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-01-0020

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MA: And you said that Harry had moved back to Watsonville earlier.

CY: He came out to see once, yes. And everything, I think that was about, maybe a month before we came back. But when we came back, my sister-in-law, my daughter, myself and my husband came back. And I remember coming back by train, and we landed in Los Angeles. And we have to change train there, so we have to carry all our luggage, and I had to carry my daughter, she was about five months old, and run for the next train. [Laughs] It would look like, it looked pretty bad, I guess, now, thinking of it, running with all our luggage and catch the next train. And I don't know when we got back, I don't know who met us or how we got to... we couldn't go in our house because our house was still occupied. So had to give the notice so we stayed into a church kitchen, we set up beds in there. And we stayed there for about a month. And later on, that church was like a hostel for the people that didn't have homes.

MA: For Japanese Americans coming back?

CY: Yes, uh-huh. 'Cause a lot of people came back, but they had no home, and lot of people wouldn't rent to Japanese. So we had one, one rental which was like a hall, you know. It's just a big hall with a living quarter in the back. And my father-in-law said he'll rent to this Japanese family that had children, they had about four or five children.

MA: And so we rented to them, but then two other families moved in there, 'cause they had no place to go, friends of that family. They were there for a short time, but then three families in one house, which is a pretty large house. It was more like a pool hall, the front part was just like a hall, and the kitchen and living quarters in the back.

MA: In general, how did the whites in Watsonville feel about the Japanese Americans coming back?

CY: Well, when we first came back, they broke our front window, plate glass window from our shop. And that was the only bad thing happened to us. But other than that, we didn't feel anything. Although they say that the Watsonville council voted to ban Japanese Americans from coming back, you know. But we didn't feel that, I didn't feel that. Some people did, but I know some people couldn't find a place to stay or buy grocery and stuff like that. But we didn't feel no discrimination. 'Cause where I live is, there's Chinese people, too, you know. They lived, they were always friends and they were friends when we came back.

MA: How did the Chinese people, after Pearl Harbor, react to you and to the Japanese?

CY: The friends were friends, uh-huh. Yes, they were all right. Even, even Caucasian friends, you know, old friends were friends. They were fine.

MA: Did, did your husband, Harry, work for the WRA for a while after the war until it closed?

CY: Yes, just for a while. But then his job, which was a bookkeeper for the company, they had another bookkeeper, so he couldn't get the job back. So he had to work as a gardener, and he didn't like that at all because he never did work with his hands. He was a, he became a barber much later. So after being a gardener for about a year or two, I think, then he went to school and got his barber license, and then he worked under my mother-in-law as a, to become a full-fledged barber. You had to work under somebody six months, and then get the license.

MA: And this was on the Pajaro side, in that same building?

CY: Yes, uh-huh.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.