Densho Digital Archive
Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL Collection
Title: Eiko Nishihara - Yoshiko Nishihara Interview
Narrators: Eiko Nishihara and Yoshiko Nishihara
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Watsonville, California
Date: November 19, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-neiko_g-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So today is Wednesday, November 19, 2008, and we're in Watsonville at Kizuka Hall. And on camera, this is Dana Hoshide, and then my name is Tom Ikeda. And so it's going to be a fun afternoon, we have both of you here. And so let me start by just asking your names and when you were born. So I'll start with Eiko first. So why don't you tell me your full name given at birth and when you were born.

EN: My name is Eiko Nishihara, I was born in Watsonville on June the 4th, 1926.

TI: And what was your given name when you were born?

EN: Eiko Hirahara.

TI: Eiko Hirahara. And let me now ask Yoshiko, same question, your name and when you were born?

YN: My name is Yoshiko Nishihara, and I was born August 17, 1927.

TI: And where were you born?

YN: In Watsonville.

TI: And do you remember, were both of you born at a hospital or at your house? Where were you born?

EN: Midwife, I think, in Watsonville.

TI: And by any chance, do you know the name of the midwife that delivered?

EN: Mrs. Matsuoka.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So let's... you gave me a list, before this interview started, of all your siblings. And there were thirteen kids, and so rather than have you try to go down the list, I'll read the list and when they were born. And as I do each one, I'll pause just a little bit. So if you have any thoughts or memories of any of the siblings, let's go ahead and talk about that now. So the oldest was Fumio, and he was born March 26, 1924. So any thoughts about Fumio?

EN: Well, being the oldest one, he had to help the family, especially my father when he was farming.

TI: Okay, so Fumio was the oldest, the oldest son. And Yoshiko, what was his personality like? If you had to describe Fumio, what was he like?

YN: He was quiet, but he treated us so well. He used to take us to the movies or, you know, put us to school.

TI: So he sounded like a very kind, kind person.

YN: Yes.

TI: Okay, so after Fumio came Eiko, and you were born, as you said, June 1926. So I'll ask Yoshiko, what was, Yoshiko, what was Eiko like?

YN: Oh, she was always nice to me and the best friend I ever had. She did everything for me, and she's kind of like a rock in our family, I think. Our mother really looked up to her.

TI: That's sweet. Okay, so after Eiko, then Yoshiko, you came next. You were, as you said, born in August 1927. So Eiko, I'll ask you, what was Yoshiko like? How would you describe her?

EN: I guess I pulled her everywhere. [Laughs] Wherever I go, she came with me. And even now, she takes me everywhere. We go together to church or parties or whatever.

TI: So it's like this really strong partnership between the two of you.

EN: Yes.

TI: So I'm glad we're interviewing both of you at the same time. It's fitting that we do that. So Yoshiko, after you came Katsuji, and tell me about Katsuji. I'll ask Yoshiko first.

YN: We weren't too close because he was so shy. But he was really intelligent, I thought, because he did so well at school.

TI: Eiko, anything else about Katsuji?

EN: Well, he liked to invent things. So he worked at FMC in San Jose.

TI: FMC, is that, what kind of company, what kind of product do they have?

EN: They have... what was it? Tractors and things, and equipment. He kind of invented the tomato picking machine. They beat it, so I told him, "If you beat the tomato, it doesn't come out very well." But he did it anyway. I guess for canning it's all right.

TI: Oh, so he was kind of an inventor type.

EN: Yeah.

TI: Was he, like, did he have an engineering background? Did he get an engineering degree or just, he just could figure these things out on his own?

EN: On his own, more or less. I guess he graduated from Berkeley.

YN: At his wedding, his boss said that, "If you ever have tomato soup," he says, "remember Kats." [Laughs] 'Cause he invented that machine.

TI: Well, did he get a patent on it or anything, or the company probably got a patent?

YN: Probably the company.

TI: Okay, so after Kats, Noboru was born in June 1931. So Eiko, I'll ask you first. What was he like?

EN: He was real quiet and kept lot of things to himself. He's the one that got married to my husband's sister.

TI: Okay. Good, so we'll get into that, because again, an interesting thing where the three siblings from your family got married to three siblings from the Nishihara, Nishihara family. Yoshiko, anything about Noboru that you wanted to add?

YN: I guess about the same. He was quiet, but he was a hard worker in the lettuce fields, farming.

TI: Okay, good. So next, born in December 1932, is Sumako.

YN: Uh-huh, Sumako.

TI: And so tell me about Sumako. I'll ask Yoshiko first..

YN: Oh, she was always smiling and really jolly. And she turned out to be the best manju maker.

TI: In the family or just the whole community?

YN: In the community. She was really a perfection in manju-making.

TI: Okay, so a happy manju maker. [Laughs] Eiko, anything else about Sumako? Okay, next, born in March 1935, is Satoshi. So tell me about Satoshi.

EN: Well, he was farming with my brother for years. But after my brother quit farming, he went to do a lot of outdoor work for UC Santa Cruz in...

YN: Landscaping.

EN: ...landscaping, I guess.

TI: And Yoshiko, what was Satoshi like? How would you describe him?

YN: He was more outgoing, I think.

EN: Bonsai maybe.

TI: What was that, bonsai?

EN: He likes bonsai, work on that.

YN: He was really good at it. He still is.

TI: Okay, then after Satoshi, born in January 1937, was Wakako. So Yoshiko, I'll ask you, what was, tell me about Wakako.

YN: Oh, Wakako is real, she's almost the same as my mother, real thrifty and smart. I can still see her, she survives. She's a survivor.

TI: And anything else?

EN: Well, she was kind of weaker than the rest of the family, but now she's the stronger one. [Laughs] Her health wasn't that well when she was younger, I had to take care of her more than anyone else in the family.

TI: And what kind of health problems, when you say your health wasn't very good?

EN: I don't know. She was weak, I don't know why.

YN: Mom was saying that... what do you call that? "Blue baby" or something?

EN: Yeah.

YN: She said that the doctor said that she won't survive. But Mother raised her just like a normal person.

TI: And now you're saying that she's strong? It's interesting how that works out.

EN: And she's thrifty, too. [Laughs]

YN: That's how our mother raised us. Because there's so many children, that she has to put food on the table, and really knew how to do it.

TI: So after Wakako, born in October 1938 is Ben. So Yoshiko, what was, tell me about Ben.

YN: Oh, I can remember him always with Eiko, even, she put him to bed. That's the way he was raised. And now he's real... he joined the Navy and really turned out great. He used to cry a lot. [Laughs] So Eiko used to comfort him and help my mother out. So he married somebody from Japan and they had the best family, I think.

TI: Oh, good. So Eiko, it sounds like you had a special relationship with Ben. So tell me, what was Ben like?

EN: Well, he was shy, too, and when he first, his first grade in camp, he would go to school, I would take him to school, but he would, I don't know how he got to know which house we lived in. Because the barracks were all the same, but he happened to come back home. Then I would take him back to school, I don't know how many times.

TI: Oh, so he would, you'd take him to school and he would not like it and come home. And then you had to keep bringing him back?

EN: Yes. [Laughs]

TI: [Laughs] Did you ever find out why he didn't like school?

EN: He was shy, I guess, with all the people. It was his first time going to school in camp.

