I just finished my first Denver interview – with Bessie Konishi. It lasted a little over an hour and we talked about her family’s farm, the Japanese American community in Alamosa and her memories of WWII. Everything went smoothly and Dana’s setup looked great! A snapshot of the interview is attached (please ignore my head, which seems to be taking up half the room).
After a fairly non-eventful but long travel day, we finally arrived in Denver. We did encounter some awful turbulence on the flight in. Megan and I weren’t feeling so hot, but we glanced over and Tom was doggedly reading his book the entire time. The weather was rainy and exremely windy by the time we got here, although it was apparently nearly 80 degrees earlier in the day.
Mary was born in San Gabriel, California, and spent the majority of her childhood in Los Angeles. On December 7, 1941, Mary was spending the day in Japantown with her family and remembers the FBI swarming the neighborhood, shutting down businesses one-by-one. Mary and her family were removed to Santa Anita “assembly center” and then Amache incarceration camp in Colorado. After the war, Mary moved to Denver and worked in a seaweed factory in Nihonmachi. She eventually settled in a small town in the Arkansas Valley and opened a greenhouse with her husband. My interview with Mary will focus on her experiences moving to Denver after the war and her memories of life in Japantown during that time.
Nancy Miyagishima is my second interview in Denver. Tom will be interviewing her husband, Alfred, during the same time. Nancy has a fascinating background and family history. Born and raised in Sacramento, Nancy was sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Ft. Lupton, Colorado during the summer of 1941. Nancy was trapped in Colorado following the outbreak of WWII. Her grandparents and brother eventually joined her, leaving the West Coast during the “voluntary evacuation” period. However, she was separated from her step-father and younger sister, both of whom renounced their citizenship and repatriated to Japan in 1946. I will be focusing on her childhood in Sacramento and memories of Ft. Lupton during the war.
Densho’s video equipment is packed and ready to go! We’re taking it all on the plane with us, a combination of carry-on and checked baggage. We now have to deal with the addition of airline fees for more than one checked piece, as well as the surcharge for overweight luggage. With a new (and much smaller) camera and tripod this year, carrying all our gear looks to be much more manageable than in the past. Looking forward to getting underway!
Bessie will be my first interview in Denver. She lives in Alamosa, a rural community located near the Colorado/New Mexico border. Bessie also grew up in Alamosa and is one of our 5 prewar Colorado narrators. Alamosa has historically been home to a large Latino population; the relationships among the various ethnic groups will be a focus of my interview with her. Bessie’s vivid descriptions of Colorado’s prewar Japanese American farming communities as well as her memories of the aftermath of Pearl Harbor will be great additions to our archive! I’m looking forward to the interview.
- book review
- camp life
- current events
- Densho statement
- film review
- hidden histories
- In memoriam
- open letter
- oral history
- Pacific Northwest
- photo essay
- popular culture