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

<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.

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: So your parents originally settled in the Gladstone area.

MH: Yes.

RP: And your dad got involved in farming.

MH: Yes.

RP: Was he able to purchase land through an older sibling or did he rent his land?

MH: No, they were not allowed to own land at that time so they just rented the land. They started in Gladstone but then they moved to Milwakie. And there's a bottom land in Milwakie right across the railroad track from where we lived that most of the Japanese settled and farmed there. And the big crop was celery. Yes, right. But he didn't raise celery. He raised tomatoes and carrots and other vegetables that he took to the market.

RP: We'll get back to a little bit of that. But I wanted you to introduce your siblings to us.

MH: Okay.

RP: First of all, let's start with the oldest first and maybe you could share with us how much older they are than you, or younger.

MH: Okay. My oldest sibling is my brother Ben. He must be... he must be about six to eight years older than I am. And then the next one is my sister Akiko. And she is, I think she's about four years older than I am. The next one is Kazuko, and she is two years older than I am. And then I came next. And then I have a sister Tokuko who is two years younger than I am, and a brother Kay, who is a year, or three years younger than I am. So, the girls are in the middle and the boys are on each end. And I think maybe it's because they wanted another son, which is a big Japanese thing.

RP: And so who did you tend to gravitate towards as far as your brothers and sisters?

MH: Well, since I was stuck in the middle, so to speak, I always wanted to go with my sisters but I was too young to go with them. And so I think I gravitated more towards my older sisters.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

RP: Massie, what are some of your earliest memories of growing up on, on the farm in Milwakie?

MH: Carefree, really carefree. I think we wandered wherever we wanted to, especially in the summertime. I think it was pretty carefree. As we grew older we helped in the greenhouse. We helped go pick berries, etcetera. Actually left home to go pick berries in Gresham, etcetera. My mother took us and lived on the farm out there in Gresham.

RP: How old were you when you did that?

MH: I was ten. Right, I think I played a lot there. [Laughs] But that was a way to make money, etcetera, and so my mother took us and my oldest sister, my two older sisters went with us.

RP: You spent all summer?

MH: Yes, all summer, at two different places.

RP: Do you remember anything else about that experience?

MH: We picked berries at the Aono's and we lived in a little cabin, I would call a cabin, did our own cooking, etcetera, picked, actually, we worked from sun up to sun down, more or less. And my mother would come back to the cabin and I was supposed to be the rice maker so I always had to have the rice done before she got in because I didn't always work the whole day. There was a spring I remember going to because I loved to play in the water there. After we finished working there, which was basically berries, then we moved to another farm and it, they had beans. So beans came later, pole beans. And so it's my sisters and I and my mother... and this was next to a lake. It was called Blue Lake and so we got to go down there and go swimming. So it was kind of fun. And there were other families who also came and did the same thing. So we were able to meet other people from Portland, especially from the Portland area who came to pick berries or beans.

RP: And did some of these relationships persist over time?

MH: Yes. I still see some of those people, yes.

RP: It's amazing what berry picking can lead to.

MH: Oh yes. It's a story in itself, okay. Especially after the war or, but during or after the war that we did a lot of that as a way of making money.

RP: Tell us, did you have any certain chores or duties on your own farm that you were responsible for?

MH: Yeah, I think I played a lot, being a middle child.

RP: Kind of escaped some of that.

MH: I think... I still had to make the rice, I remember doing that. I had to take care of my younger brother and sisters. That was one of my big jobs. Was seeing that they didn't get into trouble. Or I didn't get them into trouble.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

RP: So what did you like to do for fun around the farm?

MH: Mostly we would just go hiking. There was, across the field there was a place where there was beaver dams and we'd go check out the beavers, no longer there anymore since it's all homes. There was a big old maple tree that we used to swing on. I used to love to just go there on my own and do it. Hiked up into the woods and there's just, just played a lot. We had little picnics, you know, pack our lunch and take 'em out with us, when we didn't have to work, right. Yeah, so it's pretty carefree.

RP: I imagine, you know, running a farm there's really that, not that much time for vacations or getting away.

MH: I can't remember ever going anywhere with our family, except to picnics where the kens would get together, you know, they always congregated together and we'd go out to where we can see, to one of the farms and get to play in the river, there on the Clackamas River. And they have remained all good friends of ours. Yeah, my mother's really backbone after my father passed away.

RP: Would that be a prefectural picnic for Fukushima?

MH: Yes, yes. It was a Fukushima... not so much my father's 'cause I don't think there were that many people from that area.

RP: But quite a few from Fukushima?

MH: Not as many as say Okayama or those places.

RP: On Oshima.

MH: Right. It's pretty small. And so those were fun things to do. Our neighbors down the street, the Watanabes, had a big celery farm. And in fact, in their early days, since the railroad track ran there the train would stop there, the freight trains, and they would pack celeries and they would send it out on the train. And they were the ones who had the big Fourth of July celebration.

RP: Tell us about that.

MH: Oh, those were fun. They had a huge house. They had a beautiful garden in front. And they, Mr. Watanabe and his dad would get Roman Candles and they would shoot 'em off and we'd all sit there and gaze at it. It was so much fun. And they also had a pond right below, and we would always go wading in there. They were the pillar of that Japanese people who lived in Milwakie there. And then right above their home they all got together, from what I understand, and they built a Japanese school. And so that's where we went for Japanese school. They also had Japanese movies. They have all kinds of little social type of thing there so that was a real social thing for us. But my folks didn't let me go Japanese school until I was like in the fourth grade, 'cause I think they had to pay tuition to send us there. And I begged and I begged and begged, "I want to go to Japanese school." So they let me go. And I still have the desk that we were able to retrieve, way after the war, when they decided to vacate the building for something else. It was made into a church, a Buddhist church, after the war. And then when that disbanded then we were able to go and, and buy what we wanted to. That's one thing I got. But the chair was pretty ratty looking. So I picked another chair. But it had my name on it. Yeah, I kind of wished I would have just gotten it anyway.

They also are the family who did the mochitsuki, yes. Down in their barn -- and I can remember my mother trudging down there in her boots to wash the rice. And they would have these big buckets full of rice. And I remember coming down... I don't know why I remember the Sundays, but anyway, I would come home from Sunday school and we'd all run down there. We'd get so excited and, and we'd go in there and it would smell so good. They would have a big oil can, you know, those big oil cans that they made into a place where they could build a fire, and on top of that they put a washtub, and on top of that they'd put a board, and then they would stack the rice in three different containers. And that's how they steamed the rice. And then the big pounder, it was a big wood that they carved out. And then they had mallets. And I can just still see and smell, smell it. The guys... first it was the fathers who would do the pounding and pretty soon the boys got old enough that they could do it. Everybody had a job. And Mrs. Yoshitomi's the one who had to turn the mochi which was a dangerous job, right. My mother always washed the rice and she was the cutter. She would always cut the rice. And Mrs. Watanabe, the people who owned the place, she's the one who was the head cook. Oh gosh, could she ever cook good food for us. And then us kids, we'd run around until they say, "Okay, it's time to do, make the mochi." And so we'd go there and hurriedly do the mochi and then be on our way again, okay. And when it was all over, you know, the ashes were still hot, we'd always get to roast wieners. It's... there was, it was a fun time for me and, and the fathers especially, really, really took us in. I can still see Mr. Yoshizawa carving something and giving it to me. He was one of my favorite, favorite persons at that time. It was a big family community thing.

RP: There were about seven families farming along that area?

MH: On that, on the mochi there were just all the Yoshitomis and the Watanabes. Which is big, you know, 'cause they were related. And then the Yoshizawas who lived just next to the Watanabes. And we lived on the other side of the Watanabes. And so the other ones, they were related too, the Sasakis and the Fujitas and the Kurubayashis lived further east of us and they, they did their own.

