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Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Diana Morita Cole Interview
Narrator: Diana Morita Cole
Interviewer: Virginia Yamada
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 30, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-483-4

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VY: So what kind of work did your parents do in Hood River?

DC: Okay, so my father was an orchardist, and so I think he worked for orchardists when he first came. Well, actually, I should backtrack. I think he worked for the railroad, that's what he did. Because my grandfather was a supervisor of some rail line, and so I imagine he got my father a job there. And I believe they then started working for the orchardists in Hood River (Valley), so they learned what they had to do, and then eventually he leased land because, of course, Issei were not permitted to own property in America. And so that was the life my father loved. My father said he would prune apple trees for nothing, he just loved that work so much. And oftentimes my mother would help him, I think, hold the ladder and things. And then they grew strawberries, and my brothers and sisters remember doing that, and I think my mother was involved in that work. And they'd always say, "Here we were, working really hard, and there was Junior lying down in the strawberry row. We could see his feet, but he was laying there," so that was the family joke. Of course, he was one of the younger ones, and, you know, didn't have the same perseverance that the others did. So they did that, and my father often would tell me these sad stories about how the weather would affect their crops. And these stories used to just rip my heart out because he'd say, "Oh, we worked so hard and then the frost came," or, "I worked so hard and then the rains came." It seemed that there were so many stories of failure that I heard growing up that really, I think, affected me deeply. But it certainly made me a very compassionate person, if I can say that about myself. Because I think he needed to tell those stories to someone, and of course, who else but your children would you tell those stories to? So that's what he did, and I think he helped... when he was working for the railroad, he was blowing up tree stumps with dynamite, he talked about that. And often at night he would stand and look toward the east and think of Japan and feel very lonely.

VY: Like he wanted, he would like to go back, or just missing his home?

DC: Just missing it. And I think many of the Issei who came, came to make money to send back home and to eventually return. But what also happened to my father was that he fell in love with America, and who couldn't? I mean, this was just... I'm going to start crying... such a beautiful country. I mean, geographically, it just is such an inspiring, beautiful place. And I don't know if Americans fully appreciate it, but there's such beauty in the Cascade Mountains. So that, those mountains, of course, looking at them, reminded him of Mt. Fuji, because they belong to that same ring. And there's something about America that I think makes you love her, and he became one of those lovers of America. And so I don't know, in the end, if he really wanted to go back, but I think that was his intent, to eventually go back. And yeah, so he'd always say things like, "Oh, this is just a wonderful country, it has so many resources and it's so big, it has so much of a future compared to Japan, where it's so small. It's also beautiful, but there wasn't that much wilderness. So yeah, I think he was an American in his heart.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.