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-1003-10-25

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MN: And then you were doing a schoolgirl.

GH: I worked as a schoolgirl, and before I landed this one job with Dr. and Mrs. Deutch, I had about three different experiences in answering mother's helper in the paper. And finally I decided, "I have to hurry and find a job before I get into school, otherwise everything's gonna be upset." And so I went to summer school at Hollywood High and I took two classes, which I got A's in because it, it was biology, and the vice principal, Mr. Houston, was teaching that class, and I had typing, which was easy, so I had one hard one and then one easy one, and of course, so I made A's. I got a job through the high school. It was a 4-4 plan and you work four hours and go to school four hours, and I found this job through the school work plan. It was a house up on Highland (Avenue), which was up the street from school, and I thought, well that's fine 'cause then I could walk to school, and I lived in the garage. But one night the owner, the man, came to my room. He didn't do anything, thank god, but if I let it go, who knows because he knew that I was here alone and my main objective was to get an education, to get through school. He knew I would be home studying 'cause I'm so far behind, but that kind of scared me that, if there's a first time there could be maybe another time, so I wanted to move out of there real quick. And I went back to Miss Lindsey's and I got another job. This time it was gonna be for a child companion because he, they wanted somebody for the children, and it wasn't really housework. It was supposed to be taking care of the children. But that, that didn't really work out to be because they got me working, doing physical work, so I gave them notice to quit there too. Then there was, the third one was a school job, the schoolgirl job in Fairfax area, and that woman told me, "You know, I had ten girls before you. Does that scare you?" I said no, and I went to work there, but after I while I gathered why. She wanted me to climb the ladder and clean the mirror from the roof down and all sorts of things, and they were Jewish so they had two families bringing me, on certain religious days they can't eat off the same plate or something or another. I had double work there, which meant I won't have time to study, so I quit there too. [Laughs]

And finally I got wise. I went to a Times newspaper and put an ad in myself that I wanted a private room and I wanted some money, I wanted fifty dollars, and I do like cleaning and I was a schoolgirl, and I got two responses that I liked, and one was in Beverly Hills and the other was in West Hollywood. The West Hollywood one I chose because they didn't have children, they only entertained very little -- that was to have her sister come over for dinner, which was not too bad. I thought I'd have time to study. And I told them that I don't wash underwear and if it weren't for the war and if it weren't for my family being split up all over the place, I said, "I wouldn't have to do this." But at this point I wanted a decent home to live in while I get my education, and that was my main purpose, and we had a good understanding. She was very nice to me, and so I lasted there 'til I graduated high school. So those are my school, schoolwork part time job experience. And the lady, my friend Betty says, "I went to check up on you and I talked to Mrs. Deutch, and I think they like you." [Laughs] And so that was really nice, 'cause Dr., her husband was a dentist and the doctor drove me to school 'cause he passed by to go to work there, so he took me to school in the morning. And I took lunch, so I was... and then, then I got a job in the (school) office, running the PBX, yeah, the telephone, PBX machine, so I got my lunch free there, at school. And I got to know all the important people in the office there too, so they were nice to me, so I was lucky to get that job. And I got my lunch free. [Laughs] I went through two years then, and I graduated (Hollywood High School).

