Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Art Abe Interview
Narrator: Art Abe
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: January 24, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-aart-01-0030

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TI: Well, we're at the end of our tape now, and I just wanted to ask you, is there anything else that you wanted to say in completing this interview?

AA: No, not a great deal. There was a, part of the period of the Nisei Vets that was broken up was the fact that I was working on the construction of the Blaine, Blaine Church. I had to come up with some very creative financing for that period of time. I found out that, looking for help, there was no banks that would give us any loans. People were not interested, banks were not interested in loaning money to churches. I just got the results from that problem over in that church up on Tenth Avenue, Tenth Avenue and Aloha, it was that church that had started during the Depression, and the congregation couldn't meet their obligations on the mortgage, and the bank foreclosed on 'em. And it made the congregation so angry that they withdrew their money from the bank and they told their friends and relatives and they all made a run on the bank.

TI: And so because of that, banks were reluctant to do church projects.

AA: Yeah, they all remembered what happened there.

TI: So what did you have to do for Blaine to make it work?

AA: Well, I had... we had a pledge program going on, it was three-year pledge, and money that wasn't coming in, and we had the obligation, the progress payments to make. And so I approached the congregation and told 'em, "Hey, you people have money in the banks that are paying you four percent interest." I says, "How about loaning it to the church instead, and we'll pay you the same amount?" Not only that, I got ten of the more influential members to guarantee the amounts in case they wanted the funds, and we sold bonds in five hundred dollar increments. And so a number of people purchased those bonds, and I raised fifty thousand dollars that way. The church program was, was about two hundred eighty thousand dollars I guess. We built that time when the World's Fair was being constructed, and all the subcontractors were working on the fair, and costs were skyrocketing 'cause of the shortage of labor, and so our costs were escalating. And then the Methodist Board of Missions agreed to lend us fifty thousand. And then I got a fifty thousand dollar loan from United Savings, and the reason we got that is George Kawachi, our member, was on the board when that bank first started up. They didn't have enough assets to loan us that fifty thousand, but they parceled it out among the rest of the banks. But we had the main loan with United. And their stipulation was that the members would open up an account with them to bring up their asset base, and so we talked to the congregation and so a number of people opened an account. And they serviced that loan to the, to the Mission, the Methodist Mission.

TI: That's fascinating. So you had to be really creative in several different ways.

AA: Oh, yeah. I had a background in economics and so on, I was able to come up with ways of doing things.

TI: Good, that's a good way, that's a good story, that's actually a good way to end this interview. So again, Art, thank you so much for doing this, and I really enjoyed this.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.