Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Margaret Stanicci Interview
Narrators: Margaret Stanicci
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Independence, California
Date: April 26, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-smargaret-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historic Site. The date is April 26, 2009. My name is Richard Potashin. I'm the interviewer for the, for our oral history today. And we're talking with Margaret Ichino. Margaret is from southern California area, and the interview is taking place in the library at the Manzanar National Historic Site. We'll be talking about Margaret's early life growing up in Los Angeles as well as her experiences as an internee here at the Manzanar War Relocation Center, and then her relocation to Chicago. Our videographer is Kirk Peterson and our interview will be archived in a site, our site library. Margaret, do I have permission to go ahead and record our interview?

MS: Oh, yes.

RP: And may I refer to you as Margaret?

MS: Oh, definitely. [Laughs]

RP: We'll keep it casual today. It's Sunday. Thank you for taking some time out of your busy pilgrimage weekend to join us here. I'd like to start gathering a little bit of family background starting with yourself and your birth date and where you were born.

MS: Yes, I was born in La Crescenta, 1918, December 28th.

RP: And what was your given name at birth, Margaret?

MS: My given name was Taki, T-A-K-I. And there's a little story there. Because Mr. Bissell said, "Oh," he said, "She'll have to have an American name when she goes to school so you might as well call her Margaret." And so they put me down as Margaret, but on my birth certificate it was Taki. And I didn't know that so in school I always put down Margaret and I've always thought I was Margaret. But when I later had to get my birth certificate, there was no Margaret. It was just Taki. And I must have, I don't know, I was much, much older at that time, decades older. So I had to change the, add "Margaret" to my birth certificate.

RP: Can you spell your last name for us?

MS: My maiden name or my married name?

RP: Maiden name.

MS: Maiden name. I-C-H-I-N-O.

RP: And tell us your married name.

MS: Stanicci. And that's S-T-A-N-I-C-C-I. And his first name is George. And although he, he had quite a bit of, what, both Japanese and Italian blood, and he was in camp. And so it, actually he and his mother and I and two other friends were in the same room at camp.

RP: In Manzanar?

MS: Manzanar.

RP: He was, George was here.

MS: Oh, yes, yes. And he was more active, actually, in the Japanese community than I was. So he was active in the drama club and he was also, he played the guitar. Yes, he went to Hollywood High School and knew some of the baby starlet's, who later became baby starlet's. [Laughs]

RP: So where did the Japanese come from? His mother, or father's...

MS: His mother's side. The father, the grandfather, I think it was, went to Japan in Italy's first embassy or consulate or whatever. And married a Japanese and then the son married a Japanese. And then they came to the United States and George was born, in Washington, state of Washington. But he actually knew how to read and write beautiful court Japanese because he was tutored. Whereas I knew no Japanese. [Laughs]

RP: So, did George look more Japanese or more Italian or a little bit of both?

MS: A mixture. Yes. Of course, he's Eurasian. It's hard to tell. I think he had slightly more Italian, but his father -- who had passed before I married George, but I saw his picture and you could tell that he had gone deeply into the Japanese culture and art, and so the way he was dressed and positioned himself, you could tell that he was... [Laughs]

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: Tell us a little bit about your, your father.

MS: Yes. My father came over... actually, my father was the oldest son and gave up his inheritance to come to United States. And I think partly because he was a little more adventurous than the rest of the family. And... let's see, when did he... I think he came over in 1905, but I'm not sure. I saw the papers once.

RP: Can you give us his name?

MS: Yes, his, well, his name was Masanari, Masanari Ichino.

RP: Spell that for us.

MS: M-A-S-A-N-A... let's see, what was it, Masa-na-ri, then R-I.

RP: Okay. Where did your father come from in Japan?

MS: From Nagoya. And, and my mother also, from that same, well, near the same area in Aichi-ken. That's all... Nagoya's in Aichi-ken. So, and it was of course an arranged marriage but apparently there was, yes, there must have been some feeling there.

RP: Did your father come over here first and then the marriage was arranged, then he went back?

MS: I, well, she came on over as... and I don't really know too much about that era.

RP: Do you know what your father's family did in Japan? Were they landowners, farmers?

MS: You know, I'm not really sure. And part of that is because we did have that language barrier. So we didn't really talk too much in terms of... and his English was adequate for general purposes but not... and we didn't, we didn't really talk that much. It was not a family that was very, oh, what... we really didn't communicate that much it seemed like. And I think even all the children, grew up so differently and we followed very different paths. And, and of course there was a family bond. But I know that you also interviewed Mary Ichino who married my brother, and her family was almost the exact opposite. [Laughs]

RP: Very much more communicative?

MS: Yeah, oh yes, very much so. They had a very different tradition.

RP: When you look, imagine your father in your mind, what do you remember most about him? His personality, his...

MS: Well, there was an integrity and he was very... he was able to do a lot of different things in his youth. I know he built a house, and I remember the porch. I had never seen that because that was the one in Inglewood, but the porch had the trunk of a tree as one of the posts. And I liked that, I thought that was very good-looking. And that of course he brought from Japan, the feeling that you carry the natural. And I think a love of nature there, too, because the nursery and the plants, taking care of the plants and, yes.... and he was very proud. Because, you know, you take care of yourself and your own. And I remember he went through a very difficult time in terms of finances. So I think he, because, I think he lost... he had a number of plants that he had spent a few years growing, and he must have had a loan from the bank for the initial start. But he felt that they needed to grow a little bit taller, which meant another year or two of care. But he would need an additional loan, I think the bank wouldn't give it to him. So he had to sell the plants and wasn't able to make what he thought he would be able to make. But I know there must have been a very difficult time because my brother speaks of the fact that they lived in a very poor house. And at times, apparently, he even went hungry. And went to... and a neighbor came over and gave, I think, a loaf of bread, or whatever, which I think she made. And I think it was a neighborly gesture which was very nice. But when my father came home, apparently, apparently he said that he doesn't take charity, and sent my brother back with it. So that was, so there was a deep pride in that sense.

RP: You said your father went to school when he came to America?

MS: Yes, he, yes. He went to school here and that might have been very embarrassing because he was young but he was, had to go to the equivalent of an elementary school to learn. And he was, of course, far ahead of everybody in terms of, especially math and things like that. But he did learn enough English to get around. And I know that all of the early immigrants helped each other. So, yes. He might have worked in the home initially, before he had enough money to start a place. Because I remember he, he had asked friends about oh, how do you cook this or do that or... [Laughs] Yes.

RP: Well, he settled originally in the Los Angeles area?

MS: I think, yeah, I think so, yes. Because all I've heard about is just the Inglewood and then La Crescenta and then from then on I knew, so...

RP: Tell us a little bit about your mother.

MS: My mother was very quiet. And she had, she must have had a tremendous inner strength to have gone through so much. And she never complained, and she never said anything, what, bad about anybody. I can remember that because I had never heard her say anything disapproving of anything, anyone. And, and she had a very quiet humility, yes. I remember thinking that, I think it was in Sunday school when we were talking about different virtues, and humility was one of the virtues. And I thought, oh, my mother's the only person I know that, that seemed to have that kind of very soft humility, yes. But she had that inner strength because she had six children and had gone through so much. And had never, never complained and never... I know later I wondered where she got that strength, that really quiet strength, yes.

RP: Did she, did she take to America? You know, did it, did it, did she...

MS: Well, I don't think, I don't think she had much of a chance in terms of she was never able to go to school since she was taking care of children and everything, and didn't learn the language. And of course, worked so hard from early morning to late at night. When we had our flower shop, the hours, obviously, were anywhere from about four-thirty on to nine, ten, had to be ten at night. 'Cause we closed the shop at ten -- nine. And then she had to count the money and get ready for tomorrow and of course my father left for the flower market early in the morning. And so she got up to make breakfast. So...

RP: Was this in Inglewood?

MS: No, this was later, after, after we left the Bissells'.

RP: Oh, okay.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

RP: Let's talk a little bit about your other siblings. You mentioned you had a, an older sister who was born in 1911?

MS: Yes.

RP: That was, that was the oldest.

MS: That's the oldest, yes.

RP: What was her name?

MS: Florence.

RP: Florence.

MS: Florence.

RP: And was she, where was she born? Was she born in Inglewood or La Crescenta?

MS: Oh no, no. It must have been Inglewood. Yes. I remember seeing a picture of her. Very cute little picture about, she was probably about maybe, close to three years old. And I remember my father said that she was trying to be helpful, and saw that he had been picking weeds, and so she was gonna help him pick weeds. And so she went, but unfortunately she picked plants. And it was very difficult, but my father wasn't able to really get mad at her because obviously she was helping him. But it meant that days of his work had been destroyed. And, yes, she...

RP: There was a seven year gap between...

MS: No, then we had Mary, my next sister, who later became a nurse.

RP: And she was born...

MS: A couple years later, so...

RP: A couple years later than Mary?

MS: Yeah. And then another brother who is a couple years later than that. Let's see, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen... and then another brother, and then I was born. So I don't know, they...

RP: Who are the, what are the names of the two other brothers?

MS: Frank was the oldest.

RP: Frank?

MS: And then Philip.

RP: Philip.

MS: And both Frank and Philip were in the army.

RP: During World War II?

MS: During the war, yes, before we were sent to camp.

RP: Oh, they were...

MS: They had already been in.

RP: They had already been in.

MS: One had volunteered and the other was drafted very early.

RP: So there was Florence, Mary, Frank, Philip, and then...

MS: And then me. And then one younger brother, Paul.

RP: Paul.

MS: Paul actually came up to help build some of the, some of the barracks.

RP: Oh, he was one of the volunteers?

MS: Yes, he was in that volunteer group.

RP: The volunteer group.

MS: And one reason was because you could take your own car. And because you can take your own car he thought, oh, he could take a lot more than in one duffel bag or suitcase or something. And so he decided to volunteer and he piled a lot of things in the car and left.

RP: Do you remember some of the things he took?

MS: Yeah, whatever he felt.

RP: Do you remember some of the things that he piled in the car, Margaret?

MS: You know, I don't. And if I had known, I would have asked him. You know, if I had known. But I'm trying to remember whether I asked him to take my carving tools and a roll of tooling copper which I had. Because they were kind of important for me at that time, 'cause I had been doing it. But he might have brought them, because I had them.

RP: Who were you closest to of all your brothers and sisters?

MS: You know, I really wasn't very close to any of them because as we were growing up, of course Florence and Mary would be paired together since they were older. And then Frank and Phil were boys, and they wanted nothing to do with...

RP: Girls.

MS: Girls. And so I was, yeah, I was kind of alone there, and then my younger brother. And since I had to help take care of my younger brother why, I guess maybe we were the closest. Yes.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

RP: So your father, did he start a nursery in Inglewood?

MS: Yes, yes. And actually, I have a book, hmm, which, which had pictures and I guess short resumes of a lot of the Isseis and what they were doing and he was part of that. But it was all written in Japanese, so I couldn't...

RP: I wonder if it was Rafu Shimpo, the Japanese newspaper in Los Angeles, every couple of years would publish like a directory --

MS: Oh.

RP: -- of all the Japanese communities in Los Angeles and southern California. It would list the businesses, it would list like the nurseries and...

MS: With a little description?

RP: Yes.

MS: And then the picture. They must have compiled them.

RP: That might have been that.

MS: Yes.

RP: What do you... this was before you were born that this nursery was going on?

MS: Yes. That was all in Inglewood.

RP: And you said that he, your father built a house there.

MS: Yes, yes. That's all I could remember was that...

RP: And then from there...

MS: Oh, after Inglewood then he was hired by Mr. Bissell and so he was, that was where I was born. And...

RP: Well, did you live, on... the Bissells have an estate? Like...

