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Densho Visual History Collection
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-1000-497-5

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TI: So you lived in this company cabin, and then I think you told me earlier that your dad then built a house?

MO: Yeah, I think it's 1939. He moved out, and they built a... my uncle on the picture there, he built at the same time, around the same time, there was four homes. And my uncle, my dad's younger brother was there, too, so they all built a house, moved out from the cabin around 1939 or '36, in Steveston.

TI: Okay. So did they all, like, buy some land together and then built the houses there?

MO: Yeah. I could remember my uncle, our house, my dad's brother, and I think his cousin.

TI: So all the family.

MO: Yeah. Those houses are still there.

TI: Interesting. So these houses, how close were they to each other?

MO: How close were what?

TI: Yeah, so were they just right next door to each other?

MO: Well, they had a pretty good yard.

TI: Each one had a pretty good yard?

MO: Yeah.

TI: And when those four houses were built, were there other houses nearby?

MO: Oh, yeah.

TI: So explain to me where in Steveston this was?

MO: It was on what they called Broadway Avenue.

TI: And how far away was that from the river?

MO: Well, maybe a mile.

TI: And how did it feel for you to have your own house? Did it seem different to you?

MO: Well, you know, it was different living in your own place. It was a big house anyways, full house, full basement, upstairs.

TI: And who built the house? Was it your dad and his...

MO: I don't think it was my dad. Somebody must have been...

TI: But this is like a brand new house in 1939, four brand new houses with all your family there. And how many people lived in these four houses? When you think of all the people there?

MO: My uncle Miyamoto, called Miyamoto, there was only my uncle and his wife, my dad's sister, and my sister was living there. In our house we had our family, and then next door, my dad's brother, younger brother, they didn't have any kids. Their house was a little smaller. And my cousin, dad's cousin, Kishinos, were... the family about four or five people.

TI: Okay, so total, it feels like, about, what? Fifteen or so people there?

MO: Yeah.

BY: Were your dad's brothers and cousin, were they all fishermen, or just your father?

MO: My dad was a fisherman. Yeah, my dad was the only fisherman. His brother, Dad's younger brother, was working in the fishing industry but he was, this was a collective. Collecting the fishes for his company.

BY: And how about his older (brother-in-law, Miyamoto)? What did he do?

MO: I don't think he was a fisherman, he had a farm, I guess.

BY: And the cousin, do you remember? The cousin, their cousin?

MO: Oh, he was a fisherman, yeah.

TI: Now when you said your dad's boat was a gillnetter, so it was a two-person, was the other person one of the family members?

MO: No, it was some young guy. Usually young... hired the young Japanese guys.

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