Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Mae Hada Interview
Narrator: Mae Hada
Interviewer: Masako Hinatsu
Location: Hillsboro, Oregon
Date: June 18, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-hmae_2-01-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

Masako H: You mentioned that you met your husband in the assembly center.

Mae H: That's where I got to know him very well. They had a men's dormitory just for the men, single men. I'm sure he was there with his brother, I believe. Yes, his brother was with him, Tsutsumu Hada.

Masako H: So his family was not with him?

Mae H: No, because he came up from California to do his work, sexing chickens, and his brother happened to be helping him. He also learned how to do that; although he didn't continue on that line of work. So he was in Portland. At the time, he was not allowed to go back to California to his family, uh-huh.

Masako H: So he just drove up and down the coast doing chick sexing, then?

Mae H: Chick sexing, no. He came directly from Watsonville. He must have interviewed somebody in Oregon. But anyway, he ended up in Hillsboro where there was a large hatchery, and the hatchery man and he became good friends too. So when the war broke out, the hatchery man went to the federal government office somewhere to ask to have John excluded from being drafted because he was necessary to sex chickens, so Mr. Hughes can continue with his business which was supplying eggs, supplying chickens which lay eggs which the army needed. See the army by then was growing because of the war effort, and they needed to have probably dried eggs to make foods overseas.

Masako H: Do you know what they mean by chick sexing? Do you know what John did?

Mae H: Oh, well, I guess so many people don't know, but it's a very particular occupation that was brought over from Japan, the idea of separating baby chickens as by sex. And he heard about it from his father through the Japanese papers that they were teaching chick sexing, chicken sexing in Seattle or someplace north. Now this is happening in California. He was going to college at the time. His father says, "You could be making money doing that and paying for your college tuition." So John decided he'd go find out about it. And it was, I forgot how many weeks it took, but he adapted to that very well. Some people are, they aren't particularly adaptable to certain skills. So he happened to be, and he felt pretty fortunate. He became eventually one of the best, highest accuracy sexers in the United States I found out later. Accuracy being when you look at the baby chicks, you've got to know accurately by opening the vent to see if it's a girl or a boy, pullet or cockerel. And they do dispose of the cockerels because obviously the pullets grow up to be hens and lay eggs. And so his accuracy was over, almost 99 percent. Now you have to understand that all living creatures, some of them aren't exactly what they should be, so that's granted, okay. And so his accuracy was good. The other skill that you need to have is speed. So when pressed and they had this large order coming in, Mr. Hughes would have them in the hatcheries. The hatchers have to have the eggs twenty-one days exactly before the little babies come out, and it's the whole process. They have to be dried and so on. When you get some, they're already fluffy, cute little chickens. And that's where he starts to work. And when he's pressed for time, he can do almost a thousand in an hour, and that was critical because they had to be shipped by plane. That's, he didn't finish on his major in college which was chemistry. He wanted to work in that line. And the person who advises students, what do they call them, said that you probably in this time where there's a war going on be able to find occupation using that skill, so he went back to doing chick sexing full time. He never stopped. He was at it for years and years, and it was, it brought him good money.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.