Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Marjorie Matsushita Sperling Interview
Narrator: Marjorie Matsushita Sperling
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Culver City, California
Date: February 24, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-smarjorie-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay. So today is Wednesday, February 24, 2010, and we are in Culver City, and we are interviewing Marjorie Matsushita Sperling. On camera is Dana Hoshide, and I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda. So, Marjorie, thank you so much for being here this morning.

MS: Thank you.

TI: So I'm going to just really start from the beginning. Can you tell me when and where you were born?

MS: I was born in Wapato, Washington, in 1922.

TI: And what month and day?

MS: July 27th, '22. But the doctor was forgetting to register me, so legally, I was born on August 9, '22.

TI: Oh, so your birth certificate says August 9, but you were actually born on...

MS: Born on July 27th.

TI: So what day do you celebrate?

MS: On the 27th. [Laughs]

TI: And you said doctor, so were you born in a hospital?

MS: No, at home.

TI: Okay, so the doctor came to your...

MS: I think so, yeah.

TI: And for those people who don't know where Wapato, Washington, is, describe where Wapato is.

MS: Wapato is in Eastern Washington, and the largest city next to Wapato is Yakima, and it's lower valley. It's located about in the middle of the Yakima valley, and it seemed to be the hub of the Japanese community in the valley at that time.

TI: Okay, good. We'll get more into that.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Before we do that, let's talk a little bit about your father and mother, and first your father. Can you tell me his name?

MS: Yasutaro.

TI: And Yasutaro Matsushita.

MS: Matsushita.

TI: And can you tell me just a little bit in terms of maybe when he got to Wapato?

MS: My father came with his brother Shozo. And they came, I think it was 1905, and they came because they came from a farming family in Japan. And as you know, that, since they were not the eldest, and they were from a farm family, there was no way of being able to carry on the farm. But they were fairly well-educated, so they'd been teaching. But they were young folks and they wanted the adventure of coming to the United States, and they landed in Seattle.

TI: And where in Japan was your father from?

MS: Oh, gosh, I don't know.

TI: Let's see, I have Hyogo-ken?

MS: Yes.

TI: In my notes here. Okay, so your father, and do you have any idea how he got to Wapato?

MS: I think they were, they must have met up with some folks on the way over. And since they had been farmers, they knew that people were coming to the Yakima valley. The Yakima valley was, as you know, an Indian reservation, but they were, the Indians were leasing land to people that were not of Indian extraction. And so they came with a bunch of young men, and came to the valley. So they've been there a long time.

TI: And when you talk about, so the Indians leasing the land to Japanese, was there much interaction between the Indians and Japanese?

MS: Oh, I don't think so. I think each group existed among themselves. And at that time, I don't think people were thinking about who we interact with, but we do business with each other, but that was about it. And they went out, my father and his brother went out to the valley, in Brownstown, and there was an area that there was, there were other people there like the Caucasians. I think there was a Brown family that had come from Virginia, and had amassed a huge amount of land. And so my father and my father's brother came in that area. And they had a small group of folks, other men who had come to the valley. Apparently, it seems that my younger brother, my father's younger brother, Sho, went on to Wapato High School and began to get education there. But he was quite, kind of a different person from my father. I still remember him.

TI: So, yeah, tell me about your uncle Sho. What was he like?

MS: My uncle Sho was really a very outspoken, talking, he was energetic, he was amusing, and he was really, kind of had a trigger on him. He kind of got very upset about things. But he was really very talented, and he apparently was quite a photographer and took pictures and so forth, which was unusual at that time. He didn't actually farm, he set up a small stand and a gas station and earned a living, but he was not well, apparently. We learned that he had diabetes, and he didn't live very long. I think he must have been in his late forties when he died and left a family.

TI: So you said that Sho was very different than your father. What was your father like?

MS: My father was, you know, fairly even-tempered. And he was quite a scholar. He read a lot. He was very, he read all kinds of things like the political situation and so forth, and so that he really was somebody who thought a lot about... as I look back, I think he was very aware of what was going on in the world. And I'm sure that Kara told you that in the wintertime, when you can't farm on the farm, we had friends that would come over, the men friends would come over almost every day around ten o'clock in the morning. And they'd sit around and they'd talk and talk about a lot of things, and they played Hana and so forth. And I remember hanging around and listening, and I can still remember hearing about the Red Russia and Port MacArthur and things like that. I didn't know what that was about, but when I look back, that was pretty sophisticated at that time. And so that this heavy conversation was going on day after day. My mother would feed them, and they would go home about two or three, after having been fed. And this went on about four or five days a week for a period when they couldn't farm.

TI: That's a great scene you described. I'm trying to, so you said like four or five of them? And describe, like, how they were sitting, and...

MS: Oh, we had a round table, and they would sit around that. And there were about, I guess about four or five. There was Mr. Kikuchi and Mr. Yonekawa, Mr. Inaba, and I think that's about... about four or five of them.

TI: And you said your mother would feed them.

MS: Uh-huh.

TI: Now, were they, like, drinking and smoking?

MS: Uh-huh, yeah.

TI: And was it, did it get pretty loud at times?

MS: Yeah, yeah. They really enjoyed each other. It was such a relief for them to be able to have the time to be able to relax and have friends and to talk. And so that went on, yes.

TI: And they're talking world politics.

MS: That's right.

TI: Interesting.

MS: And once in a while, they would have the Hana, playing the Japanese game. But I can still be hanging around and listening. [Laughs]

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: Okay, so you mentioned your mother. Tell me a little bit, what was your mother's name and how did she meet your father?

MS: My mother was Kiyoko Amitani.

TI: Okay, Kiyoko Amitani, and then how did she meet your father?

MS: I think it was a "picture bride." She was raised by an aunt who didn't have any children. And so she became, went to live with her. Apparently, she was a very stern lady. And my mother went to some academy where she learned flower arranging and playing the koto and the shamisen, and oh my god, the tea ceremony and so forth. But apparently she wanted to study English, but her mother said, "You never use it," so she insisted that she go to this place. My mother would read things, but it was like the... like magazines like McCall's and so forth, the Japanese kind. And once in a while she would read it. Not often, but she was not a person that the level of reading that my father did was interesting.

TI: But it sounds like in Japan your mother was well-educated, cultured. I'm guessing it must have been quite a shock for her.

MS: It was a shock for her. 'Cause she was saying she thought when she came out to the valley and she expected to be met by a carriage, but it was a wagon. And here she came out to this very wild kind of country and found that a group of men were waiting for her to come, and the washing she had to do, and there was no hot and cold running water, she had to pump this, and heat and so forth. So it really was very difficult for her.

TI: And did she ever express either disappointment or...

MS: See, as kids, we didn't talk this way. Nowadays, you hear parents telling their children, but they're too busy trying to earn a living, keeping up a house and so forth. And so it was very difficult. But I do remember my mother wanting us to learn things, and she'd try to teach us ikebana, and oh, my god, when she'd sit us down for the formal tea, it was awful. [Laughs]

TI: But that's, oftentimes other people, and probably in places like Wapato, never were exposed to anything like that.

MS: No.

TI: How about Japanese language? What did you and your siblings do...

MS: Never did. And because my sisters were six and eight years older, you know, I think the way I was raised is a little bit different than them. And they were often doing things, and here I was very much the young kid, and they didn't pay much attention to me, which was all right. [Laughs]

TI: Before we talk about your siblings, let's... tell me about your mother. What was she like? You talked about your father a little bit, what was your mother like?

MS: My mother was a fairly gentle lady, but somebody who made do with what she had to do. And I remember that she was very kind. And when my uncle's family, when my cousin who was the oldest was a senior and graduated, she decided they could not stay and run that, the gas station, and she moved her family to Portland. And I remember my mother packing a bunch of groceries and giving her some money and so forth, so that she would have something. But I think the women those days were, once in a while they'd get together and talk. Like Mrs. Inaba, Mrs. Yonekawa were very good friends of ours, and Mrs. Kikuchi. I think it was just that girl talk, and to be able to maybe share a recipe or whatever. But I didn't pay much attention to them, because they were not around and gathered like the men. But I did hear the men talk. [Laughs]

TI: That's good.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So let's talk about your siblings. You mentioned two sisters who were older...

MS: Yes. My sister Amy was the oldest and she was eight years older, and my sister Kara who was six. And we had another, a sister that died very, when she was very little, between Kara and me. So it was interesting. Amy was quite different from Kara, and I think that, in our lifetime that's the way it went. Kara was always kind of the mediator. She took care of things, she was always able to, when it became evacuation, she was the one that took care of everything. And Kara was this kind of person who was very detail-oriented. And I'm running around not paying any attention. [Laughs]

TI: Well, you were younger.

MS: I was younger, yeah. But my mother was very interesting because we'd sit on the, we had a porch, and we would sit around the porch, and she would talk about... I do remember she was talking about, gee, you know, what she would really like to do is she would like to learn how to fly.

TI: I'm sorry, this is Kara?

MS: No, my mother.

TI: Your mother, wow.

MS: And she'd talk about flying and so forth. And so that she really had, when I think about it, she really did kind of encourage us to, all the dos and don'ts. And what was interesting is when I misbehaved, it was Kara and Amy who disciplined me. They would spank me. My mother never did spank me. [Laughs] I think that she thought that they were a little bit harsh that they would do that.

TI: So tell me a little bit about Amy. You talked about Kara being sort of the mediator...

