Densho Digital Archive
New Mexico JACL Collection
Title: Mary Montoya Interview
Narrator: Mary Montoya
Interviewer: Andrew Russell
Location: Gallup, New Mexico
Date: August 14, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-mmary-01

<Begin Segment 1>

AR: This is an interview with Mrs. Mary Toki Montoya, a longtime resident of Gallup, New Mexico. The interview is being held at Mrs. Montoya's home in Gallup. Today is August 14, 2012, and the interview is being conducted by Andy Russell as part of the JACL New Mexico Confinement Sites Project. So, first I want to thank you for agreeing to be interviewed and share your life experiences with us.

MM: You're very welcome.

AR: Then I'm going to start with some questions about your birth family and your early childhood, way back. Okay?

MM: Well, let's see if I can remember it. [Laughs]

AR: Okay. First let's, here's an easy one. Where and when were you born?

MM: I was born in El Paso, Texas, 1916.

AR: 1916, okay. Please state your full name, including your Japanese given name and maiden name for us.

MM: It's Mary Toki Mochimaru Montoya.

AR: And how do you spell Mochimaru?

MM: M-O-C-H-I-M-A-R-U.

AR: Okay. And is Toki an abbreviated name or is that the actual name?

MM: No. That's just a Japanese...

AR: Toki.

MM: They picked that... my godparents are Japanese and they picked that when they were going to baptize me. And what happened there was, we were going to a Catholic church and the priest would not accept Toki as a Catholic name, so they made me Mary Toki and Mochimaru.

AR: Okay. And so your godparents were Catholic, already, too, huh?

MM: They were Catholics, yes.

AR: But Japanese.

MM: And Japanese, both of them, Yeah.

AR: All right. Well, let's see. Please tell me a little bit about your parents, starting with your father's name and where he came from.

MM: Well, my father, he was raised in Tokyo, but he was born in Yokohama.

AR: Okay.

MM: And from there, he went onto Tokyo. But when he became of age, they... well, he had to go to war, because there was a war between the Japanese and the Russians, I believe.

AR: Okay. That's about 1904.

MM: Yeah, yeah.

AR: Uh-huh.

MM: And so what happened there was he was wounded. He had that bullet wound on his forehead somewhere. Being the only boy, his parents didn't want him to stay there, so they managed to get him here to the United States. I don't know how he got to Mexico, but through Mexico, he come into Texas and that's where he was living. He was a cook there.

AR: Let me slow down for a minute. And so that was probably still 1905, 1906 when he came in?

MM: That...

AR: Well, it was around the time of that Russo-Japanese War.

MM: Yeah, right. I really don't know the date on that, anyway.

AR: Do you know if he came across the border legally or just came across, there was no restrictions back then?

MM: I never heard, so it could be that he just came. His parents paid to get him out of Japan, so he wouldn't have to go in. And so it could have been illegal, because from Mexico and I don't know how he got to Texas.

AR: But there's no border crossings back in those days. It was pretty open.

MM: Not there, no. And so he was there working as a cook in a restaurant.

AR: Okay. Did he already have those skills, how to cook, from the army or do you think he brought those skills with him?

MM: Whatchamacallit? I really don't know. I think he had to learn here, I'm not sure that they taught him that out there. But, there in El Paso, that's where he met my mother.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

AR: Now how did he meet your mother?

MM: My mother, they also were running away from Pancho Villa, remember?

AR: Uh-huh.

MM: They had that big...

AR: Revolution?

MM: Yeah. And anybody that even owned a house, they considered rich. Well, my mother was an orphan and she had, with her godparents, they went ahead and they come across into El Paso illegally. So, and then she started working as a waitress in this restaurant where my father was as a cook. Now, like I tell you...

AR: So your mother was Mexican by birth?

MM: My mother was Mexican and my father was Japanese.

AR: What's your mother 's name?

MM: My mother's name was Maria Sanchez.

AR: Maria Sanchez, okay.

MM: Yeah.

AR: And what did her father... oh, but you say she was an orphan. So both her parents had been killed in the revolution?

MM: No. She was an orphan already. But during that, that war was going on, it was just, Pancho Villa was just against anybody that had property, had, you know, any kind of money or anything like that, he was getting rid of them and that's when her godparents and her, they come across from Mexico. She had been married to a soldier over there. And she would bring my half-brother across with her and... whatchamacallit? When she come, she had to work because, you know, she had that little boy with her and that's where she met my father, in a restaurant.

AR: Do you think that she was a widow when she came over?

MM: She was a widow at the time, yeah. She was a widow, because she said that she had been married to this Mexican soldier. He got killed over there, and then that's when she come across with the baby.

AR: A boy or a girl baby?

MM: It was a boy.

AR: So that's your older half-brother?

MM: Yeah.

AR: Okay. And then she came and she worked as a waitress in the restaurant and met your father.

MM: Yeah. They met... excuse me.

AR: Yes. Now did either one of them speak the other person's language?

MM: No. They don't know, that's how... it's such a mystery as to how they communicated. They managed, though. [Laughs] And like I said, he was working there and then he proposed to her, but I guess he must have had some other Japanese fellow or Spanish fellow, you know, communicate to him. Because she couldn't talk English or Japanese and he couldn't talk Mexican or English.

AR: I see.

MM: So that was a puzzle there and I never did find out how in the world he managed to propose to her and marry her. She really wanted to get out of the house, because her padrinos...

AR: Godparents?

MM: They were very mean.

AR: Oh.

MM: And she was going through a lot of heck, you know. So, I think she mainly wanted to get out from under his thumb.

AR: So we might be getting ahead of the story, but do you think your father was Catholic by that time, or was he still...

MM: No. He became Catholic here in Gallup.

AR: Oh, okay. Well, how many children in your family?

MM: There was my half-brother and then I was the oldest and then I had two sisters. One sister is still alive, the other one passed about ten years ago. And the other one lives herein Gallup, Margaret, the youngest one.

AR: I get it. Okay. So three daughters from that union between your father and mother.

MM: Yeah, yeah.

AR: Okay.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AR: Our project is mainly about New Mexico, so I don't want to linger too much on El Paso, but do you have any memories of growing up in El Paso that you want to share? Was there a big Japanese community there, or...

MM: We were, they were working in... they made friends there in El Paso because at that time, my father found a job further into Texas and went to work there for a while.

AR: As a cook still?

MM: Pardon?

