Reiko McSherry

Transcript of Reiko McSherry
Interviewee: Reiko McSherry
Interviewer: Madison Higgs, Joseph Okasheh, Dorothy Nygren
Date: April 25, 2014
Place: Chicago, Illinois
Transcribers: Joseph Okasheh and Madison Higgs
Total Time: 29:27

Copyright © 2014 Edgewater Historical Society

JO: This is Reiko McSherry; Reiko comes from Japan. Would you be interested in telling us about your early years during your childhood?

RM: My childhood? That’s Japan

DN: Where in Japan?

RM: Tokyo

DN: Tokyo, So you were in a big city.

RM: Big City, I had a nice childhood. I had a 5 brother-sister, I had a wonderful parent. But unfortunately my father die when I was 20. So I oldest. So 18-16-14-10 all teenage my brother-sister my father passed away so my mother had a very tough life. But,oh she done so many different…. She go to… out to selling [clears throat]things, you know like a candy or so… support, support of a family for all five children. But we had a wonderful home, childhood.


DN: What did your father do? What was his businessor profession?

RM: He’sa business for medical equipment. You know, that’s Call Medi… yeahthat’sthat kind of business

DN: so did you live in a house or an apartment?

RM: House.

DN: Could you tell us a little bit about your house?

RM: My house is a nice yard and my father loves… every time come home bring some kind of pet, you know. Bird sometime. (Giggles) So he build a bird house in yard andnext time he bring a puppy. He teach us to taking care of pets. We have 5. Then he pass, ya know, passed away. He just wonderful: quiet nice man. And a yard we have. He built, like a little zoo. Yes, birds, rabbit, of course. We had dog and there’s a pond he build (clears throat) fish,turtle, yeah. All kind of….So let us taking care. Who gonna taking care of this? So it was nice.


DN: You said you were the oldest?

RM: I’m oldest.

DN: Did you need to take care of your brothers or sisters or did you just play with them?

RM: No. They’re not that old, when we was young, no. Because age is very close each other. Two year different.

DN: And what do you remember about going to school in Japan?

RM: Oh school was wonderful, five children, I’m the…. don’t want to say any…. I don’t want to brag but I’m the always “A” students until High School, very good. So the other brother and sister is a medium, but I was very good. So (clears throat) teacher tell me I should go college because I am very good in the study. But my mother… parents… said, “You know, four other young children behind me. So financially very hard to go to college.” So I didn’t go. But later my motherfeel very bad she didn’t send me to college. But if I really like to study, you can study yourself -don’t have to go to school. But my mother regrets she didn’t send the college to me. The other brother went. Two brother went to college. Japanese man, they should go always go to college and good job - support a family. So now two brother went to college but never finished. They quit.


DN: So you met your husband in Japan?

RM: Uh Huh. [Yes]

DN: Can you tell us a little about that?

RM: Yes. When I was after high school, I work for big Japanese newspaper company called Yo-mee-odi Newspaper. That very good big. So I went to PressCorp. That’s where I met my husband. He, he was in the Press Corp. So we start to talk and ….


DN: How old were you then?

RM: I was after high school. Around twenty, twenty one. That’s [where]I met my husband. Yep.

DN: And you were telling us that he was Irish.

RM: Irish.

DN: And what was the name of the publication that he worked for, the newspaper?

RM: Stars and Stripes. That’s American military newspaper sent it to Korea, Vietnam. So he’s a writer for[it].

DN: Was he an American citizen or Irish citizen?

RM: No, no, American.

DN: American citizen, Sothen you met andyou fell in love and you got married?


RM: Yes, but my mother….Already my father was gone. My other…. I don’t want to tell her I am dating an American man. So, that goes time not open like today.

DN: So your courtship was difficult.


RM:Difficultto telling my mother and my siblings. So my mother know I am dating somebody because sometime I come home very late midnight. So she ask me, “If you have a boyfriend. Bring him home. We would like to meet your boyfriend.” So I said, “You know, that’s American Man?”She….I was in shock. My mother said, “Oh, that’s good. That’s all right”. (giggles) I am surprised my mother was so open. You know?

DN: Did you get married in Japan then?

RM: Yes.

DN: What kind of wedding did you have? Was it a Buddhist ceremony or a Christian?


RM: No.we really we didn’t have really a big wedding.

DN: Civil? A civil ceremony?

RM: We went to American Embassy. Then their preacher or somebody go on and marry us. Then, embassy - we have to get marriage certificate, you know? After that, we just celebrate with my family because he doesn’t have a family. So together….

DN: When did you come to the United States?


RM: 1964 (Coughs) Excuse me.

DN: And what propelled you to come here?

RM: Because his job change. 1964 November Icame firstto East… West coast.

DN: And when you came to United States, did you come to Chicago?


RM: No, not straight.

DN: Oh, not straight….?

RM: West coast

DN: West coast. Can you tell us about that?

RM: San Francisco first. We came. Then his job was close to bay… close to bay called Hayworth. We lived in Hayworth for a while then moved to Los Angeles. His job is printing business when he came to United States. Los Angeles for a while. While means little, over one year. Yeah then I don’t know.I don’t think….Still I don’t speak good English. But at that time I don’t speak much. But my husband speak little Japanese and English so we communicate:Japaneseand English. But he was a very nice man. Always helpful. Yeah.


