By Betty Shibayama

When I try to recall the happy memories of my childhood in Hood River, I see little bits and pieces of happy moments.

Like: Going on Japanese community picnics to Lost Lake and watching brothers, sisters, and friends compete in races. When it was time to eat, I would wait anxiously, while Mom untied the Furoshiki, which was wrapped around the Jubako (lacquered tiered boxes), revealing makizushi, inarizushi, and onishime, and other goodies that she, Dorothy and Ruth lovingly prepared, earlier that morning.

In her later years, Mom would tell me that on those picnics, friends would come by and visit with her and would say how nice it was to see her, since she was rarely able to attend social functions. She also commented that she was happy when she could wear regular-sized dresses on some of those picnics because she seemed to be pregnant all the time.

Going to the Rialto or Cascadian theater to see Gene Autry , Roy Roger, and Tarzan movies with Dad and siblings. Christmastime, Santa Claus would be at the theater and pass out stringhandled boxes of Christmas hard candy to the children.

I would, especially, enjoy the ride home in the car jammed full with all of us. If it was nighttime and dark, Ruth would frighten us and say "Watch out for the cougars!" It was scary and yet fun. Just the closeness and camaraderie made it a happy time.

Looking for the eggs that the hens had laid all over the barn and other places where there was hay. It was like an Easter egg hunt everyday.

The weenie bakes we would go with Tim near the railroad tracks. We would sit under the bridge and watch for the crawdads to appear. It seemed that Claude would catch the most crawdads.

Walking to school with Flora. I don't know how long it took us to get to school but we dillydallied along the way, keeping a watchful eye out for the cows and bull near Goe's place and making sure we did not wear red. We picked wildflowers along Ehrck's hill and sucked the nectar from one variety of flowers. We were happy when Claude and Jr. would come by with their bikes and if we were late, they would give us a ride.

Sledding on the farm, in the winter. Jr. and Claude had their own sleds, so Flora and I would get rides from them, lying on top of their backs, hanging on for dear life. We would zip through the orchard, under the barbed wire and down to the pasture. We had many spills, too, but that was part of the fun.

Those were some of my happy memories.



Dec. 7, 1941 is the day that separated my happy memories from my sad memories of Hood River. Up until that day, I can't recall a sad time in Hood River.

Curfew, FBI searches, whispers in the night, unfriendly stares, brought fear and doubt into my once young carefree life.

One Christmas, we were given a puppy from a family friend, whose name, I can't recall. We named the dog Chris for Christmas. Claude and he were inseparable.

Shortly after Dec. 7, 1941, the dog came home with a gunshot wound. Someone said that he or she had heard a shot, which had come from the general direction of our neighbors, the Grofs (sp).

We had heard that Chris used to chase their chickens, but why did this occur AFTER Dec. 7 and not before. We felt the poor dog was a victim of racial hatred. Claude stayed with him days and nights nursing and caring for Chris and the dog, finally, did recover. To keep him from wandering into "dangerous territory", Claude kept him tied to a tree when we were unable to keep a watchful eye on him. It was sad to see the dog confined to his "prison." Claude could not bear to see Chris pull and struggle to gain his freedom, so he eventually released him.

Not many days later, Chris did not return home as he always did at the end of the day. Ruth, later recalled that earlier in the day that she had seen the dog walk, as if injured, across our field toward a swampy area. Poor Chris, a casualty of racial bigotry and he was not even Japanese. Guilt by association.

Memories of Early Days

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