Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: James O. Ito Interview
Narrator: James O. Ito
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Laguna Woods, California
Date: November 9, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-ijames-01-0003

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MN: Now, when you were five years old, you moved from Riverside to the Los Angeles area. Where did you go?

JI: Well, on Western Avenue, across the street from the fire station. It was near First Street where we had a, it started as a fruit and vegetable store there. And we had many hakujin customers. Then we moved to Hollywood, Cahuenga Boulevard. It was 1523 1/2 Cahuenga. Then we had a storefront there, it was the middle of Cahuenga. We also started a store on the corner of Cahuenga and Hollywood Boulevard. And that's when we had customers like Charlie Chaplin. I remember one time we went to deliver the fruits and vegetables to Charlie Chaplin's house, and he had just left. He just went to Europe that morning, and he never returned. And so all the fruits and vegetables we delivered, the two servants took over. So I never got to meet Charlie Chaplin. [Laughs] I said, "Oh, today I'll get to see him," and then he left. Never came back.

MN: You also had John Aiso living nearby. Is that correct?

JI: Yeah, it's about two blocks away. He used to work for a grocery store for a while. We had, actually, it was a fruits and vegetables (and some bakery goods). And we had all kinds of customers. Yeah.

MN: Now, when you were living on Cahuenga Boulevard, did you go to Japanese school?

JI: (Yes, after elementary school). That's when I started, yeah. I went to the Cahuenga Avenue elementary school for six years, and then I went just one semester to Le Conte junior high. Then we moved over to Glendale area. See, it'd be Eagle Rock, Glendale, and we became the, then my two brothers started their fruit and vegetable stores in Eagle Rock. They had two stores. And when we came, we became the third Ito Brothers Market.

MN: So your half brothers, Fred and Frank, had two stores. One in Eagle Rock, one in Glendale. And then your family had another Ito Brothers store. So it was three Ito Brothers stores.

JI: Right.

MN: So it was a chain.

JI: Yeah.

MN: Now, which church did you attend?

JI: I first went to Hollywood Methodist Church. I went all by myself when I was twelve years old, and had myself baptized at the Hollywood Methodist Church on Highland. I was twelve years old, and that's when they baptized me. And I was the only one from the family, no one else went with my family. 'Cause everybody was busy in the store. I was twelve years old, I was still on my own. [Laughs] And I even climbed the mountain, the Hollywood mountains there all by myself, all over to Griffith Park.

MN: But you did a lot of hiking.

JI: Yeah.

MN: Did you take judo or kendo classes?

JI: I did at one time. I started taking judo. I started kendo first and then took judo. I was pretty good at it. I remember I threw several people, especially the hakujin. [Laughs] And elementary school, the boys, they tend to get into fights. But since I would throw them, they stopped bothering me.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.