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Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement
  • Processing Information
  • Existence and Location of Copies

  • Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
    Title: Arthur Ito papers
    Creator: Ito, Arthur T., 1918-2006
    Identifier/Call Number: mssIto
    Physical Description: 33.3 Linear Feet (51 boxes, 7 oversize folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1915-2016
    Abstract: The Arthur Ito papers consist of material related to his early life in Mexico, service in the World War II, and career in the floral industry.
    Language of Material: The materials are in English and Japanese.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    Arthur Ito papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of James A. Ito and Paul N. Coman, November 2016.

    Biographical / Historical

    Ito family: Yoshimasa Ito (1881-1965) was born with the surname "Oye," but adopted his wife, Fumiyo Ito's (1885-1933) surname to continue the family name. Both were from the Tottori Prefecture, Japan. In 1902, Yoshimasa arrived in America to avoid being drafted in the Japanese army. He worked for Standard Oil Company and, later, Vernon Basket Company. In 1916, he married Fumiyo Ito, who recently arrived in the United States. The couple had three children: Arthur Tadashi (1918-2006), Thomas Kiyoshi (1919-2016), and Paul Susumu (1922-1989).
    In 1925, Yoshimasa decided to move his family to Mexico where they settled on a 300-acre Hacienda called "El Rancho de Los Naranjas," in Colima, Mexico. After the death of Fumiyo in 1933, the Ito family dispersed. Yoshimasa and Paul moved back to Japan, Thomas remained in Mexico, and eventually, returned to Los Angeles, California, where he met his brother, Arthur, who arrived earlier.
    Arthur T. Ito met Aiko Alice (Kuromi) Ito in 1939. A couple of years later, he was drafted into the United States Army during World War II. As a graduate of the Military Intelligence Language School (MILS), Ito monitored Japanese communication, translated enemy intelligence documents, and interrogated Japanese prisoners. Ito proposed to Kuromi in 1942, and they married in Camp Grant, Illinois on February 14, 1943.
    After the war, Ito was honorably discharged in October 1945. He returned to Los Angeles, California where he opened his first flower stand in March 1946. In 1962, Flower View Gardens broke ground in Hollywood, California. Flower View Gardens served many television shows and movies in Hollywood. Ito was the first chairman of the California State Florist Association and a member of the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD), Florists' Transworld Delivery Association (FTD), Society of American Florists (SAF), and the American Academy of Floriculture. In 1992, Ito was inducted into the Society of American Florists Hall of Fame.
    Arthur and Aiko had two children: Arthur T. Ito, Jr. (1944-1987) and James A. Ito.
    Kuromi family: A.H. (Andrew Harue) and Kiyo Kuromi were from the Shimane Prefecture, Japan and moved to America in the early 1900s. The Kuromis eventually settled in Hollywood, California where they joined another family member growing flowers on Los Feliz Boulevard. The couple had three children: Aiko (1919-2011), Isamu (1922-1996), and Hitoshi (1925-1970).
    In 1939, the Kuromi family returned to Japan to visit an ailing family member. This was the same year Aiko met Arthur Tadashi Ito. A few years later, after the family returned to the U.S., Executive Order 9066 was signed and issued by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which led to mass evacuation and incarceration of the Japanese on the West coast. The Kuromi family was incarcerated at the Santa Anita Racetrack Assembly Center, while the Gila River Relocation Center in Gila, Arizona was completed.
    When the war ended, Aiko returned with Arthur to re-establish Flower View Gardens. At the store, Aiko was considered the "face" of the shop and the "glue," which held everything together (Box 22 , Folder 4). She supported and accompanied Arthur as his political career in the floral industry progressed.
    After 55 years in the floral industry, Arthur and Aiko were looking to retire. Flower View Gardens was sold to Gerald Stevens Company in April 2000. Unfortunately, the stock value of Gerald Stevens began to decline and the store operation was closed in August 2001.

