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-01-0020

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TI: So let's go back more to your experiences, and one would be school. What was school like at Poston?

MH: For, for me, my brothers made a little stool with a canvas back. And we carried those stools around all over, it becomes, like kids have backpacks today, well, we carried the stools and we sat down, and the teacher would teach. And we didn't have books, paper, pencils and such for the longest time. Eventually, California will say, "Well, you know, there are children, we should send them some books, surplus books." Arizona said, "Well, they're here, maybe we should have a curriculum, whatever." One, John Shigemoto, he got this book, and he says, "Wow, this from E.A. Hall, Watsonville." Then he opened it up, and where it said "issued to," it was issued to his older sister.

TI: Oh, that's funny.

MH: And he was just absolutely floored by that. The high school kids, the chemistry lab was in the laundry, and all they learned was H2O was water. Nobody really wanted to teach U.S. History because, you know, teach about liberty and justice for all, tell us about the Constitution. Some of the kids became somewhat rebellious, especially in civics and history classes, and I can understand that. But I finally got a teacher in the fourth grade my last year, a real teacher, Miss Cooper from Pennsylvania, she was a Quaker, and she was so sweet. But we, in camp, we didn't smell too good. We didn't bathe that often, we didn't change our clothes, I mean, we would wear the same clothes all week. So we would raise sweet peas and we would give it to her, and she would wear the sweet peas right here. So every time she bent down to help a student, she'd smell the sweet peas, not us.

TI: [Laughs] That's a good story.

MH: She was a good teacher, she was so nice.

TI: So tell me more about the teachers. How was the quality? You mentioned Mrs. Cooper as being a good teacher, what was the quality of the other teachers?

MH: Well, the other teachers were really dedicated. You had to be to... but we didn't have that many Caucasian teachers, although I'm told the pay was excellent. We had a lot of young, talented Nisei, Sansei youth who went to college, some of them probably had teaching credentials, they couldn't find jobs before the war and such. This was an opportunity for them to use their talents, so they tried really hard. But one of the things that's going to happen is the young adults are going to be restless, and they went out. And fortunately, there was a National Student Council that helped locate them, relocate them in places like Chicago and Michigan, Nebraska. The older youths, many of them moved out. So what's left, then, are sophomores and younger.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.