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-01-0005

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: Well, give us kind of a picture of what you, you and your brothers and sisters did to help out your parents on the farm.

NM: Well, mainly I guess the main work was that we had to tie... the vegetables would be usually hauled in from the field. And the Mexican workers would probably do the pulling of the carrots or whatever. And so, we, after school, had to bunch the vegetables. Like, you had five or six carrots that we put into a bunch and tied it with the raffia. And then those bunches were put into a dozen bunches and then after doing all that we had to wash them. Fortunately it was a sandy ground so it wasn't too hard to wash the carrots. If it's muddy ground then it'd be quite a job. And so my father built a large tank and filled it with water and we were scrubbing away with big brushes. And that was late at night. And then after that we had to study. We had to work first. So, I guess that was the main thing we did. Sometimes we went out to the field, did some hoeing of weeds and thinning the vegetables and things like that.

RP: Did your father have any mechanical equipment? Tractors or...

NM: Yes. Of course, at first it was horses and sleds. And, and also he had a tractor from as far as I can remember. And a lot of the plowing and the leveling was done by tractor.

RP: Do you know where he got his water from? Did he have a well on the land?

NM: We had a well. That was built later. And, but while I was still quite young, we had a, he had a, dug a well. And had a big tank on a high platform and otherwise that was mostly used for washing the vegetables, you know, had to fill that tank. And for our house, household use. And otherwise it was the irrigation water which was, which came from the Salt River. That was over in Granite Reef Dam or whatever the water, dam, dam water we used.

Off Camera: Is that the one that came in the canal, that ran along five?

NM: There was a canal, yes. There was a canal on the east side of the farm and there was a pump on the adjoining property. But we didn't use that for farming.

Off Camera: Oh, you didn't.

NM: But it just went along side the property. But we did swim in it, nice cold water. [Laughs]

RP: Were there fish in it too or do you remember?

NM: Yes, below in the stream there were I think like carps or something like that or maybe suckers, what we'd call suckers. But, not too many I don't think.

RP: So you developed a bit of a work ethic on the farm there from your parents.

NM: Yes, I guess, I don't know if you'd call it develop. We had to know it.

RP: Right.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.