AR: As a cook still?

MM: Yeah. And then not too long after that, he come back to El Paso. We all moved back to El Paso and that's where my godparents baptized me and the whole thing. You know what I mean? I wasn't baptized at that time and they did it at the... and I was already, you know, up there, you know.

AR: Do you have any memories of these godparents of yours that were Japanese?

MM: Kind of like in a dream. They were there, they owned a store there, and we lived there for maybe about a week or two when my father wanted to come on to Albuquerque. So we were there for just a short time. Then we came on to Albuquerque and he was working as a cook in a restaurant there on... what is that main street?

AR: Central? Central? Central?

MM: Central, yeah.

AR: Was it an Anglo establishment or a Mexican establishment or Japanese restaurant? Do you know?

MM: I'm not sure what they were.

AR: How old were you when you made that move?

MM: I must have been about thirteen or something like that.

AR: You were in school?

MM: No schooling until we come to Albuquerque.

AR: Oh.

MM: My mother used to teach us before that. I remember there was this big tree outside the house and there was maybe about six or eight kids that used to go up there and we all learned, all Mexican, Spanish or Mexican, but no English. She didn't know how to, you know, really use English then.

AR: I see.

MM: And so we moved to Albuquerque, and there's where I went to the Sacred Heart School there.

AR: Sacred Heart Catholic School?

MM: It was a Catholic School and I couldn't speak English or what, whatever, no. It just so happened there was this sister, Sister Juanita, that could speak Spanish. So she was the one who communicated with me and then I started to learn English there in Albuquerque. And by the time I got through, I guess I was doing all right, because we lived there. He opened up a restaurant there, on that railroad where the Santa Fe used to have the trains drove by. They changed trains.

AR: The shops and the round house --

MM: Yeah, right around there he had a restaurant. And then that's when the... what is the...

AR: Depression?

MM: Depression hits.

AR: What was the name of the restaurant? Do you remember?

MM: I can't remember. All I can remember is one day it was filled with people and then the next day it was just empty. Nothing, nothing.

AR: The Depression hit.

MM: So, it just hit it so bad and so...

AR: I'm kind of curious on this restaurant. Do you remember what kind of food they served?

MM: It was mainly Mexican food, because my mother was a good cook, and it was popular with the people around there. But it was mainly Mexican, yeah. And, of course, you know, whenever there was a lot of Japanese people that would come, why, he would fix what he knew, this chop suey or he used to fix this rice there that he would boil, and this little dried fish that they fixed some kind of a mixture with them. And I don't know what it was, but I liked it. [Laughs]

AR: So then it sounds like there was a pretty good size Japanese population in Albuquerque back in the early '30s.

MM: Japanese and...

AR: Working on the railroads and...

MM: All around there, but then all of a sudden...

AR: Depression.

MM: ...everything was gone. Everything was gone. Yeah. I mean, it was just like they emptied the... that I remember.

AR: Were you treated okay at that school, at the Sacred Heart School?

MM: Well, yes. I never made friends, because I couldn't, you know, communicate. And by the time we got through there, I was doing pretty good, though. I started picking up a lot of English. Then is when we moved over here to Gallup.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AR: I know you said the Depression hit. So about what year do you think you came to Gallup?

MM: That's about... well, the Depression hit it bad out there.

AR: 1929, '30, '31?

MM: In 1932 or '33, something like that.

AR: Okay.

MM: Yeah.

AR: And your father came here for work and found work?

MM: He came before us. We stayed there in Albuquerque and he hitchhiked over here and then he went to Gramerco and there was a lot of Japanese there.

AR: That's the coal camp out there?

MM: Yeah. And so he got a job as a cook there.

AR: Oh, okay.

MM: So, and then he brought us. He had... there was this, they used to have a grocery store here, I forget their name. They sent the boy up there to Albuquerque to pick us up and bring us over here.

AR: Okay. Was it a Japanese friend of his that sent for the family?

MM: How's that?

AR: The store owners, were they Japanese, that sent for you?

MM: No. No, they were Anglos.

AR: Okay.

MM: Or more Slavish.

AR: Slavic?

MM: Yeah.

AR: Interesting. So you came, and for a while you lived out at Gamerco? Gammaco?

MM: How's that?

AR: When the family came to join your father, did you live out at Gammaco for a while?

MM: Gamerco.

AR: Gamerco?

MM: Uh-huh. Just long enough to find a place here and that's when they brought us here to the Santa Fe houses, where all the Japanese were living there.

AR: Okay. Now you've got to help me understand this, because nobody's told us about this. There was some housing for Japanese workers along the Santa Fe Railroad?

MM: Oh, there was a lot. There were a lot of Japanese working the Santa Fe here. Yeah. And most of them were, you know... well, they had their own business, some of them. But not anything big yet. Later on they started with restaurants and things like that.

AR: But at that time they were working as laborers in the rail yards?

MM: Just, yeah, whatever they could get. And for the Santa Fe, wherever they could get...

AR: And I think I saw in your other interview that you did, the article that they wrote, they mentioned it was called the Japanese colony or the Japanese camp?

MM: Well, you would say because there was nothing but Japanese there. I mean, we were the only ones that were half Japanese that lived there, because the other families that were, you know, half Mexican and half Japanese or anything like that, they lived outside of that. But we happened to, I guess because my father had that job, they rented him a house there.


AR: So how long did you live in the Japanese camp?

MM: It might have been about a year or something like that. Then we rented a place close by.

AR: Okay. Moved out of the Japanese camp into town somewhere?

MM: Yeah. Well, I guess you could, because there was all Japanese there and I know my mother... well, my father was a cook and my mother was always a busybody, and so she'd go to these Japanese ladies wherever she could and if they wanted houses cleaned or if they wanted laundry, anything, she would iron and everything and so she'd make her side money that way.

AR: Oh. Now do you think she picked up some Japanese along the way, language, Japanese language along the way?

MM: I doubt it.

AR: Not too much?

MM: No. She picked up the English, though. She could talk broken like, but... well, I wouldn't say very broken, because you could make out what she was saying. My father, he would stutter, you know. He tried to talk to me and kind of stuttered and think about the word and then something.

AR: Those languages are pretty far apart, Japanese and English.

MM: Yeah.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AR: So, from your memories and recollections, was there a pretty good mix of people, in other words, men and women and children living in the Japanese community?

