still a baby when baachan died in ’93
family history? I may never know
and so I savour details I’ve l earned
facts dropped casually under the couch or over a bowl of rice
questions rarely answered outright whispered
stories drift currents float into the night
. . .
When she first arrives on a steamship from Yokohama, great-grandmother Fusa Isomura lives on Powell Street with her husband, Tsuruo. She opens a dressmaking shop in the 1930s at 1918 Commercial Drive and pays $20 rent per month. They live in the back of the shop with three sons, Soichi, Toshio, and Hideharu, and a black Airedale terrier who might have called Blackie.
Meanwhile, great-grandmother Waka Muramatsu works as a housekeeper, while her husband Ichiro Okauchi fishes up north for the Nelson Cannery in Prince Rupert. While in Vancouver, they live at 741 East Broadway with their four children, Kimi, George, Toshi, and Emma.
The Okauchi-Muramatsus are detained at Hastings Park when the Second World War breaks out. This is before they are sent to live in a shared tar paper shack in Tashme (TA-ylor/SH-irras/ME-ade), now called the Sunshine Valley. Meanwhile, the Isomuras find refuge in a town called Greenwood.
. . .
But what happens to Blackie?
Image sourced from The New Canadian, July 1, 1940, page 11