Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Ted Hachiya Interview
Narrator: Ted Hachiya
Interviewer: Molly Peters
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: March 4, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-hted_2-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

MP: So when you got out of, then this guy came, this employer guy came to find help, what kind of work did you do outside of Minidoka?

TH: Well, what was considered, there's a name for it. I can't think of it, but it was for the government anyway. See all those produce, sugar beets was, wasn't as favorable, but the potatoes and the onions and some of the row crop like lettuce, you know, they had to have that.

MP: So that was considered war work?

TH: Staple, yeah. It was for the war.

MP: And what part did you do?

TH: You negotiated how much they were going to pay you for it, and you rode out with them. They furnished the fare. Either, they either paid, rode you in a car or gave you bus fare.

MP: And then did you come back to the camp every night, or did you stay out?

TH: No, no. We stayed out. I volunteered with the crew of... let's see, five, yeah, I call them town boys. There was three from Seattle and three from Portland and six from Wapato. These were the real farmers. I mean that's what they were, but I signed up with those kids. And I wasn't a crew chief or a head man there at first. You know, I was just another laborer. And we agreed to work for, by the hour rather than by piece work, you know, the amount that you picked or whatever. It was seventy-five cents an hour I remember, and that was over what they call, I think they had a, I don't think they froze the wage. That was considered good wages for farm labor. Anyway, we went out there. And one day he didn't want to pay us, so we pulled the first strike in camp, the Colorado FHA camp, and the government officials came to see me because I looked like the head man. Anyway, he asked me, he says, "You want to go back to camp?" I says, "You can send me wherever you want." You know, I was all done about everything, you know. I said, "This guy promised to pay us seventy-five cents an hour, and he won't pay us."

MP: And why wouldn't he pay you?

TH: Because he didn't want us out in the field. Lettuce price was so bad that it didn't pay for us to cut the lettuce. You can't blame him, but then there's other work he could have given us, you know.

MP: And that was in Caldwell, Idaho?

TH: Uh-huh.

MP: And were you in, somehow when you came out of the camp and you were working on the farm, were you restricted in any way? I mean, were you --

TH: No. We were allowed to go any place outside the western defense area. See, it was all marked on the map about where you can go. It was an imaginary defense line.

MP: What was that western defense line? Did it go down the coast?

TH: Yes. It was about a little over 100 miles inland. See, Hood River was 150 miles from here, no. It's only about 75 miles I think from here, 65 miles, Hood River.

MP: So was Minidoka inside the defense zone or not?

TH: No. Minidoka was in Idaho. It's by Twin Falls.

MP: Yeah. But it was not inside the defense zone, so --

TH: No. So we were able to move any place. We could go back to Chicago or go back, some people even went back to New York because there was no defense, I mean, you know. They didn't disallow us from going back to New York. A lot of people went back there as students in college.

MP: So you could get out of the camp if you were --

TH: Yeah, but you had to have an acceptance. In other words, if you wanted to go to school, I know a lot of kids went to Illinois and Minnesota and New York, and a lot of people went to Philadelphia, Quaker town. But they were very friendly to our people and very helpful in furthering your education. So a lot of students went out as students rather than going out to work. They weren't well-off, but they offered you a job at the same time, part time, so you could pay for your way.

MP: So were those students, did they have to get scholarships, or did they, how --

TH: They got scholarships, but they had to work to get, to feed themselves and find a place to live.

MP: But you couldn't just decide that you, during the evacuation, no, I'm going to go east. I'm going to go out of the zone. You had to, you couldn't just leave.

TH: You had to have an employer or a school acceptance, you know, or something, somebody that's going, reliable, be reliable for you.

MP: What happened to the hotel when you were in the camp in Minidoka?

TH: Well, there's a company called Common Wealth, and they agreed to run the hotel for us. There was a young fellow by the name of Holbrook, he had a father that was there that was president of the company, and young Holbrook was a good friend of mine. He was a little older than I, but we were friends, and he agreed to look after that hotel. And every month, he sent a check to us.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.