Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Mary Blocher Smeltzer Interview
Narrator: Mary Blocher Smeltzer
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: La Verne, California
Date: July 17, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-smary-01-0001

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RP: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historic Site. And this afternoon we're talking with Mary Smeltzer. Mary lives at 2622 Mountain View in the city of La Verne, California. Date of our interview is July 17, 2008. The interviewer is Richard Potashin, our videographer is Kirk Peterson. And this interview will be archived in the library at the Manzanar National Historic Site. We'll be talking with Mary about her brief experiences at the Manzanar War Relocation Center and most importantly, the creation of a hostel in Chicago with her husband Ralph, and later a hostel created in Brooklyn for internees coming out of the Manzanar camp.

MS: All the camps.

RP: All the camps, right. Mary, do I have your permission to record our interview?

MS: Yes, you do.

RP: It's great seeing you again. You're looking really good. And so we're gonna start with some of your early family history.

MS: All right.

RP: And first of all, can you tell us where you were born and what year?

MS: Yeah, I was born in 1915 between Portland and Taft in Texas. And it's actually very close to the, I guess it's Corpus Christi Bay, between Corpus Christi and... well, it was just a bay. But we had to go across a bridge, I know, to get there. But that's where I was born, and it was on a cotton field; we grew cotton.

RP: Yeah, tell us a little bit about your family background.

MS: Well, I had two brothers and a sister, and I, older brother and an older sister, and then I came next, and then a younger brother.

RP: What were their names, Mary?

MS: Well, my sister, my brother Paul was the oldest, my sister was Ruth, and then I'm next, and then my brother Henry was next, and he's still alive, and he lives here, close to me.

RP: Right here in this complex?

MS: Yeah, he lives in Hillcrest, too. This is a retirement community that the Church of the Brethren started. And we have almost four hundred people here, and I've been here twenty-three years.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.