Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tom Matsuoka Interview
Narrator: Tom Matsuoka
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Ridgefield, Washington
Date: May 7, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-mtom-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

TM: Well, meantime, farming is change. And time when my dad start in O'Brien, there are lots and lots of Japanese dairy farm and most of those is Hiroshima-ken people. Well, and haiseki and some among the dairy is Caucasian dairy and Japanese dairy and those Caucasian dairy want to kick those Japanese out. Well, all kind hard building rule, come out. "That door is a no good." Or, "You have to make such and such a place for here or there." Well, it's too expensive to do those things for small dairy so those people have to quit dairy. They quit dairy and became farmer. There are lots. Them place is around 22, or -3, lots of farmer, but no more, no more Japanese dairy. Well, so when they start produce, too many stuff. Not much market for that much stuff. So they start with shipping, shipping out to back east. Well, they made quite a few packing, packing company is formed, but farmer thinks they cheat too much. They don't use the right way for the business for farmer so farmer should make own group handle this vegetable. So Puget Sound Vegetable in Sumner that is all farmer, all farmer around Fife and Puyallup and around near Japanese farmers group. And they made the association that named Puget Sound, and that one was doing very good. So, "Let's do -- we can do that, too." So I think about two, three, is formed, in White River. Meantime, Bellevue formed one, too. That's the Bellevue Vegetables Growers Association. Well, and it's all right, but it was all of a sudden, there was a depression start. So farmer getting pretty hard. Kent and Auburn. The farmer is getting hard, the Association get the farm so they broke. White River -- two, three -- I mean, Vegetable Growers Association. They done, you know.

AI: Closed down?

TM: Yeah, but the one thing was Bellevue was not too big. They survive, but really was hard, you know, because you need some money because if you have a association group. All that have this association, everybody chip 25 dollars in and, well, that is our capital... [Laughs]

AI: About how many, about how many farmers joined?

TM: Sometime was Bellevue farmer, I think, about fifty. And really popular crop is peas. That was most popular crop that time. Well, so Mr. Luzeberg come in 1933. Anyway, this association come. First year they elected officer and I don't know who is the president, but I know the secretary is they elected, Mr. Tamaye. Elected Mr. Tamaye, you know. But he sure know how to drink, but he won't do nothing. Everybody is against the way that he does. Well, then it's really bad price, bad time. So next year so they elected again and that time we change quite a bit. I think it was Mr. Yamagiwa was president, I'm pretty sure, and elected me for the secretary. So I get that job that time, and Secretary and Business Manager.

In 1932, it's... '33, bank holiday I think it was, and all the bank holiday no more, nothing. And the government is, "Some is closed, some is broke, and some all right to keep go." I don't know how many days took, but anyway most of the Japanese people had business was in Furuya Company. That bank, Furuya Bank in Seattle. And naturally it was Bellevue Vegetables Growers Association and they had was in this Furuya Bank and, doggone, I took book and then I took a statement. I found out nothing and the good thing was I think maybe overdraw or something. Anyway, Bellevue Association had nothing in there, not a thing, but Mr. Tamaye had no record, nothing. And so, gee. We can't do anything for nothing. Well, then we had spring growers' meeting and here was a big argument again because all banks are closed. There is no money. "Why, how about that 25 dollars we put in as Bellevue Vegetable Growers and maybe have to give back that 25 dollars to the grower. I said, well, in other words you want to, Bellevue Vegetable Growers is we going to quit everything here. Well, no, yes, no, yes, no, yes. Oh, that's a big meeting. Some say, by gosh, if you give us back 25 dollars, we can go through the whole winter with 25 dollars, but if you want the Bellevue Vegetable Growers alive, you have to keep that 25 dollars. But come to think of it, I think we never had that 25 dollars because the bank statement I think is overdraw, I think. There was nothing.


TM: Well, anyway finally that time decide keep that twenty-five dollars. We don't have to give back to the growers and in the meantime Bellevue Growers Association is alive. They didn't die, but we need some money to buy the seed for growers and twine. Pea grow by twine need. So we have to some money for twine, too. Well, then only place we can go to the Kirkland Bank, bank in Kirkland. That is a pretty conservative bank and family bank. They don't have to close and the bank was in Bellevue, too, that time. Bellevue bank have to close. There is no fund. Well, so I went to Mr. Shinstrom, that is bank president's name, and he said, "No, I can't, I can't do anything. So you better go see Mr. Robert." He is head man and he is a lawyer and he had office in Seattle. And I found out that they had three bank, Kirkland Bank and Morton Bank and other side of Sumner... anyway, they had those three bank and most of the money is come from Mr. Robert and his wife. They had money. That's where come.

So me and Tok -- I know Tok and me and someone else went to Seattle and ask Mr. Robert. We told him all about what the situation is. We need about so much and would like to borrow that. Well, he said okay. And in that case is Mr. Shinstrom whoever he trust people is sign on the note, "then you can have the money." So we come back to Kirkland again and we told Mr. Shinstrom. By gosh, Mr. Shinstrom, gee, about ten people or more he want us to sign. That's, whoever had business before that bank holiday, and those people name. And we had business too, Kirkland Bank, because we bought that truck and we had truck on payment and we used to pay. That's right. I guess he thought okay, I guess. Anyway, like that. And oh, gee, I have to go around and ask to sign for the note. Finally we made enough money to buy the seed and twine. Well, that year, yeah...

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.