Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Mae Hada Interview
Narrator: Mae Hada
Interviewer: Masako Hinatsu
Location: Hillsboro, Oregon
Date: June 18, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-hmae_2-01

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

<Begin Segment 1>

Masako H: This is an interview with Mae Hada, a Nisei woman, eighty years old, who will be eighty-one on July the 5th, in her home in Hillsboro, Oregon. The interviewer is Masako Hinatsu of the Oral History Project 2003 of the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. Where were you born, Mae?

Mae H: I was born in Portland.

Masako H: When?

Mae H: 1922, July 5, 1922.

Masako H: What's the name of your father?

Mae H: Masa Akisuga.

Masako H: And what did your father do?

Mae H: He had a clothing store. He sold used and new suits, men's clothing, and he with my mother would alter to fit. And then they took in cleaning also and that was their business.

Masako H: Where did your father have this store?

Mae H: When?

Masako H: Where. Where did he have it?

Mae H: It's between Second and Third on Madison in Portland.

Masako H: Okay. And what was your mother's name?

Mae H: My mother's name is Hide Inagaki.

Masako H: And what kind of a woman was she? What kind of mother was she?

Mae H: Oh, she was pretty quiet. And she loved the arts, music, but her forte was haiku. She became a leader in the haiku group in Portland.

Masako H: And did she also write haiku when she was in camp?

Mae H: Yes, oh, yes, so did my father when he was in his camp. They were separate.

Masako H: You had mentioned that your mother went to a Christian mission school.

Mae H: Yes. In Japan when they went through a great depression, plus in her family, they had, they went through two fires which destroyed their store. They had a retail store, and so her mother sent her to a Christian mission school run by the Canadian mission. It was in the next prefecture, and I can't recall the name of that area, but so she knew a little English.

Masako H: When did your father pass away?

Mae H: He passed away in 1955, and this was in Michigan. That's where he opened a new business after the war.

Masako H: You told me something about your father that he was like a "dandy." What do you mean by that?

Mae H: Well, because he dealt with clothing, and so he always got the newest things. He even went fishing with a suit on and a hat. We always laughed about that. He thought that was so proper. [Laughs]

Masako H: And you said your mother was a "princess." What did you mean by that?

Mae H: Well, she never had to work real hard, physically, so her hands were just beautiful always. And in those days, of course, when I was born, they didn't, she didn't work because she, they didn't have washing machines or refrigerators for that matter, so there's some amount of household work she did. But she didn't have to work hard, real hard, physically. And she used to tell me that she came from Japan on a ship that after she married my father and they came over, and she didn't have to be in steerage, and she thought that was pretty neat.

Masako H: You also mentioned your mother was a lousy housekeeper. What did you mean by that?

Mae H: I meant by that that she had no model to follow. You see, she was at the mission school pretty much her younger days; and of course, they didn't have domestic classes over there. And she, as far as a lot of immigrants I'm sure didn't know enough about hygiene or proper, well, she didn't know much cooking either, Japanese style cooking. She was all hit and miss. So that's the way we grew up, but we were healthily except for the usual childhood diseases.

Masako H: How many siblings did you have?

Mae H: I only had one sister, seven years younger.

Masako H: What was her name?

Mae H: Her name was Martha; Japanese was Masako.

Masako H: And did she ever get married?

Mae H: Yes. As a matter of fact, she met my husband's brother while we lived in Detroit, Michigan. Eventually, she married him, so sisters married brothers.

Masako H: And what did your brother-in-law do?

Mae H: He was a watchmaker plus a jeweler, and he opened a store in Detroit, and he sold jewelry. But mainly, he could fix watches and sell watches.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

Masako H: What do you remember about your early family life?

Mae H: Well, I vaguely remember living behind the store my father had, and it was just a huge, large room, and we set up a table. And I remember as a youngster taking a bath in a huge round, what do you call those tubs, portable things with plastic toys floating around in the water. They call that celluloid, as I recall.

Masako H: Did you speak Japanese or English in your home?

Mae H: Well, naturally I spoke Japanese because that's what we spoke in the home. And eventually, I went to a grade school. I can't recall the name in Portland, but I walked to school. My mother took me. Do you remember, I wonder what the name of the school, downtown Portland, years ago?

Masako H: Did you go to Japanese school?

Mae H: That happened after I was already in high school. I went with a friend of mine, and we started probably in the second grade because we didn't know much about writing it. So we were, my friend and I were the oldest two pupils in class of, as you can imagine, little children, smaller children.

Masako H: Do you remember any of your teachers or who was part of that Japanese school?

Mae H: I can't remember the name at this moment.

Masako H: You mentioned a Mr. Matsui.

Mae H: He was the principal. And let's see, I just, right this moment, I can't remember, short name for the first teacher, and I knew the second, next grade, the children went to high school with me. It'll come back later. I can't think of it right now.

Masako H: Okay. What values do you think your parents taught you?

Mae H: Well, I think this was very, it was with all of the Issei immigrants how much education was important. It was just a given. You went to school, enter first grade. My mother took me. But in those days, I don't think she attended any parent/teacher meetings if they had them. But we just, we went to school. Most of us were pretty diligent students, I think, all the Niseis were, yeah.

Masako H: You told me you also lived on the east side near one of those restaurants, Tick Tock.

Mae H: Oh, yes. One of the first drive-ins that was ever built in Portland. It has a history, and they finally, I think they took it down. But we lived on, it would be straight across Burnside in, where Tick Tock was, must have been the intersection of Sandy, Burnside and down the street there went south/north. It had to be a place like that, busy, and we lived about two blocks east of it. And young people as they became teenagers all thought that was a wonderful place to drive to, get a hamburger and a milk shake.

Masako H: Did you attend church?