RP: That's a great description of mochitsuki.

MH: Right. And now that area is all industrial.

RP: But, but it always lives on in your memory of that.

MH: Oh, yes.

RP: I just wanted to have you share a few more other special holidays or observances, Girls and Boys Day?

MH: Yes. My mother and father made sure that we always put up our dolls of, especially for Girls Day. And, you know, had the emperor and the empress and all the way down and my doll happened to be a Fuji doll, the one that carries the wisteria blossom, right. And I do remember when the war came -- oh, it's so sad when I think about it -- they decided to destroy a lot of the things that we had, old pictures from Japan, the dolls, the Japanese books, they just made a big bonfire and burned them up. And to this day I just... it saddened me that they had to do it. But, you know, they were afraid that if the FBI came and they found those things then they might take my dad away. So that's one of the reasons that they did it. I mean, there were all kinds of rumors going on. And unfortunately my uncle was taken and he lived with the Watanabes. He worked for them.

RP: Oh, he did.

MH: Yes. And they did take him away. So my mother was just in absolute shock. They didn't know where they took him. I think they took them into a jail in Portland and then he ended up in Missoula, Montana, right. And in the meantime his wife passed away and I don't know how they got that information and so they were able to relay that message to that uncle through the Red Cross. And she was in Japan.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: What schools did you attend in Milwakie?

MH: I attended Milwakie grammar school. And it's still there. And I have so many fond memories of Milwakie grammar school.

RP: Can you share a few of them with us?

MH: I think the most, one that I remember the most is when my father passed away the two first grade teachers, Miss Barnett and Miss Hart, came to me and said to me they wanted to visit my mom. And so I said, "Well, I'll arrange it." And so I arranged a day for them to come. My older brothers and sisters were at school and so I had to be interpreter for my mother and, and these two teachers walked a mile. We lived a mile from school. And they came and they talked to my mother and I kind of hid behind her while I tried to tell my mother what they were trying to say to her. And I still remember those two wonderful teachers.

The other teacher that I remember is my sixth grade teacher who was the principal also. And on Sunday, December the 7th, when the war began, you know, it's kind of like what is it going to be like when we went to school? He had an assembly. He called an assembly since he was the principal and also my sixth grade teacher. And he explained to the students that there were Japanese children attending the grammar school and that they were not responsible for the war. And, I, to this day I could still see him standing there telling that to the students. And he also called me into the office on my last day of school before we were sent away and he says, "I have your report card ready for you and you passed with flying colors." And then he just grabbed me and gave me a hug and, and Japanese people are not big huggers but I knew instinctively that he was... really cared about, about me and the other Japanese students that were at our school. So those are the really good experiences.

I have to tell you about one more. In the second grade I was in the split second/third grade and I think I was the only girl in the second grade part of it. But when we went out to recess everybody had a doll, all the girls had a doll and they would play with it, play with them. And Miss Kao, one, that Christmas, she took a doll to my dad who was working at Pier Market downtown and gave it to her and said, "This is for your daughter, Masako. I want her to have it as a Christmas present." And I wish I had that doll but I can remember it had a green organdy dress, eyes that closed and shut, and had kind of like a sawdust body and had shoes. And it, I played with it forever. But I didn't take it with me when we went to camp. So I don't, I don't even remember what happened to it. But she was another teacher that I remember with so much fondness. Those are happy stories.

And really, in Milwakie, I don't think we had a lot of prejudice. I can remember maybe a couple of kids calling us J-A-P but other than that I think that they were very tolerant toward us. And I think it all had to do with the Watanabe family. They planted cherry trees along McLoughlin Boulevard, which was a big thoroughway to Portland. I'm not sure if any of them are standing yet. And they were a big presence in the town of Milwakie. Yeah, that was all good, yeah. I'm skipping around a lot, but...

RP: Did you have any religious affiliations growing up at all?

MH: My folks, or my mother and father... my father especially, wanted us to attend the church up in the, up, up the hill, we used to call it. But it was a non-denominational Christian church and so I spent my year, early years, attending Sunday school there all the way through my sixth grade. And my favorite teacher there was a Yoshizawa, and she played the organ. She was very talented and she was also my Sunday school teacher as a first, second, third, fourth grade and I remember all the stars we got etcetera because remember a verse. Don't ask me now, okay. And then as a sixth grader I had another Sunday school teacher, a man, who I was very fond of too.

RP: Were your parents also rooted in the Christian faith?

MH: Not at the time. Although, for whatever reason, my mother... and I think it's because so many of her friends from Fukushima-ken belonged to the Japanese Methodist Church in Portland and so she decided that that's where would have this service for my father although he was not a Christian, quote. And the funeral director made sure that the, that's where it would be held and he's the one who drove us. But in the meantime, before we could even have it there, she had to get permission to go because of the five-mile limit in driving.

RP: Right.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

RP: Can you share what you recall about December 7, 1941? How, how did you find out about the bombing of Pearl Harbor? Maybe if you, if you had a personal reaction or could you as a young child kind of sense what your, what your parents...

MH: Yes, since it was Sunday and we were at Sunday school, I didn't hear about it until I got home and my father was listening to the radio and he just said, "Well, they bombed Pearl Harbor." He said, "I don't know where it is." And he just said, well, he didn't think that Japan could win the war. That's all I remember about it. He just said, "They don't have a chance to win the war." And he stayed by the radio for a long time. And so that was Sunday afternoon when I found out. And all I could think of was, well, how would my friends treat me at school?

RP: And how did they treat you at school?

MH: No differently, as I remember. You know, and I think the principal had a lot to do with that.

RP: It's just natural to have a, sort of a concern about that as a young child. And obviously after something like that happens and we're at war with the, war with Japan, it's suddenly you feel the eyes of the world upon you.

MH: That's true, yeah.

RP: And you begin to sense you're different in that regard. Is that the first time you really felt that?

MH: Probably. I think that's the first time maybe I heard the word J-A-P, somebody called me that. Other than that, I just, I guess, you know, there wasn't that much racial prejudice in that community. So, it's hard to explain. Now that I'm grown I know that there probably was. I think that when we had to leave then it really struck me as hey, I'm not the same as my white counterpart friends.

RP: Right. Why is this happening to me and not them?

MH: Right.

RP: And then, another terrible blow to you was the passing of your father.

MH: Yes.

RP: That was March 26, 1942, so just what, three, three months afterwards. And if you don't mind me asking, what... did he die of an illness?

MH: He died of a cerebral hemorrhage. He came in from working out in the greenhouse and he lay down and he said he didn't feel very good. And he was on... they used to have those kind of couches, not sofas, but couches. He just laid down there and he never did get up. My mother went to the neighbors because we did not have a telephone and asked them to call the doctor and of course Dr. Tanaka who would have been our family doctor at the time was already incarcerated. And so we called another Japanese doctor and he was reluctant to come but he did come, and he told my mother by then he was unconscious. And so he probably lasted about a few days and, and she stayed up with him most of the time and Mrs. Watanabe, our neighbor, came and helped her. And so when he passed away then we called, or she had somebody call the funeral director and they came and picked him up, Peaks. And they still have the funeral parlor there. Yeah, they were very, very kind to us at the time.

RP: And that was, that was during the time of that five-mile restriction.

MH: Yes. It was during that five-mile time. I think I did leave out the part that, you know, when we burned all the stuff they also told the family that they couldn't have short, shortwave radio, cameras, etcetera. And I do remember my brother and my father taking him to Oregon City which was the county head there. And they were returned to us.

RP: Once you got home.

MH: Yeah, right, after the war you could go back and they picked 'em up, or my brother did.

RP: You talked about Dr. Tanaka being picked up and of course your mother's brother. Did the FBI visit your home?

MH: Pardon?

RP: Did the FBI visit your home at all?

MH: Yes they did.

