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Lilly Kodama's Stories of Community Help During Hard Times

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Picture of Setsuko Kitamoto an... Picture of Setsuko Kitamoto and Felix Narte
by John de Graaf for 1984 television (KCTS)
Lilly is now 90-yrs-old and lives in the family home again, on Bainbridge Island, where her grandfather created his 20-acres farm and was raising strawberries before WWII. Lilly says, "Felix Narte was his main farm hand. Grandpa and Grandma went back to Japan and left the farm to my father, Frank Kitamoto and my mother, Setsuko Nishinaka Kitamoto."  
 

Lilly further explains, “Felix used to baby-sit us and was part of our family. Because Felix took care of the farm and helped us so much, my father gave him an acre, when we got back home after our incarceration. He went back to the Philippines to marry and built his house next door. Now, Felix Jr. lives next door and is still part of our family. 
 

On March 30th 1942, we were the first group, with as little as 1/16 Japanese heritage, incarcerated when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. I was 7-yrs-old, my sister Frances was 5-yrs-old, my brother Frank Jr was 2-yrs-old and Jane was a baby. We were taken directly to Manzanar in California. but later we were able to move to Minidoka in Idaho where our friends from Seattle were incarcerated. Felix drove all the way from Bainbridge Island to Camp Minidoka with our electric washing machine because he knew my mother needed it for washing diapers.”
 
Lilly also explained how her father was working for FRIEDLANDER JEWERY STORE in Seattle, “Mr Friedland was the one who called us to tell us the Government officials had taken our father straight to prison, without his even being able to come home, when WWII started. Later, Mr Friedlander got permission for my Dad to go to Chicago and learn watch repair. 
 

After the war. Mr Friedlander loaned my father money to start his own jewelry store business in the Bush Hotel on Jackson Street in Seattle. Also, the owner of the Bush Hotel paid for the big locked vault for storage of the valuables. Us kids once complained that we never went on vacations. My father explained, ‘As long as I owe Mr. Friedlander money, we can’t do such a thing until I pay him back.’”

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OMOIDE AT THE SEATTLE REP THEATER

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WE ALL TELL STORIES; STORI... WE ALL TELL STORIES; STORIES ARE WHO WE ARE
We are again guests of the Seattle Repertory Theater for this evening of sharing stories that connect us all, as well as future generations. We present this evening to inspire each other and bring us together with shared heritage values and for the benefit of our Seattle and Washington community.

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MERCER ISLAND DRILL TEAM SHOWING LEADERSHIP

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Mercer Island Drill Team is a... Mercer Island Drill Team is a 3a school in Washington State
Their State rating is: first in Kick, Second in Military and Third in Pom
This morning my granddaughter, middle row on the right, showed me their State Rating as a 3a school in Washington State Drill Team competitions. I was excited to congratulate her, but I further asked her, "What do you do 'with personal leadership' to contribute to the success of the team?"
 
She answered, "I'm not a captain or anything like that, so I don't know."
 
I responded, "How about that you get up four days a week at 5am to be at practice?"
 
"But everyone does that and that's just responsibility." 
 
I ask further, "But I want to know the small things you personally do to provide leadership."
 
She thinks about it for a while and answers, "Well, I talk to everyone and make sure they feel included. We all shout out and encourage each other."
 
"I love that answer. I want all of us to be aware of the little things each of us can do to make a team, and spread the example to bigger efforts." I interject.
 
She further explains, "3a means size of school. 4a schools are the bigger schools and they have more to choose from, so they are usuallty better."
 
These are the kind of stories I feel important to blog and think about how I can encourage such values for a better Seattle, a better Washington State where we live!!!
 

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GENIUS ZONE

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LEARNING TO SEW WAS MOST ... LEARNING TO SEW WAS MOST IMPORTANT IN
THE JAPANESE AMERICAN COMMUNITY AS I WAS GROWING UP!
Today, I’m listening to a Podcast. According to Gay Hendricks, Psychologist/writer, the Genius Zone is that moment one realizes one’s thoughts are dominated by things we can do nothing about. That is the beginning. Moving ahead in the Zone, is when we commit to start concentrating on thoughts followed by actions where we personally have control!
 

