REgenerations Oral History Project: Rebuilding Japanese American Families, Communities, and Civil Rights in the Resettlement Era

Chicago Region: Volume I

figure

Edited by
Japanese American National Museum


Los Angeles, California


Chicago Japanese American Historical Society


Chicago, Illinois


Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego


San Diego, California


Japanese American Resource Center/Museum


San Jose, California

Guidelines for Use

Researchers are welcome to utilize short excerpts from any of the transcriptions without obtaining permission as long as proper credit is given to the interviewee, interviewer and the Japanese American National Museum. Scholars must however, obtain permission from the Japanese American National Museum or the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society before making more extensive use of the transcription and related materials. None of these materials may be duplicated or reproduced by any party without permission from the Japanese American National Museum or the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society.


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Director's Foreword

Japanese American National Musuem

The Japanese American National Museum is honored to present this publication of the REgenerations Oral History Project: Rebuilding Japanese American Families, Communities, and Civil Rights in the Resettlement Era. This extensive collection of oral history interviews offers insight into the often-overlooked period within Japanese American history known as resettlement. By documenting the ordinary, yet extraordinary lives of these 42 individuals, REgenerations seeks to challenge the assumption that Japanese Americans merely returned to normal lives after World War II. Recorded on videotape and transcribed for publication, these interviews document the struggles and triumphs of Japanese Americans as they rebuilt their lives after the exclusion and incarceration experience of World War II.

Since opening to the public in 1992, the National Museum has forged partnerships with regional organizations and local communities to promote the participation of community in the collection and interpretation of their own history. This unique collaboration with the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society (CJAHS), the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego (JAHSSD), and the Japanese American Resource Center/Museum (JARC/M) in San Jose was created on this philosophy. By combining together our expertise, resources, knowledge and enthusiasm, we developed a process and a product that serves as a regional and national model for future community oral history projects.

We thank our partners for their dedication and hard work. Through the process of mutual exchange, we accomplished so much more as a team than each of us could have on our own. This publication is an important outcome of the project, but perhaps more importantly, the long-term impact of REgenerations demonstrates the success of partnerships and the sustained regional efforts in each city to document the resettlement era.

The Japanese American National Museum acknowledges the support of the Civil Liberties Publication Education Fund, established by Congress to support research and educational activities that examine the impact of the exclusion, forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. A special thanks to Darcie Iki,


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REgenerations Project Director, for her leadership and dedication to this partnership.

Most importantly, the Japanese American National Museum thanks those who graciously shared their stories with us. Their voices tell the story of a few, but their experiences represent the lives of many. The REgenerations Oral History Project will be an important resource for scholars and students as they continue to push the boundaries of new scholarship in Japanese American history.

Irene Hirano
Executive Director and President

Partner's Foreword

Chicago Japanese American Historical Society

The Chicago Japanese American Historical Society's collaboration with the Japanese American National Museum on the REgenerations Oral History Project: Rebuilding Japanese American Families, Communities, and Civil Rights in the Resettlement Era was much more than a scholarly enterprise directed by and for fellow academics. This collaboration forged a partnership between the two organizations. Furthermore, it legitimizes the importance of areas outside the West Coast in documenting the resettlement story. After the war many evacuees eventually returned to the West Coast to reestablish their communities. However, others ventured to and established communities in the Midwest and East Coast. As a major urban center with little history of anti-Asian sentiment, Chicago lured evacuees with jobs. Its Japanese American population swelled to nearly 20,000 by the end of the 1940s. But beyond these bare-boned facts, little has been written about the resettlement years in general, much less the Chicago story of this experience.

The Japanese American National Museum came to the Chicago Japanese American community for our expertise in telling our story. This process involved local experts who identified themes to guide our oral histories and individuals to give their stories. Yoji Ozaki, Jean Mishima, Kiyo Yoshimura, Hiro Mayeda, Sue Mayeda, Sam Ozaki, Haru Ozaki, Molly Ozaki, Kiyo Fujiu, Pat Aiko Amino, Sandra Yamate, Ben Chikaraishi, and Alice Murata served in these roles. We gratefully acknowledge your expertise and help.

Institutional support came from the Japanese American Service Committee, Heiwa Terrace, and Northeastern Illinois University. Financial support came from the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, the Chicago Japanese American Council, and the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society. We are indebted for your assistance.

Finally, we are deeply grateful to our narrators—Pat Aiko Amino, Ben Chikaraishi, Kiyoko Kasai Fujiu, Masaru Funai, Noboru Honda, Hiroshi Kaneko, Kay Kuwahara, Hiro Mayeda, Tom Teraji, and Shigeo Wakamatsu—and their families. They gave meaning to what has happened, showed how it shaped their lives into the present, and shared their hopes for the future. In word and spirit, they gave of themselves. Domo arigato gozaimasu.

The vitality, richness, and breath of experiences in the following oral histories point to the value of this method of documentation. The


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Chicago REgenerations team members are grateful to our narrators, community experts, and the Japanese American National Museum for the privilege of this experience.

Yoji Ozaki
President, 1994-1998
Jean Mishima
President, 1998-present
Mary L. Doi
REgenerations Chicago Coordinator


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Preface

Japanese American National Musuem

The REgenerations Oral History Project: Rebuilding Japanese American Families, Communities and Civil Rights in the Resettlement Era was initiated in 1997 by the Japanese American National Museum and funded in part by the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund. Inspired by a commitment to document Japanese American history beyond the incarceration experience, this collaborative community-based oral history project explores the postwar era and the struggle of Japanese Americans to rebuild their lives after World War II. Though the end of war brought freedom from the confines of America's concentration camps, Japanese Americans returned to the same prejudice and discrimination they had left in 1942. Naturalization laws, alien lands laws, anti-miscegenation laws, housing restrictions, and immigration laws continued to exclude Japanese Americans from taking their rightful place in American society. Despite these institutional and social barriers, Japanese Americans fought to overcome these challenges and rebuild what they had lost during the war. Focusing on the period between 1942-1965, REgenerations documents the often-neglected history of Japanese American resettlement by focusing on four Nikkei communities in the United States: Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose.

The Partnership

The National Museum's programs are always driven by a philosophy that encourages collaboration and community involvement. The Regenerations Oral History Project was no exception. In 1996, the National Museum identified three partnering organizations to participate in the collaboration-the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society, the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego, and the Japanese American Resource Center/Museum in San Jose. These organizations were involved in on-going documentation efforts at the local level and were identified as key partners that would be essential to the community-based


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approach of the project. Together, the four partners set out to achieve three main goals: (1) to collect life history interviews focusing on the resettlement experience in order to further our understanding of Japanese American history; (2) to develop a model for community-based oral history projects that engaged members of the community in the preservation, documentation and interpretation of their local history and culture; and (3) to develop partnerships that serve as a catalyst for revitalizing a sense of community through the exchange and sharing of life histories.

Together, we worked to recruit four regional teams, which included a coordinator, a scholar, interviewers, videographers, and transcriptionists. The interviewers were selected based on their breadth of knowledge in Japanese American history, experience in oral history interviewing, and their ability to work closely with the Japanese American community. Local scholars were identified within each region to play an integral role in shaping the research design of the project and to assist in implementing the oral history training seminars. The videographers and the transcriptionists were selected for their technical knowledge. Led by the coordinators, the regional teams met regularly throughout the course of the project. The project leadership from each region participated in planning meetings, mid-year evaluations of the process, including a critique of the interviews, and a follow-up training session in Los Angeles.

By trusting in the valuable expertise and knowledge of all participants, we established an opportunity for exchange. Through this collaborative process, REgenerations helped to establish important institutional partnerships and promote community development by connecting individuals with the past and rejuvenating a sense of community in the present. This joint exploration brought together a diverse group of people, including the Nisei and Sansei/Yonsei generations, scholars and community members, and individuals and organizations-strengthening the bonds between us and bringing to each a renewed respect for each other, and new understanding of history and its impact on individual lives.

The Publication

After two years of intensive work, the project has collected and preserved 42 interviews, equaling over 100 hours of audio/videotaped interviews and over 2,000 pages of primary resource materials. This rich collection of first-person accounts offers insight into the hardship Japanese Americans faced, often illustrating that reentry into mainstream life was in many cases a more traumatic experience than


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the initial uprooting. The interviews are generally two to four hours long, with the most extensive interview running nine hours. While the interviews focus on the resettlement era, they also present the interviewees' lives before and during the war. This broader portrait of their lives was important to establish a better understanding of the effect the wartime exclusion and incarceration experience on their lives.

This publication consists of four volumes, each volume dedicated to a particular region-Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose. Each volume contains an overview essay on resettlement by Arthur A. Hansen of California State University, Fullerton. In addition, each volume contains an essay that offers unique insight into the specific historical experiences of each region. The regional scholars who contributed these essays are Susan S. Hasegawa (San Diego), Valerie Matsumoto (Los Angeles), Alice Murata (Chicago), and Alex Yamato (San Jose). The essays provide important historical and methodological contexts for the full interview transcripts that follow. Biographical summaries and photographs of each interviewee precede their respective interviews. A subject index (a separate index per volume) is provided for readers to help navigate through the interview transcripts.

The oral history transcripts presented here are near-verbatim versions of the actual interviews. As much as possible, the interviewees' speech patterns and word choices have been preserved to reflect their individuality. However, some editorial changes have been made in an attempt to clarify and contextualize the meaning of some responses. In addition, although euphemisms, such as evacuation, relocation centers, or assembly centers, remain in the interview text, the Japanese American National Museum uses the terms forced removal, concentration camps, and detention centers to convey the institution's stylistic standards in defining the Japanese American historical experience.

The Process

The project participants were required to participate in a five-day oral history training seminar held in June 1997, in Los Angeles. This seminar provided training in oral history interviewing, videography, transcription, and included hands-on practice exercises, critical viewing of sample interviews, and lectures on Japanese American history. All the project participants who attended this seminar also received written critiques of their interviews and additional training throughout the project. Each partnering


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organization also hosted community forums where members of the community were asked to identify important themes they considered relevant to their regional history and to help in identifying potential interviewees. These forums were designed to strengthen the relationships between community members and local community organizations, further enhancing community development by offering them hands-on ways to get involved in the interpretation of their own history.

Each region selected the interviewees with consideration for their ability and willingness to participate in the project and their knowledge of resettlement activities. An effort was made to interview a diverse group of individuals representing various geographic, generational, gender, and experiential segments of the community. All interviewees were required to sign legal release forms that authorize the National Museum to preserve and present their stories to the public.

Once the interview sessions were completed, the interviews went through an extensive process of transcription and editing. Each regional organization transcribed and edited their respective interviews. This time-consuming process included the following stages: (1) a first draft of the transcript; (2) an audit-edit during which the transcriber listens to the interview while reading the first draft to check for errors in transcription; (3) editing the transcript, which includes fact-checking, footnoting, and minor grammatical editing. The transcripts were then sent back to the interviewee in order to give them the opportunity to make corrections to their interviews. These changes were incorporated into the transcript and then sent to Los Angeles to be prepared for this publication. The transcripts were reformatted and reedited by the National Museum's Life History Department in an effort to bring overall consistency to the project. The Museum has made some editorial changes; however, some inconsistency remains from region to region for the purpose of maintaining the integrity of the interview, as well as the editorial work of each regional team.

The original videos and transcripts are housed at the Japanese American National Museum and are accessible to the public through the National Museum's Hirasaki National Resource Center. Each partnering organization retained a duplicate set of videos and a set of transcripts that are housed in their respective institutions. Additional volumes have been distributed to major libraries across the country. The Japanese American National Museum and each respective regional organization possess joint ownership of the oral history collection.


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Success and Impact

The success of the REgenerations Oral History Project, as evidenced by the completion of this publication, must also be measured by the impact the project has made on each partnering institution, and the communities they serve. REgenerations has not only sparked dialogue and discussion within the community about the resettlement period, but has inspired communities to document their regional histories within a national context of Japanese American history. Moreover, each partnering organization has continued its efforts beyond the life of REgenerations, and have incorporated the resettlement story into their preservation and public programming efforts.

In 1998, the Japanese American National Museum presented Coming Home: Memories of Japanese American Resettlement, 1945-65, an exhibition that highlighted artifacts from the National Museum's permanent collection related to the resettlement experience. In addition, this project has heightened the National Museum's awareness of the lack of resources available on resettlement, thus invigorating a more concerted effort to collect artifacts and oral histories that focus on the postwar years. The Japanese American Resource Center/Museum received a California Civil Liberties Public Education Fund grant for a project that supported the collection of photographs related to resettlement. They have also developed a web page dedicated to the REgenerations interviews (www.jarcm.org), and will host an exhibition on resettlement entitled, "Completing the Story: A Community Remembers." The Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego produced "Democracy Under Pressure: Japanese Americans and World War II," a video documentary that utilized the research from REgenerations as a springboard to tell the story of San Diego's Japanese American community. Members of the Chicago team are continuing their research into the postwar history of Chicago's Japanese American community.

This final publication is the culmination of three-years of extensive work that will contribute to the current research on resettlement and expand the parameters of Japanese American history. These interviews will serve as an important resource of primary research materials to be utilized by many scholars and students to come. But it is only the beginning and should be viewed as one small step on a long path ahead. If we are truly to understand Japanese American history in all its


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complexities, it is critical that we continue to uncover the national story about the dispersion and forced migration of an ethnic community forced to rebuild their families, communities and civil rights in the postwar years.

Acknowledgments

This project could not have been possible without the dedication of an incredible team of individuals who participated in this collaboration. First, I would like to thank all of the interviewees who graciously agreed to share their memories with us. By recognizing the value of recording their experiences for future generations of scholars and students, they have provided us with a window to look into the past. I would like to thank our partnering institutions-the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society, the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego, and the Japanese American Resource Center/Museum-and their respective directors, Yoji Ozaki, Jean Mishima, Ben Segawa, and Aggie Idemoto. Their leadership and commitment to this partnership was crucial to the success of this project. Many thanks to consultants, Brian Niiya, Arthur A. Hansen, and Valerie Matsumoto for their valuable insights and assistance in conceptualizing the scope of the project, and in particular to Brian Niiya for aptly naming the project, "REgenerations." Each regional team's activities were led by the regional coordinators and regional scholars. The regional coordinators, Mary L. Doi, Susan S. Hasegawa, Melina Takahashi, and Karen Yonemoto did an outstanding job managing the details of the project in their respective regions. They organized the planning of community forums and public events, coordinated meetings and interview schedules, oversaw the transcription process, and served as liaisons to the National Museum. Their incredible dedication and persistence was invaluable. Regional scholars, Don Estes, Arthur A. Hansen, Valerie Matsumoto, Alice Murata, and Alex Yamato, provided historical expertise and critical analysis to the project. Their essay contributions provide an historical context to the interview transcripts and are a significant addition to this publication. Art Hansen acted as project advisor, offering resources, critiquing interviews from each region, and providing advice to each region as they negotiated the intricacies of oral history interviewing. Thank you also to scholars Lane Hirabayashi, Setsuko Matsunaga Nishi, and Kariann Yokota who provided resources and valuable insights into the topic. I'd also like to acknowledge the hard work of the interviewers, videographers, and transcriptionists who all played a tremendous role as the creators


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of the interviews, whether out in the field and/or behind the camera. (For complete listing of participants see: Project Team & Project Interviewees). Additionally, I'd like to thank Kathy Frazee and the staff at California State University, Fullerton's Oral History Program for indexing all of the interview transcripts and to Tom Underhill of Shumway Publishing for all of his efforts to make this publication special.

There were also many staff members of the Japanese American National Museum who contributed to the success of the project. Thank you to Akemi Kikumura, Claudia Sobral, and Clement Hanami, whose previous collaborative efforts set the model for this community-based partnership. Thank you to Brian Niiya, Jim Hirabayashi, and Lloyd Inui for their valuable critiques and insights, Cynthia Togami, Life History Collections Coordinator, meticulously edited this four-volume collection, Sojin Kim, Life History Collections Coordinator, who also lent her expertise to the editing process, Karen Yonemoto, Life History Coordinator, who organized the Los Angeles team and also assisted with much of the coordination for the overall project. Additional thanks to Carla Tengan, Life History Assistant and Scott Akasaki, intern, assisted on the project, Bob Nakamura, Justin Lin, and John Esaki, of the Media Arts Center provided training and consultation for the videographers, Clement Hanami and Tami Kaneshiro provided all the graphic design needs, and Grace Murakami and Nikki Chang provided assistance in collections. Cheryl Kaino provided assistance with the grant, Chris Komai provided PR/Marketing needs, and Sara Iwahashi assisted with the publication process. Finally, thank you to Irene Hirano, Nancy Araki, and Karin Higa for their valuable insights and assistance throughout the project.

Darcie C. Iki
REgenerations Project Director


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Project Teams and Project Interviewees

Chicago Project Team

    Chicago Project Team
  • Mary Doi, Ph.D., Regional Coordinator/Interviewer
  • Alice Murata, Ph.D., Regional Scholar/Interviewer
  • Yoji Ozaki, Regional Advisor
  • Sandra Yamate, Esq., Interviewer
  • Pat Amino, Transcriber
  • Sharon Harada, Transcriber
  • Kay Toriumi, Transcriber
  • Nobu Kuroishi, Videographer
  • Kenichi Tokita, Videographer
  • Bebe Baxter, George Dean, Neal Swire, graduate assistants

Chicago Interviewees

    Chicago Interviewees
  • Pat Aiko (Suzuki) Amino
  • Dr. Ben Tsutomu Chikaraishi
  • Kiyoko (Kasai) Fujiu
  • Masaru Funai, Esq.
  • Noboru Honda
  • Hiroshi Kaneko
  • Kay (Hayashi) Kuwahara
  • Hiroshi Mayeda
  • Thomas Teraji
  • Shigeo Wakamatsu

San Jose Project Team

    San Jose Project Team
  • Aggie Idemoto, Ed.D., Regional Coordinator/Advisor/Interviewer
  • Melina Takahashi, Regional Coordinator/Transcriber
  • Alex Yamato, Ph.D., Regional Scholar/Interviewer
  • Karen Matsuoka, Interviewer/Transcriber
  • Joe Yasutake, Ph.D., Interviewer
  • Barbara Uchiyama, Interviewer
  • Wendy Ng, Ph.D., Transcriber/Interviewer
  • Huu-Quyen Ngo, Videographer

San Jose Interviewers

    San Jose Interviewers
  • Masayo (Yasui) Arii
  • Katie (Koga) Hironaka
  • Hatsu (Matsumoto) Kanemoto
  • Akira Jackson Kato
  • Aiko (Kato) Kitaji
  • Paul S. Sakamoto, Ph.D.
  • Eiichi Edward Sakauye
  • Yoshihiro Uchida
  • Harry Yoshio Ueno
  • Roy T, Uyehata
  • Tetsuko (Okida) Zaima

Los Angeles Project Team

    Los Angeles Project Team
  • Darcie Iki, Project Director/Interviewer
  • Karen Yonemoto, Regional/National Coordinator
  • Cynthia Togami, Editor/Interviewer
  • Arthur Hansen, Ph.D., Regional Scholar
  • Valerie Matsumoto, Ph.D., Regional Scholar
  • James Gatewood, Interviewer
  • Leslie Ito, Interviewer
  • Alison Kochiyama, Transcriber
  • Erica Lee, Videographer
  • Steven Wong, Videographer

Los Angeles Interviewers

    Los Angeles Interviewers
  • Harry K. Honda
  • Rose Honda
  • Haruko (Sugi) Hurt
  • Kazuo Inouye
  • Mary (Nishi) Ishizuka
  • Katsumi (Hirooka) Kunitsugu
  • Marion (Funakoshi) Manaka
  • Esther (Takei) Nishio
  • Dr. Sakaye Shigekawa
  • Reverend Art Takemoto
  • Togo Tanaka

San Diego Project Team

    San Diego Project Team
  • Susan Hasegawa, Regional Coordinator/Scholar/Interviewer
  • Don Estes, Regional Scholar
  • Ben Segawa, Regional Advisor
  • Joseph Kim, Interviewer
  • Debra Kodama, Interviewer
  • Joyce Teague, Interviewer
  • Carol Estes, Transcriber
  • Leng Loh, Videographer

San Diego Interviewees

    San Diego Interviewees
  • Kay (Torio) Fukamizu
  • Masaaki Hironaka
  • Masami Honda
  • M. Lloyd Ito
  • Umeko (Mamiya) Kawamoto
  • Hisako (Inamura) Koike
  • Ruth (Takahashi) Voorhies
  • James M. Yamate
  • Dorothy (Okura) Yonemitsu
  • Joe Yoshioka


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Resettlement: A Neglected Link in Japanese America's Narrative Chain

By Arthur A. Hansen

In March 1983 a remarkable conference, "Relocation to Redress: The Japanese American Experience," was held in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was staged just after the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, an official body of the U.S. Congress, had issued its long-awaited report, Personal Justice Denied 1982).

1.  Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (Washington D.C.: GPO, 1982; reprint, with a foreward by Tetsuden Kashima, University of Washington Press, 1997). This report has recently been published in a new edition; it includes a foreword by Professor Tetsuden Kashima of the University of Washington, an important catalyst for current resettlement scholarship.

The meeting brought together academics, many of Japanese ancestry, and lay people, mostly Nikkei. onto the spectacularly beautiful University of Utah campus.

With the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains as their backdrop, conferees interacted at lectures, panels, readings, films, and a field trip to the site of the former War Relocation Authority (WRA)-administered Topaz Relocation Center concentration camp. Primarily, the conference explored topics and themes of the World War II eviction and detention experience of Japanese Americans, though secondary attention was paid to the contemporary redress movement. In 1986, three of the conference's moving spirits-Roger Daniels, Sandra Taylor, and Harry Kitano-edited the proceedings into an anthology, Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress.

2. Originally published by the University of Utah Press, revised edition was published five years later in 1991 and a second printing in 1994 by the University of Washington Press.

Viewed in hindsight, a conspicuously absent ingredient in both the Utah conference and correlated publication on "relocation" and "redress" (and, for that matter, even in Personal Justice Denied. was any substantial treatment of an intervening historical phenomenon designated by yet another "r" word: resettlement. Moreover, but for a few notable exceptions, the resettlement experience of Japanese Americans has been relegated to the margins of scholarly literature and popular memory, not only outside, but also within Japanese America.


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This neglect of the resettlement era, which sociologist Tetsuden Kashima as far back as 1980 labeled "social amnesia,"

3. See, Tetsuden Kashima, "Japanese American Internees Return, 1945 to 1955: Readjustment and Social Amnesia," Phylon 41 (summer 1980): 107-15.

has not been salutary. In the mainstream American public (including the general academic community) it has fostered the false understanding that, notwithstanding their wartime exclusion and incarceration, Japanese Americans metamorphosed almost instantly after World War II into what the U.S. media by the early 1960s was marketing as this country's "model minority." Such a wrong-headed perception is consonant with the consoling American myth that our nation's most undemocratic deeds and uncivil behavior inevitably result in egalitarian progress. However, this outlook simultaneously cleanses the "relocation" of its status as a bone fide social disaster, replete with long-lasting dislocations and repercussions, and reduces the painstaking rebuilding role by Nikkei individuals, families, groups, and communities during the postwar years to a puzzling miracle of race, ethnicity, and culture.

As for the comparative neglect by Japanese Americans of "resettlement," this also has been costly. Having at last confronted one traumatic chapter of its collective past, "relocation," through the protracted process of "redress," the community has tended, understandably enough, to curtail its rendezvous with its own recent history. Furthermore, the silence, repression, and accommodation that formerly characterized the community's response to its wartime "rape" have been replicated in its reaction to the period "after camp." Since racism continued to menace Nikkei on a variety of fronts during this interval between "relocation" and "redress," the community's quest for therapy through history will elude it until the era of "resettlement" is revisited and engaged with renewed vigor and rigor.

Setting aside for now the question of whether "resettlement" is suitably precise and/or proper terminology, what can be profiled is what the term has come to denote. Chronologically, resettlement typically is seen as spanning the 1942-1955 years. Brian Niiya relates in his introduction to Nanka Nikkei Voices: Resettlement Years 1945-1955

4.  (Los Angeles: Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California, 1998), 5.

that resettlement had its roots in May 1942. It was then that church leaders, educators, and other "friends" of the Japanese Americans formed an organization that assisted 4,000 Nisei students to exchange their wartime concentration camp homes for 600 college campuses located within unrestricted areas of the country.

5. A recent work treating this dimension of resettlement is Gary Y. Okihiro, Storied Lives: Japanese American Students and World War II (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999). This work includes an afterword, "Nisei Relocation Commemorative Fund," by Leslie A. Ito, a REgenerations project interviewer for the Los Angeles project research team.


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But as the "resettlement" entries in Japanese American History: An A to Z Reference from 1868 to the Present, edited by Niiya notes, this term commonly describes the March 1942 "voluntary migration" of roughly 5,000 Nikkei from the forbidden coastal defense area eastward.

6. See, "Resettlement" and "'Voluntary' Resettlement" entries in Brian Niiya, ed., Japanese American History: An A-to-Z Reference from 1868 to the Present (Los Angeles and New York: Japanese American National Museum and Facts on File, 1993), 294-95, 344-45. A revised edition of this invaluable reference work is scheduled for publication in 2000.

Because Colorado was the most hospitable of the intermountain states to resettlers, that state, and particularly the Denver area, was their primary destination, with Utah second in popularity.

7. Ibid, 344. For the situation in Utah, see, Sandra C. Taylor, "Leaving the Concentration Camps: Japanese American Resettlement in Utah and the Intermountain West," Pacific Historical Review 60 (May 1991): 169-94. For resettlement in Colorado, see the forthcoming study "Japanese American Resettlement in Colorado," by anthropologist Toshio Yatsushiro. This work is based upon a study that Yatsushiro, a Nisei, prepared in 1946 for the U.S. Department of the Interior. It is being edited for publication through a Civil Liberties Public Education Fund grant awarded to Lane Hirabayashi, a University of Colorado professor of anthropology and Asian American studies and a scholarly consultant for the REgenerations project.

These two resettlement areas supported fairly ample prewar Nikkei communities and, in tandem, published three vernacular newspapers with English-language sections (in Denver the Colorado Times and the Rocky Nippon/Shimpo, and in Salt Lake City the Utah Nippo). Still another newspaper, the Japanese American Citizens League's exclusively English-language Pacific Citizen, was added when the JACL "resettled" its operation from San Francisco to Salt Lake City in spring 1942. As the sole mainland Japanese American papers, apart from camp ones, the "resettlement press" experienced swollen readerships and exerted far more influence than before the war.

Once "voluntary" resettlement ended on March 27, 1942, and the enforced removal of Nikkei from the military defense areas to the assembly and relocation centers had materialized, the stage was set for a new resettlement phase in 1942. By summer, even before the teremotely located WRA concentration camps had received all of their designated wards, several hundred behind barbed wire were permitted "work release furloughs" in nearby states like Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Montana. Owing to an acute shortage of agricultural workers, "furlough resettlers" were enlisted for short intervals to harvest endangered crops, mainly sugar beets, deemed vital to the military and home fronts.

8. See, Louis Fiset, "Thinning, Topping, and Loading: Japanese Americans and Beet Sugar in World War II," Pacific Northwest Quarterly 90 (summer 1999): 123-39.


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At the same time, the WRA developed machinery for what Director Dillon Myer confidently hoped by year's end would be the "permanent resettlement" in mostly eastern and midwestern states of 75,000 of the approximately 120,000 imprisoned Nikkei in his agency's custody. But if a way had been paved for Japanese Americans to ease labor shortages while becoming "more Americanized" through blending in among resident populations largely unfamiliar with and less prejudiced against people of Japanese ancestry than their West Coast counterparts, Nikkei lacked the will to resettle. The leave process was convoluted, the leaders of targeted areas often recalcitrant in their resistance, and there was too much uncertainty and presumed hostility in the world outside the camps for internees to risk the resettlement plunge. When 1942 turned to 1943, less than 900 had forsaken their incarcerated families and community for the "freedom" of permanent resettlement.

As of late summer 1943, an additional 10,000 detained Nikkei had resettled. This development reflected the resettlement policy's liberalization and systematization. Some of the pernicious bureaucratic and chauvinistic barriers that had deterred the resettlement flow in 1942 now were lowered or dismantled. To smooth the resettlement path, the WRA sent recruitment teams to all camps, promoted success stories, extended token financial assistance, and encouraged the creation of low-cost transitional housing. The WRA also established a nationwide network of field offices, which were augmented by volunteer groups of humanitarian-minded local citizens and the "helping professions."

Then, too, by 1943 camp life began to weigh heavily on certain inmates, such as those who were disfavored and often imperiled for taking the stand they did in February on an ill-conceived army and WRA "loyalty" questionnaire to determine eligibility for military service and resettlement. If the loyalty registration and the crisis it precipitated were responsible for some resettlement activity, the net effect was to retard both the rate and the overall quantity of resettlement that surely would have occurred otherwise. In actuality, the brand of "resettlement" that did eventuate involved "resettling" about 13,000 inmates. Whereas 6,800 "disloyals" were "resettled" by the WRA from nine of its camps to the remaining one at Tule Lake, which was converted into a segregation center, the WRA "resettled" 6,200 "loyals" from Tule Lake to the other camps.

The nearly two-year period bridging the 1943 registration crisis and the opening of the West Coast to resettlement on January 2, 1945, witnessed a concerted WRA push toward getting people out of the concentration camps and into mainstream communities. Even before 1943 ended, resettlers lived in 25 states and the District of Columbia. There they filled jobs as pharmacists, teachers, engineers, mechanics,


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farmers, hotel workers, nurse's aides, domestics, waitresses, and many other lines of work. During 1944, resettlement fanned out to embrace many more states and occupations, including those in defense. For resettlers, this year also brought about greater acceptance by, and assimilation into, the communities they entered, more adequate housing and better living arrangements, and enhanced self-esteem and contentment.

Still, resistance to resettlement outweighed receptivity to it. By the end of 1944, only 35,000 inmates (one-third of the initial camp population) had become resettlers. Put bluntly, the resettlement policy was a bust. It was largely a Nisei (disproportionately single, educated, and male) affair, with just one-sixth of the Issei population opting to reenter the outside world. The deterrents to Nisei resettlement-economic hardship, employment and housing difficulties, fear of anti-Japanese discrimination, anxiety about family separation, communication problems, the desire to help out the camp community and then return to the West Coast-applied in redoubled measure to Issei. It is essentially fair, however simplistic, to say of resettlement that it was strongly embraced by the WRA, viewed as generally positive by Nisei, and largely opposed by the Issei and Kibei-Nisei.

Nor, as a rule, did resettlers honor the arguably well-intentioned but utterly impractical WRA mandate that, upon leaving their respective concentration camp, they spurn communal living and "scatter" as individuals or family groups across the American landscape. As with the first wave of "American-made refugees" to Denver and Salt Lake City, identifiable Nikkei communities (if not full-blown Little Tokyos) mushroomed in second-wave resettlement meccas of the Midwest like Chicago (the "resettlement capital," with an estimated wartime population of some 20,000), Cleveland, St. Paul-Minneapolis, and St. Louis.

9. 15 of the 64 life history interviews social worker Charles Kikuchi did with wartime resettlers in Chicago for the University of California, Berkeley-sponsored Evacuation and Resettlement Study constitute the core of Dorothy Swaine Thomas's The Salvage (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1952). For the context of Kikuchi's work in Chicago, see Yuji Ichioka, ed., Views From Within: The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 1989), especially the essays by Kikuchi himself, see "Through the JERS Looking Glass: A Personal View From Within," 179-95, and Dana Y. Takagi, "Life History Analysis and JERS: Re-evaluating the Work of Charles Kikuchi," 197-216. On resettlement in Chicago and Minneapolis-St.Paul, see Michael Daniel Albert, "Japanese American Communities in Chicago and the Twin Cities" (Ph.D. diss., University of Minnesota, 1980). The classic study of Chicago resettlement remains unpublished: Setsuko Matsunaga Nishi, "Japanese American Achievement in Chicago: A Cultural Response to Degradation" (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1963). Nishi, a sociologist who was affiliated with the Evacuation and Resettlement Study during the war also served as a scholarly consultant for the REgenerations project's Chicago research team. During World War II, this same author produced two studies on resettlement in St. Louis: Setsuko Matsunaga, "The Adjustment of Evacuees in Saint Louis" (master's thesis, Washington University, 1944); and Setsuko Matsunaga (with Alfred Doe, Margaret Echigoshima, Richard Henmi, Gladys Ishida, Yohio Matsumoto), "A Survey of Evacuee Adjustment in the St. Louis Area" (Washington University 'Y": Committee on Research, 1943). Mary Doi, the daughter of Alfred Doi, served as regional coordinator for the Chicago project team for the REgenerations. On St. Louis resettlement, see also, Miyako Inoue, "Japanese-Americans in St. Louis: From Internees to Professionals," City & Society 3 (December 1989): 142-52. The late Thomas M. Linehan studied the dynamics of Cleveland area resettlement in "Japanese American Resettlement in Cleveland During and After World War II," Journal of Urban History 20 (November 1993): 54-80. A new hour-length video documentation, An American History: Resettlement of Japanese Americans in Greater Cleveland, is due out in early 2000; funded through the JACL's Legacy Fund Grant, it will use oral histories to recount why interned Japanese Americans resettled in Northeast Ohio and explore the life choices that they subsequently made as residents of that area. Adjustment of Evacuees in Saint Louis" (master's thesis, Washington University, 1944); and Setsuko Matsunaga (with Alfred Doe, Margaret Echigoshima, Richard Henmi, Gladys Ishida, Yohio Matsumoto), "A Survey of Evacuee Adjustment in the St. Louis Area" (Washington University 'Y": Committee on Research, 1943). Mary Doi, the daughter of Alfred Doi, served as regional coordinator for the Chicago project team for the REgenerations. On St. Louis resettlement, see also, Miyako Inoue, "Japanese-Americans in St. Louis: From Internees to Professionals," City & Society 3 (December 1989): 142-52. The late Thomas M. Linehan studied the dynamics of Cleveland area resettlement in "Japanese American Resettlement in Cleveland During and After World War II," Journal of Urban History 20 (November 1993): 54-80. A new hour-length video documentation, An American History: Resettlement of Japanese Americans in Greater Cleveland, is due out in early 2000; funded through the JACL's Legacy Fund Grant, it will use oral histories to recount why interned Japanese Americans resettled in Northeast Ohio and explore the life choices that they subsequently made as residents of that area.


xxiv

The ending of war in August 1945 and the closure of the "relocation" camps prompted a new wave of resettlement, this time a westward one. (However, several thousand went east to live and work in the vegetable farming and processing center at Seabrook Farms, New Jersey, including nearly 200 deported Peruvian nationals of Japanese ancestry who had been interned at the Justice Department's internment camp in Crystal City, Texas).

10. See, Mitziko Sawada, "After the Camps: Seabrook Farms, New Jersey, and the Resettlement of Japanese Americans, 1944-47," Amerasia Journal 13 (1986-87): 117-36, and Seiichi Higashide, Adios to Tears: The Memoirs of a Japanese-Peruvian Internee in U.S. Concentration Camps (Honolulu: E & E Kudo, 1993), especially 179-93. Higashide's memoir, 194-232, also documents resettlement within Chicago through prose and images.

Along with the great majority of the residual 44,000 camp populations, many Nikkei who had resettled in the Midwest, East, South, or Intermountain West now returned to the Pacific Coast in the hope of resuming their prewar lives. Their return "home," however, was rife with problems. Generally, they were unwanted by their former neighbors and communities, a point driven home, powerfully and painfully, by civic proclamations, economic sanctions, and vigilante violence. Many possessed virtually no financial resources, lacked jobs to return to or even prospects of alternative employment, and were either bereft of places to live or found their homes occupied by strangers, in disrepair, or vandalized. In metropolitan areas like Seattle,

11. For a powerful fictionalized account of the Japanese American resettlement experience in postwar Seattle, see John Okada's 1957 novel No-No Boy (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1979). On resettlement in Seattle, see also, Roger Daniels, "The Exile and Return of Seattle's Japanese," Pacific Northwest Quarterly 88 (fall 1997): 166-73.

San Francisco,

12. The resettlement of Japanese Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area has been captured both by a children's writer who was herself a resettler and a professional historian who evoked that experience via oral history interviews; see, Yoshiko Uchida, Journey Home (New York: Atheneum. 1976), and Sandra C. Taylor, Jewel of the Desert: Japanese American Internment at Topaz (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), particularly chapters 7-9, 201-85. See also the half-hour 1996 documentary film Starting Over: Japanese Americans After the War, produced and directed by Dianne Fukami for KCSM Television (San Mateo County Community College District), which focuses upon Nisei resettlement experiences.

and Los Angeles,

13. Los Angeles resettlement is the subject of three recent M.A. studies done at UCLA- Kariann Akemi Yokota, "From Little Tokyo to Bronzeville and Back: Ethnic Communities in Transition" (1996); Leslie A. Ito, "Japanese American Women and the Student Relocation Movement, 1942-1945" (1998); and James V. Gatewood, "A Mission in Our Midst: Religion, Resettlement, and Community Building among Japanese Americans of the West Los Angeles Community Methodist Church, 1930-1965" (2000). Gatewood, like Ito, was an interviewer for the REgenerations Los Angeles project team, while Yokota served as one of its scholarly consultants. Still another master's thesis, by Dana Blakemore at California State University, Fullerton, is being finished in 2000 on Nisei and Sansei resettlement in relationship to the Los Angeles County beach city of Santa Monica. Sansei filmmaker Janice D. Tanaka's documentary, When You're Smiling: The Deadly Legacy of Internment (Los Angeles: Visual Communications, 1999) represents a noir resettlement tale of her generation's disturbing rendezvous with gangs, drugs, and suicide in the greater Los Angeles area.

returning Nikkei discovered their historic


xxv

Japantowns, which had nourished them as commercial-cultural centers for over half a century, transmogrified into unsightly and unsanitary ghettos for housing migrant defense workers.

REgenerations Oral History Project: Rebuilding Japanese American Families, Communities, and Civil Rights in the Resettlement Era examines four resettlement study sites-Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Diego-their immediate postwar experiences were similar in many respects yet recognizably distinctive. Although Chicago did not retain anything like its peak wartime Japanese American population, enough stayed to make it for more than a decade Cold War America's most prominent mainland Nikkei hub of commerce and culture outside of Los Angeles. Dynamic and progressive, it boasted a vital community newspaper (Chicago Shimpo) and a pictorial magazine aimed at a worldwide Nikkei market (Scene). The Chicago Resettlers Committee (CRC) anchored the community's upwardly mobile Nisei-dominated population. Whereas the new JACL chapter turned to civil rights issues, the CRC provided social services for its aging Issei population and recreational programs for its younger Nisei. It also promoted the economic and cultural advancement of older Nisei, many of whom exchanged inner-city addresses for periphery and suburban ones.

14. The best assessment of the Chicago Resettlers Committee is found in Setsuko Matsunaga Nishi's earlier noted 1963 University of Chicago dissertation.

A REgenerations interviewee who both participated in this Chicago process and documented it for posterity was Togo Tanaka. Driven out of the Manzanar camp by the riot there in December 1942, this prewar editor of the Los Angeles-based Rafu Shimpo English-language section and national JACL officer landed in Chicago in early 1943. Employed during the war by the American Friends Service Committee to aid other resettlers find jobs and housing, Tanaka compiled reports on this activity for the University of California, Berkeley-directed Evacuation and Resettlement Study's field office at the University of Chicago. After the war Tanaka became a founder of the successful Chicago Publishing


xxvi

Corporation, as well as the aforementioned Scene magazine. In 1955, however, a reluctant Tanaka was persuaded by his wife to move back to Los Angeles, where he remains today after a lucrative career in real estate investment.

Harry Honda, the Pacific Citizen's emeritus editor, is another REgenerations interviewee who resettled in Chicago, though not until his army discharge, right after the war. Living in a Catholic Youth Organization-operated hostel, Honda was pulled back to his native Los Angeles by his parents' residence there and his preference for year-around sunshine. Before his 1941 conscription, Honda had written a column for the English-language section of the Rafu Shimpo (edited by Togo Tanaka). Honda resumed this assignment upon his postwar return to Los Angeles, but mainly completed his GI bill-supported studies at Loyola University. Back "home" slightly too late to experience the Nikkei reclaiming of Little Tokyo, renamed Bronzeville during its wartime interval as an African American enclave, Honda noticed that many Issei opening commercial establishments there were not the same individuals who had operated them before being sent to concentration camps. He further observed the resettlement of his community in hostels, trailer parks, and converted military barracks. By 1952, when the JACL moved its headquarters from Salt Lake City back to the Pacific Coast, the decision was made to publish the Pacific Citizen in Los Angeles under Honda's editorship. Thereupon Honda reported on and editorialized about the JACL's dual role-nationally and regionally-in combating anti-Japanese legislation, policies, and practices, while assisting Nikkei fulfill housing, employment, social services, and recreational needs.

Harry Ueno is still another REgenerations Project interviewee who lived and worked in prewar Los Angeles. But Ueno was neither a prominent community journalist nor a JACL leader. A Kibei groceryman incarcerated at Manzanar, Ueno was arrested as an alleged "troublemaker" during the Manzanar Riot, and his wartime "resettlement" consisted of imprisonment in two WRA "citizen isolation centers," in Utah and Arizona, and the Tule Lake Segregation Center. Financially destitute when released from Tule Lake in February 1946, he collected his family at a Buddhist hostel in San Jose and then accepted low-paying railroad and farming jobs in San Luis Obispo County. Although a novice farmer, Ueno became a strawberry sharecropper in Alameda County, leaving after three years to buy and successfully operate, first, a thriving ten-acre fruit farm in Sunnyvale, just outside of San Jose, and later, a prosperous seven-acre farm, right in San Jose proper. Ueno's progression up the agricultural ladder paralleled other farmers in the area, many of whom had to begin again as farm laborers, or to leave farming altogether and become gardeners in rapidly


xxvii
urbanizing Santa Clara County.

15. The resettlement situation in Santa Clara County was rendered in fiction in James Edmiston's novel Home Again (New York: Doubleday, 1955). Edmiston headed up the War Relocation Authority's San Jose resettlement office. In 1999, San Jose, California's Japanese American Resource Center /Museum launched a project entitled, "Completing the Story: A Community Remembers." Headed by Joseph Yasutake, whose family had taken a leading role in wartime and immediate postwar resettlement in Chicago, the project collected Santa Clara Valley resettlement-era photographs and other related materials. Yasutake was joined by Karen Matsuoka on the project. Both were interviewers for the REgenerations project's San Jose research team.

Today a nonagenarian living in Sunnyvale, Ueno can reflect upon his three decades of retirement as a period in which he worked assiduously to set the historical record straight about himself, through a published autobiography, and about the Japanese American community, via active participation in the Redress Movement.

If, by 1947, 40 of the 53 postwar Nikkei businesses had reestablished themselves in San Jose's historic Japantown, in San Diego (which never had a genuine nihonmachi or Japantown), wartime internment effectively erased the ethnic economy that had developed in the interwar years within the Fifth and Island business district. Those who returned to San Diego after the war bemoaned the loss of this district's prewar abundance of stores, hotels, and restaurants and its prevailing family atmosphere. They now found this area, whose businesses had been taken over by other ethnic minorities, "abandoned," "unfriendly," and "spooky." By 1950 the Japanese American population of San Diego had regained its 1940 size of between 2,000 and 3,000 people, but the number of Nikkei businesses had dipped from 65 to 20 during this decade and the thriving prewar fishing industry was virtually destroyed. Moreover, many returning farmers had been reduced from employers to employees, or diverted into landscape gardening. Prosperity and social mobility ultimately came to Japanese Americans, along with many other San Diegans, in the late-1950s and 1960s with the meteoric rise of the Cold War-fueled aerospace industry. The emergent Nisei and Sansei professional class, many of whom were engineers, moved their families to San Diego's burgeoning suburbs and, in the process, left the city barren of discernible "Japanese" neighborhoods. Thus, in the late-1950s REgenerations Project interviewee Ruth Takahashi Voorhies, notwithstanding her "crude family Japanese," was prevailed upon by San Diego civic leaders" to officially greet visiting "big shots" from Japan in their native language simply because so few other Nikkei were around to perform the linguistic honors.

16. The most comprehensive account of resettlement for the San Diego area is Susan S. Hasegawa's, "Rebuilding Lives, Rebuilding Communities: The Post-World War II Resettlement of Japanese Americans to San Diego" (master's thesis, San Diego State University, 1998). Also useful on this subject are: Matthew T. Estes and Donald H. Estes, "Hot Enough to Mel Iron: The San Diego Nikkei Experience 1942-1946," Journal of San Diego History 42 (summer 1996): 126-73, especially 151-64; and the "Japanese Americans in San Diego" special issue of the Japanese American National Museum Quarterly 12 (spring 1997), particularly the article by Donald H. Estes, "Some Roots Run Deep," 3-10, and the profiles of the Chino family, 12-14, Harold Ikemura, 15-16, Umeko Kawamoto, 17-18, Moto Asakawa, 24-25, Aiko Owashi, 26-27, and Frank Koide, 28-29. Hasegawa was an interviewer for the REgenerations project's San Diego research team, while Donald Estes served as coordinator and regional scholar.


xxviii

One very young Nikkei who was around San Diego at this point and who never forgot his or his family's experiences in the city was Tetsuden Kashima. Born less than a year before Pearl Harbor, he had been interned with his family at the Tanforan Assembly Center in California, and the Topaz Relocation Center in Utah. From Topaz, Kashima's father, a Buddhist priest, resettled the family to Ogden so as to assist in managing a temple. In the postwar years, the senior Kashima brought his family to San Diego and undertook similar temple responsibilities from 1948 until 1950. Although still a preadolescent, Tetsuden was cognizant of his father making frequent visits to the city's outlying farming communities and returning to distribute produce to needy Nikkei families. He was also aware of his mother supplementing the family income by working as a seamstress. Furthermore, he knew that the family and community occurrences that he was observing were endemic among Japanese Americans during the early postwar years, whether in San Diego or elsewhere.

In 1980 Tetsuden Kashima, now a professor of sociology, drew upon his still palpable memories of his postwar years in San Diego to write about the resettlement experience of his community.

17.  Tetsuden Kashima, "Japanese American Internees Return."

Instead of seeing the first decade after the camps as a smooth transition into a very successful ethnic minority group, Kashima argued that it should be viewed as a time of crisis. Nikkei, beset by the stress and anxiety of incarceration, had to grapple with many new problems once they left the camps: Where would they go? What would they do for a living? Where would they live? Moreover, they had to heal divisions within their communities, families, and even themselves. And they had to organize so as to roll back extant discriminatory legislation, repel new anti-Japanese initiatives, and gain long denied citizenship perquisites. At the same time, they had to overcome their hazukashi or prevailing sense of shame, however unwarranted. Usually this was accomplished through repression, silence, or forgetting. While Japanese Americans had achieved outward success, they still needed to gain inner peace. This would not come about by having flattering labels conferred upon Nikkei by mainstream pundits and power brokers, but rather through a self-
xxix
examination that permitted the creation of a psychological and social world deemed meaningful to, for, and by them.

18. During the closing decades of the twentieth century an avalanche of publications materialized on the topic of Japanese American history and culture. While most of these works center directly upon the World War II internment experience, some also encompass the subject of resettlement. Two broad studies that address resettlement are Paul R. Spickard, Japanese Americans: The Formation of an Ethnic Group (New York: Twayne, 1996), 127-53; and Jere Takahashi, Nisei/Sansei: Shifting Japanese American Identities and Politics (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997), 113-96. The character of resettlement in rural regions is depicted in an array of community studies. Two of them relate to San Joaquin Valley communities in California: David Mas Masumoto, Country Voices: The Oral History of a Japanese American Family Farm Community (Del Rey, CA: Inaka Countryside Publications, 1987), 59-75; Valerie J. Matsumoto, Farming the Home Place: A Japanese American Community in California, 1919-1982 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993), 149-214. Matsumoto served as a scholarly consultant for the Los Angeles research team of the REgenerations project. A pair of studies that cover resettlement in the Hood River, Oregon, farming community are: Linda Tamura, The Hood River Issei: An Oral History of Japanese Settlers in Oregon's Hood River Valley (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 201-53; and Lauren Kessler, Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family (New York: Random House, 1993), 235-314. The Hood River experience is also addressed in Wendy Lee Ng's unpublished 1989 University of Oregon doctoral dissertation, "Collective Memory, Social Networks, and Generations: The Japanese American Community in Hood River, Oregon," a compact version of which appears as "The Collective Memories of Communities" in Shirley Hune et al., Asian Americans: Comparative and Global Perspectives (Pullman, WA: Washington State University Press and the Association for Asian American Studies, 1991), 103-112. Ng was an interviewer for the REgenerations project's San Jose research team. Three documentary films from this period that illuminate the psychosocial context of resettlement are: Lise Yasui, A Family Gathering (1988); Rae Tajiri, History and Memory (1991); Janice Tanaka, Who's Going to Pay for These Donuts Anyway? (1992). This Janice Tanaka, as opposed to the filmmaker by the same name of the 1999 documentary cited above in note 13, is the niece of REgenerations (Los Angeles project) narrator Togo Tanaka. Two life histories by Nisei anthropologist Akemi Kikumura with her mother and father-Through Harsh Winters: The Life of a Japanese Immigrant Woman (Novato, CA: Chandler & Sharp, 1981) and Promises Kept: The Life of an Issei Man (Novato, CA: Chandler & Sharp, 1991), map resettlement in California's Sacramento Valley and Los Angeles areas within a family context. Kikumura is responsible for helping to launch the Japanese American National Museum's Life History Program, the coordinating unit for the four-region REgenerations project documenting resettlement through oral history interviews. Each of the two finest Nisei short story writers include commentary on resettlement in California and elsewhere in their respective collected works: Hisaye Yamamoto, Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories (Latham, NY: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, 1988); and Wakako Yamauchi, Songs My Mother Taught Me: Stories, Plays, and Memoir (New York: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 1994). One of Yamamoto's stories, "Wilshire Bus," even serves as the basis for a literary-historical meditation on resettlement's meaning to Japanese Americans; see, Elizabeth A. Wheeler, "A Concrete Island: Hisaye Yamamoto's Postwar Los Angeles."

The Redress Movement that culminated in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 represented an accomplishment of precisely the sort outlined by Tetsuden Kashima. More important even than the official governmental apology or the granting of reparation payments was the very process of redress, for it both gave the community back its authentic history with respect to its World War II experience and placed that history into a proper perspective. We now need to extend this situation so that it


xxx
encompasses the resettlement experience. When reflecting upon some of the key personalities associated with the Redress Movement--Michi Nishiura Weglyn, of New York; Minoru Yasui, of Denver; William Hohri, of Chicago; Grace Uyehara, of Philadelphia--we implicitly grasp that there is an integral relationship between resettlement and redress. What is next on the agenda is to make this relationship an explicit one.

Interviews

Pat Aiko (Suzuki) Amino

  • Interviewee:
  •     Pat Aiko (Suzuki) Amino
  • Interviewer:
  •     Mary Doi
  • Date:
  •     March 30, l998

1

Biography

figure
Pat Aiko (Suzuki) Amino


"I go into this room... there's
about a hundred Japanese
Americans in there... So I go to
everyone and ask, 'What camp
were you in?' And so I said,
'Hey with this many people...
let's start a Japanese club'...
this character named Curley...
says, 'Are you crazy, girl? We're
at war, we're at war, we can't
start a Japanese club.'"

Pat Aiko (Suzuki) Amino was born and raised in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles. She is the fourth of five girls. Her father, Yo Suzuki, was a graduate of Tohoku University, a Christian institution in Shizuoka. Suzuki was a devout Christian who was sent to California on an evangelical mission. Although he married, he lost his wife when she passed away in 1920. Pat Suzuki's mother, Hanako Sano was a widow with two children from a previous marriage. Similarly, Hanako Sano had lost her husband, who died about the same time that Yo Suzuki lost his first wife. Through encouragement from the church, Yo Suzuki and Hanako Sano married.

The Suzukis then moved to Stockton, California where Yo Suzuki found work at a battery factory. Shortly thereafter, he received an offer in Los Angeles to start the Shin Nichibei newspaper. He became the first editor of the Shin Nichibei newspaper, but passed away in 1933 when Pat Suzuki was two years old. To support the family, her Hanako Suzuki took in sewing and taught Japanese. After Pearl Harbor was attacked, the FBI considered taking her mother into custody because of her job as a Japanese language teacher. The agents decided not to take her when they realized the family was Christian.


2
The Suzuki family was eventually sent to Poston concentration camp in Yuma County, Arizona. After a year in camp her two sisters left camp early to work in the canneries in Utah. After hearing of positive resettlement experiences from friends, Pat Suzuki's sisters then moved to Chicago and secured an apartment for the rest of the family. Pat Suzuki left camp alone on August 1945 to join her sisters in Chicago. Her mother unexpectedly fell ill in camp, but eventually left for Chicago after her recovery.

Pat Suzuki graduated from Waller High School on Chicago's North Side. During the resettlement years, this school had one of the city's highest enrollments of Japanese American students. In high school, she was active in girls' clubs. She and her friends formed a group called the Silhouettes.

In the years after World War II, there were employers known for hiring large numbers of Japanese Americans. Pat Suzuki took several different part-time jobs with employers, like General Mailing, a Japanese American-owned company, and McClurg's mail-order house. Her first full-time job was with the Cosmopolitan National Bank, where she was the first Japanese American employee. Her last position was as building manager for Heiwa Terrace, a federally subsidized, two hundred-unit apartment building for low-income seniors. In 1948, while still in high school, she met Yosh Amino. They dated for five years and eventually married in 1953. The Aminos have three children and four grandchildren.


3

Interview

Pat Aiko (Suzuki) Amino recalls her family's prewar life in Los Angeles, their internment in Poston concentration camp, and their resettlement in Chicago. Mrs. Amino actively participated in Chicago high school girls clubs in the late-1940s and early-1950s. Her discussion of resettlement highlights the experiences of a person in her teenage and early adult years. Mary Doi conducted this interview on March 30, 1998 in Chicago, Illinois.

Tape 1, Side A

Doi

This is an interview with Pat Aiko Amino in Chicago, on March 30, l998. This interview is being conducted by Mary Doi as part of the REgenerations Project, a collaborative video oral history program between the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society and the Japanese American National Museum.

Pat, thank you for talking with us today. This oral history will have three main parts. First, we're interested in learning a bit about your life before and during camp.

1. Concentration camps, euphemistically called "relocation centers" by the War Relocation Authority [WRA], were the sites where more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated after their forced exclusion from the West Coast of the United States during World War II.

However, our main interest is in your life during resettlement, roughly the years l942 to l965. And finally, we'd like to know a little bit about your life after resettlement until now.

There are no right or wrong answers to any of the questions. We're interested in what you can tell us about these years in your life. Okay? Great, so why don't we start out talking about your life before the war? We'll start talking about your parents' background. I notice here that your father's name was Yo Suzuki, and he's from Shizuoka, Japan, and your mother is Hanako Sano from Miyagi-ken

2. Prefecture (Japanese)

in Japan. Can you tell me a little bit about your mom and your dad?


Amino

Yes, from what I heard, my father was a graduate of Tohoku University in Shizuoka, I think. He was a very devout Christian and that was a Christian school. They sent him to California to recruit, or not recruit, evangelize and that's what he was doing. He was married then. Then, he lost his first wife around l920.

My mother, at the same time, had been married to a Mr. Kawamura and he died also around the same time. But she had two small children, two small girls. And the church felt they should get my father and mother together so


4
they kind of brought them together. They hit it off. My mother also was a graduate of a university in Japan.


Doi

So did they meet in Japan at a church?


Amino

No, they met in Monterey, California. A reverend, Rev. Kawamorita was his name. Anyway, this reverend, who also was a graduate of the same college that my father went to, got them together.


Doi

So this was a Japanese American Christian church in Monterey, California, where they met?


Amino

Yes, and it's still standing. My sister went to see it. And so, they got married and then moved to Los Angeles. First, they were in Stockton, then they moved to Los Angeles to try to make ends meet. He started working in a battery factory, or he started a battery factory, which wasn't successful. It was backed by Henry Ford, though, in those days. I thought that was very interesting. And then, somebody approached him and wanted him to start a newspaper. He was the first editor of Shin Nichibei. I don't know if it's still in existence in California.


Doi

And this was in L.A., also?


Amino

Yes, this was all in Los Angeles after they moved down there.


Doi

And what brought your dad first from, say, Monterey to Stockton? Was he evangelizing at that point, too?


