Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Atsumi Ozawa Interview
Narrator: Atsumi Ozawa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Skokie, Illinois
Date: June 17, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-oatsumi-01-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So at this point, your mother only had two choices then, Japan or stay in the United States.

AO: Yeah.

TI: And so how did she decide Seabrook?

AO: Oh, and the Seabrook, because when the camp girls, I think in Seabrook, I think Mr. Seabrook must have offered a job to all the Japanese people, I guess. So many of the Japanese people that were in Crystal City, Texas, they went to work at Seabrook Farms. It was nice because, like in our case, we don't have any place to go. We didn't have any relatives, so for us it was good because they offered us a job. It was only seventy-five cents an hour, but they gave us a place to live.

TI: And how did the place to live compare to your place in Crystal City?

AO: About the same. It was like a camp, too, because lot of Japanese, they all were, almost all Japanese. Yeah, there was three shift, it was nine to four, four to twelve, and twelve to eight in the morning. Three shifts, and we changed every two weeks, changing shifts.

TI: And what kind of work did you do at Seabrook?

AO: Oh, the jobs was very easy. It was packing frozen food, like lima beans, carrots, let's see, peas and things like that. And we used to pack and weight.

TI: And so you have Japanese workers, what other kind of workers were there at Seabrook? Was it just Japanese, or other...

AO: The Americans, and one, there was a lot of colored people, African people, and I don't know, I don't know if they were students or what, but there was no comparison. Japanese people, they always used to work, and they used to compete, who makes the most. Which line makes the most, so everybody worked real hard. But I think that the colored people, they used to fall asleep in the night in the third shift, so it started from four. And I used to see, they used to just be falling asleep.

TI: So they never wanted...

AO: I guess not. I think they wanted Japanese, Mr. Seabrook probably really wanted Japanese, and maybe he must have made a lot of money because they all worked very hard. You know how the Japanese people are.

TI: And how about the activities? Did they have, you mentioned Crystal City, they had schools, they had, like, recreation, did they have similar things at Seabrook?

AO: Japanese movie. I think there was Japanese movie.

TI: Like your sisters, did they go to school? Did they have a school?

AO: Yeah. Oh, they were so young, so they went to regular school, right? Yeah, they went. But us, my sister and I, we'd have to help my mom and we went to work. We were too old to go to grade school.

TI: And so how much school did you get?

AO: Okay. When I was in Peru, in Huancayo, I finished the grade school, and then I went to Lima, I went one year in high school, and then the war started. And so there wasn't any teacher to teach Japanese, so I couldn't continue the Japanese school. So my dad says, "Okay, maybe why don't you take sewing? You can go to sewing school." So I went to sewing school for one year, but it was good that I went because when I came to Chicago, I worked for a company, interior decorator, and I worked for twenty years sewing.

TI: Oh, sewing, okay. So that helped that one year.

AO: Yeah, uh-huh. Maybe my dad was already thinking that way. [Laughs] No matter where I go, if I know how to sew, probably I'll have a job. Maybe he was thinking like that.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.