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

<Begin Segment 1>

MN: Okay, today is Friday, March 16, 2012. We will be interviewing Grace Shizuka Hata. We have Ann Kaneko on the video camera, and I will be interviewing. My name is Martha Nakagawa. Grace, let's start with your father's name.

GH: My father's name is Goro Hata.

MN: Which prefecture is he from?

GH: He's from Fukushima.

MN: Do you know why your father came to the United States?

GH: Yes. His family home is in the mountains, he comes from a family where they have onsen, hot spring, and one year the, one part of the wing of the hotel was washed away and there was no one in his family who would help with the rebuilding. And so my father, one of fifteen children, volunteered to send some money, so he was the one that came over to America. And he worked, I think, on the farm in Imperial Valley and very religiously sent home money for them to rebuild the wing. And it took a long time for him to do that. When he was finished sending money for that (he sent) his mother and father, (and) my mother's father and mother, until they died (...). And when they all died, then he sent money on Bon and shogatsu to his only aunt, which was something he did religiously from, out of love. Yeah.

MN: So he's sending money, and going back before he started, you talked about your mother's side, that he started to send money, but he is farming. When did he decide to get married?

GH: I think when he was almost thirty, he contacted my mother's oldest sister, who was about his age, and thought that, "If the sister's gonna come over to be my bride, I guess that's okay. She must be good looking." So he said send her over. So when Mother come to San Francisco she was pleasantly plump and not as he thought she might be, and he was a little bit disappointed 'cause he thought himself a very handsome man. But I think that haunted him most of his life because she resented that. [Laughs] But she was a worker and she was very, very good to all of us and quite encouraging to become what we became, I guess.

MN: What is your mother's name?

GH: My mother's name is Yoshi Hata.

MN: Her maiden name is also Hata?

GH: No, Kubo. Kubo was her maiden name.

MN: And which prefecture is she from?

GH: She's also from Fukushima, just the next village over from my dad's.

MN: Can you share a little bit about what your mother did before she got married, what she did in Japan?

GH: She comes from a large family too, and she and her sister, after graduating elementary school -- I guess they went up to eighth grade or ninth grade -- she went to Tokyo, and her sister and she were nursing in, nurses I guess, in a tuberculosis sanatorium before she got married. And I think she and her sister also were sending money home.

MN: Now, after your father got married he quit farming. What did he do after that?

GH: They had a fruit stand and a restaurant on Main Street in Gardena, and he had Hawaiian people, a couple, running the restaurant for him, and I think he and Mother ran the fruit stand. He'd go out in the morning to get all the fruits and vegetables. And my oldest brother, Thomas, was born by then.

MN: What year was Thomas born?

GH: In 1920.

MN: Was he born at home?

GH: I'm not sure about him. I believe he probably was, yeah.

MN: Now, your parents are in a business where they have to interact with a lot of people.

GH: Yes.

MN: Did they both speak English and did they pick up English names?

GH: Yes, my mother, the customers used to call her Mary, and she was so good in adding up everything in her head while she was preparing the food they, the people chose that by the end of it she always had the total price for 'em. And they were amazed at her and so, yeah, they used to want her to wait on them.

MN: So she could calculate in her head.

GH: Yes.

MN: So your father didn't pick up an English name? He was always Goro?

GH: I think they called him George. [Laughs] But it's not legally, on any kind of paper that way.

MN: Now, your parents moved from the Main Street business to another street. Why did they have to move?

GH: That's a story that I've heard, that my father insisted that he wanted rice for lunch and my mother said that's the busiest time, so she said that if he could just wait until dinnertime she'll make rice. No, no, no. He had to have it for lunch, and so he went and put on the rice himself, but as usual, it got busy and, of course, they had a fire and the whole place burned down. And so they had to move and they found this location on Western Avenue in Gardena, and at that time my father and mother could not own property. They had to lease, and so they leased the property from a Mr. Tobias and he was very happy that even during the Depression, he said that he never had to ask my parents for the rent or anything like that because they always had everything ready for him. And he was very, very impressed and pleased with doing business with my parents.

MN: So it sounds like the Great Depression didn't affect your parents' restaurant too much?

GH: No, it didn't. They somehow managed, and my father still managed to do what he came to do and sent money back, and also raised us, so I think he, they did a good job.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

MN: Let me ask about your parents' children now. In total, how many children did your parents have?

GH: I have two older brothers, and I have one younger brother, and I'm the only daughter in the family so of course was very spoiled from the time I was born, until I die, I guess. I feel I'm the luckiest person on earth here. [Laughs]

MN: Thomas was born at the Main Street address.

GH: Yes.

MN: And your second brother and you and your younger brother, where were they born?

GH: We were all born on Western Avenue.

MN: What year were you born?

GH: I was born in December 1930.

MN: And what is your birth name?

GH: My birth name is Grace Shizuka Hata.

MN: Now, it's very unusual for Issei parents to give their children both a Japanese and an English name. Did all your siblings have that?

GH: Yes. We all have English first name and Japanese middle name.

MN: Do you know why your parents decided to give everybody an English name?

GH: I'm not sure, but I think that with all the customers and the... I think suggestions and asking what would be a good name, or people giving suggestions to my parents. I think they decided that that's what they would do. We all have an English first name and a Japanese middle name.

MN: Do you mind if I ask you why your second brother, Ray, is dressed up like a girl as a baby?

GH: [Laughs] Yes, now that my oldest brother is not here I can talk about him, I guess. The story goes that when he was little he was very naughty and he was into all sorts of mischief, and my mother thought that because they were both so busy working that he's gonna turn out to be a juvenile delinquent. So she sent him back to Japan when he was about nine years old. She sent him to her, my mother's oldest sister in Tokyo, whose husband was a reporter and they were well able to take care of him. So she sent him over there to be groomed as first son of this family, and when he was eighteen he returned here. My mother let him come back, and he was such a good boy that, New Year's is the only time that my parents took time off from their business and went around to greet everybody with happy New Year, and everybody he met, my mother introduced him to, they said, "Oh, when you were little you were so bad. But you turned out to be a very good young man." [Laughs] So my brother, my brother said he knows what they're gonna say the next place we go. I guess he had a reputation. And so when my second brother was born my mother and my father both dressed him as a girl, so Ray was a little girl 'til he went to kindergarten, and people who came to our restaurant, they always thought he was a girl. And lo and behold, he metamorphed into a boy when he was about five years old, I guess, but until then everybody was convinced he was a little girl. And then after that I came, so I was a lucky one. [Laughs] And then my youngest brother, he, until his dying day I think he thought that I was favored, and he was not very happy about that.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

MN: Well, let me ask you about the family business. What was the name of your family restaurant?

GH: They just called it Hata Chop Suey, and we've been there for over, I know over ten years because that's, in 1940, that's when my parents were going to do something special for our Chinese cook. His name is Jack Kwan, and we just called him Shinsan. And she was going to do something special for him, so they'd been in that same location for way over ten years and our restaurant was fairly well-known all around the neighborhood and county. People had big parties from Torrance, Compton, Inglewood, all over.

MN: Do you remember your restaurant's address?

GH: It's 15469 South Western Avenue, Gardena, California.

MN: And it's close to Redondo Beach.

GH: It's close to Redondo Beach. And it was an area where we had many little Japanese businesses, and so the children from our neighborhood, the parents had a Japanese PTA at Chapman Avenue School where we all went. And we all went together to school, we walked. In those days, way in the back there were other farming areas. There was a dairy, there was a miniature golf course, there was a little lima beans farm, and there was a turkey farm. Mr. Geezer on the end of the block there had a cow in his backyard. It was quite rustic still at that time. But all the Japanese stores there, all in a row, we had a Japanese grocery store and Reiko, the daughter there was my best friend at that time. There was Clara's Beauty Shop, there was Toshima's furniture store, there was a tofu house, there was Shimazaki's photography shop. We had a seed store, we had a dry goods store, we had a barber shop, Clara's Beauty Shop, all in a row there. We had a little community. And later on, across the street we had Mr. Sato's market. And also my best friend, Corinne, Corinne's grandmother owned the Bell's Tavern, which was on the corner also, and Corinne and I were best friends in those days.

MN: Can you share with us what you did with Corinne in the tavern?

GH: Corinne's --

MN: Now, Corinne is, she's German?

GH: Her mother was German and her father was Greek, and her grandmother had this tavern. And when they had rehearsals of the stage thing they had there, they would, she would tell Corinne she could come and watch the show if she wanted to, so she and I would go over there, after the show we'd take the tablecloth, red and white checker tablecloth, off the tables and wear, tie it around our necks and run and slide on the dance floor. We used to have a great time. And Corinne was also into tap dancing and ballet, and I watched her doing all those somersaults and things, and I wanted to do that too, so I told my mother I wanted to take tap dancing. And so I did get to take some lessons, and I have pictures of me in my tap shoes, which are all worn out in the front. [Laughs]

MN: Where did you take tap dancing lessons?

GH: It was in Gardena. My mother said that Shirley Temple's teacher used to come down there to teach, and so I went there for lessons. My father had to drive the car, and my mother had to be with me, so it was a whole family thing. So that didn't last too long, and my mother got me into Japanese dancing. And my father loved all this sort of things, so when they had the Japanese drama at the theater -- we had a Yamatoza Theater, Japanese theater in the back also -- and so when they had programs where they needed children, 'course, I was enlisted to do those parts. And since they had me doing all these things, later on I said I didn't want to do (these things), I don't want to learn dancing anymore because they made me dance at the kenjinkai parties, picnics, and then when they had banquets at the house, at the restaurant, they made me dance there. And I did everything I could to not get involved dancing because one time my father, at the picnic, he hollered from way in the back, "Shichahan, Papa's here." And it was so embarrassing that I forgot my part in my dancing, and I told my mother, "I don't want to do that anymore." And also, again, dancing at the restaurant, they made this stage for me in the restaurant and everything, and they would throw money up on the stage, and I told my mother, "I am not an organ grinder's monkey and I don't like them throwing money at me, so I'm not gonna do that anymore." [Laughs] (But) I was still made to this, though, until the war ended, I mean until the war started and we were put into camp. When we were in Tule Lake, Bando Misa was teaching and I still had to take dancing lessons from her, and after one recital I told my mother I was too old now and I was not going to do that anymore. So that ended that career.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

MN: Well, I'm gonna go back to your childhood since we're talking about your odori lessons.

GH: Okay, yes.

MN: Who was your teacher?

GH: Originally...

MN: [Whispers] Fujima Kansuma.

GH: Yeah, Fujima Kansuma was coming to Gardena to teach, and so my mother had me take lessons from her.

MN: How old were you when you started to take lessons?

GH: I believe I was somewhere around four or five, something like that. I was young.

MN: Now, where did she teach the lessons, what building?

GH: In the beginning it was a building at the end of our block, and then later I think she was teaching at the Japanese school, Moneta Gakuen.

MN: So did she come, like, once a week?

GH: I believe she did.

MN: And then what were the lessons like?

GH: Well, we'd have to sit 'til our turn and watch the others get their lessons. And I think most of it I kind of learned as she was giving lessons to others so that by the time I got to that music, that lesson, I learn pretty quickly.