Visiting with my sister not long ago, she remembered how proud of me she was when I made a dress for Ruby in high school. I realize that was one of my GENIUS ZONE MOMENTS. In high school I was often self-effacing and assumed I did not have qualities like some of the popular girls. One day at the end of my senior year in high school, I became aware of Ruby. My friends and I sometimes made fun of her because she wore ragged clothes and never talked to anyone. 
 

I heard my father tell someone how poor Ruby’s family was. I had grown up watching my father help a lot of families. He was the FISHMAN, delivering groceries to Japanese farmers in our TREASURE VALLEY community of Eastern Oregon and Western Idaho, divided by the Snake River.
 

Hearing my father, I got excited about an idea where I could do something to help someone. I knew how to sew as I hardly owned anything that I hadn’t personally sewn myself because we were also very poor. I went to Mrs. Patrick our high school girl’s counselor. She was a member of the Baptist Church my family attended, so I knew her. I told her I wanted to do this anonymously so that’s why I was asking her to help me deliver my idea. I needed help figuring out the size of a graduation dress I wanted to sew for Ruby. 
 
I no longer remember any of the details of color, style or what else I had to do. I may even had to pump the Singer Sewing machine with a treadle. For my own clothes, we had to drive to the bigger city of Caldwell or Boise, Idaho, to get the quality and choices of material we wanted. So, I must have asked my mom for help to buy the material and pattern. I slightly remember seeing Ruby with the dress on as we marched into the auditorium to receive our 1956 high school diplomas. 

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FINDING MORE ABOUT WHO I AM

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GO ONTARIO, GO ONTARIO GO O... GO ONTARIO, GO ONTARIO
GO OUT AND MAKE THIS A BETTER WORLD!
 When I was 9-yrs-old, I skipped a grade. Therefore, I was socially immature. Having buck-teeth and wearing pigtails into Jr. High didn’t help. On top of that, I moved into a class at Ontario High School in Eastern Oregon where the Valedictorian, Dr. Theodore Sakano, was the top scholar at University of Oregon and a professor of chemistry at Rose-Hulman Institute in Terre Haute, Indiana, and later at Rockland Community College in New York. I see his SaddleBrooke Lecture sell-out in 2018, about the Japanese incarceration, with a note from former President George Bush.
 
Our Salutatorian, Dr. Calvin Tanabe, MD, was a notable neurosurgeon in Portland, Oregon, and served in Viet Nam in MASH-type-situations. Civically oriented, Cal and his wife Mayho contribute saying, “We thought we could return the most to the community by getting people to think.” Cal & Mayho had arranged a date with Dr. Ben Carson for their Portland Arts & Lecture series, but political backlash forced them to cancel.
 
The President of our class and still a good friend; but living now with dementia in Port Charlotte, Florida, was Loren Cox, He oversaw Asia and Africa with Peace Corp. Loren served as Deputy ED for both the MIT Joint Program and the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research. In the 1970s he was a staff member for Representative Al Ullman of the Ways and Means Committee for U.S. House of Representatives, from Malheur County Oregon, where Ontario was the biggest city with 5000 population when I lived there.
 
Lynn Gallagher and I had arranged to meet where our daughters were living near Half Moon Bay, below San Francisco. But Lynn passed in 2017, living in Washington DC. She graduated from Stanford in journalism, but created Telecom/Telematique International, a boutique consulting firm promoting international development of communication in Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East as a consultant with the U.S. Department of Energy. 
 
Captain Ray Dickerson and I were planning to write a book about our prestigious class and Sam was going to do the illustrations. Ray served in Saudi Arabia where he was the director of vehicle services for the Royal Family and was the escort for Colin Powell visits. Ray passed just before Sam in 2017. He was a “life master” in bridge and said, “What have I ever done to deserve such a great life”. 

Our vision for the book was, how we all came together in Ontario, Oregon, from Spain, Mexico, Japan, Canada, all parts USA in the late 1800s with great heritage values. We all learned to work hard on the Eastern Oregon farms.Then we went to all parts of the world again and served. Two Ontario High School students were/is Washington State Senators, Jim Honeyford, who retired last year and Steve Conway.
 
