Densho Digital Archive
Preserving California's Japantowns Collection
Title: Sachi Hiromoto Interview
Narrator: Sachi Hiromoto
Interviewers: Donna Graves (primary); Jill Shiraki (secondary)
Location: Clarksburg, California
Date: October 1, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-hsachi-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

DG: Can you say your full name?

SH: Well, my name is Sachi Hiromoto.

DG: What was your maiden name?

SH: Tokunaga.

DG: And where were you born?

SH: I was born in Sacramento... hospital, one of the hospitals. But I think I had, what's that... I think it was a Japanese hospital that had this midwife, I think. Yeah, I think so.

DG: I think I've seen a picture of that. And what year was that?

SH: January 18, 1925.

DG: And where were your parents from?

SH: They're from Kumamoto, Japan, both of 'em.

DG: Did they come to Sacramento? Or where, where did they, did they live in Clarksburg, did they live in...

SH: Yes.

DG: So Clarksburg.

SH: They came to Clarksburg, yeah.

DG: But they went to Sacramento to have children.

SH: Yes, right.

DG: And how many siblings?

SH: I have six. But I lost a brother, so there's six of us left, yes.

DG: And are you the oldest like George?

SH: Yes.

DG: What were your parents' names?

SH: Kohei, K-O-H-E-I, and Ume, U-M-E.

DG: Tokunaga.

SH: Yes.

DG: And did they meet here, or did they come --

SH: No, they were married in Japan, and my dad went after her. He was in America first with his father and then he went back after her.

DG: And they farmed in the Clarksburg area?

SH: Yes, back here.

DG: What did they farm?

SH: My father, at first seemed like he was into more seed crops, like onion and carrots and beets, and then later on he got into sugar beets, and then tomatoes. Yeah.

DG: How many acres did they have?

SH: [Laughs] I don't know. I used to hear about a couple hundred, so I don't know. I'm not sure.

DG: So a lot smaller than the...

SH: Yeah.

DG: [Coughs] Excuse me.

George Hiromoto: Yeah, we were big time farmers.

DG: Sounds like it.

JS: That's right.

GH: Yeah, well, there's a lot of big time farmers here, the old timers. They're all my friends. They're all good friends, yeah. If you want to meet them, you should meet them. One of 'em was there at the school, Mark, Mark Wilson.

JS: Yes, I, uh-huh.

GH: His family had one of the biggest individual, individual wine grape grower.

JS: We do want to visit him, his winery.

GH: Yeah, I want you to visit David, but Mark's the one to talk to.

JS: Okay.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2012 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

DG: So Sachi, how old were you when you started going to the language school?

SH: Maybe around six. When I started public school, I think I started Japanese school same time.

DG: And what public school did you go to?

SH: I went to Clarksburg Elementary.

DG: And that was an Oriental school?

SH: No.

DG: That was integrated.

SH: Uh-huh.

DG: But, so Wayne Osaki's...

JS: He was at Courtland.

DG: Okay.

SH: I went with him.

DG: So you started --

SH: We were in the same class.

DG: So you started out at Clarksburg.

SH: Uh-huh, and then when I was ten I moved to Courtland, we moved to Courtland, and then I went to school over there. And so Wayne and his sister and his older brother, we were all in, going to Courtland. And that was Oriental school, so we were, let's see, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino...

DG: I heard there were a few Mexican kids.

SH: Gee, the -- no, some of the Mexicans went to white school. Our neighbors over here, they're Mexicans, but they went to white school, so I don't know what the difference was. Of course, their complexion's a little whiter than the regular Mexicans, but I don't know why.

DG: So what was it like to go from the Clarksburg school to the Courtland school?

SH: Oh my gosh. [Laughs] What a difference.

GH: What was that? What was the question?

DG: How it was to go from the Clarksburg school to the Courtland.

SH: Different.

GH: Oh, the district.

SH: No.

DG: What was the experience like, Sachi?

SH: Well, when you go to Oriental school, everybody has their own niche, right, and they speak their own language. And so it's only in class that you're speaking English. [Laughs]

DG: So the Filipinos are speaking Tagalog?

SH: Yeah, their own, yeah, they have their own group, so, you know. And that's how it was.

DG: And how was it in Clarksburg?

SH: Clarksburg? It was, they all mingled.

GH: They're integrated. Clarksburg's integrated.

JS: So why did you have to switch schools, because you moved?

SH: Yeah. My father went to another place to farm, so we moved to Courtland. And that's why I went to Courtland.

