What do you know about your family history? How far back does your family tree go? Unfortunately, my family doesn’t have a whole lot of information about my relatives beyond my grandparents. And even that is fairly sparse, especially since my grandparents didn’t talk to much about their pasts when they were alive.
Fortunately, last year my auntie discovered some old family photographs on my dad’s side. Above are my dad’s mom’s parents. The Nishioka’s owned a barber shop in Seattle.
When my parents were visiting last week, I asked them what else they knew about our family history or who was in these photos. I wish that they knew more. This makes me appreciate the blogging world even more as it captures our day-to-day routines, our thoughts, our dreams. We get snapshots into each other’s lives and read the stories that go along with them.
Here are my great-grandparents again a little older along with my grandmother (the younger girl) and her sister. The females are wearing traditional Japanese kimonos.
This is a photo of my dad’s dad, Howard Lee, and his parents. My grandfather is the tallest boy standing in the back right between my great-grandmother and great-grandfather. This was taken in San Francisco’s Chinatown. My parents had a hard time identifying who all the other children were in the photo. Despite not knowing much about who these people were, I’m grateful to at least have these family portraits.
A few years ago I created an art book in honor of my grandpa Ernest Fukuda (my mom’s dad). He was the first Japanese-American to be employed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. We’re fortunate that my grandpa wrote up his life story and was interviewed in 1991 by the L.A. DWP for a series of oral histories of the DWP. Along with the interview transcripts are several letters from 1943 through 1984 documenting how the internment impacted his career and how he advocated for reparations for Japanese-Americans who were sent to internment camps during the war. My grandpa worked with then councilman Tom Bradley on a charter amendment which was passed in 1967 to permit the DWP retirement plan to honor years of continuous service for four Japanese-American employees, including my grandpa, who were removed from their jobs during the war.
I started this post yesterday and actually did a search to see if there was anything written online about my grandpa. I discovered a photo of him in the Japanese American National Museum archives which my family had not seen yet. And as I worked on this post today, I realized that yesterday, July 14th, was his birthday. I didn’t even realize that until now. He passed away 10 years ago and would’ve been 106 yesterday.
He closed his life story with, “I ask for nothing more than peace for all mankind.”
What legacy do you wish to leave? What are the stories you want future generations to know about you?