DN: When did you come to Chicago?

RM: Chicago was uh…. What it was a big snowstorm you have here? What year was it?

JO: ’68.

RM: ‘70?

DN: ‘68?

RM: Something like that.

DN: And did you come….?

RM: That time? No. We are already west coast Florida, Jupiter, Florida. So we miss that big snow storm. Then we stay Florida, called West of Palm Beach,for a year a half or so. Then after come to Chicago. Since then Chicago. That’s a long time


DN: So when you came to Chicago, did you come to this neighborhood: to Edgewater?

RM: Mm hum. (Yes)

DN: And you’ve been here ever since?

RM: Foster and Sheridan

DN: Yes, yes. That is Edgewater. So you’ve been in Edgewater for many years now?

RM:Many years, that’s right.

DN: Madison, do you want to ask a question about Edgewater?

MH: Did you find that you liked Edgewater more than California?

RM: No, more than California? Oh? Yes. I like Chicago. See, I don’t drive. So here I can go anyplace with a train or a bus, yah know. California isn’t….You have to drive, ya know.

DN: And I think you were telling us youworked in a beauty shop in Edgewater?


RM: Yes.

DN: For many years?

RM: Sovereign Hotel.

DN: At the Sovereign Hotel?

RM: Granville.

DN: Can you tell us a little bit about that?

RM: Oh that’s wonderful. You know, wehad a German boss lady, husbandcomes from Romania. Oh, they were nice people. We get my husband and we get together all time beside the beauty work. So they (unintelligible) were the people [that] came to me. For hair done, those time you know big hairdo. Different hairdo back then.

DN: Now I think your clientele comes from all over the world too, didn’t they? Many different nationalities and people?


RM: Yes Japanese and Philippinepeople but most of the clientele is this neighborhood. Jewish lady, nice Jewish lady. Most,I have a clientele. They come from every week. Standing appointment. So I had a very good clientele.

DN: But you’re retired from that now? You don’t do that anymore?

RM: You know I get anallergy from chemical, hairspray, permanent….I can’twork. I get face red swelling up so I work four hour. Four hours okay. If I workmore than four hour I getitches and harder to breathe. So I live in the next building - 6077 North Sheridan. Sothat building… that name is Miss, Mr.? He’s the first traveler agency in Chicago… Japanese Travel agency…Sigano. Mr. Sigano.I running to….He asking me all the time “If you’re not busy would you please help us at the travel agency?” So that’s good because I only work only four hour beauty shop. ButI told him I know nothing about traveler agency. “No, as long as you speak Japanese that’s, that’s all I need.” So I said, “Ok.” That is the first time I start with the traveler agency. I do tour guide.


DN: Do you like that?

RM: Oh I love that. People all kind of Japanese.Only Japanese. They say it is a Japanese company. So people come from Japan so I help them. I try to go sightseeing in Chicago. Sometime McCormick they have a convention. They call it a convention.


JO: Do you feel at home here in Chicago, in Edgewater?

RS: I feel like home? Oh yes this is my home, yeah.

JO: Do you consider yourself an American?

RM: Yes I am American, but half Japanese. But you know I go to [Japan]…now I don’t go often. I used to go every year because I have a mother so I went to see once a year I go, then come back, once a year, come back. After she passed away I don’t go no more; not too much, too often, like two year, once two year. Once a three year or something like that. I like, I like Chicago, especially Chicago, so yes this is home. I don’t intend to go back to Japan, back to visit but not to live.

MH: When you moved to Edgewater, did anyone help you settle into the neighborhood?

RM: Ah excuse me?

MH: When you moved to Edgewater was there anyone here that helped you settle into the neighborhood?

RM: Somebody to help? No ‘cause my husband was you know [can’t understand] because we stay in Edgewater, we like lake. That’s why we stay.

DN: Did you make friends with people in Edgewater or go to do your chanting in Edgewater?

RM: No. this is a… oh yes, Edgewater people we get together, Hollywood Tower meeting – we do this building meeting, yes.

DN: So you’re chanting, your meditation?

RM: No, not meditation, chanting.

DN: Your chanting was a way to meet other people in Edgewater who had similar interests to you?


RM: Yes, yes that’s right. Absolutely.

DN: Were there other groups in Edgewater that you found supportive or welcoming to you when you first came here? Just were you doing the chanting but were there other…?

RM: Only when I come here I look for this organization, this Edgewater, this area. Chicago center is on Wabash, South 1400, South Wabash. You had the big…. That’s where we get together sometimes. But members is so huge, big we cannot have one place to have a meeting. So local, always have local meetings. So I’m in Edgewater. So I do right away. I connect to… those group.

DN: What do you think about the diversity, the different nationalities in Edgewater; not all Japanese, not all Irish, but a mix of many people?

RM: Mix, mix.

DN: How do you feel about that? Does it make you feel comfortable or uncomfortable?

RM: Oh yes, feel comfortable.

