Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Marion Michiko Bernardo Interview
Narrator: Marion Michiko Bernardo
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda, Barbara Takei
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: April 6, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-bmarion-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so the way we start this is just talking about where we are and the date and things, so today is Wednesday, April 6, 2011. We're in San Francisco at the Hotel Kabuki.

MB: You're gonna say that?

TI: Yeah, I'm saying it right now, and so this is all being recorded. My name is Tom Ikeda. I'll be the primary interviewer. The secondary interviewer is Barbara Takei, and on camera is Dana Hoshide. And here we're with Marion, and so Marion, I'm just gonna start from the beginning and ask you, can you tell me when you were born?

MB: July 25, 1930.

TI: And so that makes you how, eighty years old?

MB: Eighty, yeah.

TI: Yeah, eighty years old. And where were you born?

MB: In Walnut Grove.

TI: And do you recall where you were born in terms of, was it your house or was there a medical facility?

MB: No. I don't know. Probably at home, certainly not in a hospital. And there were midwives, so I think I was probably delivered by a midwife, but my mother had five children, so she was familiar with the process, I suppose.

TI: And in birth order, what number were you? You said five children.

MB: I'm the youngest.

TI: Okay, so already there are four siblings and then you.

MB: There's a big gap between my next brother and myself. There was another brother who died quite young, maybe an early school age, and he had something very common that people don't die of. I can't remember.

BT: Pleurisy?

MB: Huh?

BT: Pleurisy?

MB: I think it was pleurisy, yeah.

TI: Yeah, but I just realized, before we get to your siblings we, I wanted a few more questions about you. What was the name given to you at birth?

MB: My birth certificate reads Marion Michiko Yoshiwara. My father tried to assimilate and use American names. [Laughs]

TI: And do you know where Marion came from, how he chose that name?

MB: I didn't hear you.

TI: Do you know how he chose the name Marion?

MB: No, I don't know.

TI: So you mentioned your father. Can you tell me your father's name and, and where he was from?

MB: I was gonna go back to my name, but --

TI: Okay, go ahead.

MB: Okay, when I was in camp the teacher said, I guess this is about seventh grade, "Marion, that's a boy's name." And I was really embarrassed in front of the class. He had no sympathy or... but that we should go the American way. Yeah, certainly critical about my parents naming me Marion, but of course, they were all try to Americanize, so had the name on the birth certificate as such.

TI: When you were growing up, what did people call you? Did they call you Marion or your middle name, Michiko?

MB: I think they called me Michi, is short for Michiko.

TI: And then, but in camp did they call you Marion then?

MB: Yeah.

TI: Okay, and that's when he made that comment. I see.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Okay, so let's go to your father now, so tell me, first your father's name and then where, where he was from.

MB: Shigeru Yoshiwara, and he was from, I want to say Fukushima, but it was in the country of, countryside. Fukuoka.

TI: So Fukuoka.

MB: See, in Japan the first child, male child especially, inherits the property and thereafter they're on their own, and so my father never felt that he was gonna get hold, get any part of the farm, and so he along with many Japanese got on the ship and left for the unknown.

TI: And do you know about how old he was when he came on the ship? About how old was he when he came on the ship?

MB: Oh, must've been about eighteen, nineteen. Yeah. Didn't speak English and somehow managed to stay in a rooming house in San Francisco and then got a job, I guess, hoeing or something in the country there. Probably came looking for, you know, but he did say that on the streetcar he was hit by a white kid and the streetcar conductor just turned around and looked the other way and didn't try to stop the other kid from continuing the onslaught.

TI: And when he tells that story, was he hit just because he was Japanese?

MB: Was he...

TI: Why did the white boy hit your father?

MB: I guess so, (because he was Japanese). There were too many coming from abroad and, you know, maybe taking away jobs or whatever.

TI: So how did your father meet your mother?

MB: They knew each other in Japan. I think they're distant, they were distantly related. I'm sure my mother's family was against it. She came from a reasonably comfortable life. Her, they were like, I don't know, fifteen generations of doctors, doctors who made home visits on the horse and so forth. And I remember going there when I was five, going out to the ocean clam digging, and we got clams and ate the clams, washed the shells, and my uncle used the shells to put burn medicine. That was the pill box.

TI: And this was in Japan that happened?

MB: Right. Back in the '30s.

TI: Interesting. And so did your father send for your mother and she came to San Francisco? Is that how that worked?

MB: Right.

TI: Okay. And you said that your mother's family wasn't excited about that.

MB: No, knew that it would be difficult life, hardship, hard work.

TI: And what was your mother's name?

MB: Ei, E-I. I can't remember her maiden name.

TI: That's okay. And kind of the same, Fukuoka, same area?

MB: Yeah.

TI: While we're talking about your parents, why don't you tell me a little bit about them? First your father, what kind of man was he? What was his personality?

MB: Well, he was a pretty strict father, using his hand for punishment was not, it was common.

TI: And so that was like a little spank or something, something like that?

MB: Yeah.

TI: So he was strict, yeah?

MB: Very strict, and I guess that's how they all disciplined kids, using manual discipline.

TI: And how about your mother? How would you describe your mother's personality?

MB: Quiet and well-liked, very ladylike and people respected her. She was not a gossiper or... and stuck to her home. In the summertime the women would go out to the Matsuokas', sitting under that huge pine tree 'cause it was cool, sit on the lawn, but she was always sewing away, very industrious. And I mean, had to support, he wasn't getting very, I don't know how much he was getting at the Japanese Association, but not much, so she had to help with the support and she sewed for other people, maybe like fifteen, twenty cents for a dress or whatever. And she also sewed shirts for these Filipino laborers 'cause they had no female or didn't, they hadn't come, the females hadn't come over yet from the Philippines and they were just single men. It was just sad for them.

TI: And so this was all in Walnut Grove?

MB: Uh-huh.

TI: And when did your parents go to Walnut Grove? I mean, so they're, earlier you talked about your father being in San Francisco.

MB: Yeah.

TI: How did he get to Walnut Grove?

MB: I'm not sure, but the census of nineteen, was it '20, showed he was there, so it must've been earlier than that with census every ten years.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: Earlier we had just started talking about your siblings, so you were the youngest of five. Can you tell me your other siblings were, in birth order? Like who was oldest?

MB: There were five male children above me, and one died of pleurisy and he was, I think, maybe early school age, quite young. And we did have a doctor, Doctor Yamao, but I don't know where he went to medical school and those things were not discovered yet, how to treat pleurisy, and you never hear about them now. Never hear anyone ever having pleurisy.

TI: And what, what was his name?

MB: The doctor?

TI: No, the, your brother who died.

MB: Goro, meaning he was the fifth child. (Goro died as a youngster in early school years).

TI: Okay, and then how about your other brothers? The oldest, who was the oldest?

MB: Josaku, J-O-S-A-K-U, and everybody just called him Joe. And then Andrew, we called him Andy, and Grove, I don't if it's from Walnut Grove or, but, and Shiro was fourth, and Goro. And they're the only two with American names. The others, Grove, Andy, and Joe had Western names.

TI: Alright, and how much older, like Joe, how much older was he than you?

MB: Thirteen years older than me.

TI: Okay, so quite a bit of, of age...

MB: Yeah.

TI: And then, and so you had essentially four older brothers, and then a gap and then you, so how, how did your brothers and how did the family treat you, being the youngest and being a girl?

MB: They were very good. I suppose maybe my brother just above me, the two brothers above me might've been, might've resented it since I was getting all the attention, first female child. [Laughs] Yeah.

TI: And so what would be an example of special attention that you got?

MB: Oh, of course I was never disciplined manually, but of course, I was much younger. They were a few years older than I was, but the discipline was pretty tough on them.

TI: So like your father would maybe hit them to discipline them, but he would never do that with you, for instance?

MB: No, (I remember being spanked). So I got away with murder is what.

TI: [Laughs] That's kind of like, similar to my family. There're four older, there're four boys and then my sister is the youngest, and so yeah, we always thought she was a little on the spoiled side. I was just curious, it sounded like a similar situation. So growing up, when, as you're growing up, you're younger, did you have certain chores or things that you were supposed to do when you were growing up?

