Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Arthur Ogami Interview
Narrator: Arthur Ogami
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 10, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-oarthur-01-0004

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AI: Well, now moving into the 1930s, that's the time of the Great Depression. And I'm wondering how did, or did the Depression affect your family and you?

AO: Depression did affect my father, because due to his income he did lose quite a few clients, I mean, customers as... and so, so he quit doing the gardening and moved to Montebello. And in Montebello was a nursery called the Star Nursery and Mr. Uyematsu was the owner and he was quite successful so he worked for them, working in the nursery for twenty-five cents an hour. And my mother also worked and her pay was, I believe about twelve cents an hour. And we, as a kid I would pull weeds in the pots and put 'em aside. I was paid two cents an hour. I do remember that. And that was, see, I was about twelve at that time. So that would be... 1934, '35. And then I was... I went to school in Montebello.

AI: And when you were going to school in Montebello, was that a junior high school or a... were you still, did you have a grammar school through eighth grade?

AO: Yes, elementary school. I was, I went to seventh grade and eighth grade, and from eighth grade I did go to Montebello High School freshman year. And I was there for about, about six months, then my parents moved back to Whittier.

AI: Well, when you were in Montebello, what was the ethnic composition of that area compared to the all-Caucasian area that you had lived in before?

AO: In Montebello there was lot of nurserymen. I remember the Mori family. They had a very successful nursery. Zima and the Zima, the daughter had a florist shop on Beverly Boulevard. I do remember that. There was other large nurseries called Wilcox and there was a street named after the Wilcox Nursery. And there was a Howard and Smith Nursery and they were very successful. And they had large areas where they grew bird of paradise, that were huge clumps of bird of paradise. I remember that.

AI: The color must have been really vivid.

AO: Yes. It was beautiful. Then in the hills of Montebello were oil derricks and it was pumping oil out of that area. And I remember one day I went, climbed the top of the oil derrick and it was, I was quite nervous walking around on the top, but I did come down okay.

AI: Well, so tell me, at these nurseries in the Montebello area, did they employ very many Japanese?

AO: They were run by, owned by Japanese.

AI: Oh, they were?

AO: Yes. And they hired, if they could, Japanese. But I do remember using the, they hired Mexican laborers. I remember talking to them and...

AI: Had you met very many Mexicans or Mexican Americans before then?

AO: Oh yes, even at school back in Whittier. And then, in 1936 we, my parents moved back to Whittier. In the meantime they did, rented, rent the house out that we had in Whittier. But we moved back. And then we stayed at the house. The address was 333 South Noland. And...

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.