Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County

Full Text Newspaper ArticleWatsonville Register-Pajaronian. July 8, 1943. p. 1


Many Testify at State Senate Committee Probe; Facts Given

Out of the mass of testimony presented at the State Senate Interim Committee hearing in Watsonville Wednesday afternoon appeared one definite fact - the majority of Santa Cruz county residents do not want the Japanese evacuees back during or after the war.

Twelve witnesses were heard by the committee, headed by Sen. Hugh Donnelly of Turlock, at the city hall. Besides the chairman, there were Sens. J. C. Dorsey of Bakersfield, former Watsonville resident, and Irwin T. Quinn of Eureka. Sens. George Hatfield and Herbert Slater, other members of the Interim Committee on Japanese Resettlement, could not be present for the local hearing.

State Sen. H. R. (Ray) Judah of Santa Cruz county voiced the majority opinion when he told his colleagues of the Senate that "in talking with people of my county in all walks of life I have found that the great majority do not want the Japanese back here either during the war or after the war....I differ with those few who think they can bring the Japanese back and 'make them over'."

Assemblyman Jacob Leonard of Hollister, who represents Santa Cruz and San Benito counties, and who introduced a resolution in the Assembly which set up a similar interim committee on the Japanese problems, told the visiting Senators that San Benito county residents also are opposed to the return of Japanese. He said there were about 1000 Japanese out of a total of 12,000 residents in his county before the evacuation last year.

J. T. Gardner, chairman of the local defense council, repeated his oft-stated opposition to the return of Japanese and reiterated his belief that the Constitution should be altered whereby no person of Japanese ancestry could be a citizen of this country "through the accident of birth."

Gardner's letter, published in this newspaper several months ago expressing his views, and the resolution opposing release of the Japanese from relocation centers except under military supervision - passed by the defense council - were incorporated into the minutes of Wednesday's hearing.

Rev. Allan W. Geddes, rector of All Saints' Episcopal Church, expressed his belief that Japanese should be allowed to return to the coast after the war when "the hysteria of an aroused public dies down." He declared, however, that it would "be unwise to allow Japanese to return to the coastal area or other strict defense sections during the war" because of the danger of race riots. He said he believed Japanese could be released in strictly non-defense areas in the country after thorough examination as to their loyalty by trained investigators and upon the sanction of military authorities and the FBI.

Rev. Mack McCray Jr., pastor of the Baptist church, submitted for the records his letter, also published in this newspaper, in opposition to Gardner's views. He also said a Japanese-American now serving in the United States Army came to Watsonville recently on business and was not ill-treated.

Written facts were presented by Dr. O. C. Marshall, representing the American Legion and an informal group of citizens who gathered facts for the hearing, and Charles V. Dick, County Agricultural Commissioner.

Marshall's report covered the estimated Japanese population in the county before the evacuation; figures on Japanese children's attendance at schools; and Japanese activities in various civic and community organizations, events, drives, etc. He said before the evacuation there were some 2000 Japanese among the county's 45,057 population or 4.4 per cent, most of whom resided in this end of the county. There were some 301 families, 39 per cent of which resided in Watsonville. About 69 per cent of the total were American born. Average 5-year attendance at Watsonville High school of Japanese students was 18.9 per cent of the total enrollment. Average attendance at the grammar schools here was about 100.

Dick's report revealed there were 105 persons of Japanese ancestry operating 125 parcels of land in 1941. This included 2650 cultivated acres as follows: lettuce 1738, tomatoes 325, strawberries 310, bushberries 152, sugar beets 150, apples 45, vegetable seed 20, potatoes 45, miscellaneous vegetables 50. This totaled 2835 acres but he explained some was "double cropped." There has been no drop in production due to the departure of the Japanese because the land is being operated by other individuals or corporations, he said in response to a question by the committee. The Japanese showed an "attitude of cooperation" with his office but there were some instances of evasion, Dick declared.

Police Chief J. M. Graves told of working with the FBI in gathering contraband after Pearl Harbor. Before the war, he said, the Japanese in general were law-abiding. He added that investigation after Pearl Harbor had revealed many young and old Japanese men here belonged to Japanese organizations such as the Black Dragon, which are loyal to the Japanese empire. Some 25 or 30 alien Japs were picked up here by officials, he said. He also expressed belief that return of Japanese now or after the war would "lead to much trouble."

John H. Leonard, Santa Cruz attorney for 45 years, declared he had been told by a 20-year-old Japanese youth after Pearl Harbor that he "was proud to be a 'Japanese'." The attorney asked him what he would do if drafted by the United States for army duty and sent to fight the Japanese. The youth replied, Leonard said: "I suppose I would have to go but I'd shoot high!" The veteran attorney also testified that he had encountered numerous instances of Japanese repudiating their contracts.

The interim committee members asked many questions of the witnesses concerning dual citizenship, danger of sabotage, attendance at Japanese language schools, illegal transfer of land in the name of American citizens but still operated by the aliens, etc. No definite written facts were presented but virtually all of the witnesses had their opinions. Assemblyman Leonard said that in San Benito county some Japanese now in relocation centers were trying to sell their stored farm equipment at "double the value" and also that they were seeking to get their stored automobiles to their camps.

Others testifying briefly, and all expressing their personal opinion that the Japs should not be allowed to return, were former State Sen. James B. Holohan, Mildred Shoaf and Mrs. W. J. McGowan. Sen. Holohan said, "it would be best for all concerned if they never come back."

The committee, after the three-and-a-quarter-hour hearing, adjourned until 10 a.m. Thursday when, Sen. Donnelly said, it would hear more witnesses if any appeared. The committee meets in Salinas Friday morning for its Monterey county hearing.

Sen. George Hatfield of Merced augmented the Senate Committee at Thursday's hearing.

All data gathered at the hearings in the state will be turned over to the State Legislature as a guide in determining what disposition is to be made of the puzzling Japanese problem.

Copyrighted by the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. Reproduced by permission.