Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Mary Hirata Interview
Narrator: Mary Hirata
Interviewers: Beth Kawahara (primary), Alice Ito (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 27, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-hmary-01

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: Usually we just say that today is March 27, 1998. We're here in Seattle, Washington with Mary Hirata, and the interviewers are Beth Kawahara and Alice Ito. Matt Emery is the videographer. And that's about it for our beginning.

BK: Well, Mary, could you start by telling us a little bit about your father? When did he come from Japan?

MH: From what I hear, my dad came in 1900, he was nineteen years old. He was a orphan, his parents had gotten killed when he was about eleven. I believe that's what Dad said. And they had a business, I think something to do with lumber, but his auntie had taken it over. So when, although they had sent him to school and everything, when it came time, it wasn't his, so he decided to come to the United States. But my sister told me that she thought he came in at Canada, and my brothers say they don't remember, but I'm, but that's what we had heard, that he'd come in from Canada, and that... he'd done a lot of different things, like fishing and railroad, and I know that at one time he was helping in a restaurant in Cashmere, Washington.

BK: So...

MH: No, not Cashmere, Leavenworth, Leavenworth. And then later he had a laundry in Wenatchee. My mother came in 1913, so... and she was a picture bride.

BK: Now, this is -- that's really interesting, we'd like to find out more about that. But if we could back up a little bit, when you said that your dad came in from Canada, then how did he make his way down to the United States? Did he stay in Canada for a spell or...

MH: That, we have never been able to figure out. But that's what we had heard, that that's the way he came in, was through Canada.

BK: I think many of the immigrants at that time...

MH: I think he must have worked on a fishing boat. Sounds like that's what he did. But I can't imagine my dad doing too hard of a labor, because he was such a tiny guy. [Laughs]

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

BK: So, from what your family can recollect, then he did work in Cashmere for a while.

MH: Not Cashmere, it was Leavenworth.

BK: Oh, in Leavenworth, and then over to...

MH: Yes.

BK: ...Wenatchee. You said that your mother was a picture bride.

MH: Right.

BK: Could you tell us more about that?

MH: Well, my father's friend was going to Japan to get his wife, and he had asked this man if he would find him a wife. So, he must have been thirty-two, I guess, because it was, Mom came in '13 and he came in 1900. So this man found my mother, and so they made arrangements for her to come over. She was saying that the one thing she remembers mostly about it was a lot of the ladies had gotten pictures of their future spouses when they were very young, and so when the boat docked in Tacoma, they were really upset, because here were these old men waiting for these young girls. My mother was much older, so it didn't bother her, and she knew what she was, where she was going, but she said she felt very sorry for some of the girls, because they were very young. And she said a lot of them just ran away.

BK: After seeing their husbands in person.

MH: Right. But Mom said she thought she lucked out, because Dad was there, and he was like he said he was, and so... and then he brought her to Wenatchee, and they were married in Tacoma. In fact, I used to have her wedding certificate, but I cannot find it.

BK: Oh, from...

MH: It's a big beautiful one, nothing like what they have today. [Laughs] I always wanted to frame it but I never did.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

BK: So, they met in Tacoma when the boat landed. And then, at that time, was your father living in Wenatchee?

MH: Yes.

BK: And what was he doing at that time?

MH: He had a laundry at that time. And so, he took her there, 'cause he drove, too, because they had to have a delivery truck. And then she had my sister and my brother. The first three of the children were born about a year apart.

BK: So your, the eldest of the family is your sister?

MH: Uh-huh.

BK: And when was she born?

MH: Gee, I don't know, she was twelve years older. It would be twelve years... I should have figured it out...

BK: Okay, well, that's all right. And then, next was...

MH: Akira, and then there was Sho.

BK: Okay, and then, do you know about what time he was, what year he was born about? Was it about 19', 1919. Well, that doesn't really matter. And then, then who came next?

MH: Then there was, I believe they said a girl in between Sho -- I mean Ken and Ted, but it didn't live. And then Ken was born and there was another child between Ken, Ted and myself, I think is the way it went. Anyway, there were two that had died in Wenatchee, because we were all born there, most of them were raised there.

BK: So when were you born? What is your birthday?

MH: '26.

BK: 1926. And Ted --

MH: He's older.

BK: -- is the brother that's three years older, so he was born in 1923.

MH: And then, there was another, Ken was three years older. Then after that it went, let's see, first three, then three, and then one, one, one.

BK: Uh-huh. Okay.

MH: And all of the older three had Japanese names, and the younger three all had American names.

BK: Oh, I see.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

BK: While you were growing up in Wenatchee, can you remember back, and what your house was like in Wenatchee?

MH: I know that -- this one always makes me laugh -- I was born at 401 Miller Street, and I've looked at the map, and that address is still there. My dad had, we had a corner lot, and Mother always had chickens, and she always had vegetables, and she always had flowers. But during the Depression they lost their laundry. And Dad was working for a Studebaker company as janitor, and the boys were all going to high school. My sister was married at that time. In fact, my sister took me to school for the first day.

BK: And so, was your mother then working, also?

MH: No, my mother never worked until she came to Seattle, and she didn't work very long, even then. She always was at home.

BK: Right. What do you remember back at that time, in terms of the family, living in the family house? What was it like?

MH: Oh, I know I used to... we lived on this corner lot, my brothers all had friends, but I was with my mother a lot. I think about when I used to come home from school, and she'd sit in a chair and act like she was sleeping or something, and I'd say, "Mom, wake up, wake up." I know my sister liked records, and we had a lot of records, and Mom used to crank up the phonograph and play me records, and I'd say, "Not that one, not that one." And so, she'd start with another one, and never complained, and we'd sit and do that when we were together a lot. I remember her cranking up the old victrola and playing for me. So, I was real close to Mom.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

BK: Were there a lot of other Japanese American families there, at the time?

MH: There was one, one gentleman that ran an apartment, and he didn't get married 'til quite late, and his wife had brought a daughter. And then, more down where the roundhouse was, where the railroad was, there was another family. And there was also a family that was there for a while, but they moved to Seattle -- down by the railroad company. And then, across the river there was one Japanese family that had a farm. But other than that, that's all there was.

BK: So, in terms of your social life, growing up in Wenatchee, did you have a lot of the Japanese friends as your close friends?

MH: No, not really, because if I wanted to see them, my brothers would, or my dad would have to take us there. So it would be only on weekends that we would be able to go. I couldn't just get up and go, so most of the entertainment and playing we did was with the family.

BK: With your brothers and your sister.

MH: Uh-huh.


MH: And she, of course, came to Seattle to live. My folks had sent her to Seattle, anyway, early, so she could go to Japanese school, and she lived with a family in South Park. Her future husband was living with us, so he came over and got married.

BK: When you talk about the other Japanese Americans -- and there weren't very many other families -- were there any kinds of family celebrations, or as a family did you do very much?

MH: Well, we did a lot of fishing, and what Japanese families were there, we would go places with them, of course. And then, on New Year's the men that worked at the railroad, they would always have a party. And of course, the one, two, let's see, four women, would make the Japanese food because there weren't any women in the railroad company. So, they would make food, and we used to go to parties there, on New Year's. We would do all those crazy things that kids do. [Laughs]

BK: Can you describe some of those crazy things?

MH: My sister always -- she never told me 'til I'd grown up -- she said, "Oh, you used to make me so mad!" And I'd say, "Why?" And she said, "Oh, the guys at the railroad would say, 'Oh, Mary, dance.'" She said, "You'd get up and dance, and then they'd give you money." And her being twelve years older, she was too bashful, and I guess I wasn't that way, or if they ask me to sing, I'd sing something in American, and they'd give me money. So she said, "You'd always come home with money!" That was always a joke between us. And she was quiet.

BK: I see. What would the adults be doing then? Was there just a lot of, besides eating, all the...

MH: Oh, karaoke, I think. They call it that now, but everybody would sing, and my mother used to like to sing, so she would sing Japanese songs. And that's how they entertained themselves, because there were no movies or television or...

BK: Right.

MH: But we used to stay and visit, with all the people there.

BK: How did they get the Japanese food at that time, like the sake...

MH: There used to be a company named Furuya that used to come from Seattle. And I don't remember how often they came, but mother would order whatever she needed. And that's how we got what Japanese food we had.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

BK: You had mentioned earlier that your family moved around, from Wenatchee to Rock Island.

MH: Uh-huh. We moved, once, when we first sold the property, we moved to a place called Stemilt Hill. But we weren't there too long, it was only long enough for my dad to tear the house down, because the people wanted the lot and not the buildings, and there were two. But his friend had a little house in Rock Island. So, while they were tearing the house down and remodeling the house in Rock Island, with the wood that came out of the house they tore down, we lived in... up in the mountains it was, it wasn't too far, but they used to drive us to school. It was Stemilt Hill, I think is the name of it. And then, they built an addition on to the house, and that's where we, Rock Island is where Teddy and I both went to school... in a school with four classes in one room. [Laughs]

BK: What, the traditional one-room schoolhouse kind of concept?

MH: Right, but we had three or four, I believe, in our class. And that was the only time, in all the time I was there, that racial things had really come up.

BK: Can you describe those?

MH: It was only one boy, and he was, at that time, I guess they would call it now, he was a little bit slow. And he was much, much taller than I was. And he would call me a "Jap" and chase me. I mean, I'd chase him. And he'd duck, one time he ducked and I didn't, and I still carry the scar on the top of my head. [Laughs] But in all the years I was there, although I never feel, everybody would say, "What are you?" And I'd say, "Oh, I'm half Japanese and half American." I didn't know the difference at the time. And that's why they'd say, "Which half, Mary?" And I said, "I don't know." [Laughs] But I think that was the way I felt when I was young.