MS: Amy was a, Amy's a very talented person in her own way. And unfortunately, she should have gone on to college. But at that time, raising a family, and it was not easy. I look back on keeping things going, and Amy married early. She, after high school, she went to Seattle and worked at Furuya, and she met Jim there. And so Jim was a Kibei. And so their lives were a little bit different. And they went to hear... it was a missionary, and they became very religious, and so they followed that. They were very, very good about going to church and doing a lot for the church. And, in fact, Amy used to teach the young children, like kindergarten. And when I look back, she used to make wonderful lesson plans, and she really was able to reach the children. And when she died, amazed to see these young people that came back to remember her, and Jim, too. So they moved to Moses Lake, and they really worked very hard.

TI: I'm curious, you're kind of in this interesting situation where you had these two older sisters separated by six and eight years.

MS: Yes.

TI: And I always wonder about... people talk about these older Nisei, younger Nisei, and maybe the differences that maybe your older siblings faced, how it was maybe a little different for them versus for you. Can you tell me about that?

MS: Well, when I... you know, Kara died before Amy. And so I had to take care of her when she was in Yakima, and we would talk. And she said that, for instance, she had to take care of Kara many times. I remember Amy saying when we were going to school, that she would have to ride the horse to school because of the money and so forth, and they were going to this small school. And I think Amy felt a lot like she didn't have the opportunity that we had. And I remember one time when I was up there, she said she was very angry with me. She said, "You and Kara always thought you were better than me." And I said, "No, that isn't the case." Because Kara and I were very close because we thought alike, and I was interested in all the things she was doing, which was not something that Amy would talk about. And so there was that kind of a divide. And I think Amy must have felt as, being older, the she missed out on things, which was not necessarily true. But I think it was harder for her being the oldest and living in what they call pioneer times. So when we were breaking up her house and going through her things, it was like antiques. It was just all kinds of things that I hadn't seen and so forth. So it's been kind of a revelation to me. But Amy and I are very close because I cared about her and she cared about me. In fact, I lived with Amy at times. And so we were close but in a different way. And Kara and I were not as religious as Amy and Jim were, and that was their lives. And Kara went on to do all these other things, of which I could understand and appreciate, so there was a divide.

TI: Or how about, your older siblings and your relationship to Japan. You mentioned how Amy married a Kibei, so she, did she speak more Japanese than you?

MS: I think she did, and Jim did, too. But he was very well-educated. So he would, they went to Moses Lake in their last years, and he worked there. He was retired, but he became a driver for that, some company, and he drove many of the people that have come in. For instance, they used to train pilots, Japan Airline pilots in Moses Lake, and Jim and Amy became very friendly. And he would read letters and so forth from some of them. And it was interesting that relationship. And Amy and Jim had a very wonderful, warm group of friends in Moses Lake, and once in a while I still hear from them.

TI: Good.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So let's talk a little bit about the community. I'm not sure if you're aware, but I think later on this year, I'm not sure if it's in Yakima, but there's a museum there, and they're going to do an exhibit about...

MS: Yes, we've talked about...

TI: ...the Japanese American community. So I think this would be useful for you talk about the community as much as you can, because this is something I'd like to share with them.

MS: I find that when I look back at all the years I've been around, that I have never felt as secure as when I was growing up. Because Yakima valley had a very good community. And we were, they had a Methodist church and a Buddhist church, and there was some divide there. But whenever they had the Obon or the New Year's and so forth, celebrations, we would all get together, and we would be able to intermingle. We didn't think of anybody being different, because Yakima was quite a ways. In those days, you traveled fifteen or twenty miles, that was a long ways. And Toppenish, there were Japanese in Toppenish, which was lower valley, and they were farmers.

TI: So when you got together for, like, Obon, which is a Buddhist sort of event or ceremony, you're saying that the Christians and Methodists were there, the whole community --

MS: That's true. That's true.

TI: How about other ethnic --

MS: They had a Japanese Association in a building, and they would have events there. And not only that, I remember going to Japanese movies there. And I remember having these pieces of wood, and you clap with those and bang, bang, bang. [Laughs] And apparently, as I'm finding it very interesting, but the person that brought the movies would be, do all the oral things, and you'd enjoy it.

TI: And so you're in a movie theater, it's dark, so these are silent movies.

MS: Yes. It's in the, it was in the big room that they had in the Japanese Association building.

TI: And you're saying the operator would then be the, like the voice over or he would take on the characters?

MS: Yes, all the dialogue, yes.

TI: I've heard about that. That must have been...

MS: And we'd sit on benches and we'd just... it was really interesting because you didn't see it anyplace else, that kind of movies. It was an event. Every time there was something, it was an event. Because you're on a farm, and you're, like, ten miles away from Wapato. And we'd go in there for groceries and to get your car fixed, but you don't see them otherwise. So these were really events. And then we had that baseball team that was so well-known.

TI: Yeah, the Wapato...

MS: Yeah, Nippons, yes. We'd go there and we'd yell and holler and scream. And because I didn't even want to watch it all, you'd run around in the park. Kara used to keep score for them.

TI: Because they would come to Seattle and play the Seattle teams.

MS: Yes, yes.

TI: Would the Seattle team ever go to Wapato?

MS: I don't know. Because, you know, they're just somebody playing with each other. When you, so you talked about whenever there was an event or a movie, the whole Japanese community would get together. For something like Obon, if I go to an Obon, sort of, dance now, you see lots of other ethnic groups participate.

MS: I really miss going out. In fact, the Buddhist church in Wapato still is there, and it's still supported. And every year, in March, they have a big dinner and people come from all over to go to the dinner to support them, and that's their fundraising. And I know my nephew from Seattle goes to help.

TI: Oh, so people come back, it's like a reunion for the valley.

MS: Yeah, north people, yes, that could get there.

TI: But back when you were a kid and had Obon, did other ethnic groups participate in Obon?

MS: I don't remember that. I don't remember that. Not only that, at that time, the Filipinos were farm laborers. And I remember them on a Saturday night on Wapato Avenue hanging around in the pool hall, and you didn't pay much attention to them. But now, they are very respected in the family, in the Yakima valley, and they bought farms. And they are really very, very important in the valley. But at that time, they were farm laborers.

TI: And how did the Filipino farm workers get along with the Japanese?

MS: I don't know. I think anybody who came to work were really treated well. I think that's a Japanese custom. They're kind and they're nice people, and they're not rude. And so I think anybody that came to work for you, you really sort of appreciated them and took care of them. And I think that is an attitude that prevailed at that time. I don't know whether it's true now.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: And how about relations between Japanese and whites in the valley?

MS: I think they tolerated each other. I remember the neighbor. I had a feeling that they thought they were better, but then we didn't pay any attention. We were so busy living within our community, and we didn't need to go out to socialize, we didn't need them. And we saw them in school and so forth, but even there, we didn't pay any attention that we really kind of hung around. And I see that happening here in our schools, the black kids can hang with the black kids and the Latinos with each other, I can understand that. I really can. It isn't to be that you don't want to, but there's certain kind of customs that a group understands, and there's a kind of comfort level there. And I grew up that way. And that's why I look back and think I really felt secure there. These other people existed, I didn't know that we should interact and so forth. But I made very few friends that were not Japanese. And because we were busy when we had, we're not in school, busy working on the farm and so forth, that our lives were really complete. And when I hear about wanting people to be more interactive with each other, in a way I can understand when people have so much time, and the comfort level is with your people that, of your heritage, you understand that. You don't have to talk about it before you get comfortable. You know, you can run into a Latino who came from Mexico and you're living in New York, and you're still, there's a basis for understanding each other. And therefore I do understand that, and I think we need to understand that, too, as we continue to live with each other.

TI: And so for you, when you think about your school, what was kind of the racial, sort of, mix of say your school in terms of Japanese, white, and other --

MS: A few Indians. We didn't have the Filipinos there because we didn't, they were laborers.

TI: It was mostly a bachelor community.

MS: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: And so you had a few Indians.

MS: Yes. And the whites, white folks.

TI: And about what percentage would you say was white?

MS: Oh, I would say about forty-five percent.

TI: Okay. And then the rest Japanese?

MS: Uh-huh.

TI: And so Japanese was about fifty percent?

MS: Well, forty-five percent, about twenty-five percent... no, not that much. I would say about twenty percent, and five might be Indians and so forth.

TI: Okay, so about twenty percent Japanese, five percent...

MS: Others.

TI: Others, and then about...

MS: Rest would be Caucasian.

TI: Okay.

MS: And, you know, I think there was a difference, too, when I look back, I think of the people who lived out, who had orchards and so forth and who had land and so forth, those who might have come later, the white folks that were from leased lands and so forth, I think they were different than those who had been in the valley a long time also. So I think we had that that kind of a divide, too.

TI: So it was almost like a class divide?

MS: I would think so, and probably by churches, dividing by churches and so forth. I don't think the Pentecostal people would care to be with the Baptists and the Methodists. And there was a divide with the Catholics. There was a distinct difference with the Catholic groups at that time.

TI: And for the Japanese community, was it pretty much a Protestant and Buddhist?

MS: Buddhist, yes.

TI: Okay. Thinking about in terms of hierarchy, the longtime Japanese families that were in farming, where would they fit in the hierarchy?

MS: I think we all, we all got along, excepting you had your small groups of friends. And I don't know how that came about, but I do remember listening to the people that, like my father's friends, were those who were interested like in the political and so forth. So that they kind of had a way of finding each other like they do now.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So I want to talk a little bit about landownership and how the Japanese community navigated the alien land laws.

MS: You couldn't. You couldn't. And I don't remember, like, where Amy had to sign for things. She was still young, a teenager. But that was okay, too.

TI: So oftentimes they would put property under Amy's name.

