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Scott Hattori: A star is born
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Scott Hattori: A star is born

by Don Paulson - SGN Contributing Writer

Teenage Scott Hattori was one of the 110,000 Japanese Americans interned in relocation camps during WWII. The fear was espionage and sabotage against America. Crowded into tar paper barracks with no running water, communal mess hall, laundry or toilets, and inadequate heat, guarded by barbed-wire fences, patrolled by armed guards and watchdog, Scott and his family were interned in southern Idaho's Minidoka camp. Scott's father was Swedish and sent him phonographs of popular music that eased his being picked on because he was only half Japanese. Scott was not traumatized by his experience, but he never wanted to talk about it. After Minidoka, Scott became a student at the University of Washington's School of Interior Design and became an accomplished designer and artist of ballet and costume designs. His painting of a nude is in the collection of Seattle Art Museum.

Bill Parkin remembers: "Scott was very much a mystery man. He'd walk into a room and the room would stop because he was so tall and handsome. He had a large following; a lot of people were interested in him. He mixed well with everyone and knew all kinds of people. He was extremely charismatic and as secretive as his relationship with movie actor Farley Granger." Scotty was very much a star himself, admired by Gay Seattle and local businessmen when he was a waiter at the chic Marine Room in the Olympic Hotel and when he opened a Japanese import shop on Pine Street with fellow student Ruth Nomura in 1955.

Bill Maclane remembers: "I met Scott at a party. He was so good-looking and unusual. I asked him if he was Japanese and [asked him] things [about being] Japanese, and he wouldn't be able to answer. He'd say, 'I'll ask my mother; she's Japanese.' I was a Far East major at the University and tried to get him interested in Japanese arts. We started having Japanese dinners together and went to Japanese restaurants. I helped him, along with friends Yoshi and Mary and Ruth, to embrace his Japanese heritage and he was so artistic anyway. He was just bursting to go anywhere but he didn't know where."

Ruth Nomura remembers: "He wanted to open a restaurant, but didn't have enough money. He was fascinated by all things Japanese, and after a trip to Japan we opened a Japanese import shop called Haru, years before Trident Imports. Haru quickly became the in place to shop for household accessories - fruit jars, candlesticks, unusual ashtrays, vases, lots of beautiful silk pillows, loose fabrics that you could do things with. We were equal partners; I ran the store while Scott, the master of display and decoration, worked his magic. For a while we had gravel on the floor, but it became dangerous for women with Martha Mitchell heels. One brick wall Scott painted gold, and a grand piano we used for a counter. Scott was a perfectionist, worked long hours, and changed windows every week.

In Scott Hattori a star was born, but it was not to last as he died of leukemia at age 31.

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