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

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so today is Wednesday, July 30th, we're in Watsonville -- July 30, 2008 -- and we're in Kizuka Hall. And on camera is Dana Hoshide, and I'm interviewing, I'm Tom Ikeda. And so let me start off the interview, Mas, by asking where and when were you born?

MH: I was born in Watsonville, California, September 15, 1935. So I'm seventy-two years old.

TI: And when you say where, so Watsonville, where in Watsonville were you born?

MH: 110 Union Street. I was born in the bedroom of, of our house. And Mrs. Matsuoka was the, the midwife, and her son, Jack Matsuoka, wrote a cartoon book about Poston, Arizona, Block 211.

TI: Great, yeah, I've seen that book. That's a great book. And was that pretty common for kids your age, born in 1935, to be delivered by a, a midwife?

MH: I believe so. There were very few doctors, and doctors were expensive.

TI: And when you were born, what name did your parents give you at birth?

MH: At birth it was Masaru, M-A-S-A-R-U. All the brothers have Japanese names but no English names, and no middle names.

TI: So I'm curious, as nicknames, did any, did you or your brothers ever pick up English, like, nicknames?

MH: No. It was a variation of their Japanese name, like Tadashi would be Tad, Mitsuru will be Mits. So, although I had one that was a little different.

TI: Okay. So let's go into your family history, because I'm curious about first your father. Can you tell me his name and where he was from?

MH: My father is Ikuta Hashimoto. He was born in 1877 in Fukuoka-ken. In March of 1899, he signed a contract in Hawaii working for the Honolulu sugar plantation.

TI: And before we go there, so what did his family do in Japan?

MH: I have absolutely no idea about my grandparents on either side.

TI: How about siblings? Did he have siblings?

MH: I don't know. I know my mother had a brother, but no, I really, that part of the history has been lost.

TI: Okay. So back to your father, 1899, he signs up to be a contractor.

MH: He signed a contract to work in the sugar plantation. He was to work twenty-six days a month for fifteen dollars in gold a month, twenty-six days out of the month. Two dollars and fifty cents was set aside from his wages for his voyage back home. His wife was paid ten dollars a month. But the work was so hard that she divorced him and went back to Japan.

TI: So I'm impressed with your, your knowledge of these details, the amount, the gold, how did you find out these things?

MH: I had the contract. My father, I donated the contract to the Japanese American Historical Society of San Francisco, but I read that contract. And then when I was in Hawaii, I saw that same exact contract again with a different person's name. So that was a standard contract. It was for three years, my father signed two of those. So he was there for six years.

TI: And so when you think back to that contract, so it told the how much it would make, how much they would have to put aside to, I guess, in theory, when they were done, to return back to Japan?

MH: Right. The company held that two dollars and fifty cents in trust, so they didn't want any, any problems with anybody being sent back to Japan. But my father didn't use that money to go back to Japan.

TI: Well, let's go back to your, his first wife. So you mentioned, you said the work was really hard for her, so she decided to go back to Japan?

MH: She was disillusioned, so she divorced him and went back, and my father was brokenhearted. Now, were there any children? I don't know. I don't know if I have any half-brothers or half-sisters. I have absolutely no knowledge of that.

TI: And so if, did you ever try to go back to Japan and pick up her, her life path in terms of what happened to her?

MH: Not really, no. I haven't.

TI: And do you know what his first wife's name was?

MH: I don't know that either.

TI: Or her last name?

MH: No.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Okay, so let's go back to your father. And so you said he didn't use the money to go back to Japan, so what, what happened?

MH: Well, my father, after the second contract expired, my father decided to go to San Francisco. So he left Honolulu on April 18, 1906. Well, that's the day of the San Francisco earthquake. So when he gets to San Francisco a week later, it's in ruins. Now, I don't know what my father did the next few years. Now, he was a cook. On the plantation, he worked as a cook and had the ofuro, the bath, concession. And those who worked in the kitchen, not in the fields, had to work twelve hours a day, whereas the field workers worked ten hours. So my father, being a cook, I would imagine that he worked as a cook in a restaurant in San Francisco someplace.

TI: Okay, so let me, let me make sure I understand this. So back in Hawaii, he was paid the same as the field workers, but they worked a little bit longer, you said?

MH: They worked two hours longer.

TI: Two hours longer. But my, my sense is probably that was easier work than being out in the field?

MH: I think physically, it was easier work than working out in the fields.

TI: Okay, so he did that. And then you also mentioned he had the, the bath concession, the furo concession?

MH: The ofuro concession.

TI: So tell me as much as you know about that, that's interesting to me.

MH: I think there's a... okay, he made a bath, furo, and I think he charged people for using the bath.

TI: So the workers, as part of their, their monthly wages, $2.50 was taken out, the rest they were given in gold, and they could then spend however they wanted?

MH: Right.

TI: Okay. So things like furo and perhaps...

MH: They had to bring their own bedding. I remember in the contract it said they had to bring their own.

TI: Oh, that's interesting, yeah. Did you, by any chance, did you make a photocopy of this contract?

MH: I have a photocopy.

TI: That'd be interesting, I'd love to see that. That's good.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So there's that time after he went to San Francisco, a couple years you're not quite sure what he did but you think he was a cook. So pick up the story in terms of where you can, you know what he was doing again.

MH: Well, somewhere along the line he, he... I don't know exactly how, but he got involved in the "picture bride" needs, my mother. So the story now goes to my mother. My mother was born in 1893 in Fukuoka-ken also, but I don't think they knew each other, I think it was a different village. My mother had an unhappy marriage. She was divorced, she only had a sixth-grade education, to a gentleman by the name of Tanaka. Now, I learned this when I'm twenty-five years old, I'm going through the safe deposit box, and I see divorce papers, and I'm shocked by that, 'cause I didn't know my mother was divorced before. And so she willingly becomes a "picture bride." And the difference in age between my father and my mother is sixteen years. When he sends for her, there's no disappointment. She knows that he's gonna be much older, and she came in 1914, in January of 1914. She spent only a day on Angel Island, but she was listening to the stories of the Chinese immigrants who, many of them had been there for months, while she was only there for a day. And actually, my father and mother, they never really got married, because marriage licenses were expensive. And so they took up living together with commonlaw, after seven years you're legally married. So I couldn't find a marriage certificate between my father and my mother, and they said, "Well, there isn't any."

TI: Oh, how interesting. And so going back, what was your mother's name?

MH: Haraguchi, Nami, N-A-M-I. And I thought that was such a pretty name, Nami. And I don't know of any other -- there might be, but I don't know of any other person who has the name Nami. It means "wave."

TI: And so your dad sent a picture back to Fukuoka, your mother saw this, 1914 she comes to Angel Island, they get married. Then, then where do they go?

MH: They moved to Watsonville, and they were living in the country first, and then later to, two of the brothers were born, and then to Main Street, again, two more brothers will be born. And then to 110 Union Street where three of us, three boys were born. So there were seven sons in the family.

TI: So that, that must have been unusual just to see a family with seven, seven sons.

MH: In one sense, yes, but there are other families, like the Onos had six daughters. Most of the families were larger than, you know, today, so...

TI: So let's, so you mentioned your brothers, so let's, at this time, just kind of walk through each of your, your brothers in terms of their names, and then roughly when they were born. So the first one in 1914, who was born in 1914?

MH: Okay, Hiroshi will be born in December of 1914. Now, he wasn't registered until March, and then he gets registered again in Japan on another date. So he claims to have three birthdays, but we're not going to give him three presents every year. Following him was Wataru. I don't know exactly what year he was, he was born. Tsuyoshi will be the third brother, and so he's going to be born around 1922. And then Tadashi, about 1924, Noriyuki about... 1930. And then Mitsuru, 1932, and then Masaru, that's me, 1935. So my oldest brother is about twenty years older than me.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: And when, going back to your, your parents, tell me a little bit about your, your father. What was he like?

MH: He died before I was three years old, so I don't have any memories of him, only what people have told me. And people told me that, that he was a good man, and in reality, that's good enough for me. He was, I know he was a kind man, a gentle man. He didn't drink, although he made sake. We had a brewery; with our udon shop, we had a brewery. He, he grubstaked many families. When it was difficult to feed the family, they would come to our restaurant, and my father saw to it that they got fed. And people have been really nice, telling me stories about my father grubstaking the family so that they wouldn't go hungry.

TI: So you mentioned your father had a place that made food and also a, a sake brewery. Let's talk about that, that building a little bit. So this is the one on 110 Union Street?

MH: Union Street, right.

TI: So tell me about, again, when you moved here and the condition of the house when you first moved in and how it was modified.

MH: Well, the building originally -- well, I don't know about originally. But anyway, when we bought it, we bought it from the Japanese Association. There were four different associations. These associations were labor associations, they were like unions. And different communities had, you know, Kumamoto-ken, Kagoshima-ken, they would have their own associations. So we bought, my father bought the house, and then he raised it and put the first story underneath. We used, it was a rather large addition, so one room, rather large, was used as the banquet room. So when there were funerals or weddings and such, or birthdays, my father would cater the festivities. And so he would do sushi as well, and we had the sake brewery. My father didn't drink the sake, he tasted it but he didn't, he was not a drinker. One of the interesting stories, "Well, what about Prohibition?" Well, during the Prohibition years, my father was still making sake. But in Japantown, just a half a block away was the police station. Now, the Japanese community had a good relationship with the police chief, so we didn't get into trouble. But my father's making sake, and when federal authorities were to arrive, he would be warned by the police chief. And so they would hide the equipment. Now, where would they hide it? They hid it next door, upstairs. Well, what's next door and upstairs? It's the Buddhist altar. [Laughs] So they hid it in the hongo.

