Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Mary Haruka Nakamura Interview
Narrator: Mary Haruka Nakamura
Interviewer: Linda Tamura
Location: Ontario, Oregon
Date: April 22, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-nmary_2-01

<Begin Segment 1>

LT: Today is Tuesday, April 22, 2014, and we are interviewing Mary Nakamura in Ontario, Oregon. I'm Linda Tamura, and Dana Hoshide and George Hoashi are in the room participating as well. So, Mary, thank you very much for joining us. You were born on March 17, 1924. And where were you born?

MN: In O'Brien. Well, probably midwife. I mean, there's no hospitals there, and everybody was born by a midwife.

LT: Okay. So you were born at home.

MN: Must have been, I don't know. [Laughs] They tell me I was born on the 17th, but with a midwife, you wait until they register you. So I'm registered as the 21st.

LT: Okay. And O'Brien is outside of...

MN: Kent.

LT: ...Kent, Washington. And Kent is north of Auburn.

MN: I don't know my directions, it's the next town, Auburn.

LT: Okay. And what was your name when you were born?

MN: Haruka Hori.

LT: And was there significance with the name Haruka?

MN: "Spring smell" is what they interpret it as, because I was born on the 21st, which is first day of spring, used to be.

LT: Okay. But when you grew up, you were known as Mary. How did that happen?

MN: Well, first grade that we went in O'Brien, they named all of us English names. So there's Mary and George and John and Jack. It's all English names that were given to us by the teacher, because we had Japanese names and they couldn't pronounce it.

LT: So how did that feel to you to have been born Haruka and called that by your family at home, and then to have a different name when you went to school?

MN: It just fitted, I guess. I just accepted it, and that was it.

LT: Your father, what was his name?

MN: Shigeichi.

LT: Okay. And he was born in Hiroshima, Japan?

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: What kind of work did his father's family do in Japan?

MN: I don't know exactly what they did. There was a plot of land in front of the house, so it must have been farmers, too.

LT: All right. And your mother, what was her name and where was she from?

MN: Shimano, and she's from the same, the next village to my dad. And her name was Otoshi.

LT: Okay, Shimano Otoshi. So how did they meet?

MN: I don't know that. That's too long ago. [Laughs]

LT: Okay. But they lived close by and they married in Japan.

MN: I think so, I don't know.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

LT: Do you know how your mother and your father decided to come to America?

MN: I don't know that either.

LT: Okay. But they left from Hiroshima and they came to O'Brien area?

MN: Uh-huh. There were lots of Japanese there from Hiroshima.

LT: So a number of Issei, the first generation, from the Hiroshima area came from that area and settled in the O'Brien area?

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: So your father had friends and family who lived in O'Brien?

MN: Yeah, friends. I think... no, my uncle came later. So very big.

LT: Okay, but something happened to your uncle when he came.

MN: Well, he stowed away in the boat, and so just before it landed, he jumped ship, he and another fellow. And they walked around until they heard somebody talking in Japanese. So they got up and come to find out they were on my dad's farm, dairy farm. So that's about it.

LT: So your uncle and your father, then, had a reunion in O'Brien simply by the sound of the Japanese language.

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: Okay. Well, your father worked in O'Brien. What kind of work did he do?

MN: Well, they had a dairy farm, I mean, dairy right next door. So actually I don't know exactly what he did.

LT: Okay. And your mother, what was her role?

MN: Housewife.

LT: And how many children?

MN: We had five at that time.

LT: Okay. And there were four boys and you. And you were in the middle?

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: Well, when you think about your father, the father of five of you, what was he like?

MN: I really don't know.

LT: Okay. What special skills did he have?

MN: I don't know that either. He did speak English, though.

LT: Do you know how he learned English?

MN: No.

LT: Okay. But his English-speaking skills did help him to get other jobs.

MN: Uh-huh. He worked for, he was a buyer, produce buyer for this produce place.

LT: And what was his responsibility there?

MN: Go out and buy produce, I guess, for the shed.

LT: Okay. So he worked with Issei farmers?

MN: Well, he probably had to go around to them.

LT: And then he communicated with the white produce buyers, then.

MN: Yeah, he worked for a hakujin.

LT: Okay. So his language skills helped him to be successful in helping the white produce companies make connections with the Japanese-speaking farmers.