MN: So everybody had to sit and watch?

GH: We had to sit and watch and wait 'til our turn.

MN: Now, when Fujima Kansuma taught, did she have live musicians, or was it record players?

GH: It was record. We danced to the modern, the modern music.

MN: At that time.

GH: At that time, yes.

MN: So on average, how many students does she have in Gardena?

GH: I'm not absolutely sure, but I think there were in the teens. We had quite a few people.

MN: Were they all girls?

GH: Yes. They were all girls, yes.

MN: And then let me go back to, you're taking odori lessons, but then you also mentioned the Yamatoza, and you were in the oshibai.

GH: [Laughs] Yes.

MN: Can you share with us what that kind of experience was like?

GH: It was a part as a child of course, and all the actors were men. And there was one part I had to be in where the mother picks me up, and I looked up at him and he was just perspiring and I wanted to laugh but I couldn't, 'cause it was really a sad story about a little child whose father was a drunkard or something and the child was looking for her parents, something of that sort. My father knew the story and would explain all that to me. But I had different parts like that to play in the oshibai.


MN: -- oshibai and all these men are playing women parts also, and you're in this play.

GH: Yes.

MN: How long were these rehearsals like?

GH: They were long. They were long. Because I think the people came when they could come, they decided on a certain day and they'd do it, I think, (...) it was long.

MN: And I imagine it, everybody works, so it's in evenings, the rehearsals?

GH: Yes.

MN: And then who made all the sceneries and the costumes?

GH: I'm not sure, I think they had, the Yamatoza people would probably know people who could do those things and they made the backdrops and everything.

MN: And then --

GH: They also had people who sang the gitayu that sang with the story too, so they had to get all that organized, I suppose. I was so little then, so I don't know how well the organization went, but I know that I was put into those plays.

MN: So if they had the singers, then they also had shamisen players too.

GH: Yes, yes.

MN: They had all those live musicians. That's a lot of people.

GH: Yeah, involved in it.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

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.

<Begin Segment 6>

MN: Now, let me go back to your restaurant business. In relationship to the restaurant, where did you live?

GH: We lived in the back of the restaurant.

MN: And you talked about this Chinese cook, Jack Kwan, where did he live?

GH: He lived in a room that was made into a room (at) the back of the garage.

MN: And then who were, mostly, your parents' customers?

GH: We had customers from all over. So regularly people who came, she had German, they were, I think she said that her husband used to be a blacksmith way in the olden times, and they lived in the neighborhood. They used to come a lot. And we had a lot of regular customers who came almost once a week, so we had all sorts of customers, all nationality.

MN: And then you talked about parties at your restaurant, so was there a special room that the parties were in?

GH: No. My father cleared out the regular set up that we had and brought in the big tables, benches and chairs, and he had to reorganize the whole restaurant for the banquet. And then we had to close down for the regular customers. But they were fairly frequent. We had big parties.

MN: Now, your restaurant is the Hata Chop Suey House. What kind of food was on the menu?

GH: They had chow mein, pakkai, duck, shrimp, most of the Chinese regular menu that you see even today. Our cook was, I think he was from Hong Kong, so it was more that type of cooking than, than... Cantonese cooking. And we had regular Japanese customers too that came almost every week. I remember Mr. Ishihara, Mr. Ishihara used to come once a week, I think, and he loved noodles. He'd eat this hot, he brings this hot pepper and puts hot pepper on it, and he would just sweat. For fifty cents he'd get a big bowl of udon and he would lambast my father up and down. He'd call him all kinds of names. [Laughs] And when he gets drunk, my mother didn't want to send him off drunk, so he'd be laying down on the couch in our back room with his dentures, both of 'em, out on his forehead. We'd come into the room and look at him and say, "Oh my god, his teeth are on his forehead." [Laughs] But we saw all sorts of people who behaved funny when they got drunk. There were singers, there were people who cried, people who got angry and who'd throw things around. So when we knew that that behavior was going to come on, Mother'd clear off the table and things. But we had many, many dishes and things broken, customers getting drunk and acting like that, but that was part of the business, I guess.

MN: Did your restaurant ever get robbed?

GH: We had times when, my mother, she had sixth sense and she would know. She'd say, "Papa, put away the money. Get the money out of the cash register." And sure enough, this one time they had, the guy came and ordered some things to go, and when it came time to pay for it (the customer) put out a big (bill) and my father had to open the register, and it was a holdup. And my mother said she thought something was wrong because she noticed that the car was parked off the curb. And so he took them into the bathroom, everywhere. My mother said, "This is all we have, so you can take what you want." (The robber) came back, but he couldn't get the money, so he got nervous and he left. So that was lucky nobody got hurt. But another time too, she said, "I know they're gonna steal something." And my father says, "Every time you see somebody you're distrusting them." And she said, "No, I think it's going to be done." Well, the next morning, as I was skating around the restaurant, I noticed that the sugar bowl, the sugar (was emptied out between) the compartments and the sugar (bowl was gone). And my mother said, "See? I told you." Somebody stole our goldfish from the aquarium. And my father said [scoffs]. But there was the sugar piled up, and so she says, "Americans are funny people, though." She says, "They'll come right back, even when they do things like that." So she said, to let them know she said, "So what did you do with my goldfish?" And he apparently told her that they fried it and ate it. But she said they're funny people because they come back. [Laughs] Yeah, my mother was really very intuitive, and she just knew things were gonna happen and it did.

MN: You have any idea where your mother hid that money when she was, she knew that they might rob the restaurant?

GH: Well, I think that she put it in the, we had a little cabinet in the bedroom and there were things just jam packed in there, so she probably (put it) in there. I'm not sure, but I think it may have gone in there.

MN: Now, your mother, what did, what was her responsibility at the restaurant?

GH: My mother did the cooking with Shinsan, and she did some of the things that she liked to do that would be different from the Chinese cooking, such as the shrimp. Mother used to cut it in a certain way and take that flat knife and slam it so the shrimp would be winged out. And then she'd put it through the batter so the fried shrimp were huge, and she would have the plate just full. So she would do that sort of cooking and decorating the dish, and Shinsan did all the main cooking.

MN: So what about your father? What did he do?

GH: He was a waiter. He would go get the order, and if it's the white people, "Chop suey, Chicago style." [Laughs] And if it's Japanese, then they know the noodles had to be cooked fried. And when he said Chicago style, that was when they had those noodles that were, not fried in the pan but deep fried, like they sell 'em in the cans here now. And then they put the chop suey on top. So yeah, he was the waiter and he did all the buying, so he had to go into Chinatown once a week to do all the buying of the Chinese food.

MN: How old were you when you started to help out?

GH: I don't know. I have pictures that look like maybe six or seven.

MN: And what did you do when you're so young like that?

GH: I just took out the napkins and the dishes that they'll be using, and the cookies, that sort of thing.

MN: Now, you have all these different nationalities in your restaurant. Were there any, like, cultural eating habits or misunderstandings between different nationalities?

GH: What was funny and they always talked about was when we had several Japanese coming in for noodles and we had one, we had two big tables in one end of the restaurant and then we had the smaller group compartments in the middle, and when we had several Japanese customers come in and order noodles they'll be soup, slurping, and the Americans on the other end of the partition will look over the partition and see what's going on. [Laughs] They thought that was strange. So my mother was always telling us, "Don't slurp. Don't slurp."

MN: Now, how many days a week was your parents' restaurant open?

GH: They were open seven days a week.

MN: What occasions did your parents close the restaurant and take a break?

GH: Only New Year's. They took a few days off and they went around to all their friends to wish them happy New Year and do their usual greetings.

MN: Did your mother get a break, or did she have to make the Oshogatsu no gochiso?

GH: She didn't make too much of those things. I don't have too much remembrance of that because we didn't eat very much of that, unless we went out to all the different homes.

MN: What about mochitsuki on New Year's?

GH: We didn't do that at home either, but we went to where they were doing it sometimes.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

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.

<Begin Segment 8>

MN: So now you're getting older, and as you got older you have to spend your summers in Little Tokyo. How old were you when that started to happen?

GH: Well, with Corinne and myself in our bathing suits, running around, my mother thought that I was going to turn out to be a wild girl, so she made me go to a boarding house in Little Tokyo. And the place was called Fukushimaya, (...) it was a boarding house and I was sent there to go to, take Japanese dancing lessons from Fujima Kansama at her studio in Little Tokyo. So in the morning -- there was a daughter there, Yo-chan, Yoshiko-chan, and Yo-chan was much older than I. Of course she was a grown person, and she was taking Japanese dancing lessons from Bando... I forgot, something, Bando something. And so I would practice with her and then also have lessons with, my own lessons, but I'd get up in the morning and we had to go pray to all the gods and shrines they had there because the owner was a Shinto priest. And he had a shrine, and every room had a Shinto shrine and a Buddhist shrine, so we had to go round and do our prayers in the morning first. Since it was a boarding house, the Missus made breakfast and things. She'd make all the meals and we, Yo-chan and I were to help with either serving or getting the things ready, and so I helped Yo-chan do that. And then in the afternoon I'd go to my lessons, and then when Yo-chan came back in later afternoon or the evening and I'd, I'd practice with her. But I was very lonely there. They're all grown up. I was the only child there. So like in the evenings, the boarders would be playing cards and things at the big tables, so I learned solitaire and these games quite early. [Laughs] But I was very lonely. One time I gave my father a problem because I told him I wasn't gonna go unless Reiko went with me, and so my father had to take us both and he did his shopping, then next day he had to come pick her up while I was practicing when I went to my lesson. So that was so lonely. I didn't, I didn't like that very well, but that was a lesson I had to learn when I was, I don't know, maybe eight, seven, eight or nine, something like that. Every summer I had to go.

MN: What kind of boarders were at this boarding house?

GH: They were young men and they had day work, I suppose.

MN: So mostly bachelors.

GH: Yes.

MN: I'm gonna change the subject a little, ask you about special occasions. You mentioned Christmas, so your parents weren't Christian but your family observed Christmas?

GH: Well yes, we did. Yeah, come to think of it, we did. We had a big Christmas tree in the dining room there. And we exchanged gifts, birthdays.

MN: Can you share with us about the time your younger brother Hugo got a train set?

GH: Yeah, Hugo was always saying that I was the luckiest one always, everything was for me, but he was the youngest, was just as spoiled as I was. And one year he was into trains, and my father even had to take him to see the real trains downtown, and so one year for Christmas he got a whole train set. And all the adults, the cook, my father, and all the customers, they set up this train track on one of the big tables in the dining room, and it worked electrically and so he, Hugo wanted to play with it -- that's my youngest brother -- but, "No, no, no, wait. We have to do it." So he didn't get to play with his own toy. All the grownups were playing with his electric train track, train toy, and they got it all set up with the little town and whatever, with trees, all the background. It had an elaborate set there for him, but he hardly got to play. When everybody was sleeping -- my folks, their business is at night, so they sleep in late -- so when nobody was there, that's when he went there to play with his train tracks, the train. He had all sorts of trains. He had several different models, and he just got to play when everybody else was sleeping. [Laughs]

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

MN: Okay, now you mentioned kenjinkai picnics before, so I take it that there was enough people from Fukushima-ken?