MS: You couldn't buy property.

TI: Oh, so even just signing leases, she would have to sign those.

MS: Yeah. But it was really very casual. I remember going to the bank because all the farmers would go to the bank in springtime to ask for a loan. And one day I went along with my father and I think it must have been Amy or somebody, and went in the bank, it was very nice, he asked, "How much do you need?" And I don't remember them signing the paper. If they did, they signed it, but he got up and shook hands and that was it. And that's still very vivid in my mind. It was very, kind of a casual, they knew you were there. If you're signing for a loan and you've got a farm, they know that you're not going to run away. So as I said, in looking back, it really was a very secure place to live at that time.

TI: Do you have a sense of how large... when you say your community, when you think of Wapato, how many people were living there?

MS: I don't know. I don't know. But when we evacuated, I think there were about thirteen hundred. But there was a difference between those who lived in town and those who were on the farm, you see, because you had like the grocery store, the restaurant, the garage. The people in Yakima, most of them ran hotels in the kind of the flea, low-rent hotels, and they were different.

TI: Okay. So it was a sizeable community, thirteen hundred for the whole valley.

MS: Yes.

TI: Yeah, that's significant. Actually, yeah, I thought it was more in the hundreds, but I didn't realize it was that large.

MS: Oh, no. Because the valley is really quite big when you go from upper valley, lower valley, and Zillah and so forth.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: So going back to your life, growing up in the valley, what were some of the activities that you...

MS: My mother let me join the Camp Fire. I think that's kind of unusual because I was the only Japanese in it. And I remember going to camp one summer, and it was a nice experience. I went to Camp Roganunda, and I understand it's still there. And then I met camp leaders, and I just looked up to them and I kept up with one of the camp leaders. She was from Ohio. And when I look back, my god, they must have been eighteen or nineteen years old. [Laughs] But it was a very interesting experience. And so I got to do a lot of things, I think, that a lot of other Japanese kids didn't get to do.

TI: That's what I was going to mention. It seemed like you were, I'm not sure if it was your mother wanting this or...

MS: My mother.

TI: But really exposed to the larger, sort of, population.

MS: Yes. I even took piano lessons. I never could play the piano. But it was, I got to do things that I think that others didn't.

TI: And what do you take away from that? What did you learn by being exposed to those different areas?

MS: I think I grew up feeling that I was an individual, that I can speak up. I have been noted to be speaking up. You've heard me. And the freedom to do it, because I was raised with ideas. Like my father and my mother both, we, listening to these guys, My mother talking, "What if I..." she would like to learn how to fly and so forth. So that, I think, gave me the freedom to be much more free and not so imbued with the Japanese culture where you don't interject yourself. And I remember somebody saying to me, "Marjorie, I think Japanese is supposed to be quiet, soft-spoken, and they don't speak up. And then there's Marjorie." [Laughs]

TI: Well, so when you're young and you're more free and outspoken, and you're within the Japanese community, how did people react to you?

MS: I had friends, though. I had friends, and especially the Methodist church. My parents didn't go to church, but they allowed us to go. And we joined the Methodist church, and our social life was with the church. And we had a very good youth group, and we'd do all kinds of things. So that when you had the time, you did have friends. And I still do talk... well, I still have a few friends that I had grown up with. But... and I know that they have stayed with the Japanese community, and they're a lot more restrained than I am.

TI: Good.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: So tell me, going back to school, if your friends were to describe you in terms of you as a student, what would they say?

MS: I was a terrible student. They were getting As and Bs, and I didn't do too well. But I didn't really care, either. [Laughs] And because I joined the glee club and those kinds of things, and I was free to do more of these things, I think. And I don't know. I really feel that I was given a lot more freedom than, perhaps, some of the others.

TI: And how were your parents with you not getting good grades?

MS: I don't think they knew the, really, the reason that I should have been getting good grades, but they did tell me to study and so forth. But because they couldn't read the language, they really couldn't help. And I didn't care.

TI: Well, and this might be a little further along, there might be some other things to talk about. But I know after you graduated from high school, you went to the University of Washington in Seattle.

MS: Yes.

TI: But before we go there, is there any other memories about high school or any stories that you want to share?

MS: No, it was just kind of a routine that we went through, and we had our limits. You can't do things when you're very busy and so forth. And you lived in a family unit that you knew your place, too. And so that you had patterns of things that you did, and that was all right with me. And when I was a kid, I used to run around playing, and playing out in the country and running around. And I look at, go back, and there was a, I remember there was a big canal, and there was a water, irrigation ditch that went over it, and they had a... it flowed over this little river. And I go out and I'd walk across it and I'd think afterwards, "My god, what if I had fallen off?" But you do those things when you're kids. And I used to, we had an old truck, and I would get behind the truck and drive it around the farm. So as kids, you really got to do a lot of things, or sat on the irrigation ditch, and I'd spend hours trying to catch minnows and climb trees. And we had a wonderful apricot tree, and I remember hanging around in the apricot tree. And we had pear trees, we had peach trees and prune trees. And when I see what's going on now, I think, "Oh my god, we could never afford it," kind of fruit that we ate and so forth. So that growing up on a farm was a wonderful experience.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: And on the farm, were there certain chores or things that you had to do?

MS: Oh, of course. We'd help pick peas and beans, and help with the watermelons and cantaloupes and packing. And I remember, oh, my god, as a kid, looking there and saying, "We got to put our stamp on the fruit, like on the handle." They'd laugh at me. I think now we see that. And I think I was a, kind of an imaginative person, because I was saying one day, "I think we make white stitching like as a trim on our pants." They laughed. Nowadays, you see that. I think I was outspoken kid anyway. Because we had a vendor coming from Seattle, Mr. Yoshida, he was a huckster. And I would talk back at him and he'd laugh. And I thought, my goodness, this little kid would say, "Oh, Mr. Yoshida, you're a liar," and my mother would be embarrassed. But I look back and say, my god, I must have been a free spirit all my life. So that's the way I grew up.

TI: That's good. When I think of farming communities, I think sometimes how maybe one family would help another family.

MS: We do.

TI: Can you talk about maybe an example of when maybe families pulled together to help another family, or just generally how they helped each other?

MS: I think they probably used equipment, things like that. And I don't... I don't think there was... I don't know because I didn't really pay that much about the operation of the farm. But I do know that probably equipment was one of the things that they could share.

TI: And do you remember any, like, tragedies that happened in the valley growing up in terms of anyone in the community?

MS: I don't remember. I don't remember.

TI: How about things like celebrations? Do you remember weddings or New Year's?

MS: New Year's, oh my goodness, New Year's. You know, we'd have to clean house. You had to make sure you changed the sheets and so forth, and you would cook for days because you're not supposed to cook on New Year's. And people would visit for about three or four days, they'd come and visit. The men did, not the women. But sometimes the women did, finally. But then here it was, coming in and eating and talking and so forth.

TI: And what would the kids do during New Year's?

MS: I don't know, because you didn't get to go around. You stayed home, but you'd see people coming.

TI: And so maybe help serving or greeting people?

MS: Yeah, washing dishes. [Laughs]

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So let's kind of start moving on, back with your life. So after you graduated from high school, what did you want to do?

MS: Well, I wasn't really sure, so I didn't go for the first year, but I went to Seattle and lived with my sister and my brother-in-law, and then drove for a Japanese lady who was from Japan. And I can't think of the, she was going around teaching people using paper and clay and making scenes, little scenes, and I used to drive her. And that's when I had some friends that on Sunday or so forth, we'd go this little hangout. It's coffee and tea and that kind of thing, not tea, but ice cream, confectionery place. And gee, I don't remember going to church either. [Laughs] But I did that for a year. And then, after that, I went to the university that fall.

TI: Well, so in that year when you first came to Seattle, what were your impressions of living in Seattle after growing up...

MS: And driving.

TI: And driving in the big city?

MS: Well, it was all right. I got kind of used to it and was able to drive around. And I don't remember too much, but I do remember it was driving and then living with Amy and Jim.

TI: What were your impressions of the Japanese community in Seattle versus what you grew up with in Wapato?

MS: You know, I didn't have that much free time. So what few people I knew, I would get together with them. But outside of that, I would spend time with Amy and Jim, and then I was busy working. So Seattle did not make that much of an impression.

TI: So you said after a year, then you decided to go to the University of Washington?

MS: Yes.

TI: What made you decide to go to the U?

MS: Well, everybody else was going. You know, that was kind of interesting. Nowadays, I think kids are much more sophisticated and they decide and so forth. But when you're growing up in that period, it was sort of the thing to do, and so you went. And that's why I was there when the war broke out.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Okay, so you had just started the University of Washington.

MS: In the fall, and then December 9th, I remember the war broke out.

TI: Yeah, so December 7th. So what --

MS: Oh, the 7th. Oh, I was with my friends at this little cafe, and we heard the announcement about the war, and it was shocking. And it didn't, it didn't register that much. It didn't, you didn't know much like you do now if you're a young person, you know a lot of what the world is like. But it didn't leave an impression, but you knew it's going to be different. And so when we went back, and then you still continued to go to school, but it was when we had to, when the curfew came in and you had to be in by six o'clock. And the semester ended, we needed to go home. And that was when the changes really began, too, you began to feel the changes. And I laugh because I've heard some people say, "We didn't know we had so many kids." We had to be in by six o'clock.

TI: Oh, I see, okay. When you say, so when the semester ended, or when the quarter ended...

MS: Quarter ended, I went home.

TI: You went home. Did you go with anyone else, or just by yourself?

MS: No, we all had to leave. I think we all left.