TI: Oh, that's a good story. [Laughs] So the FBI agents, or the federal agents, never went back there and, and found the still, essentially? That's a good story. So Prohibition, that's in the 1920s, early '30s, is this time period.

MH: And then I remember, we started the brewery -- we never really quit the brewery -- but I remember workers, Caucasian workers coming in, getting a shot of sake in a little glass, and it was five cents. And they would drink and go home or something.

TI: Do you ever have a sense in terms of the quality of the sake that he was able to brew? I'm curious, this, kind of this home brew versus the type of stuff we drink now. Do you have any sense?

MH: I have absolutely no idea.

TI: Now, was it traditionally, did people drink it warm or cold? Do you know how they drank it?

MH: Probably at room temperature, at least for the guys that came in. But I, I remember the sake bottles, so we must have, we must have warmed it up in a pan of hot water.

TI: Oh, those little, those little flask type things. You mentioned earlier how your, your dad got the house or bought the house from the Japanese Association, and then he converted it into sort of this place that had a banquet facility.

MH: Right.

TI: Was it, do you think it was purchased with the idea that was going to happen, and that's why the Japanese Association decided to sell to your father, because they knew he was a cook, and that was all part of the plan?

MH: The Japanese Association were disappearing. As the workers became sharecroppers and tenant farmers, there was no need for a workers association in the late 1930s. So they began to disappear, because families would be -- most of the workers association were bachelors.

TI: And so they were, essentially, divesting of their assets in some ways?

MH: Uh-huh.

TI: And so where did that money go as they would sell? Do you have any sense?

MH: I have no idea.

TI: Because your, your house was strategic. You mentioned it was next door to the Buddhist church, and so it was very convenient in terms of banquets and things related to the Buddhist church.

MH: Right, weddings.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: You mentioned your, your father died when you were three years old, so this would be about 1938?

MH: He died in August of 1938.

TI: '38, so tell me a little bit about that. What did he die of?

MH: He died of a heart attack. He was a chain smoker, and so he died in his sleep. And so when the funeral is held -- you know how they used to take pictures of the casket and the people who attended the funeral in front of the church? You've seen 'em? Well, since ours was next door, our picture was taken right in front of our house. And I don't remember too much about this, but my mother decides to take half of the ashes back to Japan in 1938. So, and my brother Mits, he was six years, old, I was three, we will tag along. And some people thought it was foolish expenditure of money, and it probably was. But there was something good that came out of it. We go to Japan, and my mother is treated badly by Japanese authorities and such because we have American passports, and I guess I didn't behave like other Japanese children and such. But what she saw in Japan was a militaristic Japan. Now, we visited my, my brother number two, Wataru, who was now in the Japanese army, but he was stationed in Korea. So we went to visit him, and since he, since he's been there since 1922 as a three-year-old, beginning as a three-year-old. He was not convinced that we were relatives, that this was his mother, that I was his brother. So we were kind of set apart from Wataru.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: So let's go back and pick up kind of, a little bit about Wataru and the oldest brother, Hiroshi. So Wataru you said was in, in Japan already.

MH: He was given to an uncle who had no children. And Hiroshi was given -- you know, grandparents were supposed to take care of him, but the grandparents died and we didn't know this, so he was basically on his own. And he struggled through middle school and high school and such. He was going to get drafted into the Japanese army, and he didn't want that, so he remembered enough about the United States, so he wanted to get back here with the rest of the family. And so he borrowed money and got back here. He got back here after I was born. What was kind of interesting was that Tsuyoshi, number three, he thought he was the oldest in the family until number one came back.

TI: So your parents never talked about the two oldest sons, then?

MH: Far as I know, they didn't say a whole lot, at least to Tsuyoshi.

TI: Because they were both born in Watsonville, so they're both U.S. citizens.

MH: Right.

TI: And so Hiroshi made it back, and then you're saying Wataru was...

MH: He was convinced that he was a Japanese, he had dual citizenship. I found out some of my other brothers were registered, so they had dual citizenship. I did not.

TI: You were pretty young, do you recall this trip at all, to Japan?

MH: No, only stories, and there were some photographs. But I don't, I don't remember. Just what my mother told me, that she was treated badly. And so when the war comes along, my mother's going to be pro-America.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI; And so now I'm going to switch gears a little bit, and I'm going to now talk a little more about the Japanese American community history and the Watsonville community history before the war. And I know you weren't alive then, but you probably have some information that I wanted to ask about. You know, a basic question was, what was it about Watsonville that attracted Japanese immigrants? Why did Japanese immigrants come here?

MH: The first group of Japanese immigrants that came to our valley would come in 1895, Saburo Kimura. He spoke some English, and he was a Catholic, and so he's buried in the Catholic cemetery. The workers, the laborers worked in the railroad industry and also in lumbering, and that was true of the Chinese as well. And then later they'll start working in the fields harvesting crops. But this particular community of Watsonville is not necessarily unique, but it welcomed people who would be willing to work. So there were Croatians, there were Portuguese, there were Dutch, Scots, there were Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, Mexicans, all working out the fields together. In fact, the poor lived right alongside one another in the outskirts of Japantown. So when, when children go to school, they go to school with the poor families of the groups that I just mentioned.

TI: And so in general, how did the different ethnic groups get along before the war?

MH: There were some animosity, but for the most part, if you worked hard, didn't get into trouble, you could, you could survive. Your reputation was important. One of the interesting things I learned was that at first, the Japanese workers in the labor organizations, associations, they didn't work very hard. They didn't have a very good reputation. Why? Well, because they were cheated out of their wages or hours, and you don't want to go back to the same guy, same employer and work for him if he's going to short you hours and such. So the workers didn't have a very good reputation in the beginning, and then somehow Emperor Meiji had heard about this, the Japanese workers didn't have a very good reputation, and he issued an edict saying that, "You will work hard regardless." And they obeyed.

TI: That's interesting. Do you know about when that edict was...

MH: I think about the turn of the century.

TI: Interesting.

MH: When I say century, I mean the nineteenth.

TI: Right.

MH: So Japanese workers will have a reputation of working hard, honestly, and so that becomes important when, when businesses like Sakatas, they needed a partner, you needed a partner because you couldn't own the land, because Isseis couldn't own the land in California. So you need partners, and you need good, reliable partners. And the first were the Travers, the Portuguese. And so that was the first company that was formed in the valley. It was a produce company.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: So it sounds like by the time your, your parents came here in 1914, there was a, a rich history of Japanese already in this area, first with the railroad, then lumbering, and then it sounds like by the time your parents came, it was more field work. But in addition to that, they had the town, where there were businesses that catered to a lot of the farmhands in the surrounding areas. And that's kind of, I suppose, where your parents came in, too, because they were more, they weren't farmers, they were more in the, in town. So can you describe Japantown? Where was that located and what was that like?

MH: Japantown was located lower Main Street, Union Street, Bridge Street, Grant Avenue, Elm Street. There were a number of businesses, barber shops, boarding houses, restaurants, manju shop, pool hall. If you look at other cities like Lodi and Sacramento and such, you'll find similar businesses. The reason why lower Main Street -- lower Main Street was next to the Pajaro River, and the Pajaro River would overflow almost annually. And so the poor got the lowland area. One interesting story deals with the Chinese that were, some of them were asked to leave. Not all did, but they went across the river into Monterey County, a little township called Pajaro. And they would live on Brooklyn Street, Brooklyn, Big Apple, you know, New York, Brooklyn. And the Porter family had the land and the houses, and Mrs. Porter got the rent from each of the parcels, and she kept meticulous records. So we know how many Chinese families there were, how many, how much rent they paid, how many children they have, and such. And these records become important because the Japanese families are also going to be there. The Yagis had their barber shop on the other side of the river. There were a number of businesses that were on the other side of the river in Monterey County, but they were all part of what we call Watsonville.

TI: And currently, I went down there, so there's a bridge right now that connects. Was that bridge, was there a bridge there back then also?

MH: Yes, there's always been a bridge there. At one time it was a covered bridge. And then they dammed it up and had a little lake, Lake Watsonville, and they had summer picnics, grounds and such. But it was, you couldn't count on the rainfall all the time. But there's an interesting story between the Chinese and Japanese. Where Japantown and Chinatown are mixed together, so right next to a Chinese restaurant will be a Japanese barber shop. And many of the Chinese restaurants and such also doubled as a gambling house. And then on Union Street a few... a block and a half away, 58 Union Street, that was a, the site of the whorehouses.

TI: Which was, based on that address, was pretty close to your house, too, because you were 110 Union Street.

MH: Where it is now, yeah. So then there were two of them, basically one for whites and one for minorities.

TI: So it was a pretty, and I'm guessing lots of gambling, drinking, so it was a pretty rough part of town.

MH: It was the red light district. Fred Oda, the Oda barbershop, they had a bathhouse. And so the people, the field workers, many of them, but not limited to, Filipinos, would come and get a shave, haircut, bathe, and then go dancing, and dancing was with many of the prostitutes.