RP: And were you at home when they did?

MH: No, I was not at home at the time.

RP: And do, do you know, did they question your father or did they search the house or do you have any other...

MH: I have no idea what, what happened when they, when they came.

RP: Had your father been involved in the community locally at all?

MH: No, he really wasn't.

RP: Pretty low key?

MH: Right. So I don't think he was a suspect per se. Right. We're not sure why they picked up my uncle. We just surmised, since he had been back and forth to Japan quite a bit and probably came back around one of the last ships from Japan. And left Japan because he didn't want to be involved in the China war. You know, he probably would have been drafted if he stayed.

RP: Did you have any correspondence from your uncle at all while he was in camp?

MH: Yes. My sister... all of the correspondence had to be done in English. And my mother, as long as she has lived there, you know, she couldn't really write that well. So had my sister write all the letters. And my sister would read the letter to her and try to interpret what my uncle was saying. When she read the letter to us she said, "Oh, there's something that's blacked out." Or they even cut portions of the letters. They were all censored, both ways. So, I don't, I don't know what my sister wrote for my mother. Because that was my older sister's job to do that.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

RP: So, your, your mom's brother is in Missoula and she'd just lost her husband and she's got six of you to support.

MH: Yes. Right.

RP: And then on top of all that here comes the orders to leave home.

MH: My mother is the same zodiac as I am. She's a horse. So I know that, I could always remember her age, 'cause she's twenty-four years older than I am, okay. So, since I was eleven, twelve, going on twelve, I knew that when this happened she was thirty-six at the time that it happened. And you know, when I reached the age of thirty-six, I think that really stuck in my mind. 'Cause when I reached the age of thirty-six and I had four kids by then, it scared me half to death. What would I have done? I don't know. I really, really don't know. But my mother had a family friend take her... somebody owed her money and she went to try and get the money so we'd have enough money to buy suitcases etcetera, etcetera. And was not successful and somehow she was able to get enough money to buy us each a suitcase that we were allowed to take with us. And I, she got us ready.

RP: Did you have to store any items at all anywhere? Do you recall storing personal possessions?

MH: You know, I honestly cannot tell you what I packed in that suitcase. I think it was my clothing. And I think that's, that was it. And I think we had, we didn't have to take bedding but we had to take towels, sheets, and that kind of thing. We... oh, I know. We had to take utensils. And I don't think we had a set of forks, spoons, knives. 'Cause we always ate with chopsticks. And she, and she actually had to go buy forks, spoons, and knives for us to take. I do remember that now. Yeah.

RP: What was the most difficult thing for you to leave behind?

MH: My friends. Really, really, my friends. And most of my friends were, since I was the only, only Japanese in my grade besides two boys who were twins, so most of my friends were Caucasians at the time. Yeah, it was very hard to leave them.

RP: For them as well.

MH: I think so. I think that when I met for a reunion, our twenty-fifth or thirtieth or whatever it was, they all said, you know, they couldn't understand why it happened. My Campfire leader, Blue Bird leader, her daughter told me, "You know, my mom said after we visited you," -- she came to the assembly center to visit -- she said, "She could not understand why you were there. She just could not fathom." And I wish to this day I could have gone to talk to Mrs. Wisdom because she was such a fine lady. And her chocolate cake...

RP: [Laughs] Do you remember your family number?

MH: I don't. I always have to look it up, yeah.

RP: 15581?

MH: Yes. Yes.

RP: And do you recall having to put that...

MH: On all our tags, right.

RP: Tags and luggage.

MH: Everything. On our suitcase, on all our belongings, uh-huh.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

RP: Where did you go to go, where did you leave to go to the Portland Assembly Center?

MH: We left our home and our neighbors, the Hosleys, took us to the Gresham fairgrounds, which was the county fairgrounds there. And they dropped us off there and we waited and waited for the buses to... I, you know, I can remember just sitting on our luggage waiting for the buses to come to take us. And they, and they did and when we got there it was like walking through these kind of fence, fencing. And we could see the barbed wire. And then again we waited and waited to find out where we to go, what apartment we were to have, as they called, an apartment. Yeah. And it was quite a shock to find out what we were going to live in. It was just plank floors and there were I think plywood to enclose our room. There was a canvas that hung as a door. There, there were seven cots in the room. And they were cots not regular, regular beds. They were just cots. And they gave us a ticking and then we had to go and fill it with hay. So that was our mattress. They gave us blankets and they were old army blankets, probably left over from World War I because somebody said they actually had bullet holes in there, yes. So that was our, our blankets. And that's where we lived. Probably just enough for, for seven cots. There were no ceilings except the ceiling of the building itself. And we happened to be in an area where they had windows that were like this, you know, across so they would open the windows during the day. And at night we could hear them come through and clank, shut the windows. We could see them walking on top. I used to watch for 'em because it would be about ten o'clock and that's when we had to be in our rooms.

RP: So you had a curfew.

MH: Uh-huh.

RP: Even in the camp.

MH: In the camp, right, in the assembly center.

RP: So the assembly center originally was a livestock exhibition center.

MH: That's right.

RP: Had you ever visited that as a child on a field trip or?

MH: No.

RP: So that was your first ...

MH: I had no idea where it was, what it was there for or anything. Yeah.

RP: What did, what did the ground smell like?

MH: It was putrid I guess is the only word I can think about. And someone told us we were where they usually had the sheep, you know, where the sheep came in and that's where they had those. So, everything underneath is like manure, whatever, 'cause I don't think they cleaned them out particularly. Fortunately we, there were planks of wood over it so, yeah. So it was, it was quite a place. The arena was still there. We played in the arena a lot. And they had bleachers. They had school for us half a day in very cramped spaces. And our teachers were the older Nisei ladies who wanted to do that.

RP: One of the other conditions that people describe were the, and you mentioned about the smell, but also apparently there were lots of flies.

MH: Oh, the flies.

RP: Drawn to the manure I guess.

MH: Yes. The flies... I don't know if you remember fly stickers. You know, they hung and they would stick onto this thing and they would just be black with flies. And they hung them all over the place. Otherwise you'd just have to swat 'em. Right. The bathroom, shower facilities were pretty primitive. I think it was really hard for my mother especially. You know you have the privacy of your own bath and then she's used to a Japanese bath, an ofuro, but they had showers and so, you know, that was how we kept our self clean. We had to go at certain times too. Because everyone couldn't go there at the same time.

RP: And the whole assembly center was surrounded by barbed wire...

MH: Yes.

RP: ...and sentries. And can you still see that in your own mind and...

MH: I can still see it.

RP: And do you have a feeling attached with that? Did you have a sense of, you know, that your freedom has been restricted or when you see, when you see a soldier with a gun walking along a fence line and you're inside that fence...

MH: You know, I was, I was young. I was eleven, twelve years old. I don't think too much of that kind of thing. You know, all I remember is looking out of the barbed wire fences and seeing cars whizzing by. And that it was different outside than it was inside.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: So did you, were you able to connect with some of your friends from, from your community in the camp? And sort of establish a little bit of a social network?

MH: Yes. Yes. Very much so. I think my best friend was Nana who was a year younger than I was and I mean we, we just had an incredibly good time when I think about it. You know, we were that young. I hate to say that knowing that, you know, being incarcerated like that was really a real injustice but at the same time we spent most of our time just playing. Her brother was a baseball player so we watched a lot of baseball games. And I do remember her telling me that her folks were really worried about that particular brother because he was still away at school at Oregon State. And they let them stay at school until it was out. 'Cause he came into camp much later, probably the middle of June. So they were so relieved when he came, like, came home. Which was the home at that time.

RP: And some of the other outlets you had in the camp, there was movies that were shown too?

MH: There were movies.

RP: Do you remember any of your favorite ones that you saw there?

MH: Barefoot Boy and oh gosh, what was the other one that I really loved?