MS: Yes. We lived actually on a little house above where the Bissells lived. And I had a lot of fruit trees which I just loved. I can still remember the luscious peaches that they had. Yeah, you know, tree ripened peaches? And I feel so sorry for the young people of today because they have never tasted real peaches. Yes, that's... and sweet peas, the peas, if you eat the peas right off the vine they're so sweet. And, yes, that's something. Oh, and my father had bees because it was such a large place, I mean, you could put... so I don't know how many hives he had. But I know that we had honey and, yes, many, many things. And of course we grew things. So it was kind of a shock. We moved when I was six, I guess, to Hollywood. And then we had to buy everything.

RP: So you were pretty self-sufficient at the Bissell estate.

MS: Yes, uh-huh.

RP: Can you describe the, the estate to us? You mentioned the, the orchards or fruit trees.

MS: Yeah, well, I think I was probably too young to have seen the full estate because I heard about the, the grape, the vineyard in, I guess it was Sunland or someplace. But, I remember the walnut orchard which was right there. Because we picked walnuts. You picked them up off the ground after they'd fall. And we're paid a penny a pound. And it was, well, six children and it wasn't real work. We didn't really have to fill so many bags a day or anything. We would just fill the bags. And so I remember the walnuts, that orchard particularly.

RP: What do you recall about the Bissells? Did you...

MS: Yes, you know, it was kind of unfortunate because in the sense, the oldest daughter was Dorothy, and the daughter that was my age was Molly. And... Molly unfortunately died when she went to, I think it was a camp. And since Molly and I had played together all the time it was very difficult for the Bissells, you know, to see me after Molly died and, yes. But Dorothy Bissell had a horse, so we all rode the horse. And they had a horse and buggy and all, everybody had horses at that time. And I remember the wagon wheel. The wagon wheel was taller than I was, so I thought that was huge. And that's another thing, too. Since we, everyone still had horses and then there were a few cars, but I remember the first airplane. We all, anytime we heard anything we would run outside and we'd look up and, you know, just to see the airplane. And now of course you would not, you wouldn't.

RP: What did your father do for Mr. Bissell?

MS: I think he took, helped take care of some of the orchards and all, and check them and see when they needed, I guess, pruning or, I really wouldn't know much of the details, I was too young. But, probably a lot of the help around, whatever needed.

RP: Did you go outside the estate at all as a, as a kid? Do you remember taking any...

MS: I don't think we did, because the estate was so large. I think he owned a couple of mountains or something because I remember going into, it's like a tunnel. And there were little railroad tracks and little... so I think they had done some mining. And, let's see, where was... and that was one of the... we explored a lot. And I don't think I ever went to the whole estate. But, that was a, a very good time of my life. Because I would, we all ran around barefoot and nature was such a comfort and, oh what, it was like that's our natural habitat. And we, I can still remember if there was any tension in the house, I could just go outside and, you know, you sit on a rock or climb a tree. And then nature was always so soothing that it got you back to normal. It was...

RP: A natural tranquilizer.

MS: Uh-huh. It was, it normalizes you so that when you get off center, you know, you can... And I'll just never remember, I'll always remember that part. It's... and then there were little arroyos, little dry creeks that we would go in so. And I think going barefoot gave a very special, kind of a direct connection to the earth. You know when you wear shoes you're insulated. And I can remember the warm sand in the arroyo, and that was good. So, and then of course we climbed the trees. And we had a pepper tree that was next to our house, and there was a, let's see, there must have been a little shed or something built next to the house. And we could climb up and grab the, I guess somebody must have pulled some of the long pepper tree branches, and we would swing on them and just swing and then jump off. So there was, and we'd climb trees. It was just... later, when I saw the elementary school shifts that had taken place and they had paved all of the playgrounds and they had moved... everything was static. You had, you had to climb, what do they call them? Monkey bars or something. But, you see it's static and so when you learn the distance, you know, to grab, your body is learned and you don't learn anything else. But if you're climbing a tree there's always a different way of climbing a tree. And you can hang onto different branches as you go up and you can do different things. And I just felt that there was a, hmm, creative... well, there was a loss of exploring potential maybe, of a child, a young child, growing child. And...

RP: Did you start school while you were at the estate?

MS: No, because I was too young. But one day I remember, I think my mother must have been, I don't know whether she was ill or busy, but my oldest sister had to take care of me, so she just took me to school. And I slept... I remember sleeping under the desk and it was... and we walked. It was two miles down and two miles back. So, they had a good -- now that's good exercise, too, which young children today don't have. You're taken in a car, so... I think a lot of the natural things are lost now, uh-huh.

RP: The house that the family lived in on the Bissell estate...

MS: Uh-huh.

RP: Did you have indoor plumbing or electricity?

MS: Yes, that one did, uh-huh, yeah. In, I know in... and I don't know in the older house. But my I know my brother knew some of the other ones mentioned.

RP: Were there any other families that also lived on the estate?

MS: No.

RP: Just...

MS: Oh, I think there were other workers but I didn't, yeah, I didn't see them or... I must, or maybe I saw them but I didn't pay any attention to them. Yes.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: And did you ever know why that your father moved to Hollywood and left that, the Bissell estate?

MS: You know, I don't... I'm just wondering now whether, because I mentioned about Molly? I'm just wondering whether that might have had something to do with it. But it also might have been that, he might have felt that he needed to make more money because now he has a growing family. And, and he probably had saved enough then to start a little business in Hollywood.

RP: What did he do?

MS: He, he built a little flower stand on Los Feliz Boulevard and that was when it was still a, not what it was today.

RP: Can you, can you remember and describe for us what the, the landscape looked like?

MS: Yes, we had, we actually grew some flowers on Los Feliz, and, as did other nurseries. There were a couple of other nurseries I know. And then sold the flowers right there, build a stand. I have a, I have a picture actually from the Los Angeles Times that took the, a picture of our little stand on Los Feliz, with my brother, my little younger brother.

RP: Paul?

MS: Yes, in front. I don't know what it said now, but... And we used to walk to the Los Angeles River and they had, that was before it was paved or... and they had pollywogs that we caught and, yeah.

RP: That was an exciting place.

MS: Yeah.

RP: For a kid.

MS: Yeah. But now it's a lot of apartment houses.

RP: Is there actually a little bit of a river flowing through there at that time?

MS: Periodically, uh-huh. Now that they paved it, the water level changes tremendously, too, but you do have a lot of water if it rains, yes. And...

RP: Now did you get involved at an early age with helping at the flower stand or growing flowers?

MS: Oh, yes.

RP: What did you do?

MS: Well initially, especially on the holidays when we were very busy. And so there would be more customers than people available to help them and so I was between six and, let's see, I moved... I must have been only six or seven. So I would... and they had the prices listed so that it would be fine. And so I would help until they chose something and then I would take it just to my father or my mother or somebody who would wrap it and take the money. Later, of course, I helped more fully.

RP: Did you do any flower arranging later on?

MS: Later on, yes, yes. And, which was fortunate because that helped me get a job later, after evacuation.

RP: Did your father specialize in any specific flowers? I know there was always flowers that were seasonal like Easter lilies and poinsettias and things like that.

MS: Oh, well we... the flowers that we grew of course, whatever would grown, were the ones that were popular. I can remember a lot of sweet peas, apparently they were very popular. And, yes, their stalks, and they were what... but, and that helped too because then you paid only for taking care of them. You didn't pay for buying them.

RP: Corsages? Did you do corsages?

MS: Later, uh-huh, later I did. But, yes.

RP: Did you have a home on the property too there, or did you...

MS: We lived in a little house that was in back. And I think later it was condemned. And there I can remember we still had kerosene lamps, I guess. Because I remember they were lamps that had to be cleaned. The glass had to be cleaned. And, and the old, what is it, oh, the old irons that you had to heat on the stove or whatever it was. [Laughs] And my mother, of course, she washed everything on the washboard at that time. And I really appreciated what she did after I got to Manzanar when we had to wash on the washboard. And I got so tired just washing my own clothes. That's just one person, two sheets, pillowcase, and a few clothes. And here she was doing it for eight people. Oh, that was...

RP: Did you start school there, in Hollywood?

MS: In Hollywood, in Los Feliz. I went to the Los Feliz elementary school right across from [inaudible]. And they taught me to read. Once... and they taught us phonetically. And so I was able to figure out a lot of words. And there was a little library on, I guess that was Vermont. Which was... we walked down Vermont to go to the elementary school. And I can remember as soon as I learned how to read a bit I would go over and I think I read through all the fairy tales and just a lot of books I remember.

RP: Did you have any, you mentioned that you had grown up with very little contact with Japanese?

MS: Oh, that's true. 'Course in the Bissell ranch of course there'd be none and I was born there.

RP: How about, how about Los Feliz?

MS: Now in Hollywood there were. There was Japanese... let's see, there were Japanese florists down, down Los Feliz and then, let's see, I think there were a couple of other Japanese families also living. There were a number of Japanese actually. But unfortunately we moved away in two years.

RP: Oh, you were just there two years?

MS: Yes. And so then we moved to Eagle Rock. And in Eagle Rock there were no Japanese. I think there might, there was probably restriction. And my father was able to rent through an individual so you didn't go through real estate because you would have been turned down.

RP: Right.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

RP: So what area of Eagle Rock did you live in?

MS: On Colorado Boulevard.

RP: Colorado.

MS: Uh-huh. And the, he did the same thing. He, my father, built a little stand sticking out from the house and grew sweet peas. I can remember the sweet peas.

RP: So you had some acreage to...

MS: No, it was just a fairly large lot.

RP: But it was most, was it, would you say it was a middle class neighborhood? Or more affluent area?

MS: Oh no. It was... it was probably middle class.

RP: Mostly Caucasians?

MS: Oh, all Caucasians.

RP: All Caucasians.

MS: Oh yeah, there was no... like I say, it was restricted.

RP: Right.

MS: I think it remained restricted quite a while.

RP: How do you remember being treated by Caucasian people growing up?

MS: There...

RP: At that particular...

MS: In, in elementary school I made a few friends, and, and they were fine. They were... and I was invited to birthday parties and so I was accepted in terms of that.

RP: Were you aware at the time that you were Japanese?

MS: Yes, that was, I think that was the first time that I became aware of the anti... well, no, you know when I was in Hollywood, now that, now that I think back, I do remember there was, must have been a lot of yellow, yellow journalism probably. But I remember it was a "yellow peril" bit. There was a lot of, must have been anti-Chinese first, of course, and then on to the Japanese. But there's a great deal of anti-Oriental feeling. Now, that was in the air but I didn't have any specific instances in terms of myself. Because mostly, of course, it was just the school and the church and, and then I was only there two years. But I know when we got to Eagle Rock there was a, there was a girl that called me a "damn Jap." And that was the first time that I had a personal kind of experience of that. Even though, as I say, I was aware in kind of a more general sense. But even in that general sense, when it's in the air, your body must react. You know, I think there's a, a little tension and it's almost like the skin is gonna have little prickles on it or something. It's a slight feeling and as a child you don't, you don't know what it is, you just know it feels different. Looking back, I can see that that would be...

RP: When this girl called you that name, how did you respond or how did you feel?

MS: Oh, I was very angry. And I think I said, "Don't you ever call me that again."

RP: You stood up for yourself.

MS: I know I was very angry.

RP: So...

MS: Oh, I do remember something up there. Let me see... I was in the fourth grade, and it must have been that that triggered it. And I don't know where I got the idea, but I went to the back near where the... the flowers were all planted along the side. It's almost like, oh, it must have been half a block or something. And I dug a little hole and I got a lot of my feelings out into the hole. I think I probably said a lot of bad things, and then I covered it up.

RP: Did your, did your brothers and sisters ever relate to you any of their, if they had a similar experiences occur to them?

