Pre WWII - Lives of Bainbridge Island Nikkei Before the War
In the 1930's Bainbridge Island was a sleepy cluster of communities each with its own post office, gathering spot, and grocery. A "mosquito fleet" of steamers darted from dock to dock, a relief from the awful condition of the dirt roads, often gutted by rains or dusty from the sun. Bainbridge High School, established in 1928 when two schools combined, served grades seven through twelve. Perhaps as a result of the unifying effect of one high school, Bainbridge Island was beginning to see itself as a community. Immigrants who, fifty years earlier, separated themselves into homogenous neighborhoods, now were scattered across the Island. Slavs lived next door to Japanese; Italians were neighbors with Finns. There was no longer a "Yama" or a "Dagotown." All Islanders were proud of the Island's largest industry: strawberry farming, producing two million pounds in 1940, all from Issei (first generation Japanese immigrant) farms. At the high school, Nisei (second generation Japanese) were student leaders in sports, academics and government. Close friendships grown from twelve years association in Island schools often crossed ethnic lines.