Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Massie Hinatsu Interview
Narrator: Massie Hinatsu
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: July 22, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-hmassie-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historic Site. This afternoon we're talking with Massie Hinatsu. The interview is taking place at the Marriott Residence Inn at the Portland Airport. The date of the interview is July 22, 2010. The interviewer is Richard Potashin, the videographer is Mark Hatchmann. And we'll be talking with Massie about her experiences as a former internee at the Portland Assembly Center as well as the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Hunt, Idaho. This interview will be archived at our Park's library and Massie, do I have your permission to go ahead and continue our interview?

MH: Yes.

RP: Thank you very much for making some time to share your very unique personal story with us today. May I refer to you as Massie?

MH: Yes. My real name is Masako but I am, they call me Massie most of the time.

RP: So while we're on that subject, can you give us your given name at birth?

MH: My given name was Masako Endo.

RP: Did you ever have a, quote, "American name" or English name?

MH: No.

RP: And any nickname? Massie?

MH: Massie was my nickname, yes.

RP: Massie, can you tell us also when you were born and where?

MH: August 16, 1930, in Milwakie, Oregon, I was born.

RP: And how far out of Portland is Milwakie?

MH: It's about seven miles from Portland. It was pretty rural as we were growing up.

RP: Okay. And it's changed over the years?

MH: Yes it has. It's a bedroom community now.

RP: I wanted to start our interview by talking about some of your family history, focusing on your parents to begin with. So, can you give me your father's first, your father's name?

MH: My father's name was Kanichi Endo and he came from the Sendai Japan area. And my mother's name was Chiyo Nakamura and she came from Fukushima which is also the northern part of Japan.

RP: Do you know much about your father's background in Japan? Did he come from a large family?

MH: Yeah, they were pretty prominent in the Miyoshi Sendai area. His father at one time taught school and they also owned a farm. They were kind of like a samurai family type of thing. And he immigrated here to the U.S. probably in the late 1800s because of the Meiji Era changing etcetera, like a lot people did. And he was the oldest son. And... I don't know if he ever had any intention of going back to Japan but he never did, right. My mother, on the other hand, was the oldest daughter. She had an older brother and (three) younger sisters. And her folks came to America earlier on and had a farm out in the Gladstone area which is not too far from Milwakie. And so she and her brother decided they wanted to come also and leave the grandparents who were raising them at the time. And so she came to America when she was probably about sixteen, seventeen years old and joined her folks in Gladstone. And in the meantime my father also was farming in that area. And he worked all kinds of different places, railroad, lumber, etcetera, Montana, wherever. And so they met and I guess they decided that this would make a good marriage. So they were married. Yeah.

RP: How long was your mother's parents here before your mom came over? What was the...

MH: You know, I'm not really sure about that. But I do know that they left for Japan in 1930, the year that I was born. After I was born they left for Japan.

RP: Oh, they went back?

MH: Uh-huh, and they went back. Since he was also the oldest son. Yeah.

RP: There's quite a bit of age difference between your mother and your father.

MH: Yes, there was quite an age difference. Uh-huh, which happened to a lot of Japanese couples. Despite that fact they got married and had six kids, so... and I'm in the middle.

RP: Did your father ever share any stories with you about his earliest years in the United States? What it was like to come to a new county, a new land, and try to adjust to customs and...

MH: Actually, he didn't talk about that very much to be honest. You know, I think my mother talked more about it than he did.

RP: Can you give us, sort of a physical and person, personality kind of profile of your father? What type of guy was he?

MH: My father was quite tall for a Japanese. He was quite intelligent. He, actually he helped us with our homework, like math and stuff like that. He had many good friends. That's what I remember the most about him. He was a good talker.

RP: And your mother, her name was Chiyo Nakamura.

MH: Yes.

RP: And what can you share with us about her?

MH: My mother was quite young when she got married. She probably had influenced my life more than anybody. She was very caring, she was very sharing, she was a hard worker. She didn't let things get to her, she didn't dwell on things. She knew that life still had to go on regardless of what life gave to her. And she lived to be a hundred and two years old, yes.

RP: She just passed away what, last year?

MH: Last year, yes. Just, not quite... she passed away in February and her birthday was in March. So she would have been a hundred and three in March. So I'm gifted with a long life, hopefully. And she was in very good health, too.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.