    Scope and Contents

    The Arthur T. Ito papers is organized roughly into four chronological series. Series 1: 1915-1941; Series 2: 1941-1945; Series 3: 1945-2016; and Series 4: A/V and oversize.
    Series 1: consists of early material related to the Ito and Kuromi family. While living in Mexico, Fumiyo Ito taught the children Japanese with books sent by relatives from Japan. They spoke Spanish and learned English by reading the Bible on Sundays. This was evident in three notebooks written by Ito in English, Japanese, and Spanish. Ito also translated one of his favorite books: "Robinson Crusoe" in 1934. There is a book written in Japanese related to Mexican Immigration in 1923. There are a few photographs of the Ito family in Mexico, including images of Fumiyo Ito's grave in Cuautitlan. Other photographs related to the Ito family include Yoshimasa (Oye) Ito at New Vernon Basket Company in 1916.
    Material related to the Kuromi family primarily consists of souvenirs acquired by Aiko Alice (Kuromi) Ito during her visit to Japan from 1939 through 1941. While in Japan, Kuromi kept one diary where she observes the weather and details daily activities such as going to school, shopping, and cooking. There is material related to A.H. (Andrew Harue) Kuromi's investment in the Nichi-Bei Investment Company, which entered a lease with the Yokohama Specie Bank in 1932. There are also photograph albums and photographs of the Kuromi family in Los Angeles, California and visit to Japan.
    Series 2: consists of material between the time Arthur T. Ito was drafted into the United States Army in 1941 and discharge in October 1945. The bulk of the material in this series consists of letters between Ito and Aiko Alice (Kuromi) Ito. These lengthy letters reveal a blossoming love story between two people miles apart. In an early letter written by Aiko at the store on October 10, 1941, she confesses "I'm really beginning to realize that I didn't appreciate a friend before, who was a swell pal and keen company...I miss the person who used to work so diligently emptying heavy baskets and who so willingly helped clean those heavy vases." After the Kuromi family was relocated in 1942, Aiko's descriptions about conforming to camp life are insightful. However, in one letter, she depicts a disorganized Wartime Civil Control Administration: "The unlogical part of it is that they are still going to sell food at the canteens -- yet, they prohibit food in barracks...Just a while ago, they brought in sacks of rice they confiscated" (May 15, 1942). In another type of camp, Ito details military camp life from: Camp Grant, Illinois; Camp Savage, Minnesota; Camp Blanding, Florida; and Camp Pinedale, California. Ito's Christian faith comes through in his letters to Aiko. In response to Executive Order 9066, Ito is hopeful: "Anyways, I do hope that, and know that, God is always with us, and where-ever the Government sees fit for all of you to go, for the protection of yourselves, things will turn out alright...let's all pray for the best" (March 15, 1942). In another poignant letter written after the birth of Arthur T. Ito, Jr. in 1944, he addresses his son, "Daddy is at the present time taking part in the greatest war the world has ever known. He is doing his part as a citizen of our country, the United States of America. It isn't exactly his choice to be out here, but in order that you may grow up into a world, which we hope will not have to use the force of arms to keep peace when you grow up, he is doing his part out here now," (April 17, 1945).
    Other Ito material related to World War II includes two entries for Camp Grant, Illinois on December 30, 1942 and Minneapolis, Minnesota on January 4, 1943. Ito also kept a diary with brief entries in 1941. For example, on December 8, 1941, he writes, "This morning at 11:30, President Rossevelt [sic] asked Congress to declare war on Japan, and the bill was passed with a vote of 470 to 1. Japan and U.S. is at war. We all are in it now." There are military records, such applications and discharge papers, military books, and photographs. Ito also collected souvenirs, postcards, and menus from his travels around the country.
    During the interment of the Kuromi family, Aiko frequently corresponded with accountants, attorneys, and other individuals regarding their property and storage. There is also a folder containing Aiko's request to transfer to Camp Grant, Illinois to join Ito; however, it was denied by the Santa Anita Assembly Center. Aiko also kept a record of expenses such as groceries and household supplies in a housebook from 1943 through 1945. She kept one diary with brief entries in 1943. There are a couple of photographs from the Gila River Relocation Center. Material related to claims and reparations is found in the Series 3.
    Greeting cards also constitute a large part of this series. Many of them are undated; however, the cataloger assumes they were exchanged during this period. There are also family and wedding photographs of Ito and Aiko.
    Series 3: primarily consists of Ito and Aiko's floral career after the war; however, there is some material related to World War, 1939-1945. There is correspondence related to the Kuromi family claims and reparations. There are also letters and legal documents related to A.H. (Andrew Harue) Kuromi's investment in the Nichi-Bei building in Little Tokyo, which, unfortunately, was lost during the war. There is also printed ephemera related to the war and organizations such as Nisei Veterans and Go For Broke.
    From 1966 through 2003, Ito kept a diary (mostly on a notepad) of his daily activities at Flower View Gardens and floral events around the world. There are also numerous clippings, photocopies, and photographs related to Flower View Gardens, Ito and Kuromi families, and the floral community. Some of these clippings are found in scrapbooks located elsewhere in the collection. Most of the photographs are related to the Florists' Transworld Delivery Association (FTD) events; however, there may be FTD related photographs in Box 35 (9) and Box 36 (1), but they were not easily discernible. The photographs in those boxes concern various demonstrations, arrangements, and floral organizations such as the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) and Society of American Florists (SAC). There may be some overlap between photographs related to Flower View Gardens, Kuromi family, and Aiko Alice (Kuromi) Ito.
    An item of interest may be Ito's childhood reminiscence Box 38 (3). He writes about his parents and adventures in Mexico. For instance, while clearing rocks with his brother Thomas, "We knew, and had been warned several times of the deadly 'Alacran' (scorpion). Thom put his hand under a rock, and sure enough, here was a large scorpion...bit him in the index finger. My immediate reaction was to carry Tom back to the house for treatment, what I really should have done was to open a wound on his finger and suck the poison out..." (p. 20-21). Note: There is another reminiscence in the Series 1, Box 6 (17) that may have been written in 1935.
    There is correspondence from Ito's father, Yoshimasa (Oye) Ito and brother, Paul Susumu Ito, primarily written in Japanese. There are also letters and postcards from friends and family in Mexico and Japan concerning family news and activities. Letters related to floral industry is found in correspondence, scrapbooks, and subject files. For example, e-mails related to Japan Florists' Telegraph Delivery Association convention are included in the subject files.
    Series 4: consists of oversize and audio/visual material. The A/V material includes audio cassettes, DVDs, and VHS. They primarily relate to Arthur T. Ito's floral career and Japanese Americans serving during World War II. There are also photograph albums, scrapbooks, rolled-objects, 3-D objects, and sketches for various floral design proposals.


