I have known for a long time that the previous owner of my house was also the owner of Lincoln Avenue Nursery. I stopped at the nursery once years ago on a rainy day, but I didn’t stay to look around. Since then, I have driven up Lincoln Avenue about a zillion times thinking to myself, “I want to stop in there one of these days.”
Last Sunday was One of These Days. Last Sunday, I stopped. I walked through the whole (huge!) property. As Ferris Bueller says, “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
From the nursery’s web site: “In 1923, a Japanese family bought the nursery. Ms. Mary Takemura’s mother ran the business.”
I live in the house that was owned by Mary Takemura’s mother. Her surname was Matsuzawa (I wish I knew her first name). When Mary and her sister sold the house after their mother died, they sold it with everything left in it except for their mother’s clothes—-the furniture (I’m still using the dining room table and the sideboard), the dishes (I regret getting rid of them), and the stuff in the drawers.
Yes, I still have some of the stuff that was in the drawers. I use the tacks once in a while. The Antiobiotic Candettes container holds 3 razors and 2 3-inch sewing needles. In case I ever need them. I didn’t know/remember that the bathtub caulk was still in the drawer. That’ll get tossed today.
I couldn’t get over the size of the nursery’s property. There are tens of thousands of plants, trees, shrubs, and succulents there.
I felt like I was at a micro version of the Huntington.
Mary Takemura died in January 2011. From her obituary:
…She was a lifetime resident of Pasadena and is survived by husband Henry (married 62 years), with whom she ran Lincoln Avenue Nursery for more than 50 years; daughter Joan Takemura (David) Johnsen; and sister Ruth Sumiko Matsuzawa Ikeda.
Mary graduated from high school at Gila River Relocation Center, studied 2 years at Wooster College, Ohio, and graduated in 1948 from UCLA with a degree in Psychology. She was also an artist and worked at drawing, painting, making pottery and calligraphy.
I never learned about the Japanese Internment in school. I learned about it when I moved to this house, built just after the war. Built just after internment.
I wish I had contacted Mary before she died. I would love to hear about her life, about her mother’s life, and about her father. I feel connected to this family–when I go out to the lemon tree in the backyard and pick a lemon; every year when the cherry blossom tree in the front yard blooms. And every time I need a 1/2 inch tack.