BK: Right, so most of your friends were Caucasians.

MH: Uh-huh. But I didn't play with Caucasians too much. I stayed with my family.

BK: With your family, uh-huh. Well, seeing how things were kind of far between, it seems as far as location, that it was hard to get together on a casual kind of basis.

MH: Right. Right... although there were children in the neighborhood we played with, most of my playing was with my brothers. We'd go fishing in the ponds that they had right by our house. And of course, with all the rattlesnakes and stuff, we used to laugh. Now that I've grown up, we'd hear 'em, but we never -- we'd just keep going, we never thought about it.

BK: You weren't afraid or that kind of thing?

MH: No, no. Now, you couldn't get me go through the sagebush. [Laughs]

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

BK: As you talk about, then, growing up, did your parents ever stress learning the Japanese language, or...

MH: No. That's one thing I've... well, they did to my sister, because she was older, and they sent her to Seattle to go to Japanese school. But the rest of us, they didn't seem to stress it. Mother spoke very bad English, but we knew what she was saying, and I would have to help her when we'd go to the grocery store, because I could read. But actually they never really pushed us to learn. And then the culture, too, I was very -- now that I've grown up, I wished I'd known more about the Japanese culture.

BK: But, so growing up, did your mother speak to you in...

MH: Japanese.

BK: Oh, in Japanese?

MH: Uh-huh.

BK: And then you responded?

MH: In English. And she always sent us to Japanese, to a Christian church, wherever we lived. I'd wake up in the morning on Sunday, and she'd have my shoes polished and my clothes laid out. We'd all go to a Christian church of some sort. And then, I find out when we went to camp, she was a Buddhist. [Laughs]

BK: But there probably weren't the Buddhist churches there at that time.

MH: No, no. I think now it's funny she never mentioned it, although we did have a little hotokesama that she kept.

BK: Was your father the same? Did he speak to you also, in Japanese, and you responded in English?

MH: My dad could speak English and he could read. So a lot of things he would speak to us in English. Of course, sometimes he'd speak to us in Japanese, too, but Dad could do both, so...

BK: Well, that's, that's very... how did he learn? How did he learn to read?

MH: I don't know. When he came to this country, I think, from what I gather, that he must have done a little housework somewhere, where he learned some. Because he traveled, being a bachelor, I think he went to different places to work, and I think he took whatever he could. Because I can't imagine him working in a restaurant, because my growing up time, I never seen my dad cook anything. [Laughs]

BK: [Laughs] So, when you reflect back on your life in Eastern Washington, it was really one that was fairly happy and without any real incidences?

MH: No, I consider us really lucky, because all the schools we went to, there weren't any but us. I mean, in Rock Island, we were the only ones, my brother and I. When we went to Sunnyslope, we lived two doors from the school. And that one had, was just the same, they had up to the eighth grade in the same school, it was only two little buildings, and we were the only ones. Actually, there they didn't make us feel uncomfortable. I think I felt more uncomfortable when I came to Seattle.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

BK: Well, you were about what, twelve years old or so, and would you describe when you came to Seattle?

MH: We came to Seattle in 1938. My brothers were all out of school, of course, and working. And I'm sure my father and mother didn't, wanted them to get married someday, so we all, they came to Seattle, and for a year my mother took care of a hotel that her friend owned on Fifth and Main, the Great Northern. And while the people were in Japan, she kind of watched the hotel for them, and then made us an apartment in one of the offices. I think... oh, what's that American... there was an American newspaper, I mean, Japanese newspaper in American, Courier was it?

BK: Yeah, the Courier.

MH: Yeah, they were on one side of this building, halfway up the stairs, and on the other side, they fixed an apartment for us. So, they had three rooms.

BK: And this was the Great Northern Hotel?

MH: Great Northern Hotel. It's gone now. So I lived there for a year while I went to Bailey Gatzert. And then, I didn't, I don't remember going with a lot of the kids, because at that time I just tagged along with my brother, especially Ted, the one that's next to me. In fact, it got so bad, he says, "You gotta quit going, they all think you're my girlfriend." [Laughs]

BK: This is probably the first time you had seen so many Japanese Americans.

MH: That's it.

BK: What was your impression?

MH: I don't know, I kind of felt left out a lot. My brother would take me to Alki, and we'd go swimming. He met a friend, my sister's brother would, came in and started taking him, so of course, I just got to go with him. And we used to go swimming at Alki, and Madison and Mount Baker, and I didn't know anybody really. I'd walk to school once in a while with some of the girls, but when you don't grow up in a community, it's very, very hard to become part of it. So I kind of, sometimes, would walk alone and go to school, or go to Tip School, my mother made me go.

BK: What is Tip School?

MH: Japanese school. [Laughs]

BK: Tell us more about that.

MH: And being twelve, and in the first grade, it's really -- I kind of just sat in the back and watched. I never did learn very much.

BK: Because are you saying that the other students, then must have started this Japanese language school much earlier than you?

MH: Right.

BK: Oh, I see.

MH: So, they were all little kids, and here I was at twelve... but I faithfully went, for over three years, I think.

BK: So when was this?

MH: 1938, '39, '40, '41.

BK: And so, you went to school, Bailey Gatzert, during the day.

MH: And then went up to the Tip School, with... everybody went.

BK: So this was right after school.

MH: Right.

BK: But you just walked from Bailey Gatzert over to Japanese school.

MH: That's what I always laugh about, is now... the kids wouldn't walk, but we'd walk from Fifth Avenue to Bailey Gatzert, and then, from Bailey Gatzert to Fourteenth to go to Japanese school. Then we'd come down Jackson Street, all the way down, to Fifth again. Nowadays, you can't get the kids to walk anywhere. [Laughs] Rain or shine.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

BK: During this time when you were in Seattle, what did your father do in order to make a living?

MH: My dad was retired at that time already. My brothers found a gas station on Twelfth and Jefferson. And so they took that, my two older brothers. Ken was going to Franklin, and Ted was going to Broadway, and I went to Bailey Gatzert. And we lived there until these people came back to the hotel, and then we moved up to Spruce Street at one of the apartments, and we stayed there for a little while because it was so close to the garage. And then the house next door to the gas station opened, and so they asked my brothers if they'd like to have it, so we, that's where we were until the war broke out.

BK: Could you tell us more about that house?

MH: Well, it was right next door, so the dining room and kitchen windows looked right at the gas station. So it was very convenient, they could run over and get something, and still keep track of it. My dad would always go every day and he washed the windows with his little box, because he was real short. And the boys were trying to start, start it up, so they had put in a hoist for repairing cars. And then the war broke out, so they lost everything. And the house we lived in was -- of course, we didn't have much furniture, so my brothers thought, well, we better furnish the house, so they, I think they went to Sears and bought some of the furniture. And they put it on time, so when the war broke out, the people that took our house just took over the payments. I don't think I ever heard of any money crossing hands.

BK: Oh, so you didn't get any of the equity or any of that back?

MH: But I think about, when I left it, it was -- Mother got up and we had breakfast, and she washed the dishes, put them away, made the beds, and my doll -- the one and only doll I ever had -- was still sitting on the couch. And we took our suitcase and walked out. And that's the only thing I can remember about leaving it. I, for me it was an adventure. At fifteen, why you're... it's something new. I always felt bad that my brothers, who had worked so hard, had nothing. They just walked out.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

BK: I'd like to come back to that, but if you could kind of remember what it was like on that Sunday, December 7th? Can you remember what the feeling was in the family, or how did you people hear about the news?

MH: I don't know, probably with the radio. All I remember is walking home to the gas station and the boys were all upset. And they came over and talked to Mom and Dad. I believe they closed it that day, wondering what to do. And Mother didn't have much from Japan but what she had... she burned.

BK: So she destroyed whatever was Japanese.

MH: Yeah, yeah. Being as she was a picture bride, and Dad moved around, we didn't have much, so... I don't even think we had a flag that I can remember of. But I know she had books, so she just burned everything.

BK: What happened to the, the Buddhist...

MH: That we kept. In fact, we kept it up until I moved, and I'm so sorry I got rid of it. I think, "What a mistake." But you know how it is, you never think of it at the time.

BK: Well, it was probably meaningful to your mother, but maybe at that point...

MH: Yeah, to me... in fact, I didn't think I would be a Buddhist, but now I know that, since my husband was buried Buddhist, I want to be buried a Buddhist.

BK: Do you remember your family being upset, or what was their reaction?

MH: Well, my folks were very Americanized. They said whatever we have to do, we have to do. Gaman shite... you can't help it, that's the way it is, this is your country. And I was thinking, we were lucky all the time, because that's the way my folks were always. We have to do what we have to do. Of course, I can just see my kids doing it, but... [laughs]

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

BK: I had mentioned, Mary, earlier, that I'd like to come back to the time that you had to start packing up for leaving. What were your feelings, at that time, about having to leave your house?

MH: One thing I always thought was, my mom would have to think about all these extra things like, she always made sure we had, each of us had a pair of sheets and each of us had, we had, we're supposed to bring one cup, one plate, knife, fork and spoon. Supposed to be tin, so that it wouldn't break. And she had to make sure we had all that. And for me, actually, I don't even remember what I threw in my suitcase, my bag that I was carrying. The boys, I believe, carried duffel bags. But I'm sure that I had to carry something. I was, probably just brought whatever clothes I thought. And now, I would never be able to make it. [Laughs] In those days, you're... and I don't even know what happened to our clothes. I do know that, like I say, all the furniture and everything was there, so...