MN: I think so.

LT: Okay, all right. What about your mother? What was her role, and what was she like?

MN: She took care of us kids, that's all I remember. She was my mom.

LT: You also had a strawberry farm.

MN: That was in Auburn.

LT: Okay, and what did she do there?

MN: She worked on the strawberry farm, took care of that.

LT: Do you remember what kinds of responsibilities she had on the farm?

MN: I really don't know what her responsibilities were.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

LT: Well, when you worked, when you lived in Auburn, and your family had the strawberry farm, you had a responsibility. Can you talk about how old you were and what your responsibility was?

MN: Well, we lived in Auburn from the time I was six years old until I was twelve. So I just did whatever I needed to do. We had a strawberry stand where the pickers would bring in the strawberries and I'd sell them, then took care of the house afterwards, did the cooking and stuff, helped Mom.

LT: I'm trying to imagine a six-year-old taking on all those roles.

MN: Well, I was probably older than that by the time I was selling.

LT: So what did it involve to be at the strawberry stand? Can you tell us what you were selling and how the strawberries were packaged and how much they cost and what you did?

MN: I can't remember too much, I just, they bring in the crates all filled up with the boxes and people would come from town and buy the crates, and I'd just sell 'em.

LT: How much did they cost?

MN: I don't know. It was pretty cheap.

LT: Okay. And about how many did you sell a day?

MN: I don't know that either. I didn't keep track.

LT: Okay. So then after you spent time at the strawberry stand, you went home and you started dinner for your family.

MN: Yeah, whatever, like making rice and stuff like that.

LT: Well, at that time, you didn't have a rice cooker. So what kinds of things did you do to prepare the rice?

MN: We had to wash it and measure it and put it on the stove.

LT: And then your mother came home and helped you finish up?

MN: I guess. She must have made the okazu.

LT: And what is okazu?

MN: It's a dish that is full of everything, meat and vegetables and things.

LT: When you were in first grade and you moved to Auburn, you moved into a new home for your family, the Neely Mansion. Can you tell us what it looked like?

MN: It was a big, two-story house, white house, and it was surrounded by cherry trees and apple trees.

LT: Okay. And it is now known as a historic home in the Auburn area. What about inside? How many rooms and what were they like?

MN: There was four rooms on the bottom and four rooms upstairs, and all us kids slept upstairs.

LT: And were there fireplaces?

MN: Yeah, each room had a fireplace. It was built in the middle of the four rooms, on both sides, and we didn't use it very much, it's just there.

LT: And your father also built something outside.

MN: Well, we didn't have a bathtub, so he built what they call a furo bath. And they had one room for a washing machine, and then there's a room for the toilet, it's automatic, and then the bath. We had to burn underneath the bath to get the water hot.

LT: So can you help us to understand what it is like to use a furoba at the end of the day? How do you take a bath using a furoba?

MN: Well, we have to wash ourselves right beside the bathtub, clean us all up before we got in there, and then we just soaked in there and came out.

LT: So how many people could soak in there at one time?

MN: Well, I think us kids, four of us could have gone in, the younger ones. And then I guess, I don't know, maybe my dad's brothers and things, if they were there, they probably... my uncle and my dad. I don't remember too much about using the bath, though. We just took a bath every night.

LT: Okay, sounds like an interesting experience. And so the Neely Mansion is now a historic home in Auburn, and there is a Neely Mansion Society, and I understand that they are also working to keep the furoba, and it's called...

MN: The Hori Furoba.

LT: The Hori, okay.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

LT: When you were in Kent, you began first grade.

MN: No, Auburn.

LT: Auburn, okay. And what language did you speak, you and your brothers and sisters?

MN: Oh, we spoke English, but the folks talked Japanese, too.

LT: So how did that happen?

MN: We went to Japanese school.

LT: But, so you spoke Japanese...

MN: Before, until we went to school.

LT: Okay. And so when you went to school, you only spoke Japanese?

MN: I don't think so, I think we spoke English. My brother was much older, so we probably learned from him.

LT: Okay. So your brother talked to you in English when he came home from school?

MN: I'm sure.

LT: What about playing with neighbors?

MN: Well, there was lots of Japanese neighbors.

LT: Okay. Were there any neighbor kids who spoke English?