MS: No. I mean, they would never have told me. Yeah.

RP: How about...

MS: I think if anything, the two, my two older sisters would have shared together, and then maybe my brothers. But they wouldn't... you know, I was considered a little... [Laughs]

RP: Right, right. And so you, you had just, the family'd just sell flowers right, right on the road side there?

MS: Yes. And the house was set back so far that I remember there was a large, it would be the equivalent of a half circle driveway. Except that I don't think they made it into a driveway. I just think they had plants and flowers and people could come.

RP: Must have been extremely colorful and beautiful.

MS: Yes, yes.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

RP: Now did you, you said at the other flower shop that you helped out a little bit.

MS: Yes.

RP: What did you do with the shop in Eagle Rock?

MS: Oh, no, that was, that was the shop in Eagle Rock where we had that. There I can only remember selling. And we moved then again. Oh, my goodness, I think we only stayed a couple of years at each place because we moved to Highland Park. And I'm just wondering whether, I wonder if there's any resistance for our being in Eagle Rock since... I don't know, but I'm, now that I think back, why would we move? But Highland Park is just over the hill from Eagle Rock.

RP: That's in the Pasadena area?

MS: Huh?

RP: Is that near, that's Pasadena area isn't it?

MS: Well, it's before you get to... it's between Glendale and Pasadena.

RP: What was that community like?

MS: In Highland Park? Oh, the Highland Park area is, was a lower, lower economic level.

RP: And so what other ethnicities did you see in Highland Park?

MS: But it was still, it was still largely white. It was mostly white. And it's only lately that... oh, as a matter of fact, even Highland Park must have had restrictions because later, much later -- 'cause eventually my brother bought a house on York Boulevard which is in -- and later, much much later, when I was already teaching and I thought I wanted to rent a house, I went to a realtor, and he said that he wasn't able to rent to me. And I think there was already a restriction. But he said he would rather have rented to me than to some white, you know, some Caucasian. The Latinos were beginning to come in, I think, because I know later they did in larger numbers. But I was shocked.

RP: This was before the war?

MS: No, no, no, no. This was after the war, after, after I'd become a teacher. So...

RP: How did that make you feel?

MS: Well, that was a great shock. That was definitely a great shock. But... because by that time the war, of course had, ended and all this was in... when did I move? That would have been 1950... probably nine, probably 1959 or so, yeah.

RP: What are your memories of, of growing up at Highland Park?

MS: Yes... well, I went to the Buchanan Street elementary school. And there was a fifth grade teacher that I can remember very fondly, and her name was Miss Boyd. And her brother was, was a very famous cowboy actor. Now what was his name?

RP: William Boyd?

MS: What?

RP: William Boy? Hop-Along Cassidy?

MS: I think so. Yeah, that would make sense. And she was so nice. Now, she took, on her own time, on the weekend, she would take a group of our, a group of children from her class to the museum and...

RP: Which museum was this?

MS: The L.A. County Museum, the Natural History Museum. And we had a little group of friends, there were three friends and we wanted to go together. So she said, "All right." And so she planned that we would go together. And at the time that our date came along -- because she had, since she was taking us in the car she only took a few at a time -- and one friend became ill, and she was a young diabetic. And so she... and so Miss Boyd said, "Well, we'll take you at a date, a later date." And she arranged to take us at a later day and I thought that was very nice because that was an extra imposition in a sense. And she was very kind, uh-huh. And then I graduated from the elementary school and went to Luther Burbank junior high school, which is still there. And the elementary school is still there. And my daughter, Susan, went to the same elementary school, although she was born in New York City. [Laughs] So, yeah.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

RP: Was your father also in the flower business?

MS: Yes, we had a flower shop. He built a shop there and...

RP: Can you describe the shop to us?

MS: Well, it was, it was a little wooden shop, and had a place for flowers in front and a work place in back and that's where, and that's where I began to really do some of the work in the shop. You had to wash out the pots and the cans and things that we put the flowers in, five gallon cans. He made some special tall vases for the gladiolas because they were so tall. And he used tiles, roof tiles, and the long, very long ones, and put, I guess he cemented in the bottom of one and stood it up. So...

RP: Did you have any refrigeration at, at that time?

MS: No. There was no... or was there refrigeration? I wonder, I wonder if there was a little refrigerator in the back. I know we had a cooler which was... I think we hung some wet gunnysacks and it was in the back, it was a cooler area. Oh, I, yes, I guess we did have a, we did have one refrigerator with a glass door for the roses and some of the orchids or something like that that was special. Yes.

RP: Now did he, did he take regular trips down to the flower market at that point?

MS: Oh, yes, oh, yes. He had to go down every, probably every morning or so. I think he went every morning anyway. And, and that made it difficult for my mother because she had to, I guess she was up, I don't know, it had to be... he left about four-thirty in the morning so... and he... now when I mention the market, I forgot to mention that when we were in, on Los Feliz Boulevard, my father had a motorcycle with a sidecar and he put the flowers in the sidecar. And so he took me down to the market once. It was the first time I had been in the market. But also it was the first time... was that when... it was the first time I ever had pancakes I know, because we had breakfast there. And I was trying to remember if that was the first time I saw people having to dig food out of a garbage can or whether it was when I went down with him in Highland Park, which might have been because that was, well, '30... let's see, I left twenty, about twenty... the Depression must have started around, between there because at one of those times... and that's when I became aware of, of the Depression is when I went to market with him.

RP: How did, how did the Depression affect your family, father's business?

MS: Oh, well of course it hurt everybody. But on the other hand we had, we were very fortunate on York Boulevard in Highland Park, we had a lot of fruit trees. We had a plum tree that just bore and bore and just... and apricot tree, and we had a quince tree and let's see there was another, and we had a cherry tree but it was more of a flowering because it didn't give many cherries. Let's see, what else was there? And we had chickens. We had, he brought, he brought a couple of Bantam chickens from Japan, with a very long tail, the rooster had a long tail, and then the little hen. And they were smaller but they did have eggs. And then every once in a while my mother would have to kill one and I think that was difficult. You chop off the head but it keeps, you know, it keeps moving around. Then you had to pluck all the feathers and you clean it all and do everything. And we grew vegetables. So we were pretty self-sufficient in terms of that. But we did go down to get Japanese food, soy sauce and...

RP: Rice?

MS: I know he made tofu a couple of times but the rest of the time...

RP: Where would you go to pick up Japanese food?

MS: Oh in Japanese town.

RP: Little Tokyo?

MS: Yeah, Little Tokyo.

RP: What do you remember about some of those trips down there?

MS: No, he didn't take me there very much. Japanese town I only learned through when I got to, well into high school and wanted to meet some boys in a sense, and so I went to the Japanese church and... yes, because after, after the junior high school I went to the high school, Franklin high school. As I say, more and more, and it's mostly apparently Latino now, the whole neighborhood. So the high school, the, yes...

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: Did you, as you were growing up, do you recall, was there more emphasis on celebrating more Japanese holidays or cultural traditions or American traditions? Or a little bit of both?

MS: Well, the only Japanese one we celebrated was New Year's. And that was always a big deal I guess because you had to do extra cleaning and then you had, my mother made so many dishes that you had to prepare from way in advance. And, yes, oh, I guess all the traditional little dishes, I don't remember them because I don't think I particularly cared for them very much. But of course... oh, and then we did pound the mochi every year. And that was interesting to me because later when I reflect on it, you had to, a lot of Japanese culture is getting into harmony with everything actually, but with people and with the nature and all. And in terms of the mochi making I saw that in action because the rice, which is very sticky, gooey and all sticky, you have to water. You have to take your hand and you pat it and you put water on it and you put it back. Now, so the women will shape it and put it down and the men will hit with that pallet. Well that rhythm, he's gonna be hitting on his rhythm and if you don't get your hand out of the way you're sunk. So, and then I saw that rhythm which later I saw repeated in so many of the traditional activities throughout, well actually throughout the world because people used to do things with music, you know, with rhythmic chants where you would, a row of men would be doing something and they would be chanting and they would do their work while they were chanting. And actually that shares the, the energy burden in a sense of whatever work you're doing and it's much easier and, but I do remember that mochi pounding and thinking yes, you have to really be in rhythm. [Laughs]

RP: Did you ever get into the role of turning the...

MS: No I didn't, no. But yes, my mother did all of that.

RP: Your mother was the one that did that. Turned the rice?

MS: Oh, yes, Oh yes. She would have to do all of that.

RP: The roles were pretty defined.

MS: Yes.

RP: The men pounded and the women turned.

MS: Yes. Well, yes, and that made sense because to pound it that much would take a lot more exertion, so... and then also it's a position thing too where... yeah.

RP: You did not attend Japanese language school?

MS: Only for a very short part of one summer. We learned the alphabet at least in both katakana which is simple and then the hiragana. But I learned no, none of the fancier.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

RP: So what was high school like for you?

MS: Well, high school was, that was quite good. By that time, let's see now, I think in junior high school probably, I had read Emerson and because before that I was a woman and then in Japanese family the women didn't speak as much or didn't assert herself. And then when I read Emerson I think I was developing a bit of independence. And so, when I got to high school, and I think I was expecting really to take more, be more active in the flower shop, but I felt that it was important for me... and I like sports, and I certainly... and I liked studying, so I thought one of the three things that would be important for me in high school would be studies, obviously, and then sports, and then the social. Because I needed to develop some kind of social. And I had been very shy. So I didn't really speak much to people before that. And so when I decided to go to, to the Union church -- I don't know whether I've shared all this because something I've certainly kept to myself -- but I decided that the people at the church don't know that I don't speak, that I rarely, rarely speak. And so that I should. I should try to speak out more and I did. And it was very good because I met, at the church I met Japanese people, really for the first time in terms of interacting with them. And I realized that there was a certain cliqueishness because they all lived in the same community and knew Japanese and shared a culture. And so in a sense I was very much like an outsider coming in. But, but you help around and gradually you're part of it. And I actually became quite, fairly active.


RP: This is tape two of a continuing interview with Margaret Ichino. Margaret, you were just telling us how you were kind of breaking out of your shell a little bit and developing a little bit of a social life with members of this Japanese Union church.

MS: Yes.

RP: Tell us what evolved from, from your contacts there.

MS: Yes, and, so I actually became fairly active, as I said, and we had, I joined a Girls Club. The Girls Club, that's interesting, how did it get there? Was in Christian church. Was in, and I also became a sponsor or a, like a leader of the younger group. But, we, the groups, the girls clubs and the boys clubs, would have dances together and have activities, and we would do things. So that was very good. And I even somehow became a song leader. [Laughs] I think, I don't know how that happened. But in many of the larger gatherings, I remember, I simply led a lot of the songs.

RP: What type of songs are we talking about?

MS: Hmm. Now I can't even remember the songs. But, I think they were more songs that were popular among the clubs I guess. Because they weren't popular songs in a sense. They must have been traditional, folk songs or...

RP: Japanese songs?

MS: No, no. no. No.

RP: Just...

MS: Uh-huh, just American songs. Let me see if I can remember any of them. Or the kind of songs maybe you sing in the schools, when they had music.

KP: [Inaudible].

RP: Right. One of your motivations for going to the church was the fact that you were kind of limited in your dating possibilities. You mentioned that, you know...

MS: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

RP: ...Japanese could not date Caucasians.

MS: I think it was. Partly, I wanted to meet some Japanese of all since I... and I had at least a short time because that was, let's see now, I graduated high school in '36, 1936. So I must have started before that. I must have gone to the church in '35 or '34, I don't know. It must have been '35.

RP: How did you discover this sort of, was it sort of an unspoken covenant about dating, who you dated in high school?

MS: Oh, we knew. It, you know, everyone knew that you could not date... it was illegal.

RP: Illegal to date? It was illegal to marry.

