Harano, Ross (3/22/2018)

Japanese American Service Committee Legacy Center


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Anna Takada: This is an interview with Ross Harano as part of the Japanese American Service Committee and Chicago Japanese American Historical Society, oral history project. The interview is being conducted on March 22nd at about 10:45 AM at JASC. Ross Harano is being interviewed by Anna Takada of the Japanese American Service Committee. To start, can you please just state your full name?

Ross Harano: Ross Masao Harano.

Anna Takada: Okay, and when and where were you born?

Ross Harano: I was born September 17th, 1942 in the Fresno Assembly Center in California.

Anna Takada: And so since you were, you were born right in the middle of the 00:01:00war, can you tell me a bit about your, your parents, maybe where they were from originally and where they were before Fresno?

Ross Harano: My father's family lived in Berkeley. My grandfather was from Fukuoka-ken and came to the United States through Hawaii in 1898. He eventually settled in Berkeley, California. And of course, my grandmother was a picture bride and he went up to Seattle... I'm sorry, Portland to get married, ship came in, matched the pictures, and then they got married right then and there. So I have their wedding picture and also their wedding certificate, the same day that she arrived on the ship. And then my mother's family, is from Hiroshima-ken, and they, my grandfather came over in 1898, also through Hawaii, came to the 00:02:00mainland, worked for the Union Pacific and then settled as a sharecropper or a, a farmer in the Fresno area in Hanford, California, just outside of Fresno, both my grandmother on my mother's side, grandma Mayewaki was also a picture bride. During the war when Pearl Harbor hit and evacuation notice came, we evacuated out with my mother's family. My father's family evacuated out from Berkeley and they ended up in Poston. We evacuated out with my mother's family, because her oldest brother was already in the U.S. army. So we evacuated out from Hanford and there went to Fresno Assembly Center. And from there we went to Jerome, Arkansas. I was born in September and we left the assembly center in October to 00:03:00get to Jerome. From Jerome, we stayed there 'till 1943 and my dad, was able to get a job in Alton, Illinois in a greenhouse. And we stayed there for a year. And then we came to Chicago where he had a job with Bowman Milk. He had some refrigeration background, actually he learned in camp through Harvey Aki, who was a friend of the family in those days. And he was able to get a job at Bowman Milk. So he came to Chicago and ended up living on the west side of Chicago. My mother would tell me that they couldn't get an apartment, any place else because Japanese were not allowed to rent in certain areas. And she could remember going out, looking at apartments and finding out that they couldn't stay there. Some of them wouldn't even interview her. So we lived in basically Humboldt Park, and 00:04:00my mother always talked about that.

Anna Takada: Before we get into life in Chicago I do want to ask a couple more things just about the, the war years. So just to, to backtrack a little bit, So your, your family's line of work was... on the West Coast was share cropping you said?

Ross Harano: On my, my mother's side-- my father's side, he was a barber in Berkeley on Dwight Way. And my father was one of nine children. So they had a... He was a barber and my grandmother ran a laundry there. So she had nine kids to deliver all the laundry. And they did a lot of the work there. And my grandfather, once again, did barber work, plus a lot of, he was very handy, and 00:05:00did a lot of other things so that plumbing, whatever it needed to be done, he was a very handy man. And then I still remember that we had a family reunion in Berkeley, at the Claremont Hotel many, many years ago. And we had it there, 'cause my dad said, "You know, when I was a kid, I used to deliver laundry through the servants, through the back door all the time." And he wanted to walk through the front door as someone who rented, who actually stayed there. So we had a big reunion there. We have a family reunion every two years since 1973.

Anna Takada: Wow, and I imagine nine, your dad's family had nine kids. You probably have a lot of cousins.

Ross Harano: Yes. Some 30 some cousins plus, and my mother's side is one of 00:06:00eight, she's one of eight. On that side, we don't have that many cousins, maybe about a, about a half, a dozen or so. So I have a lot of first cousins.

Anna Takada: And do you have any siblings?

Ross Harano: Me? Yes. I have three, three kids. They're not kids anymore. My daughter is the oldest and I have two boys.

Anna Takada: And how about siblings?

Ross Harano: I have one sister.

Anna Takada: One sister?

Ross Harano: And she lives up in Wisconsin.

Anna Takada: Is she older or younger?

Ross Harano: Younger, she's my baby sister.

Anna Takada: Oh okay. So at the time of the war, when you all went to Fresno, it was just you and your parents when you were born.

Ross Harano: Oh, I was born there. Yes. So in World War II, I had seven uncles who served in the army. Four were in the 442 and three were in MIS in, in Japan, along with MacArthur's staff. One of my uncles was wounded at Anzio, my, my 00:07:00mother's younger brother and he was hit by a mortar shell. And he was in the hospital for over a year before he came home. My father's youngest brother, next to the youngest brother was killed rescuing the lost Texas group. So, and then on the MIS side, my uncle, one of my uncles served under MacArthur and was in New Guinea and eventually stayed in Japan to work for the U.S. Army intelligence after the war.

Anna Takada: And where, where did your first memories take place? What are you some of your first memories?

Ross Harano: My absolute first memory was when I was about three and we had just moved from the West Side. My family, mother's family pooled their resources and 00:08:00bought a house on the south side of Chicago on Oakenwald. And my earliest memory is moving there. And my earliest memory is my grandmother on the back of the truck. When we opened the doors, she was sittin' in the back of the truck with all the furniture and everything. And, and I remember that the house was on a corner, on a dead end and that all the, all the lawn, which we eventually made it into, was all filled with wildflowers. That's my earliest recollection. My grandmother had Parkinson's and so she was in a wheelchair since 1939, so...

Anna Takada: When you, when you think about that memory, how does, what comes up 00:09:00for you? Like what do you feel when you think about the lawn and just remembering that house?

Ross Harano: Well, getting old, I can't remember what I did yesterday, but I remember what I did as a kid. I remember a girl I dated in high school too, all of a sudden, but I grew up as the oldest sansei in the house. My mother was one of four sisters and they all lived with us, and we had like 14 people living in that house.

Anna Takada: I'm sorry, 14?

Ross Harano: 14. My grandma and grandpa had their room. My, my mother's youngest sister had a room. My mother's other sister had a room. We had a room and my mother's other sister had a room. So we had families like crazy in the house. And I remember we'd have to eat in shifts almost. And every weekend there seemed to be a poker game going, but it was fun growing up in that household being the only kid I was, my, my next cousin was, is five years younger than I am, four, 00:10:00four and a half years younger than I am. So I was, I was, really had the run of the house and just got spoiled as hell by my aunties. So it was a very happy household for me that I remember and then gradually they all moved back to California.

Anna Takada: Your mom's family?

Ross Harano: Yes. They all moved back to Cal except my grandparents lived with us until they passed away. So, it was a very happy childhood. I, I had a very happy childhood and our neighborhood was very friendly. We lived on the south side in those days. South side was changing, and we were sort of in between the change, so it was a, but it was a very interesting childhood.

Anna Takada: Can you tell me more about how it was changing?

