Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles
I looked at the empty chairs in the theater, thinking, ” Kapoho girl does good if these seats are all filled today.” The seats weren’t all filled but there would have been SRO if the emotional impact of the afternoon had filled the spaces.
Once again, there were Kapoho faces from long ago. Tommy Wataru Shimizu who attended the session at Torrance Library two weeks ago was there, saying he wanted to hear me speak of Kapoho again. His family was the first to get a bicycle and his younger brother Iwao had spent most of his summers at our house. When he joined the Marines, his photo was displayed in our living room until he returned. He visited my mother with flowers when she was in the nursing facility. She no longer knew him then. He called me Pride by request, remembering how I had renamed myself, but that story is for another day.
Diane was a toddler when I knew her in Kapoho. She and mother Eva visited us often. I had a story to tell Diane. She loved grapes and called them dwapes. She told me a little secret of how she always told her mother, “I’m going to be a teacher like Frances.” She’s an actress today. So she fulfilled one of my dreams instead.
Patty Nishi bought three copies of Kapoho for the children of Ruth Uyeno who was born and raised in Kapoho. The image of Mrs. Uyeno comes to mind clearly as if it were only yesterday.
Leanne, daughter of Ella whom I had met in college, touched me deeply to know the new generation was there to nurture her mother’s friendship with me.
What a surprise to meet Facebook friend and daughter of Andy Hayashi of Pahoa, Darlyne Fujimoto in line for book purchases.
Now, if you were in L.A. to attend a wedding all the way from Hawaii, would you give up a Saturday afternoon for a lecture? My cousin’s wife, Carolyn Takahashi, did and she brought other members of her family.
Guy Aoki and loyal members of MANAA ( Media Action Network for Asian Americans) were in attendance once again as in Torrance.
I can’t thank all who came. My gratitude to the generous woman who bought a dozen copies of Kapoho for members of her book club. They meet over dessert so I hope Kapoho receives more attention than their dessert next month.
To everyone who dared to drive on the day a major freeway was closed in L.A and to the people from Hawaii who shared their stories of living in internment camps after Pearl Harbor, you have your own stories to preserve.
Ms. Alexandra Giffin, Dr. Koji Sakai and all the volunteers at the Museum made this happen.
Leslie Yamaguchi wrote the following most generous interview that appeared in the JANM newsletter.
“You made Kapoho come alive for us again.” “You gave Kapoho back to us.” I heard this over and over. I regret not having had the time to ask each former resident, how they made their home in CA after the eruption.
Yes, Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii has taken a life of its own, rejuvenating memories for residents who thought them buried under magma for good. Yes, Standing Room Only.
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