Amino

Yes.


Doi

And so his main occupation in those early years was with the church?


Amino

Yes, and then with a family now, he had to start earning a living so he started this battery factory with his friend, Mr. Sato, I remember that. But it was not successful. Both of them were not businessmen. Then he was approached to start this newspaper. And that's what he was in the process of doing, raising funds and all that. He would travel all over around the country, and I guess he got real sick and he died from pneumonia at the end.


Doi

And do you know when he moves to L.A.? Were you born in L.A.?


Amino

Yes.


Doi

So, he's down in L.A. definitely by what year, do you think?



5
Amino

It had to be around l924 or '25. I had a brother. He was the only boy in our family, but he died at two years old, in l926, I think.


Doi

Would he come between your sister Sumi and your sister Yuri?


Amino

No, between Yuri and Sumi, we had a brother named Kyo. I never knew him, of course, because he died at two. So that would be l926 or l927.


Doi

So your dad, after they moved down to L.A., is trying to start up this Shin Nichibei newspaper from about l924 to about, when does he pass away?


Amino

1933.


Doi

So for about eight or nine years he's working to get this paper going?


Amino

Yes.


Doi

Okay. What is your mom doing during these years, during your L.A. years?


Amino

While she was married to him, I don't think she worked. She was a stay at home mom, but I remember this about her, she hated housework. I guess she was brought up with maids and things, so she never knew how to keep house. So my two older sisters, they were wonderful. Oh my goodness, they were only about nine or 10 and they're cleaning house and working and doing everything. They were fantastic sisters. I was very lucky.


Doi

Do you know what part of L.A. your family lived in?


Amino

Oh yes. I always lived in Boyle Heights.

3. Located east of Little Tokyo and downtown Los Angeles. Beyond Boyle Heights lies the unincorporated area of East Los Angeles.

I understand that was a ghetto of (laughs) Los Angeles then.


Doi

I hear that term "Boyle Heights." Do Japanese Americans still live in that area of L.A.?


Amino

No, no. It is now mostly Hispanics. I've been there where he's buried in Evergreen Cemetery, which is real close to where we used to live. In fact, there was a whole colony of Japanese Americans in that area of Boyle Heights.


Doi

So what was it like? How far is it from what we now know as Little Tokyo in L.A.?



6
Amino

It wasn't too far. It's about maybe five miles from downtown L.A. I used to take the First Street bus, no, it was a streetcar then. And we'd go to Little Tokyo and participate in Nisei Week

4. An annual celebration of Japanese American heritage held in Los Angeles's Little Tokyo since 1934.

and things like that, way, way, oh my gosh, it's way back in the Dark Ages.

And after my father died, that was in l933, my little sister was just born. She was a week old when he died. In those days, they wouldn't even let my mother go to the funeral because you had to stay home for six weeks or something after birth. So they brought the funeral procession in front of our house. I remember everybody telling me that. I myself was two years old so I don't remember any of that either.

My mother had a terribly hard life in Los Angeles. She was a schoolteacher in a downtown Japanese school and she also did sewing at home. They used to call it handrolling of silk scarves and she would get a penny apiece for these huge scarves. And then my two sisters went to work at 10:00 and 11:00. And, you know, in those days, too, they tried to tell my mother to give up my sister, give her away—


Doi

The baby or—?


Amino

Yeah, the baby because you know, everybody was telling her that you can't possibly bring up five little children, especially with a baby. They were going to give her away to a couple that didn't have any children and my two older sisters said, "No, we're going to go to work." They went to work in a cleaners. We had a lot of friends so they were like the counter girls and one kept books for the architect, Mr. Hayano. He was an architect even in Chicago after the war, but they were really kind to us. Of course, the church also helped a lot.


Doi

And which church was your family affiliated with down in Los Angeles?


Amino

Union Church. Well, my mother went to Union Church which was downtown L.A., but she sent us kids to Evergreen Baptist Church.


Doi

Why did she go to one church and you girls go to another?


Amino

Well, ours was for convenience. It was so close to our house. But she liked the dogma from the Union Church.


Doi

Now, were these both Japanese American churches?


Amino

Yes, most definitely.



7
Doi

What denomination is Union Church?


Amino

I think it's nondenominational—


Doi

So you mention that your mother had a tough life, which it sounds like she especially did after your father passes away.


Amino

Yes, widowed twice by the age of—I think she was close to 40.


Doi

And so is that when she becomes a Japanese language teacher?


Amino

Yes, yes.


Doi

And that's when she starts doing the handrolling of scarves?


Amino

Yes.


Doi

Okay, I'm going to bring you back a little bit to talk about Boyle Heights. Can you describe to me what Boyle Heights looked like? What your house looked like, for example? What your neighborhood was like?


Amino

I still remember my address, there, 2611-1/2 Gleason Avenue, the half meant we were in the back. So it was a tiny house. At the time I didn't think it was so tiny. I think we had maybe four rooms, nothing spectacular. We all loved cats, and so we must have had 10 cats. They were outdoor cats, so it was okay.

The whole area was mostly Japanese Americans, although my best friend was Sydelle and she was Russian Jew. Everybody was in the same boat, you know. Nobody felt we were poor, rich, whatever. We drank water out of mayonnaise glasses. We put paper in our shoes to keep the holes from, you know, bothering our feet. It was just a fun time, though. I really remember having great times in that area.


Doi

So your best neighborhood girlfriend is Sydelle?


Amino

Yes. Don't ask me her last name, I don't remember it.


Doi

Do you remember much about any other kind of inter-ethnic, interactions you might have had?

So we're talking about your friends, and maybe the community in which you grew up. You mentioned that your girlfriend down the street is this little


8
Russian-Jewish girl, Sydelle. What other ethnic groups lived in the Boyle Heights area?


Amino

We had Mexican friends. I can't remember their names or anything, but lots of Japanese. In fact, it was 90 percent Japanese, I would say. And to this day, I still keep in contact with some of them.


Doi

Yeah; that's great.


Amino

The Japanese hospital was right down the street. I remember that because my sister had her tonsils out there. I envied her so much because she got to eat ice cream. (laughs) And then she got hit by a car crossing First Street to buy cat food. No, actually she went to buy milk for the cats—


Doi

—and put back in the Japanese Hospital?


Amino

Yes, just for a day or two.


Doi

Since you mentioned that there were also Mexicans and mostly, though, Japanese Americans, what was the school population like? Was it pretty much the same as the neighborhood?


Amino

No, it was white. I guess from our area, mostly . . . I didn't have too many Japanese friends in school. I went to First Street School, which is still there. It's a tiny school now, but mostly white at that time.


Doi

How were Japanese Americans received by the other classmates at First Street School?


Amino

I didn't even know I was Japanese then. It was just a good mixture, I mean there was no separation or anything. My first encounter with prejudice was after Pearl Harbor and I was still a small kid.

We were walking down First Street. We went to the library and I had picked up some books. And then I had comic books, too. I had one called Uncle Sam and I happened to say, "Oh, I don't like Uncle Sam." I was referring to the comic book and some old lady comes and grabs me by the shoulder and said, "Well, if you don't like Uncle Sam, what are you doing in this country? You gotta go" and she drags me back into the library, and I thought, what is she doing? But it really taught me a lesson to be kind to little children. I've never forgotten that. It was kind of a good lesson, but I wish I could have taught her some things.



9
Doi

You mentioned that that was your first encounter, direct encounter with racial discrimination. And you mentioned that it was right after Pearl Harbor.

5. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the U.S. Navy base on O'ahu.

So let's, kind of, jump up to that point. I'd like to have you think back. Do you remember hearing about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?


Amino

I just remember that we all gathered around the radio and listened for news about this. I didn't understand the concept of war but I know it upset my mother quite a bit. That's the only thing I remember about Pearl Harbor.


Doi

So do you remember December 7, 1941, and the radio broadcast on that Sunday?


Amino

Yes, yes, I know because it was a Sunday and we were all home. My sisters must have just gathered all of us together and said come and listen. I don't remember the time or anything else.


Doi

So you were pretty little, about seven or eight when this happens?


Amino

No, I think I was older. I must have been 10.


Doi

Oh, 10. Do you remember anything about your initial thoughts or feelings when you heard this news?


Amino

Actually, yes. I remember that I thought, well, it doesn't have anything to do with us because I'm an American, you know. I was completely American. My two older sisters were so Americanized, I mean. They used to buy Harper's Bazaar and Vogue magazine, and try to dress, you know really Americanized and not a single trace of an accent. Although when I think back, we must have spoken nothing but Japanese until we went to school. But my two older sisters were the groundbreakers, so to speak.


Doi

So you personally felt very American, and personally thought you were not going to be impacted by Pearl Harbor?


Amino

Not at all.


Doi

That's interesting. You mentioned that your mom taught at the Japanese language school after she becomes a widow. Did you and your sisters attend Japanese language school?


Amino

Oh yes. Every Saturday, we had to go to Japanese School. In fact, I was up to Book Seven. They said that's, you know, really far. I can't really remember


10
too well any of the grammar, none of the other important things about the language. We just went because we had to go.


Doi

So you started when you were pretty young?


Amino

Yes, I think we were five or six.


Doi

And do you remember how you felt about going to Japanese language school?


Amino

Oh, it was a ball, (laughs) because that's when we got to meet all of the other really good Japanese-speaking people. No, I enjoyed it a lot, but I didn't study well, just went to have fun.


Doi

So how did it—your mom's a teacher, there, (laughs) and it didn't really matter?


Amino

No, my mother, she was so cute. I mean, anytime any of her friends would come over, she'd tell the three younger children, "Now don't speak out because your Japanese is so awful. And it's too embarrassing to me." (laughs)

But after December 7th, it was awful because these two FBI men came to pick up my mother because she was a Japanese schoolteacher and we were so scared. My gosh, they were just going to take her that day. And they were looking around, I know we had already buried things like the radio and knives and things like that because they said you can't be caught with things, especially a short wave radio. But we didn't have any such thing. We just buried everything.

And when they came to the house, I'll tell you, they looked like they were eight feet tall because we were all small, and they were ready to take her. Then one of them looked up at the wall and said—There was a picture of Jesus sitting there, and they said, "Whose picture is that?" And my mother said, "That's my Lord and savior," and they said, "Oh, you're Christian?" And my mother said, "Yes." So the one fellow says, "We can't take her, she's a Christian." And so they had pity on us, I guess, and didn't take her. Nowadays, I'm thinking, what if we were Buddhist or some other religion; they would have taken her without regard to—so that was a scary moment.


Doi

Did the Japanese, you mentioned that the Japanese American community kind of rallied around when your father passes away and your mom is left a widow with five little kids. Does the community also give you any kind of assistance in these pre-internment weeks?



11
Amino

Oh, I'm sure they did. I wasn't aware of it. But, oh yes. We had ministers at our house all the time. They were so helpful. They would help pack us up, I think. Because we were the last to leave Los Angeles, one of the last group, we didn't go into an assembly center. We went straight to Poston.

6. Officially called the Colorado River Relocation Center, Poston was one of 10 concentration camps that housed Japanese Americans forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II. Poston was located in Yuma County, Arizona, on the Colorado Indian Reservation.


Doi

And do you know what happens to your family's goods?


Amino

We didn't have much in the way of "goods." The only thing precious to my mother was this piano. We were also taking piano lessons even if she couldn't afford it. She thought it was so important. When she had to sell the piano for five dollars, it broke her heart, and also she had an okoto,

7. A Japanese harp

she used to play the okoto.


Doi

What's an okoto? Oh, koto.


Amino

Uh huh, koto, oh yeah, I called it okoto.


Doi

That's probably the right thing to call it—


Amino

No, I think it's koto. We kids used [the koto] as a slide (laughs). I don't know what happened to that. I wish I knew. But we didn't really have too much, other than the clothes on our back.


Doi

So when it came time to pack, there was not a lot to get rid of. So you mention you have to leave behind a piano and your mom's koto, something happens to that. Do you remember what your feelings were about leaving your home and leaving your community when you do go into Poston?


Amino

I really don't remember that far. I must have blocked it because, no, I don't remember.


Doi

And what was it like to be one of the last families to leave the area? Is Boyle Heights one of the last areas to be evacuated, or—?


Amino

No, I think some of the people from Boyle Heights went into Manzanar

8. Manzanar Relocation Center in Northern California was one of 10 concentration camps that housed Japanese Americans forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II.

or went to assembly centers. But we just chose to be the last. It was mostly because of my sisters who by then are, what, 15, 16, and 17—something
12
around there. They were more aware of things, so I think they made the decisions—


Doi

—to stay, to stay as long as you could in Boyle Heights. But as the area is emptying, you know, as other families leave, do you have any recollection what it might have been like to be one of the last families in the area to go off?


Amino

No, I have no idea.


Doi

Okay. Can you also describe for me what are your memories of going to Poston. Leaving Boyle Heights? Where do you leave from? How do you get to Poston?


Amino

I have no idea. I think we took the train, but I don't remember. I only remember getting there, in this hot, hot place. I never had such an experience with heat.

Then, the first day, we have to get in lines, constant lines. Then they tell you to fill up this mattress with straw. I mean, being from the city, I had no idea what straw was or anything. It was quite an experience. So we did that. Then we're assigned certain barracks, we're 35-l-B; we were next to Reverend Paul Nagano, do you know Reverend Nagano? And then, on the other side of us was Reverend Toyotome, so I said, "Boy, I better be good. I'm surrounded by all these ministers."

The only bad thing I really remember about my first day in camp was the bathrooms. I mean, [that] being from a family of all women, we're so modest. Then you go into . . . I said, "Where's the bathrooms?" We have to walk all the way to the middle of the block. There's these open stalls, not even a partition in-between them. There were like six toilets. I said, "Oh my gosh, how are we going to do our business?" So my sisters and I would hold our coats around each one as we're doing it.

Then the same thing in the showers, there's no partitions. So we would wait until like 10:00 at night and go and take a shower but don't turn on the lights or anything because it was too humiliating. I'm not taking a bath with everyone else, you know. Those are the really bad things that I remember.

And another thing, I must have been allergic to heat or something because you have to wait in line for food. They would ring a bell, and you have to line up, and I'd faint every time we'd get in line because of the heat. So they would give me salt pills. Oh my, can you imagine, in those days, we had to take salt pills for the heat?



13
Doi

When you enter camp, I noticed that your older sister Shizu may have been twenty-two-ish—


Amino

Really?


Doi

She was born in l920. So was the whole family together as a unit, your mom and five girls?


Amino

Yes, just for one year or so, because right after that, they had asked for volunteers to go to Utah to work in a cannery. Right away, my two older sisters volunteered. They hated camp. Oh, they hated camp. They only liked the social part of it, but otherwise—So they went out to Utah and worked in a cannery for tomatoes. They would send us packages. Oh, it was so nice, CARE packages,

9. Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere [CARE] was a private organization that collected funds and various goods to distribute to the needy in foreign countries.

more or less, you know, with clothes and food and everything.


Doi

And how did your mom feel about the two oldest girls going out to Utah, leaving the family to go work in the canneries?


Amino

My mother was a really accepting person. She accepted anything that came along, thinking it was (pause) because of God, you know. She didn't feel one way or the other. She thought that's what it should be. As long as they were safe, you know that was her main concern. And she was really a great woman, now that I think of it. I didn't appreciate her then, but yeah—


Doi

And can you tell me what you and your other sisters did during the camp years at Poston?


Amino

Oh, well, we were all young so we just played. Yeah, we had so much fun, you know, playing with the other kids and—


Doi

Did you go to school in camp?


Amino

Yes, after they started school, yeah.


Doi

And what was that like? Can you describe the kind of education you got there, and the facilities, and the teachers?


Amino

Do you know I just don't remember any of that. I know I got tested for something, and then they said, "Well now you don't have to do sixth grade. You can go into seventh." So they skipped me. I regretted that ever since because I feel I missed out on a lot of the math, especially, you know—I don't know square roots at all. (laughs)



14
Doi

How do you feel about the quality of education you got in the camp?


Amino

Oh, I didn't think it was too good, you know. Especially this one teacher I remember, Mr. Kaig. He was such a jerk. And in terms of relating to kids, he was this big German guy who was like Hitler.

One day, I remember I had to go to the bathroom. So I raised my hand and he said, "What do you want?" I said, "I have to go to the bathroom." But he said, "No, you cannot go." And I said, "I'm sorry but I have to go to the bathroom." [He said,] "No, you cannot go. You have to wait until class is over." And I'm going, "Oh, my gosh." I was really dying by then, so I just walked out.

The other kids told me later that he got so scared when I walked out that I was going to report him or something that he made it a point to send out kids to try to find me because I never returned that day. He was really full of humility the next day. But I mean I'm not going to soil myself in school. That's the only remembrance I have of camp, I mean, school.


Doi

Other people have described camp years as being pretty much fun because they might have been kids who remember the social activities—


Amino

—mostly the age, yes.


Doi

So when you're in camp, maybe you enter as a 12-year-old or so, preteen. What were camp years like for someone your age?


Amino

I was on the cusp. I wanted to be with the older people. Like my other sister Yuri would go to dances. I'd sit at the door and look in like I wanted to be in there. And yet, I'd go home and I'd play with paper dolls. I mean, it was really a time of change for me. So it was nice and yet I regretted not being a little older, although we had fun. I was an athlete, even in those days, and so I used to play baseball and basketball.


Doi

In the camps? Had you played that before camp?


Amino

No, I'd never been exposed to any of that, being from the city. It was mostly the people that were from the farm countries. They were so good in athletics and they're the ones who started most of the, I don't think they were leagues, but you know, pickup games.


Doi

In the camps?


Amino

Yes.



15
Doi

So were there boys' teams and girls' teams, or were there co-ed teams. Or do you remember how the teams went in camp?


Amino

Ah, mostly it was from blocks, you know. Each block had their own team or something. It was—


Doi

—But within the block, would it be a girl's softball team, or would it be the block softball team. Do you remember?


Amino

I can't remember any organized teams like that. I was playing—this Pop Nagano used to be a semi-pro. He's Paul Nagano's father, in Canada. And so he would say, "Come on, Aiko, I want to teach you how to play baseball." He would take me out there and then Yosh Kawano, who's with the Cubs now, and his brother, Nob, and his younger brother would come out. We would just have like a pickup game. They taught me a lot. Yeah, they were really good baseball players.


Doi

Did your other sisters play, too?


Amino

No, they were more feminine. I was the only tomboy. No matter what, I was always the "mean one."


Doi

I don't think that, I don't think that's true at all, Pat. Let's see, for some Issei women, camp wasn't a hardship. How was it for your mom?


Amino

For my mom, it was almost luxurious because she didn't have to work hard. Everyday, she worked in the kitchen. Everybody got the same amount of money. She got $16 a month, and she said, "This is so wonderful. I go to work three times a day, come back, and relax." As a kitchen worker, she got perks, you know, like extra food or something really good.

Oh, speaking of food, the food was something to be—terrible food. Mostly I subsisted on apple butter and bread because I couldn't stand the food. We had to sit family style, so we sat with this family of all boys. They were like pigs. They were terrible. They would grab everything and just throw it on their plates, and there would hardly be anything left for us women—girls, at that time—and so we ate apple butter and bread most of the time.


Doi

Would you sit with your sisters and mom during meals?


Amino

We had to sit family style when we first came.


Doi

Yes, and so you would sit with your sisters and mom. Did that change over time? Like, by the end?



16
Amino

Yes, by the end, you could sit anywhere you wanted. You can, you know, sit with your friends, anywhere.


Doi

So how did that change for your family? Did you still sit as a family?


Amino

By then, my sisters, my two older ones were out of camp. Yeah, I guess the three younger ones, we would sit together but not with the family that we sat with originally.


Doi

Would your mom be able to sit with you, or was she—?


Amino

No, because she was in the kitchen.


Doi

Okay. Can you tell me about when your family leaves camp? You mentioned that your two older sisters go out. Do you know what year they went out to work in Utah?


Amino

It was only a year after we were in camp, so it must have been l946—


Doi

—1943? You go in 1942—


Amino

Oh, 1942; that's right. They must have gone to Utah in 1943, but then they come back. It was seasonal work, so you sign up for maybe a three-month period. Then they come back. Then they went again to another place. Then they come back. And then they're able to leave for good. It must have been around 1944. And they come out to Chicago, the two of them.


Doi

So Shizu and Sumi are the two that leave first? They come to Chicago? Do you know how they chose Chicago, why Chicago?


Amino

I think it was that a lot of their friends were coming here. And they heard that Chicagoans are really nice. I mean, they don't care if you're Japanese or . . . . You always have that in the back of your mind, if you're going to be accepted or whatever. So that's why they figured that they'd be closer.


Doi

And how did your mom feel about having the two girls go out down to Chicago?


Amino

Well, again, you know, she was very accepting. They wrote often. In fact, they came back once from Chicago, just to visit for about a week. Brought us presents, which we always liked. Then, I think they finally sent for us when they were starting to close the camps. But, there again, we were the last to leave—the three younger ones and my mother. And, for some reason, my sister Yuri, who's right above me, comes out alone. Then I came out alone


17
with my friend who got off in Des Moines, Iowa. Then my mother and my little sister come about a month or two months apart.


Doi

Do you remember what year you come out?


Amino

I came out in August of l945.


Doi

Pat, you're a baby when you came out.


Amino

I know, and I came out alone. But the whole train was full of the same, Japanese Americans, you know, so they were all friends.


Doi

Do you have any idea why Yuri comes out by herself? You come out by yourself?


Amino

No, I can't remember why. Oh, I know why I came out alone, because my sister and my mother were supposed to come with me. But my mother gets sick and so she tells me, "You go ahead and I'll come later." Funny, isn't it? Because arrangements were already made, I guess she didn't want to make waves.


Doi

So you're probably about, maybe, fourteen-, fourteen and a half, when you're coming out on the train. What are your recollections of that train ride from Poston?


Amino

Oh, gosh, I was dirty. I mean, I got so dirty; and there's no facilities to shower or anything, you know. So I have these two pigtails. I'm blacker than the ace of spades because of camp. I get off the train, and my sister Shibby, Shizu is her name but we called her Shibby, meets me and she says, "Oh my gosh. You look like an Indian."

So she rushes me home, scrubs me up, and says, "I'm going to take you out to lunch." So she takes me to Woolworth's on Lincoln and Fullerton. Lincoln and Fullerton, there was a Woolworth's there. I thought that was the best place in the world. I was so happy there.


Doi

Had you ever been to a Woolworth's before?


Amino

No, I didn't even know what they were, you know, and—


Doi

This is a Woolworth's five-and-dime store with a lunch counter and a—?


Amino

Yes, right on the corner of Lincoln and Fullerton. Oh, that was such a treat for me.



18
Doi

Where does the train come in? Where do these trains come?


Amino

I think it was Union Station.


Doi

Okay. And did your other sister Sumi come down to meet you, too, do you remember?


Amino

No, she was working. My sister Shibby and her, they took turns. I think they said Sumi picked up Yuri when she came. And then it was her turn to pick me up. And then both of them, maybe, went to pick up my mother. I'm not sure.


Doi

Do you remember getting any news about your older sisters' early reception in Chicago? Where did Shibby and Sumi find housing? How did they find jobs? Where did they work? Where did they live?


Amino

I think they went through the hostel, there was a hostel of some sort here.


Doi

Right, there was a Brethren hostel and there was an American Friends Service Committee hostel.


Amino

I think that was—Oh, probably, the Friends. They were real up on the Friends, Quakers, you know. I think they got housing on Winthrop. It was a rooming house, and mostly the women went there. So they had a ball. They really enjoyed that kind of life because they were with people of their same age. Most of them were their friends from camp or from Los Angeles.


Doi

And then by the time you arrived, maybe a year after they initially arrive in Chicago, where do you first live with your sisters? Do you remember?


Amino

Oh, by then, they had changed to 2328 North Seminary, which was a beautiful building. It was so nice. But it was broken up into, it must have been twelve apartments in this, originally it must have been a two-flat. So we had the attic for our family.

It was one bedroom and a living room. We shared a bath with the persons in back, which was a "poor" couple in the back. They had to share with all six of us. Poor things, when I think of that, I think—oh my gosh. And we all stayed in the one bedroom, except my sister slept in the front room, I guess, on the couch. Wow.


Doi

Five people in one bedroom, and then one sister on the couch?


Amino

Yeah, or maybe two, maybe it was a pull-out couch. It could have been where two of them slept there. And then the four of us were in the one bedroom, very tight quarters.



19
Doi

Do you have any idea how your sisters got that housing on Seminary?


Tape 1, Side B

Doi

So you were telling me about Mr. Schinkel [the landlord for their place on North Seminary] and the three-flat that's made into a 12-unit place. Can you describe all of the other tenants in the building?


Amino

They were all Japanese persons. All of us came almost at, well, some of them must have come about the same time as my sisters, but there were young couples, there were singles. It was such a nice mix.

We were the only family in there—my mother, my sisters, and my sisters' friends. They were all filled with their friends, so it was really nice. Either that or they got to know them well after. The sharing of the bath was the worse thing about it. I would help Mr. Schinkel take out what's called "clinkers," because in those days, it was coal, heated by coal. He would say, "Your job is to take out clinkers." So I said, "Okay."


Doi

What are "clinkers"?


Amino

It's like the residue after the coals are gone so you have to clean those out from the boiler. Yeah, I had a great time doing that because I had never seen clinkers, you know.


Doi

So was this, did your other sisters have apartment chores? Or were you the only one that had them?


Amino

I guess I was the only one. At least that was the only one I remember—the only chore I remember in the building. But they must have made a killing, when I stop to think about, you know, he split up the building so much.


Doi

Is Mr. Schinkel Japanese?


Amino

No, he was a German.


Doi

How do you spell that name, do you know?


Amino

S-c-h-i-n-k-e-l. Yeah, Mr. Schinkel, he and his wife and his daughter, Mary. They didn't live in the building but they owned several buildings. They loved Japanese tenants because they said, "You're so clean." Except he said, "You use too much water." Everybody was taking too many baths. (laughs) It was so funny, and their daughter Mary was unmarried. She was an old maid, in those days, as we called them. She was really nice to all of us, though, you


20
know, she really was. So, I didn't experience any kind of prejudices or anything when we came to Chicago.


Doi

And what are your older sisters doing? You're still school age, but what are Shizu and Sumi doing?


Amino

They went to work for Mr. Price at a bra factory. They were cutting bra straps. My sister Shibby always wanted to be a cosmetologist. But she was too busy helping us, the family. So she saved enough money just from working all that and went to beauty school. She finally got her dream and—


Doi

So that was something she did in Chicago? She goes to beauty school in Chicago? Do you have any idea how she and Sumi found this job at the bra factory?


Amino

I think that, too, was either through the Friends, or by then, maybe the Resettlers

10. The Chicago Resettlers Committee [CRC] was a social service agency formed in 1945 to assist those who left the concentration camps for resettlement in Chicago. The agency helped the newcomers find jobs and housing. In 1954, the CRC changed its name to the Japanese American Service Committee [JASC] to reflect the changing emphasis of the program to recreation and services for the elderly.

had come into focus. Somehow they got jobs, because there, too, were all these Japanese girls who worked there.


Doi

Do you know what that factory was called?


Amino

No, I have no idea.


Doi

And do you remember, let's see, your sister, Yuri, was she still in school, then? She was probably still in school.


Amino

Yeah, she's just two years above me. But she went to work as a "school girl," it was called. She went to work for Mr. Price, the owner of the bra factory, as a schoolgirl to watch their little girl. But it was a riot because Mr. and Mrs. Price were so nice that they got Yuri a maid. All Yuri had to do was watch Beseley, the little girl. She would take her to the park, and eat dinner with her, and get fat. (laughs) It was so cute—she had a maid.


Doi

Who was Yuri's maid, do you know?


Amino

No, it was somebody in their house, you know, it wasn't Japanese. Yuri was the only Japanese there.


Doi

And did she live there with the Prices?



21
Amino

Yes, for the week. And then she would come home on the weekends. She had a room to herself, which the maid cleaned up, and did her laundry, and everything else. And then she would get paid $5.00 a week, which she would give to my mother.


Doi

About how old is she, when she's doing this kind of job?


Amino

Let's see, I was fourteen, so she must have been sixteen.


Doi

And what happens to her high school career?


Amino

Oh, she's going to school. They allow you to go to school and you come back to their place for five days.


Doi

And where did the Prices live? Do you remember their address, or roughly, what part of the city?


Amino

You know, I'm thinking it was West Rogers Park, now that I think about it. We thought it was so far because we went to Waller High School.


Doi

And did Yuri go to Waller, also?


Amino

Yes.


Doi

Tell me a little bit about Waller High School. Did you finish grade school in camp and come out and start high school in Chicago?


Amino

I must have because I don't remember finishing or getting a diploma or anything in camp. But I started as a freshman at Waller High School.


Doi

And when does this happen? Does this happen right after you moved here?


Amino

In September of 1945, right. I'll never forget that first day of registration. I go into this room where they tell you to go, and there's about a hundred Japanese Americans in there. We're all greeting each other. Never saw them before in my life but I like to meet people. So I go to everyone and ask, "What camp were you in?" I mean that was our breaking ground, you know. It was so much fun. And so I said, "Hey, with this many people, with this many Japanese, let's start a Japanese club." And this character named Curley, he says, "Are you crazy, girl? We're at war, we're at war, we can't start a Japanese club." I just laughed about it, but that was my first idea of having a club, you know. And that's where the idea must have started then, the first day.



22
Doi

So you're greeted with hundreds of other, or a hundred other classmates, Japanese American classmates. Were there kids from Poston that you knew?


Amino

No, nobody from Poston. It was so funny. But from all the other nine camps, there seemed to be a smattering from each, it seemed to be.


Doi

When you think back to those years, was Waller one of the high schools that would have had a large number of Japanese American students? Can you think of other high schools in the city?


Amino

For the North Side,

11. Chicago is laid out in a grid pattern. The intersection of State and Madison streets in the downtown area marks the zero coordinate. From here, the city is divided into quadrants. The South Side, North Side, and West Side are those areas south, north and west of downtown. Lake Michigan forms the city's eastern border. Consequently, there is no East Side.

yes, Waller was one of the biggest. They said there were a few in Wells High School, and Lake View High School, but I think Waller was the biggest. Senn had a few. On the South Side, where my husband went, Hyde Park was the biggest. I mean there were a whole mess of them there, too.


Doi

Would you say that Hyde Park and Waller had about the same number, maybe a hundred or more?


Amino

I would say Hyde Park had more. There were more people living on the South Side in those early years.


Doi

I'm kind of interested in your perception about different areas in the city where there were Japanese American concentrations. Thinking back to the mid-'40s when you first move out here, mid- to late-'40s, can you describe to me any areas where there's large numbers of Japanese Americans?


Amino

I would say that most of them moved around La Salle Street and Division—


Doi

—Clark and Division, La Salle and Division?


Amino

Yes, and then another big concentration was on North Avenue and Clybourn. It's a yuppie area now but at that time, it was really horrible, then, some in my area, which was Fullerton and Seminary. Not too many, though, we didn't have as many. And I think there were some further north, but I'm not familiar with that.


Doi

And then on the South Side, where were, where was that?



23
Amino

Well, my husband said 43rd Street and Berkeley was like the coming together point. He had lots of friends there. A lot of the people then bought rooming houses around that area, so everybody went and moved in there.


Doi

Right now, you have mentioned that North and Clybourn is a yuppie area. Really so is Seminary and Fullerton, your area. What did it look like when you were there, though, in the '40s?


Amino

Oh, my area was very nice. It was so clean and the same buildings, most of them, are still there.


Doi

Oh, okay. So these are the buildings that have stood the decades and have been gentrified, and yuppified, but—


Amino

Right, although they tore down my building, my whole street. DePaul University took it over and made a library there.


Doi

I can just picture that corner.


Amino

Yes, it wasn't a corner but in the middle.


Doi

Right, right, that area. Clark and Division, Clark and La Salle, can you describe what that looked [like]. That's also kind of gentrified now with a Jewel on the corner of Clark and Division. But I guess the Mark Twain Hotel is still there, but can you evoke the images of what Clark and Division might have looked like in the mid- to late-'40s?


Amino

A lot of stores, a lot of buildings. It was just a mish-mash of things. It wasn't a nice area, but we liked it because we were accepted there. I guess you go where you're accepted mostly, you know. And so the Rib House was our hangout after every dance and after every function. We would go to the Rib House.


Doi

What, where is the Rib House?


Amino

It's no longer there. It was near Clark and Division on Clark. This lady, Ann, used to be the waitress there, and she eventually came and moved into Heiwa Terrace. She was Caucasian but she loved Japanese. I think, in fact, she was married to a Chinese man, so she liked Asians in particular.


Doi

And what was the Rib House? Was it a rib joint?


Amino

Yes.


Doi

So no Japanese food to speak of?



24
Amino

No, no Japanese food. For Japanese food, we went to Miyako or—what's the other place? I can't even think of any of these restaurants. We didn't eat in restaurants too much then. We'd just go for ribs or hamburgers, you know. And Ting-A-Ling was right around the corner, which was an ice cream shop so we'd go there for ice cream.


Doi

Were these the hangouts for teenagers—Rib House and Ting-A-Ling?


Amino

Yes.


Doi

Where would, say, older Niseis hang out, maybe people in their twenties, do you remember?


Amino

I think most of them hung out at bowling alleys. That's when all the leagues started. Where else would they hang out? The dances that they would give or we would give, and—


Doi

But they didn't have restaurants that they hung out at or went to?


Amino

No, not any one particular, not like ours.


Doi

Did the teenagers also have any other places they hung out at that you can think of?


Amino

The Olivet Institute comes into mind. That's when we first met Abe Hagiwara. He kind of organized all of us, you know, although we had the clubs already. He thought having an Inter-Club Council would be good. We all started to have dances. He said you'd have to coordinate; otherwise, you'll have nine dances and nobody would come to any of them. Oh, he was so wonderful.


Doi

I think we're going to. I want to hear about Abe, the clubs, Olivet. I think we're going to wait and do it on the next tape, so we'll break now.

[Recording interrupted to change videotape]

This is videotape number two. We're talking, we're beginning to talk a little bit about Abe Hagiwara, the Inter-Club Council that he advises the clubs to start, and Olivet. But let's pull back a little bit and talk about Waller High School and what the rest of your family is doing in these early years in Chicago. You've let us know that your sisters are working at the bra factory. Your sister Yuri is a schoolgirl at Mr. Price's house and also going to Waller High School. What's your mom doing? What's your younger sister doing?



25
Amino

My mom went to work at General Mailing, of course, far but she went every morning. My younger sister went to grammar school. It's no longer there, Knickerbocker School, but now I think it's called Oscar Mayer. At the time, it was a little one-room schoolhouse type of school. It was real small.


Doi

Tell us about General Mailing. You said General Mailing, of course. What is General Mailing?


Amino

Oh, Allan Hagio, James Nishimura, and one other person started General Mailing. They got lots of contracts from, like, Life Magazine and different magazines to put these magazines together. They would print it, and then people like my mother would separate all these pages. It was piecework, which was awful for my mom because she's like me, very slow with her hands that way. She would plug along and keep working there. It was at 26th Street and Indiana, very far compared to where we lived.


Doi

How would she get to work?


Amino

Bus, she would take a bus. Oh yes, we were bus people. Maybe they were streetcars then, first. But, anyway, public transportation. Then when Yuri and I started high school, she graduated in l947 so it was right after that. In those days, it was so much fun, and yet it was kind of hard because some of the men, boys would start gangs. Japanese people, too, you know. And they would have a fight every day after school in the alleys, and people would come and whisper to me, "The fight is going on at such and such a time," and I'd say, "Oh, no." I hated those fights, you know.


Doi

What were some of the gangs? Who were they? Do you remember any gang names?


Amino

They didn't have names as such. I remember the names of the persons, but I won't mention them because—


Doi

—Yeah; that's okay. And then, what were they fighting about?


Amino

Who knows? I didn't get that involved with them, so I never knew what they were fighting about. But they were always fighting, always. But coincidentally, 20 or 30 years later the two gang leaders of the specific gangs that I'm thinking of, they became best friends. One eventually died. But it was so ironic when I think about it.


Doi

You know now, when you say the word "gang," images of violence and guns and things like that come to mind. What did it mean to be in a gang at that time?



26
Amino

It was mostly fists, fist fighting. I'm sure they were smoking pot, they tell me now. But who knew from pot? In my days, I was so innocent. Oh my goodness.


Doi

And how big were these gangs? Were they like groups of five or 10?


Amino

Seven, eight, 10, maximum, maybe. They would all fight each other.


Doi

And were these gangs, where were they located?


Amino

These two gangs that I'm talking about were all from Waller. They all were from Waller. I don't expect everyone to get along, but it was so awful that they would fight. Then it expanded into the dances that we gave. You know they would all come and they'd start fighting there sometimes. Not always, but you know it was very upsetting to us young girls at that time.


Doi

Well, you mentioned other high schools that might have had Japanese Americans, such as Senn, Lake View, Wells, and on the South Side, Hyde Park, which you said had a large number. Did any of these other high schools also have gangs?


Amino

I never heard of gangs for those high schools. But that's probably because I was just so concerned, not concerned, but in Waller. So it's kind of hard—


Doi

And you mentioned clubs. Can you tell me a little about what you mean by clubs?


Amino

I think every high school must have started, what's called, a "girls club," mostly girls club. I remember the first day, you know, I would go around asking, "Do you want to start a club? Do you want to start a club?" And so that's how we started. We said what shall we name it? Well, let's see, "Silhouettes" is a good name, so we picked Silhouettes. We picked whoever, and at the same time almost, my sister's club started. She was a member of the Sorelles. And they started like that. It's funny; we must have all started at the same time.


Doi

And so which sister was this?


Amino

Yuri, Yuri starts in the Sorelles.


Doi

Okay. Do you have any idea how they chose their club name, too?


Amino

I have no idea. It sounds Greek so maybe—a lot of people in her club were already college age by then, so maybe they saw the word Sorelles. Then my younger sister, Hide, started a club called Charmettes. Then my older sister,


27
Shibby, Shizu, in beauty school, she met all these ladies, you know, and they started a club. I just cannot think of the name right now. They had a club, too. We all started having dances and, it was really a fun time for all of us.


Doi

And did Sumi join a club?


Amino

Sumi got married in l947, so she was away.


Doi

I'm really interested in the clubs and I'm glad you brought this up. The Silhouettes, you say, starts as a club based at Waller High School, is that correct?


Amino

Yes, most of us.


Doi

What was the initial idea behind your club?


Amino

Just social, at that time. We didn't have any good deeds in mind until later.


Doi

Is this a club sponsored, say, by the high school. Did the high school know about it?


Amino

No, not that, no, it was strictly on our own. We decided to do it, just to be social and to try to meet other people from other schools. Other, mostly boys we wanted to meet, you know. (laughs)


Doi

Okay. And at the same time, were there other Japanese American girls clubs forming at Waller?


Amino

Not at Waller, no. It was just the Charmettes, which was the younger ones, and the Silhouettes.


Doi

Is your sister Hide is at Waller when she starts the Charmettes, or is she still—?


Amino

She's the baby, you know, and by then, she came to Waller—


Doi

—And so, the Charmettes don't form at Knickerbocker School. The Charmettes form at Waller? Okay, can you think of any groups that might have included grade school girls?


Amino

No, I don't think any of them started because grade schools were more according to where you lived. We didn't have many Japanese in our area. They didn't have many, so by the time they get to high school, then they start getting together.



28
Doi

So the Charmettes, you say, are a little bit younger. Yuri's group, the Sorelles is maybe a little bit older.


Amino

Two years, two years, and two years, it seems to be.


Doi

Okay, what other girls groups are forming at the same time as the Silhouettes, the Sorelles, the Charmettes?


Amino

The Philos—


Doi

Do you know what high school they're a part of?


Amino

Mostly from Wells and Waller. Waller High School had a branch school, which was near Wells. So somehow, they got together a lot and formed the Philos. On the South Side, there were many forming around the same time, like the Jolenes were the older group. And the Dawnelles, Debonaires.


Doi

Are these all South Side, Jolenes, Dawnelles, Debonaires? What about North Side—South Side rivalries, you know Cubs-Sox kind of rivalries? Are there anything like that among the Japanese?


Amino

Not that we were involved in. The only time was when we started basketball teams. There was one South Side team that were a little older, and they were so aggressive. Nobody liked to play against them. I mean, this is a little rinky-dink league. What the heck, you don't care if you win or lose, but they wanted to win at all costs. Scratch your eyes out, practically, you know. It was awful. It was terrible. Nobody wanted to play them. I don't want to even give the name of that club.


Doi

Were they a club that was a social club first and a basketball group second? Or were they formed as a basketball—


Amino

I have no idea because they were from the South Side. But it seems to me they were mostly for basketball.


Doi

Uh huh. You said that the Silhouettes were mainly social.


Amino

At first, yes.


Doi

Okay, and what would you do social? What was it that you—?


Amino

—We'd have dances. We'd go to North Avenue beach and have weenie bakes, as we called them. In fact, we'd stay out there all night but nobody ever said anything or thought anything of it because we were so innocent. If you could believe how innocent we were, oh, it's frightening now.



29
Doi

Can you describe one of these weenie bakes? How many kids would be coming?


Amino

Oh, we'd invite everybody.


Doi

What would that mean?


Amino

They used to have pits [barbecue pits] over there at North Avenue beach. We'd tell everybody we're having a weenie bake on Saturday. Why don't you come out at 4:00 or whatever? Bring pop, or you bring this and that. We'd just all have such a good time, playing our form of volleyball at that time. And it was just really, really fun.


Doi

Would you have, I know that, say, someone like Chiye Tomihiro's name has come up as an advisor to one of the clubs. Did your club have an advisor?


Amino

Yes, yes, we had an advisor, the sister of one of our members. Her name was, uh, oh, I can't think of her name, Helen?


Doi

Okay; that's all right. And what was the role of the advisor?


Amino

She would try to advise us (laughs) on our goals and things like that. But I don't think she knew any more than we did at that time.


Doi

Do you know how the advisors were chosen?


Amino

I think you just picked whoever said yes.


Doi

I guess I was struck by how much, you know, absolutely, the age difference between probably the advisor and the club girls wasn't that much.


Amino

Oh, I think there was only like two years or a year maybe at the most. It was funny, though, because, like you say, the age difference wasn't great, and so when we'd go—we also used to have hayrides. It was called hayrides, and our advisor would be necking away, in front of all of us, and we'd say, "Hey, she's supposed to be our advisor." (laughs)


Doi

What did the Issei parents think of these girls clubs?


Amino

My mother didn't think anything, one way or the other. She just thought it was great that we all, you know, were so social-minded. Near the end, we started doing good works, you know, giving money, donating here and there. But, at that time, no, she just liked the idea that we were all staying out of trouble and getting together.



30
Doi

And what would trouble be like in those days? What were parents afraid of for their kids?


Amino

Oh, getting pregnant was their biggest fear and bringing shame on their families.


Doi

Can you think, thinking back? Don't name names here, but did you know of instances where that happened?


Amino

Oh yes, I knew of several, maybe four that I knew of. It was such a big hush-hush, hush-hush-hush shame—very bad, in our eyes at that time.


Doi

Do you have any idea what happened to the child or children that are born of the girls that got in those situations?


Amino

Two, I heard of, where they sent the babies to Japan to be brought up by their relatives there. And others, no, I'm not sure what happened because abortion, of course, is out of the question.


Doi

And do you remember what the community response to the girls is, after this happens?


Amino

It was like nothing happened. We just accepted it. I mean, you can't make them walk around with an "A" on their forehead, you know. So, no, it was very nice, we weren't mean.


Doi

Yeah; that's good to hear.


Amino

At the same time I was in the club, I was going to church, Armitage Methodist Church and joined the choir. My sister Yuri and I joined the choir there and got to know some more people, so you know, our circle was really growing very much.


Doi

How about your mom? She's a very devout Christian. Does she join a church?


Amino

Yes, oh, of course, the first thing.


Doi

And which church does she join?


Amino

It started at the Fourth Presbyterian. They were offered a room or something, and Reverend—was it Reverend Izumi? I'm not sure who the first reverend was, but, oh yes, she started there and she was also in the choir and was very active, very active.



31
Doi

Now is it unusual for family members to have a parent that goes to one church and kids that go to a different church? Because you mentioned back in the prewar years, out of convenience, you go to Evergreen Baptist and your mom goes to Union Church?


Amino

Well, this again was convenience because Armitage Methodist Church was right around the corner from where we lived and we would walk there.


Doi

Do you know why your mom would have chosen Fourth Presbyterian instead of a neighborhood church?


Amino

I guess she felt she was a Presbyterian. You know, thinking back, I think that Union Church in L.A. was part Presbyterian and part United Church of Christ or something like that. That's why she gravitated towards Presbyterian here. And then when we went to the Methodist Church, we came in contact with Reverend Sam Takagishi, what a wonderful person. He also tried to get us all into girls groups or something.


Doi

I've also heard of the "Armitags" that come out of that church?


Amino

Yes, yes, I was in there at the beginning.


Doi

What was the "Armitags?" Who are they?


Amino

It was just another group, you know a social group.


Doi

So this is a coed youth group.


Amino

Yes. Mostly the choir members that I remember were in there.


Doi

Okay. You also talked about the Silhouettes, saying at first, we were a social club, sponsoring dances and weenie bakes, and hayrides, and picnics and things like that. Later on, how does your mission change?


Amino

I think we grew up and thought well, we should be doing some good, you know. So we'd have for CARE [Cooperative American Relief Everywhere], the CARE organization, you know we'd raise a few dollars for them. And at that time, it was called Resettlers we would give them money, and the athletic association.


Doi

What's going to become the Chicago Nisei Athletic Association?


Amino

Yes, we were affiliated with them by the time we started giving these dances.



32
Doi

Okay. Let's move over to talk about the Olivet Institute and how that helps out in this club structure. I'm still a little bit confused. So you've got these clubs going, kind of based in the high schools or based in Shizu's case, maybe beauty school, or partners, or whatever. At the height of the clubs, can you just kind of list names that pop into your head to give me a sense of the number of clubs that we're talking about here?


Amino

Oh, we did a survey, not a survey, but at one of our All-Chicago Reunions that we have in Las Vegas. I think there were, like, 16 girls clubs and 12 boys clubs, at the height.


Doi

Wow, okay. What are some of the names of the boys clubs? Do you have any recollection of those?


Amino

Well, my husband alone has been in four: Penguins, Romans. See I can't even remember the names of the ones he was in.


Doi

Okay; that's all right.


Amino

And then they had Ro-Babes, which was an offshoot of the Romans. They were the younger brothers of the Romans. My memory is so bad, but I can get you names of all the clubs.


Doi

Oh; that's fine. And were the boys clubs also started as social clubs?


Amino

I have no idea. The ones that I know of mostly were for basketball, because Abe had organized all of these basketball leagues. There were "A" leagues, "B" leagues, and then there were the women's. It was really a fun time.


Doi

Yeah, and so eventually, does the Silhouettes, do the Silhouettes become a basketball team?


Amino

Part of us. And then the other part, I think, this Tom Yokoi wanted a tall girl's basketball team to dominate, or whatever he wanted us to do. So I was recruited to play with that team, as was my younger sister and all the five feet, five inches-and-over girls, which was ridiculous, but that's what happened.


Doi

And so what are you called when you're the basketball team? Are you still the Silhouettes?


Amino

No, I'm now the Serenes. My friends are the Silhouettes. We'd have to play against each other, which was fun because we weren't competitive.


Doi

Oh, so it didn't matter to you that you were a Serene, playing against your other Silhouette sisters?



33
Amino

No, no, we just had so much fun. I mean, I'd just hold the ball over my head and nobody could touch me, so I didn't hurt anybody. I'm not competitive. I just had fun.


Doi

Who would come to watch your games?


Amino

The other teams, you know. We'd all go and help each other, you know—


Doi

—kind of support each other?


Amino

Yeah, support each other by being part of the audience then and rooting for whomever. Or if your boyfriend was on that team, you root for them. We never had a big crowd, you know, watching. It was mostly the players.


Doi

Did Issei parents come to watch these?


Amino

No, I never saw any Issei parents there. It was like a big separation then. It's not like we are now as parents. You know we would go and really help our children.


Doi

Why do you think that was the case?


Amino

They were too involved trying to eke out a living. That's my mother's case, anyway, you know.


Doi

Right, right. You mention Mr. Hagiwara. His name comes up very often when people talk about Olivet.


Amino

He was a wonderful, wonderful person. He was responsible for bringing unity among all of us, you know. Even among the gangs, he would try to get them together and, you know, mediate. He was really such a wonderful person. For someone who had no children, it just really shocks me that he was so involved with us. Yeah. He was responsible, I think, for starting the Inter-Club Council, and so we could coordinate all our activities.


Doi

So the Inter-Club Council was a council for who? Which groups?


Amino

Most of the girls clubs were in the Inter-Club Council, and we would have a calendar and say, "Oh yeah, you can have a dance on such and such a date, that's open" and this and that. Otherwise, I don't think we did too much.


Doi

Oh, at the council level. And within, say within the Silhouettes or the Serenes?



34
Amino

We would pick two people to go to the meetings.


Doi

And did you have officers of the girls club, do you remember?


Amino

Yeah, if you can say, just a president and a treasurer, that's it.


Doi

I see. And about how often would you meet as Silhouettes?


Amino

We tried once a month.


Doi

And do you remember about how many girls were in your club?


Amino

We had 12 to start with. And then as some of them moved to California, then we would recruit more members and—


Doi

How big do you think the club was at its biggest?


Amino

Maybe 15, not any more than that. We tried to keep it small, intimate, you know.


Doi

Okay, and do you think that's the case among all the clubs? They tried to keep them small?


Amino

It seemed to be, it seemed to be.


Doi

And was there any, you know, more prestige about being a Silhouette than being a Philo? Was there any kind of pecking order among the clubs?


Amino

I never felt that, but some people now, when I'm talking to them later, 50 years later, say "Oh no. Yours was much better and that one was much better." No, I think, to me they were all alike.


Doi

Pretty much the same? So that the gradation, other people have mentioned how—and even you said, "Oh, Shibby's club was for maybe the little bit older girls."


Amino

Yes, it seemed to go by age.


Doi

But these are not big age differences, I guess.


Amino

Well, in my sister's case, yes. It's 10 or 11 years' difference from me.


Doi

So even girls in their twenties, maybe early to mid-twenties are in these clubs in the late-forties?



35
Amino

Yes.


Doi

Oh, and aside from moving to California, how do you terminate your membership in a club? What would happen?


Amino

Oh my goodness, no, we wouldn't terminate anybody.


Doi

I mean, how do girls no longer, I mean, do you have to marry and you're no longer a club girl anymore? What are the ways out of the club?


Amino

You could just quit or leave anytime. Although we had one gal who had been dropped from a South Side club, and so she came to join ours. They were really mean to her because she was so beautiful and pretty. It was this, you know, jealousy, I think, because she was so nice and pretty. I couldn't understand why they would do that. But kids are mean, you know?


Doi

So that generally, though, kids were not dropped from clubs?


Amino

No.


Doi

You showed me some pictures and we'll try to take videos of those: things you used to do, Fashion shows and maybe beauty contests.


Amino

Lots of contests. Every month we had a contest. One group or another would have a contest.


Doi

Were these beauty contest-type of things?


Amino

Yeah, or personality or popularity or—I don't know why we had contests.


Doi

And so maybe this week, or this month, it would be the Charmettes' turn to have some contest. Is that how it would go?


Amino

No, there was no set time. You just said, "Oh, let's have a contest."


Doi

But would it be a contest only in your group or would it be a contest among the clubs?


Amino

No, we would open it. This one particular club would say, "Let's have a contest." They would open it to anybody.


Doi

And how would someone win a contest?


Amino

We'd have judges. It was very impartial. Oh yes.



36
Doi

Who would be the judges?


Amino

Well, prominent people, like Abe would be a judge with somebody else, maybe Tom Teraji, maybe Allan Hagio. Whoever anybody else knew of that would be impartial. Yeah, we were very democratic.


Doi

I guess I've heard about the Nisei Week queens in L.A.


Amino

Oh, that's in L.A., and that's buying your votes, more or less.


Doi

Right, so there was none of that in the Chicago club contests?


Amino

No, we couldn't afford it in the first place. (laughs) It was fun, and everybody was a Miss so-and-so or Miss this-and-that at one time or another.


Doi

Miss Congeniality, or talent or something like that?


Amino

Yeah, I think I was Miss Autumn. (laughs)


Doi

So what would you have to do to win the contest?


Amino

Nothing, just show up.


Doi

Talent show or bathing suit, or—?


Amino

Oh, no bathing suit, oh, my gosh, no. We were all too modest.


Doi

Kimono?


Amino

No, who could afford a kimono.


Doi

So you would just—Would you appear before the judges.


Amino

Yes, and just walk, and that's it. Talk to them, maybe.


Doi

I didn't know that you had these contests. Were there contests in the boys groups?


Amino

I don't think so.


Doi

Do you remember if these contests would draw crowds like the basketball?


Amino

That was the purpose. You know we'd try to draw crowds; that's why we had these contests. Figuring well, maybe she knows twenty more people than we do and so they would come and—



37
Doi

—cheer for their contestant. Would each club put up a contestant for the contest?


Amino

The way I would remember from ours, we would ask each club to, but maybe only five of them would respond and that's how we got our contestants. You know, everybody wouldn't respond like that.


Doi

Having won Miss Autumn, was there any prize that went with it?


Amino

Yes, I got a savings bond, a $25 savings bond, which was big money in those days, and I lost it. (laughs) I don't even know what happened to it.


Doi

And, at the same time, were there any efforts to offer scholarships to college because these are high school girls. Do you remember?


Amino

No, we didn't have that kind of money or pull. Most of us were either in college or secretarial school, or things like that already. Most of my friends went to Circle, not Circle Campus, Navy Pier.

12. The Navy Pier was originally founded as a two-year freshman/sophomore division of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign [UIUC]. The University of Illinois at Chicago [UIC] became an independent campus in 1965.


Doi

So that was what people would do after high school. After high school—


Amino

I, myself, registered at Roosevelt College, never thinking about how I'm going to pay.


Tape 2, Side A

Doi

Okay, you're telling me about enrolling in Roosevelt University without having any means of paying for it. So what happens with that?


Amino

I just let it pass, because, in the meantime, I had gotten a scholarship to Central YMCA Secretarial School, a full scholarship, so I couldn't pass that up. I went there for two years, passed with flying colors, I guess, because I got a diploma, and then I went to work.

My first job, I saw an ad in the paper for a secretarial job at the Cosmopolitan Bank. I didn't think anything of it, so I just went to apply and they hired me on the spot. They kept saying, "You're the first Japanese we're going to try hiring." I thought "Oh my gosh, I don't want to be first of anything." But there I was and had a good 10-year association with Mr. Russo who was my boss. He was the vice president.



38
Doi

And when did you start working at the Cosmopolitan Bank?


Amino

In l950.


Doi

Okay, l950, right out of secretarial school?


Amino

Well, I took a little hiatus for about three months, took it easy.


Doi

Where's the Cosmopolitan Bank?


Amino

It's located on Chicago Avenue and Clark. It's right on the corner. It's gone through many, many upheavals.


Doi

Is it still there?


Amino

Yes, it's still there but under a different structure. It's now Cosmopolitan Bank of Chicago. It used to be Cosmopolitan National Bank but they had to reorganize and everything.


Doi

This bank has come up in other interviews as a bank that was especially friendly in providing loans to Japanese American businesses.


Amino

They were really a nice bank, small bank, but very nice to the Japanese Americans. We had every businessman in Chicago, I think, Japanese, that came and banked there and very loyal, too. To this day there's more people that I see, when I was at Heiwa who said they still bank at Cosmopolitan. I said, "Well, you don't have to now, all the good people are gone." But they still have such a loyalty to them.


Doi

Well, do you remember—The person who talked to me, Dr. Ben Chikaraishi, was telling me about Midwest Buddhist Temple's good association with Cosmopolitan National Bank and Mr. Bukowski, I believe his name was—


Amino

—Peter Bukowski was the president. Sal Russo was my boss, he was the vice president. There was a Donald Magers. They were all very receptive to the Japanese community.


Doi

Do you know of any other bank, at that time that was also welcoming?


Amino

I don't know of any, I think they were the first.


Doi

So can you remember the kind, I mean, were you involved at all in processing loans or acting as an interpreter in any sense?


Amino

No, I was on the commercial bank side, so I just greeted all the customers.



39
Doi

Japanese, as well as non-Japanese?


Amino

Oh, sure, yes.


