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-1003-10-24

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MN: Well, let me go back to your Hollywood High School days. You just came back from Japan, you were immersed in Japanese, how much English did you remember and how difficult --

GH: I spoke English. I worked in the general headquarters supply. Maybe it was more slang English, but yeah, it was English.

MN: So was it an easy transition?

GH: I thought it was, but maybe, maybe not, according to my academic maybe not. [Laughs] But yeah, I thought I was okay.

MN: You had a little problem with English, in your English class, though?

GH: Yes, I did. I got into B-10, and I didn't know but I had the English department head, and she would tell the class, the whole class, "I don't know how you snuck into the tenth grade when you don't know the predicate and subject," whatever she was talking about. I just got so flustered. I just couldn't, I got nervous and I just couldn't take it. I, simultaneously, I'm taking German and I'm getting a B in there, so I thought, "I thought I was speaking English, and I don't know what she's talking about, subject and predicate and all this stuff." Finally I went to the counselor. I said, "It's me. It's not the teacher; it's me." But I said, "I'm so flustered and so upset, and here we are in Shakespeare and I don't understand anything about it." And I said, "I don't want to flunk," and I said, "I want to get out of that class and get another English teacher that I can feel more relaxed and I could learn something." He says, "Too late." So I got a D, I think, a bad grade in there, and I thought, "Oh my god, I came all the way, three thousand miles away from my family and I'm, I can't make, make it in English. I got a D." [Laughs] And so I went into remedial reading, and of course then I got an A, so I got my grade point average up again. But that was really terrible. Shakespeare, to this day I have a problem with Shakespeare. [Laughs]

MN: And then you took a speech class.

GH: I took a speech class too, in college though.

MN: In college?

GH: Yes.

MN: Let's talk about that, though, 'cause you got onto the radio.

GH: Yes, we got into, we got into different types of speech, and we got into a debate class, debate something. Anyway, so the teacher chose me to go into this debate with, I don't know what we were even debating about, but I think it had something to do with preparation, disaster or something like that. And of course, I went through famine, disaster and I think I made the remark about the Japanese, how they make preparations to, air raid preparations and things like that, they had these caps they made to protect their head and walk and whatever, to go into the shelter. And so I, so then I got on this debate team, but I thought it was all because of my past experience, and we went to KFI, Young America Speaks, something, one of those stations. And I don't know how I got onto that, but I did get pushed into that. So I didn't have to do Shakespeare or correct English. [Laughs]

MN: Now, going back to Hollywood High School, how many years did it take you to graduate from high school?

GH: I went to B-10, A-10, B-11 and A-12, and I graduated in two years. So that, I got, I was able to graduate with the rest of the people who graduate at eighteen.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.