Ninety Years Young

Local Couple Spends 70 Years Together.

by Lyndsey Schaefer

Paul_and_Alice_Shinoda.jpgWhen one of her daughters asked my
grandmother about having a 70th wedding anniversary party, she
replied, “How about a 75th wedding anniversary party?” Her daughter
smiled and said, “If you and dad hit 75, we will definitely have a
big blowout!”

While platinum is the traditional gift to bestow upon a couple
that’s celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary, for my
grandparents, Paul and Alice Shinoda, platinum isn’t good

At their 50th anniversary party, Grandpa presented his family
with a spiral-bound book called Recollections, an autobiography of
sorts. It told the story of his and Grandma’s lives together,
beginning when they met at a beach party in Los Angeles shortly
after my grandfather had graduated from UC Berkeley as a plant
nutrition major. In 1939, he started a nursery in Torrance, which
grew to 30 acres by 1942, when America entered World War II after
the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. Though curfew laws soon were
imposed on Japanese-Americans, my grandparents left for Delano,
California, with various family members — including their three
small children — in the middle of the night. When Executive Order
9066 was issued by Governor Earl Warren, it required anyone of
Japanese descent in California to sell their property and be
forcibly moved into internment camps. Instead, the Shinoda family
traveled north to Idaho, where Grandpa had heard U&I Sugar
Company was hiring workers. They took their children via train to
Blackfoot, Idaho, only to have Grandpa be rejected by the sugar
company, as he was considered too slight to work. He eventually got
a job on a farm milking cows and doing construction work.

When that work dried up, the Shinodas moved to Grand Junction,
Colorado, in April 1942, where one of my grandfather’s brothers,
Uncle Joe Shinoda, had bought a 90-acre dairy farm. Another uncle,
Pete, learned how to run that farm, while Grandpa helped grow hay,
alfalfa, corn, and sugar beets. After the war, the Shinodas were
able to return to California in 1945. The family spent a decade
living in Torrance before eventually settling in Santa Barbara in
1966, where Grandpa went into business at Uncle Joe’s San Lorenzo
Nursery Company, which had bought 79 acres of land in Santa
Barbara. Over time, my grandfather help develop 30 acres under
glass, growing orchids, foliage plants, Easter lilies, poinsettias,
and chrysanthemums. Grandma and Grandpa were active members of the
community, with Grandpa becoming president of the Kiwanis in Santa
Barbara, and Grandma a leader of the Tres Condados Girl Scout

Paul and Alice had three children prior to World War II — Paul
Jr., Carol, and David — and three children after the war: Michael,
Irene, and Roxanne. Today they have 11 grandchildren and six
great-grandchildren, not to mention countless extended family
members, longtime church friends, and neighbors.

Grandpa retired in 1975. Then he joined a writing class taught
by the late Bill Downey at Santa Barbara City College, where he
worked on finishing Recollections.

Both my grandparents loved to travel and have seen the world
from Japan to Europe. Grandpa also embarked twice a year on deep
sea trips to Mexico. They both went on regular fishing trips to
Posada Don Diego in Baja, and from 1980-1999, they spent full
summers on the Kenai River of Alaska. Over these years, they had 18
different motor homes.

They always promised to take each grandchild on a fishing trip
to Alaska. My brother Kevin and I fondly remember those vacations,
which included the taste of Grandpa’s smoked salmon, and Kevin
fearing for his life while digging for clams.

But it’s not just these great gifts of trips that make them such
special people — it’s the little things. From their traditional
strawberry waffle breakfasts — only on Sundays — to the way they
call each other “Mums” and “Pops,” their daily interactions are
like a sitcom.

Their first home in Santa Barbara was designed by famed
architect Richard Neutra. With its bevy of rooms and nooks and
crannies to roam in, their home on El Camino Real was a
grandchild’s playground. Especially since their Welsh corgi,
Trooper, would hide with us in closets and under desks, waiting to
be found by Grandma. In the large backyard, the grandkids would be
free to engage in an all-out warfare of mudslinging until it was
too dark to see.

Tragically, their beautiful home was reduced to ash during the
Painted Cave fire of 1991 that swept through the hillside, burning
decades of Shinoda family memories. They were vacationing in Alaska
when the fire hit, which was lucky, and unlucky, since no one was
home to salvage anything.

Grandma and Grandpa decided to move rather than rebuild, and
soon made a lovely home off State Street, complete with tool shed
and woodworking shop for Grandpa and orchid garden, swimming pool,
and indoor Japanese soaking tub for Grandma. In his woodshop,
Grandpa churned out many handmade items for his family, including
jewelry boxes for all of the women, catchalls for the men, a crib
for one of the great-grandchildren, and napkin holders adorned with
zoris (Japanese for flip-flops) for everyone.

Grandpa also made a conference room table for the church that he
and Grandma attended loyally, Bethany Congregational Church in
Santa Barbara.

My grandpa, now 93, and grandma, 92, currently reside in Goleta
at the Maravilla senior housing community, where they enjoy the
leisurely pace of life. So, last October, their children,
grandchildren, and great-grandchildren convened in Montecito to
celebrate two people whose love has grown over the years, and whose
relationship together continues to give hope to newlyweds
everywhere — including myself.

Congratulations, Grandma and Grandpa Shinoda! You are an
inspiration to us all. Can’t wait for your 75th!


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