Doi

Okay, well, that's an interesting story to know that you were the first Japanese American employee hired by the Cosmopolitan National Bank.


Amino

Then they hired Mr. Iwamuro as a teller. Then after that, of course, we had lots of Japanese come in.


Doi

So you spent about 10 years at that bank. Can you tell me what your sisters are doing? What happens to your baby sister after she graduates from high school? Where does Hideko go after Waller?


Amino

Yes, she graduates. She and her friend, Teri, oh, they're so funny. They worked a week here, two weeks here. Their resume was so full, after three pages, they couldn't remember anymore. They were really cute. Not that they got fired or anything, they just tired of jobs, and never thought to go on to college or anything. They just kept working.


Doi

So what kinds of places, where would they work, what are some of the places?


Amino

I think one was Pfizer, the drug company. She worked at Holloway's, and she worked at, oh, you name it, they worked there. They would just do filing or typing. That was about the extent of their work thing.


Doi

Okay, and then moving up from you, your sister Yuri, where did she work in Chicago?


Amino

Oh, my sister Yuri went to work at the University of Illinois in the Occupational Therapy Department. That was when it was just starting out and she really thought she would become an occupational therapist, but she, also, didn't have the means to go on to school yet. So she stayed there for a couple of years and then she went on to other secretarial jobs, too.


Doi

How about your sister Sumi?


Amino

Sumi, by then, was married. She got married in l947. Oh, big shame, she eloped, you know. It was, like, the talk of the town. But she eloped and she worked at McClurg's as a secretary. While I was in high school, she got me a job there as an order picker after school.


Doi

What was McClurg's?



40
Amino

McClurg's was a big mail order company. They had everything. It's similar to Service Merchandise now, only you don't pick your own things, you just mail order.


Doi

So you get a catalog from McClurg's and you look through the catalog and you

choose—?


Amino

Yes, but it was wholesale, so-called wholesale, so everybody couldn't order. It had to be companies. I, as an order picker, would have to take these sheets and pick whatever they had ordered. I worked in the sports department. We would pick things like volleyballs, and basketballs, and shoes, and things like that.


Doi

When did you start working at McClurg's?


Amino

It was while I was in high school. It was part-time for two hours after school, four days a week.


Doi

Was that your first part-time job?


Amino

No, before that, I was at General Mailing part-time. It was very sad because I was so slow. I couldn't keep up with anything because I wasn't interested in it anyway. Allan Hagio, who was my boss, would feel so sorry for me. He said, "I added a quarter to your paycheck this week because it was so sad."


Doi

So you're working at General Mailing at the same time as your mom. Is she there, too? How did you get the job there?


Amino

Yes, yes, my mother was there, too. It must have been through my mother.


Doi

My image of General Mailing is that not only is it a company run by Japanese Americans, but my image, and please correct this if it's wrong, is that it's staffed by Japanese Americans. Is that right?


Amino

Yes, I think so.


Doi

So what did the workspace look like?


Amino

Oh, it was a big, huge, printing-press type of place, very—I hate to say the word—dirty and not nice, but it was a place to work. They were real nice about hiring all of us. Tons of summer jobs were gotten for us there. I got to meet so many really nice kids. To this day, I still have friendships from there. Toasty Fujii is one I'll never forget. And my job didn't last long, though, because I was too slow.



41
Doi

So were you better suited for your McClurg's job where you were the order picker?


Amino

Ah, I guess you could say I was a little better at that.


Doi

The name McClurg's comes up over and over again when people are talking about these early years. Can you give me a sense about, say, in the sports department, are there many Japanese Americans?


Amino

My friend and I went and got the same job. So she and I were the only Japanese up there, except for—oh, this fellow named Han Tatsui, a very nice man was our immediate supervisor. But the head of the whole department was this yucky, yucky guy, and now, it would be considered sexual harassment because he used to chase my friend and I and try to "cop a feel," as they say. So we would run all over in different directions, and climb the bins and hide up on the third bin on top, and really, it was . . . funny and sad, when you think about it. I never thought to report him because his wife, I knew his wife worked on the second floor, who was my sister's—my sister Yuri also worked there after school. She was her boss, so we couldn't say anything too much, or were afraid to, you know.


Doi

Do you know how so many Japanese Americans got their jobs at McClurg's?


Amino

I think it might have been through the WRA [War Relocation Authority], or one of those organizations. I think McClurg's approached them saying they wanted to hire people that come out of camp because they know that we're really good workers, you know. So that's how it started and it just ballooned.


Doi

So can you give me an idea about, maybe when you were there, how many Japanese Americans might have worked at McClurg's?


Amino

Oh, at that time, the short time that I was there, there must have been hundreds. Oh yeah, lots. I only know because as we're lining up to punch out, you know, it's all Japanese there, so—


Doi

It's a good indication. So you're working part-time after school, your baby sister works part-time after school, your older sisters are working at U. of I. [University of Illinois], and other places. Your mom, where does she go after General Mailing? How long is she at General Mailing?


Amino

I would say about four years at General Mailing, then she went to Curt Teich, it's called. They made photographic postcards. It was closer to home. That's one of the reasons she started there. It was on Irving Park and Ashland. The building is still there, but the company is no longer there.



42
Doi

Do you know if there were other Japanese American women working there?


Amino

Oh yes, yes, it was all Issei ladies because I'd go to pick her up and I'd drive about five of them home, you know.


Doi

Yeah, yeah. So how long did she work at Curt Teich?


Amino

Maybe six, seven years.


Doi

You mention a car, you would drive them home. When did you get your first car?


Amino

Oh yes, I started driving. Oh, that was another first. I think I was the first Japanese American lady driving in Chicago at 16. Actually, I didn't know how to drive, but I offered to drive with this couple to California, help him drive. Oh, what an experience.


Doi

You didn't know how to drive and you offered to drive?


Amino

I had a "quickie" course from my then boyfriend. I said, "Okay, I'm ready," like two hours later. Oh, I was very gutsy, dumb, dumb. So it was my sister and I, and this couple, who was newly married, decided to drive to California. I was 16. I won't forget this, and he took the northern route, oh, my gosh. That Donner's Pass was awful, awful, awful. And also, he was not used to traveling, you know, none of us were, but he always felt prejudice. So he didn't want to get the motels, so he would say, "Your turn, you go, your turn." We all hated to go in there and try to find a motel because prejudice was rampant then, especially going further west, you know. They would say they were all full when they weren't. Really, we stayed in some really flea-bitten places.


Doi

So this was like the mid- to-late forties, 1947-ish or '48? So you're still in high school and you're doing this?


Amino

Oh, stupid. (laughs)


Doi

Well, how did your mom feel about this?


Amino

She just thought, how nice, they're driving to California.


Doi

So you were going to drive out with them and then drive back with them, too?


Amino

We went up the northern route and then came back the southern route, which was easier because we didn't have these mountains. Of all things, he decides


43
to take Highway 1. My gosh, most of the time, I was on the passenger side. I could have died, just looking over. (laughs) Ooh.


Doi

And was this a family friend?


Amino

It was my sister Yuri's good friend. Her name also was Yuri, and they had just gotten married, and bought a car, and he wanted to go to California.


Doi

And so you head out west with them?


Amino

He says, "Do you want to drive with me?" and I said, "Sure, I'll help you drive." Can you imagine?


Doi

No, no, I can't. So you get back to Chicago and when do you personally get a car to pick up these Issei ladies from Curt Teich. Do you remember when you first got a car?


Amino

Oh yeah, by then, I think I was married, 1953, yeah, it was. Because I got married in 1953 and we got a car right away.


Doi

We were kind of curious about these personal landmarks. When did you get your first car, your first TV, your first home. Just thinking back, can you remember when you got your first TV?


Amino

No, but I remember when my sister—my sister who had run away to get married, Sumi—and her husband, he always liked to be the first, and when he heard about TVs, he ran out and bought one. It was nice that they were able to afford it, because I think they were very expensive in those days. So, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we would rush over there to look at this little TV. It must have been nine inches, right, in those days? About twenty of us are gathered around this little television, watching Lawrence Welk and different programs. It was fun.


Doi

Do you remember when they got their TV, about when? Was it before you were married?


Amino

Oh yeah, because they got married in '47—I betcha it was in '48 or '49.


Doi

And then, looking at your residential history, I see you mention that your family first moves to 2328 North Seminary. Then you move to 2l28 North Dayton, and you live there.


Amino

My sister's friend owned a little two-flat on Dayton. The top floor was opening up and because we were squished into these two rooms, we said, "Oh, we have to move," so we moved there. But unfortunately, it was an unheated


44
apartment with two space heaters, and so being the tough one, I always had to bring up the oil, five gallons of oil every day and fill up the space heaters. Only two rooms really got warm, the kitchen and the living room. We would huddle around there and study, laugh, sing, dance, whatever.


Doi

I see. And who's living with you when you're on Dayton.


Amino

The same four, three sisters and my mother. So it was five. My sister Sumi had gotten married.


Doi

Okay, by then, it's your sisters Shizu, Yuri, and Hide, and yourself. And you live there until 1953. What happens in 1953?


Amino

That's when we got married.


Doi

So you move out because you get married. Okay.


Amino

My other sister Shizu got married in December, of '52, right before I did. She, too, eloped; another scandal—no, not really. But by then we're used to it, and so then there's three of us—Hide, Yuri, myself, and my mother living there. Yuri says, "Oh sure, I know all of you are going to get married and leave me with mama." I mean, she always felt so put upon. I said, "Don't worry, don't worry, when we get married, you can come and live with us." So then after I got married, my husband, Yosh, went into the army so I stayed at home with them. Then, when he came back, we went to live at 2ll9 North Sedgwick and then after that, we went to Dover or vice versa. I can't remember, but I took my mother and sister with me.


Doi

Oh, so your mother and Hide go with you?


Amino

No, Yuri. Hide got married right after I did, so she's gone, yeah, so Yuri—


Doi

Did she ever get married?


Amino

Oh yeah. We practically kicked her out. At one point, her friend from California called her up and said she's losing her roommate so do you want to come and stay with me, and we said, "Yes, you're going." Literally pushed her out, you know, but that was the best thing for her. She was stagnating with us, you know. She got weirder and weirder. (laughs)


Doi

Let's move out into the community. You've talked about lots of clubs you belong to: girls' clubs, the Silhouettes, basketball club, the Serenes. You are part of the Armitags at your church. What are some of the Issei activities? Do you have any sense what the Isseis do? What are your mom and other Issei women or men doing?



45
Amino

Her big thing, I know, is church. I mean, she was so involved with church, she just loved it. She would go there on Friday nights for choir practice, and then she'd go to help with the newspaper, and then she'd go Sundays and stay all day because they would make lunch. They were part of the women's group; I can't remember what they were called.


Doi

Fujinkai

13. Women's auxiliary (Japanese)

kind of thing?


Amino

Yeah, and when it's their toban,

14. One's turn for being on duty (Japanese)

they used to call it—their time to cook, which was almost every week, she would stay there all day. That was her life mostly, work and church. Then when grandchildren started coming, that was her life again.


Doi

Okay. I know your family is female-dominated, all girls and a mom. What was your sense of the job market for Issei men and Nisei men, and men's world? Do you have any sense about employment opportunities for men in those early years?


Amino

The only thing I can go by is what my husband was telling me, you know. He took a lot of odd jobs, too, especially when he was in college. I mean they would fill railroad cars with ice from the top and load it up for refrigerated cars. He did so many different things. This was all when he was at IIT [Illinois Institute of Technology]. His father, I know, went to work at McClurg's, too, but he hated it. Then he decided to start a cleaners. I think a lot of Isseis became self-employed pretty soon, you know. As long as they had the means, they started businesses.


Doi

So what were some of the other Issei businesses? You mentioned rooming houses as one.


Amino

Yes; that was a big one and then cleaners, a lot of cleaners, little grocery stores.


Doi

Do you remember where your father-in-law's cleaners was?


Amino

Oh, it was at 4lst Street and South Pulaski.


Doi

Oh?


Amino

Funny area.



46
Doi

Yes. We have the 1950 Scene yearbook and in the back of that, there's a directory and it lists all the Japanese American businesses. My husband and I are looking at this and he's making a little database, but he noticed that there are several hundred, I think he said, Issei business, Issei apartment houses but he was also amazed at the number of Japanese American cleaners in 1950. That's kind of the second biggest occupation. Why cleaners? Why dry cleaners and laundries?


Amino

Because that was a safe, safe occupation. I mean it's still your own business, but you didn't have to do most of the work, you sent it out. The only one that I knew did his own work was Sun Cleaners. I don't know if you're familiar with the Hidaka family? Mr. Hidaka started a plant called Sun Cleaners, a plant and cleaners, and then he had about twelve little cleaners all around, where he hired a lot of people. His whole family helped in the operation. He was, at one time, really big.


Doi

So would your father-in-law's business send their actual cleaning to Mr. Hidaka's plant, do you think?


Amino

No not to Mr. Hidaka's plant. When he bought the cleaners, they had a set place that they would send it to, so he just continued there. My mother-in-law, in the meantime, went to work for J. L. Clark which was a big toothpaste manufacturer, and that, too, was through, you know, the network of Japanese Americans. But they [the company] moved out to Downers Grove. She continued going there. She would take three buses, a train, leave at 4:30 in the morning or something. Never missed a day of work, either. Amazing, isn't it?


Doi

What did she do at the toothpaste company?


Amino

I think they just capped each toothpaste tube. She was very loyal and very hardworking. They wanted to keep her forever.


Doi

Wow. That's amazing. We've mentioned the Cosmopolitan Bank, as a good source of loans. Did I ask if you knew any other banks?


Amino

Yes, and I don't know any others.


Doi

Okay. The West Coast opens up to Japanese Americans again in about '46 or '47. Did your family ever consider moving back west?


Amino

Not at that time, no, because my sisters all said they treated us so shabbily, why would we want to go back there? They really liked Chicago, even if they eventually all moved back, but, until they did, they really liked it here. Most


47
of my friends moved back, though. Slowly, you know, like all my club girls? From 1954 on, they just all moved back.


Doi

One by one?


Amino

Yes, with their families.


Doi

That's interesting. We'll talk about that maybe a little later. In 1948, I believe the Japanese American Evacuation Claims Act was signed.

15. The Japanese American Evacuation Claims Act was passed, with the assistance of the Japanese American Citizens League [JACL], on July 2, 1948. This well-intentioned act attempted to compensate Japanese Americans for material losses incurred as a result of their mass removal and detention during World War II.

This measure gave minimal financial compensation to losses incurred during the evacuation. Do you know if your family applied for this kind of compensation?


Amino

No, because like I said, we didn't have anything. On the other hand, my husband's family, you know, they got the minimum. They had a building on Terminal Island, of all places, which they had just bought like two months before the war, and so they lost it.


Doi

Okay. Do you know what his family used that money for, after they did get minimal compensation?


Amino

Probably for the cleaners that he opened.


Doi

Okay. How did your father-in-law choose a cleaners at 41st Street and South Pulaski?


Amino

I have no idea. I mean, that's such a weird place, you know.


Doi

Was that a Japanese American neighborhood at that time?


Amino

No not at all.


Doi

So who was the clientele that was coming, do you know?


Amino

It was black. Yeah, in fact, the reason he gave it up years later was he got beat up and robbed. So we got him out of there fast.


Doi

Yeah. When did he stop being in the dry cleaning business?


Amino

Oh, it must have been about l960 or so.



48
Doi

Okay. Let's move on. I'm interested in other kinds of organizations. We've talked a little bit about physical areas where there were high concentrations of Japanese Americans. Would you say at any point that there was a Japanese American community in Chicago?


Amino

Yes, but it wasn't concentrated in any one area. We came from all over and mostly met at Olivet, you know. Mostly for the basketball games, too.


Doi

Okay. So things like sports whether it's the basketball that's played by the girls' clubs or the boys' clubs or later on, I guess the CNAA, the Chicago Nisei Athletic Association—


Amino

—we all became part of the CNAA, all the clubs.


Doi

When does the CNAA start? Do you know?


Amino

No, I'm not sure but it had to be right around that same time when we started playing basketball. I think Abe was instrumental in that, too.


Doi

Okay. Do you remember in the early years whether there were other important organizations that are sprouting up? You mentioned the Resettlers as a social service agency that later becomes the Japanese American Service Committee. What else is kind of cropping up in the late-'40s, early-'50s? What other institutions or organizations can you remember from those days?


Amino

Gee, I don't remember any others. To me, that was the biggest, you know the Resettlers Committee.


Doi

And we've talked about your church, the Armitage Church. I guess the Buddhist temples are starting, other Christian churches—


Amino

—My mother's church, the Fourth Presby, I mean, they met at the Fourth Presby but they were just called the Church of Christ, Presbyterian. Then there was the United Method, not the United Methodist, United Church of Christ, which became Tri-C. And there was the Devon Church which is, I don't know, they're connected with Moody Bible Institute, I think. And Lakeside Church. Yeah, there were so many.


Doi

How about kenjinkais?

16. Prefectural organizations (Japanese)

Do they become an important—[recording interrupted to change videotape].

Okay, videotape number three. We're talking about the kenjinkai and I was asking you whether your mother was involved with the kenjinkai?



49
Amino

My mother, herself, wasn't involved at all. But my mother-in-law and father-in-law were very active in theirs. It's called Yamanashi-ken which is a little province in Japan, right outside of Tokyo, I think.


Doi

So while your mom wasn't involved with the kenjinkai, what was her major kind of source of connectedness with the community?


Amino

Hers was either work, but mainly the church. She was a very devout lady.


Doi

Often, people will tell me that the CNAA, the kenjinkais, maybe the Resettlers picnic which arose during the '40s were really important institutions in the early years of Chicago Japanese Americans' coming together. Can you think of other important organizations that brought the community together? Can you think of other important gatherings or activities?


Amino

Other than the churches and the Resettlers, which we called it at that time, I can't think of any other, to my way of life.


Doi

Well, you've also talked a lot about the girls clubs and the boys clubs. Can you describe a girls club dance to me? If the Silhouettes had a dance, where would you have it? How many people are coming? What would you wear? Who would you invite? What kind of music did you have?


Amino

Okay, first of all, we would have to get the place, which, almost always, was the Olivet Institute. We would reserve it. I think we paid something like $25 for the night. We would get ready to prepare it. We would have to buy decorations. Usually, we'd put up crepe paper decorations and balloons in the center, very festive.

And for music, we'd ask our friend, Hank, who would have a PA [public address] system and tons of records, which it was all records in those days, and ask him to be the disc jockey. We'd help him get ready. And then we'd set up a little place for coat-checking, which consisted of a table (laughs), and we'd throw every coat up there. It's a wonder we didn't lose any coats, but our record was very good.

And then that night, everybody would come about 7:00, get ready. We'd sell cokes, no hard liquor, no beer or anything like that, but, of course, these guys would sneak it in, I'm sure. And, we'd make money from the cokes and the dance itself. We'd charge a small admission, I think it was a dollar or maybe seventy-five cents, and the night would proceed with all this mellow music and all these chairs, people sitting around, talking and all that, and it was just a real nice evening, a social evening.



50
Doi

Did Olivet have a ballroom? What kind of room would you use?


Amino

No, this would be in the gym itself. We had to tell them to wear rubber-soled shoes. You could not go on that gym floor without rubber-soled shoes, and you really can't dance too well with rubber-soled shoes either. (laughs) So it was kind of a catch-22. But it was fun because that was the only social event of the week that we had.


Doi

While you're in high school, do you go to high school dances, too?


Amino

I, myself, didn't go to too many. They didn't have too many in my day. You gotta remember this is 1946, '47, '48. The only thing I went to was my prom, of course. When I tell my children now, they're appalled, but I asked someone to go with me. They said, "What! You're not supposed to ask anyone." I said, "Well, it was okay then." You know I bought the bid and I asked Harry Kaneko to go with me. He said, "Sure." We had a great time. Then all of us went to another restaurant afterwards for dinner—no, it couldn't have been dinner because we had dinner at the prom. It was at the Sherman Hotel.


Doi

Where's the Sherman Hotel?


Amino

Oh, it's no longer there. It used to be at Randolph and State. No, maybe not State—Randolph and Clark, a very nice place. And then we went for a snack somewhere. Then you'd go to the beach and sit around all night, and then get ready for a picnic the next day. That was prom night—very exciting for me.


Doi

So did you date much in high school?


Amino

Not much, not much. I was too busy with, you know, all our other social things.


Doi

But when you did date, did you date mainly Japanese American boys or did you date non-Japanese Americans also?


Amino

I tried dating a non-Japanese but my mother, oh, she was such a nice lady, but I never knew she had these prejudices. She almost had a fit when I brought home this hakujin fellow.

17. Caucasian

So I didn't date any non-Japanese after that.


Doi

What was, do you remember what your mother said to you?



51
Amino

She just said, "No, no, no good," or something like that. I don't remember, but I know she was very upset. That's why all of us married Japanese. Indirectly, she let us know.


Doi

Well, how did you meet your husband? You mentioned that you went to the prom with Harry Kaneko, but your name is Pat Amino so—(laughs)


Amino

Well, I met him after the prom at one of those famous dances. I don't even know which one, but we got to be really good friends with this certain bunch of guys—


Doi

—The Silhouettes did, or you in particular, you and—?


Amino

No, just me, I guess, and a couple of my good friends. So we all started to go out as a group. Everything was as a group in those days. We never paired off until later. It's almost like you knew it's no use pairing off because nothing will come of it while you're in high school. This was afterwards. And we met at a dance and hit it off real well.


Doi

You're out of high school when you meet him?


Amino

Yes or maybe I was still in high school but I had already asked Harry to the prom. (laughs) So yeah, then I met Yosh, and it helped that he was tall, although I dated all kinds of people. It didn't matter if they were tall or short, you know. To me, looks weren't that important. Maybe it was. Wait a minute, I have to stop and think, because I'd say, "Let's go to a movie," if they weren't really good looking, (laughs) where nobody could see us. I was mean, too. Yeah, but that's where we met and then we went together for six years until he got out of school. Then in l953, we got married. I guess from 1948 to '53. Wait, that's only five years. Five years, we went together.


Doi

And was he a member of any boys clubs?


Amino

Yes, he was a member of either the Penguins, or the Romans, or Saints. He was also a member of the Saints. He'd go with whomever.


Doi

So you get married in 1953, and that's when you move to 2ll9 North Sedgwick.


Amino

Yes, 2ll9 North Sedgwick was owned by the Kanekos then, Hiroshi and Dorothy Kaneko. It was a series of one-room apartments—one room, they called studios, very small.


Doi

And where was the bathroom in that?



52
Amino

It's in each apartment. It has its own bathroom, and one room, and a kitchen. I can't remember what they called it, but it folds out. You know, you fold the doors open and there's the kitchen. It was very cute and enough for us at the time because he went into the army right after that. So I moved back to my family.


Doi

With your family. Let's see, I think we talked a lot about employment. I guess since your husband goes overseas for a while in the early years, in the first year of married life, is that what happens?


Amino

No, in 1954, I guess he went into the army, and then he was in for two years.


Doi

Let's just talk about the year he was home. What kinds of activities were you involved in outside of work? I guess at that point, you're still at the Cosmopolitan National Bank. Where does he work in that first year of married life?


Amino

He had just gotten out of school, so he worked for York Corporation, which is a big heating and air conditioning company because that was his specialty. We used to bowl a lot. Oh, we joined several leagues and almost every night was filled with bowling and dances, some dances.


Doi

Are you still a member of the Silhouettes when you're married, after you get married?


Amino

Yes. What few people were left, but we were having showers by then for every—My whole club got married in that one year; 12 of them, so we went to a lot of weddings and some got married in California. Then a year after that, they all had babies except me, so, baby showers. Oh, all kinds of showers by then.


Doi

Had you quit playing basketball by the time you got married?


Amino

No, we were still playing basketball, too.


Doi

So you're working now, full-time. You've got spouses and you're bowling in the evenings, going to dances, going to baby showers, going to wedding showers. Your life is pretty busy.


Amino

Yes, and still basketball. Yeah, it was really busy, busy, busy all the time.


Doi

And are you still meeting at Olivet to have your basketball games?


Amino

Yes, yes. We met there until the very end.



53
Doi

And when is the very end?


Amino

I don't even know when the very end was because, by then, when everybody had children, they started drifting away. It was harder and harder to come up with a team, so I think it just kind of dissipated by itself. There's no set time, or—


Doi

I didn't realize that you could be a married Silhouette. I assumed that once you got married, you weren't a club girl anymore. Let's see. The JACL, is also an organization that establishes a Chicago office. Were you at all involved with the JACL, the Japanese American Citizens League?


Tape 2, Side B

Doi

Okay, we're talking a little bit about the JACL. Were you involved in the JACL?


Amino

No, only to the extent that they started sponsoring some dance classes, ballroom dance classes. I wanted my husband to learn. So it started with Cha-Cha, and I said, "Well, anybody can learn Cha-Cha. We have to go." So we went and he really enjoyed it. He would draw diagrams, draw it all out, you know, he and his friend Shig. Even after I got pregnant, they continued and they would have these books full of diagrams, but they still couldn't dance. (laughs) They went for years and years, but they still can't dance. That was my only extent with the JACL.


Doi

What's your impression about who belonged to the JACL, say, in the early years of resettlement?


Amino

If you could think of it, I was pretty young then, and we were all starting our families and things. To us, JACL were these older people and we never got into it.


Doi

And how old were these older people? Were these the Isseis, or—?


Amino

No, no, no. They must have been 30, maybe but, to us, that was pretty old.


Doi

How about the Resettlers? When you think of the Resettlers in those early years, who were the leaders of the Resettlers?


Amino

Mr. Nakane was. Oh, he was another wonderful man. I'd go to volunteer there because I really liked him and what he was doing. I volunteered there a lot. Even after we had kids, we'd go help anytime they needed help. They'd call, send the alarm out. We'd all go out and help them.



54
Doi

So did that have any association with the older people? I mean, was the leadership of the Resettlers the older people?


Amino

They, too, were older people but it wasn't out of the realm for us to get involved with the Resettlers. It's funny, isn't it? I have these funny ideas, I guess.


Doi

So do you have any way to figure out why the Resettlers was a group that you would help out with, but the JACL was a group that you didn't have much to do with?


Amino

Maybe it goes way back to before the war, because I used to hear negative things about the JACL in Los Angeles then. Being young and impressionable, maybe it stuck to me that they didn't stick up for us when the war started and all these kinds of negative things.


Doi

Well, let's see. Let me talk a little bit more about other historic events that happened in the '50's. We're now talking about the '50s. In 1952, the Walter-McCarran Act was signed [so] that allows all races to become eligible for naturalization.

18. The McCarran-Walter Immigration and Naturalization Act/Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 was an immigration statute that made all races eligible for naturalization and eliminated race as a bar to immigration.

Many Isseis took advantage of this opportunity and became U.S. citizens; but others didn't, how about your mom? Was she ever naturalized?


Amino

My mother went to Americanization classes many times, many times before.


Doi

Before the war?


Amino

Before the war and after the war. But when this act came about, I said, "Oh, mom, now you can take advantage and become a citizen." She said, "I don't want to now. They wouldn't take me when I wanted to, and so I don't want to." So she never became a citizen.


Doi

Do you remember about community organizations that helped with these efforts? Do you remember if there were any in the 1950s?


Amino

The only one I can thing of was JACL. So, for that, I applauded them, but I didn't get involved yet.


Doi

Okay, how about your in-laws? Do you know if they became naturalized citizens?



55
Amino

Oh yes. My mother-in-law was [always thinking] "America first," you know. Yes, she became a citizen. My father-in-law was thinking like my mother. He didn't want to.


Doi

Did that cause any tension in families?


Amino

Not in their family. No. My father-in-law was just a nice guy who went along with whatever she said, so if she wanted to do it.


Doi

That was fine for her, but he chose not to?


Amino

Yes.


Doi

How about among you and your sisters when your mom decides not to? How did you feel about that?


Amino

I didn't feel one way or the other. It was her decision and if she didn't want to, we can't force her.


Doi

Another important kind of historical event—I've heard that in the late-'40s, Japanese Americans were refused burial in Chicago area cemeteries. Have you heard of this before?


Amino

Yeah, I did hear of it, but somehow it didn't pertain to me because I didn't know anybody that died. My father was safely in Evergreen Cemetery.


Doi

In L.A.? And then when does your mom pass away?


Amino

She died in 1977. She died in California. She went to help my other sister.


Doi

Well, I guess I want to get back a little bit more to this idea of a Japanese American community here in Chicago. We've talked about areas where people have lived, Clark and Division, Clark and La Salle. You mentioned 41st Street and Berkeley was where your husband lived.


Amino

They owned a little house, which surprised me. It was a cute little house.


Doi

At 41st Street and Berkeley? What kind of neighborhood was that at the time?


Amino

Very changing.


Doi

Changing from what to what?


Amino

From Japanese to blacks.



56
Doi

Oh, I see, I see.


Amino

They would find garbage on the roof from the building next door. It was a high rise, so they would just throw out garbage. And my father-in-law, he just got fed up, so they sold it and moved north.


Doi

Okay. And do you have any recollections of what the area of Clark and Division looked like in those days? Was it also a changing neighborhood, was it a—


Amino

Oh, it was a nice cosmopolitan area.


Doi

Even then?


Amino

Yes, every kind of person you could think of was there. You felt comfortable.


Doi

You mention the same thing about your place on Seminary. Was Dayton like that, too, or what was the Dayton neighborhood like?


Amino

Yes, because it was real close to Seminary, yeah.


Doi

Then you moved to 2ll9 North Sedgwick. What's that neighborhood like?


Amino

The same. It was cosmopolitan, all different kinds of people, in fact, some unwanted kinds of people. Next door was the Story Hotel, which I understand now was a house of prostitution. There're people going in and out, in and out.


Doi

When did you learn that it was?


Amino

Oh, actually, it was while I was living next door. Because my husband's friends, they'd come over and say, "Okay, shut the lights, shut the lights." They'd sit at the window, so I would lock myself up in the bathroom all by myself because these are all guys. I don't want to sit there and watch, you know, at the window. I'd come out and say, "You perverts." (laughs)


Doi

Okay, then you move further north again to 4424 North Dover. What's that neighborhood like when you're there in the mid-'50s?


Amino

Oh, it was very nice, too. I mean, I've lived in—well, I shouldn't say that—but I've lived in nice neighborhoods. We've never had any changing parts. It was right across street from a school, Stockton School. About the only things I could complain about were—you know, kids throwing papers and things, sometimes. But, no, otherwise, it was very nice.



57
Doi

Now people have given us the bedbug stories. Did you have that kind of experience, too, in your housing?


Amino

Oh, I had that, too, when I first—no, not in my housing, on the el.

19. The Chicago Transit Authority [CTA] operates a system of trains that run both above and below ground. When the trains run above ground, they are referred to as the "el" or elevated trains. When they go underground, they are called the subway.

Oh, when I first rode the el—my first experience on the el—before, they used to have long rows of seats along two sides. Then there was a crack right in the middle. So I happened to sit in the middle, my first experience on the el or something. Anyway, I came out of there with all these bedbug bites. Oh, it was horrible, just awful. I never even knew what a bedbug was, but here—the back of my legs—were just covered with bites. They must have liked my blood.


Doi

So you had that on the el but not in your own home?


Amino

Yes.


Doi

And then from Dover, you moved to 3606 North Racine. Again, what kind of neighborhood is this?


Amino

Nice neighborhood, again—Japanese owners, an eighteen-unit building. My sisters lived across the street in another huge apartment complex. That's why we moved there, you know. You want to be close to your family and all that.


Doi

And then one of your next moves is to 660l North Ashland. When do you buy your first home?


Amino

That's our first, not home, but a building we bought at 660l North Ashland.


Doi

What kind of building is it?


Amino

It's a two-flat with three apartments. We needed the income because, at that time, we were not making enough to cover the mortgage and things. Even the down payment, we borrowed from my mother-in-law. They were very nice about lending it. They taught me a lot about that; so now when our kids need it we just give it to them.


Doi

So this is the first place that you and Yosh own, at 660l North Ashland?


Amino

Yes.


Doi

What kind of neighborhood was that?



58
Amino

When we moved there, it was a very nice neighborhood. We were apprehensive because, at that time, a lot of my friends were buying homes also. They were rejected in so many neighborhoods and so you go with apprehensions. So, naturally, you get a Japanese realtor. That way, he can pave the way. That's what we did.


Doi

And who was your realtor? Do you remember?


Amino

John Toriumi. He was in real estate at that time. He just started and we thought that would be good for him to get a sale, too. It worked both ways.


Doi

Do you remember if there were many Japanese American real estate agents at that time that would help Japanese Americans buy that first home or piece of property?


Amino

I guess there were a couple of others, but I wasn't familiar with them because we hadn't been looking until then, and we wanted to help John.


Doi

You said at first, you were apprehensive about being rejected. What was the neighborhood like around 6600 north on Ashland?


Amino

It was very Jewish. Like everybody says, the Jews know what we've gone through a little bit, so they're more open. So I didn't feel bad about moving into a Jewish neighborhood. I had friends living around there, Caucasian friends, so it worked out very well.


Doi

Yeah. I guess when I look at the residential history of Japanese Americans in Chicago, it does seem like the move has been further and further north. Especially, say, in the '50s and '60s, Japanese Americans seem to be moving into areas that either are, or just have, recently have been predominantly Jewish, and so their kids end up at Senn High School, and—


Amino

Yes, I think that's the reason. You're not open to rejection then. Because my friends tried to go up west, you know on Foster and around there. Gee, they flat-out got told, you know, "We don't sell to your kind." And I said, "Oh, that's awful, isn't it?"


Doi

When would you guess Japanese Americans could buy anywhere they could afford? When did that happen?


Amino

I think it was shortly after we moved there.


Doi

Sometime in the '60s you think?



59
Amino

Yes, yes. Because '61 is when we moved there. Yeah, just around the same time, if not a little later.


Doi

Do you think the suburbs opened up, too?


Amino

Not as openly, but yeah, it did.


Doi

Sometime in the '60s, do you think?


Amino

Yes.


Doi

Let's see. We haven't asked at all about your family, have we, about your kids.


Amino

Oh; that's right. They're all doing well.


Doi

Three kids, Kimberly who was born in 1959; Mitchell, who was born in '61; and Jill, who was born in '64. Where were they all born?


Amino

In Chicago—all at Illinois Masonic Hospital.


Doi

Did they learn Japanese?


Amino

My mother was living with us at the time. She spoke [Japanese], especially to Kim. Kim knew, understood, and spoke Japanese for the first two years of her life, but of course, now she's forgotten, although she can still understand when she hears someone speaking it. It was so wonderful because she knew all the songs and all the nursery rhymes and everything.


Doi

Oh. Yeah, so your mom lived with you.


Amino

She would go back and forth, whoever was having a baby, she'd go to them. Those last years were mostly me, so she stayed with me most of the time. Then my sister Shibby opened a business in California. So she decided to go out there and help her, but for the first two, three, four years of Kim's life, she had her grandma, her bachan.

20. Grandmother (Japanese)


Doi

So then, the first couple of years, let's see, her brother Mitchell is born two years after she is. So Mitchell also had grandma?


Amino

Yes. But he doesn't remember that much.



60
Doi

What would you say the kinds of values you tried to instill in your children were? What values?


Amino

Wow. Just be nice, honest, and hardworking. My husband was better at that than me, because he always told, especially our son, you know, how it's a male-dominated society. He would say, "You must be goal oriented." All through his life, that's all he heard, goal oriented. So first, he wanted to be a paleontologist, and my husband said, "Huh, there aren't many museum directors who die off. You should take something else, and use that as a minor." So we signed him up in a computer course at Northwestern [University] when he was a senior in high school. They were offering it for $50. It was the best $50 we ever spent because he loved it and that became his life's work.


Doi

That is good. Are there any values that you think of as particularly Japanese that you tried to pass on?


Amino

That's the only thing I regret because, well, I mean, I love my sons-in-laws, but we geared them all [our children] towards everything Japanese. We went to Japanese churches. We joined the CNAA, had them involved in everything Japanese, but my two girls never dated Japanese. They'd say, "Japanese men are socially retarded." I'd say, "You can't judge them all by your brother." (laughs)


Doi

Or your cousin (laughs), right?


Amino

Somehow, they just never dated Japanese fellows.


Doi

Well, you mention when your kids were young, you got involved in CNAA, the Japanese churches. What else did you get involved in as a family?


Amino

Well, they were the main two. My friends are all Japanese, mostly—I don't say all. And they all had children the same age. We would get together at least once a month, you know. So it was like really Japanese oriented. But now we've lost it, almost.


Doi

Well, you mention, I guess I know that you lived in the same building as one of our other transcribers, Kay Toriumi. Is that the Racine place?


Amino

3606.


Doi

So, how many other Japanese American families lived there?


Amino

Oh, it was an eighteen-unit building. They were all Japanese and most of them all had children. So our children would play together in the courtyard. I


61
mean, when I say it was all Japanese oriented, it really was. But her children, too, went off in different directions. I always tried, we always tried to get her oldest and my oldest together, and she'd say, "Mom; that's incest." I'd say, "No, no, no, you're not related."


Doi

They grew up together, so that's how it feels, right? Did you talk much about camp with your own kids?


Amino

Do you know our son, he started reading about it and he did a paper, his high school paper on the camps. He really got interested in it and even went to Japan. He's the only one that's really, really interested in it. He cuts out all these articles for me every time he sees one in San Jose. He's one who's going to follow his roots.


Doi

He's the one who asks and he's the one that you've talked to about camp?


Amino

Yes. And he did an oral history with my sisters and me because he wanted to know all about our family background.


Doi

And do you know if your sisters' kids had ever talked to any of them about camp? Or was your son, Mitchell, the first in the family to really ask questions?


Amino

I think he was. I think he was the first and only one that I know of.


Doi

How hard was it for you to talk about camp back then, say in, when he's a senior in high school, that's about 1970 or so?


Amino

He said, "How come you never talked about it?" I said, "Well, it just never came up," and, I don't know. It's not that I'm ashamed or anything, I mean, I'm very open about talking about it. But it just never occurred to me, I guess.


Doi

Was it difficult to talk about it?


Amino

Not at all; no.


Doi

How about for your sisters? Do you know if any of them?


Amino

No, none of them have trouble talking about camp. I think it affected men more, because my husband, it's a little hard for him. He happens to be related to this Tayama family,

21. On December 5, 1942, Japanese American Citizens League [JACL] leader Fred Tayama was severely beaten by six men. When Harry Ueno, a popular organizer, was taken into custody for the beating, a mass protest ensued.

a kind of outlaw, you could call it, maybe. In
62
Manzanar where he was, the Tayama family was really persecuted because they thought he was a—what do they call it?


Doi

Inu?

22. In Japanese, the term means, "dog." But this was also the popular term used to identify those people suspected of being informants in the World War II concentration camps.


Amino

Yeah; or something like that. They actually, literally, pushed them out of camp, the whole family. There's a booklet out on that family where she tells about how they had to live in a separate town because the whole camp went against them. With my husband's family being kind of related, they felt the end of it, kind of. He really, he wouldn't go back to California for the longest time, my husband. He said, "No, I'm not going there."


Doi

Even just to visit?


Amino

Yeah, just to visit even—until 1956. It was the first time he said, "Okay, I'll go."


Doi

And what changed his mind?


Amino

Maybe I changed his mind. Maybe I told him that it's not going to be, you know, they're not going to come after you with rocks. I guess he had rocks thrown at him and things like that. It was hard on him.


Doi

And so, equally, it was hard for him to talk about the camps with your son when your son asks.


Amino

I think so.


Doi

Well, skipping further along in history. What kind of involvement did you have with the Civil Rights Movement in the '60s? Were you at all involved?


Amino

No, I wasn't involved. I was all for it, but I couldn't get involved, I had small children then. That was my excuse, I guess. Not good enough, but that's all I had then. I admired all those people, my goodness.


Doi

Do you know whether there were any Japanese American leaders that were involved in the Civil Rights movement? Can you think of any Chicagoans that were involved in it?


Amino

The only person that I have knowledge of is Nelson Kitsuse. He was so good about really getting involved in marching—



63
Doi

So what kinds of things do you remember? Do you remember if he took part in those marches, the march on Selma or—


Amino

Oh, not in the South. He would march downtown and carry banners.


Doi

Do you know whether the JACL was involved at all in the Civil Rights Movement?


Amino

You know, I don't really remember.


Doi

I guess another important historic landmark for Japanese Americans is the Redress Movement and that was really during the 1980s, outside of the time frame that we're specifically interested in, but I would like to ask you about this. Many Japanese Americans were involved in the Redress Movement in the '80s. What were your initial thoughts about redress and reparation? Do you remember there were hearings?


Amino

Yes, I got superficially involved, on the rim by offering to do different things. But I never got into it until maybe the middle of it.


Doi

What kinds of things did you do?


Amino

No nothing big. I just offered to do some of the mailing and some passing out [of] flyers and just small things.


Doi

I was in San Francisco during those years, so I don't really know what was going on in Chicago. What kinds of efforts were mobilized in Chicago?


Amino

It was kind of bad because there were two factions. One was the JACL and one was the Redress Committee. I can't even remember what their names were. Ed Sato, you know, the artist, he was real involved in it. So they would kind of be at odds ends. I thought both of them had really nice ideas, but it was too bad they couldn't get together.


Doi

And then William Hohri, here in Chicago. He had the class action.


Amino

That's the one, right, he had the one section and then the JACL would be the other. It felt to me like they were at odds with each other when they're both working towards the same ends, so I used to tell them, not William but the JACL people, "Why don't you get together with the other people?" But somehow, they never did. But the end result was good.


Doi

Do you remember the hearings? I guess they had hearings all across the country, too. Did you testify or attend any of those?



64
Amino

No, no. I'm not that outgoing. (laughs) But some of my friends did. I really admired them for it. You know, Helen Mukoyama and Shig Murao's wife Helen, another Helen. Oh, she had a beautiful but sad story to tell, and I really admired them all for that.


Doi

For getting up and telling it?


Amino

Yeah, right. I didn't have much of a story to tell, so—


Doi

And do you remember in l988, the Civil Liberties Act is signed. That offered the official apology and the individual reparations. I guess I'll ask you, first, what did this act mean to you and then, since you were at Heiwa at that year, at that time, what did that mean to the Isseis here? What did it mean to you first?


Amino

To me, it was really sad because I thought the Isseis are the ones who really, really should have benefited. Most of them, I'd say 80 percent of them were gone by then, especially my mother, who would have been so happy, you know. Even if she didn't feel she was pounced on or whatever. No, for that, I was very sad. But it was nice to think that they were going to remember us.


Doi

And then what was the Issei reaction here at Heiwa?

23. Heiwa Terrace is an apartment building for low-income seniors subsidized by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD]. Heiwa Terrace was built by the Japanese American community for Issei seniors and opened in 1980. This facility is located on the North Side of Chicago at 920 West Lawrence Avenue. It is 48 blocks north and nine blocks west of the center point of the city of Chicago.

Do you remember?


Amino

Unbelief, disbelief. Really, they couldn't believe they were really going to get it. Until they saw that check, they didn't think they were going to get it. It's just a story, you know. Honestly, it was so nice to watch. For that, it made my day. And then, the very first one, they gave to Mrs. Fujimoto, who was 102 years old. And you know the government officials came to Heiwa and we had a big ceremony. It was just so nice.


Doi

So that they actually handed her the check and apology?


Amino

Yes. She was in her wheelchair, you know. It was a very touching moment.


Doi

Was that an event that was open up to all Heiwa residents and the families and everyone?


Amino

Everybody.



65
Doi

So what was that event like? Where did you hold it? What was the feeling in the room? Who comes?


Amino

I didn't get the feel of the room because I was so busy seeing to everything. We held it in the back room where the meeting room, not the meeting room, variety room, we used to call it. Oh, there were lots of people, TV cameras, photographers from all the papers, and uh—


Doi

Did the families of the residents come?


Amino

Oh yes, especially Mrs. Fujimoto's because she was going to be honored, you know. It was a big moment, really nice. We had a big cake and coffee. In fact, she went to Washington, first, and got it officially in Washington. And then they did it again at Heiwa.


Doi

That's great. I guess, you know, we've talked as much as we probably are going to talk about the '40s and the '50s, and probably the '60s. How would you characterize the Japanese American community today?


Amino

It's hard to say because we're all so scattered, you know. It's hard to get a feel for a community, as such, because I don't feel we really have a Japanese American community. It's going to get worse because of all the out-marriages. But up to now, it's been wonderful for me. Chicago has been great.


Doi

And did you ever consider moving back west? You mentioned that one by one, all your club girls move or—


Amino

—all my sisters moved. Everybody moved. We're toying with the idea now because we have two children out there. And if the one who's in Evanston ever moves, of course, we'll probably move. I hate to move, but, you know, you go where your grandchildren are.


Doi

So that's what would maybe bring you back out west?


Amino

Ideally, I'd like to live six months there and six months here. So maybe we'll do that. Give up our house, go into a condo with no ties, otherwise, although not Los Angeles where I'm from. It's too congested for me.


Doi

And do you feel that the Japanese American community has become more and more, ah, I don't know what the word is, dissipated, or over time—But what goals or accomplishments would you like the Chicago Japanese American community to reach in say five or 10 years?



66
Amino

Oh, I guess just to keep up the cultural aspects of the Japaneseness in us. I think JASC is really doing a good job in that way, you know. And that will keep us together. And that will keep all of them coming because, even my grandson, sometimes he asks about Japan, once in a great while.


Doi

Well, they're still pretty young, I mean. Your eldest grandson is seven. So that's still pretty young.


Amino

But I want to instill in him some of these things, aspects, so he doesn't lose it completely.


Doi

Right, right. Well, we're at the end of this interview, Pat. You've been a great narrator about the clubs. I'd like to thank you very much. I really learned a lot about the clubs from you and that's what we wanted to hear.


Amino

Oh that's good. I told you this is under protest.


Doi

Yeah. Well, you've done a great job. Now is there anything else you'd like to talk about? Is there anything more that you would like to say?


Amino

No, just that I've had a wonderful life. But some of the things that I think about that I did, I think, "Wow, you could never do that now." I used to cut school a lot and go to the movies by myself downtown. Can you imagine doing that now? Oh, my gosh.


Doi

Cutting school is one thing, but going to the movies downtown by yourself—


Amino

Yes, into an empty theater and suddenly, you feel an arm, I mean an arm on your knee, and you go, "What are you doing?" You know all of a sudden, this man is sitting next to you. So I hit him and move. But I stay in the theater. It's so stupid, but I loved movies. That's my real love, I can't believe I did that. If my kids ever tried it, I'd break their neck. Otherwise, no, Chicago has been really a wonderful city to live in, to have your children grow up in, and—


Doi

And what made it wonderful for you?


Amino

The people, the people were so great. I've had life long relationships with friends now. They'll go on until we die, you know. So it's nice.


Doi

That's great.


Amino

They're still so appalled, though, about the relocation experience.


Doi

So these are non-Japanese American friends that you've made?


Amino

Yes. They say, "I can't believe we did that!"


Doi

Well, thank you again. Thank you for sharing your story.


End of interview

Ben Tsutomu Chikaraishi

  • Interviewee:
  •     Ben Tsutomu Chikaraishi
  • Interviewer:
  •     Mary Doi
  • Date:
  •     March 4, 1998

Biography


67

figure
Ben Tsutomu Chikaraishi


"...on the bus and my first
decision...was, 'Where do I
sit?'... 'Gee, we were confined
so long and we were
discriminated so much...
maybe I'll be considered
black'... I went to the back and
I sat in the black area. The bus
driver stopped the bus and he
says, 'Hey, you gotta sit in the
front.' So I got up and
moved... I sat right by the
dividing line."

Ben Tsutomu Chikaraishi was born in 1921 in Colusa, California. At the age of sixteen, his father left Hiroshima, Japan to work in Hawai'i but returned home to marry in 1898. In 1904, the couple, now with a young son, immigrated to San Francisco where they remained for several years. Although they returned to Japan briefly in 1914, the Chikaraishis were soon back in California, eventually settling in the small northern California town of Colusa.

In Colusa his father operated a laundry business with two Issei friends. In time, the family realized that the laundry business did not generate enough income, and as a result, they decided to go into farming. The Chikaraishis then left Colusa and moved to Yuba City, where they settled in the nearby town of Live Oak. In 1929 his brother-in-law informed Mr. Chikaraishi of an opportunity to lease and manage a hotel in Stockton. Ben, who was nine years old at the time, spent his childhood years in Stockton and attended the local Buddhist church. His mother, who was frequently ill, died in 1941.

In 1939, Ben Chikaraishi graduated from high school and enrolled as a student at the University of Pacific. After two years of coursework, he transferred to optometry school at the University of California, Berkeley. The attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941, drastically changed Ben Chikaraishi's life. Following the attack, his father was sent to U.S. Justice Department-run internment camps in


68
Montana and New Mexico. In April 1942, one month short of graduating from the University of California, Berkeley with his optometry degree, Ben Chikaraishi returned to Stockton and entered the Stockton Assembly Center. Entrusting most of the family's possessions with a friend, the Chikaraishi family complied with the evacuation orders. From Stockton Assembly Center, the family was transferred to Rohwer concentration camp in Arkansas. At Rohwer, Chikaraishi worked as an optometrist in the camp hospital.

On July 4, 1943, Chikaraishi left Rohwer to attend optometry school in Chicago. Apprehensive and uncertain of what to expect, he was met at Dearborn Station by a friend. His first months in Chicago were rough, especially his experiences in finding available housing. He eventually found a place to stay on Chicago's South Side.

Chikaraishi attended the Monroe College of Optometry (later renamed the Northern Illinois College of Optometry). To supplement his income while attending school, he worked for a wax paper company. Eventually, he quit his job at the wax paper company and found a job at International House, a dormitory on the campus of the University of Chicago. Chikaraishi graduated from Monroe College in 1944. In July 1945, he married Kiyo, a woman whom he met at International House. That same year, Chikaraishi started his optometry practice at Clark and Division Streets. The area had a high concentration of the Japanese American resettlers. In fact, these Japanese Americans were his earliest patients.

Dr. Chikaraishi's has been involved with the Buddhist Church for most of his life. His oral history includes discussions on the Midwest Buddhist Church in Chicago

Interview


69

Ben Tsutomu Chikaraishi recounts his childhood in Colusa and Stockton, California, his incarceration in Rohwer concentration camp, and his resettlement in Chicago. He explains how he left Rohwer to finish his optometry degree in Chicago, where he also got married and started his own private practice. He describes the Japanese American community during the resettlement years, the development of his optometry practice, and the types of community activities in which he has been involved. He also provides a brief history of the Midwest Buddhist Temple [MBT]. Mary Doi conducted the interview on March 4, 1998 in Chicago, Illinois.

Tape 1, Side A

Doi

Okay, this oral history will have three main parts. First we're interested in learning a bit about your life before and during camp.

1. Euphemistically called "relocation centers" by the War Relocation Authority [WRA], the concentration camps were hastily constructed facilities for housing Japanese Americans forcibly removed from their homes and businesses on the West Coast during World War II.

But our main interest is in your life during resettlement—roughly the years 1942 to 1965.

2. Resettlement is the term used by the War Relocation Authority [WRA] to refer to the migration of Japanese Americans from the concentration camps in which they had been incarcerated during World War II.

So those are the twenty-five years that we're really interested in. And finally we'd like to know a little bit about your life after resettlement up until now. There are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions and we're mainly interested in your story and your opinion. But why don't we start talking a little bit about your folks. I notice from the genealogical data sheet that they both come from Hiroshima in Japan. Do you know when they were married?


Chikaraishi

They were married in 1898.


Doi

When did they come to the States?


Chikaraishi

Well, actually he [narrator's father] first went to Hawai'i when he was about sixteen years old, then he returned from Hawai'i and stayed in Hiroshima. My parents were married and had a child there. The reason there's so many people from Hiroshima in the United States is that times were very bad in Hiroshima in those days. During those years there was too much rain and the rice crop was poor. They couldn't make a living. Many left Hiroshima; some went to Hawai'i and some came to the United States [mainland].

My father and mother were married in Japan and they had a child named Hajime. They came in 1904 and arrived in San Francisco. They settled in the


70
San Francisco area and stayed for several years. They then returned to Japan. They returned to the United States the second time in 1914. By that time they had a second child named Masami, who is still in Japan. They left him in care of his brother [narrator's paternal uncle].

And so they came in 1914 and settled in a small town called Colusa, which is in Northern California. It's one of those very tiny towns that hasn't changed over the years. It's almost like it was fifty years ago. They made a movie there called In the Heat of the Night with Sidney Poitier, because it depicted a small southern town of the early-1930s.

Together with two other very close friends, my father started this laundry called the Tozai Laundry. It didn't generate enough business so that the three of them could live on the income from a small laundry and cleaners. They drew straws and two of them left. Mr. Hinoki was left with the cleaners. Mr. Hinoki kept the cleaners, which has been operated by his son and then his grandson. So the cleaners is still there and it's been there from 1914 until now. That's almost eighty-something years.

The rest of the two including my father went into farming. He worked on a farm for many years. For a while he helped farm peaches. And also contracted raising peaches. Then he went to rice farming. He stayed with the rice farming, but you talk about rice farming—he didn't own the land but contracted work from the landowners. That's my earliest recollection of my early childhood. It was when he was rice farming.

 

I remember our house was built on stilts because when you farm rice, the whole growing area has to be flooded. If you get too much water or too much rain, flooding takes place. So everything was on stilts, and I remember when I was young, we had to raise your own food so there was a lot of food. You seldom had to buy any food. The chickens were your main source of meat. I still remember when my father had to go find a chicken in the barn, grab a hold of them, and chop their necks off. As this is done, the head and the chicken will go flying in different directions. It was a horrible and bloody sight. Those are some things I remember as far as the early years and—


Doi

Is this all in Colusa?


Chikaraishi

No, we moved from Colusa to Yuba City and then to a city called Live Oak, a small, small city right in that area. Yuba City is right next to Marysville, which is a city that floods quite often. I think they got flooded again with this big rain from the El Nino effect.


Doi

Okay, your father's in farming. You're born in 1921.



71
Chikaraishi

Yes.


Doi

Your sister Edith has already been born in 1918.


Chikaraishi

First there was the son that was born in Japan, Hajime, which is the first boy. He died in 1926 from tuberculosis while he was in Stockton. And then came Masami who was left in Japan in care of his brother. And then there's Tom. He had passed away seven years ago, and then Edith and then myself, and finally Satomi, who passed away last June.

In 1929, we moved to Stockton. It was right before the Depression.


Doi

Why did your father move? Was he in Live Oak at that point?


Chikaraishi

He was in Live Oak. Well, he moved to Stockton because my mother had a brother named Mr. Oyama who found a hotel that my father could operate. You take a lease out and operate the hotel. All lived at that hotel. I was nine years old when we came to Stockton.


Doi

Can you tell me a little about Colusa, Yuba City, Marysville, Live Oaks—were these areas with large concentrations of Japanese Americans?


Chikaraishi

No, there wasn't. There were many Japanese but not concentrated. Because in a rice farm or something like that, [other farm families] were many, many miles away because rice is grown in big acreage. So they weren't concentrated.


Doi

Okay. Were there enough Japanese American families in your pre-Stockton communities to have Japanese language schools or Japanese churches?


Chikaraishi

I don't remember ever going to church when I was in the rural areas. Marysville had a Buddhist church but I don't know exactly what year they started their church. I don't remember going to their church.


Doi

How about Japanese language schools before Stockton. Did you go?


Chikaraishi

No, I didn't.


Doi

Do you know if the communities that you lived in offered that kind of teaching?


Chikaraishi

That I don't know. I don't recall.



72
Doi

If someone asked you where you grew up, what would your first response be?


Chikaraishi

It would be Stockton because I was only nine years old when we moved there.


Doi

Can you tell me about Stockton?


Chikaraishi

Stockton is a unique place. It's an agricultural city in the San Joaquin Valley about 65 to 70 miles away from San Francisco, away from the coast. By agricultural, I mean that most of the people that live there or came there were migrant workers. The Japanese people lived in, naturally, the poor section. It's the only place where you were able to find accommodations, find businesses to run or anything like that, or even a place to live. You lived in a poorer section.

Because it was agricultural and a migrant city, there were a lot of saloons, lot of prostitutes, and dope addicts. It wasn't uncommon to be walking down the streets and dodge these drunken people on the streets. It was the sort of area where you wouldn't want your children to be growing up. But in those days, we didn't know any better. We didn't know anything else so we just accepted it and we grew up under normal conditions and had a little fun.