BK: And you were about what, fifteen...

MH: Fifteen.

BK: that time? You also mentioned earlier, that you left your favorite doll.

MH: Right.

BK: Your only doll.

MH: Yeah.

BK: And you did not take that with you?

MH: No. It was kind of a big baby doll I had gotten when I was, well, I was living in Rock Island, I must have been in the second grade. My brother-in-law had made me a little cradle, and the doll, and so, I of course carried the doll with me everywhere... or we always had it in the house. So that's the one thing I've always remembered, is leaving that... and Mother's sewing machine in the corner, where it always sat. I really think that for children of my age, fifteen, it was an adventure. For the older people, like my brothers, I really have always felt bad, because, for them, one of the brothers had just graduated from Franklin. Oh, he was out a year, he worked at Hardy's Jewelry Store. But he was out a year at Franklin, and Teddy just graduated, he had gone back for some postgraduate stuff. For them, I think it was hard. But, like for fifteen, you think, "Oh boy, we're gonna go someplace." And although I feel guilty now that I've grown up -- [laughs] -- I didn't have more, worrying about it, but we just tagged along with the rest of them.

BK: And did your brothers just shut the gas station?

MH: They sold what they could. They had a car. I know that there was very little money when they went. So, Mom and Dad were, like they have always said, Mother and Dad always said, "We have to do as we're told." Even with the curfew, we all had to be home, the gas station had to be closed at 8 o'clock, I believe it was. And we all did it without even thinking about it, because that was the way it was to be.

BK: With Pearl Harbor happening on December 7, 1941, and the actual evacuation didn't take place 'til later on the spring of 1942, did you go to school during that interim time?

MH: Yes, we all went to school.

BK: What was the feeling?

MH: I don't remember ever feeling real... no one, anyway at Washington School that I remember, made any comments that I remember. And that's where I was going, I was in the seventh, eighth grade, I guess. And so, we just went off, off to camp, and went to Puyallup, is where we went.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

BK: Okay, so let's go back to the Puyallup time. When you first got there, what were your impressions of Puyallup?

MH: I thought, "Wow, this is sure different." Because we went into the gate, and it was all barbed wire and we were in Area D, which is right on the fairgrounds. They gave us an apartment in the middle of the fairgrounds, and it was just a long row of these chicken coop looking things. There was, the six of us would be living in one little room. And the one thing that impressed me most of all, was the white bags they gave us to put straw in, to sleep in. And, at that time, I got hay fever, and my mother didn't know what it was. Because every time I'd get up in the morning, I'd be sneezing and sneezing. So, she finally went to somebody and found out that's what it was. So they were going to get me a regular mattress, but I never got it. I slept on the straw.

BK: You say there were six of you. Now, who were they?

MH: They were Ak, Ken, Ted, me, Mom and Dad.

BK: So Sho was already, your brother Sho...

MH: He went in the service, yes, in '41, the summer of '41. His friend was volunteering, so he volunteered to go with him.

BK: I see. And your sister was already...

MH: Married and living in National, which is just the foot of Mt. Rainier. And so, when the war broke out, she had to sell everything. They wanted to go with the family, of course, so they sold everything there. She says that was the hardest thing for her, because the sawmill paid rather well, I guess, for that time, and she had, they had a car, and she also had bought a new refrigerator. And so, she said to have to give it up, like for a few dollars, but they wanted to come to Seattle. They found a man that would drive them from National to Seattle for $50 with what they could carry. The only thing wrong is, when they got to the Duwamish cutoff, they wouldn't let 'em cross it, because Boeing was right down the road. So they made 'em go all the way back to Renton, down through Kirkland, and come around through Bothell and up to Seattle again.

BK: And this is for her to join...

MH: Yes. Join us.

BK: people before you actually left for Puyallup.

MH: Yes, so we could go as a family group.

BK: Did they have roadblocks, or did they...

MH: Yeah, they had roadblocks she said. So when they got to the Duwamish Bridge, they said they can't go, because they're Japanese.

BK: Was the person who drove them was, obviously, was Caucasian?

MH: Yes, somebody at the sawmill.

BK: But because he had Japanese passengers...

MH: Right.

BK: ...they were not allowed.

MH: Allowed to cross.

BK: I see.

MH: So they had to go through Renton and that way.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

BK: So then, you were all sent to Puyallup, and you were describing, a little bit, about how six of you were in that one apartment or one room. Was it an actual apartment, or...

MH: No, it was just a room. Where the grass came up the through the floor, well, it always used to make me laugh. Of course, I guess we all went through it. My sister was in a horse stall, and she had two little kids at the time, and so... but it was quite close to the mess hall, so that wasn't so bad. But like my brother-in-law said, he said, "My kids would never eat, because they were too interested in watching everybody else." They'd never seen so many black heads either, because they were in National, and although there were Japanese, there were a lot of hakujins, too.

BK: So this was, this was their first exposure to so many Asians, then.

MH: Yes, especially Asian children. I think in the sawmill, there was only one or two. So it was quite an adjustment for them, that they would... so, they wouldn't eat.

BK: I'm trying to visualize this... there's six of you in this one room. How did you sleep? I mean, you must have used the entire floor.

MH: We did. Mother and Father, of course, we put the beds together, and my brother Ted and Ken -- I don't know how they figured it out -- but they put two beds on top of each other, to make a bunk bed. And then, Ak was on their side and then, I was on Mom's side. Then we had the little potbellied stove in the middle.

BK: So you had bunk beds that were three?

MH: No, two.

BK: Two tiers, okay.

MH: Two tiers, and then, one was by itself. And that's all, the room was only wide, long enough to hold two beds together, foot by, to make the length. So the boys were on one side, and Mom and Dad and I were on the other side.

BK: So... I'm just trying to visualize this again. The walls of the Puyallup only went so high.

MH: I think they only went about eight feet, didn't they?

BK: Right.

MH: And so, all the way down, from one end to the other. I don't even remember how many were there, in this one barrack, but you could hear everything. You couldn't yell at anybody, you couldn't scream at anybody. If you did, everybody down the road heard it. And I think that was the hardest part. Even where my sister was, in a horse stall, their partitions only went up so many feet, and they had a curfew there, so the... it happened to be that all the young people were in these horse stalls. So her and their neighbor, they figured out a way to have a ladder that would go over the top, so they'd go over to play cards, and they could get to the kids in a hurry if they heard one of the kids.

BK: Because they had a ladder from one...

MH: To the other.

BK: To the other.

MH: Can you imagine?

BK: No. [Laughs] Talk about the privacy, right? For a young couple? [Laughs]

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

BK: What was a typical day like for you while you were in Puyallup?

MH: One thing I remember is we wanted to learn the Morse code. We had a lot of Boy Scouts, of course, and so a bunch of us girls would get on one side, with maybe one or two of the boys to teach us, and the other boys would be on the other side of the grandstand. And then we only did it one day, because they told us, "No more." That we couldn't learn... they had these funny white hats that they would use as the signals. And after that, we'd look up on top of the grandstand, and there were machine guns. So, of course, we never did that again.

BK: What was your feelings, at that point, knowing that the machine guns were surrounding the camp? I mean, did you have any kind of fear?

MH: Well, I think I feared, but then, I don't know, I figured everybody else was in it. So that wasn't... of course, we weren't there that long anyway, only about three months, I believe. And then, we were sent to Minidoka, so it was just a time to kind of -- you met people. And I know I used to walk over to my sister's, and the Tomita family lived on my way over, and they had a son that was blind, named Dick. Dick, and there was Kiyoshi, but Dick was more our age. And we'd stop and talk, and read to him, because he couldn't read, of course. And that's about all I remember about Puyallup, was that I met them. And... but after we got to Minidoka, it was too far away, but when we were young, we'd stop by his place. And they had music, of course, because the boys were musicians.

BK: And so, they had brought their instruments with them?

MH: Uh-huh. So we would sit, and read to him, and listen to the music.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

BK: At that time, was there any kind of concern about "what was going to happen to us next," or was it just a much more pleasant time, in terms of, kind of, getting to know one another and getting to...

MH: Well, for people of my age, I believe it was a time to -- we weren't smart enough to figure out that, "what if we get stuck here forever?" like the older kids, and the ones that are in high school and getting out. All we thought about was making friends and doing all the things. I don't know if everybody else felt the same way, but for me it was kind of an adventure to... and Mom and Dad were always in good spirits, they never were sad. I don't remember my folks ever getting really upset. The times that we were in camp, it was always, they always kept everything quite pleasant.

BK: Do you recall your brothers' moods while in Puyallup?

MH: They never... I guess because my family's more like that, we, I don't ever remember them getting mad or raising a rumpus or... they all worked, they all got jobs of some sort. Like Teddy says, "Oh, yes, I did latrine duty." So can you imagine, he was a garbage man? But he says, "It was something to do," so, they did it when we were in Puyallup, and then, when he went to Minidoka, he decided, well, he got into delivery. My other brothers all went into other... my one brother was doing, driving the trucks in Minidoka, and things like that.

BK: So, you're leaving Puyallup. At that time, was there any discussion about where you were going to go?

MH: We were wondering, of course. I'm sure my brothers knew, but you know me, I just tagged along. The only thing I was upset about was that we went on trains that were so old, they had velour seats. And of course, the water wasn't good, and I got so sick on the train. Quite a few of us did, because of the water. And then, we couldn't have our shades up, because they wouldn't want anybody to see us, so the shades had to be down. And that's the only thing I never liked about it, was because... and there was no place for us that got sick, so Mother put -- I know, there was somebody else that was in the same car as we were that was sick -- so they just put us down on the floor, in between the seats, and that's where we, I slept all the way to Minidoka. And then, to get there and see the dust, it... it was quite a surprise.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

BK: What were your first reactions upon arriving at Minidoka?