Ross Harano: Well, growing up on the south side, Cottage Grove, which is 800 00:11:00East, was a dividing line and Cottage Grove, because the lake sort of juts out, Cottage Grove is a North and South street. So blacks could not live east of Cottage Grove. And so in 1950, up until 19-, 1954, '53, '54, it was pretty segregated on the south side. And then as the blacks started coming east of Cottage, my neighborhood changed in one summer from white to basically black in one summer. And those days they had what you call block busting, where realtors were able to call up people on the phone and scare the hell out of them. And they could change a neighborhood overnight. And most of my friends were, were, all my friends those days were white, they're primarily German, German 00:12:00background and they all ended up moving down to Oak Lawn, which is nothing but a farmland in those days. So a lot of my friends moved to, moved to Oak Lawn. And if you look at my grammar school pictures, you can see the change was overnight on the South Side. So my friends changed from white to black overnight.

Anna Takada: And forgive me for not doing the math in my head, but how old were you then, at that point?

Ross Harano: Well, took place in 1953, '54, so I was 12, so that would be seven, eight years old those days, yeah.

Anna Takada: And just to clarify, black[block] busting, that were, was it like threats that were made to... or?

Ross Harano: Well, it would happen if and South Shore went through the same issues. So what happens is that realtors would come in and they get on the 00:13:00phone. They, they could even make threatening calls on the side, all sorts of crazy things, but they would basically scare the people into moving and that's what they did. And so that's why on the south side, especially in South Shore it changed overnight from Jewish to, to basically middle class blacks and our street was Oakenwald and we didn't have that many apartments on our street. Very few, if any, there's a couple, two flats at the most. So it was basically middle class blacks that moved into our neighborhood. So those were my friends from, from seventh grade on, on the south side. So it was an interesting change for us. We went to Kenwood Ellis church, which was on, it was Ellis Community Church in those days, which was part of the evangelical and reform church Reverand Nishimoto, George Nishimoto was there and it was basically a Japanese American 00:14:00church and it was considered an outreach program by the evangelical church. And then eventually about 1953, '54, it merged with another church on 46th and Greenwood called the Kenwood Church. So it became known as the Kenwood Ellis Church and it was fully integrated. It was basically half Japanese and half black. And, and it was a tremendous experience. We had Mahalia Jackson sing there for one, one night and I was an usher all the time. I loved being a usher because I didn't have to sit through the services. I would usher people in, and go outside. Then I was, got stuck in the choir. I was singing all the time. So I had to stay for the whole service all the time, but it was, it was an interesting time to grow up in the south side. There were very few Japanese left and everybody knew us and we were very well protected. We, we felt very safe 00:15:00there. I know I did, and my sister did too. She graduated from, what happens that we went to Oakenwald Grammar School on 40th and Lake Park. And she was in seventh grade when they changed Oakenwald to a junior high program. So she had to go to another school way down further south, the old Gustavo High School. And she went for almost a year from the north, we had moved up to the north side by then. She would take the, the L train all the way down to the south side, to 46th and... 46th and Wabash in that range down there, every day to go to school, grammar school! Can you believe that? I don't know if we'd allow that today, but she just, we just felt very safe and comfortable growing up in Chicago.

Anna Takada: And you had mentioned earlier on that when your family first 00:16:00arrived in Chicago, there was a lot of difficulty around housing?

Ross Harano: Yes.

Anna Takada: Can you tell me more about that?

Ross Harano: Well, most of the area is... Chicago was a very segregated city, still is. If you ride the subway, you'll notice that when you get on the subway, if you get off at Chinatown, for example, the, the structure, the passengers change from white to black basically. It's a very segregated city, and it always has been. And in terms of our neighborhood changing, it happened very quickly. What was your question again?

Anna Takada: You had mentioned that your, your mom had stories about the difficulty in finding housing.

Ross Harano: Oh, yeah. There were very few neighborhoods that, that we were able to rent in. Uptown, there were a lot of apartment buildings up here, especially a lot of six flats in this neighborhood, which were converted to tall flats 00:17:00during the war. So there are a lot of apartments available up here. So a lot of, the Nisei were able to live in Uptown. This whole neighborhood, actually between Montrose and Lawrence, Broadway and Clark. There were quite a few Nisei that owned apartment buildings eventually in that, in this area here. Lakeview, east of Ashland, there was a lot of Nisei living there. And on the South side, we lived in Oakwood, which is around 39th and Lake Park all the way down Lake Park to, to about Woodlawn and Hyde Park. So we're limited to certain areas of Chicago that we were able to rent eventually, and even buy.

Anna Takada: And, but at first, do you know where your family was, like initially on the west side?

Ross Harano: It was on Spalding Avenue in Humboldt Park. It's around North Avenue in that area there.

Anna Takada: Okay. And then how long was your family in that house, on 00:18:00Oakenwald? And what was the address there?

Ross Harano: It was 4201 South Oakenwald. It was on the corner of 42nd and Oakenwald right across the street from the Kenwood L, that end, dead ended there. There was a big, a lot of tracks there for storage of cars. The Kenwood L ran all the way downtown at one point. You could hop on it and end up going around the Loop. Eventually it only ran from 42nd Street to Indiana, and then eventually it was closed in about 19-, I was in high school when it changed, when they closed it up. So about 1957, '58, it was... stopped running. But the neighborh-- we lived there, and it was pretty residential. And we bought the 00:19:00house, my parents and my grandparents and my aunties all pooled money. I think the building only cost $3,000, a lot of money in those days. And so they pooled their money for the down payment and they were able to buy that house on Oakenwald. There were quite a few other Nisei living in the neighborhood, not on, there's one on Oakenwald, the Takeda's lived there, around the corner. There were quite a few on, west of us on Berkeley. There were quite a few Nisei living in that neighborhood between 43rd and 46th street.

Anna Takada: And so you mentioned that Oakenwald, demographically, it was, well, it switched, of course while you were there, but initially it was white and Japanese American?

Ross Harano: No, there was only one other Japanese family. The Takeda's were on 00:20:00Oakenwald where we lived, but further south, about 44th, 45th and 46th. There were a lot of apartments. So a lot of the Nisei lived in those apartment buildings. There was quite a few actually, lived in those apartment buildings. Eventually, if you look at some of these old things here, you'll see, there were a lot of apartments for rent owned by Nisei. There was the Matsumoto's owned a building on 42nd and Ellis, a big building. So there were a lot of apartment buildings that were eventually bought by the Nisei or by the Issei actually, they seemed to have more money than the Nisei.

Anna Takada: And uh, what about... as far as... Well, you mentioned that your church was also very Japanese American and black, as far as, were there any other businesses or like Japanese American restaurants or grocery stores that you remember?

Ross Harano: Well, 43rd street was the main street and there were, there was 00:21:00several Japanese establishments there. There was one, that he was like a, I don't know how to describe it. He, we'd go in there and get shaved ice, and he was always, he was always a little drunk I thought, he always smelled like sake, and he had trouble finding the ice block and everything. And then the Yamaji's own O.K. Grocery, which was a Japanese grocery store. And Harold Fujimoto had a grocery store west of Ellis street. So there were several, there was two grocery stores there. There might have been some Sun Cleaners, you know, the Hidaka's had Sun Cleaners. So there might have been a Sun Cleaner there too. Now, 47th street, the same thing. There were some restaurants on 55th street. There are some restaurants owned by Nisei.

Anna Takada: And did you, did you go to those businesses with your family?

Ross Harano: The grocery stores, for sure. Yes. Yes. The restaurants, they 00:22:00weren't, the restaurants were like counter restaurants, they're almost like... Great food and everything, but a lot of the bachelors, a lot of single folks were eating at those places, we even had a whole family go out to China meshi all the time, so.

