Born in Honolulu in 1911, Isaac Akinaka entered the Army as a volunteer in 1941 and became a medic in the 100th Infantry Battalion. His courage and dedication to helping his wounded comrades has been chronicled in Thelma Chang’s book, I Can Never Forget – Men of the 100th/442nd (1991) and other publications.
Akinaka was a devout member of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. The Church encouraged keeping a journal and he became a prolific writer. His sons Kenneth, Vance and Bruce have generously made available their father’s seven diaries and the life history that he wrote in 1975. His diary ends at Camp Shelby as the Army will not allow journals to be kept when the battalion heads to the war zone.
Akinaka’s life history provides a chronicle of the life of a Japanese family in multicultural Hawaii before the war, discrimination faced after the war, his life in the Army, and his lifelong commitment to his faith.
The Life History of Isaac Fukuo Akinaka
WRITTEN BY: ISAAC FUKUO AKINAKA
2030 RACHEL STREET
SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA
We are commanded by the Lord to keep a Book of Remembrance from the beginning of time, and to record all the important events and happenings in our lives, especially those things which are spiritually uplifting.
I regret that I have very little knowledge of my grandparents and other ancestors. I owe them much for my presence here on this earth. My parents had not enlightened us about their folks so we hardly knew them. I can recall as a child of seeing a large photo of some relatives and their home in Japan, and not knowing any better at that age, I wondered how people could live and float on the great, big ocean. It didn’t occur to me at that time that the Island, Oahu, that I was standing on, was also in the Pacific Ocean.
Our children actually know very little of our lives prior to their births, and so, this little life history may give them some inkling of the conditions we lived under, the customs of the times, and tell them of some interesting anecdotes that might be enlightening to them many years hence. Perhaps, as my descendants read this life history, we may become personal and alive to them. I am certainly enjoying the review of my life as I write this and hope they do, too.
LIFE HISTORY OF ISAAC F. AKINAKA December, 1975
My name is Isaac Fukuo Akinaka, born May 15, 1911, on Hobron Ave., Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii. My father was Kenjiro Akinaka and my mother was Fusa Akagi.
I was born in a humble, one-bedroom wooden home, the first son but second child of this middle aged couple (my father was about 40 years old then). The house where I was born is no longer there but the mango tree at the corner of the lot where the house was is still there at this date. The property was owned by the Gilliland family and my parents were either renting or taking care of it for the Gillilands. The street is no longer known as Hobron Ave. but is now called Olu Street. It was one of the main streets leading down Kapahulu Ave. The property is across the street from the present family residence of my older sister, Beatrice, and my youngest brother, Kenzo at 3260 Olu Street, Honolulu, Hawaii.
My father was born in Nagato-mura, Jinseki-gun, Hiroshima-ken, Japan, on August 6, 1871, the son of Ysutaro Oyama and Ken Akinaka, both of Hiroshima. Y. Oyama was adopted into the Akinaka family to carry on their name as the Akinakas had no son to perpetuate their name. This is a common custom in Japan called “Muko yoshi” and occurs quite frequently in Japanese genealogy.
My mother was the eldest daughter of Tetsutaro Akagi and Kinu Inouye, and was born on January 15, 1884 in Yuki-mura, Hiroshima, Japan. She was the eldest of four sisters and two brothers.
My parents were married by the “picture bride system”. My father had come to the Hawaiian Islands to work for the sugar plantation as a laborer in the fields, before 1898, first in Lahaina, Maui, and then later, when his contract with the plantation was over, moved into Honolulu and learned the trade of cement finishing. Father wanted a wife so he sent his photograph to some relative or intermediary in Japan who arranged the proxy marriage of my mother to him, Jan. 10, 1905 (Japanese records) but the marriage was actually consummated on February 10, 1908 when mother arrived at the immigration station in Honolulu, Hawaii.
It might be of some interest to some to know how I got the name of Isaac. My parents had named me Fukuo (meaning “Lucky Boy”) and so it is recored in my birth certificate in Hawaii.
It was in the fifth grade at Kuhio School in Honolulu that we had an old lady teacher named Mrs. Harrison, who suggested to her students of Japanese ancestry to get themselves English names – – to make it easier for the teachers and others to call us.
My first name, Fukuo, was particularly difficult for Caucasians to pronounce. A Russian classmate of mine called me, “Fukukuku” so my peers nicknamed me, “dove,” as my name sounded so much like the cooing and mating call of the doves. In searching for an English first name, I first thought of the name “Willie” because Willie Wise was a star football player for the McKinley High School at that time and was getting quite a bit of publicity for his prowess. However, I abandoned the idea when I found out that several others wanted that name, too. Mrs. Harrison suggested the name, Frank, for me but I did not like that name because there were too many “Frankies” among the Portuguese population there.
