Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Harry Umeda Interview
Narrator: Harry Umeda
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Bloomington, Minnesota
Date: June 18, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-uharry_2-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Harry, can you explain that to me a little bit more? So your mother's family was already in Sacramento?

HU: Yes. [Interruption] Mother and father came, and that's where they stayed, learned to farm. And after two years, they found the land to farm.

TI: They found the land, but how did your father and mother meet?

HU: I don't know. They met in Japan, and they had two boys who were ten and twelve. And they left them there until they settled down in United States.

TI: And so these were your older brothers?

HU: No, they were the two older brothers. And when they found a farm, they need help, they called two sons.

TI: And what were their names, your brothers' names?

HU: Oldest one was Shigeru, and second one was Yoshihiro. Then came the third son on the farm, Frank. And then eighteen months later, I came. The fourth son and the last one, and I was the baby.

TI: So your parents had four boys.

HU: Four boys.

TI: And two of them born in Japan and two born in California.

HU: Yes. And my dad always wanted the land of his own. The share basis, forty and sixty, landowner got forty percent of the crop, sixty percent for him doing all the work, all the implements, the fertilizer. He wanted all of it. So came my time to go to school.

TI: But before we go there, so do you know how large a farm your dad worked?

HU: Forty acres.

TI: And what were the crops that he did?

HU: Grapes and strawberry.

TI: And the grapes were for wine or for raisins?

HU: No, for table.

TI: Okay, so table grapes.

HU: But those grapes left by mistake on the vine, that's where my dad went over and picked them for his wine.

TI: And how did your father learn how to make wine? Because that's... yeah, I'm curious. Who taught him wine-making?

HU: They were empty fifty-gallon drums. He would go and pick the grapes and he crushed it and put it in the barrel and let it ferment. And he made his wine the way he wants. A glass of wine, that was his reward every day. And I'd never seen a wealthy man like him.

TI: And when you say "wealthy," what do you mean by "wealthy"?

HU: Healthy.

TI: Healthy, okay, healthy man. And what kind of personality did your father have? When you think of your father, was he a loud person, a quiet person?

HU: He was a quiet person. But he related to the children the way he thinks: work hard, work a little bit more, your reward will be bigger. That's his philosophy of life. And big challenge, someday he'll go back to Japan. "I have done what I want, and leave the legacy for the kids."

TI: So he used to tell you that at some point, he would go back to Japan and leave the farm and everything to the children?

HU: So I started my school...

TI: Oh, before we start school, can I ask about your mother? What kind of person was she? How would you describe her? Was she more social and talkative?

HU: She had many friends. Social, yes. She had a little land where she grew all kinds of vegetables and flowers.

TI: Right, and you talked about that. So when she had lots of friends, where did she see her friends? Did they come to the house or did she go someplace else?

HU: Come to house, visit us. And once in a while, they'd go downtown to (Sacramento). See, in their life, friend was the most important thing. And one of the things -- two more things about my mother. She talked about God. There were no bibles, but she learned from those friends she had when she was growing. And she always mentioned, "There's a man up there watching all the time. You've got to believe Him and do no good." The other was when I was having mump and all that, she would say, "Tsutomu, you better get up."

TI: Right, "Get up and eat," right.

HU: "You gotta eat. Pretty soon you won't be able to walk."

TI: And so Harry, I want to go back, when your mother talked about God, did she also go to church?

HU: She did not.

TI: So this was just through her friends and what she heard?

HU: She really believed He was up there. And one of the things that still disturbed me is that... we had my aches and pains, she would say, "If you think it hurts, it hurts. But if you think it's not gonna hurt, it won't hurt much." [Laughs]

TI: So how well did that work?

HU: Well, it did work. Forget about the pain. And that's some of my mother's teaching. Some of it sounds very odd, but that's the way it was.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.