Densho Digital Archive
Friends of Manzanar Collection
Title: Bill Watanabe Interview
Narrator: Bill Watanabe
Interviewer: Sharon Yamato
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 8, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-wbill-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

BW: Then by that time my uncle Tomiji had married and he had a farm, and my other uncle Tomio, he was working, he was single and working on the farm. And then, yeah, I guess it was, I guess it was those two families.

SY: So Tomiji, then, started working with your parents?

BW: Yeah, so they had farms and these farms had farm houses and they lived there. And eventually my father leased the farm on Montague Street in Pacoima from the Meichtry family, and then my father built two houses and a packing shed on the property. And I believe he finished, they build this brand new, two homes and a packing shed, around 1940, '41, and he said he bought a brand new truck to take the flowers to the market, so they were doing, actually, pretty well in the business. And my uncle Tomio had moved in, and he also had several other Japanese workers who lived in the second house. It was like a bachelors' quarters for the farm workers.

SY: And Tomio had come after, so on your mother's, on your mother's side of the family, so she originally came with her younger brother, and then another brother came?

BW: Right. And then eventually Densaku came, and then Ju, Jiukichi came, the oldest. And so I actually have a picture of the farm in Sunland -- I believe it's the farm in Sunland -- where Densaku, Jiukichi, Tomio, Tomiji, and my parents were all standing in the fields. So they're all there now, by that time.

SY: And that was taken when, do you think?

BW: Probably around the late '30s or early '40s. I think my oldest brother must've been about four or five at the time.

SY: So is it assumed that, because your father was doing okay, that the other members of your mother's family came over?

BW: I think so. They probably could use the work, or the help, so they were all there.

SY: And the, and do you have any idea why they moved from farm to farm? Why they ended up in...

BW: My guess is maybe the leases were up or they needed a bigger space. I'm not sure why they did move. And I'm not sure how much they actually did move, but, 'cause each of the different farms might've been farmed by different uncles. But I just saw them with these different families, and I do know my parents didn't move to Montague 'til about 1939 or '40.

SY: And as far as you know, is that the biggest farm that they had...

BW: Size-wise, I'm not sure.

SY: And it, do you have any idea how large it was, the one that they left when camp started?

BW: I don't, I don't... you know, flowers don't take a huge amount of land, so in the, like the three or four farms that I grew up being on, I think the average size might be like five or six acres, so it's not big.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright &copy; 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.