At the suggestion of another teacher, Mrs. Brown, to look for names in the back of the Webster dictionary, I was attracted to the name “Isaac.” We were, at that time, having regular Bible stories daily in the public schools in Honolulu and had just been hearing about Abraham, Isaac and Rebekah. The dictionary said Isaac meant “Laughing Boy” so I thought it was appropriate for a boy who was always grinning. Also, at that time, Alvin Isaacs, was a star half-back on the same football team with Willie Wise and he was getting a lot of notice in the newspapers, too. (After I joined the church, I found out that Alvin Isaacs was a brother Mormon.) I hadn’t heard of anybody with Isaac as a first name so I thought it was to be mine exclusively. Isaac has been by chosen first name since then and is on all of my official records, – – baptism, Army records, church records, etc. It seems to go well with my surname, Akinaka, either as Isaac or “Ike” (one a Jewish name and the other Irish) so I’m happy with it.
I have two younger brothers, Takao and Kenzo, an older sister, Beatrice Masaye, and two younger sisters, Tomiye and Jessie Yaeko. At the time of this writing, all are still alive in Hawaii. I am the only “wanderer” in the family, who had left the Islands. I had volunteered into the US Army in December, 1940 and was brought up to the mainland United States and then, later, was sent over to Italy with the 100th Infantry Battalion from Hawaii in World War II. Since then, I have spent most of my life in California except for a short spell in Chicago, Ill., Olympia, Wash. Where I got my discharge from the Army at Ft. Lewis and for a period of six years back in Hawaii from 1946 to 1952.
I had never heard the word “Mormon” until about 1940 when the LDS missionaries contacted my youngest sister, Jessie, and our neighbor, Grace Dono. They were attending a small group of investigators meetings at a nearby Liholiho School building for MIA and Sunday School. Whenever the missionaries came to contact Jessie, she wasn’t home so they talked to me. I do not recall what they said but I do remember the first occasion when they contacted me.
I was a chain smoker at that time and can recall how I had to cross the living room to get a new cigarette when I finished smoking one. I believe those missionaries were ready to “kick the dust off their heels” and abandon any further efforts to proselyte me after that incident. However, I usually went to get Jessie in the evenings after MIA so I was kindly invited in to join them by two lady missionaries, Sis. Dayle Alldredge, of Magna, Utah, and Sis. Larue Valgardson of Alberta, Canada. I went there frequently with a smoking pipe in my mouth, but they seemed oblivious to it and continued to graciously accept me with a warm handshake and invited me to join in their activities. I must confess that I was particularly attracted to vivacious Sis. Alldredge, as she had a bubbling, always-smiling personality and a catchy friendly demeanor that was contagious. Her companion, Sis. Valgardson, was prettier but quieter and they made a nice pair.
The lady missionaries took over and somehow got me interested in the Gospel. Some time later, I was reading the Gospel Doctrines by Pres. Joseph F. Smith. One day, while I was reading it outside in our yard on a home-made chaise lounge, I looked into the sky and saw fast, gathering, ominous clouds suddenly darkening the sky. It seemed as if the whole world was coming to an end. An unknown fear gripped me and my body began to tremble violently. I must have read sometime earlier of Joseph Ímith’s experience in his first vision of being suddenly overcome by an unknown power and this must have triggered my imagination. Anyway, I stayed there trembling from head to feet for what seemed a long time. I then went into the basement of our home and sat down at the long dining room table, wondering what was happening to me. I continued to tremble violently, and no effort of mine could seem to stop it. It seemed as if someone was giving me a good shaking to teach me what the Scriptures tell us: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” After a while, the violent shaking stopped.
I do not recall what happened after that but I’m sure that I made strenuous efforts to study the Gospels.
When it was announced in August, 1940 that Pres. Hilton A. Robertson was to be released as president of the Japanese Mission in Hawaii, several of the investigators wanted to be baptized before he left and our requests were granted. We were baptized in the font of the Kalihi Ward, Honolulu, on August 17, 1940. Among those baptized that day were the Okimoto family, Arthur Nishimoto (president of the Fukuoka Japan Mission at this writing), Walter Moriyama, and I.
The occasion stands out clearly in my mind. As I attempted to stand up to bear my testimony in the service prior to the baptism, I was so overwhelmed by violent sobs that I could not say a word and had to sit down. Later, when I got control of my emotions, I was able to bear my testimony. Elder Hyrum Thomas Newman baptized me and I was confirmed the following day by Pres. H. A. Robertson.
In recalling incidents connected with my conversion to the Church, I recall an incident in which I was invited by the lady missionaries to attend the annual Gold and Green Ball at the Elk’s Club building in Waikiki Beach. I went there alone.
As I approached the building, I noted that a middle aged Hawaiian man was smoking a cigarette on the porch. I pulled out a cigarette and lighted it and puffed on it a while, trying to get up enough courage to go in. I saw a friend of some years back, Mike Woods, dancing inside, so I entered, and went in the direction where his group was. During the intermission, I suggested to Mike that we go outside for a smoke. He surprised me by replying, “I’m a Mormon now, Ike. I don’t smoke.”
This puzzled me because I remembered an incident while we were coming back from a construction job in Schofield two years ago. He was a confirmed smoker then while I was just beginning to learn to smoke. At the first occasion in seeing the lady missionaries after the dance, I asked them why the Mormons don’t believe in smoking. They then gave me the full explanation of the Words of Wisdom. They had not mentioned this in all of their teachings until then so it was easy for me to accept this teaching as I was ready for it. I am very fortunate that the missionaries were not as rushed with the harvest of souls as they are today, else they might have had to drop proselyting me if they had to do it in seven discussions as they do now.
