Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Mary Suzuki Ichino Interview II
Narrator: Mary Suzuki Ichino
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Pasadena, California
Date: December 3, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-imary-02-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is a continuation of an oral history interview with Mary Suzuki Ichino for the Manzanar National Historic Site. We're at the same place we were I think six months ago, Mary, 545 Bellmore.

MI: Still here.

RP: Still in Pasadena. Date of the interview is December 3, 2008. The interviewer is Richard Potashin and our videographer is Kirk Peterson. Our interview will be archived in the Park's library and I assume I have the permission to continue with our interview?

MI: Oh yes, for sure.

RP: 'Cause we went to all this trouble and Kirk got all this equipment together. So Mary, I'd like to focus today a little more on your life in camp and particularly with the Maryknoll group. But I wanted to ask you a question, sort of a lingering question from our last interview. You told me that you led kind of a sheltered life, or rather naive when you were going through school at Maryknoll and...

MI: Sacred Heart.

RP: And Sacred Heart. And then you get into Manzanar. And you did something that very few people had the courage to do. You wrote a letter to General John DeWitt protesting your evacuation without any equal protection under the law.

MI: Yes, I did.

RP: How do you account for that transformation? From sort of a quiet naive teenager to... was it, was it the camp experience? The time that you spent there? What else might have factored into that?

MI: In retrospect, I would imagine it was because suddenly I found that I didn't have the freedom that I had before. And who would you question but the person that was in charge? And I really realized that I was born with no fear at all, you know, what the consequences were. If I thought I was right, I was gonna go and fight for it. And I think that was the motivation, not only for myself, but for everybody else. 'Cause we were so restricted. There were things that we missed. We took it for granted that we could go and get an ice cream soda or whatever, and all of a sudden you find out you can't even get that. And all the other uncomfortable situations that we were put in and no luxury I guess is the word, you know. But somehow we made do. And I saw my mother and dad quietly, never complaining, but that was very traumatic. To think that my dad, if I even think of it today and go, suppose the government tells you within a week you're gonna have to leave? He's got a whole business that he has to get rid of, lock, stock, and barrel, plus his home. That is very traumatic. I don't know how they did it. Again that word, Japanese word, shigata ga nai. And at times remember I told you I says, boy, that word sometimes tells me, oh god, that's a dirty word. [Laughs] Today I may not do that. I will complain first.

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