Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Irene Najima Interview
Narrator: Irene Najima
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: August 4, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-nirene-01-0003

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MA: And then, how did your parents end up in Petaluma?

IN: Of course, they accumulated their money, because initially their plan was to go back to Japan. He saved a little money and a very, very good friend of his had moved to Petaluma and bought a ranch. And he advised my father, "Why don't you come and join me?" Buy a ranch -- because my father had saved up quite a bit of money -- and the poultry business, go into the poultry business. And that's what my father did. And of course, he was not allowed to buy property in his name. So he put it in the name of his three sons.

MA: Who were U.S. citizens, right? So then he could own the property through them.

IN: Yeah, own property there.

MA: So then your father went into the poultry business in Petaluma. And he had a ranch, a chicken ranch, is that right?

IN: Yes, ten acres. Uh-huh.

MA: And what, was it a, did he raise the chickens for the eggs, is that right?

IN: Oh yes, primarily, yeah.

MA: And was that main industry in Petaluma, was the sort of poultry?

IN: It certainly was, uh-huh.

MA: And tell me about your siblings, how many children were in your family?

IN: Seven. And after they moved to Petaluma, then four more were born. And there were five boys and two girls.

MA: And were you the... where did you fit in with that age range?

IN: I was the youngest.

MA: So can you describe the house and the ranch where you grew up in Petaluma? What did your house look like and how many rooms was it?

IN: The house was reasonable, I'd say, a typical small ranch house. But as the family grew, my father expanded on it. And I would consider my father -- and I've always thought this -- a Renaissance man. He did everything. He knew how to do electricity, I don't know if it would pass inspection today. But he knew plumbing. he built all the chicken houses. And so he decided to expand on the house. So the latter part of my childhood, we had running toilet, extra bedrooms, he modernized the kitchen.

MA: And he did all this work sort of on his own?

IN: Excuse me?

MA: He did all this work himself?

IN: That's right. Everything.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.