MN: I don't know. I think they did.

LT: So when you went to school, you primarily spoke Japanese, but you had learned some English.

MN: I thought we spoke English quite a bit, I don't know.

LT: Okay. What do you remember about school?

MN: Oh, I enjoyed school. It was challenging.

LT: What part was challenging for you?

MN: Just reading, writing, whatever the school offered.

LT: And what did you like about school?

MN: I liked going to school. I just liked to go school.

LT: So Japanese language school was in Auburn?

MN: There was, yeah.

LT: Okay. So you attended school until two or three o'clock, and then you went to Japanese language school. So what was that like?

MN: Well, we just learned Japanese, and then we walked home, all my brothers, we all walked home when we got finished with that class.

LT: So you walked to school, Japanese language school, after regular school, and then walked home. What did you learn at Japanese language school?

MN: Writing and reading.

LT: Was that difficult?

MN: I didn't think so.

LT: And did that help you to communicate with your parents?

MN: We communicated with parents all along, ever since we were born.

LT: So I wonder what the purpose of Japanese language school was if Nisei already could speak to their parents.

MN: Well, they probably wanted us to learn how to read and write the language, Japanese.

LT: And so were you able to read Japanese books and Japanese stories?

MN: We didn't have time for that.

LT: Okay, because there were other things that kept you busy?

MN: Well, school.

LT: Okay, so regular school and Japanese language school.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

LT: When you were in junior high school, you and your family moved to Kent, and you had a grocery store. What was it named?

MN: S.H. Food Store.

LT: And what did that stand for?

MN: Shigeichi Hori food store.

LT: Okay, for your father. Can you tell us what did the S.H. Store look like?

MN: The regular grocery store, just, everything was, the floor was open, you know, during the day. And we had stands of vegetables, and we had a candy rack there. Then we had meat counter, too.

LT: And then later on you added a fountain?

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: What kinds of... you mentioned you sold Wonder Bread?

MN: Uh-huh, Wonder Bread and Sally Ann, for ten cents a loaf. [Laughs]

LT: And what kinds of candy?

MN: Penny candies, all kinds of penny candies.

LT: And so where was it stored? Was it in jars?

MN: It was at a counter.

LT: And did the kids come in often to buy the candy?

MN: Whenever they got some money, five cents or ten cents.

LT: And so, and did you sell Japanese food?

MN: I don't remember.

LT: And so when you were in junior high and high school, you worked at the store.

MN: Yeah, after we got home.

LT: Okay, what kinds of responsibilities did you have at the store?

MN: Cashiering.

LT: Did you also make items at the fountain?

MN: If they wanted to have milkshake or ice cream cone or things like that, we helped.

LT: What was the favorite item that people bought at the fountain?

MN: Gosh, I don't remember.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

LT: Your family attended Japanese community events when you were growing up, and you had a number of events as part of the Hiroshima Kenjinkai, and that was the group of people who came from Hiroshima?

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: Can you tell us about the picnics that you had?

MN: Well, we used to go down to Redondo Beach, and the Hiroshima group would have their own and then the community would have another one. We went quite a few times to Redondo, and the kids, they had a skating rink there, so we skated. Besides playing all those races and things for prizes.

LT: What kinds of races did you have?

MN: Sack races and two person tied with your legs together, and running, I don't know. That's about all I can remember.

LT: And what kinds of prizes did they give?

MN: I can't remember that either.

LT: Okay. What about the food? What did you eat there?

MN: They brought bento. Everybody brought rice balls and okazu and whatever.

LT: Sounds like a festive occasion. So as you were growing up, what did you learn about Japanese culture from your family and your community?

MN: Japanese culture? They made me do odori and okoto and shamisen, I don't know, all the things that girls are supposed to know.

LT: Okay, can you help us understand what koto and shamisen and odori are?

MN: Well, odori we performed when we had yearly programs.

LT: And those were dances?

MN: Yeah, uh-huh. And then we had Obon dance, too, you know. And koto was a long instrument, and shamisen is... I just started learning that before we evacuated, so I don't know how to do that very well.

LT: So there was a part of you that was attending public school and learning American ways, and then you were also learning Japanese culture and music and dance and the arts.

MN: Well, being a girl, that's what they expect, I think.

LT: What did you think about all that?

