Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Martha Shoaf
Narrator: Martha Shoaf
Interviewer: John Allen
Date: November 7, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-smartha-01

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

<Begin Segment 1>

MS: My name is Martha Shoaf, and I live in Trona, California on a dry lake.

JA: A dry lake? Take me back in your memory a little bit, and tell me what you were doing prior to Pearl Harbor?

MS: Prior to Pearl Harbor, I was going to school. I went to, I graduated from Eagle Rock High School in '37, I went to City College and got my AA, and then I went to UCLA, and from UCLA, after I -- I graduated in '42, but I didn't have a teaching credential. And I met a friend of mine who wanted, who was working here at Manzanar, and I asked her, "Well, what kind of people do they need?" because I didn't like what was being done to the Japanese people. And she told me they needed teachers, so I went back to UCLA, got my teaching credential. As soon as I got it, I went to the business office and told them -- or the placement office, I wanted to go to Manzanar. [Laughs] They looked at me as though I had taken leave of my senses, but I got to go.

JA: What was your, what was your reaction when you first heard about Pearl Harbor?

MS: I was shocked. It's something, you really couldn't believe it. I lived in, well, not too far -- well, actually, in the heart of the Miracle Mile in Los Angeles, off of Wiltshire Boulevard. And people were beginning to talk about Pearl Harbor. Well, I had been to Hawaii at one time, and I just couldn't feature anything like that happening, but it did. And I think we were all shocked. And then the next day, we went to school, to university, and was out in the quad in front of Royce Hall, and listened to President Roosevelt declare war. And it was kind of a shocking experience. But, and so many of the young men that I knew, of course, went off to fight in the different theatres.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

JA: How did you learn of the evacuation of Japanese Americans?

MS: I had Japanese friends. And when they left, there was kind of a void there. And they, well, I was upset about the whole thing. I didn't think it was fair, didn't think it was fair then, don't think it was fair now. But these things happened, and when they left, I just felt, "Well, I have to do something." And that's one reason I wanted to go to Manzanar.

JA: Wasn't your attitude about not approving of this, that wasn't a commonly held attitude, was it?

MS: No. No, and you run across people even now who are very bitter about things. And that also shocks me, too, I just don't know why they have to hang onto something that wasn't right.

JA: Did you notice, among Japanese Americans that you knew, any real changes in the way they were treated by Caucasians?

MS: Well, not really so much, because it happened, everything happened so quickly. That all of a sudden, you had this group of Japanese people, and then all of a sudden they're gone. And it didn't take long for that to happen. And things were moving so quickly, and people were getting so involved, that it's hard to say. And I know one group of people, the Chinese at this point all went around with signs on them saying, "I'm Chinese."

JA: That's interesting.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

JA: So how long, from the time that people were first moved to Manzanar, how long did it take you to get qualified and get up there?

MS: I didn't get there until February of '43. As soon as I got my teaching credential, I left. I got my credential one day, and I left the next.

JA: What did you find there? What did that place look like when you first arrived?

MS: Well, the first time I saw it, it was at night, and I had the flu -- [laughs] -- I was sick as a dog. But I was met there and taken off to one of the mess halls where they were having a dance, and the UCLA band was at one end of the room, and USC band was at the other, and they would take turns playing, and then the next day I went to the hospital. But I was shocked, because when we went up, we moved into barracks also, and the barracks were... well, we had, sometimes they weren't even completely finished. They didn't have their plasterboard up, so they'd put a nail in the, in the beams, and that was your closet. We didn't get the closets, they came later. And they had these cots with real thin mattresses on 'em, we didn't have beds yet, either. It was quite different from what I was used to. It was sort of like camping out with, with a roof over your head.

JA: What, what did you observe about the, sort of the daily flow of life there amongst the people who had been there?

MS: Well, my, most of my association there was with the children, but the children would talk to me, and they would ask questions like, could I leave the camp? And I said, "Yes," he says, "Won't the soldiers shoot at you?" And I said, "No." And that rather surprised them because I think they thought that I would have been, since I lived in the camp, that I would have been treated the same. But that didn't happen that way. And I think they had a hard time accepting that. But I know later on, that the high school boys and girls would have debates about "Why We are Here," and they seemed to have a fairly good understanding of why they were there, and what had happened. And I've talked to some of the women later, at a reunion forty years later. They said, "Well, you know, that's the first time we ever had a chance to visit with each other. We didn't have to go to work," so they had coffee klatches and would go visiting. And from that point of view, and the children had somebody to play with, which before, they might not have had.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

JA: Tell me about what grades you taught and what subjects.

