26 August 2020

Car Bombing of a Japanese Household in 1955

920 S. Gale St as it appears today.

This abandoned house at 920 S. Gale Street SLC is on the demolition list; it is located across the street from the triplex I posted about yesterday.

It may not look like much now but it does have an interesting past.

The house was built in 1897 by Ared H. White (1851-1920), a SLC policeman who dabbled in mining. He built a barn and planted several fruit trees for his wife and two sons.

By 1912 Ared and his family moved to Portland. The house had several occupants after Ared indicating it may have been used as a rental.

During the first half of the 1900s, the Gale Street area was home to a high percentage of immigrants, mostly from European countries such as Germany, Sweden, England, Switzerland, Denmark, and Russia.

Soon after WWII, a Japanese family moved into the home. Richard and Dorothy Sugasawara were both born in California, married in 1940, and were sent to the Manzanar Japanese Relocation Camp during the war. By 1948 they had moved into this house in SLC where their 2nd daughter was born.

Just before 10:30 pm on May 19 1955, a homemade bomb was placed on the gas tank cap of the Sugasawara family car which then exploded. The force of the blast ripped through the trunk of the car, blew in two front windows of the house, and cracked a wall in the house. None of the Sugasawara family were seriously injured in the blast.

Several other people in SLC were victims of similar bombings and the reporting in the local newspapers does not indicate that the Sugasawara family was specifically targeted. The police thought that the perpetrators were juveniles but even after a $500 reward was offered no one was ever caught for the crimes.

The Sugasawara family soon left SLC and by 1956 they were living back in California.

The last record I could find of the house being occupied was 1995. Currently the roof of the house has collapsed and the current owner wishes to demolish it and “hold the land for future development.”

Sources: multiple news articles but especially SL Trib May 19 1955.

Ared H. White, original owner, image from findagrave.
Remains of the Sugasawara family car after the bombing, from SL Trib 05-19-1955.

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