MB: Not really, but when my brother started college and (Mom) helped financially by going to the farms and raking and weeding and so forth, and she'd never... and she had to financially, even though tuition must've been really nominal 'cause when I went it was thirty-five dollars a semester, but they were much older than, yeah. And so she went out to work on the farm and I remember I cooked the rice and she was so grateful. She was surprised that I knew how to do it 'cause I about burned the pot, but the fact that I would even think to do that, I know she was telling the neighbors and bragging about me.

TI: Well, so did your mother make an effort to teach you how to cook, like the --

MB: Not really. I just kind of sat around and watched her.

TI: And how about your brothers? Did they have, like, jobs or chores that they did when they were growing up?

MB: They did, and my father was a disciplinarian, would just really shout at them and it was always a big fight between the brothers and my father, but that seemed to be fairly common with other families. (Narr. note: My brothers worked on farms during vacations and saved for college. They wanted to buy shoes or something related to sports but they were allowed to spend money earned. They were forced to bank earnings from farm work for college.)

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: You mentioned your father worked at the Japan Association, the Japanese Association. Describe what his job was and what he did there.

MB: I'm really not sure, but they would ask questions, social questions or maybe legal questions, and he would try to answer them. (Community work.) And then for compensation they would bring, at New Year's time they would bring sake or rice, sack of rice or sugar, kind of for payment, so we had rice all year round, soy sauce all year round, and when we went to camp we had unopened barrels of soy sauce and they were still good, very strong (when we returned to Walnut Grove). The water had evaporated. That left the other parts, and nobody had shoyu, they were all from Midwest, made out of, is it made out of soybean or something like that?

TI: And so it sounds like, so part of his pay was just these, these donations or these goods that people would bring.

MB: Yeah, material compensation.

TI: And when you're running the, the association, who's his boss? I mean, who does he report to? I'm trying to think what, how that works. Is there like a home office someplace that he talks with?

MB: The home office, well, there wasn't, they knew each other in all these communities, but it wasn't like an elected office. (He was the leader). And he had an office adjoining the big auditorium -- to us it was pretty big -- and so I remember when there was, were Japanese movies and he would have my brothers clean up the place for whatever, fifty cents or some, and they were underpaid and they're not too happy. [Laughs] But at least they had some spending money.

TI: So describe one of those events. You mentioned a Japanese movie in the auditorium and your brothers doing this, can you, can you just describe to me what, like a typical Japanese movie? I mean, were these the type that were silent and someone would, would narrate, or can you just describe that?

MB: I didn't hear the first part.

TI: Well, so describing Japanese movies, I've heard some places where back then they were silent movies and they had someone...

MB: Oh, speak, speaking, yeah.

TI: Yeah, can you just describe what, how this worked?

MB: The ones I remember all had speaking parts, (the distributer narrated the story). They're not silent movies. And I forget, Japanese movies start from, is it the, when they're babies, whereas American movies start life later, I mean the movies. It's slight difference, it seems to me. I can't remember now 'cause I don't see Japanese movies.

TI: Okay. But maybe describe, how many people watched one of these movies?

MB: How many people would go, attend the movies? I don't know. I mean, at the time it seemed like a huge auditorium, but I'm sure it was not. I don't know if it would hold a hundred or... anyway, it was burned while we were gone and there was no information given as to the investigation. I guess it was not insured and there was never any monetary contribution from the insurance company. We didn't, there was no insurance on it.

TI: So that big auditorium, during the war, was burned down. Did anyone have suspicions on how that was burn downed or why it was burned down?

MB: I don't think there was much of an investigation. They all, just the whites were left there and they, I guess, didn't care. It didn't concern them. (Narr. note: The hall could have been inhabited by hoboes, and again, the fire could have been set intentionally. The Japanese residents were in camps.)

TI: Going back to that auditorium, though, like a Japanese movie, did they have, like refreshments? Like today you go to a movie, they have popcorn. For the Japanese movies did they have any kind of food or anything like that?

MB: Have any food?

TI: Yeah, during the movie.

MB: That they served?

TI: Yeah, that you can buy, like little refreshments?

MB: Oh, yeah. I think there were. Well, now that I think about it, I think we probably purchased food before (the show) someplace else and brought them to the movie theater. I mean, we ate the Chinese plums, preserved plums and ginger, mostly Chinese things, and they had to be purchased outside. And I don't think there were any popcorn place, but I know that it was pretty dirty. Things, paper, wrapping and things were left on the floor, and my brothers would sweep them up. (They were paid a small sum for sweeping).

TI: Okay, good. Now, tell me where in Walnut Grove you lived. I mean, when I, I've been there before so I kind of know the, the layout of Walnut Grove, so where did you live?

MB: Well, (where) we lived, you go under the railroad track and just, it's not even a block away, about half a block maybe (from the movie house).

TI: So this is in the Back Town?

MB: Back Town, yeah.

TI: Back Town sort of by the, what, Buddhist church, around there?

MB: Behind our house, and then the Methodist church was on the other side of the railroad track.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Now, what are some childhood memories that you have, just growing up in that area? Do you have any stories that you can remember?

MB: Not too much. I mean, I went to camp when I was about twelve and then stayed there for three and a half years, and then I was in a boarding school for three years, I returned home for the summer (and transferred to Courtland High School for a year before enrolling at UC Berkeley). Went to the boarding school in New York and then came back for a year. (Narr. note: I went to Japanese school which was about a half block behind our house five days a week after our regular school. The children who lived in the country went on Saturday.)

TI: But before then, I mean just like, like any games? Do you remember any games that you played as, just growing up as a kid?

MB: Oh, right. We played ball. It's, we threw over the Japanese school roof. I forgot what it was called, but anyway, that was a common game, and then you'd catch it and try to go to the other side and tag the other kids.

TI: [Laughs] So describe it, so you have the Japanese school, there was a ball, and one person would throw it over the roof?

MB: Yeah, there're two teams and it was tennis ball or something like, and those buildings are very low, so it was easy to throw over, and we'd wait and see if they caught it or running to catch us.

TI: So the ball would go over, someone would catch it, then they would run around?

MB: Right.

TI: Then they would throw it at someone, or what would they do with the ball?

MB: They'd tag us.

TI: They'd tag, okay. But only if they caught it, I guess.

MB: Yeah.

TI: Okay.

BT: So there was a big baseball diamond in the back of the Buddhist church, right?

MB: Yeah.

BT: And your brothers used to play baseball. Did you used to go watch the games?

MB: Yes. We had professionals from the black teams, various parts of the country, I guess mostly around Chicago, New York, and I don't where they slept 'cause there's no place to stay. I mean, I know the Japanese people wouldn't rent out anything. Maybe they slept outdoors, I don't know. But they would play a few games, and they're real pros and not like the pros now, but they were able to do tricks that surprised us. But they couldn't get into the regular teams, pro --

BT: Now, you're talking about the Negro Leagues, right?

MB: What?

BT: Are you talking about the Negro Leagues or Nisei?

MB: Yeah. No, Negro League that just came to, to make a profit and we paid to get in to see them. But Niseis, yeah, also had a team, and they went throughout California. And my one brother, the third brother, was quite proficient at baseball, and in fact, when he was at Cal, he was a sophomore and had to leave to go to camp, and coach said, "Be sure to contact me when you return." Of course, we didn't return for three and a half years or whatever, and by that time he, he was well known in camp as being a good pitcher, but, and probably could've been a pro had he not had this interruption, and he... well, he didn't finish at Cal. He finished at SF State 'cause he had a family by then, a wife and a child, a wife he married in Japan while he was in the service.

TI: But he was good enough, a good enough baseball player that he was on the Cal baseball team?

MB: Yes, and the coach at Cal said, "Be sure to look me up when you come back."

TI: Now, which brother was this?

MB: Third.

BT: Grove?

MB: Grove.

TI: Grove, okay. And what position did he play?

MB: Position?

TI: Yeah.

MB: I think a (pitcher).

TI: Good. Did you like to go watch him play? So when they played when he was growing up, did you go watch the baseball games?

MB: Yeah, because Japanese teams from northern California would come and compete, and Walnut Grove players went to, not too far, nearby, not long enough, wasn't far away that you had to stay overnight or anything like that.

