Roy T. Ito

Roy "Leroy" Ito was born on September 1, 1929 in Los Angeles, California. In April 1942 he and his family were evacuated and sent to Santa Anita Assembly Center, Arcadia, California then later that year to Amache Relocation Center, Granada, Colorado. Returning to Los Angeles in 1945, he completed high school and graduated from UCLA in 1951and later received a master's degree in public administration from USC. He worked in various administrative positions in Los Angeles County government for 33 years and retired in 1987. He has served as a volunteer with the Japanese American National Museum for several years collecting oral histories for various museum projects most notably the history of the Japanese in the Los Angeles produce industry.

Updated December 2008

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The Summer I Grew Up - Part 2

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After a few days, I went to the Social Security office to obtain a Social Security card because I had learned that you had to have a card to be employed and I wanted to work. I obtained the card under an alias because I wasn’t supposed to work on my visitor’s pass from camp and also I was under age to be working. I chose the name Fred Itano because it was short and easy to remember. I got the card without any questions being asked. Using the classified advertising section of the newspaper, I ...

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The Summer I Grew Up - Part 1

I decided to go over to the Hikawa’s place on the other side of the block about 10:15 in the morning after school let out for the summer. I had been living in Amache since being “relocated” to southeastern Colorado from Santa Anita Assembly Center, California three years earlier.

A lot had changed in three years. As a 13 year old, everything was new and different. Having come from a white middle class neighborhood in West Central Los Angeles, I felt like an outsider when it came to Nisei (Japanese American) kids who grew up together in the ...

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Naotaro and Tsuruko, My Issei Parents - Part 3

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In the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, the family heard radio reports of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor but went about carrying on as usual not realizing what profound effect this event would have on their lives. Not knowing what else to do, Emi and Takeshi walked to the movie theatre at Washington Boulevard and Vermont Avenue to see the afternoon show. When they returned, the family was about ready to have dinner.

After dinner, Hiroshi, Emi and Takeshi listened to the radio and did homework for the following day. Tsuruko and Naotaro read before going ...

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Naotaro and Tsuruko, My Issei Parents - Part 2

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In the years following, the couple lived very frugally and carefully saved practically every dollar they earned, hoping for a good business opportunity. Naotaro worked as a cook at Booz Brothers Cafeteria on Hill Street and Third. Also working there were Matsushi Naruse and Senenmon Tsunekawa both men also of Aiichi Prefecture and equally anxious to start a business. Noticing the volume of business at Grand Central Market which was adjacent to Booz Brothers, all three men leased stalls to sell produce at the market. Although the exact date is not known, this was probably in 1919 or ...

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Naotaro and Tsuruko, My Issei Parents - Part 1

Naotaro Ito was born in 1886 as a second son to a rice farming family in Kitsuneji, a tiny rural hamlet in Aiichi Prefecture, near Nagoya, Japan. He received a basic elementary education then was sent to a bicycle shop merchant to serve as an apprentice in his early teens since only the eldest son was slated to inherit the farm, according to long standing custom (primogeniture).

At the age of eighteen, circa 1904, he decided to immigrate to America and landed in Seattle, Washington. While it’s not known exactly why he came to the United States it is ...

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