TI: And so it's a rich, colorful history down in your neighborhood. [Laughs]

MH: Oh, not only in the 1940s, but during World War II, there's Fort Ord, and the Monterey Naval Station, the soldiers would come to Watsonville. Well, finally, Watsonville was off limits to the military. But you could always tell the guys who were in the military, you'd look at their shoes, spit polished at least. But anyway...

TI: So during this time, were there ever incidences where the Japanese consul general or somebody, the consulate, would come through Watsonville and try to make changes? Because I've heard in other cities where whenever the, they felt the Japanese were too closely associated with sort of that bad segment of the gambling, prostitution, the Japanese government would sometimes try to encourage some other behavior. Do you recall any of that happening in Watsonville?

MH: No. Probably took place, I don't know that. But there, in terms of the Japanese government, there was a young student from Japan who was studying in the 1930s at the University of Southern California. And then summertime, during the breaks, he would come to Watsonville to stay at the Hayashi boarding house, and he learned to pick strawberries and such, he learned to do some social dancing. He ate at our place, our udon shop, and became good friends. And later, he goes back to Japan, he joins the government, and he's pro-America. When the war breaks out, he's under house arrest. After the war is over, they need him because he's pro-America, and he becomes the foreign secretary, and later he becomes the prime minister of Japan. Now, my mother, when he was the foreign minister, my mother, in Japan, called on him, and then he sent a car after, after her, and they talked about old times and such. Now, who was this student that became the prime minister of Japan? He was nicknamed "Mr. Clean," he served as prime minister from 1972 to '74, Takeo Miki, Miki Takeo.

TI: Oh, that's a good story. So this Watsonville connection...

MH: That's a Watsonville connection.

TI: And so he must have, his English must have been pretty good and...

MH: Excellent.

TI: Oh, that's a good story.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Earlier you mentioned how the Chinese had to leave certain areas, and then they went across the river. Can you explain what kind of event happened that kind of forced them to go across the river? What was it that happened?

MH: I don't know exactly what had happened, but Watsonville had a large sugar beet plant. We were known for our sugar beet production. It subsequently moved to south of Salinas, called Spreckles, in fact, it was the Spreckles Company, the Chinese provided the labor. When the company moved out of Watsonville, there were some problems with the Chinese who didn't move to, to Salinas. And the Chinese were expanding a little bit further, further north of Japantown. And some animosity there, because on Maple Street, at one time, that was the residential area for the upper middle class of Watsonville.

TI: So what's interesting to me is, when you say expanding, so by this time, you had the Chinese Exclusion Act, so there was no more integration of Chinese to the United States.

MH: Right.

TI: So with Watsonville becoming a place where after they would finish the railroads and things like that, that they would start migrating to, is that...

MH: The Chinese didn't go, they did some farming in Gilroy and Salinas, they didn't do that much farming here. In Santa Cruz and in Monterey, they went into fishing, fishing for squid and abalone. And on the old maps, there's a little beach near Aptos, Capitola, called, it used to be called China Beach. We're trying to get that name back, it's called Brighton Beach now. But we want to get it -- I take it back -- it's Potbelly Beach, and we want to get it back because of the Chinese history there. Fishing villages were in Pacific Grove, which is near Monterey. And then where, there was a fishing village, Chinese fishing village on Pebble Beach, the golf course, on the eighteenth fairway.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. How about the Japanese? Did they go into fishing?

MH: In the Monterey area, yeah. Here, our guys were more into sport fishing for perch, striped bass.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So again, thinking about prewar Watsonville, what were some of the, the Japanese, sort of, organizations that were key to the community? Like churches, associations, what were the main ones?

MH: There was a Japanese Presbyterian church, which was not too far away from the Buddhist temple. There was, the YMBA was the Young Men's Buddhist Association, and then the Young Women's Buddhist, they were separate. The Boy Scouts, in fact, the Boy Scout troop is still in existence, a long-continuing association with the Buddhist temple. That's all. One thing that did hold the community together was Toyo Hall, T-O-Y-O. Toyo Hall was the community associations' theater, and it was a big wooden drafty building with a stage, and we would have productions there. The old Japanese silent motion picture guys would come and show their, their films. And these guys that were doing the, you know, projection, they would also read the parts, they were so fabulous. So Toyo Hall was important, and then right next to Toyo Hall was the Japanese school. Mr. Kuroiwa was the taskmaster. He was, his wife was just a beautiful, tall, beautiful lady, so gentle and kind. And then on the other side of the Japanese school was a baseball diamond where our guys played teams from Monterey and Fresno, Sacramento and such. I think about how they traveled in those jalopies for hours and hours and hours to get, to play a game. And I thought, "Wow, they must really love the game." [Laughs]

TI: Yeah, they really loved it. How about things like judo and kendo?

MH: There was a kendo club and a judo club. The kendo, I wanted to be in, do kendo, but you couldn't have a uniform until you were at least seven or something, and I was six. And I didn't go to Japanese school because I was too young. But one of the interesting things was that the newspapers indicated that the judo and kendo clubs, these were the, the seats of the Japanese militarists, and part of the Fifth Column movement, so, "You have to look out for, you have to watch out for guys who know kendo and such." And I remember reading the headlines of the some of the newspapers, issues here, indicating that we're dangerous. This is particularly after December 7th.

TI: Interesting. I want to go back a little bit to Toyo Hall. In Seattle, we had a similar place called Nippon Kan, and, where these performances would happen. And on the stage, they would have a screen with, and on the screen would be advertisements for all the stores. Did you have something similar at Toyo Hall?

MH: Yes, but it was not a screen. My father, who loved the theater, but he was, he couldn't sing, he couldn't dance, he couldn't act, but he could help as stage manager and such. So he made this huge curtain that had the advertising on it. We have a picture of it, huge. So here, different stores would have their advertising on this huge curtain.

TI: So that was a way for stores to advertise and to show that they supported this, they would all pay and help pay for either the hall or the curtain or whatever.

MH: And then one of the things, you know, I remember this, a sound, and the sound of two pieces of wood clicking together, and this would be the start of the next act or something like that. And that sound still resonates in me. Whenever I hear that, I think, "Oh, theater."

TI: That's good. So your dad was, was multi-talented. He was a cook, a caterer, he was artistic in terms of creating the curtain. Are there other things that he...

MH: He was, he was generous, too, in the sense that there's, in the old temple, when he, he and a friend donated one of the pews for the, you know, for the temple. And when the old temple was torn down, some of the pews were saved. Well, somebody saved this one particular pew, wooden pew, and we looked underneath, and it was donated -- it was written in Nihongo -- it was donated by Ikuta Hashimoto and his good friend. And I forgot his first name, but the last name is Ikeda.

TI: That's good.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Your dad was a very prominent person in the Japanese community.

MH: I think so, I hope so.

TI: And do you have a sense of how the, the leaders of the Japanese community interacted with non-Japanese in Watsonville? Was there any connection at all?

MH: There was a good connection. There were a number of stores that catered to minorities, there was a store, the biggest store in town was called Ford's Department Store. And you could -- and this was the days before credit cards and such -- but you could go to the store and charge things, and then you get a bill later. And they carried articles that were of the Japanese size, but the Chinese, Filipinos, smaller Hispanics and such. Whereas many of the other stores carried extra large. But some stores you just don't go into because they're not going to carry your style or size. Well, Ford's did. In fact, even during the war, World War II, they had a catalog, and you could order things from Ford's Department Store. It wasn't just Montgomery Ward and Sears, you could order from. They, when our accounts were frozen, they kept theirs open so that you could still go there and buy things.

TI: And who was the, the owner of Ford's Department --

MH: George Menasco was the general manager and owner at that particular time.

TI: So it's amazing to me that even, so it's a local store, but he would do mail order and actually send the catalogs to, like, camps and things like that?

MH: Absolutely. That was wonderful. And they welcomed us back when we came back. So Ford's was one of the stores that we patronized.

TI: Are there other businesses like that that you can recall?

MH: There were some law firms, John McCarthy, he was the city attorney as well, and he looked out after people's properties and people's rights. Many of the people in Watsonville did not sell their homes, they boarded it up, or maybe they rented it out. And so you had to have trustworthy friends.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Okay, so now I'm going to switch gears, and now talk a little bit more about, about your life and your memories. And so let's, let's again stay prewar right now. What are some of your earliest memories of Watsonville?

MH: Well, I remember, I was a cute kid. [Laughs] My mother always said I was the lucky one, and I, and I think she was right. I never really got into trouble, I didn't want to embarrass the family. But I remember kindergarten and first grade, teachers were always nice to all of us, so we're fortunate in that. I remember on December 7th playing Shazam!, Captain Marvel, with my friend Tony Hernandez. We were both six years old, we were both small, teeny guys, smallest in the class. And my brothers always looked out after me. Noriyuki, his job, he was brother number five, he was, his job was to look out after me. See, when my father died, the business folded. And so my mother has to raise the kids. How do you do this? Well, we decided to go into farming. So we were farming onions and garlic near La Selva Beach with the Matsuoka family. And we couldn't afford a tractor so we had this big draft horse, plow horse that we would rent and such. We were not particularly successful as, as farmers. [Laughs] But my, so my mom is, after the war, she's going to become a farm worker. But my memories coincides, my growing up memories really coincides with camp.

TI: But talk about kindergarten, first grade, because that was before camp, wasn't it?

MH: Right.

