Robert Shiomi ended his life of 99years in 2nd May 2004 in Portland. Small article was posted in local Oregonian newspaper, and in a certain blog writes “Dr. Shiomi and his late wife Ruby broke one of Portland’s long-standing racial barriers” in his memory.
*「Robert Shiomi」 Isaac Laquedem blog 9th May 2004
When renovation of Shiomi House was staggering, I remembered grand-uncle Robert I met once in Sashima, and decided to review story of him. I had only been told fragments of his story from my mother and he was distant relative whom I hardly knew his story and personality.
I started my research on web without expectation, but found immigration slip of my great grandfather Saichi back from 1907, and got involved since then. I had not known that he had been to USA at all.
Furthermore, from listening to residents of Sashima, I found out that there were many immigrants to East shore of Canada from Sashima, and had sheer chance of encountering same aged relatives, living in Canada connected from 5 generation before at Sashima. I have only to admire the vertical connection with ancestors leading horizontal connection of present.
Robert seemed to be a local celebrity and quite a few references were left, but fragments of life of other ancestors found with references were also fruitful findings for me.
Arrived as wedding bride from Mihara at age of 19, my great grandmother Mann raised 2 sons alone after her husband Saichi migrated USA when she was 23. Both of her sons left the island in their teens so she held Shiomi alone for a long time. She was generous and was loved as “Sister o-Mann”
My great grandfather Saichi did not send much allowance after his migration, hardly worked and was always reading books after his return. I found lots of foreign books from old barn of Shiomi. On the other hand, island residents told me that he called Daigagura musician (Shinto music) into his garden, organized 8mm screen party and told interesting stories to children on Summer nights near port. There were children died at an early age.
Looking into family tree after knowing those episodes, each names in the tree looks like a title of drama. I have only to owe to all the ancestors who have lived in age of turbulence.
I have been writing footsteps in a notion of child who have found something interesting; “ Look, look what I have found”, but I would like to close the footsteps with this final article. If something new comes up, I would add little by little.
Thank you for all who has given me help, and thank you for all who has patiently read my amateur writings.
30th December 2017 Nobuko Nishimura
Translated by Ms. Yoko Seto
Foot step of Japanese American Robert Shiomi (1) Immigration of Saichi, father Foot step of Japanese American Robert Shiomi(3) School days Foot step of Japanese American Robert Shiomi(6)－Donation of Cultural Heritage－ Footstep of Japanese American Robert Shiomi(4) Japanese Internment Foot step of Japanese American Robert Shiomi (7) Social contribution -Exchange Student Support-