MH: I couldn't believe that that's where we were going to be, but like I say, my folks never made a fuss about anything, so it was just part of our life, so... I used to think, "My God, the dust!" You couldn't see one barrack to another one, it blew. And then the wintertime, or when it rained, you lost your shoes if you weren't careful. At least the men were nice enough to make little walkways for, from barrack to barrack. I think about Mom having to scrub all our clothes on the washboard. And I think, oh I was so awful, I didn't ever help her and I feel... now I feel guilty. [Laughs] But she never complained. And we lived in one room again.

BK: Can you describe that?

MH: It was a larger room. Mom used to come home from the bathroom with toilet paper, I could never figure out what it was for. And I'd see her making little wads and plugging up the holes, so she wouldn't have to clean all the time. You could see the little piles of dirt with each crack where the dust would come in.

BK: So she would be plugging up the holes of the outside walls?

MH: Uh-huh, because there were no inside walls. They were just outside walls. So, like around the windows, there would be little holes, and the dirt would just kind of pile up in little piles there. And we had a pot belly stove. And I don't know how I did it, but I remember I got two dollars -- I don't know whether Mother gave it to me or what -- but I went to the canteen and I bought two bedspreads. Can you imagine? For a dollar apiece. And my brothers and I, we hung 'em up to make a little room for Mom and Dad. Because, if we stayed up late at night to play cards or whatever, then at least they could go to bed in peace.

BK: So, here again, were there six of you, in that one room?

MH: Yes, uh-huh.

BK: And, again, sleeping area was spread all over, or did your brothers again build up?

MH: My brothers took the... they had one closet, and they fixed that into a bunk bed. And so, over by Mother's, where we had Mother's bed, we put up a hanger, so we could hang clothes. And then I slept on one side of it, and then my brother Ak -- we slept at kind of an angle, so that's how we slept in that one. And we had a round table. One of the neighbor's men was a carpenter, and he went around and made tables for everybody, so we at least had a table and a chair. They'd get the scrap wood from the, building these buildings, and then he'd go around and make furniture for all of us. My dad even made a chest of drawers, and I thought, wow, my dad. My mother put up all the shelves. I was so surprised. [Laughs]

BK: Do you still have that?

MH: I think one of my brothers has it.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

BK: As you think about your life now, you're about sixteen, seventeen at that, at this time, what was the social life like? What did students, what did children your age do?

MH: I know we went to school and we went on picnic tables. Mother always said that I don't learn too much, because I was too busy playing. And we had dances, that's about all we could do or... in the summertime, we'd go down to the canal, go swimming. I didn't swim very well, so I usually just went down and dangled my feet. But... and then a girlfriend in the block was at the dry cleaners. So I'd go down and visit with her, and learn how to run the dry cleaning. I mean, it was all, just in and out type of thing, so I did that for a little while. And as I say, Mother said, "Nane mo naraun kara."

BK: Which means?

MH: I didn't learn anything.

BK: That you didn't learn. [Laughs]

MH: And she didn't approve of -- we didn't learn manners... you go to dinner, and you never sat with your parents, you always went with somebody else that was... and so she thought that, when I was out of my freshman year, that I should -- my sister had relocated already to Pocatello. She ran the hostel there, where people that came in and out to go to work in the fields.

BK: The people who left camp to temporarily work in the fields?

MH: Uh-huh.

BK: I see, so she ran the hostel for those people.

MH: Uh-huh. So Mother said, "Don't you think that it'd be a good idea for you to go and get a job, and go to school?" So, that's what I did. I left and went to school my sophomore year. So, I graduated from Pocatello. I did housework. I went to one family and they had a ten-year-old girl that was taller than I was. And she just... I finally quit, I couldn't take it. So I just, "I'm quitting," and walked out. [Laughs] But my sister's friend, Mrs. Hanaki, she kind of lived in town and had two children. And she took in a lot of girls, even from the farms, that wanted to live in town. She always had room for them, and they kind of helped her, and got room and board. They owned a photo studio. So, when I was out of work, I didn't go to my sister, because she was busy, so I would stay with Ida and then I found another job with a lawyer and I stayed with them all the time.

BK: I'd love to come back to that, but if I can just leave Pocatello, just for a minute, so we could kind of go back to Minidoka again, because I know that you have some wonderful things about Pocatello to share with us. But back in Minidoka, I'm just wondering, you were there for about, what, two years or so, it was...

MH: No, I was only there about a year.

BK: Oh, just about a year?

MH: Yeah, a little over a year, I think.

BK: Oh, okay.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

BK: But during that time, your brothers, did they... did they volunteer for the service at that time?

MH: Yes.

BK: From Minidoka?

MH: Yes, two of my brothers did.

BK: Two. Can you describe some of the discussion or some of the feelings that they had shared, or shared with parents at that time?

MH: I know, when they came through, I knew my brothers would already go, because my other brother was already in. Ak, the older one, would have liked to gone, but my folks would rather he didn't, so he waited and went in later. But Ted and Ken had gone to all these meetings, and they came home one day and said that they were gonna volunteer. And Ted was really scared, 'cause he was nineteen. But Mother and Dad said that, "This is your country. You have to do what you should do or you think you should do." So in our family, we were lucky, there was never any, it was never any choice between your parents and yourself. You just did what you thought you wanted to do. And by luck, they both went, one went to the infantry and one went to field artillery. In fact, the one that was at the field artillery was with my husband, so... he knew him from school, but they were in the same outfit, so that worked out fine. They both went over, they went through the war, they both came home, so...

BK: Well, that's...

MH: Yes.

BK: That's a positive thing.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

BK: Here are some pictures, and it looks like it's from the camp area. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, at that time? How old were you, and where was that?

MH: I was fifteen, going on sixteen. You know how kids are. [Laughs] I'm sure my brother brought the camera in when he came in from furlough, so of course, he took all the pictures that he could. And I know this is him, he's the one that came home.

BK: Right, and that is...

MH: Ted.

BK: That's Ted.

MH: He's the one next to me.

BK: Right, okay.

MH: When we were young, we were the closest.

BK: And when he left for the army, did he leave at the same time Ken did?

MH: Yes, they both left.

BK: What were your feelings? You were so close all through your growing up years... it's seems as though from what you've said. When they left, how did you feel?

MH: Well, I felt... of course, I was lost. I was more worried about Mom and Dad, because they weren't young. My folks -- Mother was forty-five when I was born, so, she wasn't a young lady. But like I say, they adjusted to it. For some reason, my folks have always adjusted to everything. Maybe it's because of the way they've had to live, Mother being a war bride -- I mean, a picture bride, and Dad being an orphan. They knew they were going to stay in camp until... they had no intention of leaving until it was, some of us could get together and get together again.

BK: So, you were, of course, last but Aki was still there.

MH: He left. As soon as the boys left, he got a job in Omaha, and he relocated there.

BK: So it was just you, and then your parents.

MH: Uh-huh.

BK: Then Sho comes back. No, Ted had come back...

MH: On a furlough.

BK: ...for a furlough and he probably brought the camera. Now this is a picture of your mother and father.

MH: Yes.

BK: And again it looks like it's out, either in front or back of the barrack.

MH: This used to be the recreation hall.

BK: Oh.

MH: Because we were, our barrack was right in front of it. So that was the recreation hall. I don't even remember them ever using it, because we always used the mess hall. [Laughs]

BK: I see a lot of flowers there.

MH: Mother always had flowers. I don't know where she ever got any of the seeds, but Mom was a farm girl and she, flowers were her thing. She was always, in Japan she did that tie-dyeing? What do you call it? She wove material, because when she was in Japan, she was adopted by an auntie who ran a weaving in her home. And Mother said that when the girls would leave -- they'd come to their place to do the weaving -- and when they would leave, she was just young, she said she would make a mess of the girls', so the uncle made her one. So she learned to -- a little one -- so she learned to weave since she was a little kid. And I'm so sorry that I never tried to get her to teach us, because she'd done some beautiful tie-dyeing.

BK: Have you saved any of those?

MH: No. I'm so sorry. My daughter had one for a long time, but it finally went away. But she used to tie it, and we used to watch her, Ted and I. She'd tie this, and then dip it in the dye.

BK: Uh-huh, that's a real art.

MH: It is. And to think we were so dumb. [Laughs]

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

BK: You had spoken about the fact that your mother had talked to you about school, or not learning enough. Was there any reason for the lack of motivation, from your point of view?

MH: I think it's because, when you're in camp and you have how many thousand kids your same age, all you can think of is going out and doing something, going to a dance or... I know if I didn't have a date for a dance, one of my brothers would go, "I'm going to the dance, you wanna come?" So away I'd go, without even thinking it. Mother used to get after me, one time, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I think I went to a dance every night. And I got so sick, she just laughed. Oh, it was between Christmas and New Year's I went every night. New Year's Day I could hardly get out of bed, and she didn't, she didn't feel a bit sorry for me. [Laughs] "Serves you right." [Laughs]

BK: Well, it sounds as though, when you say you first went to Seattle, it was hard to make friends. Now we're in camp, and it seems to be a whole different kind of a story for you.

MH: It is, except that out of all the people that I knew in camp, there's only one girl that I've kept in contact. I think if you don't grow up with a, regardless, you... like my sister-in-law is seventy-five, and she still goes with kindergarten friends. Where girls I went to high school with, they have parties, but they never invite me. The Japanese... even though we were in the same class, I'm not considered part of that group.