TI: What, so what school did you go to?

MH: It was Linscott School, and it's still in operation, it's only a block away from here. Minority children went to that school.

TI: When you say minority, was there segregation in...

MH: No, not in the town of Watsonville. There was segregated schools... there's Watsonville, and then there are all these small elementary school districts that fed into the high school. The high school had one big district. So they had segregated schools in the elementary areas. So Amesti Road area, the people who lived in that area, the Japanese Americans, were in a segregated school. They had a small community building, and, which was close to Amesti School. But a teacher was provided, Caucasian teacher, and then the Japanese American students had to go to the Japanese building for their schooling. And it was one, one room from kindergarten to eighth grade. And it must have been really difficult for that teacher. But the Shikuma brothers and Mrs. Yamashita, they went to that school, and they're still alive.

TI: I'd love to talk to them about that, that'd be interesting.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

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.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: So we're gonna start the second hour, Mas. So why don't we, we talked a lot about the history of Watsonville and your family history, and we started talking about your personal memories. I want to go back now to December 7, 1941, and you mentioned you were playing with a friend that day. Can you, I mean, you were young then, you were, you were six. What did you sense when people found out about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

MH: Well, I was playing, and my brother Tsuyoshi came after me. We lived a block away from the school, and he just grabbed me and said, "We're going home." I didn't want to go home, I was having so much fun. And he says, "No, we have to go home." And he could have explained about Pearl Harbor and such, I would not have understood. I didn't want to go. But anyway, realized that things had changed dramatically overnight. In a split instant, things had changed. Everybody's mood had changed, everybody's apprehensive, not knowing. There's, there's a kind of a news blackout. Lot of rumors are flying, and so it was hard to get accurate information. So we just stayed, stayed close to home. Fortunately, the police chief, Peter Graves, was a good friend of the Japanese American community, and because the police station was in Japantown. So he told us basically, told everyone not, not to be afraid, so that was reassuring.

TI: And what was it like when you went back to school? Did, did you have any comments from classmates or the teacher?

MH: Not that I, not that I can recall. Miss Kelly was, was kind. And I'm told that my brothers had Miss Flores, and later on I'll have Miss Flores in the eighth grade. There were a number of teachers who were supportive of us, they knew us. So that was tremendously helpful. There were ministers of the various churches who not only read the Bible, but read the Constitution of the United States, and they were supportive. So, but it was good feeling. There was some animosity with a few -- and I say a few -- Chinese and Chinese Americans, especially after the "Rape of Nanking" and such. They had some stores, and if we go into the store, they looked at us suspiciously. And yet Canton Market, Lew Kim, he was from Canton. And we had been doing business there for years; we would go to the store and buy things that would be on our tag, you know, we'd put it on the tag. Well, we had a tag of ninety dollars, and ninety dollars was a lot of money in those days. And when we were to evacuate, we went to pay the ninety dollars, our bill, he said, "Forget it." He canceled the debt and he says, "You're gonna need the money." And when we came back, he was still at the store, and he welcomed us back. So until he closed the store, we did business at his Canton Market.

TI: Wow, that's a, that's a pretty impressive story. That's an impressive man to have done that.

MH: And he was Chinese, a Chinese immigrant, and he was so kind to us.

TI: Wow, that's good.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Any other... well, let's keep going. So let's, so within a couple months, people started getting word that they're gonna have to leave Watsonville.

MH: Right.

TI: So what did your family do?

MH: Our family had to start packing like, like everyone else. But everybody's making decisions, and you don't know what, which decision is going to be the right decision. We boarded up the house. We had something to come back to, a lot of other people didn't. Many of the farmers, they were tenant farmers, they didn't own the house. So they didn't lose something they didn't have, so to speak. But when, after the war is over, they're gonna have difficulty finding a place to stay.

TI: And so the house, you say, was yours. I mean, back then, with the alien land laws, Isseis couldn't own land. So whose, whose name was used?

MH: Hiroshi, firstborn.

TI: Okay, so your older brother.

MH: Everything was, all the land and such were always in Hiroshi's name.

TI: Okay, okay. So that, that's why you would own the property. So pretty soon you are asked to assemble to be removed. Talk about that.

MH: Well, I don't know exactly how we got to the Veterans Memorial Building where we were to, from which we were to evacuate. And I, we were given numbers, and I remember my number, I looked it up. It's 12524, that's for the family, 12524-D, I'm the letter D. I looked it up on the national registry thing, archives, and I couldn't find it at first. I had to check under my mother's name because they misspelled my name. They didn't say Masaru, they said something else. And so, but anyway, I found, I found mine. We left by bus to go to the Salinas Assembly Center. But I have -- there's an interesting story that I, unique to Watsonville, and that was the story of Ben Torigoe. Ben Torigoe had a watch repair shop, but he expanded it to include -- he was one of those guys that, self-educated. He just loved to take things apart, see what makes it work, and put it back together again. But he could do watches, he later did it with bicycles, then he sold fishing tackle and license, then he had guns, ammunition, so he had a little sporting goods store a block away from the police station. Well, on, on the day after the attack, he goes to the police station, to the police chief, Peter Graves, "I've got these guns and ammunition, what do you want me to do with them?" "Oh, don't worry about it, Ben." He's been in business for thirty years. Well, the next day, the federal agents raided the place, and the headlines in the newspapers were, "Cache of ammunition in a store," well, it was a sporting goods store. And the Torigoes had a tough time talking about it and such. So finally, when we did our reenactment, I asked him if we could do the story. At first they said, "No," and then I wrote the script, and they looked at it and they said, "Well, that's the way it happened, so let's get the story out."

TI: So what did happen? So after they were raided by the FBI, then they were arrested for that?

MH: He was arrested.

TI: And the police chief wasn't able to explain to the federal agents that...

MH: Not that I know of, not that I know of. I guess they kind of, federal authorities kind of pushed the police chief aside, maybe he was suspect then, being a sympathizer. But we had friends, we had friends.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

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.

<Begin Segment 17>

MH: But my brother was playing baseball, he was fourteen, Noriyuki, and on the field, sandlot game, and he hit the ball, ran toward first base, and he and the ball and the first baseman collided. My brother's skull was crushed right here, and the flow of blood stopped to his brain, and he was complaining of headaches. He hid underneath one of the barracks. He didn't want to tell Mom that he was hurting, he died.

TI: Did he die underneath the barracks, or did he die in the hospital?

MH: Underneath the barracks.

TI: So someone found his body underneath?

MH: So it was too late. So we had his funeral, and I remember bowing to people, I'm sitting right next to my mother and bowing. There was two funerals in Salinas, we were there for three months. He died in May, we were there in April, he died in May, we left in July. But we, we cremated his body --

TI: So Mas, I wanted to ask, so earlier you mentioned how Noriyuki was the one who would take care of you growing up. What was your reaction when you, when you found out?

MH: He was my best friend. He was my best brother. He was the nicest brother. I still remember he worked so hard, you know, getting, trying to obtain some money to buy a bicycle, and he bought the bicycle, then the war breaks out. We stored the bicycle in the, in the garage, and I used it when I came back. But when we got back, one of the first things we did, we went to the mortuary in Salinas, and they remembered us. They remembered us, that was nice.

TI: And what was the reaction of your other brothers and your mother to this?

MH: I think they were, they were pretty heartbroken. It was, some people wonder, do you sue something, you don't sue anybody. It was accident, it was nobody's fault, it's not the government's fault, it just happened. It was tragic, it was hard on my mother because she depended on him, and he was a really good brother.

TI: And did this change you in some ways, losing your older brother?

MH: Oh, absolutely. It was hard to converse with the other brothers. The other brothers were, the two older brothers, well, the oldest brother in Poston would get married. Then he gets tuberculosis, and then he's sent to a sanitarium, so he didn't fight in the war. The next two are going to be gone because they'll volunteer for the military. And then Mits had his friends. So I was, I was close to my mother, it was just my mother and me, for the most part.

TI: And what was the reaction of the other families towards you? Did people reach out to you and your mother?

MH: Oh, yes, absolutely. And they always remember that, and kindly, for which we are grateful.

TI: And what would be an example of a family reaching out to you?

MH: Well, they, they always saw to it that we were included in activities and such.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: Okay, so that was May, and then eventually you were transferred to Poston.

MH: To Poston, Arizona, where it was so hot. You know, you go from cool, foggy Monterey Bay to 100, and almost 120 degrees temperature, and I remember half the group at Parker train station, half the group had heatstroke. And, but the guys from Lodi and Sacramento, they're used to the heat. We were not. You can always tell who's from the Monterey Bay area. So we took salt tablets, you know, days before Gatorade. We drank a lot of water, but I remember the water smelled bad. It was kind of a rusty brown, the pipes were rusted through. And, but we had to drink the water. I had salt coming out of my pores, go like this, you lick yourself, you're salty, it ruins your clothes, the sweat. But we had to take the salt tablets, drink a lot of water.

TI: And so what, what did you do at Poston? I mean, it's hot, and what were some of the activities that you were able to do?