DG: So that would've been about 1935, so right in the middle of the Depression.

SH: Yeah, something like that, probably.

DG: Why did he have to move farms?

SH: Well, I think he got a better offer, this new place.

DG: Was he leasing land?

SH: Oh yes. Those days, Isseis couldn't own land or anything, so...

DG: But he wasn't sharecropping. He leased.

SH: No, he leased.

DG: And did he hire help?

SH: Oh, yes. My dad used to hire Japanese Niseis to help him out, yeah.

DG: And did you and your siblings help on the farm?

SH: As I got older, yeah.

DG: What would you do?

SH: What was I doing? I was planting tomatoes out in the field and picking. [Laughs]

DG: Not driving a tractor, though.

SH: Oh no, no, not me. [Laughs]

GH: She doesn't even get on a tractor. [Laughs]

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2012 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

DG: And so what are your memories of the Gakuen?

SH: Of the Gakuen. Well, my cousin was my teacher. She was, she was there before Mrs. Katsuyama. And so I had her for about maybe three years, and then I moved to Courtland, so you know. And then she moved to Woodland, so we just... but I think I had Mrs. Osaki one year.

DG: So was your cousin there before the Osakis?

SH: No, no, no.

DG: Same time.

SH: No, she was in Japan. She graduated from Japan and then she came here, and then since they were living not too far from here, she got a job as a Japanese school teacher because they needed another teacher. And so I was under her tutelage for about three years, I'm pretty sure.

DG: And what was her name?

SH: Shizuko Tokunaga.

DG: Was she a hard teacher?

SH: Hard? [Laughs] Well, she's a teacher, so usually teachers are kind of, they don't favor you or anything.

DG: And you went on Saturdays?

SH: Yes.

DG: And during summers?

SH: Yes, right.

DG: And how did you get to school?

SH: My father had to take us.

DG: So he'd drive you.

SH: Yes, and come after us.

JS: You were laughing before when we asked if, like Donna said some people didn't like Japanese school and you were laughing, or had a hard time.

SH: Yeah, I didn't especially care for it, but then I had to go, so... [Laughs]

DG: And did you do the public speaking?

SH: Oh yes, we all had to. Each one of us had to. [Laughs]

DG: Did you enjoy it?

SH: Uh-uh. [Laughs]

DG: How about the talent shows?

SH: Yes, they had, put on quite a few talent shows.

DG: What would you do at a talent show?

SH: Maybe sing or dance.

DG: So did the girls study Japanese dance?

SH: Oh, yes.

DG: Did Mrs. Osaki teach it?

SH: No. Let's see, there were a couple of girls coming from Sacramento that used to come and teach.

DG: At the Gakuen?

SH: At the Gakuen.

GH: Was that Takeda now?

SH: Yes.

DG: Takeda? [SH nods]

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2012 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

DG: And do you have any memories of the picnics or the, I've heard they screened movies there?

SH: They screened movies, and at that time they used to call 'em benshi. [To GH] Remember? He used to have benshi. Yeah, well, that's the movies I remember when I was coming over here.

JS: Can you describe the benshi, what that is?

GH: Benshi's an orator.

SH: Yeah, he describes the scenery and what they're saying. In other words, he's... yeah. [Laughs]

GH: He changes the words.

SH: Yeah, yeah. He's the star. [Laughs]

DG: Did he wear a costume?

SH: Once in a while, yeah, he'd would wear kind of happi coat or whatever.

DG: Did the kids love that?

SH: I don't know.

GH: No, I think the parents'd go so they [inaudible].

SH: Yeah, because those were samurai and their, even their languages are different. It's hard for the young ones to understand, I think.

DG: So were there any sports you played at the school?

SH: Sports? It was a regular, like... what, what did...

DG: Girls didn't do sports?

JS: She's thinking.

SH: Was it jintori?

GH: Huh?

SH: Jintori?

GH: You mean just playing a game.

SH: Yeah, that was about it.

DG: Were there sewing classes at the school?

SH: No.

DG: Did you ever take sewing?

SH: Yes.

DG: Where would you do that?

SH: I went to, she was a professional teacher in Sacramento. I went one summer, after I graduated from eighth grade, I think it was. One summer I went. It was pattern making.

DG: And what church was your family affiliated with?

SH: Sacramento Buddhist Church.

Off camera: My question is, what would you rather have been doing other than going to the school? You said you didn't like it. What did you want to do?

