Densho Digital Archive
Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL Collection
Title: Tom I. Mine Interview
Narrator: Tom I. Mine
Location: Watsonville, California
Date: July 29, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-mtom_2-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so Tom, the way we start this is, today is Tuesday, July 29, 2008, and we are in Watsonville. And I'm interviewing Tom Mine. But, so let me just start, and on camera is -- I'm sorry -- is Dana Hoshide, and interviewing is Tom Ikeda, and we're with the Densho project. And so the first question is, can you just tell me when and where you were born?

TM: Well, I was born in Watsonville, where?

TI: Yeah, so Watsonville, and where in Watsonville were you born?

TM: Well, it's, right now it used to be an apple orchard. My folks used to farm berries, and it's close by from here, actually. The location would probably be about, from here, about a half a mile, mile from here.

TI: Okay, and right now we're located at Kizuka Hall.

TM: Uh-huh, Kizuka Hall, so it'd be over on Hushbeck, right now it'd be Hushbeck Street. So you know, if you go down, say, down to East Lake Avenue and go do down, oh, about five blocks. So right now it's in the community, but in those days, I was born out in the country.

TI: And so when you say an apple orchard, so was it kind of like a...

TM: In those days, yeah, it was an apple orchard and some vacant land, and that's where my folks used to farm berries.

TI: And so what kind of home did you have on the apple orchard?

TM: Well, it's hard to describe it. It's just an ordinary... the owner of the property made it livable condition anyway, so that's all I can say.

TI: And then who helped your mother deliver you? Was there, like, a midwife?

TM: Well, that I don't know. I never did ask her. [Laughs]

TI: So maybe, maybe she just delivered you.

TM: Well, yeah, I'm not, I'm not sure. I don't think I went to the hospital. I'm not sure.

TI: And when was your, what was your birthdate? What was the date of the birth?

TM: March 14, 1918.

TI: And when you were born, what was the name your parents gave you?

TM: Isao, I guess.

TI: So Isao Mine.

TM: Yeah, and then later on, when I went, started to go to school, the Caucasian boys or students couldn't say Isao too well, so, "We'll name you Tom," and I said, "That's all right." So it kind of stuck to me. It's not official or, you know, it's not on my birth certificate.

TI: So, like, on your driver's license...

TM: It's Tom.

TI: So it's Tom. So at some point, you started using it. So tell me again who gave you the name Tom. Who chose that?

TM: Well, I just, they started calling me that. I didn't pick it myself, but my fellow student, or the fellows I went to school with, they don't, they just called me Tom, that's all. So I said, "Well, that's fine."

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

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So tell me a little bit about your, first your father. Do you remember his name?

TM: It's Isekiji, Isekiji.

TI: Okay. And do you know where in Japan he was from?

TM: Fukuoka-ken.

TI: Tell me a little bit about what his family did in Japan.

TM: That I don't know. I think they were just, I never did ask my folks.

TI: And do you know why he came to the United States?

TM: Well, like all these Issei people, they came to United States to try to make enough money, so actually make enough money to go back to Japan. That was their, that's what my father was, normally say, used to say.

TI: And then your mother was...

TM: She, they were, well, they were married in Japan, and she came later, after my father arrived first.

TI: Okay, and so I'm guessing she's also from Fukuoka.

TM: Yes.

TI: And you said they were married in Japan. Did they have any children in Japan?

TM: One. It was my sister, she's passed away, it's Kizuka.

TI: Kizuka, okay, Kizuka. And then they, your father first came to the United States.

TM: Yeah, he came first.

TI: And where in the United States did he come?

TM: I think he came to Seattle or someplace over there, and then gradually worked his way down to Watsonville.

TI: And then what, when did your mother join your father?

TM: That I never did ask. A year later, I don't know exactly, but she came later on after my father settled down.

TI: So when they got settled in Watsonville, what kind of work did your parents do?

TM: Well, he used to tell me in the wintertime he used to chop lumber, I mean, work for somebody. You know, they, in those days, they all kept busy, so he was a laborer, mostly common laborer.

TI: And how about your mother? What did she do?

TM: Well, I never did ask her, but she was just a laborer, too, they helped one another, tried to make a living.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So let's talk about, so after you come along, what are some of your earliest memories of Watsonville? When you think back as a, as a little boy, what were some of the things you could remember?

TM: Yeah, well, I enjoyed sports all my life, and on weekends, I used to go down to the ballpark. I lived fairly close, I was walking distance, anyway. You know, baseball was my sport, I enjoyed it, so there was a lot of fellows around, we played the pickup game, and I just enjoyed it, so...

TI: So I'm curious, when you first started watching baseball as a boy, were there, like, older Niseis who you'd watch play baseball?

TM: No, there weren't too many older Niseis around, surprisingly. But when I grew up, the age, around fifteen, sixteen, then I joined the team. Nisei, we had a Nisei team.

TI: And then, but before then, when you first started playing baseball, who taught you how to play baseball?

TM: Well, I just picked it up, you know, everybody's throwing the ball, catching the ball, so it just came along.

TI: And so going to that Nisei team when you were, like, fifteen, sixteen, whose idea was it to form, like, an all-Nisei team?

TM: Well, Watsonville, they had a Nisei team in the early '20s. So it's just a continuation. And I happened to join at the very end, and the Nisei group, this is the mid-'30s.

TI: And what was the name of your team?

TM: They called it, let's see, Apple Giant, I think was the original name.

TI: The Apple Giants, okay.

TM: Yeah. Since it was apple city, they called it Apple Giants, I think.

TI: And who, who would the team play? Who would you play...

TM: Well, you know, it goes from my younger days into later days. At first, when I was on the team, we played other Nisei teams. And we had two teams, and they put me on the... well, the older club because they figured I was capable of playing with them. So, we had a younger team, I mean, well, two teams, actually, and I played on the older team that played different Nisei teams, we traveled to Sacramento, San Jose, Morgan Hill, Salinas, Florin, all the various cities, they all had a baseball team. Baseball is one of the main sports for the Niseis or Japanese population. All the towns had a baseball team.

TI: So describe, you would go and travel to, like, a Florin or Sacramento, when you got there, how many people would be watching these things?

TM: Well, it depended on community. Some, well, I would say fifty to a hundred. We didn't have big crowd, but parents of the players came, all came and watched.

TI: And so it sounded like you were on the traveling squad. How would the Watsonville team do against the other Nisei teams when you traveled?

TM: Well... how did we do?

TI: Yeah, how'd you do?

TM: We did all right. We enjoyed baseball, win or lose, we all liked baseball, so you know, we just liked to play and travel and come back. And we enjoyed the whole day, because went as far as Sacramento, we left early in the morning, played in the afternoon at one o'clock, and by three or three-thirty we'd get through, showered up, and then come home. We ate someplace and then came home that same day.

TI: Boy, that's a long, long day.

TM: Yeah, that's a long trip, long day, but well, as a youngster, you didn't mind because you enjoyed playing baseball.

TI: And so on the team, you were always kind of the younger one on the team.

TM: Well, yeah, I was, two ways, now, I was the younger player of the first team. Well, and then later on, all the players, the former players, they retired, and then I continued and took over the team, because I've been with the team many years.

TI: But I'm curious, when you were younger, say you were about fifteen, sixteen when you first joined the team, and you would travel around with the, I guess, older Niseis, any good stories about traveling with the guys and how that was? Did they look out for you, were they kind of...

TM: Well, now we were all, got along real good, because we're compatible ages and things. I don't think there were too many people that... well, some would tell the stories about this and that, but I just don't quite remember anything outstanding. We just got there, warmed up, played, and after we got through, we went to eat China-meshi someplace and then came home. That's a good day for us; we sure enjoyed it.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Now, amongst all the Nisei teams you would play, was there, like, certain players that just stood out that you would all talk about?

TM: Well, we knew about it, and there were outstanding players, they were good. So some of those players went to Japan and played ball, picked the better players, and they had teams going to Japan.

TI: Oh, so they'd pick, like, an all-star team?

TM: Yeah, they picked an all-star team.

TI: Do you recall some of the better players like the better pitchers that you had to face?