MH: Well, Poston, we went to Poston Camp 1 first, and then a whole group of people moved out of... Camp 1 had about 10,000 people. Then we moved to Camp 2, Camp 3 was being built, Del Webb company was, had the contract for building. So we went to Camp 2, a whole group from Watsonville, but we weren't all in the same block, we were scattered throughout. But at least a lot of Watsonville people were in Camp 2. I, we were assigned to Block 220, Barrack 12, Room A. You had Jiro, the Sugidonos, they were in the next room. I forgot who was next to them. And then the Hamadas were on the end -- no, Hiramotos were on the end. But a lot of Watsonville people were in Camp 2, so that was reassuring. Everybody's in the same, you know, has the same problems. If you had a family of ten or more you got two rooms. Couples, bachelors, Barrack 14 had lot of small rooms, just enough for two cots. So if you're a newlywed couple, you get a little tiny room, and it was right next to the kitchen.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So let me ask a little bit about, just about the Poston history part. So you mentioned earlier, Del Webb built Poston? So this is the Del Webb who was the real estate, construction, I think he did casinos? He did large retirement communities, this is the Del Webb you're talking about?

MH: Right.

TI: So in some ways, Poston was his start in these large...

MH: Far as I know, it was his start, with a government contract.

TI: Oh, that's, that's ironic. And you mentioned three camps. Why did they have three camps at Poston?

MH: Poston had over 17,000 people, and so they separated the three, the groups into three. And they had the land, it was an Indian reservation, they had the land, so they separated it that way. Each camp was about three miles apart or so. Camp 2 had about four thousand something, almost five thousand. Camp 3 was the smallest, it was the newest and smallest.

TI: But in general, so Poston was, if you include all three camps, was the, the largest, wasn't it, about the largest?

MH: No, Tule Lake, because Tule Lake was two camps in one.

TI: As it became a segregation camp, right.

MH: Because we get smaller, Tule Lake gets bigger because of the resisters and "no-nos" -- not resisters, but "no-nos."

TI: Okay, so three camps, when you think of the three camps, how close were they to each other?

MH: They were couple miles apart, about three miles apart. It was, you could walk it if you wanted to, but there was a bus system, a truck system, and you can go from camp to camp. I, I used to go to Camp 1 for swimming lessons. Camp 1 had the hospital, I got mumps. They didn't know whether it was an insect bite, spider bite or what, but they quarantined me, and it turned out to be mumps. And the hospital was in Camp, Camp 1. I only went to Camp 3 -- they had the best swimming pool, they had a concrete swimming pool with blue, clear water. We had a canal, big mud hole. You could almost drink the water in Camp 3, you wouldn't do that... you could fish and swim at the same time in Camp 2.

TI: Well, you also mentioned it was an Indian reservation. Was there any contact or interactions with --

MH: Very little contact, although the elders made contact with the -- let me get this right -- Colorado River Indian Tribal Council. In fact, we're still working with them, Ruth, Dr. Ruth Okimoto does a lot with them. San Diego people are really good with Poston restoration. So when the monument was built in Poston, the Sacramento people really did the work on it, Ted Kobata and others, they did a great job.

TI: And so again, from a history standpoint, most of the camps were not on Indian reservations. By it being on an Indian reservation, was there anything unique about how things were set up or how things worked at Poston?

MH: Yeah, well, Poston and Gila River were both on Indian reservations, and so the Bureau of Indian Affairs are going to be involved. And one of the things that we were to was to build a canal and water the area, bring water to the area, and teach the Indians how to farm the land. Farming is basically, Indian culture, is squaw's work. The man does the hunting and protecting, women do everything else. Well, asking a warrior to farm is like asking a person, you know, he's a "squaw man" if he, if he farms. It's supposed to be degrading. Well, we're to teach them how to farm, and farm the land successfully, and not be degraded by doing that. And we, I think there was about forty-three different kinds of vegetables that we grew. In fact, we sent food to the other camps, vegetables to the other camps. We even had contests on who could grow the best vegetables, like a county fair. So farming becomes really important in camp, but we also raised our own pigs and chickens, we had a chicken farm and such. So it's one way of getting fresh meat and whatever, not rely on the military or the government. Today, there's, the barracks were sold afterwards to the Indians for a hundred dollars, or they can split it and put fifty dollars. Lot of the Indians were using the barracks for their homes. The school, the adobe school that we built was used by the tribe for their school for thirty years. Adobe school was great because it was cool in the summertime and warm in the wintertime.

TI: So it sounds like this was all pretty intentional by the government. They wanted the, the Japanese, in some ways, to help develop infrastructure on the land, like the canals, to set up farming and all those things. And so it sounds like some of those things worked for the tribe?

MH: Uh-huh. Yeah, the resident expert on this is Dr. Ruth Okimoto, she lives in Berkeley, and she's a, she was in Camp 3, and she's great.

TI: Okay, I'll have to talk, I know Ruth, and I'll ask her more about that.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

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.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: I want to go back to something we touched upon earlier, and that's your, your dog. So you have now Sunny in camp, and so I'm just curious, what was it like taking care of a dog in camp? Were there certain things you had to, like food and walks? What was, talk about taking care of Sunny.

MH: I didn't have to take care of Sunny, everybody took care of Sunny. Everybody wanted to feed Sunny. We almost had to keep food away from her because, you know. She was the petting zoo, everybody wanted to pet her, especially the younger children. 'Cause you couldn't exactly pet a rattlesnake or a scorpion, whatever. But this little dog would go to anybody, and you couldn't tell one end from the other, it was a white little furry thing. And there was one time when we were really scared when she disappeared, and we didn't know whether somebody stole her or whether she was eaten by a coyote or what, and she was gone. I'm in tears, you know, and three days later, she showed up. And we couldn't ask the dog, "Where have you been?" But we were so happy to get her back. I have absolutely no, those three days, I have absolutely no idea what happened, and we were looking all over, we were looking all over. Everybody was looking for her, we don't know what happened.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. And so in general, Sunny had the run of the camp, she could just sort of go wherever and people knew about her.

MH: Yeah, absolutely.

TI: I'll have to check, were there ever any stories written about Sunny in the camp newspaper, anything like that?

MH: Not that I know of.

TI: That's a good story.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: So you're a young boy in Poston, things like birthdays, how did you celebrate your birthday?

MH: My ninth birthday was my, my most important birthday I've ever had. My sister-in-law, Oichi, she's a newlywed to my brother who was in the sanitarium because of TB. Anyway, she somehow managed to get to Camp 1. Camp 1, now, I forget what block it was, 2 or 32. Camp 1 had a bakery, and she managed to get a cake made for my birthday. Now, the trouble that she went through to get that birthday cake, that's just unbelievable. I mean, that's going way above and beyond.

TI: So tell me, how hard would it be to get a birthday cake?

MH: It was hard to get any cake. Sugar was rationed, it was hard to, to get any kind of pastry. So she went above and beyond, I think. Now, one of the things about birthdays, all my birthdays, if I got any money or such, always went into the college fund, I never got to spend it. Christmas money, I never got to spend it, it all went into my college account. And so, but one of the things that I learned, I was always thinking, okay, birthday, "What did I do to deserve all this attention?" Nothing. Nothing. What I should do is give presents to my parents. Well, my father had passed away, so on my birthday, it was important to give something to my mother, not the other way around.

TI: So going back to the cake experience, so this cake was made in Camp 1, you live in Camp 2. How would get a cake --

MH: She brought it back, she ordered it, had it made, she probably had, because no telephone connection, she probably had to go by bus, or the truck, shuttle system, dusty roads and whatever, get over there, order it, come back. When it's ready, go back, get it, bring it back for my birthday.

TI: And then what was the celebration like? I mean, how did they show you the cake?

MH: Well, it was a surprise in the room, and they, I remember Kool-Aid, and that was basically it, Kool-Aid and... I saw that cake and that's all I, that, if there were any presents, I don't remember anything else. But Kool-Aid, I, you know, we didn't have ice cream and such. Kool-Aid, lots of Kool-Aid, popsicle Kool-Aid, whatever.

TI: I could tell that people really liked you, Mas. [Laughs] That was really special.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

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.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: We were just finishing up kind of your memories of Poston. But before we leave Poston, I wanted to ask about your brothers. And before talking about what they did, let's talk a little bit about the "loyalty questionnaire." That you were younger, so it didn't really impact you, but...

MH: It didn't apply to me, yeah.

TI: But your older brothers, your mother, so talk about the "loyalty questionnaire" and how it affected your family.

MH: Well, our family was "yes-yes" from the beginning. For us it was not a discussion because of our travel to Japan in 1938. So that my mother knew that Japan was a militaristic country and not, not a flowery cherry blossom type country, it had changed so much. So my brothers -- two things, one, they were of the draft age, and they were changed from 1-A to 4-C, "enemy alien." They didn't like that idea, where, one, they weren't the enemy, and they weren't aliens. But they went "yes-yes" when so many of their friends went "yes-no," "no-yes," or "no-no." So it was a, my mother indicated that we should all go "yes-yes" no matter what. The Ide family, their father went -- my best friend's family -- they went "no-no" and ended up in Tule Lake, and then from there they went to Japan. All of 'em got back except one, who married into a Japanese family. But for us, there was a lot of fighting between pro-Japan and pro-America group. There was, "Nihon ga katsu," "Nihon makenai," you know. "We'll win, Japan won't lose." And then in our camp, Saburo Kido was beaten up, he was a JACL leader, and he was beaten up by the, the pro-Japan group, and there were people that didn't like the JACL now for putting us into camp. We didn't, JACL didn't put people into camps, it was one of those shikata ga nai kind of situations, but some people didn't understand that.

