The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Aya Fujii Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna.

September 15, 2015


“An Oregon Stater Interned During World War II”  September 15, 2015  Location: Fujii residence, Portland, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Fujii discusses her family background and upbringing in a rural area near Hillsboro, Oregon. In this, she speaks specifically of the importance of Japanese culture in her household, the work that she and her siblings conducted on the family farm, and her memories of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States' subsequent entry into World War II.

A primary focus of the interview is Fujii's memories of her and her family's experiences while interned during the war. In recalling that time period, which spanned more than three years, she describes the family's forced relocation to an assembly point at the Portland Livestock Exposition Center, the conditions at the center, and the family's decision to participate in a farm labor program based in eastern Oregon. She then details the specifics of her life while living in eastern Oregon, noting the work that she and other internees carried out, community life at the camp, and the family's move out of tents and into a former CCC barracks. She likewise notes her social life and progression through high school during the war years, including the circumstances by which she met her future husband.

The session then shifts its attention to Fujii's undergraduate tenure at Oregon State College. In this, Fujii comments on her decision to attend OSC, and discusses her living arrangements while a college student. She reflects on her schooling in Home Economics and speaks in particular of her participation in the activities of the college's home management house, including its use of "practice babies" in training young women to someday be effective mothers. Fujii also shares her thoughts on campus traditions of the era, the influx of GI's following the conclusion of the war, and the comfortable campus environment that recalls from that time.

The remainder of the interview is oriented toward Fujii's life after OSC. As she provides an overview of that time, Fujii makes mention of her work as a dietician, the specific assistance that she provided to Japanese speaking hospital patients, and the evolution of her husband's produce business. The session concludes with notes on family as well as activities in retirement, and Fujii's advice to students of today.