DN: Why?

RM: [cannot understand] just one Japanese or American, all mix, feel very comfortable. I’m not ashamed to speak broken English you know. These people nice they help me out – my English so I love it.


DN: So you find that people accept you for your…?

RM: Oh of course they accept me, yes actually.

DN: Do you think that it would be the same way if you lived in another neighborhood that was…?

RM: Yes, yes. I’m talking about our organization; it’s hundreds, hundreds in the neighborhood have meetings, small meetings all over. Oh yes, yes everybody accepts, very nice, nice people.

DN: Joe do you have another question?

JO: Since being in America what type of cuisine or meals…?

RM: What?

JO: What kind of dinner do you eat? Do you eat American style food or Japanese?

RM: Oh, it’s a mix.

JO: Mix, alright.

RM: You know [unintelligible] you have a beautiful, a Japanese supermarket but long way, Arlington Heights I have to go, drive. I don’t drive so I go with a friend, driving.

DN: To the High O (?) or the H supermarket out there in Arlington Heights?

RM: What kind?

DN: The big Japanese supermarket.

RM: Called Mitsuwa, Mitsuwa. That’s a Japanese supermarket. But now all kind of place they have international food you know like Treasure Island they have a separate all kind of different nationalities food.

DN: So what kind of tofu – where do you buy your tofu?

RM: Tofu is all supermarkets – Mariano’s now open; Mariano have tofu. What’s the other? Jewels have tofu. Tofu is all over. Because I think American people diet or something; they eat it you know. Yeah they think good protein. I eat it this morning. Tofu – miso soup. Soup and put tofu; cut, cut up smaller – beautiful, wonderful.


DN: Madison do you have a question?

MH: Do you have any children?

RM: No, unfortunately no. This is one thing I am really sad – not sad, but I wish I had children you know? Then I have now grandchildren you know. My age people have most the people talk about their grandchildren. So I’m not the…. I don’t have it, but this organization many people have children so that’s like my own children. You know that’s, I really like….

DN: Joe, do you have a question?

JO: No.

DN: Madison…I have a question about when you got married with your husband. He spoke Japanese, you spoke Japanese. You were Buddhist, chanting?


RM: You know, not my mother was a very strong Buddhist. So when we come to United States this is my mother’s last wish. She said to me to receive gogonza – means object of worship like a scroll you know. Then we chant through this scroll. So she want me to receive this, she begging me. She think she cannot see me no more because she think I go America. She think some place way… different place. So she think she can never see me. So she last wish that she told me. So I make my mother happy. I receive this gogonza, called gogonza (?). Then we came to United States, 1964. That time organization was smaller than right now, but they had the organization – Los Angeles so I connect right away and start to practice.

DN: Was your husband Buddhist or Christian?

RM: He was Christian but he doesn’t go church or anything so. (can’t understand) not against too (?) what I’m practicing. He’s very… my husband very support.

DN: Your husband supported you?

RM: Yes, so we have meetings. He always drive me to meeting place and he come back later. But when we came to Chicago he start to go. I don’t say to him, but he come with me and this meeting and he start to practice.


DN: What do you think is important about your background in Japan and what do you think is important in your life in Chicago? As an immigrant here how do you feel the two come together: the traditions of Japan and the traditions of America? I think that you talked about Japanese food that you still enjoy having Japanese food to eat and certainty the chanting, the Buddhist chanting, is part of your Japanese background. Are there other things that you feel are important for you from that background?

RM: You know (can’t understand) is different of course, you know. So first, I never think so much different than Japan. Some people feel different but not me. I’m right away get together with the American people. I was not shy or anything. So I no… have no problem with the culture or come to [the] states. But I’m very fortunate he [husband] had a good job. So I could go every year to Japan. So I never think missed Japan or you know. Some people, some Japanese women there… hardship for this country, so came to this country. But I was… I was very lucky, yeah.

DN: This is your story so are there any other experiences of your life that you’d like to share with us in this interview? Anything else you’d want to tell us about your life?


RM: Yes an experience is… I’m outgoing person, not a shy person. So sometime my English is still bad.But I give somebody very bad expression that I didn’t mean to that way. But some people take it that way. That’s my, you know, very bad part, but I’m practicing with the Buddhism. I can change my bad thing, you know, so I can be better person with this chanting; better person then I can introduce to other people. So such a nice philosophy and the Buddhism they call it (unintelligible). And you can… America people… any hundred and ninety-two countries. So everybody can achieve whatever you want. So I am this age. I am very happy myself but I don’t feel lonely. So I think I’m okay too.

DN: I think that you’ve said a great deal about how important your chanting is to your life.

RM: Yes, very important.

DN: And I think from telling your story to us we can see how it’s helped you make the transition from Japan to the United States and…

RM: Yes

DN: …give you a big, big extended family to feel at home with.

RM: Yes, exactly. I mean right away I get this organization it’s called SGI, Soka Gakkai International, called SGI – big, big family, so….

DN: And I think on that note we’ll stop the interview, it’s been delightful talking to you and we are so grateful that you helped us share your story.

RM: Oh, thank you.