MM: Yes. But like I tell you, they didn't, they didn't like us very much.

AR: Oh. Because of the Hispanic?

MM: You want to hear that one?

AR: Go ahead.

MM: No, the thing was that there was several families that were Japanese and Americans, and my father was a teacher in the school. And the thing was at five o'clock, everybody went to Japanese school after we got out of the other schools. And so we went there and everybody went there all the time and I went there and they had all the Japanese Americans or Mexicans separated from the Japanese and I didn't like it. And I was the only one that... I was going to Sacred Heart School at that time. I'd stay 'til five or six o'clock, 'til they were all in school, and then I'd go home, but I just wasn't going to be separated, I guess. I don't know, something in me, anyway. But they got after my father because I missed school and this and that, but he couldn't make me go for nothing, you know? And I'd just run away and stay in that Sacred Heart School 'til...

AR: Now the school that you went to in Albuquerque was Sacred Heart and the school here was Sacred Heart, too?

MM: It was a Catholic School, yeah, Sacred Heart.

AR: Okay. So you went back into Catholic School when you were here?

MM: Yeah.

AR: And you're saying the Japanese, pure Japanese students, all Japanese, they didn't treat you very well?

MM: Separated from, yeah.

AR: From the ones...

MM: Oh, after the war, watch it. They just couldn't do enough for you. Oh, they just, "Toki," and this and that and I says, "Since when? They never wanted me before."

AR: Were there other kids that were of mixed heritage?

MM: Yeah, yeah, but they didn't mind it. I guess. My sister didn't mind it. She used to go. She'd go to school and all and I told them, "No way. I'm not going to be..."

AR: Segregated, huh?

MM: I don't know. I guess something.

AR: And your dad was the teacher of the Japanese language school?

MM: Yeah. But see, he was married to a Mexican woman, so he didn't have much say so.

AR: But he was a teacher?

MM: Because he used to be a teacher in Japan.

AR: Oh, did he?

MM: Uh-huh, yeah.

AR: Okay. So he had some college education or something?

MM: I really don't know how much education he had, but he was the only boy and I know they educated... they did try to educate him as much as possible and then the war broke out and he was sent into...

AR: To fight?

MM: Yeah and that's when he was wounded.

AR: Do you think your mom had a hard time living in the Japanese community, too, being Spanish, being Mexican?

MM: No. My mother was, she could get along with anybody. She was that kind of a person. She just could make you think you were the best there was, you know. And so, no, they liked her well, but they wouldn't accept her with him. You used to have to go... this was the way it was. They had this big swimming pool. Everybody, everybody there in those Japanese buildings there that lived there in the camp there. I say "camp," I don't know if it was. But Saturdays the men, the women, the children, they'd go and take a bath together, all of them. And like I said, I went one time and I says, "To heck with them." But every Saturday, all of them would go in there and they, the men would be over here, the women here and the kids, but they'd all go in.

AR: The bathhouse?

MM: I don't know. I guess there's something in me that was different, something. Because I acted... I don't know how I acted. I mean, I just wasn't about to be treated like a cow, pushed in there.

AR: Okay. All right.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AR: How about when you started school here in Gallup, what kind of friends did you hang out with? Were they mainly Japanese?

MM: I didn't make friends very easily because of my half Japanese and Mexican. The other people, the other kids didn't want me around either, you know. I was, like I say, marked because I had the Japanese blood in me. And we were there at the Sacred Heart, at school there, and no. They didn't even want, some of those gals, they didn't want to sit with me, because I was Japanese. So, and the Sisters didn't do anything about it, you know? And so what I would do -- and they caught me at it, too -- I'd go to school, because I had to. They forced me to, but I'd get the love story magazines, put the geography magazine over here and I'd put that magazine, the other one here...

AR: Love stories?

MM: I'd read all those love stories while I was supposed to be reading about something else. So, I guess I wasn't nice, either. So...

AR: So the Japanese kids didn't treat you too well and the Mexican American kids didn't treat you too well?

MM: No. After the war, they couldn't do enough for you. They could not do enough. They just wanted to just, oh my god, you know, invite you to the house. I said, "You go jump in a lake."

AR: Well, when did you start working?

MM: I was twelve years old when I started working, and I started working for Mrs. Miyamura. They had opened up a cafe. The Okay Cafe on Coal Avenue. And I was twelve, and so my mother was washing dishes there and my father was cook, and I was going to school, or something like that. And so what happened there was I'd go ahead and, well, they wanted to teach me. Mrs. Miyamura was very nice. She says, "Come on, Toki, you can learn." So there was a man, I think he's still alive. He was the first customer I ever tried to wait on. His name was Joe Nuchi. And so Mrs. Miyamura says, "Here, go serve him his coffee. Go." And they had to push me out. I was forced. "Go on, serve him." And I wouldn't, and I put that coffee and get away from here real fast. [Laughs] But I got to stay there and I think I worked for them about three, four years. Get up before I went to school and then after school, you know?

AR: Wow.

MM: And then, later on, I don't know what happened. I stopped work there and went to work at the Eagle Cafe.

AR: Which was also owned by Japanese?

MM: Yeah. That was... I was sixteen years old then. And I worked there for maybe a couple of years, something like that.

AR: What family owned that one?

MM: Huh?

AR: What family owned that at the time?

MM: I think it was the Tairas.

AR: Tairas, all right. Now, were you contributing your money to the family income or were you just working for your own money?

MM: They took everything that I had. My dad, it was maybe $2.75 a week or a dollar or something and I'd come home and I'd give it to him and I remember. It was, we were living in this little house around here, and couldn't find nothing to eat. It was during the Depression and I was the only one working. And whatchamacallit, I'd come home from work and I had the, I think it was $1.75 and I gave it to him so they could buy food, that's the thing. And he felt so bad and he had gone that early during the day to try to find food for us to eat, and no, all he could find was some potatoes or something. So he'd come home and he cooked them for us and then he went ahead. And I remember now, he saw to it that we all had our share of whatever it was that he had cooked and he stood there and he was hungry, but he didn't touch our food. And later on, we remembered that, you know. At that time, we didn't. He just didn't touch anything, you know, and I said, "Boy, he done without, just to let us..."

AR: He must have been between jobs or something and you guys were working and he wasn't sometimes because of the Depression? Or he just wasn't making enough?

MM: There was no work at all, absolutely nothing. He'd go all over Gallup looking for work, looking for something.

