The World on March 13, 1943
This is from documents obtained by Betty Morita under the Freedom of Information Act:
WAR RELOCATION AUTHORITY APPLICATION FOR LEAVE CLEARANCE
Relocation Center: Tulelake
Family No. 16355
Center Address: 6705 B&C
Morita (No English given name) Mototsugu
Names and ages of dependents you propose to take with you: Claude, 14; Mototsugu Jr., 13, Flora, 11, & Betty May, 9, Masano, 43
Date of Birth: Oct. 9, 1893 Place of Birth: Okayamaken, Japan
Last two addresses at which you lived 3 months or more (include residence at relocation center and at assembly center:)
Rt. 1 Hood River, Oregon from 1911 to 1942
No other residence
Sex: Male Height 5 ft. 6 in. Weight 135
Are you a registered voter? No
Marital status: Married Citizenship of spouse: Japan
Race of spouse: Japanese
Father's name:Kashichi Terada Town: Okayama Country: Japan Occupation: Farmer
Mother's name: Seki Morita Town: Okayama Country: Japan Occupation: Housewife
Relatives in the United States (if in military service indicate whether a selectee or volunteer)
Kashichi Morita Father Japan
6705 B&C Tulelake, Calif., Farmer
Mrs. Hiroshi Kaneko, daughter, U.S. citizenship
1519-C Tulelake, Calif., housewife
Deloris Morita, daughter, U.S. citizenship
6705 B&C Tulelake WRA, none
Paul Hiroaki Morita, son, U.S. citizenship
Claude Goro Morita, son, U.S. citizenship
Mototsugu Morita Jr., son U.S. citizenship
Flora Emiko Morita, daughter, U.S. citizenship
Betty May Morita, daughter, U.S. citizenship
Relatives in Japan:
Sei\ki Morita, mother, Japan citizenship
Okayamaken, Japan, housewife
Helen Fumiko Morita, daughter U.S. citizenship
Okayamaken, Japan, schoolteacher
Grade School: Shonai, Okayama, Japan, 1900 to 1908
Night School, English, 3 years, Hood River, Oregon
Commercial School, Osaka, Japan, 2 1/2 years
Foreign travel: Came to U.S. in Feb. 2, 1911. Have not left U.S. since.
Mitsuo Takasumi, 1925 to 1942, as farm manager, Rt. 1, Hood River, Oregon
Religion: Methodist Membership in religious groups: Hood River Methodist Church
Membership in organizations:
American Red Cross, Hood River chapter, 1925 to 1942
Knowledge of language:
Japanese reading, writing, speaking: Good
English reading, writing, speaking: Fair
Sports and hobbies: Igo (go?) game, reading, baseball
List of five references:
Mr. & Mrs. H.W Rodamer
Mr. & Mrs. C.E. Copple
Mr. & Mrs. A.F. Dethman
Mr. & Mrs. F. Dethman
Mr. & Mrs. H. Dethman
Have you ever been before an Alien Enemy Hearing Board?: No
Have you ever been arrested or similarly detained?: No
Have you ever been subjected to any disciplinary action since your evacuation?: No
Give details on any foreign investments: None
List contributions you have made to any society, organization, or club:
American Red Cross, Hood River Oreg. $1 per year from 1925 to 1942
Community Chest, Hood River Oreg., am't unknown
List publications to which you subscribe:
Oregonian, Life Farm Journal, Oregon News, North American Times, Great Northern
Have you ever applied for repatriation to Japan? No
If the opportunity presents itself and you are found qualified, would you be willing to volunteer for the Army Nurse Corps or the WAAC: unqualified
Have you ever worked for or volunteered your services to the Japanese or Spanish government? No
Have you ever sent any of your children to Japan? Yes. If so, give names and dates:
Helen Fumiko Morita 1923, Sent her to Japan to my grandmother who was alone and lonesome
State any type of leave previously applied for: None
If employment is desired, but no definite offer has been received, list the kinds of employment desired in order of preference:
Any employment which to my opinion with a future for my whole family, preferably farming.
Will you take employment in any part of the United States? No
Give location preferences: Hood River, Oreg.-- Since I am familiar with the farm conditions & management I believe I can do the best here to help the war effort.
Alternate Question No. 28: Will you swear to abide by the laws of the United States and to take no action which would in any way interfere with the war effort of the United States? Yes
Approved: Harold Reilly (sp?)
Hood River, Oregon
May 13, 1943
War Relocation Authority
In answer to your request as to our opinion of Mototsugu Morita Tule Lake Project -- 6705 -- B and C Newell, Calif.
We have know him for thirty-two years and have always found him honest and up right in every way. A hard worker. A very good reputation in the community and well liked by all those that knew him.
He is loyal and always stands for what is right.
Yes, we have employed him. He did fruit-packing (apples and pears) and various kinds of work for us. And we always found him very efficient. Have always thot a great deal of him and his fine family -- and a very capable family. Extra bright.
Mr. and Mrs. H.W. Rodamer
Hood River, Oregon
May 10, 1943
I received your letter yesterday of the inquiry of Motosugu Morita
I have known the entire Morita family for the past twenty five to twenty years which (they) have resided in this community. Here, they are known as Kay Morita, the father, and M. Morita as his son and family.
As far as the family as a whole, they are all willing to work and their work is satisfactory.
This Japanese family has a good standing and reputation here in their community.