Mae H: Yeah. My neighbor across the street, they were members of Centenary Wilbur Methodist Church, and the daughter there took me with her. So I started at a pretty young age to go to Sunday school there.

Masako H: And the grade school you attended was Buckman?

Mae H: Buckman, yes, uh-huh.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

Masako H: And what high school did you go to?

Mae H: Washington High School is not far from there, uh-huh. That's where we went.

Masako H: Did you as a child feel any prejudice while you were going to school?

Mae H: I didn't really feel that. I was a person that had friends like a few friends at a time. As I got older, I still followed that rule just making a few friends. And so the only time I felt a little prejudice was in high school, it could have been junior high, up in the junior level, and it was in an art class, and I was hurt. But that was about the only time. I don't even know what the remark was, uh-huh.

Masako H: So you had both Caucasian and Japanese friends. Can you remember any of them right now?

Mae H: I can't remember the names. In our neighborhood, we had Caucasians as well as Greek and other ethnicity. So I remember the Greek friend and visiting her home and their typical lamps. They live, a lot of lamps I recall that, and I guess you just are curious, most people are, and I was, and I enjoy doing that. And there were a few Nisei students to my high school. I remember the Takeoka family. And a neighbor of ours, the father worked in the newspaper that was published.

Masako H: Oyama.

Mae H: Uh-huh. Oyamas, I believe. And Odas, they were my, our family friends.

Masako H: Were there any teachers who really influenced your life?

Mae H: Oh, very much. In grade school, Garnet West was an art teacher in our Buckman School. We had an unusual class schedule. We were one school that was different in the fact that we were, there's a word for it where we had blocked schedules for different interests. Like a nature study, we had once a week. We had music once a week and art once a week and drama too. I really felt enriched later when I found out that I was privileged to have all that.


Masako H: So as a teenager, did you date?

Mae H: No, not really, just once maybe. He took me to Tick Tock. [Laughs]

Masako H: What did you do for recreation or entertainment?

Mae H: We didn't see too many movies, but we did see some. And I remember, I must have seen it or else they talked about it so much, the first motion picture sound was the Al Jolson's picture. I think that was the one that I remember too. But I did enjoy the movies, and so, and tennis with my friends and...

Masako H: Where did you play tennis?

Mae H: At the Benson courts. It was only about three or four blocks away north of where I lived. I lived between Ankeny and Burnside on Fifteenth Street.

Masako H: You went to Washington High School, graduated from there. What did you do after you graduated?

Mae H: Well, I had taken a college prep course, and I wanted to go to college. But my father said it wasn't possible at that moment or that year. And so I thought, well, I want to keep busy learning something, so I went to a vocational school, and that's where I got the classes my mother never taught me, cooking, sewing. I continued with art. I took every art class I could, they had. And so I enjoyed that because I just transferred my solid credits. I have the distinction of two high school diplomas, oh yuck. [Laughs]

Masako H: So that was called Girls' Polytechnic?

Mae H: That's right.

Masako H: What did you do after you finished at Girls' Polytechnic?

Mae H: I think the war broke out, yes, just about, just before I would get that diploma. All my teachers says, "Finish your projects, and we will give you your diploma," and that's how it happened. In 1941, I would have graduated from that two-year course that spring, I think, but, so that would have been 1942. The war broke out in '41. That's right, so I would have received that in 1942.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

Masako H: Do you remember where you were when the war broke out on that Sunday, December the 7th?

Mae H: We just heard the news. I must have been home. I just remember that there was a, they used to have Japanese movies being shown once in a while, and the man probably traveled with Japanese films and then narrated it without any sound otherwise. And I remember hearing that my uncle was there, and that's when he was taken to go to the Justice Department camps, so he was separated from his family too. Eventually of course, my father went there too.

Masako H: What was it like going back to school after the war broke out? Did your teachers say anything or your friends say anything?

Mae H: No. They were mostly, if they said anything, they were sympathetic because we were all pretty good students and obedient, and I think they were touched, too, that it affected us as students, uh-huh.

Masako H: You talked about your father being taken. What do you mean by being taken?

Mae H: I think all of our homes were visited by the FBI. That's who searched the homes and took out whatever they thought was evidence that maybe the Isseis were doing something subversive which they never did. But they became very nervous because, they even came to my bedroom, looked through all the drawers, and I was just a kid. So you ask about the, our feelings, we were frightened, uh-huh.

Masako H: Were you there when the FBI came?

Mae H: Oh, yes. I remember that.

Masako H: You said that you also had to ask, act as an interpreter for your dad?

Mae H: I don't really remember that well, but he wasn't taken immediately. It was later in February. I remember clearly, that I remember. My uncle was taken on December 7th, probably, or 6th, whatever. But my father wasn't asked to leave. You know what really affected me terribly was my mother sent me to talk to him in the county jail. It was devastating to see him behind bars. She didn't do that. She asked me to go.

Masako H: And how old were you then?

Mae H: Seventeen or eighteen. I can't quite remember at this moment, probably eighteen.

Masako H: Your father was put into jail. Where did he go from there?

Mae H: Montana, I believe, uh-huh. They were allowed to send letters which were censored, but they kept in touch. And they were moved often, those men that were, you might say leaders in the community in Portland who belonged to the, like every ethnic group has an organization that looks after their people. I found this out later. And he was, belong to that group. So most of them were taken to the Justice Department camps. And since they weren't trusted, they were moved from camp to camp; Louisiana, New Mexico, and I forgot what other places, periodically, but we weren't.

Masako H: So your father also was in the camp in Louisiana and in New Mexico. How did you stay in touch with him?

Mae H: Oh, my mother wrote letters to him, and he wrote letters back. He even wrote some English letters to me which I saved.

Masako H: Oh, you had saved them.

Mae H: Uh-huh, oh, yes.

Masako H: After your father was taken to the county jail, what did you and your mother and sisters do then?