AR: Now when you say you lived in the little house, you don 't mean this little...

MM: Yes. This little rock house that's right down here.

AR: That concrete thing?

MM: On Wilson, yeah.

AR: Oh, oh, I see.

MM: Yeah. We lived there... when I got married, that's where we were living.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

AR: Did you go to Gallup High School?

MM: I'll tell you what happened here. I was in eleventh grade, and I used to work before I went up there and later when I get out. Well, I was late to mass, you know, so the Sister told me, "Mary," because they called me Mary, they didn't use my Japanese name. "Mary, you come late, that door's going to be closed." I couldn't help but be late, because I get out of work and I'd rush over there and it was closed. So they closed the door on me and that was the last day I went to school. I just didn't go back anymore and I went and I asked for steady work there at the Okay Cafe and I used to work as little as possible. But I used to manage to get some money there.

AR: Would that have been the Eagle Cafe by that time? Eagle Cafe?

MM: No. Later on I went to work at the Eagle Cafe. But it was Tairas, I think, they had it. Yeah.

AR: You never went to Gallup High School then, huh?

MM: No.

AR: Okay.

MM: I went for a half a year, but I didn't like it and I went back to Cathedral and then I quit. [Laughs]

AR: What didn't you like about Gallup High?

MM: I was so used to the Sisters and all of that, I guess, I don't know. And they, like anybody else, they kind of pushed you aside because you were Japanese.


AR: How were your bosses at the cafes? Were they pretty good people?

MM: They were good with me. Yeah, they were good with me, because I tried to be a good worker and I was. I mean, I got so that the customers really appreciated me, you know. When I went into the Eagle Cafe, those waitresses there, also, they'd stand up there by themselves and there's Mary all by herself over here. I was used to that. I mean, I was so used to that and I guess later on, it didn't bother anymore. But all of those people, they just used to even come and try to be nice with me and talk with me. Bea Rocky, she was the one that pushed me away and a friend of hers there. I forget what her name was. Anyway, I don't know. I was too old to want friends afterwards, and actually I ended up having one friend and that was Andrea Ayano. She was a cripple and she didn't make very many friends and she was always alone, like me, and we got to be good friends.

AR: Was she Hispanic?

MM: Yeah. And then just about the time that we were really getting close, they moved to California. So that's the one I went to see right before she passed away. They took me, the kids took me up there to see her. She must have been about, I guess about eighty-five when we went up there that she died. So...

AR: What kind of food did they serve at those cafes? Was it American food, or Spanish or mixed?

MM: It was a mixture. It was a mixture, you know, because I know that they had Japanese food and they'd order it, but it was mainly like maybe hamburger steak and beef stew and stuff like that that I saw go out more than anything else.

AR: Were the clients like railroad workers and families? Who were the customers?

MM: Mainly...

AR: Tourists?

MM: The ones that worked around there in the stores and they'd go there for lunch or something like that. But the place kept busy.

AR: So in your family, I know that times were hard and stuff, but what kind of holidays did you celebrate? Did celebrate like Fourth of July or did you celebrate Japanese holidays like New Years?

MM: We celebrated Christmas. I mean, no matter what, there was some kind of a decoration, Christmas decoration. My dad used to do that and we'd have... if we didn't have a tree, we would just put it around the doors or something like that, you know. But he managed to celebrate Christmas. I don't remember too much about the Fourth of July or anything like that, but...

AR: What about Christmas presents? What would that be during those hard times?

MM: There wasn't much. In Albuquerque, I remember for Christmas, they managed to give us something. My mother managed to give me a little celluloid doll. That was supposed to be something really precious, because nobody got dolls. And it was about that big and I thought, "Oh, my god, I'm rich. I really got something." But that's the one present that I remember.

AR: And then the Depression hit after that?

MM: It here there. You were lucky if you got...

AR: Apple or an orange or maybe...

MM: Anything like that. No, it was rough. Yeah, we went through a lot of rough times. And like this, it made it rougher... well, in a way, I went through a little bit rougher time than... now like my sister, Josephine, she got along with everybody and they all liked her, but they didn't want me. [Laughs] And they wanted not my sister, Margaret, the one's that the youngest one that lives here now. She's quiet. You have to kind of force her to talk, you know, and she's still a quiet person. And, whatchamacallit, with me, I guess I was outspoken.

AR: Stood up to them?

MM: Yeah, I guess. I had to learn how to defend myself. [Laughs] I don't know what, defend myself from what. But anyway, I survived.

AR: You know, from talking to some of the other people around town, with a lot of the Japanese Americans, at least the children, the Nisei, were Methodist. There were big Methodist church services.

MM: Oh.

AR: So I wonder if there was any tension between you guys being Catholic and them being Methodist or being Protestant? I don't know.

MM: Not that I recall, no.

AR: You said your father converted to Catholicism?

MM: You mean a Catholic? He became a Catholic here, and whatchamacallit, after he became a Catholic, they got married here, through the church, my father and my mother. So he became a Catholic.

AR: Okay. And they got remarried in the church.

MM: Yeah.

AR: Ah, okay.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

AR: So did your... what was your mother's outlook and goals for you three daughters? Did she want you to...

MM: Not any different.

AR: ...get married?

MM: You know, I remember my mother. She was always singing. What is that song? I forget, something. Oh, she'd be making the bed or she be doing something and then she was just a happy woman, that's all. Because, I mean, she... I can't remember her fighting with my father, because I don't know, see... well, they were two different persons. But I don't remember big fights or nothing like that.

AR: What did she want for the children? What do you think her ambition was for you?

MM: She could get them the best that she could, she'd get them. But the thing about it was, she'd do without to get for the kids, you know? That was the way it was, I guess, most parents.

AR: Did she kind of expect you to get married, grow up and get married?

MM: Well, when I told them that I was getting married, we were down here when Louie and his mother, they went to ask for my hand, and my father, he just sat down real quiet and he didn't say anything much, you know, because he couldn't express himself anyway. And, so my mother did all the talking and his mother, and so, what it was going to be like and am I willing to go through it and this and that. And Louie said, "Yeah." I said, "I guess so." So there we are.

AR: Did you guys date before that? Did you and Louie date before that?

MM: Yes, we did. Yeah. [Interruption] And I don't know how it was, but he ended up, one way or the other, we ended up I guess falling in love. So...

AR: So you say you had another boyfriend at the time?

