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

<Begin Segment 1>

KL: -- Kristen Luetkemeier. I am a park ranger at Manzanar National Historic Site, with the Manzanar Oral History Project. Today is September the 10th, 2014. I'm in the Fresno home of Marion and Saburo Masada to record an interview with Marion about her childhood in Salinas, her experiences in Poston, in confinement, and her later life, including her and Saburo's connections to various pilgrimages and confinement sites and the public talks that they give about their and their families' experiences. Mark Hatchmann is also in the room, operating the video camera. Saburo is also in the home and may be back and forth. Marion, before I start asking questions about your parents, which is where we'll start, I just want to confirm again that we have your permission to be having this conversation and to make a recording that's available to the public.

MM: Yes.

KL: Thank you for that, and for your commitment to educating people about your experiences. Let's start off talking about your parents. I'll ask you first to introduce us to your mother. Tell us her name and when she was born.

MM: When she was born?

KL: Uh-huh.

MM: I don't know the year, but it was March 19. My mother is Helen Sameko, Ninomiya is her maiden name, Nakamura is her married name, and she was born March 19. I don't remember the year. She was born in Prunedale, California, a suburb of Salinas, and she went to the public schools up to the age of sixteen, when she entered high school. And at sixteen she got married to my father.

KL: Do you, what can you tell us about your grandparents, Helen's parents and family she grew up in?

MM: My grandparents? Okay, well, I didn't know this, but my grandmother raised me, because my mother had three small children, every year, one after another, so I'm the fourth child and so she needed help, so I guess I was sent to live with my grandmother. And my grandmother had two young daughters just a little bit older than me, so we were like sisters to one another. And I didn't know this until I saw a little paper in the archives that, there was an article written by me at the age of ten, I guess I was ten, and it was called, "My Autobiography" -- [laughs] -- and I said I was raised by my grandmother and it told about going into the camp and seeing all these official looking people taking pictures of us, and in the laundry room, I remember that, and going into the camp. It was, it was hot, and I got sick on the train because it was hot and thirsty, and that was all that was written there.

KL: Where was that? You said in an archives somewhere?

MM: Yeah, I have it someplace. Maybe Saburo can get it out of the computer.

KL: Who was your grandmother, then? What was her name?

MM: My grandmother's name is Yasuno Ugai, U-G-A-I, Ninomiya, N-I-N-O-M-I-Y-A. And I was able to go to Japan to her burial place to pay our respects, because I feel that I owe a lot to my grandmother, great-grandmother, for sending my grandmother to America to marry as a picture bride my grandfather, and as a result all these generations of children, families now numbers over a hundred, as a result of that. And so we went to Japan -- I forgot what year it was, 2001 I guess --

KL: Where was she from in Japan?

MM: Okayama, O-K-A-Y-A-M-A. Okayama, Japan, out in the boondocks. And she started a church, and it was nestled right against the mountain. I remember you'd just go outside and, boom, the mountain was right there. It was a small --

KL: Yasuno started the church?

MM: My great-grandmother.

KL: What was her, do you know her name?

MM: Yasuno.

KL: Oh, your great-grandmother. I'm sorry, yeah, so she started the church.

MM: Yeah, my great-grandmother started a church, because she was married to a very well-known carpenter, but he was a drinker and a womanizer, and when my great-grandmother had my grandmother, their one and only child, she didn't want to raise her child in this kind of atmosphere, so she left her husband in the dead of winter, strapped her to her back and trudged four hundred miles away to get away from her husband. And in order to make a living she became a Nichiren priestess, a minister, and how she made her livelihood was going from door to door asking for food, just to eat, because she's starting this new temple.

KL: I don't know Nichiren. Tell us what, tell us about...

MM: It's a sect of the Buddhist, Buddhist religion. And she was very, very... in Japanese we say neshina. How do you say that in English? Very faithful member. And so she started this church, and very nice building and this little town of Okayama, way out in the boondocks. When she had this little baby to raise, she would go door to door begging for food for herself now and the baby, and then also, when the baby got bigger, she also had to ask for clothing for her child. So this, my grandmother grew up with hand-me-downs from people.

KL: And was Helen your grandmother? Or your birth mother?

MM: No, no, that's my mother. She's the first child of my grandmother.

KL: So Yasuno is your great-grandmother?

MM: No, Yasuno is my grandmother.

KL: Grandmother, okay. And Helen is her daughter.

MM: And Mrs. Ugai, U-G-A-I -- I don't know her first name, but that was my grandmother's mother, is Ugai, U-G-A-I. And Yasuno is her daughter, her one and only child. And so when my grandmother Yasuno became of age, she had an opportunity to get married to this gentleman in Salinas, my grandmother, Ninomiya.

KL: What do you think motivated... do you think it was she who made the decision to marry and come to Salinas?

MM: I think maybe my great-grandmother felt it was an opportunity for a better life for her one and only daughter, and so she gave the permission for her to come to America and marry him. So before she left she prayed over her daughter that, and with her daughter, that she would have a good life with this man that she's going to marry sight unseen, and to bless the generations to come. And somehow I've, I feel the recipient of that blessing, and that's why I feel very close ties with my great-grandmother and grandmother.

KL: How old was your grandmother, when she left?

MM: When she left Japan, I think about eighteen. Eighteen.

KL: So around what year was that, that she made the trip?

MM: I'd have to look it up. I didn't, I don't have that.

KL: It's okay.

MM: Let's see now, when she came to America she came through San Francisco. What's that... Angel Island. Angel Island.

KL: Did she ever talk about her time at Angel Island?

MM: No, she never did. She never did. I have a copy of her marriage certificate, and she was married in the Presbyterian church -- this is another tie I have. She was married in the Japanese Presbyterian church in San Francisco, and then Sab and I, how many years later, forty years later, Sab and I get married in the Japanese Presbyterian church in San Francisco. So it just kind of gives you the goosebumps, and on top of that, the first church we served, Saburo and I served, is the church that I used to live in when I came out of the camp having nowhere to go, to live, because there was no housing. And so here I am living in this Westview Presbyterian Church as an eighth-grader, and how many years later I marry Sab and that's the first church we serve. I mean, how uncanny is that? And it just all ties with my great-grandmother's prayer.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

KL: So they were not, their marriage, they had a marriage ceremony in San Francisco, after she came?

MM: Yeah.

KL: Do you know anything about what, how they were, how they were selected for each other or how they were put together?

MM: Well, my grandfather sent his photo to, sent his photo to, I think it was Okayama -- that's where my grandmother, great-grandmother was -- and asked the village people to find a wife for him.

KL: What was his story? What was his background?

MM: My grandfather?

KL: Your grandfather, yeah. What was his name?

MM: Risaburo, R-I-S-A-B-U-R-O, Ninomiya.

KL: And he was an immigrant?

MM: Yes. And he served in World War I as a soldier.

KL: Yeah, you were telling me a little bit about him before, but for the recording, would you tell us how you know he was in World War I and what you know of his experience?

MM: My cousin did some research and he found out that Grandpa served in World War I, because he found a copy of his muster papers. When they come out of the army they get papers and pay, a pay, so he found that.

KL: Do you know what motivated him to immigrate, or where he came in?

MM: Probably for a better life. Anybody who comes to America, there's only one motivation, for a better life. See, my father wanted to come to America because he had no inheritance from his family. He was the youngest member of the family, so the oldest son got the home and land and everything, and he, as the oldest son of any family, is to take care of the parents. That's why you get the land and the house. And all the other children have to fend for themselves. So Papa was, he had nothing.

KL: Was Risaburo a younger child also? Do you know?

MM: I can only surmise that he was.

KL: Do, was he from Okayama?

MM: I think so, the same village. That's why he sent his photo back to that village, 'cause he wanted a girl from the same village.

KL: Did he, what was his citizenship after his World War I military service?

MM: Gee, that I don't know.

KL: So they met in San Francisco and were married. Around when were they married?

MM: What year? I don't know.

KL: What would they do for work? What was --

MM: Farming. My grandfather was a farmer. But he didn't have very good luck farming, but he kept at it.

KL: Did he farm anywhere else before coming to Salinas? Or how did they end up in Salinas?

MM: No, in Salinas. In Salinas. I have pictures of the farm and the animals.

KL: Do you know how they ended up in that community?

MM: I don't know. He just ended up there, and it said that he rented horses. I didn't know you could rent horses, but he rented horses for his needs on the farm.

KL: He rented horses from someone else, to pull his equipment and stuff.

MM: Yeah. Yeah, I thought that was interesting.

KL: Yeah. What can you tell us about the farm?

MM: I can only show you a picture of it, somewhere.

KL: Do you, was it still around in your time? Were they still operating it?

MM: Well, not that particular farm. They moved to Boronda Road, I believe. That's the last place before going into the camp.

KL: What'd they grow?

MM: I don't know. I really don't know.

KL: And then your mother was one of several children?

MM: My mother was the oldest of the Ninomiya family, Yasuno and Risaburo. She was the oldest, and so when my mother had her first baby, then my grandmother had her last baby, so Grandmother and my mother had a baby about the same time. Yeah, I remember that.

KL: How many, so how many children did each of them end up having?

MM: My grandmother had nine, but two she lost, so she ended up having seven.

KL: And does that include you? Are you including yourself?

MM: No, that's my grandmother.

KL: Your grandmother's biological children.

MM: Then my mother, my mother had eight children.

KL: And did you say that she, that you were raised by your grandmother some of the time?

MM: Yeah. And then we went into the camp, concentration camp.

KL: Yeah, from there.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

KL: Let's switch over to your father and do kind of the same thing for him and his family. What was your father's name?

MM: My father's name was Ikuzo, I-K-U-Z-O. And being in America, he adopted the name of Thomas, so they called him Tom. He was known as Tom. And he was in the army -- I have a picture of him in the army uniform -- and he didn't want to be in the army and kill people. He said, "That's not what I want to do," so he and two friends snuck on a ship going to America and they hid. They hid, and when they were discovered they pulled out their guns that they got from the army and they told the captain, "Take us to America." And the captain said, "Put your gun away." This, my father told me this. "Put your gun away and you work on my ship and I'll take you to America." And that's what the captain did. They worked on the ship, and when it --

KL: Do you know anything about his life growing up, before he was in the army?

MM: No, I don't know anything, 'cause my father never talked about it. And I was too dumb to not ask him about it, really. I'm sorry. That's one of my regrets. But when I got older I said, "How was it when you came to America?" He said it was easy. "It was just easy. You just slip off the ship and nobody's there to stop you." And he made, how he made his way from Long Beach to Salinas I'll never know. I don't know. But they did, they made their way. And they had friends in Salinas, so at least he met up with the friends in Salinas, and he worked on other people's farms. And then when he married my mother, he wanted to be on his own. And he's a good farmer. My father was a good farmer. He knew how to raise all kinds of vegetables, so he raised radish, radishes, green onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, turnips, potatoes. He had a little bit of everything, and he would, he and Mom would get up early in the morning, wash, pick all the vegetables that needed harvesting for the day, wash 'em and bunch 'em up, and my father would take it to the market and market it himself.

KL: Where was the market?

MM: The grocery stores. And he would go from grocery store to grocery store, and he had a truck where all these vegetables were all washed and nice, fresh vegetables, and he would say, "How many dozen radishes today?" and that's how he would do it.

KL: These were grocery stores in Salinas?

MM: Yeah. He knew enough English to know that much. [Laughs] How to keep track of his sales. They did very well.

KL: What was his relationship with the owners of the groceries, or the managers?

MM: I have no idea. I guess it was alright. It was alright 'cause he was doing very well, very well. And my mother said they were making good money, and so she would help other Japanese families by loaning them money so they could get a good start in their farming.

KL: Was there any kind of a Japantown in Salinas?

MM: Well, there was a Buddhist church in town, a small Buddhist church, and there were a few restaurants that I remember, because on Saturday nights, if the movie man came, the Japanese movie man -- he would come from Los Angeles and show Japanese movies, samurai movies or cartoons or whatever, all in Japanese, and so we would go. And they would have these strips of paper with writing on Japanese and how much money each family gave. It's a way of competition, to show other people, "Oh, so-and-so gave only five dollars," and that way the man made money.

KL: Where did the movies play?

MM: At the Buddhist temple. That's where they showed it. And after the movie we would go have a bowl of noodles. Yeah, every time.

KL: Still at the temple?

MM: No, no, no, at the restaurants that was nearby the temple.

KL: What was the temple's name?

MM: It was Salinas Buddhist Temple.

KL: What else was right in that section of town? Or what are other memories of going there?

MM: I just remember that the temple, it was white, and there was a, sort of like a water tank nearby, I remember. But other than that, I don't remember too much. I remember a circus coming into town.

KL: Oh yeah?

MM: Yeah, and my father loved the circus, so he would take us. He was the one that took us. My mother didn't care.

KL: Yeah, what were their personalities? What were some of their --

MM: My mother was very quiet and submissive, I guess you might say. And my father was, I guess... you know, when my father said something we would say, "Mama, what's Papa saying?" because we don't understand Japanese. 'Cause my mother spoke to us in English. We grew up with English, no Japanese.

KL: But she was bilingual.

MM: Yes, because her mother spoke. And somehow we, as children, we understood the Japanese but we didn't speak it. We just understood it. Isn't that funny? I mean, it's, when I think about it, I think it's kind of weird.

KL: Communication is weird.

MM: Yeah. You know what they're saying.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

KL: When did you go to live with your grandmother? How old were you?

MM: Probably six, because I was nine years old when I went into the camp, so I know I must've been with my grandmother a few years.

KL: And she was right there in Salinas too?

MM: Yeah. Not nearby, but a few miles away.

KL: So you had lots of siblings.

MM: Oh yeah.

KL: Did you see a lot of each other, those two families?

MM: Uh-huh, and every year, every New Year's we would end up at Mr. and Mrs. Enna-san's house. They had no children, so they wanted us all to go over to their place and we would make mochi, pound the mochi. It's a New Year's tradition, to have mochi and the little sweet bean inside. Oh, so delicious.

KL: Tell us about preparing it. What was the atmosphere like?