TI: Yeah, but it's interesting too, you mentioned earlier, so you had, back then they called it the old Negro Leagues, and so it must be like a barnstorming black team came to Walnut Grove and played.

MB: Something like that. (I guess the black team made some money. We paid to see them.)

TI: Do you remember how well the Japanese team played against the black team?

MB: I don't know if they played against them or whether they had two teams playing against each other.

TI: Of, like an exhibition, I see.

MB: But they were very trick oriented. They played with the balls and threw them up and did all these tricks to catch them, and they were showmen. But we had to pay to go watch them.

TI: And they just played in that back baseball field by the...

MB: Yeah, small field.

TI: How about white, white teams? Did very many white teams ever come and play?

MB: No. I don't recall.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Still, I'm getting a flavor of Walnut Grove, and when I went there and people told me about the bathhouses and that was always a, kind of a regular activity, going to the bathhouses. Did your family do that also?

MB: No, we had a bathtub. My father built the cement around this, I don't know, hundred gallon, what do you call those, barrels. I don't know, but they're thick enough and then he put cement around them, and then we heated the water in the tank on a daily basis and heated it with just wood, scrap wood and warmed up the water, and we took, all took separate baths. I mean, we were able to get rid of the dirty water and replenish, and like the Matsuokas, they had a fancy tile floor and a Japanese tub, cement tub, and it had a gasoline heating system.

TI: And yours was just scrap lumber, just whatever you could burn just to heat the water?

MB: Yeah.

TI: Did you ever go to the public bathhouse?

MB: No.

BT: Did you want to?

MB: Pardon me?

BT: Did you want to?

MB: Did I watch those?

BT: No, did you want to go to the public bath?

MB: Walk there, no.

BT: No, did you want to use that public bath or go see it?

MB: No, not really.

BT: Why?

MB: I don't know. We just, nothing was said, but we just never did.

BT: Was it that you would've had to go to Front Town to do it?

MB: Yeah.

BT: What was wrong with going to Front Town?

MB: I don't know. It was never mentioned. We just took our baths in our own homes and not every one of the homes had their baths. Like the Matsuokas' next door, we called it very, their bath was very fancy. It was a cement made tub and you washed yourselves outside and get in the tub to rinse yourself. But many didn't have any tubs, and I just, I don't know how those other people did, because they didn't go to the public bathhouses.

BT: So what did they do?

MB: I'm not sure if they just used buckets of water and bathed themselves. Like, you know our district attorney, Adachi? Now, they live in, in a more, can I say primitive type of living, it was called a garage area, converted into homes, and it wasn't, the homes weren't lawn surrounded. I don't know how they heat their water. It was pretty primitive, but I remember Adachi's aunt, she loved to bake and she submitted her recipe to Pillsbury or Betty Crocker, one of those, and she won and got a fancy stove in that, one of those garages, and that was so wonderful. Probably the nicest item in the house. (Narr. note: I want to add that Jeff Adachi's grandmother was a young widow who raised four young children by herself. A remarkable feat).

TI: That's a good story.

MB: Yeah.

BT: And Marion is talking about Jeff Adachi, who is San Francisco's Public Defender. (He is an elected official).

TI: Right, no, I realize that. Yeah. And so they were, they're an old Walnut Grove family, the Adachi family?

MB: Yeah. And, and the thing of it was the father died early and the mother had to support four kids by working and hoeing, weeding, must've been really tough. I really have to admire her. And I worked in the cannery my last year, well, during, going to Cal. And she was one of the ladies and, yeah, there was nobody young, as young as I was working -- these are all wives who were supporting their families. I was saving money for college. But she's, now I can see how remarkable a woman she was, supporting these four kids, and now he's a DA in San Francisco, which is tough, Willie Brown vs. whoever the other...

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So going back to Walnut Grove, when I was there one of the things that stood out to me was how segregated the town was. So you had a Chinese area, a Japanese area, and then a white area. Can you talk about that? I mean, how much mixing was there between the races?

MB: Hardly any except there was this woman who came into town to teach dancing lessons, and again, the classes were separate. And then she had a recital and had a party, and we played games, hide and go seek, and it was just wonderful, being together with the white kids, and it was, with kids there's no prejudice as such unless your parents have taught you this. And it, I thought what a wonderful time we had.

TI: Oh, so that's interesting, so this dancing teacher would come to Walnut Grove. She would, she would, like, have a class for whites and then a class for Japanese and then another class for Chinese?

MB: Chinese, for some reason -- well, most of them lived in Locke by then, so they weren't attending. (There was no Chinese class.) I mean, Locke is just, I don't know, half a mile, that's very close, and this was in the Brown Hotel. And he, I guess, didn't, wanted it separate so he could get separate rent. I don't know.

TI: But anyway, so she had a class for whites and a class for Japanese, but then you said the party, she brought everyone together so both --

MB: Right. I mean, she didn't seem too, I don't know if it was a financial gain for her, but she at least got us together and we just had all, such a good time is what I remember.

TI: Now, up to that point, how much contact did you have with, with other white girls?

MB: Didn't have any. We just, separate, went to separate schools and we didn't know, have any contact whatsoever.

TI: And so when you had that contact what did you think? This is now your first time being around white girls your age, what did you think?

MB: Well, just that it was wonderful, and it was over in a day.

TI: And do you recall talking to any of the white girls?

MB: Yes. They were just like any, us, any, the Japanese. I mean, kids are kids. They just don't think about other nationality, being different or, I guess it's all taught at home. I don't know what is said, but I guess they didn't want, the parents didn't want the kids to eventually get married. Why, and when we grew up the whites might be marrying the Asians or something like that. [Laughs]

TI: Interesting. So you didn't meet any whites because, you mentioned earlier, they went to one school and you went to another. So let's talk about your school a little bit. In Walnut Grove the schools were segregated, so the school you went to was all, mostly Japanese, is that --

MB: No. There were a few Chinese and a few Filipinos. We never had any blacks, as I remember. But I didn't have to go to the old school. The new school opened just as I started school, so I was fortunate. But prejudice occurs everywhere, so when Japanese and Chinese were in the school and they often had fights.

TI: And what did they fight about, when you say they often had fights?

MB: Yeah, I really didn't recall, but I remember the school was surrounded by these beets, sugar beets, and they were throwing at, beets at each other. And, like my brother's class, and the principal had really marked him down and he couldn't go to Cal. He had to go to Sacramento JC before he went to dental school. I don't know whether he was the instigator or what, but he was not college material (the principal) indicated. Sacramento (J.C.) was a Junior College then. (He was not allowed to go to (UC Berkeley). Course, they all had to leave school midway to go to camp.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Okay, so we're gonna get started again. We're talking a little bit about just the race relations in Walnut Grove. I wanted to ask, what did your parents say about white people? Did they, did they have, did they talk about...

MB: Japan, you said?

TI: No, like your parents, their views about white people. What did they think about whites?

MB: Well, you know, they're prejudiced people, but at the same time the Japanese wanted to be at the same level and kind of respect them in that sense, that they want to be economically at the same level. And many of them were (okay), like Alex Brown, the banker, and that family owned the electricity, they owned the land and we paid rent to them. I mean, he let us build our homes on their land, but we (paid ground rent of) thirteen dollars a month, (...) and we did that while we were in camp. We, I guess my father thought we might lose it if we didn't pay it, but somehow -- his salary was sixteen dollars a month. That was the highest salary in camp, sixteen, twelve, and nine.

TI: So with that money he kept the rent payments going so that he could keep the, keep the property?

MB: Property. (He also paid property tax). And it was a good thing 'cause people in the cities were renting, so it was difficult for them to find housing. The community, I think, might've pooled some money together to buy a house. As in Berkeley they had a church, (...) the congregation, bought the building and used the upstairs for families (returning from) camp, temporarily and then they'd move, but that's where I stayed when I went to college and it was very nominal (rent).

TI: Yeah, but going back to your parents, when they, when they talked about Alex Brown, how did they talk about him? Was he someone that they admired, they thought he was a good person? I mean, what, what did you, how would you describe that?

MB: I really didn't know as a child, but then, I don't know who, if it was his brother who did the, controlled the utilities, but it wasn't really bad feeling. But he owned the land, never sold the land until the Japanese got together back in the '60s after camp and managed to buy it, but before that we didn't have to pay for water. Of course, the streets were a mess. There were all these potholes and they never repaired that. Let's see...