BK: Because you feel that you didn't grow up with everyone...

MH: Yes.

BK: ...from first grade.

MH: I don't know if it's every culture, or what, but I never even had many Japanese friends until I became a widow.

BK: Is that right? We need to talk about that.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

BK: As we then leave, as you leave Minidoka to go to Pocatello, this is another little card, it says here, "Citizen's Indefinite Leave Card." What was this about?

MH: If you were going to go out of camp permanently, this is the card that we got. And we had to carry it with us. So, I always had it with me.

BK: Like an identification card?

MH: Yes, uh-huh. So I left to go to school, I was in sophomore year, so I went in the summer. I guess I went, July, August. And I went out and registered for school right away, and then a friend found me the first job, my sister's friend. So I lived there for maybe five or six months, and then I just quit, and lived with Ida for, until I found another job. And I worked for a lawyer, Merrill, at his home, and I stayed there all the time.

BK: What was your job there? What were your duties?

MH: I was the, was "school girl" they called it. And I made three dollars a week, room and board. I had to do the ironing, and the washing, and the cooking, and the cleaning, and whatever. I can't remember any cleaning lady coming in. I know if she was having a party, she would have a cook come. But other than that, I used to have to, kind of keep up the house, being it was just two older people, it was just, make sure it was dusted, and got vacuumed once a week, and changed the beds, so it really wasn't, she wasn't that fussy anyway. I just kept the other doors closed. [Laughs]

BK: And you say you did the cooking. Had you cooked...

MH: No.

BK: ...I mean, you couldn't cook at camp, because they had a mess hall and they had a cook. Where did you learn?

MH: Oh, she'd just, would tell me what to cook, and I'd... or she'd come down and help me. Like I said, I was there for maybe half a year, and I found out from some of the kids at school. They say, "Who did you say you worked for?" And I say, "Artie Merrill." They said, "Oh, my gosh, what are you doing there?" And I said, "Oh, I'm the house girl." They'd say, "That lady's been in a sanitarium, because she tried to kill one of the twins." She had twin, twin children, and one of them died, so she went off and tried to kill the other one, a boy, Arnie. And she had a boy and a girl, but they were gone. One was in, the daughter was in school and the boy was in the navy.

BK: Oh, I see, by the time you had gotten there.

MH: Uh-huh. So they had a room in the basement for me. It had a sink, but I had to go upstairs to take a bath. I learned a lot, mostly I learned how to set a table. That's what my mother wanted me to learn, the niceties of growing up, and so... and they always, I joined them at all their meals, except when they had parties. If family came, I was, I sat down with the family. So I was very fortunate there, because they did treat me that way, so... and they had nice things, and she showed me how to do the things. And the cook was real nice that came, he came from the church. And she showed me how to make rolls and things.

BK: So it sounds like you were treated fairly well by your employer.

MH: Yes.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

BK: How did the other Japanese Americans in Pocatello treat you?

MH: Well, you know, I laugh about it now... is my sister-in-law's from Pocatello. And even at that time, although my brother kind of had liked her, but had never... I never went with them anywhere. Ida had a, Mrs. Hanaki, had a brother that was in my same class. So, if I wanted to go anyplace, he'd come by and pick me up, so... or with a group that we'd go with. My boss was the head of the OP, OP, the ration board in Idaho. And he'd say, "How do you kids get all the gas?" And we say, "Oh, they pool it." But, in Pocatello, everybody had a gas pump in their backyard, all the farmers did. So we'd go roller-skating, or dancing, or bowling. I was lucky there, because Ida was so good about that. Any student that was going to the college, she would have them come, they could stay with her. The only thing, we had to kinda keep house when I stayed there. Because he'd come home and go like this, over the piano, so... [laughs] Boy, that's the first thing we learned. [Laughs]

BK: Dust the piano. [Laughs] How were you treated by the other schoolmates in Pocatello?

MH: I didn't have too much trouble. I think I had... there was only three girls and three boys in our class, Japanese, and it was a 350 senior class that I was in. I did, my sister was always so good, she drove, and so a lot of times if us girls wanted to go to the park or something, then she would take us. So, I was lucky there, that although I didn't chum around with them, I never stayed too much with them. I was more or less a loner. It's... it was kind of hard. It's easier for the boys to pick you up and take you places, than it was the girls. I don't know why, but... but Ida's brother -- she had three brothers, and they weren't married. And one girl that was in town, I palled around with, but she was rather quiet. Not like me, I'd rather go bowling, or dancing, or... but we used to hang around together. And then there was a girl, Japanese girl, that lived next, in the next house, where I was working. To this day, I still, if I go to Pocatello, I go see her. In fact, I was there just a month ago, and she had had bad pneumonia and no visitors, so I had taken her something and she called me the other night. I was so surprised. [Laughs] But as far as friends from those days, she's about the only one.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

BK: Well, Mary, you were talking about Pocatello, and the kinds of fun things that you did, and it sounds like you were really hanging out, or palling around with Japanese Americans at that time.

MH: Well, not so much palling around, because I don't know, in any place you go to, most of the girls don't like new girls. It's just, you go with them if you have to, like the girls that were in my class, of course. If they had a function that the class would go to, we went together. But on the whole, I think, you have -- like there was only two Japanese girls that lived in town. One mother had a fish market and the other girl's father had a barbershop. And we used to, kind of... if I wanted to go someplace with somebody, we would go to a movie, or if I didn't have a date to go someplace. But actually, I don't think, no matter where you go, it's hard for a girl, much harder for a girl to be accepted than it is for a boy. Because even now, my sis-, at that time, and then they called us 'evacuees,' it didn't help. [Laughs] So, you always felt like a misfit. And I think to this day, I kind of had that feeling that I just don't quite fit.

BK: Kind of like an outsider.

MH: Yeah.

BK: Uh-huh. At that time, did you have much to do with the Caucasian kids in the school? 'Cause you said you had a class of what, 350? I mean, it was a very large class.

MH: No, there was two girls that lived, I don't know, I'd meet them on the way to school, two hakujin sisters, and we'd walk to school and walk home together, because I didn't, wasn't able to stay at school, and because I had to get home to go to work. So, I would walk with them in the morning, and come back with them. Drop them off where they were going, because one of the girls worked also, in a Chinese restaurant, after school. Because we were already juniors, seniors, so I would drop her off, and then just walk on the rest of the way home. Other than that, except if Ida's brother was in town, then he would pick me up, and we'd do something before I had to go home.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

BK: You had said that you were a junior at that time. I think you had mentioned this a little earlier, in our previous conversation. Your brothers were all in the service.

MH: Uh-huh.

BK: And there seemed to have been... I was wondering, what kind of value system or cultural kind of thing did your parents instill in you, so that you all had that feeling of service to the country?

MH: Uh-huh. My folks were always that way, maybe because we were growing up in a Caucasian... the ladies in the neighborhood would always -- they didn't come back and forth and visit, but they always talked to Mom when she was out in garden, or us kids would always go off to play, and the kids would come over to our house. Like I always said, my folks, no matter who was around, if they were there at dinner time, they must have dinner with us, or if we had a snack, they always, we always got a snack. In fact, it's something I think my family's always instilled; the coffeepot was always on. And I think that's what my parents instilled in us. Another thing that -- I suppose I don't always tell the truth, but I know my mom would always say we weren't to lie, we weren't to talk back. Talk back was one of the worst. And if we went someplace and made a fuss, she never said anything, she just kinda sidled up to us and did we get the pinch. And boy, you didn't cry either. She reached down and give you one, and boy, you'd straighten up or else. And I think, I don't -- I'm glad that she was like that. She never made any fuss, she'd just walk up to us and that was it, and we behaved.

BK: Right, so you didn't make waves...

MH: Uh-huh, and I think that's how come we all grew up the way we did. You hate to -- another thing is, I'm more so than my brothers, I don't mind getting out and doing things. I'm kind of, I'm more outspoken, more than they are. I think it's because I was the youngest. Like we used to go for rides and we'd tell Dad, we were little kids and we'd say, "Oh Dad, turn here. Turn here, turn there, turn here." And we'd always end up in front of the ice cream store. [Laughs] And he knew it but he went along.

BK: Indeed. [Laughs]

MH: That's the way my folks were.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

BK: You had mentioned, though, that one day coming home from school you passed by the WAC office? Or the...

MH: It was just an office that was in the basement of -- I don't know if it was a library or the courthouse, and it's... what do you call it...


BK: If you could go ahead and describe a little bit about...

MH: I walked by this building every day going home from school and, of course, my brothers were all in the service. I wonder what it means, I was a senior at that time, I thought, "I wonder what I'm going to do when I get out of school?" And so, I just kind of walked in and I said, oh, I'll... I was looking at this and it was already, the war was over. I had looked at it all through the war and then when I became a senior I thought, "Oh I should go look." So, I just went in, and I said, "Oh, I was just wondering about the sign you had out there." "I kind of think you're kind of short..."

BK: So this was the WAC, the Women's Army Corps office? And when you had inquired...

MH: Uh-huh.

BK: Their answer was...

MH: "What kind things do you..." you know, and that was all. I never thought of it, in fact, I don't think I even told my brothers I went in there to talk to them. I was kind of embarrassed when they said I was too short, you know, when you're short -- in fact one boy, man I should say, at work at Ben Bridge used to sing me this song about a short person, I can't remember; I used to get so mad at him, I wanted to kick him in the shins. [Laughs] I can't help it. [Laughs]

BK: Yes, that's so true. You had talked about being a senior at that point, and I was just wondering, in what ways did your experiences in camp and Pocatello change your educational plans?