So my brothers will serve in the army, Tsuyoshi and Tadashi. And because they could read and write Japanese, they'll volunteer for the MIS, Military Intelligence Service, they go to Fort Snelling. Now, Tsuyoshi, he really liked it in Minnesota. He was well-treated by the Swedes and Germans of that area, and after the war, he was vows not to come back to California, which, to him, was a racist state. He gets married and has children. He did come back for two things: one, take the kids to Disneyland, and the other was my mother's funeral. Those are the only two times he, he came back. Now, Tadashi will serve in the military of the United States, MIS, and he had, he was pretty good with language and such. But while he's over there in Minnesota, he meets a gal, Marianne McAfee, who was just an absolutely beautiful gal. She comes into camp, he gets a furlough and she follows him into camp and wants to marry my brother. And my mother is not that excited about having her as a daughter-in-law because they can't communicate. But my brother decides not to marry because he's going off to war. But I'm going, "Who is this absolutely gorgeous girl?" My brother Tad was the best-looking in the whole family, that's not saying much. But anyway, he was the best-looking. And he was probably the smartest of the Hashimotos. Again, that's not saying a whole lot, but anyway. [Laughs] So it was, that was, that part was interesting. It caused a stir in, in Poston Camp 2.

TI: So when you say "caused a stir," what would the example be? What would some of the things...

MH: Everybody was talking about, "Who is this absolutely gorgeous girl?"

TI: And where would she stay when they came to camp? Did they stay overnight in camp?

MH: You know, I know she didn't stay with, with us, so she must have stayed with one of the teachers in the administration part of camp, which is on the other side of the fence. But that was interesting, I remember that. And she smelled good, too, I remember that, too. But anyway...

TI: That's, that's good.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: Well, eventually, you go back to Watsonville. So how did your family go back to Watsonville? Did you go individually or with a group?

MH: We came back in August of 1945. And weeds had grown all over the, the yard. I mean, it's a miracle nobody put a match to it, the whole place would have gone up in smoke. There was a hobo living, not in the house, but in the backseat of the car that we had jacked up on blocks, and he was living there. And when we came back, he took off, he left everything there, he took off. And we lived close to the hobo camps near the river, and so we tried to find him to thank him for looking out after -- he was a caretaker. He may not have known it, but he was a caretaker. And we wanted to thank him, but we never could find him. And so anyway...

TI: But based on what you saw, how long do you think he was staying there?

MH: Probably as soon as we left. But we're so grateful to him, and we have absolutely no idea who he was. So we cleaned up the place, and one of the things, remember we had the restaurant? I remember a gentleman, a Nihonjin from L.A., who came. And I didn't know this, that we had dishes in the attic, and he bought all of our dishes. They were old dishes, but they were Japanese dishes, and that money helped, helped pay for a lot of our expenses. And so there was a restaurant down in L.A. that had some Japanese dishes.

TI: So, but you were one of the lucky ones, because you had a place to come back to.

MH: We had a place to come back to. A lot of people went to Seabrook Farms, who had no place to go. And Seabrook offered, it was a company town, wages weren't very good and such, but wages weren't very good anywhere. We were lucky. And then next door, the temple became a hostel, so people... you know, you could take only what you could carry when you go into camp, basically the same thing is true when you come out of camp. Only what you can carry. And a lot of treasures were left behind in Poston, in all these camps. We're trying to find these artifacts now. The Art of Gaman is a big start of, "Wow, there's a lot of treasure hidden in a lot of garages and such, we need to find them and bring them out."

TI: When you said things were left back at Poston, what would, what would be examples of things that had to be left back because people couldn't carry?

MH: I left my stool, you know, the one that became a part of me, I left that. I'm sure my mom could, left all kinds of stuff that she would have liked to have brought with her. But we only had two suitcases.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

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.

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: So, Mas, you said you were looking at three in terms of trying to really see the glass half-full in terms of, there were pockets. But there must have been people who resented the fact that their community was trying to prevent them from coming back.

MH: Oh, yeah. But the thing was that there were people that were vocal in our support. I mean, the war's over, the war is over. And May Lord, a schoolteacher, Miss Flores, eighth grade teacher, Mrs. Roarke, Jack Hamilton, T.S. MacQuiddy, teachers, lawyers, John McCarthy, Philip Boyle. Philip Boyle was threatened with his job if he came out outwardly in support of us, yet he did. There were farmers that supported us, there were church ministers. The Lutheran church, there's not one Japanese Lutheran in town, yet the Lutheran church and the Baptist church opened up their doors. And they had collection of clothing, blankets and such for us. So there was support for us to return. (Narr. note: In addition, Doctor Oscar Marshall and his wife, Opal Marshall, were tremendously kind and helpful in their support of the Watsonville Japanese American community before, during and after World War II.)

TI: But yet the vast majority was still against you, based on that, on that vote that you described earlier.

MH: Yeah, but they were against Okies coming in the 1930s, and they were against Mexicans and they were against Filipinos and such.

TI: Okay, and so again, it didn't surprise you.

MH: No.

TI: And if anything, what surprised you was that there were three that actually...

MH: Three that were, that stood up, and we're very grateful.

TI: Were there any events or incidences of altercations during this time against Japanese Americans?

MH: Not that I know of, except my own. I had a fight with Norm Tuttle, he called me a "Jap" in the fifth grade and we fought. I don't know who won, I don't care, but he became one of my best friends all through school.

TI: How about the surrounding communities, like Salinas, Santa Cruz? Was it pretty similar in terms of how the communities treated Japanese coming back?

MH: The communities were different. Watsonville and Monterey, Monterey, they, people took out full-page ad welcoming, in the newspaper, welcoming Japanese, Japanese Americans back. Monterey's different, unique, in the sense that, remember the earthquake in San Francisco in 1906? Many of the artists moved out of San Francisco, came down to Monterey, Carmel. So there's an intelligentsia there, that helped. Now, Salinas and Hollister, they had military, national guard units with a tank battalion. And it was federalized, the national guard unit, and sent to the Philippines. And these guys are gonna get wiped out, 'cause there's hard feelings there. Many of the Japanese, Japanese Americans will not return to Salinas. Many of those who are there now are what we call Shin-Issei, come after the war.

TI: So in general, did the population of Japanese and Japanese Americans drop after the war compared to what it was before the war?

MH: Yeah. We figure maybe a third didn't come back. Others came back for a while and then went elsewhere. But at least in Watsonville, there was some kind of a welcoming, and we found jobs. And the jobs basically were working out in the strawberry fields, and then little by little people wanted their own plot of land to farm. Strawberries saved us in many ways. It's intensive work, it's hard work. I... we didn't have child labor laws, so ever since I was ten years old, I worked out in the fields picking bushberries and strawberries, and cleaning lettuce, cutting lettuce. If it grew here, I picked it. What's kind of interesting is that many Mexican American students, they go, "What? You Japanese Americans worked out in the fields? I thought we were the only ones." No. I worked right beside Mexican American students out in the fields. So I'm very grateful to strawberries, because it provided my scholarship for college.

TI: Scholarship, or just the financing for your, your college?

MH: Everything I made went into the college fund. I didn't get a scholarship, graduated ninth in, in school, but there were only six scholarships, and two were for agriculture. There weren't that many scholarships in those days. I'm just amazed at how the Kokka family and others, they sent eleven kids, or ten kids to UC Berkeley. I don't know how they did that.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

TI: So in the, so we're talking about the latter part of the '40s, '50s, I'm trying to think of how, so as people started getting back on their feet financially, how did the community rebuild itself?

MH: The churches played important roles. For the Presbyterian church, it was the Gay Yags, young people's group. And then for us, it was the golden age of YBA, Young Buddhists Association. We used to have our conferences in cities like San Jose and Fresno. George Takei won an oratorical contest, you know, in San Jose. I lost mine in Fresno. And we had choirs, Mrs. Iwanaga was, she was the minister's wife. The minister of Watsonville, Yoshio Iwanaga, he's, he came from Japan, I think Kumamoto-ken, went to Stockton, and then from Stockton was assigned to Watsonville in 1940. And so he is the one who is credited with introducing Obon to America. Anyway, he was our minister, but he died at age fifty in 1950. And Mrs. Iwanaga carries on the church with Fred Nitta. So six years, we didn't have a minister for the Buddhist temple. But the youth group was really strong, we had a choir, we had all kinds of activities, we had dances. We had dances all over, and we even had a YBA band. She had a, Mrs. Iwanaga had a band before the war, in camp, and after camp. So for our social outlet, we didn't, we participated in school sports, track, football, basketball, whatever. But for our social outlet, we were pretty much in our own group. We went to the prom, but we went to the prom with other Nihonjin gals, Japanese American gals. So we did participate in that capacity, and did well. So, but we didn't branch out with the Caucasian and other groups. That will be left to the children.

TI: Well, except for your brother branched out when he was in Minnesota. And so were there other exceptions like that, where a few...

MH: There might have been, there might have been.

TI: But in general, it wasn't, it wasn't very common.

MH: Well, Dick Tsuda was the only one, he was two years older than me, he had a motorcycle and the girls all flocked to him. [Laughs]

TI: [Laughs] Okay.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

TI: So I wanted to go back to when you returned to Watsonville. And I'm curious now, when you go to school, I want to get a sense of how good the education was in Poston. So one way of finding out is when you started school back in Watsonville, how was it? How were you able to keep up with the other students?

