Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Jim M. Tanimoto Interview
Narrator: Jim M. Tanimoto
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Barbara Takei (secondary)
Location: Gridley, California
Date: December 10, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-tjim-01-0027

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: So it sounds like you played by the rules, it sounded like you helped people since the war, even though you probably didn't have to. You probably shared information about the kiwi growing with other farmers. And so you probably have added a lot to the community.

JT: Well, you know, we spent hours. We had, we did have production, and we had a nursery. So we had a reason to push kiwis and then we would talk to people that would ask questions, and, with the idea that they would buy nursery plants if they got the kiwi business from us. So we had a reason to talk to these people. But a lot of people were very inquisitive about the crop, and we were saying, at that time, you could grow it in your backyard. Because the first kiwis that we had, I think it was 1968, we had our first kiwi crop. And we're talking about a dollar apiece, hanging on the tree, hanging on the vine. This one's worth a dollar, this is worth seventy-five cents. And you can just, before you know it, you got 150 vines to an acre, and you can multiply that out. And the number becomes so astronomical that it's impossible to believe. And so after a while, we says, "Now's the time to cash in. We ought to sell it." And we had, at that time, we had probably about forty acres of kiwis, and we were trying to set a price. What are we gonna sell it for? Well, we're clearing a hundred thousand dollars an acre, and there's formula for something, and the real estate is something like ten times of what you, what you... I don't know if it was gross or net, but ten times anyhow. So we're talking four million dollars. And my brother wouldn't go along it with it. There was three of us. Two of us says, "Let's do it, and the third one says, "No," he says, "I have grandkids. Maybe they want to get into the business." So he wanted to leave his share for the grandkids when he retired, so he wouldn't go for it so we didn't sell. But in those days, the oil business was real good. We had people from the Arabian countries looking to buy real estate and stuff. 'Cause they, the OPEC countries, those guys had monies galore. And we weren't selling to John, Dick and Harry, we were selling to this guy over there. But we couldn't agree to sell, so we never sold.

TI: But you actually had a potential buyer for the whole place?

JT: Oh, no. We never really got that far. But we had some investors that come by, and they were the ones, they says, "We're here about kiwis," the grower. We were one of the few that already were in production. So just as soon as you start making money, you got these guys, investors, for some reason or another, they come in and say, "Why don't you buy this? You can have it as a tax write-off," and all that. So anyhow, we talked to these guys, and he was the one that said, "You should be able to sell this to the Arabian, those people that have that oil in the OPEC country. And the economy was real good at that time. So I think Mori and I decided we would sell, and George, my younger brother, says no, he's not gonna sell. He was the only one that had boys as grandkids. I only have one granddaughter, but it's a girl. And Mori had three girls, and he wasn't gonna leave his stuff to the girls, 'cause they was gonna marry and get out of the family. So Mori and I sort of agreed we ought to sell, and then if George wants to stay in the kiwi business, he can buy us out or he can start his own again. All three of us ought to get together and sell. But George just didn't want to sell, and so we never did sell.

TI: Yeah, so that was, opportunity back then when everything, you're supposed to sell high...

JT: Yeah. At that time, that was the peak.

TI: low.

JT: Eventually it came down.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.