Nick Nakagawa

Nick Nakagawa, July 1, 1923 – January 2, 2021

Nick Nakagawa was born in Idaho then moved to Utah. When his dad was near death, Nick’s aunt recommended moving to Phoenix, Arizona due to the climate. The Nakagawas moved to the Valley of the Sun before World War II in 1940. During the war, they lost everything when they were relocated to the Poston relocation camp. Poston was a temporary home where many other Japanese Americans were wrongly relocated to due to fear of the Japanese following the attacks on Pearl Harbor.  He spent nine months in the camp then he was released. He was then drafted into the military by the United States government. The same government that relocated him and his people into camps. However, his time in the military did not last long. He was able to get released due to his father being severely ill back home.

Future Video Clip: (2:13-3:19): “Then the war started so we lost everything that we had growed up here, and were interned in the camps. I was in Poston, up near Parker… I didn’t stay there very long, probably 9 months.”

Before the camp, Nick and his family farmed vegetables on 24th St. and Baseline Rd. where the Fry’s grocery store is currently located. Nick started growing flowers in the years of 1946 to 1947 across the street from where his current shop is now located. During the peak of the flower season it was a national attraction, and many snowbirds would visit. They had a concentration of over three hundred acres of flowers. Nick used to grow over a hundred acres of flowers plus another seventy-five acres behind the shop. Over time, the flower industry changed when South American countries began to ship flowers and killed the business.

Nick Nakagawa recalls the motivations for growing and selling flowers in South Phoenix.

Mr. Nakagawa discusses when Baseline Rd. was two lanes. He remembers frequent traffic jams every weekend with police officers directing traffic. When Baseline expansion started, the City of Phoenix needed to take the land. They negotiated with the Nakagawas, to claim the eastbound lanes of Baseline, which were originally the parking lot for the shop., After fighting with the city, the Nakagawas got a parking lot in the back of the shop. Mr. Nakagawa always wanted his kids to work and be closer to the business, but his children didn’t follow in his footsteps. One of his daughters helped him run the shop until she and her husband moved to a different part of the country. Mr. Nakagawa doesn’t really know what to do with the shop at his age but he still continues to show up everyday and run his shop.

Dr. Kathy Nakagawa and her father, Nick Nakagawa (center) at the Baseline Flower Shop, Fall 2018
Student Researchers: Vanessa Gutierrez, Allyssia Sanchez, Guadalupe Romero, & Mario Cervantes
NarratorNick Nakagawa
BirthdateJuly 1, 1923 – January 2, 2021
Place of OriginLewiston, Idaho
Place of ResidenceTempe, Arizona
Years Active in South Phoenix1940 – 2021
Recording Duration40:17
DateNovember 15, 20181
LocationMr. Nakagawa‘s Baseline Flower Shop
Interviewed ByStudent Writers: Mario Cervantes & Guadalupe Romero
Story Written ByStudent Writers: Mario Cervantes & Guadalupe Romero
NotesPlease note that this is a joint interview with Mr Nakagawa daughter, Dr. Kathy Nakagawa