TI: Well, let me ask another question. I'm curious, how did your parents feel about the Chinese, 'cause there were lots of Chinese in that area? What did they think about --

MB: They weren't living in the Japanese area. It was pretty --

TI: Well, they weren't living there, but they lived either in Locke, which was just a half mile away, or previously they lived in the other part of town. Did they have, did they talk about the Chinese, and what was their view?

MB: I guess not really, kind of suspicious about other people that they had no knowledge about their background. And, but later on I guess you had to communicate with 'em to get along and have good business establishment, although there wasn't much going to and from. The Japanese had their own stores and whatever, the drug stores and...

TI: Yeah, I was wondering about, maybe, if there was any tension during the nineteen, when you were, like, a child in the 1930s, because Japan was at war with China and here you had two fairly large communities, if there was ever any tension because of that?

MB: Not that I know of. Had their own problems, just trying to make a living, and so I don't know. I was too young, I suppose. But I had Chinese friends in school, and it's only been recently that I've stopped communicating with my friend who lives in San Leandro, but I, we were really very good friends and she would send me things to camp, like, what do you call, the films of the camera that we were unable to purchase, and I don't know how she managed to get money. They were poor as we were. But we kept in touch for a long time.

BT: So was your common language English?

MB: Was...

BT: Your common language.

MB: Yeah.

BT: Did you speak English at the Japanese segregated school?

MB: Yeah, pretty much. (We were punished when we spoke our parents' language in school).

BT: And then at the Japanese school, were you speaking English?

MB: Were we speaking English?

BT: Yeah.

MB: We spoke (both languages). I mean, we went to segregated school, we went to Japanese school, our friends were Japanese living together, and so English was not really a common language amongst the community, Japanese community.

BT: Oh, so your primary language at home and even at school was usually Japanese?

MB: Yeah. So when we went to camp, camp had people from L.A. and various big cities and they all made fun of us 'cause we had a Japanese accent and spoke a lot of Japanese, and we felt downgraded and... within our own Japanese community in camp.

TI: Let's start going into the war years. Or is there anything else you want to do prewar before we, we move on?

BT: Well, how did you feel about attending these segregated schools?

MB: Well, you don't even think about it 'cause you're forced to do it. There's no choice. We didn't realize that probably, so teachers were not really great. They were probably sent to our schools 'cause they couldn't make the grade, I suppose. But some, old, old teachers, they went to the normal school -- they called it normal school -- for two years and they were teaching, and like Mrs. Rhodes, she lived right on the border of Japantown and she was kind and we all respected her. And I remember my mother making me take her flowers, and Japanese tea, we got teas after a funeral. That was a return gift. We gave money at the funeral and the families would give those who contributed money the teas, Japanese tea, so we had tons of tea and we'd take it to Mrs. Rhodes. She loved it.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

BT: I wanted to just go back a little bit and talk about the Japanese Association and your father's role with that. I think you've described him as the mayor, or he was described as the mayor of Japantown. And was the Japanese Association considered, like a community center?

MB: Yes, I suppose.

BT: And what sort of organizations were there?

MB: Well, both the Buddhist and the Methodist people all went to functions that the Japanese Association conducted. Like the movies or they used the hall for various (celebrations), like Christmas the Methodist church would put on something and the Buddhist church would put on something else. And it's, there was really a line drawn between the two religious groups, I think, and one had leaders and the other also had their own leaders, and it was pretty, it must've been political.

BT: Did they have kenjinkai offices at the association?

MB: What kind of...

BT: The kenjinkai.

MB: Pension?

BT: No, kenjinkai, for the different ken.

MB: Oh, yeah, I think they did, and some were Methodist, some were Buddhist. [Laughs] And they used to say people from Hiroshima are very tight. These are the rumors that come out of it, maybe one tended to be... but they would say the background, Japanese background in Japan was a main reason.

TI: Yeah, I'm always curious, people talk about the different kens, they have different characteristics. So Hiroshima, sounded like they tend to be tighter with their money or careful with their money, were there other ones that you could remember, like Kagoshima, was that different? If someone said, what are Kagoshima people like or Fukuoka people, I'm curious what some of these characteristics are.

MB: I don't know, they might've talked about it, but they were pretty much not ostracized or not accepted by either group. They just existed and as friends. They're both, Hiroshima and Tokyo -- course, there weren't that many people from Tokyo then. The first group that came, I think, was Hiroshima, then the next group was the people from the south.

BT: Aichi was one of the big ones.

MB: Fukuoka, there weren't too many Fukuokas there.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So let's, I'm gonna now move to December 7, 1941. Can you describe that day for me, for you what was it like?

MB: Well, it's hard to explain, I was so young. There had been many fathers who were picked up by the FBI and there's always that fear, always that concern, and it felt that they were connected to Japan. And somehow my father was interviewed by the FBI but was never picked up, and they felt that my oldest brother, who had finished Cal, had, was in the military, and so maybe that was why they didn't pick up my father, 'cause everybody else got picked up. We were worried for the longest time that... and my aunt and uncle lived in Berkeley, were afraid that they were going to be sent someplace, and so they came, moved into our small house. My brothers were all home. They were away at college, but they had to quit school and come home, and the house was just really bustling. And my mother was dying of cancer, and it was a tough time for my father. But we got to camp and my mother died and we just had to go on with our lives.

TI: So tell me, I'm sorry, tell me about your mother a little bit more. So she was sick before the war started? She had cancer? [MB nods] And what kind of cancer?

MB: I don't know if it was before the war, I guess it was, yeah. And there was no big research done on cancer victims in those days and probably didn't know what it was. She got weaker and weaker. Then in camp she continued to live in the barracks with us, not in the hospital, but she did get a special Pullman bed in the, on the train, and I was allowed to visit her occasionally. I guess they got fed better, too. I don't know. But I, going on the train, whenever we approached a city they made us pull the shades down so we wouldn't see what was going on. If they were, they had a military installation or something, we wouldn't see a thing. In broad daylight we had our shades drawn.

TI: But for you, I guess this time was difficult because not only were you being uprooted, but your mother was sick, and so it must be --

MB: Pardon me?

TI: Well, it must've been a very difficult time for you, that, having, not only to have to move, but to have your mother...

MB: Well, it was, I think, really difficult for my father. He never took care of children. That was the mother's job, caring for the kids. He had double duty; he had to take care of the community as well as his own family. Oh, let's see, I brought that, that sheet that I found.

TI: Yeah, so let me get it for you. So, so why don't you explain what this is and you can just hold it -- or I'll hold it and why don't you just explain what this is.

MB: Well, I didn't, I just found it last night and I hadn't really read it, so...

TI: Yeah, so it's the, kind of the instructions. I've seen this as a poster. You see it a lot of times on telephone poles and things like that, but this is the leaflet version of it, and it has, it looks like essentially the same information, but in a leaflet, which, in many ways, would make more sense for the families to have this to bring home to study rather than trying to read at a telephone pole. Interesting. Yeah, you should take good care of this. This is, this is good.

MB: My father had kept those posters that were posted in town and lot of other things, but when my, my sister-in-law, Flo Yoshiwara, and my brother separated and she got all those, so we don't have anything. And she has used them for school discussions and things like that.

TI: Going back, so your family, when they left Walnut Grove, what did you do with all your belongings? Was, was there anything special you had to do?

MB: Well, we sold the car and things that were saleable. I don't think we sold anything else, but we managed to put kind of major things in the garage and locked it up, and our tenants were very good. He was the, our milkman and never opened the garage door, and they were still intact, everything was intact.

TI: And so the milkman was renting the house? He was the...

MB: For thirteen dollars a month, amount, the ground rent, so it was a good deal for him.

TI: I see.

MB: But he kept it up nicely.

TI: And you mentioned selling the car and some other saleable things. Who did you sell it to?

MB: Can't remember. I don't know how he, my father advertised it, but somehow got word around. But there were valuable things that were taken from us, saying that they were war-oriented or they were, you know, like...

TI: Like contraband or something?

MB: Yeah, the swords and things, they were family heirlooms and so my father had to go turn them in, and after we, some months after we returned they said, "Come collect your things," but the swords had beautiful ornaments on the handle and all those good parts were taken, removed, and we never got them back.

