Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Giro Nakagawa Interview
Narrator: Giro Nakagawa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: South Bend, Washington
Date: April 30, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-ngiro-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: So for you, what would be... describe the operations. When you came down to the New Washington Oyster company, like how many other people were working there? Describe that.

GN: We used to have as many as forty employees here. About half of them would be oyster openers, about twenty, and the rest of them would be doing different other things. But we've had as many as forty employees here.

TI: And when, if you have, like, twenty oyster openers, is this... with the forty people, were they mostly men, or was it like men and women?

GN: Men and women both.

TI: Okay. And was it sort of, almost segregated by gender? Did the women do certain types of jobs versus the men?

GN: Most of the grading and packing were women, but the openers were men and women both. Some of the fastest openers were women.

TI: And then, but then out on the bay, the people who harvested, were they men and women also?

GN: No, no. Out in the bay was all men.

TI: And so of the forty, how many would be women, would you say?

GN: Opening?

TI: Well, no, just of the forty total, that were...

GN: About twenty.

TI: Okay, so about half and half.

GN: Yeah, uh-huh.

TI: And where would all these people live, these forty people?

GN: Most of our workers were local, between South Bend and Raymond, within the radius of about twenty miles.

TI: Okay, so they would just come here and report to work.

GN: Come every morning, go home every night. And some of the women lived right here. Japanese.

TI: Now what about the ones that were here year-round? I mean, you showed me the bunkhouse, things like that. So how many people lived here?

GN: Well, there was Yanagimachi family, there was two at one time, Mako and Margaret, and then Harry's family that lived here. And Bob Nakao's family, and Bob's brother Sam and his wife. Charlie Murakami and his wife, and T. Nakao and his wife. So there was, half of those were Japanese families living here.

TI: So like twelve to fifteen people who kind of lived in this sort of complex?

GN: Yes, including the kids.

TI: You also showed me some photographs, so I saw the bunkhouse and some of these little houses here, but you also showed me pictures of these sort of structures or shacks in the bay.

GN: Uh-huh.

TI: So people stayed out there also at night? Or who was out there?

GN: Mostly bachelors. There were some, like that Japanese man that lived out there and had family in Japan, he'd stay there for a couple of years at a time.

TI: So did you ever stay out in one of those?

GN: Oh, yeah, I lived there.

TI: So when you say lived there, I mean, would you literally live there? I mean, would you stay there...

GN: I stayed there all the time.

TI: Like how often would you come to land?

GN: You come to land every day to unload the oysters, and you pick up your supply or whatever you needed and go back.

TI: So what's that kind of... so once the tide came in, you're just, you're really kind of marooned in this building.

GN: Yeah. You did some fishing, that gets old real quick. So you listened to the shortwave radio that the sheriff confiscated when the war broke out. [Laughs]

TI: So how many guys would be living out in the... and what would you call those places?

GN: They were called station houses.

TI: Okay, so how many people would live in a station house?

GN: Well, during the summer, we used to have a lot of kids work out there. So there'd be as many as thirteen or a dozen.

TI: Wow, that's quite a few people.

GN: Yeah, well, it's a pretty good sized shed.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.