Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Bennie Ouchida Interview
Narrator: Bennie Ouchida
Interviewer: Stephan Gilchrist
Date: September 13, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-obennie-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

SG: You were saying that they were, they came over illegally. And how did they, how were they able to do that?

BO: That's not my, my mom and dad is legal, but the uncle who came in as my mom's youngest, well, she's the youngest, he's the youngest son but as a child, her child; therefore, he changed the name to Ouchida, and then he comes over.

SG: So they were pretending to be --

BO: Ouchidas. So their child is all Ouchidas even though due to this prevarication, all straight up. They went through and ironed it all out. They know what's what, but they're sticking to Ouchida, that family.

SG: And they came to Hawaii you were saying?

BO: My dad came to Hawaii first to work in the sugar beets, and he decided he wanted to come to U.S., so he came to the U.S. and then called my wife, my mom over and got married. Then later on after I was born, they called that daughter that he sent to Japan to Mother's side, they called her over and to help out, take care the kids like me, you know. [Laughs] And she was kind of wild, running around, chasing around, and he got married, she got married to, married Matt Takaki, the Takaki family that was doing the labor in Orient, get the Japanese here, and then they hire to the other jobs, labor something, they were doing that, Takakis. That's how we were connected to the Takaki family, through her.

SG: How did you, how did your, can you tell me more about how your mom and dad met or how he sent her over?

BO: You mean mom, my mom met with Dad? They pretty much grew up. They knew each other in schools, in Japan, same place. So Dad knew her is the best looking and all this and that, and that's how Mom was able to come over. But my mom after he came over, she helped out on the logging camp. She gets up early, cook for the gang, and then she had to dish wash everything. And she goes out and help work the chainsaw or dragsaw and chop tree down, split, and then go back and cook for a gang. And evenings, she's the last one have to clean up. All the men are sleeping and the last one to go to bed. Then she had to be the first one to get up and get the meals ready, so the boys could go back to work. And that's why they left the logging and tried farming in Boring, and that's where Jack was born. And then they quit that and went to top of the hill of south of Gresham, south of 190th and Powell, and that's where my sister and I was born, on top of the hill.

SG: What kind of stories did your parents tell you about their experience coming to Oregon and Washington? What kind of stories did they tell you about their experience?

BO: My dad when he went to Tacoma to work in a group, the gang there, the foreman, he took the payroll and didn't give it to him and the men kind of rioted. They all got thrown in jail, and my dad happened to be there too, so he got thrown in jail. So he always resent that he has a record, thrown in jail, but he left that. In other words, if you pick up a coal that's dropped from the train or railroad track company, boy, they give you a big punishment there in Tacoma area. But then he hitched a ride on a freight train and going to Yakima. That's where the brakemen said, "How much money you got?" So he gave all the money he had. "Is that all you got?" Then he kicked his belongings off the train and then, so finally, he had to jump off the moving train and go back after his belongings and then finally went to Yakima working there. But then, that ain't the type of country that he wanted to work. So from there, he came to Orient in that area and then work in the logging camp, and that's where my mom came, to the logging camp.

SG: From Hawaii?

BO: My mom came straight to Japan to Frisco then to Portland and then came to Boring.

SG: So it sounds like they faced a lot of discrimination?

BO: Well, not my mom's side. Dad's side, I don't know, because he worked with, well, like logging camp, they're all in groups anyway. I didn't hear so much about it but just that the logging camp because it's the right type of work that my mom wants, but she didn't expect to be in worse in a no family or nothing around to go visit, just stayed at work and then do the men's laundry and stuff like that. And she has said many times that she would like to go back to Japan again, but she never had a chance to get out. She died at seventy-three, I think. I'm a Mama's boy. [Laughs]

SG: So it sounds like a hard life for both your mom and dad?

BO: Oh, yeah. They worked hard, and Dad, well, he always wanted to be up, you know. He spent a lot of time with people, you know. My mom was that. My mom was, always want to cook and this and that and take care of the kids. She had a full hand.

SG: Were they planning to go back to Japan eventually?

BO: My dad did go back to Japan to take care of the property and all that, but then my mom with the kids, she can't go. She's always tied down. But she always said she would like to go back to Japan once, but she never got a chance to make it. I don't know. It was all work.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.