MM: What was the, it was fun. We had these long poles, and when the rice, the mochi rice is cooked -- it has to be steamed outdoors, steamed with fire underneath and a layer of rice that has been soaked. There's no water in it; it was soaked in water until the moment that they put it on these steamers, steamer thing, and they had three trays. The first one will be cooked first, so when that's steamed right, with the fire cooking underneath, then they take it out, put another one on top, and now the second one's going to be steamed. So as soon as it comes out, they dump it on this rock-like, it's caved in like that so that now four or five of us, with these long poles, we mash it, and we kind go around and we mash it and mash it with the long sticks. And after we do enough of that, then somebody comes and pounds it with a mallet and a handle. And then they pound it and then this, another person puts water on it, after they pound it. So it has to be a rhythm: pound, water, pound and water. And if you don't watch it, somebody's going to get hit on the hand, if you don't have that rhythm. You have to go in a rhythm, pound and then the man turns the rice over or puts water on it, whatever's necessary. But he has to do it fast, and then pound. [Laughs] Then after the pounding is finished, that means it's all nice and smooth and ready to make into these little round cakes. And so now we're, the ladies are all waiting at the table, flour and everything all, and the trays ready to put the mochi on. Well, we get to the, somebody cuts it, puts it in a long row like that and then they cut it. They usually just use their own hand. It's hot. It's hot, but you -- and about a little bit like that [shows size with hands], and we get it and we smooth it out like that and put the little beans in the middle, and then we cover it up and pinch it and sort of make it nice and smooth on the top, but underneath has that little pinch together and we try to make it smooth. It's an art. It's an art. So we'd do that every year at this couple's place.

KL: And would you spell their name?

MM: E-N-N-A.

KL: And who else came?

MM: All the relatives of ours. The aunts and uncles, they all came, and it was a family gathering. And we adopted this couple because they had no children and no heirs. Eventually they went back to Japan.

KL: You mentioned your mother helped out other Japanese people coming to Salinas area. Were you guys pretty early among the Japanese Americans there?

MM: I guess we were one of the early settlers, yeah, through, because of my grandmother and grandfather coming.

KL: Who else was part of that community?

MM: Gee, my mother knew everybody. But all I knew is our neighbors, the Inokuchis and the Iwamis and... gee, what was Shoko's last name? There was a family up the hill from us who grew strawberries. All I remember is Shoko's, the girl's name. She had a mentally retarded brother, and he used to scare us. That was my first introduction to a mentally handicapped person.

KL: Why did he scare you?

MM: Because he had this chain and he would, he would jingle the chain by his ear like this [imitates the motion] and mumble some kind of words, and that was kind of unusual, not the usual behavior. And so that used to scare me. I mean, he didn't hurt anybody. He just had his behavior problem. And he was tall.

KL: Were there other ethnic groups in...

MM: In our neighborhood?

KL: In Salinas where you were?

MM: The landlady, who was Caucasian, she took in four county children, so she had foster children. The county paid her to take care of these children because their parents couldn't take care of them. And one was a family of three, Wilma, Billy and Lillian Laws, L-A-W-S, and the other was June Pederson, P-E-D-E-R-S-O-N, and they were about the same age as us, so after school we played baseball with the Inokuchis up the road and Iwamis. I mean, there was kids all over the neighborhood, so we had no problems having playmates.

KL: How big were people's parcels?

MM: Gee, I don't know. I don't know what an acre looks like.

KL: Could you guys see each other's houses?

MM: Oh yeah, yeah. Up the hill, over the next road there, and then where we lived was flat, Mrs. Carrie Smith, the landlady, and then just across the way was the Iwamis. But there were a lot of kids in the neighborhood.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

KL: What was the, I mean, your parents were of different citizenship I would presume -- I guess we don't know about your father's citizenship, but certainly different childhood backgrounds and family backgrounds and stuff -- what do you think drew them to each other, and what was their relationship like?

MM: Well, I think my father saw my mother working out in the fields and he kind of liked her, from afar. [Laughs] And my mother said she liked him, so... but she was sixteen and he was eleven years older. I think he was twenty-four when they got married. And then my father was very jealous of my mother, because she spoke English so she could speak to the repairman or whatever, or other people, business people that they have to do business with. And he didn't like her talking too much to the, to other men, I guess, so he would get jealous.

KL: Did that cause problems for her?

MM: Yeah, it did. Because one night when I was three years old and my mother put us into bed in the crib -- I was three, my sister was two -- and I remember her twirling us around with the baby blanket 'cause, plus a diaper, whatever, and she put us down to bed. And I'm very sensitive to noise, and I heard my father beating my mother, and that's the one and only time that I heard. I didn't see it, but I heard it. Yeah.

KL: How did you react to that? You were little.

MM: My mother did not say a word. She did not fight back to defend herself, and I when I remember that it made me mad, when I grew up, you know. And I think I remember that so vividly that when I got married and I started, if Saburo did something that I didn't like I would really blow a fuse and be angry for my mother, and for all women that can't, that keep quiet. And so in my mind I was acting out my vengeance or my anger for these women who couldn't yell out or who wouldn't speak for themselves. And so one day Saburo asked me, "What happened when you were little?" And I remembered that scene and I told him, and he says, "Do you think you made a decision somewhere along the way in your life that, some kind of decision?" And I says, "Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Definitely." Says, "I'm not going to be quiet if I, I'm going to fight back." And I said, "Not only for my mother, but for all those women." That's what I did. [Laughs] It was a really eye-opening moment for me. Yeah.

KL: How did hearing that affect your relationship with your father? Or do you think it did?

MM: My father? Well, I kind of hated my father for a long time, but when I became an adult I began to understand a little bit, because my father wasn't always mean, I mean every day in and day out. He wasn't. And I thought what it was like to be my father. I put myself in his shoes. He has eight children, nobody speaks to him in Japanese, nobody talks to him. We talked through our mother. How do you suppose he felt, you know? And I said to myself, that must not have been a very happy situation for my father. And yet, there's another scene I remember; this was when I was married and we all went home to Salinas, San Jose, to be with my parents and have dinner. All of us kids were there. We were around the dinner table and my father looked around and he said, "The food tastes so good with everybody around the table." And I remember that in the concentration camp, for those three and a half years we were there, we never ate as a family. So now my father has all his family around the table and he's looking at each one of us, and he says, "Ma, gohan oishi." He said, "My goodness, the rice, the dinner tastes so good with everybody here."

KL: Did he learn English ever?

MM: No, I mean he said it in Japanese. I understood it. By now I understand a little bit of Japanese, because serving in the church, you have to serve Japanese people, speaking people, and I just learned all the polite words to say, like "welcome to church, to, yoku irashaimashita." You say that to Japanese from Japan or Japanese-speaking person. You have to say something in Japanese, so I said, "Give me some words to say." [Laughs] So I knew some of the good words. And with that, I was able to bulldoze my way into speaking Japanese, what little that I have heard through the years, through my grandmother and the church people, I picked it up. And then I taught myself the easy ABCs of Japanese, and I would write to my grandmother in Japanese. I taught myself.

KL: Did she keep in touch with her mother, Yasuno keep in touch with her mother?

MM: Oh yeah. And this is what my grandmother did in appreciation: she, when she had her last son, which was George, at the age of fourteen she sent him to San Francisco in preparation for him to go to Japan to take care of Great-Grandma in her last years. So he went to live with this priest, the same kind of church that Great-Grandma started, and so he lived with this family in San Francisco for I don't know how many months in preparation, and for his room and board he had to work for that minister in San Francisco.

KL: How old was he?

MM: Fourteen. And then he had to sail and leave the family. He said, "Why do I have to leave the family? I don't want to go." But my uncle next to him, he said, "You go. You go because Grandma needs you to go." I mean, "Mama, Yasuno needs you to go."

KL: When was that?

MM: This was before the war, before the war. And then... no, excuse me, was this before the war? Yeah, I think it was before the war. And then he went to Japan and when war was about to start, Great-Grandma sent him back to America, but in the meantime he was able to look after his grandma, but he had to go to school in Japan and learn Japanese so that now he could speak to her. 'Cause we all speak English, and he had to learn that Japanese language well so that he could speak to her and converse.

KL: Did your grandmother learn English, Yasuno?

MM: No. No, neither did my father, I don't think.

KL: How did she communicate with the kids, with you and --

MM: She spoke Japanese, but we understood. Now, that's the uncanny thing of it all. She spoke to us in Japanese, but we understood, but we couldn't speak back. I mean, that to me, it boggles my mind, 'cause I understood everything Grandma said.

KL: Yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

KL: Well, what are some, do you have, where did you go to school in Salinas?

MM: Santa Rita Elementary School.

KL: What can you tell us about Santa Rita?

MM: Well, it was a very small elementary school, and my first grade teacher was mean. I remember I used to suck my thumb and when she caught me she said, "Marion, come up here in front of the class, and I want you to use the ruler and hit your hand ten times each, with the ruler, and ten times on each leg." I had to do that in front of the class, and I guess it was humiliating. You know, I don't even remember that, but I remember having to do that. And then third grade, I think it was third or fourth grade, I had a real nice teacher, so she was nothing like Mrs. Strode. Her name was Miss Slavich, beautiful young teacher, and she was so beautiful she got married after one year of teaching, so we lost her. We lost her.

KL: She left that job.

MM: Yeah, we lost, but I can remember what a wonderful teacher she was. We all loved her. She was good. And we had in the school very few black people and very few Mexican people --

KL: But there were some?

MM: Yeah, a smattering. In my class, maybe one or two, and one black boy, and some of us Japanese kids, and all the rest were white.

KL: How integrated were people socially? 'Cause little, I mean, you were young kids, but...

MM: Well, Dolly Jane, who was Caucasian, blonde, blue-eyed, she was my best friend in school, during those elementary school years.

KL: Was her family, what was her family's work and stuff, or do you know?

MM: I don't know. I don't know what he did, Mr. Bradley. But I remember Dolly Jane and I were just very good friends.

KL: I mean, it's interesting, where you were growing up was a destination for so many people during the Dust Bowl and during those Depression years, and I think those migrations changed things about those communities that were affected. What about the, did the black kids integrate with other people, or was there a difference in the way that people were --

MM: I only know one black boy in my class. There was only one.

KL: Did he have friends?

MM: We all played with Billy, yeah. I mean, we just all played with each other. There was no, "You're different" or, there was nothing like that. I don't remember anything like that, because I liked to play. [Laughs]

KL: Were you really aware then of different ethnicities?

MM: Yes, I was. And I remember that I would be, get the kids together and I'd say, "Let's play school. I'm the teacher and you are the pupils." Or we'd play house, "I'm the mother and you're the kids." [Laughs] I kind of took over, I remember that.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

KL: You mentioned the movies at the Buddhist church, and of course just classes and recess and stuff in school, and then New Year's and mochi making. Are there other ways that you guys, or that you were part of kind of community life?

MM: Yes, every Sunday was a day off. My father took a day off, and he had a very good friend, the Fujimotos, and they liked to play cards, Hana, those, it's a Japanese card game. I'm sure you've heard of it. Oh, he loved to play cards --

KL: Nobody seems to know the rules, though, who was a kid from your generation. [Laughs]

MM: Right. We don't know how to play it. All we know is you put the cards that look alike together, and there's a half moon, there's flowers, there's trees, there's funny looking animal or something, and you could tell what goes together.

KL: He would go play it at, did you say it was Mr. Fujimoto?

MM: At Mr. Fujimoto's house, or they would come over to our house. It'd kind of alternate. And so they had kids, they had kids, so we played with each other while all this card playing was going on, and eating together and all that, so that was nice. And when New Year's came along, my mother would make all the foods, the fish and the sushi and the different kinds of foods. My mother learned how to make it, and so she was a good cook. My mother was a good cook. And then what we did was we'd go to every friend's house, and we'd eat a little bit of their stuff, and they would come to our place and eat a little bit of our stuff. We'd go house to house, and we don't eat too much because we have to go to all these other houses, so we'd just eat one or two things and gab a little bit and go on to the next house. It was fun. That was fun. Yeah, so that was another thing we did. It was, it was a nice growing up period in my life, in Salinas.

KL: What was your house like?

MM: It was very small, very small rooms. Very, let's see, it had the kitchen and the, in the kitchen was a stove and a sink and a table and chairs, and in my mother's bedroom was our crib and my mother and father's bed, and then the brothers, they slept in little cubbyholes here and there, or in the living room downstairs. So I see one, two, three, about four room house. And they had an outhouse and then they had a bathhouse, the Japanese bathhouse next to the house, and you have to light the fire and start heating up the bathwater.

KL: Who did that in your family?

MM: My mother, I guess, or sometimes my father did, until we learned how to do it. I never did it, though. I imagine maybe my brothers did that.

KL: Did you guys have work in the farm, or chores or tasks?

MM: I didn't, but my brothers, my three older brothers did. See, I took care of, my sister and I were too young to do anything, but when I turned eight my father said, "Now you have to cook." So learned how to cook rice, that was my first thing I learned how to cook, and then the next thing was biscuits, which came out hard as a rock, but my father said it was alright. Then I went to cookies.

KL: So were you back with them by that point, for most of the time? When you were eight, back with your parents?

MM: Yeah.

KL: So it was kind of a brief stay at your grandmother's.

MM: It was just maybe weekends or something like that.

KL: I see, so you always lived with your parents, pretty much, and your siblings.

MM: And then one summer my Aunt Gloria wanted me to come -- she had four boys, no girls, so she wanted me to come and be her little helper. And I had a sister below me, so my mother had May, but so she sent me to Los Angeles to be with Aunt Gloria, so I'm, I was close to Aunt Gloria growing up. She's like a second mother to me, and she was easier to talk to than my mother. My mother was kind of quiet, but Aunt Gloria, she and I were able to converse with each other, communicate a little bit better.

KL: And she was in Los Angeles?

MM: Uh-huh.

KL: What part of Los Angeles?

MM: Gardena. Gardena. Oh, Compton, excuse me. It was Compton. After the war, Gardena, because they grew flowers, so they needed to be out in the country to raise these beautiful mums, big flowers like that [shows size], and long stem.

KL: What's her last name?

MM: Mochidome, M-O-C-H-I-D-O-M-E, Gloria.

KL: That's an unusual name. That's neat, Mochidome.

MM: They're from Kagoshima, Japan.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

KL: Do you have a Japanese name?

MM: Yes, I do.

KL: Does it have a, either your Japanese name or your English name --

MM: See, my father's Japanese name is Ikuzo, I-K-U-Z-O, and my mother's name is Sameko in Japanese, so they took the first part of my father and the first part of my mother and put it together and it became Isame.

KL: So they created it.

MM: Yeah. Ikuzo, "I," and Sameko, "same."

KL: Did your siblings' also have special meaning?

MM: Yes, there's Charles Kiyoshi, the oldest, James Minoru, Harry Saburo, Marion Isame, May Kimi, Robert Tamotsu, Earlyn Ayako, and then when the last one came ran out of names, so they named him Donald Clifford. He got two English names.

