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-1003-10-2

<Begin Segment 2>

MN: Let me ask about your parents' children now. In total, how many children did your parents have?

GH: I have two older brothers, and I have one younger brother, and I'm the only daughter in the family so of course was very spoiled from the time I was born, until I die, I guess. I feel I'm the luckiest person on earth here. [Laughs]

MN: Thomas was born at the Main Street address.

GH: Yes.

MN: And your second brother and you and your younger brother, where were they born?

GH: We were all born on Western Avenue.

MN: What year were you born?

GH: I was born in December 1930.

MN: And what is your birth name?

GH: My birth name is Grace Shizuka Hata.

MN: Now, it's very unusual for Issei parents to give their children both a Japanese and an English name. Did all your siblings have that?

GH: Yes. We all have English first name and Japanese middle name.

MN: Do you know why your parents decided to give everybody an English name?

GH: I'm not sure, but I think that with all the customers and the... I think suggestions and asking what would be a good name, or people giving suggestions to my parents. I think they decided that that's what they would do. We all have an English first name and a Japanese middle name.

MN: Do you mind if I ask you why your second brother, Ray, is dressed up like a girl as a baby?

GH: [Laughs] Yes, now that my oldest brother is not here I can talk about him, I guess. The story goes that when he was little he was very naughty and he was into all sorts of mischief, and my mother thought that because they were both so busy working that he's gonna turn out to be a juvenile delinquent. So she sent him back to Japan when he was about nine years old. She sent him to her, my mother's oldest sister in Tokyo, whose husband was a reporter and they were well able to take care of him. So she sent him over there to be groomed as first son of this family, and when he was eighteen he returned here. My mother let him come back, and he was such a good boy that, New Year's is the only time that my parents took time off from their business and went around to greet everybody with happy New Year, and everybody he met, my mother introduced him to, they said, "Oh, when you were little you were so bad. But you turned out to be a very good young man." [Laughs] So my brother, my brother said he knows what they're gonna say the next place we go. I guess he had a reputation. And so when my second brother was born my mother and my father both dressed him as a girl, so Ray was a little girl 'til he went to kindergarten, and people who came to our restaurant, they always thought he was a girl. And lo and behold, he metamorphed into a boy when he was about five years old, I guess, but until then everybody was convinced he was a little girl. And then after that I came, so I was a lucky one. [Laughs] And then my youngest brother, he, until his dying day I think he thought that I was favored, and he was not very happy about that.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.