MN: Just do it.

LT: Was it hard balancing learning American culture as well as Japanese arts?

MN: No, it's just our daily life.

LT: You figured it all out.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

LT: In 1940, your life changed. Can you tell us about that?

MN: 1940, that was during school.

LT: Uh-huh, you were sixteen, and your sister was born?

MN: Oh, yeah. That was September, and my brother was at a JACL convention in Portland, and so they were waiting for him to come home so they could give her a transfusion, but she didn't survive.

LT: Your mother.

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: So your mother passed away when you were young, and your life changed. Your father took on a lot of responsibilities.

MN: We had a lady come in to stay with us to take care of the baby, my sister.

LT: How did life change for you at that point as a young girl?

MN: Well, it didn't change too much, because the lady that took care of the baby was there.

LT: Your father did a lot of cooking.

MN: Yeah, he used to make the turkey. He used to stuff it with rice; it was good.

LT: Sounds great. And so in getting into late 1930s and early 1940, did you and your family talk at all about relationships between Japan and the United States?

MN: No, not at all.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

LT: But on December 7, 1941, you were seventeen years old, and Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Can you tell us where you were and what you remember?

MN: Just remember that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and we just heard on the news. It didn't affect us that way, I didn't think.

LT: Did you have any thoughts about it?

MN: No, because people in Kent were very friendly, there wasn't any prejudice. So we didn't have any problems.

LT: The FBI did come to your home.

MN: Yeah, they interviewed my dad because he was a community leader, too. We thought they would take 'em, but they left and he didn't have to go.

LT: Many of the Issei congregated at your store. Can you talk about the Japanese Americans getting together at your store and what you saw and what they discussed?

MN: Well, the Isseis had a room of their own, and they played Hana, they call it, Japanese.

LT: The card game?

MN: Card game. And then the younger people would come into our living room and, I don't know, just friendly, and maybe we'd play cards, too, pinochle, I think it was. But eight o'clock curfew came and everybody went home and we closed up.

LT: So did you see any change in the way people talked or any concerns that they had after December 7th?

MN: Well, not 'til we heard about evacuation.

LT: And how did you hear that, and what happened after that?

MN: Well, they told us we'd all have to go. And our group had to go to Pinedale, and we were on the volunteer group. My two stepsisters and a stepbrother and my brother and I, five of us volunteered to go on the first train.

LT: And before we move to that, your high school, you were a senior. Your high school also had made a concession for you before you left by train.

MN: Uh-huh, this was in March, all the Japanese that graduated went on the stage and we got our diploma.

LT: What do you remember about that early graduation ceremony?

MN: We thought it was nice of them to do that for us.

LT: Do you remember what you wore or what they said or what you received?

MN: No, I don't remember anything.

LT: Okay. But it was a regular assembly at school?

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: So you and your family left early. Before we move on to that, you had a store, you had a house. What arrangements were made for your family property?

MN: Well, there was a good friend that was living in cabins, we had cabins beside that. And they just took care of everything for us.

LT: Okay.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

LT: And so you and your brothers and stepsisters left early for the assembly center. You volunteered?

MN: Uh-huh. I don't know why we especially did that. All I knew, we were on the first train out.

LT: Okay. And what could you take?

MN: Well, I don't know what we took, it just, we only got a duffle bag or a suitcase, that was all that we could take.

LT: Do you remember specifically items that you took, or items that you couldn't take?

MN: No, I don't remember.

LT: What about that train ride?

MN: It was kind of fun. We couldn't see anything, they pulled the shades on us. So we just had a good time on the train with the guards, they were real nice.

LT: Usually you think about guards who were wearing uniforms and who are making sure that you follow the rules. What was your relationship? What was your memory of the guards on the train?

MN: We thought they were real nice. Got along with them, and they were good to us. Kind of enjoyed the trip.

LT: What did they say or do?

MN: I don't know, we just talked with them.

LT: Okay. And so how did you feel when you left them and you arrived at your destination?

MN: Well, we really felt like we were really separated from our friends.

LT: Okay. You arrived at Pinedale in March or April of 1942, and you were an early arrival because you were going to be helping. What did you see when you arrived at Pinedale? What did it look like?

MN: Bunch of barracks and a mess hall, outdoor toilet, outdoor shower, that's part of our barracks, you know, the complex.

