232nd Combat Engineer Company
Hichiro Matsumoto is born in 1918 in the Kalihi district of Honolulu. He is the youngest of five brothers and two sisters. One of his sisters passes away at an early age.
His parents, Hirotaro and Tsugi Matsumoto, are both from Kumamoto-ken, Japan.
The Matsumotos farm a variety of flowers on 2-1/2 acres of leased land in Kalihi. Their home is located near the cultivated fields.
I was born in Kalihi, 1918. I had, with me, five brothers and a sister. [I’m] the last.
Parents: Hirotaro and Tsugi Matsumoto
My father [Hirotaro] and mom [Tsugi], they were from our old country Japan, Kyushu, Kumamoto. That’s Kumamoto-ken, Kamimashiki-gun, Oshima-mura. That’s something like when you say if you come from California, you say, “I come from LA [Los Angeles].”
Well, they from the same state, Kumamoto. But mura [village]. You say mura, different town, yeah.
I don’t know [what year they came to Hawaii], we never did talk about that. So they were both from Japan.
At first [my father] worked for that fertilizer company. We used to call it bonemeal.
And a few years later, we moved just about a half mile away and my parents went into flower farming. And that’s where I spent most of my life, in Kalihi.
[The farm] was about two-and-a-half-acre size and you name it, we had it, we raised it. Rose, carnation, gladiola, forget-me-not, and all that. And it was a lot of work, even for a kid.
[S]ince I was a kid then, we just did what my parents told us to do. And they always have something for us to do. So I never was unemployed.
[My mother’s] work, besides taking care of the house, was, I tell you, she did everything. You know we had five boys and my dad, six.
And those days was, young kids like us had the short pants. But my brothers, they wore long pants. And she washed ’em on the washboard. She sentaku [launder] — oh, yeah, no machine. And besides that she worked in the garden. There was always jobs for do.
Our house was very, very, old. When we moved to that house where we used to live, was termite-eaten. That type of home was common those days.
You know,it’s a small house and as the family grew, they keep on adding rooms. So some houses were long, you know they had a lot of kids. Yeah, that’s true.
We usually slept about two, two to a room. And them days the rooms were small, you know, no such thing as bed. We used futon [bedding]. You leave it on the floor and as you get up, you tatamu (fold it). . .you put it away, you stack it up, yeah. That’s how it was.
Hichiro Matsumoto's interview reprinted courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Hichiro Matsumoto.