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-1003-10-5

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MN: Now, you're doing, you're taking odori lessons, you're in oshibai, where did you get all your kimono?

GH: My mother knew the, this man who was a buyer, I guess, and seller for Shirokiya Department Store in Tokyo, and he came every month to sell the kimono. And of course Mother had the first choice 'cause he came to our restaurant first, so I did have a lot of kimono, which (Mother had) made to fit a child. So I did have a trunk full of kimonos.

MN: What about your everyday clothes? Who made your everyday clothes?

GH: My mother did a lot of sewing and she made all my clothes, but I used to love the Shirley Temple dresses, and I had loads of Shirley Temple dresses. Yeah. And as a matter of fact, Mom used to make weenie curls for me, when I did my tap dancing. That was...

MN: How do you get those little weenie curls?

GH: She wraps it up with a rag and...

MN: When your hair is wet?

GH: Yes. And then when she takes the rags out, they come in weenie curls.

MN: She made out little aprons for you too, didn't she?

GH: Yes. She made little aprons and she did embroideries on it and made 'em really cute. And often I helped in the restaurant, and I would take out the dishes and knives and forks and such, so of course I got a lot of tips too 'cause they thought that was kind of unusual.

MN: Now, these aprons, what did she make these aprons from?

GH: She made those aprons from rice bags and things. She was quite clever in sewing, so she made lots of things, not only just my dresses and things that she loved to do, but she also made flowers and made, like, bonsai, little flower gardens and things, and she gave those for Christmas. She was very clever with her fingers. She always kept on, kept it working, making bedspreads and sewing, knitting, crocheting, she did all these things and made different things to give away and also made things for us. She made each of us a futon. Also, and she just sewed all these, made the patterns and the coloring and all this, and made each one of us a futon. Things like that. She was very clever with her fingers, working all the time.

MN: Now, you also shared with us how your parents had you dance in the restaurant at special occasions. When you danced you need music, so when you had that, was it a record player or live...

GH: Right, record player.

MN: What kind of record player did your family have?

GH: We had from the kind you crank up to the most recent at the time, record that, electric one that, the plates fell when it was finished. I forget what you call those. But we got into that type of record player because my mother loved to sing as she worked, and while her hands were wet she couldn't change the record, so she finally invested in getting one of those record players that changed the record as it ended so she could just work without having to stop to change the record.

MN: So during normal business hours, your restaurant had music all the time?

GH: Yes, she played music all the time, all kinds of music.

MN: Mostly Japanese?

GH: When we had Japanese customers, yeah, she played Japanese music.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.