Making Hiroko Happy (9:13)

Hiroko Yamamoto Roberts

Hiroko was the pampered daughter of a Kyoto sushi chef. Don Roberts was one of nine children of a logging family in northern Wisconsin. Hiroko — Don called her Nancy — knew she had made a mistake shortly after arriving in the tiny town of Hiles, and wrote to the Red Cross for help returning to Japan. The obstacles to that seemed insurmountable, so she resigned herself to her life. When they are adults, her children discover her deep unhappiness, and a bit of her true nature, and they commit themselves to making her happy in her remaining years.

Stopping Right Here (5:38)

Sachiko (Sally) Taguchi Blackwell

Sally Sachiko Blackwell had had enough. Nearly 20 years of following her Army husband from base to base with their two children and now she and the kids were headed from a posting in Okinawa to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. But at a plane layover in Hawaii, she was drawing the line.

Not Madame Butterfly (5:14)

Toyo Kaneko Swartz

When Toyo Kaneko went to her parents and said she wanted to marry Andrew Swartz, the tall U.S. Navy man she had been dating, here’s what her father told her: “When you marry, you don’t come back home. Don’t bring the baby and come home.” It sounds harsh, but it was a very common reaction by Japanese parents to their daughters marrying U.S. servicemen after World War II. Giving birth to a mixed-race baby meant no going back if the marriage failed. Toyo accepted the terms and was determined to make it work.