Monday, February 6, 2012
A Follow Up to the Alinsky Story
Another Unexpected Interview
by Dee Newman
The scheduled interview with Gus Gutierrez with the presence of Saul Alinsky made for a highly informative discussion. They both were very persuasive and charismatic characters, possessing powers of charm and intellect that enabled them to easily captivate one’s interests and attention with their knowledge and experience. Alinsky’s temperament though far less gentle than his protégé’s was laced with humor.
Several times during the conversation Gus urged us to interview some actual farm laborers. He suggested that we might find a crew working on a large farm owned by the Boswell Company just west of the city. Accordingly, later that same day, Harry and I found ourselves driving around a huge complex, consisting of mile-long, rectangular subdivisions of cropland.
In the course of our exploration of the area, after a series of successful audio and video interviews with some farm workers, I noticed a lone figure, a man walking a plowed row. Thinking it would make, visually, a great shot, I ask Harry to pull over.
As I was setting-up my portable video camera from the open window of Harry’s VW Bug, the man turned and saw us. Suddenly, he began running toward his truck. My initial reaction of consternation soon turned to fear.
On reaching his truck he pull out a rifle. Cocking it, he leaned over the truck’s hood and aimed the lever-action Winchester in our direction.
“Harry! Get the hell out of here!” I screamed.
Looking back, the man jumped into his truck and began barreling down the parallel dirt road after us, dust flying up behind him.
At the first intersection, Harry took a right. The man, still in hot pursuit, turned right as well. Soon we were driving side-by-side. He motioned for us to pull over. We did as he directed. Moments later, after blocking our escape with his truck, he was standing by my open window with the barrel of his rifle inches from my face.
“Give me that camera!” He shouted.
Harry (‘the interviewer’), who normally was demonstratively unrestrained, sat mute, leaving me to single-handedly plead our case and persuade our pursuer that we meant him no harm.
Immediately I began to explain to the man our purpose and intentions.
“Give me that camera!” He shouted again.
I assured him that I had not taken any footage of him. Showing him the camera, I explained to him that I was unable to even turn the camera on before he began to run.
Though, not yet discernable of what, it was soon apparent that our pursuer (whose ancestry was obviously Asian) was more frighten than either of us.
As I began to ask him questions regarding his concerns, the rifle slowly lowered and his story was revealed.
Before the Second World War, the man’s family once owned farmland in the area. It was confiscated by the federal government during the war and his entire family was moved to an internment camp, the Gila River Relocation Center in Southern Arizona.
In 1944, the year I was born, he volunteered and heroically fought in the South Pacific, earning several metals, including a Purple Heart for being wounded in battle.
After the war his family’s land was never returned and was eventually sold to the Boswell Company. Years later, he got a job with the company, working his way up to become foreman of this large complex, encompassing the confiscated farmland his family once owned.
When he saw the camera, he thought he was about to lose everything again. He envisioned his employer firing him for allowing his image to be exploited by an adversary. By the time he finished telling his story I was in tears. And, so was he.