Interview with Grace Sugita Hawley

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Center for Oral History, Social Science Research Institute, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Grace Sugita Hawley, youngest of five children, was born in 1931, in Honolulu, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. Her parents, Saburo and Shizuno Sugita, were both born and raised in the islands. Saburo Sugita and his siblings founded and operated Holly Bakery, a bakery that serviced many schools and restaurants on O‘ahu. They also ran Hawaii Cotton Factory that produced filling for futon and zabuton. Both were thriving businesses. Saburo Sugita, his siblings, and their growing families occupied several house lots purchased on O‘ahu. In the prewar period, Saburo Sugita escorted his father, Sadakichi Sugita, on a number of trips to Japan and often entertained visiting Japanese officials. In February or March, Saburo Sugita was removed from his home, interrogated, and held at the Sand Island Detention Center for ten months. In late 1942, Shizuno Sugita was informed that if she and the children agreed to be moved to the U.S. Mainland, the family could be together. Given the alternative of her husband’s continued detention at Sand Island, his prolonged separation from loved ones, and an uncertain future for all, Shizuno Sugita agreed to the move. In early 1943, the Sugita family arrived at Jerome War Relocation Center, Arkansas. There, they settled into barrack life. Saburo Sugita served as a block manager. As Jerome War Relocation Center closed in 1944, the Sugitas were moved to Heart Mountain War Relocation Center in Wyoming where they remained until the war ended in August 1945. Encouraged by a friend in Minneapolis, the Sugitas in St. Paul, Minnesota, opened a restaurant that developed a following among Hawai‘i servicemen stationed at nearby Fort Snelling. Returning to the islands in 1946, Saburo Sugita tried but failed to revive Holly Bakery. Grace, schooled in the islands and the U.S. Mainland, graduated from Farrington High School on O‘ahu. A retired realtor, she raised two daughters.
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