TI: Now, during this time, do you recall people coming into Walnut Grove, the Japantown, just to buy things, coming down, like on weekends or something, trying to buy things?

MB: I don't remember that.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So when you left Walnut Grove where did you go? You mentioned the --

MB: Merced.

TI: So the Merced Assembly Center.

MB: Yeah, which was a horse racing track that they built temporary houses in the stalls, removed the stalls, and there still were horse dung and whatever.

TI: And so describe your area, I mean your living quarters, was it a horse stall or is it a barrack? What did you, where did you live in Merced?

MB: In camp?

TI: In Merced.

MB: In Merced? In the barracks.

TI: So you had barracks.

MB: Hastily built, 'cause it was just temporary residence and we were there, I don't know, before it got cold anyway.

TI: Okay. Any memories of Merced? Any stories that you remember from Merced?

MB: Not really, other than my personal, remembering personal things. My mother was getting sicker and sicker with her cancer, and my father would go get his, get her meals at the dining room, but he was also block manager. He had to make announcements when everybody was together. And so here I was, quite young, my brothers didn't want me tagging along with them and their friends, older friends, and my father's up front making his announcements, and it was a difficult time for me. I mean, there were no personal help for those kinds of problems. And then, I'm remembering, thinking about it, and then my father would get upset that I would eat my mother's food, and so, you know, the rooftops are this angle and there was no ceiling in between the whole building and people could hear me crying and everything. [Laughs] I remember that.

TI: Oh, so your father would get mad at you and then you would start crying?

MB: He would say, "That was for your mother and you mustn't eat it." And I didn't want to go to the dining room because I didn't have anybody to go with, and they were not people from Walnut Grove. He wanted to get away from people from Walnut Grove, and so we were with strangers, Merced people, so it was...

TI: I'm sorry, say that again. You wanted to get away from people from Walnut Grove?

MB: My father wanted to, yeah.

TI: But why?

MB: I don't know. I guess he had had it. During the evacuation period all these problems that came up, and he just wanted to stay away from them. And it's just that I didn't want to go to the dining room.

TI: Earlier you mentioned that you found out, when you went to camp, that the Walnut Grove people spoke differently than the other Japanese?

MB: They spoke differently? Oh, they spoke Japanese, right.

TI: Yeah, so they had, I guess, heavier accent, the Niseis did.

MB: Right, right. Yeah, so the, especially the people from L.A. -- this was when we moved to Colorado, Amache -- they made fun of us, "Oh, you're from Walnut Grove. I could tell from your accent." And that's just kids, you know.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Okay, so from Merced, after Merced where did you go?

MB: Amache, Colorado.

TI: Okay, Amache. And this is where your mother died, at Amache?

MB: [Nods] We got there in the spring and she died in December.

TI: And so describe what kind of medical care she got in Amache? What, did doctors visit her in the barracks, or what kind of care did she get during this time?

MB: I don't remember doctors coming. I think she had to go to the hospital to be examined, but she'd return the same day. And I remember the night that she died, I guess she was in such pain and they gave her (morphine) and there was people coming and going, and I mean, it's just, we're in one room, and I couldn't avoid not hearing that. And you don't discuss things with children those days that, you know, "Your mother's very sick, she's gonna die," or anything. Nothing was said to me, so it was more difficult, I think, for me.

TI: Oh, so while this was happening, when she was dying of stomach cancer, you didn't really understand what was going on?

MB: I didn't...

TI: So she was dying of cancer and as a thirteen year old you didn't really understand that she was dying, or did you know that she was gonna die?

MB: No, I didn't. Actually, I was about twelve, I guess.

TI: And so when she died, what happened? I mean, so this was that night, you said an evening that she died...

MB: No, she died during the day, because our neighbor from Walnut Grove, Bessie Matsuoka, came, worked in the school. She had a couple years at Cal and she was working for the school department, and she came and got me out of class and took me home, and she never said a word walking home from the school. She didn't know what to tell me either. She wasn't trained.

TI: And so who, who told you then? How did you find out?

MB: I guess after I got home and she, they had already taken her away.

TI: And at this point who was there, who was there from the family? Your father, you, and then which brothers were living with you at this time?

MB: They were all living, but we managed to get two rooms. My father did his thing and got us two rooms, so the two older brothers had their own room, small room, and then four of us, another brother and myself, had another bigger room.

TI: So Marion, I'm just trying to imagine, this is, you're twelve years old, so you're in this adolescent age where you're starting to become a young woman and to have your mother taken away like this in addition to being put in this camp and away from home. I'm trying to wonder, how did you cope? I mean, what allowed you to keep going during this time?

MB: Well, I had very good friends across the street I met after we moved there, and I spent a lot of time with them. They had two daughters. One was maybe a year older than I was and the other one was older, a few years older than her sister, and I guess they were my, I was able to fall back on them.

TI: Yeah, because I was thinking, because it sounds like you weren't really able to talk much with your father and your brothers were older, so they had their own lives, and I was just wondering who you had to talk with. So it sounds like this neighbor and the two daughters there were very important.

MB: Yeah.

TI: Now, was there anything that you remember them, like the mother, telling you during this time, this hard time?

MB: No, my mother always combed my hair in a ponytail, and she just couldn't do it. And I don't know how, maybe she just tied it in a ponytail, but my friends said, "Your brothers braided your hair for you." I said, "They did no such thing." Somehow they got the word that they were doing female things, yeah.

TI: During this difficult time, was there anyone that said anything to you that was really meaningful or important to you that you remember?

MB: No, I don't remember that. They were pretty sympathetic. Well, the kids weren't that aware how difficult it is, but no one really... see, we weren't living with the Walnut Grove people. We were living on a different block, so they were all new people, new friends.

TI: Now, what, what kind of service did they have for your mother, like a memorial or a funeral service? What did they do?

MB: I don't remember too much, but I know there were people buried there in camp, but my father refused and had her ashes and we kept that in the house. He would not consider even living there permanently, always with the feeling that we'd eventually get back, so he got the ashes and then when we got back to Walnut Grove he had her ashes buried in Sacramento.

BT: I'm curious, when your mother, when your mother was sick, were you doing all the laundry and shopping and cooking?

MB: Well no, camp food. They had a mess hall, but otherwise I did the laundry and kind of cleaning, but it's just one big room.

BT: So for, like you've got the four brothers and you --

MB: No, no, they did, they had their own room. But they left fairly soon. They didn't stay long. As long as they didn't go back to California they were permitted to travel to New York or wherever. And then they were there a short time and then they were drafted. I mean, we're prisoners, but they were still using us in the war.

BT: So a lot of young people your age said that they had fun in camp, but you had a lot of the responsibilities of the mother, right?

MB: Well, my father did take care of her. He brought food home from the mess hall, and he was a block manager, but it was just too complicated. People with, people's problems, you're a social worker and everything else, psychiatrist. But he delivered, later on delivered meat to the various camp mess halls, and so he would take some and would bring it home and he and I -- my brothers were all gone by then -- he and I would have steak. And of course, you could smell it, but he managed to sneak some, give one chef something nice one time and they'd compensate him with meat. Meats were rare in camp. We had chicken once a week or so, but beef and other things were not as plentiful. So on our hotplate we'd fry our meat, and of course everybody in the building could smell it. They were probably wishing they could have some.

TI: With your mother's death, did you see any differences or changes in your father?

MB: I don't remember. I don't, I'm sure there were, but I was not aware of them.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So we had just talked about, you had, you got to Amache and then your mother died, and we were just talking about that. And so now I just want to talk about some other things at Amache and what that was like for you, and during the break you talked a little bit about the weather. And why don't we talk about how the weather was different in, at Amache, Colorado, from Walnut Creek. What were, what --

MB: Walnut Grove.

TI: Walnut Grove. Yeah, Walnut Grove, I'm sorry. So how was the weather different?

MB: Walnut Grove was hot, but Colorado was even hotter because it was just all dry land. They did plant some cottonwood trees later, and they attracted all these moths. We had moths all over the place. And then the winter we had to suffer the extreme cold. It snowed. And laundry outside, where else can we put our laundry? There's no dryer, and they were stiff as a board.