RP: Sun Valley Serenade?

MH: Sun Valley Serenade. Yeah. Good old Sonja Henning.

RP: Oh really. Now who starred in Barefoot Boy?

MH: Barefoot Boy was about an Indian, right, you know, in the... I don't know why I remember that so well. And there were other movies too but those are the two I remember the most. The other activities, we could go to the rec hall and get ping pong paddles to play ping pong if we wanted to. We could check out puzzles, that kind of things. And, yeah... and the older, you know, the teenagers, kids who were in high school and out of high school, they really had a lot of socializing. They had dances and I remember my friend and I... they had these big palm, potted palms. And we would go and peek behind the potted palms at the, at the people dancing. We thought... oh my gosh, I wish we could do that but we're too young. So there was that. They had a, we got coupons to use in the canteen. And...

RP: What did you buy there?

MH: Mostly postage stamps so I could write to my friends. And I think that was one of my happiest moment is when my friend came to visit me with, with her mother. I told you about that earlier, and they brought me my sixth grade picture and all the kids signed their names to it. And I still have it somewhere. And, but I just felt so bad because I couldn't say, "Come in, come and visit me in my home." Because that was it. But I thought it was so neat they could come and visit. Yeah. So, pretty much camp was, I mean, assembly center was pretty carefree.

RP: How did your mom deal with...

MH: My mother probably it was really a godsend for her. I don't know if she could have supported all six of us. At least in camp we were fed. We had a roof over our head and the biggest thing for her was that, besides her Milwakie friends, she had the Portland friends who were so supportive of her and she could go and socialize with them. And it's at that time that she actually started going to church with her friends from, from the ken and became a very good Christian. That I think was a real thing that she would probably remember about her, about her camp life.

RP: Did any of your older siblings work in the Portland Assembly Center?

MH: You know, I don't know if my brother did or not. I know my mother got a job as a waitress, eight dollars a month. So, she did work. Pretty much we ate as a family, if I remember correctly. But they were at long tables. Food was served family style.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

RP: And what was the food like?

MH: To this day if somebody said the word mutton, I would probably say please shove it away. We had mutton stew. The other one was tongue and I could still see the taste buds on the tongue. Those were the two food that... oh, and the other one was rice pudding. And we're not used to eating rice with milk and raisins. So those were the three foods that I remember being ghastly, absolutely ghastly.

RP: And there was, the mess halls were pretty large in there. I mean they...

MH: Yes. They served about fifteen hundred people and they had two sittings. Yeah, they had two shifts. Right. And I can remember going babysitting for one of our very good friends who had, who had a baby. And when they went to eat because they didn't take the baby with them. Right. And they ate at a different shift than we did.

RP: But during the whole time you were there with your family, you predominately ate together?

MH: Yes. As I recall, we always ate together.

RP: 'Cause that's one of the, one of the stories that you hear continually is that the camps contributed to this sort of social disintegration of the family.

MH: Right. Actually, yes, when we went to Minidoka, then we just ate with our friends. I don't think I ever ate with my mother 'cause she was working being a dishwasher. My brothers and sisters had their own -- and my brother actually did work at Hunt, at Minidoka, and he was a cook's helper. So they both, both my mom and... and yeah, we just ate with our friends. I think it was a real start of the family breakdown. We only spoke English. All the older people spoke Japanese. My Japanese was very, very bad. So I could speak with my mother but I couldn't go and speak to somebody else casually or anything like that. If they asked me a question I could answer, you know, hope they understood, but not to just sit and have a conversation. Yeah. It was difficult for me in Japanese. So, and I think the other thing is that we were trying to get away from speaking Japanese. And we wanted to be more like our Caucasian...

RP: Caucasian friends.

MH: Yeah.

RP: And did that, getting away from speaking Japanese as well as getting away from some of some of the old traditions and the Japanese style of... yeah, that's another story that, that kids especially share about, not necessarily rebelling but just wanting to emphasize everything else more than that.

MH: Right.

RP: So tell us about when you found out about that suddenly there's another move coming up and...

MH: Right. There were people who left before us and, and they had, at the Portland Expo Center, they had a rail stop there so we didn't have to leave the assembly center to get on the train so we were able to see our friends leave. We were probably towards the last to leave camp. And my mother already had heard from people who had already gone to camp. And they told her how desolate it was etcetera, etcetera. And so I was kind of excited 'cause I didn't, never had ridden on a train before, ever. And it was not a bad train. Gosh, it had velvet seats and seats that went back and forth, and the dining, dining train was immaculate. It had white tablecloth and silverware and, and so, but it was tedious. It was a very tedious ride on the train because we couldn't move anywhere but just to go eat. And I remember we had to keep our shutters down, all the way, until we got past probably the Columbia River. And so when we opened our blind we just saw this flat, flat land, scrubby bushes, etcetera. When we got to Pendleton, or before we got to Pendleton, they made us pull our blinds back down again for security reasons. And the guards were these peek, peek you know. And they would all be standing on the platform.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: This is a continuation of an oral history with Massie Hinatsu. This is tape two. And Massie, we were just chatting about some of your most vivid recollections of the Portland Assembly Center. And one thing that we wanted to talk about was the infamous typhoid shots.

MH: Yes. I think we went through maybe around the three different time shots. I think the hardest part was waiting in line. You know, there's three thousand people in that camp. We all had to have a shot. It was a very, very hot summer. The first shot I think the only shot that I've ever had in my life was maybe smallpox because all had to have smallpox shots when we were little. And it hurt. Oh, it was... hurt. My arm got hard and hot. So, you know, we were, the second time we had to get a shot we were thinking oh my gosh do we have to go through this again? Yeah, we had to go through it again. I can remember some people who just fainted because of waiting in line and being so hot. And probably a little bit fearful too because it's not a pleasant thing to have typhoid-tetanus shots.

RP: Where were the, where were the shots given?

MH: I think they were given in the dining area. Right, and we just lined up and, and hoped we'd get through it real quick, as a child anyway.

RP: You mentioned a very common cliche about camp life was waiting in line.

MH: Yes. Waited in line to go eat. We waited in line to take a shower. Sometimes we waited in line to use the bathroom. We waited in line to, at the rec center. We waited in line at the PX. Yeah, there's a lot of waiting in line. I mean, there were three thousand people there. So, we just couldn't do whatever we wanted to do at times, right.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: And we're also, you were describing your trip to Minidoka.

MH: Yes.

RP: And when you got there you were welcomed by a blinding dust storm, is that correct?

MH: We certainly were. Fortunately we were on a bus. And they took us to... I'm just sure that they took us to the block that we were going to live in. And since there were, we were one of the last ones probably there were just three more blocks that were reserved for the Portland people. Our block happened to be a full block when we got there, Block 32. And later on it also became part of... half the block became the elementary school, Stafford Grade School. So people who lived in that half portion -- we were, we didn't. We lived on the other side -- they were moved again. Again, okay, they were moved again to the next block which was Block 30. We were 32, 30, and then there was 31 and 29 above us. It was, it was a blinding dust storm. It was September so it wasn't extremely hot. All I remember is just sitting on our luggage waiting for them to tell us where we, we were going to go. And, it was Block 32, E, Barrack 11, Apartment E, was our, our address.

RP: Your new address.

MH: Yes. And again, there were tarpaper on, on the outside. On the inside they were not finished. You could still see the four by, two-by-fours, etcetera. I think the ceiling was finished. I probably didn't pay much attention. And there was a potbellied stove. And that was our source of heat. In the summertime we didn't need it but we didn't have air conditioning either. So it was pretty miserable during the summer. Wintertime they dropped coal off at each of the blocks and, and we would carry it to our apartment. And can just remember in the wintertime when it was cold, that potbellied stove going full blast and it'd just be fiery-red at night. It kind of scared me. I said I hope it doesn't catch us all on fire.