KL: And he was, was he born in Poston?

MM: No, he was born after camp.

KL: I see.

MM: Yeah.

KL: What about Earlyn? Was she...

MM: She was born in camp. Yeah, she was born in camp.

KL: So you mentioned that when you guys would play at school and stuff, you kind of, you were usually in charge of what was going on. What about within your sibling group? What, what other roles did people have? Or how did you guys relate to each other?

MM: Well, my brothers, we weren't, being in the camp, in the concentration camp those three and a half years, the boys went their, they just went and played with their friends, and ate with their friends. I never saw my brothers.

KL: Do you know the years that they were born? And if you don't it's fine, but, like how old was, how much older than you is Charles?

MM: Well, let's go, start with Harry. Harry is two years older than me, and James is one year difference between Harry and Jim, and one year between Charlie and Jimmy. And then going down, May and I are fifteen months apart, and then I lose it from there.

KL: But you guys were, I mean, you were kids together, you and your brothers and...

MM: Yes.

KL: Mark, did you have questions about time in Salinas or growing up? [To MM] Are there things I've left out about your years in Salinas that you feel like are important to record, or your parents' backgrounds?

MM: I think we covered pretty good. Pretty good, yeah.

KL: It sounds like you had, your responsibilities were in the house and your brothers, you said, had a lot of responsibility outside, to the farm and the property.

MM: Yeah, helping the parents out in the fields, after school and before school. That's why we all have good work ethics, because for, it was a matter of survival. We had to survive, and the only way you could survive is if everybody works together.

KL: Do you think your father ever thought about returning to Japan?

MM: Never.

KL: That was a quick answer. [Laughs]

MM: Although he wanted to go see his family, which he did one time, and that was enough, I guess.

KL: So it was hard, but nonetheless he was pretty committed to life in California.

MM: Oh yeah, yeah. I mean, after all his, all his children are here, and grandchildren. What does he have in Japan? Nothing, not even a place to stay or home.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

KL: So you said you don't have any memories of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor or hearing that news.

MM: No.

KL: Did your other family members or neighbors or friends ever tell you anything about that day? Do you have memories at all of the intervening months, between December '41 and spring of '42?

MM: Just speaking on one side of the gate to Dolly Jane on the other side.

KL: And where was that?

MM: In the Salinas, on the rodeo grounds where we were first imprisoned?

KL: Can you describe what living conditions were there?

MM: Well, we lived in a barrack, and my mother said, "You got to remember our family number, 13141, because now they don't know us by our name but by our number. So if you get lost and all the barracks look alike -- and you could easily get lost -- you have to know your number." So she drilled it into all of us, and we remember it to this day. I remember that. And then -- this was years later my mother told me this, that we could only take two bags per person, so my mother said, "We didn't know where we were going, and we didn't know how long we're going to be incarcerated." So she got a duffel bag and she made duffel bags, two per person. That's all we were allowed. So she filled one completely with Kotex pads, as many as she could stuff in there, because we were going to be away and no way of buying these kind of items that we would need. So she thought ahead.

KL: We often have, that's a question that a lot of, especially high school girls visiting Manzanar are curious about, how did you provide for feminine hygiene.

MM: Yeah, and then when I ran out I had to use cloth. It was, it was hard.

KL: You were, how old were you when you went into the assembly center?

MM: Nine. And I was twelve when I got out.

KL: You mentioned barracks in the Salinas Assembly Center. Would you, do you have memories of them at all?

MM: Not really. And I don't know if we, if the people in the Salinas Assembly Center stayed in horse stalls, 'cause I know we didn't, and I thank God that we didn't have to stay in those stinky, smelly horse stalls like some of the, Tanforan and all these other temporary housing. That was awful.

KL: Do you recall leaving your home or arriving at Salinas?

MM: That I don't remember either. That's a blank to me. I guess it was kind of traumatic, because we don't, I don't remember it.

KL: You know something about sort of arrangements for your belongings and stuff.

MM: Yes, we left it, our landlady had a great big granary -- that's what we called it, but it's a barn -- and we put all our stuff there. And my mother even took off her wedding ring, and she stuffed it in the trunk, locked the trunk, and when we came back everything was opened and looted and stolen and gone, and our car was just a shell. So we were really, we had nothing.

KL: The car stayed on her property also?

MM: Yeah.

KL: Was she still there after the war?

MM: Yeah.

KL: Do you have a sense for whether she was involved, or whether people --

MM: No, she wasn't. She wasn't. People came in, or could've, my brothers think that it was the children, the foster children that... but we have no proof, we have no proof of that, so I'd rather not even think that.

KL: And they were close to you in age, right? You said you'd all play together [inaudible].


KL: This is tape two. We're continuing an interview with Marion Masada on the 9th, excuse me, the 10th of September, 2014, and we left off, I had just asked you for more details about Dolly's visit.

MM: I don't remember what we said or did, but I do remember she was on the outside and I was on the inside, and it probably wasn't a good feeling.

KL: You, I think, told me last night that -- this reminded me -- that things did change for you in school, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

MM: You mean in the public schools?

KL: Yeah. Or did I make that up?

MM: No, I don't think I said anything like that. Yeah.

KL: Okay. Dolly was just a close friend and she remained a close friend.

MM: Yeah.

KL: Okay. Do you, do you have a sense for what daily life was like in Salinas? Like what a typical day was, what you did during the day, where you spent your time?

MM: In the, while incarcerated?

KL: Yes, in the Salinas Assembly Center.

MM: Not really, except for what I wrote in that little autobiography, which was just one scene of the men from the outside coming in, taking pictures of the camp. And I think it was in the laundry room I saw them. I was a witness. That's all --

KL: Were they Caucasian?

MM: Yeah. Yeah.

KL: What else did you write about that? Like what was their purpose? Were they part of a newspaper or part of the government?

MM: I have no idea. I have no idea.

KL: I apologize to be asking you multiple questions about stuff you say you have no memories of. Sometimes it'll trigger just a little something if you're specific.

MM: That's okay.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

KL: Okay, so you went, how long were you in Salinas Assembly Center?

MM: About three to five months. Three to five months, yeah.

KL: So where did you go from there?

MM: And then they put us on old, rickety, unused trains, I remember that, and we chugged along to Arizona. When we arrived there it was so hot, and my mother put on sweaters and extra clothing on us because that means we could have more clothing and that would take place in our...

KL: In your duffel bags.

MM: Duffel bags. And so when we arrived we were perspiring and just, we had to peel off everything. And even our bus driver who came to take us from the train depot to the camps, he was bare from the waist up it was so hot. That's how hot it was.

KL: What month was it? I should've looked at the roster.

MM: I think probably June.

KL: Sometime in the summer.

MM: Yeah, it was summer.

KL: How long was the trip on the train?

MM: That I don't remember. I don't remember.

KL: Do you recall who was with you in the train car, or any military personnel or anybody's mood or what you did?

MM: I think we traveled with my grandmother and our family. We were together. And we had to put the black curtains on the windows so that we can't see out, we couldn't see outside, so I remember that.

KL: Did you try to look outside or raise it anything?

MM: No, no. We're very obedient. [Laughs] That's our culture, you know. You just do what you're, you have to, and that's that.

KL: Did your, did your Aunt Gloria go into Poston too?

MM: No, they opted to leave early because they were told if you want to go inland you can and be on your own, so they had trucks and, their family had trucks and cars, so they loaded their trucks with their household belongings and they took off to Gunnison, Utah, and they lived amongst the Mormons. And they were treated terribly, but, and the boys, the four boys had to, had to stick together or else be beaten up by the other kids. They had to fight their way home sometimes.

KL: Her kids, her sons?

MM: Yeah, her sons.

KL: This may be an obvious answer, but what was the cause of the hostility? Was it because they weren't Mormon or because they had Japanese ancestry?

MM: Because they were "Japs." Yeah.

KL: How long did they stay there?

MM: They stayed there until after the war, so I guess when they were able to go back to California they went back, to California. And they lived a harsh life. They found housing that nobody else wanted, and so, I mean, they were really, had to live under poor conditions.

KL: This was in Utah?

MM: When they went back to California, Compton. And they, they had to eke out a living with, by growing flowers again, 'cause that's what they knew how to do, grow flowers.

KL: In the months before, like in the spring of 1942, from February until, say, April, do you know if they helped house people from Terminal Island or anywhere?

MM: I don't know anything about Terminal Island people.

KL: There was a, there was a Japanese language school in Compton that stopped being a school and was kind of a hostel, and I know some people from Terminal Island who stayed there. And they said that it was full, like they had a corner of a room with their blanket and that's where they lived for, from February until like, I don't know, April or mid-March, whenever they went into Manzanar.

MM: No, as far as I remember --

KL: I was just curious.

MM: -- when I went to live with them one summer, they had a, they lived in an old house, old house and it had an outhouse and bathhouse.

KL: What was their work in Utah?

MM: They grew vegetables. I think they grew sugar beets.

KL: Was, were they always in the same place? Were they sharecropping or were they...

MM: No, they were on their own. And I remember my aunt told me that she would pray over the seeds that they had to plant, that it would provide for them a living so that they could eat and just live. She prayed. She told me that, and I thought that was wonderful that she had, she trusted in God.

KL: Sounds like it was really tough for your cousins. Do you have a sense of what social life was like for your, for her and her husband among adults?

MM: No, she never did say anything about that. All she said it was, it was, would eke out a living and that's all you concentrate on.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

KL: Okay, so back to Poston, you said you guys arrived and it was really hot and you'd been wearing all your clothes. What happened in the first couple of hours that you were in Poston? What do you remember about that, arriving?

MM: Well, probably not much. We had to find our barrack, I mean report to where we're going to be housed and find the barrack.

KL: Who gave you your housing assignment?

MM: I have no idea. I have no idea. Being a kid, you just follow where your parents say we have to go.

KL: Yeah, "Stand over here and don't move."

MM: Yeah, right, right. [Laughs]

KL: What was your barrack like in Poston, when you first went into it?

MM: Just one room, twenty by twenty-five, one lightbulb, no partitions or anything. And with our large family living in one room, all we had, all we could do is just sleep.

KL: Yeah, how many of you were there at that time?

MM: There were six of us kids and Mother and Father, so that means there was eight of us. And then one more was born in the camp, Earlyn, so that's another person.

KL: Where did your grandmother live in Poston?

MM: She lived in 219. We lived in 211. We were in the same camp. [Coughs]


KL: So we just took a real quick break to breathe, and you said that your grandmother was in 219 and 211. I assume the 2 is Poston 2?

MM: Uh-huh.

KL: And then is 19 the block?

MM: No, 219. It was in the two hundreds, Camp 2 is two hundred; in Camp 1 is one to one hundred or something like that, and Camp 3 is three hundreds.

KL: So where were you relative to the rest of the camp? Were you in the middle or right on the edge or...

MM: We were on the edge, because I remember the forest next to us, next to our barrack, and we used to run in the forest and hide and have a little privacy. And my girlfriend and I, we would sing, sing to, just screech out, belt out thanksgiving songs. [Sings] "Over the river and through the woods," we used to sing that song. Yeah, it was fun.

KL: Was she your friend from before Poston?

MM: No, we were friends in camp, that's all.

KL: What's her name?

MM: Miyoko Hada, M-I-Y-O-K-O, and Hada is H-A-D-A.

KL: Do you remember a military presence at Poston?

MM: You mean the guard soldiers?

KL: Did you ever encounter soldiers or guards?

MM: Oh no, they were never walking amongst us or anything. They were always up in their tower, so we never went near there.

KL: How did you know not to go near there?

MM: Well, for one thing, it wasn't even close to where I lived. It was stationed someplace else, but I never saw it and I never wanted to go see it or was interested in it or anything like that. Curious, no.

KL: Did your barrack change at all during your time in Poston?

MM: What do you mean by change?

KL: Did you, like in Manzanar, after several months wallboard went in and linoleum went in. if people had the money, they ordered it from catalogs.

MM: Are you kidding? No, we didn't have no such thing.

KL: Or some friends would bring furniture in. I think it depended on your economic group, but...

MM: No, no. No, none of that.

KL: No changes.

MM: That's the first time I heard of something like that.

KL: Yeah, it was a construction zone. See, people who went to Manzanar usually didn't come from an assembly center. Manzanar was an assembly center, so for a lot of people it was under construction when they arrived and it was, things were changing even on the government side for the first several months people were there, as far as finish, finishing the barracks.

MM: Really?

KL: And then if people had the money or they had stuff in storage and a friend who could --

MM: Bring it.

KL: -- get the tire tickets and stuff and bring it to them, sometimes that would happen. But you guys were farther too. I mean, that was part of Manzanar's proximity to L.A. So no changes, really.

MM: No.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 13>

KL: What was school like?

MM: School, well, my fifth grade teacher was Mrs. Fox. She was a nice teacher. She was from the outside, came in, and I remember she gave us a motto to live by, and she said, "Only my best is good enough. Remember that." That's what she taught us. She had polio, so she limped a lot, but she was a good teacher. And then I had, what, Miss Banning, Elsie Banning, and she was a good teacher. I wrote to her after camp, too. She moved to Florida to take care of her mother, so I have a letter from her that I kept. And I had a pen pal while I was in camp, but I forgot her name. A tall, slender Caucasian girl, and somewhere in southern California. I forgot the name of the town, too.

KL: Was she someone you knew personally before?

MM: No, she was a pen pal.

KL: How did that relationship get started?

MM: I don't know how that came. I guess through some magazine or something, I don't know.

KL: Do you think it was through school?

MM: Could be. I don't remember that. All I know is I had a pen pal.

KL: Do you know where either of your, the teachers that you recall, were from?

MM: I don't know where Mrs. Fox was from, and Elsie Banning, her mother was in Florida and then she later moved to Tucson, Arizona, later on, many years later.

KL: So you were in touch with her for a while.

MM: Yeah, I was.

KL: Did she ever say what motivated her to teach in Poston?

MM: No, no. But I think she had a love for us, really. She cared about us. She was a Christian lady, so I think she had a love for us, had a heart for us, to teach us. I seemed to get that message.

KL: What was the classroom like? Or classrooms, I guess you were there for a couple years.

MM: Well, we didn't have much, I mean in way of books and pencils and papers. I always, I wanted, I always wanted a tablet so I could write, but nothing to write on. So I went to the canteen, and I stole a tablet.

KL: Really?

MM: Yeah. And as I was walking out the saleslady saw me, so she said, "If you give me the tablet back, I won't tell your mother." Well, that was the end of my life of crime. [Laughs] I never did it again.