TI: Oh, so they would freeze outside, your laundry?

MB: No, I think they did give us a clothes dryer. I mean, they put wire lines to hang your clothes on. And they gave, they would leave a pile of coal and this heavy bucket, and we'd have to go get them. They're really heavy and they're so huge, the coals are so huge. It's hard, it was hard to lift and put it in the great big old stove. And then the summers were hot. There were no trees. Eventually they got old enough after, as we were about to leave camp. But there were rattlesnakes. There were no lights and I'd go take my shower in the shower room. There were like five different shower things that, so there'd be five people in that same room, but anyway, walking back and there's no light and, streetlight, and I know it was a snake -- I don't know if it was a rattlesnake -- but as I'm going back to our room one just kind of went right alongside my leg. I screamed. And then carrying all that heavy stuff and the laundry's wet and that's even heavier, and it's very hilly, it was very hilly, and I don't know how the old people managed 'cause I certainly don't manage the hills in our neighborhood now at my age like those old people. [Laughs]

TI: So how about activities? What type of things do you remember doing at Amache?

MB: There were small groups, like girls' club or... but I, and they had baseball. I guess they didn't have football, but my brother was very popular and he's a good pitcher, one of my brothers, and they were all nice to me because of him, these young girls. [Laugh] It was this college age kid who's a good pitcher and, but as far as those things that took in a lot of people, there weren't, I can't remember much.

TI: How, how about school? What was school like in camp?

MB: It was okay. They were not full-fledged teachers, the Japanese teachers that they hired. The, of course, the local townspeople or people from Colorado, they just had two years of college. They called it, what did they call it?

BT: Associate?

MB: Huh?

BT: Associate?

MB: No. But they weren't really graduates of college and they were, it was a good deal for them. They probably couldn't get jobs in their local communities, so they were teaching in our school, and some were good 'cause they were dedicated to come out there. I don't know what their salaries were, but some came because of their dedication. And they were, the high school was built separately and I remember reading the newspaper, and Lamar was about twenty-one miles from our camp and they had a newspaper, local newspaper, and they were, you know, big headline, "Send them back to Japan. Why spend all this money for education for them?" Very negative. We were probably smarter than they were, 'cause most of the, in Amache they were from L.A. and had good teaching source, so they were good students.

TI: Did you ever take trips to the town, or did you always stay in camp? Did you ever visit the town?

MB: Yes. We, okay, the town near us is, I forget, it was less than two miles. We'd walk there in the heat, but it was worth it just to get a sundae or something, and it was limited -- I don't know whether it was once a month or, but of course we didn't money to go that often anyway -- but it was a treat to be able to eat ice cream sundaes. And there was just only this one general store, and he had a little counter for ice cream and things, and then he had clothes, things that, underclothes and whatever, but he made tons of money. So little, little town, and we had a reunion there one time, and I think our group gave them money, they made sandwiches and we had a party, but mostly came from, the money came from us. I mean, they're generally pretty poor and they must be even poorer now that we're gone to support them. Lamar was a little farther, but it was a bigger community and it had more to offer us. But there wasn't much we could buy anyway because salaries were, sixteen dollars a month was the best, and twelve and eight dollars for the other two levels.

TI: Good. Any other memories of Amache that you have?

MB: I remember the nice teachers. Although one of them said, "Marion, that's a boy's name," in front of my class, and I was so embarrassed. He had no sensitivity. It was kind of fun to meet the people from L.A. We're from the country and they were more sophisticated, and it's nice to be together with them. They weren't especially prejudiced that we were country hicks, and we spoke Japanese whereas they all spoke English, and we thought, oh, that's great 'cause we spoke Japanese. Having gone to a segregated school, that's how we lived.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Well, eventually you were sent to another school.

MB: From camp. My mother had died and my father, in talking with my brother -- my oldest brother was already in the military -- my father decided that it was inappropriate for him to be living with me alone and trying to raise me, and so somehow my brother, even though he was lieutenant for, second lieutenant or whatever, he helped. And of course, they didn't know how poor we were, or they never said anything about scholarships, and so it was nine hundred dollars a year, room and board nine months, and in those days it's a lot of money. And never offered any scholarship, but I remember the principal took me and this German refugee and this black guy to all these Quaker schools, private schools to say, "Yes, I have all these different people," and he's bragging about it, but never gave me any kind of a scholarship. And I went there two years, and the senior year I just felt guilty about my brother having to spend so much money for me, and so I came back to Walnut Grove and went to Courtland High School.

TI: Let's talk about the school you went to, so where was this school located?

MB: Poughkeepsie, New York.

TI: And, and how --

MB: Seventy-five miles north of New York City.

TI: And how did you select this school? I mean, of all the schools that you kind of...

MB: My brother's officer, boss, suggested it. I guess he had gone there, and it was not a real rigid Quaker school. It was a milder, modern type. You know, Quaker schools can be pretty rigid, that old fashioned way, and anyway, he had gone there so he suggested that. I had written to several schools, Wisconsin, Michigan, Massachusetts, but that seemed to be best money wise as well as not being so rigid one way or the other, as a Catholic or other. Some of them are, of course, more grade oriented. I mean, I went to Amache school, which is not the best, and so I more or less had to start all over.

TI: So did you find yourself that you're behind the other students?

MB: I felt, yeah. For one thing, history was not emphasized, U.S. history in camp, and I know that my teacher frequently questioned me about history.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: And how well accepted were you at this school? Here you're Japanese American. There probably weren't very many Japanese Americans there.

MB: There were hardly any Asians to begin with.

TI: Yeah, so how were you accepted?

MB: So anyway, he, the principal had me room with this young girl from Atlanta, Georgia who happened to be the niece of Walter White, who, NAACP was just coming up and he had just started NAACP. And he, principal, felt that none of the other students would want, their parents would want their kid to be rooming with a black -- she passed the color line, was very fair, but her hair was frizzy and she was obviously Negro -- and so I roomed with her and very nice. They were middle class from Atlanta, Georgia, and next door to MLK, and Atlanta and L.A., I guess, were the two cities at that time to be, for the blacks to have fairly good economic jobs and living in reasonably good areas, although was in black areas.

TI: And so why did her family send her to this school in Poughkeepsie, New York?

MB: Wanted her to get away from the black areas, and they had the money. He was the president of the black insurance company and mother's brother was Walter White. They just wanted the kids to be raised like other normal kids.

TI: And so how did you get along with your roommate?

MB: We got along very well. She invited me to spend the Christmas in Atlanta, so I was there about two and a half weeks, and I knew nothing about the prejudice against the blacks. They'd take me downtown on the streetcar and I'd just sit wherever there was a seat available, and they'd grab me, took me back, to the back of the streetcar. I didn't know about Jim Crow and all that. And they had their own community, like, oh, I forget what they called it, but they had their own social group which held their own Christmas parties and their -- of course, these are not the poor blacks. They're very well to do, and they, I had to accept what prejudice that they were faced with. And one was a professor of social work, Atlanta School of Social Work, one was a banker -- I think he half owned a bank -- and one was a lumberyard owner, and they're all very wealthy. And her aunt, let's see, I forget what their relationship was, but she was a partner to this, it was a pretty well known designer, manufacturing company in New York, and there were really very few in that capacity, the blacks, but somehow Atlanta got better, improved their ways.

TI: So I'm curious, did they know where you had come from, in terms of the Amache camp or anything that happened to Japanese Americans?

MB: No. No, I don't think so. Not really.

TI: Now did you share any of that with, with them in terms of --

MB: Did I share with them?

TI: Yeah, like what, what happened to you.

MB: I don't know. I don't remember. You know in schools how kids have their own little groups and not everybody accepted into most popular group, and we were outside that group, although we also had nice friends. I still communicate with my friend from Vermont country. They had a farm out in the country.

TI: But did your, did any of your classmates know that your family had been removed from Walnut Grove and sent to Amache camp behind barbed wires?

MB: No.

TI: None of, no one?

MB: Although the principal used to take me and the Jewish kid and the, I forget who the other one was, but anyway, to tell the story, but I don't think kids in our, the school I went to, knew about my background.

TI: How, how about your roommate, the one that took you to Georgia? Did she know?