RP: Fire.

MH: And it was dangerous. There were quite a few people who, you know, got burned because of brushing against or falling against those potbellied stoves. But I loved those potbellied stoves. I just... I don't know why. I did. And since we did not have a father -- [cell phone rings]

Off Camera: Sorry, I'm not answering it.

MH: Since we did not have a father, we didn't have a carpenter in our family. So we just kind of had to do. I don't think we had any chairs. We just sat on our cots. My mother finally got somebody to build a little bit of shelf space for some of the things that we needed it for like toothbrushes and all that kind of stuff that you couldn't keep in your suitcase forever. And there were no partitions in the room itself and we did have iron cots and not canvas cots. And we had regular mattresses and not the kind that we had in the assembly center. And we still had our olive drab green blankets. So that was, that was the extent of the furnishing really in the apartments.

RP: What, what did you see in terms of... were there any improvements that you saw in your barrack room over the time that you were in Minidoka? Other than the, you know, getting somebody to make a little bit of furniture?

MH: I think that some people, you know, were fortunate enough to maybe have enough money to buy curtains. I don't know if we had curtains or not. I really don't remember that. No closets so we just kind of had orange boxes. You remember orange boxes? Right, that we'd put our stuff in. There were other people who made desk, drawers, etcetera. But we never had that. So our furnishings were very bare.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: What happened when it rained in Minidoka?

MH: Oh my, when it rained since, you know, it was pretty muddy. And my poor mother had boots. None of us had boots particularly. So, so she would carry the youngest of us and I guess I was young enough that she put us on her back and carried us to the mess hall so we wouldn't have to walk through the mud. That, that's my mother. And all of our wash... they didn't have washing machines so we had to do it on scrub boards.

RP: Did you help your mom with that?

MH: Yeah, it was, it was, there was a laundry room. You know and they had laundry trays etcetera and... but everything had to be done by hand, wrung out by hand. And so big things like sheets we could hang in the laundry room. But the little things we had actually lines all over our, our apartment in order to dry things out. Right. The first, I don't know how long, probably at least the first three to four months, the latrines were not working so we had outdoor latrines. And fortunately the outdoor latrine wasn't too far from where our, our apartment was. And then once they got the water working then we could go and take showers, etcetera.

RP: And you're coming from, you know, a community, a lush kind of wet area. And now you're in the Idaho desert and, you know, the desert's known for all kinds of interesting creatures and characters. Do you remember some of the sights and sounds of the desert and were they frightening to you or exciting?

MH: I don't think I've ever heard a coyote howl as much as I did over there at night. If we walked into the desert... and the canal was not too far from where we lived and we could walk down there. Then we had to be really careful of ticks, scorpions, rattlesnakes. Those were the three things. When we came back we always made sure that we brushed our self off really good and sometimes we did find a tick attached. But I was able to get it off without burning it out like some people had to. They had a swimming hole later on, not too far from where we were and so we could go down and swim in the swimming hole and I don't think I ever did though. It was just a big old mudhole. People did swim down the canal. Some of the boys were ambitious, courageous enough to swim across the canal and leave camp and walk over to Eden, I think it was the closest town.

RP: That's how you get to Eden. That's a pretty swift flowing canal.

MH: It, it was, right. There was kind of an eddy where, where we were. So it wasn't too bad. But it was, it was entirely different.

RP: How about ice skating? I've seen a few photographs of kids skating, you know, on ponds out there and...

MH: Right. I didn't have any ice skates so I never got to ice skate.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

RP: We talked about these, these young men, the adventurous types who would swim across the canal and go out of camp. Did you ever have an opportunity to get out of camp at all? Either on your own or going into Twin Falls?

MH: My experience was that they needed harvest workers to pick potatoes. And so actually they let school out and I don't remember maybe for a couple weeks we went out to pick potatoes in Jerome. And there were, I don't know, nine, ten of us who went out. My sister, my two older sisters and I and some other people from our same block went out. And all the girls slept in one... I think it was an old motel and all the beds were just side by side. We had cooking facilities that we could cook and the farmer who we worked for came and picked us up in a big truck. So we just rode in the back of a truck to go to work. And seems like we worked from sun, sun up to sun down. Hard work, picking potatoes in a basket and then putting it into a gunny sack. It took two of those baskets to put in and so it took two people at least for the girls. The guys could drag their burlap sack and fill it up. But it's pretty hard for the girls to do that. And, you know, I'm not sure how we were paid, whether we were paid by the lines that we did. I don't think it was by the sacks that we filled. I just can't really remember exactly.

RP: What did you do with all the money you made?

MH: Oh, my girlfriend and I, we went to the store. It was a cute little dress shop. And she and I both bought the same pinafore. It's navy blue with ruffles around where the straps came through and, and she and I and another gal who didn't go out with us but she finally was able to find kind of a pinafore like us, we, we decided we were gonna have a trio. Probably the worst sounding trio you ever heard for a Christmas talent show. And we got to wear those pinafores for that, yeah. So, and then the rest of the money I think went to my mom.

RP: So where did you buy the pinafores?

MH: Where?

RP: Where, what, what town?

MH: Yes, it was within walking distance, yeah. Like it was just, you know, our motel or whatever we stayed in was just right up the street in the town of Jerome.

RP: Oh it was in Jerome, okay.

MH: Yes, uh-huh. So, anyway, it was hard work but we had a good time and you know when kids get together you always find something to do that's fun, besides being hungry and tired. So that was our experience in... they called it seasonal, seasonal work. And I think they just let the whole high school, schools let out except the grade school. And a lot of people did that because they needed to help out the...

RP: A lot of... yeah, quite a few folks went out on furloughs. Did you make any visits at all to Twin Falls?

MH: I don't think... you know I really don't think I did. I know my sister, sisters did but I don't think I was ever, went out.

RP: And what did they do in Twin Falls? What were the circumstances of their visits?

MH: You mean when they went out? I think they, they went out and did shopping most of the time buying clothing and that kind of stuff. Because there wasn't too much in our canteen as far as clothing went. And my mother did get a clothing allowance. She worked for sixteen dollars as a dishwasher and then she did get a clothing allowance. And also as younger children, and I guess I was young enough that we used to get, we used to call it oyatsu in Japanese. But it was getting treats in the afternoon. And to this day I can't stand fig bars or those expensive dried apricots. Those were the two things that I remember the most.

RP: Oh, that's just what we have over here for snacks for you. Dried apricots and fig bars.

MH: Fig bars, oh, okay, you can have 'em, you can have 'em all.

RP: I can have have 'em all?

MH: Yeah. I, but those, they did have that for the younger kids.

RP: And can you spell the term that you used, yohatsu?

MH: Oyatsu.

RP: Oyatsu.

MH: Yeah. O-Y-A-T-S-U.

RP: Okay, thank you.

MH: Uh-huh.

RP: I've never heard that term before. So that's the like, the afternoon snacks.

MH: Right. Yeah, there were some Japanese words that are really, really much more fitting. My kids grew up with the word daiji, instead of saying no to them, something they shouldn't touch or whatever we'd always say daiji, daiji. So we never said the word no to them.

RP: Oh that's interesting.

MH: And they knew daiji meant they couldn't touch it, okay. And the other one was abunai, abunai. So if you climb the tree, watch out. And we couldn't... I'd never say no you couldn't climb it or whatever. We just said abunai and they knew it was dangerous. Yeah, so there are some words that were much more easier to use than English words. Right.

RP: Right.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

MH: We're diverting again.

RP: Oh, that's all right. It's more effective than... can you describe your educational experiences in camp, Massie?