KL: And you never got anything to write on?

MM: No, I never got anything to write on. So I like tablets and I don't write in it. I get tablets and I don't write in it. [Laughs] Isn't it funny? It's just funny.

KL: How many kids were in a class?

MM: I would say there was about twenty. Twenty.

KL: Did you exchange classes or teachers for different subjects or anything?

MM: You had the same teacher all day.

KL: [Laughs] Better or for worse.

MM: I mean, what teacher can teach everything? We didn't, I didn't have variety, that's for sure.

KL: Did you have favorite subjects?

MM: Well, I liked English, and I liked it when the teacher read stories to us. After lunch we would go back to class, and she would read to us for one hour, a story, keep us mesmerized. [Laughs]

KL: That'd be, I would've loved that.

MM: Yeah, yeah.

KL: What stories do you remember?

MM: By golly, I don't remember a one. I don't remember. That's terrible.

KL: That's like what you were saying last night, what, you remember the feeling sometimes and not the content. You, that reminded me that I wanted to ask you about in the library in Poston. Was there...

MM: Yeah, we had a library, and it was called the "Novel Hut," and I would go there and I would check out the books. I read the Nancy Drew mystery books, the Bobbsey Twins, I read 'em all, and I think that's as far as I got because I had to work. I had to do all the laundry and ironing for the family, and so I really didn't have much time to play, but when I did I always played with Miyoko.

KL: Where was the library located?

MM: I think it was located in 214.

KL: It was in a barrack?

MM: Yeah, a barrack.

KL: Was it one apartment?

MM: Just one long barrack, and churches sent in the books that families donated.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

KL: Do you remember any gardens in Poston?

MM: Yeah, we had, in front of our house, a fish pond.

KL: Who built it?

MM: One of our neighbors, I guess. I think Mr., what was his name, Hamagiwa, he was our neighbor. And believe it or not, we were barrack 211-1-B, I mean the block was, the whole block was 211 and we were barrack number 1, so we were next door to the Christian church. I never went to the Christian church. I went to block 214 to the Buddhist church with my friends, and I ended up in the Christian church.

KL: Did you ever hear the Christian church in Poston?

MM: Oh yes, I used to hear this tune, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." Every Sunday I heard that tune, and years later I said, "Gee, that sounds familiar. I wonder where I heard it?" And I said, "Oh my gosh, that's the hymn I heard every Sunday morning." I could hear the piano playing. I guess she was practicing or, yeah, practicing, because I heard it on my way to the Buddhist church the next block over.

KL: What do you remember about the Buddhist church?

MM: We had a wonderful priest. He had two boys, same age as us, so he loved the kids and he would tell us stories with a moral to it, tell us wonderful stories. He was just a wonderful man. Everybody, all us kids loved him, and after camp he died of a heart attack, in his early forties. It was very sad.

KL: Where was, do you know where he was from?

MM: Somewhere in the Bay Area, I think, because that's where his widow ended up.

KL: What was his name?

MM: Iwanaga, I-W-A-N-A-G-A.

KL: Was his wife really involved in the congregation too?

MM: Yeah, she was a soloist, a pianist, she taught the Japanese arts. Very gifted woman, talented.

KL: And what were their boys like?

MM: They were cute. [Laughs] And that's all, I mean, I never played with them or anything, but I remember they were cute. They were younger than me. Their names were Ryo and Mutsu, R-Y-O, and then Mutsu, M-U-T-S-U, Mutsu. And one of them died of a heart attack like his father, and so... yeah.

KL: You mentioned that it may have been Mr. Hamagiwa -- did I say that right?

MM: Yeah.

KL: -- who built the fish pond. What do you recall about him?

MM: Well, he was a, I remember he was kind of a fancy dresser, and I think his wife was, that was her second marriage. She was kind of a stern, stern woman, meticulous dresser. Those two things I remember about her, and she would tell my mother, "Why don't you send your kids to the Christian church right here?" She would tell my, my mother told me that's what she said. And I said, "Well, I want to go to church with my friends." So naturally, I went over there.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

KL: Did your folks attend the Buddhist church at Poston?

MM: I don't think so. I don't think so. My mother, when she was -- she got married at sixteen, so I think she was fourteen when my grandmother sent her to Berkeley to help another family with, childless couple, and there was a Dr. Yoshiye Togasaki, and I happen to have her card here --

KL: I'm so glad because I don't have a strong sense of her, and of course she is part the visitor's center at Manzanar.

MM: Is she? Well, this --

KL: Yeah, so please tell us anything you can.

MM: I'd love to tell you about her.

KL: Are you ready to do it?

MM: Yeah. Now, Dr. Yoshiye Togasaki would come to this family's house that my mother was helping.

KL: And what were their names, the family?

MM: Ninomiya, just like my mother. But no relative, no relative. I don't have the name, the first name, but it was the Ninomiya family and so my mother went there to help them for one year, and Dr. Yoshiye Togasaki would come to this home and teach Sunday school to all the neighborhood kids. All the Japanese families would send their kids to the Ninomiya house, and my mother says, "She was my Sunday school teacher." Now, years later, I'm married now and my mother said, out of the clear blue sky, "Marion, have you ever gone to Mexico City?" I say yeah. Dr. Yoshiye Togasaki sent me. She paid my tuition and my airfare and everything to go, to attend the first International Women's Conference. And she said, "Dr. Yoshiye Togasaki? She was my Sunday school teacher when I was, when I was young." And I said, "Well I'll be darned." And so when Dr. Yoshiye Togasaki was going to retire, it was in the newspaper, Japanese newspapers, there was going to be a big party and the tickets were going to be fifty dollars or something like that, it's going to be held in San Francisco. I wanted to go, but I wasn't able to go, and so what I did instead was write up this story that my mother told me, "You were my mother's Sunday school teacher when she was fourteen years old," and she named all these names, my mother named all these names and my mother, she must've got a lot out of it because she lived like she, like a Christian person would. And so Dr. Yoshiya Togasaki wrote to me and she said, "Your letter was the most meaningful of all my gifts," that she received, "because you never know how people's lives were affected when you help them, because you never heard of it. And here I heard what happened." And she just appreciated so much my writing to her. That was my contribution to her retirement party.

KL: How did you come in contact with her? You said she funded your travel to Mexico City?

MM: I was part of the Asian Presbyterian Women's Group, and we were asked to participate in the National Presbyterian Women's Conference in 1975, I believe it was. So in order to do this we had to prepare one year in advance, a group of us women, Presbyterian women, pastors' wives or people who were, mostly were active, really active in the Presbyterian church, we got together at Alamo retreat place, and we had to tell our stories to each other because everybody had a tearful story to tell, about the prejudice, the discrimination that they faced in the work area of their life. And we all cried. I mean, we just, to hear these stories of, this woman from the Philippines, she came, she was a director of a hospital, when she came to America they didn't accept her credentials, anything of how she was a director of a hospital, all the education that she received in the Philippines, and so she had to go back to school all over again at this stage in her life. And we just, I mean, upon hearing that we just all cried. You know? How frustrating it was to have to go all over again, another education like that. It was awful. And then different kinds of prejudice and discrimination that, each of these women had a story to tell, and we had to get all this cruddy stuff out of our systems, because if we're going to participate, the leaders said, "We want to show strength, face, our faces and what we're doing in our churches. And we don't want anybody breaking down. We want everybody to be strong and tough, that kind of spirit."

Well, so that's why we shared our stories, and it took one year to do this. And the next step was to divide up what we're going to do. We need people to tell the story, we need people to man the bookstores with all our different books, we need people to show a video or, what do you call those 35 millimeter... it was nineteen...

KL: Film clip?

MM: Film clip, and be able to share, take care of that, answer questions. And we need a few to work with the executive board, who will do the, do holy communion for everybody, five thousand people. And we want a representative from the Asian women, so we need somebody who will do that. And I forgot what the other category was, and so we were to choose amongst these ten women, what we're going to do -- thirteen, thirteen women -- what we're going to do. So I said, well, I guess I'll be willing to tell my story then, because I'm not good in the other things, and so I said I'll do that. So now they had to, one lady needed to work with me to tell my story, to read it so that it'll be, what is it, politically correct or whatever you call it.

KL: I was thinking compelling, but there was a concern for how it would be received?

MM: Yeah. And so now I was to be the Asian American story. There was going to be a Native American story teller, American Indian, Chicano American, and a Black American. There was going to be four of us women who were going to be on the stage and were going to tell our stories to the church. This is what's, what our history is in the church. And so I told my story about being in a concentration camp, made to feel that I started the war, made to feel that being Japanese was bad. That's what I said.

KL: In 1975.

MM: Yeah, that's what I said. So that was my story; I have a copy of that, too. And at the end of the, of my telling the story, I put my head down and I was reprimanded for that. Remember I told you? We have to show, not to put our head down, but my head went down. I don't know, I guess I was, I was so nervous, and by then I was tired, I guess, because it was nerve-wracking. You're speaking to five thousand people and you know what you're doing? It's so dark you don't see anybody. You're talking to a darkness, that's what you're talking to. And the stage, you were way down in the pit, and when it came time for us the stage comes up, oh my goodness. They didn't tell us that was going to be happening. And we came up, the stage started to move up, my goodness, what a feeling that was. [Laughs] They didn't tell us that.

KL: Did Dr. Togasaki go to that conference?

MM: No, no, no.

KL: What was her interest in funding... was it, did she choose you? Did she know you, or she just funded this scholarship?

MM: No, the Asian Presbyterian Women's Group asked for a donation so that somebody could represent us and go. So I went, and that was an experience. That's another experience. Should I tell you about that?

KL: Well, I have two more questions first, and then yes. But my first question is what, did you ever hear from people in the audience what their reaction to your story was?

MM: Never. But I heard one -- Judith Jamison, do you know who she is?

KL: I should. Her name is familiar, but I can't place her.

MM: She's a very tall, slender dancer

KL: Yeah.

MM: Alvin Ailey.

KL: Oh, she's the artistic director, yeah.

MM: Yes. Well, I found a picture of her in a magazine, advertising stocking, she is the most longest-legged person and she's tall, slender, and she had on this white dress and it was fitted on the body but the bottom part was flared. And after I finished speaking, I was the last speaker, she told the lady waiting to dance after our talk, "I can't dance. Those stories were so compelling I can't dance." And the lady that was with her said, "Judith, you've got to dance because you have to show that there's promise, there's hope, there's, there's strength in women, and we can come back." And with that, she came out on the floor with a bang and a flare. I tell you, it was the most fantastic dancing I ever saw in my life. Being so slender and tall, the white dress, the flare, and she twirled around and she put her arms this way, I tell you, it was just, it was fantastic. It was glorious.

KL: The Ailey's amazing, that company. I've never seen her dance, but I've seen them in performance a couple times.

MM: Yeah, Alvin Ailey Dance Group.

KL: Wow, that's really cool that she was there.

MM: That was the only comment I ever, because the lady shared it with us.

KL: And you said it was an international conference?

MM: Yeah.

KL: So were there similar panels from other countries, telling about --

MM: No, because this was the National United Presbyterian Women's Conference, but there were delegates from all over the world. There were five thousand women.

KL: What do you recall about the other three narrators?

MM: The black lady said, I think she was next to me, she said -- I spoke maybe one or two minute long. We were supposed to speak to the minute, but mine went a little bit over. But she said her talk was cut short because, I don't know how it worked out, but hers happened to, she remembered so much and I guess she cut it short, and so everything was right to the minute when it was over. And when it was over, the curtain draws or whatever and we go down, I mean, these women are so precise in their planning. It's mind-boggling.

KL: That was a while ago, but do you remember any significant commonalities or differences in your story, the African American woman, the...

MM: Well, I was told that each of us women were supposed to tell personal stories. Not one of them told a personal story, not one. The black lady told a black history, of blacks in America. The (Chinese) American chose one incident of prejudice in Texas that happened to a Chicano American, that's what she chose. And then the Native American told about the life of Native Americans, how they, they only use what they need and then they move on when, and I remember that very distinctly, she told the history of the Native Americans and how many tribes there were in America.

KL: Was Dr. Togasaki affiliated with the Presbyterian church, you would say?

MM: I think she, that family was Presbyterian, and so when they approached her for money, finances, she just gave, yeah.

KL: What else do you know about her biography? I know she was with the army for a while.

MM: Let's... [reaches for notes]

KL: That's okay. If you, we can look together at that stuff later.

MM: Okay.

KL: You said you had some experience that you asked if I wanted to hear.

MM: In Mexico, when I went to Mexico? Well, my neighbor in Stockton had a very dear friend, Jose Leben, in Mexico City. He was the mushroom king of Mexico City, and they told me to look him up. So because they were prisoners of war, Italians, prisoners of war in Stockton during the war, and so after the war was over they were shipped back to Italy, but these two jumped the ship and went to Mexico. But Louis, Louis Donada, my neighbor, he had, he wanted to marry Norma, who came to visit him in the prison.

KL: Libon?

MM: My neighbor. So he came back and married her and was my neighbor. But Jose jumped the ship and stayed in Mexico City, and he became, he grew mushrooms and became the mushroom king, and he grew mushrooms so big it had eight hundred spores. You know that little thingy underneath the mushroom, eight hundred spores. Delicious mushrooms, oh my goodness. Well anyway, they came to see me at the hotel, because Louis told me to look them up, and he, now he speaks to me in English, then he speaks to his wife in Spanish, and I understand Spanish because I took it two years, and so he tells his wife, "Shall we bring her to our house?" And she says, "No, it's okay." And then he talks to me again, and I asked him, "What do they do in Mexico City for mentally handicapped people? Because I have one." And he said, "Nothing. Nothing. What do they do in America?" And I told them what they do in America, because my daughter was, Alisa was in the program and, adult program now and all that. And so now he translates to his wife that, "She has a mentally handicapped daughter." Well, I didn't know that they had a son who was in an automobile accident and now he's, he doesn't have his mind. He's just sitting there at home staring into space, not able to communicate or do anything because his head landed on, he was riding a motorcycle and no helmet. So now, beautiful, handsome young man, twenty-three years old, to see him was heartbreaking. So what they, they said, "Let's take her to our house," she says to him in Spanish. "Oh, I guess I'm going to the house." So I made my way to the house and they introduced me to Alex, the boy, and I tried to communicate with him. And then I searched my purse and I found a music box, a little Japanese music box, and I took it out and I wound it up, and I let him listen to it and he liked it, and he smiled. I said, "You can have it. It's yours." And the mother was happy, so I was able to just communicate a little bit and show him some compassion.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

KL: That reminded me, this is circling back to Poston some, but your neighbor that you were afraid of, your friend's brother, did they go to Poston?