MB: Not the real story. I really didn't, wasn't aware that, how traumatic it was. I just carried on every day what other people were doing, and it wasn't that bad.

TI: How about the information about your mother dying, did people know about that?

MB: Did she...

TI: Did your roommate know that your mother had died?

MB: Yeah, she did.

TI: So she knew that.

MB: Uh-huh. And her family was really very kind. They, they lived very comfortably compared to what I, where I came from.

TI: Now your, now your roommate, being African American, how was she accepted in places like Poughkeepsie, New York, and the Quaker school? Did she have discrimination?

MB: She tried to hide herself. Her hair was frizzy, so she always wore tight, close type, and I noticed that when we got to Atlanta that all the porters and the black help on the train seemed to know everybody, and she, people came to meet, other black fellows knew each other. And I really didn't know that she had black background, and her uncle, Walter White, was the first, the person who started the NAACP.

TI: So I want to back up a little bit. Did you, did you know that she was African American?

MB: No.

TI: Oh, so you didn't know until she brought you to Atlanta, or Georgia, when...

MB: Well, yeah. Pretty much.

TI: So was that kind of a shock to you?

MB: Well, I guess it was because they were able to provide me with real middle class function, taking me here and there and everywhere and introducing me to all these different things, and they had a comfortable home. Of course, I didn't realize 'til when Martin Luther King died that they lived next door.

TI: Oh, so she knew, she was neighbors with Martin Luther King?

MB: Huh?

TI: So she knew Martin Luther King Jr.?

MB: Yeah, just right next door. I mean, how I found out was my friend Charlotte B. Haynes, who's the wife of the (pastor of the) Third Baptist church here in the city, went to Coretta King's home to help her when Martin Luther King died, and I said, "Will you please call my friend" -- hadn't been writing -- "call her, tell her about me, that I know you," and so forth. And she came home and said, "Oh, they live right next door." [Laughs] So, I mean, they, they have different class and neighborhoods. This obviously was a middle class neighborhood that they lived in, Martin Luther King and my friend.

TI: That's a good story, that's interesting. When you returned after the holidays in Atlanta, Georgia, and went back to New York, did your roommate ever talk about being black in America? Did she ever talk about the discrimination and segregation?

MB: Not really, except she's very mixed up, her parents are trying to make her deny the black background, and very confusing. And she was even, she lived in San Francisco, went to Stanford and then married this guy and lived here for a while, and she didn't want to go see, what's that opera singer? He's a black opera singer? (Leontyne Price.) Anyway, had written her a note, said, "Come visit me," gave her a free ticket, but she didn't go. She didn't want people to know any connection with a black person where everybody else would be so honored, and so she was very mixed up. And I'm still in contact with her sister. My roommate died earlier, she had brain cancer, and her sister's husband said, "You got to get that tumor removed," and she didn't want to and she just died. I guess life was not too happy for her.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Going back to Poughkeepsie, how did you like this, living at this boarding school for, for two years?

MB: Well, not especially. I mean, I was away from family and I realize all school kids have their own little groups, that when we were outside the main group there were a couple nice kids. My roommate's family was Quaker, not the real rigid kind, and he was an insurance man, had a comfortable job and would invite me Sunday dinners. And then I had these other, friend, just the one, not the other roommate, but she came from, from a farmer and I guess they were, I don't know, Slavic or, they had some other Slavic name, S-K-Y ending, you know, and I still could communicate with her and she was very nice. Some who wanted to belong, like her roommate, to the, the core group, had nothing to do with me, but there were others who, I mean, it had, it was not one of the best or expensive boarding schools, but they had some people, like what's his name, Bell? The telephone inventor?

TI: Uh-huh.

MB: His grandson was there and his father was a professor at Florida (University), but he never wanted that attention, never told anybody that his grandfather was Alexander Bell. And there were a few from, it wasn't real expensive boarding school and that's why I chose it. My brother paid for it. Poor guy, he wasn't making very much in the military.

TI: And so you told us earlier, so you stayed there for two years, but you didn't stay there for your senior year and then went back to Walnut Grove? So, so let's go there. So what was Walnut Grove like when you returned? So this is quite a while now. This is sort of years, and you now return.

MB: Well I, we didn't even live with the Walnut Grove people in camp, so yeah, I really didn't have too many friends and it was a difficult adjustment. Their interests were different and they thought I was a snob. I went to Courtland High School, and it, the principal was really not kind. He thought I was a snob, too, but just because I had gone to a different school, but I never really was a big show off or anything like that.

TI: Now, was your, because, was part of this because your schooling was so much better in New York and so when you came you knew more, or what, what was, when they say snob, what was it, what...

MB: Yeah, I was different. You would think that California schools would be equal to New York schools, but I found the quality not as high, because the New York schools, the kids came from better schools.

TI: Well, it wasn't just a regular school, too. This was a private boarding school, so it was like a preparatory school for, for college.

MB: Yeah, it was. But a lot of them, their parents were divorced and so the parents sent them to boarding school. There were a few people who would had from real good background, like, oh, Rockefeller, that Saturday Evening Post, not Rockefeller, but...

BT: Oh, Rockwell, (Norman).

MB: Rockwell, and his kids all went there.

TI: So going back to Walnut Grove, Courtland High School --

MB: So you could see the contrast.

TI: I'm curious, so earlier we talked about how a lot of the Walnut Grove people, they had, like a Japanese accent, and I'm thinking now that you've been --

MB: By then they were better.

TI: Yeah, they were better, but I bet you were, your language was probably a lot different also, by going to New York, a New York school, that your speech was probably a little bit different, maybe more, almost East Coast in terms of how you spoke?

MB: I don't know. I didn't have very many friends at school there, and...

TI: So it sounds like that was a tough year for you then, that senior year was difficult.

MB: Yeah. It was. And I always felt guilty that my brother had to pay so much for my school, but the Japanese, the eldest son is responsible for the family in the event that the father, or the parent gets ill, sick or whatever, and he was a very good, responsible son.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: How was it when you got back with the family? So who was left in Walnut Grove? So just your father, or...

MB: Who was left?

TI: Yeah, who was, when you came back to Walnut Grove, who was living there?

MB: Just my father.

TI: And what was he doing?

MB: Head of the Japanese Association, and I'm not sure if they paid him or what, but he sold the newspapers, the three or four newspapers, and then they had annual New Year's huge publication, which he charged more than the annual price of the newspaper, and so that must've brought him something, but his income was very limited. Oh, I know when the camp people returned when the government decided to compensate for their being in Amache or whatever, that, and then he helped them apply. He did all those kinds of little things, and so he took, he got a percentage of that and he was really rich then. [Laughs]

TI: Okay. So for you, how had Walnut Grove changed? So before the war to after the war, what was different about Walnut Grove?

MB: Maybe they were a little more sophisticated about things in the world. And more were going to college, very few before the war. Of course, they couldn't afford it, but because of the poor education they were given they probably had a difficult time entering anyway. But it got more sophisticated. They moved to Sacramento and worked on, not farm work, but with the government, and so their lives improved greatly.

TI: Now after you graduated from high school, what did you do?

MB: I went to Cal Uni. Yeah, I was there four years and I was in social work.

TI: So how was that for you now, 'cause you'd been to lots of different places? You were in New York, you were in Amache, Walnut Grove, so what was Berkeley like? When you went to Cal how did you like Berkeley?

MB: I liked it pretty well. It was, everything was more permanent. I wasn't moving here to there, and... well, again, first year I, not the whole year, but I stayed in the Buddhist dorm. They had dormitory above the church. And then the following year or the end of the year, near the end of the year I went to the co-op, which was, again, cheaper, and things were so cheap. I worked. I worked at the canneries, I worked at the packing houses, and nobody as young as I was, was working there. They were old ladies who were supporting their families. And I didn't know whether it's that they didn't have the ambition to go on, but they wouldn't work in many of those jobs that required your hands.

TI: So you did that kind of work and then you saved that money, and that helped pay for school and your expenses during school?

MB: Uh-huh. I didn't make much money, but nothing was expensive. Going to Cal was, well, because of the living situation that I lived in, it was very inexpensive.

TI: And so what, what did you major in at Cal, what subject?

MB: What?

TI: What was your major in?

MB: Social work.

TI: And why did you choose social work?