Mae H: Since I was pretty young, I couldn't deal with legal matters. So there was another family with an older daughter that could help my mother with whatever had to be done to sell our, my father's store, the clothing, all the equipment had to be sold. And of course, there's always people wanting something for almost nothing. That's the way most of us in the Japanese communities had to get rid of their things. Farmers managed to keep their property, I think, most of them. They just let somebody else live there and take care.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

Masako H: So where did you go when you were ordered to leave your home?

Mae H: We did have a vehicle. Maybe we rented it to put our only possessions we could carry on it to go to the assembly center and on Columbia Boulevard. And so whatever we could carry, that was it.

Masako H: What was it like in the assembly center?

Mae H: Well, those of us, I was the median age. I discovered later at the time that were families that went. Some were older than my age, some were younger, and it was all quite a curiosity for us. It's an adventure. Maybe we weren't as devastated as much as the Isseis who lost everything. But we were checked in, and we were given our, whatever room we were assigned to. My mother being alone with the two daughters, our best friends, the family let us join them, so we were in a larger room. And we were given bedding. And when the bedding ran out, I heard some of the people had to put straw bedding in bags for their mattress. I felt sorry for them. But we did have a cot and a mattress for our room. And they were all in wooden framed, no ceiling because the whole structure was high ceiling stable-like places for animals, originally. They just floored that and put partitions and a cloth curtain for a door. An open ceiling, you could hear everything; people talking, coughing going on all night. I'll never forget that. I'm sure we all had difficulty adjusting to that, sounds at night, for instance.

Masako H: How many people were in the unit that you were in?

Mae H: I have no idea. You mean the whole assembly center?

Masako H: No, no, no, just the room that you were in.

Mae H: Oh, okay. Seven.

Masako H: There were seven of you?

Mae H: Uh-huh. Yeah. I think the brother of the other family was already gone, uh-huh.

Masako H: What did you do in the assembly center? Did you work or...

Mae H: Oh, we were all supposed to volunteer to do something. I didn't have any special skills, so they assigned me to the front desk to guide people to their, when visitors came in, we were told to go into a certain area where we can receive them, and we were run and get those people that were being visited and find them. And I really didn't have to work too hard at all, but we didn't earn much either. We were given a few dollars for, so we all had jobs, something to do. If it wasn't that, it was working in the kitchen, you know. And they had a, let's see, the boys had their sports, girls too. They had badminton. I also had some entertainment. I played tennis on a arena floor that was covered with ply boards that had knotholes in it. And since tennis is the only thing I knew how to play, I enjoyed that there. Being a typical youngster, sometimes the ball would fall through the knothole. [Laughs]

Masako H: Was that in that big arena area, then?

Mae H: Uh-huh, uh-huh. That was covered. The government did the best they could with the budget they had, I'm sure.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

Masako H: You mentioned that you met your husband in the assembly center.

Mae H: That's where I got to know him very well. They had a men's dormitory just for the men, single men. I'm sure he was there with his brother, I believe. Yes, his brother was with him, Tsutsumu Hada.

Masako H: So his family was not with him?

Mae H: No, because he came up from California to do his work, sexing chickens, and his brother happened to be helping him. He also learned how to do that; although he didn't continue on that line of work. So he was in Portland. At the time, he was not allowed to go back to California to his family, uh-huh.

Masako H: So he just drove up and down the coast doing chick sexing, then?

Mae H: Chick sexing, no. He came directly from Watsonville. He must have interviewed somebody in Oregon. But anyway, he ended up in Hillsboro where there was a large hatchery, and the hatchery man and he became good friends too. So when the war broke out, the hatchery man went to the federal government office somewhere to ask to have John excluded from being drafted because he was necessary to sex chickens, so Mr. Hughes can continue with his business which was supplying eggs, supplying chickens which lay eggs which the army needed. See the army by then was growing because of the war effort, and they needed to have probably dried eggs to make foods overseas.

Masako H: Do you know what they mean by chick sexing? Do you know what John did?

Mae H: Oh, well, I guess so many people don't know, but it's a very particular occupation that was brought over from Japan, the idea of separating baby chickens as by sex. And he heard about it from his father through the Japanese papers that they were teaching chick sexing, chicken sexing in Seattle or someplace north. Now this is happening in California. He was going to college at the time. His father says, "You could be making money doing that and paying for your college tuition." So John decided he'd go find out about it. And it was, I forgot how many weeks it took, but he adapted to that very well. Some people are, they aren't particularly adaptable to certain skills. So he happened to be, and he felt pretty fortunate. He became eventually one of the best, highest accuracy sexers in the United States I found out later. Accuracy being when you look at the baby chicks, you've got to know accurately by opening the vent to see if it's a girl or a boy, pullet or cockerel. And they do dispose of the cockerels because obviously the pullets grow up to be hens and lay eggs. And so his accuracy was over, almost 99 percent. Now you have to understand that all living creatures, some of them aren't exactly what they should be, so that's granted, okay. And so his accuracy was good. The other skill that you need to have is speed. So when pressed and they had this large order coming in, Mr. Hughes would have them in the hatcheries. The hatchers have to have the eggs twenty-one days exactly before the little babies come out, and it's the whole process. They have to be dried and so on. When you get some, they're already fluffy, cute little chickens. And that's where he starts to work. And when he's pressed for time, he can do almost a thousand in an hour, and that was critical because they had to be shipped by plane. That's, he didn't finish on his major in college which was chemistry. He wanted to work in that line. And the person who advises students, what do they call them, said that you probably in this time where there's a war going on be able to find occupation using that skill, so he went back to doing chick sexing full time. He never stopped. He was at it for years and years, and it was, it brought him good money.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

Masako H: So you met him in the assembly center. You dated.