TM: Well, let's see now. You know, that's hard to remember everything like that, but yeah, there were, San Jose had Hinaga brothers, George, and Yoshiokas, and Florin had the Kurima brothers. Sacramento I just forgot. But there was, each team had two or three good players that played for the all-star team, they went to Japan. But I was a little bit younger than those fellows. I started playing right after I got out of high school in 1936, well, this team started playing in the late '20s and '30s, continued on. So by the time I started playing, they didn't form all-star team. I don't know, it just kind of faded out.

TI: Well, so in the Watsonville, kind of, history of Nisei baseball, who were some of the better players in Watsonville?

TM: Oh, we had a pitcher, Benny Matsuda, he was the druggist, and he was a fastball pitcher. And Wada brothers, there were three Wada brothers, and Chick Ogi was a real nice, a good shortstop. And let's see, Takemoto, our third basemen, catcher was Porky Takada, he was one of the older fellows. Pitchers was, let's see, Lanky Nagase, he was one of the old-timers. And, let's see, then after they faded out, then I started trying to get some players. But there weren't too many Nisei kids continued to play ball, or went out to play baseball. I guess they were all busy working on the ranch, because we were a berry town, they all were sharecroppers and they had to help. So they didn't get a chance to participate in high school. So myself, and then there was Toru Asada, he was a catcher. Let's see, Larry Tsuyuki, he's still alive, he's a, he played in the infield, so we played high school baseball... Walter Hashimoto.

TI: So I'm curious, when... let's first talk about the Nisei team. Was there a distinctive style that the Nisei teams played that was perhaps different than when you played high school? If you compared...

TM: No, I don't think, you know, baseball is baseball. We remembered the fellows, they had a good arm, or real good shortstop or fielder, outfielder, outstanding in certain departments. But we were just all about the same as far as playing. We enjoyed the game, so...

TI: How would you compare the quality of the Nisei baseball team with, when you played high school baseball?

TM: Well, high school we had some very good teams. Well, they're just about equal, on an equal basis. The Nisei, we played good baseball, Niseis did.

TI: And so when the pitchers, about how, when you fastball, how fast were they, were they throwing?

TM: Well, Benny Matsuda was about the fastest, I mean, he was strong, and he threw about ninety miles an hour.

TI: Oh, really? So that fast?

TM: Oh, yeah.

TI: Okay. Wow.

TM: I pitched, I faced, in high school I faced... they were in the big leagues, they threw about ninety-five in those days. He was just outstanding, because ninety-five, you get up to the plate and just watch the ball go by. You didn't have a chance to swing. But they were good enough to get in the majors.

TI: Oh, yeah, I mean, that's, I'm shocked at, I was going to guess maybe about eighty miles an hour, but they're in the nineties.

TM: Oh, no, eighty, yeah, strong arm pitchers, there weren't too many. For Japanese, there was Tosh Shiraki of Salinas, he was a curveball pitcher, and he'd get you out with junk ball, and curveball, outsmart you, that's all.

TI: And so when you think of the quality of baseball back when you played, and you watch baseball today, is it, earlier you said "baseball is baseball." Is it still pretty much the same game?

TM: Yeah, same game. Hit and run, I mean, everything. I was fortunate to have a good player as a, as a junior, we had a major leaguer, he was a former big league catcher, he taught us a lot, he played in big league.

TI: Now, you were left-handed and you batted left, and you played outfield.

TM: I played outfield.

TI: And so I'm from Seattle, and we have another famous outfielder up there who bats left, and that's Ichiro.

TM: Yeah, Ichiro.

TI: And so when you watch the way he plays, was that similar to what, how the Niseis played?

TM: Oh, yeah.

TI: Sort of quick, he was fast.

TM: Quick, oh yeah, he's fast, he had a good arm.

TI: He could run bases...

TM: Yeah, I admired Ichiro, he has a good arm and everything. He's got a strong arm, too, not good, but strong. He threw it right to the point where he's throwing it.

TI: So really good fundamentals, always in good position.

TM: Oh yeah, we were, see, we had a big leaguer as a coach, big leaguer. So he always, they always talked fundamental baseball, and that's a very smart thing to do, to teach youngsters, you gotta have the basics.

TI: And so this was your high school coach or your, who was this?

TM: Well, no, my, that was our, when we started baseball. High school coach, we had, they had their own coaches, you know.

TI: But you had a, you said, a major leaguer early on to kind of show you...

TM: No, fortunately, younger, later on, there was one or two fellows, just before the war broke out, they were gonna, they said that he's gonna go to the big league. But he joined the Air Force and never came back. Nobody that actually -- well, there was kids that played ball when my kids were playing. You know, they didn't quite make the big leagues, but they were good ballplayers because I like baseball, and I used to watch my sons, all three of 'em played baseball, so I used to go watch them play. Or they used to watch me when I was playing, so kind of, they got in the groove.

TI: Yeah, that's good.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Other than growing up, you said sports was really big for you. Other than baseball, did you play other sports?

TM: Yeah, in high school I played basketball, and then football, they had what we call 130s, lightweights, 130 pounders.

TI: Let's talk about basketball first. So who did you play basketball with?

TM: Well, not, I wasn't much of a basketball player. [Laughs] I just enjoyed the game because it's the season.

TI: So more just in the playground.

TM: Yeah, we, I played high school, but I didn't letter in high school. But I lettered in baseball, and I lettered in football, and I lettered in track.

TI: Okay, so you were fast, I can tell.

TM: Well, just average. [Laughs]

TI: So like when you ran track, what event did you run?

TM: Well, I did the broad jump, the high jump, and I didn't do the dashes, I was, there was one Nisei, he was fast. He did 110 flat, that's fast. If I could run an 11 flat, that's fast for me. But you know, just average runner.

TI: But then for you, because you're not very tall, for you to be the --

TM: No, no, I was, I liked the high jump and broad jump.

TI: Yeah, but so I was commenting on the high jump. Usually the taller people have an advantage.

TM: Well, yeah, they have advantage, but in those days, they had that roll, Western roll, you know, just like we have now, they go up there and they roll over. So, then I did a little pole vaulting, but that was hard. I couldn't keep up with the other good pole vaulters, they go up 10'6", I went up about 9'6". They went 10'6", 11'6", some went twelve feet. And that's, in our days, that's pretty good height.

TI: And I'm guessing, when you played all these sports in high school, you got to know a lot of your non-, non-Japanese classmates really well, and they became your friends.

TM: Oh, yeah.

TI: Well, and football, what position did you play?

TM: Well, I played end. We had the 130s, and I went out for passes. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: So sports, what about, let's talk a little bit about your siblings. You mentioned your oldest sister who was born in Japan. Who were your other siblings?

TM: Well, I had, there were two, my sister, then I had another two sisters, they were born here but then my folks sent them back to Japan for education. And he also sent two more boys older than me for education. But the two brothers, they passed away during that European flu epidemic in 1918.

TI: Oh, the large, yeah, the large flu.

TM: Yeah. Then my two sisters that went back to Japan, they came back and then they had to start going -- well, they're Kibeis because they were raised in Japan. Born here but went to Japan, and they got their education and they went to school here. Then I got two younger sisters, one's still alive, and then I lost one, then I got one older sister above me. She's the only one alive right now, but the others passed away.

TI: So it sounds like you have two sisters alive right now, one older and one younger.

TM: Yeah, one older and one younger.

TI: And now why were you not sent to Japan?

TM: Well, I was born in 1918, see, and when the, that, there was no time because I lost two brothers during the flu epidemic, that was before I was born even. So he decided not to send any more back. I had another brother and, one more brother, Bill, he passed away about three years ago. And I had two younger sisters, you know, younger than myself, so that was the family.

TI: For your older siblings who went to Japan, who did they live with?

TM: Well, I guess they had the parents, my grandparents.

TI: And do you know what your parents were thinking when they sent your older siblings there? Why did they send them there?

TM: I have no idea. They thought, well, they sent them for education, mainly, you know, when they're born and they send them right away. Then they stayed there until... oh, they got their grammar school education and then they came back. So I had two sisters that came back when they were around sixteen, and they went to school here. Went to, not adult, but that level they had in those days. That was in the mid-'30s, '40s, yeah. And they got their education, grammar school education, and partly, they didn't go to high school, they were a little bit too, it was too hard for 'em, so they just... and then went to grammar school.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Okay. Let's go back to your mother and father. Tell me what your father was like. How would you describe your father?

