Oral History Interview with Motoko Maekawa Kobayashi
Kibei female, born in Greenlake, Washington on December 14, 1912 to a poor farm worker family. In 1915, at age three, she was taken to Japan and did not return to the U.S. until 1932, at the age of twenty. She was sent to Japan to live with relatives as her parents could not afford to raise a family here. From 1932 to 1933 she worked on a farm in Oregon until she married Kotaro Kobayashi. Under the Cable Act effective at the time, Motoko lost her U.S. citizenship by marrying a man racially ineligible for citizenship. They ran a dry cleaning business in Auburn, Washington until WWII. In 1942 when she was thirty, Motoko and family were evacuated to Pinedale near Fresno, California then to Tule Lake, California. Dissension between pro-Japan and pro-American groups led to frequent verbal and physical abuse in camp. Some families renounced U.S. citizenship but reconsidered when they thought about consequences. Some people hired lawyers to reverse original decisions. Motoko believes the family made the right decisions to remain in the U.S. given educational and economic opportunities here. In 1945 they came to Clipper Gap, California and endured harsh poverty, then to Sacramento and a better life. Mr. Kobayashi worked on the railroad while Motoko worked at Libbyï¿½s cannery. Their children are successful professionals: Charles, a Superior Court judge; Jinji, an engineer; Atsuko, a school nurse; and James, a dentist. See appendix in the bound copy for U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, 8UCS-1435 (Cable Act), repealed in 1936.
Transcript available at California State University, Sacramento University Library
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