I was ordained a priest on April 6, 1941 by President Jay C. Jensen of the Japanese mission at the McCully Branch of the Mission, Honolulu, Hawaii. I had been coming back from Schofield Barracks as often as I could to attend the LDS meetings in Honolulu. I was stationed as a soldier in the 298th Infantry, U.S. Army. I had volunteered into service on Dec. 9, 1940, three months after my baptism. We did not have to go through the two lower offices of the Aaronic Priesthood (deacon and teacher) in those days in the mission field if we were adults and worthy, so I was ordained directly to the office of priest.
I was ordained an Elder by the same Pres. Jay C. Jensen on June 4, 1942 at his home in Honolulu, Hawaii. Connected with this ordination is an interesting story as it shows how the Lord had a hand in my ordination.
We were, at that time, June, 1942, on special alert to be transferred. All the Japanese American soldiers of the 298th and 299th Infantries (former National Guard units with their new inductees) were to be put into a special unit and sent to the mainland U.S. for combat training. I had been in the Station Hospital for the last few weeks for a third pterygium operation on my left eye and had received a graft on it. I had just returned to my outfit though I was not quite ready to be released from the hospital. Due to the hospitalization, I had not had the opportunity to make a farewell visit to my family.
Late on June 3, 1942, I was informed by Pvt. Jimmy Ishimoto that Pres. Jensen wanted me to contact him so I could be ordained an Elder before leaving the Islands. Jimmy was so ordained the previous Sunday in Honolulu.
These incidents are recorded in my diary of those days. Early the next morning, I requested a pass from my company commander but was refused because he thought we might get an order to ship out that day. I was able to phone Pres. Jensen in Honolulu and he said that he was willing to make the 25 mile trip to Wahiawa to ordain me if I could get an hour’s pass to leave camp.
After praying to the Lord to help us in this situation, I made another attempt to get a pass. This time, Capt. Koch surprised me even before I asked him and wrote out a special request to Major Lovell so I could have the rest of the day off on pass. I hitched-hiked my way to the taxi stand and finally reached Honolulu after 1:00 p.m.
After reaching home an dseeing some of the family, I went to my 3:00 p.m. appointment at Pres. Jensen’s home and was ordained an Elder by him, as voice, with Elders Floyd Scott and Ipsen assisting. In my blessing, I was promised that I could return safely back to Hawaii. This was a reassurance of that knowledge tat had already been given me in a dream several moths ago. This blessing was further reaffirmed in a patriarchal blessing given to me later on Sept. 4, 1942 by the Acting Patriarch of the Church, George F. Richards in Salt Lake City, when I went to Utah from Camp McCoy, Wis. on a seven day furlough. I bear testimony to you today that despite the many close calls in the war fronts of Italy, I was brought back safely with hardly any mark on me except for a small knick on my left knee, which was caused by an exploding grenade mine.
My parents were both religious people. Dad leaned toward the Shinto faith and took an active part in its many activities and helped in its money-raising projects.
My mother was more Buddhist than a Shinto but attended with the family to both faiths. The Shinto priest is usually called upon for marriages while the Buddhist priest prays for the departed dead. However, the shrine in our home was of the Shinto faith and when our parents died, it was the Shinto priest who performed the rites. Incidentally, their bodies were both cremated, kept in urns at the Izumo Temple and on March 21, 1942 were buried in a grave in the Diamond Head Cemetery, Honolulu, Hawaii in a Mormon service.
The Japanese people do not have the kind of hatred for one another’s faith that the Jews and Arabs and Christians, too, seem to have toward one another. We, as a family, participated in the worship and activities of both faiths, though the children knew little of the actual teachings of their faith, for the followers of those faiths depended upon the wisdom and counsel of their priests rather than on their own knowledge of the faith. I recall an occasion as a young child participating in a parade through the streets of Honolulu in honoring a VIP of the Shinto faith who was visiting the town. We were all dressed in colorful fancy miniature copies of the Shinto priest and it must have made a colorful parade.
Our family lived through the “Great Depression” of 1929 through 1935 but it took a heavy toll in our family. Dad had been a stone mason and cement mason contractor. He did small home contracting work and earned sufficient for the family’s needs. Dad suddenly died of a heart attack in the midst of depression on March 25, 1933 at the age of 63. The depression hit us heavily in Hawaii in 1933 when all construction and works of all kinds stopped. Mother and the children were not prepared for the double catastrophe – – Dad’s death and the depression – – so some of the family succumbed under the weight of the terrible events. The loss of her beloved husband and the desire to be with him weighed heavily on Mother. She became so depressed that she finally took her own life by hanging.
I had graduated from McKinley High School in 1930 and had an electrician helper’s job at the Hawaiian Pineapple Co. until 1933 when all construction stopped. I did some building construction helper’s work at Wheeler Field Hangers but that petered out, too, in 1933. I even went to work in the pineapple fields on Molokai for a couple months. Beatrice, my older sister, somehow managed to keep the family alive together, though she didn’t know where the money for the next meal was coming from. Fortunately for us, Dad had left us the home and the property (100’ x100’) clear of any debts so, at least, we had a nice home to live in. My younger brother, and sister, Takeo and Tomiye, the two teenagers, became hopelessly “lost” with the tragedies in our family that they both later suffered mental breakdowns and have never recovered from them. The two older ones and the two younger ones managed to survive the disastrous events of 1933 and 1934.
