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.
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.
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.
Student Writers: Mario Cervantes & Guadalupe Romero, Fall 2018