MM: I don't know what camp they went to, but they must've gone to Poston. Maybe they went to Camp 1 or something.

KL: Do you remember people who had special needs in Poston and what it was like for them?

MM: No, no, didn't have anything, that I knew of. No.

KL: So there were two things, both sort of girl in different ways, that I wanted to ask you about. One is we were looking at pictures, and you have sort of amazing hair in Poston, and so did a lot of people in Manzanar, and I wonder how you created that hairstyle and how you kept it [inaudible] like that.

MM: I had straight hair. I had tough, horse hair like, but I went to get a permanent. And they had those old-fashioned permanent machines, it's on a stand with lots of electric curlers, and they put those electric curlers on my head and burned my scalp and all that. I didn't like that. I didn't know what it was going to be like. But I got my first permanent in camp. Oh boy.

KL: Were there others?

MM: What do you mean others?

KL: Other permanents. Or that was it, just the one time?

MM: I'm sure, and that graduated to those home permanents where you buy the kit. Yeah, I graduated --

KL: In Poston?

MM: Yeah.

KL: Where did you get them?

MM: You buy it at the canteen, and then my aunt gave it to me, and that was much better. You didn't get burned.

KL: Did you use hairspray?

MM: No, we didn't have hairspray.

KL: Any pomade or anything?

MM: No.

KL: Lots of clips?

MM: No, no. Gee, I'm surprised my hair is curly.

KL: No, it just is amazing 'cause there's all those elaborate bangs and stuff.

MM: [Laughs] That was the style.

KL: I mean, Manzanar was really windy and Poston was really hot. Did you have any contact with Native American people in Poston? Or did they --

MM: Only as, when we were leaving my, one of the members of my family got mumps or measles or something, so we were the last ones to leave because we were quarantined, and while were being quarantined the Navajo started moving in to live in the barracks. And I understand, I found out later, from one of the Navajos, that they liked being in the barracks and in the kitchen everything was left behind, all the pots and pans and dishes. They liked that. And then the Japanese families, if they didn't want to take back with them whatever they had, so they left it there, and they liked it. So they, they said they were happy about that.

KL: And then I also wondered about your first menstrual cycle.

MM: I started when I was eleven, in camp. Remember I was nine, nine when I went in, so eleven, when I was eleven I started. And it was hard, because I would flow like a river for a young kid.

KL: How was, how did you, do you remember the first time you had bleeding and how you dealt with it, and where you went for learning how to take care of yourself?

MM: I do remember one time, I started when I was in school, and I had to get home right away because my skirt was all bloody. So I moved my skirt around to the side, to the side and with a book I covered it, and I told my girlfriend, "I got to go home," so she walked me home.

KL: Was there some privacy in the latrines by that point?

MM: There was never any privacy.

KL: That never changed?

MM: No, that never changed.

KL: Would you describe them?

MM: Well, they were ten potties, or ten toilet bowls, side by side. I think there was a water at the end that would, when you flushed it would flush all ten at one time and all the thing would... but it would splash, so they would stand up when it started coming because they knew they're going to get splattered otherwise. But I never experienced that because, I don't know why, I just, I took care of it at home.

KL: Did your mom teach you, tell you what to do?

MM: I don't remember. I don't remember that.

MH: I have a question.

KL: Sure.

MH: You indicated when you first came that you brought a supply, your family brought a supply with you. Did that become available in camp with time?

MM: You know --

MH: When you finally ran out, you used other materials, but was something that was supplied in camp?

MM: Oh no, it wasn't supplied. You had to buy it, at the canteen.

MH: No, but you could buy it canteen, though.

MM: Later, later. The canteen was not set up right away. It was set up later, and the goods were ordered much later, like materials, they ordered materials and toothbrush, toothpaste, tablets, pencils, some treats, candy bars, things like that. Just a little bit of everything, for the canteen, that you could buy.

KL: Was the canteen popular? What role did it have with people?

MM: Yeah. People bought yard goods so they could make a dress or a shirt or a, I mean, a blouse or a skirt. Because clothes wear out and kids grow, grow up and they, the clothes don't fit 'em anymore.

KL: Was there any controversy associated with it, that you knew about?

MM: No, that I know of. And sometimes I guess clothes were sent in, too.

KL: To the canteen, or to individual people?

MM: No, well, I guess my mother could get it free someplace. Where else could you get a dress like that that I had on, except for somebody sending it in? I mean, no reasonable ten year old kid would wear what I was wearing. [Looks at photo]

KL: I was looking at your hair. I'll have to look at the dress later.

MM: [Laughs] I said, "Ma, that's an old lady's dress." Yeah.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

KL: So there's a question in the book that I'll just ask this way, did you or your family experience major life changes in camp, births, marriages, deaths?

MM: Well, I was invited, my sister's friend invited both of us overnight to her barrack, and in the night her father molested me, and I was so traumatized that I just, I couldn't scream. Nothing would come out of my mouth. I wish I could've, then something could've been done. Maybe he molested other kids. When I think about it, I was just a kid, I was just ten, and so I didn't tell my mother.

KL: Where did they live?

MM: Well, I'd rather not say.

KL: I mean, were they close --

MM: Because then, then people who hear, see or hear my story, then they'll know who it is.

KL: Were they, was he somebody that you saw frequently in daily living after that?

MM: Well, I did see him, yeah. I mean, you can't help it, you know? You go to the same dining room and you're walking around.

KL: Was his treatment from other, do you think other people had a sense that this happened?

MM: Oh no, no, I don't think so. I really wished I could've screamed. It would've put a stop to it. But I couldn't. I mean, I was [freezes] like that. I couldn't, nothing would come out.

KL: How did you become able to talk about it?

MM: Well, this was years later, and in our church in Stockton we decided to have a day of remembrance, the Day of Remembrance, the day the President Roosevelt signed the Executive Order 9066, which is February 19. That's the Day of Remembrance that we all celebrate, or remember ever year. And so it was on one of the, I think one of the first ones that we held in our church, Calvary Church Stockton, and then we started to share our stories, I think, afterwards, and I said, I just came out and I said, "I was molested in camp." And I remember this because after I said this one of the young, one of the men in the sanctuary ran out of the room crying. He just let out a little, a little scream, I guess, and tears came out of his eyes and he just ran out of the sanctuary. That's what I remember, after I shared it with the congregation. And then from then on I started to share it because I felt it was important, and the more I shared it the less it was inside me, and it was out -- it's like spitting out something that's bothering you, phlegm or something like that, something that was not good. The more I told it the more powerful I got, and I felt strong and, and it was many years later, and I went to the Tule Lake pilgrimage and I said, "You know what? I don't see his face anymore." I used to see it, you know. When I thought about it, I used to see his face. And then I... get it out of my mind, or picture. And so I says, gee, after telling it so long now, it's no longer a memory, and I thought, gee, how powerful that is, to be able to tell, and it's my own thinking, how powerful that is, how important it is for those of us who experience traumatic things in camp, to tell it.

And I began to share it at Tule Lake. I happened to be sitting next to a very quiet lady, she was all by herself so I sat next to her, and we started talking, and then I started to share with her. And she says, "You know what? The same thing happened to me, and my father and mother said 'Don't tell anybody because you'll never be able to get married if you don't'," and things like that, because people know. It was a burden on her all those years, but she was able to share it with me, and I says, oh my goodness. I don't know, I was just led to share it with her, and she was relieved, so relieved. That's the only word I could say, not happy but relieved, that somebody else faced the same thing. Because there were a lot of girls who were molested in camp, but nobody talks about it. It's a, it's a, in Japanese we say haji, haji is shame. We don't talk about shameful things. Stupid, you know? Shameful things cause pain, and it's not good.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

KL: This is Kristen Luetkemeier back for tape three of an oral history interview with Marion Masada, on September 10th, 2014. And we had to cut off kind of abruptly on tape two because of time, but you were going to tell us something further about your being able to speak or...

MM: Two more experiences that affected my life profoundly like that one. And this was when I was married -- no, no, I was single. Excuse me, this was just before I got married, so I was about twenty-two, I think, twenty-two years old. I got married at twenty-three, so this was when I was twenty-two. I needed to find a supplemental job to supplement my income, rather, and so I went to an interview with Milton Mann Photography Studio in San Francisco. I was living in San Francisco at the time. And so he wanted me to do telephone solicitation, and so he says, "I want you to do one now." And so I said, "This is Miss Nakamura, we have a special for you," and blah, blah, blah, and I said it enthusiastically, and when I hung up he said, "Your name sounds too foreign, so I want you to use a Caucasian name." And so I hung up the phone and I dialed again, pretend, and I said, "This is Miss Grant, we have a special for you," and blah, blah, blah. By the time I finished I was seething with anger. I was so mad. I had no words to tell him how I felt, and I grabbed my purse and I glared at him and I left. And I wished I could've said something to him, but I didn't.

And then the second one was, I was married and I went for a part-time job at the nearby school where I lived in Stockton, and so I went to hire for a community aide, working with parents. I was to work with parents. I know how to work with parents. To bring 'em into the school and help their child, that's my job description. And so one day the principal, Mr. Potter, said to me, "I want you to do the secretary's job, too." And by now I'm smart. I know my job description, so I told him, "That's not in my job description," and he says to me, "You do it because I tell you to do it and the superintendent of schools told me to tell you to do it." And I said, "You know, isn't that funny?" I mean, I'm saying to myself, "Isn't that funny? I'm just a three-hour day job and they think I'm a miracle worker." So I headed for, I said, "Thank you," and I left and I headed for that superintendent's office. He happened to be in and I saw him right away, and I said, "How come you didn't tell me I was to do the secretary's job, too, when I'm only a community aide, three hour a day job?" He got on that phone, he dialed Mr. Potter and he said, "Don't you dare do that again," and he banged on the phone. And you know, I felt different. For the first time in my life, I felt like there was power that was asleep down there and it just came out, and I was free. That's how powerful that moment was for me, if I could describe it. That's how it felt. It was a powerful, one of the most powerful moments in my life, and I said, "Boy, that's a good feeling. I've never had one like that. So powerful." And so it told me something, but at the same time it scared me. [Laughs] That I, you got to speak up for justice.

KL: Why did it scare you?

MM: Because I'd never done it. I've always taken it, you know what I mean? That's the Japanese culture. You take it, you don't fight back, you don't cause waves. You can't imagine how difficult it is, you just can't imagine. I'm verbal, I'm very verbal, but not outside of my comfort zone, and that's where it's hard and that's where it's going to count. And I've got to, I've got to be brave enough to do that. You have to have guts to do that, and it is hard, very hard. Unless I know what I'm really talking about -- like going to the schools and speaking like this, I know what I'm talking about. I'm in charge of my own history, so I can tell it because it happened, these things happened. And I could do that, so that's my way of telling truth, sharing truth with people and telling them about that experience of it, power coming back. I got my power back, that's what I tell the students. I said, "I got my power back," and I sit down and I leave it at that, let them think about it. That's where I end my story.

KL: When did the telephone... you said it, you were twenty-two?

MM: Yeah.

KL: So that was nineteen...

MM: '55.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

KL: Your mother had a baby, also.

MM: When I was ten.

KL: What do you, did she talk about it, or do you have observations of what it was like to be pregnant in Poston for her?

MM: No, no. My mother didn't show. I don't think she showed.

KL: And was she already a dietician?

MM: Yes, she was a dietician. Yeah.

KL: So she had some knowledge to help.

MM: Yeah.

KL: Did she, where did she have the baby?

MM: I guess, let's see, in camp? She went to the camp hospital, I guess.

KL: What did...

MM: And then when she had Donald out of the camp, my oldest brother took her to the hospital.

KL: Did she, did you go visit her in the hospital in Poston?

MM: I couldn't.

KL: No time. How long was she away, do you know?

MM: Gee, I don't even remember that.

KL: Yeah, it's hard to translate ten-year-old time into...

MM: Right.

KL: And how did that change life for you, with the new baby? Or did it, really?

MM: Well, I had to do all the family laundry and ironing. I didn't have time to play. That's how it changed. But I didn't mind, really, 'cause I love washing clothes and rinsing it and playing in the water. To me it was kind of fun.

KL: Did you have a laundry room in Poston?

MM: Yes, there was a laundry room where there were tubs, and everybody would do their laundry. But you had to do that in the laundry room; you couldn't do it in your room, there's nothing there, no water, running water or anything, just the room.

KL: Was it busy, the laundry room?

MM: No. When I went there was nobody there. That's why I liked it, 'cause I was by myself. And most of the time people did theirs in the morning; well, I had to go to school in the morning, so when did I have time to wash clothes is in the afternoon after school. So I think that had a lot to do with it.

KL: Were there places in Poston that you were kind of afraid to go or stayed away from, or certain hours? I've heard people talk about sort of being afraid to be in the latrines late at night sometimes.

MM: Well, maybe. My mother had one of those chamber pots, and we could go there.

KL: But I mean were there places, did you have sort of fear associated with any place in Poston?

MM: No, no.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

KL: Were there, this is skipping back, but you mentioned the one fish pond. Were there other fish ponds or ornamental gardens that you remember? We found gardens at Manzanar sometimes through oral history interviews and stuff, so I...

MM: I think there were flowers between the barracks, like gladiolas I kind of think it was. That's about it. Besides, there was a basketball court in front of our house, too, so there was enough space, I imagine, for that little pond, if it was, I don't remember where it was located, but I know there was one. Was it on the side? No, it's got to be the front.

KL: The front of your building?

MM: Yeah.

KL: Was he in 211 also?

MM: Who?

KL: Mr. Hamagiwa.

MM: He was my neighbor on this side [points].

KL: Next to you, he was in your same building?

MM: Uh-huh.

KL: So was he in number two?

MM: He was in number, let's see, 1A and we were 1, 211-1-B, he was 1-C, 1-C. And then 1-D was the manager's office.

KL: Who was the manager?

MM: I beg your pardon.

KL: Excuse me, who was the block manager?

MM: I don't know.

KL: Did you ever go in the office?

MM: No, never, never went. I had no reason to go there.

KL: What reasons took people in there?

MM: I wonder where we got our mail? I don't know, probably that's where you went to collect your mail.

KL: Could be. Do you have memories associated with the leave clearance form, modified Selective Service form?

MM: No.

KL: Sometimes it's called the loyalty questionnaire.

MM: No, no, because that didn't affect me.

KL: You don't remember conversations between others or anything?