All 117 of our 1956 graduates have created powerful stories. I look back and see myself as self-effacing, mousey and shy, but grateful for the experience of knowing how it feels. I’m still non-competitive but social and persistent with learning the path of love and service for a fulfilling life and legacy.
 
No wonder I got better grades in college than in high school with such a bell curve.

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85th BIRTHDAY

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NOT TOO SWEET? NOT TOO SWEET? GRANDSON, ZACHARY, PART OF... GRANDSON, ZACHARY, PART OF THE TEAM THAT WON THE SWIM MEET. NOTHING LIKE CELEBRATING W... NOTHING LIKE CELEBRATING WITH FAMILY
My daughters gave me this wonderful trip to see my grandson's UC Santa Barabara Swim Team win their swim meet. What a treat and what a weekend.
 
Went shopping at the Santa Barbara Mall. So quaint! Found an outfit to wear to Grandson #1's wedding this next April.
 
Life is good! 
Turning out
like it should!
 
 
 
 

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LEARNING MORE ABOUT WHO I AM

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According to Meyers-Briggs, I... According to Meyers-Briggs, I am an ENFJ or teacher
My New Year affirmation for 2024 is: "To bring my best to the table and focus on being nice." 
 
 My New year resolution is to keep learning and stay on my path of life - developing resources for HAPPIERNESS. I will focus on being nice. It is also recommended that I listen to my heart rather than my egotistical brain. 
 
Research suggests, the heart deals more with the "right brain" and bigger picture of art, and nature. GOODNESS, TRUTH & BEAUTY brings balance to our Western Culture of the focussed "left brain" on math, science, laws, monetary goals and accomplishments. 
 
According to Meyers-Briggs, I am ENFJ - Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Judging. The explanations suggest, this makes me and inspiring optimist, open-minded, cooperative and organized. I'm happy with this.
 
I also took the Big 5 Personality Test:
Openness = 63.20%
Conscientiousness = 75.40%
Extraversion = 78.30%
Agreeableness = 93.90%
Neuroticism = 0.10%
 
I like learning, organizing my thoughts and sharing. 
 

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NEW YEAR'S EVE - DECEMBER 31ST

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NEW YEAR'S EVE - DECEMBE...
New Year Eve 2017, the Goto brothers and sisters gathered to wish Sam Goto farewell.  As the day passed, sister Irene commented, “Do you realize Sam was born on the 13th and today is the 31st?” 
 

When Sam and I first started dating in 1960, I was studying at his 1438 Medical Dental Building office. As a Dental Technician, working late for Sam was common. I was completing my Public Health Nursing degree at the University of Washington. For some reason, Sam commented, “I was born on Friday the 13th.” That year the Seattle phone directory had calendars for many previous years. So, I looked up when Friday the 13th occurred in 1933, knowing he was six years older than me. 
 

I found Friday the 13th was in January that year. Since my birthday is January 14th, it was another confirmation that maybe we were meant to be together? If one believes in Numerology, I’m a number 1 and Sam is a number 3, which together is a 13? :-)
 

He had two birthday parties, one when he was 13 and the other when he was 31.  
 

Several years later, in 1971, we decided to reward ourselves with a 10th anniversary trip to Japan. We had to go to the City of Seattle Vital Statistics to get a copy of his birth certificate to get our passport. 
 

To our surprise, not only was Sam born on Friday the 13th, he was born at 1303 Washington Street, at 3am at the home of a Japanese midwife. He was listed as the 3rd child of a mother 23 and a father 33. Their address was Lot 1, box 31 - 3C, Renton, Washington.
 
One month later, we were at the Takanawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo. I was hanging my dress in the closet and saw that the cleaning tag was #3. Then Sam and I talked about the day being October 3rd. But we commented, “At least we are on the 14th floor.” The next morning we realized there was no 13th floor so our room was actually on floor 13. 
 