GH: Not so many as, we were invited to all these other, but mostly people here were from, where is that fishing...

MN: Wakayama?

GH: Wakayama and Kumamoto and... different places like that.

AK: Hiroshima?

GH: Hiroshima, yes. Hiroshima, a lot of people from there. So they had (kenjinkai picnics), we were invited to all the different kenjinkai picnics because they wanted us to dance.

MN: The Fukushima kenjinkai itself didn't have its own --

GH: Yes. They do have a kenjinkai, but it's not as big as the other groups of people who were here.

MN: Let me ask you about the beach. Did your parents take you to the beach?

GH: Yes. My mother said that she wanted to take us to the beach in the summer because all winter long we're sick. And my father said if he can't go to White Point, he says it's not fun for him and he doesn't want to go. So they had a big to do about that, and that year my father and mother, they didn't take us to the beach. Well, then all winter long we were sick and so the next year my father gave in. He took us to Redondo Beach or to Hermosa Beach, which was close to home and we could go during the day and come back. And we took all the neighborhood kids with us so we could all have fun, and we did do a lot of beach going. And my father'd get around the posts, the pier, the posts by the pier, and catch these little crabs for us, so we had fun catching crabs and things. Not I, but my brothers and the other kids. [Laughs] But yeah, that year and thereafter he took us to the beach a lot.

MN: Did you eat those little crabs?

GH: No, no, no. They were just for fun, to know where they were, and the barnacles, things like, those living things.

MN: What about, like the park, did they take you to different parks?

GH: We went to, yes, occasionally they took us to Banning Park, which was nearby. And again, we took friends, our friends and kids from our neighborhood, and neighbors too so the adults could have fun too. Yeah.

MN: So when you went on these picnics, kenjinkai picnics or beach or park, what kind of obento did your mother pack?

GH: She made the Japanese-type bentos. Yeah, I loved the egg roll, egg things she made and... just a few of the things, I would eat. [Laughs] Wasn't too crazy about all the other things, and I wasn't crazy about fish, so I didn't have any of those other exotic foods.

MN: So it wasn't food from your, the chop suey house?

GH: No, wasn't, it wasn't from the chop suey house. It was, well, we had maybe chashu in there, though. [Laughs]

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

MN: Now let me ask a little bit about your mother's health. She's working seven days a week, and how healthy was she?

GH: She had high blood pressure all my life, that I know of. And occasionally she would get terrible headaches and she would lie down and oftentime I had to massage her and get on her back, walk up and down her back. And later on she got into okyu. She had all those... and I learned how to do that too, put mogusa on there and give her her treatment. We got ours too when we were bad. My mother had an anecdotal note in her mind, when she had it she says, "Go bring that footstool." And we'd, my younger brother and I, we both got it at the same time. I'd get it first. "Sit there." She said, "Mama had --" she'd give us the psychology -- "Mama had good children and there's some mushi in your stomach that makes you do these bad things. I told you not to talk back. When you go over to people's house, I told you not to beg for things. I told you that." "I didn't beg. They gave it to me." "No, then you say thank you." Here, we get all these lectures and everything we did bad and wrong, she would give us this, every time that thing, fire hits the skin, I would scream as loud as I could because I wanted the whole neighborhood to hear how I was getting tortured. I would scream bloody murder. And then when it's my brother's time he would go [makes a face], and he won't scream, so I would giggle. She says, "Okay, you're coming again." So I'd have to stop giggling. But I think I got that maybe two or three times 'cause I still have a scar back here from where she did that to me. [Laughs] But I was gonna let the neighborhood know how I was being tortured. But we didn't do those bad things again, though.

MN: You know, you also got very sick.

GH: Yeah, one time, I don't know what I had, whether it was one of the communicable diseases, scarlet fever or what it was, but I was at Okeiko with Kansuma, I think, and I came home that night very, very sick. And I was really, really sick, had a fever that wouldn't go down, and so that one night my mother had a big party and the ladies asked my mother what was wrong because it seemed that she was just running back and forth, just all excited and not getting her work done back there in the kitchen. And so she said that I was sick and I was dying, and so these people were from Nam Myoho Renge Kyo -- I don't know what religion that was exactly -- but they came in and looked at me and they said, "Okay, we'll pray for her." And I remember them coming, [chants], "Nam myoho renge kyo," and they prayed for me. And about the next day or the day after the fever went down and I was fine. And another thing, my mother was into Seicho no ie, and this man who was teaching told my mother that when the parents fight a lot it's taken out on the child that they love, and so my mother told my father about that. And so thereafter my father never argued with my mother. He would just, he always smoked a cigarette and always on a pipe, so he'd say, "Okay, Mama. Are you finished now?" And that would make her so mad that she'd go all over again and repeat, all day long she'd be repeating the same thing she'll be so mad. But he quit arguing with her. And so, talking about religion, I don't know what we were, but they were interested in different religions. [Laughs]

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

MN: Now, I want to ask you about your two oldest brothers. You mentioned about them earlier, about going to Japan, or being sent to Japan.

GH: Yes.

MN: Now, when did Thomas come back? What year did he come back?

GH: He was eighteen when he finished school and he came back, so what was that? He was born in 1920. Was it 1940?

MN: '38.

GH: 1938? No.

MN: Eighteen, right? 1920, eighteen, yeah, 1938.

GH: 1938. Yeah. So I was about eight years old then.

MN: And you didn't grow up with Thomas.

GH: No.

MN: How did you feel when he suddenly joined the family?

GH: Then, yes, and then he came back an angel and my mother was so happy with him. And she, I think, had a little guilt feeling too that she sent him away so young. When he came back she bought him suits that cost a hundred dollars, all kinds of clothes and things. Of course, he didn't have any, so he had to have some. But that was a year also that... Shinsan also helped too. He says, "Aha, Mama's favorite child. She loves him more than you." He kept egging me on too, but I wanted this Shirley Temple dress and I got told, "Well, you have so much clothes. You really don't need it, but think of poor Niichan. He doesn't have anything. He was deprived of everything for all these years and he needs these clothes, and you have so many. No, you don't need it." "It's only a dollar. I want that dress." "No, no, no." So there I was, [pouts] just as ugly as can be. [Laughs] And there's pictures to prove it. But there was a little period there where I was not very happy that she loved him more than me and he got more than I did.

MN: You know, when Thomas returned, how much English did he speak?

GH: He didn't speak very much English at all. So my mother thought the best way that he would learn English is to go in a home where they speak English all the time, otherwise, at home he'll never learn English. So he was sent out to South Pasadena to Mr. and Mrs. Piper's, and he worked there as a schoolboy and went to Pasadena City College. And he just came home on the weekends.

MN: Now, when did Ray return back to L.A.?

GH: Ray came back in April 1940, '41 was it?

MN: '41 is, December the war started. Did he come back --

GH: Yes, that was the year, in April 1941. Then he came home saying that he was told as an American to leave the country because there might be a war, and he came on Asama Maru, with Mr. Endo who was selling the kimono from Shirokiya, same time. And my mother told Ray, "Nonsense. They've been talking about war and silly things like that." So she said, "Go back. I want you to get the education in Japan, so go back." And he was sent back in, he came back in April, probably in June he was sent back to Japan, and it was that year, that December that a war did start.

MN: Now, when your two brothers were growing up in Japan, what sort of care packages did your mother ship over?

GH: Every month my mother had sent back, with a Japanese ship that came, a big, like carton boxes of food and all sorts of things, raisins. I remember that, raisins and different foods. She sent back every month a carton full, large boxful, and that went on year after year.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

MN: Now I'm gonna get into the war years. Do you remember what you were doing on Sunday, December 7, 1941?

GH: Well let's see, I'm born on the fifth and so I just had a birthday and I had my new Shirley Temple dress on. And what was I doing? I don't recall exactly, but as the day went on they said that there was a war and this terrible thing happened. That night the FBI came and looked around in our back room and every place in our restaurant, and they told me to tell my mother that my father had to get his toothbrush and a few things together because they were gonna (take my father) away. I asked 'em where they were gonna take him. Of course, I didn't understand, and so I kicked, I kicked the FBI for taking my dad. [Laughs] And that night they took him away, and later I found out that he was taken to Wilmington to the naturalization building over there. And my mother was so upset that she didn't know what to do. We closed down the restaurant for fifteen days, and I saw my mother lose weight and her hair got all white, and she was just a nervous person and she didn't know what to do. The FBI came around, our building was right next to an alley where, the alley went down to Yamatoza in the back and we hear the FBI marching through there, checking all around our neighborhood. You could just hear 'em talking, and it was blackout at night then, all the shades were down, so we could just hear the marching of these foot sounds all the way up and down the alley. And it was really scary around that time.

Later on, when things kind of settled down, Shinsan said, well, Mom decided that they'll open up the restaurant again. So we opened up the restaurant and I kind of helped in the, serving the dishes, setting up the table when the customers came, and I waited, and I got tips also 'cause they thought that it was kind of cute to have a kid come or something. We had a regular waitress that Mother hired, but they gave me tips also. And so I saved up my money and I told my mother that I wanted to buy a watch for my dad, and I suppose she told whoever, and so I did get a watch for him. And I wanted to go see him, and so the Chinese cook said that it would be safe for him to take me, and if they do get stopped he'll say he was Chinese, and so I went to see my dad. And I remember the guard there, he kept telling us the time. I said, "I can tell time. Don't remind us." And my father did say, "Goumon ni kakerareta." And I said, oh my god, I looked at him to see if everything looked okay and... and time was up so I had to leave, I came home. But I did, I really didn't like him being taken away from us. But she was the bookkeeper and everything of the business, so when the IRS came around we didn't have any trouble. And there were others, stores down the street, some had trouble and they were all upset, but we were lucky that my father kept good books, so we didn't have any trouble.

And eventually we opened the restaurant, so the regular customers started coming back. And the German lady told my mom about the First World War, and how the children suffered and they didn't have cookies and they didn't have this and that and how terrible it was. Mother got all kinds of information from different customers, and so she was even more confused what to do. Then pretty soon, one day Mr. Koike came and told my mother that he was going into Manzanar to build the camp, and he was gonna go in as a carpenter with the Maryknoll people at Little Tokyo, and so he said that one good thing about this is that it's in California and that as soon as the war's over we could easily come home. And told my mother that tomorrow was the last day for relatives for the volunteers who would like to be interned there together, so we went to see about it. I said, they're asking us how we're related to Mr. Koike and the way we were taught not to lie and so forth, my mother said, "Oh, komatta ne." She says, "Ma, itoko [inaudible]." So I said, "Oh, we're cousins." [Laughs] And so okay, we got approval, and the next day we were gonna go into camp, Manzanar. And we got all the papers on what to do. We could only take a suitcase. My mother worried about that, hearing the story from the German lady and everything, so she had a can of cookies for my brother, and he had his baseball hat and his bat, and the rest of us had our little suitcase, and that was it. The next morning, very early, Shinsan, took us, I think, to the train station. Of course, all the shades were closed so we couldn't look out, and that's how we went to Manzanar. And I don't recall from the train how we got to the camp, but we got there.

MN: Do you remember what month that was?