TI: So who's "we"?

MS: Other Japanese students


TI: From the Wapato area?

MS: Yeah. I think we all, because we were, beginning said you need to be in the curfew, the restrictions began, too. I don't think the family wanted us to be away from home, because for the valley people that was going to Seattle. And if there's a war going on, they would like the kids to come home anyway.

TI: So, yeah, so they wanted you there, but I'm guessing you had a choice? You could have stayed with your sister and brother-in-law or your...

MS: No, I really wanted to go home.

TI: Okay. And why was that? Because it was a, sort of, just more comforting to be there?

MS: Yes, yes.

TI: And when you returned home, what was the...

MS: But we still had to farm.

TI: Did you talk to your parents about what happened?

MS: I don't know. I don't remember that at all. I think you kind of knew there was a war going on, and you didn't... when I think back about how we were, and the kids nowadays that are so full of information would know an awful lot. But we had, I didn't even know where Hawaii was, you know, it was an island out there. It was not a part of the state at that time. And to have it happen, and you didn't know what the effect will be, you felt safer because they're beginning to say, "Oh, the Japanese are gonna bomb the coast and so forth," and you felt safer, so you went home. But you really didn't have any idea what the effect would be. I think that we were so naive, not only just us, but I think our parents and the citizens didn't understand what it meant as far as being at war. And so I think there was a lot of misconception of what the world would be.

TI: When you returned to Wapato, did you sense a difference in Wapato when you returned?

MS: Not really. Because there were crops to be put in at that time, and we felt safer, because we were off the coast and that, but we didn't know what the effect would be.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Okay, so talk about those weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, you're back at Wapato, you're putting crops in...

MS: Uh-huh, not knowing, and we're feeling we're safe. But one day, somebody came and kind of firebombed us, and that kind of scared us and we began to realize that people weren't quite as nice as we thought. And we began to hear... we felt that we were safe, that we would not be going, being evacuated or any problems like that.

TI: Right, but let's go back to the firebombing. So describe what happened.

MS: I don't know, because I was asleep, and the family took care of it and I didn't hear. It was in the front, and I think they took care of it right away.

TI: So you slept through this.

MS: [Nods]

TI: Okay, but describe what you know about the incident.

MS: I don't.

TI: And where... I mean, it was at your house?

MS: Yes, in the front is, we had a little porch.

TI: And do you know about what date that was?

MS: I don't know that.

TI: But it was like in the early part of the year, like January, February?

MS: Yes, about January or February, yeah.

TI: So you had a front porch, and then someone, when you say "fire bomb," what was...

MS: I don't know. Kara knew all that, but I didn't.

TI: Do you recall what kind of damage there was?

MS: Uh-uh. I don't think there was much damage.

TI: And then for you and your family, how did that change how you felt in terms of safety?

MS: Well, I think the idea that there was a war going on, but we kept hearing that, I think around that time they began to talk about evacuation. And we kept thinking that we would not be evacuated because we were 145 miles from the coast. And so we were just busy taking care of business, getting the crops in and so forth. And Kara knew a lot more. Kara was home, too, I mean, she would go off to school or work. But I didn't know much. Being six years younger, eight years younger, six years younger, had its place.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Now when things started... so you felt you're 145 miles off the coast, but they're talking about removing people from the coast.

MS: The coast.

TI: What did your sister and brother-in-law do?

MS: They came back to the valley, and they lived with us for a while.

TI: So, and they were thinking, well, this would be...

MS: Safer.

TI: A safer place to be.

MS: And they probably wouldn't have to evacuate.

TI: When they started removing people from places like Bainbridge Island, so talk about that. What did you know about that?

MS: Didn't know much about it. Didn't know.. just that that they're being evacuated, but we felt safe. And that we thought it was terrible, but you felt helpless, but you did feel kind of a change in the atmosphere. The white folks seemed a little bit more cocky. And, but you went on your life and think, "We're going to be safe and things are going to be different," but you don't know how different. And it was a shock when you found out that we were being evacuated. As we learned later, it was like the granges and so forth that insisted on getting us evacuated, even though it really not in the plans to begin with, and that became a shock. And then to begin to have to get rid of things and how we're going to take care of things and so forth. And we had friends that offered to store some things, but they couldn't store everything. And you think back on some of the things I remember, is we had some furniture. Now it would be a tremendous antique, but we had to get rid of those. And how I had heard that people were coming and buying things for practically nothing. But we didn't see that much in the valley. We did get rid of our things, but it was very difficult.

TI: Do you recall about what time or date it was when the Wapato, Yakima valley found out that they also had to leave?

MS: It must have been about March or so, because we left, I think, May or June.

TI: And it sounds like you said you thought that there was some political pressure to...

MS: Yes, because by this time, when we found out, people would come in and say, "We'll buy your crops, buy your lease." And some of 'em were pretty arrogant and rude. And Kara talks about that, about very rude and feeling that they just kind of came in with a swag and feeling that they're very important. But she took care of all this, and I look back, and Kara couldn't have been very much older.

TI: Because you're in Eastern Washington, so most of Eastern Washington wasn't removed. I mean, Yakima valley was...

MS: All of us, the whole valley, the 1,300 people, of us from Yakima to Toppenish.

TI: Yeah. 'Cause you would think, if you look at Washington state geography, I always thought, "Why didn't they just use the Cascade mountain range as..."

MS: They said the granges and some of these groups put a pressure on the government to get us removed. It was not originally planned that way.

TI: And the sense was because the Japanese were competitors to them, so that if they were removed...

MS: I think the same kind of pressures that went on in California, same groups.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Okay, so you're... the notices go up, you have to get rid of things, sell things. So talk about when you actually had to leave the valley.

MS: You know, we could only carry so much that we can carry on, and you couldn't take things like radios and knives and so forth. But I look back and think, Japanese are very, putting on a good face is important, especially at that time. We got all dressed up in our finery. If it were today, I'd have put on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, but we all arrived all dressed up, looking like we're going to a party, carrying things. And they, the train was in Wapato because Wapato was quite a produce center. But I remember it must have been around five o'clock, and all those warehouses, produce warehouses were closed. I can feel the atmosphere. Things like of quiet down at that time, because all those produce houses, they closed. And it was like the air had kind of lowered itself. It's this atmosphere of, there was kind of a hush, and here we come, all of us all dressed up carrying these, our suitcases and so forth. And the train is there with the troops. And Kara said this young man who had been helping with making the arrangements to board, said to her, "Why are you allowing this?" So we're standing there and waiting to board, and this rowdy groups of troops had already taken other groups into camps, came with a train. And as we're standing there, two of the soldiers got into a fight on the train, and they knocked out a window. That really scared us. Here they were in full combat. So we board the train, and as they began to move, we had to take the curtains down. And these soldiers were walking up and down and acting, and they were drinking back and forth, and that went on all night. And they would, sometimes we would stop because we'd have to leave other trains to go by, and it was really a very tense group, and I don't think anybody slept. And we came into the Portland Livestock Center early in the morning, and you could feel.. in the morning there's kind of a hushed time. And we came into the livestock yard and the gate was open and we began to unload. And as they closed the door, it was the clanging of the gate. And Kara and I always say we'll never forget that sound of it closing, and knowing that you were in a place that you couldn't escape.

And so we disembarked, and then we were handed a sack, and say, "Well, here's some straw and fill that, because that's your mattress." And they had all these stalls within the center, the stockyard center. And there was a big area in front, apparently, where they used to display all the animals that they were going to sell. And it was a very large area, and that was set up to house and to feed the people. And so apparently it was like we would have shifts going into meals, but it was two thousand people at one time. But anyway, we settled in, and when we finally went to a meal it felt like we'd been there a whole day. Because we were disoriented, and we were putting in, we were put in with the Portland area people, and we didn't know them and they didn't know us. But we finally began to settle in. And the Portland stockyard is right on the Columbia River right across from Jantzen Beach, which is the famous, you know, the entertainment center. And that was really kind of ironic because you'd hear the music and hear the merry-go-round, and you'd hear the Ferris wheel go around and around. And we were on a very busy highway. But anyway, as we settled in, it's amazing how people begin to intermingle, and there begins to be a sense of a community, that I think the Asian people at the time really liked order. So immediately, you found jobs to do and so forth, and I was with the recreation department.

TI: Oh, so how did you choose that? I know later on in your career you went into recreation.

MS: I don't know, but it's just something that I did.

TI: Was this kind of the first time you got involved in recreation?

MS: Yes. Excepting, you know, I had planned things when I was kid and so forth. And with the Camp Fire, I was able to do some things like that. But I did work with the recreation department, and it was a few days, oh, about... it was the end of June, and we decided we're gonna have a dance, and they had this very nice lobby with a big globe that the light would go around, and it would have all these, and you could see all the lights going around on the floor. So we decided, as the recreation department, we're going to have an In De Pen Dance. And the administration didn't like us laughing and saying we're going to have an "Independence" Dance. [Laughs]

TI: So this was going to be on July 4th then?

MS: Yes.

TI: Okay.

MS: So we had it anyway, but we didn't call it that, but we laughed about it. But you could play badminton and all those kind of things that you could do. They even had baseball and softball, rather, teams and so forth. So you did manage to kind of keep busy, and you got to know the Oregon people, and they weren't any different from the, say, from the Yakima valley people. So it was, immediately we were able to intermingle.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So talk a little bit more about setting up a, the recreation, sort of, group. I mean, in terms of what went on, and was there talk amongst the group in terms of what you wanted to accomplish as a group? I mean, here this group had all just come together.

