Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: George Yano Interview
Narrator: George Yano
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda, Steve Fugita
Location: San Jose, California
Date: December 1, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-ygeorge_4-01-0010

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TI: So let's start the second segment, George. And where we kind of left it was right after the war had broken out, December 7, 1941. Earlier you had mentioned that there was a possibility that Mrs. McDonald had somehow let your family know that there was gonna be a removal and that maybe they should get out of the area. So let's kind of pick it up there again in terms of that time period. So tell me what you know about that.

GY: Well, I only heard that story. And it could have been my mom or someone that I was asking at the time I was doing the research, but they mentioned Mrs. McDonald giving advice that, "This is for real, it's gonna happen. So you either leave or you're going to be going to camp soon." Something of that nature. So many people were already preparing. All the members of the farm, the pea shipping company that my grandfather was involved with called Hato Pea shipping company, were ready to leave. And Tanases were in that group. I'd have to look at some of the notes, but, yeah.

TI: But what kind of arrangements were they able to make? So even if you wanted to leave, you had to have some place to go to and something to do. What kind of arrangements...

GY: None. They, there was some kind of an advertisement in either the Nichibei or Hokubei Mainichi, and it was something to the effect that, "If you get to Salt Lake City, look up this number," and it was sort of endorsed by the JACL, "and we will find work for you." And it just so happened that that was sort of a scam to get people in. It was a labor contractor in Salt Lake City who wanted to get the people, so when they got to Salt Lake City, there was nothing. And it just so happened that the Great Western Sugar Company was looking for farmers, and there was a Japanese guy, name is in the report, that was in that company. And also, there was another sugar company called the Pacific Sugar Company or something, in Watsonville. And they were the same company. And I think it's a guy named Matsumoto. From there, they found, in Colorado. So anyway, there was some form of communication, and a lot of the people that got to Salt Lake City went into that, went to Colorado and Wyoming where the Great Western Sugar Company was looking for farmers, people that could manage farms. So there was no plan, they just took out as much money as they could. And good thing because afterwards, they were only allowed to take out a hundred dollars a month. But, yeah, it was just, "We've got to go."

SF: The basis of the group was people who worked at Hato Pea or their friends, or were they relatives?

GY: Yeah. It was Hato Pea, and relatives, and then people who knew, had like Watanabes from Mountain View, three brothers, they evacuated at the same time. They weren't involved with Hato Pea, but they asked if they could join because they knew someone. Someone knew somebody, so that one caravan went. There were people that wanted to go, but as I mentioned in the report, General DeWitt changed the rules. It was supposed to be the end of March, he moved it up a few days and into a weekend. And so it must have been really hard for anyone to go, and other people may have moved, voluntarily evacuated, if it wasn't for that. It was just overnight. They had that day's notice to prepare, most of the trucks were already ready, they dumped whatever they could on the trucks, got together in the morning of the 28th, I think it was, or 29th, and took off to get out of the military zone before a certain time.

SF: In your research, did you run into other people who left as individuals or families? Or were there other groups that you heard about?

GY: There must have been other groups, because there were a lot of people from the San Jose area that moved to Colorado. And I never researched this, but I heard that a guy that, in Mountain View, that used to do sports, was Sambo Sugimoto's family, were in Colorado. My mom may know. Maybe that's something that I should look into to try to get some more information on the people that went voluntarily. And some just went to Salt Lake City, ended up there, but lived outside the camps. No, but I really haven't researched that. And a lot of those people are going, too.

TI: So the notice said, "Get to Salt Lake City and then we'll find you work," your family went to Colorado. I'm curious, did the influence of Governor Carr in terms of going to Colorado, did that ever come up in terms of the governor and his willingness to have people come to Colorado or anything like that?

GY: No. I've never heard that part of it, but the Zimblemans and the community over there, there's a German community, and the Zimblemans had been forced out of the East Coast by discrimination and that during the First World War. I don't know if it was something more than that, but they moved to Colorado at the time of the First World War. So they sympathized with the Japanese Americans.

TI: Because they were of German ancestry?

GY: German ancestry, and there were people of Italian ancestry there as well. Although I don't know if in 1941 the Italians were in the war. But yeah, lot of Italian farmers and German farmers in the Colorado area.

TI: And they were generally sympathetic?

GY: They were generally sympathetic, yeah. I mentioned in the report that they had a gathering, they formed the neighbors, and this was just on the spot. The group arrived, and some people went to meet them, and I think Zimbleman, one of Zimbleman's sons, when they said, "What are we gonna do? Now, we didn't have anything like that in the paper, we weren't looking for help," but they said, "Hey, these guys are here and they've got skills, we've got to do something." And they first were put into any kind of housing, like many families in one house and then those German ranchers put up, built homes, cottages for the families.

SF: So would you guess that the Germans, community there was well-organized in the sense of families tied together, and so the Zimblemans contacted them because of this kind of network?

GY: Probably. It's a small community. This is Keenesburg. Keenesburg is smaller than Fort Lupton, it's a small community, they probably knew each other, the community knew each other, the people in the community. I don't know that there was a concerted or understood effort to help the Japanese. I think the Japanese Americans just appeared, so there was a need to do both sugar beets and cattle ranching. So this is just guessing on my part.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.