MH: Right, one whole block, Block 22, was part of the junior high school complex. And they were just barracks. The barracks were not changed except putting a wall in between if they had two classrooms or whatever. And the teachers that I had as a seventh grader, she was, her name was Miss Tharp. And I, you know if I remember correctly, she was a missionary in Japan at one time. They were all educated. They all had degrees to teach and the other teacher was Miss Grimm and she was much more strict. Poor Miss Tharp had a hard time with the boys. They just were so horrible.

RP: Wild?

MH: Oh, I mean, you know, they would throw things and etcetera. And she had... she didn't have very good control, okay. But, you know, they really tried to teach us. I don't really know if I learned. I don't know what I was supposed to learn in seventh and eighth grade anyway, okay. We had a pretty good math teacher and it was a he. We had good PE facilities. They always had baseball, all kinds of stuff for us to do. And finally, and finally they did build a big gym which was very nice. And I think they built it maybe when I was in the eighth grade. 'Cause I can still remember otherwise I wouldn't have remembered since I was already gone. I can remember walking to school and my friend, she lived in Block 39. And we lived in Block 32 and I could hear her coming down, "Clump, clump, clump, clump." Because she wore these clog-hoppers we called them. And I knew when she was coming. And we'd join up and, and then we'd go up after another girl, Mary, and we'd all walk together, to school together. So those were my two good school chums and, and whether it was cold, windy, whatever, I just can remember it being so cold that, you know, you get little icicles in your nose and your cheeks would get fire-red because it was so cold in the wintertime. And we all walked. There was transportation. You could, I guess catch a truck or something if you had to.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

RP: And what would you do for celebrating Christmas? Do you remember...

MH: Yes.

RP: ...those holidays in camp?

MH: Yes. Holidays in camp... Christmas especially, we made a lot out of it, okay. We would decorate our mess hall. They would even have contests to see who had the best decorated Christmas mess hall. And I don't know where we got all the stuff but we, we did. And Block 32 happened to have some very talented people. And we always had, those two years that I was there, we had just the nicest decorations. And then we would have a time where we shared gifts and we'd have a Santa Claus. Somebody in our block would act as a Santa Claus and he would give us our gifts. And I found out the gifts were from the churches outside of camp. The churches in the camp gathered them for us and then they brought, brought them... and I don't know who picked them up for each of the blocks. So, all the children received a gift of some kind and usually it was a puzzle or cut out dolls or jacks or pickup sticks, that kind of stuff which were popular during that time. So, and then we'd always have a talent show, okay, along with it. And the Japanese men, they loved to act. They used to call 'em shibais and they would do their act and oh, I'm telling you, they were hilarious. I mean it was like, like they were always having a shibai about somebody who was drunk. I don't know why I remember that.

RP: Just kind of like a little short skit or...

MH: Yes. Little stories, right. So it was, it was really a fun time for all of us. And I, and I think for the older people especially because, you know, they didn't have a lot of chores to do anymore, so they were able to devote their times to doing that kind of things. And the women especially with sewing crafts. Learning English was a big thing. Classes in embroidery, classes in knitting, all those things were offered for them. And I remember one of the ladies in our block taught us how to knit and crochet, yes. And I can see, still see those slippers that we crocheted.

RP: Interesting.

MH: Uh-huh.

RP: Did you do sweaters too?

MH: Yes. I never knitted a sweater but there was a lot of crafts of that kind. And some people still have them. So those are really great artifacts, objects to have. If the moth hadn't eaten them by now. But there were some people in Portland who did have some and we did loan to the legacy center to show. They did a lot of crafts with shells and that kind of thing too and lots of carvings. I mean, I was surprised at the number of carvings that they did.

RP: I've seen pictures of a lot of sagebrush carved and displayed...

MH: Yes.

RP: different patterns and things.

MH: But, actually it was a special type of sagebrush. They called it greasewood. And they would go way out and, and pick them and they just made beautiful things with them. Some of it ornamental but some of them really useful things. So, it's fun to see them again, especially canes, a lot of canes, right.

RP: Did you collect anything while you were in camp? Any shells or rocks?

MH: I didn't. No, uh-uh. I really did not. I don't think I was into that kind of thing. I wish I were, when I think about it.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

RP: What was life like for you growing up without a father in a place like Minidoka?

MH: I missed my dad a lot. I don't know how to explain it. I did have some mentors so to speak. Mr. Yoshizawa especially was very kind to me, knowing that I didn't have a father. And he was a neighbor also in Milwakie. Yeah, it was hard. You know, everybody talked about their dad but I, but I didn't have a dad to talk about. I think that, you know when you accomplish something you want to tell somebody but there's not that right person to tell who, who would be dad or mom. So I had to rely on my mom a lot to be a dad also. Yeah, 'cause my older brother wasn't a father figure at all to me because he had a disability of a kind and so he just was not a father image at all. Yeah.

RP: Is that the same older brother that left to, left camp to work on the Anderson Dam Project?

MH: Yes, yes. Oh, my mother was just oh... you know she was worried for him. But he was old enough to go and, and he went to work up at the dam as soon as he was able to leave. And they needed workers up there so he just went ahead and, and he was not eligible to join the army at all because of his disability. Right.

RP: And which brother was that again?

MH: This was my oldest brother, Ben.

RP: Ben.

MH: Uh-huh.

RP: Okay. Well, speaking of Ben.

MH: Yes.

RP: There's another Ben that showed up at Minidoka who's... a Sergeant Ben...

MH: Uh-huh.

RP: ... Kuroki?

MH: Yes.

RP: And his, his experience was much different. He never went to a camp. He was a very decorated, celebrated gunner in World War, earlier part of World War II and he was sort of trotted around the camps to, as sort of a recruitment poster...

MH: Right.

RP: For other Niseis to encourage them to volunteer and be drafted and you actually remember him...

MH: I did.

RP: ...coming into Minidoka?

MH: I remember hearing him. All I, all I could see was his uniform. You know and he talked very, very well. And he talked about his experience being on the B-24 bombers from, from England. And you know, my recollection is that I think he was there to recruit because they were taking volunteers by then. And I think that they did get quite a few volunteers from Minidoka.

RP: Minidoka was considered to be a very, quote, loyal camp.

MH: Yes.

RP: A lot of patriotism and reflections of that in the honor roll. Do you remember that honor roll in the front of the camp?

MH: Yes, I remember the honor roll. And I remember going to see that first group of guys take off and, and the flag was raised and all. We all said the Pledge of Allegiance and, you know, in retrospect, I think about, I wonder what they were really thinking about, the guys who volunteered, knowing that they're leaving their family here behind barbed wire. That there are soldiers like them who are guarding them. I think it's a real Japanese thing is to show your loyalty. We're going to make it work and that regardless of what other people think of us is we're gonna be loyal to the U.S. right. And that was the only way they could show it.

RP: Reciting those words of the Pledge of Allegiance, did those words seem a little hollow to you?

MH: It does now, okay. But at the time, you know, I think we all learned it by rote and so we just said it automatically. Yeah, since we were in first grade. So, too young to put...

RP: Too young to put, to get into the political implications.

MH: put thoughts into it. But yes, now it does sound very hollow.

RP: Ironically, your uncle ended up in the Kooskia...

MH: Kooskia, right.

RP: ... Kooskia camp, which is in Idaho as well.

MH: Yes.

RP: And he was eventually released from that camp?