Anna Takada: And so you mentioned that your family moved to the north side...

Ross Harano: Yes.

Anna Takada: When was that?

Ross Harano: In 1961, the city of Chicago decided that they're going to tear down the whole neighborhood, which they did. From 43rd, all the way down to third, to north, to 'bout 30... About 40th street. And they tore down all the houses and they built two big projects there. They, and eventually the problem they have with those projects, they were tall buildings, I guess two gangs got involved, one in each building and they were shooting at each other and the 00:23:00buildings were vacant for years. So about 10 years ago, they blew 'em up. And then they tore down my grammar school, Oakenwald grammar school. That whole area now has been redeveloped into townhouses and everything. So Lake Park and Oakenwald has really changed. There was even a, the tra- tracks that went across the, from the lake that went east towards the stock yards were torn down too. So, that whole area is really becoming gentrified.

Anna Takada: But that's... you said that was pretty recently?

Ross Harano: Well '61, when they built the projects there, and it didn't really gentrify until just recent years.

Anna Takada: Growing up, were you involved in any kind of extracurricular activities as a kid like when you were still in grammar school?

Ross Harano: In grammar school, we were pretty active in grammar school. We had a, I was in boys chorus. We had a square dancing group, all sorts of things in 00:24:00school. Outside of school, I wasn't that active in too much. I had all my aunties to take care of me. And I'd go to church and that was about it. Not active in anything. My mother wanted me to go to Nihon Gakkou, with Reverend... and I went for a couple Saturdays. And I'm in the beginners class. I'm like 12, 13, and these kids are like seven or eight. I said, "Mom, I, I can't take this." So I, I dropped out.

Anna Takada: And where was that out of?

Ross Harano: Pardon?

Anna Takada: Was that out of church or...

Ross Harano: It was, it was Reverend, Reverend Fukushina [Mukushina] who had his own... they had a school in their apartment on 44th or 45th and Oakenwald.

Anna Takada: Okay. And how were, how was your family connected to... was that 00:25:00just something that people knew was an option, was to go to Japanese school?

Ross Harano: Yes, I, I guess so. I don't know. My mother also decided I should play the piano, which I didn't want to play the piano. So, anyway.

Anna Takada: And would you say that your family... I guess, can you tell me more about what, like maybe the, quote-unquote, Japanese American community was like if that existed or did it feel like a community on the South Side in those days?

Ross Harano: Well, I think that, if you remember the Buddhist temple on 53rd, 55th, it was a more closer tied in. The church I belonged to was, was great, but it wasn't... we're all close friends and everything. So I was active in church primarily, very active in the youth program and some sort of delegate to something and all that. But that was about the extent. Our family, my mother's 00:26:00side wasn't too active in too many things. They basically came from an agricultural background, and so we spent a lot of time just together. They really didn't get too involved in too many things. My mother got very active in church and she's very active. When we first got out of camp in Chicago, she got a job working at Hart Schaffner Marx as a seamstress. And she worked there until my sister was born five years later, then she stayed home. And then when my sister started high school, she went back there and got a job, same place, same people hired her, they liked her. And she became a union steward there. And, so we weren't that active in the JA community per se. There was, I know the 00:27:00Resettlers here had the big picnic once on the South Side, on 44th and the lake. I remember going to that, seeing sumo and all that. But otherwise I never really felt Japanese. I think that was part of... I remember being in a program at church talking about that. And in those days, Sansei had this identity issue. Am I Japanese? Am I American? And all these issues. A big discussion was intermarriage in those days. And, and I can remember Reverend Nishimoto saying, "Wait a while, Ross, you have all those Japanese doll from where your grandparents at the house, your grandparents are still there." I said, "Well gee, you know, we never talked about it." I never thought about being Japanese and quite frankly, never crossed my mind I was Japanese. My friends were white, Black and never, they never called me anything. They were all good friends of 00:28:00mine. But when I graduated from Oakenwald Grammar School in January of '56... we had January graduates in those days, I was just turned 13 I think. '56, yeah, 13. And what happened was that we went downtown to the Roosevelt Theater to see a movie. In those days, if you're 12 years old, you get in for kids' price. I don't know, maybe a quarter. So I remember going to the ticket taker and I'm with all my Black graduate friends who graduated with me and so then... they're lying like crazy to the ticket maker. "Gee lady, I'm only 12. Can't you see how short I am?" And all this other stuff. So she let me in for a quarter and we sat through the, through the movie and the movie was "The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell", with Rod Steiger, Gary Cooper. Gary Cooper played Gary Mitchell, I don't know if you saw the movie. Well, I'm a movie buff. So, Billy Mitchell was, 00:29:00was a, was a forerunner of air power in the United States for the United States Army. In those days, they, they even blew up... they bombed some old battleships to show that air power was there. And he was court martialed because he disobeyed orders about bombing things... about what he was doing. And the prosecutor was Rod Steiger. And during this whole trial, he starts talking about air power and that we have to recognize that we need to deal with it. We need to build aircraft carriers, for example. And so Rod Steiger said, "Well, you know, we don't really y'know... what you did was you weren't obeying orders." And then he says, "Well ..." they start talking about Pearl Harbor, and he says, "Yeah, Pearl Harbor could be a target." And then Rod Steiger said, "Well, who would 00:30:00bomb Pearl Harbor?" And Gary Cooper says, "The Japanese." All my friends looked at me and I said, "Holy mackerel, I must be Japanese. That was the first time I thought about it." And in those days, the TV had those World War II movies that was saying, "Kill those dirty..." and everything. So, that was the first time I started thinking about it. I just said, "Wow, I never thought about it that way before." But all my friends looked at me. I remember that. That was about five guys with me at this, at the show. So that was my first recollection or even thought process that I was Japanese.

Anna Takada: I'm glad you brought that up because I was going to ask when, when that happens or becoming aware of your identity. So you were, you were 12 when that happened. When you were growing up, were you... I know a lot of families 00:31:00didn't talk about the incarceration with one another, but were you aware of, you know, what had happened to your family and where you were coming from or how did that...