MS: I taught fourth grade, everything. And when I first go there, we didn't have as many books as we should, so I called one of my professors at UCLA and asked her, "What do I do? 'Cause I need book on certain subjects, and they're just not available to get." And she says, "Well, go to the butcher store in Lone Pine and buy a big roll of butcher paper, and buy some crayons, and make up your stories as you go along, and put your math on it and so on." So I'd write a story about the Westward Movement, and we would use that for reading, for English, for spelling, for language arts, and then we'd have the math on the other side, then we had long recesses.

JA: Were there other things that the kids wanted to know about, did you ever discuss why they were in camp or any of those kinds of things?

MS: Not too much with the younger children. With the older ones, you'd talk about, talk about it with some of the teachers, the Japanese teachers. I had, Mariko Hoshiyama taught fifth grade next to me, and on the other side of me was the nursery school. And my classroom, this isn't a classroom, and we used to discuss it. Although she wasn't bitter, but she was not happy with the situation. And, of course, I don't think any of 'em were happy, but some were more accepting of it, with a better understanding, some were very bitter.

JA: Alisa told me you had to improvise when you did the Pledge of Allegiance.

MS: [Laugh] We didn't have a flag, so we used to salute to an empty corner. Finally, one day, one of the boys said, "Well, why don't we draw a flag?" I said, "Well, all right," so I managed to get some art paper, and we started out to draw the American flag. One little boy had a hard time getting thirteen stripes on twelve inches of paper that he, he had available to him. [Laughs] So he turned his paper over, drew a circle, colored it white inside. Well, actually, he drew, he drew the flag of Japan, red inside, and when he, I got real tickled, he had a half-finished American flag, a Japanese flag on the other side. So I took it with me to show the superintendent of schools, and when I came back, the little boy came running up to me and says, "Did you show that to the superintendent?" I said, "Well, yes, I did." He said, "Well, it's not finished." So he took the paper, scraped off the red from the Japanese flag, put little petals around it, colored it orange, put a stem on it, put some leaves and a butterfly up at the corner, and he made it, simpler out of it.

JA: That's pretty neat.

MS: I kept that paper for a long time, but finally it wore out.

JA: Did you ever hear from anybody on the upper grades who had to teach civics or things about the Bill of Rights, Constitution? Were there any issues about that?

MS: No, not really. You know, thinking back, it's been so long, I can't even hardly remember who some of the teachers were. There was a blind man who taught, we had a blind teacher there, and I think he taught civics.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

JA: Were, let's, see, you came in '43?

MS: '43.

JA: '43.

MS: I came right after the riot.

JA: Right. What did you know about that, or hear about it?

MS: Actually, I didn't know a thing about it. It hadn't been in our papers, they hadn't written it up much that I know of. And when got there, what surprised me was every move we made was followed. At night, if we wanted to go to the latrine, there would be a soldier outside the end of the barrack, and I guess he would signal or something to the fellow in the, in the tower, and they would shine the spotlight on us and shine, follow us all the way to where we were going, wait for us, and then take us back to our building.

JA: Even the staff and teachers?

MS: Yeah. Well, I heard a lot of stories about that time when people were hiding under billets or one thing or another.

JA: Really? Were you there when the "loyalty questions" came out?

MS: Yes.

JA: Tell me about that.