MH: Yeah, he was released under the sponsorship of an old friend of ours who had moved to the Ontario area in the mid-30s, 1930s. And they just happened to be also from the same ken as my mother came from, prefecture. So, they were able to sponsor him to leave Kooskia. And as a result he felt that my mother should come out and so my mother decided just to take a seasonal leave with all of us and not a permanent leave. And we went and worked. It was hard work. It was, you know, we all worked in the field, even my younger brothers and sisters and, you know it was bucking potatoes again, weeding which is hard, stemming, cutting onions, that kind of work. And it's all backbreaking work and my mother was out there with us every single day, yeah. And they would come and pick us up because none of us had a car. So Mr. Saito would come and pick us up and we'd go to the farm and they had two different farms out there. Right, so, but, but they were a godsend for us and for my mom and, and she hadn't seen Mrs. Saito in what, twelve years since she left in 1936, around there. So it was a good reunion and Mrs. Saito happened to be one of those Japanese women who bowed and bowed and bowed almost down to her knees, down to her legs. Just a very, very humble person. Mr. Saito was different. He was blunt, a go-getter. And they had three sons and one of 'em was already in the service before the war. And there were two other sons. One son stayed on the farm and then Paul, the youngest, left later to serve in the service. So they, they just remained good old friends that we would see up to this date.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

RP: Then your mother actually returned to Minidoka with two of your sisters?

MH: Yes.

RP: But you stayed out.

MH: She left with my younger brother and sister and my older sister who had already was thinking about leaving camp and took a permanent leave to New York City. And my sister Kazzie, who's just a couple years older than I was, she found work as a housegirl and lived with the Wilcox just a couple blocks from where we had a house that my uncle lived in and I stayed with my uncle for that time until we went back to Milwakie. But it was, it was a hard time for me because... I don't know how to put it, he and I did not get along too well, probably because I was so stubborn. So I spent a lot of time with friends that I made. I did find housework on the weekends so I could at least have a little bit of spending money. My sister and I walked to school every day because she just lived a block away and so she would sometimes invite me to dinner, etcetera and, and he, my uncle, made his own dinner and I made my own dinner. And I can still remember the man that came to see him. I don't know what they called him. I just called him a probation officer because he was still on probation from the Justice Center. And that went on the whole time that I was there.

RP: Continuous visits?

MH: Uh-huh. And then he, we went back to camp during the holidays and he drove a pickup and took my sister and I back to see my mom. And we visited and then we came back again. But I just remember, I could still see that pickup truck going like this and ending up in the ditch. My poor uncle. But anyway, we survived and came and I stayed with my uncle until May. And actually, you know, Ontario school was really very good for me. Yes, it was a good school. And it, there was a lot of prejudice in Ontario. You know, it was hard to walk down the street without being vilified so to speak. The boys probably had a tougher time than the girls did. And fortunately I had several good friends who, who were very good to me and sometimes I would spend weekends with them, etcetera. In May my mother decided that it was time to leave camp and so I went back to camp. I took a train back if I remember correctly and left for Milwakie with her from Shoshone, or wherever the train left.

RP: And can you share with us your feelings on your return to your home?

MH: You know, the train ride was fascinating to me because I'm looking at it entirely differently than when we came back and I thought, "Oh gee, it's really not that bad. Look at those blue looking hazy hilltops, etcetera." But I think when we got to the Columbia River I... and got to around Hood River it was just like going through a fairytale land because it was green. It was misty. I just couldn't believe how much we actually missed it as young as we were. At least for me, how much I missed that green, misty, rain. So it was fascinating. My mother found work with the Koidas who had a greenhouse business. And they still do... very, very prominent here in Milwakie. And we lived in a little board house there for a couple years. And my uncle came back just during the wintertime, you know, because they didn't have any seasonal work in Ontario. When he finally persuaded my mother that they should buy the old place back that we lived in in Milwakie. And so I think it cost like four thousand to buy it back, piece of property, if I remember correctly. And then they were able to raise enough money to buy that land back again. And the house was still the house that we lived in before the war. And, but she couldn't buy it because of the alien land law. And so my, so they bought it in my brother's name 'cause he was old enough by then. Yeah.

RP: And you, you completed high school in Milwakie?

MH: Yes.

RP: And what was your first job upon graduating?

MH: From Milwakie, or from college?

RP: From Milwakie.

MH: I worked in a grocery store. I don't know if I worked that long but I did, I worked in a grocery store right across from Reed College that was owned by a Japanese grocery person that had a grocery store before the war. And I just took the bus there and worked there after school and on weekends. And I loved it, I really did. So that was... and also, right after, when we first came back, my mother was able to find work for my sister and I, my youngest sister. 'Cause my older sister, Kazzie, didn't come back until later and Aki had already gone to New York. She, Toku and I, she found work for us picking berries for the Katos and Mr. Urata who was the father. And he... and we room and boarded in their house and picked berries from sun up to sun down. And they could not take their berries to a cannery in Gresham because this was out in Gresham and there was still a lot of prejudice in Gresham. And they were not able to take their berries to the cannery so they ran a cannery of their own so after work and eating, then we'd work in the cannery sorting the berries. And so, you know, it's a good thing we were young. I don't know if I could do that anymore, really. So, so they were really a godsend for us. There are too many people in our lives who, who really, really came to our, our aid, rescue.

RP: Did, you had, in talking with several other folks, it sounds like Hood River and Gresham were completely the antithesis of Milwakie and some of the other communities that were very supportive.

MH: Yes, very, very different.

RP: Maybe it was a larger concentration of Japanese in those areas or, but that's...

MH: It was different, uh-huh.

RP: A little different.

MH: Yeah.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

RP: I wanted to mention that your mother who lived to the ripe old age of one hundred and three...

MH: Yeah.

RP: Was able to finally become an American citizen.

MH: Yes.

RP: When the law was changed.

MH: When the law was changed, I guess it was called the McCarthy whatever.

RP: Walter McCarren?

MH: Walter McCarren.

RP: Immigration act. What was that like? Did you, did you help her out with her...

MH: You know, I was going to school at the time in college. 'Cause that was nineteen-fifty whatever, in the '50s. And she was too young to take the test, the naturalization test, in Japanese. She had to take it in English. And so she had a mentor and he came and, and you know, taught her what she needed to know, that she could pass the test in English. And she did. Boy did we ever rejoice, I'm telling you.

RP: Do you remember that? That was June 13, 1957.

MH: Right. Yeah. And I didn't get to go to it because I was working, but you know she, she was one happy woman to have passed her test in English. And I don't know if I ever told this or wrote about this, but somehow the teachers in Milwakie, when they started, the Japanese community started sending kids to school, they really felt that the mothers needed to learn English. And so one of the teachers decided to start an English class for the mothers and she met at the old Japanese school that we had. And taught the ladies in Milwakie and it's, for some reason it was just the ladies and, the mothers and not the guys. 'Cause I think the men all could speak English 'cause they had to go out in the public to do business. And this woman came and she taught my mother how to read the primer up to second grade reader. Isn't that amazing? I mean, I think of all the ESL students and if someone could have done that for their mothers... but it was all, it was all volunteer. Yeah, and I just think wow.

RP: It's pretty exceptional. I never heard that before.

MH: That's right. So, this was in little Milwakie, yeah. I just had to tell you that story.

RP: Thank you.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

RP: Let's see, a few more questions then we'll finish up here. So, just maybe give us a brief synopsis of the rest of your life. What career if any did you get into? Marriage? Your children and if you've shared your stories with your children what was their reaction to hearing about your camp experience and how has it shaped your life as well?

MH: I graduated from Milwakie High School in 1948. I had a wonderful, again, a wonderful physical education teacher. She inspired me to become a P.E. teacher. So, I ended up at Oregon State. I had a small scholarship that the state usually gave. I lived in a co-op house so it would not be expensive. We did a lot of the work in the co-op houses. Enrolled at Oregon State, spent four years there. Graduated in 1952. There were two other young Japanese gals who are still very good friends of mine who were a year ahead of me. And they had a very difficult time finding a job. They were also in P.E. education. One of the gals ended up working for, went to work for the YWCA in Fresno. The other gal said to me, "Well, I don't have a job yet." This was during the summer. She says, "I'll stick it out until September. If I don't get a job I'll join the WACS." But she got a job just before school began in a little small town called Glendale, Oregon, way down in southern Oregon. So they said, "Well Massie, you be sure and get that placement secretary working for you." And I says, "Well, how would I do that when she couldn't, you couldn't get her to work for you guys?" And they said well they did talk to Dr. Seen who was our, our dean of gals for physical education, and so they understood what was going on.

