Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Mary Jean Spallino Interview
Narrator: Mary Jean Spallino
Interviewer: Rose Masters
Location: Lake Forest, California
Date: May 20, 2015
Densho ID: denshovh-smary_3-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

RM: And you mentioned Louis, which I think is Louis Frizzell.

MS: Yeah.

RM: Could you tell us... I want to ask about a lot of the people that you worked with on the WRA teaching staff. Let's just start with Louis Frizzell. Can you tell us what he was like?

MS: Yeah, he was a lot of fun, he was a very sharp guy, very good in his field, very sharp tongued. If there was somebody... I don't want to call it pick on, not that, but he could make a very clever remark. It might be a little sharp and funny. It wasn't mean or anything, but between the two of 'em, you get the two, Clive Greenley, the two together, they were just fun because they were so sharp and they could say, "So and so over there," they'd make some clever remark. He was very, very competent, the kids loved him. And he had a lot of energy, and he was sort of free to do what he chose, and he developed these musicals and all. He was great for Manzanar, there's no doubt about it.

RM: Can you just say for the record what it was that he taught?

MS: Louis? Louis taught music. I don't remember, because they had singing groups and they had plays, and he was just, the whole artistic, he represented the artistic side of classes.

RM: Do you remember going to see any of those musicals that he wrote?

MS: Yeah, I went to all of them.

RM: Oh, yeah?

MS: Well, we'd all go to all of them because that was our entertainment. And they were good, the kids were good.

RM: Yeah, Louis Frizzell comes up a lot in conversation with former students.

MS: Well, he was probably one of the outstanding ones. Well, you can understand, anybody who is producing something that you enjoy, like music and drama and all of that, he's going to be a focal part. But he was also very, very competent, but he was one of the major ones there that really made the school enjoyable.

RM: And you mentioned his friend and fellow teacher --

MS: Clive.

RM: -- Clive Greenley. What did he teach?

MS: Social studies.

RM: And what was he like?

MS: Well, he was like Louis. [Laughs] He had a very sharp tongue, too. If he liked you, there wasn't a barb there, but he... it wasn't a case of not liking, maybe, but just kind of making fun of somebody. He could be... you didn't want to be the butt of something that he said. But he was a good guy, and he truly loved the students. I think he was sort of lenient with them, and he'd have his dog with him, you know, right there in the classroom. Those two guys, they livened the place up, there's no doubt about it.

RM: We should probably say -- I don't think it went into this recording yet, but that Clive Greenley was blind, which is why he had the dog.

MS: He was blind from age sixteen, as I recall, over a girlfriend, I think.

RM: Over a girlfriend?

MS: Well, I don't... is that on the...

RM: No, I would be curious about the story.

MS: Well, I probably knew the story at one time, but I don't remember it. But something happened, I forget whether he was shot or something, I can't remember. And maybe it was just a story. But his blindness didn't stop him, and fortunately he was able to go to Manzanar where they could handle somebody like that, a regular class, they couldn't, with a dog and all.

RM: Oh, so Manzanar was actually better for him as a teacher then.

MS: Absolutely.

RM: How did he get around Manzanar, do you remember?

MS: Just great, with his dog. You'd forget that he was blind. If it were a new place, somebody would have to guide him, but after that, his dog was just fabulous. And I look back on it now, it's remarkable; he was a remarkable man.

RM: Did he live in Block 7?

MS: I'm not sure, honey, where they lived.

RM: And his roommate?

MS: As I remember, they roomed together.

RM: He and Louis Frizzell?

MS: I think, I don't know. My recollection, I really don't know. I guess it doesn't matter.

RM: Yeah. We have this photo, is it okay if I hand it to her?

KL: I have a question, too.

RM: Do you know if those two men knew each other before Manzanar?

MS: No.

KL: Or did they become friends there? How old were they?

MS: I don't really know. They were older than I, but not a lot older. I don't know, but they might have been about five years older than I, and Clive maybe a little older than that. They weren't old, they were young enough, but I know that they weren't fresh out of college.

MS: Would you tell us on the tape about Clive hitchhiking?

MS: Yes. Sometimes... see, all you'd have to do, as I remember, is stand on 395 and a car would come along. Usually it was going to Los Angeles, where else would it be going, on the major highway? And you just have your thumb out, and anybody who traveled that way going to Los Angeles seemed to stop. Everybody was helping everybody else out. And any number of times I know that he hitchhiked, and I don't know what the arrangements were, but he had a specific place where he would tell the people to drop him off. And I don't recall how we got home, how we got back, but I don't remember his taking off for Los Angeles just hitchhiking. And I know several other people hitchhiked to Los Angeles. If people had room in their car, going to Los Angeles, "Come on along, that's okay." How they got back, and some other arrangements, maybe had to take a bus or something to get home. Maybe somebody from the family drove, I don't know those things.

RM: Did you ever hitchhike?

MS: Not there, but I did someplace else. But I better not get into that, because that takes too long.

RM: [Laughs] Sure. Do you remember if people, do you remember those front gates at Manzanar, those two stone sentry posts?

MS: Yes.

RM: Could you just describe that area? And the reason I'm asking is I'm assuming that's where people were hitchhiking from, is just out front.

MS: Yeah, they did, right out in the roadway.

RM: And what was that area of Manzanar like?

MS: Well, just like what it is now, but they had those two little towers and there was always somebody there, an MP. And he'd step out, wave you through and that's it. I don't remember anything else.

RM: Do you remember if they would, like, check your ID or anything when you came in and out? Because they got to know?

MS: I guess they got to know me, to know any one of us. I never remember being checked, but that doesn't mean that we weren't. It could have been so common that I don't even remember it.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.