GH: I can't remember that. I don't know when it was.

MN: Let me ask you about your father also. You know, he said, "Goumon ni kakerareta." What kind of torture was he, did he undergo?

GH: I don't know what it was. I don't know what it was. He couldn't talk about it, and I looked at his hands, his fingers, but I don't know what it was, and I don't know what that was all about. But I know it wasn't good.

MN: So from Wilmington, do you know where he was shipped to?

GH: He went to many places. I know he went to Santa Fe, he went to Missoula, Montana. He talked about, in Missoula I think it was, he talked about, wrote to me about the gigantic thunderstorms and lightning. He never saw anything so huge. He's been to Missoula, Montana, Santa Fe, where else was he? See, offhand I can't remember right this minute, but he's been around.

MN: Now, you and your mother and Thomas and Hugo had only one day to pack.

GH: Yes.

MN: What did you do with everything else?

GH: We left everything as is 'cause we didn't think this was gonna take so long. So we left everything as is and just went the next day.

MN: Did you have to leave behind anything that you really cherished?

GH: What I really wanted was my mother's jewelry, 'cause as a child I used to get up on her bureau and open that drawer and try all these things on. She said, "When you're older you can have it." So that I really wanted, but I never did get any of it.

MN: Did your mother take that to camp with her?

GH: No. We left everything as is.

MN: You thought camp would be a few days or months?

GH: I don't know that it would be a few days, but it wouldn't be long. We thought we would be coming back soon.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

MN: Now, what was your first impression of Manzanar?

GH: When we went there it was just being built, so I believe we had just six blocks of buildings there. But the center part where they usually have the laundry and the bathroom and all that, it was not (in function), the plumbing was not ready yet. They had big ditches dug and they had an outhouse on the side. Everybody had their immunization shots and they were sick and in line for the outhouse. It was pretty awful. We got a bag that we're supposed to put straw in it for a mattress, and at that time we got two navy blankets, a navy pea jacket. We got the round, with a long handle, eating dish with a cup, a metal cup that would, all army surplus-type thing, and knives and forks, got that. And the buildings just had tarpaper on the outside, and the floorboards were not completely close together, so you could see the dirt down below.

MN: What was that first night like?

GH: Then that night we had a big old whirlwind come through there, and I thought that it was gonna take the roof off because I've never seen anything like it or been any place like that. And I had the pillow over my ears, but when I woke up in the morning and looked at the little mirror that we had sitting on one of the inside boards, I could just see (where) the tears ran down [points to face]. We were just full of dust from the windstorm that came through 'cause it all came through the flooring. And I heard (that) the scorpions came through and they got bit or whatever, stories like that. We were lucky; we didn't have that. But yeah, that was the first night. And we had a potbelly stove in each of the apartments there. The apartments were partitioned, but the top was all open, so you could hear from one end (of the building) to the other. And we had no partition inside the little compartment also, so we saved one of the cartons that the stove was sent in for a partition. And we found out that Mr. Koike kind of looked after us, 'cause we were just flabbergasted. We didn't know what to do. And so he went and told us about this canteen where you could buy a washtub, so we bought a washtub and we saved the gallon cans from the mess hall to boil some hot water, and we took baths in our washtub, with the partition from the stove that was sent there. It was cold. The nights were cold, and the daytime, I don't remember then, but I know later on it was hot. It was so hot. But the winters were very cold. We've, we haven't had that sort of weather living in Gardena, so that was really something the first year.

MN: So you're telling me that when you arrived they had no showers?

GH: No showers. The center part of the camp was not completely ready yet.

MN: That's why you had to get that washtub and that's how you cleaned yourself?

GH: Yes. Yes, we had to do that at the beginning.

MN: Now, which block did you live in?

GH: I believe that was Block 6.

MN: And they had only built up until Block 6 at that time.

GH: I think so.

MN: Do you remember if you got any diarrhea from eating the food early on?

GH: I don't think I got sick, but a lot of the mess halls, the cooks were volunteers I guess, in the beginning they were not professional cooks for a big place like the mess hall, and so we got, what was distributed was salted pork and beans and things that most of us didn't really eat on a daily basis. So the cook didn't know what to do with it either, (but) some of the mess halls the cooks were very good and most of the others, I think, just kind of got by with what they had. But later on in camp we had a farm so that we got vegetables and we were able to make better use of food the way we usually would eat. But like breakfast, we had apple butter, that was my first introduction to that. Apple butter and things like that that I don't think I'll ever forget. [Laughs]

MN: And now you're in Block 6 and there's really no partition, and how many people were living in there at that time?

GH: I think that that moment, we were lucky that we were, it was just us. I don't remember anybody else in there at that time. But as time went on and they designated so many people in a compartment, we were put together with another family 'cause we didn't have enough in our family.

MN: What was it like to watch the rest of the camp get constructed and to see new people coming in?

GH: They had busloads of people coming in to fill up the camp, but it was all done mostly from administration, so I wasn't too interested in that. So I don't know exactly, but it did fill up. We had the hospital built, and my mother worked for the hospital. My brother worked, Thomas worked as an ambulance driver, so we got to move into Block 29.

MN: When did you move into Block 29?

GH: That was after the hospital was established there, so I don't know what year that was.

MN: How different was Block 29 to Block 6?

GH: Well, by that time they had linoleum on the floor. We had sideboards in the building. We had a ceiling, and it was kind of closed in. But we still had to live, by that time, with another family, so three boys from the other family lived with us, and so we had to sort of put up a partition because I was the only girl there. But we sort of had to make do with what we had.

MN: And then they had showers, I think the showers were set up, and then -- it wasn't just an outhouse anymore?

GH: No. The center section, the laundry and the shower and the bathrooms in there were set up. By this time the women complained of no privacy, so they had partitions between the toilets also, which was good. And some of the people still complained about the showers. They were not used to taking showers with a bunch of people, although there were maybe a few Japanese tubs that were built in camp someplace. I don't know where it was, but people were talking about it, and so they had Japanese-type bath also, bathtub. But the showers, I guess, was still kind of open and either you had to get used to that or go when no one was there. [Laughs] So I think that's how that adjustment went, as time went on.

MN: How did you do laundry at Manzanar?

GH: By washboard. It was just a tub, so with a washboard. We had to go to the canteen to buy all the necessary things, soap and... wash my hands.

MN: Now, you said it was pretty hot during the summertime.

GH: Summertime, it could get as hot as a hundred and twenty, so it was very hot.

MN: How did you keep cool?

GH: Some people were very innovative, and they said you could put a box with wet burlap on the outside so that when the wind blows through it'll cool down. And people built things like that, and some people were even able to build a cellar. Of course, we were not that innovative and we couldn't do it, so we didn't. [Laughs] But we heard of a lot of these people who had cellars. And we carried umbrellas in the summertime.

MN: Now, what about the windstorms? How did the camp people manage that?

GH: The whirlwinds used to be pretty awful, but I think as time went on, when we were in Block 29, by that time people had made gardens between the buildings. (...) They grew vegetables and things. Or they did a lot of things in between the buildings, made lawns and things so that it abated the whirlwind a little bit more. It was just between the firebreaks that you would see whirlwinds.

MN: So let me ask you about school, then. Do you remember when school opened at Manzanar?

GH: At first we didn't have any school. When it first began we sat on the floor. We didn't have desks and things. And as time went on we got desks, and we had, I don't know about the reading books and things. I can't remember exactly. And I think our teachers were volunteers because who would want to come to a camp of all one race like that and be known as an internment camp, but they did have teachers come from different places. And I think (...) my teacher was from upper state New York, and she wanted me to correspond with her niece and so I did write letters. We had a few correspondences together. I still have a picture of her. I was grateful that we had this teacher who would volunteer to come into a place like, where we were.

MN: So were all your teachers Caucasians?

GH: Yes. Well, she was the only teacher I had.

MN: Were there any Caucasian students in your class?

GH: No, no. We were all Japanese.

MN: Now, you mentioned that your oldest brother, Thomas, was an ambulance driver, and what did your mother do?

GH: My mother (...), she was a washerwoman with Dr. Goto's mother, who asked her to help her with washing the diapers for the infants with communicable disease. Nobody wanted to take that job, so my mother and Mrs. Goto did all that washing for hospital.

MN: How did your mother know Mrs. Goto?

GH: They were from the same ken. They were Fukushima-ken, and she knew of them.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

MN: Now, I know earlier you mentioned that you stopped odori lessons. How did you come about learning the jourouri shamisen?

GH: Mr. Nishimura, who lived next door, encouraged my mother to make me take this class in jourouri. And so he got everything, got my mother all excited about this jourouri, and I was sent to take the shamisen lessons. So I told my mother I don't want to sing, I just, I'll just learn the shamisen. And we did have one recital, and Mr. Koike came and carried all my doohickeys, and we did have one program where we really had to wear those outfits, and the teachers sang and I played the shamisen. [Laughs]

MN: Now, how is the jourouri shamisen different from a regular shamisen?

GH: (The shamisen is) larger and the bachis are larger. It's done to a storytelling. It's, it's not really very musical. It's supposed to be sort of background music for the storytelling.

MN: Where were the jourouri classes held?

GH: It was in camp, but down the block somewhere. I forgot exactly where it was. [Laughs] There weren't too many of us, but Mr. Nishimura, he was really into it. And he got another young girl, about my age, also taking shamisen, so there were two of us, but we were never together. We never had lessons together.

MN: Did you take regular shamisen lessons too?

GH: After that my mother had me take regular shamisen lessons for a short while.

MN: Same teacher?

GH: No, different, different teacher.

MN: Where were you getting these shamisen instruments? Were they made in Manzanar?

GH: No, I think they came in. They were shipped in from someplace, I don't where. [Laughs]

MN: And you said you performed a jourouri at Manzanar?

GH: Yes. [Laughs]

MN: What was that like?

GH: Gosh, nobody believed me. I was telling my friend's uncle, he just cracked up laughing. But so he said, "Well, prove it." So I did, and he just cracked up laughing. He couldn't stop. But it's just a certain part of the whole story that they emphasize, 'cause the whole story is so long usually.


MN: So who was your sanbasan?

GH: Sanbasan was Yoshida-san.

MN: Was she a regular, like did she deliver a lot of babies in the Gardena area?

GH: I think so.

MN: Did she deliver Hugo?

GH: Yes, I think so. I think we all went to her.

MN: Even Thomas?

GH: No, he was, I don't know who he went to. He was way before us, so I don't know. [Laughs]

MN: So let's go back to Manzanar, and I know, well, your mother was a cook at the restaurant and she must have still liked to cook at the barrack. What sort of things did she cook?

GH: Whatever she could get her hands on. Shinsan came into camp to see us once, maybe twice, she cooked up, on this little plate, electric plate, she cooked up udon that -- Mr. Koike's son, Ichiro-san, was with him too, so they both loved noodles so she made noodles. My brother Thomas, he doesn't eat very much, but Ichiro-san, he loved it and it just pleased my mother that he'd eat so much. So she used to do a little cooking like that, so we had cooking at home sometimes.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

MN: Manzanar had a riot in December 1942. Where were you when this occurred?

