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BIGOTíS BANE. Thomas Takeoka, Ted Cox, and Kay Takeoka during their visit to the Toledo History Center in Toledo, Oregon on April 4, 2005. The Takeoka brothers are two of five children of Daiichi Takeoka. In 1926, Mr. Daiichi Takeoka took an active role in a federal civil suit brought against six Toledo residents. The accused had taken part in a mob expulsion from Toledo of Japanese immigrant workers on July 12, 1925. (Photo courtesy of Old World Publications)

 

From The Asian Reporter, V15, #16 (April 19, 2005), page 13.

An angry mob chases Japanese American mill-workers out of town

The Toledo Incident of 1925: Three Days That Made

History in Toledo, Oregon

By Ted W. Cox

Old World Publications, 2005

Paperback, 196 pages, $17.95

By Dave Johnson

During a presentation at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center at 1:30pm on Sunday, April 24, historian and author Ted Cox will discuss and sign copies of The Toledo Incident of 1925, a captivating account of three tempestuous days in a mill town located 11 miles up the Yaquina River from the Oregon coast, where an angry mob forced Japanese-American laborers to leave their jobs and homes and return to the Willamette Valley.

Well-researched, thoroughly documented, and deftly penned, the book is a good tale as well as an opportunity to learn more about the Pacific Northwestís uneasy past as a gateway for Asians starting new lives in America.

Thanks to Coxís documentation of the cruel, sudden expulsion of the workers and the legal precedent set by a successful civil lawsuit filed against mob leaders, a significant page has been added to the history of race relations in the United States.

A student of regional history, Cox first learned of the incident over 25 years ago from his 95-year-old friend Roy Green, who was the 15-year-old son of a Toledo mill worker at the time of the incident. Green told Cox that his dad was so disgusted with the mobís intentions that he took his boys fishing.

Intrigued by what was obviously a significant yet untold story, Cox decided in 2003 to write the book. He trekked to the Lincoln County Historical Society Museum and the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center to research the event, poured over newspaper clippings, and interviewed people on all sides of the incident, including direct descendants of those involved.

The result is a lively narrative, lavishly illustrated with photos of Toledo and its surroundings, the location of the large lumber mill that sustained the town, the Japanese American workersí housing, and the site of the confrontation. There are also pictures of many of the players in this drama that began with anger over job displacement by foreign out-of-towners, boiled over into vigilante action, led to a frightening displacement at the edge of violence, and ended with a successful lawsuit against the mob leaders, many of whom slipped out of town under the shadow of disgrace and an inability to pay damages.

Added to this blow-by-blow history are articles from Japanese newspapers (in Japanese and translated) that followed the harrowing chronicle as it unfolded across the Pacific. The author also includes appendices that discuss Japanese immigration to the U.S., the history of Japanese laborers working in Oregonís sawmills, the founding of the Japanese Association in the nation as well as in Oregon, and the issues surrounding civil rights for Japanese resident aliens that were tempered by the verdict of the Toledo lawsuit. The book closes with a series of biographies of a few of the participants.

Ted Cox, a native of Eugene who owns and operates the Old World Deli in Corvallis, holds a masterís degree in Education from Oregon State University. He has also studied Northwest Native American history, including the spoken trade language "Chinook Jargon." Before coming to Corvallis, Ted taught in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer and served as the National Track and Field coach of Belize, in Central America.

Currently, this eclectic livewire is finishing a biography of Roy Green and writing another history book: The Butter Tub Book: A History of Wooden Butter Tubs in America.

June Schumann, Executive Director of the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center (ONLC), says that Cox will be introduced by Homer Yasui, a long-time Nikkei community leader and Portland resident. The center, located at 121 N.W. Second Avenue, will be asking a $3.00 donation at the door (free to members of ONLC). She adds that copies of the book will be available at the event and also for sale at ONLC and online at <www.oregonnikkei.org>. For more information, call (503) 224-1458 or e-mail <onlc@oregonnikkei.org>. The book can also be ordered from the author at <www.oldworldpublications.com>.

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