Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Hatsuko Mary Higuchi Interview
Narrator: Hatsuko Mary Higuchi
Interviewer: Virginia Yamada
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 4, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-456-2

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VY: So, Mary, for your early childhood, your childhood coincides with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan. So to start off with, what camp was your family sent to?

HH: We were sent to Poston, Arizona.

VY: And how old were you during your time there?

HH: Three to, I guess, almost six, or around there. Because when I came back, I was a six-year-old ready to start first grade.

VY: So did you go to school at all during camp?

HH: Uh-huh, we went to kindergarten.

VY: Do you have any memories of school or your classmates or your teachers?

HH: I really don't, but I do remember one gal, Keiko, and we have gotten together pretty recently, so that was great. She's the only one that I've really kept up with.

VY: That's a long time to keep up with someone after all those years. Do you have any childhood memories of what a typical day might have been like, or maybe a sense of what life might have been like for your family before the war? You probably don't have any real solid memories of that.

HH: I really don't remember anything before the war.

VY: Did your parents ever talk about that day, about December 7, 1941?

HH: No, they never talked about that period or our life in camp. It was just never discussed. But I can tell there was some discussion, even with friends, because I would, "In camp..." and then they would go, hush, hush, hush, but I couldn't hear what they were saying, nor was I really that interested in listening in.

VY: You were very little. Okay, so they never really talked later in life about it later? How they prepared to go to camp, how they heard about it?

HH: Off and on I would hear things as I was painting scenes of it, then my mother would mention something about it, but not really. She would not fully talk about it until I showed her one of the paintings I was doing.

VY: Okay, it sounds like your art really helped the two of you have a conversation about that later.

HH: Right, yes. I think it started some conversation, but unfortunately it was not until the end, the end of her life. Before, she didn't want to talk about it, but towards the end of her life I started painting about the camp.

VY: Okay, we'll talk about that more, too. So getting back to your earlier days, how many siblings did you have and who was the oldest?

HH: Okay. I was the oldest, Hatsuko, "Hatsu" means first child. And then Etsuko, my sister, another sister Mitsuko, and Tetsuo. Mitsuko and Tetsuo, the last two, were born in the camp at Poston.

VY: Do you remember your mother being pregnant and giving birth?

HH: No, but I remember an ambulance came and took her away, and maybe that was because she was ready to deliver or something happened where she was taken away.

VY: Did they take her somewhere else in camp?

HH: I don't know where she was taken.

VY: Was she gone for very long?

HH: I really don't remember, but I remember the ambulance coming.

VY: Were you expecting that, or was it unexpected?

HH: I don't think I was expecting another sibling. [Laughs]

VY: Were you happy to have more siblings?

HH: I don't really remember that period, but yes, it added to the daily routine of my mother where she had more to do as far as taking care of someone else and going to the mess hall and different places with all of us.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.