Ross Harano: No, my family never talked about camp. I think every Sansei here would probably say talking about church camp, you know, summer camp and everything. They never talked about it. I remember seeing pictures of me as a baby in front of the, in camp and I said to myself, "Man, my folks are really poor. I'm sitting on the porch of a tar paper shack." So it didn't cross my mind about it. I just assumed that... I didn't think about it. I think about it, but I remember saying to myself, "Gee, that, they're in a tar paper shack there." I didn't think about it at all actually. And in September of 1961, went to a JACL 00:32:00youth conference. It was a joint EDC, MDC convention in Minneapolis. And Mike Masaoka spoke, and it was the first time I heard the whole story. It was really amazing. Most of the other Sansei said, "Yeah, we didn't think about it. We didn't know about it." All of a sudden I realized that with my uncle, my Uncle Chuck who was wounded at Anzio, his whole back was a scar, all the way back and all the way down the back of his legs was just one massive scar. And that sort of hit me, started thinking about that. And then in 1948, we went to a funeral, we went to North Platte, Nebraska. And that was the first time I really got to see all my cousins, that I remember at least. And we got together once before 00:33:00when I was a baby. We went to Poston, when my grandma, grandmother passed away in camp. But didn't think about it. I had a lot of fun with all my cousins and one morning everybody's quiet and I had to be quiet, and we went to a service and it was a funeral. I had no idea what it was, no idea. And then I didn't even know it was a funeral. I wasn't sure what it was. So then after Mike speaking, then I realized that my Uncle John, who was killed in Italy and... I'm sorry, in France, rescuing the lost Texas group, was reinterred in North Platte. So he was buried alongside... with my grandma, with my grandmother who was buried at the time there in North Platte. So all these pictures started coming together in my head saying, wow. All of a sudden the light bulb went on about things, about the 00:34:00camp, and about the war, about my uncles. And I remember as a kid, all my uncles had uniforms, they were all coming out of service. And we had a lot of servicemen coming back from Europe stayed at our place. Just quite a few of them actually who would come by and stay with... because I had all my uncles in the 442. So all these pictures came to me and then, so I get back home, I talked to my dad about it and I was really pissed. I said, "You know, Dad, you know, I would've picked up a rifle, did anything to fight," and everything. And he was like pissed at me saying, "Hey, you weren't there, kid." So it was the first conversation I ever had with my dad about it at least. And my mom, I talked to her about it and, and she just said, "That's the way it was. Couldn't be helped." And so I talked to my grandpa a little bit about it. His English... I 00:35:00understand, I used to understand him. I, I don't know why, but I did. And he... for him, the camp experience was a relief to some ways, but he was a hard worker. But he came back, when he came to Chicago, we worked hard too. He had a job at a greenhouse and then worked as a gardener for the University of Chicago. So it all came together all at once in 1961. And that's when I realized what took place, and I realized as I got more involved in the, in the Japanese community, that our role is to make sure it doesn't happen to anybody else.

Anna Takada: And so was that, I mean, had you known that you were born in Fresno or...

Ross Harano: You know I didn't... I knew I was born in Fresno, I didn't know why. I mean, it just said "Fresno" on my birth certificate. And I remember 00:36:00growing up in grammar, when I was in grammar school, I was trying to change my middle name from Masao to Marshall. I don't know why I said Marshall. I didn't like the Masao. I didn't know what it was. So I remember that. And I remember telling my mother that and she just looked at me. Anyway. But once, I think most Sansei went through the same experience of all of a sudden realizing that you're Japanese. I think the girl's experience it a different way than the guys do. I don't know why, but when my sister thought... my sister's, my sister realized it in a different way. I don't know, maybe from my mom, I don't know. So anyway.

Anna Takada: How did you get involved with the JACL conference? How did that 00:37:00happen, that you went in the first place?

Ross Harano: I don't know. I, I was still in grammar school and a good friend, my cousin's cousin, Bob Omori, was active in this whole new thing called JACL. And they had just started a youth program called Junior JACL. I think Richard Kaneko was the first president, and Harold Hirai was the second president. And they had these dances, a beauty contest. And so somehow or other I was helping on one of the dances and I, we spent a lot of time. We had to do JACL something, princess of springtime, I don't know what it was. And we got cardboard, and we made these letters, we cut it with the razor blade, wrapped in aluminum foil. And then next thing you know, I got involved in this whole youth program, Junior JACL it's called. And Abe Hagiwara was like my mentor. I got to know him and he 00:38:00got me more, kept getting me more involved. Eventually I was president of the Junior JACL chapter here in Chicago and went on to go to all the conferences. That's why we went to the EDC MDC convention in Minneapolis. Actually, a lot of guys joined Junior JACL because there were girls in every city. I mean, I had a friend who was dating a girl in Cleveland, dating a girl in Milwaukee. And, but so I would go to these different cities and we'd have conferences all the time. So we would meet. So I became, I was very active and somehow in '63 I was down the state in Champaign. There was a big conference in Salt Lake City. And so I 00:39:00was asked to go there. And so I went back to Chicago and flew to Salt Lake City. It was '63. I'd never flown before. So I flew to Salt Lake City on a 707. And the aisles were bigger, and there were stewardesses in those days. And it's just like in the movie, you know, "Come Fly With Me", whatever it was. These stewardesses, I just kept watching them, they were just so gorgeous. And I'm a kid in college at the time. But we went to there and it was the first time we had a whole meeting with the youth and the adults dealing with what to do with the youth program. From there, in 1964, during the summer, there was a JACL convention in Detroit. And I went, and I walked in, I found out I'm chair of the convention. I, I chaired the youth meetings. I was asked to do it, so I did that. And from that whole conference we decided, the youth there... there were 00:40:00over a hundred there, almost as many as adults or more. And so we decided that we wanted to have a national youth organization. So then in '65, '65, there was a meeting of all the youth around... the leaders from different, different districts, and they met to organize the Junior JACL National. And then I said, "I'm too old to be chairing it." So Paul Tamura of Oregon, I believe, Portland was the first chair. I was too old. I was 22, something like that. And then I became a youth commissioner for the district. And then I think I was chapter chair in '60 something, and just got sucked into it slowly.


Anna Takada: So you mentioned part of the, part of why it was interesting and fun to get involved was the social aspect, meeting girls and whatnot.

Ross Harano: Oh yeah.

Anna Takada: But it seems like you were, you were pretty committed and you kept with it. Do you know what kind of inspired you or motivated you to be so involved?

Ross Harano: When I get involved in an organization, I get involved, and I like to see things done, get done. And I dislike going to meetings, that there's nothing happens. I was on the Service Committee board back in 1960 something, the first Sansei. I was on that for less than about a year and I got off, 00:42:00because it wasn't accom-... the meetings were in Japanese and English, that was the first part that I, I just couldn't sit through all that. So somehow or other I seem to be always in a position of chairing something. I, when I do things, I like to make sure it gets done. I like to make sure that the meetings are over at a certain time. And so somehow I'm always president of something. I just, I got off my last board about 10 years ago. So I, I just sort of seem to get involved in things and next thing you know I'm president of it.

Anna Takada: And one other thing I wanted to ask before we can move on to another topic. So JACL has always functioned as a national organization with 00:43:00different chapters in different locations of the country. Can you tell me more about what the Chicago chapter was like in those days and maybe how that compared to other chapters that you saw or worked with?

Ross Harano: You have to realize is that, in the Nisei, th-there's different age groups. And the older Nisei in Chicago really had problems with the younger Nisei. They just were two different generations within a generation. So that when the JACL in Chicago changed from Issei to older Nisei... it was never Issei, I'm sorry. It was older Nisei to younger Nisei there was a lot of personel... personality issues involved, even between the Service Committee and JACL in those days.

Anna Takada: What were some of those tensions or what was...