TI: That's funny, when you say "shy," I mean, you're such a big family, how can you be shy? [Laughs] There's so many people.

EN: Well, that's the trouble. I guess we were close-knit in our family, and then when we start school, then we're, it's different, you know, in going to school.

TI: Oh, that makes sense. Okay, so we still have four more names on this list. And so born on October 1940, Akiko. So Eiko, tell me about Akiko.

EN: Well, we were married already when she was born, 1948, was it?

TI: She was born 1940, so...

EN: '40.

TI: So she, this was right before the war started, the year before the war started.

EN: Yeah. So I don't really... well, we went to camp together, anyway. I didn't get to spend too much time with her.

TI: And Yoshiko, any thoughts about Akiko?

YN: She had a real tragedy happen to her. I'm really proud of her because she put herself together and got better. I don't know if we should mention that.

TI: Well, maybe not on camera. We can maybe keep that private.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: Let's go to the next one, born after the war had started, but during the war, was Masako, born January 1943. So Masako was born, it looks like, in camp.

EN: Yes.

TI: So, Eiko, do you remember Masako and what was...

EN: Yes, I remember my mother having pains, and so I had to call the hospital. And then they came after her and Masako was born. But my mother had a hard time when we were coming back, because she was a baby. I think she had measles or something, so it was rough for her.

TI: Okay, so that's Masako. Yoshiko, any thoughts about Masako?

YN: There's so much years in between that, you know, we don't, we're not, we weren't that close then. She's... what should we say? She was quiet. You know, every one of us are quiet.

TI: Okay. So let's keep going. Now, there's a four-year gap where then Emiko was born after the war, in July 1947. So this is probably after, you may even be married. I mean, this is over twenty years younger than the two of you. But tell me about Emiko. Yoshiko, I'll ask you first. Emiko, what comes to mind?

YN: Well, she took care of our mother when she got older, and she's kind of like a rock for us, too, now. 'Cause she's younger, then she can do so many things, and know so many things, I can't believe. And she does the computer real well, too.

TI: Okay, good. Eiko, any additional thoughts about Emiko?

EN: Well, she's, being the youngest sister, when you have get-togethers, she's the one that brings everything up, and we get together and she arranges things. So that's how she arranged my eightieth birthday. I'm really thankful for her.

TI: So it's nice to have younger siblings.

EN: Yes.

TI: And then we come to the last one, born in July 1949, Tommy. And so Eiko, tell me about Tommy.

EN: Well, we were married when he was born. I was in San Francisco then, but I had to come back home because my mother was in the hospital with bronchitis. So I had to take care of him until she was well.

TI: So you were kind of like the mother, then, for Tommy?

EN: [Laughs] Even now, I have to go see him every Sunday, see if he gets into mischief or not.

TI: Well, now, it's '49, so he's almost sixty years old. [Laughs]

YN: Just a baby.

EN: Still the baby because...

TI: That's funny. Yoshiko, any other thoughts about Tommy?

YN: Well, I can just remember the tragedy he had with the sunflower seed that he got caught in his throat. And Eiko went with my mother on the ambulance to San Francisco to get that out. It was a matter of life or death.

TI: And so it got lodged in his, in his throat or his air passage?

YN: Yeah. That was something. Eiko knows more about that.

EN: He had a fever, that's why they had to bathe him in ice to bring it down. And nobody here in Watsonville could take that out, so they had to have a surgeon from out of the country that came.

TI: That's interesting, yeah. Well, it was lucky that, I guess, you were close enough to San Francisco where you can get a specialist like that to come in and do that.

EN: They asked me if, I said, my mother says, "Oh, you'll have to go with me," because she can't speak English. So I told the ambulance driver and then he says, "Well, you'll have to sit in front, but if we get in a crash, then I can't help you," he said. "It's your life," he said, but we went okay.

TI: That's good. And everything turned out okay, so you were able to do that.

EN: Yes.

TI: So I guess -- we just went through all your siblings -- and I guess one question I just have to ask is, did you ever ask your mother why she had so many children? Or was that pretty common for other families to have...

YN: We thought nothing of it until it got to Tommy.

EN: Well, it was before Tommy, and my oldest brother said, "How come we have to have so many brothers and sisters?" you know. But that's how it is with the Issei family, I guess. They don't know about birth control and things, that's why.

TI: Well, do you think they wanted to have this many children, though?

EN: Somebody wanted to adopt one of us, but she said, "No," she said she'd rather go hungry than to give any children away. She wanted all of them. So I guess she wanted all of us.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So let's, let's talk a little bit about your... well, let's talk about your father first. And so Eiko, do you know, like, where in Japan he was from?

EN: Hiroshima. I think he was... I can't remember if it's Aki-gun or Asa-gun. One or the other. My mother is one or the other. I think it's Aki-gun.

TI: And were those pretty close together?

EN: Uh-huh.

TI: Okay. So your father was from the Hiroshima area. And do you know what type of work your father's family did in Japan?

EN: No, he didn't talk about that to me.

TI: Now, was there anything that you could remember about your father's family, either one of you, that, in Japan?

EN: No, I don't... he didn't talk too much about his family.

TI: Okay. How about his reasons for coming to America?

EN: I guess he wanted a better life, huh. Over there, it's different compared to over here. He thought it was, he'll have a better life.

TI: And so when he came to America, where did he go first?

EN: Well, they came to San Francisco, then he found Watsonville, I don't know how. I guess we should have asked him when we were younger, but we never thought of those things.

TI: Yeah, that's... so he landed in San Francisco, made his way to Watsonville, and then what kind of work did he do in Watsonville?

EN: Well, there were all kind of vegetables, apples, I think they were picking a lot of apples, too.

TI: And do you know kind of about what year he came to Watsonville?

EN: He was seventeen years old, seventeen or eighteen. He was born in 1899, '99, so seventeen years after that, he came to this country.

TI: So about 1916, roughly? Yeah, it'd be 1916.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: And how did your father meet your mother? Yoshiko, do you know how they met?

YN: I think it was a "picture bride," wasn't it? [Inaudible] that I think, more or less, in those days.

TI: And I should ask, your father's name was? What was your father's name?

EN: Mitoshi.

TI: Mitoshi. And your mother's name was?

EN: Teyo.

TI: Teyo. So "picture brides," so it must have been an arranged marriage...

EN: In Japan.

TI: In Japan. And she came, and what was your mother like? If you, in the same way I asked about your siblings, how would you describe your mother? And I'll start with you, Yoshiko. How would you describe your mother?

YN: Oh, she was the best. She treated us so equally, and she never raised her voice. When we did dishes, we used to argue whose turn it was. She would get upset and said that she'll do it herself, and made us feel so guilty. [Laughs] She said that she was going to do it herself rather, hearing us arguing. I can remember that. But she treated us so well; she was the best.

TI: So that's interesting. So when she said that, to make you feel guilty, then you guys got quiet and then...

YN: We did it.

TI: You just did it. [Laughs] Eiko, how about you? How would you describe your mother?

EN: She was hard-working. She would take care of all the children and do all the housework and wash clothes and everything. And when she had time, she would go out on the ranch and help my father. And here, we complain if we have to do all those things, but olden days, they even put you on the back and then tie you on the back and then they go out and work in the farm. So my mother and my father really worked hard together.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: And do you know how many years your father was in Watsonville before your mother came to Japan -- or came from Japan to Watsonville? I'm thinking that Fumio was born in 1924, so I'm wondering if your mother came, like, right before then, about that time?