    The Arthur Ito papers is organized roughly into four chronological series: Series 1: 1915-1941; Series 2: 1941-1945; Series 3: 1945-2016; and Series 4: A/V and oversize.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Gina C Giang in May 2018. In 2022, rolled items in box 52 were flattened and/or treated. In 2022, Maggie Hughes updated the container numbers to reflect that the materials previously in box 52 are now in oversize folders 4-7.
    • There may be some overlapping content related to the A.H. (Andrew Harue) Kuromi's investment in Nichi-Bei Investment Company across Series 1, 2, and 3. The reason being his involvement began before World War II, he lost his investments during the war, and after the war, the family continued to deal with the aftermath of their lost.
    • Many of the photograph albums and scrapbooks have loose contents and missing photographs.
    • The scrapbooks in Boxes 38 and 39 were originally in binders, but the contents have been removed and rehoused in archival sleeves.

    Existence and Location of Copies

    Selected audiovisual items from this collection have been digitized. Digital reproductions are available in the Internet Archive  .

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Cut flower industry
    Cut flowers
    Japanese American families
    Japanese American soldiers
    Japanese American veterans
    Japanese Americans
    Japanese Americans -- Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945
    Japanese Americans -- Reparations
    World War, 1939-1945
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Participation, Japanese American
    California, Southern
    Hollywood (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Los Angeles (Calif.)
    Clippings (information artifacts)
    Greeting cards
    Letters (correspondence)
    Ito, Aiko Alice (Kuromi)
    Ito, Arthur T., 1918-2006
    Ito, Yoshimasa (Oye)
    Ito family
    Kuromi family
    American Institute of Floral Designers
    Florists' Transworld Delivery Association
    Gila River Relocation Center
    Military Intelligence Service Language School (U.S.)
    Santa Anita Assembly Center (Calif.)
    Society of American Florists
    United States. War Relocation Authority
    United States. War Department. Military Intelligence Service