Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Molly K. Maeda Interview
Narrator: Molly K. Maeda
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 17, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-mmolly-01-0004

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So tell me how large the Japanese community was in Dee. How many people, Japanese people were there?

MM: See, I don't know how many people. I couldn't tell you that, but I know the whole flat was what they called the Dee Flat. Majority of farmers were all, practically all Japanese farmers (and a few Caucasian farmers. One Caucasian owned a poultry farm, and one Caucasian owned a dairy).

TI: Now, when, like when you have like an event at the community hall, how many people would be there? Would it be, like, filled up with people?

MM: Oh, about a hundred or more. Then we had New Year's celebration down in the social hall down in the basement, and we'd all get together and it was full. Hundred or more if all the families get together. It was just a close-knit community, and they were all fruit farmers at that time.

TI: And when they all got together...

MM: Programs.

TI: Yeah, were there a lot of families like yours, or were they mostly, like, men?

MM: Oh, farmers. And they're farmers and strawberry growers, lot of children. There were several families I think had about seven, eight children, big families.

TI: I've read during this time that in those early years, the fruit growing and things like that was pretty good, I mean, the people could make a pretty good living off the land.

MM: Yes, it was. But now a majority of the young people went into professions, but every once in a while some child would stay and took over the farm, but there are not nearly as many Japanese farmers there now. They're taken over by Caucasians.

TI: But if I go down to Dee now, I could find maybe one or two or a few farms?

MM: Oh, more than that. I think more than one or two, because they've got Kiyokawas and Imais. Oh, golly, there aren't very many. No, there are only a few.

TI: I'm curious, I'm going to go down there, I'm really curious about this.

MM: They became dentists, doctors. But some, like the Yasuis now, the boys, my sister's two boys went to Oregon State and graduated in agricultural economics and forestry, but they came back to the big farm, Ray, Chop's farm, they took over.

TI: Going back to that community center, describe what kind events would happen there? I mean, what would be a typical reason for a hundred people...

MM: Getting together?

TI: Yeah.

MM: The big one was New Year's. But then other times, Fourth of July, something like that.

TI: So describe the Fourth of July. What would happen?

MM: Just everybody'd just gather and meet, talk to each other. And then when we had a teacher, we learned Japanese dances and we had a little play, and we'd have a stage, entertainment.

TI: And so would the children do the play?

MM: (They were taught by the Japanese teachers). And then when they have just a meeting, and somebody from Japan come visit or something, they'd have play, like my dad would play the shakuhachi, and different people like that.

TI: So when your dad played the shakuhachi, at what point in the program would he do that? Would that be at the beginning or the middle or the end? When would that happen?

MM: Oh, just amateur entertainment.

TI: And then going back to the Fourth of July, so that's usually maybe during the day.

MM: Just like a picnic, but at the community hall (or sometimes out to a park).

TI: So would every family bring food?

MM: Everybody. Sometimes they cook a little in the kitchen.

TI: And then when people brought food, would it be shared with everyone, or would every family just have their own food?

MM: They'd put it out there, and some people would share it (...)... but it was a community thing. (Everybody knew everyone, very friendly gatherings).

TI: And then what would the kids do on Fourth of July?

MM: No special thing, no special thing. They just played with each other. Well, later they built tennis court right outside, too, but all of that is gone now, the big building. My folks' farm was right (across the road), and that building was right here and the tennis courts and everything.

TI: So it sounds like your family was about the closest to the community center?

MM: We'd always get the, oh, one teacher came from Portland and one teacher came from California, another teacher came, dance teacher came from Japan. For a short while, teachers. And then they had an organization that they contacted these people, so we'd have somebody.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.