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-1003-10-16

<Begin Segment 16>

MN: I'm gonna ask you a little bit, some random lighter questions. Movies, did they show movies at Manzanar?

GH: I suppose they did have, but I wasn't allowed to go, so I don't know. I don't remember.

MN: What about concerts?

GH: I know they had that because my brother Thomas, he loves classical music, and when they did have concerts he wanted to go, so I know they had something like that.

MN: Now, if you needed something at Manzanar and they weren't selling it at the canteen, how did you purchase these items?

GH: Most of the things were bought through a Spiegel catalogue, Montgomery Ward, Sears Roebuck. I think those were the primary catalogues that were in camp, and people bought a lot of things from them.

MN: Spiegel's was mainly women's clothing?

GH: I don't know, it was a department store, so they had everything.

MN: Let me ask you about your father now. When you were at Manzanar, did you communicate with your father?

GH: I was the only one that wrote to my father, and he wrote to me.

MN: Did your mother tell you what to write to him?

GH: Sometimes.

MN: Did you write in English or Japanese?

GH: I wrote in Japanese.

MN: How heavily censored were those letters?

GH: Very. [Laughs] Oftentimes much was cut out, but we sort of got the gist of things and so we knew what was wanting to be said.

MN: Yeah, what did you say in your letters? How much can you say in your letters?

GH: We would say things of, I don't know, there were things that my father had to explain to me, what it meant. Like we would read a poem or whatever, and from things like that that we were both familiar with whatever the meaning of all this was, we would kind of communicate with those things sometimes. And my mother never wrote, (my father wrote beautifully). Both my parents didn't have very much education, (8th grade), but like I think my mother was very intuitive and she had good horse sense, so she was smart. [Laughs] My father, he loved schooling, but he never was able to go, so he studied on his own. He's a (...) avid reader of history. He loved to read history and he knew all about all the incidences, stories, and he read a lot. And he had beautiful penmanship, his Japanese penmanship was just beautiful, and so he would coach me on things of that sort at home, but I was never a good shuuji. I had to go learn shuuji, but I was not very good at that. But my father was and he's very particular, so when I wrote he always corrected the right, correct character to use for when you're saying you wish or you hope, the right, correct words. And he would correct my letters each time, and I still have his letters to me doing that.

MN: Now, when you were at Manzanar, did your mother ever say she wanted to go back to Japan?

GH: No, she really wanted to go back to the restaurant. But since my dad had gone to Japan already --

MN: Well, don't go there yet. How about Thomas? Did he ever say he wanted to go back to Japan?

GH: No, neither of them.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.