SH: Well, there wasn't anything to do, really. [Laughs]

JS: Pick tomatoes.

SH: No, not those days. [Laughs]

GH: Working the farm.

SH: No, not working the farm. Too small.

Off camera: So you felt, you felt bored at times?

SH: No. It was nothing boring. It was more work. [Laughs]

Off camera: Just more work. So what did you want to do? You wanted to stay at home and read, or stay at home and meet with friends?

DG: Did you have a boyfriend?

Off camera: Yeah.

SH: Heck no. I don't know what I wanted to do. It wasn't that I hated school, but --

JS: Did you play, like, jacks and the... what's that game with the beanbag?

SH: Yeah, the beanbag. And that pick up sticks, marbles, those were the games in those days.

DG: Did you guys ride bikes around at all?

SH: No.

DG: So you either walked or your parents drove you.

SH: Yeah, my father always drove. He was the only one that had, drove us around. So wherever we went, he was the driver.

DG: Did your mother work on the farm with him?

SH: No. She had too many children, so she didn't have, she used to do a lot of sewing for the girls, make their clothes and cook for us, so that was more than enough for her to do, I think.

DG: And so you said your dad hired Nisei to help on the farm. Was that because it was a smaller farm and the Hiromoto's needed more people and so they went outside the community to hire? I'm wondering what the difference was. You know how he said they hired Arab and --

SH: Yeah, well, my father's crops didn't require that many people, so he didn't need to go out and gather men or crews.

DG: So he could hire teenage boys from...

SH: Yeah. Just as long as they drove a tractor or something that... other than that, there weren't too many he hired.

JS: Did he hire the Osaki brothers?

SH: No. [Laughs]

GH: They didn't work on the farm.

SH: They never farmed, no.

DG: So after Courtland school, did you go to Clarksburg High School? Or which high school did you go to?

SH: Clarksburg High.

DG: So you were there with Wayne.

SH: Yes.

GH: Did you go around the school, Clarksburg school? You should talk to Steve's wife, Donna.

JS: She teaches there?

GH: She's in the main office. She's a secretary there. She's well-known to all of 'em.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2012 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

DG: So Sachi, what are your memories of Pearl Harbor, that time?

SH: You know, actually, I have no recollection. I don't even know what I was doing at that time.

JS: What year did you graduate?

SH: I graduated in camp.

DG: So you were about sixteen.

SH: Yeah, when the war broke out.

GH: Yeah, there's a lot of 'em graduated in camp, you know.

DG: So as the months went on after Pearl Harbor, how did your family, and as it became clear you were gonna be forced to leave, how did your family deal with all of your farm, your farming equipment? Do you know?

SH: Well, my father's... let's see, the landowner, he took over.

DG: Do you remember his name?

SH: Oh yes, Huntley.

DG: Huntley.

SH: Crutcher Huntley.

DG: And what about all the equipment?

SH: I think my father left it with him, and so I don't know what happened to it after that, when we came back. But we went back to his place again.

DG: Was that common in this area, that people were able to come back to the land they leased?

SH: No, a lot of 'em didn't come back. No, a lot of 'em did not come back.

JS: So you said there were maybe forty farming families, Japanese, and then after the war, about how many came back?

SH: Maybe four or five.

GH: There was only about four or five.

SH: Yeah.

DG: Who are they? So the Tokunagas, the Hiromotos...

SH: Sakais, Nishi --

DG: Sakata?

SH: -- and Imamura. Sakatas, they came after, after war. Yeah, they weren't here. Only Toshiko, she was a Shimada then, so she used to come too.

GH: She married a Sakata.

SH: Yeah, she married into Sakata, and they didn't, they're newcomers after war. So there's actually about five or six former, that came back. And the others are all new.

DG: So did you have the same experience of evacuation as George described, or was yours different? When you had to leave. The bus to Vacaville...

SH: No, no, no. Okay, we got on the train right there on Freeport Bridge, right on Freeport Bridge.

GH: That's a different group.

JS: You went to Tule Lake?

SH: We went to Tule Lake from there.

DG: Directly?

SH: Directly.

GH: Good camp. [Laughs]

SH: Biggest camp.

DG: And that's because you were in Courtland and you were in --

SH: No, I was in Clarksburg.

DG: You were -- oh.

GH: She was on Yolo side, Yolo, and we were in Solano. So Solano people went to the Arizona...

SH: About a mile down here is the boundary line, Yolo and Solano, and they lived on the Solano side. That's why we're still Clarksburg, but he's on the other side.

