Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: George Tsugawa Interview
Narrator: George Tsugawa
Interviewer: Linda Tamura
Location: Woodland, Washington
Date: December 19, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-tgeorge-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

LT: And you married in 1950?

GT: Yes. It's on April Fool's Day. [Laughs] I can still remember that. And I kind of questioned, I said, "Why did you pick that day?" Well, that's the only day we can get a church that would accommodate us. Otherwise we'd have to wait a long time. But then she said also if the wedding didn't work out, we could always say, "April Fool." [Laughs] So there would be no consequence. So that's what she told me.

LT: So you married five years after you returned from the camps, after the war was over. And then eventually, you and your family moved to Washington.

GT: Yeah, let's see now. While I was still in Oregon, though, I was doing something. I was actually selling automobiles, Chevrolets. That's right after we were married, I do know, that's right, I did work for the Chevrolet company for about two, three years, selling Chevrolets, which were pretty hard to get. There were not that many, so many demands for them. It didn't take much selling, you just try to get enough product to sell. Because right after the war, there were not that many plentiful cars. But I do remember, before we moved up to Woodland, I was selling cars.

LT: Were your customers Japanese Americans?

GT: Quite a few, yeah. I'd say at that time, probably the, more than half were Japanese buyers.

LT: Let's stop at this point, because then I want to ask you about moving to Woodland and starting your berry farm.

GT: All right, sure.


LT: So, from selling cars in Portland, you and your family eventually decided to move to Washington.

GT: Right. We, my oldest brother, Henry, got us all started in strawberries, had a friend from Burlington area, his name was Nagatanis, they were good friends. And he keeps suggesting to us, "You guys get in someplace where's there's good land." He said, "Maybe I'll find you something." Somehow, this guy stopped in Woodland, he took some of the soil, he recommended this place for Henry. And so Henry recommended to us, he says, "It's good ground up there and I think that's a good place to be." And so we all said okay and, you're the boss, so we all packed up everything and we came to Woodland. And Henry didn't come. He stayed back, he just wanted us to go on ahead, and he stayed back, and he'd become, he opened up a real estate office there in Cedar Mills, that's north of Beaverton a little bit. And that's how we got into Woodland, is from this recommendation of this one grower, he's a big grower in Burlington, Washington. And sure, somewhere along the line, his wife was, her dad was a friend of my dad, and so one led to another, and that's how we got started in Woodland. And I can still remember to this day, we'd load up everything we had in this old rickety truck, and we just barely made it to Woodland. But I look at that stuff there and I bet you that whole load wouldn't have been worth over fifty dollars, if they could get fifty dollars for it, that's our whole, everything we owned. But we were lucky because we did find a, rented a house here in Woodland, and we stayed there for many, many years before we... then we sold it and we still own part of it. Just to show you the difference at that time, the land that we were farming berries on, we'd lease it for, oh, maybe four or five years, and then it'd come up for sale. And I remember yet to this day, had fifty acres, two homes, irrigation system on it, and the total cost was thirty-three thousand dollars, and there was no takers, really. There was nobody around that had that kind of money. Somehow we put enough together to make a down payment, and we bought the place, my gosh. Thirty-three thousand dollar for fifty-some acres, two homes, and a whole irrigation system on it. And then it was up on the market for a long time, nobody had the money to buy it. So that's how we got started here in Woodland.

LT: And what year was that?

GT: Well, that would have been in about... well, we come up in 1956, we started farming there, but we didn't buy that place for, I'm going to guess, might be five, six years before we had enough money put together to buy that place.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.