Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Marion I. Masada Interview
Narrator: Marion I. Masada
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Fresno, California
Date: September 10, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-mmarion-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

KL: What, how did it affect your parents, their behavior or their, the way they acted or anything, being in Salinas Assembly Center and then arriving at Poston? What was their response?

MM: Well, we had no money, for one thing, and we needed to buy a few things, with six children. 'Cause our clothes would wear out and we'd need new shoes and things like that. So my father became a cook because they needed men to lift the heavy pots and pans, and my mother became the dietician preparing foods for the diabetic, the sick and the new mothers. Because their, they would make up trays, my mother would make up trays for them to pick up and take back to the barrack, for the sick, the new mothers and the diabetic.

KL: Was that a new skill for her?

MM: I think so. I think so.

KL: Do you know how she learned, or what training she --

MM: I don't know. She, they learned, well, "This person needs this and this and this," and she would know what to do, how much food.

KL: Where did she report for work? Where did she prepare it?

MM: Just in the kitchen. We'll go to the kitchen.

KL: The regular mess hall, or that area.

MM: Yeah, where we all ate.

KL: Did you dad work in your...

MM: In our block.

KL: Is that 2, 211.

MM: 211, yeah, he worked in our block.

KL: What did he, what did they think of the mess hall, the colleagues and the work?

MM: I don't think I have any idea about work conditions.

KL: What are your memories attached to that mess hall?

MM: Well, I remember the food wasn't good. We ate horse meat I remember, because it was such an unusual texture and then they told us it was horse meat that they soaked in teriyaki sauce, and it was tough. It was tough. And once in a while we got ham. I didn't care for ham either, and I remember the Wheaties for breakfast and pancakes and orange marmalade and apple butter. I don't like any of that. And I would not eat pancakes for the longest time after the, after the war. I just would not make it or eat it. But after a while, I make it occasionally, but certainly not often. I'll make French toast. [Laughs]

KL: Did you have French toast in Poston?

MM: No, I don't think so. Well, maybe they did, but I like that. That's okay.

KL: Did you, do you remember the mess hall being used for any other purposes? For meetings or...

MM: Yeah, for Christmas, we had a Christmas party for the kids and I remember our Christmas party. I went and we played duck, duck, goose. You know that game? And I fell on my elbow and I conked out. I was knocked unconscious. They rushed me to the hospital and I never got my gift. [Laughs]

KL: What was the hospital like?

MM: I have no idea.

KL: You didn't stay that long?

MM: No, they just checked me out and brought me back, and by then the party was over and I never got my gift, so I said, "I never got my gift. I'll remember that forever." [Laughs]

KL: Yeah. Did you, was your family able to exchange gifts in Poston?

MM: Oh no, we never got Christmas gifts.

KL: Did you do anything just among your family to commemorate the day?

MM: No.

KL: It was just another day.

MM: No, no. If you don't have anything, you don't have anything.

KL: Was that a change from before Poston? Did you guys, I know you talked a lot about New Year's.

MM: Yeah, New Year's was more of a celebration in our home. All I remember as a child is my aunt and uncle would give us little gifts for Christmas, but that's the only gift we ever got.

KL: The same aunt, the one in Los Angeles?

MM: And uncle, my uncle and his wife would get us gifts. Uncle Jack.

KL: What was New Year's like in Poston?

MM: Just like any other day, I guess. It was not mochi and all that kind of stuff, and special foods. Oh no, nothing like that. Some camps, if they had the mochi guy who used to make it, well, he knew how to make it in camp, well, they were lucky. They got mochi because somehow they pooled together their sugar and their mochi rice, able to get it, order it or whatever. So we didn't have that in our camp. So nothing special.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.