Ross Harano: Just generational tensions. The old timers' Nisei group had their own prim and proper view of a lot of things. They ran the organization very, very on a-- Got to realize, JACL in the '50s, was an opportunity for men to meet women. I mean, there's a lot of folks who got married out this thing. So it was really a social networking group for young Nisei. And so the younger Nisei who were single, this was an opport-- this was a method for them to meet their mates. And I guess a lot of folks did that and it was a social organization. So then the issue became, sure, we focused on issues dealing with the evacuation. The JACL dealt with the changing the alien land laws, dealt with the, the so-called war brides, all these issues the JACL dealt with mainly on a national 00:45:00level. On a local level, the chapters were pretty social within themselves, very little outreach, very little participation in the greater social issues of, of this country or the city in particular. So there was a lot of, the younger Nissei felt a little more committed to working outside the community, you know, doing work with the Blacks, doing work with Chinese. And so there was a lot of... not tension, just different goals and directions. So there was a lot of issues. And the same with the JACL and the service committee, the same generational issues developed. And so each group had their own turf and we still do. They still do. Which is great. Then along come the Sansei. I was the first Sansei on the board. And we had our own different issues. And so when I became president, and the first Sansei president, I brought a lot of Sansei on board. 00:46:00But we also had a lot of younger Nisei on the board, on the board. And the older Nisei were... okay. I mean, we dealt with them. There was a lot of conflict there that I can't go into too much detail about it, but there was a lot of conflict for some reason. I think the younger Nisei told the older Nisei off a couple times. I think that's what happened. And so I got involved. I think I was chapter president in '69 maybe. Yeah, '69, '70. And it was, it was very time consuming, very time consuming. And after that, I think I was district governor. Then I was national legislative chairman or something like that. So it, it got to be too much. And so in about mid '70s, I said, you know I'm getting, either I plunge all the way in and stay active nationally, go on to become national this, national that. I decided not to, I just said, "No, I'm going to focus here in 00:47:00Chicago more." So I started weaning myself away from... and I got active in other groups, human rights groups here in Chicago. And then in 1990 I guess, I was called back in to be president for a couple years. There was a transition going on between a Sansei, and so I was sort of a in between guy again, just to hold, hold the fort until the younger people can come in and take over.

Anna Takada: And were those, those positions, was it volunteer or were those paid?

Ross Harano: All volunteer. Yeah. Yeah.

Anna Takada: I want to take it back just a bit 'cause I realized we didn't talk about your high school experience and your, your family's move to the North Side.

Ross Harano: Well, high school, first of all, grammar school had a very 00:48:00important role in my life. There were very few sansei left, so I really, I really had the advantage of being a sansei at Oakenwald Grammar School. There weren't that many left. I was the only one in my class. When I graduated, the whole class was Black. So I got really special attention from the teachers, which really helped me a lot. For some reason, I was the master of ceremonies at all the programs, so I learned how to do public speaking in grammar school. And then when I went to Hyde Park High School, which was the only integrated high school in the city in those days, most schools because of gerrymandering of districts were either all white or all black. Hyde Park was Black and white. It 00:49:00was very, the only integrated school at that time, which was a great experience for me. And plus I didn't realize this, but all the valedictorians and salutatorians of the grammar schools that fed Hyde Park were put in a special division. I didn't know that. And this was before they had accelerated points and everything like they do now. So, I'm in this division with all these bright kids. The parents are professors at the University of Chicago, and we had accelerated classes. I didn't know that. And I came home, I said, "Ma, y'know, high school is really hard," because these kids were very bright. And since I was a January graduate, there was only 115 people in my graduating class, so it was a small group. In my division, we kept together and we still keep, we still get together all the time, our group. But it was, um, there were quite a few 00:50:00Sansei's still at Hyde Park when I went there and we all had one table, two tables we'd eat at all the time. So that's when I first got to really hang around the, the Sansei group. I really didn't before, except for the church kids, kids at church. And then in my sophomore year, I discovered the North Side. And in those days with all the Sansei being teenagers, there were dances every week almost. The Midwest Temple had a dance and BTC had a dance. The Tri-C had a dance. The Methodist had a dance. Church of Christ had a dance. There were dances all the-- Junior JACL had a dance. So you know, there were dances all the time, so I'd come up on the North Side all the time to do all these things up here. My grades in my sophomore year really flattened out. Took me a while to get my average back up.

Anna Takada: Because you were being so social?


Ross Harano: Yeah, I was having a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun.

Anna Takada: Can you tell me more, just a little bit more details about these dances? Was the purpose solely to get young-

Ross Harano: Well, because we're so generationally distinct, all of these churches had teenagers, Sansei. And each church formed a youth group and each youth group hosted a dance. That's just sort of the way it was, I guess. And so, as part of their youth program. I came up to the North Side, my first dance was at the Church of Christ Presbyterian which used to be on Sheffield. And it was the Dukes and Duchesses dance and Tonko Doi was the president of it at the time. And I said, "Wow, these North Side girls are really cute." (laughs) So, I stayed 00:52:00active in that and I was president of the Dukes and Duchesses later. I was the only duke and there were five duchesses, so it was a lot of fun. And we'd have dances there also.

Anna Takada: And what about the setup? Did you have to organize getting snacks or music or decorations?

Ross Harano: Yeah, we, we did all that. We had advisors. And in those days I used to smoke, I remember. And I remember being at the Church, Church of Christ and we had a dance and I'm in the corner trying to smoke a cigarette. And my cousin, my cousin Helen was at McCormick Seminary because this was a Presbyterian church. So she was an advisor. And so then I'm there and all of a sudden I see my cousin walking in, so I had to put out the cigarette and be a good kid. So, but it was fun. It was a fun group to be with, and, but every church had their own dances.


Anna Takada: And I know at this time the social clubs were pretty popular. Can you tell me more about those, boys and girls clubs?

Ross Harano: Well, they were, every church had a youth program where they could be part of a confirmation process. I mean, Kenwood Ellis, I went to confirmation classes for two years. He said, "I didn't learn enough my first year." Reverand Nishimoto. But every church had a youth program of some sort to keep the kids active in the church. So they would have a youth group that would go to... I remember in our confirmation stuff, we went to different religions. We visited a Jewish synagogue, we went to the Bahai Temple, we went to St. Peter's downtown to Catholic. All these things we did and I'm sure every church had their own program like that to keep the youth active in the church.


Anna Takada: Well, and what I was referring to is the, the social clubs that kids kind of started organizing. The Ting-a-Lings or the-

Ross Harano: Oh yeah.

Anna Takada: Can you tell me more about those kinds of clubs?

Ross Harano: I wasn't that active in them. There was the Bruins, there was the Vikings. There was all these different clubs. I was never active in any of those.

Anna Takada: But were those popular around the time you were in high school?

Ross Harano: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah. It was, it was good. I mean, in those days, even the Scouts had a group at the Buddhist temple, BTC. I was an Explorer at the BTC. I only did it because I was on the swim team and I'd be a ringer for the swim team representing BTC Explorers. I don't know why they wanted me. I was a lousy swimmer.

Anna Takada: Were there any other extracurriculars that you were involved in, in high school?

Ross Harano: In high school?


Anna Takada: Mm-hmm.

Ross Harano: No, towards the end, in high school, I was very active in church and active, beginning to get active in Junior JACL in those days. Yeah.

Anna Takada: You mentioned Abe?

Ross Harano: Abe Hagiwara?

Anna Takada: Yes. And you said that he was kind of like a mentor to you?

Ross Harano: Yes.

Anna Takada: I'm wondering if you could just tell me a little bit more about some of those, the community leaders, I guess, because I think it would be fair to call him one.

Ross Harano: Yeah. Abe in particular was a social worker at Olivet Community Center. And he, Olivet was another place where we had a lot of dances. Junior JACL had all our dances there. And that was a meeting place. We had the CNAA 00:56:00there. And Abe was a, very good around young people. Very, very good around young people. He says, "I don't have any kids. That's why I'm so good around young people." But he is the one who really mentored me when I was, got active in junior JACL and really helped me to do things and move ahead with things. He was a very interesting man. And actually my son, his name is Michael Abe Harano. I named his middle name is after Abe. And Abe was a very, helped me in terms of just focusing things and not to have so much fun.

Anna Takada: So it sounds like he, he had, he played an important role or part in your life then.

