Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Yooichi Wakamiya Interview
Narrator: Yooichi Wakamiya
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 4, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-wyooichi-01-0010

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RP: So let's talk a little bit about sort of that, that rough transition from leaving the farm, then going to the language school, and then going to Santa Anita. What arrangements did you make, your father, in terms of his, his farming situation, his operation?

YW: He did two things. He had tools and a lot of lumber that he had used. Fortunately for him, he had good relationship with the lumber yard in Gardena that he was doing business with for a number of years. He talked them into reserving a spot in the yard somewhere where he could bring his lumber and store it there. He said, "I don't know what this is gonna end up being, but if you could hold it there for me I'd appreciate it." I mean, he was a good customer, right? So they said, "Sure, bring it over here." So he, what little tools he had left he put over there, he put the lumber over there, and lo and behold, when he got back after camp, there they were. They said, "Take what, it's yours. Take it back." So that was one thing that he was able to take care of, but the crops he lost totally. What are you gonna do? You can't pull 'em up and sell 'em.

RP: That's the crop that he already had plus the crop that he --

YW: The following years were going. They're, I mean, he lost two, three acres of crops, and that's a lot of money involved there.

RP: Is there any way you can estimate how much that might've...

YW: I have no idea. I have no idea what carnations were at the time. It, he had to abandon it. what can you do? You can't take it with you. Most farmers had to just abandon their crops.

RP: Well, he had to cancel his lease with the...

YW: Yeah, he had to go to Johnson Ranch offices, said, "You know what happened. Everything hit the fan, so I got to foreclose on the lease, shut it off." So he just signed off and left. The only thing that saved him was he still had his bank account.

RP: B of A?

YW: But there was one other problem. In order to help his folks back home in Japan, he was putting money also in a different account with Sumitomo Bank. And in fact, many Japanese were doing that. Those bank accounts were frozen and stolen by the Japanese government. They shut it down. They, we can't, we have receipts that says we deposited ye many thousands of dollars in these accounts and we can't get 'em out. That's what happens when you're on the losing side, right? Japanese side lost, they confiscated all the accounts. So not only did he lose his crops here, he lost part of his account in the bank. He should've put it all in Bank of America, but the reason he left it in Sumitomo Bank was so his father and mother could get at it to use. There was, there was a few thousand dollars left in those accounts that he couldn't get his hands on. And a few thousand dollars in 1941 was a lot of money. So that was his loss.

RP: Do you remember, during this time of real upheaval and big changes for your, for your parents and you, do you remember sensing any emotions from them or how they were feeling about suddenly their life is sort of uprooting?

YW: There was a word in the Japanese language called shikata ga nai, which means "can't be helped." You know, what are you gonna do? It's beyond our powers. Go with the flow. And that's what happened.

RP: Tell us about the, your next home was the horse stalls at Santa Anita Racetrack.

YW: Santa (Anita Race) Track, Santa Anita, right.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.