After Pearl Harbor was attacked, tens of thousands of Japanese were sent to internment camps. As many Japanese families were forced from their farms, many farmers that were not forced to leave offered to tend to the Japanese farmer’s land because they realized the Japanese Americans had done nothing wrong and wanted to help them. In Florin, California, Robert Emmett Fletcher Jr. quit his job as a California agriculture inspector after agreeing to work three of his Japanese neighbor’s farms. Fletcher (picture above from the Sacramento Bee) knew many of the farmers in the area and both Fletcher and the Japanese had a mutual respect for the other.
Fletcher agreed to tend his neighbor’s farm along his two friends’ farms under the agreement that Fletcher would pay the mortgages and taxes but keep all the profit. For three years, Bob Fletcher kept his neighbors’ farms running and decided to only keep half the profit so his neighbors could return without being penniless.
Fletcher typically worked eighteen-hour days across the farms’ combined ninety acres. Fletcher was resented by many in the surrounding area who blamed all Japanese, regardless of their loyalty, for the attack at Pearl Harbor. Fletcher never sought fame for his actions and said that others acted just like he did. Bob Fletcher ignored the racial prejudice of the day and helped his neighbors out. He died in Sacramento in 2013 at the age of 101.
Written by Josh Yohe