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-01-0006

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KL: What took your family from Seattle to Los Angeles?

MY: My father went broke in Seattle. And some of his school friends from Japan urged him to come down here because they were doing very well in business. My father was not a good businessman, I guess, I think he was too generous. But anyway, he was not a good businessman, so he went broke in Seattle and we all came by... it was just that they said to come down, and they were our church friends, and we came down here and they helped us to get started down here. And it was a very hard life for my father, but we didn't know it because everybody else was poor, too, in those days. We moved down here in 1936. I know we reached here on my birthday, July 14, 1936, when I turned twelve years old. But it was a great move because I really liked it in L.A.

KL: What part of L.A. did you settle in?

MY: Boyle Heights.

KL: What did you like about Boyle Heights?

MY: Well, we walked to school and everybody was fun at school. I was in junior high, it was very lonely when I first started, but guess I'm friendly to everybody and I became good friends with many of my YWCA people. And so it was great. It's just fun being a teenager, that's all. We had sports from YWCA, we had volleyball, we had baseball and we did those things on Sundays without any coaches, we were part of the Girl Reserves.

KL: What is that?

MY: That was part of the YWCA.

KL: And what was your church in Boyle Heights or in Los Angeles?

MY: We went to Union Church, it's now at Third and San Pedro. It was on North San Pedro, 120 North San Pedro, it's called the Union Church because it was part Congregational and part Presbyterian and another third one. But anyway, my mother was the organist, Japanese-speaking, see, we had Japanese-speaking ministers and English, and my mother was the organist down here, too. And my father had good friends that he went to college with, and they were doing very well, so my father came down here he worked seven days a week. He didn't even get to go to church until after evacuation.

KL: What was his work in L.A.?

MY: Just everything he could do. He actually, in the beginning, he was just a janitor for these men who had these wholesale produce markets. And we used to go clean the offices, and in the daytime he would be working at a crate company, but he just did everything. He just worked from morning 'til night for us. He was very good at fixing everything. He used to, like in Seattle, our swing sets and our teeter totters and everything, he made sandboxes and everything, he made from scratch. We always had a beautiful garden, too, he loved to garden beautiful flowers.

KL: What did he grow?

MY: What?

KL: Did he have favorite flowers? What did he grow?

MY: Chrysanthemums mostly. But our backyard was always nice.

KL: Do you recall the location of the market that he was a janitor for?

MY: Well, the produce markets were on Seventh Street. It's called the Highland, but it's no longer there. But it was off of Seventh and we used to take the streetcar on San Pedro, but it was one block up. That's where all the wholesale markets were and they still are there, but they are not owned by Japanese anymore because during the war they had to lose everything and they had to leave. So I know that the owner, Mr. Watanabe, went to Japan, he owned the Highland produce company. And right next to it was another market and my father used to clean the office at night after the produce market closed. Because I used to go, I wasn't afraid to go down to Seventh. Now you wouldn't want your child to go down there, but I'd go down there on the streetcar and help my father empty the wastebaskets and things like that. And we just did those things, it's just part of life.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.