GH: My mother's cousin, Mr. Shishino, he was a single man at the time, so he lived with the bachelors, and he came and told my mother that one of the bachelors, not one, but somebody in his compartment there told him that there were people who were stealing sugar that was allotted to the camp people that was supposed to be delivered to the mess hall, was being blackmarketed in a nearby town with, in cahoots with an administrator or something of that sort. And so they got together and sacked the guys that they thought were involved and beat the brains out of 'em, and some were hurt so badly they were taken to the hospital. And those who were involved apparently were caught and taken to the jail outside of camp. And so the group went to the administration to demand that these boys be sent back to the camp because it was a camp problem and not external, (but) since they weren't going to listen to the story, (of the) a whole group (that) went down to the administration, I followed them down there, but part of the group (was) gonna go to the hospital, (the other) part of the group (was to) go to Block 24 to beat up this other guy or something, and the group disbanded. So I went with the group that went to the hospital, and I saw that (the administration) sent in the troop, the guards, the American soldiers, and the fellow was on the truck (...) was shaking holding the gun, and I didn't think that this was a very safe environment, so I went home from the hospital. But just about the time I got there, there was this big whirlwind, and we're Block 29, Block 24 is across the firebreak on the other side and so they said, there were gunshots and (...) just as the whirlwind came my mother said, "Oh, kamikaze." [Laughs] And we found out later that that's when the guards shot out and a few people got shot in the back as they were running away, and I thought, well, good thing I got home in time. Then the paper, the Times paper we saw later said, "Japs fighting against the army," or something, guard, riot or something to that effect, which I thought was a big lie. I never trust the paper and I won't buy newspapers to this date. I know the date and the time is probably true, but other than that it's a point of view, so it's not correct.

MN: Probably that, what your mom thought was the kamikaze was probably the tear gas going off.

GH: Yes, the tear gas. We found out later, yes, the tear gas went off and the police, the guards started shooting and shot some of us camp people in the back, as they were running away. But that was not publicized.

MN: Yeah, Dr. Goto got removed because of that, 'cause he wouldn't change the autopsy. I don't know if he ever told his mother that.

GH: No, I didn't know about that, but... yes.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

MN: I'm gonna ask you a little bit, some random lighter questions. Movies, did they show movies at Manzanar?

GH: I suppose they did have, but I wasn't allowed to go, so I don't know. I don't remember.

MN: What about concerts?

GH: I know they had that because my brother Thomas, he loves classical music, and when they did have concerts he wanted to go, so I know they had something like that.

MN: Now, if you needed something at Manzanar and they weren't selling it at the canteen, how did you purchase these items?

GH: Most of the things were bought through a Spiegel catalogue, Montgomery Ward, Sears Roebuck. I think those were the primary catalogues that were in camp, and people bought a lot of things from them.

MN: Spiegel's was mainly women's clothing?

GH: I don't know, it was a department store, so they had everything.

MN: Let me ask you about your father now. When you were at Manzanar, did you communicate with your father?

GH: I was the only one that wrote to my father, and he wrote to me.

MN: Did your mother tell you what to write to him?

GH: Sometimes.

MN: Did you write in English or Japanese?

GH: I wrote in Japanese.

MN: How heavily censored were those letters?

GH: Very. [Laughs] Oftentimes much was cut out, but we sort of got the gist of things and so we knew what was wanting to be said.

MN: Yeah, what did you say in your letters? How much can you say in your letters?

GH: We would say things of, I don't know, there were things that my father had to explain to me, what it meant. Like we would read a poem or whatever, and from things like that that we were both familiar with whatever the meaning of all this was, we would kind of communicate with those things sometimes. And my mother never wrote, (my father wrote beautifully). Both my parents didn't have very much education, (8th grade), but like I think my mother was very intuitive and she had good horse sense, so she was smart. [Laughs] My father, he loved schooling, but he never was able to go, so he studied on his own. He's a (...) avid reader of history. He loved to read history and he knew all about all the incidences, stories, and he read a lot. And he had beautiful penmanship, his Japanese penmanship was just beautiful, and so he would coach me on things of that sort at home, but I was never a good shuuji. I had to go learn shuuji, but I was not very good at that. But my father was and he's very particular, so when I wrote he always corrected the right, correct character to use for when you're saying you wish or you hope, the right, correct words. And he would correct my letters each time, and I still have his letters to me doing that.

MN: Now, when you were at Manzanar, did your mother ever say she wanted to go back to Japan?

GH: No, she really wanted to go back to the restaurant. But since my dad had gone to Japan already --

MN: Well, don't go there yet. How about Thomas? Did he ever say he wanted to go back to Japan?

GH: No, neither of them.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

MN: So in 1943 when the government passed out the so called "loyalty questionnaire," Thomas answered "no-no" on the, question twenty-seven, twenty-eight. Do you know why he answered "no-no"?

GH: Well, I think mainly because we were not treated as Americans, and so I think that was it. Before we went into camp we had a party for this fellow who was drafted, a Japanese fellow who was drafted, and as soon as the war started he was discharged. We found that out, that he was also in camp because he was discharged. And so I don't know, I think that it was a very confusing time for people to have to make up such a mind, you know? It wasn't voluntary. It was kind of pushed on you in a bad situation, so I don't know, but I think mainly because we were not treated as we should, we thought we should've been as American citizens.


MN: Okay, let's go back. So how did you feel when you found out you had to move to Tule Lake?

GH: Well, it was one of, you had no choice. You had to do what you were told, so we all went to Tule Lake. I still wrote to the government to have my father sent back so that we could be reunited, our family could be together, and I think, then we finally had a little short time together.

MN: How would you compare your living situation at Tule Lake to Manzanar?

GH: It was different because my dad was there now too. And I don't remember too terribly much of it, but I know one time my mother and -- my mother's a nagger [laughs] -- and she got into something with my father and he pushed her, and she, like I say, was a pleasantly plump little lady, so went staggering back and fell. And I went after my father. You know, how dare he. So my father, I know he didn't mean to do, to harm her, but she wasn't very steady either, so she fell. And I don't remember too terribly much, and then after that, again he was separated from us. I forgot exactly how that happened.

MN: But when your father came back, it's because you wrote to somebody in Washington, D.C.?

GH: I'd been writing to them, yes, to reunite our family, and my father was nobody really that important that should be locked away, and he was just a businessman running a restaurant. But we didn't get to be together until they put us into the "disloyal camp" and he finally, we were reunited for just a short time.

MN: What was the reunion like?

GH: It was kind of strange. He was different. We were all different than we were, with the stress and everything. I don't know, we were all different.

MN: How would you say different?

GH: I think not as harmonious as it was. There was a little tension.

MN: Did your father and Thomas get involved with the Hoshidan?

GH: I'm not sure.

MN: What about you and your mother? Did you get involved with the Joshidan?

GH: I don't know that either, but we did exercise. We did go for exercise, so I don't know if that was it.

MN: Tell me about the exercise. How early would you have to get up?

GH: We had to get up very early and do these exercises and come home, go back to what we were doing.

MN: Were you out there with the hachimaki and everything?

GH: I don't think we did that, but yes, we did go exercise.

MN: Now, your mother's not very healthy, so how was she able to stand all...

GH: She tried. And one time she did fall, and thereafter we didn't go. [Laughs]

MN: Now, was this all women, or were there girls, young girls? Or how, and how many --

GH: I think it was all woman, and it was a group.

MN: How big was the group?

GH: I don't know, I don't know anybody in there or anything. We just went, did our thing, and came back. But it was a group. There was quite a few people. And we did, "Wassho, wassho, wassho," ran up the street. I think I remember that the street was, like, a red gravel street, and (Mother) fell and it really scraped her leg badly, and I think she hurt her back too. And thereafter we didn't go very much.

MN: When you were exercising, were the men exercising also?

GH: [Shakes head] Maybe they were separate from us.

MN: I know, like the men used to have bugles and stuff. Did the women have that too?

GH: I don't remember that.

MN: Now, at Tule Lake you attended the Japanese school rather than the regular school.

GH: Right.

MN: Why did you choose the Japanese school?

GH: It wasn't that I chose it. My mother said that they had better education there because they taught everything in Japanese, so it was better than the English school, the regular school, because they... I don't know. She felt that it was better for me to go to Japanese school, so I did. And I had a little bit of background from Moneta Gakuen, so I caught up with them very quickly.

MN: So how many hours a day was Japanese school?

GH: It was all day.

MN: Like a regular school.

GH: Like a regular school.

MN: And then you mentioned that you also resumed odori lessons.

GH: Well, that was, Mother wanted me to go to Bando Misa and so I did learn from Bando Misa, yes.

MN: Now, when you were at Tule Lake, nobody tried to convince your father to remain in the United States?

GH: I don't know about that. I don't think so.

MN: How long was your father with the family before, this time your father and Thomas were taken away, right?

GH: Yes.

MN: Do you remember how that happened?

GH: I'm not sure about how that happened. And I can't even remember when it was. I guess I'm trying to wipe out all that part of, of my life. [Laughs] I can't remember it very well.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

MN: Now I want to ask you about your ship ride back to Japan. When you were being shipped to Japan from Tule Lake, what port did you leave from?

GH: Seattle.

MN: Were your father and Thomas with you?

GH: No, no. We had to get out of camp and so we had to go find, decide where to go. Mother didn't want to go to Japan, really, but we went to find out and they said that if part of my family was over in Japan already then we had priority to go back on the next ship. And so we decided, okay, then we'll have to go back because, I said, they were still throwing rocks and it was unpleasant for the Japanese going back to Gardena or where they came from, the rumors were at the time. And so II told Mom, "Well, I think that if anything should happen to us, Dad will say, 'See? You didn't follow me.'" So I said maybe we better just go back and have our family together, so we decided we'll do that. Then Mother, Hugo and I got on the next, I think that was the second exchange ship, which was General Gordon, a troop ship, and it was like six bunks. And Mother was so sick. She was tied down in the bunk and she didn't get up. She was just so sick the whole trip. And I don't know how long it took us, but it was wintertime and that ship, we must've been in the back 'cause it just rocked every direction you could think of, so no wonder Mom was so sick.

We got into Yokosuka and we were taken to this assembly center, so they call, which was used during wartime for the Japanese military to be shipped off to battle from there. And of course there's no beds or anything; you sleep on the floor. But it was what you call chuunikai, mezzanine floor type of building, and they said that they separate by ken, what ken you are, and we went to, of course, Fukushima-ken. And we didn't know what to do from there, and we didn't know where to go, we didn't know what to do, and just about that time my brother Ray came. My mother was so surprised 'cause she was sure that he would be dead, that they would've taken him in the kamikaze and he would've been dead, but here he came. And he told us where Dad was, and he said he just took a chance that, he heard there was a ship in from America, so he came. And so he got us on the train and took us to Fukushima to where Dad was, but this train too, there, it was so few and far between that people just piled up. You see right now in India how people get on that train? It was like that. They just jam packed you and people were just all over the train. [Laughs] But we got to Fukushima, but there wasn't (any housing), we had nothing. My mother was grateful that all of us were together, not as a family unit there, but we were all alive. My brother Ray was sent off to a fishing college in Hokkaido, and Mother told him to quit school and come back so that we could all be together and figure out what to do to rebuild again, because we had nothing, nothing. Before we left for Japan, in Tule Lake, there was a circular that went around and said that the children, those who are accompanying the parents, who wish to come back to America need to sign up with all these agencies -- and they listed all the agencies -- and come to the administration and have your mug shot taken. So I did that because my mother left some money here with a friend. It wasn't that terribly much, but in that time for her it was her blood and sweat money, and she left some money, so she said, "Okay, you can make arrangements then." So I went to the administration, had my mug shot, and had all the papers done, and then we got on General Gordon to go (to Japan).