DG: So do you remember that day?

SH: Yeah, it was June 5th. When was it, '43, '44? '43.

DG: '42.

SH: Two, okay, '42.

DG: And so your parents and your brothers and sisters were all at that bridge.

SH: Yes.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2012 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

JS: So you didn't go to assembly center. You went directly to Tule.

SH: Right, right.

DG: And did you stay in Tule Lake the rest of the war?

SH: Right. I didn't want to move again, so...

DG: Did you have -- wait, you were the oldest, so you didn't have any brothers who would've served. They weren't old enough, right?

SH: At the time, yeah, but after we came back, two of my brothers went to Korea.

DG: And did your parents have jobs in camp?

SH: Uh-huh. My mother was helping in the kitchen, and my father was a police.

GH: A warden.

SH: Warden, yeah. A warden, they used to call 'em. Yeah. [Laughs]

GH: Called 'em warden, not police.

DG: And you were in high school.

SH: Uh-huh.

DG: How was the school?

SH: Well, it was alright. [Laughs]

DG: Were the teachers other internees, or did they bring teachers from outside?

SH: They were internees that must've gone to higher education or something.

JS: Did you know Mr. Cook, Di Cook?

SH: No.

JS: He was one of the teachers that Wayne remembered from Tule Lake, at the high school.

SH: I don't remember him.

DG: Did you go to dances?

SH: Yeah, once in a while. There weren't too many dances, though, while we were there.

DG: And as a young, as a teenage girl, were you very aware of the politics that were going on at Tule Lake?

SH: In the camp?

DG: Uh-huh.

SH: [Laughs] Well, I guess so, my goodness.

GH: When you say Tule Lake, doesn't that kind of hit you?

JS: Well, I just know there was a lot of --

SH: My goodness. Yeah, the tanks used to come rolling in.

GH: And you know they say --

SH: And they have, oh my gosh, a lot of riots.

GH: Those troublemakers, they were all sent to Tule Lake.

SH: Yeah, from other camps they were all sent, so nothing but the bad people are coming into Tule Lake. Here --

DG: Bad people.

SH: Yeah, we stayed because we didn't want to go to Japan or... [laughs]

JS: Do you remember the Hoshidan?

SH: Yes, oh yes. Wasshoi, wasshoi. Every morning they would run...

JS: Like the Japanese military.

SH: Uh-huh, military.

JS: They would have their exercise in the...

SH: Yeah, and then they have to --

DG: So they were the pro-Japan people?

SH: Right.

GH: These are Kibei, lot of Kibei, that were from Japan.

SH: Right.

DG: So was that frightening?

SH: Oh yeah, sure it was.

DG: So did that, I mean, I'm trying to picture what that would be like? Is it that you spent more time in the barracks?

SH: No, no, no.

DG: 'Cause you didn't feel safe?

SH: No, we didn't. We went out as usual. But then somehow, I don't know, the feeling is different when you, when you know that there are people who are there that want to go to Japan and they're all pro Japanese, and those that want to stay behind are pro American, well... but I don't know, it was different.

GH: You know a lot of Kibeis went. They're the ones that troublemaking. In our camp too, Kibeis were troublemakers. Well, naturally, they were for Japan mostly.

DG: So, and did we ask your job? Did you have a job, or were you just going to school?

SH: Oh, I had a job. I had... now, what could I say, when the people came in from other camps, I was working at housing, so I used to lead 'em to their apartments or wherever they're gonna stay. And then later on I was a secretary to a procurement department at the community activities. That's where they take care of everything. Whatever goes on in the community, they take care of it.

DG: So you'd be kind of the welcome wagon when people were coming into Tule Lake.

SH: Yeah, right, right. [Laughs]

DG: And were they usually pretty upset? I mean, was it a, were they...

SH: To come there?

DG: Yeah. How...

SH: No, I wouldn't say that. But they weren't hostile or, they were all okay. When they first came in, anyway.

DG: So you got to meet a lot of people from all over.

SH: I did.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2012 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

DG: So when did your family -- did any of you leave camp early?

SH: Yes. My sister and I did.

DG: Where did you go?

SH: We went to, we came to Sacramento to find some kind of job, and then we went, we were referred to this lady. What was her name? Mrs.... I don't know, she used to take care of the, finding jobs for the girls.

DG: In Sacramento?