Blessings come to people in many surprising ways, and what is sometimes considered sorrows and disasters may turn out to be blessings in disguise. And so it was for me in World War II. It took me out of the confines of the Hawaiian Islands and broadened my vision and experiences and took me all over the United Stated and half way around the world – – to the Italian war fronts. I had many spiritual experiences which strengthened my testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel.
When I received the signed copy of my patriarchal blessing from Pres. George F. Richards of Salt Lake City in 1942, I had a typed copy of it made and sent the signed copy home. The duplicate copy was kept in my barracks bag when we went overseas, and I frequently re-read it to bolster my spirits between battle engagements, and to encourage me to live in such a manner that I could earn the blessings promised me in the patriarchal blessing. When performing my duties as a front-line aid man (I volunteered into that unit when our battalion first met enemy resistance in Italy) I sought the Lord in earnest prayers to protect me as I jumped out of my foxhole to minister to the wounded when others were jumping into theirs for cover. Repeating the passages of the 23rd Psalm also gave courage to do what needed to be done: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want . . . . . Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. . . . . .”
As the days went on, I was becoming overly proud and overconfident about the Lord watching over me that I was getting careless and taking unnecessary chances in performing my duties. The Protestant chaplain, who was attached to our battalion warned me on one occasion by telling me “not to tempt the Lord.” I soon learned what he meant. I was humbled by an exploding grenade-mine which knicked me on one knee and scared the life out of me. I was patching up the battalion commander, who had been wounded and felled by an exploding grenade earlier in the dark, flooded mined area at night just outside of Cassino, Italy. After that, I was much more careful when I realized that I could be a casualty, too.
In the aforementioned patriarchal blessing from Bro. Richards, he blessed me also with the promise of marriage and children. Before I joined the Church, I had said to myself that if I weren’t married by the time I was 32, I would not marry at all. However, after understanding the Lord’s Plan of Salvation and to receive the highest degree of glory, one had to be married under the New and Everlasting Covenant, I searched and found my beloved mate Sis. Gwen Yamaki at a former Hawaiian missionary, Elder L. Stallings’ birthday and engagement announcement party in Eden, Utah, while I was on a furlough after coming back from the war fronts. We were married a year later in the Salt Lake Temple by Apostle Albert E. Bowen on April 17, 1945 when I was on another furlough after attending Medical technician training at Denver, Colorado. We have three sons: Kenneth Teruya, born on March 21, 1947 and Vance, born on November 12, 1949, both in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Bruce Kei, born on December 9, 1954 in Los Angeles, California.
One of the main reasons that I requested a furlough to Salt Lake City, Utah, instead of being returned all the way back to Hawaii from overseas in July, 1944, was to get my own endowments and to do my parent’s temple work for them in the Salt Lake Temple. However, that temple was closed for the summer when I reached the city.
In those days, temple recommends were made out for specific temples so my recommend had to be changed to the Manti Temple, which was open. Bishop H. A. Robertson of Provo, my former mission president in Hawaii, was able to accomplish this with the personal approval of President David O. McKay, 2nd counselor to Pres. Heber J. Grant.
I went through for my own endowment in the Manti Temple on July 26, 1944 – – the first one of my race to go through that temple: Sister Wuta Tsuya, who accompanied us on this trip, I believe, received her own endowments in the Salt Lake Temple some years earlier before she went to Hawaii as a missionary.
In the chapel service before endowment service, one of the counselors of the temple presidency bore his testimony that he was present in this very room when he heard President John Taylor, president of the Church, prophesy that the Gospel would be taken to the Japanese people and so he was happy to see that prophecy fulfilled on this date.
Before I left Salt Lake City on this furlough, the Salt Lake Temple reopened for ordinance work. With the help of a special telegram through the Red cross to my camp commander, I was able to obtain an extension in my furlough long enough to have my parent’s work done for them and have myself sealed to them on August 16, 1944.
During the several trips to Salt Lake City during the war, I had the privilege of personally meeting many of the General Authorities. I regret that I was not able to meet Pres. Grant himself because he was a sick man and was not available. However, I met both of his counselors, Pres. Reuben J. Clark and David O. McKay. I received a personally autographed copy of “The Way of Perfection” from Joseph Fielding Smith on Sept. 4, 1942.
Sis. Gwen Yamaki got to know them more intimately as she not only worked in the same building with many of them but also served as the lunch-hour relief elevator operator in the building and was often asked to drop in Bishop Marvin O. Ashton’s office for a chat in the Presiding Bishopric’s office. He had a great liking for the Japanese LDS and gave us special parties whenever I was in Salt Lake City. Sis. Ashton sent an autographed copy of his book, “To Whom It May Concern” when we notified her of our son, Kenneth’s birth from Hawaii in 1947.
Another LDS who liked the Japanese people there despite the strong feelings of prejudice against them because of the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941, was Sister Emma Lucy Gates. She took a special liking to Gwen, inviting her to go to her home for personal visits and giving her tickets to her concerts (she was a well-known concert singer). Sis. Gates married Apostle Albert E. Bowen during the war. So, when Gwen and I contemplated marriage, it was natural that we asked Bro. Bowen to marry us and he performed the ceremony in the Salt Lake Temple.
