Densho Digital Archive
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection
Title: Frank Kitamoto Interview
Narrator: Frank Kitamoto
Interviewer: John DeChadenedes
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: April 14, 2007
Densho ID: denshovh-kfrank-02-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

JD: Let's start with some family information and background stuff. Could you begin by telling us the name of your parents and where they were born and so on?

FK: My father was Frank Yoshito Kitamoto. He was born in Watsonville, California, in 1900. My mother is Shigeko Nishinaka Kitamoto, and she was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1906.

JD: What kind of work did they do?

FK: My dad actually worked for Friedlander's Jewelry before the war as a salesperson. He used to sell rings to Japanese sailors on their ships and things like that, and, and to different people. My mom was always, kinda worked on the farm. The farm that we live on now was purchased by my grandfather in 1917, and my mother and father bought it from him when he went back to Japan in 1935. So she's kinda always run the farm. My dad kind of helps out on weekends.

JD: Can you tell us about your brothers and sisters?

FK: My oldest sister is Lilly Kodama. My next sister, who's three years older than I am -- my oldest sister's five years older than I am -- is Frances Ikegami. And my youngest sister is Jane Akita, who's two years younger than I am. And they... Jane passed away about three years ago.

JD: What did your parents farm? What did they grow?

FK: I think my grandfather used to kinda have like vegetables and some berries. I know he planted asparagus and potatoes and stuff like that... lettuce. After the war, [clears throat] -- excuse me -- my mother had strawberries, currants, and then eventually ended up farming mostly with raspberries... some loganberries, some Olympic berries, but mostly raspberries.

JD: Were most of the Japanese American farmers on Bainbridge in, originally in produce and then ended up growing berries? Or is that just following what the markets wanted?

FK: Well, no, I really think most of them were probably in berries, pretty heavily in berries, mainly strawberries. That was the big crop before the war. My mother was an unusual person. She was having trouble getting pickers for strawberries 'cause she was competing with everybody else, so she decided, "Ah ha, I'll plow up these strawberries and plant raspberries 'cause that's the season after strawberries." So she would have pickers stay over after they got done with their strawberries, to pick raspberries. And then when the raspberry plants started getting kinda old, she started plowing those up and planted Christmas trees, switched to tree farming.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.