MS: Yeah, well, but, I mean, why would you date... [Laughs]

RP: Why would you date?

MS: So, yes. There was a very, there was a very active Korean girl and I think the Koreans were more, well, less reserved than the Japanese. And there was one Korean family in the high school. And there actually were about three, I think, Japanese families in our high school, but different grades. And so she dated, I think she dated a black man, which was very bold in the '30s. But she was very self assured. And her, her brother became a, I think he was an Olympic diver at that time, too. He was Sammy Lee. And I know there was a Japanese girl who also dated a black person and that was a shock to the Japanese community because there was a... all the races have some kind of prejudice and the Japanese had definitely a prejudice against the blacks, I think. And also the Filipinos, against Filipinos. And since I had been in the Caucasian community I hadn't picked up, well, I hadn't picked up much of that. I don't think there was any, there were none around. But when I went to Union church, I went on the streetcar and I could also change to another car. And we went through what was called Filipino town, before you get to Japanese town. And sometimes it was quicker on a Sunday to walk down rather than wait for the streetcar. So I would often just walk down. And I think some of the Japanese were real shocked because I was walking kind of alone through Filipino town. I had nothing against the Filipinos. I mean, I didn't even know any. So, and I hadn't received any of that from my parents. So, I became aware of different kinds of prejudices appearing.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: You graduated in 1936.

MS: Uh-huh.

RP: And, what did you, what did you do after that?

MS: Well, after that I was planning to, I was gonna go to any college I could, or whatever. But I thought, well, the only thing I could really afford was City College. I could get to that on the streetcar. And I also got a WPA, I guess it was, was it a WPA grant? Which helped pay for my... and I remember the job I had was... included formaldehyde, must have been a biology lab or something [Laughs]

RP: Where was this?

MS: At L.A. City College.

RP: What do you remember doing for that?

MS: I don't know what I had to do, but I remember that because of the... I had to help the teacher and so whatever the professor wanted me to do I had to do. And so I, I must have printed out tests and done other things. But I also remember doing something with the formaldehyde, which I can't remember now.

RP: This was part of this WPA grant?

MS: Yes, uh-huh.

RP: Do you know how much it was?

MS: I haven't the faintest idea now. But, on the other hand, because I had been involved with the Girl's Club at the Christian college, Chapman College... is a Christian college, same denomination -- it used to be Cal-Christian apparently. I didn't know that. It was called Chapman College, but it was on Vermont Boulevard right across the street from Los Angeles City College. Los Angeles City College used to be the site of UCLA before it moved out to Westwood, I think. But, but they wanted me to go to Christian college, you know, Cal... that would be Chapman College. And so they put me in for a scholarship and I got a scholarship to Chapman College. So I went there which was just across the street. And because it's smaller, I liked that. And you got to know the professors much more. So, I stayed a year at the city college and then I transferred to Chapman College. And, Chapman College, this is very interesting because it was unusual at the time, I was invited to join a sorority. And I was against sororities as a general thing. But this sorority was very unusual, extremely unusual. They had two sororities on, at campus, and one sorority had beautiful girls and the other sorority had less beautiful girls but more interesting in many ways. [Laughs] They were, they were the editors of the newspaper and drama people and it was fascinating because they had a, a black person, and they asked me, and later they asked a Chinese lady. And, and they I think were trying to live a Christian life, and were being very open. Now, in the '30s, that was very unusual and, and so I joined. And that was a really good group.

RP: It kind of broadened your horizons socially and ethnically.

MS: Uh-huh. Yes. And I think because the classes were different... they were smaller and... yeah, I think I learned, I learned many things that I might not have learned in City College. I remember... I never liked history because all the history I had been taught really seemed to be related to dates and wars and... but I had a history teacher who recognized why things happened in terms of history. And so you brought in the larger context and so even thought the dates were there you had a sense of why things might have been, and that I really appreciated.

RP: When you --

MS: No, I was gonna say, I had a, I remember a philosophy... no, my first philosophy class, actually, was in the city college. And I was very interested, was very interested in philosophy and was doing very well. They had midterms as well as finals and little, I don't know, little quizzes or something. And I always did very well. And I wanted to do especially well on the final. And so I stayed up all night, which I never should have done, drank coffee. And I... the next morning, when I took the test, it's almost as if I could see thing, but it's almost like I could see the page and yet I couldn't remember. [Laughs] And I did not do well in that test. So the professor asked me, he said, "Oh, what happened?" And so I told him what had happened. And so he discounted, I think, much of that test, which was nice.

RP: Were some of your older siblings also attending college at this time or had attended college?

MS: No, the...

RP: What was happening to the other brothers and sisters?

MS: My, yes, my brother, oldest brother, had graduated from City College. And I'm glad, because he had his picture taken with my mother and I think that she was very proud that happened before she died, you know. And, and then none of the others went. Let's see now, my second, the sister just above me, my second oldest sister, Mary, went to nursing school in San Diego and, and of course later my brother Paul went to City College, just before we were evacuated.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: Then your older sister Florence --

MS: Oh, yeah, she got --

RP: -- moved to New York?

MS: -- she got married and went to New York, uh-huh. And that was a kind of an arranged marriage. It was... somebody must have approached my parents and, because there was a gentleman in New York that had made inquiries or something. And so they set up a meeting and they went out, I guess, on a few dates or something. And, and he was, he was fairly good-looking and personable, spoke English and all. But he was, but he was an Issei, and, but my sister, even though she had dated a few other people... yes, some, I remember some were young doctors in training at Loma Linda, that was the Seventh Day Adventist. She decided to marry him and so they did get married and she left for New York.

RP: What did he do?

MS: Oh, he was a wonderful chef. [Laughs] Yeah, that might have been the attraction. But he was very good. And so he worked in various families. At one time he, I think they both worked as an au pair for, who's that lady singer who had a loud voice? Ethel Merman? Ethel Merman? I think so, yes. And, so they worked for some prominent families. And I know that he was very good because when I visited, when I got to New York and we would visit then we would eat, you know, some of the leftovers and they were very good. [Laughs]

RP: What were your feelings about arranged marriages? Did you have a strong feeling one way or another about...

MS: Well, not for anyone else. For myself I...

RP: How about for yourself?

MS: Oh, myself, I would never, yes, do that. I mean...

RP: That was still going on, even in the '30s.

MS: But rarely. It was only for older. Now...

RP: He was an Issei too, so...

MS: Yes, and although, although he was young. I mean he was, hmm... there were not too many, I think, of the older Nisei. There was a smaller population maybe. And then I don't think they had as many opportunities to meet as the younger ones. So...

RP: Was there a large age differential between your sister and this...

MS: Oh, what, seven years? And as you're growing up, even a few years makes a difference. So, uh-huh.

RP: Well, there was a, another restrictive law governing the marriage between a, a Nisei and an Issei. And I don't know when it, when it was rescinded, but I think it was called the Cable Act.

KP: It was '35 I think it was.

RP: It was '35, was it?

KP: Yeah, so it wouldn't have applied.

RP: So it didn't apply but, any, any Nisei woman who married a, an Issei would lose her citizenship.

MS: Oh really?

RP: Uh-huh.

MS: I didn't know that.

RP: Yeah.

MS: But, when was that? In...

RP: I believe it was from 1915 to 1935. I don't know.

MS: Oh. Oh my. Then it must have just expired.

RP: I think she, yeah, she just...

MS: Oh, well, maybe that's why he applied, or inquired.

RP: Uh-huh.

MS: Yeah, because there would be no Isseis, you know, very few Isseis that he would be able to marry then, if that's the case. And he would have... oh.

RP: Right.

MS: Interesting.

RP: At this point in time, in your life, were you formulating any grand plans for, for what you wanted to do with the rest of your life? Or were you just experiencing whatever came along?

MS: I think I was just mostly experiencing, although I did have a feeling that I would be going into some sort of social, social work of some kind, maybe. But I had no strong feelings one way or the other. And you have to remember too that things were limited at that time, for women. And you had no expectation of even looking for anything else. So it would be secretarial or nursing or teaching.

RP: How did your parents respond to your, you know, intentions, you know, to do something other than just be a housewife? Were they supportive?

MS: Oh, I don't think I even mentioned it or even... partly because it was... no, it, I would have mentioned it if I had a strong desire and needed to leave to go to a school. So, but, just as my sister when she was going into nursing and wanted to go to San Diego, that would be... but otherwise, uh-huh.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: And, you eventually took this, this very special trip to New York in 1939. Tell us about that.

MS: Yes, that was, because my sister was in New York, and then they were asked to, to what, to manage the Poughkeepsie Golf Course. And he would be doing the, the cooking there. And, and then Florence would take care of the rooms and, you know, the keeping up the ladies room and whatever. So they asked me if I would like to come and work and then go to the New York World's Fair on my day off. And so I did. And that was, let's see, I must... what was I, nineteen or something, about that time? So I did. I left and it was very, very interesting. I know there was one interesting... oh, yeah, actually and I had a boyfriend before I left. And, but I decided that I needed to go to New York so I did leave. But, one thing, in terms of the work, and mostly it was very little. They had a shower and then a base, what, washbasins for the women. And so I made sure that those were kept clean. And then I was there to assist anything. And the assistant chef, let's see... oh, and then there was a bartender, okay. And the bartender asked if I wanted to try any of the drinks or anything. I said, "No, I don't drink." And he said, "Well, you could just taste anything." So I tasted them all and didn't like any of them. [Laughs] So, I never took up drinking.

But, it was an interesting experience. Especially when I went to New York on my day off and saw the New York World's Fair. The person that I went with to the New York World's Fair, was a person that I had met in New York at the Japanese church. And he was interested in art, particularly in art. But he asked me if I would like to go and so I went. Now, I was not, at that time, interested in art and so I was interested in the social and some of the other aspects. And I was drawn to the Robert Moses' large project of the clover leaf and the freeway system. And that was very new. And now I can hardly remember all of the different exhibits that we went to. We went to all the ones I was interested in first and then I said, "Well, you know, we need to go to the art exhibit." Because that's what my friend was interested in. And by that time I was getting tired. But we went to the art exhibit and it was so incredible that I became completely rejuvenated. And it was the first time I had seen any real art. It was, here I had seen Pinky and the Blue Boy at the Huntington and Renoir and, I don't know, a couple of others, Degas maybe, at the Los Angeles museum. But here, the first thing that really impressed me was the Rembrandt room. And it was, they had lighted Rembrandt's paintings so beautifully that the faces coming out of the darkness were just incredible. I don't think I've seen any of Rembrandt's paintings lit as carefully or as beautifully as that was done. It was such a, psychological quality in all of his paintings just coming out. And then I saw just rooms of Titian and Tintoretto, and just so many of the great masters. Then I later saw in Europe a huge, huge amounts of... but this was my first time that I had seen real art and what it can do, so... that was one of the great experiences in my life. And then New York itself has a very vibrant quality and energy level which is far above that of Los Angeles, where I grew up. And they had... I was trying to remember, no, I didn't hear. Later, when I came back to New York, I heard Pablo Casals and many of the, of course, the musical and the theater and so much was going on.

RP: How long did you spend in New York?

MS: Where did I stay?

RP: How long did you stay in New York?.

MS: Oh, well, the first time of course, when I was in Poughkeepsie and then I came, we came down, stayed, well, we stayed a few months in New York and I don't know when they closed the, the Poughkeepsie Golf Course for the season. And then he was... and, and I returned then to Los Angeles, and here again I can't remember was it, at, near the end of 2000... oh, 2000 [Laughs], let's see, that would be 1940 or the beginning of 1941. But, I did come back then. And then later that year, my mother became ill and passed away in October of 1941, before the evacuation. And in one sense, that was a really great loss for me. And, but in one sense, I thought, well, at least she's spared being, you know, being evacuated and having that kind of a trauma. But on the other hand, afterwards, when I saw the Nisei here and all, I thought well, that would have been the first time that she ever had a vacation in which she wouldn't have had to work, you know, too, so it could have been either way. But, and then my sister and her husband, who were still in New York, came back to see my mother and attend the funeral and all. And stayed on, became caught up in the evacuation, and so... so they went to camp also. Even though they had spent the last, I don't know how many years, in New York.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

RP: So where were you on December 7, 1941?