Mae H: Uh-huh. They actually showed movies there, so we'd go see movies. He would play tennis with me, just to please me. I think he was more interested in other sports, but we'd play tennis and that was it. We worked. I have to tell you something humorous. Is this all right? My children used to say, "You only knew six months and you married him?" I said, "Listen, kids, I saw him every day." After we moved to Idaho, I saw him every day also. We're pretty concentrated, right, so I got to know him well. He got to know my mother and sister, and we did get married in Colorado later. He called me because he had work to do. You had to have a goal or go to school or have someone who would say, okay, here's a place to come to, to get out of Minidoka at the time. I'm ahead of myself, I know.

Masako H: What block did you live in, in Minidoka?

Mae H: I believe it was Block 43. And I forgot how many people were there, but they mostly were from Portland, Oregon, area and some from Southern Washington.

Masako H: And did you work in Minidoka?

Mae H: Yes. I wasn't worth much. I played, I worked for the, I said played because it was mostly for fun. What would you call it. All of a sudden, see, I just don't seem to come up with the right words, but I did have work to do. I got enough money to get extra things that the people had desires for. They had a little store in camps.

Masako H: So how long did John stay in camp too?

Mae H: Let's see. He didn't stay long because he was able to get work quickly through writing letters and so on, connections he had in Midwest. So he called me from Denver, and that's where we were married. And subsequently, he worked in Iowa, Michigan, another state, I can't remember, but we did travel some during the war. And when Mr. Hughes, and they were in contact. He says, "Now you can come back. I want you to come back and sex here in Oregon." He already had a house ready for us, so that made it very smooth. By then, I had three kids.

Masako H: So you traveled because of his job, sex, chick sexing?

Mae H: Yes. And we were fortunate to have this friend who said, "Well, Granddad's gone out of this house. You can stay in his house," and so we had a place to come to which made it very nice.

Masako H: How long did you stay in Detroit?

Mae H: Well, let's see. I think two, three years, uh-huh. My sister was able to finish her high school by then, you know, after a couple of years. And so it must have been about three years.

Masako H: And how about your dad? He was still in the Justice camp?

Mae H: He was there in the shop that John found for him. He bought a place where someone had passed away or moved away, so it was already set up for a cleaning business and took in cleaning. And as I said, he did alterations. And as I recall, it was a different neighborhood from where we lived. And so my dad was fortunate that John would set him up like that. Soon afterwards, we moved out of the house, and we left my folks there and my sister there, uh-huh, but they were okay.

Masako H: So then that is the reason why you came back to Hillsboro?

Mae H: Because Howard asked us to come back to Hillsboro, uh-huh.

Masako H: How many children do you have?

Mae H: I have four. One was born here after we came back here.

Masako H: Can you name them? There's your oldest son.

Mae H: Ronald and Judy, Laura, and Victor.

Masako H: And Ronald was born in Detroit?

Mae H: Yes, uh-huh, so was Judy. Ronny was born in Colorado. That's where we were married, yes. We lived with relatives for a while in Colorado.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

Masako H: I want to kind of go back again. You know, you said you were in Minidoka.

Mae H: Uh-huh.

Masako H: We only briefly touched about your job. What was it like?

Mae H: It just wasn't much of a job. I mean, it wasn't administrative level for sure, and I didn't have enough secretarial skills to work on the weekly bulletin that came out, so it was not difficult. Could I intersperse something? You see, the Isseis worked very hard as immigrants. They came over here, had to work hard to earn their money. The farmers of course, you know what they did. But the others, some of them couldn't do what they used to do, and this is the first time they were able to socialize. It was not completely negative. Although my mother went through a period of illness, it could have been nerves, whatever. She was in the infirmary for a while. However, she made some very close women friends there, and I think that was a plus because when we came back to Oregon and they all came back, she was able to reach them and touch, in touch with them. I thought that was good. And I can't say if it was that good for the men, but the women sure for the first time made close ties. I made a few more friends too that way because I didn't have that opportunity when I lived near Buckman School.

Masako H: How did you feel about, you know, how did you feel about camp?

Mae H: Camps?

Masako H: Uh-huh.

Mae H: There are a lot of negatives. When we went to the assembly center, we were told to go to this large room for our meals which were not Japanese cooking, of course, but very plain meals, some of which people didn't especially care for. But that's what we had to eat, and our families were pretty much split apart. Kids want to sit with their friends and didn't stay with their folks, and that broke up families in that respect. So socially, it wasn't too good for families in that respect. And of course, the parents didn't know what was going to happen to them next. They just knew that this is temporary. And they were heartbroken having lost everything, so it was difficult for them.

Masako H: Were you scared for your mother?

Mae H: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I was worried about her health. As I told you, she was pretty much a protected person and didn't work real hard physically. And so she was not too well during that period worrying about her husband who was in another place, yes. My sister was just about eight or nine years old then, so she, you know, she just made friends.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

Masako H: When you came back to Hillsboro, how did you feel, you know, what were your feelings?

Mae H: That's a good question. I decided when I come back, we're coming back to where people were pretty much looked upon Japanese as enemies simply because we look like Japanese people which we were, but the young people felt very American. We have to express this. I had decided when I came back that I must go, when I have any acquaintances that are Caucasian friends, which they mostly were in Hillsboro, at the time and church, whatever, I would have to go part way to meet them and be cordial, not hold back. If you're going to get along with these people, you got to show your real self. And that's the way I was always, you know, so I made friends pretty quickly, and I think that's important.

Masako H: So you became pretty integrated here in Hillsboro. You went to which church?

Mae H: My mother went to Methodist Mission School, I told you, so I looked for a Methodist church, found one. They were all very nice to me, so I've been very active ever since.

Masako H: And you also said you belong to PEO. What is PEO? What does it do?

