Other than online access to eBooks, the Cannon Book Library remains closed. Patrons can take some comfort, though, from knowing Marjorie MacQueen continues adding new titles to the collection through purchases and donations.
In April, she added eight works of fiction. They include “Afterlife” by Julia Alverez, “The Treadstone Resurrection” by Joseph Hood, “Writers and Lovers” by Lily King, “Devoted” by Dean Koontz, “Hour of the Assassin” by Matthew Quirk, “My Dark Vanessa” by Kate Elizabeth Russell, “Redhead by the Side of the Road” by Anne Tyler, and “The Book of Lost Friends” by Lisa Wingate.
New mysteries include “Walk the Wire” by David Baldacci, “Three Hours to Paris” by Cara Black, “Camino Winds” by John Grisham, “A Silent Death” by Peter May, “Dead Land” by Sara Paretsky, “Masked Prey” by John Sandford, “Hid From Our Eyes” by Julia Spencer-Fleming, and “The Glass Hotel” by Emily St. John Mandel.
New nonfiction titles include “The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World & Globalization Began” by Valerie Hansen, “Trees in Trouble” by Daniel Matthews, “In Deep: The FBI, CIA, and the Truth About America’s Deep State” by David Rohde, “Some Assembly Required: Decoding 4 Billion Years of Life from Fossils to DNA” by Neil Shubin, and “Economic Dignity” by Gene Sperling.
When the library reopens so that vulnerable patrons and volunteers are safe, a plentiful supply of recent acquisitions awaits readers.
Given the paucity of special events, readings and speakers at the library, this column mostly reviews books of personal interest or teases new books, waiting for the plague to pass.
Jim and Lois Azumano, my thoughtful neighbors across the street, helped recently by offering a sack of books as a library donation. One of these books appealed to my interest in local Oregon coast history, a book recommended for the library’s Northwest Collection.
“The Toledo Incident of 1925: Three Days That Made History in Toledo, Oregon” by Ted W. Cox describes conflict between Caucasian residents of Toledo and the Pacific Spruce Corporation, the largest old-growth sawmill in Oregon, which announced plans to hire Japanese residents to work two shifts sorting lumber on the “green chain.”
The green-chain jobs, which required both strength and coordination, were considered the most undesirable at the sawmill, jobs that Caucasian employees abandoned quickly and for which managers complained that Toledo residents were not well suited.
Japanese residents had a reputation for mastering this sorting process. When local residents complained about plans to give “their” jobs to outsiders, mill managers argued that local residents capable of performing this work were unavailable, and that those who tried performed so poorly the mill could not operate efficiently.
Twenty-seven Japanese (two with families), four Filipinos and one Korean arrived at the Toledo Depot on the daily passenger train from Corvallis at 4:20 p.m. July 10, 1925. Officials from Pacific Spruce met their new employees and drove them to 16 duplex houses on the company’s property.
On Saturday morning, July 11, Ito Kawamoto, wife of Ichiro Kawamoto, who was foreman of the new employees, walked into downtown Toledo with some companions. City Marshal George Schenck confronted Mrs. Kawamoto, telling her to return home and to leave town the next day or face being killed.
The same morning, handbills announced a rally for 6 p.m. at the city baseball field, an assembly that attracted about 70 people who engaged in increasingly heated rhetoric.
H.T. Pritchard, a board member of the Lincoln County Protective League, opposed hiring Japanese employees because they would take jobs from residents who had developed Toledo. Pritchard recommended confronting Ichiro Kawamoto the next day and telling him he and his crew were unwanted in Toledo, even though he admitted the Japanese were not at fault in seeking employment.
Clothing store owner William Colvin, argued that the presence of Japanese employees in Toledo would lower property values, saying, “Now is the time to act. (T)he Japs already are here and there will be more.”
Rosemary Schenck, married to Marshal Schenck, feared Pacific Spruce would request state militia to protect the unwanted employees on Monday. She recommended everyone meet at the waterfront on Sunday, July 12, at 2 p.m.
By 2 p.m., 50 men and 200 women and children had arrived at the dock in front of Colvin’s store. Colvin urged the crowd to action and was joined by Pritchard, Charles A. Buck, Frank Sturdevant and L.D. Emerson in leading the crowd toward Japanese housing on the mill property.
Pacific Spruce officers C.D. Johnson and Dean Johnson, plus other deputized employees, stood on the platform piling that separated public and sawmill property.
As the protestors moved closer, one woman assaulted C.D. Johnson with a stick and men collected rocks, as an angry mob formed. Sheriff Horsfall had deputized John F. Markham, who drew his handgun and warned the mob, “Gentlemen, I represent the law, stand back.” Fifteen-year-old Sonny Carson attacked and disarmed Markham.
Frank W. Stevens, another company deputy, was overwhelmed and told, “We don’t want anything but the Japs. We’re here to get them and we’re going to do it.”
When the mob reached the Japanese housing, Colvin and two other men broke into the Kawamoto home with a battering ram, frightened Mrs. Kawamoto and told her husband to leave immediately. Mr. Kawamoto responded, “I belong with the mill and am going to stay right here.”
Two men threw him to the floor, kicked him, bloodied his face and pushed him from the house. A man came by and took the family’s three-month-old puppy that Ichiro Kawamoto had purchased for $15.
Twenty-two Japanese workers, four Filipino employees, one Korean worker, two women and three Japanese-American children were loaded into cars and trucks and driven to the Corvallis train depot. Twenty-four of the “Issei” took a chartered train to Portland that night.
Pacific Spruce interviewed their employees. Any involved in the riot or who defended the rioters were terminated.
On Oct. 1, 1925, the Japanese Association of Oregon helped Ichiro and Ito Kawamoto, Tamakichi Ogura, Matsuto Tsubokawa and Youjiro Mitani file successful actions in Federal District Court in Portland against nine Toledo residents involved in the riot. Exactly one year later, an out-of-court settlement was reached for $3,190.40. With additional court costs, the defendants paid $6,500.
To pay those costs, Pritchard lost his clothing store, the Schencks sold properties, the Colvins paid the settlement and maintained their business, Hart took years to pay his debt and Sturdevant lost his property in a courthouse auction.
“Issei” considered the trial a test of whether they could live and work in America. The trial confirmed that and further established a first in a federal civil suit: legal aliens in the U.S. have civil rights that could not be violated without consequence.
Ted W. Cox, author of this local history, is himself worthy of biographical treatment. Born in Eugene in 1947, Cox participated in track and field in high school and college in Southern California. After college, he accepted two Peace Corps assignments - two years of teaching science and physical education in Sierra Leone and two years in Belize as the national track and field coach.
Returning to the U.S. in 1973, he enrolled in a physical education graduate program at Oregon State, where he also directed the university’s first women’s volleyball team formed after Title IX passage.
Following his work at Oregon State, in 1975 he taught first aid and physical education at Linn-Benton Junior College and worked in a restaurant. In 1977, Cox started the Old World Deli in a historic downtown Corvallis building, which has since developed into a funky mall and entertainment venue.
Cox, one of Oregon’s first microbrewers and teachers of beer and wine making and tasting, founded the Heart of the Valley Home Brewers, which initiated the Oregon Homebrew Festival. He also helped start the Oregon Trail Brewery, providing startup space in his building where it has operated since 1987.
He defines a biographer’s dream. He documents every aspect of his life, at least since entering the Peace Corps, and is a noteworthy Oregon personality, storyteller and entrepreneur.
Ted Cox’s account of “The Toledo Incident of 1925’ belongs in the library’s Northwest Collection as nearly lost history and a model of quality historical sourcing.