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Title: Floyd Shimomura Interview
Narrator: Floyd Shimomura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: March 11, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-466-7

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TI: So after they were married, did they stay in Denver? Or continue the story, I'm curious...

FS: Yeah, they stayed in Denver, and I think my mom, she did housework and sewing and some things like that. And my dad worked in the produce market, and a lot of his friends did that. One of the things that he told me was that when you work in the produce market, he saw all the Winters apricots, went through there. And so it always kind of made him sad to see that fruit, because he said, "Hey, this could be from our old farm."

TI: Which is a good question, so what happened to the Winters farm? Because I know it was like sharecropping up to the war, so did that just, someone else just take it over or what happened?

FS: Well, remember I said the Bassetts took it over. But by 1942, in that period of time, all the Bassetts had passed away except Mary Jeanette Bassett. So her initials were MJB, and I remember that because on all the fruit boxes, it had MJB written on it when I was a kid, I mean, the boxes were still there because they were still functional. And I always wondered, what's MJB? Are they talking about coffee, or what is it? And they said, "Oh, that's Mary Jeanette Bassett, she used to own this place because she inherited it." And this is a story where she came from a very, she was a teacher in a private school, and she went to Vassar. And her mother was, also went to Vassar and was the president of the Vassar Alumni Association or something. And would go around the country and make speeches because she had this great public speaking ability. Although I saw a picture of her, and so she must have been a really great speaker, because in terms of appearance and everything, she's not real photogenic or anything. But her pedigree was impeccable. She was related to, supposedly, one of those original people who, like early colonists.

TI: Like the Mayflower kind of thing?

FS: Yeah, I don't know if Mayflower, but that same War of Independence kind of family, and that one of her relatives was head of Interior during the Lincoln Administration. So very well connected, and they had judges and railroad people in their family, and they had property in Iowa, too. But then that whole family died out.

TI: Except for Mary Jeanette?

FS: Yeah. And so Mary Jeanette was not only a teacher, she was a poet, she wrote poetry. So then she was single, too. So what happened during the war was she was the owner, and so she got somebody, a person named Dudley Sparks to kind of manage it, he was like a guy who lived there and was like a jack of all trades foreman type of guy. I mean, he never owned anything, but his family had been there a long time. They were always being foreman or doing something for somebody. So he was put in charge of it, and so he basically ran that thing. And actually, Dudley Sparks drove them to Woodland when they had to get on the train to go to camp, took them in the car. Because I asked my dad, "How did you get to Woodland?" And he said, "Dudley Sparks." So Dudley Sparks must have been a good friend though, because he was a friendly, I think he was a nonthreatening type of person. Because you wrote my name down here, Floyd Shimomura, but my middle name is Dudley, Floyd D. Shimomura, and that's how I got a very strange set of names there. [Laughs]

TI: And so was the understanding that when the war was over, the family would return to help with the Bassett land, or what was the thinking?

FS: No, apparently there wasn't any kind of understanding like that, because they ended up in Fairfield, and then they worked on the Tufts ranch for about three years, that's when I was born there.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.