In recalling incidents of my childhood, I still have vivid memories of the time our home burned down. We had only the light from kerosene lamps at nights in those days, and, on this occasion, my mother had turned the light low and had placed it nearby. We all slept on the floor on comforters in the one bedroom we had. After all of us had gone to sleep, someone kicked the lamp over and started the fire. We were all able to get out in time. I believe the fire was contained with the water from the water hose. I don’t know how much damage was done, though I can still see the fire as it shot up high from the roof. I can recall trembling in the cold and trying to comfort my sister, Beatrice, and my younger brother, whom I was carrying on my back while watching the fire from across the street. I believe we lived there a few more years before we moved across the street to the property that Dad bought at 3260 Olu Street.
When Dad first went to Honolulu after his three year contract with the plantation was over, I believe he apprenticed himself to a Chinese tailor named Akiona and learned to sew men’s apparel, — shorts and pants. However, he soon tired of it and learned to do construction work, — cement finishing, stone masonry, cesspool subcontract work, etc. One of the contractors he frequently worked with was Mr. Kuninobu.
We were not rich but we were a happy family. We had plenty to eat in those days as we raised rabbits, chickens and pigs, and had vegetables fresh from our garden. Mother did most of the chores at home while Dad went around his route with his horse and wagon, collecting the garbage for the pigs from people’s homes in the neighborhood. We had a large oil drum about 6 feet long cut lengthwise in half to cook the garbage in before feeding it to the pigs.
When Dad went out to do his contracting work, Mother did most of the digging of the field with a heavy three-pronged hoe-like tool to turn the soil with. I do not see any thing like it advertised in the modern Western Garden book so it must be obsolete now. I recall challenging Mother to see who could finish a row faster so I must have done my share of the garden work, too.
When harvest time came, we picked the vegetables, washed them and loaded them on a two-wheeled push-cart. I can remember pushing that cart all over Kaimuki while Mother went house to house to sell them. I believe it would be difficult to find youngsters nowadays willing to do similar tasks because they fear their peer’s taunts about their poor status.
My youth is filled with many happy memories. Different nationalities lived together without any friction. We’d go to the Gouveia’s down the street and watch Mrs. Gouveia pull out the delicious Portuguese bread from her large outdoor homemade oven. So, she’d pity us and give us some bread, which we loved to eat, smothered with butter. Or, some of the other kids would come to our place for some rice balls with salt on them that Mother would make for us in her hands. Among the immediate neighbors were the Donos, Dr. Masuda, the Miyanagas (Japanese), the Lings and the Wongs (Chinese), the Calistros, Freitas, and Gouveias (Portuguese), Oliveiras (Portuguese-Hawaiian), Paulos and Kapewas (Hawaiians), Lamakus and the Youngs (Chinese-Hawns), Willis and Louis (Caucasians), Johnsons (Negro old couple) who kept an eye out for the Sheldon (Irish-Hawn) kids.
We lived on the top of a long, steep hill on Olu Street with a long four-foot high stonewall that my Dad built fronting on the street. At one time, we had the whole field planted with peanuts, and, kids going down the street occasionally jumped over the stonewall to help themselves to the peanuts. We made good use of the hill, racing our home-made box racing cars down it almost down to Kapahulu Ave. because there was another smaller hill beyond 4th Ave.
Our gang was called, the “Hoboken gang” and we challenged and played barefoot football against other neighborhood teams. As a gang, we never indulged in any gang fighs but got together primarily for sports activities, particularly football. I actually belonged to two groups of youngsters – one an older group of fie or six musicians (I never played an instrument but just hung around with them at night) and the younger sport-minded group. I was of an age between those two groups. Since I was older than most of the younger group, they looked up to me as their leader, and I even served as a player-coach of the football team one year. We were instrumental in getting a movement started in that community for a little park for the kids to play in as there were no recreational facilities in that area. The corner portion of the present Kaimuki High School was the little plot that we worked for and got it going with the help of the Police Dept. and the Recreational Dept.
Dad was a great party lover and frequently used any occasion to have a party at our house. No one of their friends or acquaintance could go down the street without being asked to drop in for a chat or a drink of sake or tea. And as they made their own home-brew sake, they always had plenty to share with them. A reminder of those days were the half dozen large chinaware platters that they owned. These were used to hold the large whole broiled fish and other Japanese foods on the low foot-high tables. We have only one of them in our possession as a keepsake but we hardly use them because we are not party lovers like our parents were.
The folks also belonged to the Hiroshima Ken Association. This was a group that was formed by people who had come from that prefecture in Japan, and they usually had their annual picnics and outings when they all turned out for a day of fun and frolic and with plenty of athletic activities. Dad was quite popular and well-liked and had a lot of friends, so when he died, there were so many cars in his funeral procession that they reached almost down to Kapahulu Ave.