MS: Well, the teachers, they closed the schools at that time, and they sent out this questionnaire of thirty-two questions. And 28 was the "loyalty question," well, 28 and 29, actually. And when we went through it the first time, they would answer one way. And then it was decided that the question was wrong, because if they answered it "yes," then they were denying their religion if they, you know, when they were denying the emperor. So these people were all called back, and then we answered, we went through the whole thing now with a different question. [Interruption] When we started to ask this question the second time around, there's a young, this man came in to answer the questions, he was in line, and he says, "I know how I'm gonna answer it." And he held up this jacket where he had been shot with pea gravel from one of the soldiers during the riot. So we had people like that, and we had some people that asked for repatriation. And when I taught school in Japan, I ran into one of 'em, this young man I was going with at the time, we'd rented a boat to fish on the Sea of Japan. So the two of us and a, we had twelve people to wait on us to row the boat, take the boat out and so forth. And one of them came up to me and he said, "I know you," in English. I said, "You do?" He said, "Yes." He said, "You were at Manzanar." I said, "Well, yes." He says, "I was, too, I lived in the bachelor block," which was right next door to where I was when I was living in Block 7. And I said, "Well, why are you here?" He said, "Well, I asked to be repatriated." I said, "Well, are you glad?" He said no, it's the sorriest thing he ever did. So he was really regretful that he had done that.

JA: Alisa's just reminding me that the "loyalty oath," the "loyalty" questions were 27 and 28.

MS: Yeah, there were two questions.

JA: Yeah. Give me those numbers again, what they were.

MS: I can't remember 27. Twenty-eight, to me, was the outstanding one, and that was the loyalty. Then, you know, "would you go to war?"

JA: "Would you go to war for your country?"

MS: Yeah. And they had this, they came up with different answers to this. It depended on how the sentence was worded, and I can't remember how they worded, it's so long ago. But then they did it again. They figured, "Well, this question wasn't worded right the second time," so they came up with another question on these. And they brought all these people back again and had them go through this group of questions. Like I said, there were thirty-two. And they answered different ways, and some of 'em answered 'yes' or 'no,' 'yes' or 'yes-yes-no' or different, all the different ways you could. So later on they had hearings on it. Then my sister came to the camp, and she was taking flying lessons across the street where they had a little group of small planes where they were giving lessons to the people that wanted to go to, the women that wanted to go up to Sweetwater in Texas and learn to fly bombers. [Laughs] And that's what my sister was doing. So during the day, when they had the court hearings on everybody that answered it several different ways, she took down their, the depositions that they made then, and they didn't care when she typed it up. So she'd take her lessons in the afternoon and then type it up in the evening.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

JA: You got out into Lone Pine from time to time?

MS: Oh, yeah.

JA: What was the feelings, or the variety of feelings that people in town had about this camp?

MS: Well, some of them, of course, worked at the camp, but some of 'em were very negative. And I know --

JA: Tell me, let me have you repeat a piece of my question, since I won't be heard. But just say, "Some of the people in..."

MS: Lone Pine.

JA: Okay, just start off that way.

MS: Okay. Well, some of the people in Lone Pine, of course, worked in the camp, and quite a few of them. In the town, you had some people that were very negative about it, and I know that when they brought the, they bought a hotel in San Francisco and they shipped the furniture. This is basically for the Caucasians, to Lone, we went on this narrow-gauge roadway up to Lone Pine. They, when they found out it was to go to Manzanar, they refused to unload it. So the teachers went down and we unloaded it, and then everybody grabbed whatever furniture they could for their barrack. But many of the people were very sympathetic, and there's always a few rotten apples in a barrel, which ruined it for a lot of other people.

JA: What, in your mind, are the constitutional issues that all this raises that people ought to be aware of?

MS: Well, of course, as Ansel Adams has in his book Born Free and Equal, it's not so. And from a constitutional point of view, we were supposed to be fair, treat people the way they should be treated, and not do what we did, or what the President did.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

JA: This, a lot of the people coming to Manzanar, to the visitor center and seeing this film will probably not have known a lot about this period, this era. And I'm wondering what, in your mind, you think we ought to try to communicate, that they should take away with that, from being there?

MS: That who should take away? The Japanese?

JA: No, the visitors who come to Manzanar...

MS: The visitors?

JA: ...who will be from other countries, from across this country.

MS: Well, I think they... this is kind of a hard question.

JA: Okay, you're a teacher, you can do it.

