Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Grace Sugita Hawley Interview
Narrator: Grace Sugita Hawley
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: June 3, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-hgrace-01-0010

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MA: And what were your impressions of the mainland Japanese? Were there cultural differences?

GH: So we didn't know 'til we went to school. When we went to school, they spoke differently, and they spoke very well compared to us. And I don't know whether they had a chip on their shoulder or we had a chip on our shoulder. And because they used to kind of looked down on our local people, and they used to look down on us. But it turned out that we felt that we were much more well-off than them. They looked down on us because of the way we spoke and the way we dressed, I guess. Because we dressed, we didn't have enough warm clothing, we had to go and get those. I remember the Sears-Roebuck catalog would come once a month, Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck, and we would sit there like going shopping. And I would tell my mother, "Oh, this, this, this," you know, and she would order the things. Warm clothing, we had to order all of those things through the catalog. They had a store in camp, canteen, they call it. And they carried some of those, I forgot what they call those jackets, pea jackets, I think, they carried those things. We just wanted Sears-Roebuck. [Laughs] And they had those things, they had... they call that khaki jackets. After a while it was kind of stylish to wear that. But they carried things in the store, odds and ends, like a general store.

MA: Did you feel like -- going back a little bit to something you said earlier about the mainland Japanese -- that they were, there was a cultural difference, a language sort of difference in a way. It seems like there was also a difference in terms of the mainland Japanese being a minority.

GH: Uh-huh. It was very different where... my father found that out when he was there and he is very assertive. Because in Hawaii, he was successful and he did anything he wanted to. And here he is in camp, the Japanese are telling him, "Oh, Mr. Sugita, don't do this. Don't start anything," they're so afraid. Because that's the way they were, that was their life. And for him, it's like, "Why not?" You have to speak up or you don't get it." It was the opposite, so they clashed a lot. But eventually he got things done and he was able to accomplish a lot. And so he, even like food, he would tell them to get the, change the menu into, like, tuna, which is cheaper. He said, "I'm saving you money and the Japanese like it." [Laughs] So they changed it. Eventually they changed it and they... and then they served rice instead of potatoes, and, you know, things improved. But it wasn't the greatest food, of course. And milk was like, I think it was powdered milk, powdered milk. They didn't have fresh milk. I don't know what they gave the babies, there were some babies there, too. But what they did in camp was they used the resources of the people, like professionals. They had a hospital, they built a hospital. So the professionals, the doctors, the nurses, the dentists, they used them. And whatever they had, they didn't have enough of, they would hire from the outside. Schoolteachers, there were quite a few schoolteachers from camp population itself. And so they had that, and then they had to hire. 'Cause I had a teacher who was white, she was from the outside. And I really admired those people because I thought, wow, for them to come and live here among all the Japanese, I give them credit, you know. And then we had... what else did we have that we had to import? Can't think of it.

MA: So doctors, nurses, there's probably --

GH: And our family doctor happened to be there, and I had malaria, they thought I had. I don't think I did, when I think about it now. But at that time they thought I had malaria, and I was in the hospital for weeks. He took care of me, and he was our family doctor, so it was really good, and he knew all of us, you know. And then I had my tonsils out; I was in and out of the hospital, had my tonsils out. But the malaria one I was in there for weeks and I had to start school late.

MA: Did they think you had malaria, that you got it in Hawaii?

GH: There were mosquitoes, no, in camp. Jerome was so, it was like a swamp. And there were a lot of mosquitoes there. And so, you know, like malaria started in the Philippines, I think, during the war. The GIs were over there, and that's how they got it, I think, from mosquitoes. And so at that time, that's why penicillin first was discovered. And so they were treating me with that, and then they had me in isolation ward and all that. And so anyway, I was there for three weeks. And I found out later that malaria, you're never cured. But I haven't had any symptoms, so I don't think they really knew how to diagnose it in those days, it's a little different. So anyway, at least they had doctors, they had dentists, I had my tonsils out, they had dentists, and my father knew the dentist there, too. And whatever else they had there.

MA: You mentioned that you, so your family was Buddhist. Was there a...

GH: Oh, there were a lot of Buddhist priests. Yeah, there were a lot of them and there's ministers in camp.

MA: Was there some sort of Buddhist congregation or space or church that was set up in Jerome?

GH: I don't know of any church. I don't know. But I know they used to, if people get married, they used to have services and ceremony and all that. So maybe, maybe what they did, every block had a little recreation center, they had a mess hall, they had, that was like the cafeteria, and then they had a... it's all public, and restroom, bathhouse and all of that. So maybe like, I don't know whether maybe they used the rec. center for things like that, I'm not too sure.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.