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-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: So, what, what were you like as a kid before you came to camp? And how did, did camp change your personality in any way?

MW: As far as the camp, it was great because we were all Japanese, we all had the same face. And there wasn't somebody that says... or any bullying so to speak because of your ethnicity. So we... it was pretty good I must say. But it was afterwards... yeah, that, when they said we could leave, well, my parents had no relatives whatsoever. So they didn't know where to go and the, one of the friends in camp said, "Oh, my friend owns this apartment, apartments in Salt Lake City." So my dad was tickled pink to move to Salt Lake City. I didn't even know what Salt Lake City was. So we went there and we were one of the few Asians. I mean, there were other Asians, but we were one of the few. And anyway, I just, I had so much discrimination there that I, it's not, it's not the fault of Utah or those Mormons are, I know, they're wonderful people. They're very charitable and they're really good. But what I experienced is, I mean, it was so awful for me at that age and that's unfortunately the formative years. See, my... when we, when I got there I was eight, nine years old. And that is when, I learned in psychology, that that forms your personality and your views. And so nobody would play with me. In school I was the only Japanese in my class. There was another Japanese boy one year older or something. So, like they had birthday parties or whenever we'd have functions I was never invited, and I felt very lonely. Like when there was a pharmacy on the corner, and it sold ice cream. So when my sisters and I would go and wait in line, they'd say, they'd serve everybody first and then so we went up there. And it was obvious there was still ice cream there. And she says, "There's no more ice cream." And she'd slam the, it was like a sliding thing. And so, anyway, we met with a lot of prejudice and when we'd go downtown as soon as we're looking in the windows they'd put a "No Japs" sign and they'd slam the door and it was, it was just a terrible experience. But that was what I experienced, because my other Japanese girlfriend said, "Oh, those Mormons were really good to my family and my dad. So it, it's just, and unfortunately it the hysteria, probably, of the war and... they look at us, they look at us right now, like the Muslims...

RP: As the enemy.

MW: Pardon?

RP: As the enemy.

MW: Yeah.

RP: And how, how did these, how did those experiences make you feel about your, your ethnicity, your Japaneseness? Did...

MW: Yeah, well...

RP: You had, you had a thought or a fantasy that you expressed.

MW: Right. Yeah, I did because we all, we all want to be accepted. Especially when you're young. And so I'd always go home by myself and I'd cry and I'd just wish that I was a blonde girl, a white girl, you know, with blue eyes. But then somehow, come home and see my parents and I said, "Oh, but magically I'd like to remain Japanese again." Because I loved my parents and they were good people. But I wanted to fit into that world also. But I somehow never, never fit it in. So, it, it was, it was just a terrible time for me and when we finally came back to good old East L.A. I go, "Oh, hallelujah." I was happy. Yeah.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.