The onset of World War II inflamed rising anti-immigrant sentiment nationwide. The Japanese Exclusion Act, Executive Order 9066, was signed in 1942, requiring the internment of all West Coast Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were American citizens.
The Mukai family – Kuni, Masa, his wife Chiyeko and their son Milton – fled Vashon, moving to Dead Ox Flats, Oregon where Chiyeko had family. They essentially became voluntary evacuees, moving outside the exclusion zone, and thus were not imprisoned as were the other Japanese families on Vashon.
While exiled in Dead Ox Flats, Masa introduced row crops into what was then primarily cattle country. He raised seed for lettuce and other vegetables on 100 acres he purchased. He invented his own harvester to catch flyaway seeds, making a successful living throughout the war.
During the war, Maurice Dunsford leased the entire Vashon farm and packing plant from the Mukai family. He operated the plant successfully throughout this period. Phillipe Baccaro, a labor contractor from Canada, sub-leased the house from Dunsford and farmed the land. Together the two of them kept the Mukai enterprises fully operational and profitable throughout the war.
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