Yuki Kitaoka
A Different View

End of War

At war's end, Yuki's first thoughts are about home. But, she stays in Chicago.

Takashi, discharged in 1945, enrolls in classes at the University of Illinois to refresh his knowledge and skills in the practice of law.

The Kitaokas remain in Chicago for about a year.

End of War

Home. That’s the first thing you think of, you can go home, you see.

But because the people there were so nice, I didn’t mind staying [in Chicago]. I liked Chicago, although winter months, terrible. That wind from Lake Michigan just blows you off [your feet], it’s so cold, winter months.

But I used to go to Erma and Nancy’s place in the area. And it’s nice out in the country — it’s almost a country because ten miles out of Chicago. And I used to enjoy going there.

[I wasn’t too homesick]. To me, at that age, the important thing is to stay with your husband. Nobody [else] matters kind of feeling, yeah.

Mainland in Retrospect

No doubts, no fears [during my years on the Mainland]. The only incident that I thought may get into a bad situation was at a theater. I thought, “Oh-oh, I better not get too snippy here.”

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A friend and I went to the Chicago Theater — this is in the middle of the war, now — and we were about the only Japanese in the theater, everybody else is haole.

So we sat down by the aisle and before you know it, there’s a dowager-looking woman standing next to me, looking down at me and telling me, “Those are our seats.” I said, “Your seats? There’s no reservation in this theater.” She said, “But those are our seats.”

It happens that she and her daughter were sitting at our seats and intermission came and she stood up and went to a better seat. And when she was over there trying to get the other seat, we came and sat in her seats because there were two empty ones.

My girlfriend is nudging me — she’s a Seattle girl — “Hey come on, Yuki, let’s go, let’s go before we make an issue out of it.” I said, “I am not moving from here.”

[The lady] said, “Those are our seats.” I said, “You want to sit here, go get the usher.” And by that time, the people surrounding us are telling her, “Sit down, plenty seats over here” kind of thing.

I wouldn’t say a thing more. I wouldn’t move.

Then she started going in front of us to get to her seats and I said to my friend, Alice, “Did she try to kick you?”
“Why didn’t you kick her back? I did.” (Laughs)

That’s the only incident I thought to myself, “Oh, here I go again, asking for trouble.” But [my friend is] used to it, in Seattle. Hawaii, you’re not used to that kind of talk, eh. That’s a difference in rearing your children.

So she says to me, “Pretty soon, we could have gotten into a fight.” (Laughs) But anyway, it turned out all right. That was the only incident, I think, I really felt, “Oh-oh, something’s going to happen here.”

But I think the Japanese, or maybe Asians, one mistake they make is, they have a chip on their shoulder to begin with. They want to put up a real fight. (Laughs) But this kind of incident, she’s got no business saying that to me but she did it because two young Japanese kids, taking our seats, well, and I say, “Those are our seats.”

[The Japanese from the Mainland were] nice, but they don’t stand up for themselves. They’re raised that way already, minority group. I think we, in Hawaii, are a little more, “You can’t say those things to me” kind of feeling that you have. People on the Mainland are a little different but nice kids. We still correspond with each other. Very sincere kids, very nice. [My husband has] met a lot of people, too, who are nice. They’re katonks, but they’re nice.

Reunited with Husband

[My husband was discharged in 1945. We stayed in Chicago for about a year.]

Yuki and Takashi Kitaoka

He was a lawyer and he felt that he needed some brushing up, that’s all. So he went to University of Illinois [in Chicago] and went to classes over there.

Yuki Kitaoka's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Takashi and Yuki Kitaoka.

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