Densho Digital Archive
Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL Collection
Title: Mas Hashimoto Interview
Narrator: Mas Hashimoto
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Watsonville, California
Date: July 30, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-hmas-01-0013

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TI: So going back, even in those early years, you mentioned your older brother, his job was to kind of watch over you. What were some of the other roles that people played, like your older brothers? What was a typical day when you were a kid? What did people do and what was kind of the flow of that?

MH: Well, my older brothers, they had graduated from high school, class of 1939, 1940. They were working out in the fields, and they didn't go to college. Until 1958, the highest level of education of Santa Cruz County was the twelfth grade. So the Buddhist Temple, in terms of social recreation, was going to be very important. But trying, working, trying hard to put food on the table is going to be hard. We did have one advantage. Remember that home, we raised it. Well, what did we do with the second story? There was a first story, not it was a second story. What did we do with it? We rented that to Dr. Ito, a dentist, and he becomes my, my unofficial guardian. And Dr. Ito came from Chiba, Japan. I forgot exactly what year he was born, sometime in the 1880s. But he, he came to San Francisco as a busboy for a naval admiral. The naval admiral gets shipped, transferred to Philadelphia. He's asked to go along, he gets into Harvard. He graduates from Harvard, World War II comes -- World War I, excuse me, comes along, and he volunteers to fight in World War I. And the war ends before he sees any action. But because he served in the United States military, he could become an American citizen, and he was. Now, he, he goes to UC San Francisco, studies dentistry, becomes a dentist, he practices in Watsonville. He's one of the founders of the American Legion in Watsonville. And that was kind of funny because, "Hey, Doc, are you ready to do?" "Yeah, I'm going to the meeting." And then he would have one vial of shoyu in this pocket, and then some tsukemono in his other pocket, and he'd go to the American Legion meeting.

TI: Oh, because he didn't like the food they, they served there. [Laughs] That's a good story.

MH: But he was, he was a dentist who never made any money because he, he didn't charge enough, or people didn't pay their bill. I remember this one Sunday, he loved to play golf, and Sunday was his golf day. And they had the foursome, they were ready to go, and this Filipino man came with a big toothache, and he's in pain. He wants to go to play golf, but he, this guy's in pain. He had to take care of his... I think Doc was disappointed that I didn't become a dentist, but I didn't want to look down people's throats for the rest of my life. And it's, it's hard work.

TI: But by having him as a renter, really helped out.

MH: Helped pay some of the bills.

TI: And just his presence, it sounds like, was, was valuable to you in terms of, almost like a father figure.

MH: But there was also one more thing that was kind of funny. We had a round table in the kitchen, and Friday nights was Hana night, where Mr. Manabe, Mr. Mine and Mr. Matsuoka, Dr. Ito, they would come and play Hana. So it was like a little social gathering. And you know, when you play Hana, you can't lose a whole lot of money, and I became a pretty good Hana player by watching, you know. And then after the war, they're still playing Hana Friday nights, when we came back.

TI: And was that something that your, your mother arranged, or was it more Dr. Ito arranged these?

MH: I don't know when it first started, but Mr. Manabe and Mr. Mine, they all come from the country. So it was a recreation time for them, I don't know how it started. I'm sure that there are other Hana places. My father did not enjoy gambling at the Chinese places. In fact, the word baka is "fool," right? And what's the word for gambling? Bakuchi. So "baka bakuchi," you know, "that's stupid; that's dumb." So I'm not a gambler either, I just don't like casinos.

TI: But your, but your father liked playing Hana? I mean, more as a social kind of...

MH: Hana was fine, yes. It's just a, it was more of a social gathering.

TI: Now again, before the war, how about things like, a lot of families now, they have pets. Did you have a pet, and if so, what kind?

MH: We have this pictures of my father growing chrysanthemums, but huge Japanese-style, you know, the big, big ones. And then we had an aviary where we kept canaries. We raised canaries in the backyard. In fact, we traded some of the canaries for Sunny, my little dog. And when the war came along, we were to evacuate, we couldn't take Sunny, no pets are allowed. And that was, that hurt. So we gave our -- we didn't sell our house, we boarded it up, and gave the keys... we had a brand-new refrigerator and stove and typewriter. And so we gave that to Stacy Irwin, our friend, to keep, and Stacy also took our dog. But our dog was not eating well, and so she wrote to us. When we got to Poston, Arizona, she asked if the dog could be sent to us because she didn't want the dog to die under her care. So she sent the dog to us by Greyhound bus, we got the dog, and Sunny was the only dog for the longest time per 18,000 people. She was the petting zoo, and she was such a nice dog she would go to anybody and everybody. I brought the dog home with me, and in 1952 when I was junior in school, she, Sunny died. She was blind, she was arthritic, it was sad.

TI: Well, what a, but what a life the dog lived.

MH: I loved that, yeah.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.