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-01-0016

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TI: So let's, so you were describing going to Salinas on the bus.

MH: So we went by bus to the Salinas Assembly Center, and we were assigned barracks. Our family did not stay in one of the horse stalls, we were grateful for that. There were about 1,200 who were living in Santa Cruz County, most in Watsonville, about a tenth of the population. The population of Watsonville in 1941, '42 was about 8,000. And about a tenth of the population in Watsonville were Japanese and Japanese Americans.

So we go to the Salinas Assembly Center, which is the rodeo grounds. Now, I used to go to the rodeo grounds to watch the rodeos and such. I said, "rodeo," huh? Rodeo, excuse me. But now we're interned in our first camp. Some of the people -- it was boring. I mean, you stood in line for breakfast, you stood in line for lunch, you stood in line to go to the toilet, you stood in line to go to dinner. Toilet was an outhouse, it was not flush toilets at all. And oh, it stunk, it was really bad. So anyway, it was boring.

TI: Well, as a, as a six-year-old boy, and from how you described, it sounded like you were pretty active. There must have been chances to explore around and look around?

MH: You, you had to be careful about, we used play catch ball, and you throw the ball over the barrack and you catch the ball, and then you could run to one side. Whomever you hit, Annie-Annie-Over kind of thing, they'd be on your side. So we're playing these games, and sometimes the ball would go on the other side of the fence. So we have to ask the guard if we could get our ball. And the guards were nice enough to allow us to crawl underneath and get our ball back. But Tom Mine, whom, he became, he became the athletic director for the camp, and he got some softball equipment, I don't know how he got 'em, but he did for the girls. And they had sumo tournaments, they had bridge tournaments, according to the newsletters that I, that I read in my research. So there were activities. My two brothers, they worked in the kitchen, and so I asked them about that, and they said that was the only way they can get enough to eat.

TI: So this is Tadashi and...

MH: Tadashi and Tsuyoshi --

TI: Tsuyoshi.

MH: -- worked in, worked in the kitchen.

TI: 'Cause they were growing boys. [Laughs]

MH: But I remember the barracks, the barracks were like farm labor camps. And I remembered this green lock, I was going to remember the green lock. This is my home, green lock. Well, I went out to play and I came back, and I couldn't find my barrack, I was lost. And I'm looking for the green -- well, everybody's lock is green. So I must have been crying or something, but somebody found me. And we were back in time for the curfew, every night you had curfew and they had searchlights. I felt sorry for one Salinas family, they're looking through the fence and they could see their home on the other side. There were magazines and books sent to us by San Jose State College, by Washington Middle School, and Washington Middle School is still operating. E.A. Hall school in Watsonville sent books and such, so did Watsonville library. Teachers came to visit us to encourage us, so we were very grateful.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.