Ross Harano: He did. And there, and there was quite a few other Nisei who, who 00:57:00were community leaders, who we had a very interesting leadership in our community and they were very conservative, well-respected. We had a very well-respected leadership in our community and they deserved the recognition. They deserved the, the accolades because they really sacrificed a lot of their time and experience, and money for the community and service committee had some tremendous people, Kenji Nakano and others that really played an important role in steering our community in the right direction.

Anna Takada: Is that something that you were kind of aware of as a teenager or young person kind of the...

Ross Harano: Yeah I, I was very fortunate. I was, as a junior JACL-er I was very 00:58:00fortunate that I got to know all the old time leadership of JACL Doc Yatabe, Mike of course, Masato, all of the so-called old timers. Here in Chicago, Lincoln Shimizu was president here. I got to know them. I used to hang out, I used to drink when I was a kid so I used to hang out with all these guys. And so I really got to know them as individuals and respected the fact that they're, that they were committed in their own way to do what they were doing. They weren't out there for selfish reasons.

Anna Takada: Where, so after graduating Hyde Park High, you said you went down, 00:59:00down state?

Ross Harano: Somewhere along the way, my grammar school teacher Marge Lerner, eighth grade teacher, said I'd make a good engineer. And I believed her. I took all these hard courses you know at Hyde Park, physics, chemistry, mechanical drawing, everything. And then here was Sunnan Kubose, he and I were in the same division all those years, he took typing. Anyway, and so his grades, he was a little higher ranking than me when we graduated. But so, I was at Navy Pier, University of Illinois. I didn't think I'd be going to college to tell you the truth. I thought I'd be an engineer. I thought I'd go to Cal Tech. They'd accept me of course. MIT didn't accept me, which was great. My parents couldn't afford 01:00:00it anyway. So, good friend of mine, Bernie Shapiro said, "Ross, I'm going down to Navy Pier." I said, "Why?" He said, "I'm going to register for college." "Oh really?" I didn't know it was a college there. So, I went down there with him and turns out University of Illinois had a two year program there at Navy Pier. And tuition was-- 135 bucks a semester. I had a hundred bucks in my pocket. I was working. So then I put a $50 deposit down, came home and told my mother, "I'm going to college mom." And so I went to Navy Pier for three years. I changed my major from engineering to, to accounting, then to finance when I went downstate. I stayed at Navy Pier for three years and downstate for two years. And Navy Pier, it was just like being at Hyde Park. All the Sansei there hung 01:01:00out at the same place. We had these three or four tables. We all hung out together. And the guys were great in math and the girls had trouble with math. And in those days, all the sansei girls had to become teachers. There was no other, all of them were in education. So the guys would help them out with their math and the young ladies would help us guys out in terms of rhetoric, 101 and 102 in terms of the English. I have a friend. I just saw him the other day for the first time in years, who was top notch engineering. He couldn't pass rhetoric 101 and probably was a senior still taking rhetoric 101. Finally he had to go someplace else to take it to get credit for it and then he finally graduated as an engineer and I think he worked for either Boeing or, or McDonald Douglas down in St. Louis. But there always was a nucleus Sansei group that we always hung out with. Our sophomore year we all, we learned how to play Pinochle. And at 11 of us, I think eight flunked out and and I came back on 01:02:00probation. I think David Hayano was the only one that came with good grades. And a lot of the guys got drafted right away. Those days if you weren't in college, you were in Vietnam. And so there was a whole, you just had no control over your life. You had to stay in school. So, went to Navy pier for three years, then went downstate to Champaign, went downstate as a senior basically and stayed down there two years, changed my major down there to finance and graduated.

Anna Takada: And then did you return to Chicago after college?

Ross Harano: Yeah. I summer interned at the CNA at Continental National Assurance, CNA. That summer of '64, I was an intern there. So when I graduated in January of '65, I called them up, "Hey, I graduated." They said, "Oh you 01:03:00weren't, we thought you were graduating in June." "No, I graduated." So they hired me right then and there. So I got a job fresh out of college in the actuarial department.

Anna Takada: Do you-- Well, first I'll ask, when you came back to Chicago, where were you living? Did you go back with your parents, or did you find--

Ross Harano: What's that?

Anna Takada: Oh, where did you live when you returned to Chicago?

Ross Harano: Oh, at my folks' place.

Anna Takada: Okay. And where were they living at that time?

Ross Harano: They lived on Argyle just, just acr-- just between Broadway and Glenwood there. So they lived on Argyle. They had an apartment building. They had five flats, so I moved in. Actually I was living with them.

Anna Takada: When, when did they move there?

Ross Harano: '61 when they tore down the house.

Anna Takada: Oh, okay.

Ross Harano: Yeah. So I've only lived in a couple places in Chicago.

Anna Takada: And, you said from, so it was from Argyle that you were commuting to...?


Ross Harano: Navy Pier.

Anna Takada: To Navy Pier. Okay.

Ross Harano: Yeah I started, what happened is I started Navy Pier in January of '60, and then September of '61, we moved up to the north side. So I left the house on the south side, took the L to Navy Pier and took the L north to Argyle and moved in.

Anna Takada: Do you know why, why your parents decided to stay in Chicago?

Ross Harano: Yes. All of my aunties, their husbands were California based in many ways and they all moved to the Gardena area, and so they all moved back. My dad was more, was always more independent, and he used to say, "I'm not going 01:05:00back to California. Those bastards kicked us out. I ain't going back there." That was his attitude. And plus he had a good job.

Anna Takada: And where was he at that time, working?

Ross Harano: We were, he had bought a vending machine business. We had a vending machine company, and we had all the Coke machines at the B&K Theaters, the State and Lake McVicker's, all those theaters downtown, and, and several factories we had Coke machines so... So he, he didn't want to move back to California anyway.

Anna Takada: Did you have any feelings about it?

Ross Harano: Nope. I remember visiting my rela-- my, my aunties and uncles in California. In 1960, we took the train and started in San Francisco, went down 01:06:00to Menlo Park where my aunt lives, ended up in L.A. area in Gardena. And all the-- And California's nice, but I am an urban guy and I've always lived by the subway, still do. And so I, I couldn't, I don't like the suburban lifestyle. I don't like to have a car. I enjoy being able to walk places and I enjoy the excitement of an urban living.

Anna Takada: I meant to ask. So, it was your mom's family that you all, you know, went through camp with and moved to Chicago. And w-where was your dad's family?