EN: She came, they got married in 1923.

TI: Okay, yeah. So that's --

EN: So they came...

TI: So that's probably about what, she came right then, 1923. And he came about 1917, so it sounds like he was in Watsonville maybe four or five years before they... and during those five years in Watsonville, you mentioned the agriculture, the farming, stuff like that. So is that pretty much what he did during those five years?

EN: Uh-huh.

TI: And you mentioned the ranch. When did you guys move to the ranch?

EN: That was in about 1938, I think. But next door was the ranch that they were farming on before he bought this ranch in 1938, that Redman House.

TI: And so your father, it sounds like he must have been a pretty good farmer.

EN: He worked hard, huh?

YN: Yeah. I can still remember he was plowing with horses. We used to have horses, do you remember that?

EN: Yeah.

YN: And I was so scared at night because he'd find the horse ran away from jumping over the water trough, and he'd go look for it with a flashlight. It used to scare me at night when I'd hear him doing that.

TI: Because you were worried that he might get hurt or something?

YN: Yes. Because our grandfather got kicked by a horse when our grandfather was here. I don't know what year that was, do you?

EN: No, I don't know what year.

TI: So your, your dad had established as a farmer, and your grandfather, his father, came to the United States to also work?

YN: But we don't know too much about it. We just heard that story.

EN: Just that uncle, huh? Yomoji's the uncle that came in 1930, I think.

TI: Oh, so in addition to your grandfather, your uncle, your father's brother, also came. And so tell me a little bit about him. What was his name?

EN: Yomoji.

TI: And was he a younger brother?

EN: Uh-huh.

TI: And what kind of things did he do to help the family?

EN: Well, he helped, all taking care of the kids, too, besides at the ranch. I think he took care of us more than Father did. [Laughs] The father was too tired.

YN: I don't remember him too much.

EN: He used to give a bath to everybody, all the kids.

YN: Did he?

EN: Yeah.

YN: I'm learning something today. [Laughs]

TI: So was he kind of a fun uncle? Was he kind of more around, had more energy than your dad because your dad worked so hard?

EN: Uh-huh. And he had another brother, but he died of a tragic accident. He fell in a ditch with a tractor, and the disk all together, and he got crushed. (His name was Takeso.)

TI: Was this in Watsonville?

EN: Uh-huh. I don't know what year that was. That was before the war, I think.

YN: Yeah. Kaoru was six years old.

TI: So what type of farming did your father get good at? What was his, sort of, specialty?

EN: Lettuce.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: And so you mentioned how, in 1938, he bought the Redman House. And before this interview, I drove by the highway and saw the Redman House. It's still there; it's rundown now, but there's signs that they're gonna renovate it. But you say "house" or "ranch," but, I mean, I would call it a mansion. It's a, quite a fabulous-looking house.

EN: We needed that kind of a house to house every one of us, though.

TI: But more than just a large house, it's quite fancy. When I drive around, you don't see a Victorian home very often in places like Watsonville. So what, how did your father afford to buy such a nice piece if, you know, nice house and nice piece of property?

EN: Well, I don't know where he got the money, but farming and everything, he was real tight with money. [Laughs] Those days, it wasn't that expensive. He must have bought it on terms. So even though the lawyer took care of him, so...

TI: Okay, so he was able to get the house. In addition to the house, do you know how much land he farmed and owned during this time period?

EN: There was about 100 acres, huh? They cut that ranch in half when they made that Highway 1. That wasn't there, and then the ranch was right through there. So it made it inconvenient.

TI: Oh, so the highway cut right in the middle of the land.

EN: Yeah. So my father bought a ranch with that money, close to the Beach Road, with my mother and father's name. They had to put that big ranch and that house under my brother's name because he's American-born, but my father was an alien.

TI: But later on, when they put the highway through, you said, so he got money for that.

EN: Yes.

TI: And he used that money to buy another ranch, but under his own name.

EN: Under my father and my mother's name.

TI: So the laws had changed by then.

EN: Yeah, the law had changed. That's why the lawyer that helped him got it through.

TI: Okay, that's interesting. So lettuce growing, obviously, I think, quite successful. Because not only the house is really nice, but then he owned a hundred acres, which is a large piece of land. How many workers did he have to do all this?

EN: I didn't see very many. I don't know how they did it, but my brother did most of the tractor work. When he was young, he didn't have a chance to graduate because he had to help my father when he was real young. At that time, there were a lot of Filipinos that helped there. So there must have been quite a bit. I never did go out to the ranch to see.

TI: Well, so did your father have, like, workers' housing someplace on the property, or did they live someplace else, the workers?

EN: They had their own place, yes.

TI: And so he would just hire them on a more seasonal basis, to do, like, lettuce thinning and things like that?

EN: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: So I'm going to ask Yoshiko, when you think of growing up in Watsonville in the '30s, before the war, what was Watsonville like?

YN: It wasn't this crowded. You could leave your door unlocked, leave the house. I think those were the fun days that we had, all the kids, brothers and sisters would play together. We never had toys, they all made the toys. So we appreciated a lot of those things. Now it's so different.

TI: And so when you were with your brothers and sisters, what kind of games would you play?

YN: In those days?

TI: Yeah, in those days.

YN: We used to play with marbles and jacks. They used to make their toys, and I was amazed, with my mother's spool, spool, they'll make little jags on there and make it look like a tractor, and they put a rubber band in there and twist it with a matchstick. I thought that was amazing. And they played, made telephones with Coke cans with string on there. They'll catch birds with a box, standing up, and pull that string from another, where the bird can't see, they used to catch birds that way. Those were good days.

TI: So just very simple things with just things you could make from everyday.

YN: Yeah. I used to make stilts.

TI: And did you pretty much play with your siblings, or did you play with neighbor kids, too?

YN: A few neighbors, but not too many, because there weren't, the houses were so far apart. I had one good friend, we used to go back and forth. (...)

EN: Yeah.

YN: Those were the good days.

TI: And how about you, Eiko? When you think of those days in the '30s before the war, growing up, what are some of your memories?

EN: Mostly I was taking, helping my mother taking care of the kids. [Laughs] Well, when we had time, we would go outside and then we used to make teams, both make, play football, we used to throw balls and pretend we're playing football. We didn't know the game itself, but we'd just see other people play.

TI: And so the girls would play football with the boys? You would just all play together?

EN: To make the team. [Laughs] That's what I remember. Besides that, I was always washing diapers and taking care of the little ones.

TI: How about just maybe like outdoor activities? Did, as a family, did you guys ever have big picnics where you guys would all go out someplace, I don't know, by the river or someplace else?

EN: My father used to go fishing a lot. It's not like now, they, he used to fish and bring sackful home at the beach.

TI: So he would go fish and bring what home? A sack full of fish?

EN: Uh-huh, the perch. You could catch perch out on the beach. But it's not plentiful now. Before, he used to catch fish. But otherwise, I don't know what we did. We're getting kind of old to remember things. [Laughs]

TI: No, this is fine. I mean, you're telling --

EN: I should have kept a diary, huh?

TI: No, you're remembering lots of things. Like there's the river. Did you guys ever go down to the river and do things?

