I find this letter fascinating for so many reasons. Let's start with current events. As our new city trash/compost/recycling collection begins Monday, it's fun to see the humble beginnings. Mr. Yamaguchi saw a need for trash collection to preserve the health and beauty of his community, and made a proposal to the city council to address his interests. The records show the council reacted favorably, granting him the first trash franchise in March 1911.
Note the address provided is the Niguma Store (later Yasui Bros. store, now Celilo Restaurant location). Records show Mr. Niguma operated a labor referral business at that address, and also a boarding house (though I am not positive it was in this same building).
My second fascination is with the writing style and skill. The author was clearly very well educated. I shared this letter with Homer Yasui, and he suggests that while many Issei were at least partially educated in US schools and achieved a good command of the English language, this perfect mastery of American English suggests someone wrote this for him.
So who is this "H. Yamaguchi?" Homer Yasui consulted the ledger of checks cashed at the Yasui Bros. store from 1910-1912. No H. Yamaguchi, but an M., K., and a Y. Yamaguchi. He consulted the 1928 census of the Japanese population of Oregon, which also showed several Yamaguchis but no H. Yamaguchi. He checked the records of people incarcerated in the concentration camps during WW2, which include 384 Yamaguchis but none matching likely age and first initial "H."
So we're a bit stumped on who this man was. I wonder if perhaps the "H." we see in this signature was actually a "K.". The city council minutes and The Hood River Glacier record the initial as "H." but they were all working from this same piece of paper we see here. We're not sure he signed this himself, or what his reading and writing skills were, so it's possible there is an error or some confusion. Or it's possible he didn't leave much paper trail. History isn't always clean or easy.
Category: [Downtown Hood River]
The April 6, 1911 Hood River Glacier includes this letter and other mentions to it:
Jeffrey Bryant on 28th April 2017 @ 7:30am
I agree he must have had well educated help, I do not believe many could word it this well even with present day schooling.
Kenn on 28th April 2017 @ 8:29am
Fascinating letter, and it really makes you ponder the ins and outs of keeping a town clean and methods of gathering garbage.
Before a collection service was enabled, what did all those big beautiful homes along Oak and State street, do with their food scraps. broken dishes and whiskey bottles. Did each home have a garbage pit in their back yard?
Probably very little plastic garbage, but what kind of container did you put your garbage in?
I am curious about where Mr. Yamaguchi took the garbage.
L.E. on 28th April 2017 @ 8:34am
Back in the day a lot of folks pitched their trash into the outhouse. A great source for archeologists nowadays.
Melody Shellman on 28th April 2017 @ 8:43am
Believe people who enjoy reading and do a lot of it would be perfectly capable of writing this letter. "Schooling" is just the first step in becoming educated.
Buzz on 28th April 2017 @ 10:04am