And so when I applied for my first job, you know, I had to write all the resumes etcetera, she says, "Well, I think that you should go to this school or that school." And I says, "Well I have a friend who is teaching in Jervis and she said there's an opening at that school." And I said, "I would very much like for you to send my resume there." So I went to go have a personal interview with the principal and before I left I made sure. I went to the placement secretary and said, "Is all my resume in etcetera?" And she says, "Well, no, but you know that job is taken?" I says, "Oh?" Well, anyway, I rode the bus to Jervis. My friend picked me up and I, she says, "Well, what's wrong?" 'Cause I must have looked really pretty sad. And I says, "Well, Pat, you know, the placement secretary told me the job is taken. So I don't know any reason why I'm here except to visit with you." And she says, "I haven't heard that." And so she drove to the principal's office and told him that. And so the next morning is when I had my interview with him. And I went in there and I said, "Well, I heard the job was taken." And he says, "No. That's not true." He got on the phone, called the placement secretary, blasted her out. I'm telling you. I mean the language he used. Talking to her he says, "I make the decision who's gonna teach in my school, not you."

And so, you know, he did give me the job. And I loved it there. It's a small... Jervis High School had about a hundred and... I don't think it even had a hundred students. But I lived with my friend for one year. And then I lived with another family the following year because I needed financial help. And so I lasted there two years and then the librarian at our school said, "There's an opening in Eugene at Willamette High. Why don't you apply for it?" Because by then I just felt like I had to move on. And so I called my placement secretary and asked her to please send my resume there and she says, "Well, I don't think you have a chance." And I says, "Well, I don't care. Just send it." And so I had another friend who drove me down to Eugene and he didn't expect me, okay. So I caught him at home and, but he did interview me. And said, "Well, I think you'll, you'll get the job." Okay. And It's only because of friends, you know. If the librarian wasn't a friend of the principal there or the brother-in-law etcetera, those words wouldn't have gotten to him at all. So I did get a job in Eugene and lived with another friend in Springfield.

And in the meantime I got engaged. And so I'm looking for a job closer to Portland because boyfriend was working in Portland. So then I had already applied at several schools out in Hood River and they gave me the job. But then I thought gosh, that's too far. You know I don't know if I'm really gonna get married or not. And so then when he said to me, "Well, are you gonna marry me or not? You can't be teaching way over there." And I says, "Oh, I guess, I guess, I guess I can." Okay. So I applied at the Portland school system. You know, you always have this pipeline of what's available job wise. I knew there were at least four openings in the Portland school system for P.E. job. And when I went to go for the personal interview he said, "Well, there are no openings." I said, "Okay." So then I left, and called my placement secretary and asked her to send my resume to some of the schools closer to Portland. And about three days later I get this phone call and he says, "You have the job. We'll be sending you your contract." I had no idea why or what, what happened. When I met the principal he, all he said to me was, "So you are the young lady that I'm supposed to take a chance on." 'Cause I'm Japanese. Okay. Years later, I found out that this principal was also the principal at Lincoln High School when the war began. And there was a young Japanese fellow, Kaz Kawata, who was supposed to get a scholarship because he had the highest GPA and the PTA decided he's Japanese, we're not gonna give it to him. And the principal said, "It doesn't matter who he is. If he has the highest GPA he gets it." So I think that there is that connection. That he did stand up for a Japanese person. So...

RP: Then you came along.

MH: Right. And I came along and, and I'm sure that, you know, he was willing to do that.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

RP: This was in the '50s and there's still all these restrictions, barriers, and...

MH: Right.

RP: Did you ever find that in looking for housing in this, in the Portland area?

MH: Oh, yeah. We were denied housing when we first got married. I'm... we think because we were Japanese. 'Cause the apartment was empty. And we finally had to go through a leasing place to find a place. Just calling somebody because it's advertised didn't work for us at all. The other interesting thing is that... I'll have to go back a little bit. Okay. This Kaz Kawata was also at Oregon State at the same time that I was. And the gal that he married lived in my house. She was a senior at the time and I was a freshman and she was a sweetheart. She was a real mentor for us. And she also was a fine Christian. They both worked for the Wesley Foundation at, at First United Methodist in Corvallis. And she told me that they were gonna get married. And I says, "Oh, well, we'll have a shower for you." And, 'cause she was going to be teaching in Oregon City. And she's Caucasian, okay. And so we did have a shower for her. Some of the girls who were living in Portland and we all got together and then she said to me, "You know, Kaz's folks aren't planning to come because they..." 'Cause she's Caucasian. And I was telling this to Mr. Urata who was the father of the berry picking place. Okay, 'cause we're still picking berries in the summertime. And he says, "Oh, that's not right." And he went to talk to them. And said, "Why aren't you going? As far as I know she's a really fine girl." 'Cause I told him that she just really was. And so they did attend under his whatever. But she had to get married in Vancouver. They had to get married in Vancouver because Oregon would not allow mixed marriages. They would not perform mixed marriages.

RP: And...

MH: And this was in nineteen-fifty... I graduated... in 1949.

RP: '49.

MH: Yes.

RP: And when that law change, do you know?

MH: Oh, boy, I would really have to go look it up. But it did change.

RP: But they had to go to Vancouver.

MH: Uh-huh. They had to go to Vancouver to get married.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

RP: Just a few kind of wrap up questions. I was very interested to find out how your story has resonated with your children and even any grandkids. Are they interested? Disinterested? Curious? How does this story get passed down to your, the next generation?

MH: You know, I think, I don't think my husband and I talk much about the camp experience really, really not. And it's only when the kids reach high school and they want to write a, write a theme paper. And that's when they start asking questions. The same with my granddaughter. Or she would tell somebody else and they want to write a story and they would call. For my, for my kids, especially my three daughters, I really brought them up to be very independent. So, you know, they think that, why should there be such injustice? And I said there was and you got to remember that history can repeat itself and so you always have to be aware of what's going on.

RP: Right. And for you personally, have you kind of come out of a shell in terms of telling your story? You're here today telling it and just a month ago you were giving a speech in front of the Oregon Department of Justice. Could you have seen yourself doing that ten or fifteen years ago?

MH: Not, not fifty years ago, no. Not at all.

RP: So what has motivated you to come out?

MH: I think what motivated me is because especially with this group because they were thinking from the legal viewpoint rather than a personal story but they want to hear the personal story also. And hear the legal part of it, and how that legal part of it really affected lives. And the only way that it's not going to happen is that they know what happened previously. So to me that was really important. And since I'd been working at the Legacy Center I just feel like if we don't preserve some of the history nobody else will. And the stories will never be told. And I think, you know, those stories have to be told. I don't know how else to explain it.

RP: I think you just did. And when did you begin working at the Legacy Center?

MH: Actually, when they first started talking about it they had a committee that was formed. And they met at our church. We, you know, provided the space for them to meet. And then when it came down to finding a space, the Naito brothers were kind enough to find a space for us and so that was in 1998, '97 somewhere in there. And they decided that, you know, we'd better start collecting stuff too. And so we just kind of fell into it. And it was truly the blind leading the blind. None of our executive directors or whatever had any professional training in that kind of field. And so I did find a woman down in Ashland who taught us some of the basics, at least for objects. Not the archival, and photographs. So, anyway, for me it's been very rewarding to have worked for the Legacy Center.

Off Camera: There's less than one minute.

RP: Right. Okay, well, Massie, on behalf of Mark and myself and the National Park Service we really deeply appreciate your stories and your time in telling them. It's been really a very compelling two hours. Thank you so much.

MH: Thank you for having me.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.