MS: [Laughs] It is a hard question. When other people come, and you know, you see how other people are treated, you, when you travel in other countries you see how people are treated. And, of course, you see a lot of things that you don't approve of. And in this country, when people come from foreign countries or other areas to visit, and if they come to a place where we had, like, Manzanar, they would wonder, "Well, what were these people there for, and why were they there?" And basically, they were there because you could tell 'em from other people, they were Japanese, and we had a fear of 'em. So they were taken off of the coast and put in these camps because you could identify them with the way they looked. And they're afraid now that maybe they might be doing the same type of thing to people who are related to the peoples that are the terrorists. And these, you don't know, these people are probably very nice, the other ones -- not the terrorists, of course. But the same thing seems to be happening to them, too. They're being isolated by the communities, they're being not treated as well as they should be by some people, and people have a tendency to do that. And I don't like to see that happening in my country. I think everybody should have a fair shake, and if this is the type of thing they see and they know it's happened once, could it happen again?

JA: That's a good answer.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

JA: Tell me what, how you left camp and where you went and what you did. Under what circumstances, at what point in time did you leave?

MS: Well, the war was growing to an end, and I figured, well, maybe I should start looking abroad and see something. And one day I was out hitchhiking -- I hate to tell you this story. [Laughs] I was out hitchhiking, and the superintendent of schools from Trona came by and picked me up. And the next thing I knew, I had signed a contract to teach school in Trona. I didn't mean to, but that's what happened.

JA: Where is Trona relative to Manzanar?

MS: Trona is about, Trona's about a hundred miles from Manzanar, maybe a little more. And it's out in the Mojave Desert, and on the edge of Death Valley, basically. And it's on a dry lake, it's a chemical town.

JA: And you're still up in that area.

MS: And I'm still there, although I have taught school around the world, sort of, and I've taught a lot in Europe and in the Orient as well.

JA: And it sounds like you, from time to time, run into people you knew at Manzanar.

MS: Occasionally I do, and then some of my best friends taught there, also, which makes it nice. And of course, my sister was there, too, but for a very short period of time. She was just there for about three months.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

JA: Who was Sergeant Bug?

MS: [Laughs] He was an MP, Sergeant Bug was an MP. He was kind of cute. [Laughs]

JA: That's good. Did you have a social life there while you were there?

MS: Well, we had an MP camp right next to the camp, and in the evening they would, on the weekend they would have a, well, a bus or a truck, basically, you'd get into it and they would drive you up to Independence, to the hall there and you'd have dances there. And then you could take it and it'd take you back. Or if you weren't doing that, sometimes you'd have friends who had cars because they weren't making cars then. So if you had a car, you were fortunate indeed. And also, gasoline was rationed. But if you could grab a ride, you could go to Lone Pine to the movies, and see whatever was showing at the movies there, and go out and have dinner. And both of these towns were quite small.

JA: Tell me a little bit about the town of Lone Pine.

MS: Lone Pine?

JA: Yeah, then.

MS: Then?

JA: Yeah.

MS: Well, Lone Pine was, well, it had a grocery store there that we all went when we wanted to buy groceries. When we moved in, they built a permanent building or so-called, for the Caucasians. And we had indoor plumbing there, we didn't have to use the latrine, which was a big advantage. And it was warmer and much nicer, and we could buy, we had a little kitchen or something like that, so we could go and buy groceries and food if we didn't want to eat at the mess hall. Otherwise, everybody ate at the mess hall. And when I first got there, the mess hall was really a shock to me. We had picnic benches, and they brought in the food on these platters, you know, it was sort of family-style. Well, they were still doing building there, and so they had all these big construction workers. And if you didn't get your fork out and grab fast, you weren't gonna get anything. [Laughs] But it was an interesting thing. And then when a VP would come, VIP would come, they would put sheets on the table. So whenever we came in and saw sheets on the tables for tablecloths, then we'd, "Oh, we got a VIP in camp."

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

JA: Among the teaching staff, or the staff in general, the Caucasians who were there, some of them had children of their own.

MS: Yes.

JA: Tell me about how they were schooled.

MS: Well, most of the, the Caucasians that had children enrolled them in the classrooms along with the Japanese youngsters, so they had the same teaching situation that the Japanese had. And the housing, of course, was different. We lived in one section of the camp, and it was separated from the Japanese, well, by the headquarters as it were. So we were on the other side next to the MP camp. And we were separated from that with a fence. And you were asking, somebody asked about Ralph P. Merritt. He lived in the barrack, well, in the building across from where I was living, in Dorm H, it was called Dorm H at the time, or "Heaven," as it were. And he and his wife were there, and occasionally their children would come to visit. And they have nice things in their home, it was quite nice, and ours was, too. Our situation improved considerably.


