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Aikens, Alice Endo Transcript Part 3
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TitleAikens, Alice Endo Transcript Part 3
Date2007-04-14
IntervieweeAikens, Alice Endo
InterviewerUhlig, Elizabeth
TranscriberToliver, Christy
SubjectJapanese Americans
Education
Geographic SubjectEugene (Ore.)
Kyoto (Japan)
Tokyo (Japan)
Original FormatMicrosoft Word
Data of Digital Converstion2010-08-09
Original CollectionJapanese-American Association of Lane Co., OR, Oral History Collection
Other FormatsPDF
RestrictionsPermission to use must be obtained from the Oregon Multicultural Archives, OSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center
Digital FormatPDF
LanguageEnglish
Full TextJapanese- American Oral History Project Oregon - Oral History Collection Alice Endo Aikens - Part 3 Date: April 14, 2007 Place: Home of Elizabeth Uhlig, Eugene, OR Interviewee: Alice Endo Aikens Interviewer: Elizabeth Uhlig Transcriber: Christy Toliver Length: 00: 28: 25.15 [ begin Audio 3 - [ 00: 00: 04.15]] [ EU] Alice, when, uh, when you moved to Eugene then, did you continue working? [ AA] In Eugene I did not, because I was raising my sons. Um... I worked part- time, uh... for a friend. And then I started looking for permanent work when the kids were older, like... when they were twelve and ten. And I applied at, uh, 4J? Tried to get on as a substitute classified worker. And my first assignment was, as a sub, to work in the instruction department at the education center. So I worked there for six weeks because the secretary was leaving for another job out of state and they started to interview people for that job. And ordinarily substitutes aren't allowed to interview for a job I was told. But, uh, my boss said she would interview, she wanted to interview me, so I think there were fourteen candidates? There were quite a few people they interviewed. And, uh, just by luck, I got the job. But of course I had been there for six weeks, you know, and I was kind of training. So I worked there for nineteen years. And, uh, worked with the coordinators, curriculum coordinators, mainly. And my job was sort of, my title was Program Coordinator Assistant. So, what I did was, um... I set up meetings and workshops for [ clears throat] the administrators and I was kinda like a liaison between the administrators and [ clears throat] principals, and teachers in 4J. I also worked with school transfers. And, um... just, what I liked about the job was, even though it was intense, every year it was different-- because you changes within the department and different shifts, [ coughs] responsibility. And I liked, now that I'm retired I can say, I really liked the classes they sent me to, such as, uh, computer classes. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ 00: 02: 44.03] [ AA] And, uh, different classes to enrich your you know, work, uh, work style or whatever. And, uh... So, I, I, I really glad that I was able to, uh, have that experience there. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] I really don't miss it that much because now when the phone rings I try not to answer it within the second ring. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] I've had to train myself, because working there I was answering by the second ring. And I learned, because I had one boss - usually I had three bosses at one time - one boss was multi- [ clears throat] very good at doing multi- tasks-- she was good at multi- tasking. So I learned how to do two or three, two or three things at once because she was what I saw every day and I thought that was normal. And even now, [ coughs], I have to be doing at least two things at once or I don't think , or I feel like I'm wasting my time. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] So, I just find that interesting-- I can see that now that I'm retired. It's very hard for me not to do anything. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ 00: 03: 56.28] [ AA] Because that's just not me. [ laughs] So, although I've been retired for six years - almo- well, this is going to be my seventh - I don't feel like I'm retired because I'm always doing projects or hobbies or interests. [ EU] Uh- huh. You said you raised two sons? [ AA] Uh- huh. [ EU] What are their names? [ AA] The oldest one is, uh, Barton Hiroyuki Aikens. And his name is, uh... combination of my name and another Kanji, another character. And then, uh... Quinn, the second son, is Quinn Yoshihisa Aikens. And Yoshi is from, that part is from my mother's name- - her name was Yoshiko. And, uh, I can't remember where Hisa came from. But my mother, uh, father both came up with the Japanese names. You know how the older people get together and say, " Well, this would be a good name" and in order to write it why don't we use this characters. You know, there are different ways to write different names. But they decided which combination [ clears throat] of characters to have. So, uh, they both have very old fashion Japanese middle names I'm told, by people who live in Japan. [ EU] Did you have Japanese name? [ AA] I did. And it's... [ EU] Or do you? [ laughs] [ AA] I do. It's, uh, Hiroko. [ EU] Okay. [ 00: 05: 36.22] [ AA] And, uh... it means, I think the character, the characters mean, like to propagate. Sort of that sense. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] And uh, it's a very easy name to print, I mean to write. And Endo is very difficult I think, but now I appreciate it more. But when I had to go to Japanese school I envied my friends who had really simple names-- their Kanjis were so easy and then mine consisted of maybe eleven strokes, you know? And the teacher would make corrections. We had a very, very strict teacher who actually had, um, one of these sticks, you know, you actually hit you if you misbehaved. [ EU] Hm. [ AA] And he was also the Buddhist, uh, reverend. { EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] And so, he was very strict. And he even did not like us to bring snacks to, uh, the school. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] But we were so hungry right after school we would stop and buy something and then take it to, uh, Japanese school and eat it there. And we just had tables and benches we sat on. And it was downstairs of the church. And we had just the regular black, black boards. And we received report cards. And it was, it was really strict and it was, it was like real school. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ 00: 07: 06.17] [ AA] Because we knew we had to, uh... study our books and then we had to read out loud. And, uh, we didn't have any take home homework, but while we were there we were expected to study and perform. [ EU] Did your sons, have your sons studied Japanese? [ AA] Our first sabbatical year in Kyoto, um.... Bart went to... Jinjo [ 00: 07: 43.15]] Shōgakkō in Kyoto, just, very close to Kyoto University. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] Uh, that was the neighborhood elementary school. And so he was just thrown in there-- he was, uh... I think, uh... five years old at the time probably. And, uh, it was really hard on him because he was the only foreigner in the entire whole school-- nobody spoke English to him. The teacher was an older woman who did not know any English. There were forty- five kids in the class. And nobody was willing to spend any time with him. But this one classmate, Mariko Kitamura, took him aside. And she, uh, coached him and told him what to do and taught him things and this is all done by body language or, you know, in Japanese. But, by the end of the year he was doing well -- he knew Japanese quite well. And he has still retained it, uh... I mean his pronunciation is authentic. I mean, he did take Japanese a little bit I think in college. But, um, he has retained it much better than my younger son who was probably three when he went to a, uh, nursery school, and there must have been over two- hundred kids in that nursery school. [ EU] Yeah. [ AA] And, uh, it was run by, oh, two, three teachers in an Anglican church, in Kyoto. And he was just petrified and traumatized and had a very difficult time. But, uh, every day I would walk both of them to school, drop them off at the various places and picked them up again. But the younger one has not retained his Japanese at all. I think maybe it was such a negative experience he didn't want to. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] But, uh, both of them love to travel. Because we've been traveling since they were young, they've had opportunities. [ 00: 10: 00.10] [ EU] Why did you go to Japan, to Kyoto at that time? [ AA] Uh... Mel received a, uh, well, he, it was because it was his sabbatical year. And he had received a, uh, I think, was it a Japan Foundation?... Fellowship one year. And we were supposed to actually go to Tokyo University because our sponsor was there. But he, uh, unexpectedly died. And so, it was arranged that Mr. H-, Dr. Higuchi would be the sponsor, but he was at Kyoto University. So we ended up in Kyoto instead, which I think [ laughs] was probably the best thing he could ask for. And we back again seven years later, to Kyoto University, and, uh, lived at the same place. And by this time the kids were much older so they went to, uh, international school in Kyoto. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] Yeah. I can't remember the other f-, uh, fell-, we're, Mel was lucky he got... uh, funding both times. But I remember when we were on the Japan Foundation Fellowship we went to meetings in Kyoto and they would have films on like national treasures and... it was so enriching, you know? And they would invite us to places. We saw films on the woman who does the indigo dying. [ EU] Yeah. [ AA] Maybe someplace in, maybe Kyoto. But she pas-, she had passed away, I think right after the film was made. But she grew and then did all the dying of Indigo, did the weaving. And, uh, while, the first time we were in, in Kyoto a couple of us went to a mountain village where they made handmade paper. [ EU] Yeah. Uh- huh. [ AA] A famous, uh, village. And that was really interest to see how they raise the material and then they make the paper right in their house. Just the idyllic little village. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ 00: 12: 20.03] [ AA] And so, to me, Kyoto has always been, kind of a traditional town, and traditional arts and crafts. It's, it's just full of riches. And you would see people, uh, oh, dipping cloth in the Kamo- gawa River. You know, they were dying and then they were dipping it in and letting it dry. And I think we did go to that silk, uh, textile factory or store once, Nishijin. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] But to me Kyoto is so authentic and... it doesn't change as much as Tokyo does. It's not as Americanized. [ EU] Uh- huh. Did you, were you able to study anything? Ikebana or...? [ AA] While I was in Kyoto I, I did study Ikebana. Um, I think it was, uh, Ohara style. I had already studied, uh, oh... it starts with an S style here a little bit. And then we, uh... it was Ohara that I studied. And, uh, I remember my mother was s-, s-, studying Saga Goryu. That type of flower arranging. And I was able to get the Saga school to send me some of their written books to her-- she was really thrilled. And, uh, my parents were able to come to Japan when we were living in Kyoto the first time. And, uh, we were able to buy, we went to a bamboo store, shop, and we were able to buy Ikebana receptacles. And, when I was taking Ikebana we went shopping to the ceramics store and to the kiln and just wonderful, uh, ceramic, you know, vases. It was just so much fun just to go there and buy these things. But I did study Ikebana, I studied the tea ceremony as well. And, uh... what else did I do while I was there? Oh, also doll making, but this was all paper dolls. Uh, it's a very old I guess Kyoto style, but you use really nice, heavy paper, and it's all paper, and you'll crumple of the paper. The body is made with cotton and they're all upright dolls. They're similar to Kokeshi dolls, but they're taller and slimmer. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] And I remember, I still have my collection of dolls I made. Um... [ short pause] And... but I was just taking everything in in Kyoto. Um... [ EU] Did you live in a Japanese neighborhood? [ 00: 15: 34.20] [ AA] In Kyoto we lived in a guest hall on the Kyoto University Campus and it was all concrete and very Americanized. They were actually, they were Western apartments built Japanese style in that everything was small-- small refrigerator, small stove. But it was very well designed, it was just sort of one big room with partial walls. And, uh, we had four floors. Downstairs was an office and there was, uh, people in the office who would help you, you know, find places or answer questions. So we felt very lucky to have that service. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] And it was air conditioned and we had heat too, so we were very fortunate, um, to have those accommodations. When we lived in Tokyo - Mel had a grant to study at Tokyo University for a while - we lived in the authentic Japanese house. And that was very uncomfortable because, like, you know, you'd, there were earthquakes and things would fall off, you know, part of your entry way would fall off and owner wouldn't care [ laughs]. But, uh, it was very dark in, in that authentic Japanese house... and cold and... I don't know, it was very nice looking, but very dark inside-- not enough lighting. I always felt like I was, you know, in the dark. Yeah. [ EU] Did you, so you liked Kyoto a lot better than Tokyo huh? [ AA] A hundred percent better. I really enjoyed Kyoto. I just found there was so much pollution in Tokyo-- just crossing the street in Tokyo there was a lot of the emissions and, and, uh, even more crowded. A lot of tourists there. I don't know, Kyoto just seems to be a little but more laid back and, and traditional. And, uh, it just seems to me like, what Japan used to be like, probably. [ EU] Were you able to visit any of your relatives? [ 00: 18: 01.18] [ AA] The first time we were there we did visit relatives and, uh, very, uh, kind of a highlight in... because my parents came and they hadn't been to Japan for over thirty years. And we visited their relatives, our relatives. And it's very heartwarming and, uh, went to different houses and it was very nice. Yeah. [ EU] Um, since the seventies then, have you been back to Japan? [ AA] No, I have not. No. You know, it's just the, it just ke-, keeps getting more expensive and it just keeps changing. And I would like to kind of remember Kyoto as it used to be [ laughs]. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] You know? [ EU] Yeah. [ AA] I don't know. [ EU] What are some of the other places you've traveled? You mentioned A-, Africa? Or? [ 00: 19: 00.21] [ AA] Well, we just got back from a safari to Africa and, uh, it also included going to Olduvai Gorge, which is the cradle of mankind. And that's why Mel wanted to go on that trip. It was sponsored by the U of O Alumni Association. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] And, uh, it was through Tanzania. And we, we opted for the five day extension to Kenya as well. But we went with a couple of friends that we've traveled with before. Uh, the group was twenty- four people and there were only four of us Oregon, a big contingent from USC, some from Georgia, Wisconsin. But it was mainly being in these vehicles and going down these bumpy roads and seeing these animals and very interesting animal behavior. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] And then of course, you know, just seeing the people, I kind of expected all that, but still... it, it was really a very intense trip. Uh, the animal behavior I couldn't believe-- we saw hippos in this big pool, and you could only see their ears and eyes. And there was this one mother hippo that had died and it was upside down and the legs were like this [ unknown gesture - likely gesturing to show the legs up in the air]. the little baby was right next to it. And this crocodile lunged at the mother and the body went to the middle of the pool. And all these other hippos noticed the dead body, the corpse, they looked and they screamed - they kind had this eerie cry - and they all went half way up in the air and landed on each others' shoulders and we could see this pool just full of all these hippos-- they're all kind of freaked out. And, and then they all kind of subsided. And that little baby kept following the mother and it was so sad. And the driver said the baby probably only had a fifty- fifty chance of surviving because only if some other hippo would nurse it. But apparently this was the second hippo that had died within a week and he was going to report it to the warden. But just to see how these animals reacted to this dead body was very human like, you know? And we were lucky enough to see a cheetah, uh, go after a, a little, uh, wildebeest. Kill it, carry it back, and eat it and... What amazed me was we saw thousands of wildebeests migrating north. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] This was the Great Migration-- that was the title of our tour. And we were watching them, we had paused, stopped, and the animals has stopped to graze, and I saw two calves being born right there in front of me. They just came out. One came out, dropped. Another came out, dropped. And then we kept looking and we thought, " Is the calf okay?" And in two minutes the calf was struggling to get up. By the third minute it was up. And they started walking, together. And to me I thought, you know I'd never thought about it much, but I guess animals are really tough. You know, they can do that. They can just start walking. Human beings don't do that. But just to see all these things, it was really, very, uh, had a huge impact on me. Of course we took lots of pictures. Oh, we visited a Maasai village-- went inside their huts and, wow. And, uh, we saw the Sambutus [ sp?] [ 00: 22: 44.05]] dance and we had to go in and dance with them [ laughs]. And, you know, we had a lot of new experiences. [ EU] During the break you mentioned you went to a Women's Cooperative? [ 00: 22: 54.04] [ AA] Yes. This was in Kenya. And it was a way for these women to earn a livelihood. And so they were teaching them how to weave. Each woman had her forte, like one would do one of elephants with these, uh, umbrella, acacia trees in the background. Another one, woman would do lions, you know. I guess each one had a favorite thing to weave. But they did rugs, wall hangings, uh, beautiful wool stoles. Uh, they did purses out of, is it sisal, sisal [ pronounces two different ways - [ 00: 23: 33.01]] [ EU] Hm. [ AA] Very tightly, uh, woven. And, uh... Anyway, these things they made and then apparently they sell them on their website or something. But we all bought things because, you know, these women you could tell were not that well off. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] And they were saying, " Oh, it's so tiring to have to work here eight hours a day." But at least they had a job. ' Cause there are a lot of unemployed people. A lot of people with AIDS, you know, in Kenya. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] So, uh, yeah, Africa was so different. A lot of poor people. But the rich - who are usually Europeans, the British, Dutch, and Germans - they own the big ranches. And they hire the local people. They have a huge floral industry in Kenya-- they raise roses in these huge greenhouses and they export them every day to the Netherlands. And then they're sold throughout the world. But the weather is just perfect for raising flowers in greenhouses because of the light-- they get enough sunlight. [ EU] Have you traveled in Asia, to China? Other places? [ 00: 24: 59.06] [ AA] We've been to China-- Mel's been to China three four times. I've only been there I think once. We've been to Taiwan. Uh, when we were younger Mel was asked to be a assistant tour leader to South America-- to Ecuador and Peru. And these were - he did that for three years - these were a three month tour to South America. And it was mainly targeted to teachers who needed to renew their certificates, to get credit. [ EU] Hm. [ AA] And so, the third year we all got to go one month in Ecuador. And we had lectures in Spanish at different universities on different topics. And we also visited archeological ruins in Peru and Ecuador. And that's why Mel was there. And Ecuador was one of my very favorite places, still is. Because when we went there it was not touristy at all. And then my favorite place, just to go view was Machu Picchu in Peru. That's one of my favorite places. So... We've been to those parts of South America, we've been to Japan - Mel's been there quite a few times - he's been to Korea two three times because he's writing a book with some Korean scholars on, uh, archeology and the tie with Korea and Japan. Actually, they have proof now that the Koreans have contributed more than what the Japanese think. [ EU] Uh- huh. [ AA] So [ laughs], this is probably going to please the Koreans, but not the Japanese, you know? Um... We've traveled, we've gone to Canada. Uh... Alaska-- we've been there three four times because our younger son got his first job in Alaska. He worked for Unocal until he was, uh, displaced, or, uh, last hired, first fired. That case-- he was very young. Um... where else have we been? We've been to Mexico. And also Mexico's Copper Canyon. Um... oh, we've been to Europe too. We took one of those tours where you go to nine countries in eleven days. [ EU] [ laughs] [ AA] You know, Japanese style. [ EU] Right. [ 00: 27: 38.17] [ AA] But we would like to go back to some of those countries again. And, uh, oh, we've been to Spain, twice. We went to the, uh K- Bart [ sp?] [ 00: 27: 55.26]] tour in Spain. And we went and did the K- Bart tour in Portugal. Let's see, Spain and Portugal... We've been to Portugal to the different cities as well. Oh, excuse me, it was K- Bart in France we went to. And then the K- Bart in Spain as a comparison. And then last year we went to Portugal with our sons. [ EU] Okay, I'll stop here. [ end audio 3 - [ 00: 28: 25.15]]
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