YN: I remember that. We used to go in that water.

EN: There's a river right on the other side of the ranch.

TI: And so like swimming, would you go swimming at the river?

YN: I didn't know how to swim, but I used to just walk through it. That was one of the things that we did. Our father used to take us picnics. Do you remember that?

EN: Yeah.

YN: My mother used to make those musubi and pack a lunch.

EN: And go to Monterey.

YN: Seventeen Mile Drive. They'd take us to the Fourth of July parade.

EN: Yeah, take us to movies. [Laughs]

<End Segment 8> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: And for the farm, did the two of you have -- it sounds like, Eiko, you had to really help with the children. Did you do, either of you have to do farm chores? Did you have to go out there and sometimes do farm chores to help out?

YN: I remember going to hoe. We helped thin, that was hard work. But we were little, so we didn't do, we mostly played more than we worked, I think. [Laughs]

TI: And about how old were you when you had to go out there, and when you say you played more, about how old were you?

EN: That was before... when we came back from the camp, they didn't allow...

YN: Was it after camp, or before?

EN: Yeah. After camp, I remember helping my father stamp the, all the crates and everything. Because they wouldn't, he couldn't raise lettuce because they didn't, they won't buy from Japanese people. So they wanted just vegetables that you put it in a crate and ship it to L.A. I think it was, the company was, Mafei is the most, the best one that they would bring a truck over to Watsonville from Los Angeles.

TI: And then your dad would sell to him, and then he would bring it up to Los Angeles?

EN: Yes.

TI: Because people around here locally wouldn't buy.

EN: Yes.

TI: And that was because of anti-Japanese kind of feelings?

EN: Yes. And then the truck, when they first came, he couldn't find us. My father should have told him it was a historian house, but he didn't, and then they couldn't find the address because they were from L.A. And he said he went down Beach Road, and nobody told him where our house was. They knew, but they wouldn't tell because of that. So he said he had a hard time coming to our house. Finally made it.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So I want to talk a little bit about the house, because you said 1938, and so both of you were kind of young, but about twelve or so when you moved into the house. Do you remember moving into the house, and what was that like? So Eiko, I'll ask you first. So when you first, when your dad bought the Redman House and you first went there, what did you think?

EN: Well, they had a lot of room to -- we all had to decide which room we were gonna sleep in.

TI: So was it pretty exciting? I mean, what were you living in before the Redman House? What was that like?

EN: There was a house before that Redman House. Going down the Beach, there's a house there that we were living in before we moved in there.

TI: And how big was that house?

EN: Half of the size, huh?

YN: Yeah.

TI: And so at that time, there were two, four, six, eight, about eight or nine kids when you moved into the Redman House. And so your parents bought the house, and when you moved in, how did you decide who got which room? I mean, you said all of a sudden there was more room. How was that decided?

EN: [Laughs] Well, my mother, I guess, told us where to sleep, I guess. We had to all crowd in together, you know, in double beds and single beds. The boys got their room and the girls got their room.

TI: Even at the Redman House? Because it looks like there were quite a few rooms there. You still had to, to share quite a few people to each room?

EN: Uh-huh. And then one room was, upstairs, was kept for, we had to go to learn Japanese. A teacher came to teach us, my mother, that was her dream, was for us to learn how to speak good Japanese. Because when we get married, we had to know how to speak Japanese. [Laughs]

TI: So your parents had a special room for that upstairs?

EN: Uh-huh.

TI: And the Japanese teacher would come to your house to teach all the kids?

EN: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: Would they also teach other kids or just your family?

EN: No, just ours, there was five of us that was able to learn Japanese then. My mother got in contact with this Japanese school teacher on Riverside Road here in Watsonville. And Saturdays, it was Saturdays, wasn't it? We used to have to learn, but I'm sorry I didn't learn more than I did because had a terrible time when you get married to, inside an Issei family, it's hard. 'Cause I had to live together with them all my life.

TI: So going back to the living arrangements, so like your bedroom, who did you share? I'll ask Yoshiko, so in your bedroom, who else was living in your room?

YN: All the girls, most of the girls.

EN: Because that was the biggest room, huh?

YN: Yeah.

TI: And so how many girls were there in that room?

YN: Must have been at least four.

EN: Four or five. Because there's one real small room that I had, and my oldest brother got one small room by himself.

TI: Oh, so you had your own separate room?

EN: Uh-huh.

TI: Boy, that was kind of nice, wasn't it, to have your own room? [Laughs] And then your older brother had a room, too. And then the younger siblings shared. So there were four or five in your room.

EN: And then there's another room for the boys.

TI: And then your parents had a, their bedroom also.

EN: Yes, downstairs, they had.

TI: So how many bedrooms are in that house? Five or six?

EN: Well, we... my mother's room was downstairs, but the rest of the rooms were living rooms and extra rooms, and kitchen and dining room.

TI: And so at night, after the work is done, which room did the family spend most time?

YN: The TV -- we didn't have TVs then, but it was called that afterwards.

EN: We had two rooms that we had to eat because there's so many of us. One in the kitchen, we used to have a big round table. And in the dining room was a square, long table. So we had to share. [Laughs] We get our food and we have to go into those two rooms.

TI: Yeah, so with all the kids and the parents, who sat at the round table and who sat at the long...

EN: Well, the younger ones stayed with my mother, and the older ones at that square table, long table.

TI: And tell me about when you ate dinner with your father? Was it a little more formal, or was it pretty noisy, or what was it like?

YN: It was quiet. He worked so hard, he comes home late, and so actually, we weren't that formal.

TI: And so Eiko, did you eat on the long table or did you help your mom with the round table?

EN: We'll help her and then we'd take our dinner into the long table. [Laughs]

<End Segment 10> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: And so I'm curious, when you have thirteen kids -- well, actually, back then it was fewer, but then what kind of meals did you have? What would you cook to feed so many people?

EN: It's limited. Like they used to eat a lot of rice and potatoes and eggs and things like that more. We didn't eat too much meat then. Very little meat, but...

YN: The van that used to bring the meat, she used to buy five pounds of hamburger and a big, nowadays you don't see it, the big bologna stick. Our bologna was the steak for us, actually. She'd do so many different things with that five-pounds of hamburger, can't believe how she did that.

TI: Like what would be some examples of the things she did with five pounds of hamburger?

YN: Make okazu with it, you know, put vegetables. Potato was a lot on our table. You know, breakfast, lunch and dinner, in fact. Because our father used to raise potatoes at one time. We just loved it, potatoes. Maybe that's why we're diabetic, I don't know. [Laughs]

TI: And so did your mother do all the cooking or did, was it shared?

YN: She made most of it.

EN: She did all the cooking. But my father used to buy fruits, oranges for us. He used to buy it by the boxes, because we had to have fruit every day. We used to take it to lunch. Those days, we had peanut butter, jam and orange, that's all.

YN: He'd buy a hundred pound of rice, sack of rice. They had this big bin that she'd put it in.

EN: Yeah, in that old house.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Now for special occasions, like Thanksgiving, what was that like? Did you guys have a special meal on holidays?

EN: No, we celebrated more on New Year's, like the Japanese people do.

TI: And so explain or describe that. What would New Year's, what would you have for New Year's?