TM: Well, he believed in hard work, you know, you want to play, well, work comes first. And then he said, "Go to school and I want you to, you know, be a good student." So he believed, too, be a hard worker.

TI: And how would he communicate this to you? Was it, like, Japanese?

TM: Yeah, they'd speak Japanese. I knew enough Japanese in those days.

TI: And then how would he react if he felt like you weren't working hard enough or you were playing before you finished your work, what would he do?

TM: Well, I obeyed him. I said, yeah, you can play hard, and I told him, "I'm going to play baseball Sunday," he said, "Okay, just work hard and play, get your work done," and, see, we were on a farm, too, at that time, he was a farmer, he was a berry farmer. But I didn't care for berries, so when I got a certain age, I went into row crop.

TI: And so your father believed in hard work...

TM: Yeah, hard work.

TI: ...going to school, doing well in school, things like that. How about your mother? What was your mother like?

TM: Well, she was quiet. She didn't say too much, my father did all the talking.

TI: And what was your mother's name?

TM: Seki, S-E-K-I.

TI: So you didn't really know your mother that well, she was pretty quiet?

TM: Well, I knew her well enough to... [laughs].

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

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Let's talk a little bit about school. So what, what elementary school did you go to?

TM: Well, the buildings were on Main Street, I mean East Lake Avenue. The old grammar school and the old, two, grade school, grammar school, then I went to high school, the building's still there. I mean, it changed around, the old buildings are gone, burned down. And since those days, that was in 1936 I went to -- no, '32. '33 I went to high school.

TI: So this is the Watsonville High School?

TM: Watsonville High, I graduated in '36.

TI: And back in those days, when you think about your classmates, at Watsonville, how many were Japanese American?

TM: We had pretty... let's see. I would say twenty percent.

TI: Okay, about, so one in five would be Japanese?

TM: Five, or maybe a little bit more in some classes. I mean, some years there were more.

TI: And in general, how did the Japanese students do in school?

TM: Oh, they all did real well. They're always high-ranking, or in my class, I think they were the valedictorians of the class. I was upper ten, at least I made ten percent.

TI: So you were a good student.

TM: Well, my folks told me to study, you know, do your work.

TI: And so in general, the Japanese tended to be on the upper end of the, of the...

TM: Yeah, they were, all the years, most of the years in Watsonville, the Japanese student were the top students.

TI: And then in sports they would do pretty well, too.

TM: Well, yeah, they did well, because we had, luckily we had 130s, you know, and varsity, well, my brother is a bigger fellow, so he played varsity football.

TI: And he was, I'm sorry, your older or younger brother?

TM: Younger.

TI: Younger brother. And that was, what was his, your younger...

TM: Bill. He was two years younger than me.

TI: So they were, did well in sports, they did well in school, how about like student body positions? Were there very many Japanese who ran for office?

TM: Yeah, they were partly, you know, I held student body on the, my year.

TI: And so what position did you hold?

TM: No, well, I was the editor, well, I liked to write. I was the editor of the book, help.

TI: Of, like, the school annual? That book?

TM: Yeah, yeah, that book.

TI: Oh, that's, I'll have to find it. I'd like to see what that looked like.

TM: [Laughs] I don't know if you can find the book. I may have one left, I'm not sure.

TI: So high school was a pretty fun time for you.

TM: Well, yeah, I enjoyed going to school because it was fun and it wasn't hard. I, they told me, "What you gonna do after you get out? What you gonna major in?" I said, "Well, right now I think I'm gonna go to school and help my dad farm." That's the only, we already purchased a farm, so I said, "I don't think I have any inkling of going, further my education," so I said, "Well, long as I get my grades and graduate, I guess that'd be it." And I went to work right away after I graduated.

TI: But there were, it sounds like there were some teachers or others who encouraged you to think about college? Was that...

TM: Well, no, I just told them exactly what my situation was, so I said, "I'm the oldest son and we purchased some property, and then my dad's getting too old to continue taking care of the ranch." And he didn't drive the automobile, so any tractor, so I had to continue the, to carry on my folks' business, well, farming.

TI: So that, that makes sense. But were there times, though, that you had, perhaps, dreams of going to college and doing something else?

TM: Well, not exactly. I think I was pretty much set because I knew my, I had to take my dad's place. So pretty much said, "Well, I'll just go ahead and get the grades and graduate and go to work. "

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

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Let's talk a little bit about the Japanese community now. Like was there, did you attend Japanese school?

TM: Yeah, I did, but I was... the Japanese school was held after, after we finished high school or grade school. But then I was in, I liked sports, so I didn't attend too much. I didn't have a chance. It was too much because I had to play a sport, and after that I had to go Japanese school, and then I lived about two miles outside. So I'd be home midnight -- not midnight, but late. So that was too much, so I just quit Japanese school.

TI: Now when you did that, what did your parents say? Did they...

TM: Well, they didn't say anything.

TI: So they were okay with you doing sports over Japanese school?

TM: Yeah, because I said I liked sports, you know. That's pretty hard to take away from me. I'm doing what I liked to do, so I enjoy it so they, my father felt, well, that's okay, if you enjoy it, love it, that's fine.

TI: Did your mother or father ever come watch you play?

TM: No, in those days, they didn't. I always watch my kids play, but in those days, Issei parents, very seldom you saw, unless you're right in, lived right in town. Because they lived, and they didn't drive, and I didn't drive yet because I was still going to school. So, you know, there's no way for them to get to the, come into town.

TI: So how about, like, Japanese community events? Like were there big picnics or things like that?

TM: Oh, yeah, we had a yearly picnic, that was large. I mean, everybody got together, we used to have it at the beach, at the beach. They kind of shifted around locations.

TI: So where would the beach location be?

TM: Down to Sunset Beach or down, nearby. We had a few spots.

TI: And how many people would be there?

TM: Oh, couple of hundred or more. You know, it was a big crowd.

TI: And what kind of things would you do?

TM: Oh, they had games, running. And they also had a little sumo.

TI: Oh, so right on the beach they would form a, a ring or something?

TM: Yeah, yeah, they just... that was, Issei liked sumo, so some parents had some strong boys, so they had sumo, too.

TI: So did you ever try sumo?

TM: No, no.

TI: So who would be the sumo wrestlers? Were they, like, bigger than...

TM: Well, they were bigger, they're built close to the ground, and you know, they're rugged. They played football in high school.

TI: So they must have been the linemen.

TM: Yeah, linemen.

TI: Okay. Oh, that would've been fun to watch.

TM: Yeah, it was fun.

TI: And generally when would the picnics start, and how late would it go?

TM: I think it started right after the rainy season, March, April, I think, before the season got busy, you know. Because most of the Issei farmers were berry-growers. I was a lettuce grower, so we had a season... as soon as it got dry, we had to go ahead and plant, then we'd harvest.

TI: And what were some of the foods you could remember from the picnic, the annual picnic?

TM: Oh, nothing like good musubi. [Laughs] And the folks did the cooking, so teriyaki and musubi. It was fun; I enjoyed it.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: Earlier I asked you what religion, you said Buddhist. Were you, was your family members of the Buddhist temple during this time? Describe that. What was the Buddhist temple like before the war?

TM: Well, before the war, let's see, it was the one on Union Street. That location, it was upstairs, I mean, it was a two-story building, so for the funeral procession and things like that, it was pretty hard to carry a casket up, so then they, then they moved that, then it was built closer here, one you could see around the corner over there. We built that in... what year was it? '40s, '50s, maybe.

TI: So that was after the war.

TM: Yeah.

TI: Well, so before the war, what kind of activities would the Buddhist Church have? Would it be like every Sunday, would there be a service?

TM: Yeah, there was service every Sunday. I wasn't much of a church-goer because I worked on Sundays and played ball. My folks wasn't too religious. But they had sermon every, every couple of months or something, and they made sure they attended, they told me to attend, so I finally joined the gang and went to all the service.

TI: Well, how about, like, social functions like dances? Were there dances for the Niseis?

TM: Yeah, they had dances.

TI: Would that be at the Buddhist church, or where would that...

TM: Well, let's see. No, we didn't have a gymnasium like we do now. We just had a, this church, so they had a hall, they hired a hall. And in fact, Watsonville had a, they had a orchestra, Mrs. Iwanaga, she was a leader and she was a musician, and she organized one of the Nisei orchestra, and they played here and there, all over.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. So how large was the orchestra? How many members were on the...

