Juan's King Falafel-short version by stariya


									 Juan’s King Falafel

       One of the most remarkable features of this little town is its veritable United
Nations of citizens within its boundaries. To my great surprise I learned that the current
Mexican population dominance is a relatively recent development. While there is no
disputing California’s and Guadalupe’s Mexican roots since both the Spanish and
Mexican republics once ruled these lands and brought the original pobladores or settlers,
its current Mexicanization is surprisingly recent.
       Decades before the Mexican population soared and dominated the city,
Guadalupe’s social, cultural and economic life was influenced by an assortment of
European and Asian immigrants that imprinted the city with a distinct mixture of
cuisines, languages and businesses. Guadalupe, prior to the 1950s was a town of Chinese
laundries, restaurants and opium dens, Filipino grocery stores and gambling rooms,
Japanese candy shops, jewelry stores, liquor stores and ice cream parlors, Swiss cafes,
Mexican restaurants and cantinas and the First Bank of Italy. English was a second
language in Guadalupe. In fact, prior to the 1940s and World War II, Japanese
immigrants not only comprised a significant percentage of Guadalupe’s residents but also
dominated its business community. Some say that before World War II up to 80% of
Guadalupe’s residents was of Japanese origin. Names like Minami, Katayama,
Kurokawa, Aratani, Shimizu, Yoshihara, Ishi, Oishi, Nakano, Takano, Aratani, Tomooka
and Masatani, were much more common than Jones or Lopez. Their business prominence
is made more surprising by the fact that American laws prohibited their American
citizenship and land ownership. Guadalupe’s minorities have always been its majority.
These were the parents and relatives of many of the Sons of Guadalupe.
       Most Issei (Japanese immigrants) had arrived in the United States between 1885
and 1924, following in the footsteps of the Chinese immigrants. Around 275,000
Japanese immigrated to Hawaii and the mainland of the United States by 1924. Around
72,000 Japanese lived in California alone. The Issei, like the Chinese before them, could
not become naturalized citizens. Citizenship was only extended to white European
immigrants. All Asians were excluded from congressional legislation in 1870 that
extended to “aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent.” the right of
naturalization. Chinese and Japanese immigrants in California, who were neither white
nor black, were classified as “aliens ineligible for citizenship” in 1913. This was an
indirect means of discriminating against Asians since, Asians, including Filipinos, were
the only racial group that were relegated to the status of “aliens ineligible to citizenship.”
The law also prohibited the Issei from purchasing agricultural land or selling land to
fellow Issei and restricted leases to three years. Many Issei farmers, however, managed to
circumvent this law by purchasing land in the name of their U.S.-born children. Some
Issei in the Santa Maria Valley managed to acquire thousands of acres of land and turn it
into productive agriculture, using Filipino and Mexican labor. Around 1920, Issei owned
farms produced crops that represented about 10 percent of the value of the California
harvest working around 500,00 acres of farm lands. Not until 1952 were Asians allowed
to become naturalized American citizens.
       The Japanese influence in Guadalupe was also evident in the businesses
community. For example, almost directly in the middle of Guadalupe Street (Guadalupe’s
only business area) is still Masatani’s Market: a fixture along Guadalupe Street and one
of only two local markets where regular grocery purchases could be made. Masatani’s
Market, originally on the site of the “Live and Let Live Saloon” was purchased by the
family after their return from the Japanese internment camps. To this day the Masatani
family still owns and runs the market, now over sixty years running. The Sahara family,
also long-time residents, once owned the other grocery store, the Home Food Basket. It
has since been replaced by Mexican owners and caters to the tastes of the new majority.
Other Issei also owned barbershops, liquor stores and other businesses and one of their
own, Mr. Ishi, brought the cinema to Guadalupe when he built the Royal Theater in
Guadalupe in 1939.
       And then there was Kaminaka Jewelry, owned by the Kaminaka family. All of the
families, including the Kaminakas, were victims of the Japanese relocation program that
interned them during World War II and rumor has it that the Kaminakas were in the habit
of saving those little aluminum gum wrappers because they were useful to jewelers. But
someone surmised that since they clearly sympathized with the Japanese imperial cause
during World War II, and those little aluminum wrappers were certain proof of it, they
must have been supplying the Japanese with this precious commodity. And acting on

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