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Rosebud and Other Stories

Rosebud and Other Stories

Wakako Yamauchi
Edited by Lillian Howan
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  • Book Info
    Rosebud and Other Stories
    Book Description:

    Secret desires, unfulfilled longing, and irrepressible humor flow through the stories of Wakako Yamauchi, writings that depict the lives of Nisei, second-generation Japanese Americans. Through the medium of Yamauchi’s storytelling, readers enter the world of desert farmers, factory workers, gamblers, housewives, con artists, and dreamers. Elegantly simple in words and complex in resonance, her stories reveal hidden strength, resilience, and the persistence of hope.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6094-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Lillian Howan

    Wakako Yamauchi writes of the soul, the spirit hidden beneath the surface. Secret desires, unfulfilled longing and irrepressible humor flow through her stories, writings that depict the life of Nisei, second-generation Japanese Americans. Through the medium of her storytelling, the reader enters the world of desert farmers, factory workers, gamblers, housewives, con artists and dreamers, the bitter and the ever-hopeful.

    Wakako Yamauchi was born in Westmorland, in the farmlands of the California Imperial Valley. Her birth certificate states her date of birth as October 25, 1924, but, as was common in farming communities, there was a delay in recording her...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Rosebud
    (pp. 1-17)

    This is the story of Mutsuko Okada, daughter of a Japanese picture bride and a farmer. Probably sometime before the Asian Exclusion Act of 1924, Mr. Okada, tired of hacking it alone on the Southern California hard scrabble, found himself a marriage broker—an urban guy hustling extra bucks in a small room off a dry goods store. Mr. Okada snared his bride with a picture, probably not his own, literary correspondence (number five of a group of seven—ambitious but romantic), a savings account (required by the US Department of Immigration and rented by the marriage broker), and a...

  6. Dogs I Owe To
    (pp. 18-32)

    On South Halldale Avenue, we set out our trash and garbage on Tuesday afternoons for Wednesday pickups. I sit at the window that faces the street in my daughter’s room, now long vacant, and watch the sun go down. A dark speckled dog crosses diagonally from the other side and sniffs the bags of trash. He doesn’t mark his territory—he has none. He sniffs and gnaws quickly through the opaque plastic and draws out what looks like the ham bone I had thrown out earlier. His eyes dart around, streetwise, and he disappears around the corner.

    He is homeless,...

  7. Pain and Stuff
    (pp. 33-45)

    I saw Maisie around in the internment camp; she was maybe fourteen or fifteen, a couple of years younger than I was. She was named Masako; her family called her “Masa,” her contemporaries “Massie,” and finally “Maisie” after the beloved ditzy character Ann Southern played on screen. Our Maisie was cute, giggly, and superficial, or so I thought.

    After our liberation from internment at the end of World War II, we often ran into one another in Japanese enclaves that were quickly reestablished or at the workplaces that hired Japanese. We were both Nisei, the first generation of American born....

  8. Annie Hall, Annie Hall
    (pp. 46-57)

    Another Saturday night, another night of revelry.

    Just kidding. It’s just one more weekend night. I’ve spent a lot of these alone with my faithful TV—the one in the bedroom, not the one in the front room that Jeff, my son-in-law installed for me with all the up-to-the-minute stuff (of the time). The DVD is now a couple of years old (my grandkids love it), and the VCR is practically expiring from old age and neglect. The satellite dish is still fairly new. Jeff bought it originally for his own mother, but she didn’t want it since all the...

  9. Onna
    (pp. 58-78)

    My niece Sandy tells me that almost everyone she talks to about her problems quickly redirects the subject to him or herself. “Well,” I say, “almost everyone has similar experiences, and we just want to pass on what we’ve learned from them.”

    “Oh, Auntie,” she sighs.

    “Well,” I say, “if you don’t want a response, you might try talking to your sock, or shoe, or yourself. That way, at least you can say, ‘You-you-you! I don’t want to hear aboutyou.I just want your support.’ ”

    “That’s true,” she says. Still she comes to me when she is troubled....

  10. A Christmas Orange Story
    (pp. 79-84)

    This is the fourth Thanksgiving we’ve spent with Jay and Penny in Oak View, a village near Ojai, California. They have a long house that sits on the broad spine of a hill, and their back porch looks out to the mountains beyond and the highway that dips in and out, stringing little clusters of buildings together. From there they can watch the big summer sky slowly darken from east to west, watch the darting headlights of cars speeding home on the ribbon of dust that hangs over the road.

    The complex looks like an old homestead. There are two...

  11. McNisei
    (pp. 85-96)

    Our tribe is fast disappearing, the Nisei, the first generation of American-born Japanese. They called us the “quiet Americans,” the “model minority.” Silence is being unseen, invisible—not to invite anger or envy. “The nail that sticks out gets hammered” is a saying more familiar to us than, say, “The squeaking wheel gets the oil.”

    Now, we Nisei are in our seventies and eighties. We did well after the camps. Most of us with Depression era experience set out immediately making up for lost time. We went to school, learned a trade, and salted away or invested our wages so...

  12. Family Gifting
    (pp. 97-103)

    They say family stories are like Christmas newsletters. Boring. But I want to get this one down because, way later, my grandkids might want to read something like this and try to connect with it. I see them today: they have all they could want to eat and most of what they think they need to be happy. Maybe they would want to know how all the abundance evolved from stark lives only two generations back.

    This thought came to me last year, just a week before Christmas, when Alyctra and Lucas still hadn’t decided what they wanted from Grammy....

  13. Shigin
    (pp. 104-108)

    Maybe this story should be written in Japanese, but since I’m telling the story, I can use only the language I know. Still, I have difficulties with syntax and vocabulary and using a lot of clichés, but those are clues to my roots.

    Also, I don’t really know all the facts; I’ve only observed from the outside, so I shall be drawing my own conclusions—connecting the dots, so to speak. My friend, a writer, once told me that when one writes the first word on paper, the story becomes fiction. I shall take comfort in that.

    My parents were...

  14. A Nisei Writer in America
    (pp. 109-115)

    When I was a little girl, my father bought a set ofThe Book of Knowledge,which was twenty fat books very much like the encyclopedia. I poured over pictures of great men and mysterious drawings of fossil bones that lay buried under our very feet, and classic paintings and illustrations of famous stories and poems.

    I couldn’t read English, but I was eager to go to school and find the key that would open up the secrets of these books. When I did learn to read, I thought of writers as unapproachably brilliant, and if I entertained thoughts of...

  15. My Mother’s Cooking
    (pp. 116-118)

    My father farmed in the arid Southern California desert just north of the Mexican border. My mother often helped him in the fields. She got up in the morning, fixed our breakfast of hot rice, miso soup, and preserved cabbage, and sent us off to school with our brown-bag lunches: jam sandwiches, a cookie, and an apple.

    In the late afternoon she came in from the fields and cooked supper on a three-burner kerosene stove. She did not make a ceremony of cooking, using her hands often: a handful of this, a dollop of that, a dribble or pinch of...

  16. Taj Mahal
    (pp. 119-129)

    The playTaj Mahalstarted out as an experiment, an exercise: to try writing from a white man’s point of view. The time I chose was the 1930s, the time of America’s Great Depression, when many men from the lowest economic rung, jobless and homeless, were riding the rails looking to change their lives. I felt I knew a little about being broke and searching for a change. My narrator was a fifty-year-old white transient who had spent most of his youth in aimless wandering. Now he was old, his best years squandered, and he faced a future of strangling...

  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 130-130)