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Nikkei Names: Writing Workshop in Los Angeles

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Patricia E. Takayama

Had I been born a boy, my name would have been Theodore or Teddy, as my parents wanted a son.

As the 2nd daughter, my parents chose a name fashionable at the time. Along with Susan, Linda, and Nancy, Patty was popular. In school, camp, and church, I ran into Pattys, some spelled their nicknames with an “i” instead of a “y” or others with an “ie,” but my parents chose “y.” As for a middle name, my parents picked “Ellen.” While it was the custom in the Japanese community to give their offspring Japanese middle names, my mother in response to the internment experience decided she was going to be an “All American” family. As a result, only the oldest child and the son were given Japanese names.

I always wondered about the meaning of my name. I learned that it was the crish crate class in the Roman Empire, but that didn’t seem to fit me.

And “Patty” always struck me as a diminutive. Being short of stature, I wanted a different name- when I moved away and went to college, I introduced myself as “Pat” and kept that name, until I ran into people who knew me when I was young. Then I reverted back to Patty. I thought someday I’d like to be called “Patricia” my legal name but I assumed that I would love to grow with my name because it was so erudite “errai.”

As for “Ellen” I never could figure out where that came from. Perhaps it was a short form for Eleanor as in Eleanor Roosevelt; or perhaps it was a friend of my mother’s. Someone she met who lived in Chicago and had befriended her. I can only speculate as I never asked her where it came from. 

Read her story that she developed during the workshop >>

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Patricia E. Takayama
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Photo taken and name story provided on June 28, 2014 at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy as a part of Discover Nikkei’s workshop warm-up excercise in conjunction with the More »

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