Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/327/

Working in cane fields as teenager to supplement family income

Well, when I was 12, 14 years old, all the kids used to work in the cane field those days during the summer. You worked for about maybe two and a half months during the summer and try to make as much money as you can. And those days, you work a whole day and they pay you only 25 cents a day. But, we all had to work to help because my father was working in the cane field all day, 12, 14 hours a day, and he'll come home and make only about $70 or $80 a month. So when you have seven kids, you know, that's not enough. So, during the summer, my brother, myself, my sister, we all try to help out to try to make as much money we can. So, I used to work in the cane field, get up maybe 4 o'clock in the morning and go to cane field and cut grass. And I used to hate that job because, you know, the leaves would cut you and all that.


agriculture families

Date: December 16, 2003

Location: Hawai'i, US

Interviewer: Art Hansen, John Esaki

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum.

Interviewee Bio

Wally Kaname Yonamine was born on Maui in Hawaii in 1925. He first gained public acclaim as an athlete in 1944 after moving to Oahu and leading Farrington High School to its first Honolulu city football championship. After World War II, he was signed to a professional football contract as a running back for the San Francisco 49ers, the first player of Asian ancestry to attain this milestone. An injury prompted a switch from football to baseball.

While with the Pacific Coast League’s San Francisco Seals, its manager urged him to consider a professional baseball career in Japan. After joining the Yomiuri Giants in 1951 as the first American to play in postwar Japan, he hit over .300. Considered the greatest leadoff batter in Japanese baseball history, he won three batting championships and, in 1957, was named the Central League’s Most Valuable Player.

Upon retiring as a player, he finished his thirty-eight-year career in Japan as a successful coach, scout, and manager. Credited with introducing to Japanese baseball such American practices as hard sliding, running out bunts and infield grounders, and diving for fly balls, Yonamine was initially the target of fan abuse. He later achieved great popularity, however, and in 1990 was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. (December 16, 2003)

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