MH: I always -- when I was going to school -- I always wanted to be a beautician, I always thought. When I got to Pocatello -- and I wasn't ever very good at school, I passed and got through alright, but I'm not motivated to do all that extra work that they... and then it, when it, when we were in Pocatello I didn't have time to really do my studies. I'd get what done, had to be done, and had it, and so I could get out of school. And that was my only purpose. When I came back to Seattle, I wanted, even though I wanted to go to school, my brothers were supporting the whole family. So they really -- my brother Ken was married already so he was off, but Sho and Ak had to support the rest of us, Teddy, Teddy got a job, of course. But me and my Mom and so we all kinda had to work. My sister came and lived with us also, for a while. So we kinda had a house full.

BK: So the war was over in 1945, but you stayed in Pocatello to graduate...

MH: Yes, so that was '45 and then in '46 I graduated in June. So I worked at Merrill's until then, after school for one month I went and worked in a laundry to make enough money to come home, because I couldn't ask my folks to send me the money. So it was just like being a house girl, I went to work at the laundry and went home at night. So I did that for one month to get enough money to back to Seattle.

BK: So you knew at that time that once you graduated from high school that you would like to return, to be with your parents.

MH: Yes, I had gone with Ida's brother for a long time, but he went off to the service and I didn't hear much from him. So I figured, oh heck, I would just as soon go home with the rest of the family. My sister was still in Pocatello at that time, she hadn't decided to leave yet, so I saved enough and then I came home.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

BK: So when you came back to Seattle in June or July of 1946, what were your career plans at that point? Did you have any...

MH: Really, I had no career plans, because I knew that no matter what, my folks couldn't help me to go to school. I wanted to go to beauty school, but I knew they couldn't, so I might just as well go to work. So, I thought, what would I do? I didn't want to do housework, and I, it just wasn't my thing. I did it because I had to. And somebody suggested that I go try sewing, so I went one month to the glove factory to learn how to run a sewing machine. And one of the other girls that was there, girl named Miyageshima, she says, "Hey, I heard about another job, let's go." So, of course, we stayed there a month and went down to Far West. And then I worked there a few years, oh, until I got my daughter. I had gotten married in the meantime.

BK: Could you tell us about that?

BH: I got -- I had been bowling since I was in Pocatello, and when I came back to Seattle my brothers sponsored Mobil bowl, Mobil bowling league, anyway, for us. And we got the shirts and -- we bowled earlier and then the boys bowled later. And my husband bowled in the second league, and I bowled in the first. My friend Kay Tsuji, Kay Iga, my sister-in-law's sister was in our team, she was going with Frank Tsuji at that time, and Ossie was in the same league. And one night, Ossie says to me, he says, "I'm going, we're all going roller skating. Would you like to go with me?" I says, "I have to call home first." So I called my brother Ted and I said, "Oh, they're all going roller skating in Renton." And he said, "Oh?" And I said, "Tell Mom I'm going to be late." And he said, "Oh, who are you going with?" And I said, "I'm going with a guy named Ossie Hirata." I see him every week, but I didn't ever think about ever going out with him. And he said, "Oh, that's okay, you can go with Ossie, I know him real well." So that's how I got to go without any problem.

BK: So that's how you met your, your future husband?

MH: Uh-huh. And I met him in September, and I knew when I first started, went out with him, that I was going to marry him. And I married him in December.

BK: Of that same year?

MH: Uh-huh. He gave me a ring in October.

BK: [Sighs]

MH: [Laughs]

BK: And what was your parents' reaction? At that...

MH: My father didn't like it. He said I wasn't old enough, I was twenty-one then. But Mother and my brothers all said, "Oh, now Dad." 'Course he had to give in, he was out-voted. My brothers all told Ossie, "Thanks for getting rid of her." [Laughs]

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

BK: And then you were still continuing to work, you said.

MH: Oh, yeah. When we got married in December of '47 and I wanted to get pregnant right away, and I never could. So, we had a lot of tests made and we couldn't, so in '49 we adopted a little girl. She was nine months old, and she was born in July, so I guess we got her in '50.

BK: Was that a difficult decision for you and your husband to make?

MH: For us it wasn't. We knew that if we didn't have any children, we would adopt. The only problem we had was Ossie's mother was a very staunch Buddhist, very Japanese. She associates with nothing but Japanese, she spoke nothing but Japanese. And we were afraid at that time, if we took a ainoko that she wouldn't really accept it.

BK: And ainoko being a mixed child.

MH: Yes, uh-huh. And so we told the lady, and we told the reason, I said, "For us, we didn't care what we got." We met Yoshi Kanemori, she had adopted Scott just before we did. And so I went to her and asked her how she did it. And she told us, and so we did the same thing. And then we got Beverly. In fact, Beverly was here waiting to be adopted. She'd had an eye that they called a roaming eye, but it adjusted itself, so they had kept her for nine months in a foster home. And so we picked her up, and then, of course, my family had a big party for us. And she sat there, the poor kid, and just looked at us, I don't think she had ever seen a Japanese before. And she just kinda looked at us, it was really kinda sad. She didn't cry, she didn't smile, but she took to her father so that was good. But she just sat there and looked at us, and we figured that that was the reason.

BK: Was the process a difficult process, in terms of the adoption at that time, this is 1949?

MH: No, it wasn't, because we only lived in a one-bedroom apartment and they, of course, came and checked us out. And they were real, very different than now. They came a couple times, and then after that we moved to a house with her own bedroom, we rented. But at that time they allowed us to adopt her. And we had her, I guess it was six months before we got the legal papers. But we didn't have any problems. We were fortunate.

BK: Right.

MH: But I still worked. I worked and then I found a job at night. So I stayed home maybe half a year, eight months, to get her used to us. And then, I had -- Seattle Quilting had a night shift for sewing, and I had heard about it. So Ossie would come home early, or I would take a bus. My niece stayed with us that time for a little while, my Mom and Dad. And then I went to work, and then in the evening -- I didn't drive then -- and then Ossie would pick me up. Beverly and Ossie would come and pick me up and take me home.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

BK: It sounds like you worked a lot of the, a lot of the time then, though it was at night. It seems, though, most of your adult life...

MH: I've worked all my life.

BK: Can you tell us about some of your other jobs?

MH: Oh, let's see. I know when Beverly was still young, my sister got a job washing walls in the White Henry Stewart Cobb, in the Skinner building, and she said, "Oh, Mary, the money's really good." And at that time it was like $4.75 an hour and that was good money. So, she said it really isn't that bad, so I went down and I worked there for maybe three or four years, washing walls. And to this day I can't believe I actually did it, I mean, we get on double ladders because we couldn't reach the ceilings on some of them, or do the stairwells. I think of it now, I look down a stairwell, I can't believe I got up there and washed that... but at that time there was no health thing, that they worried about us. And there were two crews, my sister and myself and another girl -- two other girls that did it. And we used to do the dumbest things, yet there was no law against it. Where now I'm sure they'd never allow it. Especially when you had to carry your own buckets and your own ladders, kind of embarrassing.

BK: So how long did you do that?

MH: About four years. And then at that time we were trying to get a boy. We had to wait four and a half years for Rodney. And he was being born in Reno, we knew that, and Yoshi Kanemori, if it was to be a girl, she was to get it, if it was a boy we were going to get it. And, of course, we drove the Children's Home crazy, they said they'd never do that again. Because we kept calling... "Is it born yet?" "Is it a boy?" "Is it a girl?" And they said they learned a lesson, they'll never do that again. And we were lucky enough to get him.

BK: Right, right. So when was that?

MH: Rodney's forty-five, will be forty-five so it was '53, I think. And then I, even though then I was working at Trader Vic's, and Trader Vic's -- and when I was working at the wall washing, they were having a, opening Trader Vic's to cocktail waitresses, the first that they would ever hire in Seattle. And I happened to go, and I happened to meet a friend that I went to school with, a Chinese girl. And I had already put in a few weeks at Canlis, just on a in-between type thing, and so I got hired right away. 'Course, I was young and I could remember a lot of things, so I did that for about five years. And then I went to, I worked about a year at a place called Polynesia as a cocktail waitress. And then my good friend, Alice Sakura Water, was working at the Space -- she was one of the first to be hired, the Space Needle had just opened. So she said, "Mary, you gotta come. You've got to come." So I went and applied and they wanted me to quit my job and come right now. And I said, "I can't do that." And they said, "We're opening, we need you." And I said, "No, I can't." So I said I'll be there in a week, so I was a week late of being an original. Which I feel, you know, I have had to live with that all through the time I worked at the Space Needle. I worked there twenty years, I finally got third in line, but boy, it sure took a long time.

BK: You mean, so there was some status to being an original?

MK: Oh yeah. And I never was considered an original, but I was a week late.

BK: Isn't that amazing?

MK: And I just laugh now that I think about it. In fact, they had a fiftieth or fortieth reunion, but I wasn't invited because I wasn't an original. [Laughs]

BK: Unbelievable.

MH: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

BK: Well, now during this time, then you were working at night, is that correct? Your husband was working during the day?

MH: Uh-huh, yes.

BK: And you were watching the children, or least doing that, and then he would come home and then you would be working at night. Is that correct?

MH: Yeah. Well, if he was going to be late we had a neighbor girl that would baby-sit until he got home, but usually he came home by the time I was ready to leave, so it wasn't really that hard. When I was at the Space Needle, then I got into doing some of the decorating, so I decorated the Space Needle for Christmas for three years. Everybody would come to the house and say, "Is it Christmas?" It'd be June or July and I had Christmas trees all over the house, because I would usually make, make them. One time I made them out of ribbon, a five-foot and three small ones and three taller ones I did. But I never made any money with this, and I think about it now, I was such a fool, I just charged them for materials.

