Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Masako Yoshida Interview
Narrator: Masako Yoshida
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Monterey Park, California
Date: August 14, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-ymasako-01-0024

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KL: This is tape three, we're finishing up an interview with Masako Yoshida in August 14, 2014. And I was hoping you would, we've talked up 'til about 1947 or so, you were pregnant with your first child, and I wonder if you would tell us just a little bit about highlights and important parts of your life after the late '40s, maybe starting with your daughter.

MY: Okay, when we came back, there was a shortage of apartments because the soldiers were all coming home. Not only the Japanese soldiers, but all the soldiers. And so we would have been homeless unless my sister-in-law, my husband's older sister, let us share, she had two rooms in back of a store, and there was one bathroom that we shared. And it was just, you know, the store is in front, and everybody's so lucky to have anything, a room or anything, that that's where we lived. And she shared one room with us until we were able to rent another house, because rooms were very hard to get for anybody, not only the Japanese, because all the people were coming back into the city, and all the soldiers wanted to stay in California, too, who went through California because of the weather. But this is what we did and we finally rented a place in Boyle Heights in City Terrace until this area opened up for soldiers, and no down payment. And GI loan was very low, so we were able to buy this home. And this was in... my daughter was four years old, and she is now going to be sixty-one, so we moved here fifty-seven years ago, and I still live here. As long as I can, I'm going to stay here.

But when we first came back it was very, very difficult because my husband could not get a job. He was a bookkeeper, and he was a paymaster overseas. But when we came back, they didn't want "Japs" in California, you know how it was. He would go for a job, and, "No Japs, we don't want, we won't hire you." So he started out at a dollar an hour sweeping the floors at a garment factory. And after that he learned how to be a cutter and stuff like that, and in the end, he was a project manager, production manager for Holly Bra of California, which is no longer in business. But that's how life was, it's very difficult.

KL: When he would go for job interviews or call about a job, would they tell him?

MY: "No Japs." They would just say, "No Japs, we're not interested in hiring Japs." That's how it was for many people. This is right after the war.

KL: How did he deal with that?

MY: You got to. You just do, and without the help of my sister-in-law and her husband, we would have been homeless. Because the Fellowship House was not for married people, it's for single people, dormitories, so we couldn't stay there either. It was rough.

KL: So he just kept going forward.

MY: Well, we had to, and so from there, my husband kept, we all went to work on streetcars, and I had a job, too, later on when my son was two years old. We put him in a nursery at Plymouth Congregational Church, because he worked near there and I went to work on the streetcar, too. And from that, we made enough to live together ourselves. We rented houses in City Terrace, which is right above Boyle Heights right near the Fellowship House. And we just managed to live there, and after we came here, my husband's job went up, so he became production manager. So life was easy after that. Three children went, Ronald, he went to Garfield High School, he got a full scholarship.

KL: Your son?

MY: Uh-huh. And he went to University of California at Santa Barbara where he had the Clark Kerr Fellowship, and he had room and board and everything paid for. At first he didn't want to go to Santa Barbara because they weren't very many Japanese there. I think he was one of the first Japanese there. But at the end, when he passed away, he became a teacher there. And he was very well liked, and I have all the clippings from Santa Barbara, and there were lots of people. And the children had a big, big picnic for him, not a sad thing. And it was a nice funeral. We had a small funeral for just the family and then the kids had a big... they live in Montecito where the houses were before the movie stars started buying around there. So they had a big party, a picnic up there, and all the schoolchildren came that had, that knew him, it was very nice. It was nice.

KL: What did he teach?

MY: Grammar school. It was music at first, he was a music teacher at first until they cut that out. He used to go to all the classes, all the schools to teach, you know, how they taught any instrument. And he was... for all the schools in Santa Barbara and then they cut that music school out, so he became a teacher for regular, I forgot what grade it was, but grammar school teacher. Oh, it was nice.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.