Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tokio Hirotaka - Toshio Ito - Joe Matsuzawa Interview
Narrators: Tokio Hirotaka, Toshio Ito, Joe Matsuzawa
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Bellevue, Washington
Date: May 21, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-htokio_g-01-0021

<Begin Segment 21>

AI: And Mr. Hirotaka, what about you? Do you have much recollection about Pearl Harbor Day, or how you found out about the war starting?

TH: Well, I know one thing is, they picked up Tom Matsuoka pretty fast.

AI: What was your reaction when you heard about that?

TH: It kind of shook us up. Because we did a lot of things together, including farming. So, it was... well, it kinda threw us off stride.

AI: Did it worry you that maybe you or somebody else would be picked up, too?

TH: Yeah. What the future was gonna hold for us. But we figured well, if you look at it from another standpoint, why, we figured it'll give us a chance to rest a little bit. What we... what really was bad was we had lettuce that was ready to cut. And they said, "If you cut it, you're disloyal," and all. So, I understand that they thought a handful of people could handle all the farm products. And they only cut, I think they cut about thirty-five crates or so, and all the rest went. And I don't think they harvested hardly any of the peas, and tomato plants were going to set out. Why they let it go and it got too big, so they couldn't transplant 'em outside. And oh, what a mess.

AI: Sounds like there was a lot of waste there.

TH: Yeah, but we lived through it. It was... but it was a shocking period during our life. I think it's kind of a low point in our life.

AI: I had heard that... that somebody, I guess, the government representatives or somebody told farming families that they had to keep farming, even though you didn't know what was gonna happen to you, and there was some rumor you... some people like Mr. Matsuoka were taken away, and you had no idea if you were gonna be forced to go someplace. Is that true, that you were told you had to keep farming?

TH: Yeah.

AI: What did they, did they threaten you? Or did they say, that if you stopped farming, what would happen, or...

JM: Well, they said that you'd be disloyal. And if you're disloyal during the war, that's a real bad thing. And so everybody kept their crops up until the last, but then in the end, no one harvested. They were not very efficient at it, so a lot of it, well, most of it went to waste I guess. And then I, I think Tom Matsuoka was gone so... and they had to have this, somebody to sign for these papers for the Vegetable Association. Well, there was another gentleman, he was a farmer, Tak Sakaguchi, he became president or the manager, and then they had to have somebody sign it. So I signed 'em all, I didn't know what I was signing but I signed 'em all off. And I think I still got some of the receipts that farmers got that, I gave some to Mr. Matsuoka, but I think I still have some that involve some of the Bellevue families, how much they received for whatever they, they got. But I was leasing land at that time, but we was on the, you know, in between the move, I was going to go to Redmond so we didn't have much, I didn't lose too much that way, but...

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.