EN: All the sushi and all the chicken teriyaki and things like that, and tempura. We have to stay up 'til late to make it. My mother used to teach me, but I'm glad at least I got to learn.

TI: Now, would you have a lot of guests on New Year's day?

EN: Just the old friends of my parents used to come. And they liked to drink their sake. [Laughs]

TI: Now who would, where would your dad get the sake? Would he make it?

EN: No, buy it. Didn't the Yamashita open that? The Japanese grocery store here in Watsonville.

TI: How about things like birthdays? When someone had a birthday, was there any celebration of any type?

YN: I don't remember that.

TI: My mother couldn't afford birthdays. [Laughs]

YN: We're old-fashioned. [Laughs]

TI: So on your birthday, did anyone at least say, "Happy birthday," or anything like that?

EN: No.

TI: So you've got to tell your grandkids this. They probably don't believe that. 'Cause now when they have birthday parties, it's such a big thing, each one.

EN: That's why we celebrate more now than before, after we got married, because we didn't celebrate birthdays then.

TI: Now, of all the things that your mom made, what was your favorite? When you think back, as just your favorite meal or something that's very nostalgic when you think back? Yoshiko, what would be your favorite?

YN: It wasn't that fancy, but it's called maze gohan. Do you know what that is?

TI: Uh-huh.

YN: All kinds of vegetables in the rice. She'll make this great big pan full of it. I can never forget the taste of how she made that. And I used to like all the mashed potatoes that she used to make for us. We used to have mashed potato sandwiches even.

TI: Wow. So you guys had lots of potatoes, it sounds like. [Laughs]

EN: [Laughs] But we still do.

TI: So Eiko, what was your favorite meal, when you think about your mom and her cooking?

EN: Well, she cooked easy food. I mean, not complicated like we do nowadays. Like weenies and fried potatoes, bacon, that's the fastest for her to cook for the family.

TI: When you think back, which one do you think back fondly, that you really liked and that's kind of special?

EN: Well, she made good sushi. And the Japanese foods with all the Japanese vegetables, she used to make with.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: And when you think back to your mother and father, I mean, having such a large family, the farm, they both worked really hard. Did you ever see them just kind of relax and have a good time before the war? Are there any times when you just saw the two of them go dancing or sing or just have fun?

EN: They went to movies sometimes, used to take us to movie. Because they had to either take us or, you know, they can't go unless we watched, watched the other kids.

TI: So these were Japanese movies?

EN: Uh-huh.

TI: And where would you go to watch Japanese movies?

EN: They called it Japantown before the...

YN: Yeah, on Union Street, end of it.

EN: Near the river, there used to be a building there. They used to show Japanese movie.

TI: Now, were these the movies that had sound, or were they silent movies with sometimes an actor to do the voices? Do you remember that?

YN: I think there was voices. Because they were sad, those days.

EN: They had good movies then, compared to now.

TI: So why do you think they were better back then? You said sad, you said better, why were the movies better, do you think?

EN: I don't know. It made sense, the movies. You know, to better the family, story about families. Lot of 'em now, they have divorces and things like that. [Laughs]

TI: Well, but then Yoshiko, you said the movies were sad, though. So what made them sad?

YN: Because they were sad stories. I was little yet, but tears came out, too, I don't know why. [Laughs] Must have been a sad story, I think.

TI: But was that always a special treat, for the family to go see a movie? And then both parents would go, too? So your mom and dad would go, and you guys would do that.

YN: I remember Dad used to take Mom for a ride to go see other people's lettuce ranches, to compare his with others. And then he got caught one time, my mother said, because he was driving so slow.

TI: Oh, because as he was driving by the fields, he would go too slow and the people would see?

YN: Uh-huh. [Laughs]

TI: Now, the relationship between your mom and dad, how would you describe that? Was it affectionate, was it more formal, or how would you describe your mother and father's relationship?

YN: Our mother was so busy that we didn't see that too much. And our father comes home late, and sometimes things don't go right, then he looks grumpy. It's kind of like a survival thing, I think, trying to put food on the table. He worked so hard.

TI: Earlier you talked about your mother always being kind, and never, sort of...

YN: Yeah. I used to see them talking to each other, and my father would be, I can still hear his voice laughing. But he couldn't do that too much because he was so busy, working hard. To this day, I don't think, no one can raise that many children. It's almost impossible.

TI: Yeah, unless you have help or something, that would be hard to imagine.

YN: But she did it all. I can't believe that.

TI: Well, and the physical toll of having thirteen children, I mean, that much have taken its toll on the body, on her body to have so many children.

YN: Yeah. But she lived until ninety-one.

TI: Wow, that's amazing. You know, the house is so, it's so stately, it's such a pretty house. Did the family ever have parties there, where they had other people come, and gatherings because the house was so nice? Did that ever happen?

EN: Just New Year's, people would come.

TI: So how about your friends, your Japanese friends from school? Did they ever comment on your house being so big, or anything like that? Did they ever make comments about the house?

EN: Not exactly. We didn't think much of it that much, you know, of it being a historic house or anything. It was a house that we all lived in. [Laughs]

TI: So you just thought of it as just a big, big old house, kind of, that you lived in?

EN: But it was nice when we moved in. Now it's run down because it wasn't painted. My mother was gonna paint it, but they told her she had to move out.

TI: And this was when? This was long after the war, you mean, she did this?

EN: What year was that? Because my brother sold it, and then they had an agreement that my mother was able to stay in that big house until she passed away.

TI: Okay. So when she was ninety or something.

EN: Yeah, close to ninety.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: So we're going to start the second half of the interview. So we're back with Eiko and Yoshiko. Before we go to the war, I was trying to get a sense, here you had all these kids, and were there any kind of activities like music that the two of you did growing up? So Yoshiko, was there like any music that you did?

YN: Yes, we took piano lessons.

TI: So explain that, so you had piano lessons. At the house, did you have a piano?

YN: Yes. Our father purchased a piano, so both of us went to town every Saturday to take lessons. He paid seven dollars, wasn't it seven dollars for both of us?

EN: He paid monthly.

YN: Monthly, huh?

TI: And so the two of you would... well, so I know where your, the house is. Going to town is a pretty...

YN: It was the house before that, Victorian.

TI: But still, it's a pretty far walk to town. And so you guys would walk to town to take piano lessons. And was it just the two of you or did anyone else...

YN: Just the two of us.

TI: And then you would come home, and did you play for the family, the two of you?

EN: [Laughs] That's what the problem was.

YN: We were spoiled.

EN: Yeah. Before we'd go for our lessons, we really struggled hard to practice, both of us.

YN: I guess we weren't a musician, true musician. She was really good, Eiko.

TI: So Eiko was a better piano player?

EN: No. I took lessons in camp again. But once you get married, you have no time for that. [Laughs]

<End Segment 14> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Okay, so let's move to December 7, 1941, and that's when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Do the two of you, where were the two of you when that happened? So I'll start with you, Eiko, where were you when you heard about the bombing?

EN: I think that's the day that we had, a Japanese teacher came to have Japanese lessons. And then she told my mother that, "Now, I don't think I could come to teach you now, the children now, because we're gonna have problems." So that's the last day we had Japanese lessons.

TI: And do you recall any comments or anything from your parents when they heard that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor? Did they say anything to, like, the kids?