TM: I think there were about ten.

TI: And they would play at these dances?

TM: They played, yeah, here and there.

TI: And so when you'd have, like, a Nisei dance, how many people would, would be there?

TM: Oh, well, a couple of hundred.

TI: Wow, so it was a pretty big deal.

TM: Yeah, it was a big deal. We didn't have too many, but whenever they had a social, it was a big event.

TI: And was this all, like, during swing era, so is it more swing dancing?

TM: Yeah, well, swing... well, mostly beginning.

TI: Or more orchestra, beginning.

TM: Yeah, beginning.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So now I'm going to move into more the war years. And on... well, actually before we got there, I want to talk a little bit more about your dad's business. So you mentioned your dad got into berry farming when you were, like in high school, is that when he was doing that?

TM: Yeah. Well, before... no, when I went in high school, I've already started row crop farming.

TI: So that's the lettuce, the lettuce farm?

TM: Lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli and things like that. I got out of the berry business because I didn't care for that type of work.

TI: And so when you say you, did, was that your dad or was that you that you were...

TM: Well, I guess it'd be myself, because I had a younger brother, but he didn't have anything to do with it. And then I had others who were sisters, girls, so they were too young to help on the ranch.

TI: So this is when you were in high school, you...

TM: High school I started...

TI: This farm.

TM: Yeah, started a, you know, getting my foot in to what I wanted to be, or what I wanted to do.

TI: So explain that. How, what was a typical day when you had to go to school, you had the farm, you had sports? I mean, how would you do all of that?

TM: Well, mainly, the main, when I got out of high school, then everything, you know, started to do what I wanted to do. But prior to that, it was still part of the berry business, you had my dad's business. So I gradually assisted.

TI: But were there days when before school you would have to do kind of, farm chores?

TM: Yeah, yeah. Help in the morning a couple hours.

TI: So describe a, like a typical day when it was like that. So how early would you wake up?

TM: Well, we get up crack of the dawn, you know, and get out there a couple hours, and we were already growing lettuce, so helped harvest lettuce.

TI: And what would, what would that be? What kind of work would you do?

TM: Well, it would be to cut lettuce and pack it, put it in the crates, and then you go to school, and then my dad...

TI: And so before you did that, would you eat breakfast? Would your mom have breakfast?

TM: Oh, yeah. Well, we eat heavy breakfast in those days, because it takes a lot of energy out of you, so we ate.

TI: Would you eat breakfast before the farm work or after?

TM: Well, we'd eat the breakfast, get up four o'clock in the morning, eat breakfast and get out there before daylight.

TI: And then you'd come back and change and then to go...

TM: And come back and change and went to school.

TI: And then you would be at school all day.

TM: All day.

TI: And then you would do sports after?

TM: Yeah.

TI: And then you would come home.

TM: Yeah. And then, no, if I'd, out for sport, I'd be, participate in whatever, practice or whatever. That was my life. It was a full, full days' work, full day's, life, I mean, from early morning 'til dark.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: And then when you graduated, you said, like in 1936, then you could do full-time farming.

TM: Yeah.

TI: And then, and then what would you do? Now that you had more time, did you expand?

TM: Well, I had more time, and then I could more or less set the schedule. And since I was, started farming when I was still going to high school, I just, luckily, everything worked out pretty good, and I was able to purchase property right next door where we started farming, see. In those days, lot of small farmers, they had ten acres, fifteen, twenty acres, and as time went along, smaller farmers couldn't make a living out of ten, fifteen acres. So I was able to purchase the property.

TI: So explain that to me. If a farmer only had ten or fifteen acres, why couldn't they make a living? What was hard about that?

TM: Well, because, well, they also have a family, too, and the labor was cheap, price-wise, it depended on what type of business you got into. But if you're a berry grower, they continue to, stay in one place, in those days, they stay in one place three, three years. You could farm berry for three years, then they got to move. That's how the berry business was. And row crop, well, if you're able to purchase property, farming the same place and raise different crops for rotation. So that was the difference between the berry grower and the row crop, what we called row crop.

TI: But in general, to really make a living as a small farmer, you probably needed how many acres, do you think?

TM: Well, I would think, at first, if you got by and you're lucky and the price-wise was, because produce, you never know what the pricing would be at the time of harvesting. But berries, the price is pretty stable, so one price, or go up and down a little bit, but you have some coming out all the time, because you're picking berries. But harvesting lettuce or romaine or cauliflower, during the harvest time, you depend on the market price. And if you didn't hit it, then you don't make anything, you could lose money.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: And so as a farmer, would you try to do things to time your crops to figure out when --

TM: Well, yeah. But then you gotta get bigger. As time go on, I was luckily just happened to get one piece, and then the next neighbor, he sold out or he quit because he couldn't make it. So I was, I was real fortunate in that way that I was able to lease their property and later buy it and continue. And I would say I was very lucky. And then I was with a great, good firm, but the firm is, I grew for is Bud Antle. The firm's still operating, it's under Tanemura and Antle.

TI: So that's the T&A.

TM: T&A.

TI: So how does that work? So when you work for, like, so you work with this company, so they agreed to buy all your...

TM: Yeah, they buy and pack, or... so the companies I grew for, they stressed good product. So they were smart, Mr. Antle, he'll get a hold of the best Japanese growers, we were all Niseis at that time, because the Isseis were, faded out. So he's sure that we grew the best products, so that way he believed in top label products, so we were lucky in that way, he was able to ship all top-grade product. You know, we made money over the other growers.

TI: And how many other Nisei, or other Japanese American farmers did he work with?

TM: Oh, I think he had about five or six.

TI: So you were significant.

TM: I was one of them.

TI: One of them. And who would he sell to? Who would buy his...

TM: Well, all the bigger farms back east. You know, they ship everything by rail or trucks. Not local -- yeah, it was local, too, but the major... because he got big enough taking over all us Nisei growers that he was, at peak days, he would ship a hundred cars of lettuce a day. That's how much produce he managed to...

TI: And then he would just pay you...

TM: Yeah, whatever, yeah.

TI: ...essentially, the market prices. So there was something that was...

TM: It fluctuated all the time.

TI: And he would just pay you that.

TM: But you would always know that whatever you grew, the quality stuff, he would buy from you.

TM: Oh, yeah, yeah.

TI: So you wouldn't have to worry about...

TM: We don't have to worry, just do your best in growing the, trying to grow the best lettuce or cauliflower or celery, always.

TI: And so by working with him, did that encourage you, then, to keep adding more and more land because you knew you could keep doing that?

TM: Yeah. And more land or, you know, land is hard to get. And I was fortunate to get small blocks here or there, fifteen acres there, twenty acres there. So that way, the more property you had, there was a chance of making a little bit more or you get lucky. It's like playing a slot machine, you get lucky, hot or... but that's how produce business was, just like today or anytime.

TI: Now so you mentioned, like, about five or six Nisei farmers worked with T&A. What did the other Nisei farmers do? Did they have other companies or did they do their own?

TM: Well, there were other, but there weren't too many Nisei farmers left. They got out because it was too tough.

TI: And so when they started getting out, is that when you and others would maybe buy more land, because they quit farming?

TM: Yeah, we'd buy theirs or lease theirs if they weren't the owners. They held onto the property because you were able to get pretty good rental.

TI: Now with T&A, did they ever change farmers? Like if a Nisei farmer disappointed them, would they kind of quit working with them or anything like that? Was that hard, or was it pretty stable in terms of relationships?

TM: Yeah, I think the Nisei, they did real well. They, they watched the other Nisei growers trying to do their best and trying to keep up with them. Otherwise, you get off to the side, and you can't survive. You can't survive, you can't, you gotta get out of the business.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. So was it pretty competitive between you and the other...

TM: Well, what do you mean competitive? Well, now, we always try to grow the best. It's competitive, you worked hard to kind of grow the best product.

TI: And so was it, how would you describe the competition? Was it, like, did you know the other Nisei farmers?

TM: Oh, yeah.

TI: And were you guys pretty friendly?

TM: Oh, yeah, nothing...

TI: Now, were there ever cases where you would help another Nisei farmer or they would help you because of something?