LT: And what was your specific job? You were there early because you would have a job in the administration building. What was your role?

MN: We were assigning people as they came in to the barracks.

LT: So when the busloads of people came in, what specifically did you do?

MN: Just assigned them their barracks.

LT: And how many people were in each room?

MN: Well, it depended on the family. We were five of us in one room, and I think there was at least five rooms in one barrack, so you have to, if there's a lot in the family you have to give them two rooms. Anyway, everything was open up above.

LT: What if there weren't four or five in a family? What happened then?

MN: Well, if it's a couple, then two couples had to stay together in one room. And if they're newlyweds, they put a blanket across for a little privacy. That's what we had to live with.

LT: And they didn't always know each other.

MN: But the one couple that we assigned came out to Ontario and they were the best of friends.

LT: So they learned to make the best of what they faced.

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: You mentioned the bathrooms. Can you talk a little bit more about the bathroom facilities and what it was like to use them?

MN: Well, when you're young, it doesn't bother you like it would Nisei, but there's just holes there, and we just sat in there and did our job and that was it.

LT: And some people, to avoid that, what did people try to do so they could have some privacy?

MN: Well they probably want to go when people aren't going.

LT: And then also you said that some of them made purchases.

MN: What do you mean by that?

LT: They bought items that they could use their rooms.

MN: Well there was a store, canteen.

LT: Okay. And you mentioned the chamber pots?

MN: Well, a lot of 'em, the families bought chamber pots so that they don't have to go out at night, and we could hear the chamber pots clanging. [Laughs]

LT: In the middle of the night? Okay. That would be understandable. What about the mess hall?

MN: Well, at first, everybody lined up to eat, and so many people can get in there, and then they have to cut 'em off, and they had to go back until the next shift. Then they finally assigned shifts for everybody so that you didn't have to stand outside and wait, because they were fainting and everything getting in line there.

LT: Because of the heat?

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: Okay. What about the food?

MN: Oh, we just ate whatever we had to eat, and that was it.

LT: What might be a typical meal?

MN: We had a lot of Vienna sausages, and I guess there was Spam. But we didn't mind, we just ate whatever we got.

LT: Do you eat a lot of Vienna sausage and Spam now?

MN: I haven't eaten Vienna sausage, but I still like Spam. Because they make Spam sushi, came from Hawaii, and that's very popular now.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

LT: When you lived at Pinedale, your parents, you and your siblings went early so you could help. Your parents came later, and so they didn't live with you.

MN: No.

LT: How far away were they?

MN: They were about four or five blocks away.

LT: So for the first time, you lived apart from your mother and your father.

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: What was that like?

MN: Well, when you're young, you don't worry about things like that, because we can go see 'em if we wanted to.

LT: Did it give you more independence, or did you find time to meet them for meals?

MN: Uh-uh, they lived in a different section.

LT: So you didn't even see them at the mess hall.

MN: Uh-uh.

LT: So life really changed for you in your day to day routines as well.

MN: More or less.

LT: Well, you were one of the last... while you were one of the first to arrive at Pinedale, you were also one of the last to leave Pinedale.

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: And why was that?

MN: We closed up Pinedale.

LT: So while you checked people in when they arrived, what was your responsibility when people left Pinedale?

MN: I don't remember. All I know is I was still working in the office.

LT: Okay, okay.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

LT: And then you left for Tule Lake in Northern California, and that was in July of 1942?

MN: Gosh, I can't remember the date that we closed Pinedale.

LT: Well, what was it like to live in Tule Lake? How was it different from Pinedale?

MN: Well, we didn't go out very much because we were afraid of the other people that were there from California. We called them the yogores, Japanese... I don't know what you call it. But anyway, we were afraid to go out because we were afraid that we'd get attacked by the others in the other barracks that were there early.

LT: And what made you think that you might be attacked by them?

MN: Well, just hearsay, they said, "Don't go out," so we didn't go out at night at all. Well, we got acquainted with them, and they're just like the rest of us.

LT: But initially because they were from a different place?

MN: California, yeah.

LT: So there were stories about how California people might be different from Oregon people?

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: Were there any other worries that you had about being with other Japanese Americans who were from other locations?

MN: No. After we got acquainted, we were just like one happy family.