MH: Well, you know, I really didn't have second and third grades. I draw a complete blank except for the stool. Outside of that, I have no idea who my classmates and teacher were and such. I could remember kindergarten, first grade, fourth grade, but second and third, blank. When I come back to the fifth grade, I'm so far behind in my schoolwork that Miss Herbert, my teacher, she stayed behind for a half hour every day for the longest time until I can catch up. Catch up in my vocabulary, arithmetic, math and so forth, 'til I could catch up. So I'm very grateful to her. I'm very grateful to the teaching profession; I became a teacher because I thought it was important to repay a debt.

TI: And what about your classmates? How did they welcome you back, especially the ones you knew before you left?

MH: The only one I really knew before I left was Tony Hernandez. And Tony and I, we had one thing in common, we're both so small compared to everybody else. So, but then after high school, he's over six feet, I'm still small. But I don't hold it against him, it wasn't his fault that he grew so much. But my classmates are among my dearest friends. We're having a class reunion, fifty-five years, I'm on the committee to welcome back our good friends.

TI: It must have been such a confusing time for people, though, thinking back that you're, you were gone, you came back, and did people ask you what it was like?

MH: Yeah, what happened. "What happened to you?" and you try to explain.

TI: And how would you explain? Were you embarrassed about it?

MH: Well, we'd just tell 'em it was the war. But you know, the thing is that, quote, we "suffered" while we were in camp, but the people on the outside, they didn't have it that good either, you know. I mean, if you study the homefront, speed limit is 35 miles an hour, the gasoline rationing is three gallons per car per week. There's rationing of bananas and meats and whatever. They didn't have it that good, either.

TI: So everyone had a, had to sacrifice.

MH: Everybody was, you know... in the war. We were, in camp we were helping with the war effort, with victory gardens we were planting, we had scrap metal drives with the Boy Scouts and such, we were all helping on the homefront in camp.

TI: I'm curious, now when you go to high school, in your class, how many Japanese Americans were there?

MH: Fortunately for me, I had my brother who was a senior when I was a freshman and such, and he did well, and so the rest of us were... and we had the same teachers as my older brothers. The teacher turnover wasn't, wasn't that great. It was always the same, same teachers. So that was, that was good. There was a good feeling back, we were welcomed back. So our high school experience is going to be good, going to be good, thanks to the teachers. We found out that there were a few that were racist. When I joined the staff at Watsonville High School as a teacher, I was the first person of color to be hired by the high school, district, in 1960. I'm sitting and I'm listening to the faculty, and I'm going, "Wow, I can't believe this. I had, I had that teacher, I didn't know that teacher was a racist."

TI: Because behind the doors...

MH: Behind the door, and they start speaking about Mexicans and whatever, and they're so proud to be a member of the Elk Club and DeMolay or whatever.

TI: And so I'm curious, so when you hear that, as a rookie teacher, how do you handle that? What do you do?

MH: Well, the first thing I did was I looked to my other teachers who were my friends, and I said, "What's going on?" And they explained, "You didn't know?"

TI: So high school life sounded like it was pretty good for you.

MH: It was very good, very good.

TI: So I'm curious, at what point did, did girls become interesting to you? Was it high school or even earlier?

MH: Girls? You know, when I speak to third graders, one time a third grader asked, did I have a girlfriend in camp? And I'm going, "Are you kidding? I was poor. Do you know how expensive girlfriends are?" And the kids, third graders are laughing. We were poor; we couldn't afford girlfriends.

TI: So in high school, not too much dating yet?

MH: I didn't have a car until I was twenty-five years of age.

TI: That's good, I gotta remember that with my kids. [Laughs] So after high school, you completed high school, what happens next?

MH: Well, thank goodness for junior colleges, because we could afford that. And then I went on to San Jose State, graduated with a teaching credential. Now, most of my friends went into dentistry, engineering and pharmacy and such, but I chose a different field. So I had a choice between marine biology and social studies, and I thought, "You know what? People are more interesting than jellyfish and whatever," and so I chose social studies, and I've never regretted it.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

TI: So talk a little bit more, why teaching. I think you mentioned it earlier, that you wanted to kind of give back because you were appreciative?

MH: I think it was important for the Japanese American community to say thanks to the teaching profession, because they really did support us overall. We only had two friends, the American Friends, Quakers, and Kate Smith, and then a smattering of individuals which we need, need to honor. But nationally only two. So, but teachers locally, teachers were writing letters of recommendation to get us in, my brothers into college. So teachers were one of the best friends the Japanese American community had from the beginning. I wish there would be more Japanese Americans going into teaching. I think there, I think they would enjoy that. It's not easy.

TI: That's good. And so after you got your teaching certificate, then what was next?

MH: I got drafted. [Laughs] I served in the United States Army, I got stationed at the Presidio San Francisco. I was in the chemical section, and everybody had top secret clearance in the office because we were handling top secret information. And we worked with chemical, biological and nuclear agents. Today, you would call them weapons of mass destruction, and the ones that scares me the most are biological agents. We're not prepared, as a nation, prepared to handle germ warfare.

TI: So this was based on some of the... I mean, when you were in the Presidio, did you actually work with the chemicals or in these germs?

MH: Thank goodness, no. The labs are in Maryland and Utah and such.

TI: But you just had the information about what these things could do.

MH: In case of a nuclear attack, in case of a chemical attack, in case of a biological attack. In 1918, millions of people died because of the flu. And right now, when there's a little bird flu, and somebody dies of bird flu in Indonesia, we all get shook up. Well, there's a reason for that.

TI: Because how rapidly these things could, can spread and how devastating it could be. So, so you spent your time in the military, in the chemical division, and then after you're out, what do you do next?

MH: Well, I went to San Jose State for summer classes, and I met my old teacher, Mr. Bud Rowland. And I asked Bud for a job and he says, "You're hired," that was the extent of my interview. And I was sitting a few weeks later at a faculty meeting at Watsonville High School, and they, the teacher that introduced me introduced me by my nickname, 'cause he really didn't know my real name.

TI: And what nickname did he use?

MH: When I was in, in school?

TI: Yes.

MH: They never called me Mas, nobody called me Mas. They called me "Mousie." And Mousie came, actually, from Massie, Mas, Massie, and then people didn't hear it right, and because I was so small anyway, so they started calling me Mousie. So, but I, now that I'm older, I'm a big rat.

TI: [Laughs] Oh, that's good. And did you really want Watsonville High School? I mean, was this the...

MH: This is, this is the job that I really wanted. I coveted this one. I didn't want to teach anyplace else. And it took me forty years to get out of Watsonville High School. Thirty-six years of teaching, four years as a student.

TI: And so in those thirty-six years, what did you teach?

MH: U.S. History primarily. And they always, I used to get the foreign exchange students because, whether they come from Germany or Turkey or Brazil or China, wherever, they thought that it would be fun to assign U.S. History being taught by a Japanese American.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

TI: And part of that is, I'm curious, how did you first start teaching about the World War II experiences of Japanese Americans, in particular the incarceration of Japanese Americans?

MH: Well, I told my students that I spent three and a half years of my life in prison during World War II and such. And the textbook only had two chapters -- I mean, two paragraphs, not chapters -- two paragraphs. One about, we were interned, and the other was the 442nd, fought well, that was it. And I'm going, "Wait a minute, there's more than, more than this." Thank goodness for the JACL, national JACL education committee, Greg Marutani and Carol Kawamoto and others, they decided that we need more. And it was a ten-year campaign to get the social studies curriculum changed and adopted, and then have the State Department of Education approve that. Then we had to have -- this is in Sacramento -- then we had to have textbooks written. Well, it was perfect because it was not just about the Japanese Americans, it was about women's rights, it was about blacks, about Hispanics, other groups. And so it was all part of that civil rights movement, and we had to include it. Now, if we can have it for the California, California has the biggest market. So if you could, North Dakota's not going to write their own textbook. So if you could have the California market, you could sell to the other states as well. And these guys did it.

TI: And so the, now the textbooks that...

MH: The textbooks includes four pages of the Japanese American experience. They take excerpts from Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston's book, they have stories about Senator Daniel K. Inouye, captain in the United States Army. Wow.

TI: And so I'm curious, so when you first started teaching about what happened, and as it evolved, can you talk about that in terms of, did the story... how did you change how you presented the story, if at all? I'm curious if it changed.

MH: Did I follow the textbook? [Laughs]

TI: Yeah, I'm curious.

MH: Sometimes. It depends on the topic. I do a lot on what we call American values, and that's Protestant ethics and the spirit of capitalism kind of mentality, I do that. But I also point out the contributions made by black Americans, by Asian Americans, by others, and one of the points that I make when I speak to students in different, different schools, I said, "You know, my mother was Japanese, my father was Japanese, but I'm not Japanese. I happen to be an American of Japanese ancestry." I used to ask the kids, "Okay, take out a piece of paper, draw an American." And sometimes they would draw a baseball player, and I go, "You know Ichiro Suzuki?" Sometimes they'd draw an Indian, Native American, I said, "If you guys don't know what an American looks like, draw me, because I'm an American who happens to be of Japanese ancestry. It's isn't just a white person, white Anglo-Saxson Protestant, no, no. We're all uniquely Americans." Native American girl from New Mexico, I said, "Which do you prefer to be called? Native American or Indian?" She says, turned it around, she says, "Were you born here?" I said, "Yeah, I was born here." She said, "You're a Native American, too." And I'm going, "Yeah."

