Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Sumiye Takeno Interview
Narrator: Sumiye Takeno
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: July 5, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-tsumiye-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: And when he came to this country, you mentioned to me that he actually jumped ship. That he...

ST: Yes.

RP: Do we know if that's in San Francisco or where he might have entered?

ST: I think it was San Francisco. He just snuck out. [Laughs]

RP: So he might have been --

ST: He couldn't afford anything.

RP: Right.

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: There were some of, some Isseis who were going to Mexico because they couldn't get a visa to come to the United States and they decided while they were in port in San Francisco to leave the ship and, 'cause United States looked a little better than going to Mexico.

ST: Oh, is that right?

RP: Maybe, I don't know if he was booked to go to another country or...

ST: I don't think he went to Mexico. Not that I know.

RP: But he, he settled in the Sacramento area.

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: And you say that he... did he actually own these grocery stores?

ST: Yeah, he, he had two stores. And then he decided he didn't... he said he wanted to be a farmer. So he bought the 80 acres.

RP: Okay.

ST: We've been there ever since. He's been there ever since.

RP: Is it still in the family?

ST: You mean...

RP: The, the farm?

ST: No. During the evacuation we had to sell. And the sad part is, sold for forty thousand. Two years later it was worth four hundred thousand. But what can we do?

RP: And what type of, what type of farm was, was it? What did your dad grow on, on his acreage?

ST: He grew strawberries and grapes, persimmons. And he had a few other vegetables, things like that, mostly for the family.

RP: What do you remember most about your father, Sumi?

ST: He was a very strict person. Whatever he said, went. So, none of us ever really argued with him. But he was not abusive or anything. All he had to say is, "Sumi," and I'd listen, or my brothers. They don't argue, they just listen to him. And he was a kind person.

RP: Did he have a soft side, too? His personality, was... could he be kind of fun-loving or --

ST: Oh, yes. Uh-huh.

RP: -- cantankerous.

ST: He was all that. But he was strict. So I guess that's why we all grew to be fairly good children, I think.

RP: What did you, what did you get from your father in terms of values or lessons about, about life or...

ST: You mean like honesty and things? Those are the things he always used to talk about. Our meals were always lectures. [Laughs] And we all listened to him. Of course, we chatted a lot. After all, there were what, thirteen of us all together. Because he adopted two cousins from Japan. So...

RP: So that was a pretty long dinner table.

ST: It was like a party every... And so, but see, we're talking English and so my father finally said, "Don't talk so much. I don't understand what you're talking about." [Laughs] He could understand some English but not the way we chat. So, we accompanied him and tried to talk Japanese a little bit.

RP: And that's why kids went to Japanese school, too?

ST: Oh yes, uh-huh. My Japanese school, one hour after the regular school and then about for three or four hours on Saturdays. So we learned quite a bit of Japanese.

RP: You probably were aware of this, but Isseis were not allowed to buy land. I think it was the --

ST: Yes, uh-huh, for a long time, but ---

RP: How did your father work out the arrangements to own land? Was it before the law?

ST: Some, somehow he was able to hang on to it. And then finally when the boys became age, it was put in their name.

RP: I see. So he might have bought it before the law came into effect?

ST: I beg your pardon?

RP: Did he buy the land possibly before the law...

ST: Oh, yes. He bought it, but he couldn't really own it.

RP: And then he put it in the name of the oldest boys?

ST: Uh-huh. Until he was able to name his sons.

RP: I see.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.