LT: How was Tule Lake different from Pinedale?

MN: It wasn't... we got to live with my folks. We had two rooms, and there was... let's see, six of us kids. And then Mom and Dad and my sister. So Dad moved the wall for them to be smaller and us to be all in one room.

LT: And did he need permission to do that?

MN: I don't think so. I think you were kind of on your own in camp.

LT: So he could make his own decisions. At camp you also, how did you spend your day?

MN: They had a lot of activities in camp, you know, like softball for the kids. I mean, we had... oh, we had all kinds of games. We had a sergeant that had a drill team, all in the drill team, and there was other... we played ball. Anyway, we were very busy playing.

LT: How about socially? What kinds of social events did you participate in in camp?

MN: They had dances that we went to. Of course, we went to church.

LT: Okay, can you tell us about the dances at camp?

MN: Well, there's a group of guys that play instruments, and they'd get together, they had a band, so we just went to dance. It wasn't date or anything, we just went there and danced.

LT: What kinds of dancing did you do?

MN: Oh, it could be jitterbug or waltzing or whatever.

LT: Were you a pretty good jitterbugger?

MN: Used to be.

LT: We won't ask you to perform.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

LT: So you and your family left Tule Lake in April of 1943.

MN: Well, we didn't go as a family, we left Tule Lake to go work in Weiser.

LT: And how did you come to that decision?

MN: Well, there was a lot of other Japanese people from our town that went there, so we just followed.

LT: So you didn't wait for the "loyalty questionnaire."

MN: I don't remember that at all, no.

LT: Okay. So your family applied for work release so you could leave camp and go to Weiser to work.

MN: Yeah, just three of us kids.

LT: And what did you, what did you do there?

MN: Worked at the laundry.

LT: Can you tell us about the laundry and what your job was?

MN: Ironing.

LT: Okay, and so how many Nisei worked in this laundry?

MN: Quite a few. Maybe twenty, thirty, I don't know.

LT: And you ironed, what did you iron?

MN: Sheets.

LT: So at that time you ironed sheets to put on beds?

MN: I guess.

LT: Was it a pretty big job?

MN: I don't think so, it was just a job.

LT: And where did you live when you were there?

MN: We lived in Weiser in, there was a bunch of cabins, and all the Japanese lived there, each had their own cabins. And the three of us girls was in one cabin.

LT: Okay. Well, how much were you paid?

MN: I think it was fifty cents an hour.

LT: And something happened at about that time.

MN: Well, it was Memorial, they ask about raise, and they told us when we went that we would get a raise, but he says he can't do that. So on Memorial Day we all stayed home. Everybody, all the workers stayed home. He has to keep the laundry going so he came after everybody. And us, three of us youngest ones didn't answer the door and we didn't go. So when we went to work the next day, they said we're out of a job, going to send us back to camp. Said, "Okay, we'll go back to camp." But then the officer came and said, "You don't have to go back." Then we found a job cutting lettuce and packing lettuce for seventy cents an hour, we thought that was great. So we did that. And after that, the season was over, then those potatoes, we sacked potatoes and picked beans and just did all kinds of work.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

LT: How did you and your husband meet?

MN: We met in camp, in Tule Lake. Well, I knew him from before. He lived in Tacoma, and we went to dance in Pinedale. But after we went to Tule Lake, we had a birthday party we went to, and we started going out together, and that's how we started dating.

LT: Did you go to a few dances together?

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: He was a pretty good jitterbugger?

MN: I don't remember. [Laughs] He lived on one end of Tule Lake and I lived on the other end.

LT: Well, and then you got married in 1943.

MN: We went into Minidoka because my sister-in-laws were both still in Minidoka, so they arranged the ceremony and the dinner and everything. So we just went in, got married, came back out again.

LT: I'm trying to imagine a wedding ceremony in a camp. Can you tell us who married you and where the ceremony was and what it was like?

MN: Oh, they had a Buddhist church in Minidoka, and we had a Buddhist minister.

LT: And what do you remember about the ceremony?

MN: Well, my best friend was the maid of honor, so they performed it in the church, then went to the barracks and had our reception, then we came out of camp.

LT: What did you wear?

MN: White suit, it's a white dress, actually, with a skirt and top.

LT: And what did you eat at your reception?

