Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Susumu Ito Interview
Narrator: Susumu Ito
Interviewer: Stephen Fugita
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-isusumu-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

SF: Okay. Sus, I'd like to start a little bit with your background in terms of what your childhood was like and where you grew up and so forth. I understand that your dad was a, as you call him, a dirt poor sharecropper.

SI: Yes.

SF: How did all that start?

SI: Well, my father came over here in early 1900s because his younger brother had come over, and he had dreams of... he had a rather adventurous family. He had a military... many brothers, a ship captain who sailed around the world, various places -- and like a younger brother -- who came to the U.S. So he thought he would follow his brother, come here for a few years, and it wasn't very successful. He had restaurants; he didn't know how to cook very much. He worked on the railroad; he wasn't very physically strong like they had to be. And finally he went back to Japan and got married to my mother in Hiroshima, brought her back, and they did housework for people in Salt Lake and various parts of America. Finally they ended up in central California where many Issei immigrants were sharecropping, farming. And that's about when I came along in 1919, when I was born in town of Stockton, but work was out on the farm. My father sharecropped for asparagus, celery, mostly celery as I recall. One year was sugar beets in the Delta Islands. And my earliest recollection was that before I was really going to school, we lived in the country with other Nisei, Issei immigrants, sharecropping farms and living in unpainted shacks with no running water, no indoor plumbing or toilets, very carefree life. I did a lot of hunting and fishing and as I was telling you earlier, occasionally trapping with friends and neighbors, animals, and leading a very carefree rural life. One of the things I remember vividly is that everything that was purchased for the farm, we'd buy in large lots. Rice came in hundred pound sacks, so did flour, so did sugar. And one thing I vividly remember is they used to buy raisins and these would be in fifty, or perhaps hundred pound sacks, and that's about all the kind of things we had to eat. So when I'd go out fishing or so I'd carry, stuff my pockets full of raisins and munch on those for hours on end. To this day I'm not really keen on raisins. [Laughs]

SF: I can see why.

SI: You can imagine, if you have this huge pile to gorge yourself with.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.