MM: Oh, yeah. No, I didn't hold back. Everybody else, they stayed with the one boyfriend and this.

AR: So you had your share of boyfriends?

MM: Oh, I had my share. Too much. That's why my reputation followed me. [Laughs]

AR: Were they mostly Hispanic or Anglo or it didn't matter?

MM: No, they were Spanish. Yeah. I don't believe there were any Anglos.

AR: Japanese boys? Did any Japanese boys want to date you?

MM: Yeah, I went with one, Walter Shibata.

AR: Uh-huh.

MM: Yeah. But, not really that interesting, you know. Because...

AR: How old were you when your husband asked to marry you?

MM: I was twenty-one.

AR: Oh. Okay.

MM: Uh-huh. He was nineteen.

AR: Oh, younger than you.

MM: Yeah. I was... what do you call 'em? A baby stealer, or what? [Laughs]

AR: Baby stealer, okay. Hmm. In your household, what was the food like? Your dad was a cook, so did he do the cooking or did your mom do the cooking?

MM: Oh, both of them. My dad would fix us, you know, Japanese stuff. My mother always with her tacos and enchiladas and she always cooked the best beans. I can go somewhere and eat beans now and they don't taste the same. She done something with them. But she was, and that's what it was, a mixture.

AR: Oh, that's nice.

MM: Yeah. Because they opened up a restaurant over here and that's where she, all Mexican food and, boy, she used to get a lot of people there.

AR: So your mom and dad opened their own restaurant for a while?

MM: They opened it up and they were, you know, they'd work together , you know.

AR: What period was that? What year, decade maybe?

MM: Oh, well, let's see, I was married already. I got married in 1937, I guess, around there. Yeah.

AR: Okay. So, once you guys were married, you said about 1937, you still continued to live here in Gallup?

MM: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

AR: Okay. Did you go to work for your parents' restaurant?

MM: We used to go help her make tamales or something like that. And Louie, he used to go, because he and my dad would go to Mr. Casado's store and they'd all have their beer in the evenings. But that was about it. And during the war, before the war, that's when we moved up there, that Louie went to work for the shipyards.

AR: Moved to where?

MM: To California.

AR: Okay.

MM: We went to... what is that place? San Pedro?

AR: San Pedro, uh-huh.

MM: That's where he went and he was working the shipyards.

AR: I see, okay. And that's right before the war started?

MM: Oh, yeah.

AR: And you moved there with him. Did you have any children by that point?

MM: How's that?

AR: Did you two have children by that point?

MM: We had Inez, that was the only one. At that time, she about a year and a half, or something like that.

AR: Your first daughter?

MM: Yeah. And then he decided to come back. I tell you, he was always, always crying every day that his mama was this, and he was going to be called and I said, "Well, let's go home."

AR: He was going to be called into the service?

MM: Yeah. And he was not going to see his mama. He wasn't worried about not seeing me, he was not going to see his mom. [Laughs]

AR: His mom still lived here?

MM: No. His mother was still here, yeah.

AR: And your parents were here?

MM: My parents, well, they lived here, too.

AR: Okay. Now, when the war broke out, did you have any concerns about being half Japanese, living in California?

MM: That's when I went to California.

AR: Right.

MM: They were all coming out and I went with Louie.

AR: You were moving right about that time when the war started?

MM: Yeah. [Interruption] And so I went by Mary Montoya. But it's my name, you know, but I left the Toki out so that there wouldn't be no problems.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

AR: Do you remember the year? Was it 1942, right when all the evacuation was starting?

MM: Right around there, yeah. Right around there, because we come back and that's when they had opened all the camps here, and in Wingate...

AR: Military bases?

MM: With the big buses. That's when Louie got a job there driving the workers to work in these big buses that they had. And he stayed here until, well, they called him.

AR: So when you guys moved to California, you're saying that the Japanese people that were living there were being moved out?

MM: They were all being put out of California.

AR: Now did you see the signs that said "Japanese not allowed to work here" and you didn't worry about it?

MM: Yeah, that's right.

AR: You just flew under the radar, huh?

MM: Well, there was no way... I was not supposed to be Japanese. I was Mary Montoya. So I got away with it.

AR: That's interesting, yeah. It would be interesting to pin down the dates that you were there, because you probably were breaking some law by being there after March, after March or April. So, do you remember what the weather was like when you came back here? Was it summer or was it winter, or you don't know?

MM: I can't remember.

AR: A long time ago. So you don't have a lot of memories of what it was like for Japanese people here in Gallup at the start of the war, do you or do you? Do you remember the Japanese American people of Gallup having troubles or anything like that?

MM: Well, the thing about it was that before the war, they were very proud, very, they were... you know. And I tell you, you don't come near me. I'm full blooded Japanese. You're just dirt, you know. But, after the war, boy, I mean, they couldn't find friends enough. They wouldn't talk to me before that. I was just dirt to them. After the war, oh my god, they couldn't... "Toki this and Toki that," and Toki said, "You go jump in a lake."

AR: So you really don't have any experience of being Japanese and feeling the pressure from the outside, right?

MM: Not as much as some did. I mean, and I went to work for the Japanese all that time until I got married. I was working for the Shibatas. They had a restaurant right here on Cole Avenue and I was there until I got married. And I got married and I didn't work for a while, and then Louie was called into the service. And we were getting a hundred dollars allotment and that wasn't doing it for us, so I told Louie, "I'm going to have to go to work, because we can't make it on this."

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

AR: Did you go back to work for the Japanese diners?

MM: No. That's when I went for Fred Harvey.

AR: Fred Harvey?

MM: Yeah. I went out there and...

AR: Was that during the war?

MM: Yeah.

AR: You went to work during the war?

MM: Yeah, we used to feed the troop trains there. Yeah, and I got to see Clark Gable and I got to see a lot of movie stars there.

AR: Why? What were the movie stars doing? Making movies around here?

MM: No, they were going through on the train.

AR: Oh, like recruiting.

MM: They'd get off for a break. They get off for a break and whatchamacallit, we'd go to the bar and there they were. We were just thrilled over the fact that we saw so many movie stars. One time they called out and said there was a troop train coming in. They called us all out at three o'clock in the morning so we could feed them. Two people got off of that train and the whole place was set up for, I don't know, everybody. Because they claimed I don't know how many were coming in. It was all set up and there we go. [Laughs]

AR: Now, again, of the people that knew you were half Japanese at the Harvey House, was there any trouble? Was anybody concerned that you were serving troops and you were part Japanese?

