation).

BH: Why do you think most Issei and Nisei have been reluctant to talk to their kids and grandkids about their assembly center and camp experiences?

HI: I don't think they liked to talk about things like that. They didn't think of it as history. Then the fact that Japan was their native land, and they felt kind of embarrassed maybe? I don't know, that's my thinking.

BH: Sure, sure.

HI: Our oldest... Alan's oldest son (Ryan) was in college, and he wrote a thesis on evacuation. (...) He got a lot of help from the Legacy Center, he talked to Mari, and got a lot help there. And he got an A-plus on his thesis. We're proud of him.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

BH: What are your feelings about redress?

HI: Well, I think it was too late for our parents. Because our dad was... he died in January, and the redress went through in April or so, wasn't it? April or May? (He had died), so he didn't get it, but my mother did. I don't think it was in time, should have been earlier, or more maybe, to our Issei parents.

BH: Have you ever visited Japan?

HI: Oh yes, about three times. I really enjoyed it. And the last was in 2006, and we took our whole family, fourteen of us. Our own tour group. I was afraid the kids were going to get lost, but they did very well. Of course, they were taller, you know, and they kind of stood above everybody. Then they wore the red baseball caps. They did very well. They want to go back.

BH: It must have been very meaningful.

HI: (It was) because we had a lot of cousins, and at that time we had some aunts. It was a lot of fun. (Our children and grandchildren want to go back).

BH: Have any of your kids or grandkids learned the language?

HI: Yes, Justin and... (...) Rob's middle boy took it in high school and a little bit in college. And then he went to Japan for one summer to work through the Oregon State program (...). But he ended up on an American base, so he didn't get much experience speaking.

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

HI: Well, it was hard sometimes, because people look at you differently. Sometime it wasn't friendly, and other times they were (not). Of course, the people we knew were very friendly. So I felt inferior in that respect. That's why I took public speaking.

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

HI: Oh, I think they took it in stride. What else was there to do? What can you do?

BH: How do you think your life changed because of the war?

HI: Well, I don't know. I wouldn't be married to the person I am now. (I felt a lot of prejudice I had to overcome).

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

HI: Well, I hope that never happens to any other nationality, such prejudice. I hope people can get along a little better.

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

HI: Well, I just hope that they're good citizens, and work hard and get an education, for one thing. Because I think that's very important.

BH: What do you see... you've talked about education and being good citizens. Does that kind of sum up what's important in life to you?

HI: I think so. (You) have a good life if you have a good education, (parental support and good family life).

BH: What did your parents do after they retired from the farm?

HI: My dad played golf. They moved to Seattle because my brother was up there, and he had an apartment for them in downtown Seattle someplace. So my mother worked in a greenhouse; she loved plants and things and worked at Columbia Greenhouse, it was a Japanese-owned greenhouse. My dad did for a little while, and then he played golf.

BH: When we talked earlier, during the pre-interview, you talked about some practical classes that you were able to take at Russellville like home ec. and shop. What do you remember about that?

HI: I enjoyed those because it was hands-on stuff. Back in shop, we made wooden shoes, made an ashtray, and we used a lathe to get the stand, and made a tray, and then we wove the edges with a reed, (it was fun), and the wooden shoe came in handy in camp, 'cause it was so muddy. They didn't have sidewalks or anything, so it was very muddy on rainy days, and that wooden shoe came in handy.


BH: Anything else you'd like to add, any other comments?

HI: I think the Legacy Center is doing a wonderful job in doing all this (...) and I praise them for that. (It takes a lot of people to coordinate something like this. A job well done.)

BH: We really appreciate you taking the time to share your experiences.

HI: What little I can offer.

BH: No. Everybody's story is different, and since it isn't always taught, and some people don't share very many details with their families, it's nice that we're able to capture these stories for your future generations of your family as well as researchers who want to learn more about what it was like.

HI: Well, I think that's a wonderful part of the Legacy Center, while (the Niseis are) still living.

BH: Thank you very much, Heidi, we really appreciate this.

HI: You're welcome, thank you.

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