Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Misa Taketa Interview
Narrator: Misa Taketa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: San Jose, California
Date: January 20, 2016
Densho ID: denshovh-tmisa-01-0004

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So he would harvest the day before and then package all up, and then first thing in the morning, okay. So you mentioned six families. Were these all Japanese families?

MT: Yes.

TI: And how were the houses arranged on that property? Were they houses nearby or were they all scattered?

MT: Kind of scattered. But walking distance from one to the other, because it wasn't a really large acreage that was there. But for truck farming, I think you don't need a large acreage to do the farming. So each family had a little share.

TI: Now I'm curious, did each family, did all the families pretty much plant the same kind of vegetables or did they specialized in different types of vegetables?

MT: There might have been some differences but basically they were all for the market, so I think it was about the same.

TI: And what would that be? What were some of the vegetables your family raised, do you know?

MT: Carrots, onions, lettuce, sometimes it's seasonal vegetables, too, but basically I think those were spinach... let's see, what else? Green onions.

TI: And what would happen in the wintertime? Because I'm thinking in Seattle you probably don't raise very much in the winter.

MT: No, no. Yeah, in the wintertime there wasn't that much going on. I think there were some winter crops, but not a whole lot. So basically it was summer, spring and summer work.

TI: And so what would your dad do during the winter months when he didn't have to farm as much? What did he do? Did he still work the land?

MT: No, not so much.

TI: So maybe a time for him to take a break or something?

MT: Yes.

TI: Going to now your life, so a typical day, what type of things would you do? Like let's think of it as a school day. So describe from the morning kind of your routine on a typical day.

MT: Well, I'm trying to recall. Well, basically I think we just got up in the morning and had breakfast and we walked to school.

TI: And so when you had breakfast, what would be kind of a meal for breakfast?

MT: It was kind of a combination. Like my parents probably liked some Japanese-style food, but I know growing up that we were more peanut butter and jam kind of breakfast.

TI: And in the morning would you have to make a lunch for school or things like that? Did you pack a lunch?

MT: Well, when we were younger my mother used to pack a lunch for us, and I can still picture the bags lined up for each of us.

TI: So describe that. So when you say lined up, so there were... and yeah, there were six of you, but then maybe not all of them were going to school at the same time, but say there were four of you, four or five of you. What kind of, would there be bags, would they be boxes?

MT: Mainly I think we had bags, but she used to probably put in a sandwich or fruit. I don't remember getting too much in the way of desserts. [Laughs]

TI: So you wake up, get ready, have breakfast, lunches, you now, to go to school, how far was school?

MT: We walked to school, so it couldn't have been that far, but I can't remember... having to put it in mileage, I don't know. It wasn't that far.

TI: And the school you went to, was it South Park elementary?

MT: That's where I went to kindergarten and first grade, and then they closed that school and we started going over to Concord, up on the hill, it was a little farther.

TI: Now, to go to Concord, I'm trying to think, I may have this wrong, but did you have to cross the Duwamish River?

MT: Yes.

TI: Yeah, so you were on the other side of the Duwamish River.

MT: They had that drawbridge, I don't know if it's, I'm sure it's not there anymore.

TI: So you had a pretty long walk then. It wasn't like...

MT: Yeah, it was a pretty good walk, actually, to Concord.

TI: Yeah, from the bridge to Concord is a pretty decent walk. You were on the other side of the bridge.

MT: Oh, you know that area?

TI: Yeah, I know that area, I've driven through there. It's still there, and the bridge is still there. I think the elementary school is still there, too.

MT: Oh. That's right, I think once my husband and I, I think we did drive up there to the school on the hill.

TI: Yeah, so it's kind of an interesting neighborhood. When I first went through there, I wasn't expecting all these kind of old buildings. Because a lot of that area around there is more industrial, but here was this little pocket of South Park, and right by the bridge. So after school, what did you do on a typical day?

MT: Well, that all depended, I think, on what was there for us to do on the farm as far as that goes, but I don't remember having to work too much on the farm during our school year. It was more during the summer that we tried to help out.

TI: So the school year it was pretty much focusing more on your studies?

MT: Yes, because as it turns out, we were going to Japanese school after the regular elementary school. So by the time we got home it was dinnertime.

TI: So regular school would maybe end around three o'clock, and then after that you would, I guess, walk to Japanese school?

MT: Yes.

TI: And where was the Japanese school located?

MT: Well, it wasn't... well, you know where the Duwamish River and the bridge is. There was just, oh, just real close to there, there was an area where there were homes, and the school was built in there.

TI: Okay, so pretty close to the bridge and the river.

MT: Yeah, uh-huh, that area. So it was not too far out of the way to go to Japanese school after leaving. After you crossed the bridge, we'd just walk over to the school from there.

TI: And after school would you go home first and then Japanese school, or did you go directly?

MT: No, go directly.

TI: Now would you guys have a snack or something between regular school and Japanese school? It seems like a long time from lunch to dinner.

MT: [Laughs] I don't remember that we did, but I might be wrong, but I don't remember.

TI: Oh, so the Japanese school, who ran the Japanese school?

MT: There was a couple, the mister established a school. But that school, besides being a Japanese school, they had built... well, I'm sure it was part of the community, but they built a building that was sort of like a hall where the community could gather for programs or movies or whatever. And they used that building for Japanese school.

TI: I see. So describe that building. How big was it? Was it just like pretty much one large room, or was it more like a house, or how would you describe it?

MT: Well, I think it was, they had a wall dividing it, so that part of it was for the Japanese school part and then the other part, it was just open. Because they didn't need, we didn't have that many students actually, I mean, there weren't that many students there.

TI: And so like about how many? When you say not that many...

MT: Maybe about twenty or more, somewhere around there.

TI: And did they divide the class into different levels, too?

MT: Yes. Sort of comparable to our English school.

TI: But they only had two teachers, though, or did they have more teachers?

MT: No.

TI: Just two, okay. Going back to your school, regular school, how large was a regular class for you, a regular classroom? How many students were in your class?

MT: You mean grade school?

TI: Yeah, grade school.

MT: Oh, jeepers. [Laughs] I don't think there were... let's see, if I count, I really can't remember. I know it wasn't a very big class.

TI: So maybe under twenty or under fifteen?

MT: Well, maybe twenty, I would say.

TI: And your class in terms of the racial composition, like I'm curious, of that, say, twenty, about how many were Japanese?

MT: Maybe three or four.

TI: Okay, so kind of in the minority.

MT: Yes.

TI: And then who were the other students? Were they all white or were they other races?

MT: Yes, mainly white.

TI: And of that white population, I know the South Park area, and it used to be a heavily Italian community also. Were there very many Italians in class or was it about the same?

MT: Well, I'm sure they were Italians, but as long as I remember, I don't think we thought too much about their nationalities, but I know by the names that they were Italian.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.