Ross Harano: My dad's family was all over the place, but primarily they were in North Platte, Nebraska. My uncle Earl, when he graduated from college, was a 01:07:00photographer. And he even came to Chicago a couple of times taking pictures, and he set up an operation in North Platte. His wife, my auntie by marriage is a Motooka who, there are several families in North Platte, Nebraska before the war. The, most of them were farmers. Ben Kuroki, the bombadier, the bomber. North Platte, Nebraska was the icing house for the Union Pacific. So then, the trains would come up from California and then they would fill up the cars from the top with ice. And there were like 600 Issei at one point in N- the North Platte area, working for the Union Pacific. My uncl-- grandfather on my mother's side actually ended up there for a while. And a lot of them, several of them became farmers in the area. So, my uncle had an opportunity and he bought into 01:08:00somehow with a phot-- a photo studio there. And so he stayed there and then my, his older brother ended up coming there and they had a, a flower shop and his younger brother came in. So most of my father's family was in North Platte, Nebraska. Others were in Wooster, Ohio because one of my aunties married a professor there. He's from California, but he got a job in Wooster. And then another aunt lived in Berkeley because her husband was a professor at Berkeley. Another one lived in Salt Lake City, they were never in camp. So the, the Harano clan is a little more spread out, but we've had a reunion every year, every two years since '73. And so, we just had one last year in July in Orlando. We had like a hundred and some odd folks there. So it's fun to get together every two 01:09:00years and see all the kids grow up. I don't recognize some of these kids, they grow up so fast. The hardest part of these reunions though, I know all my cousins, I know most of my cousins kids, but my cousins' kids' kids, and all my cousins intermarried, except for one. And so as a result of that, you go the, the reunion and you see these blue eyed blondes running around. My great granddaughter's blue eyed blonde. So it's, so you say this is a Japanese American reunion, but you're saying, "Where are the Japanese at the reunion?" So it, but it's a great time, we go over family history, we do quite a bit of oral projects like this. We have quite a few tapes too. Mhmm.

Anna Takada: Oh great. I'm glad to hear that. Um... So, okay, I-- sorry.

Ross Harano: No problem. I wander around, I digress a lot so...


Anna Takada: There's um... Well and, yeah-- I uh, I have a few, kind of notes that I've been taking throughout of things that I just wanted to be sure to ask about, so we might not be in order or make sense--

Ross Harano: Okay, sure. No problem.

Anna Takada: - chronologically. But I did want to ask a little bit more about your uncles who served during, during the war. Can you, can you tell me more about, I guess briefly, just maybe a little bit more about their stories, but I'm, I'm also curious in hearing about how that was kind of communicated to you as a child or you know... Every family has their family stories that are kind of just there always?

Ross Harano: Yeah. There's a bunch of pictures of me on the West Side when we 01:11:00lived there, where all my uncles just got out of service. So for the first time we had all my uncles on my mother's side, and my uncles by marriage all together, except for my uncle Chuck, who was still in the hospital in Europe. And so, I always have these, remember these photographs of my uncles in uniform. And once again, I didn't think too much about it. Then on my mother's side, my... I had three uncles in service in military intelligence. And one of them was by marriage. My mother's oldest brother was in New Guinea, and my mother's other brother was in Tokyo right after the war with MIS. So all these things, I, 01:12:00I sort of knew about the army; didn't think about anything. My uncle Ben, who was in military intelligence, all of his belongings and military stuff was shipped to us, when he was in-- because he was traveling. And then when he got to Tokyo, a lot of his, a lot of-- everything, before he went to Tokyo, was all sent to us, so we had boxes of all of his stuff, and he was saver. I have all of his notes from MIS, which I'm putting together, and it had an exhibit, I'm figuring out who I'm going to donate them to. They're really good notes, they're, they're interesting. And, and all of his commendations, all of his reports, I have a whole stack of things that I'm putting together, and I'm working with the Pritzker Museum; maybe to, to work-- they, they said they're willing to start something with it. So I had all of these things dealing with my, the service of my uncles. And my uncle Roy, who was in the 442, didn't pa-- 01:13:00passed away maybe eight, nine years ago, but I had a lot of discussions with him, because he was there rescuing the lost Texas group, and on the last, one of the last days, his brother, my uncle Johnny, was killed. So then, Roy was going to go up the hill, I guess, and they wouldn't let him. So, he stayed behind and he did, eventually, he got up there, but they, they didn't want him up front, you know "You just lost your brother." So Roy would tell us about this.

Anna Takada: About how old were you, do you think, when you were hearing these stories for the first time?

Ross Harano: Oh about the specifics of uncle, uncle Johnny was 10, 10 years ago, in that range, yeah. And we did, we started ta-, I started talking to Roy about 01:14:00it, about... maybe longer than that, at one of the reunions.

Anna Takada: It kind of sounds to me like, you know you've, you've done a bit of work kind of around your family's story and experiences, whether it's talking to folks or recording or just researching, I guess, more generally. Why, why is that something that's important to you?

Ross Harano: I'm, I'm a collector. And I'm just going through all my paper, I just gave Ryan some more stuff, I save things. I'm also a trivia nut and I'm also a movie nut, so I just have a sense of history, I enjoy history, and how things fit together. And, so all these things are important, and plus, we're 01:15:00passing these stories on to my kids, to my grandkids, to my cousins at the reunion. So I think that's important, the history, because the trouble we have today, and we still do, we teach American history from war to war to war; you know with French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, and we don't teach it from the point of view of... group- immigrants come here, the Irish were the lowest of the low. There was a magazine called Puck, which showed on the cover Chinese, Irish; the Chinese are good because they work here and go home, the Irish are bad because they stay here and have kids. A-and so we have to understand that ours is a country of immigrants. A group comes in and they work their way up, another group comes in to take those dirty jobs nobody else will, and that's what's going on today. And so, we have 01:16:00to begin to teach this whole immigration. That, you know way back, we used to teach the melting pot theory; everybody comes in, they assimilate. Ford had a 4th of July thing at his plant, they'd have a big cauldron on the stage, people would walk in from one side with their national clothing on whether they're Lithuanian, Polish, whatever it might be, come out the other side wearing the Ford uniform. And, the assimilation process, the melting pot theory was great until probably the late '70s, and then we had a thing called the rise of the unmeltable ethnics, because the trouble with the melting pot theory if you're of a different color, if you speak with an accent, there's something wrong with you, because you're not melted in. You can change your last name, you can do all sorts of things, and people have done that, but if you're of color, have that 01:17:00accent, that story's not told. So that's one of the reasons why people still think... Now, how many times do people ask you "Where are you from?" You know? And, sometimes I get pissed and I say, "Well I, Chicago." "What high school?" "Hyde Park." "Where were you born?" "California." "Where are your parents?" "California." "Where are your grandparents?" "Japan." "You're Japanese." Did you ever ask a white guy that? Do I say, "Gee, are your parents from? Germany, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, are you Bohemian, are you Polish? What is it?" You know, we don't ask those questions, but we're always asked that question, "Where are you from?" People are curious because our story has never been told. A-and plus, Europe is Europe, it's not Czechoslovakia, it's not France, it's not Romania. Europe is Europe, so you sort of accept that, but Asia is such- different. So then, we're always asked that same question, you know and 01:18:00sometimes I get pissed, sometimes I get, I'll just say well I'll go through this whole routine, you know, and then I ask them where they're from. Sometimes I figure, if they're asking me out of ignorance I'll, I'll educate them, but I think most Asian kids go through this experience.

Anna Takada: Did you have, experience that growing up in Chicago?

Ross Harano: Sort of. Most people in those days, because there were few Japanese, thought we were Chinese. Most people thought I was, they didn't know there were Japanese here, so they all assumed we were Chinese.

Anna Takada: And, we have time for just a couple more questions. So you 01:19:00mentioned that for some time you didn't speak with your parents about the war experience, or the incarceration. How about, how do you feel as far as raising your own children, is this history something that you shared with them? Or...