Subsequently, our life has been filled with 3s, 13s, coincidences and serendipities. It wasn’t totally clear, but in his last days, we asked him to give us sign of his communication after his passing. He indicated that it would be for us to notice the number13.

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CHRISTMAS EVE MEMORIES

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My favorite picture!! My favorite picture!! A peaceful (end?) to a great ... A peaceful (end?) to a great partnership!!
1961 - 2017
 

Christmas Eve was always exceptional, from the snowy 1961 evening in Eastern Oregon to the snowy 2017 goodby on Mercer Island. 
 

Sam and I were married in Ontario, Oregon, at the First Baptist Church on Christmas Eve. It was a Sunday that year and the day my favorite Uncles would take time off from their Ontario Market business to be able to attend.
 

Sam created 56 more wonderful Christmas Eve memories. It was always special and always included the girls. One of the best memories is when we went to the Red Lion on Airport Way. Those days, restaurants were empty on Christmas Eve so we kind of had the whole place to ourselves. The memory was around 1971. WE WERE IMPRESSED and we still talks about the memory because the chef brought the salad ingredients on a cart to our table, tossing it and serving us individually!
 

I think that was the year Sam made me a charm bracelet with ten gold charms commemorating special moments in our 10 year marriage. Thereafter, I got a gold ring stapled to a silly card every year where we were out celebrating Christmas eve. My favorite is the ring that is the image of our house, we built in 1973. Another favorite is a black rock from our back yard, made to look like a rabbit with a gold heart on it’s butt, because that is my birth year sign. I often wear the cat curled up around a pearl because we saw the broadway musical CATS in New York that year.
 

A Sam favorite ring memory might be the illegal rock he picked up on our trip to Machu Picchu in Peru. It might also be the Mammoth Image ring commemorating a trip to the South Dakota Hot Springs Mammoth dig in 1995. Sam was Vice President of his high school senior class in Nampa, Idaho, and the president was Larry Agenbroad, Paleontologist, who created the Mammoth sight and has been on National Geographic Specials several times. 
 

Japanese style, Sam put an extra ordinary amount of thought into not being publicly recognized, but family were the benefactors for his private creativity and Love. We continue to revel in the legacy of 56 Christmas Eve gold ring memories, his 240 cartoon strips and his 40 years of never missing bi-monthly Shaklee newsletter drawings. 
 
There is more and more empirical evidence that Sam likely continues to extend his energy in what our family may be creating today? LOVE IT!!

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TIS THE SEASON

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FROM OUR HOUSE TO YOURS W... FROM OUR HOUSE TO YOURS WISHING YOU
A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPIER NEW YEAR
The newest version of my “purpose in life” is:  To keep learning ways to know God and spread HAPPIERNESS - little steps of personal responsibility bringing a little more happiness every day. The grand goal of “happy” is just staying on the life path towards gaining wisdom and fulfillment. 
 

One of those little happierness ways, for Sam and me, has been to spread stories about family and heritage values. We’ve needed everyone’s input!! Our family tree is expanding with Grandson Joey and Alex getting married this next April.
 

With the publishing of our family stories in COLUMBIA MAGAZINE, I’ve gotten to be closer friends with editor, Julianna Verboort. I am excited! She has agreed to collaborate in being a “Developmental Editor” as we produce a Historical Fiction novel with a melding of Sam and his dad’s character as the main protagonist. 
 

Having Kelly and the girl’s activities close brings a lot of smiles. Now that Kirin can drive, no one has to awaken @ 5:30 four days a week to take her to 6:15am Drill Team practices nor evening rush hour driving for Karate in North Seattle.
 
Our next OMOIDE (MEMORIES) book will be: STORIES OF RESILIENCE AND COMPASSION DURING HARDSHIP. Please call me, if you know a story about hardship times before and after incarceration where a community member stepped in to help. Maybe a neighbor/friend took care of your family house or property while everyone went to camp or maybe a teacher/mentor made a big difference in your life? Also incidents of picking up our own bootstraps during hard times is important!
 
“The important thing is to never stop questioning!” -Einstein
 
DEE GOTO AND GIRLS
 
GO SANTA BARBARA SWIM TEAM GAUCHOS!!!!!

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