New Year’s Day is a big holiday for the Japanese people in the Islands. Mother would spend the whole day before, preparing special Japanese dishes and foods for the occasion. AS friends would drop by to wish us good luck for the new year, she would have the hibachi (a small, portable charcoal stove on the table) going with sukiyaki cooking on it to feed the guests who start dropping in from midnight on New Year’s Eve. Dad would start his rounds to visit his friends, too about the same time, so that, by the time he got home the next day, he would be pretty well filled with sake. Fortunately for him, we had a smart horse which knew its way home, so all Dad had to do was to let the horse have free reign and he’d get safely home.
I recall the days before New Year’s, too, when I helped the folks to pound and make mochi (rice cakes). Two men would alternately swing a big wooden mallet on some hot mochi rice that was put into a stone stand with a hollow chiseled in it. Usually, Mother would be the one who turned the pounded mass over between each stroke of the mallet, praying that she wouldn’t miss the rhythm of mochi pounders and pull her hands out before the mallets come down on them. As we had the only mochi pounding stand in the neighborhood, our place was quite a busy place during those days.
Mother was a hardy woman. Like Florence Nightingale of old, she nursed us through all the many childhood diseases without getting sick herself. She ate a lot of misoshiru (soy bean soup) and, whenever she “felt under the weather” she would prepare herself some kind of watery rice dish (Okayu) to pull herself through. She always worked hard in the garden outdoors. Frequently, when her shoulders and back muscles would become sore, she would ask me to walk up and down her back and pinch out the muscles between the shoulder blades in the back. Fortunately, I was small and light enough for her to take my full weight on her back but this is common Jpaanese massage technique and quite relaxing. I have seen a full grown Japanese masseur in Los Angeles, Ca. (a former neighbor of ours in Honolulu) giving the same kind of massage on the back of a Japanese doctor who had gone to him for a treatment during his lunch hour. And this masseur was an instructor also at the University of Southern California at that time (early 1950s).
I recall, also, how she carried me on her back to and from the street car lines many blocks from our home, when she had to take me to the doctor for treatments when I cut off my second toe on the left foot in an accident with an axe in Waikiki.
I played the ususal sports in my youth that most kids like to play. Barefoot football was a popular sport that the youngsters in Hawaii participate in and there was much of it in organized leagues. When we were not involved in organized groups, we gathered a bunch of boys together and challenged other neighborhood groups.
I played some baseball in my midteens and used to catch behind the plate without any mask or protective gear. I recall an occasion when I missed catching a foul-tipped ball and it almost broke my nose. Baseball equipment was hard to come by for us in those days (that is, we didn’t have the money to buy them), so I had to make do with home-made equipment. I shaved my own bat from a piece of wood, made balls with a big roll of twine and sewed some leather cover on it. For a catcher’s glove, I cut a pattern of a large hand with fingers on two pieces of canvas, padded them with cotton and sewed them together. We didn’t call on our mothers to help us, either, on the sewing because our type of activities were out of their realm.
I was too busy trying to earn enough money for my schooling during my high school days to participate in competitive sports between schools. I spent much of that time delivering newspapers for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and also for a Japanese language paper. I also caddied at the Waialae Golf Course during my senior year. There was a short period during my high school days when I was without a job and, not having the money, I recall walking all the way to McKinley High every day for over a month (it’s a four mile trip one way) just because I didn’t have the 5 cents street care fare.
I regretted not having participated in high school sports competition and getting the chance to enjoy those activities. I soon tired of going to school for scholastics alone and almost quit school in my senior year, but was fortunately talked out of it by the high school counselor.
I did play competitive football after high school in a 125 lb. Island-wide league in 1933 while living in Wahiawa. I was temporarily living with Aunt Mita in that town while working at the Wheeler Field Hangers near Schofield Barracks. We won the championship on Oahu and then played the champions of Kauai for the Island championship. I was known as “Hoboken” from Honolulu on that team and had substituted for a fellow who broke a collarbone in one of the games.
After the depression days, things returned to normal gradually in Hawaii. I managed to get a job here and there in construction work, and as I was unskilled in that work, I found myself without any steady work. When one construction job was completed, I had to go looking for another one. That made it a precarious living for those at the bottom end of the totem pole.
I worked for a short while at the Queen’s Hospital as the engineer’s helper for a very small pay – – (about $36 a month with room and board). Later, about in 1935, I was hired by the Alexander Building Co. (Young Hotel) as an engineman (similar to the work at the Queen’s Hospital) at about twice the salary, ($69 a month). This work included being a boiler fireman, refrigerator mechanic for we made our own ice for the hotel, steam, plumbing, and electrical maintenance of the hotel, laundry, and other buildings owned by the firm around the block.
It was while working for the last firm that I was inspired by the Lord to volunteer into the army. There was much fear that the United States would be drawn into the war against Germany. This war was going on for a few years in Europe. There was, also, much fear that Japan might side with the Germans. The leaders of our nationwere afraid of an attack by Japan, so much preparation for such eventuality was going on at that time. The draft was authorized by Congress in early 1940.
One day while I was taking our usual shower after the day’s work was over, I distinctly “heard” a still small voice” in my mind, urging me “to join the army.” This prompting became so persistent and I could “hear” it despite all the noise of the showers and the rumble of the engines of the engine room. As soon as I could, I went down to the draft board office in Waikiki and volunteered. The draft board office had not been completely set up yet and there was much confusion but they took my application and in due time I was inducted with the first group of volunteers in the Hawaiian Islands.