MN: Now, your father and Thomas had already gone on the first ship.

GH: Yes.

MN: So they were in Japan before you folks got there.

GH: Already, yeah. So then we met, Ray took us to meet (Father) in Fukushima. But Thomas had gotten a job in Tokyo, so he was living with my mother's sister, another sister, 'cause she was the only one who had a house left in Tokyo. Every place else, everybody else was all bombed out and had no place to go. And the sister who brought up my two brothers, they were in Fukushima, sokai they called 'em, evacuees, after the war, being bombed out. They were in the country, so (that aunt and uncle) were living in a recreation hall or something like that. And my mother's (third) older sister was the only one that had this house in Tokyo, in Shinagawa, so we all had to (...) bow kao to her to go out to Tokyo. (Thomas) was already there renting a room from her. The rest of us had just come back to Fukushima. But of course, there was nothing for us to do, we didn't (even) have futon to sleep on. Then, luckily, my grandaunt, my father's aunt that he was sending (had sent) money to many, many years ago invited us to stay with (her), and she gave us (...) one of (her) best rooms, since there were so many of us. And she said to my father that at the time he sent her money (she was) having such a bad time that (she) didn't know where (she) were gonna find food the next day, and so she said that we could come and stay with her.

At that time, postwar Japan, there was no food. It was entire famine. Nobody, even if they had money, couldn't buy food. There was no food. The farmers that had to grow food per plot, (which) they had to give to the government for them to distribute to the city people, so the farmers (would say) that, "We barely have food to, for ourselves, and we have none to spare." My father had to go through whole lot of exchanging his coat, his watch, his, whatever he had, to get food for us because we weren't counted. We were not on the koseki. So they sort of go by the koseki, how many people, how many grams of horseradish this time you could buy (at the) place called haikyu where they distributed the food, but you had to be on the koseki to, for them to know how much, how many grams of this or that they can distribute at that time. We hardly ate daikon anyway, but it might be so many grams of daikon per person and we weren't even counted. So my father went to the mayor in Fukushima, and we were in Iizaka and they never had a case like us, and they didn't know what to do with us. So he put on the koseki that my father was putting (Hugo and me as) we were indeed his children and that we were being put on the koseki. So that was done, and we were more or less counted in the distribution of food, but the food wasn't very much. We're used to eating white rice here (in the U.S.), all nice polished white rice. They didn't have rice. And sometimes we got, for haikyu -- you had to buy this. There was no market; we had to buy this stuff, mind you. But we had a bag of kanpan and it was like dog biscuits that the Japanese army had for rations, one bag of that per person or something like that. The food was, it wasn't (much of) anything. My father gave up his coat and everything to get food for us.

MN: That watch that he gave up was the one you gave him?

GH: I don't know, but maybe it was. [Laughs] We were desperate.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

MN: Let me ask you a little bit also about your schooling, 'cause that also suffered.

GH: Yes. So while we were in Fukushima my mother always said that, "If you don't have your education you'll get behind in time. You'll have to go to school." So my father enrolled me into school there. By age, he thought I should be going to jogakko, but they won't accept you unless you could show completion of elementary school, so I went to the Iizaka elementary school for twenty-eight days with the kids. who were studying, doing shiken benkyou to get into jogakko. And so I studied with these kids, but the first day I went to class there the kids all heard that an American was coming to (their) school, so they all came and, you know in the hallway they have those windows for each room so when the principal walks by he can look in every room, well, I was sitting in a classroom by myself waiting because they were all out for recess, I guess. I looked over at the hallway, all these kids were like a frog on top of each other, all looking in, and they're saying in their colloquial language, "[Japanese]" you know? Like I was supposed to have a rotten fisheye or something. In other words, they were expecting a blonde hair, blue eyed kid, I guess, and they were just really curious. I felt like I was in a menagerie, and finally the teacher came in and explained that my parents were Japanese and so I was one of the village people, "So those of you who live near Ancho-san's come pick her up and come to school with her." So I had an okay time. And Ancho-san, my grandaunt's two sons she had, one became the mayor of that little town, the oldest son, whom I never met and he was already dead by then, and then the other son that I met, he had a lumber company in Fukushima shi. And he had a mountain and he was well off, and so this house that he built in Iizaka for his mother was very nicely built with the best lumber, of course, 'cause he was in the business, and we got the best room. And so the thing is, my mother always said, you never put down anybody because you never know in life when things turn around the other way, which was the case here. I went (with) my father (who) took me to school there. It just so happened that the teacher (asked me to read from the reader), it was a reading class and he told me to read something, and it was just what I already had learned in Tule Lake, so I was able to read it very smoothly and knew what it meant and all that because I just had gone through all that. And so he said, "You see that? You people live here all your life and you, you don't even speak the language correctly." And then he said it in the dialect and the kids all laughed at him, and he says, "Oh, I didn't mean to say it that way." He said, "Okay, all of you, those of you who live around her, Ancho-san's place, go pick her up in the morning and bring her."

So we did that, Geken benkyou, for twenty-eight days, and the benkyou was at one of the girls' ryokan, and so after school we all gather over there to get extra help from the same sixth grade teacher, Sanpei-sensei. And one night the owner's girl came in and she said, "Oh, we got an American here tonight." So she says, "Talk to him in English." And I said, "No, no. I don't want to get into trouble. No, no, no." And by that time Charles already came in -- his name was Charles Winter and he was at Sendai. He was with the paratrooper. And he said that he was supposed to drive this half-ton truck to Yokohama and then he was going to be discharged (to) go home, so he was on his way and he happened to stop at the ryokan. He was so happy somebody could speak English he just took his hat off and he threw it on the ground. "English speaking?" He said, "(...) How long are you gonna be here?" I said, "I think you better go away or I'm gonna get into trouble here." "No, no, no. I'm so glad I can speak to somebody at last." And so we were talking a little bit so that the girls were just amazed at the language that was going back and forth, and the teacher came and I thought, "Oh, I'm now in really big trouble." No, he said, "Go on, go on." [Laughs] So we talked a little bit and he said, "Could I come home with you afterwards?" "Okay." So after studies all these kids -- these are girls -- they go into, one of the hospitalities is their onsen so you could go have a bath, (...) have bath with the teacher. I wasn't gonna do that. [Laughs] So I went home, and of course, Charles came, walked me home, and he was just so happy he could just talk to somebody. So he gave me his picture and he chattered on, and then he was happily off that night. But I did Gegen benkyou and I got into jogakko.

My uncle up on the hill wanted me to come over and so Mother took me over there, and he said, "I saved this paper for you." He said, "You probably will never, ever get your name in the paper again, so," he said, "I saved this for you." All it was, was that I got on the list to be approved to go to this Daichi Koto Jogakko in Fukushima. And so I went there for a while, until finally my mother got notice that my oldest brother Thomas was very sick in Tokyo. So she told Ray to look after me and she left Fukushima to go to Tokyo. Thomas, within that month that I saw him last, he was like skin and bone. He was like, I had a picture of a Civil War prisoner and how depleted they looked, he looked like that. It just reminded me of that. So my mother went to look after him and told Ray to look after me 'cause I didn't know how to cook in a shichirin. It's a little, at that time, Japanese charcoal-burning little, like a tube, and then you put your rice maker on top of that. And you had to blow the fire to make the fire for the shichirin, Mother (told Ray), "She wouldn't know how to cook, so you stay with her." And so I was trying to make this rice, and Ray came along and says -- he had to quit school and he came -- (because) Mother told him to help me, so says, "Can you do that?" (...) I said, "Leave me alone." And he said, "Well, you don't talk to me." 'Cause I was mad at him because for the third time he said to me, "You all got to live with Mom and Dad." But he said, "You don't know what hardship is." And I had told him before, I said, "Everybody has hardship in their own way. I know you had hardship here by yourself, but we all had our own little hardships." So I said, "Don't push that onto me. Don't say that to me again." And this was the third time he said that, and I was so mad I didn't speak to him. So he came and said that one more time in the room, after I got the rice made and came in, I had a (shamuji).

MN: Shamuji?

GH: Shamuji. And he said something, I was so mad I threw it at him, and just at that time Obachan, my grandaunt, was coming by. She's bent over like this [hunches over], she came by and she saw that, and she thought, "Oh, Nippon jousei." [Laughs] She was just flabbergasted that I would do something like that. And then to top it all off, I kept going at it and he kept going at it, so then he did his judo thing like this and he knocked me down. I was so mad. I said, "If I were a boy I would kill you. How dare you do that to me." I was so mad at him. But anyway, it settled down, and when my mother came back my grandaunt, she (told Mother), "You don't know what went on here when you were gone." [Laughs] But after that my mother made arrangements that maybe I could go stay with my oldest brother in Tokyo, Ojisan was gonna come look me over, so I said, "Okay, Mama, I'll put my head down and I'll watch you from the corner of my eye. Tell me when to put my head up." And so that, I got approval, I was okay. So I got to go to Tokyo. Well, Ray had to take me. Again, this train, if it weren't for him getting in there, finding me a little seat and putting my stuff down there (that) Father had bought all this food for me to carry in my rucksack, I couldn't carry that stuff. I've never done anything like that in my life. And I got up there to the (train), but I couldn't get up the stair onto the train, so Ray came back and grabbed me by the neck and got me up (into the train), and he set me down in the seat. And if it weren't for that, I had to stand up and get choked by all those bags and whatever in the train for eight hours. But luckily, I said to myself then, "If it weren't for Ray I would've been dead." [Laughs] And so that's how I got to Tokyo.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

GH: So I went to Japanese typing school then. Somebody told me about it and I went there for a little while. And of course, there was this Hare Bernard sergeant who used to come there all the time because (...) the teacher spoke a little bit of English, so he used to get out of camp to go over there, and then when I went there he was so glad I was speaking English that he came to our house. Okay, every night my uncle would drink that dobu, and he would start off, "America, what's good about it? We had this and that." He would just lambast us. He just, just go on for hours. He'd just hated us. And then later I find that, I found out that they never had children, so they adopted his nephew to take over their family name, I guess, and then he was killed in the army over there. (Aunt) says to my mother, "You're my sister, but your kids..." She hated us. What did we do? We were just born Americans, but we didn't kill him. We don't even know him. We've never even seen (this) country (Japan). This is the first time we've even seen her, you know? But every night (Uncle would) go on and give us all this stuff. Meanwhile, all these GIs are coming to see us. [Laughs] And we were renting the room upstairs, but we could hardly stay there anymore so we were downstairs in this yojouhan, which is just a little space, and she said to my mother, "Since you have more in the family, you pay more." So my mother was paying all this. We didn't know. And so finally (...) I said, "Mama, this (typing) school is not helping me at all because the typewriters are all broken and I'm not getting anywhere really, so I'm gonna (quit)," she said, "Well then, okay, you can quit." (Then) I went to look for a job.