Doi

Well, the hotel that your dad ran—the one that his brother-in-law was able to get for him—who lived in that hotel?


Chikaraishi

They were migrant workers. In other words, you seldom had people that lived there permanently. They come in, and then you rent them a room for a night or two nights or whatever they're going to stay. The people that used the rooms kept changing daily or sometimes every two, three days.


Doi

Now were these farm workers?


Chikaraishi

Mostly farm workers.


Doi

What was the racial or ethnic background of the farm workers?


Chikaraishi

I would say about maybe 25 percent Japanese farm workers. Maybe 35 percent Filipino workers, maybe 10 percent Hindus from India, the ones that wear the turbans [probably referring to the Sikhs]. And there were some Mexicans. That was usually the make-up of the customers.


Doi

And how do the different groups get together or not get together back in those days.


Chikaraishi

You mean the Japanese groups, or—?



73
Doi

No, the people that live in your hotel. The Filipinos, the Indians, the—


Chikaraishi

They came and went. They were seasonal workers. So, as the celery season starts, they come for celery. After celery's over, they either go pick grapes or they go to pick peaches. So they move to the different areas of Northern California.


Doi

With this kind of farm workers, were there any ethnic specialties? Did they all pick the same things at the same time? You get a group of farm workers, you'll get some Hindus, some Filipinos, some Japanese, some Mexicans all working on the same farms?


Chikaraishi

Yes, all working together, but there were some jobs that were suited for certain others because it was hard jobs. To this day, I don't know how they really survived. I think the ones that harvested the sugar beets—that was probably one of the hardest jobs. You know the cultivator comes and digs the sugar beets up and you had to go behind and get these beets. Some of them are big and they have to hold them and cut them and toss them up on the trucks as they went by. It was hard work. I know I couldn't do it. We used to go work in the celery patches.


Doi

I've never really heard about Stockton from the old days. You said that the Japanese lived in the poor part of town. What section of town was that?


Chikaraishi

That was slightly west of the city. That's where, I would say, 95 percent of the Japanese people lived. In that era anyway.

Stockton was a unique place. It was a city of forty thousand, but all around the city in all directions, there were farms. They were islands. And they were islands only because they had this farmland which was developed by a fellow named George Shima.

3. Under the name George Shima, Kinji Ushijima (1864-1926) became in all probability the wealthiest and one of the most famous Issei. By 1913, he had reclaimed more than 28,800 acres of land and was widely known as the "Potato King" of California.


Doi

The Potato King?


Chikaraishi

He was the one that developed the whole area. The whole area around Stockton was under water. He devised a way to make these ditches and rivers, which drained the water and formed a series of islands. On the drained land he planted potatoes. It was very arable land. In fact, the government offered him


74
the land but he didn't want any. There was tremendous acreage. There's thousands and thousands of acres all around the city that he had developed. There's a certain area that is still call "Shima Track" after him.


Doi

When you moved to Stockton, can you tell me about the things that are going on there, the Japanese American institutions? Are there churches there? Are there language schools?


Chikaraishi

Yes. There were churches there. There was one Christian church, one Buddhist church, the Stockton Buddhist Church, and there were language schools. Both churches had language schools. The Christian church had a language school and the Buddhist Church had a language school.


Doi

And what else did these churches sponsor besides language schools?


Chikaraishi

The typical activities, some social activities. They had boys groups and girls groups of clubs and a lot of athletics.


Doi

Were there both Japanese athletics like kendo

4. Japanese fencing

as well as—?


Chikaraishi

Well, there was kendo but it wasn't the church that sponsored it. It was at the Buddhist church in their so-called gym. It was a tiny gym but it was in that gymnasium that they had kendo. But it was an independent operation by some individual that taught kendo.


Doi

And then did they also have basketball or baseball?


Chikaraishi

Yes, basketball, baseball, football.


Doi

Would you say that your family was part of a Japanese American community when you lived there?


Chikaraishi

I would say yes to a certain degree. My mother was always ill so she hardly went out. She had several strokes and she was an invalid. And so my father was more confined to home than anything else. As far as activities, I mean they did not participate in different organizations or groups, you know.


Doi

What church did you go to?


Chikaraishi

I grew up going to the Stockton Buddhist Church. And the main reason that I went to church was 'cause my father said either I go to church or stay home and work on Sunday mornings. So the decision was very easy. (laughs) I


75
started going to church when I was about nine years old and I guess I'm still going so—


Doi

How about a Japanese language school?


Chikaraishi

Yes, they had a Japanese language school.


Doi

And did you go?


Chikaraishi

I went, yes. I went probably all the way through high school. I didn't like to go, so I used to ditch school. I mean the intent was good. We start out to go and then as we pass the playground, they're playing ball so we start playing ball. And forget about school. It was okay until my parents found out what the attendance was at school, then things changed.


Doi

This is a story I hear quite often. (laughter)


Chikaraishi

Oh, yes. (laughs)


Doi

Especially from Nisei men—that somehow you ditched Japanese school.


Chikaraishi

Japanese school—


Doi

Yeah. So you said you went through, about high school. How proficient would you say you were now in Japanese?


Chikaraishi

Not too good. I mean I could speak it. I can understand it. I used to be able to write kanji,

5. Chinese characters used in written Japanese.

but not today. I've forgotten practically all of the kanji.


Doi

That's understandable. As you were growing up, how did you feel about being Japanese American?


Chikaraishi

Well, when you ask that question and I think about it, when I was younger I didn't feel any pressure really because most of our friends were Japanese. And then, like I said, we lived in the poorer areas so our friends were Japanese, Chinese, Mexicans, Filipinos, blacks. We were all disadvantaged, underprivileged people. Our economics were compatible, our activities were similar, so I didn't have any feelings as far as whether I'm Japanese, Japanese American, or American, really.


Doi

So in Stockton as I recall, it seems that the north side, as you were growing up, might have been the better neighborhood?



76
Chikaraishi

Yeah, the north side was the better neighborhood. Hardly any Japanese lived there. Today, I would say 90 percent of the Japanese in Stockton live on the north side. And that's the side where the University of Pacific is. It's the area between Stockton and Lodi. Most of my friends live in that area.


Doi

I think I'm going to skip over a lot of the school questions because I really want to talk to you about camp, I mean about the resettlement. But let's see. If you were born in 19—


Chikaraishi

'21.


Doi

In 1941, you're about twenty. So what were you doing? Let's go on to talk a little about what you did and where you lived and what your life was like before Pearl Harbor.

6. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the U.S. Navy base on O'ahu.

Where were you in—?


Chikaraishi

Immediately before Pearl Harbor?


Doi

Let's say starting in about 1940.


Chikaraishi

1940? I graduated high school in 1939. I was going to the University of Pacific at that time. I studied at the University of Pacific for two years, and then I transferred to Berkeley in the Optometry School. And so when the war started, I was at school. I was in Berkeley.


Doi

How did you hear about Pearl Harbor?


Chikaraishi

I remember that day distinctly. I don't think I can ever forget that day. It was a Sunday and I came home from church. It was about 12:30 when I came home from church.

First thing, I turned on the radio. There was no TV so naturally you couldn't turn the TV on, so I turned the radio on. I started to change my clothes to my everyday clothes. And then all of a sudden, it came over the radio that Pearl Harbor is being bombed. And the US Missouri is being hit, and you can hear all these noises—all these planes and sirens and everything.

I didn't think anything of it because in those days there was a producer named Arch Obler and he was always producing these spectacular programs on the radio. So I thought, well, that's one of Arch Obler's programs. Then they kept insisting, "This is live, this is live. We're broadcasting live from Pearl Harbor." Then you could hear the planes. You could hear the sirens, you


77
could hear the bombing. And then, all of a sudden, you realize that it was real. So I stood there, oh, I don't know . . . maybe only about 10 seconds but it seemed like minutes that I was sitting there and thinking, oh, my goodness, that is horrible! I'll always remember that day.


Doi

You're in Berkeley. You still have your mom and dad in Stockton?


Chikaraishi

My mother had passed away in 1941 before the war. So she never saw the war.


Doi

Oh, okay.


Chikaraishi

My father was in concentration camp.

7. The narrator is referring to the internment camps administered by the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the Department of Justice for the detention of enemy aliens deemed dangerous during World War II. While the majority of the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II were in one of the 10 concentration camps administered by the War Relocation Authority [WRA], several thousand others came under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department in a separate and parallel internment. It is the convention of the Japanese American National Museum to refer to the WRA administered camps as "concentration camps" and to refer to the Justice Department camps as "internment camps."

In fact, the day after Pearl Harbor, at seven o'clock in the morning two FBI agents came and told him [narrator's father] to pack a few of your necessary things and come with me. So that's all that was said. And he was drinking his coffee, and I remember my sister Edith told me that she said, "Can't you let him even finish his coffee?" So they said, "Fine." So they stood by the door till he finished breakfast and they took him to the county jail together with your grandfather.


Doi

My grandfather?


Chikaraishi

Yes, your grandfather, and only because we did kendo. In other words, we were doing kendo and meanwhile somebody promoted the book on kendo. In order to publish this book, they came and asked for donations. And I remember my father donated something like a hundred dollars, you know, just to be donating something. And so everybody that donated any money to this book had their name in this book.

The United States government considered this book as some enemy propaganda or something to that effect. And so every person that had their name in the book were put in concentration camps for no reason than, like my father didn't do anything but operate a hotel. He was not involved in the Japanese community to the extent that he did any kind of work in Japanese schools, churches, or cultural programs.


78

So together with so many others from the city, they sent them to San Francisco to the detention camp and then they went to Missoula, Montana. From Missoula to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and then to Lordsburg, New Mexico, these concentration camps were set up by the Justice Department, not the War Relocation Authority [WRA]. These were camps that were already there for many years. So my father was together with some of the Germans and some of the Italian prisoners of war.


Doi

So Satomi was still at home, and—?


Chikaraishi

Satomi was still at home and Edith was at home. And Tom was already on the farm in Acampo. My father had bought him a small vineyard. He was there when they came and took my father away so it just left my two sisters—my older sister and my younger sister.


Doi

What happens to them? And what happens to you?


Chikaraishi

Well, they told me to stay in school as long as I could. Hopefully, I could graduate because I only had one more month to graduate from optometry school.

The war started in December and I stayed in school. I was going to graduate in May. But then we got our orders. My sister called me that you'd better come home because we got our order to pack our things and dispose of our business and belongings as we're going to be in an assembly center in one week. I had to leave school just a month before graduation. I left Berkeley in, I think it was in April, around April the 12th or so. And we were put into the Stockton Assembly Center

8. A government euphemism for the temporary detention centers that housed Japanese Americans forcibly removed from the West Coast in the early months of World War II. These sites were administered by the Wartime Civil Control Administration [WCCA]. Stockton Assembly Center operated from April 1942 until August 1942. It had a peak population of over 3600.

in a week's time, carrying whatever we were able to.


Doi

So you go into the assembly center with your sisters?


Chikaraishi

And my brother Tom. If I had stayed in Berkeley I would have gone to Tanforan,

9. Tanforan, located in Northern California, was one of the sixteen assembly centers that housed Japanese Americans prior to their removal to the concentration camps.

away from the family. So you'd be separated from the family. Once you're separated from the family, there was so much red tape to get back with your family that it would take years to get back.


79

Some people had that problem. They thought that, well, they'll be evacuated wherever they were. And they were never reunited with their families.


Doi

So you go to the Stockton Assembly Center. What happens to your family possessions?


Chikaraishi

As far as the hotel, we were leasing the hotel. But all the equipment there, all the supplies like the beds and the mattresses and whatever you had were all ours. And what we did was, we had a friend. "Friend"—with quotes on—who said, "They'll be happy to take care of it for you." And they'll pay us a certain amount of the money that's collected from the weekly rents and things like that. And so we said, "Oh, that's fine. That'll be nice." And so he took over our possessions. We didn't sell anything. We just left everything as they were.

It was all right for maybe about three or four months as he sent some money. And then it stopped. And that was the end of it. He was collecting all this rent and everything on our furnishings and on our possessions and never sending us the money. And we had no way of collecting. And this occurred in many other situations where they leased something out or rented something out, but then you collect money for a while and all of a sudden it just stops coming. This is typical of what happened. And we had no course of action to be able to collect the money outside of legal action. But nobody had money for legal action and being so far away, too.


Doi

So that's what happens to your family's possessions.


Chikaraishi

Our possessions, yes. As far as my brother, he was able to rent the vineyard out to someone. But things like that are different because you can't harm vineyards. You can't wear 'em out like hotel furnishings, things like towels, linens, and mattresses, and things like that. They'll wear out and you have to replace them eventually. But farms will stay forever. Like grape vineyards, they're good for a hundred years so. So he was able to go back and claim the farm after the war. As far as the hotel furniture and possession, they were simply worthless.


Doi

That's good to hear. From Stockton Assembly Center, which camp do you go to?



80
Chikaraishi

We went to Rohwer

10. Rohwer Relocation Center was one of 10 concentration camps that housed Japanese Americans forcibly removed from the West Coast states during World War II. Rohwer was located in Desha County in southeastern Arkansas.

in Arkansas, which is located about ninety miles south of Little Rock. It was right on the flat areas of Arkansas where there was constant flooding of the Mississippi [River]. It was a flat area where we had a lot of very arable soil.


Doi

There's a lot of camp questions but I don't want to spend too much time on camp because I really would like to hear your resettlement story. So I'll just outline that. So in the camp, you're there with your two sisters—


Chikaraishi

And my brother. My father was in the concentration camp [the Justice Department's internment camp].


Doi

And you had stopped your education, one month shy of graduation. What other kinds of disruptions were caused in your family? Were your sisters in school at that time?


Chikaraishi

My younger sister was in high school.


Doi

This is Satomi.


Chikaraishi

Still going to high school. My oldest sister was already through school. She was the one that sacrificed a lot and had to stay home to help my father 'cause my mother was invalid already. My sister had to stay home and help with the cooking and help with cleaning the hotel.

In those days, most of the businesses were family-operated. Unless they were family-operated, you could not make a go of it. You would not have any income at all because the income base was so low. And so in practically every family, the family had to do the work. In the hotel you have to make the beds, clean the rooms and everything. My sister was the one that was stuck with most of that.


Doi

So this is your sister, Edith.


Chikaraishi

Edith, yes. Tom was already on the farm, so he couldn't help with it.


Doi

Briefly, can you tell me a little bit about what you did in camp?


Chikaraishi

When I was in camp, since I was only one month away from graduation, I was able to get in as a professional. And as you know in camp, they had the


81
regular workers that worked on the woodcutting, and the kitchens, and the farms [for] $8.00 a month. In the middle part, they were secretaries or office workers and truck drivers. They were paid $12. We were paid $16 a month as professionals. There were only two optometrists there—one optometrist who was licensed and then myself. And we had close to eight thousand people to care for. So we were busy. We were very busy there at the hospital.


Doi

So that's where you worked, in the hospital?


Chikaraishi

Yes, in the hospital.


Doi

Now I'm gonna pull you into the resettlement and find out a little bit about when you left camp.


Chikaraishi

I left camp in 1943, on the Fourth of July. I had started to make negotiations to leave camp quite some time earlier and finally received clearance.

I packed a suitcase and walked to the main road, which is about three-quarter mile from the camp. And then I stood there waiting for the bus to come. That's when I first realized what it was like outside of the camp. Because I was in camp for eighteen months and behind barbed wires, your activities were all confined within the area of the camp.

I got on the bus and my first decision I had to make outside of camp was "Where do I sit?" The white people sat in the front of the bus. The blacks were in the back. And so I got on and I thought, "Gee, I don't know where should I sit?" So I said, "Gee, we were confined so long and we were discriminated so much that maybe I'll be considered a black," so I went to the back and I sat in the black area. The bus driver stopped the bus and he says, "Hey, you gotta sit in the front." So I got up and moved, but I didn't come way in the front either, I sat right by the dividing line.

That's the first time I realized how much discrimination that the blacks had gone through. And it's really amazing. We were discriminated on the [West] Coast but at least we were able to sit in a bus wherever we felt like sitting. Our discrimination was very different, not as intense as theirs was. That's the first time I realized that.


Doi

I know that Rohwer is in Arkansas and Arkansas is the South, but I have no sense of what the South means to a Japanese American. Maybe you didn't have much chance to go out—


Chikaraishi

That's the first time I went out. There were many instances where even soldiers that came to visit camp (by that time there were many Niseis in the


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armed services), came to visit their families, and stopped at the closest town called Rohwer. It's a tiny town and they weren't allowed in the restaurants. And they couldn't even get a haircut out there. It was very, very discriminatory.


Doi

And these stories would come back into camp. You'd find out the experience of the Nisei soldiers, I see. So you get on the bus on July 4, 1943. Did anyone come with you?


Chikaraishi

I was by myself, but I actually stayed in St. Louis one night as I had a friend and his name was Frank Doi [interviewer's uncle]. And so I stayed with him overnight. He was at the YMCA there. The next day I got on the train again and came to Chicago. I landed in Dearborn Station.


Doi

How did you decide on Chicago?


Chikaraishi

Because there were only a limited number of optometry schools. There was one in Pennsylvania. There's one in Chicago. There's about two of them in the Pacific Coast. I chose the one that's easiest to get to and closest to where I was. So that's why I came to Chicago.


Doi

You get off the train at Dearborn Station. What are your memories of getting off the train in Chicago?


Chikaraishi

Well, I was apprehensive, naturally. I didn't know what to expect, really. I got off the train. A friend of mine was there to meet me. I had to find accommodations for a room so we went to the YWCA Hotel. That was on the 400-south block on State or Wabash Street. I don't think it's there now. But it was very accommodating. So I stayed there one night.

The next morning I got up and I had to go to the WRA [War Relocation Authority]

11. The War Relocation Authority [WRA], created by Executive Order 9102 on March 18, 1942, was a governmental agency charged with administering America's concentration camps.

office because I was told that I had to go register there and tell them my presence at that time. I also asked where I might find a place to stay or a place to live. They recommend a few places to me.

As you know, the WRA policy was to try to disperse the Japanese so they won't congregate in any one area. But the places that they tell you to look for accommodations, my friend told me, "Don't even try to go there because the rents are too high." And naturally when you're working for only $16 a month


83
or $12 a month in camp, you had no money. You had enough just to get by for a short time before you find a place to live and start to work.

I went to the South Side

12. Chicago is laid out on a grid pattern. The intersection of State and Madison streets in the downtown area marks the zero coordinate. From here, the city is divided into quadrants. The South Side, North Side, and West Side are those areas south, north, and west of the downtown. Lake Michigan forms the city's eastern border, consequently, there is no East Side.

on Woodlawn. Some of the people that I knew—'cause people had been leaving camp at the end of '42 and early part of '43—many of them settled in the south area. I looked for a whole day between the areas of the 600-block and 6300-hundred block on the South Side. And that's when you really wake up to find out what it means to be Japanese American. Well, naturally the war was going on so it was understandable to a certain degree. But you walk up and down the street. And you look at the signs and it says, "Room for Rent." I didn't go pushing every doorbell because I only wanted a sleeping room.

In those days it was sleeping room—one room apartment where you have a little kitchenette in the same room or two rooms. Wherever there was sleeping room, I rang the bell and said, "I'd like to rent a room." But in practically all cases, they would just tell you that the room was rented already. And you ask them: "Gee, the sign is still in the window." And they said, "Oh, I forgot to take the sign off." But then there's some of them that weren't even that polite. They would just shut the door in your face.

But eventually you're able to find something, and you usually find something in an apartment building that another Japanese has been living there. The Japanese people were more or less well behaved and considerate of things. And once they had tenants, they like to have more tenants because they paid their rent on time. And they don't get drunk. And they don't do a lot of the things that they're accustomed to seeing. So that was my first experience in finding a place.


Doi

And that's 6017 South Woodlawn?


Chikaraishi

That's where I lived with one of my friends. I had this small sleeping room but he said, "Why don't you come live with me because I have a bigger place." So I stayed there for a while with him. That's when I first came in contact with what they call the bed bugs of Chicago. Oh, my goodness! I would wake up nights and all of a sudden I'd feel stinging sensations on my body. Then turn the lights on and you'd see these little bed bugs crawling about. You push them and press them and your blood comes out. It was


84
prevalent in Chicago, a most common thing. That and cockroaches were all over the place.


Doi

Wow, so what kind of apartments were these?


Chikaraishi

These were one-room kitchenettes. They have a folding bed that folds into the wall, called a Murphy bed. You could either leave them down or push them up. And then they have a little kitchenette in the corner, which was composed of two gas burners. Then they have a few dishes here. That's the idea of a kitchenette in those days.


Doi

And where's the bathroom?


Chikaraishi

The bathroom is down the hall. It's a community bathroom that everybody used.


Doi

Okay, so when you lived with this friend at 6017 South Woodlawn, can you describe the neighborhood?


Chikaraishi

The neighborhood was strictly apartment buildings, no businesses. The businesses were confined to 63rd Street. The area north of 60th Street is what they call University of Chicago Plaisance [Midway Plaisance].

13. University of Chicago Plaisance, known as the Midway Plaisance, was a parkway designed by urban landscaper Frederick Law Olmsted to be an extensive system of lagoons that would link Jackson and Washington Parks on Chicago's South Side. Although the Midway Plaisance as originally conceived was never built, a pared down version was constructed for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

You've been there, haven't you? You have that whole open area all the way from Lake Park to the University of Chicago. And that was that open area there. So it was strictly residential area.


Doi

What kind of ethnic mix is it? What kind of socioeconomic area is it?


Chikaraishi

I'd say it was an upper-lower class neighborhood.


Doi

Is it predominantly white?


Chikaraishi

At that time it was still predominantly white.


Doi

And what about the business area? That's the 63rd Street area.


Chikaraishi

Sixty-third Street was a good business area. They had the normal businesses of stores, clothing. They had nice clothing stores, nice restaurants, and a lot of movie theaters. I don't know why there were so many movie theaters around


85
there but I think within an area of about six or eight blocks, there must have been about six movie houses.


Doi

With air cooling in the summer, and—


Chikaraishi

Yeah, I guess so, right. (laughter)


Doi

The one thing I remember from 63rd Street is Tai Sam Yon, the Chinese restaurant.


Chikaraishi

I don't recall that restaurant.


Doi

Oh, that was under the el [elevated train].

14. Elevated trains are a part of the public transportation system maintained by the Chicago Transit Authority. These trains run above ground. Other trains in the same system run underground and are then referred to as the subway. On some lines, the train runs above ground for part of its route and below ground in other sections. Chicagoans may, therefore, use the term "el" and "subway" interchangeably.


Chikaraishi

Everything is under the el. (laughter)


Doi

Were there Japanese restaurants or stores on 63rd Street?


Chikaraishi

I don't recall a single Japanese business on 63rd Street. That was the newer of the South Side areas where Japanese people were living. Most of them were in the 43rd Street area from 4300 to 53rd to 56th Street. The east-west boundaries were from Lake Park to Drexel Boulevard. There were some stores on 43rd Street such as Japanese restaurants and there were some cleaners and grocery stores.


Doi

That's the Oakenwald area that you're describing?


Chikaraishi

Oakenwald area, Ellis Avenue.


Doi

I didn't realize that there's another small enclave even further south, south of the Midway.


Chikaraishi

That was the smaller one and it came later. I think the first area was the 43rd Street area, 42nd and 43rd Street to 55th Street.


Doi

When you're living down on 61st Street and Woodlawn, are there many other Japanese around you?



86
Chikaraishi

Well, in our building we had four families. Down the street, there was a couple of apartment buildings that had a few Japanese. That's all that I would recall. But then there were other streets like Kimbark Street and Harper Avenue and there were some Japanese families there.


Tape 1, Side B

Doi

Okay. We were talking a little bit about that south of the Midway area. Were you the first in your family to leave camp?


Chikaraishi

Yes, I was the first in my family to leave camp—rest of them were still there.


Doi

You told me about your arrival in Chicago. You mention that you chose Chicago because you were going to continue your optometry education. Where did you go to school here?


Chikaraishi

I went to a school called Monroe College of Optometry, which later changed its name to Northern Illinois College of Optometry. And it was downtown right on Wacker Drive on the Chicago River.


Doi

You come in the middle of the summer in July. Do you immediately go to school?


Chikaraishi

No. I needed some income so I worked at a place called H. P. Smith. Many of the Japanese at that time were working for bottling companies where they bottled soda water. But anyway, I found this job at H. P. Smith. And what they did there was they made coated paper like wax paper, which was used to package cigarettes because at that time they were not allowed to use any aluminum foil for packing cigarettes.


Doi

How did you find that job?


Chikaraishi

I found it in the newspaper. I worked there until I started school, and then when I started school, I asked them whether I could work on the swing shift from 4:00 to midnight. The reason being that I went to school from 9:00 to 3:00. Then I took the el and went to work there from 4:00. So I worked from four to midnight. I used to get home after midnight and then I would go to sleep or fight the bed bugs. Here again I had the bed bug problem.

By that time, I had taken a single room because I didn't want to bother my roommate when I come home late at night. So I would constantly fight the bugs and then it got to the point where I had to sleep with the lights on because when the lights are on, they don't come out. When the lights go out (laughs) they come out. I fought that for a while and then I had to wake up in


87
the morning and go to school. The routine went on for about six months. Finally I couldn't take it anymore because all my studying was done on the el or the streetcars. They didn't have any buses at that time. And so after six months I quit the job and worked at the International House [a dormitory at the University of Chicago] during the dinner hours. This was good because I got dinner.

Kiyo, my wife-to-be, was working there together with another older lady. She was the only older one. We had about seven or eight other Niseis there working. And at that time the International House was a house where they housed a lot of international students coming from foreign countries and going to school at the at the University of Chicago.

And then what happened is that the Signal Corps took over the whole International House. And so for some reason all of us Japanese were fired except Kiyo and Mrs. Koyama were able to remain there. We were all fired for security reasons because they didn't want too many Japanese people there. And so we lost our job there. That was another incident that's significant.


Doi

Wow. When did you finish up optometry school?


Chikaraishi

So I finished up in 1944 and I took the state board and passed the board in August.


Doi

You've told me a little bit about some of the difficulties you found early on in finding that initial sleeping room. And that this incident at U. of C. [University of Chicago] of getting fired when the Signal Corps comes in. Generally, how was it being Japanese American in Chicago?


Chikaraishi

Well, naturally it was wartime and you accept the fact that it was wartime and discrimination. There was some discrimination, I would say. But not like the discrimination that you felt or was evident in California or the West Coast. In California, West Coast, it was a kind of racial discrimination or racism that overall, you just feel it in the atmosphere because it's in the newspapers, it's in the magazines, it's in the periodical; it comes over the radio. You know, the stories about atrocities and the "Japs" and this and that.

In Chicago it was different I would say because it was more isolated, more individualized. You'll find it when you get a place to live or some of the dance halls like the Aragon dance hall

15. Greek immigrant brothers William and Andrew Karzas built the Aragon and Trianon Ballrooms. The elegant Trianon Ballroom, located at 62nd Street and Cottage Grove, opened in 1922. The Aragon Ballroom located at Broadway and Lawrence opened in 1926. These ballrooms drew huge crowds who came to dance to the popular big bands.

on the North Side would not allow
88
any Japanese at that time. So you had to go to the one on the South Side, which was called the Trianon. So anyway there were isolated places where there was discrimination but not that overall discrimination that you felt on the [West] Coast.

And so, as far as myself and a lot of our friends, I think we stayed away from places where there might be any confrontation and avoided those places. We didn't have too much of a problem in that respect.


Doi

Chicago is known as a city with a lot of different ethnic groups—Polish, Italian, Irish. What kind of interaction did the Japanese Americans in the early years have with these other ethnic groups?


Chikaraishi

I think very few, really, as far as I could see. If I was an example, I mean it was very few as far as interaction among racial groups. Whatever, it was more individualized.

Well, incidentally, after I quit the International House, I was able to find a job in the city when I was still going to school. It was at an optical shop, a wholesale optical shop. And the reason that I got the job there was because there was a friend of mine that was already working there. They were looking for Japanese people and it was right up my line anyway. It was a wholesale optical house where you ground lenses.

And while I was there I had no problems there except for this one young fellow that was working there who happened to be a neighbor of the owner of the company. He told the boss that he absolutely would not work with me because I was Japanese and called me an enemy. And I guess he [the boss] was able to talk with him and explain to him the situation and give him a chance to get acquainted. And so we worked together. I think [that] within several months we started to talk and do things together. We found that he likes sports as I like sports. By the time I left there or he left there, we were very good friends. So it's just a matter of understanding and communication.


Doi

That's a good story. While you were still in camp, how did you envision your life would be in Chicago?


Chikaraishi

Well, the typical idea of Chicago was Al Capone. I mean it just couldn't be helped. I mean everything was Al Capone. (laughs) So the vision that we get about Chicago is shooting on the streets. But when you come here it's completely different, just like any other big city. Well I didn't know too many


89
big cities. The only big city I knew before the war was San Francisco. But anyway, it's a lot of people and it's a lot of hustle and bustle. And naturally you felt sort of out of place because you didn't see too many young people. There were very few young people because it was 1943 and we're still at war, and so you felt conscious of that fact that people were looking at you and no doubt they were.


Doi

Did you feel that people were looking at you because you're a young man out on the streets, or—?


Chikaraishi

Both. I think young men on the street and also looking Japanese—like an Oriental.


Doi

Let's see, you mention your wife-to-be, Kiyo stays on at the International House serving meals and you get married in 1945.


Chikaraishi

July of 1945.


Doi

Did she continue working at International House until you got married?


Chikaraishi

No, by that time she had gone to school. She was going to nursing school at Rochester Mayo Clinic. She was there for about six months or seven months I guess. I went to Rochester and convinced her that she should get married. (laughter) So eventually I convinced her to come back to Chicago. So she didn't finish her nursing school but—


Doi

But she got married to you, which is even nicer. You said you finished optometry school in 1944. I want to hear about the start of your business, where you locate and things like that.

But I think we're going to change the tape now so we don't cut it off. [recording interrupted to change videotape]

This is [video]tape number two. Dr. Chikaraishi, let's talk a little bit more about your optometry career. What was the name of that optical shop that you worked at?


Chikaraishi

The name was Capitol Optical Shop, and I worked there while I was still going to school. In other words, I went to school from nine to three and then I worked there. It was in the Loop

16. The downtown area of Chicago is commonly referred to as "the Loop." Initially, the streetcar tracks circumscribed a boundary around the central business district. Then, in the 1890s, the elevated trains were built through the downtown. The tracks formed a literal loop around the central business district.

so it was nice. I just walked there and then
90
I started to work at four o'clock and I would work till six-, seven o'clock when they finished there and closed their shop. The people there were very nice, they were very courteous, very accommodating, and I learned a great deal about grinding lenses and such.

I was very fortunate in that when I told them that after I graduate school and I took my board and I passed, I told them that I was going to quit. I wanted to either find a job in my field or open my own office. And so he said, "Well, let me see what I can do for you." He had contact with lot of people and he had some customers, doctors that had their work done at the shop. He asked this one fellow named Dr. Herbster. His name was Dr. Walter Herbster. At that time he was the mayor of Lincolnwood,

17. Lincolnwood is a suburb twelve miles northwest of Chicago.

believe it or not. My boss asked him whether I could work there during the evenings. One reason he did this was he wanted me to work because employment was so tight.


Doi

He wanted to keep you at Capitol?


Chikaraishi

He wanted to keep me there and yet let me do what I wanted to do. So he made arrangements so I could go to his office at night and that was on the corner of Halsted and North Avenue. That was the old German neighborhood in Chicago. So it was upstairs right on the corner. The building is no longer there. The building is now Crate & Barrel [housewares specialty store].

That's where I started. So I used to go in the evenings and I used to have my own patients. He wouldn't charge me anything. And all I did was clean up the place for him and kept it tidy. In other words he trusted me and whatever I used, I replaced. I did that for about a year and then I started my own office at Clark and Division Street.


Doi

And while you're at Dr. Herbster's, who are your clients for that first year?


Chikaraishi

Mostly Japanese people that I knew. And so they came. I just used it for a few hours in the evening, that's all.


Doi

And you continued also to work for the other man at Capitol?


Chikaraishi

Yes, at Capitol.


Doi

What was the name of your boss at Capitol?



91
Chikaraishi

I had two bosses. One was Louis Feinstein and the other is Bob Gilmore. They were partners.

I would like to relate something about Lou Feinstein. He was living on the South Side and he used to ride his bicycle. He was a man of about 65 years old and loved to bicycle. He had expensive bicycles and he would ride up and down the side by the lake [Lake Michigan] on the bike path there.

One day, he was accosted by three or four fellas, and they wanted his bicycle. He was small in stature but he was a very feisty fellow, and he wouldn't give up his bicycle and he got killed. Just for a bicycle. Yes, it was sad. I went to his funeral and—


Doi

Was this while you were working for him?


Chikaraishi

No, I was working for myself at that time. Maybe 10 or 15 years after I left them. He was still working and he was still riding his bicycle. It's sad . . . sad story.


Doi

Now which is the fellow that helped you?


Chikaraishi

They both helped me but Mr. Feinstein was the one that was able to convince

Dr. Herbster to let me use the office.


Doi

Okay. I notice from your residential history that after you live at 61st Street and Woodlawn, you move to 424 South Ashland. Are you living there when you're working at the optical shop or are you living there when you're starting to work in the evenings?


Chikaraishi

I was already through school by that time. I lived with a family, the Kusumoto family. In other words, it was like a boarding house. There were about six or eight of us living together with them.


Doi

I see, okay. I'm really interested in your early years in business. So you open up your shop in what year?


Chikaraishi

I opened up my office in 1945.


Doi

And you said at that time you were at Clark and Division?


Chikaraishi

Clark and Division, yes. Upstairs right on the corner where there is a Jewel store [large chain grocery store] today, right across from Mark Twain Hotel.


Doi

And is Mark Twain still there?



92
Chikaraishi

Mark Twain is still there.

 


Doi

So 1945 seems to be a big year in your life. That's also the year that you get married. Where do you and Mrs. Chikaraishi live?


Chikaraishi

After we were married we lived on the north 2700 block of Hampton Court, near the lake [Lake Michigan]. That was the first apartment that we had. It's pretty hard to forget that apartment because we were living on the first floor in the front. And the owner of the building was living right behind us in the back.

As you know, in those days we had common bathrooms. And when we used the bathroom to take a bath, we would take a bath with enough water so we can at least submerge yourself. Well, he [the building owner] would hear that water running, and he'd come running out, knock on the door, and tell myself or Kiyo, whoever was in the bathroom, "If you want to take a bath, go to Lake Michigan." (laughs) "All you need is two inches of water." (laughs) It's hard to forget that.

And those were the days when we had iceboxes. We had no refrigerators. You had to buy your own ice and the iceboxes are such that every so many days they bring you ice. They would put the ice in a box on top and I still remember how the water would sometimes drip down to the floor and cause some flooding.


Doi

So what did Mrs. Chikaraishi do?


Chikaraishi

She worked at McClurg's. McClurg's is a place that, if you know Chicago in your early days—it was a book and stationery store but also a mail-order house. A lot of workers were Japanese workers. They liked Japanese workers because they're steady workers, worked hard, and were honest and dependable. Kiyo worked there until she went to school.


Doi

And then after you're married, does she continue to work at McClurg's?


Chikaraishi

Yes, for a short while until our first child came in 1947.


Doi

Let's talk a little bit more about your business. So Clark and Division—I hear that intersection come up over and over again as a place where there were a lot of Japanese American businesses. Can you describe that area and maybe what the boundaries of the Japanese American businesses were, the geographic boundaries?



93
Chikaraishi

The geographic boundaries of the people that lived in Clark and Division area were, I would say, from Chicago Avenue on the south to North Avenue on the north, not quite to North Avenue but maybe the 1500 block of Clark Street. Dearborn Street was the eastern boundary. It was a small area.


Doi

So it's narrow.


Chikaraishi

Yes, narrow and long. Some lived near Wells Street, too, some on Wells Street—so in other words, from Dearborn to Wells, Chicago to North Avenue. That was what they call the Clark and Division area. That was probably the third area where Japanese congregated. First it was the 43rd Street area, next the 61st Street area, and then Clark and Division.


Doi

Who else is living in Clark and Division? Right now it's a pretty upscale neighborhood with a lot of expensive condos in the area.


Chikaraishi

It's very different from what it is today.


Doi

What was it like back in the forties?


Chikaraishi

It was very different. It was an area where there were a lot of transients, lot of gays. There still are a lot of gays. We had Japanese businesses mostly on Clark Street. Toguri

18. J. Toguri Mercantile is a Japanese dry goods store. It is one of the few resettlement era businesses still in operation.

was there and Sun Grocery was there. That's the Yahiro's. And then down the street we had several Japanese restaurants, and then there were several hotels, a bowling alley, some bars and cleaners.

La Salle Street was residential. Many of them had purchased buildings there and as buildings were very cheap. In those days, they were able to buy some of those two flat buildings on La Salle Street for something like under $10,000. The Japanese people didn't stay long enough to be able to realize that appreciation of value along La Salle and Clark and Dearborn. Most of them sold their businesses or hotels or apartments very early, around the '60s, and then they moved further north.

But there were a couple of families that stayed quite a bit later, and that way they were able to realize the appreciation. Because some of those buildings that Japanese people bought for under 10,000 were sold for about $300,000. So it was unbelievable.


Doi

Now how did people get loans in those days?



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Chikaraishi

When people purchased buildings loans were given by the banks. The prominent one that comes to my mind is—as far as the North Side is concerned—Cosmopolitan National Bank. And the president of Cosmopolitan National Bank was a fellow named Peter Bukowski and he was extremely generous. He was understanding and kind. He was willing to take a chance on many of the Japanese people around Clark and Division.

Many people have owned homes there. Chiye Tomihiro's dad had an apartment building right off of Clark Street. There were many apartment buildings that were owned by Japanese. The loans that they were able to get were mostly through Cosmopolitan. He [Mr. Bukowski] was very trusting of the Japanese as he gave many loans without any down payment. I don't think he had any defaults at all—same thing with our church when we started our church.


Doi

I know you're a wealth of history also about the Midwest Buddhist Temple and its early years all the way up until now. So can you tell me a little bit about the Midwest Buddhist Temple [MBT]?


Chikaraishi

Yes. What's called the Midwest Buddhist Temple was started in 1944. And how it got started was that as many of the Niseis left camps, whether it was Rohwer or Jerome or other camps, they were able to find jobs in Chicago. And they came to Chicago. They were all between the ages of late teens and say, the early twenties. Many were Buddhists but there was no Buddhist church here. Consequently many of the parents that were left in camp in Rohwer and Jerome asked Reverend Kono who was, at that time, in Rohwer, whether he would go to Chicago and maybe help these people—give them some Buddhist education and spiritual comfort. He decided to go to Chicago for the main reason of starting a Buddhist church.

Meanwhile in Chicago, there were some dedicated Buddhists that were meeting periodically to conduct services. Once a month they rented a place near Clark and Van Buren in the Loop. On Sunday morning nobody was around in the Loop, so it didn't cause any concern from neighbors.

Then the WRA office heard that the Buddhists were planning to start a church. The WRA office together with about six Niseis called a meeting in one of the rooms at the University of Chicago. And they, the representatives of the WRA, were there to try to persuade the Japanese American people not to congregate at all. You know their hopes were to disperse people to different areas of the city to assimilate them. It was ironic in that they wanted to do that, but the economic situation would not allow it because a lot of the Japanese had lost all their money and all their assets and everything due to evacuation. So they didn't have money to start businesses or buy buildings or


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live in a good neighborhood. They were forced into living where they could live. And so there was a natural congregation because of that economic situation.

The Nisei organizers of this meeting wanted a Buddhist representative there and that was Barry Saiki. After achieving the rank of Lt. Colonel, he went back to Stockton. He's very active in the JACL, the Buddhist church and many community activities. He's also with the Japanese Nisei Historical Society of San Francisco. He's very active there. He came with his good friend, Tom Shibutani, a well-known sociologist who's published several books. Barry brought him along because he wanted somebody to come with him. The main purpose of the meeting was to tell us or tell Barry not to start a Buddhist church because that means there's going to be a congregation of Japanese.

The Christian people that came to Chicago were able to go to different churches because there were many churches they could choose from. But there was not a single Buddhist church here. The crux of the meeting was to try to persuade us not to congregate or start a church. But then it was self-defeating because the WRA wanted the people to come to Chicago. And if they want people to come to Chicago, naturally the Isseis parents would come and most of them were Buddhists. And they would have no place to go and they wouldn't come to Chicago unless there was a church they could go to. And so their policy was self-defeating.


Doi

Did the WRA back off after this meeting?


Chikaraishi

Yes, well, so they left it as it was. They didn't try to persuade you too strongly, but it was just a suggestion. They had a policy of assimilation but not a policy that said you couldn't start a church.

So Reverend Kono came to Chicago and met with seven charter members. They had a meeting and they decided that they would like to start a church. They contacted many of the fraternal organizations and tried to find a place to meet. Most of the ones that answered said, "Well, we will have to get back to the board and we'll call you back later." But they seldom ever got a call back.

So finally we were able to find a place on 4200 South Parkway. Now 4200 South Parkway is Martin Luther King Drive today. The first meeting was July of 1944. I was asked to come to that first meeting, but I was just through with school and I had to study for my finals and my state board so I told Barry that I'm sorry I don't think I'll be able to go.


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So I attended the second service which was held a month later. There were seventeen Buddhists at the service. By that time Reverend Kono had contacted this fellow named Art Takemoto who was a ministerial student who was still in Poston. He came to Chicago because Reverend Kono couldn't understand English. He had to do all the negotiating, make purchases, arrangements and also visit the FBI office every Monday morning with a translation of the previous Sunday's sermon.

I remember it was kind of strange or funny to watch, but Reverend Kono told us that he didn't want us to look too conspicuous. So he asked us all to leave the church in couples. Two people, no more than two people so we won't look like a great congregation of Japanese people. We all left about five minutes apart. So here we left—we timed ourselves about five minutes, two of them would leave to the el because that's the only transportation we had. Nobody had cars. So we would walk to the el. In the middle of summer there would be people sitting outside their stores on South Parkway. So you had to walk by all the stores and they'll be sitting out in the front because it's so hot inside. And they stared quizzically as they probably never had seen Japanese before. So it was a strange feeling, but we had no incidents at all.


Doi

Can you tell me about that building on 4200 South Parkway? What kind of building was that?


Chikaraishi

It was a social service agency building. It was three stories high and we used a small room in the back of the building. That was the only building where we were able to have a service.


Doi

And what kind of a neighborhood was this at that time?


Chikaraishi

Black neighborhood, even at that time. And still is today.


Doi

Did you have any assistance from African Americans in helping to get this spot?


Chikaraishi

No, we were able to acquire that place because there was a Japanese girl that had worked there. They were understanding and didn't even hesitate to say, "Sure you're welcome." We were happy about that.

From then on, there are many, many Japanese coming to Chicago. They were all living on the North Side by that time, around Clark and Division area. So they decided, well, maybe we should have two services—one on the South Side and one on the North Side. By that time we were looking for a place to have our service on the North Side and we contacted the WRA office. They told us to contact Dr. Preston Bradley of the Unitarian Church which operates


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the church [People's Church at 941 West Lawrence] right in front of this building.

The People's Church of Chicago is a Unitarian Church, and he was the head of the Unitarian Church. We contacted him and he said, "Please contact Dr. Homer Jack." I don't know whether you're familiar with Dr. Homer Jack. He is a very well-known Chicagoan. He was the Executive Secretary of the Chicago Council Against Racial and Religious Discrimination.

He's received many awards for the work that he's done in that field. When we contacted him he was very aware of evacuation and the wrong that was done to us by the government. And so he said he'd be happy to help. In fact, he said he had written letters to Washington D.C. during the time of evacuation telling them the wrong that they were doing, but it wasn't effective. But anyway, he was very aware of it. He says, "Go see my brother." He called his brother who was the manager of the Old Town Players Hall, which was located at 1210 North La Salle Street. It was a legitimate theater—this old legitimate theater that had a lot of seating area. It would seat 500 people. They had a stage and everything, so we used it for two years.

In fact, I remember it was our second Hanamatsuri

19. Hanamatsuri is Buddha's birthday festival.

and I was to be the speaker that morning. In those days we didn't have cars. I exited the el and the moment I got onto the platform area outside I could see water hoses going to La Salle Street from Clark and Division. I thought, "That's strange. It's all the way from Clark and Division." And then I kept following the water, and then they turned the corner on La Salle Street and our church where we have our service was burned to the ground. That previous night they had a big fire there. It was just burned to the ground. And the reason they had to have that water source all the way from Clark and Division which is one block away was because they had used the other hydrants, but there weren't enough hoses to try to fight the fire. That was our second Hanamatsuri. The building had burned to the ground.


Doi

So where does the church move?



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Chikaraishi

We contacted Dr. Jack again and he said, "Why don't you try Olivet Institute?"

And we went to Olivet Institute and the executive director there was a fellow named Wallace Heistad. He was the most wonderful fellow you could ever know. He was very accommodating. He rented the place to us for $40 a month. We had all our activities there. When we bought our own building and left, we had a bill of $2,000. He was under pressure by the board and he told the board, "I know these people. They're going to pay it eventually when they can. And if they don't, I'll pay it myself with my own money." So that's how he was. He was very trusting and accommodating. It took us two years, but we paid all our debts.

The last time I saw Wallace was at our 50th anniversary. No, it was our 45th anniversary and he came. We talked about those times. Then he became ill and by the time we had our 50th anniversary, just his wife and daughter came. He had passed away from emphysema.

That's our first contact with Olivet Institute. That was our home and that was the home of the Japanese community, so to speak, for many years after that.


Doi

Yeah, so, you know, I hear that name coming up again obviously through Tom Teraji who worked there.


Chikaraishi

Tom Teraji worked there, and Abe Hagiwara. You just can't talk about Chicago in the olden days without Abe Hagiwara.


Doi

Tell me some about Abe Hagiwara.


Chikaraishi

Abe Hagiwara was a social worker and Director of Activities at Olivet Institute. We had our church services downstairs in the gymnasium. When the young Japanese came to Chicago, it was mostly young fellows. The girls came a little bit later. The young fellows, naturally, had nothing to do. They would get into trouble. Abe realized that, so he contacted the churches. There were several churches established by then. The Buddhist Temple of Chicago [BTC] was established about the same time we were, and then our church and the Presbyterian churches and Methodist churches.

So we had a meeting and got together and we started a basketball league. We formed this league and most of the games were at Olivet Institute. Whatever we couldn't accommodate, we used one of the high schools on the South Side. And that's how we got started. Abe was instrumental in starting the basketball league and then following that, the Chicago Nisei Athletic Association. [CNAA]


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Well, it got to a point where the league got more and more teams. We started getting girls teams. Those days were fun days because there were different communities of Japanese in Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto, Minneapolis and they would have tournaments at the end of the season, mostly at Lane Tech High School. We used to have basketball tournaments, baseball tournaments, and softball tournaments on an inter-city basis.


Doi

When does the Olivet Institute become important?


Chikaraishi

I would say the early part of '46 to—maybe about seven or eight years later.


Doi

Okay, so until the mid-'50s or so? Does that seem about right?


Chikaraishi

Yes. Then what happened is that (clears throat) we had more and more young people coming to Chicago. You couldn't accommodate them all over there [at Olivet]. In the meanwhile it became difficult to find parking there. So we said, "Why don't we start a league?" And we called it the Chicago Nisei Athletic Association [CNAA].

On the board we had all the representatives of the churches and social and athletic clubs. We started this league because of the fact that we thought that not only would it offer recreation for young people, but [also] we felt it was necessary because the Japanese were not really good enough to play in high schools. Some were, but very few.

We started this league to accommodate those Japanese people that could not make the school teams. Those people that were able to play high school were excluded from this league because they were too good. (laughter) So it was for the leftovers, so to speak. But anyway, at one time during the height of the league we had about twelve hundred people participating in it. They ranged all the way from about eight to about 35 years old.

We used the gymnasium at Chute Junior High School in Evanston

20. Evanston is a suburb 13 miles north of Chicago. Evanston is the first suburb north of the city.

and also the Haven Middle School in Evanston. We used those schools mostly on Saturday and all day Sunday. So we had a lot of games.


Doi

Let me understand this. Does CNAA develop to serve the Niseis that move here or—?



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Chikaraishi

It originated with the Niseis. That's why you got the Nisei Athletic Association.


Doi

Okay, and then it starts to bring Sanseis. They're born and grow up.


Chikaraishi

Not only that, it wasn't only inclusive of Japanese. We had Chinese groups. We had Filipinos. So it was for the Orientals, so to speak. We had some problems, but nothing that was too serious as far as the players and things like that. I think there were a lot of side benefits because of the fact that we had these teams. They were very competitive on the courts between the churches, but then after the games over, you know, they were friends.

You got to know all the young people. The young people knew their friends. By the time they grew up, they were all friends. And it was an advantage to adults, too, because in order to have these teams you've got to furnish the uniforms, the balls, and gymnasiums. It was quite expensive.

The churches were not well enough financially to pay for these things. In order to raise funds, we had fundraisers. Some of these churches had breakfasts. Also, there were spaghetti lunches. We used to go to maybe two, three different places a month. And it was nice because we got to know the parents. Everybody supported each other, so it just worked out really beautiful. You got to know everybody and although sometimes it gets intense on the playing court, it was a lot of real fun days.


Doi

I want to go two different ways and I can't do it at the same time. I want to know more about MBT's history.


Chikaraishi

We went to Olivet in the early part of '46, and we had our services there. We had our socials there. We had what they call a Fall Festival, which was like a bazaar. It was very nice and very accommodating. The facilities were fine. During the week they used to use Olivet for the social work that they did. So Sunday morning we'd go early and put the chairs in place. Put up our temporary house shrine, butsudan,

21. A Buddhist shrine

and have services. Our temple at that time was predominantly Issei. We had Niseis but the active ones were the Isseis. In the latter part of 1947, they said, "Well, why don't we start a fund drive and eventually buy a church?" So we started a fund drive and we bought a building on the corner of North Park and Menomonee Street.


Tape 2, Side A


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Doi

Okay, so now we're talking about the North Park and Menomonee [1763 N. North Park Avenue] location, the fourth location for MBT.


Chikaraishi

Yes. We had to have fundraising and we bought that building on North Park and Menomonee Street in 1948. It was a six-flat building. The real estate agent was a friend of Tosh Nishimura. In fact, Tosh Nishimura used to be a schoolboy for Mr. Howard Meadors, the real estate agent. He helped us find a place and he said, "Why don't you buy that building and use the first floor for your church. And then use the second floor for whatever you want, your minister, or rent it out so you'll have income, because it would be rather hard to pay these mortgage payments unless you have some income." So we decided on this building. It was a stroke of luck that we ended up in the Old Town area

22. Old Town is a North Side neighborhood.

because it happened to be developing into probably one of the prime areas in the city of Chicago.

So we stayed there and we did a lot of the work remodeling downstairs to use as our church. That building was owned by Swift Company—the meat packing company. The downstairs of that building was open as it was used as a carriage warehouse and stable. When the Swift family wanted their carriage, they would call the driver who would bring the carriage, and the people who took care of the carriage lived upstairs. It was a very substantial, fireproof building.


Doi

So by the time the congregation moves to North Park, how big is it? How many families are part of it?


Chikaraishi

I would say the biggest congregation we used to have was at the Old Town Player's Hall. Those were the years when we had service men coming through Chicago. We had people leaving Rohwer and Jerome and coming through Chicago—going back to the West Coast area where they had some homes or property. Sometimes we used to have at least 500 people in our congregation. And by the time that we bought the place on North Park Avenue, the members were permanent residents of Chicago. I would say there was probably about three hundred families that were there at that time.


Doi

Okay. What's the relationship between the two Buddhist churches? I know that you've mentioned Reverend Kono comes out of Rohwer at the urging of the Issei families. Reverend Kubose is the other name that comes to mind for being the BTC [Buddhist Temple of Chicago] Reverend.


Chikaraishi

So the basic difference is the Midwest Buddhist Temple is what they call the Nishi Honganji Church. And BTC is Higashi Honganji. Both churches are


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headquartered in Kyoto only about half a mile apart. So the basic teaching is very similar because these are the Shinshu doctrine of the Buddhist religion. The difference in this case here would be that Reverend Kubose wanted to go on the different course of teaching called American Buddhism. He and his son Sunnan also have this group called the Buddhist Legacy. They are mostly what they call American Buddhism. But the basic teachings are very similar.


Doi

So was there a lot of cooperation between the two temples or was there competition?


Chikaraishi

I would say it was friendly competition, but we get along very well with the church. Because, like I say, through athletics, through different programs and everything, we did a lot of things together and supported each other. And we still see a lot of each other. But still the churches are separate and I guess it'll stay that way.


Doi

The other way that I wanted to go was to learn more about CNAA. First of all I never knew that they met in Evanston. That's news to me.


Chikaraishi

Our headquarters was always the Service Committee—Chicago Resettlers.

23. The Chicago Resettlers was formed in 1945 to help Issei and Nisei who had recently left the concentration camps for their new life in Chicago. In 1954, the agency changed its name to the Japanese American Service Committee [JASC] and is still actively serving the Japanese American community.

Abe used to work out of Chicago Resettlers, so in the early years of the Chicago Nisei—it wasn't the Nisei Athletic Association yet, but at that time we used to have the leagues for the older groups.

We used to meet at the Service Committee, which was at 1117 La Salle Street. That was the first building they purchased. And that was the first location of the Chicago Resettlers—1117 North La Salle Street. From there they moved to the building called Viking Hall at 3259 North Sheffield Avenue, right on the corner of—I forgot the name of the street but it was another big hall. We used to have most of the socials in Chicago at that time at Viking Hall. The CNAA used that as the headquarters.


Doi

Was there a gym there?


Chikaraishi

No, there was no gym. It was just a hall with some offices there. Then they bought the building at 4427 North Clark Street.


Doi

So initially, even before it's called CNAA, the group is there to provide athletic events and things for the Nisei resettlers? Is that what's happening?



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Chikaraishi

Mostly for Nisei resettlers.


Doi

You mention some of the churches as sponsoring teams.


Chikaraishi

Yes.


Doi

Do other organizations sponsor teams?


Chikaraishi

Yes. In the early days of Chicago, I think the churches were the social centers. Most of the churches had a program of recreation, social, and athletics. And so it was easy to develop teams or a league because all you needed was representatives of each organization to be responsible for their own groups. And each group raised their own funds. Then the CNAA had a central fundraising event every year, which was a raffle. We would have an all day affair of all-star games at Chute. We would go early and we'd make all the sandwiches and we had pop and sandwich, which was given at no charge. People donated some money for that purpose and also we had the raffle. Each team was asked to sell so many raffle tickets. Some fulfilled their quota and many didn't. But we survived anyway. The reason we survived is because everything was voluntary. And nobody was being paid at all.

And so it was a good thing. It was really a cooperative thing and Abe was really instrumental in starting that and getting it going. Not only that, when he was working at the Chicago Resettlers he would set up outings at different YMCAs. I remember we used to go by train because nobody had cars. Abe was really instrumental in providing recreational activities for the young people. Unfortunately, he and his brother both died early.


Doi

Were you on a team?


Chikaraishi

Yes. We played at the church team in the early days.


Doi

You played basketball?


Chikaraishi

Yes, for a while and then it was all the kids that played. We had a lot of kids at our church. In our youth program, we must have had at least a 150 people at that time. We had a lot of teams. And it wasn't only basketball. You know basketball would finish around February or March. And then we would have a swimming program. We had many swimming teams, which participated in swimming contests. And then baseball started.

We were able to utilize Grant Park. The city [Chicago] rented it to us at a very reasonable price. So from church services, we just went to Grant Park,


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where we spent the whole day. Everybody would bring their lunch and then we participated in many games. We had about six diamonds. And we had girls and the boys of all ages playing. It was a lot of fun.

We were talking about the side benefits, and, well, you remember in the '60s when there was so much trouble with young people getting addicted to dope and alcohol. Out of our program I can't recall a single person that got into trouble. They were kept so busy that they didn't have time for any kind of foolishness because you just went from one sports activity to the other. The same people playing different sports so that everybody got to know each other really well, thus avoiding gang activities.


Doi

You mention that you did have Filipino kids on the teams and Chinese kids. Are these kids church members?


Chikaraishi

No. The Chinese teams were out of Chinatown. They were good teams. Unfortunately, we were always critical of the fact that the Chinese teams were like all-star teams, you see, while our teams were not. Our teams were teams sponsored by different churches, social clubs, and athletic clubs. They were all individual teams, while the Chinese teams had the whole Chinatown to pick from.