EN: No, we didn't talk too much about it. But the only thing is, we had problem afterwards, was going to buy groceries and things.

TI: So describe that. What do you mean by problems with groceries?

EN: They didn't want to sell the groceries to us, so my brother would order things, go ahead and order things at night, and then they have to go pick it up at night.

TI: And so your parents, they wouldn't buy their groceries from the Japanese grocery stores? It'd be a different grocery store?

EN: Yes.

TI: So why didn't your parents go to the Japanese grocery stores?

EN: I think they closed it, didn't they?

YN: They may have. I don't remember that part.

TI: Oh, so before that happened, they would go to the Japanese grocery stores?

EN: Uh-huh.

TI: But they were closed down or something, so they went to another. Okay.

EN: Because Japanese grocery store, they don't sell a lot of things, like fresh meat. Maybe fish or something like that.

TI: Yoshiko, after December 7th, when you would go to school, did you notice any differences in terms of how people treated you?

YN: They didn't treat me badly, but I was really shocked. I don't know, it kind of bothered me, feeling bad that had happened.

TI: And what do you mean you felt bad? How did, what do you mean by that? Why did you feel bad?

YN: Because the other people's feelings. I didn't talk to anybody about it, but I had that kind of feeling where they may not like us because we were Japanese.

TI: But you said you didn't ever hear anything, though, but you just felt that way?

YN: Yeah. It was just my feeling. But used to hear things from the public, from far distance, being, naming bad names. But we just ignore those things.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: And so after that, December 7th, pretty soon people found out that they would have to leave the area. What did your dad do with the farm during this time period? Eiko, do you remember what happened? How, what did your father do?

EN: Well, he left it up to this lawyer that was really good to him. And he would rent it out, and he would check if things were doing all right.

TI: So your father had a friend, a lawyer, who when your family had to leave, he would stay, he would be here, and he would watch over the place, and rent it out and check up on the tenants and all that. So what was this lawyer's name?

EN: John McCarthy. And he even came to Arkansas to see my father. And then when he came in the room, he said, "Oh, my, you just have one potbelly stove." [Laughs] But we used to eat in the kitchen, big kitchen, so...

YN: Mess hall.

EN: Mess hall, they called it. So we don't need a stove.

TI: And why do you think, Yoshiko or Eiko, why do you think John McCarthy was so good to your parents in terms of watching over the property, taking care of it, visiting in Arkansas? Why do you think that was so?

YN: I don't think he was prejudiced with our nationality, yeah. Because he wouldn't go as far as coming to see our parents.

EN: Didn't you have other people that talked about him? I think there were some other families that he helped, too.

TI: Yeah, I think he did. He helped a couple other farmers that I've talked with. And so this relationship that your... did your father use him as a lawyer before the war, so they knew each other pretty well?

EN: Well, it's more or less my brother got along with him, too, because he's the one that had to speak English. My father was poor in English then. He learned just by us talking in English.

TI: Okay, no, that makes sense. And in fact, legally, I guess, the farm was under your brother's name, too, at this time. So going back to after Pearl Harbor, so you had this lawyer to watch the property, what did the family do? Where did you go next?

EN: Well, we had to live on the other side of Main Street first. And then my aunt, my mother's sister --

TI: Well, before we go there, so that's right. So you were on the west side of Main Street. And so the families had to move on the east side, or away from the ocean.

EN: Uh-huh.

TI: Where did you go?

EN: We lived on Marchant Street, on the other side, on Union.

TI: And so was there a house there?

EN: There was a big house, two-story house we had to move into.

TI: Okay, so your parents were able to rent this house and move there. Okay.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: And so you lived there for a while, and then you were saying, what happened next?

EN: Then we went to Fresno where my mother's sister was. We thought that Fresno, being in more from the coast, that we wouldn't have to go anywhere. But still, we had to move to Fresno camp.

YN: Kept moving and moving.

TI: And it was hard, too, because you had so many people.

YN: Right.

EN: I had to remember all, everybody's name and birthdays. [Laughs] Now, I can't remember.

TI: Now, why'd you have to do that? Because every time you would go someplace, they would ask those questions?

EN: You have to register. Each one has to register.

TI: And so you were kind of, it was up to you because you spoke English and could do all that.

EN: Uh-huh.

YN: Our mother said that was the hardest time of her life.

TI: When she had to keep moving around?

YN: Getting, keep the kids together and move like that.

TI: Well, and probably just the uncertainty, too, not knowing what's going to happen.

YN: Right.

TI: So your, so the family thought that if they moved to Fresno, that they'd be able to stay there, and that's why they went to Fresno. But then you ended up going to the Fresno Assembly Center.

EN: Assembly center.

TI: And then what was that like for the two of you, going to Fresno? Because there, you didn't really know very many people, it was very different. So Yoshiko, what was it like going to Fresno?

YN: Well, I just remember we were staying at our aunt and uncle's place there. Then after that, we went to the assembly center. And only thing I remember about that assembly center was that mattress made out of hay. [Laughs] Did you remember that?

EN: Yeah. They bring bedbugs. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, within the hay and all that, there was bedbugs and things?

EN: Yeah.

YN: That's all I remember about the assembly center.

EN: We didn't stay very long, we had to go to the internment camp, to Arkansas. Then we had to move again to...

YN: After that closed, huh?

EN: Yeah.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: So first, okay, we go to Fresno, then which, which camp did you go to first?

EN: Jerome, after that.

TI: So Jerome, Arkansas.

EN: And then Rohwer.

TI: And then Rohwer after that. But let's talk about Jerome first. When you got to Jerome, Arkansas, what did you think? I mean, what did it look like when you got there?

YN: Like an army camp, with black barracks, all the same kind of barracks. We saw the tower with, I guess they were army people, with guns just standing up there. I remember that.

TI: And for the family, so you have this large family, how did you guys stay together as a family? I mean, you slept in...

YN: Barrack.

EN: Single cots.

TI: And how much of a barrack, did they just give you a single room, or did they give you a double room?

EN: Double. We had to have two rooms. But we were just sleeping right next to each other.

TI: And then for meals, you would go to the mess hall.

EN: Uh-huh.

TI: And would you all eat together as a family?

EN: No. We had to take turns, because the little ones needed more attention than the older ones. We had to help the little ones.

TI: Oh, so you guys went in shifts, kind of. So tell me, how would, when you didn't, not together, so who would go the first, the first group?

EN: Well, you could go all together, but we can't sit all together, there were so many of us.

TI: But when you did go to the mess hall, did you try to sit together as a family, though?

EN: Uh-huh.

TI: Because I've talked to other people, and they say sometimes, especially the teenagers, would go off and eat with their friends. And then kind of that family feeling kind of went away because of that. But it sounds like your family, they pretty much stayed together?

EN: Yeah, together.

TI: And how did that work? I mean, was it because your parents wanted that, or you just, as a family, felt that that was the way to do it?

EN: Well, that's how we lived. [Laughs]

YN: We stuck together.

EN: Then my father worked in the (kitchen) washing those pots and pans.

YN: In the kitchen.

EN: For a while, I worked as a...

YN: Waitress.

EN: Waitress.

TI: Oh, in the mess hall you would do that?

EN: After I graduated.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So tell me about the school in Jerome. So both of you were in high school when you went to Jerome. So Yoshiko, what was high school in Jerome like compared to high school in Watsonville?