I went to, my brother Ray said -- he was already working at the Yaesu Hotel, it's a billet for civilians -- so he said he'd talk to the manager and I could come there. So I went over there and talked to the manager, but he said, "Okay, Grace, just bring your birth certificate tomorrow and we'll get you all fixed up so you'll have PX privileges and everything." I said okay, and I left. And I thought about it, and I thought, "I can't do that. He'll find out how old I am. I'm not, I'm..." I was barely sixteen. You have to be eighteen to work. I said, "Ray, I didn't lie," but I said, "If I take my birth certificate they're gonna know." I said, "What am I gonna do?" He said, "Well, just go to the employment office, then." He says, "I'll take care of it over here, so you go." So I went to the employment office, and the only job was general headquarters supply. I thought, "Wow, I don't know whether I could handle that." I saw a Japanese guy there, so I said, "Do you have an interpreter's job?" He said, "No, I don't know. That's the only job that's listed." And then the guy came and said, "Go take a test there." It's a typing test. So I was slow as molasses in Alaska in January, so when the guy came and (looked), he says, "Hmm, mou sukoshi benkyou shiteki nasai." He said, "By the way, do you speak English?" I said, "Yes, I speak English." And he said, "I've never (it spoken like) that." He says, "What part of California are you from?" So I say, "I was born in Gardena." He said, "Oh, do you know where Hollywood is?" "Of course. Yes, I know where Hollywood is." And he says, "Okay, tell you what. I'll give you a job." He said, "Go down to general headquarters supply, see Captain Barrell. Don't go to quartermaster, now. Go to general headquarters supply, and there'll be plenty of jobs there for you. "Okay." "You go down Shinagawa, get off at Takeshiba Pier, go to the checkpoint there and tell 'em you want to go to general headquarters. Don't go across there to quartermaster." "Okay." I went and the boy there in the, the guard, was so happy I spoke English he said, "You wait right here. My jeep is coming for exchange right now, so I'll take you there." So I waited in the checkpoint there, and he took me. I find out that the girls that I went to typing school with were standing around waiting for a job. [Laughs] So after I got in there, it was warmer around the potbelly stove in there, so I told the girls to come on in, and they were all nice to me when I went to school there, so they were all happy to follow me in (...). And they said, "We all got a job." 'Cause they can type a hundred words a minute. I couldn't. [Laughs]

But I got a job. I was the first to get the job in Japanese procurement section. Pierre told me what to do, and you make four copies of everything, and then the telephone calls will come in from the contractors and they will ask about koi. General, General MacArthur's kid got into the pond and killed the kois in there, so then they had to order it special from up north somewhere, and the contractor was calling about that. Things (of) that sort. Or the electrician will come and, "Where do you want to put the outlets?" and things like that. So I became kind of helpful in that way. By this time there were about three exchanges of the, rotation of the employees (in) the military, so by this time it was a new group coming, that came in, and this Major Floyd was the supply officer. And he said, "How do you like it here?" I said, "This is not my country." I said, "We have nothing." He says, he made a joke. (...) I went to help him interpret with a contractor about the electrician, the electric outlets in this guardhouse, and he says, "How would you like to be shacked up here?" I said, "Oh yeah, I'll just shoo them all out and bring my family here 'cause we have no place to live." And I explained to him, I told him our situation, so then he felt very understanding and he didn't make that kind of joke. I worked, he put me in the captain's office and I just did mostly telephone, and I learned how to run the PBX 'cause Mitsue was running a PBX in the back warehouse, and I just kind of generally was everywhere. So by the next rotation the colonel came, he said, "Grace, what do you do around here?" I said, "A little of everything." And he said, "I have a daughter about your age." So he kind of knew and just kind of let it go. Nobody asked me my age, so I didn't get kicked out. (...) I think Major Floyd told my friend that I still go see in Orlando, Betty, was a secretary, to, "Keep an eye on this kid 'cause she's not stupid." [Laughs] And so they put me in the captain's office and told me type up all these changes in the requisitions to be put in this guide. So since I'm slow, I go the big carriage and then I would type everything out and then I could go to the next thing, and I just got that thing done in no time. And so they thought, okay... Major Floyd said, "You better learn how to use this stenotype machine." He says, "These stenotype people make a lot of money," so he says, "You can take this. I give you authority to take this home to practice on it." So he gave me a stenotype machine to work on. And I got these special things, and then he had a, his girlfriend was Virginia, who was a consulate's secretary, he said he'll ask her to give me the first cancelled appointment. Although Ray told me about it and he had an appointment (with the American consulate) and I was after him, I got in before him and that's it, to be able to come back.

MN: But you had some problem because your father changed the koseki when he was there.

GH: Yeah, that was the biggest problem. What had happened was, okay, then the American consulate finally opened and so Ray had his appointment, but I got mine before him. And I thought I'd get my younger brother Hugo cleared with me because my parents wouldn't know what, how to go about getting him cleared when it got to that time, so I took him with me. But I had saved that leaflet that I got in Tule Lake before I left the country 'cause I never trusted the government. So I saved that and I took it with me to the consulate to clarify myself, and they said they didn't know anything about it. They never heard about it. I said, "Well, there's gonna be plenty of us because there were three thousand of us that were on General Gordon. So this is what we were told." I said, "I hope you will go look through, check through this and make sure because I had my mug shot taken and everything." So I said, "That was the procedure, I hope that you will follow through on that." And very shortly I got my citizenship cleared, nationality USA. While I was working at the general headquarters supply, of course, all of Tokyo, all of general headquarters had to come get supplies through us, so there was this chaplain's assistant who always asked me when he sees me, "How is your appointment coming along?" 'Cause I told him how I hated being in that country and that I wanted to go back to America, he said, "When you need money to go back or whatever," he said, "You let me know. I'll be happy to help you 'cause I know how you would like to go back." [Laughs] And sure enough, he was the one I asked when the time came. But anyway, I think the most important thing about that is that as soon as that consulate was open and I hope that they had looked through to make, determine that that was what we were told, that it would make it easier for others like me to come back -- because that was a horrible time in Japan, right after the war when there was nothing and all of us had nothing, nothing, nothing to begin with -- to get back on their feet again.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

MN: Do you want to share about going to night school at all?

GH: Well, I was working during the day. I went to the Daihachi Koto Jogakko in Tokyo, which, the name was changed and I met a person later on who knew exactly the high school that I went to, but I went to night school there. And after work I'd go to school, 'cause it was Shinagawa, it's very close to my aunt's house where I could walk over. And my father had explained to the principal that I was from America, and he knew and the English teacher knew, but one night I had to go to the art class and I just had a feeling that that teacher was eying me. But I also know that we speak in Japanese over here, but it's, there's a lot of colloquialism, and it's not really perfect Japanese. [Laughs] And so when I went to class there I'm always trying to listen carefully to what he's trying to say, and I got the assignment. And over there I was one of the taller girls so I was sitting in the back, and because some of these girls come from sixth grade, they get into jogakko, so they're much younger and a lot of them have had a terrible life with both parents dead and they're living in caves and what have you. They had lots of really, really terrible problems compared to me, but they were there at night school. And this other girl that told me it took her three tests, three tries to get in, and she knew these kids and she would tell me about the different ones sitting in front. And I just thought, compared to them I'm so much, I'm so lucky. So then the teacher said to me real loud, "Oi, omae." He says, "Okappa teshi teru darou." "You're not allowed to have your hair cut like that." And I looked around and I thought, "Oh, he's talking to me." [Laughs] So I nodded my head, and he said by the next time I come (you) better have (your) hair cut like that. He says, "You put a little lipstick on and you'll look just like the streetwalkers out there, panpan." And the kids started giggling, and it just made me really upset because I thought this is an institution of learning and these, some of these kids are younger than me. And I said, I have never been brought up like this, like this country was at that time, with all the prostitutes and the streetwalkers and all this kind of stuff. I never saw that in Gardena. And to be compared to somebody like that -- because they would be doing things on the streets, and you could see all these things -- and I thought, "No, I'm not gonna be like that. I'm gonna get an education and I'm not gonna end up like these women here." So I went back, got my shoes in my homeroom, and I ran home. "I don't have to take this." And so later on my mother says, "Whoa, you're home early." You know, "Ningen te gakkou mon ga nai to. Jidai ni okureteshimare masu." I get that thing. I was gonna have a date after that. The guy, I told him, "Don't come to school, come to the house." So I was just sitting there, and pretty soon the teacher, the homeroom teacher, the English teacher, the vice principal or whoever he was, he came to the house and talked to my mother. I could hear them at the genkan. And finally my mother said, "Come on out." So I went out and I told the teacher about what happened, and I said, "I was so upset that he would compare me to what I would consider lower than an animal, to somebody like that." I said, "I'm not dressed like them. I can't help the way I look." I said, "I tie my hair in a ring back here. I don't braid it, and I'm not certainly gonna cut it in okappa, that's for sure." And I said, "I'm here to learn about Japan. I'm here to learn about the good things about Japan, but if I can't learn those things," I said, "I don't care if I go to that school or not, because I'm gonna go back to America as soon as I can get my citizenship cleared." And I said, "At least the high school (in the U.S.) will prepare (a person) for some kind of job that you could live without having to become like your women over here." So I said, "I'm not, I'm not gonna go back to that class. I don't have to be humiliated by a person like that." And so they apologized to my mother, that he (should have) actually been the principal, but with the change of educational system in Japan that he got demoted, so to speak, to be just a one-classroom teacher, and they were very sorry that this happened. And they said, but the thing is, I have to pass in every class or I cannot be promoted into the next grade. So I told 'em, "Don't worry about that because," I said, "I don't intend to stay here that long." So that was my education there, which was very sparse, very little. [Laughs]

MN: How long were you in Japan?

GH: A year and four months.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

MN: So when did you leave Japan?

GH: So I left Japan in April of, what did I say, '49?

MN: '47?

GH: '47. '47, yeah. 1947. And I, before doing that I wrote to the cook, Shinsan, to give me the money for my boat fare. And he said he didn't know how, he wrote back and said he didn't know how to send me the money, so come back the best way I can and he'll reimburse me. I showed the letter to the chaplain's assistant, Tony Texiera, and I told him that I wanted to borrow some money from him and I'll pay him back as soon as I can. And I told him that the cook sent me this letter, he's still running the business, but I'm sure he's gonna tell me, "Oh, business is slow," and all this. But I said, "If it takes me a lifetime, I'm gonna pay you back," so I said, "Would you give me your, your parents' address and yours, and you, as soon as I write to you, if you answer, please answer me right away and then I'll send you the money." "Oh no, Grace, that's okay. I'm glad to help." "No, no, no. I want to do that." "Okay." So I got both addresses, came back. Sure enough, I get the story. I raised the dickens, I told him, "I came on third class 'cause I figured you'd tell me something like that." So I said, "I don't care how you do it," I said, "You give me this money and I've got to pay this guy back. He doesn't know me from Adam and he loaned me this money. (...) Give it to me. I don't care how you do it. Give it (to) me." So within a month I did repay my money, so that was good. And then to get into school, to get here to... I landed, I came back at sixteen by myself. I got back on General Gordon, which was no longer a troop ship by then. (...) I landed in San Francisco. I made friends with some girls on the ship, and the only one I still am close to is Masaye, 'cause she told her sister about me, who was coming to pick her up, and her sister said, "What? It's dangerous for young girls to be traveling alone. And our car is a little kyukutsu, but," she says, "you come with us. We're gonna take you back to L.A. and on our day off we'll take you to Gardena, so you're coming with us." And so luckily, "Well, okay. Thank you." And that's how I got to L.A., and I went down to Gardena and got my money to pay back my debt. But from there, I couldn't get into school.

