Densho Digital Archive
National Japanese American Historical Society Collection
Title: Harvey Watanabe Interview
Narrator: Harvey Watanabe
Interviewers: Marvin Uratsu (primary), Gary Otake (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 12, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-wharvey-02-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

MU: What happened to that 5-acre farm that your fath --

HW: Went back to it. Went back to it.

MU: You went back to it, but then during the evacuation --

HW: Well, my folks went back to it, you know, family.

MU: Well, that's after the evacuation.

HW: Yeah.

MU: But during the evacuation, what happened?

HW: It was leased. But the lessee, instead of farming it, just stripped everything. Stripped all the plumbing out of the house, all the appliances, sold all the farm equipment, horses and everything and just...

MU: Was he someone that your father knew?

HW: No. He should've...

MU: Was he...

HW: He should've. He said, afterwards, "I should've, I should've leased it to the Mexican family that worked for us." They wanted to lease it that way, and he thought, "Well, maybe they wouldn't know how to handle things." So he didn't. He leased it to a, somebody else. It was a stranger who had all the papers and everything, and he leased it to him and...

MU: Was he recommended by the U.S. government?

HW: I don't know. Yeah.

MU: Now, during the redress -- were they compensated for some of that loss?

HW: There was a -- President Truman had a program, as you recall. But after the legal system got their share, there was nothing left so everybody said, "Forget it." Just didn't bother.

MU: In other words, your father did apply for compensation, but that compensation was so small that it...

HW: Well, the compensation was token to begin with and then -- in order to apply for it you had to have legal help and the legal help took it all. So what's the use? So we wound up with the land and a trashed house. I think, I think one of the things I really miss is my high school yearbooks.

MU: They're gone?

HW: Oh yeah. They were just, they were in the attic. But they went up in the attic and threw everything out, too. But stoves, you know, and washing machines, and all the appliances and sinks were all gone.

MU: Yeah, I think it might be a foregone conclusion, but did they report this to the so-called authorities?

HW: [Laughs] I think, historically, they learned, don't bother, it's gonna be more bother than... yeah.

MU: It ain't worth it. It ain't worth the effort, huh?

HW: Yeah.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.