TM: Well, it's, there's one case I had to help my neighbor because the main fellow, he passed away. So with certain type of work, sometimes tractor, we just go over there and let them either have the equipment if it's not in use, they would borrow it. But mainly, they all managed to do well on their own.

TI: But it sounds like if there's an emergency or something, someone would lend equipment or...

TM: Yeah, yeah.

TI: Okay. Well, thank you, that was interesting. I learned much.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Okay, so Tom, we're gonna start the second segment now. The first segment, we learned a lot about sports and the beginning of the farming. But now I want to jump to December 7, 1941. And can you, can you tell me when you heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor? Do you remember that day?

TM: Yeah. I took a bunch of girls, I was a basketball coach at the church, Buddhist church, and we had a little tournament in San Jose, that was a Saturday. And well, they said war happened, broke out, so, you know...

TI: And how did you hear that? Where, did someone tell --

TM: We just heard the news.

TI: Someone came up and just told you?

TM: Yeah. So everybody was stunned, and just couldn't, nobody could say anything, yeah, we were all stunned. That was December 7, 1941, or '42.

TI: No, '41, yeah.

TM: '41, yeah, December.

TI: Yeah, so a Sunday, December 7th.

TM: Yeah, Sunday.

TI: And do you recall if, how the girls reacted?

TM: Well, I think everything was quiet. Nobody knew what was going on. Just quiet and you couldn't say anything because gee, everybody was shocked.

TI: And so, and so you drove from San Jose?

TM: Well, San Jose, we were coming home, that night we were, finished the tournament.

TI: And so it was just really quiet.

TM: Quiet, oh, gosh, you could hear a pin drop. Everybody was so shocked. We had fifteen girls, I drove, we had three fellows drive the girls up there and come back. And the shocking thing about that, come home and the FBI came along and picked my father up and took him to San Francisco. See, all the Nisei, not Nisei, Issei parents that were active in Japanese community, they were all taken in by FBI.

TI: And so what was your dad doing with the Japanese community?

TM: Well, he was just a member of the Japanese community, he was, he didn't have any large part, just carry on the, part of the duties. And for, just, that was the procedure that, that happened. They took all your key, that Japanese, not Japanese American, but Japanese, Issei people, my brother-in-law was taken, too, but he was head of the kendo and all that, Japanese, so they all had, were taken here and taken to San Francisco, and they went various places like Crystal City, Bismarck.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Going back to that time when the FBI first picked up your, your father, were some of the men, do you think, expecting that, or was it a complete surprise when they came?

TM: Well, I, I think a complete surprise. I don't think my father knew, said, you know, because he couldn't speak English, they just picked him up, and he didn't have a chance to argue or anything like that. They just...

TI: Now, were you home when they did this?

TM: I just, I just got home, too.

TI: So the FBI was there when you, when you came?

TM: Yeah, they just took him. I heard about it when they -- they took him before I got home, because I came home from San Jose.

TI: And so did, and so what did you do when you saw this happened?

TM: Well, there was nothing I can do, they just took him.

TI: Did you have a chance to talk with the FBI agents at all?

TM: No.

TI: So they didn't explain...

TM: No connection with them, no. I just, we just waited and waited. You know it was stunning, too.

TI: And so what were you, you thinking and feeling when this happened?

TM: Oh, that's, that's another thing. I was just too stunned and there's nothing I even thought of doing. Well, what could I do? Put it that way.

TI: What about your mother? What was the reaction...

TM: Well, she was stunned, too.

TI: And your other siblings, they were, in the same way, it was just...

TM: Well, I guess, I don't know how they felt, but I guess they were, we were all stunned, anyway.

TI: And at that point, did you know what was going to happen to your father?

TM: No, no way.

TI: And so when was the next time you heard from your father, that you were in communication?

TM: Oh gee, I don't know how long.

TI: But at some point you found out that he went to San Francisco?

TM: Yeah, and then they went different areas. They went to Bismarck, and they went to Crystal City or wherever. They had those detention... I don't know what they call it. I never did look into that too much, and I didn't get involved in it.

TI: So with your father gone, what did the family, what happened next with the family? What did you decide to do?

TM: Well, we just continued the way it was, because he was of retiring age already.

TI: And when did you hear, you mentioned that other members, probably called the Japanese Association...

TM: Yeah, Japanese Association.

TI: When did you hear that they were being picked up also? How did you hear about that?

TM: Well, mouth of word, you know, who got picked up, and then, well, then I figured, well, anybody connected with the Japanese Association or with Japan or kendo, anything like that, they were taken, too. Instructor, kendo instructor, all that.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: And during this time, these first few days, as you started talking to people, can you describe the mood? Was it, was it, were people afraid or was it more angry? Or how would you describe that, that mood?

TM: You know, that's kind of hard thing to describe because we were stunned, the war broke out, and why did they take our parents? What was the reason? We had nobody to ask why they were taken or anything like that. And then I talked to the lawyers and they says, "Well, that's the way the government operates." Just come and pick you up, and if they think they have something they can pin on you, they pin it on you. But if you don't, then they'll release you later on, so you just got to wait and see.

TI: And so when you say you talked to lawyers, which lawyers did you talk with?

TM: Well, I talked to one of my, my lawyer that took care of my stuff. He would know something.

TI: Okay, so you thought that by, by talking with him, he might give you some insights, and he just said...

TM: No, I just left it that way, you know. I says, it's no use. But I knew that he never, he wasn't connected with Japan, things going on in Japan, because just, only thing about Japan was our family, I mean, his family.

TI: So this is, so they take away the Isseis, the community leaders, so for the Japanese and Japanese American community, did new leaders emerge, or who took...

TM: No, I don't think so. They just let it go as, just day by day, that was it. So we were at war at Japan, so there's nothing we can do.

TI: So how about local, like a Nisei organization like the JACL. Did they become active?

TM: I don't know. I wasn't connected with JACL that much when it was going on, so I didn't know exactly what was going on, but I guess they held meetings and this and that, but nothing came out of it. Just if you're, you're afraid to do something, because if you think you're bucking against the United States, they're gonna take you. So they were just sitting back and see what's gonna happen, I think, most of the Nisei leaders.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: Well, at some point, you got notice or information that you'll have to leave the area. So what kind of preparations did you have to do with your farm? I mean, you have now all this land...

TM: Yeah.

TI: ...and farm, so what, what did you do?

TM: Well, yeah, naturally, luckily I knew one grower, farmer, he's a small farmer, and he was a German, I mean, his relatives were from Germany. He was born here, but his relatives were from there, so I, he was a small grower, so I said, "Gee, this is a good chance for me to ask if he wants to farm a little bit more." He said sure, he'll take over, so I had a lucky break.

TI: And what was the arrangement? So he would...

TM: Well, I would say, "You farm 'til I come back." When we come back, I don't know when we're gonna come back, so, "You go ahead and take care like it's your own." So I lent him all the equipment and everything, "Take care of it like it's your own equipment."

TI: And then any proceeds or profits he'd make from the crops, he would keep?

TM: You know, I let the lawyers take care of that. [Laughs]

TI: Okay. But the main thing was that he took care of the farm for you.

TM: Yeah, uh-huh.

TI: How about this, the other Nisei farmers? What did they do?

TM: Well, I never did ask other farmers. You know, there were, I guess they did the same thing, or I don't know exactly what, I never did bother to ask. But my neighbor, Manabes, they hired a lawyer that took care of everything. So they weren't afraid or anything, they said, "Well, this is in the lawyers' hands."

TI: And so when you talk about lawyers, who was your lawyer? Was that a hakujin lawyer?

TM: Yeah, hakujin lawyer. We didn't have no Nisei lawyers here.

TI: And so he would kind of, while you were gone, he would kind of watch out for things legally.

TM: Yeah, yeah. I think most of the fellows were in pretty good shape, who had property. But if you didn't have any property, then you didn't have anything to worry about, but they got advice from the lawyers.

TI: Now, how did the war, did the war impact your relationship with the lawyers? I mean, after the bombing, was there, did he...

TM: Well, I guess lawyers, they're smart, so they had a cool head. So, and they're past middle age. I guess, let's see, my lawyer was already in his sixties, or pretty close to seventy, so...

TI: So he was experienced and he didn't overreact, and so he knew that this was...

TM: No, he didn't overreact. Yeah, he didn't try to take advantage of anything.

