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-1000-456-3

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VY: So what was the daily routine for your family? What was a typical day for your family there in Poston?

HH: Well, we played a lot, I know. We were always in the sun, playing in the sand with our friends. I have a picture of us with a bucket and filling the bucket with sand, going to school. I don't really remember that much more except for we used to just play around, run around all over. During the daytime, mainly because it was so hot outside, we would play indoors. We would just run through the house and jump on the bed, and we would use it as a, what do you call it, like a trampoline, and we would just jump all around. There were so many thunderstorms in Arizona that when the thunderstorms started thundering, we would start yelling, and we would run to the bed and we would run under the sheets and cover ourselves. We were so scared because it just made these thunderous sounds.

VY: And this was in the barracks?

HH: Uh-huh, this was all in the barracks.

VY: It's interesting because I imagine the barracks weren't that large, but from your child perspective, the way you talk about it, it sounds like a very big place.

HH: Yeah, it was one big room. And then sheets partitioning the different rooms, the bedroom. But we had a lot of fun playing in the barracks.

VY: And were your parents playing with you, or was that something that you and your siblings just kind of did together?

HH: Right. We played a lot with each other and the neighborhood kids, Hide and Go Seek, and just all kinds of things like that.

VY: So how do you think you would describe your childhood in Poston? Like, for instance, if you were maybe talking to one of your grandchildren and explaining to them what your childhood was like in Poston, what do you think you would say?

HH: Well, we didn't have a playground with equipment, swings and so forth, however, we did play outdoors a lot. I guess more indoors because of the heat. I don't know, we enjoyed coloring, paper dolls. But I really don't remember that much more because we were so young at that time, three, four, five.

VY: And you were the oldest, but you were still only six by the time you left. Were you expected to help take care of the younger kids at all?

HH: I guess I was always the Neechan, the older sister, so I had a lot of responsibilities of watching out for them.

VY: Okay, and how about your parents? What did they do in camp?

HH: I don't really remember that much. I know my mother went to sewing classes, she drafted patterns, she learned how to knit, and so when she had the time she would sew our clothes, she would knit sweaters for us. I think she took flower arrangement classes. She kept herself pretty busy with the four kids, and everything had to be hand washed, of course. Washing all the diapers, the cloth diapers and always hanging them, and I could remember the rope being strung across the room with clothes dripping onto, the water dripping onto the floor, because she didn't have a wringer or anything, you just did the best you can to get the water out. And mainly because there was severe dust storms in Arizona, so she had to dry most of her clothes indoors.

VY: How about your father? Did he work in camp?

HH: Yes, he was a cook in camp, but he also was very sick, too. And it had something to do with his stomach ailment, just digestive system, I don't know exactly what. But then he later had that same illness when we came back from the camp, and then he died shortly after that, after we came back.

VY: Did your father, did he learn to cook in camp?

HH: Yes, and he really enjoyed it, too. Because when we came back from camp, he just enjoyed cooking and baking. I remember he was a doer. I mean, if something had to be done, he would just go and do it, and he wanted to bake biscuits, so he took a block of wood, and I remember him whittling away until he had just a smooth, cylindrical form to roll out that biscuit. I don't know if he used a glass cup or something, but he cut out the biscuits. And he used to bake for us and make coffee cake and cornbread. He was just always enjoying cooking.

VY: Sounds delicious. Well, then so did you as a family go to the mess hall to eat, or did you eat in your own barracks?

HH: We did go to the mess hall and eat, but my mother found it really difficult because when we went there, we just wanted to play, run around, and not eat. And so she had a hard time getting us to sit down and eat, and caring for the little ones. So oftentimes we would just stay in the barracks and my father would bring home the food for us and we would eat there in the barracks.

VY: So you guys stayed together as a family unit, it sounds like.

HH: Uh-huh, fortunately, yes.

VY: That's nice. Do you remember... you may not remember, but was your family housed among other families with small children?

HH: I know our neighbor, they were an older couple with three boys, but they were young men. And my youngest sister would always go over to their home, she practically lived there because it was Ojiichan and Obaachan to her, and they really took care of her and took her everywhere they went. They took her on walks, and they would walk her to movie nights, we would have movie nights in the camp and they would take her. So she had friends and we went with them all. It was just so carefree and fun, and we would take our little wooden slatted chairs and go to the movies outdoor, and they hung a sheet out there. It was just like an outdoor movie, it was just very fun.

VY: That's interesting, isn't it, that as children, you and your siblings had time to play and have a childhood, and then when I hear you describe what your parents did, they both worked very hard just to kind of keep things going throughout the day. So it's kind of interesting, the child's perspective.

HH: They just let us play and just be ourselves, and spend as much time as they could after to give us a normal childhood as they could.

VY: Is there anything else about camp that you remember before we leave Poston?

HH: Not really.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.