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Howard Louis and the Ah Louis Store

Updated: Jan 3, 2021

Ah Louis was both the father of eight children, and the owner of the Ah Louis Store. As Ah Louis' fourth son described him, "Any Chinese who came to town would make himself known to Ah Louis. If they needed a meal or a helping hand, Dad made the offer." Furthermore, as his eldest son described the store, "On any given day, there were gold, chrome, and quicksilver miners, farmers, brickmakers, hotel employees, laundrymen, men from the coast, fishermen, kelp processors, men from the abalone industry, [and] the railroad workers, who came in for supplies and relaxation."

Ah Louis with Howard Louis [1]

The Ah Louis store was passed on to his youngest son, Howard Louis. Howard Louis was born in a room above the Ah Louis Store in 1908. In high school, he was very athletic, as he played football, was involved in wrestling, and was part of the track team. He then went on to attend college at UC Berkeley, where he majored in economics and transportation. Howard's commitment to athletics certainly paid off during World War II as he "served in the 354th Infantry Regiment with the 89th Infantry Division (known as the "Rolling W"). At 32 years of age in 1941, he was the oldest in his regiment, but he could still outrun the 18-year-olds, due to his days of running track in San Luis Obispo. In the infantry, everything had to be carried in packs on the back, so Howard was glad of the muscles he had developed by hoisting 50-pound-bags of rice in his father's store."

San Luis Obispo High School Football Team [2]

After the war, he returned to his wife in San Luis Obispo. She had been keeping the Ah Louis Store running, and gradually, the store's focus shifted from selling everyday goods, to art pieces and gifts imported from China.

Works Cited

HISTORY IN SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY Site Created and Maintained by Lynne Landwehr, Louis Store.htm.

HISTORY IN SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY Site Created and Maintained by Lynne Landwehr,

Image Sources

[1] Ah Louis with Howard Louis, no date, photograph, Louis Family Papers, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calisphere,

[2] San Luis Obispo High School Football Team. Paul Kurokawa 3rd upper right. Coach Frank Holt left: 1931, 1931, photograph, Asian/Pacific - Americans on the Central Coast, Black Gold Cooperative Library System, Calisphere,

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