MN: I don't remember.

LT: And then you had dinner at the mess hall?

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: So you began your married life in camp.

MN: No, came right out.

LT: With the ceremony at the camp.

MN: Yeah, then we came out that same day.

LT: And as a couple you moved to Fruitland, Idaho. And what did you do there?

MN: Well, my husband was there.

LT: What did he do?

MN: Farm, help with the farm.

LT: And he worked for Watanabe Farms?

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: And what was your role while your husband was...

MN: I'd go over to the owner, and she had adopted a girl, and I'd go over there and help her sew and help cook or whatever, spend my time over there, and make clothes.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

LT: Well, in 1944, your husband went into the army.

MN: Yeah, he was on reserve, and then they finally called him. So he went in to report, and while he was there, Dr. Akamatsu in camp said that he had kidney trouble. So they examined him, and they confirmed it, and they released him, so he was there three months. And then when he came back to camp, they sent him to Boise, and they had to take one kidney out. So after that we were back in camp, Minidoka. And I got pregnant and I had my daughter in September. They were supposed to, Dr. Nerys, when he examined me, he said, "You've got another month to go, so you'd better get out of camp and establish with a doctor out of camp." But I was due in September, that was my due date, and it came on my due date. And we had taken everything to Filer, to my husband's brother's place where he worked, and then she came, so we went, there was only a chief nurse there in the hospital, everything else was closed up. So my husband had to come in and bring the baby in to nurse, I would nurse it, and then when they got ready to leave, she was born on September 18th, and we left maybe eight or ten days later to Filer. And they closed the hospital; there was no more hospital at the end of September. Then they closed the camp in December, Minidoka camp. But we were in Filer.

LT: So you were the last, or one of the last to leave.

MN: Well, my daughter was the last to leave the hospital before it closed.

LT: Okay. What was it like to deliver a baby in camp?

MN: Didn't have any problems. She was small. But they didn't have incubators then, so there wasn't anything else they could do.

LT: What was your overall feeling about the World War II camps?

MN: Well, I think we enjoyed it. We were young, we didn't know any better. So actually camp life was good.

LT: Okay. What was good about it?

MN: Well, we had lots of friends, we did everything that was fun, and we didn't mind the food. So actually, for young people it was okay. It's the Isseis that really had it bad.

LT: And how was that?

MN: They're not used to any of the food, and they didn't have the company that they would associate with, and they're not that friendly with people. You know, like us kids, we can get friends all the time. They didn't seem to mind it, though, it wasn't bad.

LT: Anything specifically about your parents, your father? How did he adjust?

MN: He did okay, I guess.

LT: Do you think there were special things that they had to do to help them adjust to this new life in camp?

MN: Not really, I don't remember.

LT: Did you think about the reason that you were in camp?

MN: Well, we had to evacuate because of the order. We just did whatever they said to do.

LT: Okay.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

LT: Well, in September 1945 you moved back to Filer and your daughter was a month old. In your new community, how did you establish yourself? It was after the war, Japanese Americans --

MN: Well, we didn't stay in Filer very long. I was only there... my husband's brother was working for a farmer there. And they had a house that we lived with them, and we didn't stay there. I think it was, must have been October, November. No, we were there about, until about March, then we went to Fruitland.

LT: Okay. And so how did you, after the war, Japanese Americans had been seen as a security risk, so they were moved together and secluded. And so when you lived again in your community in Fruitland, how did you reestablish yourself with your community? Did you do specific things, were there special things you had to do to make a connection with people?

MN: Well, Ontario was very friendly; we just had a few places that said "No Japs Allowed." And people didn't, there were certain people that just didn't accept us, but we established ourselves. Later on, the ones that was anti-Japanese, they lost business because Japanese wouldn't trade with them. We had lots of nice people. The mayor was nice, and actually, we didn't have much problems.

LT: Did you ever have an incident where you went to a store that wouldn't accept business, your business?

MN: Well, not really. If it said "No Japs," you just didn't go.

LT: What was it like to see a sign that says you're not welcome to come into the store?

MN: We just figured we don't want to go there anyway.

LT: Okay, okay. And you mentioned that the mayor was supportive. Can you talk about that?

MN: I don't know what I could say, he was just friends to the Japanese. He would help them whenever they needed any help, I'm sure. Anyway, we were okay.