MS: Activities, we had activities like tournaments and so forth. But it was to keep people busy. And, but I think the thing that I remember about eating with two thousand people was we never did like French toast flattened out. [Laughs] And they would have, you know, they would reconstitute dried fruit, and that was a mess. I think some of us grew up not really liking that. But really, I think Portland people and we got along very well. And when we got the word that we were going to Heart Mountain, it just broke our hearts, because we really got so we knew each other.

TI: And so they sort of divided, I mean, separated the Wapato, Yakima valley to go to Heart Mountain and then the Portland people would go to Minidoka.

MS: Went to Minidoka.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. The other thing I was wondering, before you went to Portland, was there any information or rumors about another assembly center in Eastern Washington? Did you hear about that? Because there actually was...

MS: Yes, we heard about Puyallup.

TI: Not Puyallup, but in Eastern Washington.

MS: No, we didn't hear about that one.

TI: They actually built an assembly center.

MS: Oh, they were talking about Toppenish. I only learned that afterwards, that they were talking about Toppenish being... no, that's something I learned after, years later.

TI: Yeah, I was just curious. I learned about this much later also, and I was just curious if the people in the valley...

MS: Never did.

TI: Because that was the design, or the plan, for the valley people to go there.

MS: You see, now, Kara would have known. I mean, Kara probably learned about it afterwards, too, but we've never talked about it. So anyway, I really was irritated to think that we were put into the concentration camp. I really was mad. And my father said, "Well, we're all together," you know, philosophical. These nice Japanese, you know, always wanted to keep peace. But anyway, I enjoyed the Portland Assembly Center because the people were really amenable. They weren't different. We found that difference when we got to Heart Mountain.

TI: Well, in terms of Portland, I've interviewed a lot of Seattle people when they went to Puyallup. And there was quite a bit of tension internally between, say, some of the older Nisei and the Isseis in terms of who would run kind of the internal workings of the assembly center and Puyallup. Did you see any of that happen at...

MS: No. I was of the younger group, so I would not have been able to understand any of that. And the camp was run pretty good by the time we got there. So I think we just, thirteen hundred coming in probably didn't disturb it at all, their arrangements. But it was really kind of irritating, on a Sunday, that the white folks would be driving right by us and peeking in at us and so forth. And then to have the Jantzen Beach across the river, so that. But it's amazing how a human being adjusts; it really is. And I think that's something that we have lost. Nowadays people get so irritated if things aren't immediate, or they feel they have to wait. I don't think there's a sense of a process. But I think that's what got us through.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: Okay, so Marjorie, we're going to start the second hour.

MS: Okay.

TI: And so you talked about being at the Portland assembly center, and how you got along with the Portland people. The Portland people went to Minidoka, but the people from the Yakima valley were sent to Heart Mountain. So talk about the trip from Portland to Heart Mountain.

MS: You know, I don't remember an awful lot, excepting we boarded a train, and we arrived in Wyoming. It was such a shock, because here was this, kind of open space and prairie-like, although you could see the mountain from where we were. And I think it was about late afternoon that we arrived and then we, camp was a little ways from the track. And we arrived and were taken to our barracks. And it was, as far as living, it was a little bit more private than what we had in Portland, but it was pretty primitive, and the barracks hadn't really been completed. And all we had was a potbelly stove and an electric, electricity was one of these bulbs hanging down, and that was it. And then, of course, we had the, like the army cots and so forth. And there were a certain number of these barracks within a cluster where we had the mess hall, the latrines, and the washing facilities, and so that became kind of like your neighborhood. And what really struck us was to arrive here into this group of Japanese that looked so unfamiliar, they looked like primitive folks, they were different. They had the particular haircuts, they were rowdy, they were boisterous and very different. And I always talk about this one young teenager that I saw, her name was Martha Kaihatsu. She had a white t-shirt, red, red slacks, walking across the area like she owned the place. And that was a shock for all of us from the Pacific Northwest to see somebody so bold and dressed so... what I thought was really amazing. We never dressed like that. And I never met Martha Kaihatsu. I never want to, because in my mind, she is this gorgeous teenager, that white t-shirt and the red slacks just going across the area, never talked to her. But again, you sort of get used to folks, but they really were different. The young people were much more rowdy, and I think we were scared of 'em. I think they kind of knew that, too, and I think they sort of acted more, acted out more. But after all, you do get kind of used to them. But I really didn't get to know very many people. Here again, I worked for the recreation department, and we tried to have activities and so forth. And it was really --

TI: Before, yeah, we go there, so that's interesting to me that there's this sort of tension between these two groups. Did it ever break out into any fights or anything like that?

MS: I don't think so. Because again, if it were now, there might be. But people really, there's that basic culture of behaving, but that didn't mean that these guys were boisterous and so forth. And I just kind of hung around with my neighbors, the Abes and his, their friends, too, that would come, Florence, and so we just kind of hung around with them. But I wasn't there very long.

TI: Well, how about the Isseis? The difference between the Isseis in your group and the other group. And I'm guessing the other group is Los Angeles?

MS: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: Okay, so that, did you notice any differences between...

MS: You know, when you're young, you don't. I think if I were a teenager now, I would be different. But in those times, you're pretty innocent. And you came from a very secure and sturdy community, and you just sort of take it for granted that's going to continue. So we didn't... and my neighbors, my neighbors were very nice. So that as far as the parents, I didn't see much difference because I didn't hang around with the parents because I didn't hang around with a lot of folks. But you know, you got into the activities, and there wasn't any school at the time, but I joined a choir and worked at the recreation department. And what was happening, too, is you're getting ready for Christmas, and you knew there wasn't anything that you could have for the kids. But it was amazing because we got there in late October, I guess, and by the time we're settling, and so forth, or maybe August, or late September, October. And by the time you're trying to get your place in order, people were stealing the lumber that was supposed to be for the school, and really trying to make things comfortable. There's no way, how are we going to make curtains for your windows and that kind of thing? And so a lot of time and effort was spent in making physical comfort, and then working as I was and having the kind of activities. But end of November, we were beginning to figure out what we were going to do as far as a celebration of the holidays. And people began to send in all kinds of toys and things to be distributed from the outside, which is wonderful. And then, of course, I was going to the choir, and we really practiced a lot. And the lady who was the wife of one of the administrators was very kind, and she gave me some private lessons. And so we had really quite a concert that year, and that was interesting because it was so cold, the wind would blow, and you'd see these tumbleweeds going, tumbling across. And the one thing I noticed about Heart Mountain was you didn't hear any birds, not a bird. Because it was such sagebrush country, and there really wasn't much life. And so I didn't hear any birds, but years later, when I went back, I'm commenting, said, "Oh, my god, there are some birds," and somebody said, "What are you talking about, Marjorie?" I said, "I'm saying this because we didn't have birds when we first came." And that was how desolate it was.

Anyway, that Christmas concert was really very amazing. We had, in the mess hall, the ceilings are kind of low and it's hot, and people came. And we sang, and I sang a solo and it was wonderful. It was continuity; something that we knew about at home, and we really needed that to be able to feel something that was familiar. And we had the mixture of our valley people and other people. And then on Christmas Eve, we had dinner and then we had a party at our own mess hall. And up to that point, it had not snowed at all. And as we were coming out from having a party, and that was the first time that we heard "White Christmas," and as we came out, it began to snow, so it was interesting, the feeling of having snow.

TI: And was this right before Christmas, too?

MS: That was Christmas Eve.

TI: Christmas Eve, first snow, you heard the first time, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas."

MS: "A White Christmas," uh-huh. It was the first time that we were hearing it. And then as we finished, it was snowing.

TI: So in some ways, it's a very beautiful scene, but yet you're in...

MS: In camp.

TI: In a concentration camp.

MS: Yeah, yeah.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

MS: You adjust, again, it's a matter of adjusting to making sure that you do have to have an underlying kind of a community of a government. Not in a sense of government, but I'm talking about your own government that you can depend on. I think we need that. We need that comfort. And I think unless we have it, I don't think anybody ever feels secure. And if it changes too much, it does leave people with a sense of not having an anchor. But what was interesting was years later, I went back to a symposium. It was 1995, there were two white people sitting behind us, women. Finally I turned around and said, "Why are you people here?" They said, "We live in Powell, and we never knew what was going on, what happened, and my parents never talked about it." And I said, "Oh." She said, "My mother did say that their group brought presents in at Christmas," and I said, "Pat, would you please go back and tell your mother how much we appreciated it? We haven't been able to say thank you." They came back the next day, and I said, "Did you tell your mother what I said?" And she said, "Yes." I said, "What did she say?" She said, "My mother cried." So it's amazing what happens, and sometimes you get to go back and to acknowledge the things that happen and how people treated us. But Heart Mountain was very interesting because you could feel the foment. And even though they were beginning to talk about farming, they didn't have water. The Shoshone River, the canal, had about twelve miles that needed to be finished before they could bring water in. And they did recruit Japanese from the camp to go down and finish that. And the other thing that the people, even though the Wyoming people didn't like us at all, they really needed, when the Japanese began to move in earlier, is that they went out and helped get in the crops, the sugar beet crops were being grown, and they needed to have people come and do that. So in a way, I think there is... I know that Heart Mountain is talking about putting in an exhibit, but I think these are some of the things that needed to be, remind the valley. And not only that, the Hashimonji folks here in Los Angeles, they lived out in Orange County, they had a nursery with all the seeds, Japanese vegetables and so forth, and they released those. And, you know, Judge Ito's father had graduated... I don't know what you call them, but something to do with the agriculture.

TI: Sort of horticulture...

