Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: George Yamada Interview
Narrator: George Yamada
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Spokane, Washington
Date: March 15 & 16, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-ygeorge_2-01-0032

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MA: Did you eventually settle somewhere? You said that you worked seasonally for some time, but did you eventually settle in one area?

GY: Yeah, when my wife and I got married, I knew just one person from the military that lived in New York Ci ty, and I knew my territory was going to be in upstate New York. I'm not sure where, but I knew it would be in New York State, because I asked for, and I received it. So when we got married, we filled our, my '49 Plymouth car up with all kinds of stuff, just the two of us went to, directly cross-country to Manhattan. We got a room, a flat, oh, hundred and, hundred and thirteen, 114th and Broadway. And oh, let's see, Broadway, it was about half a dozen blocks from General Grant's tomb, it was about ten blocks away from Columbia University where President Eisenhower was president of the college, of the university at that time. And that was 1951. And we stayed in Manhattan for six months, and then we moved to Brooklyn and lived just off of Avenue R and Flatbush in Brooklyn and stayed there for six months. Thereupon I got into chick sexing full-time. It was working out of Manhattan, going upstate, and then coming back into New York. That was a little bit too much driving, so we settled in Hobart, New York, Delaware County, right in the heart of the Catskills, where Rip Van Winkle slept, you know. And from there, I worked into western New York, which is a long ways, into Connecticut and Massachusetts. There were, that was primarily my, my territory: New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, with Pennsylvania thrown in and New Hampshire thrown in, and oh, I used to have, service a couple hatcheries in Vermont.

MA: I see. So you would travel...

GY: I would travel, yes.

MA: ...among all these states and go to all these different hatcheries.

GY: Uh-huh. Used to cover around thirty-five thousand miles, being self-employed, thirty-five thousand miles, and I never had a serious accident, never got a ticket for speeding, and I used to go eighty, ninety miles an hour in those days. And the only accidents I would be, I hit seven different deer, seven different times. And I would always go to my insurance company, and on comprehensive, and they would pay for the damages. But eventually, this will never do. I do a lot of my traveling nighttime, so they threw me out, out of insurance, car. I had to have car insurance, you know, so... it wasn't, it wasn't a law to have one in New York State, but I preferred to have one. And so I had to go to Lloyd's of London as an assigned risk program. You know, back in, what, 1950s, to have to pay twelve to fourteen hundred dollars just on car insurance, that was, that was really killing, but I had to do that for three years. And then my record turned out okay.

MA: You said you were self-employed?

GY: Uh-huh.

MA: When did that, when did you start being self-employed as a chick sexer, or was it the whole time you were doing it?

GY: It, I think the IRS wouldn't take that under the hatcherymen, and hatcherymen surely didn't want to carry us as an employee, so we had no other choice but to go as independent contractor.

MA: I see. So all of the chick sexers then, mostly, were independent, or self-employed?

GY: Yes, mostly. Unless a guy got lucky enough, like in California, they have several-million-chick hatcheries somewhere in California, and I would assume those guys are employees because they just stay there at one hatchery, and they'd just millions and millions put out every day. And I think they have a number of chick sexers there, strictly just sitting right there.

MA: How would it work with you, then? Would the hatcheries call you personally, or did you work through a contractor?

GY: No, we had a schedule made out. We knew exactly when they put in the eggs, said, "Well, we just loaded our hatchers with eggs." So you wrote that down, you know that twenty-one days from them, you have to be there to chick sex the chick, baby chicks. And it wasn't a big deal, it was no big problem to write down, you go into, you walk into a hatchery and find out the incubators are loaded with eggs, and you know that those eggs in twenty-one days will become baby chicks. And you know just about what you have to do, so you have your schedule all lined up, you know, well, in three weeks advance what you're supposed to be doing.

MA: And who lays out that schedule for you?

GY: Ourselves, along with the hatcherymen. The hatcheryman says, well, I, we knew that it would be loaded with eggs, and the hatcheryman would say, "Well, we put in two hundred cases. Two hundred cases is thirty dozen to a case, and say if that, a hundred cases would be thirty thousand, is it? Thirty thousand chicks. So you know just about how many chicks would be hatching on a given day, given, yeah, given day.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.