Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Mary Nomura Interview
Narrator: Mary Nomura
Interviewer: John Allen
Date: November 7, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-nmary-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

JA: Talk to me about what, at what point you left camp and what were the circumstances of leaving?

MN: When the Pacific Coast opened up in 1945, my brother was offered a job at Caltech to work with the professor there, to work with the guayule project that was started in Manzanar. So our family went along with that sponsorship by that professor, and we went to Pasadena, where my brother was supposed to start working at Caltech with this professor. And I enrolled at Pacific, at... what was the name of that college? Pasadena JC to start schooling there, but I only lasted a few weeks. I was not happy there. I was still feeling insecure and feeling that people were staring at me, and I was always kind of a shy, insecure-type person anyway, so when I knew that I wasn't really going to be comfortable there, I dropped out. And then I started working as a domestic, and my husband-to-be started working as a gardener. He didn't have a car, he just took a bus. Went to the different places where he was hired and used their equipment, and got on the bus and went home. And we just, that's how we started out for a while. But I never did go back to college.

JA: So you kind of, because you were getting married, you sort of got a nice way to pick up the pieces of what you'd left behind.

MN: Yes, yes, uh-huh. Being out of camp in January and already being engaged, April's Fools Day was Easter Sunday that year, and that's when we got engaged. We got married in June that year at the American Friends Hostel, which was right around the corner from where I lived in Pasadena, and the people who were invited to the wedding were people who were at the hostel, living there trying to find a job or whatever. And so we had a very nice get-together, and the people who sponsored us at the hostel, the American Friends group, the Quaker group, and the officiate at our wedding was a Reverend Nicholson, who was a Quaker, who went to Manzanar to officiate all the church, Sunday church services there, and he was in Pasadena, and so he was the officiate when we got married. And the lady who played the "Wedding March" on the violin was a violin teacher in Manzanar -- I mean Pasadena -- and so it was a nice memory. We had a regular two-tiered cake, and it was a wedding that I didn't think I would have ever had if it wasn't for the fact that we stayed at a hostel where they were so good to us.

JA: What was the nature of the hostel?

MN: What was the nature of it?

JA: Yeah.

MN: They just, it was called the American Friends Hostel, and they just accepted anyone who came out of camp to help them find lodging, stayed there however long that they needed to have a place to stay and to go to work, find work, and so they were very supportive of us as we came out of camp.

JA: Were there a lot of people who had trouble finding housing?

MN: Oh, yes. They had quite a few different places where they had hostels in Los Angeles, or I think some of the churches had hostels, and some of the places found jobs for them. And from there, they went to different groups where they were... not like a trailer camp, but a group went there to start their life and finding, and that was their lodgings with their family and, but it all stemmed from people who were so supportive of us.

JA: I've seen pictures of trailer camps, and I think some people did...

MN: Yeah, there was a huge one in Long Beach, or was it San Pedro? The buildings are still there, but that's where they housed a lot of the people who came out of camp, to get them started.

JA: In?

MN: In Long Beach or... I believe it's Long Beach. It's near Lomita.

JA: And what kind of dwellings?

MN: It looks like a little nicer barracks, but it's all painted white and people live there in little rooms like we did in Manzanar, and they were able to live there at a real small amount of rent and go to work from there. And then eventually save money to do whatever, go buy a house or whatever.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.