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Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Hatsuko Mary Higuchi Interview
Narrator: Hatsuko Mary Higuchi
Interviewer: Virginia Yamada
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 4, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-456-4

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VY: Okay. So after Poston, where did you and your family go?

HH: We moved to Lawndale because they had acreage there. My mother had no background in working as far as a career or skills. My father, the only thing he could do at that point was, we didn't have a truck or anything to start hauling vegetables again, so he started farming, and it was the beginning of learning how to farm and just starting a new life completely all over again. And when we came back, a friend, our neighbor, had said that they would take care of our suitcases and all our boxes of goods that we were not able to take to camp. But when we came back, we went into that barn, and I remember my mother crying because everything was broken in to. There were just a few broken dishes, empty boxes all torn apart, there was nothing there. And so all her wedding gifts, I know she was just heartbroken to come back to that.

VY: So your parents worked a farm. Did they own the farm?

HH: No, they rented it. This was in Lawndale, and I don't know how, but they really worked very hard and I guess really saved their money, and were able to put a down payment on property in Torrance after a few years, 10 acres in Torrance. But my father, again, started getting really sick and he ended up in the hospital. And I remember my mother called for us to come to the hospital to visit my dad, so a friend took us there and he was gone. But she wanted us to see him for the last time, so we did. And I remember being outside that hospital just crying because we didn't have a father anymore. It was very hard for us. I was the eldest, my brother was in kindergarten, and we were all outside the room, all four of us, just crying away.

VY: How old were you?

HH: I was... let's see, I guess I was probably about seven, and my brother was in kindergarten, he was about five or younger, about four.

VY: So you all lost your father.

HH: Yeah, and it was, I think, very difficult for my brother, who was the youngest, the only boy in the family, lost someone who took him, early in the morning they would just go to the pier, Redondo Beach pier and they would go fishing. They would do a lot together, just having the two together. My father had a cardboard and he had wound lots of string around it, and they would go fishing and drop that string, and that's how they went fishing, but he came home with fish.

VY: They caught fish? Did you cook them up and eat them?

HH: I think so, I don't remember too much about it, but we did eat a lot of fish anyway, that was pretty much our diet.

VY: Well, so after that, your mom kept the farm, is that right?

HH: Well, she had to decide what to do. And here she was, a woman without a husband now. Four small kids, what do I do? She can't speak English, she had no other career except for the four kids. And so she decided to keep that farm, and so in a few months we moved to Torrance (in 1951) and she bought an old house in Gardena, had it moved to the farm in Torrance.

VY: Had the house moved?

HH: We didn't have a house, because it was just farm acreage in Torrance. And so she had bought an old house and they had it moved to Torrance, and that's where we grew up, on the farm.

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