MS: Oh, I was working in Hollywood. And, let's see, now at that time I was working in a home. Wouldn't be on my own yet. And, yes, that was interesting. Because I remember things that happened. But I was not in touch with the Japanese community and... but I had dated. I was trying to think of when did I date. I had dated George Stanicci once before and I also, and I had dated some others, too. But I had lost track of everybody. And, and then when I heard about what happened, it, it just gave me such a shock. And I had done some, done some artwork on my own and there was, let me see, what was it? A poem... it's, it's something like "When winter comes, can spring be far behind?" Do you remember that poem? If I remember that part that had that... so I went up on Hollywood Boulevard and decided to make a card. And, and I sketched, well, I bought a piece of acetate and sketched and, you know, engraved a little card. And it had a barren tree, it was this tree, and some, some crosses, and, but and that, that was it. You see, this was going to be winter, but there would be spring. And I remember that was the card that I sent out to friends.

And then I didn't want to be left alone because I was, my family had gone since they had already been evacuated in their section of the city. So I asked my friend, one of my friends that was in the girls club with me when I was younger, and, and we still kept in touch. It was, as a matter of fact, we were active. And it was called, the girls club was actually called Rho Sigma Rho. But, so that's, so I asked to stay with her and she lived right next to George Stanicci that I had dated before, once anyway, and I thought that would be nice because at least I would know one person and, you know, and her family. So I stayed with her, but then her parents, I guess were... friends of their parents wanted them to move to another place in order to go to a different, I don't know, place. So, so she and her family moved out and I was living in her house alone. It was...

RP: Where was this?

MS: In Boyle Heights.

RP: In Boyle Heights.

MS: In Boyle Heights, yes.

RP: You mentioned that your family had been evacuated earlier.

MS: Because they were in Highland Park.

RP: And where did they go?

MS: They went to Manzanar. Yes, and my brother had gone to volunteer. Did I mention that?

RP: Was that Philip, or...

MS: No, that was Paul. Philip was in the army. Philip and Frank were in the army. And Paul volunteered to go because they said that he could take, he could drive his own car. And so he filled his own car and, I think I might have mentioned that. Yes. And had driven up. And then they had evacuated that large section and I think they took large sections where there weren't very many Japanese and Boyle Heights had many many Japanese and they would have to have a lot of barracks ready, and so...

RP: So, how did you feel? You're alone, you're in the house.

MS: Oh, that was an interesting experience. It was... and then when our time came, we were all being evacuated, so I knew that that whole section of town was going, and we knew the time. And one thing that... I was trying to think of the kind of reaction I had. Because I found out the next morning when I got up and got ready to go that his mother had stayed up to scrub the kitchen floor of the house that they were renting and I could not... how could you spend your time scrubbing a kitchen floor, you know, before you were getting ready to leave? And, I think as Niseis, I don't think we would have had that inclination that there was any need to do that kind of cleaning before we were leaving. But, I will add though, that last night I was in one of the discussion groups that they had. And there was a lady whose ancestors came from Finland, sat next to me. And I mentioned that, the incident about my, my neighbor scrubbing the kitchen floor. And she said she was so delighted to kind of, that really struck her because her great-grandmother did exactly the same thing in Finland when the Russians were coming. And the Russians had been... they knew the Russians were coming and had been burning all the houses as they came. And she heard that her grand, great-grandmother I guess it was, had scrubbed the floors and had put out flowers and that she could never understand that. So when she heard about my story of the neighbor scrubbing her... and so we thought, alright, it was, it was kind of a deep, not ethic, but... the way they were brought up is either it was something, alright, there was a pride or there was something there that this is something that they would do. 'Cause it was a reflection of themselves. And so that was very interesting to me, to both of us. Because now it was a, it was something universal. It was a universal reason, and so that was... but, of course I was shocked at the time, very shocked.

And we went on the train, the old dusty train. I think they pulled them out of storage because all the other trains were being used to move the troops. And we had, and I think there were old gas-light fixtures left on the old trains. But I remember the seats were very dusty. If you just... [Waves hand] And they did give us a little lunch box and I think mine had a sandwich and an apple, that had a sandwich and an apple or something. But, so we got off this train eventually in Lone Pine, and then we were transferred to a bus. So we sat in, near the back of the bus. Then when we were coming close to Manzanar, the bus driver said, "Now, you should be with your family and friends." Because as you come off there's little groupings of probably eight or so that go into one room. And now here I was alone and my friend next-door then, George and his mother, would be two more. That's three, because we would be together and I didn't know anyone else. And so he looked around the bus and he saw two friends of his and so he ran up to them and said, "Would you like to join in our group because we...." And they said, "Yes," because they were alone too. And so they joined our group and we were very small group of five then, was it, one, two, three, four, five? And we were concerned whether we would have to have another family. And, but they decided that we could have, be in just one room. Fortunately, because George and Grace Sasaki had just gotten married not too long before and that to me was always a shame to have had to spend their first year in Manzanar with two other families. And we hung blankets, but that was really not very sufficient.

RP: Just to backtrack a little bit, do you, do you remember your state of mind about, you know, when you heard about the evacuation and that you'd have to leave? Did you have any strong feelings about, "Why is this happening to us?"

MS: Well, I did, because I had been thinking about it and I thought -- this was far before anything had been declared in terms of evacuation -- and I said, you know, there's a possibility that the, our parents, would be, would be put into a camp or taken because they're Issei and they are necessarily aliens because they could never apply for citizenship. And since they were denied citizenship, they're obviously aliens and now they would be considered "enemy aliens." And I was concerned about that because I thought they might... but I never thought that citizens would be... I mean, due process. I mean, after all, we have... so that was a great shock. That was a very great shock. And I knew I would have to deal with that.

RP: Did you have any affiliation at all with the JACL at that time?

MS: No. I knew every, I knew them all but, as a matter of fact, I dated some of them. [Laughs] But, yes, kind of had been seriously involved with one. No, and I think partly because I had never been involved with the Japanese community that much. And I really didn't feel that much a part of it. And, yeah...

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

RP: So what was it like when you get to Manzanar and there's thousands of Japanese?

MS: Yes. The numbers of the black heads around me was quite a shock. I had never seen that many. [Laughs] But, yes, and then we filled our bags with straw they way we have to.

RP: Do you remember getting shots?

MS: Oh, yes, later we got shots and I got sick. I was sick with the... I rarely get sick in my life and I can't even remember ever being sick like that. But I was sick for at least a week and it really hit me. And, partly, because I think now that I look back on it, many of the shots really were doses for men, and Japanese, you know, we're small and the fact that I had never taken any medications of any kind. I don't even remember taking aspirin. The only time I ever took anything was if I had tooth work done and I had reactions to that. But, so I was down for a good week, at least a week.

RP: Do you remember what you brought to camp with you?

MS: I remember, I remember goggles and the, we were told, definitely, to get handkerchiefs, the, to tie around our faces. And, let's see, what else? Well, they gave us peacoats, or whatever they call them. They were army, heavy wool coat, and that was good.

RP: You bring anything special with you other than the, you know, usual clothing?

MS: You know, the only thing that I can remember having in camp that was really unusual, really, my carving tools. And, which now, I think back on it, I probably shouldn't have had carving tools. And I don't know whether, and I don't think I would have put them in the middle of my duffle... I had brought a duffle bag. Because I think my brothers said they're lighter and you can pile more things in. Now that I think about it, they would be less apt to be looked at thoroughly than... it's easier to look through a suitcase then through a duffle bag, because you have to, everything is rolled up and... But, it's probable that maybe my brother brought them in the car, you know.

RP: Paul.

MS: Yes. Because later, I remember teaching woodcarving and so I had to have, I had to have tools.

RP: Do you remember soldiers going through people's luggage and affects when you got off the bus? Being...

MS: I don't remember. I don't, I don't remember any, when I got off the bus. The only thing I remember is filling... it was late at night. Which is possibly why, very late. And, so we just practically went straight to bed. And that was when we encountered the problem that we would have three families in one room and with, had no furniture except the beds, the beds. So we arranged the beds so that we would put the blankets between, and...

RP: Do you remember which block you were assigned to? I know you ended up in Block 32, but they were still building the camp.

MS: That, that might have been it. Because that's all I can remember. I thought I'm either in 32 or 33 and so, it was 32. And there was a big cottonwood tree, is the only thing that I can remember that was there. 'Cause it was, the camp was very barren. You know, it had no trees at all. It didn't have the trees like it has now. [Laughs]

RP: On the, on the train trip up to Manzanar and then the bus ride as you're coming in close to the camp, did you have any expectations or any ideas or were you just completely uncertain as to what you were gonna see when you got here?

MS: Oh yes, completely uncertain. And I don't think we saw that much 'cause it was pitch dark.

RP: So how did, how did the appearance of the, you know...

MS: Except --

RP: -- the next morning when you woke up and saw the camp, how did that affect you?

MS: -- yeah, that was, well, that was pretty bleak. Actually, it was pretty bleak when we went into the room. But, yes... but fortunately, it wasn't as dusty, I mean, it wasn't as windy and dusty then. Although later, we did have a dust storm that was so heavy, I'll never forget that one. That I couldn't see the, the building next to us. It was just, just kind of blended in with all of that. But usually dust storms were not that heavy. It's, uh-huh. But you did have to keep covered, your eyes and your nose.

RP: Where was your, the rest of your family in the camp?

MS: Well, they actually weren't too far away, so that, uh-huh. My brother, I think they were in the same block but in different buildings. Since they were what, ten barracks or so in the...

RP: Fourteen.

MS: Fourteen in the block, all together.

RP: So they were in the same block as you?

MS: Yeah, they were, yeah, far in the lower end and I was in the upper. Or, I was towards the mountains.

RP: How did you, how did you come to, to teach here in the camp?

MS: Oh, yes, they made, they sent out a call, they needed to have teachers, anyone who had any kind of college would be able to teach elementary school. So, since I had had two years, teachers... now I think the pay scale at that time, I think was twelve, sixteen, and nineteen. But I'm not sure. Was that right? Uh-huh. So I got sixteen, as a teacher, a month, and sixteen dollars a month. And, so I showed up. Well, I tried to prepare, but there was very little that I could prepare because there were, there was no equipment. We had no chairs, no tables, no, nothing to write with. [Laughs] So, so we just, the first class we sat on the floor. Now, we had four classes in one barrack. And there were no partitions, so we had to hang blankets between the classes, but you obviously could hear what was going on in the other classes. And it made a very difficult teaching and learning situation. So I remember that if it got a little bit too noisy from the class next to us, I would say, "Well, it's time for our nature study." And we would walk out the door and walk the grounds. I don't know what we did for nature study, but we did. And then we sat on the floor and I tried to give them a little arithmetic. I scrounged paper, I think, from the kitchen, and used it as a chalkboard. I had already written to friends in town to send as many pencils and paper or crayons or anything. So I did get some, but not much.

RP: These were friends who were teachers?

MS: In Los Angeles.

RP: In Los Angeles?

MS: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

RP: Now, Margaret, how soon after you got to camp did you begin teaching? Was it during the summer months or was it the fall?

MS: Oh, no, it was the fall.

RP: It was the actual fall semester?

MS: Yeah, it was the fall semester.

RP: Because there was some folks that organized a little bit of school for, for kids during the summer.

