Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Victor Ikeda Interview
Narrator: Victor Ikeda
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: November 6, 2007
Densho ID: denshovh-ivictor-01-0005

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: And what type of cannery was it?

VI: It was a salmon cannery.

RP: These fish would be caught off --

VI: Right there.

RP: Right there and they were...

VI: Brought in.

RP: ...brought in. And that's where your dad worked.

VI: Right.

RP: Do you know what he did there?

VI: Well, he probably did what most of us do. As the fish comes in, you have people that butcher the fish. They...

RP: Fillet it?

VI: Fillet it. And they can it and put it in the retort. So what he did exactly I don't know, but that's what most of us did while we were going to school. When we were going to college during the summertimes, a lot of 'em will go up to Alaska and work the fish canneries for the summer.

RP: And did you ever do that?

VI: I did that, but I didn't go up to Alaska. I went up to Anacortes, they had a, Washington, which had a fish cannery, so we went up there and worked the canneries.

RP: That was just for a summer?

VI: Yes, just for summer.

RP: So it was to make some money for college?

VI: Well, yeah, for college, spending money, you know.

RP: Or a trip to Las Vegas?

VI: [Laughs] We came to Las Vegas in 1951, and there wasn't too much here. [Laughs]

RP: What kind of work is working the cannery? What was it like?

VI: Well, the fish, the tenders would come in and, of course, they'd dump the fish out. The first one you have is you have the sorters to sort out the different species of fish. And then they sent it through, they call it the "iron chink," which cuts the head off and the shoulders off. And then you got people cleaning the inside out, and then you go into it, and then they slice the, into strips which then you pack it into the cans and put it into the retorts. You put a salt capsule in there, and then that cans it. And then the best part of the salmon is their collar. I don't know if you people have ever eaten collar, but that's the real fatty part of the... and since they used to throw it away, they all used to cut the collar off and then put it in barrels and salt it and then bring it down. When they're through they would bring it down to Seattle, and we'd have salted collar which was very good. [Laughs]

RP: You remember having that as a kid?

VI: Yeah, yeah. Of course, nobody's real rich during that time so you eat things like that. But they were good, now you go to the restaurants, some of the Japanese restaurants still specialize in it. But you could only get it if they can get it, so that's good.

RP: Well, it sounds like you had a great, you know, great summers at the --

VI: We did.

RP: -- island. What a special place, kind of like going away on up for a three-month vacation.

VI: Yeah. And then when I look back at my childhood, and I look back at the childhood of people now, I mean, the kids now, I realize how lucky we were the way we were brought up so...

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.