This Alva Day image was just marked "Tsubota Brothers," with a date in December 1939. Several other pictures indicate he was working in Maryhill that day. A search on "Tsubota Brothers Oregon" uncovered the rest of the story.
According to this obituary in the Hood River News, there were six siblings born to Japanese immigrant parents, including brothers Isami and Satoshi. They farmed in Bingen until the waters behind the Bonneville Dam chased them up to Maryhill. They were forced to leave this farm during World War II, but returned after the war. Waters behind the Dalles and John Day dams displaced them yet again. They relocated and were among the founders of Biggs Junction.
All in all, a pretty amazing story to come from a simple negative.
Tags: 1930s agriculture Alva_Day Maryhill Tsubota
Yes, I know the Tsuboda family very well. They still farm in Maryhill, in fact one of them now owns the land that belonged to my great-great grandparents.
Isami's wife's name was Umo.
There was a period of time that they owned a restaurant and motel at Biggs.
Those fences were built for wind breaks to protect their crops.
I don't think they had anything to do with the founding of Biggs, as that was done back in the 1800's, long before any of them arrived from Japan. Don't know where that information came from.
But found there way back to Maryhill.
Charlott on 22nd July 2016 @ 7:12am
Can you tell what they are growing? Thanks for background info from both Arthur and Charlott.
cg on 22nd July 2016 @ 7:56am
Charlott, I was suspicious of the "pioneered Biggs Junction" claim, but that's what the obituary said. Probably an exaggeration.
Not sure about the crop. It looks to me like cabbage which has been hit by an early frost.
Arthur on 22nd July 2016 @ 12:26pm
I assume what the obituary meant was the establishment of several Tsubota businesses at the junction of Highway 97/Sam Hill Bridge and the east/west highway which pioneered a stop for auto traffic to sleep and eat.
I have a respect for the Tsubota family, who never sat around waiting for a handout.
Over the years, they have employed a lot of Goldendale area people.
Where was the Biggs train station located? Was it down river from the bridge?
L.E. on 22nd July 2016 @ 5:38pm
I forgot to add the link for some interesting reading about Mr. Tsubota and the Biggs Jasper.
L.E. on 22nd July 2016 @ 6:12pm
I'm sure the crop is Spinach, or some other Japanese green. Looks like Spinach to me........!
James Holloway on 22nd July 2016 @ 10:46pm
I was never aware that there was any train station at Biggs. It was more of a whistle stop. When my great-grandfather was at Biggs and the first so called post master there, any outgoing mail that he had was attached to this pole that had an arm of some sort on it that extended out. The train slowed and the mail pouch was grabbed with some sort of hook thing on a pole. If the man missed the bag had to wait until the next train. A pouch with mail to be delivered was thrown off the train for him. Yes, if the train had a passengeror large parcel, they would stop. That is how my Grandpa Clark's brother arrived in Biggs. If there was a load of grain to be shipped out to Portland from the warehouse, naturally arrangements were made for the train to pick it up.
Charlott on 23rd July 2016 @ 6:30am
Alva Day is a remarkable photographer and an accomplished artist. It is always satisfying to be able to identify the people and places in such photographs. But also note the artistry of Day's compositions and his insistence on the geometric underpinning (here verticals and diagonals) to the arrangement of his motifs. No wonder they are so satisfying visuallyintellectually beyond their narrative/historical content.
Lynn Orr on 23rd July 2016 @ 7:52am
Well said Lynn O .... Think if the picture had been taken with them standing next to one another .. Or nearer .... Our eye would perhaps not see the depth of the picture .
Steve r on 24th July 2016 @ 7:37am
Thanks Charlott. I guess I assumed that since there was a ferry crossing, there was also a train station for ferry passengers to catch the train.
My guess about the crop is that rather than an early frost, it was a late frost and a long growing season. The White Salmon area did not get a snow until December 27th for the fall/winter of 1939.
L.E. on 24th July 2016 @ 9:04pm
Both Isami and Satoshi were born in Olympia, WA.
Their family moved to Bingen and they graduated from White Salmon High School.
The January 13, 2016 Goldendale Sentinel has an article about the Takahashi family of Maryhill who are related to the Tsubotas. But, you have to be a paid subscriber to read it.
The January 18, 1945 issue is archived and you can read about the return of the Tsubotas to Maryhill after being sent away following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
L.E. on 27th July 2016 @ 5:55pm
Amazing. Total respect for this family. The wind brake fence must have been a labour of love. They did not accept defeat. Their determination, endurance is what made America Great.
Wayne on 1st October 2016 @ 8:07pm
I worked for Satushi picking peaches,and tomatoes in August of 1980. I was just 17 and was traveling on the freight trains. He picked me up at the resturant in Wishram. I stayed in the house right next to his. He would let me eat all the peaches and cream I wanted. He said "you can eat all the peaches you want. Don't eat to many or you might get a belly ache." The time there on the beautiful banks of the Columbia River are still a fond and lasting memory. I wish I could come back and visit sometime with my family.
Les Bursinger on 26th April 2021 @ 7:36pm