MS: Oh.

RP: Classes and things. But...

MS: Now, was that organized as, as... I don't remember.

RP: It wasn't very organized.

MS: No, I don't think so, because, I mean, I don't think I taught then because I remember it was a very short time. And we had arrived in December. So we never taught after that. So I think that was the period, from September to December.

RP: Now did, were they able to arrange for you to have a credential? Or you just taught without a credential?

MS: Oh yeah, we taught without a credential. It was just, yeah.

RP: And, you know, you had your college experience but you never taught before.

MS: Yeah, that's true. [Laughs]

RP: So, did you, was there any crash course or training that, that you were given before you actually walked into a classroom?

MS: You know, there was a, there was a woman who did, who did that part of the organizing. But of course, I'm sure we didn't get any truly specific, deep instructions in terms of each grade level. Although we knew, I think, I think we were given, probably, rough guidelines and in terms of what to cover. But there was no real training of course.

RP: You were just basically kind of thrown, thrown out there.

MS: The, now, that organizing might have been done during the summertime. But I don't remember anything very intensive. And...

RP: Which grade did you end up teaching?

MS: Four.

RP: Fourth grade?

MS: Fourth grade. Our barrack had, I think is was fourth, fifth, and sixth.

RP: And this would have been in Block 32?

MS: No, it was in... let's see now, where was it? I'm not sure where it was. Oh, it was close. I mean, it wasn't, you know, but...

RP: It sounds like the, the room that was devoted to classes, might have been a recreation room of some kind? Because that's where...

MS: I think all of this was very temporary.

RP: Right.

MS: And then they knew it was going to be temporary because they would be building or refitting certain barracks as genuine classroom.

RP: But, as you described, it was very primitive in the beginning.

MS: Yes, yes. Because we, like I say, we sat on the floor and we had blankets for partitions.

RP: So, did, did things... I know you didn't teach very long, but do you remember things changing over the few months that you taught? Did you get pencils? Did you get paper? Desks?

MS: Oh no, no.

RP: No.

MS: And we never got... and so that's one thing I was very delighted to see actually, in the films that I saw later, that they had equipment. That they actually had books. We had no books. And they had tables and chairs.

RP: So how did you approach this, this teaching experience? What did you do for the kids that was maybe a little unique or reflected your personality or...

MS: [Laughs] I don't think there was very much in this, in this short experience. I think I just did the best I could. It was only my later teaching that I had to...

RP: Do you remember any particular experiences that you had with the kids that stick out?

MS: No. I think I remember the nature walks most. [Laughs]

RP: And how were the kids?

MS: Oh, you know, they were well. They were well behaved and they were quiet. They were... I think...

RP: Were you able to do some art with them or music or anything?

MS: Well we did sing, we sang some songs and all. I think, I think they were Spanish songs, I think we were supposed to sing. Maybe it was "La Golondrina" or maybe it was... I can't remember. But we did singing, that was about it. No art because we had no equipment and so I didn't try any.

RP: Were there other Japanese American teachers?

MS: Oh, I'm sure...

RP: Do you recall?

MS: I'm sure at that time. Now later, when they had the organized school system, I'm not sure. So, yeah.

RP: So you taught 'em up until the riot and then...

MS: Yes.

RP: Then you didn't teach after that.

MS: No.

RP: Okay.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

RP: Can you, do you recall anything, any perceptions or images that you remember about that incident, that event, that kind of rocked the camp. I mean, it was, it was a violent confrontation out there.

MS: Uh-huh. Yes, because a group of us had walked down toward the administration building on that day, not knowing anything was going to happen. And, and then, and then we did hear the commotion and all and didn't know what was happening. It was only when they threw that tear gas that we decided better go into the, well, the bathrooms, I guess. It was the, yes, where they have the latrines and the showers and things. So we stayed there until most of the commotion finished. And then...

RP: So you were, you were close by in a latrine building?

MS: We were close by, uh-huh.

RP: Do you, do you remember hearing shots or did you know that people had been shot?

MS: Well, we did hear the commotion. And we did know that there was a shot. But I think we tried to leave also. And we were affected a little bit by the tear gas, but, and then we just left.

RP: Who were you with?

MS: Well, I know I was with George but there was a little group of about five of us at that time. Now, when we returned, that was a very interesting thing, because I was very aware then of the importance of the atmosphere. The moment the riots started, this intense energy started to pervade the camp, which grew, which actually kept growing and became, I felt it was like a strong, you could cut it with a knife. It was just very powerful. And so that kind of energy difference, there's a qualitative change in the energy significantly when that happened. And we had many friends in all places. And I remember one night this one friend came and he was all covered up and hooded at night. And he knocked on the door and kind of, and we asked, "Who's there?" And so we tried... "Who's, who's there?" And then we recognized... I can't remember his name now. But he was one that was being taken out of camp because of threats on his life. And remember they were, it must have been Fred Tayama or somebody that they were gonna take out in the ambulance or whatever. And I think they were taking out a few people. And, and he had known George. Like I say, George had been more active in the Japanese community with the drama group and they knew. And his father, because his father had legal knowledge, was very helpful in the Japanese community in the early days. This is not during evacuation time. So, he knew many people in terms of Japanese community that I did not know and so I do remember this one man that came and had to leave.

RP: He was taken away.

MS: Very suddenly. Uh-huh.

RP: That would have been after the riot or during the riot?

MS: Right after. Well, kind of like immediately after, well whenever Fred Tayama left. I think that was the time they were taking them all out.

RP: Right. Fred was beaten up in his, in his barrack.

MS: Yeah. That was... uh-huh.

RP: Did you have any thoughts or did you wonder why this might have happened?

MS: Well, you know, because we all heard, in terms of... and we also heard that there was this person that had been killed while he was going out to the river, you know. And I was wondering now, had that been, they keep saying that, well, someone had died, what, staying out too long or something? But, I know there was, I think, I think there might have been one that was shot. But then of course the riot, of course had that. And, and then the sugar, the...

RP: Shortages of sugar?

MS: Yes. The shortages of the sugar, I know they were very upset about that and some of the, I'm sure some of the cooks were saying, "We are not getting the rations that we're supposed to." And things had been building up. And it's when you get the building up and you get it concentrated into that powerful force, that you, it will erupt. Uh-huh.

RP: So, you stopped teaching because of the riot, or was there another personal reason for that?

MS: Oh, no. No, it was, it was the riot. And then I just decided I wouldn't teach after that because... but I did have a class, in terms of the woodcarving after that, yes.

RP: How did that come about?

MS: So, it, it is a form of teaching but you don't really have to teach. [Laughs] And so then we scrounged wood from the kitchen, because the ends of the boxes, they were still made out of wood. I don't know what they were, apple boxes or whatever they were. So we used all those pieces of wood and had to make something that was fairly small. And I think probably for my demonstration when I just made that leaf, you know, a little leaf. And...

RP: Was this a high school class or an adult education class?

MS: Just open, just the adult education type.

RP: And what, and you said you made leaves, or?

MS: Uh-huh. Yeah, little carved out little leaves. I still have mine.

RP: You do?

MS: Uh-huh. My daughter has it. [Laughs]

RP: Did you put your work on display?

MS: Oh, no.

RP: No?

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

RP: This is tape three of a continuing interview with Margaret Ichino. And Margaret, one of the, one of the situations in camp that people never forget were the latrines.

MS: [Laughs]

RP: How did, how did that affect you?

MS: Now, that was a, a shock because initially of course -- they must have had doors later. They had no doors so that the latrines were open and we did have partitions, but we didn't have... and I know some people would go in in pairs and so one person would stand in front and then the other would sit and then it would change. So, at least they were friends and they were not exposed to the public as they came in. But that was a real shock. And the same thing, of course, in terms of taking the showers and all. I think that was most difficult for the first generation, for the Issei. And they were... it was hard enough for us, for the Nisei. And I think it was much harder for them. It... and then the laundry, that was a time. Did I tell you about that? When we had to use the washboards and I was so tired... I think that's very hard on your back, too. But even washing just my two sheets and my personal clothes, I was so tired. And my... that's when I remembered my mother, when she did that for eight people. Yeah. Great appreciation.

RP: How about the, the food in camp?

MS: Well, the food was terrible when I came because it was in the early days. And it was all just canned, I don't know what. I remember one meal had practically nothing but starches. I think we had four starches or different kind. I think we probably had, maybe we had potatoes and rice and I don't know what... but it was wonderful when the Issei had planted the gardens and the vegetables. When we first got fresh vegetables, that was wonderful. As one thing that I appreciated about the Isseis, they went right to work and planted gardens and many of the families also then planted little gardens in front of their own barracks, in front of their own room space. That was nice. It was, it was good to see that kind of spirit in camp. And by the time I left, there was always, it was far less drab than when I first came a year later. And then it was delightful to see the pictures of camp as it was by the end of camp. It was so much improved.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

RP: What do you remember about your block, Block 32? Any features that stick out in your mind? Gardens or recreation?

MS:Not, not particularly. The... we didn't have... I don't know whether any of the blocks... I'm sure that some of the blocks really developed a cohesiveness of a sort because they shared a lot. And I think our group wasn't really part of that. I remember taking piano lessons, and George was almost an architect. [Laughs] Architects had to have seven years of internship or training within the company or... and he had of course finished all of his work. He was in his seventh year when he was evacuated so he didn't get his architect's, wasn't able to take the boards or whatever they were, the tests. And was never able to finish because California and New York, at that time, did not have reciprocity. So they wouldn't accept his, he would have had to start over again this full seven years of... so he ended up as a, as an architectural designer. So he did mostly, worked in an architectural firm, but didn't... but anyway, and then his friends, there was a chemist and, oh, some more architects, and [Laughs] let's see. So it's like the head of the guayule plant was a chemist and the, so we didn't do too much in terms of any block activity, but...

RP: What did George do in camp? Did he work?

MS: Did George work?

RP: George?

MS:Yes he, let's see, what did he... he kind of organized, I think, a lot of activities. He was active in, even in terms of guayule again and not specifically, you know. Oh, and then the bee project. I think he got my father involved in that, since my father had already done bees. And, let's see, what else did he do? He was fairly active. He was very... he was a very distinct individual. [Laughs]

RP: In what way?

MS: Oh, dear. Oh, who was the person, there was a person who worked down in the Free Press that... I think she dared him to wear the shorts. So, so he wore shorts around camp and of course that was not done. But unfortunately, they didn't have a pattern for outer shorts. I think he'd have... I'm not sure, but someone told me later. But he did have very interesting, and rather unusual sense of, in his quiet way, just being able to do whatever and be whatever. He was himself.

RP: Now you were, you knew George...

MS: I knew George before. Yeah, of course we were --

RP: Did you date in camp here?

MS: Well, well, since we lived, you know, in the same... it wasn't a real dating, but we certainly were together a lot. Yeah, with the friends and... well, and then eventually we got married a few years later in New York, so I went out.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

RP: So what motivated you to decide to leave? You were one of the people who left early.

MS: Oh, yes. I could have left I think, before camp, since I had another, Mary was in Washington D.C. as a nurse.

RP: Oh, before the war?