MM: No, not there.

AR: Nobody gave you any trouble?

MM: No. They didn't show any... I think it was the only place that didn't show any prejudice or anything like that. So, and they were very good. I mean, I was promoted. Well, I went through the training like everybody, you know. You didn't get on there. You went on there, they put you on serving the workers. You'd have to stay there I think six weeks or something like that. Then, once you finished there, then you went and you served the counter, just the counter.

AR: Just the counter customers.

MM: Yeah. And if you made it there and you became good enough, then you went to work on the dining room.

AR: I see.

MM: The restaurant part, the dining room was special. Well, I made it to the special where there was only, you know, you'd get about six customers and you'd have to give them service. The water couldn't go down this way. They have it down to the... so, we went through a lot is all. But, at the end, Albertina was their number one for a long time and then she passed away and I got the number one and I got my pin, where they put me number one. They gave me the tie and the number one pin. Somewhere around there.


AR: Okay. And we were talking about your career as a Harvey girl. So we'll continue there. Now you just recently were interviewed and they did a wonderful write up, so I'm not going to ask a bunch of questions.

MM: Oh, yeah.

AR: But I do want to ask, as a historian, I've read and heard that the Harvey Company, at least in the '30s, they didn't tend to use people who were minorities as waitresses and stuff.

MM: Yeah. No.

AR: And I wondering if it was different here in Gallup or if you were the only person, you know.

MM: No. They just, they just brought all nationalities here. There's some from Albuquerque, some from Winslow, but there was a lot of Spanish girls there.

AR: Is that right?

MM: Yeah, yeah And there were some Anglos. But the one that was a waitress here, and a head waitress and a bar girl, that was Albertina, and then I was next to her. I used to work the bar and also, you know, the dining room.

AR: Did you ever have any trouble with customers complaining because you weren't white and you were serving them or anything?

MM: No, we didn't. Well, once we went into the dining room, you had to be perfect. And they only gave you about four or six people to wait on. They didn't give you no big tables and you have to be right on it. I mean, to the dot. Nothing empty, everything right, and you didn't cross across to give coffee. No, you had to walk around.

AR: Did you enjoy that experience as a Harvey girl?

MM: It was... yeah. I learned how to do it right.

AR: And your supervisors were good people and nice to you?

MM: They were strict, but they were, they demanded that, you know, you do it right. They weren't there to do anything or to try to get anything out of you that they couldn't, anyway.

AR: Okay, now I get the sense that you're kind of grown up and you already have your husband and your family started when the war broke out.

MM: Yeah.

AR: And you really weren't that involved with the Japanese community at that point, except for your father was connected.

MM: Yeah.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

AR: Did your father have any trouble during the war?

MM: No, he didn't. He stayed here for a while and then they all moved to... what is this place right here? Right across from El Paso? Anyway, they moved because my sister...

AR: Las Cruces or no?

MM: Right around there. I know they moved there, because my sister, Margaret, the youngest one that's here, graduated and she was named valedictorian or something, and they wouldn't let her here, they wouldn't let her get up there. No, they had to choose somebody else because of the Japanese blood. Yeah. And so, I mean, she went out there because she couldn't get a job here. The government, they had this, you know, you could go... the people here had these government jobs and offices and all that. They wouldn't accept her.

AR: They wouldn't hire her, huh?

MM: Yeah. So she went up to... it flew away from me. Silver City or...

AR: Okay. It could be Silver City or Las Cruces or...

MM: Yeah. Well, she went up there and then she went to work up there. But they accepted her there, but they weren't extra special, either. But she at least was working.

AR: So now, let me get this straight. She was going to Gallup High School in 1945?

MM: Yeah, around there.

AR: And she had the grades to be valedictorian and they wouldn't let her be, because she was half Japanese.

MM: Yeah, they didn't. They said that she got the, whatever it is, but they just didn't... they had to pick somebody else, they said.

AR: Now we looked at the yearbooks for the war years and we had a lot of students who were Japanese, like you mentioned the boy you dated. His brother ...

MM: Yeah.

AR: What was the name of the boy you dated that was Japanese? It started with a "T'' maybe?

MM: Who's that?

AR: Japanese American kid that you dated when you were younger? Shinto?

MM: Oh, Shibata. Well, they went to school here, yeah, Shibata.

AR: Anyway, Jack Shinto, I think it he was...

MM: Shintos, they also lived here.

AR: He was president of the senior class and president of the junior class and that was interesting to see that they...

MM: They generally were very smart, but they didn't have a chance.

AR: I see. But your father didn't get investigated by the FBI or anything like that?

MM: They come to the house to check him out, yeah. When the war broke out and all that. They did come and they checked the house.

AR: Because he was a language teacher, so that might have made him on a list, you know.

MM: Yeah. And right after this, when they moved out there and he was working as a cook, you know, and my sister got that job there and...

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

AR: Now I don't know if you've heard this, but there's a story that when the war broke out, the people of Gallup signed a petition to protect the Japanese American residents and that the city council voted to make sure that they weren't sent away to the camps. Did you ever hear that story?

MM: That they...

AR: That the people of Gallup supported...

MM: They took, yeah... well, the thing was that they did, they wanted to take all the Japanese here in Gallup to the camps, you know. And I don't know how it turned out that Gallup was the only one that didn't send any out there.

AR: Uh-huh. When did you start hearing that story? Was that in the 1980s or was that earlier that you started hearing the story?

MM: No. It had to be earlier.

AR: Uh-huh.

MM: Yeah. It had to be earlier, I think.

AR: All right. Now here's another thing. Gallup has a reputation for being a special kind of community, because there were people of different nationalities - Mexican and Italian and lots of Native American people, right?

MM: Yeah.

AR: So do you have that memory of growing up here that everybody got along and there wasn't any, too much segregation or... and especially it's usually in places where the whites, Anglo Americans controlled politics and controlled the power and the businesses, and it seems like then the minorities have to live in certain areas. So, what was Gallup like in that way?

MM: Well, I would say that before the war, the Japanese were doing all right here. Once that war hit, it was an entirely different thing, you know. That's when they started being a little bit prejudiced or whatever, you know? That's what I remember, yeah.

AR: How about the Mexican American population? Did they have to live in certain areas of town or were they free to go to any restaurant they wanted and go to any movies they wanted?

