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-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: And so when people were being moved into the Fresno Assembly Center and the Pinedale Assembly Center, was it clear that you were also going to be eventually in camp?

YM: Yes, we knew that, we knew that we would be sent somewhere but we didn't know where. Because, of course, rumors were flying, and we didn't know. And when we were told that, our day of evacuation, we didn't even know where we were going. All we knew is we're getting on a certain train in Sanger, California, and that was it. Matter of fact, Sanger, California, is where my wife was born.

TI: Oh, interesting.

YM: So she was born in Sanger, and she left Sanger for Gila.

TI: To prepare for this trip, not really knowing where you were going, what kind of things did you have to do on the farm to get it all ready?

YM: To get it all ready? Well, we had mainly vineyards, so we had to get the vineyard all ready for harvest. Everything was all set, we were just cleaned up, ready for harvest. So all they had to do was go in and pick and dry the fruit, dry the vine, or grapes, and send it to the processing plant. So it was free to take. [Laughs]

TI: And grapes, were these grapes for wine?

YM: No, it was raisin. These were all raisins. What we had was all raisin.

TI: And you mentioned earlier that you were offered twenty-three dollars an acre. If, if you were to harvest that year, how much do you think...

YM: Well, it was, at that time, it was... as I gathered the information later from one of my friends, Caucasian friends who were back, it was $125 an acre, I mean, $125 a ton. And we figured about three and four tons to an acre. So forty percent of that would be ours. It was a 60/40 contract. So that's what our...

TI: So you're talking close to two hundred dollars an acre that you would have netted.

YM: That's right, over two hundred, yeah.

TI: So essentially ten times more than what the government was offering.

YM: Government picked up a figure somewhere, we don't know where. Picked up the figure for people who were left behind.

TI: Yeah, I was curious because now that really helps me understand why you would feel pretty bitter about having to have to leave it in that condition.

YM: Well, they did, eventually they did come up with another, as you know, you heard about another law that came through many, many years later to pay back some of the damages we lost. Of course, that was nothing, too. You put in a claim and they give you part of the claim. That was years later.

TI: And when you said you would keep forty percent of net, so as a farmer, you would have quite a bit of cash at the end of harvest. I mean, you're talking --

YM: Yes, that's what we depended on, end of the year cash harvest. During the year, it was all labor, no income.

TI: Because you would have, just doing the quick math, for sixty acres or so, you're talking over ten thousand dollars that you would have netted from that harvest.

YM: Yeah, if that, if that. Depending on the crop, of course.

TI: Okay, good.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.