My Dad

June 13, 2012 by Admin


By Yvonne Nimnitch

The following is based on an interview and written from the narrator’s point of view.

My dad said, “We can make lots of money growing strawberries.”

So, we, a family of six, moved to Watsonville, California, in 1928, when I was 6 years old.

My mom lost lots of boys except for my two brothers, before I was born; they died before they learned to walk.

My dad worked hard, my dad worked us hard. We worked like the devil.

During the harvest, my sister and I were awoken before sunrise to pick strawberries.

No time to wash up, with dirt under our fingernails, my sister and I went off to school.

After school, we ran back to the field to pick more strawberries until the sun went down.

Many days, we stayed home from school to work in the field because the strawberries would not wait.

I don’t know why my two brothers weren’t made to pick strawberries. How come boys are always treated better than the girls?  Even bathing, I had to wait until my brothers bathed first.

Bathing in the homemade ofuro (bath tub) after long hours of working was the best part of the day.

My dad blew air through a long bamboo pipe to get the fire going, which heated the water.

I climbed up and into the ofuro, with hot water up to my chin and seeing the stars. Ahhh, that was the best feeling.

*          *          *

The war came and we were taken to Poston, Arizona prison camp.

The heat was stifling; we filled the cots with water in the morning and then poured the water out when it was time to go to bed, the only time we felt cool.

The hardship, the unbearable heat, lousy food and living in the Arizona desert really made me miss my home, but I sure did not miss picking strawberries.

1,015 days later, we were released from prison camp.

We came back to California.

My dad was old by this time, so he was fortunate to work in the orchard, spraying apples.

One day, he drove his truck out to the orchard, got out, and the truck began to roll.

He tried to stop the truck with all of his might . . .

I still can see him, in the casket, all fixed up and dressed in his Sunday best.

The apple trees were in full bloom.


More Stories by Yvonne Nimnicht

Gone Fishing
Newly Wed


In the aftermath of World War II, more than 110,000 persons of Japanese ancestry – roughly two-thirds of whom were American citizens – were released from forced imprisonment in U.S. concentration camps. But released to return where, after being taken from their homes along the West Coast? When they were finally allowed to leave the internment camps, they faced a new challenge: How do you resume a life so interrupted.
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