Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Jimi Yamaichi Interview
Narrator: Jimi Yamaichi
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Klamath Falls, Oregon
Date: July 4, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-yjimi-01-0001

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Alice Ito: Well, today is July 4, 1998. We're here at the Tule Lake Pilgrimage with Mr. Jimi Yamaichi, I'm Alice Ito. And I wanted to start out at the beginning, and ask you about your grandfather, who I understand came to the U.S.

Jimi Y.: Yes. My grandfather came -- the farthest back the records I can find -- he came around 1898 and 1897; so that makes our family being in the stateside for a hundred years. And grandfather was here earlier, and then my father came in 1906. He was fourteen years old. And grandfather got hurt when he was pruning a tree -- a twig got stuck in his eyes -- and he was having a lot of problems with his eyes, so my father came over. He was the only son; he had three other sisters. And he came to help his father. So, that part I knew. From there on... my father sent my grandfather back in 1914, so they must have worked six or seven years together -- well, 1914, be, what, eight years together, right? And grandfather went back. And my father was still a single bachelor, he worked. And then 1917, my father went back and looked for a bride, and got married to my mother, and they came back. So, that's 1918 the first child arrived, my oldest brother. From then, there's ten of us altogether. So there's two boys and a girl, boy, girl, boy, all down to the end. At the end there's two girls. So there's five boys and five girls. And, my family -- I lost my brother just above me, that was in the army. He's the only one that didn't have a camp experience, and he passed away about three years ago.

[Interruption]

AI: So you were telling us about how your grandfather had come to the U.S., and then a little bit about your father, and your parents getting married.

JY: Yes. He worked on the farms, and most of the Isseis that came over here, most were fruit pickers, right? They worked on the farms and this and that. That's all the job they could get. So, like my father, he would travel the valley, San Joaquin Valley, up and down picking fruits and this and that, and ended up in San Jose in the winter months. They laid over in San Jose and then they start all over again. And to him it was foolish. So what he used to do the winter months, he'd be a houseboy, just to live in. And there he learned to eat meat and potato, so our family ate very little rice. It was a lot of meat and potato. My father would have bacon and eggs, ham and eggs, scrambled eggs, sunny side up for breakfast and toast and coffee, and most of the (other families) ate rice. At lunchtime we had rice, but dinnertime my father never ate okazu so my mother always made steak, or hamburger, or ham, steak, something meat. So meat was prevalent around our house, so that's where we learned to eat a lot of meat.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.