TI: He knew you and the others, and so there was a trust level there.

TM: Yeah.

TI: It sounds like you were lucky, then, you had all these things in place.

TM: Yeah, yeah. I knew him for a long time, and he took care of my properties I bought, and took care of all the paperwork.

TI: And so in terms of equipment and property, you just kept it at your place.

TM: Yeah, yeah. They started, as long as they used it right there, see. So I made an understanding with the fellow I leased it to, he'd take care of it like it was his own, so I came out all right.

TI: And so at the time the war broke out, how much property did you own at that time? How many acres?

TM: Well, I didn't have too much. Let's see, I had one, two, three, I think I had seventy-five acres all total. So just, just getting started.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: Okay, good. So explain to me what happens when the, when you had to leave Watsonville. Where were you picked up and what was that like?

TM: Yeah, there was quite a commotion going on. There was people, we had JACL members going over to Idaho, looking around at the ranches there. Whether we go as a group, or didn't want to go with a group, or...

TI: Oh, interesting. So you were, you were considering as a group to go up to --

TM: We had JACL members, they'd go over to certain areas where they can go as a group or want to join 'em or this and that. Some moved, some didn't, and I said, "Well, I think I'm going to sit tight and see what's going to happen," so I just joined the crowd and that's what we did.

TI: For those who were moving, or considering moving as a group, what did you think about that? Did you think that was a good idea?

TM: Well, I never gave it a thought.

TI: You decided to sit tight, you were an experienced, farmer, so why didn't you think that was a good idea?

TM: I said, "Gee, you know, I got property here, and then move, what am I gonna do?" So I said I'll just sit tight for time being and do what the others are gonna do.

TI: So the other Nisei farmers were kind of sitting tight also, the ones who were...

TM: Yeah, they, they made arrangement with the fellows that could take over their property, leases.

TI: And so the groups that were thinking of, of farming in Idaho as a group, who were they? Were they not as experienced?

TM: Well, no, they knew what they were thinking about, trying to help the group, so I was one of them, not one 'em, so I had no plans. I said, "Gee, why worry about some more other stuff?" [Laughs] So I said, "Forget about it," I told myself, "Gee, I don't want to get involved with it anymore." Gee, moving all the way to Idaho, you got to get trucks, you got to get everything, so I said, "Ah." So I don't think it ever happened. Maybe some were, on their own, they finally left. Got a truck and just left California, because we had to leave, we knew we had to leave California, that's for sure. So I said, do what the government is going tell me to do.

TI: And you mentioned, and you said the JACL was helping this group also.

TM: Well, yeah. They were, they were looking into it, they did all they could do, there wasn't too much you could do, there were not too much choices. And there weren't any good things coming out of it.

TI: So let's, okay, also during this time, so you were a high school graduate, you were working on the farm.

TM: Yeah, I was, see, twenty-six years old.

TI: So you were pretty old.

TM: Well, yeah.

TI: Or pretty well-established. How about your other siblings? What were they doing when this happened?

TM: Well, my brother, he got drafted 1940, was it '40? Anyway, yeah, he got drafted, and they picked on me first, they were drafting Niseis already. And they picked on me -- this was in October of 1940. I said, "Well, I'm a farmer so that's okay, I got business to take care of." So then my brother, he just graduated high school...

TI: So that's interesting. So if you were drafted and you were a farmer, you'd get an exemption?

TM: You'd get an exemption, see. So I came in that category.

TI: Okay. But then your brother wasn't.

TM: My brother wasn't. He just got out of high school two years, and then he was helping at the ranch. He was helping me at the ranch, so the draft board asked him, "Well, you report." So he said, "Okay," he went. He went to Camp Roberts in, down south, and then from there he volunteered to go to Military Intelligence, so that was his...

TI: So was he one of the early classes of the Military Intelligence Service?

TM: Yeah, he was the one, they opened that up, so he was one of the early classes.

TI: And so did he train in Minnesota?

TM: Yeah.

TI: And then your sisters, what were they doing?

TM: Well, they were still going to high school yet. So you know, they're just staying with me. I had to take care of 'em because my father was taken away, my mother.

TI: And so you were kind of the head of the household.

TM: Yeah, so there was no other brothers or anybody else. Luckily had my sister and my mother.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So describe going to Salinas. So who was with you?

TM: Well, they said, "Take whatever you can take." Well, there's nothing, so I don't know what I took, I just threw the clothes and, I don't know what I took. I have no recollection what I took with me.

TI: And so it was you, your mother and who else?

TM: My sister.

TI: Your sister, so three of you?

TM: Yeah.

TI: And where in Watsonville were you picked up to go?

TM: Oh, we were at the Civic Auditorium. We met there, they told us, "Be there," I mean, "Be there, and then from there, we're gonna to go the depot, get on a train," and then they didn't tell us where we were going, so we just met at the Watsonville Civic, not Civic, but Auditorium. Not Auditorium, what do you call that now? Vet's Hall. That's where it was.

TI: Okay, the VFW hall or something?

TM: Veterans Hall, yeah.

TI: Veterans Hall. And describe how many people were there, what did it look like that, that day?

TM: Well, it was sad. Yeah, it was, nothing was said. We just wondered if this was the last of seeing here or what, we never knew exactly what's gonna happen, so we just got, took orders to be by, at the Veterans Hall, and from there, it was shipping someplace. We didn't know, knew we was going down south, they didn't say Poston, I don't think.

TI: But first you went to Salinas, right?

TM: We're here, then we went to Salinas Assembly Center. We stayed there for about three, I think three weeks.

TI: And so describe what that was like. Had you ever been there before?

TM: No, they put up this barracks and put us all in barracks.

TI: And so what was Salinas like for you when you first saw it?

TM: Well, I don't know, it's hard to describe. We just wondered where, what's gonna happen to us. I would say, "What's gonna happen?"

TI: And so you were an older Nisei and you had these younger Nisei. So at Salinas, what, what type of things would you do to keep people busy?

TM: Well, we'd, I was in charge of the activities, so sports, tried to keep the fellows busy. Baseball, organized baseball and volleyball, whatever. Social stuff, they had some dancing and this and that. Just, just to keep a little active going instead of just sitting still all the time. So kind of take it day by day, and they'll tell us what to do, so we just more or less, just abide by them. We had no agitators or anybody else. Some places had some agitators around, you know. But luckily, we had no agitators or anybody, just everybody seemed to be calm about it. There's nothing you could do.

TI: So you mentioned organizing, kind of like sports and dances.

TM: Yeah, I organized baseball teams.

TI: I was talking to, to Mas Hashimoto the other day, and I guess for his family, a tragedy happened.

TM: Yeah, yeah, he lost a brother.

TI: His brother, playing baseball.

TM: Baseball, or... yeah, something happened, exactly what happened, I know, yeah, he lost a brother.

TI: Did you know anything, do you know what happened at all?

TM: No, not exactly. I knew, yeah, I knew that happened, and I knew Mas was, he was a younger fellow, but I knew his older brothers. Yeah, that's right.

TI: Yeah, that's unfortunate, a tragedy.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: So after weeks at Salinas, then you go down south to Poston.

TM: Poston, yeah.

TI: What was Poston like?

TM: Boy, that day I got there it was windy, it was hot, that was in March, I think it was. Hundred and twenty degrees in the hot sun, and the barracks, you know, you're, where it's put together, you could see the sand underneath there. The wind blew, and it was a mess. I don't see how people, I thought, "Gee, I wonder if my mother's gonna live through all this." I can't forget that, how terrible it was, especially for the elderly people, hundred and twenty degrees.

TI: When you saw that, what were you thinking? Not only was it that hard, were you...

TM: I was thinking, "I wonder if I'm gonna live through that." You can't think of anything good or anything bad, you're just gonna go through what's coming to you.

TI: And so how did people adapt? I mean, Watsonville, it's pretty cool and very...

TM: Yeah, we come from a cold place and get thrown in the hot, hot...

TI: So how did you adapt and what did you have to do?

TM: I think everybody, they all seemed to do all right, they all managed, came out of it and yeah, that was hell. That was too bad, especially for the older people who were disabled a bit. See, I was a young man, twenty-five years old, you know, so nothing bothered me at that time. But I said, "Gee, I feel sorry for the other people, the older people, the women, ladies, and disabled."

