Linda's Orchard

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Month: February, 2014

Honoring Our Heroes

Roy Matsumoto and Linda Okazaki

Roy Matsumoto and Linda Okazaki

Held in conjunction with the Bay Area Day of Remembrance, the Nichi Bei Foundation presented “Films of Remembrance” at the New People Cinema in San Francisco on 23 February 2014.

World War II was complex on many levels. In just 28 minutes, one film brought to attention many of those issues: Internment, MIS, Merrill’s Marauders, Issei, Nissei, Kibei, Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima.

Honor and Sacrifice: The Roy Matsumoto Story was a moving documentary. Roy Matsumoto was a US war hero; one of his brother’s also fought for the US; three brothers were in the Japanese Army; the rest of the family lived in Hiroshima. The sensitive material was presented in a thought provoking and respectful manner. Producers Don Sellers and Lucy Ostrander, as well as Roy’s daughter Karen Matsumto, were available for an in-depth Q&A following the presenetation.

It was an honor to meet Roy Matsumoto at this special event.

Bittersweet Memories

Hiroko Iida, Harold Kobayashi, Maru Hiratzka

Hiroko Iida, Eizo Kobayashi, Maru Hiratzka

On 19 February 1942, FDR signed Executive Order 9066 which set the stage for tens of thousands of Nikkei to be incarcerated without due process. Smaller numbers of Italians, Germans and Japanese South Americans were also held. Canada followed suit with a similar scenario.

This past Sunday, I attended a “Day of Remembrance”  service at the Berkeley Methodist United Church. Eizo Kobayashi spoke of his memories as a young boy from West Oakland, detained with his mother and brothers, first at Tanforan Assembly Center and then in Topaz, Utah. His Issei father remained in a California hospital while suffering from tuberculosis. Eizo’s stories were vivid and poignant. He spoke of the stench of horse manure in their dwelling, a refurbished horse stall at the Tanforan race track. He described the three day train ride to Utah, told of the regular dust storms and how he and his brothers stuffed gunny sacks with hay to serve as mattresses atop their cots. His family lost their home, their business, their possessions, and in some ways, their father. For a young boy, it was also an adventure. For his mother, it was a tragedy.

Following the service, the congregation shared displays of their own memorabilia. Maru Hiratzka brought a small  wooden chest, hand crafted during the camp years by her uncle, Jimmy Osuga. Harold Hiyashi proudly displayed his mementos from before, during and after the war. Other Nissei shared their stories, too, so that we would not forget.

Harold Hiyashi

Harold Hiyashi

Have I taken off more than I can chew? Nope!

2014 looks to be quite the year, genealogically speaking. I don’t usually make resolutions, but personal goals seem to be a good way to go. My goals for the year are off to a good start.

1. Attend APG Professional Management Conference. Check.

2. Attend SLIG. Check. Loved John Colletta’s writing course. Thanks, John Colletta and Michael Hait.

3. Start the NGS Home Study Course (graded, of course). Check. First two assignments completed. Yeah.

4. Enroll in ProGen. Check! I’m scheduled to begin ProGen 22 the first week of March.

5. Learn more about Japanese Canadian Internment records. Double check; I’m enrolled in a course in BC in a few weeks and can hardly wait.

6. Update my resume, business plan, business cards and any other outdated info. Check. Lucky to have a professional editor among my closest friends. Whipped that resume into top shape. The other docs will follow suit.

7. Join other societies. Recently joined Southern California and will attend Jamboree.

8. Make a difference in the Nikkei community. Since teaching Nikkei how to find their own records is what floats my boat, this shouldn’t be difficult. Already working with some incredible people at the newly formed Nikkei Genealogical Society. Collaborating with other colleagues on some potential publications. It’s all good.

9. Sort through my old genie files. Yikes. This part is challenging. Like others before me, I started out as a hobbyist. Have too many paper files with too few sources, plus a load of bad habits to break. Tackling #9 is going to take time and patience.

10. Keep a positive attitude. I can do it!


Have you ever seen the 1997 movie with Nathan Lane called Mousehunt? I’ve got a similar scenario with chipmunks. No, not the cute Alvin, Theodore and Simon singing variety. These are the annoying, chomping on the rafters, piddling through the drywall and keeping me up at night variety. This morning I decided that enough was enough. Pulled out the ladder, climbed up into the crawlspace. Yep, plenty of mouse and chipmunk skat to scare off an amateur. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a crawlspace so tiny not even an elf could enter. Now, those of you who know me surely understand these implications. I am elf-sized. I should be able to squeeze through the smallest of spaces. Not happening. No other attic access? Why didn’t I realize this when we bought the place? So what’s a girl to do? Break down the walls, aka Nathan Lane? Not yet. Call the exterminator? Already tried that. The fellow who showed up was huge and there was no way he could even get through the crawl space door, let alone get to the spot where Alvin and his family are living and rapidly reproducing. Bait? A possibility, but the thought of the stench of an entire family of dead rodents makes me hesitate, though not for long. I think what I will do is throw some peanut butter laced bait into the spaces too small for me to crawl through, set some traps in the areas I can reach, and wait for the snow to melt so that I can put wire and steel wool around any areas the critters might be using for access. I am open to suggestions. This is one family tree I’d like to extinguish.