SH: Yeah, or all over, anywhere where there was a job opening. And my sister, she went to San Francisco, so she went San Francisco and she's been there ever since. And my friend and I -- that's Howard, Howard Sakai's sister and myself -- we stayed in Sacramento. We had, let's see, what was, what did we do? We had mostly... domestic.

DG: So when did you leave camp?

SH: Gee... well, a year before the camp was released, so that would be, what, '44? '44.

JS: '44?

DG: So your parents stayed longer.

SH: Yes. Although my father came out couple times -- no, once, -- and he and Mr. Sakai, Howard's father, they came out together and they worked out in the tomato field, picked tomatoes. And then they went back to camp, and then they brought the family back after that.

DG: So were they recruited because there was a labor shortage?

SH: Could be. I'm not sure. I'm not sure. Maybe word got into camp that there was work available. I'm not sure.

JS: So the Sakais were at Tule Lake too. There, were there a lot families from Clarksburg that were there?

SH: Yes. Yeah, yeah. They were there same time. We were on the same train.

GH: Did you meet all the Sakais?

JS: No.

GH: No, Howard died when he was young.

JS: He's not feeling well. It's too bad.

DG: So when your parents came back, they were able to restart the farm. And did your siblings help them?

SH: My siblings helped them? No, they were too young yet.

DG: But you were in Sacramento.

SH: Yes. And my sister was in San Francisco, so, and the rest of them were, they're all going to school and so they all went to Clarksburg school.

DG: So did your father hire Mexican workers like George described?

SH: You know, at that time, when we first came out of camp and all the Caucasian farmers started to hire Japanese again, and so they used to have foremen and they used to have camps to, for these men to stay, and so he hired a Japanese crew.

DG: So these crews would move from farm to farm?

SH: Uh-uh, just your farm. So I used to cook for them. There was about sixty of 'em. [Laughs]

DG: So you were working in Sacramento, but you'd come --

SH: No, I came home. When my dad needed help I came home, and then I helped him with the books and then I used to cook.

DG: You cooked for sixty?

SH: Uh-huh.

JS: What would you cook? Japanese food?

SH: No. I have to cook breakfast. Lets' see, what time was that? About five in the morning, because they would leave around six. And then make breakfast, and then I have to pack lunches for them, one for mid-morning and one for mid-afternoon, and then I have to... breakfast, lunch, and dinner they'd come home, so I was forever in the kitchen. [Laughs]

JS: Who helped you?

SH: My sister, my mother sometimes. But my mother used to go out and pick tomatoes too, so I couldn't count on her. My sister, but then my sister's in San Francisco, but the next two sisters that was going to school, they could only help me after they'd come back from school.

DG: How long did you do that?

SH: Let's see, until I got married. [Laughs]

DG: Okay, we can date that.

GH: I took her away from home so she doesn't have to work.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2012 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

DG: So what year did you guys get married?

SH: '49.

DG: So you did that for a few years.

SH: Oh yes, I did.

DG: And all the workers were Japanese.

SH: Yes.

DG: All men.

SH: All men.

DG: And were they --

SH: No, no, no. We had some, see, there were two houses that housed families. We had two families there, and the husbands would go out to work. Yeah, help my dad.

DG: And were most of those workers people who had farmed before the war?

SH: No. [Laughs] They were, they're, just came out of camp, no jobs, so everybody's working, trying to make something before they start their own job. So that's what they were; they were all looking for jobs. Yeah.

JS: So tell us about how you and George, when you started dating. Do you remember?

GH: Our folks are old friends.

SH: Yeah, we were, they'd been friends since we're in the same area. They'd always meet, and they used to go drinking, go fishing.

GH: I don't drink. I go fishing, but I don't drink.

DG: So when did, how old were you guys when you started dating?

SH: Gee, I think I got married when I was twenty-four. You were twenty-eight, huh? Yeah, I think so. We were four years' difference.

DG: So after the war.

SH: Yes, it was after the war. We met at a club. There was a club, and we used to meet at the community church over there in Clarksburg, because Mrs. Herringer was our... what would you call her? No, no, no. She organized this club for us.

DG: For Nisei?

SH: Yes, for the Nisei. And so that's where we met. We used to have meetings every so often.

DG: It was a social club for young people?

SH: Yes. It was a young people's social club, yeah.

DG: And was it called, what was it called?

SH: What was it called?

GH: YPA. Young People's Association.

DG: And it met at the Clarksburg Church.

SH: Uh-huh.

GH: Yeah. It's a Christian church.