TI: You mentioned your mother got through it, she adapted. When she was at Poston, what were some of the activities that your, your mother did?

TM: Oh, only thing she did was knitting, so you know, so she had time to just knit, and so that kept her busy.

TI: Now, would she do this in the barracks, or with a group?

TM: Well, within the, in the barrack, yeah.

TI: And then for you, what did you do to keep busy?

TM: [Laughs] I don't know. I did something, but I forgot what I did.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Well, one of the things that I've read about is a golf course in Poston.

TM: Oh that, later on, when we got time, when we got settled. Gee, I got to, I worked in the kitchen, I said, that's the best place to work. It's cool and you got the cooler and a lot of food there, so I won't starve. Then later on, I said, "Gee, what am I gonna do in between?" And there was, see, we were right on the corner, it's Block 210, open spaces, you know. And to get on the other side, no, it was in the... anyway, there was a lot of areas where vacant land. Not vacant land, but open land, spaces, so I asked somebody, "Could I go out there and make a few holes to play golf?" And they said, "Oh, do whatever you want," they didn't care. There wasn't anybody interested in golf in those days. So to pass time, I said, oh, I think I made three or four or five holes just way out back.

TI: And so how do you make a golf course in the desert? I mean, what do you do?

TM: All we did is for sand, we just kind of raked it and make it level, and get a, going down to the kitchen, got some cans for the hole, made that a cup.

TI: And so the greens were just sand greens.

TM: Yeah, sand greens. We just kind of leveled them, kind of raked it with a, we made it, everybody had it for, leveled it out, so flattened it out so it looked, looked better than just ordinary sand. So made it look like a green, but it wasn't, just a sand, sand area.

TI: Now, did you have, like, fairways?

TM: Well, there's no fairway, it's just open land.

TI: Open land, and so there was no rough or fairways, it was just, everything was rough.

TM: Just a few holes to just kill the time. That's what my intention was.

TI: And what would you do for golf clubs and golf balls?

TM: Well, I finally had them sent to me.

TI: So this was sent back from...

TM: Watsonville, yeah.

TI: ...Watsonville, someone sent you the stuff. How about the other fellows?

TM: Yeah, they did the same thing, they had them sent or, you know.

TI: Now, once you had your little golf course set up, did you have, like, competitions or tournaments?

TM: No, we just... just went out there. And members of Block 220, it'd be at the end over there, they formed the same, they did the same thing. They got the idea of what I was doing, so, "Yeah, I guess we'll do that."

TI: So did you ever go down there and play their course?

TM: No, it was pretty hot to walk down to the other end. [Laughs]

TI: So with it being so hot, when would you guys golf?

TM: Early in the morning.

TI: Early in the morning?

TM: The evening. Just a few holes, three or four holes just to pass time, kill the monotony of it.

TI: Now, during this time, did you ever have contact, or, like, letters from your father about what, where he was and what was happening with your father during this time?

TM: No. He, all I knew was where he was. He wrote to us, and I'm not good at Japanese, so...

TI: Oh, so his letters were in Japanese.

TM: Yeah, so my brother-in-law or my sister, Neesan, she's, she could.

TI: Any other memories or stories about Poston that you want to share?

TM: I don't think there's too much memories, that's not any good. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: Well, there's one thing, you mentioned earlier you were drafted but didn't have to, you had an exemption.

TM: Yeah.

TI: During the camp, the government came out with that questionnaire, that "loyalty questionnaire."

TM: Yeah, yeah.

TI: Do you, do you remember that?

TM: Yeah. I forgot when we received it, "yes" and "no," yeah.

TI: Yeah, it was 1943.

TM: I guess, '43...

TI: Or end of '42, early '43.

TM: Yeah, January '43.

TI: So describe what happened with that questionnaire at Poston. Did that cause some problems or anything?

TM: Well, there's lot of, some commotion going on, and I looked at it and said, I don't know what I signed, either "yes" or "no." [Laughs] I just signed. And there was some commotion going on. I didn't want to get involved, so I just stayed out. Some, some Niseis were, you know... I don't blame them to be that way, but I didn't want to get involved in it, so I just stayed in the background.

TI: Now, did your, now that you were in camp, did your exemption still hold, so they didn't try to draft...

TM: That I had, I had no idea.

TI: So they never tried to draft you again, though.

TM: No, they start working on you later on when you start moving around, I started moving around. I went out looking for a job. Or just mainly, I was looking for a job, I got curious. I didn't want to sit in the camp, so I just went out to Salt Lake City one year, one time, then I went into Seabrook Farm, said, well, since being a farmer, I went over there and looked around over there.

TI: And what did you see when you went to Seabrook?

TM: Well, it's just like any frozen food product, like he had frozen food product here. Just an excuse to get out of the camp, travel.

TI: And so when you saw Seabrook and looked at it, you weren't that interested.

TM: No, no. Just, just a way to get out.

TI: And then Salt Lake City, what did you look at?

TM: Just looked around.

TI: And then, so nothing was really that interesting to you.

TM: No, no, not the work.

TI: Well then when the war ended, they allowed people to come back to, to California.

TM: Yeah, '45.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: Were you one of the first ones to come back to Watsonville?

TM: Yeah, well, we all came back about the same time, yeah. We left Poston, and trainload of people come back to Watsonville, we came back.

TI: And so how had Watsonville changed in that time you were gone?

TM: Well, I came... well, it's before we came back here, my brother was on furlough, so I walked down Main Street, and I was just curious, he and I walked down Main Street, my brother was in uniform, so they just kind of looked at us. They didn't say anything, and the Caucasian I saw didn't say anything. But the fellows that I went to school with, they were all in service or something, so I didn't see any of 'em. So I said, well, they didn't, like I said, some places, they put signs, they didn't welcome you, so I didn't have that fortune of being, being, say, "Don't come back." Well, I had a home and you know, so I said, well, I had no other place to go but home, as long as I let 'em know when I'm coming back. And I was in the contract that, I let him know when I'm coming back, I'll be coming back.

TI: Oh, for the farm?

TM: Yeah, for the farm.

TI: And what was the condition of the farm when you...

TM: Oh, fine. I had a good tenant, so he kept up my equipment, tractors that he had to use, the pickup, so I left the pickup, so that was the only source of, for me to get around, to get my pickup and ride around. [Laughs] I sold the car because it was already fairly old, so no use hanging onto it. Got a few bucks for it, but I had the pickup, luckily.

TI: And so how soon after you returned did you start farming?

TM: Well, I, returned in '45, I started farming in '46.

TI: And were there any, kind of, barriers or obstacles for you to get started up again?

TM: No, no. We had no problem in Watsonville. People all understood, you know. Because there weren't too many farmers, I mean, that had acreage in Watsonville area, it's small, we were all small growers, so we didn't take up a lot of their, you know, land or anything like that.

TI: And so with, you mentioned earlier about the company T&A, so were you working with them at that time, too, or was that, that was a little bit later?

TM: No, that was later, yeah.

TI: So when you first started, who did you sell your, your produce to?

TM: Well, T&A, well, Mr. Antle.

TI: Okay, so that was before he started T&A, but...

TM: Yeah, yeah, the T&A formed later on.

TI: And then later on he formed T&A. So did the number of Nisei farmers or farmers change before the war and then after the war? Were there, like, fewer after the war?

TM: Well, I think the farmers that kept onto their property, they came back. They had some, same kind of deal like I did, and they started farming again. So there weren't too many Nisei farmers. Like the Sakatas, they're a corporation, see, and corporation, well, you don't have to be around, because corporations take care of the, so they were okay. And as far as farming, row crop farming, but rest of 'em were berry growers, so they come back and start leasing the property and started farming berries again, I guess.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: And then your, your father, when did you get reconnected with your father?

TM: Well, gee, I forgot. But I think in total, four or five months, then he came back, so he joined our family.

TI: The family in Watsonville?

TM: No, in...

TI: Oh, in Poston.

TM: Poston, yeah.

TI: Oh, so after four or five months, then he joined the family.

TM: Yeah.

TI: So what was that like when he joined you?

TM: Well, he didn't... well, without him, it wasn't any different, because he didn't take any active part or he didn't do, raised his voice or anything. He just was a peaceful man, so...

TI: Did you see any changes in him when...

TM: I don't know, it's hard to say.