MM: No, they went to wherever they wanted to, yeah.

AR: So you could go to the movie theater and sit with everybody else?

MM: Right, right. Yeah. Whatchamacallit? No, they didn't stop me from... because several of the Japanese people had the restaurants. As a matter of fact, at that time, like I says, they had the Okay Cafe, the Eagle and the Chief, which is you know, Shibatas. They had those Japanese restaurants. And that Eagle Cafe was very popular one and it still is, I think. Once about four years ago, I was still able to get around without being carried like a baby, and we went down there. You know, Shorty took me down.

AR: Yeah, it's still much like it was back in old days, huh?

MM: Yeah. So...

AR: Was the Native American population treated pretty well, too?

MM: Oh, yeah. As a matter of fact, they didn't have much to do, the Native Americans. They kind of held their place a lot and they didn't, I didn't think they'd come around...

AR: Town that much?

MM: No.

AR: Okay. All right, well, let's see here. This part of the interview is going to be kind of post-World War II.

MM: Uh-huh.

AR: Again, maybe you weren't that intimately involved with the Japanese American community.

MM: Yeah.

AR: But did the population of the Japanese American people grow or decline after World War II? Increase numbers or stay about the same?

MM: I think for a while there, they stayed here and they had businesses here. And little by little is when they started moving out to California and Arizona, I think.

AR: Kids growing up and moving away?

MM: Yeah, yeah. But it was after the war, yeah.

AR: Okay. How long did your parents live 'til?

MM: In Gallup?

AR: Well, they moved down south, right?

MM: Yeah.

AR: And then how long did they live, or when did they pass away?

MM: I don't know. Let's see. My mother was 104 years old, and she's been gone for, what is it? I think about ten years now.

AR: Did she come back to Gallup to live with you?

MM: We lived in Gallup all the way through.

AR: Oh, I thought that they moved to... oh, they just moved down...

MM: Oh, they did move, but then later on...

AR: After the war was over they came back?

MM: Come back to Gallup, yes. And, yeah, the whole family come back, as a matter of fact. They used to live right across here on Terrace Avenue.

AR: Okay.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

AR: How old did your father live to?

MM: My father must have been about eighty-five or something like that. My mother was 104. We've got that picture of her there. She was, on her 100th birthday, we had a party for her at the Ranch Kitchen. So somewhere around there I've got all those pictures.

AR: When... the 1950s, the federal government allowed Japanese immigrants to become U.S. citizens. I was wondering if your father ever became a U.S. citizen?

MM: Well, at that time, I guess, that must have been when he did. Because he became a citizen around that time there and so did my mother.

AR: Oh, okay. Your mother hadn't been a citizen either?

MM: No.

AR: Was that something important to your father to become a citizen?

MM: It was important to them, yeah. So they both went to school to become citizens and they both got their, at the same time.

AR: Oh, yeah. Was that you think in the '50s, maybe?

MM: Yeah. I was married already, I know. So...

AR: When did your father and mother retire?

MM: Well, since they were retired, they done the same thing all the way through. She was... they, my mother and my dad lived down here and... well, my mother was always at home. My sister had been married and had I don't know how many kids, and she took care of those kids. That was Margaret, and she was supposed to be the secretary and the smart one. She had about five kids and my mother was the one that raised them. And my sister, Josephine, she helped raise them, too, and she had about two or three kids herself. And I was the only one that was already married and my husband wouldn't even let me take the kids down there. I said, "Why?" And he says, "They got enough kids over there. They don't need anymore."

AR: So what did your sister do? She was a secretary?

MM: Yes, she was. She worked here for the... oh what is it? Oh, she working with the government and then she moved to California and she worked there the rest of the time. She retired from there, that is Margaret, she was with the government all along.

AR: I see. Okay.

MM: Yeah. But that was after the war.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

AR: Well, let's get back to you. After you worked at the Harvey House, then your next job was with the Ranch Kitchen?

MM: I went to the Ranch Kitchen before I... let's see, how was it? No. I was at the Harvey House, before that I had been at the Manhattan for a while and then I went to the Harvey House and I worked at the Harvey House for ten years. And then they were going to close the Harvey House at that time, so that's when I went to work for the Ranch Kitchen.

AR: Okay. It would have been late '50s probably?

MM: Yeah. That's... I mean, we had to look for something else. They just closed the restaurant down completely.

AR: Now, what was your husband doing by that time?

MM: He worked for the city for thirty-five years.

AR: Okay. What kind of job?

MM: He used those, what is those old machines? Graders or...

AR: Oh, uh-huh. And snow plow graders?

MM: Is that the... he used to grade the streets. At the time there plenty of places that they had to grade.

AR: I see, uh-huh. Okay. And he didn't mind you working?

MM: At the beginning, he did. And then when we come back, he wanted me to quit. I was already at the Ranch Kitchen and I told him, "Look, Louie," I says, "We got a lot there. Why don't we just go ahead and try and build us a house before, you know, I start quitting? I'm able to help you now." And, oh, he thought it out and this here was one of those mine houses from Gramerco.

AR: Oh.

MM: And they were selling them. And this was from... Well, this is all new. But from here back, that's where we remodeled it and that's where he and I'd done the boards and all that stuff. You know?

AR: Brought the house from Gramerco?

MM: This is what we worked on. Well, it was all from Gramerco, the house, and we got somebody to do the outside, the plaster, the roof. We couldn't do things like that, but they fixed all that stuff. And we done the inside.

AR: It's beautiful. It's nice.

MM: Well, every nail that went into place, I handed to him. [Laughs]

AR: And so how did you manage raising your daughters and working at the same time?

MM: My mother-in-law was always next door. There was a house here and she lived there. And when she passed away, he got it and so she took care of them for... when she didn't, then my sister-in-law, Helen, that was her house at that time. She used to take care of them, mainly the family.

AR: I see. Did they all grow up straight and narrow? Did they all grow up well?

MM: With Louie around, they had to. The one that battled, tried to battle is that Shorty. She'll battle anything. And she come and, "You be home by nine o'clock." "Why? Why do I have to come home at nine o'clock? Now look at Gloria. She can come home at eleven." I said, "Because Gloria doesn't have you for a father and I have you, you have me for a father. You be here. "I don't see why." She'd go on battling, and I'm telling you, she was... she still is. [Laughs]

AR: She's an active, pretty big activist for the community, right?

