Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: George M. Yoshino Interview
Narrator: George M. Yoshino
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Bloomington, Minnesota
Date: June 17, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ygeorge_3-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: And then after you graduate from high school, what did you do?

GY: That's the question. I don't know, when we graduated, what were we gonna do? We were gonna go to university or we were gonna work on the farm or what, shop? We didn't know what we were gonna do, at least I didn't know. So I worked here and there, and in 1940 when I got out, I worked at the home, then I worked some other farms. I ended up on an oyster farm up north, and I didn't like that. So in '41...

TI: Can I ask you more about the oyster farm? So up north, where, which oyster farm?

GY: Well, it was up, it was toward Bellingham way. And the farm was owned by Japanese people. It was out in the bay. And to harvest that, you took a tugboat or whatever you want to call it and drag the barge, and waited for the tide to go all the way out, and just like ground then, you picked up the oysters.

TI: So you would bring a barge out, wait for low tide so the barge would then just sit on the...

GY: Yeah, then you pitched it on top of the barge.

TI: And then you would climb off the barge and you would then pitch the oysters on?

GY: Yeah. When you finished certain territory, you had to wait 'til the water came in, comes back in to float the thing up.

TI: And then the barge would then bring the barge...

GY: Yeah, into the shed, to a packing shed. Yeah, hold it there and then you're going to sell it by the whole or take it out, take the inside out. It was okay, but I couldn't see that in the wintertime.

TI: Now, the Japanese are known for really growing the oyster business in the Northwest. Were there quite a few Japanese out there in that bay?

GY: That part I couldn't tell you. All I know is I went to this one family, and he's the one that hired me. I had to go out there and try it. 'Cause he says, "If it works out, you'll have to take the tugboat out there," and stuff like that, and I didn't think I would like to do that. [Laughs]

TI: So you tried a few times after that, you said it wasn't for you.

GY: Yeah. One day they said, "We're going to go out to thin, thin the oysters." "Thin the oysters? What are you going to do?" "Thin 'em out." I found out the oysters grow in (clusters) like this. So you had to break 'em apart so they'll grow large. I didn't know that. So we were out there, and we walked out. Quite a ways out, maybe a mile, two miles out, and he left me out there and he showed me what to do. He said, "When the water starts to come in, just walk home." By the time I got home, the water was up to my waist. [Laughs]

TI: So you didn't walk fast enough. [Laughs]

GY: Yeah. Well, it was an experience, that's all I can say.

TI: And how would you compare oyster farming with regular farming? Why was that, was that harder, or just different?

GY: Oh, it's just different. You got one crop and that's oysters. And I don't know where they got the seed, that part I don't know. All I know is when I got out, there was clusters of oysters like this.

TI: And do you know how he sold his oysters? When you brought up with the barge and the packing shed, where do the oysters go from there?

GY: They had a group in there that shelled it. It's in the, when they shelled it, oysters itself went out to market.

TI: Okay, thank you for doing that. I always wanted to ask somebody about the oyster farming.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.