Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Larry "Shorty" Kazumura Interview
Narrator: Larry "Shorty" Kazumura
Interviewers: Megan Asaka (primary); Paul Murakami (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 20, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-klarry-01-0001

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MA: Okay, today is Wednesday, December 20, 2006, and we're here at the Densho office in Seattle. Today we will be interviewing Larry Kazumura, who is also known as "Shorty." My name is Megan Asaka and my co-interviewer is Paul Murakami. So, Larry, I wanted to start by asking you, when were you born?

LK: When I was born? (November) 7, 1920.

MA: And where were you born?

LK: 19', yeah, 1920.

MA: Where were you born?

LK: Well, this is called... well, it's Mountain View, but where we -- I was born in Mountain View, but where we lived is called O-L-A-A, Ola'a. That's the way they pronounce it, Ola'a. That's one 'A' instead of double 'E'.

MA: What island was this?

LK: That's Hawaii, and it's, usually call it Hilo, H-I-L-O.

MA: And let's talk about your, your parents, your mom and dad. Where were they from in Japan?

LK: Hiroshima.

MA: And do you know why they came to Hawaii?

LK: Well, at the time, they were looking for workers in the plantation. But you know, actually, lot of them didn't work in the plantation. They looked for their own job, you know? So my dad went to a place called Maui -- that's another small island, M-A-U-I. Anyway, he started raising milking cow, not the eating cow. So... and the place called Haina... yeah, Haina. Anyway, but funny thing is, Dad was looking for a bigger place to raise the cow, so he came to Hawaii. And what happened, they stole his cattle, all of them. So what happened is, he started working for a plantation called Baldwin. Anyway, then instead of... he became a jockey.

MA: So, Larry, so he raised cattle in Maui, and then he moved to Hawaii for more room, and then the cows were stolen, right?

LK: [Nods]

MA: So what, on the plantation that he worked on, what was the crop that was...

LK: Well, the plantation is called... well, actually, it's called Baldwin... I forget that name, anyway.

MA: What did they grow on this plantation?

LK: Sugar cane. Not pineapples, sugar cane, now. The pineapple came a little later. So everything else... yeah, when he left from Maui to Hawaii, he became a chef. And so he, you know, Hawaiians used to hire him -- you know those days, they get a little, what they called luau, or Hawaiian feast? Anyway, they hired him to cook for them. And so we used to help all the kids -- we had a lot of kids, anyway -- they helped Dad cook the, what they called, they called it kalua pig. You heard of kalua pig? Okay, kalua pig. So we started helping Dad with that. And then the church, church started having parties and stuff, and get-togethers, so Dad's volunteer. He don't charge them nothing, he just do it for 'em, you know. And so we help him, too. Anything they do, we used to help 'em. Anyway...

MA: Larry, you said that your dad also worked as a jockey?

LK: Yeah, my dad was a jockey. But what happened is his leg got caught between the railing, and tear his leg up. So now his jockey life is over. So that's when he left the island of Maui for Hawaii. He figured no life in the plantation, because he can't ride no horse no more. And I didn't think he wanted to work in a plantation, so he started moving to Hawaii, that's right. Then, well, at the time, he had a son from his first wife, so he had children from, a daughter and a son. And then he became my half brother. So in those days, you can't own a property, so my brother was sole owner of the property that Dad... and those island properties, they don't have no dirt. Only rock, now. That's why they call 'em AA rocks, lava. Anyway, it's a double-A rock. What happened is the... like papaya, you don't need no water, mango, banana. So then finally, my uncle have a place up in the mountain they call red dirt. Not black dirt, now. Where we live is black dirt. But my dad's property don't have no dirt, no dirt at all, now. What they call the cinders. You heard of cinders? Anyway...

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.