Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Margie Y. Wong
Narrator: Margie Y. Wong
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Glendale, California
Date: January 21, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-wmargie-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

RP: Let's get back to Manzanar and talk a little bit about your school experiences at Manzanar, when you went to school. You started in the first grade.

MW: Yes.

RP: And who was your teacher initially?

MW: Miss Beakman, was a wonderful, just a loving woman. She was like a teddy bear. I remember her. And she was kind and good. But I don't remember learning... I'm sure we saw books and things, but it was in the second grade with Miss Atwood that I remember somehow the books and starting to know how to read, etcetera. It was Miss Atwood.

RP: And how was your, how was your English by the time you got to Manzanar? Were you, did you speak English by that time or you were...

MW: Yes, because my sisters, we were bilingual. 'Cause my parents were still living at the time. So we sort of conversed in like... well, they came from the country and they don't speak the fancy, this fancy stuff. And so yes, I spoke at that time 'cause I had to converse with them and yet in the outside world I spoke English.

RP: What do you, what do you remember most about going to school at Manzanar?

MW: Going, going to school?

RP: Yeah, what was school like for you at Manzanar?

MW: I really enjoyed it. And I guess, well, nobody ever... I mean, I wasn't ostracized or anything like that. I was just a student and it was nice. And I met people like Nancy but I didn't, I didn't like Nancy, my best girlfriend today, because she was so pretty and all the boys liked her. Yeah, but I'm happy for most of the people that were in camp in that grade because what I know of them they all did well. They all did, they all did well. So I'm happy and I'm sure the fundamentals of learning there were very important to them also like it was for me.

RP: And was education a pretty large value for your parents? For their, for you and the rest of the children, did they emphasize education?

MW: Not really. To my brother possibly because he's a boy. But I don't ever remember saying oh, he'd better go to college or anything. 'Cause both of my parents were certainly not educated. My mom didn't have any education and my father just had, I don't know, maybe third grade. I have no idea. But, like I say, those, it was, the teacher were wonderful. And of course the teachers, the non-Japanese, they had to have that special feeling to go into camp to volunteer to be able to teach the so-called "enemies." So they, I thought they were special.

RP: So your second grade teacher was Mrs. Atwood?

MW: Yes. Miss Atwood. And my third grade was Miss Ishida.

RP: Mrs. Atwood was sort of a strict...

MW: Strict, right. She was strict but there was nobody that acted out. I mean, believe me, they were real well-mannered compared to the kids of this generation. We didn't dare talk back. Nobody questioned anything. We just sat there and listened.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.