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COLUMN ONE : A Paradise Lost, Never Forgotten : For decades, Terminal Island was home to a close-knit community of Japanese Americans. Then came WWII. Today, former residents keep the bittersweet legacy of their village alive.

January 05, 1994|SUSAN MOFFAT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The ghosts of Terminal Island may be forgotten under the feet of the thousands who work there today. But they are still visible to those who entered the world on its sandy shores.

Yamashita, the son of the tuna clipper captain, found himself somehow drawn back to the island. For decades, an army career took him from Europe to Asia. But when it came time to retire, he got an apartment on the bluffs of San Pedro.

Yamashita keeps a telescope set up in his living room. It's trained on Terminal Island.

After his retirement, he earned a Ph.D. with a dissertation titled: "Terminal Island: Ethnography of an Ethnic Community: Its Dissolution and Reorganization to a Non-Spatial Community."

In other words, Yamashita says: "We all still stick together."

Lost Village

From 1906 to February, 1942, a Japanese American fishing village flourished at Fish Harbor on Terminal Island. The villagers were incarcerated and their houses razed during World War II. But the old residents and their families gather on the island each year for a picnic.

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