July 31, 2008

While in Watsonville I had the opportunity to do four interviews with Jiro Sugidono, Tom Mine, Kiyoko Morey Kaneko, and Mas Hashimoto. Each of these interviews will be a valuable addition to the growing collection of visual history interviews in the Densho archive.

Jiro Sugidono (84) told how Main Street in Watsonville was a boundary line for the issei. The issei were restricted from the west side (ocean side) of the street. Jiro’s mother had to sit in a car on the east side of Main Street and watch as her five children came out on the sidewalk with possible clothes and suitcases to buy before being removed from Watsonville. If Jiro’s mother approved, the kids would go back and buy their items.

Tom Mine’s (90) focus was on prewar baseball and farming. Tom talked about the long car trips nisei ballplayers made to play against teams in Florin, Sacramento and San Jose. He also shared how he became successful in the difficult business of farming by gradually adding more and more land.

 Kiyoko Morey Kaneko (97) told a riveting story of being in Pearl City on the morning of the attack at Pearl Harbor. She recounts being dressed in a colorful yukata standing on the grass while watching a Japanese fighter plane only yards away. She looked into the face of the pilot and wondered if the pilot was confused to see a Japanese girl on the ground.

Mas Hashimoto (73) is a retired high school Social Studies teacher who grew up and taught in Watsonville. He told a touching story of having his pet dog “Sunny” while incarcerated at Poston. Mas has a wealth of knowledge about Japanese American history in Watsonville and shares this information with volunteer school visits to thousands of students each year.