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Early Sawtelle Stories

Licensing

West Los Angeles is a relatively new urban area. When the UCLA campus in Westwood opened in 1929, the area boomed. Dirt roads and empty fields became newly-paved roads and one-story bungalows. A small community of Japanese sprang up around Sawtelle and Olympic. They came to plant the grass, flowers and and other greenery needed to garnish the naked new residences. At the boarding house, single men with no experience but only a desire for a job, apprenticed as gardeners. They would get to be known as "brown men" for all the long hours toiling under the hot California sun. They opened barbershops, pool halls, gasoline stands, and markets. They started churches and a Japanese school for their children. The children would grow up to experience the relocation to American incarceration camps during the war and then came back to start their lives anew. They would not just watch, but participate in the growth of Los Angeles to a city of sky-high land values and eight lane freeways. Today Sawtelle is known for its Japanese eateries and boba tea cafes, and of course the Giant Robot stores. There is still a nursery on Sawtelle. The community center and the churches are still there. But the history of Sawtelle, as recent as it may be, is becoming a fading memory. The people who grew up in this neighborhood gathered together on Sawtelle one more time for a sharing of personal stories on Saturday, November 1, 2008.

Slides in this album 

Jack Fujimoto

Jack Fujimoto authored a history of the Sawtelle community in "West Los Angeles' Japantown" published by Arcadia Publishing (2007)

Jack Fujimoto
Contributed by: bokinaka

New Center for Psychoanalysis

The New Center for Psychoanalysis is located right on Sawtelle Blvd. They hosted this community event in their beautiful facility.

Sharing Sawtelle Stories
Contributed by: bokinaka

Memories

Sawtelle pioneers look over old photos and recall the good ole days.

Sawtelle pioneers
Contributed by: bokinaka

Joe Nagano

In the 1920s, Joe described Sawtelle as a Japanese ghetto. It had dirt roads and primitive utilities. The UCLA campus was being built and the area was experiencing a boom in growth. Some 2,500 gardeners worked out of Sawtelle to keep the yards of rich Westsiders green and manicured.

Joe Nagano
Contributed by: bokinaka

Tom Ikkanda

Tom moved to Sawtelle as a boy in 1923. He raced hot rods and became a mechanic.

During the war, because of his mechanic skills, he was let out of the camps to service airplanes for the Navy. He was actually sent back to California and was taught how to ...

Tom Ikkanda
Contributed by: bokinaka

Ida Kaisaki

Ida remembers when Olympic Blvd. was just a dirt road. She shared stories of studying Japanese dance.

Ida Kaisaki
Contributed by: bokinaka

Haru Nakata

Haru shared stories of going to Japanese school. The Issei parents thought it was important for the children to learn Japanese. She talked about the theater that played Japanese movies and the pool hall. During New Years Day, the community would celebrate. There were other community activities like odori (traditional ...

Haru Nakata
Contributed by: bokinaka

Grace Fujimoto

Grace is Jack's wife. After the war, the teens belonged to social clubs. She was a member of the Jodies. She met Jack at the gas station where he worked on Sawtelle.

Grace Fujimoto
Contributed by: bokinaka

Kaye Okitsu

Kaye's oldest sister earned a degree from UCLA but no one would hire her because she was Japanese. So her father decided to send all the girls to barber school. Kaye operated a barbershop on Sawtelle for many years.

Kay
Contributed by: bokinaka

Randy Sakamoto

Randy shares stories about his father who started the West LA Christian Church. He has collected many photos of his family and the history of Sawtelle.

Randy Sakamoto
Contributed by: bokinaka

Sawtelle Pioneers

left to right:
Cecelia Peck (New Center for Psychoanalysis)
Jack Fujimoto
Ted Tanaka
Dorothy Ikkanda
Tom Ikkanda
Ida Kaisaki
Grace Fujimoto
Kaye Okitsu
Joe Nagano
Yuki Sakurai
Haru Nakata
Randy Sakamoto

Early Sawtelle Stories
Contributed by: bokinaka

Album Type

community history

Etiquetas

bokinaka — Última actualización Mar 02 2016 6:41 p.m.


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