MN: You were living on a chicken farm.

GH: So Mrs. Kejima, Mr. and Mrs. Kejima came to see me. (Shin-san) had a little dinner party for us, for Masae and the sister, and Kejima-san came over and said, "You can't stay here with him." As if I was going to, you know? And so (Kejima-san) said, "You can come with us." They had a chicken farm, I think it's on Main Street. I don't know where it was. I forgot now. And so they took me with them, and he says, "Go with them." I just got shoved right into it, so I went with him. [Laughs] And they cleaned out a chicken coop for me, so I stayed in the chicken coop and I helped her with cleaning the eggs and, 'cause she had her business. That's who we bought eggs from when we had the restaurant, so we, they knew my family and everything from way back, so that's how I got over there. But the thing is, I couldn't make arrangements to get into school from there because there's no bus or anything that I could get away, and so I told 'em I'm looking for a schoolgirl job. And I found one finally, and they said they were gonna take me there, but instead I got in touch with Miss Lindsey, who was our principal at Chapman Avenue School that remembered my parents -- and at the same time, I wrote to Shinsan for the fare to come back I also wrote to Miss Mitchell, who was Ray's teacher and was kind of in close touch with us, so I wrote to her that I wanted to get, find a schoolgirl job and get my schooling. So she told me that she thought Miss Lindsey could be more of help to me than she could, and so I got in touch with Miss Lindsey, and she said okay. I told her, "I'm out on a chicken farm and I can't find a job or a school or anything I wanted to do." And so she said I could come stay with her, so I went to stay with her and I finally got into Hollywood High. I went to summer school there and they let me in, I think mainly because of my age. I was sixteen, so I got into the B-10.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

AK: I was gonna ask it later. I mean, I guess it's, I find your whole -- and you should look at her when you respond, even though I'm asking the question -- but I just find this, your family so interesting because part of you went back to Japan, and then you had this experience going back to Japan, and A, I was wondering what language you spoke with, spoke to your siblings with?

GH: English.

AK: Because Thomas was, grew up here for part of the time and then went back to Japan and then... so I was just curious that, in Japan, did you still, you did still speak to each other in English then?

GH: Yeah, mostly English, but with, unconsciously with my brother Thomas, a lot of the Japanese just comes in without even thinking. But mostly English.

AK: And then my other question was, I just wondered, do you feel like some of you identify more with being American or Japanese than others of you? I mean, you clearly were, always felt you were an American, there's no question in your mind. But your brothers were, your two brothers who were educated in Japan, did they feel more comfortable or feel more Japanese than American?

GH: I kind of think so, because they would want me to be humiliated all the time [bows]. And I thought, well... [laughs].

MN: But that's how they viewed women.

GH: Yeah, they, yeah. That's what I would say. And like Ray too, I was telling his wife, I said, "Neechan," I said, "This is a free country." I said, "You have as much rights as my brother, you know?" I said, "You have to speak up because you can't let him run all over you." (She says), "Well, he makes the money." I said, "I don't care. You own half of it, and you have half a right to his money. So don't let him run all over you." So she used to say that she felt like I was more her sister than sister-in-law. We were very close, Ray's wife. I liked her. I liked her very much. 'Cause she was probably the kind of person my mother would've wanted me to grow up to be, which I didn't turn out to be. [Laughs]

MN: Well, did Thomas and Ray, did they marry Japanese nationals?

GH: Yeah. So that kind of explains, you know.

AK: No, that makes a lot of sense. Well, and I, my other question too is, like you said Thomas responded "no-no," but then I wondered, 'cause in my own family, my mother said that she thought that somebody changed her answer, but I wondered if he indeed answered "no-no," and also that he felt Japanese, if he... I mean, I don't know if you ever talked about --

GH: No, I don't know. I can't answer that exactly how you are, in your line of thinking. I can't answer for him, but all I know is we landed up there so that our family could be together. That, I know. But I know they were more Japanese than American because they went to school there. They were there eighteen years. And I think Ray is more Japanese-y than Thomas. Thomas, he would open the door for you and he had this, he was more gentle. [Laughs] But he was also, he grew up to be a kind of person who doesn't like to make waves. And he, "Kaoirumite," he'll answer you, you know? That's why it was so hard for me at the end of his life. Whether he was saying to please me because I'm making an effort, that he would answer me in that way. I said, "Niichan, are you comfortable? Do you really want to do this?" Because I got sort of criticized, like, "Grace, don't you know what the power of attorney of health is?" I'm in the business. I'm a nurse. Of course I know. But I don't take it upon myself to put that on somebody. I'm asking my brother, "Do you want to do this?" And then he'll answer me, "If I don't do it, then I'll die, won't I?" Dialysis. And yet he tells his friend, "Oh, how terrible this is." And so she, this woman that he talked to calls me to say, "Don't you know about, like, letting him go?"

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

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.

<Begin Segment 25>

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.

<Begin Segment 26>

MN: Now, you eventually went into nursing. Why did you choose that profession?

GH: Okay, so the, so I was preparing for pharmacy because Mother wanted me to become a pharmacist. She said anything else would not be a family life, and she wanted me to become a pharmacist, then I could have an assistant to do some of the manual work. (Mother) wanted to put a donut making machine in the front there so she could make donuts and sell the donuts in this pharmacy, and that was her dream. [Laughs] And so we were gonna have this place together. But, when I went to City College for three semesters, each semester the counselor told me, "You're female, you're Japanese, you're Oriental, you have all this academic deficit, so why don't you go into secretarial?" And I would say, "Thank you," and I knew I couldn't go to pharmacy college in SC, I couldn't afford it, but the only thing I could do is go to Berkeley. So I sent for the prerequisites up there, and I was working on that for three semesters, so instead of taking English I took speech, that sort of thing. And so then the College of Pharmacy changed to six years, and I thought, "Oh my god, I will be an old lady and I may not be able to get into the college even at that." And so I got so depressed. I was (in Skid Row), Mr. and Mrs. Cho's over there. I was so depressed. And here, I'm back three years and a half, I also got homesick too 'cause I'd been trying so hard and hurrying so much, and I got so depressed. I thought, "Gee, I don't know what to do. I'll maybe join the army." [Laughs]

I sent for an application and I got it, but then I got to thinking, "You know, then it's putting mud on my mother's face," 'cause before I left Japan she took me over to her friend's place. This is the Shirokiya, Mr. Endo's place. Mr. Endo told me, "Why do you want to leave your family and go back three thousand miles away? Just listen to your parents and they'll find you a nice husband and..." You know. And so I told Mr. Endo then, "I thank you very much for your advice," but I said, "Mother always talked about how important education was, and I see in Japan, in that country, how women are." I said, "I don't want to live like that." I said, "I'm going back to America to get my education." So I thought about that, and I thought I'd be putting mud on Mother's face if I quit now. "But I don't want to lose all my science classes that I had to struggle to get." So I looked through everything, what to do, and I decided maybe nursing I will, I could hurry up and be, at least find a job, which I already know was hard without some kind of background. So I wrote to my father and told him, "I'm changing into nursing, and I know I'm disappointing Mom, but I think I could save my work up to now, so I'm gonna do that." My father said, "Okay, whatever you think is good for you, go ahead." So I looked into all the nursing, and I went to General Hospital because they give you a little stipend, and so I took my test and then I got into nursing over at General Hospital, which, I think it was a really a good deal. And I always tell my friends who are interested in nursing that it is a good job. I said, when it comes to famine and you're down to fighting for another bowl of rice, like I've seen, there's always sick people. No matter where in the world, you will be able to find a job. You don't have to look too far; you could find a job. So it's a good profession for a woman at the time. So I went, I still am very happy that I made that choice.

MN: Now, when you were in nursing training you had to go to Japan.

GH: I was in, I was junior, of the three years I was junior, and I had a dream one day that... and I woke up from the dream like it was real. And the dream was my mother died and I was fighting with my oldest brother, telling him that I thought I was one of the closest in the family and why wasn't I told. And I woke up and saw that I was in a little four corner room (and dormitory) in the hospital, and I just couldn't get back to work. I was just so upset. And so I call, I called my brother and said I wanted to (go) back to see (Mom) before she died, and I had this terrible dream and it seemed so real I just had to (go) see her. "And I don't have the money," I said. "Would you send me the fare? I'll pay you back." And I just went ahead and made arrangements with a travel agency, and I had my shot -- you had to have that smallpox shot -- I had to have, I got the shot and I had it read the same day, and I sent this application in and told 'em it was an emergency, I needed to go to Japan. Usually they send, they... a letter saying that it had to be approved in Washington, D.C. but they'll approve it in San Francisco. And so within the week I got everything ready to go. I had to leave, I told the (school). They told me I should leave the class and come back in the next class. I said no, I didn't want to do that. I wanted to stay with this class, but I needed to take a month off. (The school) said, "Well, if you flunk you won't be able to come back." So I thought I'd take my chance on that because I thought if someone else who's sick could keep up I thought maybe I can do that. So I took all my books and I went (to Japan). I went to Japan to see my mom. And sure enough, as a doctor told me that she had a bad stroke and they thought it was going to be the end. So I thought to myself, "Oh, that was mental telepathy, and I needed to see her." And so I got to see her before she died, and we had a little time together. And she couldn't speak anymore, with the stroke, but she had things she wanted to tell me, so we had a good month together there, and I came back. Luckily, I finished my nursing, nurse's training there at General Hospital.

MN: Was your mother able to live as long as, for you to graduate?

GH: No, I wanted her to, I asked her to please stay alive so I could do something for her, but as soon as I graduated from General Hospital I felt that I still needed to get my degree, I went to UCLA before the iron gets cold, you know. So I went to UCLA and I graduated there from two years also, and I got my degree, but by that time she'd passed away. So I had to go to her cemetery to tell her thank you (in 1956).

MN: You know, when you look back at your World War II experience, how do you view what happened to you and what happened to your family?

GH: This whole life, I think I was born lucky, from the time I was born. I ran into people who always helped me in all these different ways, like Tony Texera that I borrowed money from. I saw him again ten years later. He didn't remember me, but I remember him. I saw him and I thanked him, and again, he helped me in another situation again. So I'm convinced that the world goes around, comes around, and I think I'm very, very lucky that the whole life experience, this was a learning experience, all through life. Ups and downs, good and bad, everything in life (teaches). You learn it in the raw, and if you can make, make good of what you learned... that's life.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.