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-01-0023

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TI: So in Poston, I'm curious, what, what kind of things did your mother do to get through the time?

MH: Well, you didn't have to work if you didn't want to. Now, Dr. Ito, he was in Camp 2 also, and he was a dentist. Doctors and dentists, professional people, made nineteen dollars a month. Now, why nineteen? Well, a private in the army made twenty-one dollars a month, and no one was supposed to make more than a soldier. Well, a soldier's pay will increase to fifty dollars by the end of the war, but we're still making nineteen dollars. My mother worked as an assistant cook in the kitchen, so she got sixteen dollars a month. We needed the money because, you see, we still had the house, we have to pay property taxes to the county and the city of Watsonville. So we have to make some money. So my mother's working for sixteen dollars a month, and I was figuring out, she was working about ten hours a day, she was working for about five cents an hour, and she's happy to get it. There was a little canteen where we can buy stuff, we can buy toothpaste and we can buy toothbrushes and soap, and maybe chewing gum or something like that. Money was hard to come by. My brothers in the army sent half their paychecks home, and that, that helped. In fact, part of it, part of their salary, they, they even bought me a war bond, and you can buy a war bond for eighteen dollars and seventy-five cents, and then ten years later you could cash it in for twenty-five dollars. Well, that eighteen seventy-five bought a lot more than twenty-five dollars ten years later. But anyway, they bought me a war bond, I remember that. But my brothers sent money home. And the interesting thing was that Hawaiians, soldiers, every time they got a letter from home, the first thing they did is check to see if there was any money in it. They got money from home. Our guys, the Kotonks, are sending money, money back to camp.

TI: Yeah, and I heard, I've interviewed veterans, and they, it was always a source of contention between the Hawaiians and the mainlanders, because the Hawaiians thought the mainlanders were, were cheap, that they would never buy rounds of drinks, and so they always thought that was...

MH: They couldn't.

TI: Yeah, because they sent, they were sending money back to camp. And it wasn't until later they understood that, yeah. Any other memories of Poston that you can share?

MH: Well, the youngsters always want to know what was it like being in prison. I said, "Well, you know, it really wasn't a prison for us," because the back side of Poston was wide open. You're in the desert, where are you gonna go? You can't survive in the desert and such. So we used to go to the Colorado River and fish for snapping turtles, you use bacon as bait. We used to swim the Colorado, there are parts -- although one guy drowned, went to the wrong part. There are parts that you could swim and get onto the California side, because Parker Dam has been built, so it's a little easier. So I used to escape all the time. Coming back, there's wild horses, mustangs, that we would chase, when you're eight years old, you chase anything. And then those horses are really smart, the stallions, they're really smart. They knew that we were harmless, so they began chasing us. [Laughs] And we'd climb up the mesquite tree and then they would be trying to bite us and kick us and whatever, and they get bored with that and go back to the harem, and we'd come down and we'd go eat dinner. We had one guy, Frank Fujita, who was, he reminded me of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, he was somewhat deformed, and anyway, he was really good to kids. And he would show us, he would study the lives of scorpions and roadrunners, and he developed the "No Name" lure, fishing lure in camp. It doesn't look like anything, it doesn't look like a worm or anything, but anyway, he developed that, said something that fish had to bite at when they saw it. And we saw him developing that. There was a little creek, we did fishing for bluegills and crappie. We ate coots, mudhen, put soy sauce on it, tastes good.

TI: How about leisure time for the Isseis? So when your mom wasn't working, what kind of things did, did she do?

MH: Who?

TI: Like your mother, the Issei, like leisure time. When they weren't working, I know they worked a lot, but on weekends or evening, what kind of things did they do?

MH: There was, there were a lot of things to do to make the room nicer. So things like drapes, like curtains for the windows, so there are all kinds of things that the ladies were, were doing. And a lot of them did it cooperatively, helping each other out. There was a sewing class, so a lot of the, many of the ladies would make things, and either give them as presents or sell them. So that was, there was... so my mother was learning to sew. She really didn't knew how to sew before, so she would learn more from the other ladies. She didn't do the flower arranging classes and such, although that was offered.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.