JA: Was there much social interaction -- you mentioned going into town for social activities -- did the administrative staff have interactions with people at the camp in terms of their social events and so forth?

MS: Well, not so, no, not particularly, we didn't. Occasionally we would go, there would be a dance in one of the mess halls where they had their own band -- like I say, when I, the first night I got there, I went to a dance in one of the mess halls there where they had the group of kids from UCLA that played in the band, and the group from USC. And they had theirs, and we had, we went to a dance there my first night at the camp. And occasionally, they had that type of interaction with them socially. And we would go to meetings with them, and occasionally we would be invited to eat in their mess halls, but you just couldn't go to a different mess hall without an invitation. And the food was quite different.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

JA: You'd put on some plays and stuff with your kids?

MS: Oh, yes. We put on plays quite often.

JA: What kinds of things?

MS: Well, we'd do historical plays, of course, we'd, during the Westward Movement we would act out what was going on. This was the time of progressive education full force. So we made up stories and plays and so on. And then once a year, they had a performance of the, on the stage at the, in one of the firebreaks. And each, each class would, would have a performance, and I taught a bunch of my boys to play the tonette, and so we all dressed 'em up as pirates, and they were taught a little pirate dance, and they went out and they had their little song, and they did this pirate dance. And somebody was intrigued by the seventh grade that put on a Betsy Ross program and the making of the American flag. And you had all these little Japanese kids dressed up like George Washington, etcetera, and making the American flag and displaying it. That's when there were forty-eight states.

JA: That's good. So they had their own way, each of them, of learning about American history.

MS: Yes. You know, you taught the same thing. The thing is, these children, now, had forgotten things like what is a grocery store, what is a streetcar, what are stop signs. And yet you tried to introduce these things to 'em, too, because eventually they would be leaving the camp, and they had to learn how to interact with things of this nature that they had lost out on.


JA: How was your classroom divided between one class...

AL: Between your class and the classroom next to it, like the nursery school, what was the divider between them?

MS: Well, in the beginning, there was a sheet, but eventually they got a regular plasterboard wall up.

JA: Between what and what?

MS: My class and, well, they had a nursery school on one side. These were when the classrooms were fairly new, and I did not teach in the elementary block. I was out by myself in what was known as the Japanese section, in this barrack out there. And there were the three of us, there was the primary group, my fourth grade, and a fifth grade taught by a Japanese girl by the name of Mariko Hoshiyama. And I had just this sheet and every once in a while you'd see these little kids crawling in under it, so we'd just ship 'em back. They were really cute. It was only in, in the nursery school were they allowed to speak Japanese in the schools. From then on, English only.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

JA: Well, she's wondering about the, whether there was an issue or problem in terms of communicating with Issei parents who didn't know English?

MS: Usually they would come and bring an interpreter. Yeah, that's true, because like that little boy, I told you I was spanking all the way home because of his behavior? His mother didn't speak English, but somebody there did, so she acted as a translator. So I told her what had happened, but they would come down and meet with us and bring an interpreter with them. Or if they spoke some English, but they weren't fluent in it. And, of course, I didn't speak Japanese. I also, in the summer, I taught boys' woodshop, since we had to work twelve months out of the year. [Laughs]

JA: That's good.

MS: I knew nothing about boys' woodshop.

JA: Bet you learned, though.

MS: Well, they had a gentleman assigned to me, but he used to do most of the kids' work for them.


JA: Were there difficulties between kids and parents because of the language?

MS: As they were older, yes, I think there was. They had been learning English, the parents weren't keeping up in the English, and they were not using their Japanese as much as they used to. And so you have children that were losing some of their Japanese language skills, and when it came to -- well, they could ask for basic things in their homes, but when it came to sitting down and having a discussion, then they had trouble with that because neither of them were fluent in the other language, and that did cause problems.

JA: That's kind of sad.

MS: Yes.

JA: I wonder if any of those ever regained that communication after camp.

