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-01-0005

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KL: I do want to hear a little bit about Seattle, and I guess a good first question is what are some of your very earliest memories?

MY: The school I went to?

KL: Of anything.

MY: Bailey Gatzert grammar school, B-A-I-L-E-Y, Gatzert is G-A-T-Z-E-R-T, I think.

KL: What was it like?

MY: It was all Japanese and a few Chinese. That was our world, you know. We lived in the Japanese area, I guess it was a ghetto, too. And we walked wherever we went, and we used to go swimming, and I think it was about two cents for streetcar fare, and we would go swimming at the Lake Washington ever summer. Everything was free in those days, you know. And I just went to school, and in the summer we went swimming, and there was a playground that we would walk to and play, and life was very easy.

KL: What was the name of your neighborhood in Seattle?

MY: What was the name of it? I don't know. I was just, it was on Twelfth and Main, I remember it was 1043 1/2 Main Street, but it is no longer there. Because when my husband and I went back to Seattle, the street was no longer there. But the school, Bailey Gatzert is still there, because my granddaughter was just there for an opera and she called me from there, and I told her Bailey Gatzert, so she said, "The school is still here." And so I know that the area is still there.

KL: Was your father still very involved in the church or did he have work outside of that?

MY: Yes. He worked as a, he had a vegetable route, vegetable fruit route, and in those days they had, they didn't have all these groceries they had now. So he had a route and he would go around and he would have a certain route to go to sell his vegetables. And I know that this is, I guess they called it the barter system, they would make me, I would go on the streetcar to my piano lesson, and I think they bartered, and he would give this, my piano teacher the produce and I would take lessons from her. And I would go down to the church and practice piano, and I didn't like it because I wasn't very good at it. My brother should have been the one, but see, in those days, the women in my family, the girls had to take piano, and my brother was, had to take kendo. Do you know what kendo is, martial arts?

KL: Tell us about it.

MY: Okay, that's how it was in my family. I don't know, every family is different, but that was my family. And I guess my mother was the one who really ruled what we did. My father was the one who had to go to work and earn the money, and so I do know that my brother had to take kendo, which is the martial arts. And when the war came out, we had to burn everything because they were coming around to the houses to take either their, right after the war they took away a lot of the Isseis, the first generation people. And so they burned all my mother's book, the schoolbooks, and the kendo outfits, you know what they looked like, that's what, they burned it all. Which is a shame because now it's all right to be friends with Japan.

KL: Yeah, that was a very quick change.

MY: Oh, yes.

KL: It's kind of shocking to me always when I think about how fast that happened.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.