MM: No.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

KL: Are there other people that stand out as leaders or who, who were important in Poston?

MM: In Poston?

KL: Uh-huh. You mentioned the minister of the Buddhist church and his family, and then --

MM: Well, there was my Girl Scout leader. I was a Girl Scout for a short time. I have a picture of myself as a Girl Scout. [Shows photo to KL] See right here? Girl Scout. And then this is my seventh grade picture, and this is my, I think it's my sixth grade picture.

KL: Who was the Girl Scout leader?

MM: Momoko Iwakiri. That's her right there [holds up photo].

KL: She looks pretty young.

MM: She's still alive.

KL: Was she a teenager?

MM: Maybe, I don't know. She's not a teenager.

KL: What traits do you associate with her, and what makes her memorable?

MM: Well, I think she was fun. She was fun.

KL: Is this --

MM: And she had a, she had an interest in us girls. We had a reunion, you know, these girls. About seven years ago, because I got a call from the Arizona historian for the Girl Scouts, Arizona Girl Scout historian. And she found out that I was a Girl Scout, and I said, "Yeah, I was a Girl Scout in camp. I have a picture of myself." "You do?" And so she started writing to me, and then that got me started on, "Gee, I've got to locate these girls." So I wrote to the Japanese newspapers -- there was one, two, three of 'em -- and I said, "Could you post this picture and ask where are these girls today?" And I got a phone call from a man, said, "My name is Clifford Hayashi and I'm going to find those girls for you. I like to find lost people." I said, "Really? Okay." And so he located one, he located two, and so finally we located three or four of them. Two of 'em died, found out two of 'em died. And so four of us were able to gather in Saratoga, and the Girl Scout historian came from Arizona with her family, to my house here in Fresno, showed me the Girl Scout uniform that was the uniform of the day, and she said, "Your uniform is a little bit different." And I said, "You know, it could be that our mothers made it, got the material and made it," because it's not the same as the one that she brought. So I said, "We're having a reunion, and would you like to come and join us?" "I would." So she brought her husband, her daughter and granddaughter to the reunion, and we shared our... do you know which one I am? [KL is looking at the photo off camera]

KL: I have a guess, but I don't know if it's right. Are you standing next to your leader, like below her?

MM: No.

MH: I think you're the back row, second to the left.

MM: Let me see.

KL: Here, I'll pass it.

MM: Second to the left is right.

KL: [To MH] You're right?

MH: Back row, second to the left.

MM: Yeah, that one there? [Points]

MH: Yep.

MM: That's me. You see my hairdo, Kristen?

KL: Yeah.

MH: I picked it out that quick.

MM: Wow, you're quick.

KL: Is Miyoko in here?

MM: No, she wasn't a Girl Scout. Miyoko's not in there.

KL: You guys look like you're standing next to a fish pond.

MM: Yeah, I don't know where --

KL: Is that in your block?

MM: I don't know where that was.

KL: That's not the one that was...

MM: No, no, that's not the one in front of our house.

KL: Anything that I've left out about Poston?

MM: Poston...

MH: I had a question. Regarding the... was your family, your mother and father, were they Buddhist?

MM: Well...

MH: You earlier spoke about the connection between the Buddhist temple and the Christian church. Did they, were they Buddhist in camp and then converted to Christian later on?

MM: My father never converted.

MH: So he was Buddhist.

MM: Yeah, but my mother had that Christian training at the age of fourteen, and when she married my father, in order not to make waves she just, if he was going to go the Buddhist temple then she went with him. But she, they just quietly kept their own faith, whatever. After all, she was born in America and she had Christian training, so she never had Buddhist training.

KL: Did you guys have an altar, a Buddhist altar in your home?

MM: No, not us.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

KL: Well, how did you leave Poston? What happened, when did you leave and what happened next?

MM: It was 1945, but I don't know how we got to Salinas, or I mean Watsonville. I imagine we went back by train, but a lot of us don't remember those kind of things. It's so odd. We came back and --

KL: The trips you mean, the to and from.

MM: Yeah.

KL: Yeah, I think that's true. A lot of people don't.

MM: Yeah, they don't, we just don't, I just don't remember. Sab doesn't remember either. But I remember Salinas didn't want us back, so we went to the next town over.

KL: Was that Watsonville, or that was somewhere else?

MM: Watsonville, yeah.

KL: Did you, you tried Salinas? You tried to return there?

MM: Well, we got word that Salinas didn't want us back because so many of the boys were killed at the hands of the Japanese.

KL: How did you receive that word?

MM: I guess my mother heard of, well, in the newspapers, I guess, too. "We don't want you back." In the Watsonville paper, too, I think it was also. But there was enough people coming back that they had no, they had no choice but to accept it.

KL: Did you, when did you learn about what had happened to your belongings and the car?

MM: Well, as soon as we got back, my brother, my oldest brother and my mother went back to Salinas to get their stuff. And when they discovered it was all gone and the car was just a shell and we lost everything, it was awful, it was just awful. My brother came back and said, "It was awful." To see everything scattered and the clothing just no good anymore, that we left behind, and our, my mother's wedding gifts, all gone. My mother, she never put out her wedding gifts because she was, I guess she was planning to buy a house and so she didn't, she just kept it and used only the bare necessities for her family, because one day she was going to buy a house. Well, everything was gone.

KL: Did your oldest brother graduate high school in Poston?

MM: Yes.

KL: In Poston?

MM: No, I think it was after. I think... he was thirteen or fourteen when he went in, so fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen... yeah, I think he graduated outside, his senior year.

KL: Where did you live in Watsonville? What was your situation?

MM: We lived in the Buddhist church for one month. It was so crowded my mother moved us over to the Westview Church.

KL: What was the Westview Church?

MM: It was a Japanese Presbyterian church, and it was more room. They had a gymnasium, they had a big kitchen, they had Sunday school rooms, so we stayed in two rooms.

KL: Just your family?

MM: Uh-huh.

KL: Can you give us a description or a sense for what it was like in the Buddhist church? you said it was crowded, but, like, where did people live, how many people, were services still --

MM: All I remember was so crowded. There was just a lot of people, I remember that. And I remember rubbing the old people's shoulders 'cause they were all achy, so I just rubbed their shoulders for them and they appreciated it.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

KL: How long were you in the Westview Church?

MM: Well, altogether we were in Watsonville one year, the school year. And then -- I was in the eighth grade, and I finished the eighth grade, so that was one school year we finished. Then we moved to San Jose, and my mother found an old abandoned house on Gish Road. I'll never forget it, it was so awful. But what are you going to do? You just have to take it.

KL: What made it so awful?

MM: It was smelly and old and dirty, and it was just awful.

KL: Were there other neighbors?

MM: No, I don't think so. You mean immediate neighbors? No. It was abandoned, abandoned house.

KL: So she didn't lease it or anything. You moved in and...

MM: No, no, she had to rent it from the person who owned that property.

KL: How long were you there?

MM: Not very long, but we moved into a shed the next, apricot shed with no walls, so we used the trays as walls all the way around the building, and my mother cooked outside on a fire. So that was temporary.

KL: That was in San Jose also?

MM: Yeah.

KL: Where was that? Do you remember the street or anything?

MM: White Road. I think it was White Road. The first one was Gish Road. Yeah, and the third place, my mother found this ranch house, Mrs. Giannada, a widow lady, with Johnny and, Johnny and... there was a daughter. What was her name? Johnny and... it was an Italian name. I can't remember now. (Narr. note: Carmella.)

KL: Your mom had a lot of responsibility -- I mean, this is stating the obvious, but not only did she, was she a mother to all these kids, but she also was the English-speaking adult.

MM: Yeah, who more or less had to take charge of the business affairs of family.

KL: How did she, was that a new situation for her?

MM: No. By now, my mother was pretty smart. She, if she hired a man to fix something, she studied what she did and she never had to call another one again because she knew how to do it. My mother just learned from watching. She would watch how they do things and then never have to call a repairman again for that, so she was pretty smart that way.

KL: You were saying the third place was Mrs. Giannada?

MM: Giannada.

KL: Giannada. How long do you think those three places combined you were? It was '46 or so when you moved to Gish Road.

MM: Well, in nineteen, past '60, so 1961 I think.

KL: They were at Mrs. Giannada's place until '61?

MM: Yeah. See, because my brother Bobby was killed in an auto accident and he had insurance, left whatever, if something happened to him, the insurance money was to go to my mother, so my mother was able to put a down payment on a house. Until then she was just not able to accumulate enough money, because in the wintertime there's no job, so whatever they earn in the summertime, she had to stash it away in order to pay rent and food for the family. So I said to my mother, "I'll be a live-in maid so that you have one less mouth to feed and one less body to house." So during the school year I lived in people's homes and I worked for my keep, and that's the way we did it. Then summertime, I would come home and work in the fields with them, with my father, and so that's how we got along.

KL: So your parents were still doing farm work, and you too.

MM: Yeah.

KL: This was all in San Jose, right?

MM: All in San Jose.

KL: Until the 1960s. Did they always work on the same operation?

MM: Well, my mother eventually got a job in a frozen food company, like Birdseye or something like that.

KL: In San Jose?

MM: In San Jose, and she liked the job. And my father always worked on the farm. My father does not like to be indoors, like doing janitor's job or something like that. My father likes the outdoors. He wanted to be outdoors, so naturally that put him on the farm. And he worked for Mr. Paoletti and he worked for Mr. Imwali in the wintertime. In the wintertime he pruned fruit trees. There was apricots, pears, probably peaches.

KL: How long did he do that work?

MM: My father?

KL: Through the '60s and into the...

MM: Yeah, my father died in 1975, of a heart attack. He just died in his sleep. His heart just gave way, and he died at seventy-five -- in 1975.

KL: And was he still working before he died?

MM: Oh yeah.

KL: Did he, I don't know the story in San Jose area, was there much unrest like there was further south in the Central Valley, due to labor conditions? There was a lot of labor organizing and union organizing and advocacy, and did any of that touch his work, from about '65 to '75?

MM: Uh-uh.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

KL: What was it like for you to be a live-in maid?

MM: Well, I had my own room, my own bathroom, so I liked that. I like my own space, that was good. And I wasn't scared or anything because I was living in a house, little house separate from the family and in the back, and somehow I thought that was great. Because living in such crowded conditions all my life until then, to have my own space was really freedom.

KL: Were you always with the same family?

MM: No, I worked for a principal in the ninth grade, and in the tenth grade I worked for, tenth and eleven and twelve I think, I worked for the Imwali family. And then the third family, when I went to junior college I worked for a professor, a divorced woman with two boys. Yeah, I worked for her, I lived in with her. And I'll never forget this, because she was such a bitter woman, because of the divorce, and it rubbed off on her oldest son. He became bitter, just a spitting image of his mother. I saw all this, and then the youngest boy was cheerful and, "Oh, don't take it so hard, Stewart," and he tried to accept the fact that they no longer had a father. He was a wonderful boy, that young one, (Randy). He was smart. But Stewart was bitter and his life was really affected by his mother's divorce, and I never saw such a bitter woman, who let that bitterness eat her up, made her a miserable woman to be with. She was not fun to be with, but I stuck it out with two years with her. You see a lot of life when you live with other people, so I think those were all lessons I learned. I don't want to be like that, not bitter like that.

KL: You mention junior college, did you go straight from high school?

MM: High school, yeah. I was given a scholarship to go to junior college, and that's all I could afford. By then I needed to go out and work for myself, so I went to live in San Francisco with my aunt.

KL: With which aunt?

MM: The one I used to live with as a child.

KL: In L.A.?

MM: In Salinas. Margie, my grandmother's daughter, one of the two. She was the younger of the two.

KL: That was after you graduated from junior college? You became --

MM: Yeah, I went to San Francisco. She said, "Come and live with me." And we lived in one room; oh my goodness, I'll never forget it. The closet, clothes on one side and a burner stove on the other side, and dishes up there, and a sofa that you turn into a bed at night. And you have to go down the hall and take your Clorox and your whatever it is to, cleanser, and clean the tub before you could even use it, because somebody else used it. That was just awful.

KL: What part of San Francisco was it in?

MM: It was on Arguello Street. Arguello is First Street.

KL: Were you working that year? I'm sure you were.

MM: Oh yeah.

KL: What were you doing?

MM: I worked for an insurance company. I was secretary to the manager. I knew shorthand, so I took shorthand and wrote letters and answered the phone for him, did everything what a secretary does.

KL: Did you have any trouble job hunting based on your name or your heritage, your looks?

MM: Well, I got a job. I didn't have to look too hard. But it didn't pay that much. It wasn't a high-paying job. Imagine in working in San Francisco for two hundred dollars a month, that's nothing, really. So that's why I wanted to look for another job. Well, so I went to work for the Sixth Army after that, underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. I worked for Colonel Dawes, and he worked in the comptroller department. And I worked there one year because I didn't like, I didn't like what I was seeing. I saw these women, older women in the same department -- I was low man on the totem pole -- and they would come in and talk all morning, smoking their cigarettes and drinking their coffee. I said jiminy, what kind of, and the colonel doesn't say anything to the women, "Get to work," you know? I didn't like it, 'cause you're supposed to work. I can't do that. So in the meantime I was helping this one lady, and unbeknownst to me, I didn't know that she was having me checked so that I could do, what do you call, secret work for the army. But I told her after that what I was seeing and feeling, I said, "I can't work here. I'm going to quit." But I had to find another job, so I was working with, I got a scholarship to work with teenagers in Lake Tahoe. It was a church conference, so I went, and the lady there was from the Board of Christian Education and she said, "We need a secretary, office secretary. Are you interested, by any chance?" And I said, well, gee, that's a lot better, worthwhile job than what I'm doing. I said, "I'll take it." It was a pay in cut, but I took it. I would go to the seminary and be the registrar, go to the seminary where Sab was going.

KL: And, just for the camera, what was that seminary?

MM: San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Rafael, across the Golden Gate Bridge. And we would go to churches and put on seminars, Christian ed seminars, and I would be there to work with the ladies and sell materials and things like that. So it was a good job. I loved it. And one day Sab came to our office -- nobody ever comes to the office, because the bookstore is downstairs where they sell everything, but he comes upstairs and he wanted some Christian ed materials. And I said, well, what grade and all that, and I gathered some materials and start writing down his orders, how much he had to pay and all that, and that's how I met him.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

KL: You guys have done a lot together. I'd value hearing more about, about your life together and about your partnership and what's been important to you guys.