Had I not listened to the “small voice” and obeyed its promptings, I believe that my life would have taken quite a different turn that the way it has turned out to be, and many of the blessing I have received since then might not have come to pass.
Much of my life from 1940 to 1943 is recorded in seven diaries which I kept during those years. It tells of the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7, 1941. (This particular diary was microfilmed by the War Records Division of the U. S. after the war and a copy of it is in the Hamilton Library of the University of Hawaii, I am told). I stopped writing iaries in July, 1943, when we were informed at Camp Shelby, Miss. That we were ordered to combat duty in Europe, and diary keeping was discouraged for fear that these notations might fall into enemy hands.
However, I sent home V-mail letters frequently and asked my sister, Beatrice, to keep them for me to look over after the war because I was recording my feelings and thoughts during the war. All military letters were being censored before mailing so there was no fear of any military information falling into the wrong hands. There are many things recorded in the diaries I kept during World War II that would prove interesting and is appropriate to include in this life history.
I note that I had made many and frequent entries about diligently studying the Book of Mormon and the priesthood manuals. And as is usual with a new convert to the Church, I took every opportunity to share my “new found” knowledge of the Gospel with my peers in the service, giving away many copies of the Book of Mormon which I purchased with my meager soldier’s pay (we were paid $21.00 a month in the beginning and we had to pay for our own laundry, too). An entry in 1941 reads: “Scattered seeds of Mormonism about me during the day but the soil is not fertile enough but one can never tell when some of the seeds might germinate later” I even sent movie actress Dorothy Lamour a letter because the newspaper reported that she was coming to the Islands “to get away from it all.” I encouraged her to turn to the Gospel for peace and comfort.
On April 6, 1941, I made this notation: “I thank Thee, Oh Father, for the great blessing that was bestowed upon us this day. For on this day 111 years ago, Joseph Smith, our prophet, founded this, Thy Church upon this earth under Thy guidance, and the keys of Thy priesthood were given unto him that Thy work might continue amongst the remnants of Thy faithful children. May we live worthy of Thy blessings. “and to me Thou hast been most kind and merciful. Indeed Thou has poured Thy blessings upon this humble soul. I had prayed unto Thee that Thou wouldst grant my desires and Thou hast opened up a way that that prayer would be answered. Thou hast chosen this humble servant to be ordained a priest, and under the hands of President Bensen (voice), Elders Sorenson, Chatwin, and Larsen, all the authority and keys of this worthy office has been given unto me this day. Tears of joy welled up in my eyes that I could not see for a moment, and I earnestly beseech Thee that Thou wouldst keep me in safety away from evil that I might be able to fulfill my duties of this calling and be a shining light unto others. This is my humble prayer in the name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
An entry on Sunday, June 15, 1941 reads: “Attended the Lanakila Sunday night meeting. Elder Colton of the Hawaiian Mission gave an inspiring talk and told of his father’s term here as a missionary in the Hawaiian Islands. He told us of the old Hawaiian woman, who, through her faith in the power and authority which Elder Joseph F. Smith, (later president of the Church) held in the priesthood, asked him that she might live to see the day when a temple would be built in the Islands. Though this was in 1893 when he first blessed her for her request, she lived until 1919 when the Hawaii Temple at Laie was dedicated and she died soon after at the age of 103.”
The following is not recorded in the diary but I recall other details of that talk. When Pres. Heber J. Grant came to dedicate the temple, he remembered the promise made to the old Hawiian sister by Elder Joseph F. Smith, so he held up the service long enough for the Elders to get the old sister. She was living nearby and was all dressed up and ready to come when the Elders went to get her. She said: “I knew that you would come for me!” She was totally blind at that time, yet when they accompanied her through the various rooms of the temple, she described in detail all the things that were in those rooms. There, in far-off Hawaii, the Lord saw fit to fulfill a promise made by one of his servants and built a temple as early as 1919 for his faithful people there. The saints in California were not as fortunate, for it was in 1955 before a temple was built in that area.
As part of the events of Sunday, June 22, 1941 the following appears: “Elder Torgenson and his companion, Elder Stubbs of the Hawaiian Mission, spoke to us, the former also singing the beautiful song, “Come Unto Jesus.” The song seem to lift me bodily off the chair and throughout the meeting I seem to be floating a good six inches or so above the physical chair and when President Jay C. Jensen spoke to us, he told us of a meeting he had been invited to by the Kiwanis Club to explain our Church’s beliefs and teachings in a true and living God, who has body and passion, I seemed to expand in body and became light and the tears came tumbling down my cheeks that I could not check them. I am indeed grateful to our Father in Heaven for this beautiful testimony of the Truth.”
Saturday, August 16, 1941: “…..I am fasting today and tomorrow that I may be better prepared to accept and digest the spiritual blessings that will be poured upon us ….. (this was the dedication service of the cornerstone fo the newly built Tabernacle at Honolulu). …..It was indeed an inspiring meeting abounding with the spirit of the Lord, and when Bishop Wirthlin and finally, President David O. McKay addressed us, those who were there were touched with their words that tears of happiness and joy rolled down our cheeks like unto a stream.”