Ross Harano: Oh, yeah, oh yeah. My, my kids are aware of it. You know, when the book "Nisei" first came out, by Hosokawa, I made sure that every kid had a copy of it. "The Bamboo People", they all had copies, I made sure they all... I don't know if they ever read 'em, but they have all this. So, yeah they're well aware of the history; they're well aware because at the reunions we talked about it, and, so it's part of their history. So, yeah, they're, they're quite aware of 01:20:00it. I think it's important. Especially, how do you, how do you explain to kids... because my grandchildren don't even look Japanese, you know? And so how do you... but they're well aware of their Japanese heritage, all the grandchildren are. I think it's important that they know, because it's sort of, knowledge protects you in some ways. Because to all of a sudden to be walking down the street, all of a sudden they call you a dirty Jap, you know, you just have to be prepared and understand and be aware there's a bunch of jerks out there. Racist jerks.

Anna Takada: And, your family, are they, are they in Chicago? And your grandkids?


Ross Harano: Yeah. My, my parents had a building on Argyle. And my, we lived there, my sister lived there, my cousin lived there, my grandparents live there, and I got wanderlust and bought a building across the alley on Winnemac. So then, when my daughter was married, and they lived above, they lived across the street at my parents place, and then they had kids and they moved above me on the third floor of our building. So then, I didn't charge them rent for a long time and they bought a house, so they live out in Round Lake, about an hour from us. And then, my youngest son lives upstairs on the third floor and my middle son lives in Texas. I almost disowned him, because he's a Republican, so...

Anna Takada: And, just a couple more questions. Having grown up as a sansei in 01:22:00Chicago, and you know, really being here for that critical resettlement period, how would you compare the Japanese American community of the past... let's say, '50s, '60s, and some of those early memories of yours, to what it is today?

Ross Harano: Well, in those, when we first got here, there were certain enclaves of Japanese, just by the nature of discrimination. J-Town, in those days, was Clark and Division, and when they built Sandburg Village, all that was torn down. Then there was all these social groups for, for the Nisei, the churches, 01:23:00JACL, the service committee, so there was a nucleus. As the nisei got older and moved out to the suburbs, or whatever it might be, we're really spread out. There really isn't a, a J-Town here. And, as a result of that, we, the only time I see all my sansei friends is at a funeral, or some sort of, something to do with funerals all the time lately. That's, that's when I see all my friends actually, now, at funerals, but we're all spread out. You know so, and because, you find that, growing up... I'll give you an example. Back in 19-, 1970, '71, 01:24:00'72, in that range... Actually, sorry. Back in 1965, Abe Hagiwara said, "You know, we need to do something with the young adults that are older than junior JACL, so about 22 years old." So in '65, we started a thing called Young Japanese Americans, or YJAs. So then we held our first event, it was down in Oldtown, and it was, we went to see a, a blues player who we knew, and we had a little party up there. And what happened was that there was about four guys and about 11 girls that showed up, and I didn't recognize half of these girls. And they were gorgeous. I knew 'em in grammar school, high school, college, wherever it might be, but they were just older women now, older. And so, out of that YJA 01:25:00group, and there was only four guys in the beginning, I said you've got to get more guys, get more guys, and out of that group there were 11 marriages. It was fascinating. I, I have an album of all the wedding invitations for all the YJAs that met as a result of this event. We had Dick Tatebe met a girl from Cleveland there, we had somebody from Canada meeting somebody here, all sorts of relationships. And 11 marriages out of that whole thing. So, but it's changed, the fact that there is no hard social center now for the community. Service committee had these dinners, JACL had these dinners, but there is no social, main social gathering. You had the n- picnic and all that, but still, it's a different, it's more of a get together of old, old, old friends I hadn't seen in 01:26:00a long time, it's not an every day, like when you had the Bruins, and all these different clubs. It's not the same way.

Anna Takada: Why do you think that is? Is it just geographic?

Ross Harano: Well, I can give you an example. There were a bunch of us that used to hang out together and we'd say, hey, let's go out and do something. We'd all go out and whatever it might be, go bowling, go drinking, whatever it might be, and all of a sudden you have a kid, and they're not as flexible, and then somebody else has a kid. So now you just can't say "Hey, let's go out to, there's a, there's a theater thing going on, let's go down." You can't do that any more, we have kids. So that's what, that's what happened, once you have the kids, then that, that nucleus group sort of breaks up. You still get together, but not on a regular basis. We were getting together, our group of friends were getting together almost every weekend, we were doing, doing something. But it changes. Once you have a kid, things change. And that's happened in the community, so therefore the groups are much more... friendships are not on a 01:27:00daily basis, as before.

Anna Takada: Well thank you so much, again, for taking the time to speak. Before we wrap up, are there any last things that you'd like to add?

Ross Harano: Mainly about Chicago. I, I think Chicago is an unusual place in terms of, of sansei. The sansei on the east coast are much different than the sansei here; the sansei here are much different than the sansei on the west coast. Sansei on the east coast are totally, totally assimilated all the way through, just in everything they do. The west coast, you know, you don't have to be that assimilated; here, there's sort of a mixture of assimilation and it's a whole, it's different than the sansei on either coast. I did notice that, but 01:28:00also, the fact that it's such a smaller group that we all seem to know each other somewhere along the way. Especially, when you, you know I was saying I've been going to a lot of funerals lately, and I get to see folks, I saw someone I haven't seen since high school almost, so. But we still are a community that sort of, does band together when necessary, which we do.

Anna Takada: Do you have any hopes for the future of the Japanese American community in Chicago?

Ross Harano: I don't know, I, I haven't thought about it. I think the service committee and the other groups, we just need to support them. I think, as, as we go through this whole assimilation process, we have fourth, and fifth, and sixth generation kids who are half, half, half, half, half, half, half... you know 01:29:00what's the future? And this is a question we asked when I was a sansei. You know, well, am I Japanese or am I American? A-and, and then, the, the bottom line of all that whole discussion, we're a visible minority, so even though we're American, but we are Japanese, and people know that. Now, with this whole assimilation, intermarriages, and the kids, how will that, how, how do they fit into all of this? I remember when they did the, the history project for JACL and the Nisei book, there's a picture of this clan in New York City who came to the U.S. early, in the 1860s, I can't remember their names, but they didn't even look Japanese at all, because they were in New York, and they intermarried right off the bat most likely, so, but the family still had the Japanese last name. So 01:30:00it, it's fascinating about, about the next generations and how they fit in, how they feel about it, because don't forget, as a visible minority, our relationship with the United States is dependent upon the United States relationship with Asia. In World War II I was a Jap, in the Korean War I was a chink, in the Vietnam war I was a gook. So, anything goes wrong with China, or whatever, it will affect us as a visible minority. That's one thing that we have to recognize, that, that the tide can change overnight in terms of who we are, and what took place in World War II could happen again, and we just have to make sure it doesn't.

Anna Takada: One last question.

Ross Harano: Mm-hmm.

Anna Takada: How, how can we do that? How can we make sure that nothing like the 01:31:00incarceration or what happened in World War II?

Ross Harano: Well, part of the whole, part of the whole redress and reparations made that point. When we first started out you know, we were talking about $40,000 per person dead or alive, and it got down to $20,000 if you were alive on a certain date in '88. But uh-, or '80... '88. So what happened is that certain legislation is taking place, which basically prohibits this, and the Supreme Court rulings were overturned, but still we have to make sure that the issues deal with immigration, and we have to be involved in those issues, and we have to make sure that the whole backlash that's going on against people of color, we have to be on the forefront of telling our story of what happened to us, as part of the whole story of how it can happen again unless Americans are vigilant.


Anna Takada: Thank you so much, again.

Ross Harano: Sure.

Anna Takada: I promise that was the last one.

Ross Harano: Okay, no problem.