MB: I don't know. I just seemed to like that more than teaching or... I wasn't, I knew it wasn't gonna bring me much money, but somehow I prefer that. I wasn't mathematically inclined or in the sciences, engineering or whatever, so I was in social work.

BT: Well you, you mentioned that your father was always helping people, so I wondered if maybe as a social worker you thought you could help people.

MB: I don't know. He was also very, kind of a domineering person and telling 'em what they should do. [Laughs] And I'd tell him, "You don't have to be so rude."

BT: I wanted to ask about when you went back to Walnut Grove for high school, did you find that most of the people did not return?

MB: Without?

BT: Did not, did most of the people from Walnut Grove return or was the town pretty empty?

MB: No. They returned to their homes. I didn't know what their arrangement was while they were gone. Like I said, we, my father charged only thirteen dollars a month for the house. Of course, wasn't any kind of a big mansion, but I guess they understood, the people understood that we, we'd been released and we'd be coming back. I mean, people were not that law fighting as it is now, demanding that we be given thirty days' notice and, "You never gave us any, it's our right to stay here," etcetera.

BT: So most of the people that you knew in Walnut Grove before the war came back?

MB: I don't think it's most. Maybe two thirds or thereabouts, because many moved out East, New York, Chicago, the Midwest, and first they started out as housework or a whole family being able to move together and everybody working in the same household, gardening and inside the home, and so I would say maybe -- but I think that it encouraged more people to go to college.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: Going back to your college, I think it was about that time when you met your husband. Was it in college or right around then, or after?

MB: No, I worked in, after college I worked in Stockton for several years and then came to San Francisco, then that's where I met him.

TI: So tell me about your husband a little bit. So who was your husband and how did you meet him?

MB: Through other Japanese friends.

TI: And so what's your husband's name?

MB: David Bernardo.

TI: And so, I've done lots of interviews with Niseis and for most Niseis they tended to marry other Niseis, and so you married, you out-married pretty early for the Japanese American community. Now it's very common.

MB: I was twenty-nine when I married, so I was pretty old.

TI: But was there any, oh, what's the right, controversy or anything that you were not marrying another Japanese American?

MB: I know my father was not for it, probably my brothers too.

TI: And when you say they weren't for it, did they say it or you could just sense it? Did they, did they say anything to you?

MB: One of my brothers told me that my father was very much against it, and there were things said that, you know, kind of felt that was the reason.

TI: And how did that make you feel, when your brother or father were against it? How did you feel?

MB: I didn't like it, but they weren't going to make me change my mind.

TI: Now did your husband know this too? Did you...

MB: Oh yeah, he did.

TI: And how would you explain that to him? What would, what would you say when, when he'd say, "Why don't they like me?"

MB: I don't know, we just know that Japanese marry Japanese and not anyone outside the Japanese community.

TI: And so for you to do that, most, I think, during that era, most Japanese Americans would want to marry within Japanese Americans. What made you different? Why were you different?

MB: I don't know. I certainly had a different lifestyle from the others, even from when I was young. I mean, having to go way out to New York and meeting all these people, and going across the country in those days was not done. I was a, what, sophomore year in high school and I'm crossing the United States and there's nothing but GIs on the train -- of course, I couldn't afford a plane -- but they were all trying to buy things, and you're told never to talk with strangers and they're just being nice. They were going overseas, and a lot of them were Japanese, and they'd buy me a pillow I'd throw it back at them. I was so rude. [Laughs] But so all this experience made me a little different from other Japanese or Asian people, I would think.

TI: Well especially, here you were, a girl from Walnut Grove, Japanese girl from Walnut Grove, to think that you would go to a New York boarding school, you would marry a non Japanese American, you would, your life was probably so different than what someone would have expected as, when they saw you as a little girl, so different. Which I love. I mean, I think your story's so interesting because of that, that you really --

MB: I don't know if I would've done that if, had my mother been living. But I, our next door neighbor from Walnut Grove lived in New York, and so I went there frequently, weekends, holidays, and it was very nice.

BT: Betty?

MB: Huh?

BT: Betty Matsuoka?

MB: No, Fujisakis. Bessie you're thinking of, yeah, and I used to see Bessie here. We'd take her out to dinners and whatever, and I notice she was getting really funny mentally. She'd say, "Oh, I'll take you out to dinner this time," and I'd say, "No, no, you took us out last time" -- I mean she said because she retired, but she had Alzheimer's, very severe, and she, we'd go see her in Sacramento I don't think she really remembered or realized. She did in some way, but not completely. She had, she had some questions, and it was sad.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: Going back, I'm thinking about the influence of the war. If you, if the war didn't happen, I'm just thinking on the impact on people that live in small towns because in some ways, well, it forced you out of Walnut Grove, it exposed you to lots of different people, and then your case even sent you to New York. I guess I'm trying to get a sense of, what do you think would've happened to you if the war didn't happen?

MB: Well, I'd probably finish high school there and go to college as my brothers did, and it was my parents' wish that we graduate college and improve our status, not live in Walnut Grove and go hoeing and picking pears or whatever, and have a better, regular life instead of seasonal work. And so we'd be like anybody else who's trying to make a living here.

TI: And so did your, before your mother died, did she share those dreams with you, that she wanted a better life for you and your brothers?

MB: Not really. I mean, but I'm sure... my mother's side of the family didn't want her to come here. They're generations of physicians and, but I guess it was love and she came and she really had to work hard all her life, 'cause she died so young, she was forty-five, and we couldn't even communicate with Japan 'cause of the war and they didn't know until my father went there, I forget, '50 or whenever -- he was one of the first to be able to travel -- and went to see her side of the family and told her, told them that she had died. And her sister just cried and cried and was just so heartbroken. But fortunately in '35, I was only five, I guess, and my brother was starting Cal, and I guess they wanted to show her family that he's having his children be educated, and so they kind of loosened up with her and that she was able to visit with them. So I guess my father wasn't blamed for living in such poor, almost poverty. [Laughs] But that was, people gave us fruits and vegetables in the country and we didn't starve. We didn't eat steaks every night, but we managed.

BT: Well, what's unusual is that all of the children went to college and also that they emphasized education for the daughter. You know, a lot of the girls in Walnut Grove didn't go to college.

MB: Yeah. Probably wanted me to get married to someone who did go to college and wouldn't be out there hoeing, pulling weeds. [Laughs]

TI: So Marion, is there anything else that you want to talk about? We've covered a wide range of topics and events in your life. Is there anything else that we've missed that is important to you that we should talk about?

MB: I can't think of any.

TI: Barbara, do you have anything else that...

BT: Well, I think your story to me is unusual because of your interaction with different racial groups very early.

MB: Especially someone from Walnut Grove living in that Japanese community.

BT: Uh-huh, and becoming a social worker you deal with a lot of different sort of people when you were working, right?

MB: Uh-huh.

BT: And I'm wondering if the, if you think that your background has given you more insight into the kind of issues that people deal with?

MB: Oh, I don't think so. You know, I related or made friends with workers and they weren't especially, we weren't that do-gooders as such. [Laughs]

BT: Well, and with your husband, that his background is from the Philippines, right?

MB: He's what?

BT: Your husband is Filipino?

MB: Uh-huh.

BT: Has that been an issue with people that you know?

MB: No. Maybe, but I don't think so. My father was against it certainly.

BT: But he never said anything, did he?

MB: No. He said it to my brother. Yeah. But not to me.

BT: But they really didn't directly tell you that you should not do this, right?

MB: Yeah. You know, he's happy that we're comfortable and doing okay and nothing negative about our lives.

BT: Yeah, it's just so unusual in Walnut Grove for people to do things that are not traditional or not the common thing, so, so...

MB: Maybe he was that way.

BT: Yeah.

TI: Okay. Well Marion, so thank you so much for doing this interview.

MB: You're welcome.

TI: This was, this was really interesting. And I think Barbara's right. I think you in your life had to, in some ways I think because of the death of your mother, and really were pushed out into a much bigger world than most Niseis.

MB: Yeah, I'm sure that made a big impact on my life and changed my life, yeah.

TI: So, again, thank you so much.

MB: Oh, you're welcome. I like, kind of enjoyed thinking back about my life, that I never did.

TI: Well good. I'm glad.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.