Doi

The CNAA goes on from about what year to what year?


Chikaraishi

It went on I would say from about 1949 maybe to about '65. Then what happens was that the kids got older. There weren't as many players and also the rent kept going up. We used to rent Chute and some of the gyms for something like $20 an hour, up to about $45 an hour in 1965. So for the few people that we had, we couldn't afford the rental. It died a slow death. They still have a program, which is run by some of our Sanseis that participated in those days—like Ty Momii, David Toguri, Kaz Ideno and some of the others. They [still] have a program for young kids between the ages of about eight to about 14 or 15 on Saturday mornings.


Doi

This is basketball?


Chikaraishi

Basketball. But there's no league, but only learning the fundamentals of basketball. That's the only thing that's existing today.


Doi

Okay, well let's get back to MBT. So it's at North Park and Menomonee for a while.



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Chikaraishi

We bought the building in 1957 in October. We moved from Olivet in about February or March of 1958. So we stayed there [at 1763 N. North Park Avenue] from 1958 to 1971 when we built our new temple.

It was in 1964 that we decided that we would like to purchase or build a temple, a bigger temple and also one that we can use for just a temple. We had a lot of discussions at that time as to where we should try to relocate. There was a group that wanted to go to suburbs. There were some that wanted to go to the far north area. But we finally decided that we would stay in that same area which is the Old Town Triangle area because we had the possibility of purchasing land from the Urban Renewal program at a very reasonable price.

At that time they had the Urban Renewal program, which was one of Mayor Daley Sr.'s pet projects.

24. Richard J. Daley was mayor of Chicago from 1955 to 1976. His son Richard M. Daley was first elected to office in 1989 and is the current mayor of the city.

His idea wasn't to tear down old areas to set up new areas. But he worked from strength so to speak. Even at that time, the Old Town area was a very good area and he wanted to develop around that area. We were able to buy this property from the city at a very reasonable price. And so we stayed there. In fact our church is right in the middle of what was Ogden Avenue, which used to run from North Avenue to Clark Street. You wouldn't remember that, as you were one of the new residents of Chicago.


Doi

And so from '64—?


Chikaraishi

We started our fund-raising. We were able to raise enough funds to purchase the land and build the building and move in. We moved in November the 7th of 1971.


Doi

And at that time was Reverend Kono still the minister?


Chikaraishi

Reverend Kono was the only minister. But meanwhile, we had numerous assistant ministers in Chicago who have come and gone. Reverend Ron Miyamura came in 1973. We built our parsonage for Reverend Kono and Grace Kono. He occupied the premises from September of 1979 until he died that same year in December. So he only stayed there four months.


Doi

Well, even among the Sanseis I hear nice stories about Reverend Kono.


Chikaraishi

Reverend Kono was excellent. He was a charismatic minister. He had made a lot of friends. When we decided to purchase the church building at North


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Park Avenue, we didn't have any money. We had our fund drive and the fund drive raised $12,000. That wasn't going to buy a building, but then we contacted Mr. Bukowski who was at the Cosmopolitan Bank. He [Mr. Bukowski] went before the board and he says, "I trust these people. I know that they will pay their mortgage." We had no collateral, but we received a loan of $57,000. We were able to pay it off in 10 years and on our 10th anniversary, we had a mortgage burning ceremony.

We also had a member that was really dedicated, named Ichikuro Kondo. If you look at our history book he would be in there. In fact, Mr. Kondo was a very successful lettuce farmer in Salinas. He helped develop that church in Salinas. He was also put in the concentration camp [Justice Department internment camp] because of his activities. He started the fund drive. He worked at the Hilton Hotel at nighttime as a dishwasher just so he could spend his days going around soliciting for donations. He also did that for the Chicago Resettlers when they bought that building on La Salle Street. He took the streetcar every day and went over to see people to raise funds. He was instrumental in raising funds that helped purchase the building for the Resettlers and also for our church.

And then when we occupied our church on North Park Avenue, he started a sort of fund-raising where he got two hundred people to lend—not give, $5.00 each month to help maintain the church and pay the mortgage. He vowed to stay in Chicago until every penny of the loan was paid back and sure enough he stayed.

As a successful farmer, he had some money that he sent to Japan. He had his brother build a women's college in Hokkaido and maintain the school. After he finally was able to pay all the loans at the church, he left the church, and he went back to his women's college. I think he passed away about eight or nine years later. He was a really dedicated, sincere man. He would stand out on our church door every Sunday and shake every hand of the people that came into the church to welcome and thank them.


Doi

You've done a great job of talking. Let me quickly try to find out what's happening to your family: Edith, Satomi and Tom—


Chikaraishi

Oh yes, at camp—


Doi

At camp—(laughs) We were in camp. Let's get them out of camp. (laughter)


Chikaraishi

All right. So I was married in '45 in July. Meanwhile, they were able to get clearance so they wanted to come to Chicago. My father had been released from concentration camp in Lordsburg. And so he came to Chicago with my


107
two sisters. I found them an apartment at 757 Brompton where they lived for about two years—


Doi

This is your dad?


Chikaraishi

My dad and Edith and Satomi. Meanwhile, Tom had gone back to California to work on his farm.


Doi

Had any of the rest of your family considered going back to California? Had you considered it as an example?


Chikaraishi

Well, naturally, in the early years you don't know. And so I said, "Well, maybe I will go back to California and start to practice there. But then once I got established here and had a family. First Dona, and then Todd, then I was pretty well situated here. And I thought as far as earning a living, this was an ideal place because you did not have to depend only on Japanese people as far as your patients were concerned, because there were many others who would come to your office.


Doi

Okay, so Tom goes back to the vineyard?


Chikaraishi

Yes. He went in '44. My sisters and my father came here and then eventually bought this first building in 1947.


Doi

Oh, your dad buys the building?


Chikaraishi

No, my brother-in-law and I did. My two brother-in-laws were in the service and during one of his furloughs, we went looking around and we found this building on 3716 North Fremont near Cubs Park.

25. The Chicago Cub's home field is called Wrigley Field. It is at the corner of Clark and Addison streets.

It was a three-flat building. We occupied the first floor and Kiyo's folks occupied the second floor. The third floor was rented. So we lived altogether for a while. Meanwhile my sisters got married and my father was there until he passed away in '53.


Doi

Okay, so 3716 North Fremont becomes a Chikaraishi building?


Chikaraishi

Yes.


Doi

Do the Morimoto's [narrator's sister, Edith marries Sam Morimoto] live there?



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Chikaraishi

No, she wasn't married then.


Doi

Oh, okay.


Chikaraishi

When they got married they had their own home.


Doi

Is it your sister Satomi and her husband who buy it with you?


Chikaraishi

They got married the same year. They got married and moved to Gardena, California.


Doi

Okay so which brothers-in-law do you buy it with?


Chikaraishi

With Kiyo's.


Doi

Oh, I see. So it's more like her side's in the building.


Chikaraishi

We all lived together. They owned half of it and we owned half of it.


Doi

Okay, I see. When did Edith, Satomi, and your dad all come out?


Chikaraishi

They came out in the late summer of '45.


Doi

Okay. Had they ever considered going back to California with your brother Tom?


Chikaraishi

I don't think so because we had nothing to go back to.


Doi

Okay. You mention though that he goes back to the vineyard. It's still there waiting for him.


Chikaraishi

Yes.


Doi

In 1948, there was the Evacuation Claims Act where you could get some money back for what you lost. Was your family in any position to take advantage of that?


Chikaraishi

No, we didn't. I don't know what it was available but I remember we didn't file for anything in '48.


Doi

And you mention that your first child is born in '47. Your second child comes in '48. You started your business in '45 and found out that you could make a living here and pretty much decide to stay.



109
Chikaraishi

Yes.


Doi

What pulls Satomi and her husband back to California?


Chikaraishi

I would say the weather for one thing. He was very conscious of this lousy weather. (laughs) He was always complaining about it being too cold, too hot and everything. So I would say the weather more than anything else.


Doi

Okay, so they go back to Gardena?


Chikaraishi

Yes.


Doi

Do Edith and Sam, your other sister and brother-in-law, ever consider leaving Chicago?


Chikaraishi

I don't think so. Although their family was in California, they decided that they would rather stay here.


Doi

Whom does your dad live with until he passes away?


Chikaraishi

He lived with us because my two sisters had gotten married. He lived with us until he passed away in 1953.


Doi

How did your family choose that area [3716 Fremont] to live in?


Chikaraishi

For no reason other than that we were walking by and we saw the "For Sale" sign. We went inside and looked at the building. And we thought that this would be ideal. It's a three-flat building. It's an old building but it was really well kept up.


Doi

I know that eventually that becomes an area of Japanese American concentration.


Chikaraishi

Not high concentration, no.


Doi

If you think about where people lived, you mention the Oakenwald area, then further south, south of the Midway, and then Clark and Division. So what's happening to the population over time? Where are people going?


Chikaraishi

I think a great deal of people moved into the area of Clark and Belmont. That's where Toguri is and then there were a lot of the Japanese restaurants and stores. And then from there it moved further north.


110
Today it's really dispersed. I would say majority live in the suburbs. Like even in our temple, maybe more than half live in the suburbs. A few live in the north and northwest extremities of the city, but very few within the immediate neighborhood.


Doi

Right, right. And what kinds of neighborhoods are people moving into as they move, say from Clark and Division to Clark and Belmont, and then further north?


Chikaraishi

I think with each move, they were purchasing larger buildings with more space because they were having families. When there was just one child or so. They were able to stay in the smaller apartments or flats, and as the family became bigger, they moved. There also was a matter of education. I think the Niseis, like the Isseis, stressed education. We need good education, so they moved further and further north where they felt that the schools were better.

[recording interrupted to change videotape]


Doi

[Video]tape number three. We were talking about the MBT and its final move to Menomonee with its first service in November 1971. What kind of church festivals has the church held? Now one of it's big ones is the Ginza.


Chikaraishi

Yes, we've had our annual Ginza Festival for 43 years. It started as the brainchild of Noby Yamakoshi, one of our very good members who passed away recently. Its main purpose is to provide an exhibition of Japanese culture and the martial arts. Secondly, it serves to raise funds to maintain the temple. The third purpose was to bring oneness and togetherness among the members to work together for a common goal. Although many don't attend church too often, at least when we have the Ginza, they come and help. And it's been very successful. It has served as a community get-together. Out of 43 years we've been very fortunate. We've never been rained out completely. Last year we lost one day and then some of the other years we lost a day or so, but we have been very fortunate that it has not been completely rained out.

And the other important observance is the O bon, Obon Festival.

26. Buddhists remember and honor their ancestors at Obon, an annual summer festival of lanterns.

The Obon Festival is the time we pay memorials to those that passed away before us. The first time we had our Obon Odori

27. Japanese dancing

was back in 1945 while our services were still held at the Olivet Institute. It was scheduled to be held outside, but it started to rain. So we asked Mr. Heisted, "Gee, what can we do?" He said, "Ah, go to the gym." So we went in the gym. It was the first Obon Odori, and
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we've had it every year since our church started. This year will be our 53rd Obon.


Doi

Fifty-three years. Now as a really little kid, I can remember Obon Odori outside someplace. But I don't remember where.


Chikaraishi

We used to have ours right in the street in front of the temple. We used to close the street on Friday, and then we'd have our bon odori on Saturday night. For Ginza, we used to close the street on Thursday and set up the stage and booths right in front of the old church on Menomonee and North Park.


Doi

Okay. I wanted to hear a little bit about your job. I noticed in your genealogical data sheet you've been an optometrist your whole life. So when you open your first office on Clark and Division, who were your first patients?


Chikaraishi

Well, I was very fortunate in that I was the first Japanese optometrist here in the city. Consequently there were a lot of Issei people here. They couldn't speak any English or understand English so I was able to accommodate them. I didn't have that long lag period of getting established because a great deal of the church members supported me as well as many others that didn't know English.


Doi

Over time, where else does your office move?


Chikaraishi

Then I moved to 1011 West Belmont Street right off of Sheffield Avenue. It was in an old bank building. I had the office in the back and Attorney Jiro Yamaguchi had the front office. I moved from Clark and Division because they were going to demolish the building in order to build that big Jewel Osco Store right on the corner. I remained at 1011 W. Belmont until 1982.

I can't forget the date because it was on August 2nd of 1982. It was a Sunday. We were in the process of moving the office. By that time, Jim [narrator's son] was practicing with me and we were moving supplies and equipment to the building at 3232 Bryn Mawr. Then he got a call from the hospital saying, "Jim, you better come to the hospital because it looks like Amy may give birth to quintuplets." (laughs) So I can't forget that [date] August the second, 1982. Eventually the quints were born on August the fourth of '82. We have been at this office since 1982.


Doi

Is Jiro Yamaguchi, the attorney, also at Clark and Division with you?


Chikaraishi

He was at Clark and Division with me. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and then he came to Chicago. He came about two


112
years after I was there. He started his practice here about two years after I did, and then we moved together to this new location at 1011 West Belmont.


Doi

How did your clientele change through these three moves?


Chikaraishi

Gradually it changed because of the different areas that I was located in. At first it's Clark and Division, which was predominately Japanese. And then as I moved, some of the Japanese people had moved away. The number of patients that I had was mixed, as far as the percentages. By the time I was on Sheffield and Belmont, I would say it was about 40 percent non-Japanese. By the time I went to the third location, I would say it's about 70 percent non-Japanese.


Doi

Well, you've pretty much answered the employment questions because you've had the same job all your life. We have talked a lot about the sports activities. What other kinds of social activities has your family been involved with, say, first as newly-weds? What was it like in the early years for the newly wed Nisei couples?


Chikaraishi

I think that in the early days it was just a matter of trying to find good accommodations and then being involved in community affairs. It depended on how much time was available. In our case, we were involved more with church than anything else. And then with the other activities—like I was involved with the golf association, the bowling groups, the athletic associations, as well as supporting many of the other groups, such as the social and welfare organizations.

One of the main groups in Chicago that needed support was the Mutual Aid Society. That was the organization that was set up before the Japanese moved to Chicago.

28. The Mutual Aid Society predates the resettlement era.

In the early resettlement years in Chicago, there were a lot of single Issei men. These people were not associated with any churches and had no families or relatives. Many would pass away in rooming houses, and because there was no one to be responsible for their disposal, the Mutual Aid Society people would make arrangements for the funeral, try to locate relatives in Japan and send back their belongings.


Doi

Speaking of funerals, I guess one of the stories we hear is from the late-'40s is how Japanese Americans were refused burial at local cemeteries.


Chikaraishi

True.



113
Doi

Do you know much about this?


Chikaraishi

Well, yes. I know in the early years [that] they refused to accept the Japanese. My father died in '53 and the funeral home had told us that, "There is no place to be used for burial." But it was no problem with us because I had my father cremated at the Graceland Crematory on Clark and Irving Park, and the ashes were held at church.

29. A Buddhist temple typically has a crypt for ashes.

But it was a problem for many people and here again the Mutual Aid Society was very helpful in that they'd been dealing with the situation by buying land at Montrose Cemetery. Right now they're on their fourth plot. They bought plots there and then they resold it to people at a very nominal cost to use for burials. They also have a mausoleum if you want to store your ashes. There was definitely discrimination against Japanese in securing gravesites, as you could not go to any of the cemeteries.


Doi

Do you have any idea when cemeteries besides Montrose were opened up to Japanese Americans?


Chikaraishi

I don't know because I've only been associated with Montrose.


Doi

Is it typical Buddhist practice to put the ashes in the temple?


Chikaraishi

Yes. You can do either one of the two. Leave it at the temple or you can have them buried. Whichever you like.


Doi

I see. Okay. You talked a little a bit about Olivet Institute and the Resettlers and the CNAA. What other kinds of recreational activities were available in the early years of resettlement? You know, I hear from, say, Pat Amino, about girls groups, the Silhouettes or the—


Chikaraishi

Yes, they had a lot of girls groups. They were social clubs and were formed very early and mostly met at Olivet Institute. They also met at the Chicago Resettlers Organization building at La Salle Street and later at Viking Hall. They used to sponsor dances and beauty contests.


Doi

Would Kiyo have been of the right age to be in a girls club?


Chikaraishi

She would have been the right age, yes.


Doi

Was she in any?



114
Chikaraishi

No, I don't think she was in any of the groups. After we were married, we were active in church so it was just the church group that we belonged to.


Doi

You also mention that Mr. Hagiwara was really insightful and realized that if there weren't a lot of social activities, kids would get into some bad behavior. Were there stories about delinquency or unwanted pregnancies in those early years for the Niseis? Were there gangs, for example?


Chikaraishi

Not that I was aware of. There were no gangs to the effect that they do things that presently gangs are accused of doing. But there were groups of people that used to hang around together, yes. But I don't remember any malicious things that they had done or we heard of.


Doi

Or illegal—?


Chikaraishi

Our Japanese community was very quiet, disciplined, and well behaved. I think it [the small size of the community] and the fact that the population was not concentrated prevented much bad or illegal activities.


Doi

What was the interaction like, say, between the resettlers who were coming out of camps and Hawaiian Niseis who come here later on, or Kibei,

30. "Kibei" is the term for the generation of Nisei who were born in the United States but educated in Japan.

or the prewar Chicagoans?


Chikaraishi

There weren't too many Japanese in prewar Chicago. You just hear of some of the people, like Mr. Mukoyama were here. I know that Harry Endo was here. But as far as their interaction, I mean, there was nothing different or difficult.

As far as the Hawaiian group, they all came after the war. When the war ended, a lot of them remained in the states instead of going back to Hawai'i. They were different from the Niseis in that they were more happy-go-lucky and they were more outward and more extroverted than the Niseis. They were a fun group, really a fun group. They worked here and not too many stayed in Chicago, though, because of the weather.


Doi

Did they join things like CNAA or the temples and churches?


Chikaraishi

Not too much. There were some that joined the temple. Some that joined were in the CNAA but not as a group.



115
Doi

Sort of individual thing?


Chikaraishi

Individuals, here and there.


Doi

How about Kibeis? Were there separate Kibei groups?


Chikaraishi

Not that I knew of really.


Doi

One thing that I read recently was talking about Clark and Division in those early years. And it was characterizing it as an area where there were a lot of Filipino businesses. Were you aware of that?


Chikaraishi

There were sufficient Filipino businesses. There were barbershops. There were a lot of barbershops. Filipinos are great barbers. And there were restaurants. But I wouldn't say there were a lot of stores.


Doi

Did Filipinos live in the same area?


Chikaraishi

Yes, they did.


Doi

What was the interaction like between Japanese Americans and Filipinos?


Chikaraishi

I think it was good. In fact, my barber was always Filipino. There was a Filipino team in the CNAA league and everybody got along well. There was no bad interaction I would say.


Doi

Let's see, we've talked about your family and how they got here. [We've also talked about] your sisters and brother, and what happened. We did talk a little bit about the West Coast opening up in '45, but you said that your business had already—


Chikaraishi

I had started my practice and after that, started my family. I thought that I would stay here because I had nothing to go back to.


Doi

We've mentioned CNAA, the churches, the Resettlers, Olivet. Were there other important institutions or organizations in those early years? What was the JACL

31. The Japanese American Citizens League [JACL] is a civil rights organization.

doing?


Chikaraishi

The JACL was very active. They had very good leaders. We counted on the JACL to help in many of the areas where race relations and such were concerned. And the other groups that were active would be the Chicago


116
Japanese American Association. And it used to be headed by Mr. Ted Uchimoto for many, many years. He still is head of it.

In fact they just had their annual get-together yesterday at the Hyatt-Regency [a major hotel]. They were very instrumental in the way that they took over activities that, I would say, some of the other groups should have been responsible for. Like whenever the city asked for some kind of help as far as a Christmas tree program at the museum.

[The Museum of Science and Industry features a wintertime exhibit called "Christmas Around the World."] they always were instrumental in helping. Then the city would ask for someone to come to the Civic Center downtown and to offer odori or something similar to show something of the Japanese custom and culture, he would accommodate them.


Doi

I see.


Tape 2, Side B

Doi

Mr. Uchimoto's group starts that about when?


Chikaraishi

I would say mid to late-'50s.


Doi

What's the feeling toward the JACL in those early years?


Chikaraishi

In the early years I think some Niseis were bitter towards the JACL. When evacuation notices were given and evacuation was started, perhaps that was the only organization available. Perhaps people felt that they could have protested a little bit or done something to try to prevent it. But when you look back on the history, it wouldn't have made a bit of difference. It was inevitable no matter what kind of organization you have, unless you have the people in government like we do now.


Doi

Would you say that Chicago has ever had a geographic Japanese town or Little Tokyo?


Chikaraishi

Not Little Tokyo or Japanese town as we know on the Pacific Coast area. There were people living in certain communities like the different geographic areas but I don't think that in any area whether it was on the 43rd Street, or the 63rd Street, or Clark and Division no more than maybe 25 percent of the people or businesses were Japanese. I wouldn't consider it a completely concentrated area.



117
Doi

Okay, and before, you alluded to the WRA policy in the early years of forced integration.


Chikaraishi

Forced? It came naturally, I think, because there weren't that many Japanese. At the height of resettlement, there were only a little over twenty thousand and presently it's fourteen thousand or something like that including the—


Doi

Yeah, suburbs.


Chikaraishi

Including the suburbs and people from Japan. So by the numbers itself, it's impossible to have a so-called Japanese town.


Doi

Let's move into the '50s. In 1952 the Walter-McCarran Act was passed.

32. The McCarran-Walter Immigration and Naturalization Act/Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 was an immigration statute that made all races eligible for naturalization and eliminated race as a bar to immigration.

This was the act that allows Isseis to apply for naturalization. Some Isseis took advantage of this opportunity. Your dad you say passed away in '53. Did he try to become a—?


Chikaraishi

I remember he was mentioning that he probably would like to become a citizen. But then before he could do anything about it, he became ill and passed away.


Doi

How about Kiyo's parents?


Chikaraishi

Kiyo's parents died a little bit later. He probably thought about it but he didn't consider becoming one.


Doi

What was the community reaction to that [McCarran-Walter] Act back in the '50s?


Chikaraishi

I think it was very acceptable because many suffered through those years where, especially in California, many of the farmers and many of the land owners and property owners wanted to become citizens, but were unable to become citizens and own any property. The only recourse they had was if you had a son over twenty-one years old, he could purchase property. I think they [the Issei] felt that it would be advantageous if they became citizens.


Doi

And do you remember what organizations helped the Isseis with citizenship?



118
Chikaraishi

The JACL was very helpful in that area, and also the Service Committee. I don't quite remember who was the head of the Service Committee then, but they had classes in interpreting from Japanese to English.


Doi

Okay. Moving to the early-'60s, we're moving into the era of civil rights. And I just wondered were you at all involved in the Civil Rights Movement?


Chikaraishi

No, I wasn't too involved in the Civil Rights Movement. I knew it was there and there were problems, but I never really got involved in civil rights.


Doi

And how would you say the Japanese American community responded to the civil rights efforts?


Chikaraishi

Well, in that area, I think we were depending upon the JACL more than anything else. And there were a lot of people active in the JACL for that purpose of helping the civil rights.


Doi

Okay, so that it was a more institutional—?


Chikaraishi

Institutional than individualized—


Doi

We're going to jump right into the recent years now and wind this up. What do you think about the Japanese American community today here in Chicago? How would you characterize it?


Chikaraishi

Well, I've seen the changes in the community as far as integration is concerned. For one thing, now I think they're very much more integrated. People are living more in the suburbs and they're participating in activities there. And yet I think they maintain their value of heritage by still supporting the Japanese organizations. So they are doing both I would say. Naturally with their children growing up and the Sansei's children—the Yonsei

33. Fourth-generation Japanese Americans

—are going to school away from the Japanese community. In the schools that they attend, there are very few other Japanese so their activities are integrated with the activities of the general population of the schools. And as far as integration I think it's quite a bit integrated.


Doi

And what goals or accomplishments would you like the Japanese American community here in Chicago to reach in the next five to 10 years?


Chikaraishi

The Niseis were not really involved in civil rights and politics. Hopefully we can have more involvement in politics. As that's the only way you get things


119
accomplished. Just like in Redress,

34. Redress is a remedy that was pursued by Japanese Americans to compensate them for their wrongful detention in concentration camps during World War II. The movement for redress resulted in the government's apology and monetary compensation to those interned.

if we didn't have these people in the government and in Congress, nothing would have been accomplished. In fact it would not even have been considered. So the only way you can get ahead as far as race relations and civil rights would be through politics.

So if they can find people that are interested in politics I think that would be very helpful. I think it'll be a natural integration with all the intermarriages that we have now. I don't know what the percentages are as far as intermarriage is. What do you think the percentage?


Doi

Oh, pretty high—60 or more percent.


Chikaraishi

Sixty or more? Well, yes.


Doi

You've been a great, great, great narrator—


Chikaraishi

Thank you.


Doi

And we're at the end of this interview. Is there anything else you'd like to say?


Chikaraishi

No, I'm very grateful for the people that helped with the redress because it was able to address this fact that we were wrongly incarcerated in these concentration camps without any trial or any convictions but simply because our faces were similar to the enemy. And I think that we overlook the efforts of so many people that persevered for so many years to document how we were stripped of our homes, property, and constitutional rights in World War II. What is it—from 1970 to 1987, or '88?


Doi

Yeah, when Reagan signed the bill.

35. Bills calling for redress and reparations (H.R. 442 and S. 1009) were introduced in the House and Senate in 1987, and signed by President Ronald Reagan on August 10, 1988. The resultant Civil Liberties Act of 1988 called for a formal apology and $20,000 individual compensation to those interned.


Chikaraishi

So many people that really persevered through that period. I think we should be grateful to those and also be grateful for all the organizations like the Japanese American Museum in Los Angeles who I think has done a wonderful job in preserving some of the history. And hopefully we can do the same for the National Japanese American Monument in Washington D.C., because I


120
think that's going to be very helpful in that Los Angeles is on the West Coast and then Washington D.C. is on the East Coast. Many of the people will not be able to go to Los Angeles to see the museum and see what the Japanese American went through. But when you go to Washington DC, I'm pretty sure that people would be able to see this and appreciate it. And I think the legacy of the Isseis and the Niseis could be preserved for the Sanseis and the rest of the people. Yes, they will.


Chikaraishi

Okay.


Doi

Thank you so much. (laughter)


Doi

Thank you very much, Dr. Ben, thank you. Okay. That's the end.


Chikaraishi

I lasted through without losing my voice. (laughs) I did not think I could last through the interview with my bad cold.


End of interview

Masaru Funai

  • Interviewee:
  •     Masaru Funai
  • Interviewer:
  •     Sandra Yamate
  • Date:
  •     January 24, 1998

Biography


211

figure
Masaru Funai


"I think everybody who came to
Chicago, if I'm not mistaken, first
went for help at the Resettlers.
There were a bunch of ladies, very
nice, and they'd tell you where to
go, and Kenji Nakane helped me
find summer employment. That's
why I feel very indebted to
the JASC [Japanese American
Service Committee] today."

Masaru Funai was born June 25, 1930 on the Big Island of Hawai'i, in Pohakea. His father, Kunitaro Funai and his mother, Masaru Muranaka both emigrated from Yamaguchi-ken, Japan. Kunitaro Funai first worked in Hawai'i for several years as a contract laborer. Fully intending to return to Japan after fulfilling his contract, he like many others changed their plans and never returned to Japan. Through a picture bride marital arrangement, Funai married Masa Muranaka. Masaru Funai was the youngest of seven children (four daughters and three sons): Kiyoko, Tasuko, Larry Toshio, Tokuo (Richard), Mitsuko (May), Fumiko, and Masaru.

The Funais were farmers; they initially grew coffee on an 18-20 acre parcel of land on a plantation. Yet Kunitaro Funai was always looking for different opportunities, and soon the family went into truck farming. The Funai children all helped in the farming effort. Some years later, the family moved to Pa'auilo, where Kunitaro Funai got a job working in a sugar plantation. He eventually quit the job and tried to find other suitable occupations. In this search, he worked for a merchandise store, and later unsuccessfully tried to open a store of his own. Other jobs included making charcoal, as well as working on a coffee plantation. Once again the family moved to another community, where Kunitaro found work as a truck farmer.

Masaru Funai moved to Honolulu to attend the University of Hawaii, where he converted to Christianity. There, he met Carolyn, the


212
woman whom he would later marry in 1954. After graduation, he served in the United States Army in Japan.

While growing up, his father encouraged him to pursue a career in law, holding up a local Japanese American lawyer as a role model. In the mid-1950s, after completion of military service, Masaru Funai moved to Chicago to study law. The Chicago Resettlers Committee, a social service agency, helped him to find a place to live. Although neither he nor Carolyn had family in the area, they decided to remain in Chicago because they perceived better opportunities there.

After his admission to the bar, Masaru Funai worked for an insurance company. He eventually joined the practice of an older Japanese American lawyer, Thomas Masuda, who represented many Japanese Americans, some Japanese businesses, and the Japanese consulate. As the firm grew, Masaru Funai brought two of his law school classmates, Helmet Eifert and James Mitchell, into the firm. The firm was then known as Masuda, Funai, Eifert, and Mitchell. Mr. Funai's son Bryan is now a lawyer and partner in the firm. Masaru and Carolyn Funai have two children: Bryan and Shari. The Funais also have four grandchildren: Lane, Lindsey, Colin, and Heather.

Interview

Masaru Funai was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawai'i. He describes how he left the Big Island to attend the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, how he served in the U.S. Army in Japan, and how he moved to Chicago to attend Northwestern University Law School. He discusses why he chose to remain in Chicago and he chronicles the growth of his law firm, which he founded with two classmates. This firm eventually became the premier Japanese American law firm in Chicago. Sandra Yamate conducted the interview on January 24, 1998, in Chicago, Illinois.

Tape 1, Side A

Yamate

This is an interview with Masaru Funai on January 24, l998. This is taking place in Mr. Funai's home in Lincolnwood, Illinois.

Thank you so much, Mr. Funai, for agreeing to participate in this. We're going to be asking you a series of questions and I'd like you to feel free to add or make whatever comments you feel responsive to the questions. Can you start by telling us when and where you were born?


Funai

Well, I'm originally from Hawai'i, as I told you earlier—the Big Island of Hawai'i. Hawai'i County, it's called Hamakua, out in the country on the windward side of Big Island. I understand I was born on June 25, l930 because that's the date that was recorded, and there's a story behind my statement.


Yamate

What's the story?


Funai

Well, we lived way up in the hills of Mauna Kea, about three miles off the main drag, and my father in those days was quite an entrepreneur, and he was involved in making charcoal from raw trees. They cut it down and so forth, so we were really backwoodsmen. So he would record our births when he went to town. This is what I'm told, of course. Anyway, my birth certificate shows I was born June 25, l930.


Yamate

What were your parents' names?


Funai

My father was Kunitaro Funai, and my mother was Masa. I got my name, I understand, from part of her name. Masaru is my name; Masa Muranaka was her maiden name.


Yamate

Were they both from the same part of Japan?


Funai

Yes. I'm not too familiar with Japan where they came from, but all I know is that they are both from Yamaguchi Prefecture. Many people in Hawai'i are from that part of the country—Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Kumamoto, et cetera.


Yamate

Did they marry in Japan or did they marry in Hawai'i?


Funai

They were the typical picture bride arrangement. My father came first as a contract laborer. In those days, that was the way most Japanese nationals came to Hawai'i—as contract laborers for two, three, four years, all planning to go back to Japan, most of which never materialized, and my mother came later as a picture bride.


Yamate

When your mother came, did she come alone? Did any of her family come with her?


Funai

She came alone. I don't know too well, but we used to hear it all the time. She came with a bunch of other picture brides. All came for the same purpose: to get married to somebody that they had never seen.


Yamate

The area in which you grew up—you were born and raised—what was that community like? Was it very big? It sounds very rural.


Funai

I was born way up in the mountains. About five years ago, I took my whole family, my grandkids, to show them where I was supposedly born. It's nothing more than a range now, a pasture. There's hardly anybody around. If you think about the Appalachian people living up in the mountains, [it's the] very same thing. I empathize with stories of the rural South, Kentucky, et cetera because in


213
many respects, we had the same kind of life in Hawai'i where I was born. I'm the youngest of seven; two of my sisters, the oldest, have already died.


Yamate

What were your sisters' and brothers' names?


Funai

My oldest sister was Kiyoko, and my next one was Yasuko. The next was my brother, Larry or Toshio. My next brother, Tokuo, is called Richard today. My third sister would be Mitsuko, May they call her, and my sister right above me is Fumiko.


Yamate

How much of a difference was there between you and your eldest sister?


Funai

Well, that's very embarrassing because I don't even know how—I'm 67 now and my oldest sister, Kiyoko, if she were living, would be in her eighties.


Yamate

Did your mother have any employment outside the home?


Funai

No, not for salary or wages. We were always farmers. There was a period in our life when we were in a coffee plantation. We had a coffee plantation in the area where I lived. The coffee prices today—if you talk about Kona coffee, it's a gourmet coffee, but in my day in the '30s when I was born, that's the time of recession, as you recall, coffee prices were zero, so the plantation that my folks joined, if you will, went bankrupt.

We all owned a parcel of what used to be the plantation, about 18 or 20 acres. We tried to harvest coffee and then we were truck farmers. But that was the life, so my mother and my whole family, me included, worked our butts off picking coffee, growing cabbages or whatever, and I hated every minute of it.


Yamate

Now, at the time that you were born, you said that your father would periodically make trips into town. What was the nearest town?


Funai

The nearest town, the county seat, was called Honoka'a, that's my high school. I know the name very well. We used to yell those cheerleading whatchamacalls you know—Honoka'a.


Yamate

How often would he go into town?


Funai

Well, that I don't know, but we used to make charcoal, so as poor as we were, we never were without a car. And in the old days, he would have a truck, and he would periodically load the truck up with the charcoal that he would make up in the hills, and he would go selling them, delivering them. This is what I am told.



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Yamate

How long did he do this?


Funai

I really don't know. But when I started going to school, we weren't doing that already, so it would have been a number of years before then, during the Prohibition days.


Yamate

You say that by the time you're six, he's not doing it, is that when you were on the coffee plantation?


Funai

That's right. We were on the coffee plantation, raising a few heads of cattle, coffee, picking coffee in season, truck farming. This is the Depression period. You remember the New Deal of Roosevelt, WPA, these things are ingrained in my mind—the Works Progress Administration. I am, I suppose, a Republican today, but in those days, you can bet your life, we were staunch Democrats because Roosevelt, with his New Deal and Works Progress Administration, built roads all over the country to keep people employed.

My father was a jack-of-all-trades. He was a stone mason. They would hire him and a bunch of other Issei, and they would cut stone—rocks to build bridges. I remember his doing all that—anything to earn a living, so to speak.


Yamate

How much formal education did your father have?


Funai

You know I can't answer that either, but probably not even high school. He was a self-taught person. He would read and write Japanese and, in fact, he even learned English, the Japanese English—pidgin English in Hawai'i. In retrospect, I should have given him more credit. We never appreciate our parents. He was quite a self-taught person. He taught me a lot of things about Japan, the Japanese language, reading and writing included. I learned from him.


Yamate

Were your parents speaking to you in Japanese or were they speaking to you in pidgin?


Funai

In Japanese but in pidgin. In Hawai'i, in our days, it was what we referred to as pidgin English. It was a mixture of Japanese, English, Chinese, Hawaiian, you name it, with all the different groups of people that came to Hawai'i. Some Hawaiian and Japanese words are quite similar. They each have a vowel and a consonant. Ha-wa-ii, and so forth. [With] Japanese, [it's] the same thing. I didn't know whether a word was a Japanese word or a Hawaiian word, for instance, they were all pidgin. And that's basically what we learned.



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Yamate

At this period of time, from the time you're born until about the time you're six years old, how would your family have acquired news of the day about these WPA, or what else was going on in the outside world?


Funai

Well, I suppose newspaper, but I don't remember seeing Japanese newspapers in the house. I would see all kinds of Japanese periodicals. In those days, there was a magazine from Japan called Kin-gu—they used to say. I don't know what happened to it, but I suppose that's the way they got news. Later on, radio, yes.


Yamate

At this time, your older siblings, were they having a formal education? Were they being educated at home?


Funai

Well, yes and no. My oldest sister, Kiyoko, got married when I was still in diapers, so her oldest daughter—my oldest niece is only two years younger than I am. She's about 65 [years old] today. That's how far apart we were. All of my sisters, except for the one right above me, never finished high school. They just didn't have that opportunity.

My two brothers, I don't think, finished high school. They got it on their own later. They went to catch-up programs. But to put it very candidly, we came from a rural community, very poor. My sister, Mitsuko, was pretty good in school, but had to quit at 10th grade, so my sister Fumi and I were the only ones to have the privilege of finishing high school and in my case, the brainwashing was I was going to go to college. The whole family was going to work and make certain that I went to college. This was the family culture, if you will. That's the kind of home I come from.


Yamate

Who instilled that—was that your father?


Funai

I guess so. That's why we never gave our parents enough credit, but in hindsight, yes, it was my father. My mother, too, but mainly, my father because he was quite a strong, aggressive type of person. My mother was a quiet type of person.


Yamate

Did that seem at all unusual in the context of the community that you were growing up in, that they would focus all their energy on the youngest son as opposed to the eldest son?


Funai

You know, in retrospect, no, I never thought of it that way, but I don't think so. It was probably quite academic because the older ones were having a harder time. I was fortunate, very fortunate, in having been born the youngest in a family of seven. My brother, Larry, is the oldest son, so in the true Japanese tradition, he was it. He inherited the family farm and so forth, which may not be worth much,


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but he also inherited all the family obligations (laughs) and the debt, whatever—the burdens.

So we had that tradition. The oldest son was the one to continue, but education, because he was older, he did not have that opportunity. It was unheard of for him to go to college. We just couldn't afford it. So he became a carpenter. He was a tradesman. He was a carpenter/plumber.


Yamate

As a child growing up, say about the time you were six, seven years old, did you feel conscious of your family's socioeconomic standing?


Funai

Yes and no. I say yes and no because our whole community was of that economic level, and there was nothing different about us. In fact, in some respects, maybe we were more affluent because we had a car in that whole rural community. Not every family had a car, you know. So everybody was in the same boat, so to speak.

But in another respect, yes, I felt very conscious of our, shall I say, plight because in those days, as you may know, every Japanese family sent their children to Japanese school. Well, in our rural community, there were two families whose kids did not go to Japanese school and we were one of them. The reason for that is because we just couldn't afford the tuition. Every family would send their children. After the public English school, they would go to the Japanese school.

Well, my father was kind of a hardheaded, aggressive kind of fellow. He said, "I can afford to pay the tuition for two or three of my kids." This is what I found out later. I was in first grade but he decided, "I cannot afford to keep up the payments, so I'll teach you kids at home." So I went to first grade in Japanese language school, and he yanked us out, and then second, third, fourth grade, he taught me at home. I would read books at night under his tutelage, never realizing that here's a fellow, my father, who probably never had his own education. He was a self-taught guy, and he was teaching me Japanese. I did not realize that at that time, but that's what happened.

And then we moved out of that community Pa'auilo, which is a town, out in civilization, so to speak. When we moved out to that area, he put me back in school so I went to the fifth grade. After about a year, part of fifth grade and part of sixth grade, the war came, so that was the end of Japanese language school in Hawai'i. That's all the Japanese language, formal schooling that I've had, except for one semester thereafter in college.


Yamate

Do you know how much the tuition was in those days?



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Funai

I have no idea.


Yamate

You said you found out later on that he said, "I cannot afford this," and then yanked you out. How did you find that out later?


Funai

Well, as we grew older, we would learn, we would ask why all the other kids were in school and why we were not. I think we were subjected to some community ostracism in that respect, and even as young as we were then, I was conscious of that. But I think that gave me a resolve, a determination: "I got to learn this darn thing." I think I had a bit of that kind of attitude.


Yamate

Did your sisters and brothers feel that same way, do you think?


Funai

Well, they probably did, but we never talk about it. They were probably out of school by then already, except Fumi and me, we're the only ones, I guess, who went through that. Because in those days, it was not unusual for a girl, after finishing ninth grade, intermediate school, started working as a maid or whatever. So it wasn't that much of a problem for them.


Yamate

That community ostracism that you mentioned; how did that manifest itself?


Funai

Well, it was maybe more in our minds. Nobody said anything to us. To give you an example, I think it was called tenchosetsu—the emperor's birthday. Anyway, it's a celebration of some kind, and they would have the graduation exercises at the Japanese school, so these families are going to school, and here we're in the coffee field, picking those darn coffee berries. You know, even as a kid, you would sense that, and that's what I mean when I said, "I felt it." I think in my case, it did make a strong impression because I didn't like it. And it developed in me, I think, the attitude, "Well, I'm going to show these guys one of these days." Probably that's what happened in my background.


Yamate

The coffee cooperative that your family became part of, were these other families Japanese families?


Funai

Yes, they were all Japanese families like us, every one of them.


Yamate

Were they all from the same prefecture, too?


Funai

No, I don't think so. There's Kumamoto, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Kagoshima. These are all the prefectural people—Okinawa. Many of the people in Hawai'i came from southern Japan, as you know.



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Yamate

When your father came to the Big Island, was that by design? He came as a contract laborer. Did he start working on the Big Island, or was he working on the other islands first?


Funai

Big Island. He used to tell me the stories of his experience in coming to Hawai'i. In those days, on the Big Island, of course, there were sugar plantations all over the island, but each community had a big sugar mill. In Hawai'i, there's Theodore H. Davis, the C. Brewers and Company, Castle and Cook, et cetera.

I forgot all the names of these big companies, but our part of the Island, that's the Hamakua coast, is all high cliffs—200, 300-feet cliffs. If you were to go to Big Island, that's the rainy side, and the ships would dock in deep enough water, and they would send down a cable from the top of the cliff. They would have boxes on these, and they would have a big engine. They used to call them donkeys, I think, but an engine. They'd send down these boxes and the people would get in the box and were hauled up the cliff. That's how they used to load the ships with sugar, and just about every community would have that situation.

Later on, when railroads developed, they would send all the sugar to Hilo port, which is still the port today, until some tidal wave came and knocked down the railroads. After that, they started hauling the sugar by truck. This is modern time, but when my folks came, they had no such thing, and therefore, he came to the Big Island and landed at Pauhau. There's a community called Pauhau near Honoka'a. He used to tell us these stories all the time. I could memorize them as I used to hear them so often.


Yamate

It's wonderful—


Funai

And he said he hated every minute of it, too—the life as a laborer in the sugar plantation.


Yamate

What particularly did he hate about it?


Funai

Well, it's drudgery, if you will. Of course, they all came from farms in Japan but here, they did not understand the language. I think they did movies and stories written about these things. They're quite authentic from the way I heard it. When he finished his three years or whatever the hitch was, he promptly quit.

My father was quite an aggressive, hotheaded kind of a guy, so he quit and started working for some merchandise store—delivery boy, and eventually, he opened his own store and that didn't do too well. Then he went up the mountains to try his


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hand at making charcoal and then got into the coffee plantation. After that, he moved to another community and we became truck farmers. This is during the war period—l94l to '45. He decided to—in addition to being a truck farmer, peddle vegetables. He used to do that and before you knew it, he retired or got too old to do anything. (laughs)


Yamate

Did he aspire to returning to Japan at some point?


Funai

Not really. Oh, they all wanted to go back. He did go back after a while for a visit years later. Not in our society, anyway. I think it was not that they didn't want to go back but it was more a feeling that, well, we can't afford to go back. As they would say in Japanese, a kirameru.

1. To give up the idea or a notion (Japanese)

They gave up the thought of going back to Japan periodically for a visit. It was beyond question.


Yamate

In the coffee cooperative, how many families were involved?


Funai

Oh, I don't know, but I can guess—two, three, four dozen at the most, I would say.


Yamate

How did they handle their decision making at the cooperative?


Funai

I don't even know if the term is cooperative. I didn't know law then, but the coffee plantation was split up among the workers, I think, and I guess we bought that land. We had eighteen acres, I know, and various families had acreage like that. I suppose we bought it from the plantation. I'm guessing this part. There were mills. In coffee, you need two mills. One is to take the outer shell off—it's called a cherry.

Occasionally, you see coffee berries on TV, when it is red. You take their skin off and wash the berry. Then you dry it. The coffee bean has two beans. After it's dried, you must put it through another mill to take the inner skin off—it's called patch. So my father and Mr. Horii ran the mill. I remember playing in the mill. It was very dangerous, I guess, in retrospect, but we lived nearby. They ran the mill and all the members would bring their berries there. That's how it was done. And then we would sell it and they would haul it to Kona. Kona still has coffee, as you know. We would take it all the way to Kona, which was quite a job. It's other side of the island, and that's what I know they used to do.



220
Yamate

So, at this point in time, you're seven, eight, nine years old, you're going to school—


Funai

We used to walk three miles a day, barefooted.


Yamate

—And what kinds of things would you be studying in school?


Funai

Oh, there was a public school, an American public school, no different from today, I suppose. The one thing I remember in those days is we used to have the Golden Book of Songs and we used to sing every week. We would have music sessions, for instance. In hindsight, they were all Christian songs; (sings) "Jesus loves me, this I know." Today, if you sang songs like that in school, I suppose you'd be a riot. In retrospect, we were very strong Buddhists in those days but they were all Christian songs because I guess the teachers were Christians. That was the music I learned in my elementary school days. (laughs)


Yamate

What was the ethnic composition of your school?


Funai

Ethnic? I guess it was pretty representative of the population in Hawai'i. In those days, we used to say one-third of the population was Japanese. In our area, there weren't too many others but there were Portuguese, some Puerto Ricans. The Spanish speaking that we were familiar with was Puerto Rican-Spanish. Never heard of Mexico, or Mexican Hispanic group, or any other, but Puerto Ricans. Filipinos, a group of workers came from the Philippines. The immigrants from the Philippines were mainly bachelors. There weren't too many families and so there weren't too many children in our day. I think those were it, mainly.


Yamate

Did you have any exposure to white children?


Funai

Not in my elementary school days, not in my intermediate school days, hardly any in my high school days which is l948 when I graduated. There weren't Caucasian families in our communities, in those days, other than the plantation manager. I never thought about it that way, but they never had children. I don't know why.

I was first exposed to Caucasians at the university—that's out in Honolulu. That's l949. The managers of the plantations were frequently from the mainland, from the Stateside. Our principal at intermediate school was a Mr. Hugulin. I think he was maybe Swedish or Norwegian. Come to think of it, he had a daughter, older than us. Oh, there were a lot of Hawaiians, I forgot to mention the native Hawaiians, or mixture of Hawaiian, part Hawaiian, part Chinese, some Koreans, but not too many. There weren't too many Koreans in our community.



221
Yamate

While you were in elementary school, was your family very involved in the local Buddhist temple?


Funai

Yes. Our life revolved around the Buddhist temple in my young days. In fact, there's a story behind that, too. We were part of the Shingon sect. In Buddhism, the Shingon sect is one of the older Buddhist sects. Then there are two groups in the Shinshu sect. We were quite active in the Shingon-shu church. I think it's called sutra, Tokyo.

2. The sutras, the Buddhist scriptures (Japanese)

I don't know what the proper even term is. But in the Shingon sect—if I can just get into that for a few minutes. One of the things we used to do, if somebody got sick, the priest would gather all the members so we would have a service for that person to get well and we would chant the sen-gan shingyo. Sen-gan means 1,000 times, 1,000 chants or sutra, I'm not sure what the word is, but we had to chant or utter this chant one thousand times— sen-gan, for the benefit of the person who's ill. So, the practice would be to gather as many people as you can because, if you have 100 people, all you must do is chant it 10 times, but if you have only 10 people, we must chant 100 times.

When I was in my elementary school days, I used to know one of these chants by heart. I have absolutely no idea what it meant, but I knew it by heart, by memory, so when I see these samurai movies today, Oda Nobunaga,

3. Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) was a military leader who helped unify Japan and create a pattern of centralized feudalism that lasted for about three hundred years.

for example, and there's a funeral scene, you see the incense being burned and they chant. I recall those chants. "I used to chant that one," I used to say. I have no idea what it meant, but I used to know those things.


Yamate

Can you recite one for—?


Funai

No, I can't do it (laughs) anymore today, but the reason I mentioned that is because up to my high school, I had a great confusion in my mind. My father told me, "When you get old, you're going to become a lawyer." There's a reason for that, too. You're going to have to become a daigen,

4. Lawyer, solicitor (Japanese)

he used to say. Daigen, I understand, is a very old, historical language meaning prosecutor. "You're going to become a daigen, " he used to tell me because the general store in our community was owned by Mrs. Tahara and her brother was the county attorney of Hawai'i County. Tom Okino was his name. He was one of the early Niseis who became an attorney, and became the county prosecutor and later on, he became a
222
judge. My father used to tell me, "You're going to become like Tom Okino." That's the way we were brainwashed, if you will or trained.

But the other competing influence I was getting was from our priest, who used to say, "When you get old, you'd better become a Buddhist priest, and I will send you to Japan to Koyasan. Koyasan is the hondo

5. Main temple (Japanese)

of the Shingon sect in Japan. I'll send you there." So up to my high school days, I had a little confusion as to which road I was going to follow. If the Buddhist priest had exerted enough influence over me, I would have become a Buddhist priest today. I'm afraid. Well, I shouldn't say I'm afraid, but that's probably what could have been. The only thing that changed and clinched my decision to go to law school was the fact that when I went to the University of Hawaii, I stayed in a Christian dormitory. That's what changed my religious affiliation.


Yamate

When you were really told that you were going to become a daigen, or you were going to become a Buddhist priest, how did you feel about that at the time?


Funai

I had absolutely no idea what it was all about. I had no idea what a daigen or a lawyer was—no idea, no concept. You know, we didn't have TVs with all these movies, shows and so forth—none of that kind of influence in those days.


Yamate

Did you ever have any aspirations of your own that maybe you wouldn't even have told anybody at that time?


Funai

No. My mind was made up for me before I even went to school, that I was going to become a daigen, or lawyer, not knowing what it was.


Yamate

Did your parents have, let's say, different types of values as far as expectations for you and your brothers versus expectations for your sisters?


Funai

Well, that would be a rather touchy subject to talk about with my siblings, but I think so. I think they expected more of the boys. But that was somewhat of a tradition. I'm very concerned about that influence that I had in my young days because I'm afraid that, if I'm left to my own thinking today, I may be considered very male chauvinistic in that respect, too, because there's a greater responsibility on the male. His obligation is to support his wife and family. I don't know if that kind of thinking is popular today, but it was very strong in my family. If you're a guy, you have a responsibility to support your family.



223
Yamate

Did you ever have an interaction with your parents' siblings?


Funai

No, because I was too young. My father's family being from Yamaguchi, many of the people in Yamaguchi joined the navy in Japan. This is prewar stuff I'm talking about now. Many of the people in the navy, I understand, came from Yamaguchi, Hiroshima. In fact, there's a naval college in Hiroshima in Etajima. My wife's aunt lives there.

So my father's side were all navy people except my father. He was too short, and he was the oldest so he never went into the naval service but two or three of his brothers were sailors. Before the war, the Japanese Navy used to tour, and they used to come to Hawai'i, for instance. The naval ships would come touring, and I understand it used to be a big occasion for my father to take all my brothers to go and see their uncle, but I was too young to get into all that.


Yamate

How did your father's family react to his coming to Hawai'i if he was the eldest?


Funai

Well, I don't know. This is just supposition on my part, but it was quite common. I think it was quite natural. It was the responsibility of the oldest to help pay the family debt, or pay for the family farm or whatever, so it wasn't unusual for the oldest son to go abroad to earn. The Japanese term is dekasegi.

6. To work away from home as an emigrant laborer (Japanese)

You go out to earn a living with the intent always being to return. I don't think there were too many, if any, Isseis who intended to immigrate to the United States or Hawai'i or elsewhere. Under immigration law of today, they were non-immigrants. They were going to go abroad, work for a contracted number of years, make a pile of dough, and return to Japan. Most of those dreams, I think, never materialized, because they all ended up staying here. Some of them were fortunate to go back, so I don't think it was contrary to the family tradition for the oldest son to go out and earn and help pay the family debt or the farm or whatever.


Yamate

But his intention was not to really go back to that?


Funai

Well, it's not that it was an intent. The intent to go back home just did not materialize. Because, in the meantime, they were getting up in age, turned out that they couldn't earn as much as fast as they had understood or hoped for; they had to get married, then they got married, then the children, Niseis, came. And this is not stereotypical of my family, but I think it was typical of just about all Japanese families.



224

Tape l, Side B

Funai

Well, as I said, we were living up in the sticks, it was called Kapahu, but, in the fifth grade I went to Pa'auilo, to enter the intermediate grades, and then we'd all go to Honoka'a—Honoka'a High School. This was the high school for Hamakua County, so from the ninth grade—ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, we all went to Honoka'a High School.


Yamate

How big was the student body?


Funai

I don't know but our class was about 100.


Yamate

And how would you get to school each day?


Funai

We would all commute by bus.


Yamate

Nowadays, high schools offer so many kinds of extracurricular activities. Did your high school offer things like that?


Funai

Yes. My high school days were not too different from what you experience today. By the time I started going to high school, that was l944, during the war years. Then the war ended, so my high school period was, I think, quite similar.

We didn't have football on the Big Island because somebody got killed, but we had baseball and all the sports other than football. I was quite a klutz, I never excelled in any sports, so I wasn't a star, and I wasn't on a team or anything like that, but we had social dancing, Boy Scouting, just about anything you can think about today in a typical, maybe, rural community.


Yamate

And did you participate in things like Boy Scouts?


Funai

Oh yeah. I went as high as becoming a Second Class; I didn't quite make First Class because by then our interests changed. By the time you get to high school, Boy Scouts and things like that, you grow out of it. But I was active in other areas. I was very active in student government activities, debating, that type of thing.


Yamate

What other kinds of things would you and your friends be doing, when you were in high school?


Funai

Well, we were, as I said, from the community. Honoka'a High School attracts students from Pa'auilo, Kalapa, Pauhau, Honoka'a, Kamuela (that's where the


225
ranch is)—from quite a diverse area. I shouldn't say this because they may not like it back there, but the Pa'auilo bunch was considered to be quite a rowdy group. Well, for one thing, we had a big group. We were in fact quite tame, but our older brothers and sisters, in the days when they went to school, were reputed to be a rowdy group. But we had a lot of fun. We could have two busloads of kids go all the way to Honoka'a—that's about eight, 10 miles everyday. We used to have social dancing, the junior-senior proms and those things that you hear about today. But our kind of prom was not like today.

Today, when you have a senior ball, it's a big thing. This is more the city-urban type of prom, but they all wear tuxedoes and hire limousines, and do all these things. My goodness, we couldn't afford those things, anyway. We'd borrow our older brother's car and we'd pick up some girls and we'd go, or get the community bus to take us, but that's the way we used to do it, and the big thing was for us to decorate the gymnasium with ti leaves. I remember even in my intermediate school days, we used to do that from about seventh grade on. The big thing was to raise enough money to hire the local community orchestra, live orchestra, not DJs and stuff like that—a live orchestra, and we would have a social dance. That was the big, big, big event, if you will, in our life, in our social life.


Yamate

What kinds of things would you and your classmates do to raise money?


Funai

Oh, jeez, I can't remember. I think we were just assessed. We used to have class dues—I thing that's the way we did it, if I'm not mistaken. I don't remember that.


Yamate

What about free time you had? I mean, you're going to school, you're helping out at home, the free time that you did have, how would you spend that?


Funai

Very little free time. In our young days, we had very little free time. During the war years, it was four days school, and the fifth day we had to work. This is a war effort, if you will. On Saturdays, we all worked. We worked in the cane fields in our summer months. I was sick and tired of cutting cane (or I was cutting my toe) and hoeing weeds, so we would go to the other islands (I did that, in fact, two summers) picking pineapples in the pineapple fields. That was fun because we'd go with a bunch of students to another island—Moloka'i. We went to O'ahu also. That was fun, but we always worked so we had no free time.

During my intermediate school days, for instance, this was during the war, you understand, we had to raise food. In Hawai'i, all the chicken feed and that type of thing is imported or brought in from the mainland, and there were submarines


226
lurking all over, they said, so we had to raise local animals, such as rabbits. At one time, I must have had two hundred rabbits—they multiply, as you know, very fast from two that I got from my neighbor.

