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_4-01-0005

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: But there's something that happened when, in the 1920s, when Mr. McDonald died.

GY: Yes.

TI: Tell me what happened, this is interesting to me.

GY: Well, as a... I was just told, I don't have any documentation or anything, but Mr. McDonald lived in Stockton, and Mr. and Mrs. McDonald didn't really live together or see each other. And the son was a real, quite spoiled as I hear. So Mr. McDonald, when he passed away, his will had it that my grandfather would inherit his operations or farm or whatever it was. And I don't know for what reason, but my grandfather gave that, he said he can't do it and gave it back to Mrs. McDonald. And it could have been because foreigners couldn't own land, so it was impossible, but there could have been ways. But the irony of all this is that once he did that and she got the property, she sold it. So what he was doing, all of it was gone. And so he rented the adjacent farm to do some agriculture.

TI: Do you know, when she sold it, did she give your grandfather anything?

GY: Token amount?

TI: Anything to help them out? Because essentially, when she sold it, he was out of everything. Out of a job...

GY: No, I don't. I wish I would have asked my grandfather or my grandmother. But, you know, Isseis didn't talk to children that much. We were invisible. So a lot of this came from my grandmother and my mom, and friends of my grandfather.

TI: But there was one thing that you were, you witnessed. When you talked about your grandmother going to visit Mrs. McDonald, you said that the grandmother went out there and gave her a hug, but you also said the grandfather stayed in the car. And so they drive all the way up there, and he didn't come out of the car to greet her in any way?

GY: Good point. You know, we were like eight years old or whatever.

TI: But you didn't, did you notice him saying anything, or his demeanor or anything?

GY: No, he never talked to us very much. And he didn't, like men of that era, they didn't say much. Few words.

TI: Yeah, I just thought that it was interesting that he...

GY: Yeah, there could have been reason there.

TI: ...that he, maybe he would at least come out and...

GY: Yeah, at least he could have come out and said, "Hello." Yeah, he did not. He stayed in the car with us. And it wasn't in the days when a parent had, or someone had to be in the car with a child, didn't matter.

TI: Yeah. Oh, interesting. Because essentially he potentially had all this land and everything to have done something with, and he just gave it to the...

GY: Yeah, he never mentioned it himself, and others mentioned that happening. And you know, I think the whole war thing, he lost everything at the war, because he was on rented land, hundreds of acres of peas, and it was all gone. Their equipment had to be sold, they put a whole bunch of stuff in the barn. I guess there was still, it was either on the farm that he was working on, there was a barn and a couple of houses. And they put a lot of what they wanted to keep in those barns, in that barn.

SF: And Mr. McDonald died...

GY: I don't know. I've got it in my, in those notes. I think it was like 1929 or around there.

SF: So I'm just kind of wondering, Santa Clara County, the district attorney didn't enforce the land laws that strictly.

GY: Oh, really?

SF: That's what I understand. So I'm just kind of wondering...

GY: Yeah, see, that was a second thought of mine. When I heard that that happened, my grandfather gave it back, I thought maybe it was because he couldn't own it anyway, but there might have been a way. But he just couldn't leave her without it. And Mr. McDonald was, he was, I guess he was a pretty strong-minded person. And yeah, they didn't live together, so there could have been other things.

TI: But going back to the story you mentioned in terms of the mausoleum, ever since Mr. McDonald died, it seemed like your family had feelings for him, I mean, in terms of taking him flowers on Memorial Day...

GY: Yeah, my grandmother insisted. So yeah, there was that feeling, that he's a guy that helped them survive in America.

TI: Okay, good. Good story about your grandfather.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.