YN: Do you remember? I don't remember too much. I should, at that age, but I just went, and one class, you don't change like over here. I don't remember.

TI: How about you, Eiko? Any memories of school?

EN: Lot of Caucasian teachers. Lot of people say we talk different, you know, but they talked different, too. Because in Arkansas, they speak differently.

TI: What about just, just general memories of Jerome? Anything that, any event or anything that you can remember about Jerome? So when people ask you about, what memories do you have of Jerome, what would be some?

EN: Well, we made a lot of friends. Still, once in a while, they send us, letters to us. That's where I graduated, in Jerome. [Addressing Yoshiko] You graduated in Rohwer? I graduated in Jerome. Then my mother said, "Oh, you have to have a graduation clothes." [Laughs] So we got a, they let us have an okay to go out to Little Rock. But I thought, gee, we thought we were put in camp and we can't go anywhere, but you should see all the colored people. They were treated worse than we were. We got on a bus, and then they said, "You don't belong here. You belong in the front where all the Caucasians are." I didn't know that, and I was surprised. (Narr. note: We also had a friend from camp by the name of Aiko, who worked for the WRA office. Although she was a very religious person, she was excluded from the Christian church in Watsonville after the war. In addition, her family home in Caruthers near Fresno was shot at).

YN: Too bad, huh?

EN: In California, they didn't treat them like that. So I thought, gee, how fortunate we are. So we can't complain too much.

TI: So this was your first experience with a segregated South, segregated blacks from whites. And they treated the Japanese as more, as white, rather than black.

EN: Yes. And then when they get off the bus, they have to go underground and go somewhere else to get out to the streets. But we were just fortunate to get out in the streets right away.

TI: So did either one of you ever think about that, you know, so here our country, in the South they had the segregation, the fact that you guys were in camps because of your race, because you were Japanese, did you ever think about those kind of ideas or thoughts or talk about it?

YN: We didn't talk about it. We were told, and then we just did what we were supposed to. I guess they were protecting us by putting us there, but in a way, that's true, too.

TI: And why do you say that? Why do think that's true, in a way?

YN: Because they could treat us badly there, if we were here, still. At least we were safer there. Nobody would bother us.

TI: And so do you think -- because you grew up in Watsonville -- do you think if, during the war, if you had stayed in Watsonville, that it would have been dangerous for you to be here?

YN: I think so.

TI: Because you think people would have, what, maybe tried to hurt you or destroy your property, things like that?

YN: Yeah.

TI: Earlier I asked you about your parents and how hard they worked raising so many children and the farm. So now you're at Jerome, and there, they don't have to worry about the farm and your mom doesn't have to cook. So did your mom and dad have more time to relax when they were at Jerome?

EN: My father worked in the kitchen, so he had to go to work all the time, every day, to the kitchen. My mother, she had to wash clothes.

YN: She spent all her life washing clothes.

TI: Oh, so in camp, she was just constantly washing.

EN: Yeah, and hanging them, and drying them, and folding them. It was a lot of work.

TI: Well, how about for the two of you? Did life change when you were in camp? Did you have more time to do different things?

YN: I forgot what we did. I took classes, I kind of remember. Just like regular going to school.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: So from Jerome, you said you had to go to Rohwer. Why did you go from Jerome, the Jerome camp to the Rohwer camp?

EN: They closed it up and put us all together in Rohwer. I don't know what they did with that, all those buildings, but they put us in Rohwer. Forever moving. Then we had to get on the train and come back home. [Laughs]

YN: I remember Fumio went to Chicago, remember? When we were in camp.

EN: The oldest brother.

TI: And why did he go to Chicago?

EN: To work.

TI: So he went to go get a job.

YN: He worked in a factory, I think. He went there and he got stolen, huh, his wallet and his shoe at night. What was that? Wasn't it a colored person?

EN: Yeah.

YN: He had that bad experience.

TI: So when you hear about things like that, what did you think about the world out there, I mean, Chicago?

YN: Yeah, I didn't think too much about Chicago after I heard that.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Okay. So you were talking about, then you're constantly moving. So you go from Jerome to Rohwer, then back on a train to go back to California, back to Watsonville. When you got back to Watsonville, how did the farm look, the ranch? So let me ask Yoshiko first. So when you got back to the house, what did it look like?

YN: You know, I didn't even pay attention to that. But I just remember my father started raising vegetables and started from scratch again.

TI: So right away he started to farm again. Now, so what condition were the, was the land in? Was it, was it kept up pretty well so that he could start right away?

YN: I'm pretty sure.

EN: So we had to have Japanese people help us on the ranch. They, they needed a job, too, so even women, they come to ask for a job.

TI: And did your father have the money to pay all these other people to help on the farm?

EN: Uh-huh. We paid cash. [Laughs]

TI: Because earlier you said it was kind of hard at the beginning because people wouldn't buy your, locally, your dad's lettuce.

EN: It was hard then. But they bought the vegetables and took it back, and then they sent us the money. But my brother took care of all that, money thing.

TI: And so what are some other memories of coming back to Watsonville that you have? I mean, did you see any of your old, like, schoolmates walking around, things like that, and talk to them?

YN: It just changed all of a sudden. You know the day after the war, the bombing, I don't know whether it was me or them, it changed, the feeling. After that, I lost that friend, I don't know what happened to her. Remember Betty Sibel? I used to go over there and play. Then all of a sudden -- maybe it was me, I think, more or less feeling bad.

TI: Well, so Yoshiko, how do you feel now? I mean, you still live in Watsonville. Is there still some of that feeling now?

YN: No, I grew out of it. [Laughs]

TI: What's that?

YN: I grew over that.

TI: So at what point do you think that feeling kind of left? I mean, after the war, you had, right after the bombing, you had this feeling, then you came back, you still had that feeling. What made it change?

YN: Well, I went to San Francisco, maybe that's why, too. Went to school over there. All five of us girls, we all didn't rent apartments, we worked as schoolgirls, get our room and board and spending money. So Watsonville was kind of forgotten after we went there for a couple of years.

TI: And so Eiko, did you do the same thing, did you go to San Francisco?

EN: Uh-huh, I went to sewing school over there, then got a job. But my mother called me back, so I had to come back.

TI: That's right, because she had bronchitis.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: So you... but each of you spent some time in San Francisco, which gets to my next, kind of, topic. I think that's where you met your future husbands, isn't it, San Francisco?

YN: No, Watsonville.

TI: Oh, Watsonville. So they're from Watsonville? Okay. For some reason, I thought you met in San Francisco.

YN: No.

TI: Okay, so you're in San Francisco, you get some schooling, and you said sewing school?

YN: Yes, Eiko.

TI: And then what kind of schooling did you do?

YN: Business. Healds Business College.

TI: Okay. And so after you finished that, did you come back to Watsonville or did you stay in San Francisco?

YN: I stayed there for about a year and then came back.

TI: Now, why did you come back from your job in San Francisco, back to Watsonville?

YN: I don't know. Why did I move back?

EN: You met Mitts, and he kept coming to see you in San Francisco.

YN: Oh. Didn't I join the YBA church or something?

TI: So while you were in San Francisco, at some point, you met, you met your future husband.

YN: Yes.

EN: You used to come home weekends, sometimes. Then you used to go to the church.