Mae H: That's a question that's asked me often, but I find a little disturbing because I don't think that's really proper, but they want to keep it a secret like maybe sororities do. And it's a very simple answer, and I'm not allowed to reveal it to you. I wish you hadn't brought that up. [Laughs]

Masako H: But they do good things?

Mae H: Yes, yes. Their goal is scholarships for students that can't afford to go on through college, and I really believe that's so important. So we raise money various ways, so we can help them. And it's in the millions. All over the United States, there's PEOs raising money doing the same thing.

Masako H: You also work for the League of Women Voters.

Mae H: I felt that was important. It's not going to happen to somebody else again what happened to us. I think you should know how every town you live in works, how your county works, how your state works, federal level works, and so I joined that. It was very new. I was in the initial group that started in Hillsboro, and I was quite active in that. Eventually, I was the president of a small chapter here. But I still strongly believe in that; although I've retired from that too. And I think I got more out of that organization than some of the others I belong to.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

Masako H: Okay. You talked about your children. Ronald, who is your oldest, what does he do?

Mae H: He... okay. During, what year would it be? He went to university, Pacific University for a while. It didn't agree with him. I think he was not mature enough maybe. I don't know what, but my grade school teachers for him told me that he's very intelligent, but he's a little bit immature for his age. So I took it that that must be the reason why he didn't work out too well; although, he was the smartest of my four children. So Dad suggested he go sign up for air force which he did, and I think he thrived on that. And he was assigned to some bases in the East and eventually ended up in New Jersey. And when he was relieved of how many years, I forgot he spent in there, three years maybe, he met a sister of a friend that worked with him. He got a job in some factory. I can't remember what it was. He met her, and they were married there. And he's never come back to the West Coast. He's the only one, but I visited them in Ohio. And then the next, the daughter, Judy, she's the only one of my children that knew what she wanted to do. She wanted to be a teacher. When we first moved here, she'd get all the neighborhood kids together and play school. So she's very successful as a teacher in Newberg, Oregon, and almost ready to retire. And Laura met her future husband at Oregon State and, Paul Tamura, and I can't remember the dates well. But eventually, they were married, and they still live near Eugene. And in Eugene, and they have a daughter that is still down there. They only had one child. Judy had two children, uh-huh. Okay. And then I told you about Laura. But they are the only two Japanese descendants that were married in my family. The others, Ronny was married to a Puerto Rican girl, and Laura is a Tamura, and Judy is an Elliot. He also teaches; that's how they met. And Victor is the one that's closest that lives near me here in Forest Grove, Oregon, and he had lots of problems. And I won't go deep into that, but John and I had a hard time with him. But he is now well settled and with a third partner who brought children. And so I've all of a sudden have many grandchildren and step-grandchildren.

Masako H: You know, the name Victor rings a bell for me. Did John have a brother named Victor?

Mae H: Yes.

Masako H: Okay. What happened?

Mae H: He was drafted during World War II at the tender age of twenty. I think that's pretty young. And he was shipped to Europe, and he was a member of the famous 442. And he was in Italy approaching a mountain, as I understand it. Of course, I heard it secondhand, but he was hit by a mortar and killed instantly. Now, if he had lived, he would be my age because, yeah, he was same age at the time. He was married for maybe less than a month, and he was drafted, and then he was gone. So his poor widow, she has since remarried, but I feel sorry for Victor. He didn't get to live a full life. So we named my Victor after him, yeah.

Masako H: Did you work when you got back to Hillsboro?

Mae H: Not immediately, but I did a few jobs like sales, so I could be home when the kids got home, you know. And this is direct sales, and I enjoyed that because I enjoy people. And I only would sell what I really believed in. But eventually, my friends said, "Mae, you should get a solid job, so you'll have a pension when you get older," so okay. So I applied to the State, and I ended up working for a supervisor in my own town who worked in the employment office. Oh, good, it was only five minutes from home. I like that. So I learned their ropes in the employment department, and I enjoyed that because I like to talk to people, interview them. And I think I did a pretty good job of that, and that's what I retired from.

Masako H: When did your husband pass away, then? It's been how long?

Mae H: Well, he had heart problems starting in 1988. He had to have heart surgery bypass. He did not completely recover. Until it was over with, he was very old, well, he was old, but he was very tired and not energetic, not too interested in doing much. Gradually, his memory deteriorated. He developed Alzheimer's.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

Masako H: Let's go back to Minidoka again. You said you worked, and you lived in block what, 43?

Mae H: Forty-three, I believe it was.

Masako H: Tell me what it was like, and what kind of a life did you have in Minidoka?

Mae H: Well, it was devastating for my mother. We came all through by train and then bus. And when we drove up, there was a total cloud of dust. You couldn't see five feet. After that, it was all dust because they built this huge area for us to come to, barbed wire and all, and these residence were barracks. But --

Masako H: What do you mean by barracks?

