Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Minoru Tajii Interview
Narrator: Minoru Tajii
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Gardena, California
Date: February 14, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-tminoru_2-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

MN: So you farmed in Imperial Valley during the wintertime, and in the summertime, you went somewhere else.

MT: We came to Los Angeles. We came to Los Angeles, to Gardena, really, 'cause we had a relative over here, and one month, we stayed here. Then we'd go to San Diego and stay there one month, and then the hottest part in the Imperial Valley is over. Then around, before, beginning of September or before that, we'd go back to Imperial Valley. It's still warm, but it's not as hot as Fourth of July. So we always left Imperial Valley Fourth of July. We'd flood the field and then take off.

MN: So did all the Japanese American farmers do this?

MT: Yes, oh, yeah. Because, well, if they don't have any money, if they did make any money on their crop, which was this Calexico man, he made sure that they didn't make money, so they used to stay most of the time in Imperial Valley and they had to stay there. Yeah, I know our friends used to do that. He made sure that they didn't make money, because if they made money, they'd go, become independent. See, like my father was independent, so he can take his crop and says, "Friedman, I want to ship to you," and he would let him ship it. But otherwise, you had to take it to him and they made sure that you didn't make money, "Oh, you broke even," when my father made a lot of money. In 1939, he bought a new car, and he bought a Chevrolet, of course. But that's the way it was. He made sure that they didn't make money, so that he always had them under his thumb.

MN: Now, can you share a little bit about the flooding the field and how long it took to do that, and was this a twenty-four hour...

MT: It's a twenty-four hour deal. My mother and father flooded in the nighttime, so when it got dark in the evening, oh, I'll say about seven o'clock, and my brother and I, we'd do all the daytime, it's the hottest time, too. But we could see how everything was going, and we'd get sleepy at night. My father and mother, they're used to staying awake at night, 'cause like I say, when there's a freeze like that, they wake up, tell us to wake up and we got to go cover the plants. So they're more used to nighttime, but like us, my brother and I, we just couldn't do that. So we did it during the day, and my mother and father did it at night, but it's a twenty-four hour deal. It takes about three days to finish the whole thing.

MN: And then around what time of the year did you usually flood the fields?

MT: What?

MN: About what time of the year, I'm sorry?

MT: Around, just before, around Fourth of July, around there. We visited, like I say, we'd leave Imperial Valley after the Fourth of July. So we'd have to flood it, as soon as it has flooded, then we leave.

MN: What about the Fourth of July? Did you celebrate it with firecrackers?

MT: You had to be over here in Los Angeles. You can do it. They didn't regulate it like right now. But that's why there was a lot of fires.

MN: Now, your family had mules and dogs and chickens on the farm. What happened to them during the summer?

MT: They have to sweat it out. We had the Mexican people, there was always a family lives on the farm all year round. 'Cause there's always some kind of work to be done. So they fed the chicken and the horse and the dog for us. But when we had to move out of Imperial Valley, I don't know what happened to 'em. What can we do? We had no time to sell it, give the dog away or nothing, so we just had to leave 'em, and the Mexican people that were living there, I don't know how long they lived there, but they took care of it for us.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright &copy; 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.