So now it was college, and I told Mrs. Deutch I didn't think it would be fair for me to be traveling most of the time, because I needed to go to L.A. Community College there because I have so much academic deficit. So I asked my father's brother, uncle, if I can come live downtown in one of his hotels, 'cause he bragged so much about all his hotels. But in actuality it was really run down hotels in all the bad places like skid row downtown. But of all the hotels he said he owned, he told me to go this Atlantic Hotel and there's Mr. and Mrs. Cho there, so I went to Atlantic Hotel and that was very nice because Mr. Cho, in his young days he was an export-importer so he traveled all over the place and would tell me things about Australia and different stories. And his wife, even in those days, she was a graduate of Berkeley, so her English was perfect and she would correct my English. And so Mrs. Cho and Mr. Cho sort of looked after me, and my uncle told them that I was the only niece and so he was renting me this room for a dollar a day. So I was looking for a job and I couldn't find anything downtown. I went to all the department stores everywhere, put applications in, but I couldn't get anything. And then I saw this ad in the paper that said, "We train on the job." No place like this in the world. And it happened to be just around the corner on Broadway. It was Dr. Brinkley's colonic clinic. And so I went over there and I told Mr. Osborn, who was the personnel man there -- Dr. Brinkley was just the name they used -- (...) I told him I was a schoolgirl and I needed a part time job and I could work there in the afternoons. And he said that, okay, well, I could work in the lab and he'll have one of the ladies there teach me what to do, and he said that he was putting through his girlfriend's daughter through school in Paris (he) accepted me to come over there to learn and to work. And he told the lab technician to teach me whatever he could, (...) I'm lucky I got a job there. And this was a real, real desperation because I was living in his Atlantic Hotel, which was a dilapidated hotel in skid row, and during the day I'm in school, but when I come home I have all these luscious stories that I was told by Mrs. Cho, what was happening there in the environment, and then I'd change into my (work) clothes and go to Dr. Brinkley's clinic to work and then come back. And Mr. Osborn said, "Do you know Japanese?" I said, "A little." He said, "I'll tell you about advertisement." He says, "You see, I have these pages of advertisement." He says, "So they can't sue me, I use..." [Laughs] He uses people who are, who will not sue him, who's dead. And he has these advertisements, and he says, "Can you do this in Japanese?" I asked my brother to send me a Japanese medical dictionary and I wrote out the physiology of what's what, and he put that in the Rafu Shimpo. He had a whole page advertisement. And then he wanted me to interpret for the Japanese customers that came there, at this colonic. Then he says, "When we have these speakers come from different places, you could go to those lectures." And he told the lab guy to let me do that, so whenever they had these lectures on vitamin B-12 and things like that I was able to go. But the lab technician told me, said, "You know, I know real doctors," because he was from Texas and he didn't have a California license, so they were using him cheap. And so he's telling me that he knows what a real good lab is. He says, "You follow them into those..." not x-ray machine but the rooms in there, to explain what's going on, he says, "Those guys are not really doctors." So he says, "But what I'm teaching you here, I'm telling you, is true." And he would have a textbook to show me what he does. They do colonics, and then what things they get he puts on a slide. He, he saved all these different things for me when I come from school over there. I look at it, "What is that?" He said that's dog, they get it from the dog's poo. "What? How'd it get there?" Well, he says from the dog, it's get into the, their house and whatever. If they're not clean enough it gets into the food and then they ingest it and that's how it got there. "Look at these things." And he would show me all these things, and he would have a textbook too to prove what (we're showing), looking at, what he's showing me, so I trusted him and I learned some things from the lab there from him.

And so I would come home from work, and Mrs. Cho said, "Look at this paper today." And it would be a picture of all these prostitutes that used to come up there, and she said, "This one, I told you about her, she brought up a plainclothes cop, and so she goes walkin' down those stairs saying, 'Lady, you know me. I was here before.'" She says, "No, I don't know you at all." And here she, the plainclothes cop would be taking her in, and here's the picture of all these people at Lincoln Heights, the women, women's prison there. Oh gosh. [Laughs] Another time she says, "What happened to us?" She said, "We still have a detective in the closet across from room (...)," across from the hall there. (...) She said, "I thought it was odd that this guy would ask for this particular room every time he came, and finally it opened so I gave it to him. And I went to clean the room, and I moved the bed," and she said there was this hole in the floor. "I called the police and the police came and examined. He had left his tools. He was a professional safecracker, and he was going down to the shop, the store down below to crack the safe. And the detective was in the closet right by the room waiting for him to come back, so we can't go back (there), okay?" And then another time we had these bums that would come up the fire escape in the back and go into the tub and sleep in the tub. [Laughs] Or -- you know, in the bathtub -- or all these different stories. One time the cop came up, she said, "Grace, we told them that you were our niece because he said that there was a young minor prostitute here, and so we had to explain to him, 'No, if you're thinking of, it's my niece.'" So I was her niece. And I lived there for a year and a half.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.