Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Jimi Yamaichi Interview
Narrator: Jimi Yamaichi
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Klamath Falls, Oregon
Date: July 4, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-yjimi-01-0007

JY: So when I went to Pomona, well, we looked around for a job and couldn't get a job, everything was filled. And I was chopping away, making geta -- because all the lumbers were gone, because all the rest -- we were last ones there, so we found some scraps, and this and that, and chopping away making for my brothers and sisters, and all my, everybody have a pair. Banging away and I brought a few tools with me. The kids would come around and says, "Hey, make me one." Okay. Then got to be the point where I'm making for everybody else. I says, "Wait a minute. Why don't you make it?" "We don't have no tools." These are kids, (nine to ten) year old kids. 'Cause they have no shame, they ask you anything, right? It was teenagers, they kind of shy, 'Well, maybe we shouldn't ask that man or not,' but those kids come around and ask me.

I said, "Okay. Let's do this -- " Meantime right around the corner, another fellow from San Francisco was a carpenter, too. He's a little older than I, he had about four years experience already. He was working in the trade for a Japanese contractor, Jun Iwaoka. Got talking about this and that, and he was chopping wood, making geta too, right. "Hey, Jun, these kids want me to make geta. How about you?" He says, "Yeah. They come around my house too." He says, "Let's start a class. And then between your tools and my tools, they can make their own geta." So before we know it, we had about twenty kids coming around the place, making geta. Then the girls says, "Hey, you're helping the boys, how about us?" Oh, jeez. So we ended up, we had kids in the morning, kids in the afternoon, girls one day half a day, and the girls never knew how to read a ruler. In school they didn't... so I told 'em 1/16th, 1/8th, this and that. Oh, we had a hard time. Anyway, so we had girls' class. So all these kids made geta in the assembly center. They're chopping away all day long, and they were having a ball. And so the younger kids -- said, "No, you got to be at least ten." I says, "You can't cut straight and chisel, you get hurt." And this one little kid -- I remember his name was Takeshi -- he comes around there, look at me, and he was about eight year old kid, "Can I do it? Can I do it?" "No, you're not old enough, I'm sorry." His brother was doing it, see. And finally I had to consent to give it to him, let him do it. Oh, this kid was so happy that I was to let him do it. Naturally I cut the grooves for him, and he chopping away, eight year old kid chopping away like this, and making geta. It was so satisfying to do that. Both of us enjoyed it.

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