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-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

MA: And going back a little bit, you were in Jerome, you mentioned, until it closed, is that right? And that was around '44?

GH: '42 we went there, so '44... yeah, year and a half we were there. '43, so we there all of '43 and '44, yeah, '44. And then we went to Heart Mountain '44 to '45.

MA: And why did you, how did you end up in Heart Mountain?

GH: Well, they gave us a list of camps to go to, to select from. And Gila, maybe Colorado, I forgot. Not, I don't think all of them were available, but they named the camps available to go to. And my dad decided Heart Mountain, he said he wanted to try the cold weather, different environment, he said, instead of something that's close to Hawaii like Arizona. So that's why we went. And not many of them went to Heart Mountain. [Laughs]

MA: Not many of the Hawaii people?

GH: No, not many, just a few. Just a few of them came with us. But the Kibeis, some of them came with us. The Kibeis my father befriended because they had no family, they were so young. And they were just out of teenager, you would think maybe 1920. And they had no family -- oh, it's cold in here -- and so they wanted to, they wanted to go with my father, follow him. So some of them came along. So it was like family for us, you know.

MA: And were these Kibeis he met in Sand Island in Hawaii?

GH: Uh-huh.

MA: And they came over to Jerome?

GH: Jerome, uh-huh. And they were in our block, so they were right across the next barrack, so they were always in and out. And then late at night, my father would make chazuke for them and they would... they would do a lot of things. And then, you know, in camp, my father also did... they used to have entertainment. They had to do things to keep the people, at least they had to have some kind of a leisure enjoyment and some kind of entertainment. So there's talent throughout the camp, there's all different kinds of talent. But they used to have shows with singing, acting. My father used to sing "Naniwa-bushi," and then he also used to direct these plays, samurai plays. And these Kibeis were perfect for it. So he got them and we had some pictures of it. He got them acting in the samurai roles. Naturally, they all want the main role. [Laughs] It was kind of funny how he had to cast them. Because some of them were kind of good-looking, too. Much as we were so young, you know, they were like our big brothers in those days. But it was nice. It made a hit because the old folks like those kind of stories. So I don't know where my father got all those samurai stories. [Laughs]

MA: How were the Kibeis, do you remember at all how the Kibeis were treated in camp? I mean, were they sort of...

GH: They were okay.

MA: They were okay?

GH: They were treated okay.

MA: By the other, by the other people in camp?

GH: Uh-huh. Except that their English was very poor, they couldn't speak English too well. So they were learning, they were learning as they go. And so they seemed to mingle, even with the girls, they made friends with the girls. And they played sports, some of them played sports. I still remember some of them were in the team, they formed a baseball team. And then they had... they were out of school so they weren't going to school. In school, they had football team and all of that. And then they had the 442 and 100th Infantry boys coming over, and they used to bring their team over and play with the camp team, they had that. And they even started a USO for them, USO in camp. So there were things to entertain them also.

MA: And then in Heart Mountain, so you were in Wyoming. And how long were you there in Heart Mountain?

GH: About the same, I think about a year and a half. Somewhere I keep thinking it's three years total, a year and a half each, around there. We left in the summer, we left as the war was ending. Because, you see, they were closing the camps even before the war ended.

MA: You left Jerome?

GH: They knew camp, they knew the war was ending. No, Heart Mountain. They knew the war was ending, but they were closing the camps before the war ended, and they were trying to get people resettled in the Midwestern states, central part, before they can go back to the West Coast. But by that time, they were already downsizing a lot of camps, people were moving out. So when we left, I think either we left and on the way, we heard the war ended, or right before, something like that.

MA: And you left Heart Mountain?

GH: Uh-huh, for St. Paul. We went to St. Paul because we had to settle down somewhere. We had to leave camp already, it was getting, they were shutting it down, pretty soon. We were one of the last ones, I think. And, because we couldn't go back, we couldn't go home. We, my father didn't get approval to go home, and he had to wait for Washington, D.C. to give approval. So his friend, who lived in Minneapolis, had a restaurant there, and he said, "Why don't you go to St. Paul and open a restaurant?" So he said, "Okay."

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.