TI: That's a good comment.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

TI: You mentioned you taught for thirty-six years. So when did you retire?

MH: I retired in 1996. But before that, in 1992, we did something that -- in fact, we did it in this building. We realized, Jane Borg of the, she's with the Pajaro Valley Historical Association, and she's a good, dear friend of ours. She said, "Mas, the class of, the Nisei students of the class of 1942 never got a cap and gown ceremony, and some of 'em never got their diplomas." And I'm going, "Well, we're gonna have to do something about that." So I asked the board of trustees, "We've got to do something." "Yeah, go ahead and do it." So we invited all of those who would have graduated in 1942 back for a ceremony. They're sixty-eight years old, cap and gown, got the diplomas duplicated. The hard part was getting the sheepskin, the chamois, you know, that was the hard part. Got cap and gowns and such, they went ahead of the class of 1992, and we got national recognition.

TI: And how many participated?

MH: Thirteen. There were, there should have been more, but you know, hazukashii, some of them. And Tom Mine's wife was one of them, Jiro Sugidono and his brother, they participated. So we were really happy that we did it. And then the University of California at Berkeley, they heard about us, so hastily they found out who should have graduated in '42, so they had a ceremony in September, they didn't want to wait a whole year. And then the University of Washington just had it, 450 or something like that, fantastic. Oregon State University.

TI: And so were you one of the first ones to do this? Because I know there were other high schools that had done that in recent years.

MH: We were the first.

TI: Congratulations, that was a great idea.

MH: Well, thank Jane Borg, because she's the one who put the bug in my ear.

TI: So you, you (retired) in '96, so that's twelve years ago. In those twelve years, what are some of the things you have done to continue to educate people about the story of Japanese Americans?

MH: I go to different schools, somewhat of a regular basis, to teach about the Japanese American experience. I have a slideshow, trying to make it into a PowerPoint now. But I go to third, fourth grades because it's in the curriculum. Eighth grade, juniors in high school, seniors. If it's seniors, then it's more on civics. So more on the Korematsu case and Min Yasui and Gordon Hirabayashi, to colleges and university, to Rotary clubs. So I have different programs for different levels, and this year about three thousand students, little over three thousand students.

TI: And that's all locally?

MH: Locally, from Monterey Bay area, Santa Clara Valley.

TI: And so by doing so, it sounds like almost every student who goes through the school system in this area will eventually see you talking about this topic.

MH: At one time or another, yeah. So I'm, I've retired, and yet I have this, I'm very fortunate that teachers invite me back, so I'm very grateful. We had teacher training workshops with Fred Korematsu and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and Libby Yamamoto. She was a Japanese Latin American from Peru. We wanted to tell the story.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

TI: So, Mas, I have to ask you, so you're spending a lot of time on this, probably thousands of hours of volunteer work to do this, about something that happened over sixty-five years ago. So why do you do it? Why is this so important to you?

MH: It's important because it... no one should go to prison because of the way they look. No one should go to prison because of the way they're dressed. We went to prison, we were never given a trial, we never had an attorney, we never had charges pressed against us. That's completely contrary to the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights, habeas corpus. Those things mean something. They're, they separate us, our Constitution separates us from all other countries. It's not the flag, other countries have flag, other countries have red, white and blue, it's the Constitution. And when our government doesn't abide by the Constitution, then we have to speak out. Risk going to jail, whatever, but we have to speak out. It cannot, it's happening right now at Guantanamo. But I don't see the anger. "It's not happening to me so it's okay." No, that happened in Nazi Germany. It was happening to other groups, and then finally Hitler even took this group. We can't allow that to happen, and if we forget that part of our history, then we're lost.

TI: And so do you think, in particular, Japanese Americans have a responsibility --

MH: Responsibility, absolutely.

TI: -- to, to talk out or to talk about these things?

MH: Yeah, absolutely. And speak loudly, and be in the forefront of the rights, for civil rights. Among the most important people in our civil rights movement were the guys of the 442nd, the 100th/442nd. What if -- let me ask you this -- what if not one Japanese American soldier fought in World War II? Not one, and the war was won? Where would Japanese Americans be then?

TI: It's hard to say, yeah.

MH: But we spearheaded, our guys spearheaded the civil rights movement. They didn't know it at the time, they were thinking along those lines, but they spearheaded the civil rights movements of the 1960s. That this minority group can be as patriotic and loyal as any. You can't question Chinese and Vietnamese and Germans and Italians, what binds us together is the Constitution of the United States, the words we live by. And if we, that's why... you know, like reparations, I wasn't, I was for the apology twenty years ago, but I wasn't for the reparation because I'm a Nisei. That's... asking for money? That sounds too materialistic, demeaning if you put money on. But then I heard the testimonies and read the testimonies, and there's somebody living in L.A. with an elderly gentleman with, Issei living on a few dollars a week for food, and I'm going, "No, it's not about me, it's about all of us." And then Norm Mineta said something that was, just the other day in Salt Lake City, he said, "The reparations was really important." I'd never heard him speak about the reparations before. He said, "When the administration wanted to imprison Muslim and Arab Americans," whatever, was talking about internment. And he just pointed out, he says, "Just think what it's gonna cost you in reparations. We had a few thousand, it cost two billion or something like that, just think what it's gonna cost you if you imprison all of these, and then you have to pay for reparations." The discussion ended. The reparations was important as a teaching device. So I'm very grateful to all of those people who had something to do with redress and reparations.

TI: Good.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

TI: There was another event I wanted, I just wanted to ask you about, and that was, in 2002, the reenactment. That you did something in Watsonville that I had never heard anyone else do. Can you talk about that and how that came about?

MH: Well, when I was watching... I was asked to a meeting at the public library, and they wanted to do something about Day of Remembrance, and I said, "Okay, what?" And they said, "What about speakers?" And I go, "Speakers? Okay, we can have speakers. We'll have a dozen people there, eleven of them will be Japanese Americans, and then the other will be the librarian." "What about a book display?" I go, "Book display? We just walk by book displays." Then I thought about, you know, there's that Greyhound bus that comes into camp, and these people get out of the bus. I said, "You know, those people have stories to tell. Why don't we tell it?" And that's how it started. We gathered stories and said, "Let's reenact it." We got the street, same street where we had to evacuate. So I asked a few friends what they thought about it, and they jumped on it. And then all of a sudden, we had -- I'm not kidding -- hundreds of people involved in one capacity or another. And it took eighteen months of planning, but we, we pulled it off. And Eric Saul came, and Rudy Tokiwa came, Harry Honda came and such. And they said, "Well done." And if they said it was well done, arigato, thank you. But it was, we could never do that again.

TI: Well, I think you should be commended for doing things like that. Not only the reenactment, but earlier the, the graduation ceremony.

MH: We don't, the point was to tell the non-Nikkei about what happened. We know the story, we need to get the story out to others, that their constitutional rights could be trampled.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

TI: So I'm going to switch gears here now and talk about your family. And wanted to find out or ask you, how did you meet your wife?

MH: Okay. I, when I was teaching, after three years, I realized that I didn't know anything about American history. So I bought a car and, but I didn't put air conditioning in it. You don't need it for Watsonville. But anyway, I thought, "I'm going to travel around the country, I want to see what this country's about. I want to go to the sites." So anyway, there was a young kid, Tets Hojo, who was a, finished his Stanford, first year of Stanford, he wanted to join me and I needed the company and such. So I traveled around the country, and it was the segregated South. I mean, Jones Motel was for colored and such. We had to be careful where we ate, where we slept.

TI: And what year was this?

MH: 1963. And traveled through Dallas, and five months later, the President of the United States is going to be assassinated, John F. Kennedy. Tets got a speeding ticket in North Carolina, the ticket said, "White/black." They checked "white," so we didn't have to pay as much. It was a different kind of a South, different kind of a country. So anyway, when we got back, Marcia's YBA group in San Mateo asked us to speak, so that's when I first met her. I was twenty-eight, she was sixteen, and, "Go away, little girl," and so on. Later on, when, two years later, she was a freshman in college, and I had just gotten back from Japan. They had a conference in San Francisco and I saw her again, and so we started dating. Her mother was concerned because, I mean, the difference, twelve years' difference. But it was a five-year courtship, and we waited until she got her teaching credential, and then we got married, and that's thirty-eight years ago. And she's the love of my life.

TI: So that was 1970 you got married.

MH: Got married in 1970, and she got a job here in Watsonville, and she loves it here. She's, she is so wonderful. We never argue. We've never had an argument. There's nothing to argue about.

TI: That's special. How about children?

MH: We have thousands of children. She has thousands of kindergarteners who are grown up and so successful and so beautiful. I've had seven or eight thousand students, and I still have a few more because I go around teaching about the experience. So we're very fortunate.

TI: Okay, good. Anything else that we haven't covered? I've gone through my list of questions and wanted to know if there's anything else that, that I haven't covered that you'd like to, to talk about?

MH: The Japanese American experience is unique. We need to tell the story, Densho is so important because it, it permits us to get out there to the public. I couldn't do it; I just do it with a few. You can reach millions, so your work is tremendously important.

TI: Well, thank you very much, and thank you for participating, because this is part of getting the story out.

MH: Thank you.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.