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-1003-10-7

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MN: Let me ask you a little bit about your education. First of all, which language did you first learn?

GH: I learned Japanese, of course, so we could communicate with the parents, and of course had some English with the cook and the customers, so I had a little bit of English. And when I went to kindergarten and had regular school, then most everything was English. But my mother wanted us to speak Japanese to them at home.

MN: So when you started kindergarten, though, did you have any problems understanding the English that the teachers would speak?

GH: I don't believe so.

MN: Now, which grammar school did you attend?

GH: I went to Chapman Avenue School.

MN: What was the ethnic makeup of Chapman?

GH: It was mixed. We had every nationality there, but of course we had the group from our little neighborhood there, so there were a few, quite a few Japanese children there. But we had a mix.

MN: Mix of Japanese and whites?

GH: And whites, yeah.

MN: Were there any Latinos or blacks?

GH: Not many. But as I say, I wasn't too curious about those things, so I don't remember. But I know that there was a Portuguese dairy nearby, and their daughter was a friend of mine. And she would call me at the restaurant all the time, and so my mother told her, told me not to use the phone 'cause it was for business, and so I remember her very well. But we did have a mixed group there, of people.

MN: How active were the Japanese parents with the Chapman Avenue School's administrators?

GH: As I say, we had a Japanese PTA group, and they did things for the school. My mother always had a luncheon for them, Chinese food of course. And I think they donated a tea set and things of that sort. They did a lot for the schools because most of the, most of us, most of the people were in business. They had their own business, so they contributed a lot to the school, I think.

MN: So you're growing up in this neighborhood, and you shared with us your friend Corinne, and what kind of games did girls play at that time?

GH: We had hopscotch, jacks, we played jacks, hide and seek. I don't know, we played regular children's games. We got skates. We did, we played on our skates and scooters.

MN: What did skates look like at that time?

GH: We had little keys we wore around our neck, and we had to tighten the front of the skate around our toes and strap. And it just fit, you put your shoes on top here and then the straps came around the ankle. And when I got mine for Christmas I just wore them all the time, all the time. [Laughs] Until I went to bed. So I was pretty good. I'd skate, and I would skate around in the restaurant also, 'cause the floor was concrete, and up and down the sidewalk 'cause our street was pretty safe. And when you come to a stop you have to stop with your toes, so the front of the shoes were all worn out always. [Laughs] But that, I learned to, first learned to skate hanging onto the back pockets of our Chinese cook while he walked, and that's how I got steady on skates. And I was pretty good.

MN: Now let me ask you a little bit about your Japanese school. Which Japanese school did you attend?

GH: All my friends in the neighborhood were going to Japanese school, they were going to church and things like that, which I didn't get to do. And I don't know whether my mother was planning to send me to Japan too when I was nine years old like my brothers, but I didn't get to go to Japanese school. I was behind all the other kids and I'd hear them talking about their homework and I didn't get to do that. But after a while (my parents) did let me go, and I went with the other kids and I caught up with them really quick. Moneta Gakuen. So I went there from I guess second grade or something like that to about fourth or fifth grade.

MN: And where was Moneta Gakuen located? Was it close by?

GH: We all walked after we came home from Chapman Avenue School, then we all walked over to Moneta Gakuen. And I think it was about an hour or two and then we walked home, but it was before dark, anyway.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.