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Title: Makoto Otsu Interview
Narrator: Makoto Otsu
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (secondary), Barbara Yasui (primary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 24, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-497-4

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TI: Let's talk about where you lived in Steveston. So talk about, kind of, where the family lived and what that was like.

MO: Well, we were living in a company... in a cannery there's, they had... well, where we were, when my dad was fishing there before the war, there was about ten company cabin, you know, they were living in there.

TI: I'm sorry, you had ten company what? Cabins?

MO: Yeah, it's kind of a company cabin.

TI: And then describe a cabin for me. What would be, what would a cabin be like?

MO: Well, the place we were living in was almost away on a river bank, so it was on the... oh, actually, it's built up.

BY: Like on pilings?

MO: Yeah.

TI: And how large was each cabin, roughly?

MO: Well, I think it's a pretty good house.

TI: Okay, so did you share that with other families?

MO: No.

TI: Just for you.

MO: My family, yeah.

TI: Now, do you remember which company the cabin belonged to? You mentioned three...

MO: I think my dad, before the war, was, I think it was, I don't remember. I don't know what the company was called.

TI: Now, do you have any memories of the company cabin that you stayed in in terms of, yeah, anything that you remember in terms of where you slept or how you ate or the fact that you were on pilings?

MO: We were above the, on the piling, built up.

TI: So did you ever, like, fish from your cabin?

MO: Yeah. And fishing boats were all, there's a wharf there.

TI: So you were just right next to the water all the time?

MO: Yeah, we were all on the water.

TI: So I'm curious, as a parent, I think about this. So did you guys all learn how to swim?

MO: Yeah, when we were a kid, we were swimming all the time.

TI: [Laughs] Because I would think, that's the first thing I'd think about. Like, my gosh, my kids are going to be on the wharf and are going to fall in the water.

MO: Yeah, I got... fell in the water one time and got picked up with a young man.

TI: Oh, they just kind of, someone picked you up like that? Well, so were there every any drownings?

MO: I don't think we drowned, but we got picked up by a young man, Japanese guy.

TI: Because what happened? You fell into the water or something?

MO: Yeah.

TI: Okay. So what were some of the, how did you play when you were at the cabin? You were next to the water, you're by the wharfs, what kind of games or things did you guys do?

MO: Oh, I don't know. I guess we helped Dad getting the nets out to fix it. I guess we would play around, all right.

TI: So I'm curious about food. Having a dad as a fisherman, did that mean that you guys ate a lot of fish for your food?

MO: You know, sport fishing, no, I don't do any sport fishing.

TI: But then, from your dad's boat, like at dinnertime, did you guys eat lots of salmon?

MO: Well, when he was fishing that time, he had somebody helping him. There was always two men on the boat.

TI: But then what would your mother cook for dinner usually?

MO: Yeah, mother was just busy cooking, taking care of the kids, I guess.

TI: So what would be a typical diet? When you think of breakfast, lunch and dinner, what would you eat back then?

MO: We'd eat a lot of Japanese food.

TI: Okay, so what kind of Japanese food?

MO: Well, I don't think we had too many English foods.

TI: So a lot of rice? Vegetables?

MO: Rice and vegetables, mostly.

TI: Did you have much meat? Did you guys eat meat?

MO: Hmm?

TI: How about meat?

MO: Meat and that, too, yeah.

TI: And fish, too?

MO: Yeah, lot of fish, lot of fish.

TI: Now, did you ever go fishing yourself just, and catch things?

MO: No, like sports fishing?

TI: Yeah, or off the dock or something.

MO: No, we don't. None of the kids did fishing when they were growing up.

TI: Huh, that's funny. I would think you guys would all be good fishermen off the docks.

MO: Yeah. Well, all the grown ups were fishermen, but I don't remember any kids fishing, sports fishing.

TI: Probably because it was too much fishing, yeah.

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