Densho Digital Archive
Preserving California's Japantowns Collection
Title: George Hiromoto Interview
Narrator: George Hiromoto
Interviewers: Donna Graves (primary); Jill Shiraki (secondary)
Location: Clarksburg, California
Date: October 2, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-hgeorge_3-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

DG: So can you describe when your family came back from Gila River?

GH: Yeah, we came back July of 1946, I think it was.

DG: And the land your dad had leased before, were you able to get the lease back?

GH: Yeah, because the ones that owned the grounds were our friends. So we told 'em, "Lease us the ground and we'll farm," and they went along with that.

DG: Who did you lease to? Oh, Hollenbeck.

GH: Yeah.

DG: So who farmed it during the war?

GH: During the war? Oh, they took care and they farmed it themselves. They had some helpers.

DG: Do you think they might have had Mexican workers during the war that...

GH: Very few, very few. The leader of the Mexican is, only one of the leaders were camp, the leader, they had the men, foremen, we called it foremen, they used to have a camp of their own, and they had forty, fifty men, and whoever wants help, they used to send them to the farm, take it easy, men on the bus to the farm, like cutting asparagus or driving tractor.

DG: It's just that during the war they had that program called the Bracero program.

GH: Braceros, after the war.

DG: Well, it actually started during the war. I'm wondering whether some of this probably --

GH: No, after the war, bracero. I had that. The association that took care of the Mexican... so what they do, we had association in Stockton, and so they used to get all the group from Mexico and Stockton, wherever, and we had to be a member of the organization where they handle these Mexican workers. So we used to have a bracero working for us. Whatever we need for tomatoes, you know, like if you need forty, fifty men, we'd request forty, fifty men over there at the Stockton Association, they bring it to us, and we have a camp here in the ranch, and we put them in there.

DG: What was the name of that association?

GH: San Joaquin Labor Association.

DG: San Joaquin Labor Association. Is the camp still there?

GH: I think they tore it down. There were a lot of camps there they tore down.

DG: So the one on your property is gone?

GH: Yeah, it's gone.

DG: So back to July 1946, did your whole family come back at once?

GH: Yeah. Our family, we came back, and they we stayed over. Because landlord was our friend, so we stayed over there and we farmed there, and eventually we bought the land.

DG: Where did you live when you came back?

GH: From here about 4 miles from here, 3, 4 miles from here. Solano County -- this Yolo, see, we're Yolo -- Solano is a mile from here. South is Solano County. Solano County, like Rio Vista... let's see, Rio Vista is Solano County. And Ryer Island, Solano is part of Clarksburg here, Solano County, and then the north side is Yolo County.

DG: But so did you find a house to rent? Where did you live when you returned?

GH: Oh, this farm friend, the landowner's friend, we stayed there.

DG: In the house you lived in before?

GH: Yeah.

DG: So it had been empty?

GH: Well, I think they had Mexican in there, so they took all our property out of there. I don't know who they were, but anyway, we kept it in one room, and came back, that room was empty.

DG: Is that house still standing?

GH: Yeah.

DG: Where is it?

GH: Oh, it's about three miles from here. Another Japanese family is over there.

DG: On which street?

GH: Oh, on this levee, Joaquina, this is Joaquina.

DG: The name of the street --

GH: If you want to drive, you could drive this levee and go around and all the way, and when you see the bridge, that's Jefferson Boulevard. So when you go Jefferson you know where you are. Where you going back tonight, to West Sac?

JS: We're actually going to go to the Gakuen and meet some --

GH: Oh, yeah, if you're going Gakuen, you've got to -- oh, you could go this way, too, go up the levee and go a couple of miles and you could see Gakuen. There's the Courtland Highway, and then as you go down, there's, basically go down to the school.

DG: I'm just curious about the house you were in.

GH: Well, I told you you could go that way and you can't miss it. It's a two story house.

DG: What's the address?

GH: We used to have a mail 200, you know, Route 1, Box 200.

Off camera: Not anymore.

GH: No, they changed it. There's a Japanese family there, I think they bought the place.

DG: And it's Joaquin?

GH: Joaquina. Joaquina is this levee road, and this way -- which way did you come, from the bottom? Joaquina or did you come on Morris Road?

DG: Morris Road.

GH: Morris Road, yeah.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2012 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.