MM: Well, we've had lots of struggles, lots of struggles. I was not born into a Christian home, per se, but... and then to marry a minister just like that, and I was just a young Christian, I can't tell you how hard that was. That's just like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. You don't know what to expect. There's a lot of expectations, and I know I didn't meet all those expectations. And I suffered for about eight years because of these expectations. When the girls gave me showers, they gave me the pastor's wife book. I got seven of those.

KL: What's the pastor's wife book?

MM: Tells you the wife does this and the wife does that, and well, I said I don't do not one of those things. It made me feel so inadequate, really. And he said, and so Sab said to me, "I didn't marry you to do all those things." He said, "I needed you to be by my side, that's all." I said, "I could do the work if you're with me," and so I said, well... but deep down inside I still felt so inadequate. Eight years I suffered. I counted those eight years. And then I, it dawned on me, you know, I have to do what I can do. I can't do what somebody else can do, because I don't have it. So I said, well, what do I do best? And well, I cook meals the best, so I said, I started inviting students, students who would come to the church on Sundays and needed a place to just hang out and talk, so I would invite students or visiting people, visiting the church. So I did that, and it was, it turned out to be pretty nice that I could do that and help people. When they come over, they talk about their life and they talk about their struggles, and I got to learn about people. And I says, you know what, when you feed people the tongue gets loose and they start talking. But if it's just refreshments or something, it's just being polite and nice and then they leave, but when you sit down to a meal together it's a little bit different. I noticed that. I'm very observant that way. And so people started to tell about their life. We had job corps students come to our church in Ogden, and these are children from the backwoods of Kentucky and all the states that were distressed, and they would send these kids to these job corps places where they had job corps training to do some kind of job. And so I learned that these kids were eating squirrels and these animals that they'd catch and things like that. I said, "Oh, really?" And how they lived in the backwoods, and that was so interesting to me. I found that I liked hearing these stories. I just love hearing how other people live or how they do things differently, so it, that kind of became my sort of joy.

KL: You mentioned that you were a young Christian at the time when you and Saburo got together. What caused you to embrace Christianity?

MM: Well, I was almost in an auto accident, and I said, "Oh my gosh," and so I said, "Well, I better go to church and be right with God." And in the meantime, all these friends that I had at the church, that I made friends with, they said, "Marion, we were praying for you." [Laughs] So I had a, I had a group of friends who were praying for me to become a Christian. I said, wow, they were thinking about me that much that they were praying for me, and so I said wow.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

KL: So there's a question in this booklet that, the oral history booklet, that says, "What was your life after camp?" And you said, "This is a long story, ask me about it." What else did you want to record about your...

MM: It is so long, really. First of all, we had the three children in Ogden, while we served an Ogden church. And Charise was born, Michal was born, and Alisa, she suffered from seizure when she was six months old. The doctor said she was a normal delivery, although she was a breach baby, but now as I think back on it, the air must've been cut off and that affected her, and her brain, we discovered, wasn't developing like a normal child. And when they told me that she was going to be mentally handicapped I went into depression, because there were other women in the church having babies and their babies were okay, but mine wasn't. And to see the normal ones growing up, walking and talking, and mine not doing that, it just tore me apart. And I, for one year I just cried and cried. I just couldn't get over it, couldn't get past it. And then one Sunday in church, I was singing in the choir then, and we sang this offering hymn, "We give thee but thine own, whate'er the gift may be. All that we have is thine alone, a trust, O Lord, from thee." Boom, it hit me. Alisa was a trust from the Lord to me. And I just burst down and cried because the Lord trusted me with this baby, and here I was crying and being depressed and upset and all that. I said, well... and then the doctors told us to throw the baby away, by putting her into the state hospital and forgetting about her. And I said, "We can't do that, throw the baby away like that." I said, "That's, that's not right." So then that made me angry enough to say, okay, now what's the next thing that I've got to do? I've got to go learn how to teach this child.

So I went back to college and I took courses on how to help a handicapped child, and when I learned that I came home and I did it. And I taught her how to read, we taught her manners, that we have to have nice manners, we have to be clean and be clean, not messy or dirty. So she's very fussy that way today. [Laughs] She doesn't like to be dirty. She'll come home and she says, "I got to take a bath, or take a shower," 'cause she doesn't like to be dirty. Then after that, when I'm trying to teach her something and I get frustrated, I would spank her, but two pairs of eyes were watching, and I didn't know that. And the two pairs of eyes, when they were playing with their little sister, they got frustrated too, and they'd start hitting her, and I saw that, God made me see that. So I went over there and I said to the girls, I said, " Alisa is a precious baby and we have to have more patience with her, girls." And so they never did it after that. So God taught me all kinds of things along the way, how to, and to be concerned about her future. Start planning now, train her now, to leave the home at a certain age. Michal about it in the home, so at suppertime we're all talking about it. " Charise is gonna go to college, Michal is gonna go to college, and Alisa, you're gonna leave, too." Okay, so she accepted it, and when the time came at nineteen, she just went. She didn't fuss, she didn't cry. First day of school, at three years old, a training school opened up, she didn't, she just went in and she didn't even cry or anything, whereas the other two, they cried their head off if I left 'em at school. Alisa was just different. So just different things like that, I was trained, I really was trained. And in my training, I applied it to starting a camp for special, mentally handicapped Asian children, because when we checked around we found out that families kept 'em at home because they couldn't trust other people to take care of their kids for one week away from home. They were afraid they were going to be mistreated. But after they found out about our camp, they start letting their kids come. They were from Buddhist homes, mostly Buddhist homes, but because the kids had such a wonderful time and they'd come home and tell their parents, full of joy, well, that's really something.

KL: What's the camp's name?

MM: Special Camp, with the Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society. It's called JEMS, J-E-M-S, Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society. And this camp that we started forty years ago is still going on with different leaders. And Alisa went the first thirty years, and I, by now she has a job in Southern Cal, she's happy where she is, so she doesn't have to go to camp anymore. She needs to let somebody else come. So that's what's happened. So that, and then Charise became mentally ill at the age of fifteen, and it was the most devastating, frustrating experience of our life, because she would be, she would be up and down in spirit, down the next. If she was up, we were, I was up; if she was down, I was down. I mean, I couldn't take this. So we went to doctors, counseling, we tried all kinds of therapy for her. Nothing helped, until the parents organized -- because they had children like Charise, and they organized and called it National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and that became a powerful group. They raised money and, for research, and the money for research helped our kids to, for new medication so it will control some of their, the things that they were experiencing. Like Charise was experiencing loud voices in her head shouting very mean things, "You're no good, you're an 'it.' Why don't you die?" I mean things like that. She would tell me, "Mom, can't you hear the voices?" And I'm sitting right next to her and I said, "I'm sorry, I can't hear it." She says, "They're screaming at me. I got to --" and then she's screaming back. She says, "Stop it," she's yelling. It was scary, because the neighbors, I mean, she's yelling, the neighbors are thinking that I'm beating her. I said, "You got to keep it down." So it was an awful time, so my, his sister said, "Well, you've tried everything. Why don't you try faith healing? There's a bible school in Tennessee, Cleveland, Tennessee. Go there and see what they teach about faith healing." Well, I didn't know Sab didn't believe in that. But he allowed me to go, and so I had, I said, "I'm not going unless some people are praying for us, definitely committed to pray for us," because it's scary dealing with Charise. I don't know what she's gonna do on the bus, and we're gonna go by Greyhound bus, three days and the fourth day reach there. And things did happen on the trip, but nobody paid any attention to her, so we made it. And when I got there, the faith healing teacher met me, and when he met me he left the school. I don't know if I scared him or what.

KL: Yeah, I hadn't thought about that before.

MM: Yeah, it must've scared him, because I said, "I have a daughter that's very ill and needs help." And he left. He was to be the faith healing teacher and he left, and I felt so abandoned. And I phoned Sab, and I said, "Well, I made it up to here. I might as well stay and go to the Bible School and see what they teach." And it was a charismatic Bible School, very, very small-minded in some ways, where they felt the devil was in Charise. I didn't know that. They thought it was the devil in people who are mentally ill, because they act so weird, and the devil needs to be exorcised out or whatever. They used to have healing sessions where you go up and they put your hand, they put their hand on you and pray, and some people just fall down. I don't know if they do that automatically or what, but anyway, things like that happened at the Bible School. And they sang in tongues. Are you familiar with that?

KL: A little bit. I've seen it.

MM: That is beautiful, singing in tongues is a very beautiful harmony. It's beautiful. But anyway, so when Charise, when I was at my wit's end and I told, I told God one night, I said, "I am so tired and I am at the end of my rope. I just can't do this anymore." I said, "I want you to zap me dead right now. And I'm waiting." [Laughs] And my two girls are sleeping on the bed, I'm on the floor, and I said, "I'm waiting, God. You do it. I'm telling you to do it." I'm telling God what to do. God doesn't do what you tell him to do. You don't order God around. Anyway, I ended up falling asleep, and the next morning at seven o'clock, two students from the bible school came and they said, "Marion, it's us. We came to help you." Two angels from the school came to help me, and they were my help, really wonderful. One was a black lady and one was a white girl Charise's age, and so we became three and now I had help to ease my burden while there. And I think it was about maybe halfway through the Bible School year, and so I said, "Why don't we all three live together? And we'll save expenses that way." So we shared expenses and we just got along swell. Then one day two students from the bible school came and said, "We want to pray over Charise." "Pray over Charise?" I said okay, so they took her and they beat her up, beating the devil out of her and locking her in a closet. And Charise did not tell me this when they brought her back. She was just kind of out of it. When you see her face there, she didn't look like that. She just looked like, she just looked like somebody else, not herself. But she told me what happened years later, and I felt so bad. This was years later she told me, and I said, "Why didn't you tell me?" Well, she was out of it, but she said, "They beat me and they locked me in a closet, and I was so frightened." But I guess in a way that... well, it affected her life. It did. So that's another experience.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

KL: Okay, so this is tape four. We're continuing on, and it's September 10, 2014 with Marion Masada, and I asked you to just fill us in, 'cause you guys eventually found some really good treatment and ways for Charise to have a good life. I wondered if you would fill us in on that, just briefly.

MM: Yeah, she went to a hospital in Palmdale. They had a Christian therapy program, so she went there and got all the help that they could give, and then they transferred her to the Center for Living and Learning for adult mentally ill patients, and she was there for a while, five years, until she started getting worse instead of better. So when we visited her and we noticed she was getting worse, I said, "We're taking you out today. And you stay in the car, and I'm going to get all your things and clean out your room." And then we went to the office and we said, "We're taking her out today. She's not getting better, she's getting worse." So now we took her back to Stockton, and then I said, " Charise, we need to enroll you in the mental health center so that they'll know you're here and not in Palmdale anymore." "Okay." So that gave the director there -- who happened to be Japanese -- he said, "Okay, I'm going to observe her from the back and see if she needs to be admitted." And he went like this [nods], and they got two football player sized black men, and they grabbed her and they put her in the emergency room where they could observe her and see what she could do, see what they could do for her, and she had to comply with whatever they said. And so she called me and she said, "Mom," she's telling me all this, and I said, " Charise," by now I had it up to here, I said, " Charise, until you decide that you want to get well and you're going to cooperate with whatever they tell you, don't call me. Until you decide that, don't call me." That was tough love. And she thought, she said, "I thought about it after you hung up, Mom, and I said, I can't live without my mom. I better do what they tell me." So she made up her mind to, when she makes up her, she does it. And she did everything that was required, she went through that program, she went through the therapy program at the Willow House, Grant House, and then the Rothesay Home where they, they help these students. And they tried different medications, too, and she just started getting better and better and better. And she was with the Rothesay Home for about five years, and they have a program that's connected to the University of the Pacific, all the students there who are going into this kind of social work, I guess, would come and work with these clients. They'd get experience and the Rothesay clients would get help.

So Charise went through that whole program and then she, then we were about ready to retire, so I said, " Charise, why don't you go into an apartment by yourself?" "Oh, I can't do that. I need to live with people." I says, "No, just try it, because we're going to leave Stockton in one year. We're gonna retire, and why don't you do it the one year before we retire. Then if in the night you're frightened or scared to be by yourself, I'll just come right over. I'll be right here in Stockton." "Okay." So we found an apartment and the Rothesay Home, they gave her a, they gave her a bed, they gave her new dishes, they gave her a microwave, brand new microwave, said, "She's graduating to her own apartment." They were thrilled and happy for her, so they wanted to provide everything for her. They were so wonderful. And Charise found she liked it. She loved it. She didn't even call me in the night. Now she's her own boss, she could do what she wants, nobody to tell her. She loved it, and for twenty years now she's been by herself doing it. And each time she gets better and better. You can't imagine what a miracle it is to see somebody who was so out of it -- and I mean out of it, not herself, even her face was not her, it was like somebody else living in there -- and now, you see her face, she's Charise. Everybody loves her. So she's a miracle.

KL: That's remarkable.

MM: And then Alisa moved to her new place, and she's happy. She tells me she's happy. I don't ask her, she says, "Mom, I'm happy."

KL: Do you want to tell us anything about Michal's situation, too?

MM: Yeah, well, I was, we had a church member who had to take care of her handicapped sister because her mother on her deathbed said, "Toyo, please take care of Hacha." I mean, in Japanese the mother said this. And said, "Don't worry, Mom, I will." And because she told her mother on the deathbed she did it, but at the sacrifice of her own life. She got marriage proposals, but she said, "I cannot because I have a sister I have to take care, and no man wants two women." She'd have to bring her sister along, so she knew that and so she never married. And she invited me and told me all this story about the deathbed with of her mother, and she said, "Don't do that to Michal. Whatever you do, don't do that to Michal." And so when I checked it out with Michal, I said, " Michal, I bet you think that when we die you have to take care of Alisa and Charise." And do you know what happened? The tears shot out like that, they just came out like that, and I knew that that was a burden on her heart, that she would have to do that. And I said, "No, we're the parents. You're not the parents, so as parents we're responsible to see that they're taken care of before we die. That's our job as parents. And God has a purpose in your life, and you have to find that purpose yourself, for your life, and go on with your life." And she took off from there, and I told her what Toyo said, and she said felt so grateful that we had this talk. So now she's married and had two sons, and she's very happy. And she became an optometrist, and she, naturally, she helps people who can't pay and she, you know the lady that we visit at the prison? She even made her a pair of glasses, not seeing, just by what the, what the prison hospital said she needed, so she made the glasses for her free. And she takes care of the house where Alisa lives, all those, if they need glasses she examines them, so she's able to do things like that because she went on with her life to become the optometrist she wanted to be. So everything worked out fine, and everybody's where they should be, so we're really grateful... that --

KL: You guys have -- oh, did I interrupt?

