Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Kay Sweeney Interview
Narrator: Kay Sweeney
Interviewer: Alison Walcott
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: February 26, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-skay-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

AW: This is Alison Walcott, and we're interviewing Mrs. Kay Sweeney in her home in Northeast Portland. It's February 26, 2003.


AW: Can you tell us about your family?

KS: My family is living in Kagoshima City, Japan, for generations.

AW: How many siblings do you have?

KS: I have six brothers and one sister.

AW: All right. And are they older than you or are you the youngest?

KS: No. I was third from the bottom.

AW: What type of jobs did your parents do?

KS: My father was a Japan railroad employee, and the mother was a regular housewife.


AW: What was Japan like during the years before the war?

KS: Before the war as I remember, there was a lot of depressions I was talking about. And soon after that, Japanese army officer revolting in Tokyo area and tried to kill political leaders. Then soon after that, we went to Manchuria War and that... then that continued to the war in China.

AW: What was schooling like?

KS: It was strict, indeed, absolutely. We cannot talk in the classroom. And whenever your attention level wandered, and teachers, suddenly a piece of white chalk fly at you. Then sometimes, he ordered to stand, stand at back of the school classroom until next recess end. It was very strict.

AW: Were most of your teachers male or did you have female teachers?

KS: Most of my teacher was male teachers, even the grade schools.

AW: And was it difficult to enter college?

KS: Oh, in these days, we went, we entered the girl's high school, and we had to prepare for entrance test. So the, after the school hour, teacher kept us giving us a special lessons for preparation for the test. And the test, therefore, test wasn't very difficult to us, as a usual routine.

AW: So the exams were easier for women or for girls?

KS: Yes.

AW: What type of subjects did you study?

KS: Well, we studied, we covered just about everything we do here, mostly Japanese language. Some, we had some English lessons, and we had the, all kind of economic and house economic and history and geography and math. I don't know everything we had.

AW: At that time did everybody go to school?

KS: Oh, yes. Everybody went to school, but not everybody went to the girl's high school.

AW: Did some women stay home and work with the family?

KS: Yes. Yes, some went to work.

AW: Were all your brothers and sisters encouraged to go to school?

KS: Yes.

AW: And what type of college did you attend?

KS: Well, I went to, from the girl's high school, then to the nursing school for three years.


AW: But if you want to just talk a little bit about what it was like to be a woman in Japan at that time?

KS: Well, we girls go to school. Most of the girls went to girl's high school or some not. But after that, they went with some, take over some job, or we land in some housework and ready to get married someday.

AW: Did many of your friends get married right after high school?

KS: Yes, many of them got married.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.