MS: Before the war, yes. She worked for a Dr. Fleisher who ran the Japan Times or something in Japan. And his wife was having a baby or something and need a nurse and they had to come back on the last ship from Japan to... and so Mary was that nurse. So she went over on a ship, the last ship over, I guess, taking care of whatever. And then came back with Dr. Fleisher and his wife. And then they were in Washington D.C. so she was there, yes. And I could have gone out probably at that time, but I felt that, that was interesting, I felt that that, well, this was an experience that my family would be going through and the whole Japanese community that I had just gotten to know would be going through and so I thought that it would be good for me to experience that, too. But, when I got in, [Laughs] I decided that I wanted to get out. And so I did petition to get out, and I went through the security clearance. And it was later that, when I met Helen Ealy and of course knew her, that she got me in contact, I guess, with the Quaker hostel in Chicago. And so that's where I did leave. I left very early, in just one year from camp. So, I had only the experience of the very early camp, which was very primitive, and became increasingly less so as time went on. Yes. And Helen Ealy was, was a very wonderful person. One of, I think only three that I knew who lived, Caucasians that lived inside the barbed wire. And she, I can remember her standing in that hot sun in the mess hall line and sometimes half an hour, and she was always very upbeat and, very pleasant. She was always.... I think it was important to feel that we were not rejected by everybody. She and Louis Frizzel, the music teacher, and the, oh dear, what's his name with the blind, the blind man with the dog?

RP: Mr. Greenly? Mr. Greenly?

MS: Yes. Yes.

RP: With the dog.

MS: Yes, with the dog. They were the three that I knew and especially Helen Ealy and Louis Frizzel.

RP: And so they made a little more effort to reach out to folks in the camp?

MS: Well, just the fact that anyone would even come in and live with us and share exactly what we were going through. That was very significant. And, well, just to know that there was some, some people who felt the injustice of this and recognized that we really were not what we were portrayed to be in the newspapers.

RP: The enemy.

MS: Uh-huh, yeah.

RP: What do you remember about the day that you actually left camp? What was that like?

MS: Well, that was, again, it was going into an unknown, so a lot of this was going into the unknown. And I do remember, now a small group of us, one, two, three, four, that I can remember, went out together and there was, oh, and there were soldiers on the train going as we went to Chicago. And I can remember one young lady from camp, and I can't remember her name now, I didn't know her well, but, and she was younger than I, and apparently was going to attend a college or something. But I think that, I felt that the soldiers were kind of hitting on her as it were. [Laughs] And that she was being affected by that kind of negatively. And so I asked her if she wanted to sit in, you know, toward the window side and so we did that. But, I didn't know. I think the whole trip back, it was just, it was preparation for entering a new, kind of like a new life. 'Cause I was going to somewhere I'd never been before and knew I would have to make a living there.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

RP: And so, tell us a little bit about what happened when you got into Chicago.

MS: Uh-huh, yeah. Yes, I was in the Quaker hostel and I remember they said, "We would really like you to find a job and find an apartment within a week, so that we can get someone else in." Which made sense. But to find a job and to find an apartment within a week, meant a lot of work. And, I did. I found a... oh, and my brother came out. So, I wonder if that was, I wonder if I went in with him initially.

RP: That was your brother Paul?

MS: Yes. Paul. Did he leave... I know he went out in the beet fields.

RP: He left May 14, 1943.

MS: So he... yeah, I know he left...

RP: Four days after you did.

MS: So, it was a little bit after I did. He went somewhere else first then. Anyway, I found an apartment... oh yes, and I found a job in that, when I applied on a Sunday, the owner hired me as a floral designer because I had done designing at home. And then I came to work on Monday, as he requested. But he met me at the door and he said he was so sorry, but that when he told his employees that he had hired me, they said that they would all quit if he did. And I was shocked. I was really, really shocked because, I said, well, they've never even seen me, you know, and why would they... so I finally said, "Well, I think I could work for you for a week or something like that without pay and then if they still don't want to work with me, that's fine." You know, that I could accept because if you don't to work with a person, you don't want to work. But, sight unseen, I really felt was... so, but I left and I had to find another job, which I did, in another florist. Everybody needed workers, I think, at that time. But the second florist was way out in one of the suburbs. And it took me two hours to get there and two hours to get back, which was, four hours a day was just too much. So, I thought, well... I don't know how long I worked there, not very long, maybe a couple of months. And then I said I think I'm going to New York.

Oh, and incidentally, George was working in Milwaukee at the time. And, so I told him, "You know, I think I'm gonna go to New York." [Laughs] And he said, well he thinks he would like to go to New York too, 'cause that would be a more appropriate place for him, for his architectural background, than in Milwaukee. He was working in the pottery plant. And, but he had taken pottery at USC under Glen Lukins. And Glen Lukins had done some beautiful work, Japanese influence there. And so George had done some very nice pottery work, I mean, ceramics work, really. [Laughs] So we both went to New York, not at the same time, but I think he went first and found a place. And I think we decided to get married there. And interestingly enough, Helen Ealy had gone to New York, and she married Robert Brill. So we contacted them, of course, and I think they were the only people at our wedding. We had a little wedding. Yes. And New York was, I found, was very different than Chicago in terms of attitudes towards the Japanese, Japanese Americans. And there was, I found no prejudice. But I found a lot of prejudice against the Jewish people. And that I found, I could sympathize with that. So, yeah.

RP: Did you... how long did you live in New York?

MS: Let's see. This was 1940... '43, '44... we must have, we must have been in New York in '44. Yeah, because we were there in '45, you know... and I left in fifty... let's see, when did I go to Pennsylvania? Was '54 I think it was. Yeah, I went to Pennsylvania in '54, uh-huh. So...

RP: Now you had two, two brothers, Philip and Frank, that were in the military at this time. They both fought in Europe?

MS: Yes.

RP: 44nd.

MS: Yes, yes.

RP: And your father was still at Manzanar?

MS: Yes, yes. My father and her sister and her husband. Her husband developed emphysema or something. He had a lung problem. So he was in the hospital at the end of the time. So she was...

RP: This was the sister who originally had lived in New York?

MS: Yes. The two that had lived in, yeah, my sister that lived in New York.

RP: So she, she was living in camp and you were living in New York?

MS: Yes, and then I was in New York. [Laughs] Yeah.

RP: I was just wondering, was there any effort on behalf of her and her husband, to try to, you said they were kind of trapped in, you know, in Los Angeles when the evacuation orders went out, but...

MS: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

RP: Did they make any effort whatsoever to try to say, you know, we're just here because of a funeral or that type of thing to get, to get permission to go back to New York and not have to go to camp?

MS: I don't know. I don't think so, partly because he would be an alien, you know. And, it might have been even more complicated if... he might have been sent to a different camp. But I don't know. Yes. And then later, when he got the emphysema, he was in the hospital, so, uh-huh.

RP: What did you hear about the 442nd and...

MS: Yes.

RP: What did you think of your two brothers fighting?

MS: You know, I, I didn't hear too much in terms of... except that later... one thing kind of did shock me when I got back to Los Angeles and then I talked to my older brother. And neither of them talked very much about, but I asked him because I had heard that some of the, that some of the soldiers had been, Japanese American soldiers had been, in a sense, locked in a barrack or something while, when President Roosevelt came through, or something. And I didn't believe that. Because I thought, well, if they were soldiers and they had to, already had fought and everything, well you know, or were going to, I guess they hadn't. But he confirmed it. He said, yeah, they were guarded, were not allowed out. And I still can't, I cannot see that. They're part of the U.S. Army and then they're, and then they're imprisoned, actually, for a time.

KP: So these two brothers joined the army before...

MS: Before the war.

RP: You were, you left in May of '43. Do you remember anything about another event that took place here, roughly around February of '43, when the government circulated a questionnaire?

MS: Oh. Yeah, that questionnaire. Oh, that was, that was a very difficult time. Because, yes, people had... and I think it was partly the wording, probably, too. But, and the fact that it was like a double bind for many people. You know, you really couldn't, you couldn't answer either "yes" or "no" or. That was a very difficult time for people. And I guess, yeah...

RP: You had to answer that questionnaire too?

MS: Yes, well, I must have answered in the affirmative, "yes-yes."

RP: 'Cause you got out.

MS: 'Cause I got, yes, I was out, yeah.

RP: Did you have any, did you have to pontificate on it a little bit or did you have any strong feelings... some, some people, you know, wanted to register a protest or were very emotional about what had been done to them, and you know.

MS: Yeah, I don't, I didn't have feelings. But at that time, you know, in a sense I was really very shocked. And I didn't... I wasn't that outspoken or... I think could with individuals, but not in a public sense. Yes. But, yeah, I think, I think it was, my feelings were more with them, but I just didn't actively, yeah.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

MS: Yes, because I did know the Free Press group too. You know, Sue Embrey. There was a, Chiz Mori, I think that was her name. Chiz Mori. Was it Chiz Mori? Yes. She came to New York, too, you know. And I saw here there.

RP: What do you remember about Sue?

MS: Yeah, I actually don't remember that much about Sue. I think I remember more about Chiz. But, Sue was always very... I kind of liked the whole Free Press bunch, you know. [Laughs]

RP: Did you ever imagine Sue leading an effort to preserve Manzanar?

MS: No. No, I wasn't thinking that far ahead. [Laughs] Oh, she herself didn't, I don't think. Until, let's see, what was it? When did you, when did... did she ever tell you what triggered that, you know? Oh dear, I think she told me once, and I... oh dear. I mean, she was always I think had that tendency anyway. But I think there was something that did trigger it. And a lot of, a lot of individuals did have un-resolved feelings of either, you know, resentment or bitterness or anger or, or something. And you had to work it through. And I worked it through conscientiously. It took me two years. Well, two years was the breaking of the... and I had to work through a lot. And I realized that a lot of people had not. And that some of them, in their later lives, something did trigger it and then they had to do something with it. And in that sense, some went into a new form of activism or, or resolved it in other ways. And then if you didn't, it just stayed inside of you as a, kind of a negative binding force, I called it, energy. Because you have that repressed or, you know, you hadn't worked it through to know what you were gonna do with it. And, uh-huh.

RP: How did you work it though?

MS: Well, I think when I got out and I thought about it, and I said, "I was put into a camp as an American citizen, which is against the Constitution because I no due process." I was really... but, it was only because of my ancestry. And I know absolutely nothing about my ancestry, nothing about, you know, very little about the family, and nothing about the culture and nothing except what you gather through your reading, just generally, or in school, generally. And so I thought I'm gonna go back to college and I'm gonna focus on Japan. So, I was drawn to the New School at the time. Because the New School was setup for a serious people. I mean people who were not there for the college life. It was really to get some of the benefits of a learning situation. And you had to be twenty-five years old. And it was really set up by professors from Columbia University for working people. And so the classes started, well, then the classes started about four, but really, it was in the evening. And they gave no degrees. You were just there to learn. I thought that would be good because I certainly wasn't interested in, in any college life. So I went and I applied for a scholarship since I wouldn't be able to afford anything. They gave me a full scholarship. 'Course, I sent them transcripts and everything. And, I had always had adequate grades, had good grades. But, they were particularly concerned too with the German situation. And they had tried to pull out as German Jews as they could. And so many of their professors, actually, were German and some of the, some of their students, too, were German ancestry. And they were good students. Really, much more serious I found than in Los Angeles. Yeah. Well, they, they came from Europe. So they had a different tradition. And we had only six hundred people. That was our student body.

And when they, and so I wrote. And gave my transcripts and all and mentioned that I had been in, just come out of the camps and all. And, they were very sympathetic and they gave me a full scholarship. [Laughs] Which was wonderful. And so for every class I wrote a paper on Japan. If I was in a sociology class, I'd, you know, psychology, whatever. And I remember in my sociology class, I wrote a paper on the camps and a lady who had been in one of the German camps and had, had gotten out, I don't know how they got out. But she had been a newspaper publisher, I think, something. And everybody was everybody was older at that time. They're not young students or anything. And I mentioned that one of the psychological effects I recognized in camp was this, uh, what shall I, the collapsing, actually, of your universe. And so the things that you were interested in, the things that you were involved in and aware of and all that, things that you were doing, now had been eliminated and condensed to camp. And the camp situation, the conversation from the beginning became much more constricted and eventually it was like: what is the best mess hall to go to today? And it was discussion on that kind of a level which really shocked me because they were persons of education. They, but there was this tremendous constriction and uh, and it was only, it was only when you were able to get... I don't know, if something started you on something and if there was a little group that could focus on something, then you had a, a discussion or something. But, the whole atmosphere was, well, it was really a lessening of a human being you became.