Motosugu Morita 6705 - BC Newell, California
Mr. & Mrs. Herman Dethman
War Relocation Authority
Alien's Leave Permit for Work Group
This is to certify that Mototsugu Morita, an alien of Japanese nationality residing in Block No. 37-9-C & D within Minidoka Relocation Area is allowed to leave such area on Dec. 13, 1943, on S.P. &S. Railway (poor copy) Spokane, Washington, and is required to return to such area not later than Feb. 15, 1944 unless he is issued an extension of leave. This leave is subject to the terms of the regulations of the War Relocation Authority relating to issuance of leave fo rdeparture from a relocation area and subject to any special conditions or restrictions set forth on the reverse side hereof.
Travel to the above destination has been permitted by the Department of Justice
From Claude Morita
Betty and Jr sent me some documents they got on a Freedom of Information request regarding our travel requests to get out of camp. They are a haunting reminder of the how we were pushed around. I am amazed at how everyone remained so calm, unperturbed and optimistic about life. I am so convinced of the strength of Issei optimism that I am enthralled. There is absolutely nothing that can bother us.
Ruth, in a document called War Relocation Authority, Application for Leave Clearance, dated March 13, 1943, signed by Pop, you helped him fill it out because its obviously in your handwriting. No one else writes in that beautiful hand. Did he tell you how to answer each question or did he have to have your help in understanding them?
It's a fascinating document. In it you list dependents, "Claude, 14, Mototsugu Jr. 13, Flora 11, Betty May 9, Masano, 43." Pop's five references are the Rodamers, Copples, and three different Dethmans, Alfred F., F., and H. Dethman. Which Dethmans were "F." and "H."?
Question 31. Have you ever sent any of your children to Japan? "Yes." "Helen Fumiko Morita, 1923. Sent her to Japan to my grandmother who was alone and lonesome." The answer speaks volumes about another life, another country, and an entirely different world view.
Question 28 is crossed out and an alternate question is answered. The one that is crossed out is "Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor or any other foreign government, power, or organization?"
The alternate question is "Will you swear to abide by the laws of the United States and to take no action which would in any way interfere with the war effort of the United States?" He answered, "Yes" and signed it.
Do you remember what kind of discussion you had with Pop about how to answer the questions? Knowing his practicality about our situation, I would guess that he told you exactly how to answer the questions. He probably asked you nuances about "obedience" and "forswear," but I have the feeling that he knew how to answer each question. Even for an 18 year old, it must have been troubling to you.
I can imagine the conversation that went on between you two.
Thanks for helping him out.
From Paul Morita: F. Dethman was Frank the eldest of the Dethman brothers. H. stood for Herman Dethman. I worked for him during the summer of '41, thining apples. I received $.35 per hour pay, boy I really thought I was making big bucks!!
From Ruth Hidaka: Remember Herman ... he wore those overalls all the time, the one with straps over the shoulders. ... Alfred never wore those ... he always didn't look like a farmer ... did he drive a school bus? I don't remember Frank D. ... where did he live? By Bessie? Ruth
From Ruth Hidaka: You remember things well...I couldn't remember grandma's dog...Buster....he was a terror about cars but he was cute....Claude, I'm sorry but I don't remember a thing about signing those papers with Dad at Tulelake...I'm not sure if I went with him...maybe Paul remembers....yes, Dethmans were very nice to us...their daughter was Marjorie and an older brother was Leonard, I think...how I remember Wendell and his cocker spaniels...and his washing my face with strawberries!! Grafs, across the street, were not very friendly...remember the Finnish people who lived on the corner (the infamouscorner where Rev. Inouye almost drove into the gulley) ...I'm trying to remember how to spell their name...Jaaskalien ?? We're getting snow again and cold....but the sun comes out and you forget the cold.....I wonder how much time you spend on the computer...you express yourslef so well...I'm ashamed of myself but what the heck....that's me...what can we send you that you can't get there in Japan...now that I work 6 hrs. at Costco, I'm getting free with my money...somewhat...you know how hard it is to change your habits since childhood when we had such hard times...but it is a good feeling to be able to do what makes me happy!! Ruth
From Claude Morita:
Al Dethman was sort of like John Wayne, treating everyone alike, looking at you as an individual. I found out also from school teachers (not my teachers, but those who I covered in news stories) that the most effective ones were those who treated their second, third and fourth graders as thinking individuals. You talk to them as thinking people and they really respond. I used to get the most interesting quotes for my stories from kids. That's how Mr. Dethman treated us and, I would guess, everyone in his life. He gave us input that made us feel as if we were somebody. I try to do that with all kids too.
That's why Wendell never lorded it over us. He was at least a couple of years older than me and a terrific athlete, like his brother Bob. He would spend some time with us pitching tennis balls at us so we would learn something about batting curve balls. I would duck like crazy because I thought his curve ball would hit me. And he would have a good time, laughing. But it was not a laugh at me so much as at the situation. You could tell the difference. When someone laughs at you with derision, you know it whether you are five or fifty. We were lucky to have neighbors like that, especially when you consider it was Hood River.
From Paul Morita: The Dethmans were truly good people. Al was a great kidder. He was always pulling jokes on me because I was too serious!! I still don't believe both Wendell and Bob commited suicide. I think Marjorie is living just below Nishimoto's. I have to look her up! Al is the one who built the tractor from that Nash chassis. That Nash car must have been a luxury car when it was new.
It had two spark plugs per cylinder. It was an inline 8 cylinder, which made the engine very long. I guess just Marjorie and Leonard are left from the Dethman clan.
The Camps: Tule Lake, Minidoka