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-01-0026

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TI: So let's talk a little bit about the community. So you said people were coming back, only able to carry what, or bring back what they can carry, and so you mentioned next door, the Buddhist church was a hostel.

MH: Mr. Hayashi and Mr. Kokka, they came in January of 1945, that's really early. And Mr. Hayashi had a boarding house so he fixed that up, and then he helped, with the War Relocation Authority, helped set up the hostel. So that means cots, blankets, and such. But the temple didn't have shower facilities. They had a toilet facility but not a shower facility. We had a furo, so whoever came -- and they were supposed to stay maybe a week. And so downstairs in the hall, it's almost like an army barrack. Families living together, sleeping together in the same, same, one big room, and you go, "This is camp all over again." But anyway, they took furos at our place. And they went out looking for jobs and a place to stay and such. And the thing is that the Watsonville Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, they voted fifteen to three not to welcome us back, not to hire us, not to sell to us, not to rent to us. And we're going, "Wow, who's the three?" We didn't care about the fifteen, to heck with them. We wanted to know who's the three that had the courage to stand up for us and welcome us back.

TI: So your expectation at that time would be, it'd be unanimous in terms of people not wanting you back?

MH: Yes, they wanted to, there was a postcard campaign to send thousands of postcards to Congress stripping Niseis of their American citizenship. They didn't want us to ever be in the United States, except businesspeople could stay for a limited time. They wanted us all to be shipped back to Japan. Well, "back," lot of people have never been to Japan. How can you ship somebody "back" to a place they've never been? The animosity was tremendous, especially with the Pacific War.

TI: And so you were, I guess, relieved that there were these pockets of people who were supportive of you coming back?

MH: You know, I could read, now, and I could read these signs that says "No Japs Allowed," "No Japs Wanted" and such. And Main Street, they had all these signs. You had a patriotic flag and then you had the sign that says "No Japs." So the thing that was interesting was that the draft was still on, and there were young Hawaiians that were being drafted -- the war's over, but they're still being drafted and they're training at Fort Ord, and they'd come to the Bukyokai to have some sushi and whatever and such. And they'd see those signs on Main Street, and they'd go into the stores and tear 'em up, take 'em down and tear 'em up. We're really grateful to the, to the Hawaiian Niseis that came over even after the war.

TI: Oh, that's interesting that the Hawaiian Niseis did... how, did any of the returning vet Niseis from Watsonville do things, similar things?

MH: Not like that. They were quiet, gaman, they were just quiet, "Don't make waves." But the Hawaiian Niseis, they were different. They wouldn't tolerate that.

TI: Because Watsonville, looking through records, had over a hundred returning veterans from World War II, Japanese Americans from this area. So it's astounding in terms of the numbers and the service.

MH: They served, and they served quietly. They try not to brag, it was hard getting war stories out of them. We should have worked harder.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.