This is about our neighbors, the Miyakes.

The Miyakes aren't our right-now neighbors. They were our neighbors when I was born, sixty-five years ago. By "our," I mean the Andersens.

So before I talk about the Miyakes (pronounced Mee-YAH-key), I better say something about the Andersens.

The Andersens were Danish farmers in California's Central Valley. Vineyards. Family farms. Grapes of Wrath. Where I grew up, there were a lot of Danes. A huge amount of Danes. A whole gaggle of Danes. And---trust me, this is going somewhere---in our family, there was always the story of Papa. Papa, Hans Peter Andersen, was my grandfather. He died at age 92. Blind for half his life. Came to America at age 17. Ellis Island, then on to Wisconsin, North Dakota and California. Now bear in mind Papa was an orphan. And orphan back then was a euphemism for having been born out of wedlock. And that was true of Papa. But Papa was a very special orphan. In fact, he was about as special as you can get and still be an orphan. For the family oral history has it that Papa's father was none other than the great Hans Christian himself. The mother, a lady of the Portuguese persuasion. Probably a groupie.

Hans Christian Andersen was, in his day, famous for his novels and travelogues and fairy tales. And he certainly did travel to Portugal and write wittily of his stay there. Alas, nothing about making the two-backed beastie with the fair Teresa......or was it Carmen......Rossetta maybe? Ah well. As the Johnny Cash song has it, I'll Never Forget What's Her Name.

So that's where Papa came from.

He named his first-born after the great writer, even though the great writer wasn't "great" enough to acknowledge him.

And that is how my my dad came to be called Hans Christian Andersen. Except, my dad was Hans Christian Andersen the farmer.

dad and me1

Which brings us to the Miyakes. They lived the next vineyard over on the corner of Cherry and Adams. It was a big family.

There was old Mister Miyake.


There was his wife, Umeyo, and their boys, Shigeto, Masato, Tsumoru, Kiyomi and Tadao. There was a daughter named Kimiko.

1941 happened and they were sent to a camp in Arkansas. There wasn't much time to get ready to leave. It was "Hans, will you take care of our place?" and "Of course I will."

I was born in the Miyake house. Here I am in my crib.

dale in crib

The Miyakes were in Arkansas from 1942 to 1945. The camp there was set out in numbered blocks. The Miyakes lived in Block 26. The Miyake boys joined the army. Here's the Block 26 list of volunteers:

miyake soldiers

In 1945, Mom and Dad got a letter from Kimiko. Mom saved it. Here it is...



As I grew up, the Miyakes were always nice to me. And they always told me what a fine man Hans Christian Andersen was. I didn't understand then what they meant. But I do now.

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