MS: Or whatever, but he knew how to plan the area and how to look at the weather patterns and so forth, so they were able to raise these Japanese vegetables. But I really think that everybody should know about what the Japanese did, and that to clear off three thousand acres at that time when you really don't have the modern equipment that you have now, to clear off that land of the sagebrush and so forth. And I know reading the report that the motor pool people really found it difficult, because to provide the people who were trying to get that farm ready, to have the equipment ready to be able to clear off that land. But they did, and it was amazing kind of fruits and vegetables that they have raised. And I feel, for one thing, that is something that ought to be really talked about in the valley. Because they really left some very wonderful acreage because of the work they've done, and to help finish that canal and so forth. And I don't think that the valley people know about that. And I really feel that that is a legacy that we must talk about. I think the Japanese really ought to talk more about what happened to us, and the kind of legacies that they've left at every camp.

TI: In terms of the improvement, the infrastructure improvements in terms of irrigation.

MS: Yes, and what it's done to the community. Because when you think about Wyoming now and that area of Heart Mountain, you would see birds and you'd see the, all kinds of lush kind of land that they've farmed now. And I think it's a story that must be told.

TI: Good. Well, you just told it. [Laughs] Let's go back to recreation.

MS: Yes.

TI: So you said you worked recreation. Talk about what that was like, what you did.

MS: I wasn't there long enough, really, because we were getting leagues together, the normal things that you do in any place. It was the basketball and the volleyball -- not the volleyball, but the activities, and I think clubs began to form. But I was not there long enough, because I think people were struggling, and we were not able to really do too much to a point. Because when you think about it, the people from the southern California came, and not being able to carry on the supplies, they didn't have clothing for winter. And so when they issued us peacoats, we all got peacoats. And it was kind of interesting, 'cause you'd see the kind of decorations that people would put on and so forth. But it was a struggle, I think for the, especially for the southern California to have this very cold, cold weather. And if you could just, the wind would blow and you'd see the tumbleweeds going by. Just to go back and forth for the meals and to go, to take a shower and you'd try to find time that people weren't there. And it really was very, very primitive, very difficult to just exist, and to make sure that you had enough fuel to burn into these potbelly stoves was something else, too. And like I said, I left in January.

TI: So you were there for just a few months, then.

MS: Just very short time.

TI: At the time you left, was there... I guess it'd have been early in terms of the "loyalty questionnaire," things like that.

MS: No, I wasn't there for that.

TI: Yeah, so that was all a little bit later.

MS: No, yes it was.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Okay, so January you leave Heart Mountain.

MS: Yes.

TI: So under what circumstances did you leave?

MS: Well, I, the Quakers were very, very wonderful, and they really contacted many of the colleges and universities to make sure that they would be able to take Japanese students. And they set up a network, and so were ready to choose and pick. And so, but then before you were able to leave, I had to be, you know, clearance from the FBI and the army and the navy. So it took about a month before we got clearance and left at that time.

TI: Do you recall what kind of paperwork you had to fill out to get a clearance?

MS: No, I don't remember that.

TI: Was there an interview or anything like that with anyone?

MS: No, but you were... I can't figure out what we did. All I know is I did get admitted to Hamline University in St. Paul. And when I left, I left with another person named Ruth Matsuo, and she went to St. Catherine's... she went to a school in St. Paul. But we were on this train with a lot of GIs and their wives or girlfriends. And one lady said, "I hear that the Japs are cutting off people's heads." And then one lady said, "I lost my wallet, but some Japanese person found it and returned it." So she was a little bit more, you know, friendly than the others. But they kind of, we really kind of stayed as quiet as possible because we really felt the hostility. And we arrived in St. Paul.

TI: So describe, when you're at St. Paul, how many other Japanese were there, how you were welcomed?

MS: Yes, there were a lot of students, yeah. St. Paul was a wonderful place, it really was. I didn't get along in Hamline very well, but because it was very traditional. And we had a dean that was old, but it was okay. But I had a Japanese roommate, and she was from Fresno. And we're not used to the kind of climate. I have never seen such terrible lightning, rainstorms, as I've seen in the Midwest. Terrible, scares you right out of your mind. And I remember we'd push our beds together because we'd see the flashing of the lights and the thunder and so forth, it's terrible. But it was, what was interesting is, I guess, Fort Snelling, they had the Japanese American soldiers after a while. And the International Institute there was very welcoming, and we had a lot of activities there. So we would go there and socialize, and it was, they were very, very kind about it. But the population in that St. Paul was very interesting, 'cause my sister and brother-in-law moved to St. Paul, and we lived in this neighborhood. And one day I went down to this corner store, it was run by a little Jewish man. I was the only one in the store, and we were talking away, and he said, "You Gentiles." And I'm looking around. [Laughs] It dawned on me that he was talking to me. Because back here, we would have been the ones that they were talking about. Something very complimentary about, "you Gentiles." But it was that kind of a community, very, very caring, very loving. And Amy and my brother-in-law kept up with their friends for life there. And it really was an interesting place.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Now, did you ever come across Japanese that were living in, sort of, Minneapolis/St. Paul before the war? That there were longtime...

MS: No, I didn't.

TI: So it was pretty much a resettlement community.

MS: Yes, yes. Yeah, it was. Hamline was, I didn't do well. And so I didn't... I wasn't a good student to begin with, and so I didn't do very well. And so I didn't go back after my first year, but I did have to go to work. And I went to the recreation department there, and I was hired. And I was told later that that was very rare, that I was probably one of the first to be hired to a municipality in the recreation department. And very kind to me, and I had a good time working in the community.

TI: And what was your role?

MS: I was a playground leader, and it was fun. I had such a good time there. But it was not the kind of things that I was used to. You know, like in the wintertime, I have to go out and sprinkle the water for a skating rink and carrying bats and balls and going on the streetcars. And you know, we've always drove cars, but they had... it was really kind of an interesting place. And I'd go down to a meeting with the, we'd have these meetings, the staff meetings, and I'm listening to all this. And the people were speaking up and saying things, and that was a new experience for me. But I had a very good time there, and I had a good time with the kids. And in fact, one day, a man came over and said, "I came over to see what was going on over here. Our kids are here all the time, and I wanted to know what was going on." So you had a group of kids that were really very nice, and I really had a good time. But I left St. Paul because I needed to come back. My parents were not well, and I came back to the Yakima valley.

TI: Okay, so this is after the war.

MS: Yes. I worked for St. Paul for about four years.

TI: It sounds like a pretty wonderful time.

MS: It was. It was very neat.

TI: Did you ever get a reaction, positive or negative, about you being Japanese?

MS: One day, when I first got there, I was walking down the street, and it was cold and there was ice on the sidewalk, and I almost fell. So I saw a telephone pole and I put my arms around it to catch my bearing. And across the street, there's a soldier saying, "Hey lady, are you that hard up?" [Laughs] And I turned around and looked at him, and he didn't look like an American. And I finally said, "What are you, anyway?" And he said, I think he was an Indian soldier. But it was funny to, these kind of funny little things that happened. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, that's interesting.

MS: It was very difficult living. The weather was all, in the summertime, it's very hot, lots of mosquitoes. And in the wintertime it's so cold, and the fall, the lightning and the thunders and so forth. So I was kind of glad to come back to be with my parents in Wapato.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: When you returned to Wapato, how had it changed in the course of the year, or of the war?

MS: Well, there were a lot less Japanese, for one thing. And you know, my parents didn't have any ways of earning a living, and they had very little money. So they had to go on welfare, and I think a lot of other parents did that, too, and it was embarrassing for them to get social security. Not social security, because didn't have it at that time. But to get aid, and they really did manage, but it was hard.

TI: Now, why was it hard? Why couldn't they return to farming? What was different?

MS: Well, you couldn't. My parents were getting old, and they, it does cost to be able to farm again, seeds and equipment and so forth, it's too much. And people didn't come back to the valley to farm. Some of them, they had kids and so forth. And we, the people that are in the valley now, like the Inabas, they're very good friends of ours, but they had the family to be able to come back and do those things. And they came, and right away, after you came back to the valley, it was not hospitable. The people were very anti-Japanese, and you're not welcome, so it was very difficult. I know that Kara and Tak had a hard time in the beginning, to come back. And I think that was the story all over, that kind of acceptance and people finding it very difficult to pick up. And if they had property, they could do that, but if you didn't, it was very difficult to do that. And very few did come back to the valley. So it was a tragic kind of thing that went on.

TI: And when you say "few," we talked about it earlier, but there were thirteen hundred before the war. What's your guesstimate in terms of how many were there after the war?

MS: I don't think it's more than three or four hundred, or five hundred.

TI: So just really a dramatic...

MS: Absolutely. A lot of our valley folks went to Idaho, Oregon, Nyssa, Oregon, and Caldwell, is that what you call it? So they were there. But they were big families to begin with, so families moved, and there's quite a contingency of former valley people.

TI: Now, did you notice any, just in terms of how, say, white people treated Japanese, a difference between St. Paul and Wapato?

MS: Absolutely.

TI: So talk about that.

MS: In the city, you didn't see that much, because I did, I needed to work, and I was hired by the St. Elizabeth Hospital in Yakima, and I went to work with their library. And I think in the city, these people were businesspeople, so they're not going to be ornery. And by the time we went back, I went back to be with my family, it was more acceptance. But I think, like in lower valley, they're not as educated, and I feel that they probably were feeling that the Japanese were coming back and taking back some of the business that they'd been able to take over and so forth. So I think there was a feeling that it was, they didn't want that threat. And I think that's human being, isn't it? Isn't that the way human beings behave? Whether it was that time or now, when they feel that somebody's coming back and infringing, there was a sense of fear. And I think we all behaved that way, unfortunately.

