Alice Sumida

(1914-2018) Founder of the largest gladiolus bulb farm in the United States.

Education in a Buddhist temple and a country school Learning to do farm labor at a sugar beet farm Blue-eyed doll

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Alice Sumida (b.1914) Alice’s parents immigrated to California from Kumamoto, Japan, and were farming in the Central Coast area when she was born. When she was six years old, Alice’s parents placed her in a dormitory at a Buddhist Temple in nearby Guadalupe, where, until the age of twelve, she learned Japanese reading, writing, customs and culture. She then attended a country school where she first developed a love of dance when the teacher encouraged everyone to dance at Thanksgiving, Halloween and Christmas celebrations. Later, while in San Francisco taking voice lessons, she met her future husband, Mark, a Portland resident ten years her senior. At his insistence, they were engaged after three days and married in two weeks. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the United States entry into World War II, Alice and Mark were ordered to an “Assembly Center” in Portland that was built over the foul-smelling stockyards. After two weeks, they were recruited to the sugar beet fields of Eastern Oregon—where Alice was the only woman doing the “backbreaking work” of harvesting. When the war ended, they took up farming a barren piece of land that, after much hard work and sacrifice, they eventually transformed into the country’s largest gladiola bulb farm. Following Mark’s passing in 1981, Alice revived her earlier love of dance, and, in her 90s, she continued to compete in ballroom dance events around the world. She passed away on August 16, 2018 at age 104. (October 2018)

buddhist temple education agriculture assembly centers sugar beet farm goodwill dolls music

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