TI: How about physically? Any changes physically?

TM: No.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: So let's go back to the farming. I'm curious how farming sort of evolved in the Watsonville area with the Japanese or the Nisei farmers. So you were talking earlier how gradually, before the war, you had about seventy-five acres, and then gradually you would just keep adding plots, acreage to the farms. So who were some of the other Nisei farmers who were doing the same thing? Besides you, who else was...

TM: No, I don't think there was anybody else. Because farmland is hard to rent, I mean, to get hold of. I was very fortunate.

TI: Oh, so you're one of the few ones who actually added, then, land.

TM: Well, yeah, I guess so. I don't think there was anybody around, yeah. Yeah, I was the only one, I think, because Manabes had the same property what they have now. Fujis, same property, yeah, they're the only farmers, Hirahara, they lost part of it to the highway, the main highway goes through there and they have a property at Monterey County. I don't know what, if they still have that or not. I don't think so, because Fumio, he passed away, so the younger brothers, they're not in the operation, so I don't know what happened. And that was it. There weren't too many Nisei farmers.

TI: So what made you different? Why did you, why were you one of the only ones who, who grew after the war?

TM: Well, I had a little property, and then I was, lucky to rent adjoining property. Because small farmers didn't have a chance, so for me to survive, I had to either lease it out or, you know, sell the property. So I said, well, I enjoyed farming so far, so I said, well, I'll just lease some more property. So I leased more property.

TI: Now, was that viewed as kind of risky during that time? Is that why other people didn't do it?

TM: Well, according to the, you know, the company, they were doing okay, so I was with Bud Antle at that time, and then Tanemuras joined them, so you know, they were one of the top growers and shippers out of the valley, so I was lucky I was starting up with them.

TI: And so other than that, are there any other people that you could think of that were helpful to you in growing the business?

TM: No, I didn't... I just went along independently. Just took it as it comes, I guess, more or less.

TI: And then as you grew, was it still the same kind of crops?

TM: Yeah, same type of crop.

TI: And then, and then how long did you farm before you stopped?

TM: Let's see. I started in '46, I started again, I mean, I started again in '46 and I kept going until I, I retired in '82 because I finally got a heart attack, '82, that's '46 and '82. So I asked the doctor, "Well, what do you think?" He said, "Well, probably just take it easy." "Take it easy, what do you mean?" So I retired in '82.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: And when you retired in '82, how many acres did you control at that time?

TM: Well, I was leasing here and there, and luckily adjoining properties, across the street, across the highway, Beach Road. And then I luckily, I was doing pretty good, so I bought a hundred-acre plot right adjoining the Beach Road. So I bought that in early '60s, and then didn't have to pay it all off, I paid five thousand dollar an acre, and the guys said, "Gee, how are you gonna pay for that?" I said, well, I didn't have to pay it all, I just pay by so much down, so much a month. So I managed.

TI: You said five dollars an acre?

TM: Five thousand dollars.

TI: Oh, five thousand dollars an acre, okay.

TM: That was a hundred-acre block.

TI: And that was in the '60s. And so you had those hundred acres, and you had the seventy-five before, so you owned about 175 acres?

TM: Yeah.

TI: And then you leased more land.

TM: Yeah, I was leasing more than that, and then when I bought that property and I said, "Well, I won't have to lease, I have enough." I didn't want to take too much chances, you know. So I bought ten acres, another piece of property from couple more fellows, ten or fifteen acres on the side. So I was lucky getting those little property. Because smaller farmers couldn't make a living out of it.

TI: And so when you retired in '82, what happened to the farm?

TM: Well, my son, one of my youngest, not youngest, my middle son, he wanted to get into farming, so he farmed with me for four or five years. And I told him, "Well, I'm going to retire, Doc told me to retire, so I'm to just quit and lease the property out," so that's what I did, and he found another job. He's working for a berry picker, Well-pick.

TI: And so right now you're just leasing all the land?

TM: Yeah, I leased property, it's all under berries right now, and some row crop.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: I now want to talk about your family. So when did you meet your wife?

TM: Oh, this was in camp. [Laughs]

TI: And so how, how did you meet your wife in camp?

TM: Well, all that family, Watsonville people, were in block, in that same block as I was in. So I worked in the kitchen, she worked in the kitchen and just nothing else to do, just conversation, this and that.

TI: So she was from Watsonville, also?

TM: Yeah, she was from Watsonville.

TI: And so what was your wife's name?

TM: Kikue Yamamoto.

TI: And so you started dating your wife in camp.

TM: Yeah.

TI: And then you, did you get married in camp also?

TM: Yeah.

TI: So describe that. How was a wedding done in camp?

TM: Just, nothing big, I didn't want anything big, so I just told the reverend, "We're gonna get married," so we got married.

TI: So where did you get married?

TM: At the, in our block.

TI: So in, like, the mess hall?

TM: Yeah, mess hall. Just nothing, you know, we went out on our honeymoon to Salt Lake City, took about a week off.

TI: And so then after you were married, did they give you your own apartment?

TM: Yeah.

TI: So you had your own apartment. And then your, your children, when did you start having children?

TM: Oh, a year later. Come back, we came back in... what year was it? Let's see, '45, we come back in '45.

TI: So can you tell me the names of your children?

TM: Marvin is the oldest one. Then Steve and Bud.

TI: Okay, and so Steve's the one who kind of farmed with you.

TM: He lives, yeah. Well, we, I told him, "Instead of farming, you could find a job," and then I live with him -- he lives with me now. He got married, but he had one son, he got divorced, so he's living with me.

TI: And how many grandchildren do you have?

TM: Six. Let's see, I have, Buddy, Buddy has four, he's in San Jose, he has a CPA firm. And Marvin, he has two... I have seven, and Steve has one, one boy.

TI: Okay, so seven.

TM: Seven grandkids.

TI: That's great. And is your wife still living?

TM: No, I lost her December 6, let's see, thirteen years, this year would be thirteen years. Let's see, what year is that? I forgot. Anyways, thirteen years.

TI: So that'd be... oh, I can't do the math, but yeah.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

TI :And then how long did your parents live?

TM: Both my parents lived 'til, they passed away in '79, they were both ninety-four.

TI: Wow, so they both lived a long, long life.

TM: Yeah, they good... yeah.

TI: And were they both pretty healthy all the way?

TM: Yeah, they never went to the doctor. My father never had a doctor and my mother never had a doctor, so they were lucky.

TI: So I'm curious, did they ever return to Japan to visit?

TM: No.

TI: And how about you? Have you ever visited Japan?

TM: I visited Japan to see what the home... you know.

TI: And what were your impressions of Japan when you visited?

TM: It was too crowded. Well, although where my folks lived, out in the country, inaka, so it was all right.

TI: Yeah, in the Fukuoka, that area there.

TM: Yeah, Fukuoka, yeah.

TI: Yeah, because that area, in some ways, the climate reminds me of this area. It's cooler.

TM: Yeah, it is, good time of year I went, and we spent about, my wife and I spent about four weeks in Japan looking around here and there, traveled all over, just spent a good time over there. So I got one cousin there, he still lives there. He used to live here, and then he went back to Japan, and he's still living there.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

TI: So that's, so I finished all my questions. Is there anything else that I didn't ask you or cover that you'd like to, to mention?

TM: I think you covered everything. [Laughs]

TI: [Laughs] No, it was really interesting. I really learned a lot, not only about the sports, but just the farming business was really interesting to me.

TM: Well, there isn't too much to farming, just a lot of work, time, patience.

TI: Yeah, but over time, you have this interesting story.

TM: Just, you know, hoping for the good weather come.

TI: Well, you've been very successful.

TM: Yeah, I've been lucky.

TI: What do you attribute your success to? You said luck, but there must be, is there something else that you think is important?

TM: Well, I would think, luckily I was lucky. [Laughs] I had just the right acreage, like lettuce, it don't come out all at one time. We had different acreage, in other words, I had about seven or eight blocks of twenty-acre blocks, and I was able to lease other property, adjoining property and come out at the same time. And I was with a good firm that handled markets and commodities. So that way, I give them more credit than my luck, too. Luck goes along with it, but farming is a gamble.

TI: Good. Well, so Tom, thank you so much for doing this interview. I really, really enjoyed it. Thank you.

TM: Thank you.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.