TI: Yeah, it's almost counterintuitive in some ways. Because here, the Japanese and Japanese Americans were neighbors and friends and had this long history, and yet it sounds like you were treated much better in St. Paul, which didn't have that history.

MS: That's true.

TI: And you were treated much better. It's ironic in some ways.

MS: Yes. And the few people that stood up for us in the valley are the ones that their neighbors were down on them, too. Like Mrs. Boyd, who was a hardware lady and stood up for us, Mr. McDonald and so forth, and I think they were people that had suffered some of the prejudice. And you appreciate people that are standup people, and you find that every day. I think it was a human nature that continues on regardless.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: Okay, so we have you in Yakima working at the St. Elizabeth. Then what happened? What was next?

MS: Well, my parents died, and so I decided I really wanted to get out and get back to recreation by this time. And I was hired at Great Falls, Montana. That was an experience, too, because Great Falls is out in the prairie, it's the wheat country. And they were very accepting of me. And they'd say, "How do you like the west?" And I said, "I'm from the west." "Oh, no, that's the coast." [Laughs] And Great Falls is a very interesting place because it's the river going through there. And there used to be a great big Anaconda plant there, Anaconda. And they had a great big tall stack, and they called it... they called it another name, but this community across from Great Falls. And I got to know a couple of the people that, the families had gathered there, and apparently, this little community that lived across the river were former immigrants, and they worked in the Anaconda factory. And she said, "What we used to do is every morning we would go out to see if there's smoke coming out of the stack," because that meant that there's work. Otherwise you were not working. And I found that kind of interesting. But St. Paul, I mean, Great Falls was interesting. Oh, gosh, I had a... the director was very much into square dancing, and I would have to go five nights a week to the square dance classes, and then I would do recreation in some of the schools during daytime. And that was my life. And I met a few people there. And in the summertime I ran the playgrounds and that program.

And I remember going one summer after we had the playgrounds, that we went to Glacier National Park with our staff. It was an interesting experience. But Montana was a beautiful place. I have never seen such gorgeous flowers in the springtime. And if you've never been to Glacier Park, that park and their lodgings, this huge, huge lodge. And they would have, I think, delphiniums growing about eight feet tall that would line it going up to the lodge. And the Glacier National Park, that lodge is huge. And we stayed there, we thought we were going to camp out, that was crazy. They put us on the fifth floor, and when we got inside, there was a big roll of rope. We said, "What's that?" Said, "Oh, that's your fire escape." [Laughs] But it was a great, wonderful park. And if you ever have a chance, you should go there. And they have a Going-to-the-Sun Highway that is absolutely magnificent. But I found Montana people very nice, and they were really cordial. And you know, you work there.

Oh, gosh, I drove this old pickup, and I'm going to the garage and get it serviced. And one day I was having trouble, so I went in. But when I came out, I heard this clanking in the truck, and I thought, "My god." I went back in, and the guys had tricked me. They put some gravel in the hubcap. [Laughs] And when I came back they laughed and laughed because they'd pulled a trick on me.

TI: Oh, interesting.

MS: But Great Falls was Great Falls.

TI: And how long were you in Great Falls?

MS: Two years. That's enough.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: And then where'd you go?

MS: I was hired by the Larson Air Force Base in Moses Lake, and I went there as Service Club Director. And that was quite an experience, because Moses Lake is out in the middle of nowhere. But it was very interesting. They housed me at the base, and I had a room with the women officers. But what was fascinating is Seattle used to test their planes. And we'd go down to the, where the lines were, where the airplanes would come in. And I've seen several of the airplanes that were being tested from Boeing coming in, and I always found it so strange to see these planes coming in, these very expensive planes, and see these parachutes and stop 'em. But I found there are several things about Larson that was interesting. They really wanted us to get involved with the community, and so I got to know a chamber person very well.

TI: And was this primarily, the people worked for the military?

MS: Military, yeah. Air Force. And I worked with the non-military. I mean, not an officer level, airmen. I had a rickety old service club, but anyway, it was kind of interesting. And one time, Mr. Bixler from the chamber wanted us to really get involved with the community. And in fact, the general who had been there before I came, they had had a big event and they helped build a park, the general did. So we decided to have a Sunday, and asked the churches to have the airmen come in.


MS: We decided to have this Sunday where the churches would bring food, and we'd have a day with the airmen. Well, what was interesting about Moses Lake was there's this river that would run through the town that had a bridge, and you had to cross the bridge to be able to go. That bridge was right down on the water, and you had to cross that before you'd get to the park that they were going to have this party. So I got a call, "Say, hey, Marjorie, they closed that bridge today." "Oh my god." This is about ten o'clock and the picnic was supposed to start at twelve, after church. Oh gosh, I got Mr. Bixler, and we finally got them to open up that bridge so we could get across. But it was a marvelous day, where the airmen and the families came, and they played games and they ate, and everybody was having a good time. But you run into these kind of things all the time.

The other thing that happened to me at Larson was just before Christmas, they usually had a run of taking airmen on leave, because these pilots have to fly at least four hours a month to keep their pilot active, their pilot license active. So they loaded this plane, and they went from Larson to, down into Texas across to, I think, North Carolina or something. And as they started off, they, as they were banking, the plane hit this, the wing hit the side, the cement, and crashed. And here I was, oh, it was an awful, awful experience of having over a hundred airmen killed. And what was so bad was the airman that used to help me from his office was killed at that time, too. So it was a very sad, sad time.

TI: Well, not only the airmen, their families...

MS: They were all going on their furlough.

TI: The whole community, yeah.

MS: Oh, it was such a tragic... and our Service Club Directory became the place they had the coffins and so forth. So it was a very sad time.

TI: Wow.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: And now long were you in Moses Lake?

MS: Oh, I was there about a year and a half. Oh, gosh. It was a rough place to be because you're in the middle of nowhere and the airmen really wanted to get out and do things. But the other thing that happened to me is I finally got enough money that we could refurbish our Service Club. And one day I went in and we were gonna have a dance, and everything was taken out of my service club. I went over and they said, "Well, we have these cadets that come in in the summertime, and the colonel or general who was in charge had come over and taken my, all my furniture and made it, decorated their room for the cadets. And I'm saying this to Colonel Robinson, "I have a dance coming this weekend." "But Margie..." I said, "Who's got the signature?" and all this stuff. He says, "Well, you're responsible for it," and I said, "Fine. I'm taking it back." I sent the airmen over, and brought all the stuff back, ooh, it hit the fan. Because the general had called the newspapers about this, for his cadets, and found it was it was in shambles and he wanted me fired. [Laughs] So anyway, I just said it really was a hard job, because to get entertainment there to Moses Lake, I had a group of Japanese people coming from Spokane one time, and they put on a big program and so forth. But to keep them entertained and having activities to do, by that time I had enough, and I went home to Yakima and stayed with Kara and Tak. And then from there I went to Santa Rosa.

TI: Which was a pretty dramatic shift for you to go to California from Midwest, West, sort of, Eastern Washington.

MS: Yeah.

TI: So why Santa Rosa?

MS: Because there was a job opening, recreation. I went there.

TI: Okay.

MS: Santa Rosa was kind of interesting. It was a routine kind of place.

TI: And so Marjorie, I want to step through this, because I want to get to some of your other activities. So Santa Rosa and then...

MS: And I went to Anaheim, yes. That was the first, I was the first woman supervisor for them.

TI: And how long was your recreation career?

MS: From Great Falls to Santa Rosa to Anaheim, I was at Anaheim about seven years. It was interesting because I got active with a region. I put out a newsletter for my little region, and then they decided that they wanted me to edit the house organ, the California Parks and Recreation house organ. But I was at the state meeting when they were changing from... there used to be a Parks, California Parks association, California Recreation Department. They decided to merge at that point. And at that meeting they said, "Well, this is California Recreation and Parks." Somebody said, "We can't call it that because that spells 'CRAP.'" [Laughs] So I edited their house organ for two years.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: Okay. So, but it sounds like around twenty years or so, you were in this...

MS: Federation.

TI: But then you make a shift from that, you go...

MS: As a Director of Volunteers.

TI: And so why, why the shift?

MS: You know, I just got kind of tired of recreation. It didn't seem to have activities and so forth. I did some interesting things there, too, but I became a Director of Volunteers, and then I went to work for Resthaven Psychiatric Hospital and Mental Health Center. And that was the first center west of the Mississippi River that was designated by the government as a mental health center. That was fascinating, because you used all kinds of modalities to treat patients. And we had a board, they did integrate and bring more Asians into the staff. Not only the staff, but into the board. But what was fascinating at Resthaven is that the universities and colleges were just beginning to understand that they needed different kind of training for their social work field, to understand like the Asians and the Latinos and so forth. So we had students, master's students from UCLA that came. And it was absolutely a fascinating place, because the modality was changing. They had music and dance and blah, blah, blah. And it was great. But what happened was some of the... I don't know if you've heard of the name Mo Nishida, and... he, they began to demand more different kinds of programming and so forth, and the quality just went down. So that's when I changed. And I was Director of Volunteers there at Resthaven Psychiatric Hospital, then I went to Kaiser.

TI: And again, same role? Director of Volunteers?

MS: Oh, fascinating, because Kaiser had not had directors of volunteers much. And so when I went there, there was a strike going on, and they gave me an office and left. [Laughs] But it was okay, because I really kind of knew what I was doing and it was fascinating. I was on their, the medical team, you know, their staff of the hospital from the head of the hospital. I'd go in and talk to him every so often, and they were really kind of... it was a kind of, place.

