Wartime Proverb

Informant Information:

Clerisse Cornejo is a student at the University of Southern California. She comes from a mixed background (Japanese/Mexican), and is originally from Fontana, CA.


“I think that one story that really stuck with me that my grandmother told me was about her adolescence. As a child she was born into WWII and lost her dad at a really early age. Because it was wartime kids couldn’t really go outside and play so she often stood home and spent time with her cousin Hiroko who she considers her best friend. When the war was over in Japan they were finally able to go out and be kids. So when she was a teen they both decided they wanted to learn how to ride a bike. They would take turns riding it and help each other balance. My grandmother said that they both fell down a lot but they would always help each other up and try again. She told me this as a lesson for failure so even though I might fail a lot at first I should keep trying until I succeed.”

Q: What would your grandmother and Hiroko do inside if they couldn’t play?

“I never asked about that, but I would think as kids in wartime they would try their best to emulate what they would do if they were allowed to go outside. I think it was probably really important for them to make up their own games or play game they heard from other people outside of their house. You weren’t confined to your house every moment of the day, but going outside you were never sure if the bombs were gonna drop. So it was really important to them I think.


 The informant told me this as a sort of proverb/lesson from her grandmother. From what I can see, this proverb can be seen in other cultures/circumstances (the whole notion of never giving up/trying again), but it just so happened that in this case the proverb was told to the informant from her grandmother’s personal experience. Because her grandmother was isolated throughout her childhood, this goes to show that proverbs/advice such as this can pop out of basic human circumstances and different situations we all go through regardless of whether or not we’ve heard the proverb before.