Densho Digital Archive
Steven Okazaki Collection
Title: Gordon Hirabayashi Interview
Narrator: Gordon Hirabayashi
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Date: October 25, 1983
Densho ID: denshovh-hgordon-06-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

Q: Gordon, tell us a little bit about your family background, what your parents did.

GH: Well, from the time I can remember, they were farmers in the valley outside of Seattle, south of Seattle, truck farming, vegetable... the worst kind of farming you could have so far as the amount of attention that it takes year-round. Over here in Canada, I've run into wheat farmers who work long hours for, you know, certain summer months, then they're off in Bermuda during the winter, you know. But I never had anything like that. We worked during the winter, bedding the plants and so on in the greenhouses. We had to throw manure and fertilizer during the offseason, digging ditches for drainage, all sorts of things like that. So the winter was no break. That's the kind of early background that made my brothers and I friends of farmers but not farmers.

Q: Growing up on the farm, how "American" did you feel?

GH: Well, at that time, growing up on a farm, I never felt any special issue of "American" or "Japanese." We were made to feel different in the community, with certain restrictions. But in the farm there was a fairly healthy interchange in terms of community activities. You needed everybody's contribution during some kind of festival. And the Japanese contributed a lot, because they were most of the agricultural economy, and a few of the other enterprises. So they were welcome participants. We used to have something in Kent, which was a couple miles from our farm, called the Lettuce Festival, and they used to have what they claim was the world's largest lettuce salad, with pitchforks, you know, a great big bin. We would see the fellows with boots on fixing lettuce salad, which we ate later along with other things. So that was, we had opportunities of that type, of intermingling, which was part of our natural background. So while there were restrictions, and we knew we weren't equal, we learned to kind of bend with the blows on that aspect. And it wasn't a serious restriction except in terms of landownership, alien land law prevented that for our parents and their friends.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1983, 2010 Densho and Steven Okazaki. All Rights Reserved.