My job was to feed those rabbits so that we can feed ourselves with the rabbits. (laughs) So we had no time, no free time—boy scouting, getting feed for the rabbits, raising chickens, working on the truck farm. And then when we got old enough to work on a plantation, we'd get up 5:00 in the morning, go to work with the adults cutting cane, or hoeing, and a couple of summers, we'd go picking pineapples. I was very anxious to grow up so I didn't have to do that.


Yamate

What about your friends? Did they feel the same way?


Funai

Oh, I'm sure they all felt that way.


Yamate

Who were your closest friends in high school?


Funai

Who were? Oh, that's a hard question. I had any number of people like Alex Morita (his father owned the Honoka'a Club; he died.) Then there were a bunch of guys from Pa'auilo, the guys whom I grew up with from intermediate school days. There was Fuzzy Nakashima. (I just met him last February in Las Vegas when we had our 49th year class reunion. People from Hawai'i wanted to have it in Las Vegas, so I joined them. The first class reunion I went, and, lo and behold, there was Shigeo Nakashima.)


Yamate

During World War II, when you were in intermediate school and then beginning high school, did the non-Japanese neighbors, classmates that you had, did they treat you differently because of the war with Japan?


Funai

Not in Hawai'i. I don't think so. The reason is, as I said earlier, in Hawai'i, the predominating population was Japanese. In our community, the majority was Japanese, anyway, so we used to have a joke. People on the mainland were being interned and all that,

7. The narrator is referring to the mass incarceration of approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II.

and where would they intern us—put us in Waipio Valley. [It was] a beautiful valley on the Hamakua coast. They are going to put us in there and what are we going to eat? To us, it was more of a joke—it wasn't real except for a few select families where the fathers were the leaders of the community.


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My father-in-law was quite a leader in his community (my wife is from Kaua'i), active in the business community. The Japanese school principal, the Buddhist Church priest, the leaders were all interned. They were all picked up and interned and brought to the States. So, for the experiences of those families, my wife can give you a completely different view, but we were just common people. My father used to make a big joke of it, "Jeez, I would consider it a great honor if they pick me up and intern me," he would say.


Yamate

By this point in time, was he in frequent contact at all with his family back in Japan, or—


Funai

During the war—absolutely not. In fact, it was more popular to disavow anything about Japan. I remember when the war started, we used to have all kinds of pictures of our uncles, but as I said earlier, they were all navy people, and they were in their navy uniform. Their pictures were all burned. We destroyed all of the incriminating evidence. It's too bad.


Yamate

So when you graduated from high school, was it already a foregone conclusion you were going to UH [University of Hawaii]?


Funai

Yes.


Yamate

Did you consider any other colleges or universities?


Funai

No. There wasn't any in Hawai'i. UH was the only university, it was kind of out of the question to come to the States or anything like that for me, anyway. To UH, four years undergrad.


Yamate

Were any of your classmates going to go to UH too, or was this unusual in the community that you grew up in?


Funai

Well, I can tell you, in my class of about 100, I think only four or five of us went to college—half a dozen at the most.


Yamate

So now this was not your first time off the islands. You mentioned going summers working off the—


Funai

—Yes, two summers I went to the other islands—


Yamate

But this was one of the first times living away?


Funai

Yes.



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Yamate

And what was that like for you?


Funai

Well, it was fun—actually it was fun. My mother had already died of cancer the summer before I entered 10th grade, so my sister-in-law, (my oldest brother, Larry's Jane) was like a mother to me. She raised me from about high school, took care of me, sewed my clothes and all that. You know, we didn't go to Sears or any department store to buy your trousers. You sewed them at home in those days. She was like a seamstress, she sewed all my clothes and so forth.

So it was fun going to Honolulu from the country, and, of course, I ended up in a church dormitory, the Nuuanu Congregational Church, which is still there. I don't know how, but I ended up in the church dormitory. In those days, University of Hawai'i had no dormitories—I think they do now. There was one girls house, almost like a sorority house, but all of the outer island, neighboring island students stayed with families, boarding houses, or mainly church dormitories, and I ended up in one of those. It happened to be a Congregational Church dormitory and that's how I ended up becoming a Christian.


Yamate

What did you think of Honolulu when you arrived there?


Funai

Oh, fun, fun—big city.


Yamate

And was there pressure on you, living in the church dormitory, to convert to Christianity, or was this just sort of a gradual process?


Funai

Well, it was not a pressure, yes and no on that question. We were expected to go to church service, of course, but not extreme pressure. We had a girl's dormitory and a boy's dormitory several blocks apart. But my wife happened to be in the girl's dorm—that's how I happened to meet her. She was in the girl's dormitory and we were in the boy's dormitory in different locations. Later on they built a new church and we were next door, and we had the same dining room and stuff like that, but we were expected to go to church.

For the first time, I could understand religion as such. Before that, it was Buddhist, you see. And to be honest with you, I did not understand. In our day, by the way, there were no English-speaking Buddhist priests, as we would have today in the Buddhist churches. Everything was in Japanese, it was pretty difficult to understand and I understood quite a bit of Japanese, I think, even in those days, even though I didn't have any formal training because I spoke with the parents. Nevertheless, it was much easier for me to comprehend Christianity. You read the Bible and you can understand. You can go to Sunday school. So it wasn't a


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matter of a lot of pressure from the church to convert or anything like that. I think it was more a matter of being able to comprehend, and liking it or accepting it.


Yamate

Did you have to declare a major in your studies at UH?


Funai

Yes, I was liberal arts, but I majored in political science. Why did I major in political science? Because I was told in high school days if you're going to become a lawyer, you have got to major in political science. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Well, I don't think that is correct advice because I got disenchanted, frankly, with political science. And that's one reason why I'm here in Chicago. I felt it was a useless major to take. That's the impression I had, anyway, when I was going to college, so I ended up finishing four years of undergrad with a minimum number of courses to complete my major, and then I took a minor in business. One of the reasons for that is, as I got more mature or more realistic, I realized I have got to earn a living someday. I wasn't quite confident how I can earn a living becoming, being a political science major, but at least if you know what a balance sheet looks like, and can keep books, and become a bookkeeper, maybe I can earn a living, so that was my thinking. In hindsight, it was good because I ended up doing commercial law today.


Yamate

I see.


Funai

Are we cutting here?


Yamate

He's going to change the [video] tapes now.


Funai

I see. Care for some coffee?


Yamate

Oh, I'm fine. Do you want to take a break or something?


Funai

No, it's all right.


Yamate

You mentioned that you met your wife, Carolyn, while you were at UH. Do you remember exactly when?


Funai

I remember very well. I forget a lot of things, but I remember this very well. In my undergrad UH days, I again ended up becoming active in student politics. I don't know why, it just came out that way, but I was a political animal in that respect, I guess, from my student days. Even in my intermediate school, high school days, I was very active in student government that type of thing. I went to the University of Hawai'i and I figured I'm going to study, but, lo and behold,


230
again, for one reason or another, one thing lead to another, and I was active in student politics, if you will.

We were in the same dormitory and so she helped me in my campaign or whatever it was, that's how I got interested in her. She was very popular—my wife was. Contrary to me, she was very athletic in her young days. She's very petite, four feet, 11 inches I think, but she was a swimmer, on the swimming team in her community; she played baseball; she was a tomboy, as they used to call them; she was that kind of a person and here I was a real klutz. But I used to participate in debating. You see somewhere it was drummed into my mind that if you're going to become a lawyer, you better know how to speak.

I had an experience on that, too, because I faced Tom Okino as a judge once and I almost had stage fright—this was in my intermediate school days. I almost fell on the stage because he was one of the judges. I heard his name and it was like speaking before God. But anyway, I took public speaking and we had a Board of Debate and Forensics—I think it was called BODF—and we had a banquet of some kind, so I took her along and I fell in love with her.


Yamate

When you first met her, do you know how it was that she happened to be working on your campaign? Was she interested in you already, or—?


Funai

I don't know. You have to ask her that, but we were all in the same dorm, after all, the same church dormitory, so we knew each other. I don't know how one thing led to another, but that was the end of our sophomore year.

I had a very strange courtship with her. Immediately after the summer, she said, "I'm going to the mainland," and she came to Greeley, Colorado. So junior year, senior year, I never saw her—saw her once, saw her twice, because I came to the State-side on a debating trip. I and another fellow, Shunichi Kimura (he became county mayor of Hawai'i County, Hilo. Maybe you know of him; he was a judge there) and I were fairly close friends, we were on the debating team, and we were active in the Student Government, so I came up here and went to see Chiye (her name is Chiye Carolyn) in Greeley.

The following summer, we were active in ROTC [Reserve Officers Training Corps], so we went to Seattle, Washington, Fort Lewis, Washington near Tacoma. The University of Hawaii advanced ROTC would go there for summer training during the end of the junior year. I went all the way on the Union-Pacific from Seattle, Washington to Greeley, Colorado to see her for two days.


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Those were the only two times that I saw her during our two years of so-called courtship. After that, I went in the army. I was in the [Army] Reserves. The Korean War was full blown and just ended when I got recruited. We had to serve two years because we were in Reserve ROTC. Then I saw her on my way to Georgia for training. Then I was on the mainland and she was in Hawai'i. Then I went overseas to Japan for half a year. So during our four years of so-called courtship, we saw each other maybe four times.


Yamate

While she was in Colorado and you were in UH, did you date other girls?


Funai

Ah, yes. I shouldn't go into this. I can do that later off the record but, yes.


Yamate

Were you corresponding with her at the same time, though?


Funai

Yes, but the letters were very dull. Dull is the word. Oh, I did this and I did that. I would search the letter from top to bottom to see if there's any statement that says, "I love you," or anything like that, not a word of that kind. She was very, shall I say, unemotional or ostensibly unemotional. I keep reminding her of that, too.


Yamate

Would you tell her those sorts of things in your letter?


Funai

No, I wouldn't, but I would keep her letters and read them over and over.


Yamate

Did you tell your family, at that time that you were courting this woman?


Funai

Well, I guess they knew because during our graduation from university, my then future sister-in-law, Sonoe, for instance (her oldest sister) came to the graduation. Yes, it wasn't a secret.


Yamate

How did your family feel about that?


Funai

Oh, no expression one way or the other, until we, after four years, decided to get engaged at which time, in the somewhat semi-Japanese tradition, my father was old already, so my older brother, Larry, accompanied me to Kaua'i to meet her family. I guess it's somewhat traditional Japanese. In Japanese tradition, you have a go-between, nakodo.

8. A go-between (Japanese)

We didn't go through that but my brother, on behalf of my father, went all the way to Kaua'i to pay respects, so to speak, to her family.



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Yamate

Now, when your wife was, not wife at the time, but when she was in Colorado and you were in the ROTC reserves, did they help pay your tuition in any way?


Funai

Yes. There's a little story behind that, too—why did we get into those things. In our high school days, the war had ended, if you recall, so there was a big campaign to organize National Guard units all over the island. I don't know if this was something unique to Hawai'i. But the veterans came back and some of the leaders, the officers, would organize units.

So in our community of Pa'auilo, they organized a company, and we thought it was fun. The principal reason why my buddy, Fuzzy, and all us from Pa'auilo thought it was fun was because they paid us. We got paid for going to training once a week, and they gave us uniforms, the army uniforms. We had boots and combat jackets and so forth, and my outfit to go to high school in those days was really to wear those boots. You see kids today wearing long T-shirts, whatever, and that's a fad. Our fad was to wear our National Guard uniform—the jacket and so we did that and we got paid.

Then when we went to college, I continued my National Guard commitments and I got paid. Pay was the important thing. We had no college loans that you have today. The good part of that is we graduated without debts, I suppose. And then we took advance ROTC because the Korean War was going full bloom, and we were all (those were conscription army days and no volunteer) going to be drafted anyway. We felt, if you're going to be drafted, you may as well get drafted as an officer because we would get paid about $250 U.S. dollars as a second lieutenant, whereas a private recruit might get $50. And I had to earn some money to go to law school. Also, we were all in advanced ROTC because we got paid $27 a month for taking advanced ROTC.


Yamate

When you traveled to the mainland with the debating team, what kind of reception did you get, being a Japanese American?


Funai

Oh, we were popular. This would be l95l, and Shunichi Kimura and I represented the UH, the University of Hawaii. We went on a three-week debating tour. This was non-competition tour and we went to University of Kansas, University of Missouri, University of Wisconsin (Big 10 schools), went to some schools in Michigan, like Albion College and about a dozen schools in all. We had a big conference in Chicago at the Congress Hotel with a debating fraternity. We were very popular. Oh, here are two guys all the way from Hawai'i. And, of course, we made a big name in the Honolulu Star Bulletin—two UH students, pictures in the paper and all that kind of stuff. Almost flunked a course, having missed three weeks, but had a great time.



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Yamate

What time of year was this?


Funai

It was about now (January or February). I had to borrow a friend's topcoat because we never had those things in Hawai'i—it was cold.


Yamate

What did you think of the mainland?


Funai

It was fun, I didn't like the cold. I remember the first university we went to was in Lawrence, Kansas, University of Kansas, and those guys were, of course, the haoles,

9. The term haole is used in Hawai'i to refer to all Caucasians other that those of Portuguese descent, especially those from the United States.

I would say, well, English is their native language, for God's sake. They speak like they do on a daily basis. We speak pidgin English in Hawai'i. When we spoke conventional English in those days, we had to make an extra effort. Then we had to pick a topic to debate, and they gave us a royal shellacking at the University of Kansas. We came from Kansas to Chicago on a train late at night. Shunichi and I worked our whole debating strategy, arguments and so forth on the train. By the time we went back to Honolulu (this is not to be boastful), I think we gained a bit more confidence in public speaking.


Yamate

When you say you got a shellacking in Kansas, were they making fun of the pidgin, were they—


Funai

No. I'm talking about the substance. I don't even remember what the topic of the debate was—we'd pick some topic that was current in those days. In debating, it's the substance that counts. Shunichi would have the scattergun approach—he would knock here and knock there, and he would talk fast, and I would say, "Now let's hold off for a minute. Let's see exactly what these guys are saying." We would use that type of approach.

Debating was quite an experience for me, particularly in the undergrad days because I think it's very important that you be able to express yourself in public. My experience started in the seventh grade when I almost had stage fright. This was a Future Farmers of America speech contest, FFA we used to call it, and my teacher in intermediate school days really was trying to get me to become active and maybe become an FFA teacher. Agriculture was a big top in the schools in those days. He wanted me to become a farmer and I hated it. I had to go to a speech contest, and I almost had a stage fright when I found out that Tom Okino, the name that was beaten into my mind from when I was three or four years old,


234
was one of the judges asking me questions. I almost lost it. I barely walked off the stage, I understand.

But with that background, I concluded I have to overcome that so I took speech. In our days at the University of Hawaii, we had to take remedial speech in any event. Unless your oral English was sufficient, all students who went to UH had to take remedial speech. It was a one-credit course, speaking. They teach you how to talk—you've got to put your tongue here and it's not "da" but it's "the," and that type of thing—oral English. We had to learn, and if you didn't pass after four semesters, you could flunk out of the university. I don't think anybody flunked out, but I had to take that, too. I took that for two semesters and then I took public speaking—advanced public speaking, and then got into debating. My speech professor was Dr. Joseph Smith. He was the eleventh descendent of Joseph Smith of the Mormon Church. He was an eloquent speaker; he was so eloquent. He was quite an inspiration to me—quite eloquent. The big test in that course—this is advanced public speaking—was to give a 10-minute extemporaneous speech.

So I went through all those things and I think I overcame this fear of speaking in public. Today, I don't have that kind of a concern, but public speaking was an important part, especially since I came from the country and I think it helped. I encourage that to everyone. I think it helps people to gain confidence to be able to speak on your feet, no matter who is in front of you, so you don't get rattled. But that was an interesting part, I think, of my college days.


Yamate

So when you went to Kaua'i, you met your future in-laws. What was that like?


Funai

Oh, of course, you're always nervous when you meet your future in-laws for the first time. My wife's father, Kazuto Takeda, was quite a stern type of person. He was quite a businessman, self-made kind of a person, too, and he was a community leader. In his life, he was an insurance agent, a business entrepreneur, quite successful in the stock market, was an accountant (he was the oldest public accountant in the Islands until he died). He wasn't a CPA, but he knew the tax codes backward and forwards. He was that kind of a person, so I had to behave.


Yamate

Then, you said you went overseas during the Korean War. How long were you overseas?


Funai

Well, very short because the Korean War had ended. I think it was the summer or fall of '53 that the Korean War ended. I wanted to see Japan—it was called the Far East Command, I think. We were stuck in the States, so I went straight to the Pentagon from Fayetteville, North Carolina, which is the home of the 82nd


235
Airborne Division. We were stationed there. I was in Military Intelligence.

10. The Military Intelligence Service [MIS] was a branch of the United States Army in which many Japanese Americans served during World War II. They were first trained at the Military Intelligence Service Language School, and then attached to different units needing their services in the Pacific.

Basically, I bluffed my way into Military Intelligence claiming that I can speak Japanese, but I didn't know much of it. Anyway, I went to the Pentagon and then they would send a TWX (Twix, we used to call that) to my unit from Pentagon, orders to go to the Far East. And the reason I wanted to go to the Far East was, [when] the Korean War had ended; I wanted to come home to Hawai'i to see my fiancée at that time, even for thirty days leave before you go overseas; and I wanted to see Japan. So I went overseas and was sent to Hokkaido and spent about five or six months near Sapporo. I was attached to the First Calvary Division, the unit that General Custer was assigned to. I was with them for five, six months. It was an enjoyable winter tour in Hokkaido, Japan.


Yamate

What did you think about Japan?


Funai

At that time? Well, I had no idea that I would be doing the kind of work I'm doing today, so I had more of a tourist mentality, I suppose. This is '53, '54—Japan had recovered sufficiently from the war so there were no scars of the war, especially in a place like Hokkaido. I think the Peace Treaty was signed in '52, so a nationalism attitude was just beginning to develop in Japan. They had become independent, so to speak, so the 'Yankee Go Home' mood was surfacing, understandably. If we go out to Sapporo, some places were off limits to gaijin

11. Foreigner(s) (Japanese)

off limits to service personnel. Some places were only for service personnel. I found that somewhat unique, so as soon as it became a weekend or we got a pass, we'd go out to the town, but we'd wear our civilian clothes trying to disguise ourselves as Japanese. Of course, they spotted us like that because of the way we walked, or whatever. Then we'd go out to town with some of our Caucasian friends in the military. (I remember the name Dick Klack, for instance. I wonder what he's doing today. He came from Oklahoma. He wanted to go with us because he'd have great fun if he went out with us.) They would spot us as being service personnel, but nevertheless, we had a lot of fun. It was quite an enjoyable time. We were paid $250 or more by that time, and for $50, you can have a whale of a time because as military officers, we would have to pay for our food and so forth, but it was very nominal. I would send $50 a month every month to my wife to put away, my fiancée then, to save for tuition and so forth, and the rest we had good time (laughs), so it was enjoyable.



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Yamate

What kinds of things did the army have you doing while you were in Japan?


Funai

Well, as I said, this was peace time, and I was in Military Intelligence—MIS, and I was supposed to be a prisoner of war interrogator. Of course, there were no prisoners, so we attached to the First Calvary Division. It was nothing but training. I'd go on a three-day field training, and we would support the G-2 (the G-2 in the military is the intelligence). If there were prisoners, we would interrogate them; if there were aerial photos, we would interpret them, provide translation/interpreting service, document translation, that type of thing.


Yamate

When you were growing up, and, you know, you surely must have heard things about the 100th Battalion and the 442nd,

12. The 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team were both made up of Nisei soldiers. The 100th Infantry Battalion began with prewar Japanese American volunteers and draftees in Hawai'i. The exemplary military record in Europe of the 442nd and 100th Battalion served as an important factor in the postwar life of the Japanese American community.

what did you think about that?


Funai

Well, I can't say much because they were all our older brothers. Many of my older brother Larry's friends were in the 100th Battalion. They were the first ones to be drafted so they had friends in those units. On my wife's side, my brother-in-law, Charlie, was an interpreter. He was picked from college. The University of Hawaii students at that time volunteered for the 442nd. They were all college students, and we had high respect for them, but by the time we went in the service, our attitude on those things, I think, was quite complacent. We weren't super patriots. The war was over—after all, it was behind us.


Tape 2, Side A

Funai

Yes, in my university days, as I said, I became embroiled in student politics, and this Shunichi Kimura we were talking about (he's from Hilo and I'm from Honoka'a) was the president, and I was the vice-president. I was like his floor leader and we would have these battles in the student government. We were battling the alumni—they'd want to promote football, we'd say, "Pardon me, to hell with football, we should promote more academics like debating." We were interested in debating and I was a klutz in football, after all. We were always fighting the student paper and they would blast us in the student paper.

I was also active in the territorial Democrat Party, because we were Democrats then. After all, we were plantation material. We were always fighting the Big Five—that's business. You support the party that feeds you, I suppose, and the


237
Democratic Party and the ILWU. You heard about the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen's Union. In those days—the McCarthy era, if you recall, anybody who was leftist was a "pinko" and it was a very dangerous period in politics. But, I guess I was a liberal because I came from that kind of background. I was a precinct delegate (it was territory then) to the territorial convention, and we had to be very careful who we supported, because they might label us a communist.

I guess Harry Bridges, head of ILWU, was an avowed communist. In any event, I used to be active in those things and that's one reason why politics turned me off. After going through all that in my student days, I did not care for this so-called public life. I felt I had enough of that in my young days. I wanted a peaceful life. I want to be incognito, if I can. That's how my thinking changed, I suppose, which basically led to my being in Chicago. I did not care for that kind of a limelight, if you will.


Yamate

Before that time, did you ever consider running for public office?


Funai

No, I did not. I did not for the reasons I just mentioned. I did not aspire to someday become a public figure in the Islands. That did not seem attractive to me.


Yamate

At that point in time, you know after World War II and up until the point where you'd go to the mainland, I think in Hawaiian history, we're starting to see a rise in Japanese participation, particularly in the Democratic party in local government. What did you think about that at the time? I mean, we start to see people who were later on to become very prominent, like Sparky Matsunaga

13. Masayuki (Spark) Matsunaga (1916-1990) was a three-term United States senator from Hawai'i and a leading advocate for peace.

and Dan Inouye

14. Daniel Ken Inouye (1924-) is a United States senator from Hawai'i, and a lawyer.

coming on the scene now?


Funai

Yes, as I said, I did not aspire to be like them—the glamour, I felt, was not attractive to me. Another thought probably, in retrospect, what was lurking in my mind was the fact that I did not have confidence that I could be like them, for I'm from the country. I don't know if it's appropriate to say this, but I had heard that Shunichi, for instance, was quite a judge (he became mayor of Hawai'i County) and at one time, they were considering running him as lieutenant governor of Hawai'i, but apparently, that never came to pass.


238
They figured that somebody from the rural area, Hawai'i County, [it] would not have any chance compared to somebody from, say, Honolulu. I don't know if this is true or not but I had that kind of a mentality. What are my chances of becoming a great politician or statesman in a place like Honolulu when I come from the country? My family does not have any connections; we're not politically connected, economically or otherwise. I respected people like Dan Inouye and Sparky Matsunaga. I heard them speak. There was a Senator Akiyama who was quite a statesman. He was on the local level, not national. I thought they were all great, but I did not aspire to be like them, maybe because I felt that I didn't have a chance of being like them. That could have been a predominating thought in my mind.

I come from, as the Japanese would say, a mazushii

15. Poor, indigent (Japanese)

background, a poverty stricken background, so I suppose it's not wrong to say that one of the goals I had in my life was not want to find dirt under my fingernails again. I wanted to make certain that my life and the life of my kids would be better economically. I don't mean to say by that I wanted to become rich or anything like that, but I didn't want to go through the suffering that my family did in the '30s. I think that was probably a fairly strong motivating factor in my life.


Yamate

When were you finally discharged from the army?


Funai

It was about April of l954.


Yamate

And when did you decide that it was time to go to law school?


Funai

During the time that I was in the army, I was still vacillating. When I came back from the service, I even went back to UH wondering whether I should switch and go into, say, accounting. It was my father-in-law who said, "You had your mind set on becoming a lawyer all these years," and, "Don't change in mid-stream just because you're going to get married." We were going to get married in June in '54, two or three months after I came back from the service. She and I were going to come to the States to go to some law school but I was wondering whether I could support her as a lawyer. I hadn't yet decided to stay in the States but half thinking that I might do that. I didn't have the confidence that I could support my family being a lawyer.

In those days, there was one lawyer to every 400 people in the Islands, and I used to hear of lawyers selling insurance and that type of thing. My goodness, am I


239
going to be able to make a living coming back to the Islands? So I was vacillating, if you will, but I decided ultimately to go to law school. And I picked Northwestern because I applied at various places. Harvard did not accept me, like they accepted you. My grades I'm sure weren't good enough and I did not consider any of the schools in California. I had a mind set against California.


Yamate

Really, why is that?


Funai

Because the impression I had in my mind was that California discriminated against Japanese. In California (maybe our brethren in California may get mad if I say that, and it's no longer like that today, I don't think), the impression I had was that the Orientals and Hispanics were considered the bottom rung of the population. Well, I didn't care to go to a community like that.

That was the kind of mindset I had because in Hawai'i, the Japanese and Orientals were the dominating population, so we didn't sense that feeling. There was enough segregation in Hawai'i, but we didn't run into that type of thing. The Japanese and the Orientals had their own community; the Caucasians had their own, and so forth. I think it's quite changed today, but in our day, that's the how it was, so California was not attractive to me. I don't think I even applied for any law school in California. I may have applied to Stanford and they said you must submit a paper or something like that. By the way, I didn't even know that Stanford, was such a top school in the States.

In those days, everyone from Hawai'i came to the States to go to law school because we had no law school there. Many people went to the University of Michigan, a few came to Northwestern. Attorney Wadsworth Yee for Northwestern interviewed me in Hawai'i and I was accepted. I was also accepted at Georgetown in Washington, D.C., but that was too far from Hawai'i. Keep in mind that I was in the army when I was applying to all these schools—it's not like staying at home where you could do this. When Northwestern accepted me, I said that's good enough. That's why I came to Chicago.

The other reason is, I wanted to go to a school in a big city. I did not want to go to a college town, such as Ann Arbor in Michigan because then you have to relocate again if I decided to stay in the States. So my thought was, if I go to Northwestern, maybe it's not bad. I had come here once on the debating trip, as I said. It was a dismal place, but you can get to like it—that was my mental attitude.


Yamate

So you got married in June of '54 and then by fall, you're out here in Chicago.



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Funai

No, we got married on June 18th and then I think sometime in July, we were on the plane and came to Chicago.


Yamate

And when you first got to Chicago, where did you live?


Funai

Well, this is getting closer to home now but when we came to Chicago, I remember going to St. Louis first where my sister-in-law Sonoe and husband Pete were living. (They were both school teachers but he decided later in life to become a dentist, so he was going to St. Louis University Dental School.) They brought us to Chicago. It was a long track, coming up Ogden Avenue and we ended up in the parking lot of Soldier Field

16. Soldier Field is the outdoor stadium in Grant Park and home to the Chicago Bears football team.

because there was no interstate in those days. We had a musubi

17. Rice ball (Japanese)

lunch in the parking lot of Soldier Field, where we ended up. And then we headed straight for the Wabash YMCA. There was a YMCA on the south side of the Chicago loop

18. The downtown area of Chicago is commonly referred to as "the Loop." Initially, the streetcar tracks circumscribed a boundary around the central business district. Then, in the 1890s, the elevated trains were built through the downtown. The tracks formed a literal loop around the central business district.

where they took men and women in. It was the cheapest thing we could find in town—we were both students, after all. Then we headed straight for the Resettlers.

19. The Chicago Resettlers Committee was a Chicago area social service agency. The Chicago Resettlers was formed in 1945 to help Issei and Nisei who had recently left the concentration camps for their new life in Chicago. In 1954, the agency changed its name to the Japanese American Service Committee [JASC] and is still actively serving the Japanese American community.

Mr. Kenji Nakane was there, and he referred us to various places where we could find an apartment and so forth. Then he referred me to Korehiro's on Irving Park Road and Kenmore, right next to the elevated,

20. Elevated trains are a part of the public transportation system maintained by the Chicago Transit Authority. These trains run above ground. Other trains in the same system run underground and may then be referred to as the subway. On some routes, the train runs above ground for part of its route and below ground in other sections. Chicagoans may, therefore, use the term "el" and "subway" interchangeably.

so I lived next to the el [elevated train], literally right next to it, but you get immune to the noise. Every 15 minutes, the train goes by, but that's where I lived for three years.


Yamate

When you arrived in Chicago, did you have trouble finding a place that would accept Japanese as tenants?



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Funai

Yes, we had problems because, not knowing Chicago, we looked around for apartments around what is now Rush Street. Of course, the rents were, I'm sure, even higher even in those days, but they wouldn't even look at us. Yes.


Yamate

How did you end up finding out about the Resettlers?


Funai

I don't know. I think everybody who came to Chicago, if I'm not mistaken, first went for help at the Resettlers. There were a bunch of ladies, very nice, and they'd tell you where to go, and Kenji Nakane helped me find summer employment. That's why I feel very indebted to the JASC [Japanese American Service Committee] today. We must do something for them because they helped me when I first came here. You know, the Japanese tradition of ongaeshi,

21. To repay another's kindness (Japanese)

you must return your obligation. That is very important in my mind.


Yamate

So, when you arrived in July, school wouldn't start until fall so you tried to find some kind of employment?


Funai

I don't remember that first summer whether I had employment or not.


Yamate

What about your wife, did she work?


Funai

Well, she was a schoolteacher, but I don't remember whether she started working right away or not. I think she taught school for a while. In the meantime, she got pregnant and Bryan was born on our first wedding anniversary, contrary to our plans, so she worked as long as she could. As I recall, she worked as long as she could teaching school, and then when she had to quit, she did home work. She did anything and everything. She worked for a while at the law school until exam time and then she couldn't work because I was a student (conflict situation). I must give a lot of credit to her. She did anything and everything—home typing, working for the law school, teaching school, tutoring people in the house, during our early marriage days.


Yamate

Did you socialize, or come in contact with many other Japanese from Hawai'i?


Funai

Not really. We lived a rather secluded life. There were one or two other families—we all came as students. I didn't even go to church. I couldn't afford it, to tell the truth. I couldn't afford the time, mainly, because all of the free time I had, I was working—in the library, or whatever, and studying. You went to law school, you know how much reading you have to do, analyzing cases and stuff


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like that. So, no, we did very little socializing in the first three years of our life here in Chicago.


Yamate

I hear stories that a lot of the Japanese men, in order to save money, would take turns cutting each other's hair and things like that.


Funai

Oh; that was a regular routine. In fact, I may have a pair of clippers someplace in the house yet. First thing we did, we went to some hawk shop and got some clippers. And Ken Yoshimura (they're still here in Des Plaines—he and I and Judy, we all knew each other in college, and we all came about the same time; he went to architectural school) and we would meet, if nothing else to cut each other's hair.


Yamate

We also hear there was some kind of a Hawaiian nightclub that a lot of the people from Hawai'i would frequent?


Funai

Yes, there was a place on Wilson Avenue—Waikiki, I think it was named—just about Wilson Avenue and Marine Drive. That was a Hawaiian establishment, and once a year, for instance, we would go there for Christmas or whatever. In the early days, the Nisei Post in Chicago was very active and I remember one year, we went to their Christmas party, but we had a very limited social life. You went to law school so you don't have much time. I don't know about today but in my day, we didn't have much time to be socializing. We were busy studying, working, and raising our family because I had a family at the same time, too.


Yamate

Were there other Japanese at the law school at the time you were there?


Funai

No. We had a class of about 100 and there was one Chinese student who left after the first year and went to Yale or someplace, and me. I think we were the only two Orientals.


Yamate

How did your teachers and classmates react to you as a Japanese American?


Funai

Well, I don't think they made any distinction other than the fact that a bunch of us were veterans, so we were older. Many of the students at Northwestern University came straight from Evanston

22. Evanston is a suburb 13 miles north of Chicago.

and they had a combined curriculum program in those days. They would come during their fourth undergrad year to the University, and after one more year, they get their undergrad degree so they had a combined curriculum. There were many of these students, and I guess it's all
243
right to say it, but the impression I had was that many of them were still wearing diapers. They were very loud. I found Americans—students from Northwestern—to be very loud. They were very eager to volunteer, and if you really analyzed what they were saying, discussing something, they really didn't say much. They had what my speech professor whom I referred to earlier used to say, "A diarrhea of words and a constipation of thought." But they were very good at it, and I thought, are all mainlanders like this? Very loud—pushy, if you will.

Many of us from Hawai'i (maybe this is a tradition for Orientals) tend to be quiet, we don't like to volunteer and raise our hands. I found that rather annoying. So I cared less what they thought about me. We had moot court, if you remember. They all wondered how I was going to fare in moot court. They didn't know that I had experience (again not to be boastful or anything) in speaking. We had a moot court team with a couple of friends and we beat the heck out of the other team, which was composed of very loud people of the class. They were frankly concerned that they were going to lose. I cared less whether we won or lost—moot court was a one-credit course. They didn't know that I spoke English. Basically, many people didn't know where Hawai'i was. After all, Hawai'i wasn't a state. Is that another country? Where is it, in the Atlantic or Pacific? I don't think that was too much of an exaggeration.


Yamate

You were just randomly assigned to a team?


Funai

Well, something like that. I forgot how it was done but a friend, John Karones. (He's still practicing law, from a Greek family in Chicago, and they were very nice to us)—me and somebody else were picked up. It was a satisfying experience to show some of these loud-mouthed kids that I could speak English. They were amazed—where did you learn English? Nobody asked me that, but that was the reaction, if you will. The judges were amazed. Today, I'm sure, society is so cosmopolitan that it's nothing unusual to see an Asian face in your group, whether it's in school or elsewhere, but, in those days, it was somewhat rare. As I said, in my class there were two Oriental faces.


Yamate

What kinds of employment did you hold while you were going to law school?


Funai

I had one job. Of course, I also worked at the library. But Kenji Nakane from Resettlers [JASC] found me a job at a place called American Electric on Irving Park Road. I think they might still be there, but it used to be a distributor of electrical supplies—lamps and stuff like that, so he sent me there and I was a stockroom boy. I think I ended up working there for two summers.



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Yamate

In those days, would they have had programs like we have now where a lot of the large law firms hire law students to work during the summer?


Funai

I don't know. I often wondered about that because now I'm on the hiring end and we get these resumes and applications from second year students, and we go through all that.


Yamate

While you were in law school, did you have an opportunity to write on a journal?


Funai

Well, I didn't quite make the Law Review—I think they cut 'em off at 17 and I was 18th or 19th. So, I did writing, researching for some of the professors on their other projects, whatever they were doing, but, no, I did not end up writing a paper for the Law Review. I did not have that opportunity.


Yamate

During this time when you were going to law school, did you feel homesick?


Funai

For Hawai'i? Not really because after all, I was now a self-contained family. I had my wife; Bryan was our only child. And, besides, my mother had died. We were here three years, we never went back for three years, not like today. Today, we hear of students going home wherever it may be—from Japan or Hawai'i or wherever.


Yamate

During the time from, let's say, when you were at UH. You were involved in student government, up to the time you finish law school, were you aware or paying any attention to, things like the Endo case,

23. Mitsuye Endo was the plaintiff in a legal case that challenged the legality of detaining people solely on the basis of race.

or the effort to get citizenship rights for Issei, or things like that?


Funai

No, but because of the Supreme Court cases—the Hirabayashi case and so forth,

24. Gordon Hirabayashi was the plaintiff in one of four landmark World War II cases (along with Yasui v. United States, Korematsu v. United States, and Ex Parte Endo) that challenged the forced removal and/or detention of all West Coast Japanese Americans.

I was aware of some of those things but I was not that aware of or concerned with civil rights, rights of Japanese Americans, that type of thing. Those things weren't preoccupying my mind at that time.


Yamate

What about things like the local effort to allow Japanese to be buried in Montrose Cemetery, things like that?



245
Funai

I don't know anything about it. I didn't even know that. I didn't even know that there was a Japanese plot until rather late in life.


Yamate

So when you graduate from law school, what were your plans at that point?


Funai

By that time, I had decided I wasn't going back to Hawai'i. I had made up my mind that I was going to stay in the States, so my first effort was to look for some job. I went to New York and Washington for some interviews. In fact, I was offered a job in Washington by FSLIC. What is FSLIC? Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation, right? Well, if it were FTC—Federal Trade Commission with anti-trust and all that, maybe it would have been more attractive, but FSLIC- banking. My goodness, what are you going to do with banking or banking-related type of things, so I turned it down.

I went to New York because there was a firm there and an attorney named George Yamaoka who was quite a senior partner in this firm called Hill, Betz and Nash. It was quite an international law firm. He didn't hire me, so I came back to Chicago. I also met a fellow named George Hayashi. He was quite a litigator in New York. These are all older Nisei lawyers. He didn't hire me either. I also met a fellow named Francis Sogi. He became a partner in some firm, and then he had his own firm, Miller, Montgomery and Sogi, and then his firm merged with Kelly, Dry, and he's part of Kelly, Dry. But other than that, I had no job opportunity and came back to Chicago. I interviewed with some firms. Of course, the basic question was, "Do you speak English?" I tried a couple of those and that was it. My mission was to get a job—any job because I had to bring my family back. They were back in Hawai'i. I had come back to Chicago as soon as I learned I passed the bar examination.

The first job I was offered was with an insurance company, and the reason for that is Jiro Ikeda (he's a Kona boy, was one of the attorneys there and through his introduction, I got a job at Continental Casualty Company). It's called CNA today at 310 South Michigan. My job was to draft health insurance policies—group policies. I did that for three years and I suppose I became pretty good at it. The principal purpose of my job was to make sure there are no loopholes in those policies so that we didn't pay when we didn't intend to pay, and I suppose I became pretty good at it, in drafting, filing, administrative work, but I hated every minute of it.

My aspiration was to become a lawyer, to practice law, to become like Tom Okino of Hawai'i County. So comparing a corporate law department job with that kind of expectation—it was quite different—a row of metal gray desks that we're so familiar with in the army. I would say to myself, "You know, I thought I was


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going to have a nice office with mahogany furniture instead of a gray, cold desk the rest of my life." I hated it. But, one of the principles that I have is if you're going to do something, do a good job of it. Don't do a half-baked job of it. So I tried very hard for three years. After three years, one of the vice-presidents quit (Continental used to be considered the "Harvard" of health insurance people) and went to New York. One day, I got a call from New York. "Why don't you come to work for me?"


Yamate

Why didn't you?


Funai

Well, I was making $8,500 at Continental after three years, and they offered me $l0,000 in New York, and I said, "Hallelujah, I'm going to get a five-figure salary!" And I almost took it, but again, I must give credit to my wife because she said, "You better come back and think about it." I'm kind of impetuous in personality—I was going to take it right on the spot. I couldn't resist the temptation. I came back and I reflected on it, and she said, "It may look attractive to you now, but you may regret it later on in life because you never did. What you really wanted to do which is to practice law on your own, to be an entrepreneur, self-employed and all that stuff." So I turned it down after two or three weeks, but then, once having been offered a $l0,000 job, I couldn't continue working at Continental Casualty for $8,500, so I was forced to resign from Continental. I said I've got to do my own thing, so I said, "I'll stay as long as you need me to train somebody to take my job," and I stayed there two months and trained somebody to do what I was doing.

So I started practicing law on the North Side

25. Chicago is laid out on a grid pattern. The intersection of State and Madison streets in the downtown area marks the zero coordinates. From there, the city is divided into quadrants. The South Side, North Side, and West Side are those areas south, north, and west of the downtown. Lake Michigan forms the city's eastern border, consequently, there is no East Side.

at 4811 North Ashland Avenue. If you go there, by Ashland and Lawrence Avenue, there's an apartment building with a basement—a barbershop or something is there now. That used to be a real estate office called Japanese American Real Estate and Ed Morioka used to run it, so I asked him whether he would let me hang my shingle, so to speak. "On one condition, you become one of my salesmen," he said. I had a license before then and on my weekends and evenings, I tried to be a real estate salesman, moonlighting, so to speak. When I quit, that was l96l. That first year, I made $5,000 in legal fees, handling whatever came through the door, and I made $10,000 selling real estate. Of course, the firm gets half so I made $10,000 in gross income—what I was offered in New York. Not as glamorous a life as in
247
New York—that depends on what you mean by glamour. That's how my career, if you will, as a lawyer in Chicago started.


Yamate

When you were going to law school, was your later partner, Mr. Eifert, a classmate of yours?


Funai

Yes, we were all classmates. He was a student from Germany. He had a very similar life as mine, worked his way through school and all that.


Yamate

And what about Mr. Mitchell?


Funai

Likewise. But Mitchell was Order of the Coif

26. Order of the Coif is a national legal society that recognizes outstanding academic achievement. Students in the top 10 percent of their graduating class are eligible for membership.

and all that, and he was a very studious student. If I'm not mistaken, he was already married, too, while a student.


Yamate

So after your graduation, you took the family back to Hawai'i for a brief period of time?


Funai

Yes, as soon as I graduated. I studied for the bar examination among cartons of books and stuff like that, and then took the bar exam—two, three days, whatever it was, then took the family back to Hawai'i for a month, and I waited for the bar results there.


Yamate

I see. Now, when you brought the family back, when you got employed, where did you live then?


Funai

Well, the only place in Chicago that I knew was uptown

27. Uptown is a North Side neighborhood of Chicago.

because, like I said, that's where I lived for three years. There was a rooming house there. I got a room there and then I found a place near Fremont—Grace and Fremont.


Yamate

Were you able to get Japanese foods and stuff very easily at that time?


Funai

Oh, yes. There were a number of Japanese stores in that Uptown area, I forgot the names already—Toguri,

28. J. Toguri Mercantile is a Japanese dry goods store. It is one of the few resettlement era stores currently in operation.

for instance.



248
Yamate

Now by this time, you've got your family, you're raising them, you're also looking around for employment, and then you started working at CNA. What were you aspiring to at that point in terms of career goals? Did you think seriously about staying at CNA, starting your own practice, going in with somebody else?


Funai

No, like I said, I grabbed the first job that I could find which was being in the insurance business, an accident-type insurance lawyer—did that for three years. As I said, I hated it—it's administrative work, drafting work, and that wasn't satisfying enough for me, so I started moonlighting, selling real estate, doing that type of thing. I still didn't have confidence that I could support my family just being a salaried insurance lawyer, so I figured I had to do something about bettering myself economically, so I thought of real estate. That's why I started selling real estate.


Yamate

When did you get your real estate license?


Funai

I don't remember, but it must have been l958, '59.


Yamate

Were your clients at that time mostly Japanese?


Funai

Well, I didn't have many clients, after all. But, I think they were, yes.


Yamate

How would they hear about you?


Funai

I really don't know. There's hardly any business to talk about.


Yamate

Did you get involved in church early on when you were in Chicago?


Funai

Yes, after I got out of law school and I got my first job, we said, "Let's look for a church that we can join," because she's a Congregationalist. She comes from Waimea Congregational Church, so we started out in our Christian life as Congregationalists, it's called United Church of Christ, today. So we had a Congregational Church on Buckingham—Tri-C, it's called, and we were going to go there but we decided to stop at the Presbyterian Church—CCP [Christ Church, Presbyterian] on Sheffield Avenue because we knew a friend there. To make a long story short, we never left. They were so nice—Hiro Miyagawa and all these people were so nice, we never left that church. Ultimately, we became Presbyterians. Theologically, I don't think there's any difference (I'm not that knowledgeable, so maybe I'm wrong) in my opinion between Congregationalists and Presbyterians. It's the church government that differs, Congregational is freer, Presbyterians, you have the Presbytery that controls you. We're closer to


249
the Episcopalian or the Catholic Church, for instance, where there's a strong central government. I think that's the only difference, if I'm not mistaken—church government, so we had no problem fitting into the Presbyterian mold, and that's where we stayed and that's where we are even to now.


Yamate

You never attempted to go back to Buddhism?


Funai

No. With due respect to Buddhism and the Buddhists in our society, I don't understand that religion.


Yamate

So, you hang out your own shingle, you're selling real estate part-time, what's the next development here?


Funai

Well, that was April or spring of l96l, and that was a very brief period. I forgot to tell you that while I was working for the Continental Casualty for three years, I used to do part-time clerking for Mr. Masuda. (I'd applied with him for a position and he said, "I don't have enough business to hire you or anybody else, for that matter.") If he had a research job, he would call me and as soon as I finished my work at Continental Casualty at 310 South Michigan, I'd go up to 134 North La Salle Street, and he'd give me an assignment. Then I'd take the assignment, go to the Bar Association, which was on La Salle Street, and research until 10:00. I did whatever it was, but it was at research, and then I'd go home and I would write briefs, or memos, or whatever assignment he gave me.


Yamate

How'd you hear about him and hook up with him?


Funai

Oh, there was nobody in town who didn't know Thomas Masuda, as I see it. Besides, my wife's uncle used to be in Seattle, Tacoma area. In fact, he married a girl up there so he knew Thomas Masuda. Mr. Masuda was quite an established lawyer, even before he came to Chicago, so to be in the range of Mr. Masuda's cigars (he was an avid cigar smoker) was an honor, as far as I was concerned. He was like the Tom Okino of my kid days. I applied with him, but of course he didn't have a job or that's what he told me, anyway. When he told me, "Why don't you do some clerking job for me?" No problem, so I used to do that.

When I got on my own—I think it was only few months later, he said, "Why don't you join me?" So my stint as a solo practitioner in the Uptown area did not last for six months. The whole world, so to speak, opened up to me when he told me to join him.


Tape 2, Side B


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Funai

Mr. Masuda had a secretary, Mamie Gregory.


Yamate

But no other lawyer?


Funai

No.


Yamate

And did you join him immediately as a partner, or were you—?


Funai

Yes, it was Masuda and Funai. (laughs) I was a 50 percent partner. He said, "Well, how much?" I can never forget this, I always mention this, it's funny. He said, "Well, how much do you want?" And my answer was, " I don't care what you pay me. I leave that entirely up to you. You don't have to pay me, if you don't have enough. I just want to have the privilege of joining you.

I have an apartment (I had bought an apartment building with several other people) so I have a roof over my head and I have two, three thousand dollars saved so I can last for a couple of years because we don't have to pay rent." He said, "Well, I think I can pay you $500 a month, that's $6,000 right?" I think, if I'm not mistaken, our gross fee in those days was $30,000 or something like that—fairly nominal. People say lawyers make a lot of money, but we had our period of very humble income. So the first year I joined him, he gave me $500 a month.


Yamate

How old was he at the time?


Funai

Well, he was 20 years older than me. He'd be about 87 today if he were living, so if I were 30, he would have been 50.


Yamate

And what kind of work were you folks doing at that time?


Funai

We principally had two types of clients. One was the local Issei and Nisei—the clients that Mr. Masuda had from the West Coast. They were the apartment building owners. He had quite a number of those. The other developing clientele were Japanese companies. And in those days, they were principally trading companies.

We had Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo, Nissho-Iwai, Toyomenka, Kanematsu-Gosho—all these trading companies were his clients. Then the banks began coming in, and the first one was Daichi-Kangyo Bank (DKB today but at that time, it was Kangyo Ginko, and Daichi Bank—they merged) and then Bank of Tokyo which became Chicago Tokyo Bank. We did work for those financial institutions. They were the early ones.



251
Yamate

How would they find them?


Funai

Well, he was also very active in the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, and he was the attorney for the Japanese Consulate—word of mouth. He was also representing many of the Japanese companies in Seattle before he went to camp.


Yamate

Were there very many other Japanese lawyers in the Chicago area at the time?


Funai

No. I can count them without mentioning names, one, two, three, four, five with him. I guess I was the next one, six. Maybe there were others that I didn't know.


Yamate

Were they all men?


Funai

Yes.


Yamate

Now, by this time, you also had a daughter?


Funai

Yes. Shari was born four years after Bryan, in '59.


Yamate

And are you still living in the same place on Fremont and Grace?


Funai

No, in the meantime, as I said, I was moonlighting in real estate. In those days, there were apartment buildings that were cut up during the war (there was a housing shortage so they cut up the big apartments, made them into two- conversions). We found an apartment building on Magnolia Street—La Faye Apartment, it was called. We had listed it for sale and the sale fell through, so we said, "Hey, we ought to buy it ourselves," so we bought it.

It was a furnished- apartment building; three of us went in, and the other fellow was going to do the maintenance as well as managing and he just couldn't keep up—it was too much because we all had our regular jobs, after all. So I said, "My wife's investment is going down the tubes so we had better move in there to help him manage it." So we ended up at 4811 North Magnolia Avenue.

We lived there for six years—six long years, running a rooming house, basically. I almost—not quite but almost—single-handedly deconverted the entire 18 apartments (there were 36 apartments) back into 18 apartments. So my weekends in those six years were spent removing walls, painting, removing sinks and stuff like that, putting the apartments into the original unit. I did that almost single-handedly while practicing law and working for the Continental Casualty Company. I didn't take much of a vacation in those days.



252
Yamate

What kinds of transportation would you have to get to work in those days—were you using public transportation?


Funai

Public transportation.


Yamate

Did you have a car?


Funai

I had to get a car after the first year in law school because we had a baby. He got burned once and I had to run about one mile with him in my arms to the nearest hospital. When Mr. Masuda offered me a job, as I told you, it was as though the heavens had opened up, the world was at my feet; I was full of confidence, contrary to my prior disposition or outlook toward life. So I went out and bought a car, and the first brand new car that I owned was a Pontiac. I took my family on our first three weeks, 3,000-mile vacation. We went to Pennsylvania, Washington, and the Smokies.


Yamate

Wow. So what kinds of hours were you working in those days?


Funai

In those days, in the law firm?


Yamate

Yeah.


Funai

We worked pretty hard. One of the conditions that I had when I joined him was I was going to quit real estate: "You're going to be a either a real estate guy or lawyer—one or the other, make up your mind." Of course, I was going to be a lawyer so we worked pretty long hours. I don't know, but 8:00 to 7:00 was nothing. That was kind of typical, I think. We worked long hours. Saturdays, too.


Yamate

And when did the firm begin to grow beyond you and Mr. Masuda?


Funai

Well, that was like '6l. So it began to grow in the sixties and as more and more Japanese businesses came in, we got busier and busier, in those early days. We had no idea how to recruit and who would come working for a small firm, so it was always a hit or miss-type of thing. The first student that we got into the firm, clerking, summer intern and then being hired as we do today (the current way of hiring young lawyers) was Gerald Morel. That's why his place is carved in the firm because he was the first student from Loyola Law School who came to us and clerked for us, and we decided to hire him. After that came Mary Shellenberg and Joe Parisi and a number of others.



253
Yamate

When did Mr. Eifert and Mr. Mitchell join the firm?


Funai

Before we started hiring the students, Eifert was on his own and Mitchell was with some big firm and then was on his own for a year or two. We invited him into our firm and he thought we were going to sink in a few years, and turned us down, and went on his own for a year or so. He found out how difficult it was to be a sole practitioner and he came back to us repentant so it became Masuda, Funai, Eifert and Mitchell. Of course, there were other lawyers before them, too. But that's how it started.

About then, Mr. Masuda said, "You know you're going to be running the firm sooner or later, I'm twenty years older than you, after all, so you may as well bring in the kind of people you want." He kind of turned it over to me.


Yamate

At the time, did Mr. Mitchell or Mr. Eifert have clients of their own or were they going to be doing mostly work for—


Funai

They had some, but basically, no. Basically, it was Mr. Masuda's clients. I shouldn't take all the credit for whatever Masuda, Funai, Eifert and Mitchell have accomplished because if it weren't for Thomas Masuda, we wouldn't be here today. It was really his firm.


Yamate

How did Mr. Masuda feel about, I guess, expanding the firm and bringing in non-Japanese lawyers, if, it sounds like most of the clientele at that point were ethnic Japanese?


Funai

We had no problems with that—if they can do the job, no problem.


Yamate

And how about Mr. Eifert and Mr. Mitchell? How did they feel about joining a practice that predominantly was Japanese clientele?


Funai

I can't speak for Jim Mitchell because I never asked him that question, but after a period, he gave up the law practice. He went back to theological seminary. He is a Congregational minister today. When he graduated, he got internships in some church on the West Side, and then ultimately, he became a fully ordained minister. He got his first assignment in Union City, Michigan, and now, he's in Indiana. He comes from a minister's family. His father was a Congregational minister. I don't think he was disenchanted with the practice of law, but that's what happened in his life.

As far as Eifert is concerned, I don't think he had any problem. I urged him to develop a European practice. He didn't seem to be too interested in that. He was


254
more interested in servicing some of the Japanese clients that took to him. In fact, he went to Europe a couple of times, but for some reason, it seemed as though he wasn't that interested in developing a German ethnic business or anything like that. He had some clients of his own, but predominantly, it was the Nikkei Kigyo—the Japanese transplant business that came here that we were fortunate in being able to service.


Yamate

Now how long were you living in the apartment building that you were helping to manage, the one on Magnolia?


Funai

Six years.


Yamate

And then where did you move after that?


Funai

Well, there's a story behind that, too. One summer, I took the family back to Hawai'i. Summertime in Chicago, as you know, can be hot and muggy and unattractive. I just came back from Hawai'i where it was nice and green, and you can look up to the mountains and it's very nice. I came back, left the family there for them to stay longer, and I was totally depressed when I came back to Uptown. I said, "My goodness, am I going to live in this kind of apartment neighborhood the rest of my life?" I'm basically impetuous, a spot-decision-maker kind of a guy, I guess, and so I said, "I'm gonna move." And the reason why we couldn't move from there was because we had this building that we had to take care of. I said, "To heck with it, I don't like absentee owners but I'm gonna be one of them, and if it goes kaput, so be it."

So I told my wife, "I'm gonna look for a house, we're going to get out of here," and by the time she came back a month later, I found several leads in Wilmette

29. Wilmette is a suburb 16 miles north of Chicago.

and other areas. To make a long story short, the next February, I bought this house. This house was owned by Dr. Joe Nakayama, who is still here. He's in the Congregational Church, Tri-C group, but there was a Frank Sakamoto, very active in JACL [Japanese American Citizens League].

30. The Japanese American Citizens League [JACL] is the leading Japanese American civil rights organization.

He was an optometrist in Uptown and Joe Nakayama was a dentist, and they would have lunch, and so apparently, Frank said, "Hey, Mas Funai is looking for a house," and Joe said, "I want to sell my house," and that's how I got wind of this house. So I came here one Sunday and looked it over. It was weather like this—bleak and cold. I had practiced real estate so I guess I knew value. When Joe


255
said, "I want x-dollars for the house," I knew that was a good buy—it was reasonable. So I called him up the next Sunday and said, "I'll come over, may I look at the house again?" I brought with me a blank contract and blank check and told Joe "I'll buy it, how much do you want?" I banged out a purchase contract on Joe's typewriter right over there on the dining room table. He said, "Well, we're not going to move until this summer." I said, "That's OK, I have an apartment building, tell me when you're ready to move." I bought this house and we never moved since. We came here in 1965 and we've been here ever since.


Yamate

Were there other Japanese in Lincolnwood

31. Lincolnwood is a suburb 12 miles north of Chicago.

at that time?


Funai

Not that I know of. I understand that when they moved here, there were some problems. Lincolnwood initially was sort of an exclusive community, I gather. Thereafter, it became heavily Jewish. After that, it opened up, but when we came here, I think we were about the only Japanese family, following the Nakayamas.


Yamate

Did you ever have any kinds of issues with the neighbors or—?


Funai

No, none whatsoever.


Yamate

How about when your kids were growing up? Did they encounter anything like that?


Funai

If they did, I don't know anything about it. My guess is, I don't think so. Lincolnwood has had a very good school here in one campus—from kindergarten up to eighth grade. Again, this area became predominantly Jewish, and Jewish people, I believe, because of the problems that they have run into throughout their lives, are much more open to accepting other races. I don't think we had any problem.


Yamate

What about working with a bank to get a mortgage and things like that? Did you have any problems with that, either when you were buying this house or when you were buying the apartment building?


Funai

No, I had no problem. We got our mortgage from First Federal.


Yamate

So, the firm is continuing to grow, you got this nice house in Lincolnwood, the family is doing well. Do you have any free time at all?



