Densho Digital Archive
Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL Collection
Title: Chiyoko Yagi Interview
Narrator: Chiyoko Yagi
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Watsonville, California
Date: July 28, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ychiyoko-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

MA: So you said you were born in San Juan Bautista. What were your folks doing in San Juan Bautista?

CY: They were farming, strawberry farming, and I think they had garlic, too. But I don't remember much of San Juan, 'cause I left, they came to Watsonville when I was about four years old. So most of my life is here.

MA: And do you know why they moved to Watsonville from San Juan Bautista?

CY: I guess for strawberry farming. First, I think they did sharecropping on the Travers' Ranch on Riverside Road, that's the first farm. But later on, he started farming on his own, and then he moved around. Because those days, the berry farmers, they had to have new land each time they farmed. So they'd farm one land, and then they'd change to another land.

MA: How many years would they stay on one plot of land?

CY: Oh, well, usually they'd rent one place where they have a large area where they could change. So a few years, maybe five, six years.

MA: So they would rent a large area and then farm, like, smaller plots in there?

CY: Yes. They didn't have fumigation like they do now, you know, to sterilize the land. In those days, they used to, strawberry, they used to plant one year, and they, they keep it for about three years. But nowadays, they plant each year. So it's different kind of farming, you know.

MA: So you said your father sharecropped for a while, and then after a few years had his own place.

CY: Yes, uh-huh.

MA: So can you describe your house that you lived in and the farm?

CY: (Narr. note: It was a large house built by my father. He was a carpenter also. When he came to Hawaii, that was his work.) Well, when he started farming on his own, he used to have Filipinos for help. Because they didn't have Mexican labor those days. I remember they, one time the Filipino laborers went on a strike, they wanted wages raised, which were twenty-five cents an hour it was, those days. And they wanted a raise.

MA: They were striking on your farm?

CY: Yes, they wouldn't come to work. They all, they all wouldn't come in, and they wanted a raise.

MA: What did your father do?

CY: I guess they gave 'em a raise. [Laughs]

MA: So the, yeah, so the strike worked, I guess.

CY: Yeah. There were no other laborers, you know. Either it'd be Japanese people or Filipino.

MA: So back before the war there were no Mexican people --

CY: No Mexicans, uh-huh.

MA: -- in Watsonville, really.

CY: Yeah. This is way before the war.

MA: And what about the house that you lived in growing up? What was that like? How big was it?

CY: Well, you know, my father was a carpenters, so he used to build houses, too. So he made it livable, you know.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.