TI: And so, so how did the two of you meet, you and Mitts?

YN: Church, YBA.

TI: And so is Mitts from Watsonville also?

YN: Yes.

TI: And how large was his family? I'm curious.

YN: There was five.

TI: Okay, so a small family. [Laughs] Only five kids. And so the two of you got married. Do you remember what year you got married?

YN: '50.

TI: 1950. And then, so Eiko, you, how did you meet Mitts's brother?

YN: Through us.

EN: Through her. [Laughs] We went to church gatherings.

TI: And so when did you marry your husband?

EN: In September of the same year.

TI: Same year. And, I'm sorry, your husband's name is?

EN: Yamato.

TI: Yamato. And was it unusual for, well, and then, again, your brother married Mitts and Yamato's sister. And do you know what year they got married?

EN: When was that? Karen's, how old is she? She's forty-five, so the year before that they got married.

TI: Oh, so that would be...

EN: They've got a daughter, forty-five years old.

TI: So probably around the early '60s, so more than ten years after.

EN: Yeah.

TI: And so did the two of you have anything to do with that, getting your brother married to your sister-in-law?

YN: My husband's the one that was a matchmaker for everybody, I think. [Laughs]

TI: So your husband matched up Eiko and then your brother, is that it? Well, he must have liked your family, for him to do that.

YN: Wanted to take care of everybody, I guess.

TI: And so I'm curious, are there any, like, special dynamics? When you think of the two of you and your brother married to three siblings, does that make for interesting family gatherings or anything? Yeah, so when you get together, it's like both families now are so close, right? They're just, like, all together. Like your in-laws are your in-laws. [Laughs]

EN: [Laughs] Same. But I had to take care of them.

YN: Yeah, she had to really, from day one until they passed away, took care of the in-laws.

TI: So your father, I mean, I'm sorry, your father-in-law and mother-in-law? Okay, which is your father-in-law and mother-in-law. This gets confusing. [Laughs] And you also took care of... but you said your younger sister took care of your mother when she got older.

EN: Because I had, I had my in-laws to take care of, until they passed away, then I had to do everything for...

TI: Oh, I just think it's, again, I talked about the things that I learn are different, so I think your family is the largest family that I've come across. And then just having sisters marrying brothers is another new one for me. That's interesting. So you're very unique.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: The last topic I have on my list, so I mentioned earlier how I saw your old house, and it's a magnificent old Victorian. And on the sign there, they said they're going to try to restore it. And it's the Hirahara-Redman, I think, restoration project. So how do you guys feel about them trying to restore that old, that old house? How do you feel about that?

EN: I thought it will never get restored, but they at least lifted it up, so it's still in one piece. And they said that the woodwork on the bottom is the, it's made out of redwood so it's just like new under there. Because if it was another kind of wood, it would crumble, the house, when they try to lift it up. So I was happy that, that they did that much so they're gonna, little by little, maybe they'll get to restore that.

TI: Because more than -- I read their pamphlet -- more than just restoring the house, it's the ten acres next to it, they want to make it into kind of this... oh, what's this, like a sort of farm to show people. And make that kind of like a museum kind of place. And I imagine part of that would be the history of your family, that they'll want to also talk about, and Japanese Americans. So it sounds like a pretty exciting project.

EN: Yes. We probably won't see it because we're of age, but the younger ones probably, you know, might. But we're all getting older. [Laughs]

TI: Well, in your, in your dreams, what would you like to see that property be used as? I mean, how would you like it to look like in, say, twenty years from now? What would your hope be?

EN: Well, I hope it helps people at school learn a lot of things that happened in the olden days, living on the farm like that. Hopefully everything turns out.

TI: How about you, Yoshiko, anything that...

YN: You know, at first we were so sad because the house looked so terrible. But as days went by after this interview with that restoration, kind of made me think, gee, maybe we should go and talk about it so the kids will remember. 'Cause we never told our kids any, any of this, what we're talking about.

TI: I think it's really, really a great opportunity because I think, after the house is restored, it's going to be so striking because it's right next to the highway, then they have that demonstration farm. So you're right, I think lots of children will go there to look first at the house, because it's so interesting, they'll learn about the farming. And I think there's a potential there to also talk about your family's history. And I think by talking about your family's history, they can also learn about the Japanese and Japanese Americans in Watsonville and what happened to them. So I think it's a very powerful learning opportunity, so it makes a lot of sense to me.

EN: One day they asked me to go to a third-year, third grade class, to talk about that house. So I went, and then the teacher said they never saw the kids so silent, you know, and listen so much like they do with them, they had to study and everything. But that day, she said they asked all kinds of questions about that house.

TI: And I'm curious, what kind of questions did they ask? Did you have pictures of the house for them to look at and things like that?

EN: Well, they knew where it was, the kids. That why where I was working for a little while, they come there. That's where they give out food to poor people, I was working there, being the pantry manager there for a while. And the kids come and said, "Oh, that's the lady that came to class." [Laughs]

TI: Well, I'm guessing, one question they ask, did they ever ask you if the house was haunted? Did anyone ask that?

EN: Yeah, they did ask. [Laughs]

TI: And what did you answer?

EN: I said, "No." We were all living in there.

TI: When I go to classrooms, those are the kind of questions that I can see kids asking.

YN: Someone asked me that recently: "is that house haunted?" [Laughs]

TI: Well, it looks like it could be a great haunted house for Halloween or something, because it's right there. In fact, that would probably make a lot of money, if you guys were fixing it up. Oh, good.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: Well, so that's the end of my questions. Is there anything else that either one of you would like to talk about in terms of, maybe in terms of, is there anything that you've learned about life? Or when you think of your grandchildren or grand-nieces and nephews, anything that you would want them to know about, about life or values that you think are really important? Maybe something you learned from your mom or your dad? So I'll start with Eiko and then I'll finish up with Yoshiko.

EN: I'm not very much in storytelling. [Laughs] But I'm glad that my father had... there was a lot of Japanese families that came back from camp, they stayed at our, back of our house, we had sheds and barn, they stayed in there. There was quite a few in there, until they were able to get on their feet. And I was glad that my father let them stay there. And I hope they remember that. Because you have to share your living with other people, too.

TI: So that was very generous of your father. When people came back from camp, they had no place to stay, so he let them stay on the property until they could get back on their feet and do things. And when you say "quite a few," do you remember how many families or how many people were back there?

EN: Gee, I don't... four or five families?

YN: At least half a dozen.

TI: That's good. And Yoshiko, how about you? Anything that you'd want to say?

YN: Well, so proud of our parents, they worked so hard. You really learn to appreciate life. So they taught us that, I think, the way they raised us. Then they cared so much for the kids. The last day of our mother, I was with her and she said she worried for the youngest one because he wasn't married. Says, "How is he gonna survive?" So we had to comfort her and say that he'd be okay, he's grown up now. And Eiko's continually taking care of him, yet.

TI: But to her dying day, what you saw your mother, still being the mother, worrying about one of her children.

YN: Yes. That's amazing, isn't it?

TI: Yeah, that's really sweet.

YN: It kind of struck me about dying, you know, how precious it is to live.

TI: That's good. Thank you. Thank you both, this was fun. I learned a lot. It was fun just to have both of you two.

EN: Thank you for having us.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.