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Introduction of Interviewers

My name is Ryan, my name is Sydney, my name is Bryce, and my name is Jaime. Today is May 20th, 2004. We are interviewing George Oiye here in San Jose, California.

Can you please say and spell your name?

Yes. My name is George Oiye and it's spelled "O-I-Y- E."

Please tell us and spell your birth name?

My name at the time of my birth? It's the same one, George Oiye.

What is your birth date? How old are you now?

My birth date is February 19, 1922. So,that makes me 82.

Where were you born?

I was born in a little place called Basin Creek, Montana, USA.

What is the earliest memory that you have of your life?

The earliest memory that I have was standing along the side of a fence and waiting for a guy by the name of Mike. This was way up in the mountains in Montana at a gold-mining camp. Mike was a man that brought groceries to us in the summertime.

How old were you at the time of that experience?

I was about a year, year and a half.

Can you tell us a little bit about your family life? Were you close to your parents or siblings?

My parents came from Japan. My father came from Japan in—as nearly as we can figure out, because we don't have his passport—in about 1907, Then he went back to Japan and got married in 1914. They came to America, to Seattle, Washington and that's where my two sisters were born. My oldest sister was born in 1918. My younger sister was born in 1920. I was born in '22. My brother was born in 1925.

Did your parents like America?

Did they like America? Yes, but in those days, they could not get citizenship, So most of the immigrants that came to America came to make money with the intention of going back to Japan to live and retire.

Were your parents happy that you were being raised in America rather than in Japan?

I guess they were. They would never question about being raised as an American, they both spoke English very well. We never had a choice. We never asked to go to Japan to be educated, so I guess they were happy about us being educated in America.

Did you ever think about going to Japan and what it would be like if you lived there?

No, no. My only experience of going to Japan was when I was 78 years old, I went there twice on business.

What did you think of the American attitude on race and culture during the 30's?

Being an American, I think America is the greatest place on Earth. Having been in Europe and other places, I don't think that there is any place like America.

Are you an American citizen?

Yes, I'm a natural-born citizen, just like you.

Can you tell us more about where you grew up?

Yes. I grew up in Montana. Mostly, at a little place called Trident. Trident, Montana is the headwaters of the Missouri River.

Are there any other memorable times or places from your childhood that you'd like to share with us?

Yes. Growing up, I grew up on the banks of the Missouri River, right at the headwaters where it was relatively narrow, but its very treacherous. The banks are very steep because the railroad track runs right along the banks of the river. That was our playground, so we had to be careful that we didn't fall into the river and get swept away. The parts that I liked the best was the hunting and the fishing. It was just tremendous when I was growing up as a kid. One of the things about the hunting and fishing was that it was our source of food. You had to become a good fisherman and a good hunter when you were little. That's just the way I grew up, but I always enjoyed it as just fun, too.

Did your skills in fishing and hunting come in handy when you were in the war?

Yeah, once in a while, we got to a place, especially in Germany. I killed deer in Germany when I was supposed to be fighting the war, because there were just so many of them. Also, we fished on the Leck River and caught some pike.

Did you ever have to eat what you hunted or had caught fishing?

Not because we ran out of food, but we ate it because we get tired of eating sea rations and army rations and so the fresh food was really good; deer and fish.

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