Mae H: It's the first time I saw her cry hard. "What did they bring us to?" she said in Japanese. Anyway, they, of course, slowly, we were able to be registered coming in, assigned places to come to, and it was just my mother, my sister and myself, I remember, and so we had an end apartment. I forgot how many units there were in each barrack. I would say maybe eight. It's just a guess. We had numbers on our place. And do you want a description of the room we were assigned? It was unfinished walls. So you see it was pretty, some dust would come in. And we had cots and one potbelly stove to burn coal for warmth and one recessed area for a closet. That was it. People wanted more had to build their own home up with shelves and so on. We weren't able to do that. We managed. And we were, of course, regimented according to time for breakfast, lunch, and supper. We were told where the main buildings were, where the lavatories were. I have to bring that up later. And what else do you want to know about the living situation? We had to dig up our own coal when the winter weather came. The first time I experienced such cold that when you breathed, we never had this in Oregon. You'd have icicles on your nostrils. It was scary. And we would have to dig up our own coals, so we can burn it in our, burn it in our stove in our cabin, if that's what you can call it. But pretty sure you adjust to all these things. The recreation department, I don't know where it was, but they had a building just for recreation where we, they had dances. They had music that was played by somebody in charge of that, maybe movies. I don't remember if we saw any movies. We must have had them. But the personal like hygiene and all, we didn't have sinks in our apartment, so we had to go to the large building. And the showers were all in one, and I, most of us like our privacy, but there was no privacy. And the toilets were all in rows, no privacy. So I don't know how my mother adjusted to there. I never asked her, but Japanese Isseis are used to baths. I don't think I saw one bathtub there. Again, the food was pretty poor, but the men did what they could. Now this time, they added Japanese foods. They were able to do some of that. So they would make their famous tsukemono which is pickled cabbage, and they had to make tons of that. So we didn't know how long we were going to be there until we found out that you could get out if you had a destination and a purpose. So John and I saw each other every day, and he was so good to my mom, and I could tell he had a pretty good upbringing. And typical Issei parents, they look up the people that are going to date their daughters; in other words, the family. And she found out they were pretty okay. They were Colorado people but, you know, nice people.

Masako H: Did you see any guards while you were there?

Mae H: Oh, yes. As I mention, there were barbed wires all around. We've gotten used to having them looking down at us, and they had a tower at each spot along the perimeter, and I understand they had weapons. At that time, I wasn't afraid of them, but they were there always looking.

Masako H: Did you ever talk to any of them?

Mae H: No.

Masako H: Do you remember the gardens at all?

Mae H: See the gardens?

Masako H: Uh-huh.

Mae H: No. I never seem to have seen them, but I know they made farm vegetables on the property. And way at the edge, there was a river, I hear, but I didn't go there or fish. I think they allowed fishing. I'm not sure.

Masako H: Do you remember the Honor Roll at all? It was on a big board. You may have left before that.

Mae H: Maybe. See I left, I believe, in September of '42. See, I wasn't there all that long, maybe six months, yes. They had an infirmary. They had doctors; they had dentists who did just rudimentary procedures, nothing fancy.

Masako H: So what did you do on a typical day? I mean you got up.

Mae H: I always skipped breakfast because I tried one breakfast. Did you ever tasted pancakes with grease on them? Well, that's the way it was, and I didn't like that at all. So I think a lot of people skipped breakfast. As at the assembly center, they had a store there you could buy candies or whatever you wanted extra. So with my little income, I did that.

Masako H: You said, you said your mother was in the infirmary or hospital?

Mae H: It's an infirmary. She was in bed, and I worried about her, but there wasn't much I could do for her. And she used to, oh, they had laundry facilities. She managed to do that all by hand, you know, tubs. That's all they had. They had ironing boards. I made a sketch of my sister at an ironing board, I remember. It's somewhere around. We weren't allowed cameras, you see. Some of the artists did paintings, I know.

Masako H: What was the infirmary like that your mother went to?

Mae H: Well, it was just another barracks, uh-huh. They had a bed. I think they had pretty nice linens on there, just ordinary linens but clean. I don't know how she was treated. I didn't ask questions.

Masako H: How did you get to work?

Mae H: Walk. There was no vehicle around. Most belonged to the army. Good question. We had snow there during the winter, I remember, so we must have had some kind of boots. You could order things through catalogs. Somehow, we were warm enough with coats. But nobody was outside during the winter, very severe winters.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

Masako H: You were married in Denver, and then you went back to Ames, Iowa, with your husband. What was Ames like, or how did you feel about it?

Mae H: It was, we lived in a motel, is that what you wanted to know, because it was just a seasonal job he did. But he did, the person he contacted, he himself, was a sexer, and he said there's plenty of work out this way. That's why we came out to Ames. At that time, I already had my baby, Ronny, and it was not too hard because Paul Hatasaki was the man who was a chicken sexer. He was a Kibei, and he married a lady that was a Nisei here, and so we made friends. At least I had a little social life with her. But otherwise, we were pretty much stuck taking care of our children. She had children also. And after the season for chicken sexing was over, we then moved to Michigan. I think that's where we moved to because he had cousins had already settled there. And we, he looked for a home. It took a little while to stay where his sister was also in Detroit. We stayed a short time with her, then he finally found a home not too far away, and we purchased that, and then we settled there. It wasn't long before the people in Idaho were asked to move out as they could. So we told the folks, my folks to come live with us in this house he bought, just a normal house with three bedrooms. So we were able to put them up.

Masako H: How did you feel about living in Detroit? Were they friendly?

Mae H: It was a new experience for me. I had never lived in another area with different ethnic people. It happened to be Jewish. It was fun. It was fun. My neighbor next door was outgoing. She invited me over to learn what wash was, gefilte fish was. Gefilte fish is something like kamaboko soup, pretty good. And she had children, so right away, my children had playmates. But it was fun going to their grocery stores and bakeries. I love their onion rolls. But we lived there as I say maybe three years or so. Meantime, my brother-in-law had come out and started his business more closer to the city of Detroit, you know, business area, and he started his business because meantime he had finished going to watch making school. That's what he wanted to do. He didn't want to do chickens anymore. He didn't like the driving involved. So he lived with us a while too. And when we moved out, he bought the house, you know. So it was, we were all pretty moving along smoothly, yeah.

Masako H: Okay. So you came back to Hillsboro --

Mae H: Yes.

Masako H: And he, John continued to work as a --

Mae H: And Howard helped him find other hatcheries too because they're, you know, they talk to each other. So he was able to find other jobs immediately because this is something that's his own occupation. He doesn't work under anybody. He's self-employed you might say, and so he found plenty of places to go to. They were smaller hatcheries, of course, than Howard's here.

Masako H: So basically here in Oregon?

