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Saturday, November 17, 2012 - Page updated at 09:30 a.m.
Now & Then
The view from the Ishii family farm, ca. 1935
By Paul Dorpat
Special to The Seattle Times
NANCY ISHII (bottom row, second from the left in Jean Sherrard's "now") concluded that this portrait of her family's farm beside the Duwamish River dates from 1935 or '36. Appearing in both the "now" and "then" are one uncle, Masao, two aunts, Michi and Sally, and her father, Nobi Ishii. In cap and tie, the young Nobi stands at the center of the group in the "then." About 72 years later, he deserves to be in the center in the repeat.
What seems like magic is what does not appear in either subject: the sprawling 1.77 million square feet of Boeing Plant 2. The Flying Fortress factory's first 60,000 feet were covered in 1936, a year or so after the Japanese-American farmers were posed standing in their carrot patch by Henry Miyake of Takano Studio in what was then called Japantown. Recently, the Wing Luke Museum called on the community to help identify the subjects in its Miyake collection, and many discoveries, like this one, followed.
Nancy, a friend of mine, called for help in refining the location of the farm. With aerial photographs, the bridge to South Park (seen in both photos) and some fine-tuning from Boeing historian Michael Lombardi and colleagues Mike Prittie and Kathleen Spicer, we managed to return some of the extended Ishii family to their farm for the repeat.
The Ishiis rented land from Joe Desimone, the Pike Place Market's benevolent landlord. In 1940, with the Boeing factory sprawling toward the farm, Desimone helped the family keep their planted rows beside the Duwamish, although relocated about a mile upstream. However, he could not keep them farming after the shock of Pearl Harbor. Like many others, the Ishiis were sent to internment camps. They returned to the farm after the war.
For more on the Ishii story, check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard's blog at www.pauldorpat.com.
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