MM: Oh, she gets into everything. Yeah. She was with the city for a good while there.

AR: Now did your kids go to college?

MM: They went to business college.

AR: Business school, uh-huh.

MM: Yeah. So I don't know. I tried to educate them as much as possible. The thing was, they went to Albuquerque with the tips that I used to make as a waitress, and whatever. I'd save that money and that's what paid their college. So it was, it paid off to be a [inaudible].

AR: Now do you think you've tried to pass on any Japanese qualities or beliefs to your children?

MM: The one that showed it most is Shorty. Inez, you know, she's different, yeah. But she kind of brings out the Japanese in her every now and then. So...

AR: Are there Hispanic culture values that you've passed onto your children? Are they all, are they in the Catholic Church, in the Catholic faith?

MM: Oh, they're Catholics, yeah. They're... every one of my kids are Catholics. So...

AR: Are there other things that you tried to instill pride in them about their Hispanic heritage?

MM: Well, you know what? I think my husband had more to do with that than I did, because I was working all the time. And I'd get out of work and he'd come and he'd take over and you know, babysit with them. I mean, if I had to go to work at four o'clock in the afternoon, he'd come home as soon as he got out of work and he took over the babysitting part and I would get out at nine or something like that. And so they, like I says, the only one that tried to trouble me is that little Shorty there.

AR: Did any of your daughters or your grandchildren marry Japanese Americans?

MM: No. Inez is married to a Spanish, Vacas, from here. And then got a divorce and then she married Heron, Robert Heron. And Shorty, she just got married once and maybe he liked her, but then that's it.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

AR: All right. Well, when did you finally retire from all that waitressing?

MM: I was eighty-five years old. I mean, I meant to retire at sixty-five, because my husband retired at sixty-five. And then Mr. Ranch tried to get somebody to replace me.

AR: Mr. who?

MM: Mr. Ranch, Earl Ranch.

AR: Okay.

MM: He was the owner of the Ranch Kitchen.

AR: I see.

MM: And he brought several, you know, that he tried out and somehow or the other, it didn't work out, you know? And then finally he got this man, John. Anyway, he showed that he was going, and so they wanted me to stay. He come in, I don't know when it was, and they says, "You stay here and work 'til July and then you can retire." And then I saw that he was going to have trouble with the employees, because they'd been with me all the way through and they'll come to me instead of him. They come to me, you know. And I says, "That's not going to work." So, I went up to him and says, "Sunday is going to be my last day." And he says, "Well why?" you know. And John was the one that said, "I can use you." I says, "No." I says, "You might as well cut it off here. The kids have to get used to you." And he says, "Well, why don't you just come and work Saturdays and Sundays?" And I says, "I've worked Saturdays and Sundays all my life." So I said, "No, no more." And I didn't ever go back to work.

AR: So you were like the manager, the floor manager of the whole restaurant?

MM: General manager, because I had the shop. I had the dining room, the main rooms, I had all of it. Well, yeah. Mr. Ranch thought enough, like I tell you. He took off on his vacation abroad. He and his wife were there for, I think it was over a month and we were building the new Ranch Kitchen and I was the one who stood up there and supervised. And what do I know about buildings? I just stood up there, I timed them in and timed them out. Like I told Mr. Ranch, that's as much, that's what I need. So, anyway, he made, I don't know, all kinds of stuff on me that I didn't. But he was a good boss.

AR: He was.

MM: He was a good boss.

AR: Treated you well?

MM: Very fair, yeah. That's the reason I'm so at ease now, because he took very good care of me when I retired.

AR: Well, good. All right.

MM: So, I don't know. Anyway...

AR: Well, what have you been doing since your retirement? What do you like to do?

MM: Sit down. No. At the beginning, me and my husband, we'd go all over. We get on the -- we had a little truck -- go all over New Mexico. Go up there in the hills and build a fire and cook up there by right outside of Santa Fe and all those places.

AR: Uh-huh. Camping out?

MM: Yeah. We'd go all around there and oh, it was nice. We just, if we wanted to go, we just went. Afterwards, he got sick and I had his bed right here. They wanted me to take him up there to the, you know, where they have this old folks...

AR: Senior center?

MM: I told them no. He took care of me, I'll take care of him. So his bed was right here and this is where he passed away. And that couch was my bed on this other side and I took everything else out.

AR: How old was your husband when he passed away? How old was he?

MM: Louie was eighty-five.

AR: A good long life.

MM: Yeah, he was eighty-five. No, we had a good life and I mean to tell you, you know, he's strict, but in a way that it was good not only for the children, but for myself. Because we didn't have no, nobody to really, you know, tell you, "You got to do this, you got to do that." You know, just go ahead and have a good time. Don't worry, not with him, you know. So, we have a lot to thank him for, even if he was strict. And the kids, they loved him. They just loved him.

AR: Well, let me see. I've pretty much asked most of my questions here, let me look at this and see.

MM: I didn't think I could talk so much.

AR: Well, one thing I like to ask people when I interview them is... well, let me ask you this. As part of the project that we're doing, we are going to be developing a website on Japanese Americans in World War II, and we're going to be developing some historic markers and things. From your perspective, is that important for people to remember the story of Japanese Americans in New Mexico?

MM: Well, I think history should be remembered. I mean, one of these days, there won't be anything like that.

AR: Are there any parts of that story that really need to be emphasized? Like I think it's important that there were interracial families of Hispanic, Mexican intermarriage that can't be forgotten in this story, huh?

MM: Yeah.

AR: Is there anything else that you think is really important about your father's contributions to New Mexico history, for instance, or your families' contributions that are important?

MM: Well, they didn't have the freedom that they do now. Maybe it could have done more at the time if they would have had that freedom.

AR: There was a time when you couldn't hold land in New Mexico if you were Japanese. Did you know that?

MM: Oh, yeah.

AR: Yeah. I wonder if your father ever owned any land? Maybe he put it in his wife's name.

MM: No. My father, before they moved out there to Las Cruces, whatever, he's the one that helped knock all the plaster down when they brought the house over here. And then they moved out there. But he was the one that helped as much as he could here. So...

AR: All right. Is there anything I forgot to ask you about your life, that we want to get down on the record?

MM: I think I've told you more than what you've asked me. [Laughs] No, I think you got everything pretty well covered.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2012 New Mexico JACL and Densho. All Rights Reserved.