Rose Nieda

Katherine Nielson

Rose Nieda was eighty-two years old when her oral history began being recoded in May of 2005. And, over the course of a year ten interviews were recorded. Rose, tells us her experience of what it was like to be “Japanese” during this time in the United States. She begins her story with her childhood. Telling us where she was born and the first hardship in her life. The death of her parents at the age of four. She was then adopted by two Japanese-American immigrants who provided her a framework with which to build her life. She recall the early years and the importance of imagination. Most of her time was spent in the field behind her house where they would fashion bits of timber into various toys. She also remembers turning Coca-Cola bottle caps into police badges. He lessons in Japanese came through rhymes and sing-song limericks. Saturday school was something she was also expected to attend; even though she disliked it. One of the things she laughed about was, “walking 2-miles each day to and from school.” Before she was to enter college Pearl Harbor happened and Executive 9066 was passed. She and her family would spend their time in two camps Pinedale Assembly Center in California then Tule Lake. Much of her time was spent keeping her head down to get by but she also formed friendships that would remain throughout her years. Upon her release years later she worked an odd number of jobs and was able to just scrape by. She eventually married and had children of her own. It is through her oral story that we are better able to connect to certain thoughts and impressions she might have by the expressions on her face. I liked that a seemingly coy-look would cross her features whenever she talked about something that brought her joy. A memory that shaped her into the individual she was. Rose would also close her eyes at points in her story as if connecting loose ends or retracing a now dark path. To me her answers seemed matter-of-fact. Her perception wasn’t exactly as it was but regardless this was her tale to tell. Over the course of my viewing I kept thinking the same through that Rose had been through much. And even thought she was an American citizen from an American-city, town, and suburb. Society treated her as an alien. At one point in the interview process she speaks about that overwhelming feeling.