SH: We never used this Gakuen that time. It was always at the church.

DG: How long did that club continue to meet?

SH: Oh my goodness. One after another, the members started to get married. [Laughs]

DG: It served its purpose.

SH: Yes, it did. [Laughs] Yeah. A lot of 'em, they got together.

GH: Well, I was actually, at Clarksburg, you know, among all the farmers, that's, I was a member of the library. I served in the library and, library, and I always served in the recreation unit, take care of the water.

SH: Reclamation.

GH: Reclamation, I was in there for twenty years.

DG: So was there a JACL here before the war?

SH: Yes. In Sacramento.

DG: So people from here would be members of the Sacramento JACL?

SH: I think some people were.

GH: Just a few.

SH: Just a few, not many.

DG: What about a Japanese association? Were your parents...

GH: Yeah, parents were in, in Courtland.

SH: But that was Courtland, though. But after we came back, I don't think there was.

GH: I don't think there were too many.

DG: No, not after the war. Before the war.

SH: Before the war, uh-huh.

JS: Where else would people go to hang out? You would go to this community church for social activities, but where else would you meet with other Nisei?

SH: Ball games.

JS: Ball games.

DG: So the team started back up after the war?

SH: Yeah, there was a team.

JS: What about the, wasn't there a place called Tom's Soda Fountain?

SH: Uh-huh, right here. Yeah, Tom's Corner.

GH: Oh yeah, Tom's Corner, that's a store there.

DG: In Clarksburg or Courtland?

GH: Clarkburg.

SH: Right there, right there by that --

GH: You know the school there, that corner?

SH: Yeah, that corner.

GH: There's a home there now, but it used to be a store, and farmers --

SH: Yeah, it's a home now. That used to be a fountain.

GH: They used to have a fountain there, and so that's where, farmers used to gather there. Not me because I don't drink.

DG: So it was a bar.

GH: I'm an antisocial --

SH: No, it wasn't a bar. Beer, hamburger and beer.

GH: Beer, and I don't drink beer.

DG: And this was after the war?

SH: Yes, after the war.

Off camera: It sounded like, though, there were forty families here before the war, then only five or so after, sounded like a lot of your friends must've moved away.

GH: Yeah.

SH: Yes, oh yes.

Off camera: What was, what was that like, having a lot of your friends... did you have a bigger social life -- talk about that. What happened? Did, you had a group of friends and your group of friends shrunk once you came back, right?

GH: Yeah.

Off camera: Yeah, so describe, describe that.

SH: Okay, now, so we have new friends.

Off camera: Okay, which one of your friends left? Which were some of your better friends that didn't come back?

SH: Well, I think most of 'em that went to school, over there, over here at the Gakuen, most of them, they went, they left.

GH: They left. They went north, southeast.

SH: Every which way.

GH: Every which way.

Off camera: That must've been sad for you guys.

SH: Well yeah, when we come back, and we often wonder, "Gee, I wonder how they're doing and I wonder where they are?" You know, you kind of wonder 'cause you've known them while you were growing up, and then --

Off camera: Some of 'em were in the Bay Area. No letters?

DG: Or visits back?

Off camera: Visits back?

SH: At first we used to write Christmas card, exchange cards. But as the stamps get... [laughs] you kind of cut off, and later on it just, you either, if you're close you either call by phone or something like that, and then you kind of miss contact with them.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2012 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

DG: I have a question about how the Holland Doshi Kai got organized. What was the purpose?

GH: It's a social, social purpose.

DG: For adults.

GH: Yeah.

DG: Who had gone to the Gakuen? Or just who lived in the area?

SH: No, this was after war, so it's the new group of people. See, this was when we were gettin' to know everybody again, and so that's what it was for.

GH: Well, during the war it was mostly Clarksburg people and farmers, used to get together over there, kind of a social group.

SH: But then after war everybody was looking for a place to stay and work, and so we had a lot of, new group of people that came to work for these Caucasian farmers, and so that's why it was formed.

DG: And for the Tokunagas. And how many people joined the Doshi Kai?

SH: How many joined Doshi Kai at first?

GH: You mean when, before?

DG: After --

SH: No, no, no, after, after Doshi Kai formed.

GH: After Doshi Kai, there weren't too many.

DG: Twenty? Forty? Sixty?

SH: Gee, let's see...

GH: Yeah, forty, fifty.

SH: Maybe. [Stands up, moves off camera]

JS: She's gonna go to her...