TI: But what strikes me when I look at your career is it's a career, actually, working with people a lot.

MS: And I got to do program planning. I got very good at that, yeah. In fact, I was there when my friend, who was a pediatrics nurse, enlarged the nursery at Bellflower and the one that they, the lady who had the eight babies, they were able to put them in that nursery.

TI: Oh, interesting.

MS: Yeah. It was a beautiful nursery.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: Okay, so programs, working with people... I want to shift gears a little bit, because you've been involved with, in particular, with Manzanar and Heart Mountain, efforts to preserve these camps.

MS: Yeah, but I've been more involved in the community.

TI: Okay, and so let's talk about that first.

MS: First of all, my friend and I decided -- I belonged to a group called Director of Volunteer Services, Director of Volunteers, the organization. And this is the meeting of directors of volunteers in agencies. Well, we thought that, as we listened, that we're finding that the people who usually volunteered were now going to work, and therefore getting the kind of volunteers we used to have were no longer in existence. So my friend and I, Ellen Lindsley and I, decided we're going to start a group called Connect L.A. 1996, we got a core group of folks that, people who were management level, and we decided to start Connect L.A. And we have quarterly meetings, we don't have any membership as far as such, but we do issues of importance to the community. And we've been doing this since 1996. We're still doing it. And we've done things on the... which made me then go to the, when the social service people needed to change, Clinton signed a law about social services, and they had meetings all over the state and all over the county. And I went to a lot of those to listen to how they're going to... my conclusion was, if you're trying to get the leaders or staffpeople to do a change, I don't know if it's ever going to change, but they did some changing. And I went to listen to a lot of them. And I know we talked one time, they were saying, "Well, if a client goes in and tries to get a job and they aren't able to, they should do some volunteer work. And they said, oh, if they would work for a day or two, I said, "Oh, no, no. You're never going to get any experience that way." So I said, "You really get at least a week or two." So they didn't put that in. But it was fascinating to go around to see the changes that needed to meet.

Then the other thing I have done was the Safe Schools. The Belmont High School, they decided that the criminal justice department in Washington, D.C. had some huge grants to encourage the location areas around schools or programs in schools, to encourage the students to come and get better services. So they had an advisory committee, and I served on that advisory committee for four years, yeah. And it was very interesting because it was made up of people that were giving services to the committee, and I was the outside person. It was fascinating. And they gave me an appreciation certificate. And then the other committee that I was on was the... Anges Plaza is a residential for elderly people, low income. And they had an advisory council, and I was on that about five years. Oh, I stay on things long time.

TI: Good.

MS: And I think one thing that I did there -- and I'm proud that we did -- is that we as a committee wanted to talk to the residents more. Because there was kind of a feeling that they were treated like guests, but they were residents. And so we did have these small groups of the, like the, there's a lot of Koreans and lot of Filipinos and Chinese and other groups. So we broke down and really had a session about what they saw as their role and how to, so forth, and we made recommendations out of that and they used that as a base for some of the changes that they made. So I guess sometimes when you're on long enough, you make some changes.

TI: That's excellent.

MS: And then the other thing is, when I was with Dovia, we, I was president of Dovia at one time. But the court referrals, when you get a ticket, there were some people that worked in that department, probation department and so we put together a program using the volunteer centers. How somebody who gets a ticket, they could be referred to one of these volunteer centers. But we put a whole program together, and that has gone up for years, because it became a system where the judge could say to the person that's getting a ticket that if they couldn't pay for it, they should go to the center to do their volunteering.

TI: So this is like community service.

MS: Yes.

TI: When they say twenty hours of community service...

MS: Yes, yes.

TI: ...this is where that goes. Okay.

MS: And it was really fascinating, because we got a lot, we had a judge that was very, very interesting. He got his, some of the judges to come, and we had a big meeting. But when you think... we were talking about the county. So I worked on that one, too.

TI: Okay, wow. So you've been very busy.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

MS: And then, but the one that I really am proud about is that I felt that teenagers needed to do something. They were always talking about the teenagers. So I worked one year on Teens Make a Difference Day. There is a national program by the USA Magazine that has had a program on the third Friday in October, third Saturday in October, they call it the Community Service Day, and it's a national program. And so I wrote this program and sold it, and I have a copy of it. But anyway, to get kids to do a project, and especially those with youth groups. And so, my god, we worked very, very hard and got about six organizations to back it. We had over three thousand kids doing a project on that day. It was just wonderful because the kind of things that the kids did, just amazing. I just loved the group that decided that they would bake some goodies for animals that are in the animal shelter and took it there. Others decided they needed to clean up their areas because we want it to look good for the community. Another group of teenagers decided they would cook a meal for the women at this women's shelter because they don't have evening meals. They baked chicken and made salads and so forth, and took it down, and sat and ate with them. And others, another group decided to plant trees, another group cleaned up an area in a park that had been screened off because there were so many weeds and so forth, and they cleaned the whole thing up.

TI: That's amazing. So you've been really able to really understand and tap into this incredible resource. I mean, when you think about all the...

MS: We got an honorable mention that first year from when the USA Magazine selected all over the country. And we don't do things, we don't continue to do things. And so the Los Angeles County Human Relations took it over the next year, and they got a national award. They were given ten thousand dollars for it.

TI: Excellent.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

TI: So I'm glad we covered these things. We're actually winding down because of the amount of time we have for our interview. And so I wanted to just sort of end by touching upon some of your involvement and observations of camp preservation. 'Cause I know you were good friends with Sue Embrey, and were able to be involved with the efforts to help preserve Manzanar, as well as involved with the Heart Mountain. So I just wanted to touch upon those in terms of your involvement, maybe starting with either one.

MS: Heart Mountain.

TI: Okay, let's talk about Heart Mountain.

MS: Heart Mountain, we decided to have a group, and it was really fascinating because I felt that we did a lot of work. In fact, it was southern California people that really pushed buying that land to begin with. And when I look back to see the kind of people we had, like Diane Funada who did the website for them, then she died and then people like Frank Hirahara who laid out a complete, kind of, security concerns, Kay Inaba who felt that there were ways we could do an exhibit. He was an industrial psychologist. And David got, oh, I used to fight with David a lot.

TI: So you're talking about David Reetz, who's the executive director of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation.

MS: Yeah, he called me one day and said if I didn't have a fax machine or e-mail, I said, "I'm not going to go out and buy one just for..." and so he told me that he felt that they needed to get somebody else, which was fine. I didn't care. And so we tried to meet, but nobody wanted to take over the leadership of that. But we worked about four or five years on that. And Bacon Sakatani was working a different way. He worked the Heart Mountain Reunion group, and he had lots to say from that. But I'm sort of back with them again because of the, Alan Kumamoto is determined, and so is Carolyn, that content of the exhibit goes into it. So I think that's okay.

And I was with the Manzanar Committee for a long while after Sue died... well, while Sue was... no, I wasn't participating when Sue was there, but after she died, I continued to work with it


TI: We're talking about the Manzanar Committee?

MS: Manzanar Committee. And not only that, to get them to think in terms of more broader of where they're going, I said, "What are we going to do?" As far as Sue was concerned, what she sought to do is already finished, and to encourage how we could be able to interact with other groups, and I think we really need to reach out. [Interruption] Remember that group about, where I saw you, at the Michi Weglyn's group? And that lady came up to me afterwards and wanted to be in contact with me. And I said to the Manzanar people, "Why can't we meet with people like that to talk about what is going on now and how it has similarities?"


TI: So what I'm hearing is maybe in the case of the Manzanar Committee, you'd like to see them broaden their reach, their efforts.

MS: Yes.

TI: And in terms of the Heart Mountain, it seems like connecting the southern California, sort of, especially the people who were at Heart Mountain during the war, getting them more connected would be good steps.

MS: Yes. I really think that it could be absolutely an amazing place if we had this history. I just think this whole area of the farming, for them to see this and to be able to look at it, and for them to finish the canal, I think we have got to do that. Because it's... for that community to see, because too often people forget that, forget what has been there before. And I think that they've worked, people have worked too hard, the legacy has to remain. And I'm proud of what the Asians and the Japanese have done. And when you think of, under the conditions, having come from a farm, I know the work that had gone into it. And just like Tom, he was in high school, and he was one of the few people that knew, from the camp, to run a tractor.

TI: Good, okay.

MS: So the worldview as far as I'm concerned is we've got to reach out. That's why I go to class on Mondays, current events. I've been going for about ten years. [Laughs]

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

TI: Okay. So, I've finished my questions in terms of the...

MS: Okay, I'm finished. [Laughs]

TI: I mean, so I wanted to, like, if there's anything else you wanted to comment on.

MS: No, but I really feel that the Asians must speak up, and to participate, for instance, in government. I remember going to hear that wonderful symposium that came here about the resisters, and we heard all these wonderful people talking, and this group of people just sat there. And I finally got up and said, "By the way, I think we all owe, as citizens, to make sure that we contact our government and so forth." And I just feel that we really have the, are able to speak up. And I said, "Yes, but I can just hear you folks saying, 'Oh, well, I don't know enough, and I don't know how to do it.'" And I said, "That's bullshit." I just said that. And I said, "It's time that we really took some responsibility with the background that we had, what we know, that we really need to participate in our government." As I've said, I get into trouble.

TI: I think that's an excellent way to end this interview. I think that captures who you are so well. So Marjorie, thank you so much for doing this.

MS: Thank you.

TI: I really appreciate it.

MS: It's been fun. Thank you.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.