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  • Sunday, April 06, 2008

    My brother is the family genealogist

    No, not gynecologist. Genealogist. As in rooting out the family tree. He has for years and years been researching our family history. He's been lucky that the Japanese keep family registers (a legal document) that go back generations and generations. That has allowed him access to names of very distant ancestors. Of course, my brother reads no Japanese, so he's had to rely on friends and family to translate for him.

    On my mother's side, he has collected information directly from Croatian relatives. I don't know how far back he has records for that side, but his research has been extensive.

    A few complicating factors in my family history was emigration in the late 19th century and this pesky little thing called World War II, when my father's family was interned. Like most Japanese American families, we have little ephemera that pre-dates the war. I have seen a few pictures, but not a lot. So, for example, I think I've seen maybe three baby pictures of my father. And he was the first son in a middle class Asian family -- and knowing my grandmother -- so I bet there were many more that were lost during the war.

    Surprisingly, my brother did come up with several pictures that were taken during the internment, in the camp. Given that cameras were contraband and confiscated, I don't know how they had these taken -- or developed! I'll have to ask my grandmother. But clearly, it was planned because my dad is in a little white suit. Isn't he cute?

    So here they are. Pictures of my father, grandmother, grandfather (whom I have never met because he died in 1964) and some little girl (I don't know who that is, unless my grandmother had the habit of putting bows in my uncle's hair back then).

    From the Gila River internment camp in Arizona, circa 1943.

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