Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Nellie Mitani Interview
Narrator: Nellie Mitani
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Pasadena, California
Date: February 5, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-mnellie-01-0004

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RP: Your father decided to go to Arizona to farm.

NM: Yeah.

RP: Saw some opportunities there?

NM: I guess it was just opening up and people were moving out that way.

RP: Uh-huh. And where did he establish himself in Arizona?

NM: In Mesa, Arizona. Yes. The community or the district of Mesa is Lehi, L-E-H-I. Sort of the Mormon center.

RP: Right, uh-huh. And, what was the, the ethnic makeup of the, the community there?

NM: I think maybe there were about five or six Japanese families and, 'course, there were people from Mexico. And I don't know that there were many other foreign groups there. They were just a small community and most of the them were American, Caucasian.

RP: And what about your, your father's farm? How large was it, do you recall?

NM: Around fifty acres.

RP: And what, what did he grow there?

NM: It was truck farming so all kinds of vegetables. Mainly, later on he specialized in growing carrots. I guess he was called the "Carrot King" or something like that in the produce market. He had a ton, I guess it's a ton and a half truck. It was filled with carrots. And he took that and sold 'em. And I think he sold them all because I don't remember having, discarding any at home.

RP: Where would he, where would, where would he haul his vegetables to?

NM: Oh, there was a big produce market in Phoenix. And so he'd have to get up around three o'clock and get over there before the retailers came and bought their produce.

RP: Did he do that every day? Would he go to market every day?

NM: Every day except Sundays. I don't know about Saturdays. Maybe Saturday and Sunday he didn't. But all, every weekday he did go.

RP: Well, I guess you and the rest of your siblings were, were some of the labor on the farm.

NM: Oh of course. Almost the main, main laborers practically. We did have a Mexican family living on the farm. And another man, a single man there. They were the main helpers and I think, I think when we were really busy we might have had some outside help. But they were sort of always there.

RP: Did you pick up any Spanish from them?

NM: Yes. I, a little bit, not too much. But, my youngest sister played with the kids, the Mexican children there. And so she was pretty good in Spanish. Yeah, yeah, she's... 'cause she, she was there with them all the time.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.