256
Funai

Well, about then, the kids were growing and we began thinking of annual vacations and stuff like that. In the early days, I tried golfing a couple of times—the companies would invite us, include us in their company tournament and I'd go and my score, like bowling, kept going higher. I started out like 120 and by the time I said this is it, I was like l30-something, you know. I said, "This is not for me." Then I developed an interest in fishing and outdoors because I had a partner then, Leo Spivak, who was quite an avid fisherman. In fact, he had a resort in Canada. So one year I was going to take the family to tour Canada—Niagara Falls, Toronto, that route, and then take in a couple of days fishing. Well, to make a long story short again, it's not compatible to go to an urban area and then to go fishing. Your equipment is different; your clothing is different, so we ended up going fishing for a whole week, for the first time in Canada, to a fishing resort. [We] thoroughly enjoyed it, had a great time, and ever since then (I think that was in the '60s), I became interested in outdoors, fishing, that type of thing. So I ended up buying a place in Wisconsin with Tak Ochini and brother-in-law Charley, built an A-frame, and then we started going over there once a month, or every chance we had. So I think our life became much more, shall I say normal, in the '70s.


Yamate

Had you done much fishing when you were growing up in Hawai'i?


Funai

Never.


Yamate

When your kids were growing up, did you have time to get involved in things like scouting or PTA?


Funai

Some, but I have a guilty conscience on that score because during my kids' younger days, I think I was too engrossed in work, I'm afraid—I got to admit that. It was all my wife's job.


Yamate

And she was working at the same time or was she staying at home?


Funai

She stayed at home and took care of the kids—she took care of the kids until they said, "We don't want you anymore," because they were in high school or whatever. Then she went back to work. I said, "You don't have to work." But nobody wants to stay at home, so she started doing day-to-day substitute work, for instance, one day a week it was supposed to be or two days a week. Well, before you knew it, she was full-time. I guess she's a good teacher and that's the time when special education became a requirement by law, so she got involved in the special ed. program of the city of Chicago and she was involved in early childhood, pre-kindergarten program.


257
They had no curriculum or anything, so she practically wrote the curriculum for the Chicago Board of Education. She made her own curriculum, teaching how to teach pre-kindergarten children. She ended up in an administrative capacity, began training teachers. Then she ended up going from school to school, setting up new programs, until she retired.


Yamate

Now while all of this is going on, we're starting to see, let's say, in the '60s, more student activism on the campuses and things like that. And we have the early talk about the Redress Movement.

32. The Redress Movement was organized by the Japanese American community to obtain an apology and compensation from the United States government for its wrongful actions toward them during World War II.

Even though you were not interned, is that something that because of your firm's connections with the local Japanese community, or Mr. Masuda's own experiences, was that something of interest or importance? Were you involved in any of that?


Funai

Well, I was involved with that type of activity to some extent, I guess, in part because Mr. Masuda was quite active in community affairs. Also, as you become part of the community, you want to belong, so I did that. There was a period when I was fairly active in JACL but I have to be truthful with you in that I was not, and I still am not, an activist-type of person. Had I been interested in those things, I probably wouldn't have left Hawai'i. I would have gone into politics and stuff like that, but, as I said earlier, I was disinterested, disenchanted with that type of thing, and, to be honest with you, my early life had a great emphasis on feeding myself and my family, attaining some degree of economic independence.

I don't want to say [that] I wanted to earn a lot of money because I don't think that is my goal. (I think that's the influence of my church or religion. Because if you start making [the] gaining wealth as your principal goal, you're in big trouble). But some degree of economic independence was my goal. So I must say that I was more interested in those things rather than being activist for a cause.


Yamate

When did you start to get more involved in things like the Chamber of Commerce and groups like that?


Funai

Well that's all connected with our business. It became very evident that business origination is important. And I saw what Mr. Masuda used to do—he spent a lot of time cultivating clients, entertaining them, dinners here, dinners there and that type of thing, in addition to public service, serving on the Japan America Society board and Kobe College Corporation. These are all not-for-profit organizations, but a big source of our business was, of course, the Japanese Chamber of


258
Commerce so when Mr. Masuda started taking a lesser role more and more, I ended up taking over his responsibilities. By the time he passed away, I was running the firm.


Yamate

When did he pass away?


Funai

You embarrass me. I can't say exactly. I'm very bad at (chuckles) years, but it was in the '80s. I began taking on more and more of those activities. Mr. Masuda was involved in everything, and I said I'm not going to do that. When he passed away, I told the guys in the firm, well, we're going to divvy up all these assignments. I will step in the Chamber of Commerce role and Colin [Hara, a partner in the firm] would represent the firm in the local community—in the JASC. And, he was I think, fairly active in JACL also, so we divvied up the public relations assignments in that manner. We would pass them on.

My favorite expression (maybe you heard this when you came to us) has been there are no prima donnas in our firm—there's no one-man show in the firm. Everybody will sink or swim together. That was the philosophy that we promoted in the firm—that's part of our firm culture. The more passive, submissive, quiet you are, the better we like you. It's not your words that count but it's your action and results that counts. So when Mr. Masuda passed away, or as his health began failing, we stepped in and our philosophy was to perpetuate whatever he did. We never changed the name of the firm (I suppose they will never change it). Eifert is now gone, Masuda is gone, Mitchell is a minister, so I'm the only name partner left, but that's irrelevant. It's not the name that counts; it's the institution. That's the way we think, anyway.


Yamate

It must have been a big responsibility, though, to feel—especially during the sixties and seventies that you have this community that looks to your firm for so much. I mean not just in terms of legal abilities and performing legal work, but also I think, for a sense of leadership, too. Were you cognizant of that? Was that a burden, was that something that you just sort of dealt with and let it go?


Funai

Well, I don't know if the community looked at us in that light, the way you described it, but to the extent that Mr. Masuda was active in the local Nikkei community,

33. "Nikkei" is a term used by many Japanese Americans to refer to themselves today. It is also a term used by the Japanese to indicate any person of Japanese descent who immigrated abroad or is the descendent of such immigrants.

organizations and events, as I said, we decided that we're going to perpetuate it. So to the extent that they called on us, we considered it a privilege,
259
really, not a burden. There's a big distinction in how you handle a matter. We, in many respects, considered it a privilege.

There were some instances, which were discouraging. I won't mention the organization, but citing one example, one day, I got a very cold letter from the president of the board directing me to turn over all our files to another firm. For some reason, they were angry at us. I was told later that he had a big ax to grind against us. We do lots of work for churches, and most of the work is pro bono. I was hurt by the way it was handled

Anyway, with some of these difficulties notwithstanding, our philosophy still is, it's a privilege. We consider it a privilege to be able to do some of this kind of work. That's why we get hurt when they send us a letter to say send your file someplace else. That's our attitude and primarily because we have a strong sense of the Japanese tradition of okaeshi, which means "to return." The community fed us. In my personal case, JASC's Mr. Nakane, was the one who found an apartment for us and all that. You cannot forget those things—you must repay.


Yamate

Is the firm's clientele still predominantly as you described earlier, local Nikkei community and then the Japanese—?


Funai

No. It's predominantly Japanese transplant business because, in my opinion, when it comes to legal services, there is really no Nikkei community as such. The Japanese community has assimilated all over, and if they have legal problems they go to their own law firms. So, frankly, we have very little of that, and the Issei—the older group of clientele are gone or retired. So, our clientele today is probably 95 percent Japanese transplant.

We have close to 40 lawyers now, and today, business origination is most important because there are so many lawyers around. So as we recruit lateral transferees, we see whether they have business or not. Otherwise, we have to see whether we have enough work to support them and the rest of the attorneys, but if they bring in some of their own clientele, then it covers at least part of their remuneration, if you will.

With that emphasis, we now have lawyers—younger lawyers or senior associate level lawyers, or almost junior partner candidate lawyers who are beginning to bring in, or come to us with some clients. Therefore, we are beginning to have more non-Japanese clients because these people are bringing them in gradually. Nevertheless, our bread is buttered predominantly by the Japanese transplant business.



260
Yamate

With bringing in lateral attorneys, a lot of firms oftentimes find that that creates a lot of internal upheavals and tensions with people who have been there their whole careers. Do you think the firm is experiencing anything like that?


Funai

Well, when you get 40 people together, you're bound to have some of that, but I would like to think that we have less of that. I would like to think that because we have a strong firm culture where we emphasize the things that I alluded to earlier (we must to work together), there is less such tension. If you cannot speak Japanese and if you cannot do business origination among the Japanese business, there's nothing wrong to be a supporter. Somebody might be good in business origination, but may need the expertise of another lawyer who may not speak a word of Japanese but nevertheless has the expertise on environmental law or merger and acquisition, or whatever it may be.

Our firm is run by an executive committee. I've always promoted the idea that we must give the young people an opportunity to do their thing, so we have some very exciting things going on right now which a couple of younger lawyers—two of the junior partners—are promoting. It's their idea and I think they are going to set the Midwest on fire, but they needed support. When you have a group of eighteen to twenty partners (we have monthly meetings), there are always those who are conservative. And so I supported the young people, and I guess that went a long way. But you've got to have this entrepreneurial spirit, a willingness to take that risk. This is the kind of thing I try to promote in the firm.


Tape 3, Side A

Yamate

Did you encourage your son Bryan to become a lawyer?


Funai

No.


Yamate

Were you pleased by his choice to become a lawyer?


Funai

Of course. (laughs)


Yamate

You didn't steer him the way your father steered you. What does your daughter do?


Funai

Shari's was very athletic, contrary to me, and took after her mother, and she wanted to get away from Chicago. She was going to go to Michigan because there are a lot of ski hills up in northern Michigan or Colorado. She applied at Greeley, now University of Northern Colorado—UNC. It's a liberal arts school, used to be a teachers college when my wife went there. She was accepted


261
immediately there (maybe because my wife went there and it's highly unusual for out-of-state students to apply). So she went to Colorado, fell in love with Gary and said, " I'm not coming home. I'm going to stay out here." She's a Coloradan now. With her influence, I got to like country and western music and the Rockies, and we go to see them all the time.

We got them a cabin up in the mountains (we're rarely in Fort Collins where CSU is located), hour and a half up in the mountains. We go trout fishing and that type of thing, which has always been something I wanted to do. But, Bryan, no, we never twisted his arm. If my wife and I had an argument, it was over how to raise the kids. It was her conviction that they must do their own thing. Bryan was a fun-loving kid—he always liked hot rods cars—that was his thing. For a couple of summers, he worked for Miles Automotive, and he learned how difficult it is working till 6:30 at night, all greasy. Then a couple of vacation times, he worked in our office, putting files away. He was the gofer of the firm and he saw us sitting in the office telling him to do this and do that. About the fourth year in college, he said, "I think I want to go to law school." I said, "You fool, you play your way through college until now, and then you decide you want to go to law school?" Well, that's basically what happened. And so it was entirely his own decision.


Yamate

You never encouraged the kids like a lot of Nisei parents we hear who try to push the kids to medical school, and—?


Funai

No. That was not the way we thought kids should be raised. We are very happy that Bryan decided to do what he's doing now. He can stand on his own—he doesn't own the firm, he's just one of the partners. In fact, he's got an extra burden probably because he has my name, but he's no different from anybody else.

Shari is very happy, raising two kids out there. All of this makes me even more God-fearing. I don't know what I did in life, or my wife did in life, but we've been very fortunate. Frankly, we've been very blessed. When we first came to Chicago, nothing looked rosy. I didn't come here because I had a big opportunity waiting for us. I had no idea that I would end up becoming a commercial lawyer representing mainly Japanese companies, that wasn't even part of the dream, but everything just fell in place. Why did it fall in place for me? I don't know. That makes me very thankful. Health-wise, we have been very healthy.


Yamate

In raising your family and in dealing with your grandchildren, do you perceive yourself as trying to instill what you would perceive as Japanese values, or Japanese cultural traditions in them or in their lives?



262
Funai

Well, I don't talk in those terms, but I think people learn by example. I think indirectly, they get that. They get that kind of loyalty to the family and cohesiveness, that you must work hard, you must be fair, and you must be generous toward others. You cannot be self-centered. The worst sin, I think, is to be self-centered, to think that you're going to set the world on fire by yourself. You're not going to set the world on fire, there's some higher power, as I see it, who is going to do it for you. I like to think that. I hope they do, the grandchildren anyway, by example.


Yamate

Mr. Funai, thank you so much. We appreciate all the time you've taken, giving us this interview.


Funai

Well, I consider it a privilege to be able to talk to you on these matters and I thank you.


Yamate

Thank you.


End of interview

Hiroshi Kaneko

  • Interviewee:
  •     Hiroshi Kaneko
  • Interviewer:
  •     Alice Murata
  • Date:
  •     January 17 and 31, 1998

Biography


303

figure
Hiroshi Kaneko


"We were talking about
going back, and dad said,
'Don't be moving all the
time'....'If you decide you
want a certain place, first
thing is to buy is house.
Second thing you should buy
is a family cemetery
lot'....'Then you'll be sure to
stay and you could prosper
that way.' So we bought
this building. And we bought the
family cemetery lot."

Just after the start of World War II, Hiroshi Kaneko married. Although eligible for military conscription, Kaneko was able to secure a draft deferral. Eventually, he and his wife, Dorothy were forced to evacuate, and were sent to Tule Lake Relocation Center in Northern California. After a brief stay at Tule Lake, the Kanekos left camp to work as domestics in Barrington, a Chicago suburb. From there they moved to Chicago, where they encountered many of the same difficulties that other Japanese American resettlers faced in their search for housing. Following the arrival of his father, who joined them in Chicago in 1944, the family decided to purchase La Salle Mansion. Located in a predominantly Japanese American part of town, these apartments provided many arriving Japanese Americans


304
with places to live. Aside from helping to maintain La Salle Mansion, Hiroshi Kaneko's early years in Chicago were filled with activity. He worked hard, often holding down three jobs at the same time. Eventually, he joined the carpenter's union and helped wealthy Caucasians restore old buildings.

In 1945, Yagoro Kaneko purchased a farm in Argos, Indiana, near South Bend, where the family raised Asian vegetables. Unable to secure good prices for the crops, his father then purchased a grocery store in the Clark and Division area of Chicago. The grocery store served as a place to sell some of their crops. The remaining crops were distributed to local Japanese grocers and restaurants. The farm was eventually given to Yagoro Kaneko's brother in 1956, when Hiroshi's father retired and moved back to Japan. The farm was sold in 1997. Around 1952, the family farm in Oregon, which up to this time was still in the Kaneko family's possession, was sold. Preferring to remain in Chicago, the Kanekos decided not to return to Oregon. They purchased plots Elm Lawn Cemetery in Elmhurst, indicating their resolve to remain in the Chicago area. Many family members are now buried in at Elm Lawn.

Dorothy and Hiroshi Kaneko have three children: Donna, Cheryl, and Kevin. They attended Ogden Elementary School with Japanese American and Caucasian children from the neighboring wealthy Gold Coast area of Chicago. Growing up, all three children took piano lessons, while Donna and Cheryl also received instruction in ballet. Hiroshi and Dorothy Kaneko were members of the Christian Fellowship United Methodist Church. Donna, the couple's eldest daughter is an Oberlin College graduate, and has taught in New York and Chicago. She married a Japanese national and currently lives in Japan. She and her husband both teach at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. Currently, through a collaborative project with friend and colleague, she is translating Japanese kamishibai (a picture story show) stories into English. Her son returned to America to attend college, graduating in 1998 with a degree in music from Rice University in Texas. He hopes to continue his education at Northwestern University.

Hiroshi Kaneko's second daughter, Cheryl, majored in Buddhist art history from Oberlin College. Married, she lived on a commune in Maine commune for eleven years. After the commune closed, she moved to New York. She currently works with the Japan Society. Kevin Kaneko started working at Ken's Studio, a commercial art/advertising firm in Chicago when he was in the sixth grade. He continued his relationship with Ken Yamamoto, the firm's owner, and is currently a partner in the advertising company. Growing up, Kevin Kaneko participated in the Chicago Nisei Athletic Association's [CNAA] basketball and tennis programs. He has continued his commitment to the CNAA, serving became commissioner of the association's baseball league.

In retirement, Hiroshi Kaneko enjoys collecting Asian antiques. He is proud of his collection of Japanese swords, tsuba (sword guards), and wood block prints. Additionally, he shares his love of kite making with children of all ages.


305

Interview 1 of 2

Hiroshi Kaneko recounts his early, prewar years in Beaver Hill, Oregon, his internment at Tule Lake concentration camp, and his resettlement in Chicago. He describes how, with the help of his father, he purchased La Salle Mansion, a 160-room apartment building. This place provided housing for Japanese Americans who were resettling in Chicago after leaving the camps. He also recalls his work as a carpenter and how he, his father, and his brother raised Oriental vegetables and sold them from their grocery store on Clark and Division Street. A Kibei, Mr. Kaneko reflects on his identity and how his attitude with regards to this has changed over the years. Hiroshi Kaneko's interviews were conducted on January 17and 31, 1998, in Chicago, Illinois, by Alice Murata.

Tape 1, Side A

Murata

January 17, 1998. This interview is being conducted by Alice Murata as a part of the REgenerations Project, a collaborative video oral history program between the Japanese American National Museum and the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society. Thank you Hiroshi for talking with us today.


Kaneko

Glad to be here.


Murata

Good. This oral history will have three main parts. First we're interested in learning about your life before and during camp.

1. Concentration camps, also called "relocation centers" by the War Relocation Authority [WRA], were hastily constructed facilities for housing Japanese Americans forcibly removed from the West Coast states and Hawai'i during World War II.

However, our main interest is in the life during resettlement, roughly the years 1942 to 1965. And finally, we'd like to know about your life after resettlement. We're interested in your story, your opinion. Why don't we start with your parents? Tell me about your parents.


Kaneko

My parents, let's see. My father's name is Yagoro and my mother's name was Yori. You want to know when they were born and so forth?


Murata

What their life was like and what part of Japan they came from.


Kaneko

My father, Yagoro, was born in March 23, 1886. Place called Atsuki in Yamaguchi-ken.

2. Prefecture (Japanese)

And my mother Yori, her maiden name was Yori Izumi, and she was born March 6, 1890 in place is called Hirao also in Yamaguchi-ken.



306
Murata

Dad was raised in Japan, and do you know what made him come to America?


Kaneko

Yes, he told me one time that he want to become a doctor. Our family was a little bit wealthier than the rest of the people in the village. Our original name was " Kogane-ya", means "house of small money." Then during the Meiji Restoration in 1868 everybody could have a family name.

3. The "restoration" of the Meiji emperor ended the feudal Tokugawa era. During the Meiji era (1868-1912), Japan was transformed politically, economically, and socially into a Western-style modern state.

So instead of a Kogane-ya, they turned it around and made it Kaneko. All our ancestors' graves has Kogane-ya on there, means "house of small money." They were probably in what we call currency exchange now or maybe they were in the loan business. My great grandfather, or maybe before that, they made quite a bit of money. They bought quite a bit of land and my grandfather always wanted to do different things for [the] village including a lot of the temples and shrines.

Well, the reason my dad came to America was my grandfather arranged this temple's [ Enkajuju-ji

4. Enkaku-ji is a Jodo-Shinshu Buddhist temple in the narrator's grandfather's village of Atsuki, Yamaguchi-ken.

] son to go to college. He had argument with my grandfather: "Why you send somebody else's children (laughs) to college and not me?" And so he got kind of angry and he left the village to go to Hawai'i. That was the reason. That's what he told me.


Murata

He decides, as a young man to go to Hawai'i. What does dad do?


Kaneko

He was working like anybody else in the sugar cane, I suppose. He told me he was at the place called Lau-pahoehoe in Hawai'i. Then later on he went to Kaua'i. I think he probably made enough money to come to—United States mainland.


Murata

That's what he does. He works in one island and then Kaua'i and then he has enough money and he comes to, where does he go, California?


Kaneko

I think he went to Seattle. During that time there was Southern Pacific or Union Pacific, I don't know. I think it was Southern Pacific; [they] had a advertising that they want somebody to work in the coal mine in southern part of Oregon [in Beaverhill, Coos County, Oregon] so they could supply fuel to the Southern Pacific. There were quite a few—well, I wouldn't say too many—there was about three families that went to this coal mine.


Murata

Three Japanese American families?



307
Kaneko

Yeah. And later on, he called my—I suppose it was a picture marriage (laughs)—but anyway my mother came in 1914. And they got married in Tacoma, Washington, in 1914.


Murata

What does mom say about coming to America?


Kaneko

Well, my mother's very quiet and she didn't say much. (laughs) I don't think she was afraid, but she was kind of hesitant about coming here. I guess they probably got married in Japan as a proxy.


Murata

And so then she comes?


Kaneko

Yeah. She told me she stayed, after they proxy married, she stayed there about a year and a half or two years before she came over here. And then, of course, they got married in Tacoma.


Murata

Your parents are living in this coal mine situation. Is that where you're born?


Kaneko

Yes; that's where three of us were born. My oldest one is Mary. She's two years older than I. And I came next, and then Midori. She passed away about fifteen years ago. But three of us were born there. Yes.

Funny thing is when we were in the [Japanese American] National Museum in Los Angeles about two years ago, I was talking about a fellow by the name Joe —what's his name? I can't think of his name now. (laughs) Oh, Imai. I sent him a picture of our village, of the place called Beaver Hill, Oregon. It's in Coos County. And this is, the whole mine town, and so I made a copy and sent it to Joe. I never met him, but I knew he was in New York. My daughter was working in New York and found out his address.

So I sent him this picture and I was talking about this in the Museum. And somebody says, "Oh, Joe works up there on the second, on the next floor as a volunteer guide." So I met him, and of course, my sister was there, too, my sister Mary. We went to see him on the next floor. We met first time, in say like almost seventy-five or eighty years. (laughs) We had a real good talk, and my sister was—I don't know whether I should say this or not—but said, "Did you know that . . . ." In those days, I guess they didn't have many doctors in these small—and lot of times they had the husband kind of assisting in delivering the baby. Mary said, "Did you know that my dad assisted in bringing you into this world?" (laughs)


Murata

Is that right? Oh, that's a small, small world.


Kaneko

That was a nice reunion.



308
Murata

You had some pictures you could send to him of that time, 75 years ago.


Kaneko

Well, I had the picture of this village.


Murata

Do you remember much else about that community?


Kaneko

No, I really don't. But, see, I was only three years old. And my sister was five years old, and my youngest sister was just born. The reason I think my dad left this village right after World War I was that the coal wasn't very good quality so they abandoned this mine. Everyone in the village lost jobs. Dad decided to take three of us kids to Japan and leave us with the grandparents so they could come back here to the United States to work little bit more freer.

Only thing I could remember about this village was a neighbor lady whose Japanese name was Koto. That's all I could remember. Even when I went to Japan I said, "Koto-san, Koto-san." I was calling for this lady, I guess. That's all I could remember.


Murata

But you don't remember much about this lady?


Kaneko

No, I didn't remember a thing.


Murata

What was life like in Japan for you?


Kaneko

Well, my dad was a first son of my grandfather. And I was the first son, so my grandfather treated me real well. Of course, like I said before, he didn't have to work much because they were quite wealthy. They had lots of farmland and they had lots of orange trees. Well, it's a mikan.

5. Mandarin orange (Japanese)

And they were in dairy farm.

I think they used to deliver milk to probably three or four villages that were surrounding, because only time they seemed to drank milk was when baby was born and mother didn't have enough milk, or [when] some people were sick and they can't take anything else except milk. So that's the only places they could sell the milk to. But they had probably six or seven young kids working on this farm and taking care of the cows. I think we only had about six or seven cows. They used to cut the grass and feed it to the cows. And then between their chore, they took the farm, rice farm, and tangerine farm thing. So my grandfather just decides whatever he wants to do in the day and that's it.

He used to go to all this different festivals, and I remember he used to carry me on his shoulder and says, "Hang on." So I grab a hold of his head (laughs


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and shows how he held grandfather's head), and then hanging on to him. I could remember only maybe from about four or five years old that we went to this different festivals and different town or village. He had a lot of friends because he used to drink a lot. (laughs)


Murata

(laughs) Is that right?


Kaneko

(laughs) He didn't want to drink by himself, so every time there is somebody passing by—we lived maybe about a block or a little over a block away from this, I would say it's not a highway or anything, it's just a little road that lead into the next village—he used to say, "Come on. Let's have some drink." He didn't care who it was. It was just anybody passing by, he used to invite him to have a drink.

He had a lot of friends in the neighboring towns. He used to go to this different village for festivals. The first thing I remember was he took me to Shikoku and a place called Dogo onsen.

6. A hot spring resort named Dogo

It's a hot spring and very famous hot spring in Matsuyama. I could remember that. I must have been about five years old. And then we used to go to—of course, we had the fishing fleet, too. And they called aji ami.

7. Spanish mackerel net (Japanese)

They used to catch these Aji, or we call this Spanish mackerel here, but small fish about like this (holds up hands to show fish size). And he had these nets that he used to hire maybe 10 people to pull this net. He had two, three boats. There's a place called Kompira

8. The actual name of this area is Kotohira-Jinja, but it is commonly referred to as Kompira.

in Shikoku that's supposed to be the god of protection, protecting the ship or the boats. He used to go over there to Kompira (laughs) and get little certificate of the—supposedly protect your boats. I think the main reason was he wants to go over there and have little fun. (laughs)


Murata

(laughs) When he took you to festivals, was this the two of you going to festivals?


Kaneko

He never took my older sister Mary. I don't know why. (laughs)


Murata

Often the two of you. So you're very close to this grandfather?


Kaneko

Yes. I was very close to my grandfather because of all these things that happened with him.



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About one and a half miles from my grandfather's home, he owned a stretch of wooded land along the beach. On the beach he had set up a large tank to heat a solution to strengthen the fishing net. I think he called it shibu.

9. A solution used to make things such as nets stronger (Japanese)

When I was about five years old, grandfather and I were there to boil the net in the solution. After he finished the job, suddenly the storm approached from the east. He called the storm the kochi.

10. East wind (Japanese)

I thought the term kochi was local dialect, but it was used along the Inland Sea district. Kochi could be a poetic term for the east wind. When Sudawara Michizane was exiled to Dazaifu in Kyushu, he wrote a poem, " Kochi fukaba nioiyokose, yo umeno hana."

11. "Kochi fukuba nioiyokose, yo umeno hana" (Japanese): "When the East wind blows, it sends the fragrance of ocean plum blossoms."

This is one of the most beloved poems from the late-ninth century. When grandfather was ready to ride into the storm, he instructed me to go to the bow of the boat and hang on tight. To my surprise, he started to row straight into the storm. After he got some distance from the shore, he made a turn and rode with the storm into an inlet where he usually tied his boat. It was amazing how he handled the dangerous situation.

One summer when I was seven or eight, he took me to the southern edge of our village called Atsuki. The place is called Ike-no-ura some three or three and a half miles from grandfather's home. His purpose was to find a certain kind of rock to use in his fishing nets. The beach in Ike-no-ura was nothing but rocks. He rowed the boat rather leisurely and stopped at one sandy beach. The tide had just receded and we found a spring. The water was a little salty and he cooked rice with pumpkin. It was so good and delicious.

I was too young to realize then, but we were on the ground where one of the famous battles took place in the year 1185. After the Heike troop lost the battle of Ichinotani, they escaped to Yashima in Shikoku. Again, at Yashima the Taira clan along with the Emperor Antoku escaped to Dan-no-Ura. On their way to Dan-no-Ura, the Heike clan saw a large inlet covered with pine trees on the ocean side. They thought this was an excellent place to hide and rest. In the meantime, the Yoshitsune boats were looking for the Taira clan boats.

The story goes that the sea gulls on top of the masts sound like "koi-koi." The sound attracted Yoshitsune's soldiers and they found the Heike's hiding place. The battle of Ike-no-Ura took place in late March of 1185. Later at Dan-no-Ura the whole Heike clan vanished, including the Emperor Antoku. There are many names of the places connected with the battle of Ike-no-Ura. Since Ike-no-Ura is on a peninsula, some of the soldiers walk across the mountain to


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escape to the other side. Some of the place names are: Oza-san (mountain where emperor sat), Heike-zaka (hill of Heike), Funakoshi (supposedly, pull the boats across the hills). Many family ancestors near my grandfather's village are supposedly the deserters of Heike clans. My granddaughter in New York played the part of Emperor Antoku (Antoku was a child emperor) in a kabuki company from Japan in the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Murata

In the household that you lived in, there, were your grandmother and grandfather living there?


Kaneko

I have one sister, Mary, who lived with us. My younger sister, Midori, lived with our maternal grandparents until she start going to grammar school. Then she came over and lived with us. I was a little closer to Mary than Midori because there was little separation there.


Murata

Midori comes back and lives with you. And then you go to school. And what was school like?


Kaneko

All I could remember is I went to the first grade. By then, I was all Japanese. I mean, I didn't know any English at all. I might have spoken English when I was small, but I couldn't remember. First grade was in 1923. 1923 and April 1st because I was born on March 27th, so I could start school when I was six years old. If you were born after April 1st, you have to wait another year. My sister was born, I think it was in May so she have to wait. She was only one grade ahead of me although she was two years older than I. And first grade teacher just got out of college. Well, I think they used to call a normal school. Is that for teacher training?


Murata

Teachers school.


Kaneko

Anyway, just got out of it. He was just a young fellow. And 1923, they had big earthquake in Japan, in Tokyo and Yokohama area. There were 10,000 or 100,000 people die. But we didn't know until maybe a week later because there was no communication system like we have nowadays. I kind of remember the earthquake.


Murata

Hearing about it?


Kaneko

Then this first grade teacher also taught me in the sixth grade. He taught that school for about forty years. He never transferred to any other school. He probably had about 2,000 or 2,500 students during 40 years of teaching at the same school. I used to go to Japan every four years or so. And every time I go there, I used to see this old teacher. He was telling me that there's maybe about half a dozen people still correspond with him. And I was one of them.


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(laughs) His name was Muneshige sensei.

12. Teacher (Japanese)

He passed away in 1996. I used to send him a present every year because he and I had the same birthday. Every time I think about my birthday then I think about this Muneshige sensei, and so I send him a birthday present. About two years ago I send him a present but it just didn't get there in time and he passed away in the early part of March at the age of ninety-seven.


Murata

He lived a long life.


Kaneko

But I saw him about four and a half years ago.


Murata

That's nice. So there was no difference? They couldn't tell that you had been in America at all because you went back when you were three. You just fit in with everybody. What were your parents doing meanwhile in America?


Kaneko

Well, they came back to a place near Salem, Oregon. They farmed a little farm. There were a few farmers, Japanese farmers around there. He found one and that's where they were farming until 1931 or '32. By then they had my brother, Roy. They had Harry. They both passed away. Harry passed away about two years ago. Roy passed away about fifteen years ago. And we had Lilly and Rulie. All our sisters end with a "ry" (sound), you know—Mary, Midori, Lilly, and Rulie. (laughs) All the boys, like Roy's name was Satoshi and Harry's name was Takashi—so Hiroshi, Satoshi, and Takashi. (laughs)


Murata

(laughs) That was your mother's idea. They had additional children after they came back, and then they were farming in '31? When did you come back?


Kaneko

When I left Japan I was twelve years old. When I came over here I was thirteen. (laughs) So it must have been around March of 1930.


Murata

When you come back they're still farming in Oregon? Then what happened in '31?


Kaneko

I start to go to school. In those days there wasn't much. Present days there's lot of immigrants so they have facility for different type of education. In those days, we're kind of lost because we didn't know any English. I had to start off from first grade. Thirteen years old and I was the tallest one in the first grade. (laughs) They put me a little bit higher in a few months. And then 1931, we found there is a room in a high school in Salem, Oregon that they call a continuation school where all the students were either handicapped or handicapped in language like we were. We went there because they had


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one room and one teacher, but she didn't do much. She had student teacher from university there. They had maybe two or three student teachers come and teach us. It was very nice. The university was called Willamette University. It's a Methodist school. It seems like whole town was Methodist.

The town was probably started by this fellow by name Jason Lee. He was the—what you call circuit rider and they used to go around different places and preach. He's the one that started this Willamette University. It's the oldest university west of [the] Mississippi. They had 100th anniversary around 1940, so you could see it's pretty old.


Murata

Oh, it is old.


Kaneko

But anyway, this student came from this university to teach us. We had kind of one-on-one type of teaching and conversation. It was very nice.


Murata

When you came back, do your two sisters come back, too? Or do you come back alone?


Kaneko

No, no. My sister came back probably two years later. Yes.


Murata

This is the oldest sister?


Kaneko

Yeah, older sister. I think she was going to go to high school there in Japan.


Murata

And the younger sister, Midori—


Kaneko

Never came back.


Murata

She never came back. So you come back alone and is the reason the family moves to Salem because of schooling for you?


Kaneko

No, we didn't move to Salem. But it's near there. We farm a larger farm and instead of renting we bought this farm. It's much larger.


Murata

In 1931, they move into farming?


Kaneko

We kind of farmed two different places in 1931, I could remember. But '32, I think the lease was up in one spot so we moved altogether to place called Brooks, Oregon. It's about six miles or seven miles from Salem.


Murata

When you go to school, do you live in Salem?


Kaneko

No, no. I used to drive over there.



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Murata

Oh, you did. How old were you?


Kaneko

(laughs) I was maybe about sixteen.


Murata

Oh, were you? You would drive and go to school every day? This Brooks community, were there a lot of Japanese Americans?


Kaneko

Yes, probably about 10 farmers 'round there. Yes.


Murata

I see. And would they get together?


Kaneko

Yes, they formed the little association. They had their own warehouse where they ship out. There was probably about twelve members of this association.


Murata

Did they do social things as well?


Kaneko

Well, only thing I could think about the social thing would be the church. The church was like missionary church from the women's group in Salem. They used to pay pastor's salary and part of the expenses. There were only—I would say—six or seven families who were members. Of course, there were others who came, too, but Issei members, maybe only six or seven.


Murata

The minister would come. You didn't have to go to Salem?


Kaneko

No, no, no. We had a church about a half way between Salem and this Brooks. (laughs)


Murata

I see. And would the minister come every Sunday?


Kaneko

Yes. It was prominent minister, and they were paid by this women's group from Salem.


Murata

Were there other churches as well? Was there a Buddhist temple?


Kaneko

You mean for the Japanese? No, there's just one. They didn't have any Buddhist group at all. I mean, they probably had but I don't remember.


Murata

You don't recall it. Every day you would go to school in Salem and were there other Kibei

13. The generation of Nisei who were born in the United States but educated in Japan.

in the class?


Kaneko

Yes. I think there was toward the end. I went there about three years. My sister Mary came. There was Paul Tanaka. There was Kiyo Miyo. There


315
was, I don't remember, there must be a different one. Recently, I met one lady here in Devon Church who told me she also went to this school. (laughs)


Murata

Oh, lives in this area.


Kaneko

(laughs) And, of course, there were others, hakujin

14. Caucasian (Japanese)

children, high school group, but they were handicapped people like on a wheel chair or one of my best friends his name was Ansel Morley. He had a heart problem so he couldn't hardly walk. He was my best friend. (laughs)


Murata

They all had some kind of handicaps. Yours was—?


Kaneko

Language handicap. Others were physically handicapped.


Murata

You go to school there for about three years.


Kaneko

Then I went to high school to finish off the required subject.


Murata

You overcome your language handicap in about three years—?


Kaneko

(laughs) Probably more. (laughs)


Murata

Then you transfer to a regular high school?


Kaneko

Regular high school.


Murata

And this was also in Salem?


Kaneko

Yes, Salem.


Murata

And you graduate from high school?


Kaneko

Yes, one of the class presidents was a Nisei fellow by name of Paul Watanabe. You've probably heard of his name, no—Paul Watanabe?


Murata

Yes.


Kaneko

He started quite a business in L.A. I think he had a building called Taul Building and I think he started this Merit Savings and Loan. Later on he became vice-president of Northern Pacific. I met him about five years ago, I think.


Murata

What would you say your relationship was like with your parents?



316
Kaneko

Well that's one thing that I don't know. You're away from your parents so long, there isn't that much communication because we lived in a different environment. Of course, there's the Brook relation, but our communication was little bit not there. You don't feel as close as you should be. I had pretty good relations with dad, but my mother—'course like I said—she was very quiet. She didn't say much, and I didn't get her feeling too much. It seems like there was the curtain there, not too much of a visible curtain. Seems like there was little something that you can't really express your opinion to your parents. I think all the Kibeis felt that way.


Murata

There's a hesitancy there. And how about with your brothers and sisters?


Kaneko

Well, I didn't have much problem with my sister. Of course, with Mary, we lived together so we were pretty close. My brothers and sister are quite a bit younger than I, so I didn't have much problem with them.


Murata

There was nothing visible.


Kaneko

No, no. In fact, even now—of course, two of my brothers passed away—but I'm pretty close to my sisters.


Murata

Do you ever remember being reprimanded as a child?


Kaneko

No, I don't remember. (laughs) I was real—very nice botchan.

15. Son, young master (Japanese). The narrator's use conveys the meaning of "dutiful son."

(laughs)


Murata

Did you have any idea of expectations from your parent? Did your dad have such expectations?


Kaneko

Yes, my dad wanted me to become a doctor like he wanted to be. But (laughs) I don't know. I was kind of afraid. Every time I see blood and I feel like fainting. (laughs). So I never pursued that idea of becoming a doctor. He really didn't specify anything—that I should be doing this or I shouldn't be doing that.


Murata

You didn't share his dream of being a doctor? (laughs)


Kaneko

No, no. (laughs)


Murata

That was his dream, and you had a little bit different dream?


Kaneko

Yes.



317
Murata

We're going to take a break.


Tape 1, Side B

Murata

Hiroshi, after high school what did you decide to do?


Kaneko

Well, that was around 1937, I graduated from high school. My dad wasn't in very good health so I used to help them at the farm. 1940, there was the big celebration in Japan. It was the year 2600 in the Japanese calendar. There was big celebration, so he wanted to go visit his mother. His father passed away in 1932. But his mother was still living, so he went to see his mother and at the same time got in this big celebration in Japan. So that was 1940.

I had to carry on farming business for him. In fact, he gave me the whole duty of carrying on. He was in ill health, but he went back to Japan and stayed there until 1941. I think it was around May. He felt there was something going on around 1940, '41, just before the war [World War II]. But people in Japan, they didn't know too much about it. I guess people from outside they could feel more.


Murata

If you lived there, you didn't get news from outside.


Kaneko

He decided to come back, but he had a very good time in 1940. Of course, he went there in the summer of 1940. I think most of the celebration was in summertime. When he went back, he took ham with him because ham would keep even in the summer heat. He took a couple of hams to Japan and gave it to his mother, my grandmother because she never ate meat. I don't think she ever ate fish for religious reasons. But my grandfather, (laughs) because of his drinking, he always fix up this meat and sukiyaki and all kinds of fish. Of course, he had fishing boats. Anyway, my grandmother never ate meat. So he cut up this ham and give it to her. And she ate and she said, "Gee, it's so good." She said, "If it's that good, I would have eaten it all my life." (laughs) That was his impression of his mother eating this ham. (laughs)


Murata

It was a good gift to bring home.


Kaneko

Oh yes.


Murata

Good. Did mom go with him?


Kaneko

No, no. She never went, just my father.



318
Murata

And then he comes back. You're helping your dad run the farm, and he leaves for a while, and you can run it yourself because he's gone over a year. Tell us about this farm.


Kaneko

Well, I don't remember how many acres there were, but we had two Filipino fellows working for us. And there was Hideo and Tadao Tokimoto. They were, not an orphan, but his father passed away and his mother was living in Japan. They were in Japan. But one time Hideo came to Hood River to live with his uncle. Hood River is kind of out in the country and he didn't have much of a chance of getting education. One time our minister, Hideo Hashimoto, went to speak in Hood River and heard about this Hideo Tokimoto. He says why not come to live with me in this parsonage in Brooks? He went to this continuation school that I went to. He can't make any spending money staying at the reverend's home so he came and lived with us so he could work on Saturdays and on weekdays after school to make his spending money. So we had Hideo. And then, a year after his brother came, Tadao lived with us. We had two Filipino boys and these two Tokimoto brothers, and Mr. and Mrs. Kinoshita. In fact, Hideo lived over here until he passed away.


Murata

In Chicago?


Kaneko

Yes. Hideo lived over here in Reta Street. Then he moved up to suburb. But he passed away about five years ago. His brother Tadao passed away some time ago. Then we had Kinoshita couple, Masao and his wife. In fact they had a baby in our farm just before evacuation.

16. "Evacuation" is the U.S. government's euphemism to describe the incarceration and forced exclusion of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast of the United States during World War II.

It's Florence, Florence Kinoshita. I heard she was teaching at University of Chicago for long time—biochemist. Ever heard of her?


Murata

The name, I've heard.


Kaneko

Florence Kinoshita. Mr. and Mrs. Kinoshita used to have launderette over there on Clark Street. You know where Clark Street turns like this by—


Murata

Broadway?


Kaneko

Just south of Diversey. They had launderette by the corner.


Murata

Oh, they did.


Kaneko

So we had quite a few workers.



319
Murata

And what kind crops?


Kaneko

Mostly celery and lettuce and dry onions.


Murata

What was your social life like? You're working this farm. Are you dating at this point?


Kaneko

(laughs) Well, it's kind of hard for us Kibei to get acquainted with the girls. I don't know why. They were like a separate group. Even though we look alike, we couldn't speak like they could and most of the Isseis kind of despised—discriminate against the Kibeis. Did you know that?


Murata

No, no.


Kaneko

I even heard that some of the Issei parents would say, "Well, we're not going to give any of our girls to marry Kibeis."


Murata

Oh, is that right? How come?


Kaneko

(laughs) I really don't know, but we were kinda outcast even from the Japanese community. That's the way we felt.


Murata

You felt a little different from the Niseis that didn't go back to Japan. But there were several of you, it sounds like.


Kaneko

We had several Kibeis in our community. But there weren't that many. And, of course, our social life was more or less centered in a church group. They were more lenient toward us Kibei.


Murata

In Japan, your grandfather followed Buddhism? Is that right? When you come into Oregon, the school, the church, the community tends to be Methodist?

 


Kaneko

Yes; that's what it was.


Murata

So you've been Methodist since you returned back to America.


Kaneko

Before my father went to the mine, he went to the bookstore to buy a Bible, the old-style Bible, Japanese Bible. He had lots of time in the mine because he was taking care of this pump system. The mine accumulates lot of water. They have to pump it out. He was watching these pumps, and between these, he had lots of time. So he said he read this Bible over and over. He became a Christian and he was baptized around 1927. When we came back, right away we were in the Christian family with Christian teaching. It was so easy. Of


320
course, over in Japan, we had Buddhism. But that didn't mean too much when we were young.


Murata

Your social activities—[you] go to the church. Sundays you go to church?


Kaneko

Well that's, my dad. No matter how busy we were, we always had to go to church on Sundays. We must. (laughs)


Murata

Are there also social activities with the church?


Kaneko

Yes. They had young people's group. They had some other group, too, but I don't remember dating any. (laughs)


Murata

Girls?


Kaneko

(laughs) Oh, I'm not saying. (laughs)


Murata

(laughs) Oh, you're not going to tell me. You didn't have a matchmaker? How did you end up married? How did you meet Dorothy?


Kaneko

She's from Hood River, which is over 100 miles away from Salem, about 110 miles, I think. Mr. Kiyono used to live in Hood River, move over to Salem, and he was one of the church members. He said, "Hey you're just about ready to get married aren't you?" And I said, "I guess so." I was about twenty-two, twenty-three, something like that. (laughs) In those days we got married a little bit younger. And he says, "There's a nice girl over there in Hood River that I know of." He says, "Why don't you meet her?" So that's how it got started. (laughs)


Murata

Tell me about this first meeting. Where did you meet?


Kaneko

I went to her place—(laughs)—in her house.


Murata

You have a car, so you can drive up there to Hood River.


Kaneko

Nineteen forty-one, I think I got a new car, and so I drove up there. She was much taller then. I don't know why, she shrunk. (laughs)


Murata

(laughs) Not you, she shrunk. (laughs)


Kaneko

(laughs) I thought she was about 5'2". But now she's a little bit less than 5'. (laughs) But anyway, she was just about my type, so we got off real—


Murata

—well from the first meeting. And then things went well.



321
Kaneko

Of course, I had some other girlfriend, but I kind of forgot her. (laughs)


Murata

Oh, you did have another girlfriend? (laughs) Is that right? She was so good, you got the other one out of your mind. (laughs) Who was the other girlfriend?


Kaneko

I'm not saying. (laughs) I saw her here in Chicago or even in camp, but we won't talk about that now. (laughs)


Murata

You meet Dorothy and hit it off right away. And then would you say that you start courting her? How often did you go?


Kaneko

How often? Oh, maybe every two, three weeks, I guess. 'Course it's a long ways up there. My father used to quote many old Japanese proverbs to us such as "Makeru ga Kachi,"

17. "Loser may be a winner" (Japanese).

"Uso kara deta Makoto,"

18. "Truth came out of falsehood" (Japanese).

"Bushi wa kuwanedo, Tsumayoji,"

19. "Samurai, though hungry and had nothing to eat, toothpick and act as though he just had a meal" (Japanese).

"Sho o eneba, Uma o ute."

20. "If you want to capture the general, aim your arrow toward his horse" (Japanese).

When I was courting Dorothy, I noticed her grandfather seemed to control the Morita family. The easiest way to win her over would be to capture and win her grandfather. So I made a special effort to be nice to her grandfather. It kind of worked toward my favor.


Murata

110 miles is a long way.


Kaneko

(laughs) In those days, we don't have any real good highways especially between Portland and Hood River. Well, they have real nice highway now. But the old highway, it turns every quarter miles along the side of the Columbia River.


Murata

Was it paved?


Kaneko

It was paved. But there's lot of people just went over the hills and died. It's kind of a dangerous highway there.


Murata

When you went, you would sleep over there and come back? Or you'd go and come back the same day?


Kaneko

I used to come back the same day.



322
Murata

What would you do when you went to see her up in Hood River?


Kaneko

I used to take her to restaurants. (laughs) Nowadays the place is well known for wind surfing. It's the wind surfing capitol of the world, they say. There's the Bonnaville Dam, it's about 15, 20 miles down, and along the Hood River it broadens out and there's a constant wind blowing along this river. Along this Hood River, it's quite wide and the water is pretty steady. You get the constant wind, so it's supposed to be the best wind surfing place in the world. Lot of world competition and lot of wind surfers from all over the world come over there.


Murata

To Hood River. When I want to try that, I'm going to go to Hood River. (laughs) I want to go to Hood River, but I don't know about this wind surfing. (laughs) Okay. So when do you decide to marry her?


Kaneko

Oh, right away. (laughs)


Murata

Oh, right away. So you don't have to make this long trip. (laughs) When did you get married?


Kaneko

We got married in March 15, 1942. Right after World War II started.


Murata

You were married in Oregon?


Kaneko

Yes, in our church in Salem.


Murata

Oh, over there. I see. So all these people from Hood River came down?


Kaneko

No, because there was the travel restriction.


Murata

I see.


Kaneko

Besides there was the Bonneville Dam and they won't let you go by there. There was couple of cars came from Hood River. They had to take a southern route and go around Mount Hood and then come. They had to travel, say, like fifty or sixty miles extra.


Murata

Tell me about your wedding. What was it like?


Kaneko

Well, we had two ministers. One was the Reverend Andrew Kuroda. He was in Washington, D.C. for quite some time and Isaac Inouye. He was the minister for Dorothy and Hood River. We had two ministers. My brother was best man. And Hideo Tokimoto, you know, who used to stay with us, he was another fellow. And, let's see Ruth, Dorothy's sister, was bridesmaid. And Barbara Kumagai, she lives in Minneapolis, she was another attendant. I


323
don't know how we got this photographer, but we had pictures taken. 'Course all our cameras were confiscated then.


Murata

It was good that you got a camera.


Kaneko

We didn't have any cameras to take our picture. We hired this one fellow to take a picture. So I still got it.


Murata

How nice. Did she wear a white dress?


Kaneko

Of course.


Murata

Did you have a reception in the church?


Kaneko

A little reception.


Murata

The war [World War II] had started by this time.

 


Kaneko

Oh yes. And another thing. I was supposed to be reporting for duty on the Friday after I got married. There was Kenny Takayama; there is George—what was it—and John Kiyono. There's four of us that's supposed to report on that Friday.


Murata

After the wedding.


Kaneko

After the wedding, four or five days after. But I ask the head of the draft board I want a one-month deferment. I sent a cent and a half post card. (laughs) I was going to get married on Sunday, so he gave me a one-month deferment. By that time they changed my status from 1-A to some other status. It's supposed to be an alien, enemy alien. So I was saved. And [of] those who went the same time, John Kiyono got killed right away in Italy. George Ishida got wounded real bad.


Murata

In Italy, too?


Kaneko

Yes. So, I was kind of lucky. I think this cent and a half post card saved my life. (laughs)


Murata

Your wedding saved your life. Otherwise, there's no reason to ask for a deferment? Credit Dorothy. You would have been part of the 442?

21. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was a U.S. Army regiment made up of Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans) that saw heavy action during World War II. The postwar legacy of the 442nd proved to be as impressive as their achievements on the battlefield.

That's what happened to the three that went the month before?



324
Kaneko

Yes, the first wave that went to Italy. I think George [John] Kiyono got killed within a week, first week, I think.


Murata

Meanwhile they changed your status. So you were okay.


Kaneko

I had to go to camp instead.


Murata

Yes, yes. So now you have to go to camp. What's happening? You have to sell your farm? Do they tell you right away that you have to go to camp?


Kaneko

Well, they had farm and we have this association. The one who's managing the association was very capable, so we decide let him run the whole Japanese farms under him. We were to get half of the profit.


Murata

A Caucasian person was head of the farmers association of these seven farms?


Kaneko

He was kind of like managing the whole thing. Later he became a state senator. In fact, he was the head of this draft board, too. (laughs)


Murata

He was the head of the draft? He was in charge of these farms? In other words, you could leave everything?


Kaneko

Yes. We left everything. He arranged for somebody to take care of different farms. So we didn't lose much.


Murata

You leave him in charge, and then where do you go?


Kaneko

We went to Tule Lake. We didn't have to go to any assembly center.

22. Assembly centers were temporary detention centers that housed Japanese Americans who had been forcibly removed from the West Coast in the early months of World War II.

I think we got there the first of June.


Murata

This was almost the start of married life. You get married in March and all this excitement with the draft. Then you go to camp in June? So it's really very quick here.


Kaneko

We were probably the first ones to be in Tule Lake. There were few other volunteers from Portland and from Seattle. But we were the first one to be in, so we were in "downtown" section, (laughs) right in the middle.


Murata

I see. Were they ready for you when you came?


Kaneko

No. Well, they were partially made, yes. But we got in.



325
Murata

So your entire family comes to Tule Lake?


Kaneko

Whole family. In fact, we only had about 280 persons from the whole county. So you could see that there weren't that many Japanese.


Murata

Yes. And would Hood River be in that same county?


Kaneko

No, no.


Murata

Different county. Would they go to Tule Lake?


Kaneko

No, they went to, I think, Pinedale. But later on they all came from Pinedale to Tule Lake.


Murata

So Dorothy's family is all at Tule Lake as well?


Kaneko

We saw them going to Pinedale. They were going on this Southern Pacific railroad and we went to the station and we waved. (laughs) But finally we got together in Tule Lake.


Murata

I see. What were you doing in camp?


Kaneko

Everybody has to work. (laughs) We want to make that $16. I was doing the carpentry for fire department. It was a very easy job.


Murata

Was it? Had you been doing carpentry work before?


Kaneko

Well, my father was real good in carpentry. In fact, when we were in Salem during the winter month we didn't have much to do, so we used to make a barn for neighbors, or make greenhouses. In those days, we didn't get paid for it. We had like a barter system. I'll do something for you and you do something for me.


Murata

If someone needed something, you would just go do it and they would pay it with crops.


Kaneko

In regards to the carpentry, we used to go over there and do things for them. I had some experience. In fact, in 1932, we built our own house. We made it so that there were bunch of oak trees there. Some of them are oak trees that are very old and you see the mistletoe. You didn't know mistletoe grew on oak tree? (laughs)


Murata

I don't think I knew that.



326
Kaneko

We made a house so that we could see Mount Hood between two oak trees and then we could see Mount Adams on the other opening. Three Sisters were a little further away. They're all over 10,000 feet. We could see these three different mountains from our dining room. We made it so that you could see it. About three years ago we went back there and I saw the house. Not exactly the same, they added on a few things. It's real nice house yet. I rang the bell and lady let me in. I said, "My dad and I built this house." I said, "Would you believe it? The whole material for this house was $900?" (laughs)


Murata

But the labor—


Kaneko

We won't count that. We had five rooms downstairs and three rooms upstairs. The whole material cost only $900. Those days, $900 was big money. We only paid ten cents an hour for the ladies working on the farm.


Murata

But the location is wonderful, isn't it.


Kaneko

It's really nice location.


Murata

The view sounds wonderful.


Kaneko

It was really nice. (laughs)


Murata

In camp you do carpentry work. What is the first time that you leave camp?


Kaneko

Well, let's see. We decided come out of camp. We came out of camp around the Fourth of July of 1943. We were in camp for about 13 months.


Murata

When you came out with Dorothy, the two of you came out first?


Kaneko

Yes. Two of us came out the same time.


Murata

Before any other family members came out? Where did you decide to come?


Kaneko

Well, the first thing we thought about is where we're gonna live. If we take some other job, it be kind of hard to find housing. So first place we went was in Barrington.

23. Barrington is a suburb 38 miles west of Chicago.

I was taking care of the horses. (laughs) Later on we changed to another place in Barrington and I was driving for this couple, take him to the station in the morning and pick him up in the afternoon. And [if] lady wants to go someplace, why, I drive her. And that was our job.


Murata

What was Dorothy doing?



327
Kaneko

She was [doing] domestic things, cooking and housework.


Murata

So you worked as a couple in '43?


Kaneko

There were lots of that type of work around Barrington, Arlington Heights,

24. Arlington Heights is a suburb 24 miles west of Chicago.

and Palatine.

25. Palatine is a suburb 31 miles west of Chicago.


Murata

Work for domestics. How did you know that work was there? Did they come to camp and recruit you?


Kaneko

No, they posted requests on the camp. Or maybe they had it on the newspaper, I don't remember.


Murata

You were doing this and other couples also were working as domestics?


Kaneko

I remember we got $90 a month for domestic work. (laughs)


Murata

Lots more than $16. (laughs)


Kaneko

(laughs) Lot better than $16, but—


Murata

But still short. When you were working in Barrington in these two different houses in '43, did you have contact with other Japanese Americans?


Kaneko

Oh yes. We got together around there, and we had picnics and thing like that. We had quite a social life, yes.


Murata

Oh you did? So there were quite a few.


Kaneko

Yes, there must have been about 50 of these domestic workers around there.


Murata

Were some of them Nisei as well?


Kaneko

Oh, yes, all of them, young girls. Some of them are couples. And then when Dorothy got pregnant, we decided to come into Chicago. In the meantime, we were looking for a farm. My father came out in '44. We decided we want to have a farm. We looked around and we went to Ohio. We went to Michigan. And I was looking at this journal (narrator looks for information in a very small notebook), and one time we took a trip to Cincinnati, to Toledo, and up in Ann Arbor. I think total cost was $24 and something.



328
Murata

You and your dad went scouting out the possible farms you could purchase?


Kaneko

We looked around Kalamazoo, Lansing, Cincinnati, and Toledo. There was one place in Ohio we looked. Anyway, we couldn't decide where to go. And we heard about where Irving Park Road, kind of, turns like this, now? It's part of the O'Hare Field?

26. Chicago's principal airport, O'Hare Airport, was opened to domestic aviation service in 1955. It is the world's busiest airport.

Well, Irving Park Road used to go straight. It's about a half mile west of Mannheim Road. There was 25 acres of land with a house and a barn. We were going to buy it. At that time, dad made a friend with somebody in Indiana and he says, "Oh, better come to Indiana because it has a better land, better soil." So he decided to go over there, but this 25 acres on Irving Park was $5,000 in 1944.


Murata

You had an opportunity—


Kaneko

(laughs)


Tape 2, Side A

Murata

You and Dorothy are the first ones to leave camp. You go to Barrington, and then, in '44, dad comes out. You move into the city. Then you and dad go looking for a farm and decide to purchase a farm in Indiana.


Kaneko

Well, at the same time when we first came into Chicago, I bought an old pickup truck and had everything loaded on a pickup truck and drove in. I didn't know that the Outer Drive, we weren't supposed to run a truck.

27. Outer Drive, also known as Lake Shore Drive, is a major north/south thoroughfare through Chicago that runs along Lake Michigan. Only automobiles are permitted on this road.

But I did it anyway. (laughs) And we're looking for a place to live, but we had a hard time finding the place.

