Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Marian Uyematsu Naito Interview
Narrator: Marian Uyematsu Naito
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: October 15, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-nmarian-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historic Site. Today we're talking with Marian Naito, maiden name Uyematsu.

MN: Right.

RP: And the interview is taking place at the Main Street Station Hotel, room 701. The date of the interview is October 15, 2008. The interviewer is Richard Potashin, videographer is Kirk Peterson. And we'll be talking, discussing Marian's experiences at the Manzanar War Relocation Center with a special emphasis on her father who was a nursery owner in Montebello. And the interview will be archived in the park's library. And Marian, do I have permission to continue?

MN: Yes.

RP: Thank you very much for joining us this morning. Tell us a little bit about your early background. Where were you born and what year?

MN: I was born in Montebello, California, November... month and date? November 30, 1927. And...

RP: And can you give us your... did you have a Japanese name at birth?

MN: Right, Sachiko. In fact, I think my birth certificate says Sachiko Marian, I think.

RP: Sachiko, can you spell that for us?

MN: S-A-C-H-I-K-O.

RP: Uh-huh. And your maiden name?

MN: Uyematsu, U-Y-E-M-A-T-S-U.

RP: About your, your mom and dad, did they come from the same area in Japan?

MN: Uh-huh. They're both from Shizuoka-ken, which is, I guess, very close to Tokyo. And...

RP: You might... know much about your father's early life in Japan? His family's economic background? Farmers?

MN: Not a whole lot. I'm not sure what his family did. In fact, I don't, I guess they were farmers, I don't know. I know more about my mother's side.

RP: What brought your father to America?

MN: Oh, that's an interesting story. And this he told me when he was like in his nineties and he was a frail, frail man. He was only about, oh, five foot one or two, maybe a hundred, not even a hundred and twenty pounds at his, when he was healthy. And, but he was considered frail and I guess there was a war going on with China, and they were conscripting young men. And he was working in a jewelry shop and so his uncle told him, "You wouldn't be able to make it in the war, so you'd better go to America." And so he said he came here. And my first thought was, oh, in our terms it would be he was a draft dodger. But, so he came and he was, he was in a labor camp in Salinas, California. I guess it was farm labor. And then after that he spent time in San Francisco, I believe. And doing schoolboy type of work, domestic, domestic help. And then in nineteen... I don't know if it was just before the earthquake, he came down to southern California. And I have no idea how he got into the flower business. But he had a, I think he leased some land on what's now Figueroa near Olympic. And he was running a little nursery there. And from there he moved further east to Montebello and bought... well, he couldn't have bought property then. Or could he? I'm not sure. Because of alien land laws, I don't know if at that time he could. But he bought, he had this piece of property in Montebello and he started business there. And, later on his stationary he had written, "Established in 1908." That nursery.

RP: The nursery in Montebello?

MN: In Montebello, yeah.

RP: What was the name of the nursery?

MN: The, well it was Star Nursery, but in 1933 he incorporated it and it became Star Nurseries Incorporated. I think it was about 1933.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.