Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Grace K. Seto Interview
Narrator: Grace K. Seto
Interviewer: Erin Brasfield
Location: West Los Angeles, California
Date: March 16, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-sgrace-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

EB: And what was it like once you came back to California?

GS: Well, we left Seabrook. I think we would have stayed longer, but my mother was not working any of the winters because the plant was closed, and the busy season was in the summer. And she applied for and got unemployment during the winter months, but then... and what had happened with my dad finally, he was able to work winters for several years, but then in the winter of '49, I think it was, he was laid off, and he had to collect unemployment. So then he just, he decided, "I think we better go back to California." And so very, really very suddenly, he decided we would move back here. So we came into West L.A., stayed with my grandparents for a while, and he had hoped eventually to get work. I don't know what kind of work, but since he couldn't find any work, then he decided he's going to go into business for himself, and that's what he did.

EB: And that's when he started the store?

GS: That's when he started the store.

EB: Did your mother help him out with the store?

GS: Oh, yes, my mother had to. It was really a family-run business, my mother and dad full time, and then they expected us kids to help out. So even my youngest sister, she had to help. There were things that little kids could do, and so we all had to help out. There was no way that my dad could hire help, because that's where all the profits would go, to the hired help.

EB: Did your parents ever talk about camp once they left?

GS: Do you mean to sit down and talk about it?

EB: Or if it just came up in conversation, how did that refer to that time?

GS: If it came up, it wasn't... I can't really remember a time when it really came up. I think, if we had questions, they answered it. I cannot, I can't see that they hesitated. They spoke about it freely, but I regret now that I did not ask more questions back then, growing up as an adolescent, and even into my adulthood.


GS: When the subject of camp did come up, they spoke about it freely, but there was never a time when they sat us down and said, "Look, this is what happened," sort of thing. It was only if we had asked. But I don't think I had the foresight at that point in my life to ask more questions, to find out more. It was only much later, many, many years later, that I wondered, oh, how was this, how was that, what happened here, what happened there. By that time, unfortunately, my father had passed away. And my mother did remember certain things, but other things, too, she didn't remember. Because one Christmas I was asking her, "What did we do at Christmastime in camp?" and she couldn't remember what we had done. And yet I vividly remember this tree in the mess hall at Christmastime. But I thought isn't that kind of interesting that Mom, as old as she was, couldn't remember some of those things.

EB: How did camp affect you and your character and sense of goals in life? Did you ever do things... did you never do things because of your camp experience?

GS: Here again I think I was too young to really have an effect on my adult life, or to have any goals. I think I was just really too young.

EB: Okay.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2006 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.