Mae H: He did some in Washington, Southern Washington. Goldendale, I believe he went to.

Masako H: When your husband retired, what did you do together?

Mae H: Oh, he loved to play on his day off. You see hatchery business, sexing, of course, follows, they hatch on certain days, so Wednesday was a slow day. He pretty much had that time free to go fishing. I thought that's great. He's got something he can do to relax. But I found out with every breed or species of fish, there's a new pole to go with it. He had quite a collection of poles; poles for ocean fishing, porgy fishing, they used to call it, heavy ones, trout fishing, salmon's another pole and so on. So all right, he was happy. We ate fish. He was a good fisherman. He also found out golfing is fun too. So that took Sundays, a lot of Sundays. And then when the poker -- did I tell you about the poker games yet? -- started, I felt like I was becoming a widow. So I found my own interest which is music, art. We each let each other do what we like to do. We got along. It was a good marriage. I've got to thinking opposites make good marriages. So I got to do my thing. I went to symphonies with my friend, Mary Iwasaki, and we enjoyed ourselves. We had a regular schedule to go to symphonies too, and I started taking painting classes. And as I say, I was busy with the church ladies too, so...

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

Masako H: Your mother, your father had passed away in Detroit, and did she live with you?

Mae H: In 1965, he didn't get to come out and see the house, but my mother stayed there with my sister. And as it turned out, married Sus, Tsutsumu and with all intentions of moving out here eventually when they retired. But she died before she could do that, of leukemia. She wasn't quite forty-nine years old, and that broke my heart because I was supposed to go first. I'm seven years older, so I just felt that was very unfair. And it wasn't very easy for her. It's hard to die with cancer.

Masako H: So your mother came to live with you?

Mae H: Uh-huh, yeah. She didn't stay in Detroit but just to see that Sus could be okay by himself. By then, they had moved to Farmington out of Detroit. I don't know what year that was, and they had adopted a child by then.

Masako H: How old was your mother when she passed away?

Mae H: She was 103. She had those genes evidently. I'm afraid I have them too. But she ate well, healthily and, you know, vegetables and a lot of fish. That just proves that if you eat well, have good genes, you can live a long time.

Masako H: She also wrote her haiku, right?

Mae H: Oh, she enjoyed that. She didn't write it the last four years or so. She had to drop the activity with the haiku club. This is the same haiku club, same name that they started before World War II. Hood was the name for Mount Hood, Hood Ginsha Haiku group, uh-huh.

Masako H: I understand that one of her haiku is where? One of her haiku is...

Mae H: What haiku is?

Masako H: No, no. One of the haikus that she wrote is in Hillsboro at --

Mae H: Oh, that's right. It happen that she was mentioned in a book that collects poetry. See there again, I lost words. In her name, her poetry was selected to be one of the poetry in this book, that a man was putting together who is a professor of Portland State. I never did see the book after it was published, but Valerie Otani of JACL happened to see that. And since she was a major factor in one of the Max-line stations here for the artwork, each station, I understand, has some different group putting art in that place where people would sit and wait. Anyway, Valerie was one of the group that chose what would go into the Washington County one on Fourth and Washington, and this particular one would have ethnic artwork. There are lots of Indian things. They're on the walls. Some are in bronze. Some are in photographs on the walls. Mom's was selected to be on the granite surrounding. There were other quotes around this station, and hers happens to be a haiku she wrote. So when people come to visit that knew her, I take them over there and show them. And I did a poor English translation, but that's next to it. Otherwise, people would just see Japanese characters, you know. Very well done in that granite, by the way. So that's what's in there. I was proud of her for that, and she was alive yet. She was about 101 when we had a little ceremony there, yes. That's a nice time.

Masako H: After your husband passed away, you, I'm sure you have to go through some major adjustments. Tell me about it, you know. What's life, what was life like without your husband?

Mae H: Without him?

Masako H: Uh-huh.

Mae H: I've always been pretty independent, but I hated financial work. I knew I'd never work in a bank. And he took care of all the bills and everything. All of a sudden, I'm stuck with all this to do because he's gone now. He died in '61, I mean '91, and so I had to make decisions. And so I stayed in the house we've lived in for all these years, but I realized the neighborhood was getting pretty run down because it was zoned a multiple dwelling zone which I forgot what number it is, but, so a lot of people were renting homes around my area, and they were also selling and getting out of the area because it was becoming, some of it was crime ridden. So I thought I've got to think about moving out is probably what you're asking. So when I could, I'd look at any place that look like it might be a possible kind of living style I might like. I wasn't going to buy another house, that's for sure. So I tried looking at all of them. There was something negative about each one. Then one day, this ad came out in the paper, if you want to hear about that funny experience. The ad said, "Avamere open for tourists." It was just before Thanksgiving. Just to take the tour, there's a free turkey. So I said, hmm, I'll go take that tour. I'll get a turkey anyway. So they showed me the large building, and I've seen plenty of those because my brother-in-law was in one, and my husband had to be in nursing home, so I pretty much know how they operate. Then we have these cottages, they called them, over here. So I got a tour of it, and I loved it immediately because one end looks out over a wooded area with a stream. That's the haiku in me. I love that. And the amenities here, exactly what I want, my own washer/dryer, utility room, one big bedroom, one den and kitchen, living room. So I'm very happy with it, and I made that choice myself. A lot of my friends will say, "You're not going to take me out of my old house." I don't believe in that. You have to make your own minds.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

Masako H: Going back to World War II, the war experience, how do you think that affected your life?

Mae H: How it affected?

Masako H: Uh-huh. How did you feel about it?

Mae H: Well, maybe I'm adaptable. That's one quality I have, perhaps, and I don't believe in sitting still. This is probably all the sitting still I've ever done here.

Masako H: Sounds like you have no bitterness over that experience?