DG: What are you doin', Sachi?

SH: These are the people. [Holding photo] Yeah, there was about forty.

JS: In the original group?

DG: Can you go sit back down and show that so we can look at it?

SH: This one?

DG: Over here.

SH: Like this? [Holds up photo]

JS: Uh-huh.

DG: So that's a trip that the Doshi Kai took together?

SH: Yes.

DG: Where were you going?

SH: We were on the Sacramento River.

GH: Where is that, on the ship?

SH: Uh-huh.

DG: And that looks like that's about twenty people.

SH: Yeah, might be about twenty, but then there were more than this.

GH: Yeah, all of 'em didn't come.

DG: When was that, would you say?

SH: Let's see... I would say, I think most of these, of them are all gone now. They're all deceased now, except for a few handful.

DG: What other kinds of trips would you take, or activities would you do with the Doshi --

SH: We'd go to Reno, we'd go to San Francisco. Where else did we go?

GH: Pewter Creek.

SH: Huh? Oh, Pewter Creek.

JS: In the '80s then, '70s or '80s maybe?

SH: Yeah.

GH: We went to, you know that, San Francisco's, in April, they have that...

JS: Sakurakai, Sakura Matsuri.

GH: Sakura Matsuri.

SH: Most of 'em are gone.

GH: We used to go to a program, Japanese program, sakura. Well, Sam Seki knows where to get the tickets, so used to get us...

DG: Did you go to that senior breakfast?

GH: Senior breakfast?

DG: At the cherry blossoms?

SH: No.

GH: No, we didn't go to the senior breakfast. Well, Seki lived there, so we'd stay over there, we'd have our breakfast there.

DG: Oh, nice.

GH: Her sister's, you know.


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

<Begin Segment 10>

DG: So one source I saw said that there were about a hundred Japanese families in Courtland before World War II, with a population of about one thousand, five hundred people.

GH: In Courtland?

DG: They must've meant the whole farming area, don't you think?

GH: I think. That's everybody in Courtland and Clarksburg...

DG: Walnut Grove.

SH: Walnut Grove, West Sacramento probably.

GH: Alton. You know where Alton...

SH: They're... Delta probably.

GH: Yeah, I don't know Japanese people who, I went to school in Riverside High School. They all came to school, so that's how I knew them.

DG: How about, like, kendo and judo and sumo? You talked about baseball, basketball, but those other sports?

SH: In Courtland.

GH: Well, they used to do sumo.

SH: In Courtland.

GH: Yeah, in Courtland used to have sumo. Kendo, I don't think we had kendo.

Off camera: I guess I would, my question would be, for you guys, what was the, what was the kind of importance of having the river nearby? Was, did you guys, was there times where people went, not only to fish but did people --

SH: Swim?

Off camera: Did people go swimming?

GH: Well, the river...

Off camera: Yeah, so where, where was the spot on the river that was known as the spot where you'd go --

GH: Most important thing about the river is irrigation.

Off camera: Yeah.

GH: You know, for farm. Yeah, that's the most important thing.

Off camera: Yeah, but like you're saying, where would you go to swim? Where was the spot where you'd --

SH: Well, wasn't it that way? [Points]

GH: Yeah. Well, you know where there's a sand beach? We used to go over there.

SH: I didn't swim, so I don't know.

GH: Yeah, she don't swim.

Off camera: Well who, who would go there? Would families all meet there together?

GH: Well, my friends. These are old farmer friends, we used to get together and we'd go, there's a beach there.

Off camera: Was there ever any tension on the beach, between like, if you're in Courtland and Courtland's segregated and --

GH: They had a beach to themselves.

Off camera: So this a beach that just the Japanese, most, just the Japanese families would use.

GH: Yeah. And there's a beach over there too, in Courtland.

Off camera: What was the beach called?

GH: Sutter Beach.

Off camera: Sutter Beach.

GH: Yeah, the Sutter Bridge is...

Off camera: It's right near the Sutter Bridge.

GH: Yeah, right down underneath the Sutter Bridge.

Off camera: So were beaches kind of like, there are like turns --

GH: Sand beaches.

Off camera: Yeah, but I mean, you didn't go to one beach 'cause you weren't welcome there; you'd go to that beach you went to.

GH: Yeah. Well, I went there because we were friends, see.

DG: So you'd go to Sutter Beach, where the white kids were?

GH: I went swimming.

DG: But where was the beach where most of the Japanese kids went?

GH: There was Sutter and this Five Point Bridge.

