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.
The following images show some of the young Nikkei families of Bainbridge Island just prior to World War II. They were quite western in their dress and culture. Many of these families, like the Sakais and Hayashidas were becoming comfortable financially when the war broke out. Their farms were at their highest production rate and they had just built new homes. All was put on hold when they were forced to leave.
Young Filipino men, seeking work on the farms, began to arrive on the Island in the late 1920s. They became the foremen for many of these Japanese farms and soon they too settled down and started families. When the Japanese farmers were forced to leave their land, they turned to their trusted Filipino workers to look after their homes and land while they were away. Due to the presence of people on the land and in the homes, vandalism and destruction was kept to a minimum, which allowed many Nikkei who owned their land to return at the close of the war.
- Friends, Class '41, Japanese school - Jerry Nakata (OH0002)
- Life on the farm, picnics, Japanese films - Eiko Shibayama (OH0031)
- Japanese Hall, school, farming, Caucasian friends - Yae Yoshihara (OH0032)
- Living off the land - Hisa Matsudaira (OH0047)
- Reverend Emery Andrews and his trips to BI in the Blue Box - Brooks Andrews (OH0056)
- Playing outdoors, picnics, grocery stores - Junkoh Harui (OH0058)