Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Yoshimi Matsuura Interview
Narrator: Yoshimi Matsuura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Bloomington, Minnesota
Date: June 17, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-myoshimi-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Yeah, so let's talk about that. So December 7, 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

YM: It was a bad day. It was an unbelievable day. We happened to be at this Japanese school, not in class, but just enjoying ourselves, get together, playing table tennis and stuff like that. We heard about it, couldn't believe it.

TI: And when you say you heard about it, couldn't believe it, what were, do you recall any of the discussions or what people were thinking or what you were feeling?

YM: Well, we had a brother in the army. Herb was one of the early ones inducted from Fowler. He was already serving in the army, and he was at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. And naturally we worried about what's gonna happen to him because he was in the army. But the big, the big thing is the propaganda was so heavy, and all of a sudden, the people that we knew were different. Well, let me back it up a little bit. Many of the people that we had in our area were former dustbowl people who came in from Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee and so forth. And when they moved into our neighborhood, I still remember my mother fixing up beans, rice, flour, eggs, "Take it over to Caudle family who moved in from Missouri," who had, she felt had nothing, she felt so sorry for them. So I still remember taking a bag full of stuff over there, basket full of stuff over there. And these were the people eventually who had, all of a sudden had a chance to, like, Fred Caudle, who we helped, said, "You're lucky, you don't have to work anymore." This is the attitude that they had. So things changed in a hurry.

TI: And so you felt that after the war, these people that you thought of as neighbors and some as friends...

YM: They weren't all that way, but there were some, yes.

TI: Were there any other examples that you can recall that gave you a sense that people had changed and the way they felt about Japanese?

YM: Yes. One person that we thought we knew quite well referred to us as a "Jap." This is something that appeared in the paper over and over and over, so they picked it up. Up until then, we thought they were a good friend of ours, but all of a sudden, far as they were concerned, we were "Japs." Well, that's the way it went. Even the Armenians, some of the Armenian people that we knew quite well suddenly changed, too. And I think many of that was they all of a sudden found that they had a chance to profit in a way. Because we had to, they knew we had to abandon everything, and all of a sudden everybody wanted this and everybody wanted that. I know one of my friends, one neighbor wanted the tractor that we had. He said, "Leave the tractor with me, we'll take care of it. Who knows what the future is?" So I sold it, the full package to somebody that I knew quite well, the equipment and all for a thousand dollars. And he said, "Well, are you sure you're gonna let me have it for a thousand?" I said, "Yes, fine."

TI: And what was that, that equipment worth when you sold it for a thousand?

YM: It was worth at least twice that. In those days, of course, thousand dollars was a lot of money. We sold our car for 185 dollars to somebody. We left a lot of things behind, of course.

TI: Well, so I was going to ask, what about that family that owned the property? Were they still living in --

YM: No, they were retired, living in town. They rented it out to another person. And all they had to do was harvest. I had everything all set for harvest. Everything was ready to be harvested within about three weeks, and we had to leave it behind. Government said twenty dollars an acre, which I don't know how they found that figure. And the owner of the property said, "Well, we'll give you twenty-three," so I got three dollars an acre extra. [Laughs]

TI: So explain that to me again. Twenty dollars an acre --

YM: That was, the government set the price of twenty dollars an acre would be a fair price for settlement. I don't know where they reached that figure.

TI: And then the owner said twenty-three.

YM: Twenty-three, she added the three dollars to it. She thought she was doing me a favor, which she was, of course. She meant well.

TI: And so you were paid twenty-three dollars an acre by the...

YM: I had sixty acres. Forty acres from one sister and (twenty) acres from another sister. So a total of sixty acres, well, that was it.

TI: So how did you feel about this? Here you had worked all year...

YM: Bitter.

TI: You're reaching your harvest time, and you have to just give this up now.

YM: Bitter, yeah. It was a bitter pill, because we knew. We knew what the thing was worth. But that was the least of our worries at the time. We're looking ahead as to what's happening in the future and so forth.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.