MM: No, I said we're just lucky beyond our dreams.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

KL: You guys have made visits to many, not only Poston but some of the other confinement sites, and I wonder, we'll start with Poston, if you could tell us about your trips back there and what they're like.

MM: What they were like?

KL: Uh-huh.

MM: Well, when we went to Poston, we were surprised at the memorial that they built there, that the hot sun was obliterating all the, the, whatever was written, or pictures. The hot sun just obliterated it. You cannot see what, the names or the pictures, so it has to be done over. We were sick, sick...

KL: Were you involved in the memorial? No.

MM: No.

KL: Not in replacing it.

MM: But we were involved in giving money, but as far as being on the committee or something like that, we worked on the Fresno memorial, the two memorials here. We gave our time and energy for that.

KL: In what sense? What was your involvement?

MM: Well, we had to decide what kind of, what kind of memorial we wanted. We wanted pictures with a story, so we called it a storyboard, pictures with the words that describe what is in there.


MM: -- were there, a Native American young lady stopped to see, and we said, "Oh, are you familiar with the Japanese Americans being incarcerated here?" And she said, "Yes, my mother used to live right across the street from the Poston camp, and she remembers that when you all left, you left all the dishes behind and everything." And that's what she told us.

KL: Have you been part of ever, like, a programmed reunion where there's a group and you have an itinerary and stuff at Poston?

MM: We went in October of, I think about two years ago.

KL: What was that like?

MM: It was wonderful, because we sat... let's see how did that go?


KL: So we're back, and you were talking about the visit to Poston and --

MM: Poston and that was, that was, yeah, then we went to Topaz and we met with Jane Beckwith, and she took us there and she described where everything was. By the map on the ground, you could tell this was so-and-so, and certain parts were marked, so that was wonderful to be able to see that. And so far in the boondocks, that was about the loneliest spot you could ever find, and that's all I remember about that one. And Rohwer and Poston, I mean Rohwer and, and...

KL: Jerome.

MM: Jerome. We went there, and all we saw was a smokestack, and we met with Mr., Mr. (Ellington), what was his last name? It started with an E... I forgot his name, but I think he said that the barracks were not worth saving, so they built a big hole and they shoved all those rickety old barracks in the ground and just covered it all up.

KL: Was he part of the chamber of commerce, this man, or a Japanese American guy?

MM: No, no, he was a Caucasian man, and his father -- or was it him? I think it was more or less his father, bought a lot of the land, and I think they raise cotton now and rice. I think when he came, he came to Fresno and he brought packages of the rice that they raised and, for everybody. Yeah, he brought rice. I don't know how many hundreds he brought, but we got one. So that, I remember that. And we met Rosalie Gould. Because we were able to go to the, what was the name of the...

KL: The "Life Interrupted?"

MM: "Life Interrupted," yeah, it was wonderful.

KL: What made it so wonderful?

MM: Well, Daniel Inouye came and spoke, and his talk at the end, he said, "You know, America is a young democracy and we make mistakes. We're not perfect. So we're still learning, and so that's the American way. We're still learning." So I thought, well, that's pretty good.

KL: What sticks out about Rosalie Gould. She's a big figure in the preservation story.

MM: Yeah, she was entrusted with Jamison... what was her first name? (Mabel) Jamison, she was the art teacher, and her students drew such spectacular pictures of life in camp and their dreams, and we saw some of those pictures. They were just wonderful. Some of them were made into cards, and they sold at the conference. And she said that Jamison entrusted her with the pictures, all these pictures, and they were such treasures that she wasn't just gonna let anybody have it, but she was looking for, so she asked the people of McGehee to open up a museum so she could put it in there. And they said, "Oh no, we don't want to do that." So they didn't want to do it, so she asked the Butler, I guess the Butler Museum at a university.

KL: That sounds right. I'm not positive, but it sounds right.

MM: And now the McGehee people, "Oh, we want to make a museum. Can we have..." She adamantly said no, and she stuck to her guns. "You didn't want it when I wanted to give it to you, and now you want it? No, you don't get it." So that's how strong she was, and I thought, wow, that's some lady.

KL: What about Jane Beckwith, what sticks with you from your interaction with her? She's important in the --

MM: Her commitment to making this museum, what happened in Utah, she had a commitment and really, when the people themselves don't even have that kind of commitment. And she had the commitment, and boy, I was really impressed by her, that's what I remember. She said, "We got to do it." And she raised money, I think she raised the money to buy the land, and now they want to do something with it. But she's got to have money. She ought to get some from the Park Service.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

KL: What about Tule Lake?

MM: Tule Lake.

KL: How did you guys become involved out there?

MM: Well, we needed to find out about the no-no's and the resisters and those who were so ostracized by our own people. We needed to find out their stories, so we committed to go there and find out. And we heard such stories of the family being divided, how difficult it was. It wasn't an easy thing, and to be criticized and ostracized by your own people for some, for the battles within families, the struggles that they had? That's terrible. It's terrible to turn your back on them when they struggled to make these kind of decisions. And it took courage, it took courage on their part to resist when all the others went ahead and said yes-yes, and these few said no-no, "Restore our rights first as citizens. Restore us, free us from this camp and then we'll go fight, we'll do anything you say." I mean, it was wrenching, it was heart-wrenching to hear these stories. And we honor these people, really. They did something which was the most difficult decision to make, and yet, because they believed in it so strongly that they resisted.

KL: Are there people or experiences from the Tule Lake pilgrimage that really stay with you, like the ones you had in Utah or in, like with Jane Beckwith or meeting Rosalie Gould? Are there are individuals or are there encounters you had during -- you guys have been to ten pilgrimages of Tule Lake, or for ten years?

MM: No, we went to about four pilgrimages. And so people like Hiroshi Kashiwagi, who wrote plays about camp and everything, and he wrote stories, he wrote poems... and then Hiroshi Shimizu, and he was born in Tule Lake and so their heart is with this Tule Lake pilgrimage. And then there was Stanley Shikuma of Seattle, he started a taiko drum group, and Stanley was one of my Sunday school students when we were in Watsonville that one year, and he was a little boy in short pants and his name was Porky. The cutest little boy he was, and here he is, now bringing a taiko drum group, I mean, it's just mind-boggling to see this little image of this boy turning out like this and so into taiko and the meaning of the taiko drums. I wrote a poem about the taiko drums this last pilgrimage, because I said, "I got it! I got it! The drums beating louder and louder, they got a message to say." And I said, what's the message? What's the message? "Hear our stories," why we resisted and all these things, it just came out of my, my thoughts, and I started writing down, "And the drums beat louder," and then I'd say something else then, "The drums kept beating." I said, "I got it! I got it!" That's how I ended the poem. It was so powerful, I mean to me, just how I, how I perceived those drums to mean to me.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

KL: That's a great segue, too, because the thing I kind of wanted to end on is your going to school, you write, "We go to schools, universities, college clubs telling our stories. This has become our mission."

MM: Yeah.

KL: Why is that so important to you?

MM: Because we're not going to live too much longer. We're in our eighties, you never know. And so it's important to tell our stories because there's so few of us doing it. We ask our peers, "Please go and tell your stories. Everybody has a story, don't think it's not important. Every story is important." But they don't want to do it. They don't want to talk about it because if they do they'll cry or they'll, they'll... and you know, when we started out telling our stories, Saburo used to cry. The tears would just come out. But see, I already got my tears out, when I was with the women in preparation, so I got all that out, so I can tell my story without crying. But Saburo still had the pain, and he did break down sometimes when we first started. But he doesn't anymore because now he's let it out. He's, once in a while he might choke, but he's able to go on, and I really admire that. I really admire that in him. It makes me want to do it more. I mean, the importance of doing it is more important, to me, and so that's how important, we give our life to it. And we pay our own way. We got to all these schools, they don't compensate us. They don't pay us for our gas, or when we went to Nebraska we paid our own way because when the lady said Nebraska is ninety-five percent, I said, "They don't know us. They don't know anything about Japanese people." I said, "We got to go there." That's what I said. And we went, and we spoke to sixteen hundred students and people, as a result.

KL: What have been some memorable responses?

MM: Well, the Nebraska one, the fifth grade class, they were wonderful. They're so innocent, they ask anything and everything. And so I don't remember the questions that they asked, but they were the students that asked the most questions. When we went to the high school, there was maybe here and there, but not like these fifth graders, and they came up to hug us afterwards. It was wonderful, just wonderful.

KL: Just real quickly, what are some of the other states that you've traveled to, or universities?

MM: We went to Minnesota, we went to Michigan, West Virginia, those are the states we went to. And they're all over there. When we went to Minnesota we spoke to a lot of people. We even went on TV. Gina Wenger did a wonderful job. She really worked hard -- and they had posters of us, big posters with pictures of us and we saw our picture, I said, "Oh my God, how big." [Laughs] I brought a couple of 'em home, I mean they sent it to us, and I gave one to my daughter Michal, said, "Mom, I love this picture of you. It's one of the best pictures you've taken." I said, "Really?" So she has it posted in her kitchen cabinet where everybody can see it. But, see, Minnesota paid our way, Michigan we went on our own accord, and West Virginia, they paid. So two didn't pay and two we paid. But we're going to Glenville next year, and then there's a possibility of New York. This student that interviewed us via email, he said he won second place with our story.

KL: Was it for History Day or something?

MM: Yeah, History Day.

KL: Congratulations for your part in it.

MM: So because of that, he said, I said, "Well, we'd be glad to come to your school and speak." "Really?" And so he put the bug in the school's ear and says, "Well, we'll look into that then." So they're, of course, they got to find money.

KL: That's really exciting.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

KL: Those are the big questions I had, and then I'll ask you if there's anything you want to add, but the one detail question that I think is important to ask about is Lillian Matsumoto, another real important figure in Manzanar. What can you tell us about her?

MM: Well, she was in charge of the orphans in Manzanar, and I don't know when her husband left her, at what point her husband left her. I think probably it was after the war, when she was in Los Angeles. Her husband left her and she had to fend for herself for, with the two, I think she had two children, one adopted girl, one of the orphan girls at Manzanar, and I think she had a son. I'm not sure about that. But eventually she married a minister, Reverend Omi, so she became Lillian Omi, and she served... what kind of church that was now? Free Methodist church, Reverend Omi was with the Free Methodists, and she was, she was a wonderful ,wonderful lady. She really suffered a lot, she went through a lot, so she's, she just was a wonderful lady. And she died this past year, I believe. We went to visit her in, I think it was Burlingame, and she was totally different from the last time. She used to work with us on the committee, writing the history, oral histories, in that book.

KL: So I wanted to ask you about that, but I was trying to exercise some discipline. [Laughs]

MM: Yeah, she was on the committee to write these oral histories, and then she had to resign because she had to move. She was moving different places, and so that left the committee with, let's see, Alice, Hei, Sab, and me. And then Mary Tomita, she died. She was on the committee. She died.

KL: What personality traits are defining ones about Lillian? You said she was wonderful, but what --

MM: She... I think she made her living sewing. I think that's what it was. She was a seamstress. She sewed for movie stars, when she was in L.A. area. I think that was how she made a living. she was a seamstress for the stars, and she was able to do well. And then she met Reverend Omi. I think that's what it was.

KL: Was she quiet or outgoing or...

MM: Yeah, she was on the, she's, how would you say, she was a strong woman, but she didn't push herself forward, you know what I mean? She just... it's hard to describe her, because she was so different. She just was different. I can't describe her, really. She was strong. She had to be strong, for what she went through.

KL: Yeah, I would think so. I mean, the orphanage, they had very little resources and very little time to be with individual children in that, but yet, I mean, it seems pretty obvious from people I've talked to that her level of commitment toward the welfare of those kids was very real and very deep, which would be a tough situation to be in.

MM: Yeah, she couldn't let them down. She cared about them, and that's --

KL: Did she talk about it ever with you? Or what can you...

MM: No, she didn't, she didn't. We found out about it later, later. And then when we went to visit her, she had Alzheimer's then and so it was difficult to get anything out of her. But when she was her bright self, on the committee working with us, she contributed to, through reading the stories and commenting on sensitivities, sensitive parts of the oral history. She was bright that way. She could catch...

KL: Just in a couple sentences, since it is important to you guys and to her, tell us what the project is that you're talking about, the oral history project. Why you did it and what it was like.

MM: Well, this committee worked on the Issei oral history because the Isseis were dying fast, and so they completed that and then they said, well, we need to work on the Nisei. So the Niseis, some of them didn't want to talk about their history, but those, they said, well, we better get 'em before they die, and so we started interviewing them. We had a set of questions to ask them that I think Hei Takurabe gave us. He was the one that started this Issei project, now going onto the Nisei. And so I came on board, Sab was with the Nisei -- Issei, excuse me, with the Issei, the first project -- and then I came on board with the Nisei oral history, and I was the transcriber. It was all on tape, and so I listened to the tape and then I typed out all their stories. Then we would all read it. Everybody on the committee got a copy, we read it for contact and correct English or, we don't want to lose the flavor of the way they talk orally, so we had to be careful of not losing that but yet help the person to keep on the subject, or we need to find out a little bit more of this. And if it was sensitive, "Do you want to mention this, and will you release it later on, after so many years? Are you willing to do that?" All these kinds of questions we had to ask. But my doing the typing was worth all the stories that I was able to hear on the tape. The best one was Reverend Aki of the 442. That was, I mean, I couldn't stop.

KL: What made his the best?

MM: Because he stood up, he stood up and he fought for the Nisei soldiers. They were being mistreated by the generals, and he went to the top. He literally went to the top chaplain in Washington, D.C. and said, "My men are being mistreated." And he listed all these things, such-and-such a date, such-and-such a time, what happened, generals did this and this and that. And he just kept a record, because that's what you have to do, you have to have evidence. And he said, "I can't stand by. That's my church," he said, "and I'm here to protect my church, because they're being mistreated." And he seemed to, he seemed to know that, or foresee that these men are gonna be mistreated and they need somebody to be on their side, speak up for them, and so he went into the chaplaincy. He seemed to sense that. He said, "This is the church, my church, and I'm going to go with them." It was a marvelous story.

KL: I really do think I could ask you questions about that for two hours, but I won't. I'll spare you that. What have I left out?

MM: Gosh, I think I've said enough. I've said enough.

KL: Thank you so much for doing this.

MM: You're welcome. You're welcome.

KL: It's been really wonderful to spend the time with you, and you've, it's just, this is a great interview. Thank you.

MM: You're welcome.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.