BK: For the materials.

MH But I did that for three years and decided that was too much work. I made eggs also for a company down in Portland, so I would drive them down. She'd call me and order so many eggs and so many, what do you call it... decorations? Like I made dolls, angels about this high for her one year. One time I made a little boy and a girl out of fabric you put it in, what do you call it, glue, and you form the hats and the heads and the faces.

BK: And was this for a commercial store?

MH: Uh-huh. And so I would do that.

BK: And your eggs, can you describe that process a little bit more?

MH: Oh, the eggs. I'd been doing it for, gosh, I don't know for how many years, it was just a hobby. You blow out goose eggs or ostrich eggs or whatever and then cut them out. In fact, I've not done many since, but I used to do a lot. I used to do -- one year I did, I sold Frederick's eggs. That was fun, the only thing is they're kind of hard to deal with; it's not like a private store where you can just -- like in Portland this lady had this fancy store and she just said, "Oh I want this, this and this." But at Frederick's you have to have more, go through all the right channels to get there. I really did it only one year because it was too much like work for no money at all.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

BK: You've done so many things in your life like that. While your children were growing up then, were you, what kinds of activities were they able to get involved in, because you were so very busy as well as your husband?

MH: Well, my daughter was always in Scouts. My son would never join because he always had to go with his sister every place. I mean, you know. And I was scout leader for several years, I would do it before we went to work. And then on weekends if they had camping trips -- well, I always had weekends off, I did have enough seniority to get weekends off. So we'd take weekends. My husband would come home early and take the truck and bring all the stuff, and then we'd take it up to where we were going, and he'd drop us off and then bring Rodney back. So they'd spend the night together, and just Bev and I and the girls.

BK: Was this scout troop through a local Japanese American church?

MH: No. It was through school. So it was a very, you know, a mixed crowd, so it was, like I say, it was, wasn't just the Japanese community. My daughter went to St. Peter's church, but it was only because her aunt and uncle would pick her up every Sunday and take her. My son was very rebellious, he wouldn't always go. [Laughs] He wanted to stay home with Mom.

BK: So you didn't take them to church?

MH: No.

BK: I'm mean, you're...

MH: No, because... actually, it was hard for me to decide, my husband was, family is very staunch Buddhist. And I had been raised a Christian, so it was hard for me to decide, and I'd gone to the Buddhist church, thinking I would go. But then I would sit there, and nobody would talk to me. So I figured after a few weeks of that, I don't think I want to come here. So I just quit. I let the children go where I knew that they would be welcome, and I didn't have to worry about it.

BK: And so, at the St. Peter's church, then they were...

MH: Oh, yeah.

BK: ...much more welcome there.

MH: Uh-huh. Because their cousin, the Fujiokas, went there, and so they knew them. My brother was real active at that time, there, so I didn't have to worry about them. Although when it came time for her to get married, she wouldn't get married in an Episcopal church, and I was so disappointed.

BK: Was there a reason for that?

MH: Oh, she didn't care for the minister. You know how kids are. So she got married in her husband's Brethren church out in the north end.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

BK: What other Japanese American kinds of organizations did you, did the children belong to?

MH: They didn't. They just did... oh, Rodney was in a lot of sports, football, golf, and all that, and Beverly, she worked all her life, too. I mean, she's worked -- when she was going to school, she knew that Mom and Dad just couldn't give her everything that everybody else had, no matter what. She worked, since she was in high school she worked at Kline Galland Nursing Home in her high school years, and then she worked for Dr. Braille up in Rainer Beach for, all through college. She went on a, got a scholarship from Westin Hotels, because I worked there. So she went to school from there. And Rodney didn't want to go to college, he went to community college. Then he went to work for Boeing, and they sent him to whatever schools he's gone to. I've been lucky there.

AI: I was wondering, as they were growing up, Beverly and Rodney, did you ever have any concern for them as far as what they might face regarding any prejudice or discrimination? Were you worried about that?

MH: I did, I worried about it a lot, because like I say, even to this day I don't feel comfortable sometimes. Because, although I'm Japanese, I don't feel that I'm... I wanted my children to be with the Japanese community. In fact, we lived right behind the Providence Hospital and I went through by the school one day, and there was no Orientals, no anything, but black, and it's not that I'm prejudiced, but I didn't want my kids to go where they would have, not meet any Japanese. I didn't see a Japanese on the playground. So I told Dad that we have to do something. And we had bought this house, and only had it three years. So we looked around and found a little house in Othello Street, and so they would be going to Brighton. And I wanted them to know the Japanese community, although it really didn't help. My daughter ended up marrying a Caucasian, and then we... the house was too small, so we bought a house in Rainier Beach. And it was really hard for my husband, because he had to travel. He did only Queen Anne, Magnolia and Capitol Hill as a gardener, and that gave him an extra drive every day. I'm sure a half hour at least. So I, although my yakkin' didn't really help him, and it didn't do anything for the children, either. I really feel bad about that. I wish to this day -- she's forty-nine -- I tell her, I say, "I wish you'd get in, into some of the Sansei things." And she says, "Mom, I don't have time." Which is true. She went to school, and she was a teacher, then a principal, and she's in the superintendent's office now, and I feel bad that she doesn't. And I'm kind of glad that she doesn't have children, either. She decided that they wouldn't have children, so... I hope that she never misses not having Japanese friends, and have to wait as long as I did to be, have some good Japanese friends, you know.

Because my husband was kind a quiet. In fact, very quiet. Very well-read. He read all the time. And my brother said, "I never knew anybody that would read a Bible." But he would, he'd sit down, he read the whole Bible, never thought anything of it. He was a Buddhist, but he was real quiet, and... although, when I took him out, I'd always lose him, because there'd be somebody over there talking, because he could talk on any subject. He's one of those kind. He could just, anything. So if we went to a party, it was all hakujins, because at the Space Needle, that's what, that's where, all hakujins -- I'd lose him. Here he would be over talking with somebody, you know, about something. That's why I hope my children will get so that... but I think it's kind of a lost cause now.

BK: So for much of your married life, was your social life not with the Japanese American community?

MH: Uh-huh. It was mostly with who I worked with. You know, I did, I worked at the Space Needle for twenty years. And in the meantime I was working for Gretchen's, Of Course, in the catering on my days off. I also worked at Ben Bridge. I'd work at Ben Bridge from nine to three, and then Space Needle from four or five 'til whenever I could get off early. And then I worked catering for Gretchen when she needed me. So I always had worked -- in that time my husband had gotten a heart attack, and had to have open heart surgery, and so, you know, I didn't want him to work a lot. But I didn't want to change our lifestyle, either, and I figured, well, as long as I could do it, I'd do it. So that's what we did.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

BK: So you worked the two jobs?

MH: Oh, yeah, a long time. A long time.

BK: You had --

MH: But I never minded. You know, that's the way it is.

BK: And so, when did your husband pass away?

MH: In '87.

BK: In '87. Okay.

MH: And he was on the kidney machine for four years before he died. And I always thought that's how he died with, and then I asked the doctor. Well, he said, "No, Mary. His heart just couldn't take it anymore."

BK: Uh-huh. You had said, probably a couple minutes ago, in terms of, you hope that your children don't have to wait as long as you did in order to get back into the Japanese American community. What kinds of organizations are you currently, do you currently belong to?

MH: Well, of course, my brothers insisted -- my brothers were more, like Ken is into the Japanese community, and he said, "You know, there's a group of widows called Tomonokai." He says, "Why don't you go? What have you been doing at night?" And I said, "Well, nothing really, you know." I just go work, and come home. I had a little Chinese supervisor. She didn't live too far from me. And Christmas, the kids were all going out, the first Christmas I was alone. And her and her boyfriend came down and spent an evening with me. I was so surprised. And Ken says, "You can't be doing that. You know, what are you eating?" And I, I don't know, I had some toast, and some peas, or I had a salad. He says, "You gotta get out." So, I had a friend, Margaret Yamaguchi, that was in Tomonokai, and she said, "Why don't you come?" So I called her, and I said, "I think I'm ready." So I went, and, you know, they were always so busy. And we didn't do as much then as we do now. We worked for Cherry Blossom and those kind of things. But that's how I met Steve.

BK: I see.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

BK: What other kinds of organizations are you involved in?

MH: Oh, let's see. I... right now I'm speaking to schools, but I only speak two or three times a year. Maybe it depends on when they want me. I go out to grade schools mostly, I've done -- some are high school, at Federal Way -- and I've done some, what do you call, alternative schools? And then... but usually it's the grade schools I enjoy the most. They're curious, but they don't ask me all the real hard questions that I can't understand. [Laughs] That I don't know the answers to. I feel that all of us have to make sure that nobody has to go through what we went through. Although, for me, it wasn't a sad time, it was a time of life. But I think all of us should remember that. I try to tell the children, too, that you can't like everybody. That's not normal. But you can't hate everybody, either. So just because they're a little bit different, you can't say, "I hate you." Because it can get you in, very hard decisions to make, but you know, you have to... everybody isn't gonna like you, so... and that's the only reason I try to go out to schools and speak is, because I think they have to remember that we can't go through this again.

BK: And when you talk about "this," you mean the camp experience.

MH: Yes.

BK: The evacuation.

MH: Although for me, I had a good time. Not a good time, but it wasn't a sad time. Yeah. It was an experience, but I don't want other children to have to, or anybody else, to go through that.