Mae H: One advantage I would say, and I like to think of positive things too, some of the Niseis had to move to the Midwest or East, New York area, that was good for them. The advantages was that they could pursue their careers. They didn't have any desire to come back to the West Coast. A lot of us did come back for various reasons. So I think that was a positive in that effect, you know, the war effort. It just helped them in that, some cases. But other than that, I think it was a bad thing that happened as far as the federal government is concerned, and so I hope it doesn't happen again to any ethnic group.

Masako H: What would you say is your biggest worry right now?

Mae H: Well, most of us retired people like living in this place, I think well, my one decision was if I'm here and I'm still able to take care of myself, have a car in the garage, that's great. The kids are happy, then I'm happy, my children. However, they'll come a time they have to move me. I says, look, you can just tell me to go over there to the main building where it's really assisted living, wheelchairs and so on and three meals a day. When that time comes and they have to carry me out feet first, well, I'm sorry, but they are going to have to make decisions for me, and I know that I don't want to be a burden on them, but that's the way it goes. I don't let that bother me forever but right now.

Masako H: What do you think your greatest achievement is?

Mae H: Well, my achievement, I don't know if I have any. I have my hobbies, and I also feel that, I told you before is you've got to put forth fifty percent. You receive a lot from society, you give a lot to society. I think that that is important for all of us. Some people are able to do it better than others. I've been fortunate, but I can adapt to whatever situation I get into. If I can do it, I'll help, like I took a lady two doors down to the hospital, yesterday. It was four hours of my time, but I didn't mind because she couldn't do it. She had a hip operation, so you do these things.

Masako H: What advice would you give to young people if they, if they asked you?

Mae H: Well, if you're talking about those approaching their income years, you mean that?

Masako H: Young people, youth.

Mae H: Do whatever you enjoy doing. Don't do something, at the beginning, you may have to work in a fast food place. You have a goal and then get into a career you love. I think that's important.

Masako H: You mentioned one more thing, don't do drugs.

Mae H: Oh, yes. I didn't dwell on that, but my youngest son experimented with that and that led to heavier drugs and that was breaking John's heart and mine. We're not the kind of parents, though, that give up on them. So he, himself, knew he had to go get treatment, and he did that and we're proud of him that he succeeded. So that's a short story of what we went through for about five years, I think, maybe more.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

Masako H: How do you spend your time now?

Mae H: Well, I already told you what I did yesterday.

Masako H: Do you take exercise classes, anything like that?

Mae H: I like to read, but my eyes get tired a lot at night, and so I've got books I haven't read. I just borrowed my first Harry Potter book I'm going to get into. I like all kinds of reading. But if it's not dull, I like history. I like true events that I read on. And of course, I'll let a lot of my magazines run out because maybe I won't need them anymore, but I like to read. As I say, go to concerts when I can, but I can't drive at night. That's a handicap. I don't want to because it's dangerous. My daughter, the older daughter, tells me more what I should do than I, we're reverse, of course, now. She's, Mother, you have one infraction, say good-bye to your keys.

Masako H: Do you do any kind of exercise, go to classes?

Mae H: Oh, yes, twice a week, uh-huh. It takes some of my mornings. I go to tai chi class. It's at the senior center. I can still drive there which is not far away, and I enjoy that because it's, it's not only spiritual, but it helps you in your balance and it's slow and it's not too hard on the body, mainly leg muscles and arm, slow, and I, when I read that article, the ad in the local paper, I said, I'm going to ask about that, so I went there. I enjoy it.

Masako H: And have you kept up with your painting and haiku?

Mae H: I need to get back to my painting. All the tubes are dried up. I got to soften the paint. I got to get to it, but I haven't yet. I've been too busy, so I will. I've got all the equipment.

Masako H: You showed me a card that you did last time, and you had a painting on it and a haiku, and I copied that haiku down because I thought it was really wonderful.

Mae H: Well, I made friends easily. And of course, I wanted to immediately with the neighbors on both sides of me. And the one lady on my left looking out the door, she's just a wonderful lady, and she showed me her apartment, and that's what's interesting. Every apartment is different, how they decorate it, mostly women here, some men. But when she said she's moving because she needs to be closer to her family, daughter in Washington and one closer to the West Hills of Portland, and she will live in a similar apartment, I assume. But I was so sad because I hate to see her go. I only had known her well for about a month. Anyway, so I thought since she had given me something she can't take with her, I thought well, I just want her to know how I feel about her going, and so I wrote a short haiku. I never had any formal education. All I know is the seventeen syllables, and of course, it isn't like Japanese. They use their own language for the haiku, you know. So anyway, I wrote one for her on a piece of paper. I had painted something on small I could cut to size how I felt about her going, and so I gave it to her.

Masako H: Could you read that for me? This is a haiku that you wrote right here.

Mae H: Well, whatever happens to us, we have all shared an adventure. We go through many paths. So this is what I'm reflecting in this haiku. The river of life flows steadily with bumps, time. Jane is a sparkle. This had to be, what did I say, seventeen syllables, but a sparkle in the river of my life. She was a real wonderful person.

Masako H: We're nearing the end of this interview. Is there anything you would like, anything more you would like to say, or do you have any questions?

Mae H: Well, I still like to travel. I just got back from seeing my grandson celebrate his master's degree in communication technology, and that little drive up to Puyallup was wonderful. The scenery is so nice. It always has to do with beauty, what I like. So whatever I do, I think painting, I could probably do for a long time. And I like to collect things that other people have done, and I surround myself with handiwork of people's art. So I can't hear well, so I can't enjoy music like I used to. I need to drop that because I can't participate anymore much in the music myself, yeah.

Masako H: Well, thank you, Mae, for sharing your story with us. I appreciate it very much.

Mae H: You're welcome, and I thank you.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.