MS: I don't know.

JA: Did you notice --

MS: Of course, you know, a lot of these children, after they finished their American school, they went to a Japanese school, and they did that not in the camp, but when they left, or before they even came.

JA: Some people we've talked with felt that there was some, because of the freedom that kids have, there was some loosening of family ties that were important to Japanese traditionally. Is that anything you noticed or were aware of?

MS: Well, about the only thing I really noticed was that for once, the children had more friends to play with, and they hadn't had that before, because usually they had to go to school, they'd go home and either go to school or they worked around the house. And they, they were kept busy. It's like the mothers said, it wasn't until they got to Manzanar they ever had time to talk to each other and visit with each other. And they had these coffee klatches that they'd go around and visit with each other, which meant they were cooking in their barracks on hot plates, which were forbidden. [Laughs]

JA: [Addressing AL] Anything else we need to ask Martha?

MS: Shall I tell him the story about my music appreciation class?

JA: Oh, yes.

MS: We were required to teach music appreciation. Well, I'm not too musical, and so the music supervisor laboriously taught me to play "Country Gardens" on the piano, and I mean laboriously. The girl next to me had a piano in her classroom because it was also used as a Sunday School class, so she had a piano in there, and she played rather, quite nicely. So for appreciation, I played "Country Gardens," and then she played "Country Gardens," and we let them appreciate the difference. [Laughs]

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

JA: Well, you mentioned the books, how about how did you get crayons and stuff like that?

MS: Frankly, I bought some. I bought a lot of the crayons and things of that nature, but they were issued to us. I don't know where they, they may have been bought with government money.

JA: Alisa remembers --

MS: But the books were sent to us. Every school sent us their outdated books, and instead of getting enough for, say, a fourth grade like I had, there were four fourth grades in the camp, I was the one that was isolated. I don't know why we were isolated, but we were. And I replaced a teacher that had left, and I have no idea why they were set out there. It was in what they called the Japanese section. So I furnished a lot of things for the children and I got UCLA to send me playground equipment, and they did, so I had my own, and I wouldn't have to depend on getting it from the general area. And they were great about that, different organizations.

JA: Alisa also remembered something about schools donating crayons, other schools?

MS: I don't know about crayons, but... it could well be that they did. I know when I first got there, we didn't have enough paper. I went down and bought those five-cent tablets that had, had the great big black 5 on a red cover, and it was miserable paper, and I bought a bunch of penny pencils with the miserable erasers on 'em, and I bought crayons. And I used to write my lessons on, in crayon before all the books came. And when they came, they came by the hundreds. Then we had to burn 'em.

JA: Burn 'em?

MS: Well, what are you going to do with 'em? The states are no longer want them, these are from all over the states, and you'd get hundreds of copies of the same book. You can only use so many, and there's no storage space, so what are you going to do with 'em?

Male voice: How would, how would Martha characterize the quality of education at Manzanar in the light that she's taught all over the world?

MS: That was my first teaching job. [Laughs] Actually, they got a very good education. They had good teachers. The people that came to teach there were people that definitely had an interest in the people that they were working with, and a lot of them were, had been missionaries to Japan, and these people were teaching. And their education that they got was a good education, because you had people that cared.

JA: And you had a captive audience.

MS: Pardon?

JA: And you had a captive audience.

MS: Yes, you had a captive audience, but you do in a classroom anyway. [Laughs]

JA: That's true. Great.


JA: What's your best memory of your time in camp?

MS: I had so many. I enjoyed my teaching, I enjoyed my classroom. I even went out and bought a bicycle so I can bicycle around camp with one of my little boys. [Laughs] And we did that on a Saturday. I hated to leave. I hated to have to go away and go, go down to Los Angeles where my parents were. I just didn't want to leave camp. I liked being there, and I liked the people. I even tried to have a garden, but I wasn't very successful, so I hired a gardener. [Laughs]

JA: That's good, that's great. What was your worst moment?

MS: Well, it doesn't really have anything to do with the camp, is when I wanted to leave at Christmastime and we were snowing. Everybody was, the Caucasians were leaving, and the superintendent let 'em all go, so when I asked, she said, "No." And it infuriated me. [Laughs] I don't want to remember that.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.