Hood River recollections

By Paul Morita

Reflecting on my life in pre-war Hood River, I remember it as being full of challenges and far from being dull.

We had a Guernsey cow that had to be bred to produce milk. The resulting bull calf was my first pet. Claude and I used to ride him in the pasture. When the calf was born it had to be weaned immediately. That was Claude's job. He instructed the calf to drink from a pail by sticking his finger out of the surface of the milk. The calf instinctively sucked on Claude's finger and learned how to drink milk from the pail. One sad day I returned from my 2 1/2-mile walk from high school to find the calf gone. It was butchered for veal. To this day neither Claude nor I can eat veal dishes. It was done out of necessity because the calf was growing horns!

We had a brood sow that had a litter of 15 piglets. She had only 14 teats. Claude adopted the extra one so the piglet could develop normally. When Dad sold all the piglets, Claude was brokenhearted.

We had a '32 Model A Ford truck with mechanical brakes. One time as I rounded a blind corner doing 35 mph I came upon cars parked on the righthand lane of a two lane highway. I had a full load of 160 apple boxes, I couldn't stop to save my soul!! I downshifted slammed on the brakes along with the hand brakes, but I proceeded a good 1,000 feet before stopping. Luckily there were no vehicles approaching as I was driving on the wrong side of the highway.

Another time Dorothy and Ruth accompanied Dad on a trip to the Portland Farmer's market. On the 12-mile straightaway by Gresham, the Ford broke a rear axle. Dorothy and Ruth built a fire to keep everyone warm, while Humphrey, our hired hand repaired the rear axle without unloading the apples. It took two complete days, quite a feat considering the differential had to be dismantled. It was the days before full floating axles.

We had a Boston Bull terrier which had a bad habit of chasing cars down the hill next to the house. He would do complete rotations as the car approached to get his timing. Once he was recorded doing 35 mph. We gave him to the Nakamuras in the lower valley. He was killled on his first attempt at the new location. It must have been the new terrain!!

Eldon Hinote was another hired hand for our farm. He was a semi-pro boxer. He taught me the manly art of self-defense. It came to good use in Minidoka; I was fortunate in learning Judo too.

Dec. 7, '41 was a typical Sunday and included a trip to the Portland Farmer's market. When we heard the radio broadcast of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, we paid no attention because we thought it was another broadcast of the "War of the Worlds," which occurred in '39 by Orson Welles. On the way to Portland, we were stopped by civil defense workers at every bridge and vital installations like Bonneville Dam. They told Dad not to go to Portland from now on because he wasn't a citizen. On later trips, I was accompanied by Eichi Wakamatsu. In the pre-war days, Dad and I used to go to Portland in the late afternoon and go to the Circle theater until 4 a.m. It was much more fun than staying at the Teikoku Hotel. It made the return trips very sleepy affairs. One time I fell asleep at the wheel, but Dad grabbed the wheel. Good thing he wasn't sleeping too.

I remember going to the Third Avenue theater in Portland. I was 10 years of age, and it was a burlesque house. I was embarrassed. I wasn't old enough to enjoy.

Flora, you are right!! It is two milles to the elementary school!! Ehrck's hill was steeper pre-war. I got it from the horse's mouth -- Rick Nishimoto remembers when it happened!!

Mom and Dad had false teeth by the time they were 40 years of age. All the children went to the dentists. Another time Dr. Dumble gave up on Jr. when he was two years of age. He contracted pnuemonia. Dad would not give up. He used an vaporizer and improvised a tent so Jr. could get all the benefits. Jr. was quite small til he hit the teen years, but he caught up!! If it were not for the sacrifices our parents made, we would not have the good life we enjoy today!!

Memories of Early Days

Home Page