Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/journal/2023/9/13/dream-fulfilled/

A Dream Deferred, A Dream Fulfilled

My mother, Haruko Ann Tokita, came to the United States from Japan when she was 12 years old and settled with her father and stepmother in Seattle. After living in various homes for a few years, the family eventually acquired the Wilson Hotel, which was located between 5th and 6th Avenues South on Dearborn, where the Uwajimaya parking lot is presently located (Read his previous story about Wilson Hotel).

While growing up, much of Mom’s activities pertained to anything dealing with Puget Sound and all the natural bodies of water in and around Seattle. Her first job was at the Pike Place Market, which, of course, featured a multitude of seafood. Picnics were held at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. Weekend outings consisted of picnics and clam digging at Alki Beach, also in West Seattle.

A shiner perch. The palm sized fish are commonly visible near shore. Photo by NOAA

Later, after marrying Kamekichi Tokita in 1932 and starting a family, Mom continued to enjoy those same outdoor activities at Alki. They included shiner fishing at the docks and capturing three-foot long octopuses in the Sound.

After being widowed in 1948, she enjoyed salmon fishing at Westport, even though she would become deathly seasick on the ocean-going boats. But, her obsessive love of water made her desire a home or a weekend retreat on the water in the early 1960s.

Her interest in obtaining a waterfront home eventually included her brother, Warren Suzuki; so the two of them started hunting around for something available. After a while, they came across a home for sale on Lake Sammamish. However, this was before the existence of the floating bridges, so that lake was not readily accessible. That pending co-ownership possibility ended their combined waterfront home-hunting.

Yet, Mom, still obsessed with the desire to purchase a waterfront home, continued her search in and around Puget Sound. Eventually, she found a one-bedroom home available in Poulsbo in the late 1960s. This property was on Puget Sound with a rocky water frontage. But, it also had three small cottages on the property, which would be perfect for her large family to enjoy on weekend outings.

The weekend retreat was a resounding success! The family took to it like a fish to water. As the grandchildren grew older and purchased a power boat, they started making their way across the Sound in it. In fact, one of her sons, Goro, waterskied across the Sound! But, I will let you hear about that episode from Goro himself.

“That was me skiing across to the summer house. We (brother Masao? or sister Yaeko?) had dates and one of the girls called me ‘chicken’ for not wanting to waterski across, so, of course, I had to! Skiing under the Agate Pass Bridge was the most welcome sight! Not for the unbelievable beauty, but because it signaled the end of the journey! My hands had cramped up about halfway across and I had my arms wrapped through the rope’s handle, which was locked in the crook of my elbow…. what a dope!”

Agate Pass Bridge, 2006 (Photo taken by DVD R W, Wikipedia)

Additional comments from my sister Yoshiko and nephew Scott:

Yoshiko: “Goro said he would never do it again because he was half-dead and he thought his arms and legs would fall off after he got there! However, Scott and his boys are HUGE water skiing fans and you will have to ask him about the summer house…”

Nephew Scott: “The summer house for me became my favorite place for the Fourth of July, with the Indian fireworks stands so close and no fear of trouble with the police. I also went there after my prom with a group of friends and we had a campfire on the beach.”

So Mom’s family continued those water-oriented activities such as swimming, fishing, and clam digging on her property. Now there was no need to go to Alki. Poulsbo was a bit further, but what a feeling to be able to do all of that and more, on her own property! As it turns out, Mom had that property for over 20 years.

And so… such was a dream deferred… and a dream fulfilled!!

 

*This article was originally published in The North American Post on July 25, 2023. 

 

© 2023 Shokichi "Shox" Tokita

About this series

This series shares personal, touching stories of Shokichi “Shox” Tokita’s family, which includes their incarceration in Minidoka concentration camp, his family struggles after the War, and his mother who ran a hotel business to support her family after his father’s death.

*Stories in this series were originally published in The North American Post. 

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About the Author

Shokichi “Shox” Tokita is a retired career U.S. Air Force navigator and Vietnam veteran who enjoys working out regularly, like playing pickle ball, when gathering in gyms is allowed. His present plans include submitting articles periodically to the North American Post, for which he retains “a soft spot.”

Updated November 2021

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