DG: Five Point Bridge.

Off camera: Five Point Bridge. Yeah, 'cause it seemed like, from a lot of stories, beaches used to be where, like, a lot of the kids would get in fights and things would kind of, problems would happen at the beaches, you know?

GH: Well, I don't know. We didn't have that kind of problem.

Off camera: You didn't have those kind of problems? Okay.

GH: We had all the nice kids.

Off camera: But there was, but the one, the Five Points Bridge was a kind of Japanese only beach.

GH: Yeah. Mostly friends.

Off camera: And how many people on a hot day would be there at one time?

GH: No, there aren't that many, about ten, fifteen.

Off camera: Okay. Families wouldn't go there together.

GH: No, most of the Caucasian families would go to the swimming pool. Used to have a...

DG: Where was this swimming pool?

GH: Homes.

SH: Well, the private people, they have their own pools. Yeah, Caucasians.

DG: So there wasn't a public swimming pool anywhere around?

SH: No.

GH: I went with my friends. I don't know, I haven't been there to swim, but I've been to other swimming pools. They're friends, so they say, "Come on, George." Some of even tossed me a bathing suit and tell me to swim. Yeah, I swam a lot during my young days.

DG: Where did you learn?

GH: At home on the ranch, in the ditch there. I'd swim in the ditch and then, since I start swimming, I'd go to the river. But my family used to go to Obispo. You know Obispo, San Luis Obispo?

DG: Uh-huh.

GH: Yeah, we used to go swimming there every year.

DG: Did you have friends or relatives there?

GH: There? No. My mother used to go to a, there used be a...

SH: Hot spring.

GH: Hot spring, so she goes to hot spring all the time when we were over there.

DG: Did you guys ever go to the Yamato hot springs near Gilroy?

GH: I went to see, but I haven't swum there. You been there?

DG: Uh-huh.

GH: It's not there anymore, is it?

DG: Well, it's kind of a ruin.

GH: That's what I heard.

JS: It's not open to the public, but it's still there, along with the former housing and the pool.

GH: It's up in the hills, isn't it?

JS: Uh-huh.

DG: It's beautiful, the location.

GH: Yeah, I went up there -- as a matter of fact, we went, her sister's husband used to go around. I used to go to Bay Area a lot.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2012 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

Off camera: My only other question is, do you guys know how famous the Delta asparagus were? Do you guys know how famous they were? They were just, this area is known for, so it became famous for its asparagus.

GH: Well, Knott's Berry used to be all asparagus.

Off camera: Yeah, it became famous for its asparagus.

JS: So Clarksburg, but also Isleton, Walnut Grove...

SH: Whole delta.

Off camera: The whole delta, asparagus was --

GH: And then lately, lately they've been having festival in Stockton.

Off camera: Yeah.

GH: 'Cause they have a lot of asparagus in Stockton there.

Off camera: But my question is, did any of the Japanese farmers become known for growing a certain kind of asparagus, or it was just, you talked about white asparagus, but in some of the Japanese, some of the Japanese farmers you speak to, they kind of would grow some variety or some way to kind of have a bit of an advantage.

GH: Yeah, green asparagus, that's, you had a crew and we packed it, and then we'd pack it and put it in crates, and that's how we'd ship it to the market.

Off camera: Sure, sure, but was there any kind of special --

SH: Special kind? No, probably --

GH: No asparagus is just white and green.

Off camera: Sure, yeah, but maybe you grew it thinner or fatter or... you know, however, however...

DG: More tender.

GH: No, we only grow white and green.

Off camera: White and green.

SH: But now you see a lot of just like chopstick kind, so that must be a variety too.

Off camera: And those ones back then were the, really the...

SH: Big fat ones.

Off camera: Big fat ones.

SH: Yeah. Juicy ones.

GH: Do you know that in Clarksburg used to be all asparagus, but it's all gone.

DG: Not there anymore.

GH: Mostly used to be, until about four or five years ago, used to be tomatoes.

JS: When did it switch to tomatoes?

DG: After the war, according to Wayne Maeda.

JS: Yeah, to --

GH: Tomato, you grow it every year, same crop, same roots or... some of 'em root for twenty years, same crop year after year.

DG: Tomato?

GH: No, asparagus. Tomato, every year you put the new crop.

SH: Yeah, tomato became popular after the war, I think.

DG: That's what Wayne Maeda says.

GH: We grew quite a bit of tomatoes after the war.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2012 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.