Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kazue Yamamoto Interview
Narrator: Kazue Yamamoto
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Spokane, Washington
Date: June 8, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-ykazue-01-0002

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MA: And what type of work did your father do when you were growing up in Wapato?

KY: Farming. Farming, but originally, when he came to Seattle, he was in the produce business, buying and selling produce. That's what, 'cause on my birth certificate, it's, the father's occupation, it said "produce buyer."

MA: So he was involved in the produce industry in Seattle, and then...

KY: Uh-huh, not actually farming, but maybe buying and selling, I don't know, taking orders and things, I'm assuming.

MA: And then what, what did you grow on the farm? What type of farm was it, in Wapato?

KY: Mainly tomatoes. It's truck farming, you know, tomatoes, cantaloupe, beans, pepper, just regular... but we didn't grow any corn or wheat or anything like that, just truck farming.

MA: So how did that work, then? You would grow the vegetables, and then someone would pick them up and sell them at the market?

KY: Safeway used to come and pick it up, Safeway truck used to come and pick it up, yeah.

MA: And how, how big was the farm?

KY: We didn't, we didn't have a large farm because there's just three of us. I would say, I don't think it's even 10 acres, less than 10 acres. Some farmers were huge, but ours was not that large.

MA: And was that the main industry in Wapato for Japanese Americans?

KY: Mostly, mostly, uh-huh. Yeah, mostly.

MA: And so you had two sisters.

KY: Two sisters.

MA: Did you all work on the farm together with your parents?

KY: Yes, yes.

MA: And I guess, what was a typical day like for you working on the farm? What types of jobs did you do?

KY: Well, we worked like boys. I mean, there was just three girls, we had to, you know. So during school years we'd get up, go to school, the regular American school, and then we would go to the Japanese school, come home around maybe say five o'clock, then we'd change our clothes, we'd go out in the field, and work 'til it got dark, seven, eight o'clock. We would come in and have our dinner, and then we would study. By that time it's bedtime, so that was our whole life. It was just no time for play, just schoolwork and study and work, study, play, I mean, no play. But in the wintertime we did. We went to a friend's place, or we, we played games during the wintertime. But also in the wintertime, though, we had to make crates and things that worked for the next season.

MA: So you had to prepare for the next season?

KY: Prepare, uh-huh.

MA: But mostly in the wintertime, you were able to relax a little bit?

KY: More or less, uh-huh.

MA: Did your father hire anyone else to help you, or was it just the five of you working?

KY: Well, during the busy season, we did, we hired, I think it was Filipinos. I thought it was Mexican, but it was Filipinos. I remember they came and helped pick some peas and things, yeah.

MA: Oh, so there was Filipinos in --

KY: So we did have help, but not on a steady basis, whenever we were real, real busy. But it was mostly family-run.

MA: And what months were you sort of the most busy?

KY: The whole summer months, June, July, August, with the planting season, too, in the early part of spring.

MA: So how close did your neighbors live to you, in Wapato?

KY: They're not like next-door neighbors, they were maybe, oh, I would say quarter miles apart. There were houses all along, they were all farmers.

MA: So they were mostly farmers? Were they mostly Japanese farmers?

KY: No, there were Caucasians, too. But I don't think they did farming, I don't quite remember. I know there was a neighbor that lived in front of us, and I know they weren't farmers 'cause there wasn't any land there. So evidently, he must have had a job someplace. I used to play with the, one of the kids, but she didn't seem to work out in the field like we did. [Laughs] But they were a German family, and I have no idea what the father did; I have no idea. In those days, we didn't ask.

MA: So it seems like kind of a multi-racial community, there were Japanese, Caucasian families...

KY: Well, yes, more or less.

MA: So was it common --

KY: But there was a lot of Japanese in Wapato. There was a huge population of Wapato people, Japanese people.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.