When my dad came in, I said, "You know, we had a hard time finding the place to live." He says, "Oh, why not buy an apartment building or something?" so that the people who come out from the camp would have easier time of finding the place to live.

We looked around and found one place on La Salle and Maple called the "La Salle Mansion." It had about 160 rooms. It was in bad condition but we could fix it up, and so we signed the lease to lease the place right after my daughter was born, probably in June or July of 1944. We got this place and we start fixing up. In those days, the bed bugs (laughs) were terrible so we start cleaning up from room to room. And in the meantime, we wanted to farm so we went around different places to look for a farm. Anyway, we


329
found a farm in Indiana at a place called Argos, Indiana, which is about 23 miles south of South Bend and about seven miles south of Plymouth, Indiana. And not too far from Culver Military Academy, they have this black horse cavalry. They marched in the inauguration of different presidents. I remember this Highway 10 was in front of our place. They used to ride their black horses along the highway. That was 40 acres of good, what we call peat moss, peat soil. If you go, say like two feet under black soil, there's lot of peat moss where all the moisture is collected.


Murata

This was good farmland. So you and dad decide to purchase this farm?


Kaneko

At the same time we purchased this apartment building.


Murata

The distance is pretty far apart. So one would live in the city and one would live on the farm.


Kaneko

Yes. We started farming in 1945. The season is very short. My dad and mom would go to Indiana in probably the latter part of April or May and then stay there until October. First part of November they'll come back to Chicago to live with us.


Murata

Oh, I see—live with you and go back again. What were they growing on the farm?


Kaneko

Well, we decide to grow Japanese, Oriental vegetables. So we had a daikon,

28. Japanese radish

and nappa,

29. Chinese cabbage

and bok choy

30. Chinese chard

and things like that.


Murata

Were you going there as well and doing some of the farming?


Kaneko

No, I went there sometimes, but most of the time my brother Harry would go there after work on Friday, and then stay there Saturday and Sunday, and come back on Sunday night to help him.


Murata

You and Dorothy have the La Salle Mansion, to take care of?


Kaneko

It's one of the things that I did. At the same time I worked for Firestone Tire Company. Then on Saturday afternoon and Sunday I went to Glencoe

31. Glencoe is a suburb 22 miles north of Chicago.

to take care of this garden for this Anderson that I worked for in Barrington. They moved to Glencoe. I used to take care of their garden for them. I had three jobs at the same time. Taking care of the apartment (laughs), and I
330
worked for Firestone, and then I worked for this [family]. My life was very busy. Sometimes, if I had to work late Sunday, I stayed at Anderson. On Monday morning, I got up early and took the North Shore Electric and went straight to Firestone Tire to work.


Murata

What did you do for Firestone?


Kaneko

This was during the war [World War II] years, so they were re-treading these old tires and putting retreads on so that's what we were doing.


Murata

I see. And how did you find that job?


Kaneko

Oh, in those days the jobs were very easy to find. Almost anyplace would hire you. There were quite a few Japanese working at the Firestone.


Murata

Oh, were there? In other words, jobs were easy to find. If you wanted to work, then you could.


Kaneko

You could work three, four, five jobs at the same time. (laughs)


Murata

You worked three jobs.


Kaneko

Three was enough for me. (laughs)


Murata

Jobs were easy, but housing was not. When you left Barrington, where did you live first?


Kaneko

We went South Side.

32. Chicago is laid out on a grid pattern. The intersection of State and Madison streets mark the address system's zero coordinate. From here, the city is divided into quadrants. The South Side, North Side, and West Side are those areas south, north, or west of the downtown respectively. Lake Michigan forms the city's eastern border; consequently there is no East Side.

'Course lot of Japanese were in the South Side and we finally ended up in 6404 South Ellis Street. It was like one room apartment. (laughs) We didn't live there very long, 'cause that probably was in March and then around June we moved to La Salle Mansions. That's when we bought it. So we lived there maybe just very short time. Dorothy could still remember the 6404 South Ellis (laughs), because we had a hard time finding the place.


Murata

How did you find that place?


Kaneko

Well, we just looked around. We came in, like I said, we drove this pickup and we went different places and asked for apartments. Even though they had apartment, they didn't let us have it.



331
Murata

Then you finally went to 6404 South Ellis and they said—


Kaneko

The lady said, "Okay." We were kind of grateful that she took us in.


Murata

It's funny, because I lived at 6404 South Ellis. (laughs) So you're living there for a short time. And then at that point, dad comes out of camp and he moves in with you at 6404 South Ellis?


Kaneko

No, no. He lived with this friend from Seattle, Mr. Miyagawa. Mr. Miyagawa was his friend for a long time, I guess. My dad used to go to different Christian conferences and he knew Mr. Miyagawa. Every time he goes to Seattle, why he used to stay over at Mr. Miyagawa. He had the U.S. Hotel. And he had apartment building on Huron Street and Clark Street. So he stayed with them for some time.


Murata

How is it that you found this La Salle Mansion to buy? Where did you look? You went around to the different farms to find a farm. So how did you find this place?


Kaneko

I think we went to some real estate brokers and one Filipino had it. He had radio repair place and he couldn't take care of two places. So he decided to sell La Salle Mansion so we bought it out from him.


Murata

Had you looked at other places as well before you made that purchase?


Kaneko

No, we didn't look too much. This was kind of attractive because the number of rooms in the place. We had lot of Japanese Niseis or even Isseis come over and we have no problem renting, except we didn't get much rent during that time because there was OPA [Office of Price Administration] ceiling. Have you every heard of OPA ceiling? (laughs) We could only get so much. We can't raise any rent. It wasn't much of money making, but it was okay.

I got acquainted with the precinct captain because we had lots of boarders in our building. Our precinct voting place was in La Salle Mansion. That's one of the few Japanese apartments that had a little parlor where people could get together, so that's where they had their voting place. I remember one time (pause) he got about twenty-five pairs of nylon stockings. In those days nylon stockings were almost impossible to get. And he brought in twenty-five pairs, and he says, "Give it to this Nisei ladies." (laughs) If they vote, they used to send them to this place called Ted's Restaurant. It was on Clark Street and let them have breakfast. (laughs) I knew how the Democrats in the city worked, from the first. (laughs)


Murata

When you first moved into this La Salle Mansion, Dorothy was still pregnant?



332
Kaneko

No. Donna was already two months old.


Murata

Two months old. You go into La Salle Mansion and a lot of it's broken or needs repair or has bed bugs. Were all the rooms at that point rented?


Kaneko

No. Then all the Japanese moved in. Yes, I would say probably 160 rooms, but they were divided in—some were four-room apartments, some of them were two rooms, some of them were single rooms. Most of them are two and three room apartments. It was nice for Japanese to come and not get refused. At that time, from Fort Snelling in Minneapolis they used to come to Chicago. In fact, lot of them couldn't find a place to stay overnight or two, three nights so we had these double bed mattress in the hallway. We could put that mattress in our living room and let them sleep there.


Murata

Some of the military people that were here on like short breaks—


Kaneko

We had a place for them to sleep. I would say in the hundreds they came in. Some of them stay with us in our living room. (laughs)


Murata

Is that right? Did you have some rooms designated more like a hotel?


Kaneko

No, no.


Murata

All the rooms were rented, all the time.


Kaneko

We had about three or four rooms that we could let them sleep in.


Murata

I see. There were three or four rooms designated with lots of beds in there. They're not there in the daytime; they're out. Then they just come to sleep.


Kaneko

They could sleep there. So lot of the soldiers slept there in our place.


Murata

Oh, is that right? Tell me about the other tenants that you had. Once you're established you have plenty of tenants? No rooms are empty.


Kaneko

No. I would say, we were counting this morning how many we could remember and we wrote it down. Let's see what did I do with it? (rustling paper noise)


Murata

Were these people mostly coming out of camp and then moving in with you, like this is their first place?


Kaneko

I think so. The first place to stay. This is what we could remember, this is over 55 years ago, you know. (laughs) There was Arima, Kobayashi—two


333
girls. Remember Bob Okazaki, the actor? He stayed there for a long time. And Yamamoto, they had the Ted Restaurant. And Morimoto, Alice Morimoto, remember? Then there was Matashima. This Mary and I think father was in the Salvation Army. He stayed there. And there was Ray Matsushita. George Ban, he's the Communist. (laughs) He used to sell this Communist paper—what did they call it— The Daily Work, no Daily Workers? There's Yas Tsuchiyama, Saitos—Aki and Nanny, Moritas, Hachiyas, and Nakashima. And there was one lady called Watanabe, and Sugimotos? And Henry Fukui stayed there, and Tauras and Tsunemuras. Tsunemura used to teach dancing. Tomihiro's office—you know Chiye Tomihiro's father?


Murata

His office was in the building, too?


Kaneko

(laughs) We just let him have it.


Murata

Oh, you did. It was an empty space. How would they know that your building had vacancies?


Kaneko

Well, see we had the Resettlers

33. The Chicago Resettlers Committee was established in 1945 to help those leaving the concentration camps to obtain jobs and housing. In 1954, it changed its name to the Japanese American Service Center.

right across the street at 1110 [La Salle Street]. We were 1039 La Salle. They used to come to this Resettlers. We had no problem communicating.


Murata

How long would these Japanese American families stay with you ?


Kaneko

Well, I think we had it for about three years or so. We sold it to Tanakas. After that I think they sold to Oishiis.


Murata

You had it just three years.


Kaneko

Three or four years, I can't remember. But not too long.


Murata

During that time, you had no problems keeping it filled because you're talking about 1944 to 1948.


Kaneko

No problem. Then we bought a place on Clark Street. [At] 1020 and 1022 Clark. We lived there for maybe 15 years. Then we moved to present place on Argyle.


Murata

What made you pick that Clark Street address?



334
Kaneko

(laughs) I don't know. It was closer to our grocery store. And then, of course, the kids were going to Ogden School and it's only two blocks away from there, so it was very convenient.


Murata

You wanted to not do that management work anymore? Was that management work hard to do?


Kaneko

Well, (laughs) it's quite a big job.


Murata

And what made it big? What were the parts that were hard?


Kaneko

Well, the size of the building and condition of the building. In those days we used to use nothing but coal for heating the place. I remember we used to get 11 tons of coal every week during the winter and we had to feed that into hopper to heat the whole building.


Murata

No janitor, you're it.


Kaneko

No janitor. Dorothy used to do that sometimes. (laughs)


Murata

Did Dorothy used to do it? (laughs) You both feed the coal. You went to work at Firestone, so she would have to feed it. And she also cleaned the sheets?


Kaneko

We had laundry do that. But we had to mend lot of these sheets and things, too.


Murata

Did these families that lived in these rooms share a bath?


Kaneko

Some of them had [their] own bath. But I think four-room apartment had their—


Murata

Had their own private bath?


Kaneko

But the others share a bath, yes.


Murata

So you sell that and move to Clark Street. Tell me about this Clark Street building, what is that like?


Kaneko

Clark Street we had two stores downstairs. There was four-story building so there's six flats that we used to rent. Well, we lived in one. And Dorothy's folks lived in another. And then four others were rented out.


Murata

I see. So it's a six flat. You live in one. Dorothy's folks live in one. The other four are rented out. And downstairs is a store?



335
Kaneko

Two stores, yes. One was a Japanese trading company but they went bankrupt so we rented out to a Filipino barber. And the other one was the tavern.


Murata

You have two places there. You pick this place because the children can go to the same school.


Kaneko

The grocery store.


Murata

The grocery store. So when did you open the grocery store?


Kaneko

We had a grocery store for about sixteen or seventeen years. But I wasn't managing the store at all because my brother Roy had it. I used to go over there and help every once in a while. But at that time I was doing carpentry.


Murata

You were doing carpentry work as your main job? When does this grocery store open?


Kaneko

It was in 1945.


Murata

It [the farm in Indiana] was purchased in '44 and the farm starts producing in '45. And the grocery store—


Kaneko

Let's see now. I think, either in '45 or '46. But the first year, my dad had a hard time getting the prices that he wanted. So he thought if we had a grocery store we could wholesale through grocery store to like OK Grocery, Franklin, International. There was Sakamoto, I think. And there was the Toguris. And there was the York. And there's S & I, and Asatos. They all could use the [produce]. He couldn't get the good price. That's the reason we started the grocery store. About that time Roy was just getting out of the army. It was something for him to do, too. So that's the reason we started the grocery store.


Murata

It's close to where you live, so you could go help occasionally?

 


Kaneko

Yes, almost every night. (laughs)


Murata

(laughs) Almost every night. So now the family has a grocery store to sell their products. Does that work? Are they able to?


Kaneko

Well, yes, I think so because then he could get better price. Although wholesale, it didn't go through our store. He could sell it to the other stores little bit better price than he got the previous year.



336
Murata

Tell me about this area where you live and where the grocery store is. What is that neighborhood like?


Kaneko

It was what we might call a Japanese town. (laughs) Yes, there's lot of employment office there. There was a tavern. There's lot of restaurants. And, well, there was the Surugaya, remember? Where they—like ice cream parlor and they had mochi.

34. Rice cake (Japanese)

Two, three other grocery stores, Japanese grocery store. It was real convenient place because Clark and Division subway stopped there. And there was the Clark Street, Broadway bus, Division bus. So it was like, I would say, (laughs) real Japanese town there.


Murata

It was easy to reach and if someone didn't live there; they could use public transportation.


Kaneko

Sure. A lot of times people from subway would transfer to Division Street or Clark Street or Broadway Street bus. It was a real convenient place.


Murata

So they did stop and shop before going home.


Kaneko

There's lot of restaurants around there, too. There was Sanitary Restaurant. Well the most famous one was Ding Hoe, a Chinese restaurant. And there were two or three other restaurants around there. Small, but all Japanese restaurant—Liberty Inn, Rainbow, Ted's Café, Tenkatsu, Yamato Café.


Murata

There were quite a few Japanese businesses in this concentrated area. So much so that you would even call it a small Japanese town. And are there a lot of people living in this area?


Kaneko

Oh yes. There's lot of people living on that La Salle Street and Clark Street. And then Wells Street, there's lot of Japanese used to live there.


Murata

Were you involved with Resettlers? You said it was located right across the street from you?


Kaneko

I knew them but I wasn't really involved with their activities or anything. I was too busy with my own. (laughs)


Murata

I would say you're busy. That's true. Did you have experiences with people who were not Japanese Americans?


Kaneko

(pause) Well, let's see. (laughs) (pause) Well, I knew—through precinct captain—I knew some of the workers. First precinct captain was Dingle Malloney. It was a typical—(laughs)



337
Murata

Irish name.


Kaneko

Irish name. Well, he was the head of some judicial system, I guess. He had about 150 people working under him, so he had lot of power. He told this Chicago Avenue police station, "Don't bother him [referring to narrator]." (laughs) I had real good relation, because there was lot of prostitution and gambling and things going around. But lot of times I don't know. This place was so big and they had one, two, three, about four different entrance. And you can't watch all the entrance.


Murata

It is a big building. And then there's a lot repairs and things, they'll close their eyes. That's a big help.


Kaneko

Then he [Malloney] passed away very young, and then Campioni. He was another precinct captain that came after him. He was real good to us, too


Murata

Was he? You have the voters.


Kaneko

Yeah, I had the vote. I had 65 or 70 votes I could swing one way or the other. So, got to be real good to me. (laughs)


Murata

(laughs) I think so. You were working at this point, you were going to grocery every night to help your brother with the groceries. At this point, where were you working?


Kaneko

I was working for this next door neighbor's construction company called McCarthy and Sons. They did lot of concrete work and repair work. They had a contract with different apartment buildings. They always had lot of work. I worked there for a while and at the same time I went to school. In the meantime I got into carpentry union. My sister-in-law Merle Kaneko's boss was a lawyer for the carpenters union so it was easy for me to get into the union.


Murata

Oh, you did. When you went to school, what were you learning?


Kaneko

Well, different phases of carpentry—finer points.


Murata

Carpentry, I see. You were improving your skills?


Kaneko

Yes. I worked there for a while and then I got onto my own. I did my own work. I didn't work for McCarthy.


Murata

How long would you say you were with them?



338
Kaneko

Oh, I would say about three years or so, not very long.


Murata

Not very long at all. By '48 or 1950 you start working for yourself. How did people know to contact you?


Kaneko

Well, it was mouth-to-mouth thing. I didn't have any problem arranging any jobs at all.


Murata

Is that right? The Issei building owners knew?


Kaneko

Well, not too much among the Japanese community—mostly hakujin [Caucasian] community.


Murata

What kinds of jobs were you doing?


Kaneko

Most of the time these rich people would buy building and fix it up to the original. During the war, they cut it up into smaller apartments, what they call sleeping rooms. They want to fix it up to the original décor, original type of decorations. Some places I work as long as one year on one whole building.

I worked for the president of Pullman Manufacturing Company. He bought a building on Dearborn Street Parkway. And he wanted to fix. I started from the basement all the way up to the third floor.


Murata

Is this around 1950?


Kaneko

Probably '50 to '60, '60 to '70, yes.


Murata

After the war [World War II] there was this huge shortage of housing. So you couldn't rent anyplace. By the time you start your own business, people are taking these things that they cut up and putting them together again? They're renovating them. So does that mean there's less housing shortage?


Kaneko

I think so, yes, around '60s, '70s. I think they're back to [an] almost normal housing situation.


Murata

These were not the Japanese Americans you were working for.


Kaneko

Mostly hakujin, yes.


Murata

You don't have to advertise or anything?


Kaneko

No, I didn't have to advertise anything.


Murata

You did good work, so they would tell the next person.



339
Kaneko

Well, especially this fellow named Art Mertz. He was with the "Advertising Age."

35. "Advertising Age" is a trade publication for the advertising business.

He knew a lot of people. I worked in his house for about eight months and he used to invite me to all his parties. He knew lot of people. After I got through with him, he introduced me to this president of Pullman Manufacturing Company, Mr. Foster. And he introduced me to the vice president of Playboy Club. I worked in his house. And then I worked in some of the Potter Palmer—what's it—Palmer House?

36. Potter Palmer (1826-1902) was a wealthy Chicago merchant known for starting the Marshall Field retail shop and building a luxury hotel, The Palmer House.

I worked in one of the house there, too. All around that State Parkway and Dearborn Street. I think I worked on almost every house around there.


Murata

Oh, is that right? This goes all the way back to the first job after camp in Barrington?


Kaneko

No, I got to know this Art Mertz maybe about 25 years ago. I worked in his house on St. Paul Street. He bought a house on Dearborn Street and then I really got started.


Murata

Is this the career that you would have chosen?


Kaneko

I think so. It was kind of interesting. (laughs)


Murata

Thank you for talking to me today. I really appreciate it. Good. You did terrific!


End of interview

Interview 2 of 2


340

Tape 3, Side A

Murata

January 31,1998. Thank you for meeting with us again, Hiroshi.


Kaneko

Thank you.


Murata

Why don't we start with your father. You said that he came out in 1943. Did mom come with him at that time?


Kaneko

No. She stayed in the camp, I think they moved to Minidoka

1. Located in Jerome County in south-central Idaho, Minidoka Relocation Center was one of 10 concentration camps that housed West Coast Japanese Americans during World War II. Most of the camp's population came from King and Pierce (Washington) and Multnomah (Oregon) counties.

for '43. They came out, probably either late '43 or early '44.


Murata

When mom does—did Mary, or some of the brothers come out at the same time?


Kaneko

Yes, I think my sisters Rulie and Lily came out. I don't know whether Harry came out at the same time or not. Roy, I think was already in the army.


Murata

Roy goes from camp into the service?


Kaneko

I believe that's what it was.


Murata

And where does he serve?


Kaneko

Military intelligence.


Murata

Oh, I see. He was MIS [Military Intelligence Service]

2. The United States Army branch in which many Japanese Americans served during World War II utilizing their language skills in the Pacific Theater.

doing translation type work?


Kaneko

Right.


Murata

He goes into the service. When dad comes to Chicago, mom is still in Minidoka? Some of your brothers and sisters are still with her? When she comes out of camp, some of your brothers and sisters come out with her?


Kaneko

Yes. I think when we leased La Salle Mansion. We had the place for them to come out, so there was no problem there.


Murata

They come live in La Salle Mansion?



341
Kaneko

Yes, right, to help out.


Murata

Your mom and dad have an apartment in La Salle Mansion with some of your brothers and sisters? How old are they and what do they do?


Kaneko

Let's see. They were high school age. Lil and Rulie went to Wells High School. And Harry—can't remember now whether he went to high school here, but I know later he was in the air force.


Murata

And where did he serve?


Kaneko

He was in O'Hare Field just before the Korean War, so around 1949.


Murata

How did your sisters deal with high school?


Kaneko

Rulie is kind of outgoing so she probably didn't have much problem. Lil is more reserved. I was so busy with some other of my work—(chuckles), I didn't have much contact with—


Murata

Oh, you didn't have much contact with them? They went to the high school, and you're not familiar if it was mostly white or if there were lot of Japanese Americans?


Kaneko

Well, there were quite a few Japanese at that time in Chicago. I've heard that it was about 22,000 or 23,000 Japanese here at that time. I believe that a lot of them were of high school age, so probably a lot of classmates were Japanese Americans.


Murata

Does mom work?


Kaneko

No, she never worked but she did lot of things. We gave out the sheets and towels at this La Salle Mansion. She had to do lot of repair work of sheets and towels. She always worked real hard for anything. She's not that kind of ojosan-type.

3. Young lady or miss (Japanese). The narrator uses the term to imply royalty or a princess.


Murata

She worked hard but she didn't go outside and work.


Kaneko

After we got this farm, she was out there from April to later part of October. She worked real hard, helped my dad.


Murata

The very first year that they go out there, did they grow Japanese vegetables?


Kaneko

They intend to grow nothing but Japanese type of vegetables. They didn't bother with the corn or soybeans or anything like that.


Murata

Was that what they were growing in Oregon, as well?



342
Kaneko

It's different things but mostly vegetables.


Murata

At this point do you still have that farm in Oregon?


Kaneko

When my dad went back to Japan about 42 years ago, he gave it to my younger brother Harry because he was out there almost every weekend to help him. He promised that he would give this farm to Harry. Harry passed away about two years ago. They leased this farm out to somebody. They were growing soybean and peppermint. They were living in California so it was kind of inconvenient.


Murata

Harry was living in California, at the time?


Kaneko

They moved out there. They had a lease but finally they sold this farm last September. We don't have any more connection with the farm.


Murata

When your dad goes back to Japan around 1956, does Harry continue to do farming?


Kaneko

No, no. We just leased it out.


Murata

For about 10 to 12 years beginning in 1943 or '44 he's doing farming in Indiana? Your brothers and sisters continue to live in La Salle Mansion, so when mom and dad come back, they have an apartment.


Kaneko

They come back during the winter months and then stay with us. Well, they had their own rooms. And go out there in the spring.


Murata

At this point do you still have the Oregon farm?


Kaneko

We had it leased out. I think we sold it (pause) around 1952 or '53. We sold the whole farm.


Murata

Does dad or you ever consider going back to that farm?


Kaneko

Well, we thought about it one time. But we got used to living in Chicago. So we never attempted to go back. We sold it.


Murata

All the time you're in camp and all the time you're in Chicago, it's being leased. You're getting some profit from it? Does that works out pretty well? Does dad go back to Japan before 1956?


Kaneko

He went back right after the war to see his mother because she was still living. That would be around '47 or '48. I think I talked about the time he went back and took this ham. (laughs)


Murata

That's right. You did tell us that he went back and took the ham. That was 1947 that he goes back and sees his mom. How long does he stay that time?



343
Kaneko

It wasn't quite a year, probably about six months, during the off season on his farm.


Murata

Then he comes back and he's ready for the next season.


Kaneko

When he went there right after the War, the village people were very poor. They have hard time meeting their expenses. He started this project. He donated quite a bit of money and asked this village officer to make two boxes. These two boxes were placed in front of these offices for this village. He called this "Box of Love." He was a Christian so he wanted to use that term "love." They call it ai no hako.

4. Box of love (Japanese)

One box wasn't locked. And the other box was locked. In this unlocked box, this village officer would put 200 yen [in it] every morning, for somebody [who] could use it. Whoever wants it could take it. And if he's able to pay it back, he would put back into this locked box.

He figured that he donated enough money for people to live. The two hundred yen would be about one year worth of money. But (chuckles) people would take it, but they never put it back. So eventually, it didn't have any more money to put in. But by then, people would start having little bit better living conditions.

He was telling me that there was one girl from—oh, this thing was in the newspaper. And some girl from Fukuoka sent some money for this purpose. He was kind of impressed with this girl's efforts, so he went to Fukuoka to see this girl. He was telling me this after he got back, you know. I had an article on there but I don't know what happened. I saved lot of other things (chuckles) but I lost this article in the newspaper.


Murata

You may still find it? At that time, the conditions in Japan were poor. Did anything happen to them with the bombing? Was Midori fine?


Kaneko

No, no, no. Nothing happened. Nearby they have lot of oil refineries now and it's not too far from American air force base. At that time, it's just nothing there. (chuckles) So they never got bombed or anything.


Murata

I'm going to move you back to your daughter. You leave Barrington because Dorothy is pregnant. You want to be in the city when you have your child. Can you tell me, what was Barrington like?


Kaneko

Well, Barrington was mostly domestic work. Arlington Heights had something to do with Curtis farm or something. But there's nothing in Barrington. We just did the domestic work. They had some sort of a farm, but it wasn't much, mostly chicken. (chuckles)


Murata

They had some chicken farms up there?



344
Kaneko

They had lot of horses. I was supposed to exercise these riding horses, but I didn't want to ride the horses. There was one smart horse in the bunch. I think they had about five or six horses. I let this smart horse go in front, and I hit him so he would just jog around this little area there. All the other horses follow him. (laughs)


Murata

(laughs) That's cute. So these were pretty big houses, would you say? The people that lived there are Caucasians? Are they rich?


Kaneko

Oh yes. Most of the families that hired these domestics were very rich family. This family had two cars, and one was the old, big La Salle. (chuckles)


Murata

Were there very many people that lived in this village?


Kaneko

I heard there's probably 50 or 60 people doing domestic around Barrington, Palatine, and around Arlington Heights.


Murata

Would you say that there was a thousand people living Barrington?


Kaneko

Well, we were there for only maybe about five, six or seven months so we didn't have too many contact, but we had a few not too far away, so we used to have kind of get-together.


Murata

How far is it from Barrington to Chicago?


Kaneko

Well, at that time, seems like very far. (chuckles) I used to drive this lady into Chicago and it took about three hours, seems like. We didn't have any of these toll roads or super highways and so we had to take lot of these small highways into Chicago. And took us long time. Of course, at that time, there's lot of trains, so you could take the train into Chicago. They didn't take that long.


Murata

Because you drove this lady into Chicago, you got familiar with the city?


Kaneko

Not really. Most of the time, she had somebody in Evanston

5. Evanston is a suburb 13 miles north of Chicago.

and somebody little bit north of Chicago, so we didn't come into Chicago very often. But every once in a while, they give us a little time off, so we used to come into Chicago to see a show or theatre or something like that. But my knowledge of Chicago area was very small.


Murata

Dorothy and you would take the train on a day off. Where would you go when you came in?


Kaneko

Well, most of the time, we shop around. We got to know State Street

6. State Street is a major shopping street in downtown Chicago.

little bit better. Of course, State Street was a great street then. Had a lot of shops. That was just a few times that we did that in those six or seven months.



345
Murata

You're not there very long and then you moved to 6404 Ellis. What was that neighborhood like?


Kaneko

Well, that el

7. Elevated trains are part of the public transportation system maintained by the Chicago Transit Authority. These trains run above ground. Other trains in the same system run underground and are then referred to as "the subway." On some lines, the train runs above ground for part of its route and below ground in other sections. Chicagoans may, therefore, use the terms "el" and "subway" interchangeably.

track is not too far from this 64th Street, and I used to ride on the el to downtown.

8. Chicago's central business district is referred to as "downtown" no matter whether one travels from the north, south, or west to reach it.

But seems like that White City

9. The 1893 World's Columbian Exposition was held in Chicago to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America. The White City refers to the collection of classical buildings, statues, and fountains created by the world's leading architects and artists for this world's fair.

or something was there. There was a big amusement park not too far from there. It seems like [on] 60th Street there's a lot of activity, but was busy working (chuckles)—


Murata

So you didn't have so much time?


Kaneko

I had this job at the Firestone. And then on the weekend, I used to work for the place I was working in Barrington. They moved to Glencoe. So I used to go over there to help do gardening and things.


Murata

Would you say it's typical that Japanese Americans would hold more than one job? That they would hold two or three jobs and that they would work very hard?


Kaneko

Yes, I think so. I had two or three jobs at a time. But most of them, I think they had two jobs.


Murata

Your friends and the people you knew were working very hard. They had a couple of jobs.


Kaneko

Yes. I think so. When they came out from camp, they had nothing.


Murata

And so they have to work? Are there a lot of Japanese Americans living around this Woodlawn area?


Kaneko

I heard around 43rd Street there's lot of them. But I didn't see too many around 6400 south [around 63rd Street], no.


Murata

Was not too many. It was mostly Caucasians?


Kaneko

Yeah.



346
Murata

Were you aware of any African Americans in the area?


Kaneko

No. I don't think there weren't too many there. Maybe there were none.


Murata

You don't remember seeing any? You don't see too many Japanese Americans, either.


Kaneko

No, no I don't.


Murata

It's mostly Caucasian.


Kaneko

I didn't. I started out real early in the morning and then (chuckles) came back late. In those days, I don't know whether it's eight hours is regular or 10 hours was regular. (chuckles) It seems like it was 10 hours. (laughs)


Murata

10 hours (chuckles) was normal, then? You moved after a few months because you weren't at that Ellis place very long. When you buy La Salle Mansion, dad is already out of camp, so you buy it together? You move into La Salle Mansion and call that area the Japanese part of town?


Kaneko

Oh yes. That's a Japanese Town, yes. Seems like all these young ones are hangin' around this Maple and Clark Street. There was a tavern on the corner. It seems like these—what do you call those, "zoot suiters"—(chuckles)—with the big chain hanging around? (chuckles) There were a lot of them there at the corner.


Murata

Was this a Japanese American tavern?


Kaneko

No, it wasn't a Japanese American tavern, but seems like they must have catered quite a bit to this.


Murata

Customers. They want Japanese American—


Kaneko

Of course, later on around Clark and Division was Ting-a-Ling.

10. A restaurant and ice cream parlor

Japanese congregate there. There were a few taverns. There was Harry, what was his name? The one who had Nakanoya [a Japanese restaurant], Naka-something.


Murata

Nakamura.


Kaneko

He had a tavern there around 1944 or '45. Seems like they had broken window almost every week. (chuckles)


Murata

It was fixed and then you go and it's broken again? (chuckles) What would you say the boundaries of Japanese Town are? Would you say it goes as far as Wells? How far west is it?



347
Kaneko

Yes, I think it's from Wells to Dearborn. And from North Avenue to Chicago Avenue was a lot of the Japanese stores and rooming house. Lot of Japanese were living around there.


Murata

Who was living on the other side of Wells?


Kaneko

I can't remember. I don't think too many Afro-Americans were there. Those big high-rise they have now wasn't there.

11. Cabrini-Green public housing high-rise complex


Murata

At that time.


Kaneko

I think they had few, around Chicago Avenue. But that wasn't the high-rise type of thing. Just maybe two story.


Murata

On the south around Chicago Avenue there's some African Americans on the other side.


Kaneko

Yeah.


Murata

And how about on the Dearborn side?


Kaneko

Dearborn side was—I can't remember but I don't think there were any Afro-Americans there. There's quite a few Japanese used to live on Dearborn Street.


Murata

Did they have buildings on Dearborn Street?


Kaneko

Some of them had buildings, rooming-house type of thing. Lots of them.


Murata

There were quite a few grocery stores in your area, also quite a lot of restaurants.


Kaneko

There's Toguri's. There was Sun Grocery. And, of course, there's lot of restaurants around there. Suruga-ya, Liberty, there's few small restaurant.


Murata

Would you eat at these restaurants?


Kaneko

No, I never ate at restaurant. (chuckles) But we used to sell lot of things to restaurant.


Murata

Your vegetables from the farm.


Kaneko

Yes, vegetables and things.


Murata

So you take these Oriental vegetables and sell them. In your shop, did you have what you call "regular customers?"



348
Kaneko

Yes. Lot of Japanese. Clark and Division is very convenient spot because there was the Division Street bus, there was Clark Street bus. Broadway bus used to turn there. And then, of course, there's the subway.

12. The Subway consists of the trains that run underground through Chicago. These trains also run above ground in other neighborhoods and are then referred to as the "el" or elevated trains. The subway, elevated, and bus routes are run by the Chicago Transit Authority.

So lot of people say take a subway and come up. We were only maybe 40 or 50 feet away from the subway entrance—maybe not even that much. (chuckles) There's only two stores in between. They used to shop at our shop and then take Division Street bus or transfer to Clark Street, or Broadway bus. It was very convenient location.


Murata

One of the nice things about your shop is that you had a very good location.


Kaneko

Good location. And, of course, my dad brought all the vegetables, so that was another advantage.


Murata

How do you make customers come back? How do you work on building up this [clientele] so they don't go to Toguri's or some other shop? (chuckles)


Kaneko

It was just the good location. If they had to go to Sun Grocery or Toguri, they had [to] walk another block or two blocks. That was an advantage for us.


Murata

Tell me about your daughter. The first one is born at 6404 Ellis and then she moves to La Salle Mansion?


Kaneko

I don't know that the second daughter Cheryl was born when we were at La Salle Mansion or not. Could have been moved to Clark Street. It's been 47 or 48 years now? They all went to this Ogden School, which is only about a block or two blocks away, so it was very convenient.


Murata

Can you tell me about Ogden School?


Kaneko

Ogden School was probably one of the better grammar schools in Chicago because their area is from Division to downtown, from Wells Street to the lake [Lake Michigan], east of the State Street were very wealthy people there. I think they're ranked one of the top grammar school in Chicago.


Murata

It's a big area, isn't it?


Kaneko

It's actually very large area. But, of course, people on the Gold Coast

13. The Gold Coast is one of Chicago's most desirable and costly residential areas. This near North Side neighborhood runs along the lakefront from downtown to the Lincoln Park area.

send a lot [of their children] to the private schools.



349
Murata

Your children went to school with people from the Gold Coast, and people that lived within this Japanese American community. The ethnic background or make-up of this school was—what would you say?


Kaneko

I would say perhaps 20-25 percent Orientals. There was one Nisei teacher there, Kenneth Kobukata.


Murata

And the other teachers were mostly—?


Kaneko

Hakujin.


Murata

You're real pleased you live in a place where there's a good school. There's one Nisei teacher, mostly white teachers. And there's some Japanese American children. But predominantly, it tends to be Caucasian children?


Kaneko

I would say, yes.


Murata

Were there any African Americans?


Kaneko

No, I don't think there were any.


Murata

Were the friends of the children mostly Japanese Americans or Caucasians?


Kaneko

Surprisingly, (chuckles) mostly hakujin children. And, I know, like Donna still corresponds with these Caucasians and some of them are doing real well. I know every time she comes in from Japan, she always call up these people and they get together. I know one is a professor at Northwestern. And the other lady is a very famous artist in Wisconsin. She always calls up somebody.


Murata

Donna made some very, very good friends in elementary school.


Kaneko

Oh, yes she did—almost is it 45 or 50 years? (chuckles) One of these ladies, they went from kindergarten all the way to high school with each other. They're still corresponding with each other.


Murata

It didn't make any difference to her if it was Japanese American or Caucasian.


Kaneko

No, no, no. She was—they would always fit in.


Murata

You don't know of any discrimination that they faced.


Kaneko

No, not at that time.


Murata

Did you feel any discrimination toward you?


Kaneko

No, I don't think I experienced severe discrimination. We had this building. I think lot of times discrimination is connected with the economic thing, too.



350
Murata

You were in La Salle Mansion, so you wouldn't feel any discrimination there?


Kaneko

I always had a good connection with the city government. I had a lot of voters. (chuckles)


Murata

So you were valuable to the politicians.


Kaneko

(chuckles) Very valuable to the Democratic—(laughs)—what you would call "machine."


Murata

Did you and Dorothy attend school functions? Did you help out at school when your children were little?


Kaneko

No, not too much. 'Course, I went to trade school later on; that was evening trade school. Dorothy worked with the Ogden PTA. Alice Morimoto, Aya Yamada, Marion Konishi were other Nisei ladies who were in the Ogden PTA committee.


Tape 3, Side B

Murata

Hiroshi, what else were your children involved in other than going to school?


Kaneko

Let's see. I think they took ballet. But I don't think they continued too long. I know they took piano lessons from June Oda for a long time. We were living not too far from this Elm La Salle Church so they went to Elm La Salle Church. They didn't go [to] any Japanese school.


Murata

Kevin didn't take piano and ballet.


Kaneko

Kevin took piano lessons, too.


Murata

All three of the children took piano.


Kaneko

But he was more interested in other things rather than the piano. Because two sisters took it, so he had to take it. (chuckles)


Murata

(chuckles) What was he interested in?


Kaneko

He was interested mostly in sports. Participating in sports, yes. He played basketball, and then we used to take him to tennis court.


Murata

Was this school teams that he was on or church team?


Kaneko

I think he played Nisei league in baseball, softball or whatever it was.


Murata

When he does play Nisei baseball and softball, do you and Dorothy go with him?



351
Kaneko

(chuckles) No, all by himself. I think he was connected with—what is it—Nisei, NA, what is it?


Murata

CNAA [Chicago Nisei Athletic Association].

14. The Chicago Nisei Athletic Association [CNAA] is also often referred to as "CN double A."


Kaneko

One time he was the commissioner for the basketball league.


Murata

He really helped out later.


Kaneko

He was the top man. (chuckles)


Murata

Oh, he was. He was very involved with CNAA. How about the girls, were they playing CNAA, too?


Kaneko

No, I don't think they were much of athletic type.


Murata

And then, you were in this Elm La Salle Church. Is this Elm La Salle Church a Methodist church?


Kaneko

No, it's not a Methodist church. It's a school over there in the Chicago Avenue.


Murata

Moody [Bible Institute].


Kaneko

It's part of the Moody.


Murata

The family goes to La Salle—


Kaneko

No, we didn't go to that. Children went there, but we didn't go.


Murata

Do you and Dorothy go to church?


Kaneko

At that time, we didn't go to any of the churches.


Murata

Because you're too busy. The three children go to church there. When would they start going?


Kaneko

It's probably when we're living on Clark Street.


Murata

Maybe as the children get a little bit bigger. And then the church is not so far away.


Kaneko

It was only two or three blocks away.


Murata

How did you pick this church to go to?



352
Kaneko

(chuckles) Probably it was closest one. The Moodies always come around and talk to you and try to get you into their church.


Murata

Maybe one of those times you thought you'd try it out so you send them to Sunday school.


Kaneko

Yes; that's what it is.


Murata

Their life is made up of going to school, doing some piano lessons, ballet lessons, and they go to church. Kevin does sports. Do they have to work?


Kaneko

All of the girls worked some kind of summer job. Kevin was going to the Ogden School and he used to help at the Ken's studio, which is owned by Ken Yamamoto. We knew him real well. (chuckles) Ever since Kevin was sixth grade, he used to do errands. And there was one family that lived upstairs to their business. They owned the Jazz Limited. I think the missus was half Japanese. And she used to ask Kevin to do little errands, so he used to make money that way. (chuckles)

During summer vacation, he worked for this Ken. Even when he was going [to]college, [during] summer vacation, he used to work there. After he graduate from college, he worked someplace. I forgot where it was. But anyway he went back to Ken's studio. Now he's part partner.


Murata

With Ken? Your son's a photographer?


Kaneko

No, he's not a photographer. They do commercial art, advertising.


Murata

Oh, is that what they do? He's been working with him since he was in the sixth grade.


Kaneko

Yes, since sixth grade. (chuckles)


Murata

Long time.


Kaneko

With that record, he should be retiring now. (chuckles) I don't know how many places they moved. Probably four or five times now.


Murata

WRA [War Relocation Authority].

15. Created by Executive Order 9102 on March 18, 1942, the War Relocation Authority was a governmental civilian agency that oversaw the detention of Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II.

Are you familiar with them at all?


Kaneko

Oh, yes. WRA had all the relocation camps. And then I think the head of Tule Lake was Mr. Shirrill. He became head of Chicago Relocation Center. Lot of the Tule Lake people came into Chicago because of that.



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Murata

Did that influence your coming to Chicago? That he was here?


Kaneko

Well, partially, yes. Lot of Tule Lake people were here, so that made it very attractive for us to be moving here.


Murata

Do you use WRA? Did he help you with finding the Barrington job?


Kaneko

Yes. In camp, every week they had some kind of offer from different parts of the United States specifying what sort of a work they're offering and how much they pay. You pick whatever you want and then WRA would give us transportation money. When we came out we took a bus from Tule Lake to Reno. From Reno we took a train into Chicago. There were quite a few people who came to Chicago. I remember this family, Mios and Satos; they went to Detroit. We were on the same bus. Yes, there must have been about thirty-five or forty people on this bus. And we stopped at Reno and catch a train.


Murata

All of you go on the train. But maybe not all of you come to Chicago. Some went to Detroit.


Kaneko

We stayed at Reno one night. There was a slot machine, so I played ten cents and I got $3.50 (chuckles). That was enough for breakfast. (chuckles) I haven't won any since.


Murata

Is that right? (chuckles) Then you take the train to Chicago. What do you do once you get to Chicago?


Kaneko

We already had a contact that we were going to work for them. They meet us at the train station. So there was no problem.


Murata

They meet your train and they have a car.


Kaneko

This big La Salle. (laughs)


Murata

They pick you up, so you don't have to worry at all.


Kaneko

No. They had a store on Oak Street right next to the Esquire [movie] Theatre. It's a big theatre. But they had a store, next door.


Murata

How did it feel to be in Chicago?


Kaneko

It was first time we had been to these big city, so lookin' up the skies and amazed at all these tall buildings.


Murata

That's right. When you come from Oregon, it's quite different.


Kaneko

The tallest building I remember was, when we went to Seattle. There was, I think it was called Smith Tower. That was a real high building. (chuckles) Smith Tower


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must have been about 40 stories. But, of course, Chicago was much larger and more tall buildings.


Murata

Were you apprehensive at all going to Barrington? The bus, you've got lot of people. The train sounds like you've got quite a few people. But as you go to Barrington?


Kaneko

No, it wasn't that bad at all. I knew this going to be just a temporary thing. It's just domestic type of thing.

[break in interview]


Murata

We were talking about the WRA. You were saying that they helped you locate a job here. Did you have any other contact with the WRA?


Kaneko

Not since we came out here, no.


Murata

Did they help you find people for your La Salle Mansion?


Kaneko

No, the Resettlers Committee was located almost across the street, kitty-corner from us. We were 1039 and they were 1110 La Salle Street. We had lot of contact with this. I think the first director was Mr.—what's his name?


Murata

Nakane?


Kaneko

No.


Kaneko

It was before that. Reverend—that's his father. I'll think about later. (chuckles)


Murata

Was is Yasutake?


Kaneko

Yes. They were asking for place to live or something like that, they report to us.


Murata

That's how you got tenants.


Kaneko

We didn't have any problem renting a place because everyone is looking for a place to live.


Murata

So that was easy. Your household in La Salle Mansion, who's living there?


Kaneko

Well, my father and my mother. Roy was already out—Harry and Lily and Rulie. Little bit later Dorothy's folks came in from camp so they were living there, too.


Murata

Dorothy's mom and dad. Dorothy had lot of brothers and sisters. (laughs) Did they come, too?


Kaneko

Well, let's see. I think most of them lived there, yes. I think some of them probably got married soon after.



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Murata

They'd live at La Salle Mansion, get married, and move out. What happened to Mary?


Kaneko

Mary my older sister came out here to Chicago. They had the apartment building on the Clark and Division.


Murata

They owned the building, where the store is? That building is also one of your dad's?


Kaneko

No, no. That was owned by somebody else.


Murata

Oh, I see. They owned the apartment building above the store?


Kaneko

They leased the apartment building. Not too long though, maybe a year or so. I remember one of the older sons went to Ogden School. Now I hear he's already retired. (chuckles)


Murata

Oh, is that right? (chuckles) Was Mary married before she went into camp?


Kaneko

Oh yes. She was married real early, maybe 18 or 19 years old. She probably got married around 1938, maybe earlier than that.


Murata

And she married someone from Brooks, Oregon?


Kaneko

No. She married Minoru Koida from Milwaukie, Oregon.


Murata

So she was on a different farm?


Kaneko

Well, they had the growing flowers business. She had five boys. One boy is a physician. He lives in California. But four other boys formed the corporation and they were carrying on their father's business. The last time I saw them, they had maybe 50 green houses. And they did delivery as far as Seattle, from Portland. They had maybe 10 or 11 trucks (chuckles), so they are in a big business.


Murata

It got to be a big business. Mary marries into that family. They go into the same camp as all of you?


Kaneko

They went to Minidoka. I think this second from last one, twin boys, they were the first babies to be born in assembly center in Portland. As soon as they got into this assembly center, they were born.


Murata

The first babies. Does Mary move to Chicago?


Kaneko

Yes, later on, probably 1945. They had this apartment building for about a year and then they went back to Portland. As soon as they were able to, they went back.



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Murata

They also had the farm in the same way you did, in this cooperative?


Kaneko

I believe they were while they were gone.


Murata

So they had the farm to go back to?


Kaneko

Yes, this business to go back to.


Murata

They resumed growing flowers. At that time, you also have an opportunity to go back to Oregon. You also have a farm in Oregon. Does your dad consider that?


Kaneko

We got used to this Chicago weather (chuckles) although it's kind of severe at times. We were talking about going back, and dad said, "Don't be moving all the time." He says, "If you decide you want a certain place, first thing is to buy is house. Second thing you should buy is a family cemetery lot." (chuckles) He said, "Then you'll be sure to stay and you could prosper that way." So we bought this building. And we bought the family cemetery lot. (chuckles) Just follow my dad's advice.


Murata

Where did you buy this cemetery plot?


Kaneko

Over there in Elmhurst.

16. Elmhurst is a suburb 17 miles west of Chicago.

It's called Elm Lawn Cemetery. Soon after that the Morita family bought it and two of my brothers bought the family plot there. We just figure, we buy this cemetery lots so we could probably, in 10, 20 years, we could sell it maybe with a profit. But now we have, I don't know how many people buried there. I think there's Dorothy's father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, my sister-in-law's husband, and Roy, Harry, and Harry's mother-in-law, father-in-law. Let's see. Who else is there?—quite a few.


Murata

That's quite a lot of people. When did you buy that plot?


Kaneko

It must have been about thirty or thirty-five years ago, quite a long time ago. In our lot we don't have anybody there, so we could sell it with a profit now. (chuckles) But I think we already got a gravestone bought. All we got to do is put a date on it. (chuckles)


Murata

(laughs) We can wait a long time before we do that. At La Salle Mansion you've got quite a lot of people that move in and out. You help family members get settled and when they're able, they move out. When you move in two or three years to—


Kaneko

Clark Street


Murata

Yes, who's living with you then?


Kaneko

Well, there were six flats on this Clark Street. We had two stores downstairs. One store was the tavern and the other one was the Filipino barber. (chuckles) It seems


357
like they always have a fight around that. (laughs) I always hear gun fire someplace. But anyway, we had six flat upstairs. And we lived in one flat. And then across the hallway, the Moritas lived there.


Murata

Who was living with you? Your mom and dad were living with you?


Kaneko

Yeah, my mom, dad. By that time, I think one of my sisters was living there. By then some of my brothers got married. And my sister got married. And then we had one fellow from Japan. We always had somebody from Japan, or orphans used to live with us. I think there was one fellow from Japan. My dad sponsored him, and he was going to school in Texas. But summer months, he used to live there.

This student's name was Shigeo Sato. When he reached San Francisco, he didn't have any money so we asked our friend in San Francisco to put him on a bus to Chicago. He had a scholarship to McMurray College in Abilene, Texas, but we had to send him spending money and board and room.

In his third year, the FBI was looking for him because he should be in school, but he wasn't. Soon we found out that he went back to Japan without notifying us. The only time we heard from him was when he wrote us a card from Melbourne, Australia. He was sent there by the NHK [Nippon Hoso Kyokai]

17. Japan Broadcasting, the national television network

to cover the Olympics.

When my dad went to Japan (I don't remember if it was in 1940 or after the war), he called Shigeo Sato to come and see him where he was staying in Tokyo. Shigeo Sato's answer was, "I'm busy, so you come to see me." Needless to say, my dad was quite upset with his attitude. His comment was, " Onshirazu no hito da."

18. "He doesn't appreciate our kindness" (Japanese).

By this time he must have had a good position at NHK.


Murata

When your sister gets married, where does she move?


Kaneko

Well, they stayed here in Chicago for a while, until about 20 or 25 years ago. They moved to California.


Murata

Oh, they did. Did they stay until retirement or what's the reason that she moves to California?


Kaneko

Well, I can't remember the reason. But they moved as a family. And the other one, I think her daughter was living in Los Angeles area, so they moved there.


Murata

They wanted to be closer to their children. So that's the reason that they moved. And how about your brother. He gets married while he's still at La Salle Mansion. And where does he move?



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Kaneko

Roy had this store so they moved to near North Side. No, no near Wrigley Field.

19. Wrigley Field is the ballpark of the Chicago Cubs.


Murata

Do they buy a building as well?


Kaneko

Yes. And then later on, they move to Lincolnwood.

20. Lincolnwood is a suburb 12 miles northwest of Chicago.


Murata

So they have a six-flat or a three-flat?


Kaneko

Over near Wrigley Field, I think, they had a three-flat building.


Murata

Does your dad help pay for it?


Kaneko

No, I think they were more independent.


Murata

He did this on his own. At that point he can already move near Wrigley Field. He's moving up, doesn't live right near the store. Is it easier at that point to buy a place?


Kaneko

He and his wife were both working so it's much easier for them to be buying anything that they feel that was comfortable.


Murata

When you first move to Chicago you had this difficulty to rent. That was why you buy this La Salle Mansion. So I'm thinking, they bought near Wrigley Field. So, it's a little easier to buy, meaning people will sell things now to you?


Kaneko

I think so, yes. I think by that time, seems like everything's opened up for the Japanese Americans. It was much easier. But Harry, I don't think he bought any building here. I think he always rented. There was one time, it was so funny. La Salle Mansion had two buildings. One was the main building and the other one is called "Annex."

I found this envelope near this Annex step, so I put it on the step so that somebody could see it and pick it up. Then I went to Wells Street to buy some plumbing for my building on Clark Street. When I came back, the envelope was still there. I opened up, and there was pretty close to $200 cash in there. I looked a little bit more, and then something about State Street Tavern. I called up this tavern, and I asked them, "Did you lose any money?" He says, "No." But I said I found pretty close to $200 in cash. "Oh," he says, "I let my son-in-law take a bus from La Salle Street to some state building so he could pay the liquor tax." I took this back to the State Street tavern and he thanked me and he says, "Would you like a drink?" "No, I don't drink." (laughs)

He was talking to me and says, "Oh, some Japanese couple moved into my building." And I says, "What's his name?" He says, "Oh, he just moved in, so I can't remember his name. He's a mechanic and his wife works over here at Wesley as a nurse." I


359
thought to myself that's funny because my brother Harry just moved. He's a mechanic and his wife works over at Wesley. So I asked him, "Is his name Harry?" He says, "Yeah, that's him." (chuckles) Here I found my brother Harry's landlord's money. They were someplace around 6000 north. Here right in our neighborhood, found his landlord's money. It was kind of a coincidence.


Murata

Real coincidence.


Kaneko

Speaking of another coincidence, my daughter Cherie when she went to Oberlin College had a roommate, Susan Gardner. About September we had a new assistant minister. Dorothy [narrator's wife] wrote Cherie, "We have a new assistant minister by name Goodloe Love," which is kind of unusual name." This Susan Gardner answered and said, "Goodloe Love, we had that same minister from Tennessee." (chuckles) We found out it was the same minister that served her church, that came to our church. (chuckles)


Murata

That is a coincidence.


Kaneko

That's a real coincidence. But another time, there's another kind of coincidence. This Susan Gardner, she's married now. They live in Houston, Texas. My grandson is going to school in Houston. And every once in a while he has this concert type of thing. Susan always comes with this husband. (chuckles) I think they were there last year. And then this past January when he had this senior recital, they were there.


Murata

How nice. You get to see them.


Kaneko

Cheryl, my daughter's roommate for four years.


Murata

Yes. This is Cheryl's son that's at Texas?


Kaneko

No, no. It's Donna's son.


Murata

Donna's son that's in Texas.


Kaneko

There's another time, we always had somebody from Japan living with us, or we were kind of taking care of, or some real close relationship. This Yoshio Goto, he has a big business up in Elk Grove Village now. Well, he calls us American father and mother. When he graduate from this Westminster Choir College in New Jersey, it's in Princeton's campus, we went there and there were maybe 50 graduates in this Westminster Choir College. We were talking and found one Chinese girl. We're asking where she's from. She says Chicago. And I asked her for her address. She says 1234 Argyle. That's just two doors from us. (chuckles) We didn't know her parents lived there. That's a small world. Then there was another fellow with their parents from California. I asked her where are they from? He says, "California, but originally from Portland." I said, "My sister lives in Milwaukie [Oregon]." He says, "We lived in Milwaukie. If I said, "Milwaukie," nobody knows. So, we found out that his brothers were classmates of Mary's three sons. They were classmates.



360
Murata

That's another coincidence.


Kaneko

Yes. We were here in this small, little college and found out that there's lot of—


Murata

—people you know here and there. When would you say that things got better for you? You come out of camp. You work hard—so many jobs. When do you think that things got better?


Kaneko

Well, I don't know. We had little money when we came out here. We were able to buy farms and take hold of a lease. We had the money.


Murata

You were more fortunate than others were.


Kaneko

We didn't have to start from scratch. That was a big advantage for us. And then later on we sold the farm in Oregon.


Murata

When did you sell the farm in Oregon?


Kaneko

Probably early part of '50s.


Murata

Early-'50s, what made you sell the farm?


Kaneko

Well, we just decided not to go back there at all.


Tape 4, Side A

Murata

Dad decides to sell the farm? Was that hard to do?


Kaneko

Well, no. I don't think so. Once you make up your mind that you want to stay here, it wasn't very hard at all. We had another place in southern part of Oregon. I don't know how we got it, but he probably bought these two lots in Coos Bay, Oregon, early part of 1900. What is that, Oriental Exclusion Act.

21. The narrator is probably referring to Alien Land Laws, which were enacted by various western states to prevent Japanese (and other Asian) immigrants from purchasing agricultural land. First enacted in the 1910s, the laws generally remained in effect until well after World War II.

They weren't supposed to sell it to Orientals, but probably in the inaka,

22. In the country or provinces (Japanese)

they didn't know anything about it. Dad had these two lot on this Coos Bay and, we were paying something like $2.00 or $3.00 a year for tax.

Then when we were in Tule Lake, they came over and said that we may have to use some of your property for the road that going into this airport that they were building. He says, "Is it okay for us to release this part of the lot?" So we said it's okay 'cause we didn't think too much of it because we were only paying $2.00 or $3.00 a year.


361

Then a few years afterward, we took a trip into Oregon. We want to find out where the lot was. We went to the Coos County courthouse in Coquille and found out the exact address. We went there and there was two empty lots, and soon afterward our tax went up from $2.00, $3.00 to $100.

We want to find out why. There was lot of developments going near there. There was a big hill there. If it was on the other side of the hill, it was facing the Pacific Ocean; there's lot of development. Where our lot was, on the bay side, there wasn't that much action. But, regardless, the whole village was prospering. So later on, we sold it. (chuckles) I wish we didn't, but we figure paying $100 every year and maybe it [would] go up. But we weren't using for anything, so we sold that, too. It's kind of funny that my dad had this two lot from early part of 1900.


Murata

Yes, that he was able to buy the property in his own name. Maybe he didn't know about that law and they didn't know either.


Kaneko

He didn't know and they didn't know.


Murata

How about the Oregon farm? Is that also bought in his own name?


Kaneko

No; that was in my name.


Murata

Were you in Japan when they bought it?


Kaneko

No, no, no. I was here.


Murata

You were here. That's often common to make purchases in their children's name. Once you decide not to go back, then he sells this Oregon farm? But you also were involved in a lawsuit with that farm? Was that about that same time?


Kaneko

No, that was (looks at his papers) little bit later. It's 1958.