Densho Digital Repository
Friends of Manzanar Collection
Title: Grace Hata Interview
Narrator: Grace Hata
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: West Los Angeles, California
Date: March 16, 2012
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1003-10-11

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MN: Now, I want to ask you about your two oldest brothers. You mentioned about them earlier, about going to Japan, or being sent to Japan.

GH: Yes.

MN: Now, when did Thomas come back? What year did he come back?

GH: He was eighteen when he finished school and he came back, so what was that? He was born in 1920. Was it 1940?

MN: '38.

GH: 1938? No.

MN: Eighteen, right? 1920, eighteen, yeah, 1938.

GH: 1938. Yeah. So I was about eight years old then.

MN: And you didn't grow up with Thomas.

GH: No.

MN: How did you feel when he suddenly joined the family?

GH: Then, yes, and then he came back an angel and my mother was so happy with him. And she, I think, had a little guilt feeling too that she sent him away so young. When he came back she bought him suits that cost a hundred dollars, all kinds of clothes and things. Of course, he didn't have any, so he had to have some. But that was a year also that... Shinsan also helped too. He says, "Aha, Mama's favorite child. She loves him more than you." He kept egging me on too, but I wanted this Shirley Temple dress and I got told, "Well, you have so much clothes. You really don't need it, but think of poor Niichan. He doesn't have anything. He was deprived of everything for all these years and he needs these clothes, and you have so many. No, you don't need it." "It's only a dollar. I want that dress." "No, no, no." So there I was, [pouts] just as ugly as can be. [Laughs] And there's pictures to prove it. But there was a little period there where I was not very happy that she loved him more than me and he got more than I did.

MN: You know, when Thomas returned, how much English did he speak?

GH: He didn't speak very much English at all. So my mother thought the best way that he would learn English is to go in a home where they speak English all the time, otherwise, at home he'll never learn English. So he was sent out to South Pasadena to Mr. and Mrs. Piper's, and he worked there as a schoolboy and went to Pasadena City College. And he just came home on the weekends.

MN: Now, when did Ray return back to L.A.?

GH: Ray came back in April 1940, '41 was it?

MN: '41 is, December the war started. Did he come back --

GH: Yes, that was the year, in April 1941. Then he came home saying that he was told as an American to leave the country because there might be a war, and he came on Asama Maru, with Mr. Endo who was selling the kimono from Shirokiya, same time. And my mother told Ray, "Nonsense. They've been talking about war and silly things like that." So she said, "Go back. I want you to get the education in Japan, so go back." And he was sent back in, he came back in April, probably in June he was sent back to Japan, and it was that year, that December that a war did start.

MN: Now, when your two brothers were growing up in Japan, what sort of care packages did your mother ship over?

GH: Every month my mother had sent back, with a Japanese ship that came, a big, like carton boxes of food and all sorts of things, raisins. I remember that, raisins and different foods. She sent back every month a carton full, large boxful, and that went on year after year.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.