BK: What kinds of things do they seem to be interested in hearing from you?

MH: Mostly for little kids it's, they want to know what we eat, what we ate, where we played, what we did in school. Did we ever get to go out of the camp? Oh, when I did the eighth grade, the first thing the girls say, "Well, did you have a boyfriend?" I thought, "Oh, goodness." [Laughs] It sounds like an eighth grader, right? [Laughs] I laughed. But, the little kids are really interested, and I think I did the Jewish Academy. Now, this is about the fourth year, I guess. And I guess they really are into teaching their children the different things of the Japanese internment. In fact, their map is the one I use now. And I've given it to other people to use, because it's such a good -- and it tells, you know, what state it is.

BK: You mean where the different camps were located?

MH: Yes, uh-huh. So I think in all of our Japanese community, that's one of the most important things that we should do, to try to teach people to be more passionate to each other.

BK: That must be rewarding, for you to go do that.

MH: Well, it's kinda nice. I get teased a lot. Especially my brothers, because they say, "You're such a blabbermouth." [Laughs]

BK: But I think it's so important, too, that, you know, you are willing to share your experiences.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

BK: You had mentioned earlier that you had met Steve at Tomonokai.

MH: Uh-huh.

BK: You also had mentioned that you're living with your partner, Steve.

MH: Uh-huh.

BK: Things are very different now...

MH Oh, yes.

BK: ...than they were, you know, thirty years ago. Nowadays, it seems as though that people have so many more choices. How difficult was it to make the decision to live together, rather than marry?

MH: It, at first I was really more afraid of my family. I didn't know, when we decided that we were gonna try this, what we should do. And it was just for the companionship. I talked to -- well, Ken has been kinda the spokesman for our family all along, since we were... Ak is very, very quiet. Sho wasn't here. Ted is kinda quiet. And so I went to him and I says, "I'm thinking of moving there." He says, "Well, I kept thinking, I see your car over there all the time." Because my brother-in-law only lived a half-block from here. And he said, every time he'd go by, he thought he saw my car. So I says, "Well, what do you think?" And he says, "You know, Mary, they're gonna talk about you no matter what you do. You're a widow. You're..." So he said, "Do what makes you happy."

BK: So you had the support...

MH: Oh, yeah.

BK: ...of, you know, of your family.

MH: And what makes it even nicer is I have the support from his family. They've never -- in fact, we've traveled with his oldest brother, who was always the big boss in their family on trips, and it's really, really nice, because they have supported me in all this.

BK: So it was the right decision.

MH: Yeah.

BK: For both of you.

MH: For us, it was. I don't know whether it would be for everybody. And we talked about getting married, but Steve said, "It's just a piece of paper." So... and I've been here nine years now.

BK: What were the reactions from your friends?

MH: Nobody ever really, really seemed to think too much. They just say, "Oh, your friend." That's what... it was, I was lucky there. And all the family's been very supportive. My sister was gone, and that's the only thing I feel bad about. 'Cause she'd already passed away, and we were so close, it was like -- I talked to her every day. You know, nobody to talk to. It's kinda hard to be alone and not have anybody. And your kids are all, my kids were busy. Bev was in school, Rodney's working, she had classes, so...

BK: So it is nice to have a companion.

MH: Yeah. Yeah, we do a lot together.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

BK: More than fifty years have gone by since the end of the war. As you think back on your internment experiences, what were some of best times you can remember from that experience?

MH: You know, I can't even remember any "best" times. I think coming home was a nice time. Getting on the train, and my sister packed a lunch, and thinking, "I'm gonna go home." I think in the end, all of that was -- I was going home to Mom and Dad. And although we slept, we were staying at a place called Vancouver Hotel on Seventh, Seventh and Stewart. And I think it was only two rooms and a little kitchen. And yet I was so happy to come home to it. And it had cockroaches I had never seen before. [Laughs]

BK: But actually, you had been living away for probably...

MH: Uh-huh.

BK: ...three years, or so, on your own. So that was coming home.

MH: It was, I think that was the main thing, is come home.

BK: What were some of the worst long-term effects of internment, on you?

MH: On me, I think it's, I've always been insecure. I mean, you wouldn't think so, by the way I am, but I always get this feeling, you know, "Do I fit in?" Or I don't want to say the wrong thing, or... to this day, I have that feeling. Sometimes I won't say anything, because I'm afraid I'm gonna say the wrong thing. Mother always taught us, you know, to be careful of what we said. To this day, a lot of times I won't say anything, even though I, to myself, I think I should say it, but I don't.

BK: In what ways do you think internment changed you?

MH: Well, I saw a lot more of the country. I met a lot of different people. I don't think I would be afraid to do anything anymore. I mean, I would do it, I might not like it, whatever came up in my life, or anything, but... I think it made a lot of us stand up on our own, that we wouldn't have done before. That's what I think, that we're more well-rounded, and I feel I am, too. I, although I have this insecurity once in a while, I'll get out and do something I probably would have never done before.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

BK: When you think back, when you were what, seventeen, when you actually left, I think your mother and father, to really, essentially live out on your own, and that's a pretty gutsy thing to do.

MH: Yeah, it is, I guess it is. At that time it was. And... but in our family, after the war, my brothers all stayed home until they got married. Like in their thirties. Nowadays, the kids can't hardly wait to get out. We all, all of us, after we once got back together again, never left until we each got married, one at a time, until Mother and Dad, didn't have anybody else, and had to go live in an apartment.

BK: Is that right? Talk about getting together, here is another picture. When was this taken? It looks like...

MH: It must have been taken in '46, after I came home. Because my sister was still here. She went to Hawaii after the war. Her husband had come to the States to go to school in the '30s. And then their father couldn't afford him to come home, so he came and lived with us. So after her children, she had her children, then she went home. Went back to Hawaii, and she only stayed a year, because her daughter would have turned twelve, and they would have had to pay an adult fare for her to come home. So, I was getting -- she didn't know I was getting married then, but she shipped the children home to my mother and father. And so they stayed with us, because they knew they couldn't stay in Hawaii. So the kids came home, and lived with us for just about a year, until my sister came. In that time, I had gotten engaged, ready to get married.

BK: So this is your entire family then?

MH: Uh-huh. That's what I mean is, our family was -- that's it. And now, my goodness, we're related to half the people in Seattle, it feels like. [Laughs]

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

BK: Was there anything about the internment experience that affected the way you raised your own children?

MH: I want them to -- although they don't ask me many questions, I know they've read the books that we've had. But I've often wondered, even Bev says, "Mom, one of my friends wants you to come and speak to their school in the Lake Washington District." And I said, "Well, okay, let her, let me know." But she herself hasn't asked too many questions. I don't know whether her and her dad have talked about it, but I'm sure they have. They were very, very close. Rodney is kind of like a boy, you know, it's okay, whatever. But Beverly would be the one that'd be most interested, but she hasn't really talked to me much about it. I'm really kind of surprised, because she knows I go out to schools. But whether she knows what her dad said or not, I don't know. I've never asked her, I should ask her.

BK: And maybe she's not ready.

MH: Yeah. And she's married to a hakujin, you know, so... and they're both so busy. I think that's the trouble with most of the children nowadays, we're all too busy, they're all off on their own, doing their thing.

BK: That's true. At the time that the concept of redress arose, many were not in favor of bringing up the, you know, the old wounds and the painful memories. What were your feelings about it at that time?

MH: I really didn't think too much about it. I thought it would be nice, but you know, it's something we lived through. And I wasn't really -- I got more, I thought more about it after, because of the injustice at the time. Now it's been how many years since they've been doing this redress thing? It's been a number of years, hasn't it?

BK: 1981 is, I think when they kind of started.

MH: Uh-huh, and I think up until that time, most of us didn't -- oh, we said, "Oh yeah, we were evacuated." And that was the end of it. You never told anybody too much. And I think that's the way I was, too, until -- then you start to think -- you know, of course, we had bought quite a few books, so we had read. But then, among ourselves, we never talked about it. I don't even remember my husband talking too much about -- he was in the same camp I was, but in a different block. So I think it's something, maybe it's a good thing it did come up. It made more of us realize that more people should hear about it, then...

BK: Right. So you're saying that your views about internment have changed over the years.

MH: Uh-huh, because I, when I was younger, I just thought it was just part of my life. What's that old saying, shikata ga nai?

BK: Uh-huh, shikata ga nai, right.

MH: Gaman shite ikinasai? So...

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

BK: One last question. What would you like your children and grandchildren to know and remember about internment?

MH: I just want them to know that, although, you know, we lived through it, it's something that we have to make sure it's never done again. It's so easy, and the more I read about it, the more I know that this was already planned way before the war. How could they have rounded up all these men the day of the war, if they didn't know about it before? You know, it's kind of mind-boggling, now, that we've gotten older, to think that they've done these things, and we were not, it wasn't supposed to be, but you know darn well it had be. I'm reading a book now by Norio Mitsu... Norio, I can't think of his last name. And excerpts, parts of that is short stories, all the way through. Very hard book to read because of the printing, but it's very interesting in the things that you learn through that book. How could have they remembered, how could they have known all these men were the head of the district? And so we have to keep sure that we're all on our toes, at least trying to find out what the government is thinking. Because it's a terrible thing to happen. Of course, I don't think they'll ever do it again, they couldn't. I think. But that's what we thought, too.

BK: Well, I'm Beth Kawahara, and on behalf of Alice Ito and the Densho Project, I'd like to thank you, Mary, for sharing your story. We really appreciate your candor and your honesty. Thank you. again.

MH: You're welcome. I hope I helped. [Laughs]

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.