LT: Okay. Well, you worked at a bank in 1951. Can you talk about your work and the relationships you built and how you worked with your neighbors and your community?

MN: Well, I worked as a bookkeeper in the bookkeeping department. And the bank changed names about five times before it became Wells Fargo.

LT: Okay. So you worked for the bank for thirty-five years.

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: So you became part of the establishment in Ontario.

MN: Yeah, I was, title was pro assistant cashier, but I took care of the tellers in the back.

LT: Okay. You have a daughter, MaryAnn, and you've been very involved in your community. In fact, you've been called the "Energizer Bunny."

MN: Well, that's among our friends.

LT: Because I think your daughter says you're not home? Pardon?

MN: That's our group says that because I'm always busy doing things, I guess.

LT: So what kinds of activities keep you busy?

MN: Cards, church, when we go out to, we walk together and we go to lunch together with the group. Another group I go to movies with and go eat afterwards. I've got all kinds of different friends.

LT: What keeps you going?

MN: I don't know, just get up and go.

LT: Let's talk a little bit about some of your reflections about your life and the past. How do you think your wartime experiences at Pinedale and Tule Lake, in working in Idaho, and in Minidoka affect your sense of being a Japanese American?

MN: I don't think anything about that. Just friends with everybody.

LT: So even though you were, your family moved from your home, you continued.

MN: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

LT: Okay. Did your experience during the war... actually, I think I'll go on. You have a daughter. What have you told your daughter and your family about your wartime experiences?

MN: None at all; they don't ask. I think the Nisei didn't talk anything about it, and the kids never asked until they started this movement from the Sanseis. So my daughter said she's looking forward to this film. [Laughs] She's going to learn something.

LT: And what you said, we hear from many Nisei, that they don't talk about their wartime experiences to their family.

MN: Well, they were never asked, that's why. The Sanseis ask, so it comes out. But our kids never asked us what we did, where we did... they don't know hardly anything unless the parents started talking, which they are now.

LT: What else could we do to engage Nisei more in talking about their stories? If you could give us advice about next steps, what would that be?

MN: I don't know. Just... people aren't willing to talk about things unless it's been asked. Like you people are asking now, so we're answering, but the kids don't question their parents that much.

LT: So the number one thing is we need to ask questions.

MN: Uh-huh.

LT: Okay, and then what can we do to make it safe for Nisei to answer those questions and tell us about their lives?

MN: Just have to have the kids ask us, that's all.

LT: Okay. There's so much that we can learn from Nisei telling their stories, and from Issei before. What do you think we should learn about what you experienced during World War II?

MN: The only way to learn is to question. And I don't know, our kids don't question Niseis. Niseis aren't prone to offer any information unless asked.

LT: Yeah, that's an important point. As you look back at your life growing up with Issei parents and going to camp and working through the work release program, and then coming back and resettling after having been secluded from other families, what would be the number one lesson that we should learn from that?

MN: You mean our third generation?

LT: Third generation and those who are not Japanese American?

MN: Well, I think they're doing a lot, digging into past history, and it's coming out.

LT: If there was one message that you want to give based on what you learned from your life, what would that be?

MN: I don't know, just be happy.

LT: Okay. Recently, Japanese Americans were able to gain redress.

MN: Yes.

LT: And the government apologized for the incarceration of Japanese Americans and the loss of civil rights. What do you think about that?

MN: All I know is we got our $20,000 and my husband got his first car with his share.

LT: And how did that change your life?

MN: Well, we just got around more, I guess. Because we walked everywhere, but we lived in town, so that wasn't a problem.

LT: I think that's one of the reasons you stayed so healthy, you've been walking a lot. Do you have any other thoughts about the purpose for the $20,000 redress, the reparations?

MN: We never saw so much money in our life.

LT: Okay. Was it a fair compensation for what you experienced?

MN: We were just glad to get whatever we got.

LT: Okay. One last question. What's important in life?

MN: Just be happy, I guess.

LT: Okay. And what are you doing in life to be happy?

MN: Socializing, playing cards, going to church, and getting on all the activities that's offered, just keep busy.

LT: Are there any questions that I should have asked you about?

MN: I can't think of it offhand, uh-uh.

LT: Okay, thank you, Mary.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.