But anyway, I wrote as many papers as I could, looking at Japan. I was learning. And then it was time to write a thesis and I hadn't... and I said well, the only thing I haven't looked at is the religions. I had kind of written papers on so many other things. And so I thought, well, I'll just write a, I'll explore the religion. And then I was interested in okay, now what, what was the source of my mother's strength, inner strength? And in the psychology class at the New School I remember we had studied the Doob, Dollard theory of frustration breeds aggression and that type of thing. And I said, that's true. That's actually true of most people, but it wasn't true with my mother. Because she had nothing but frustration in her life, a tremendous amount of... and yet there was no aggression in her. You see, in a sense, a young child can always feel a shift in the parents' emotional energies. And so if there had been any aggression or any of that type of thing I would have felt it. And I thought... because I would have. I knew that in her position if it were me, I would have some.

So anyway I started, so I did about a year of reading Confucianism, Shintoism, Buddhism. And decided to focus on Zen Buddhism because they had so much influence in terms of Japanese culture. In terms of, well, Zen seems to be in, in everything. Their flower arrangement, their dance, just everything. And so I started to, I started to read and I couldn't understand a thing they were saying. Which was very interesting because I said, well, how is it that I can, I know what every word means, and yet I read the whole sentence and I know they're pointing to something, they're trying to say something, but I don't know what they're talking about. [Laughs] So I went to the New York public library every day and just, I wrote notes, I don't know how many pages of notes I had. And I... Dr. Suzuki, Daisetsu Suzuki was studying, was teaching at Columbia University, probably the first and only Zen teacher, teacher of Zen at that time. And very few books were written, had been translated yet. Now, if this had been a decade later, you know, you had in the '50s you started having a lot of people interested in Zen and all. But I had very few and Japanese, I had Japanese books and others. So I had a very difficult time and and then I, another thing I sat in on.

And then one day, I did have, I had an experience in which I think I could understand what they were talking about. But if that was so, then it was an experience you see, of energy. It was like, I think the universe is really, there was a love pervading, it was an energy universe. The New School, it was a school that brings professors in from every university and out of the university, wherever. And I had already had classes with two professors from Union Seminary. My old neighbor was one of them, very good. And he impressed me because he spoke in, in paragraphs so that you had to really, really concentrate. And the other one, what was his last name? He was the one that started the FOR. And I, so I went to Union, and I said, well, I said if you had just said, "God is love," and just leave it there that probably, you know, that might have been true. And I had also had Albert Songman from the Jewish, whatever their seminary is called or whatever. And he had a sociology class. He had been crippled in Germany. So he came, you know, with, arthritic. And he was limping and he was in great pain you could tell. And then he would start lecturing. He would start his talk and then he would, his face would start to glow. And it was just incredible.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

KP: Can I just ask one question about this part of your life? You're trying to, well, put it back in context, first Japan attacks your county.

MS: Uh-huh.

KP: 'Cause you're an American. And then your country decides you're the enemy, 'cause you're Japanese.

MS: That's true.

KP: And now you're trying to, it sounds like you're trying to figure out how that comes together. I mean, how did you relate the Zen with, you know, the obvious war atrocities of Japan with, I mean, how, were you able to put any of this together and try to understand what that was about?

MS: Well, only in the larger context. It's not in terms of specifics. The deep part of Zen is you really go into what they call the silence or the void or something. But it's really, and then it's been translated "nothing," you know, "nothingness." But it isn't nothingness. It's "no-thing-ness." It's "no-thing." What it is is energy. It's pure energy. And it's energy of different qualities. It's almost like you have spectrum after spectrum of energy. And so, and then each of those have qualities. So, and a lot of the, I think in terms of religions, if you go way back in their religion, you get, you get that. But, so, and that's where the universality of the religions comes, I think. Which is something I'm kind of pursuing now actually. So, in a very interesting way. But in terms of... there didn't, I don't think there had to be any... see, you don't have to, like analytically or rationally... some things you cannot understand rationally, you see. As a matter of fact, quantum really comes much closer, yes. That was the first thing I realized in terms of quantum. Which I had to work on because it's like, okay they had both that either/or bit. And it had to be, it's not either this or that. Well, we had been taught right along Aristotelian "either/or." And yet now we were asked to say, "Oh no, it's not either/or, it's both and." And how are you gonna do that? So in my life as things came, you automatically are doing this either/or bit. And I said, okay, let's see how we can do it without the either/or, if they're both "and." And you have to work a different way. Yeah, it's a very different way.

KP: And that helped you understand how Japan and America came at odds and how you came in the middle of that, do you think?

MS: In a sense it's like, no, you don't have to anymore. [Laughs] You don't have to anymore. It's just...

KP: It just happened.

MS: Well, it's like, it makes sense in a much, much larger context. It's, it's ... oh, it's like the, in the evolution of an individual, evolution of a nation, and evolution of a larger grouping, and then eventually the evolution of a total world, you say. And you all go through your growing stages. Every one of 'em has to go through the growing stages. And they haven't, we have not arrived there yet. And so, but they're struggling toward it and I think they're steps that had made toward it, so...

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

RP: Margaret, your... how did your experience translate to, your camp experience, translate to your, your children? I met, I met Sue yesterday and she told me that she had been really moved by the camp experience to get involved in some of these earlier pilgrimages.

MS: Yeah.

RP: Were you, were you part of that awareness for her?

MS: Actually no. You know, that was like, they say the Sanseis are really the ones that were being active in terms of the pilgrimages and so... and then I wasn't because in a sense, I think I had already resolved all of my issues in terms of Manzanar and the camp and all. And actually I was grateful. I've often called this the worst year of my life and yet it's a seed of, of a real good in my life. And part of it was the recognition of some of the Japanese culture and strengths and also, you know after, after I had that I thought, "Oh, that's fine." And I was very content. But I did have a personal experience, kind of a crisis. I had a personal crisis. And I thought well, if I were Christian I would pray. If I were Zen I would, you know, person, I would meditate. And I'm not a Christian and I'm not Buddhist. So what do I do? And yet this one experience had come when I was trying to write my thesis on Zen Buddhism. So I thought I would try to meditate. And I'd never meditated in my life. So I thought well, I will you know, clear myself. And, so I went through stages of kind of releasing everything, emotional, mental. And then I took the energy -- oh, I felt, all right now I came to a state where I could be like floating. So there were no attachments or no desires. You know, I didn't want, particularly, I wanted to be... okay, just very, very open. Because I was gonna ask a question and... and so I did. -- I took the energy of that crisis and I shot it up and opened and then I did have energy pouring in. So I stopped the mediation and I called Dr. Suzuki and said, "I need to speak to you." So he said, "Well, come on up." And I went on up and told him what had happened. And he said that's what's supposed to happen. So, I said, okay. I went back, meditated. Did the same thing and I did get that. And it is... is a very interesting thing. Because over the time, I could feel that there were processes going on within the body that, and in amongst time I could tell definite differences and then it went on. And then I felt I was whole again. Like I felt in childhood, when I went out in nature. And I thought, and so I just kept on going and that was, it seemed like that got stronger and stronger. So it was like... and I think that was like the source of my mother's, kind of a simplicity power. Yeah. But, anyway, it, I realized that that gave you the inner freedom to do many things that you would not have done before. So that was when it was, and, and later I went around the world by myself, you know, very freely out. And not going to hotels, you know, conventional hotels. And, yeah, so it's been a source. So that's, that's one good thing that came out of... and I think many, many things in life, I think many of the negative things in life we, if we learn from it or, then it's been a strength. Yeah, so it's...

RP: So what was it like to come back here this weekend for you?

MS: To where?

RP: What was it like to come back to Manzanar this weekend?

MS: Oh, it was, well, I think the best thing was actually in this museum. Because I saw the great changes that had taken... you see, my memories of Manzanar were really not that, would not be that pleasant. So, so that was very nice. And I had already kind of released everything in terms of my emotional feelings about Manzanar, that turmoil that first came, so. So it was, it was good remembrance. I think the, the thing that touched me most was actually today when I went to the monument and there was no one there. Well, there was actually somebody that had been walking around, but. And then I went to the mountains. Because in Manzanar I think the things that gave me the most comfort, I walked to the end of the camp grounds and then I would face the mountains and sit. And I couldn't see any of the barracks but I could just see the mountains, you know, the mountains. And if I... and they, yeah, they, they were very helpful. Yeah.

KP: Can I tie that back to when you were a kid in La Crescenta?

MS: Yes. Uh-huh.

KP: Did you not also --

MS: Yes. Uh-huh.

KP: -- the mountains.

MS: Yes, yeah.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

KP: And one more question. Can I go all the way back to when you lived on the Bissell estate.

MS: Uh-huh, yeah.

KP: Molly was the Bissells' --

MS: Bissell's daughter. Yeah, the young...

KP: What did she die of, did you ever know?

MS: Uh, she, I think she, she went to a summer camp or something. Some kind of a camp I think and she got some kind of a disease, uh, I don't know what she got but she, maybe it was, you know scarlet fever. I don't know what she got, but I know that she died. Uh-huh.

KP: And then the other question I have of about the Bissell ranch and the La Crescenta area, did you ever hear anything about the Hillcrest Sanitarium?

MS: The what?

KP: The Hillcrest Sanitarium. Was that there at that time or was that...

MS: The Hillcrest? Sanitarium?

KP: Sanitarium.

MS: Sanitarium. Yeah, there might have been. You know that area and then also Mount, Olive View, I think too, was a, people with Tuberculosis went. Now, that would make sense. Because that's why Mr. Bissell came out. See he was the only Bissell son that came out west. And, and it's because he had lung problems, something, yeah. Now that would make sense. Was there, had you heard of any there? I think there was.

KP: Well, we've just did an interview with some folks, Japanese Americans, whose two brothers were put in the Hillcrest Sanitarium during internment and died there.

MS: Oh.

KP: So that's where the Japanese with tuberculosis were being sent.

MS: Oh.

RP: There were, what, a hundred and thirty Japanese --

MS: Really?

RP: -- that were sent to Hillcrest during the, during the war.

KP: And that's right up there between La Crescenta and Tujunga.

MS: Yeah. Well, that could be because, like I say, they had, I know people came here for... now, the people that went there that was sent there, now, did they have any diseases, I mean lung, they had lung? Yeah. It was a great place for everybody that had lung problems, I think went around there somewhere.

RP: Yeah, then of course, then, then you have a, you have these sanitariums and then you've got this smog problem, you know, that, even, even people who didn't have lung problems --

MS: It'd get worse now.

RP: -- developed issues, you know, with... so it didn't quite, it wasn't quite the recuperative place later on.

MS: Yeah.

RP: But... I don't know if you mentioned it on the interview, but maybe we can mention it now.

MS: Yeah.

RP: Mr. Bissell...

MS: Yeah.

RP: Who, whose estate you lived on, was an heir to the, was he an heir or was he the guy who actually created... what did he create?

MS: No, no. I think... no, well we didn't talk. I was a little kid. [Laughs] But, no he was, I think he was one of the, I think there were some brothers and then probably the father was the one that started the Bissell, you know, sweeper thing. And, but he was the only one that came west and... so the other, others are east somewhere. [Laughs]

RP: Maybe in New York.

MS: Yeah, probably. Yeah, yeah. Probably.

RP: Do you have any more questions?

KP: Not any more.

RP: Margaret, on behalf of Kirk and myself and the National Park Service, thank you so much for a fascinating interview.

MS: Oh, it's my pleasure, yes.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.