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-1003-10-27

<Begin Segment 27>

AK: I guess I just did wonder, your brothers came back eventually, to the United States? How did your family reunite later?

GH: Well, I was the first to come back here and go through all this, and my youngest brother, after he... I told Ray, "Find a school for (Hugo) because he doesn't want to go to Japanese school." And so my, Ray found him St. Joseph's College in Yokohama, so (Hugo's) converted Catholic, Hugo graduated from St. Joseph's College in Tokyo, I mean Yokohama, I think it is, and he came back after he finished. And he said, "If you can do it, I can do it." And so he came back and he worked his way to, and he got out of state college too, and he went into the military. He went to the Korean conflict. So he came back and he got married and he has three children, and he and I are the only ones with college education. I guess we were the lucky ones, being at the end here. But we worked our way through. We didn't get any money from home or anything.

MN: He might've gotten on the GI Bill, though.

GH: Maybe he could've, yes. Yeah.

AK: So your other two brothers remained in Japan?

GH: No, they came back here. Ray worked for the air force. He was working for Japanese procurement in, with the army. And when I went back after my, after I graduated UCLA, 1956, he -- and I was applying for a job over there -- my friend told me that for the same job that (Ray) has right now he could get a great job and it'll be with the air force, so I told Ray, "I think that of all the military, the air force would be the very last to leave anyplace 'cause that's the way the war is now, the fastest and the best." So I said, "You know, you're not gonna lose out in retirement or anything 'cause same government, it's just a different service." I said, "I think I would go for it. (...) You know, you need to apply from the States." So I think he was still a little bit insecure at that time, but okay, so he, I brought my dad and Ray. (My father wanted to return to the States). And that's why I had to get this job in Tokyo, so that's when I found this other job for (Ray). And we came back together, and (Ray) got his job. They asked for him from over there too, (Tachikawa PF Ball), so he got his job and he went with the air force, and then he transferred to McClellan Air Force Base (in Sacramento) 'cause they were closing down over there in Japan. I said that way he could stay with his wife (in Japan) longest, 'til they close out, which was that time. (...) He went to McClellan and so they were living up there in Sacramento. And his, I told his wife, "You know, this is a bad time for him to be leaving you," because she was pregnant with the daughter right at that time, but she's at home with her, she could be at home with her mother and her relatives near her. So I said, "Neechan, it's a bad time for you, but if Ray gets this job it'll be easier and best for the family in the future, and even citizenship for the children." (...) I hate all this to happen now, but if we don't take this opportunity now, we may not get it again." So she said, "Go. Okay." So then the baby was born when he was over here, and he said he wanted a name with L in it, so I said Lenore. I said, "Don't get a name that you could make nicknames out of." He named her Lenore. Now it's Lenore's son, my grandnephew's wedding next month, so I'm going to Portland next month to his wedding. [Laughs]

AK: Okay. Wow. Can I stop?

MN: Yeah, unless there's anything else you want to ask?

AK: No, no, I was just...

GH: So we're all, we were all here at one point. But isn't it strange that we have never been, as a family unit, all together, every one of us? We didn't grow up like families. Each one of us are so different. We're each so different.

MN: But you were the only girl. [Laughs]

GH: I was the only girl. [Laughs] So I was really lucky from the time I was born. So they said, "Well, you had some hard life in this." But I don't take it that way because none of it is what I was imposed upon. It was my choosing, you know? So I can't blame --

MN: Yeah, well, you didn't choose...

GH: I can't blame anybody. But (sometimes) the world making us be the way we are, I guess. But I think that you can interpret things in different ways. You can make it better for yourself, or you can make it miserable. I think everything in this life is not a textbook. They can't write it on life. Thank god. We're not robots. So I think each one is a learning, learning situation for life, and it's how you look at it that would either keep you going... [Laughs] In this society, you choose to live or not. Right? I worked as, I worked in psychiatry and a lot of times I, when I had the keys I was okay. One day we had to go in without the key. Did I feel insecure. I felt scared. And then you see the patient and you have the key, and I'm thinking, I've felt that bad. You know, when you see the depressed, I've felt that bad. But how come he's there and I'm here with the keys? And it really, well, you could say there's genes, there's all sorts of things that is involved for people to be the way they are, but a lot of it, I think, is how you interpret things, make it livable for yourself. And my niichan used to say, "Oh, you don't have a husband." [Laughs] I said, "Don't feel sorry for me. This is my choice. So when I have to go, I have to go by myself. That's all there is to it." I have a daughter. This is my daughter, but she has her life. I don't expect anything from her. If she comes, then I have a good ending. That will be a plus. That, I'd be lucky. But I think I'm gonna come and go by myself. I think I got lots of nice friends. They worry about me, but I think it's your choosing, so what can you do? You have to make the best of your choice, so I don't regret anything and I don't blame anybody or anything. It's just the way it was. But I still think I'm lucky. I think I'm the luckiest person.

MN: Thank you very much for sharing your story with us.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.