Sunday, August 17, 1941: “This day indeed is a very important day in my life, for on August 17, 1940 I went down into the waters of baptism and through the administering of Elder Hyrum Thomas Newman, my sins were washed away and I made a covenant with our Heavenly Father that I will take upon myself the name of our Saviour, Jesus Christ and to live His commandments. As I look back on this day last year, I remember the strong testimony I bore in a room under the Kalihi Chapel just before being baptized. I pray and hope that I will always remain as humble and contrite as I was that day…..”
“On this day this year again, another important event occurred. The new Tabernacle was dedicated this morning by Pres. David O. McKay. He dedicated this building, each section to be used for its own distinct purpose with the invocation that this Tabernacle stand as a monument and an offering of His humble servants of these Hawaiian Islands to our Heavenly Father and that as long as we prove faithful, to withstand all destructive forces whether natural or man-made…..”
On Friday, October 3, 1941, he entry reads: “…..On the Wahiawa bus coming home to camp, a couple of young soldiers, having a little more drink that was good fro them, wanted to start a fight in the bus. I was dressed in sport clothes and sitting on the seat ahead of the couple. When they were about to start swinging, I stepped in and cooled the men down by saying to them: “I am a priest, buddy, let us have no fight.” Without further trouble, the two quieted down.
As a peacemaker, “Blessed are the peacemaker, for they shall be called the children of God”. I recall another occasion when I helped to stop two fights in one night. It was on November 8, 1941. Our church was sponsoring a big E. K. Fernandez Carnival next to the Tabernacle grounds, on Beretania Street. ….. “We went in to see ‘The Great Gilbert’ the hypnotist. During the course of his act, a couple young men (one was a Negro), who were under the influence of liquor, got onto the stage and interfered with the performance that caused Mr. Gilbert to use force to eject them. In the commotion that followed, I and a few other fellows jumped onto the stage to quiet the contestants. Later on, there was another fisticuff near our sodawater booth which I helped to stop. I must have stopped an elbow with my left eye because it is slightly discolored.”
“It was at this carnival occasion, that I learned a great lesson in humility. President Jay C. Jensen, our Mission president, was picking up empty soda water bottles as the Central Pacific Mission was responsible for the sodawater booth. His humble act greatly impressed me because most of us when we attain a degree of authority, would never think of lowering ourselves to such humble tasks as picking up cast-off sodawater bottles in the sawdust, and here was our Mission President going around the carnival grounds doing exactly that. It made me realize that I needed to be more humble.”
On the last pages of this first diary on December 6, 1941, I recorded the following: “…….The following added February 9, 1947 (while I was reviewing the contents of my diaries to turn in to the War Records Division for microfilming about WWII)…I feel with all my heart that the Lord surely had a hand in helping to shape my life. And the blessings that have come to me since that date, December 6, 1941 to this February 9, 1947 proves to me more strongly that the Lord had directed my thoughts and actions.)
Why I didn’t record the following when it happened I don’t know…. ( the exciting events of the following day when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor might have contributed to this “lapse of memory”) but the event is burned into my memory as if it happened only yesterday instead of a good six years ago.
On my way home on the Rapid Transit bus, after visiting the mortuary to view the body of Bro. Amoy’s father, I deliberately got off at Sheridan Street on Kapiolani Blvd. because I did not know what to do about my coming discharge from the Army on Dec. 8, 1941 and I needed to be alone to meditate. Though not knowing exactly why, I felt that I should not accept the discharge (as I had refused to take the first one on November 14th). Puzzled and confused, I walked up and down Kapiolani Blvd., mulling these things over in my mind, asking God, also, to help me make a decision. (I had already signed my discharge papers today, Dec. 6th, and the “Hq”clerk, Pfc. William Lum had told me to come back Monday to pick it up after Col. Anderson signs it).
I caught the bus about midnight and went home, hoping the morrow would clear up my mind. I didn’t have to make a decision the next morning for the hand of Fate decided the future! War came upon us! Japan bombed Pearl Harbor!! God surely answered my prayers!
Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941…..”THE WAR HAS COME UPON US! (Official time: 7:55a.m.)
Up at 7:00am at home preparing to go to Sunday School. There was a deep rumbling sound about 8:00 which I thought were some Army tanks going by on Kapahulu Ave. As the rumbling continued and sounds of cannon bursts rent the air toward Pearl Harbor, we could see black clouds of smoke rising in that area. Mr. Calistro, our neighbor, said that the news came over by radio that Pearl Harbor was being bombed and two enemy planes were shot down in smoke.
The Army and Navy and the civilian emergency corp were called out by radio. Kenzo rushed us soldiers down to Schofield on our roadster. Until I saw the half-dozen battleships actually burning, I could not believe this catastrophe had come upon us. Whoever the raiders were (the authorities have identified them as Japanese), they caught us unawares. They had slipped by our naval battleships that were supposedly patrolling the area hereabouts. Besides the bombing of the Pearl Harbor area, Hickam Field, the new Kaneohe Naval Air Station, Wheeler Field and the Bellows Field Hangers were bombed and are in shambles.
When I reached the 298th Woods, part of the 1st Battalion was already moving out. Only a few men, including those who came back late to camp are left here, the rest having moved out. The 2nd Bn. had already been in their defensive sector for over a week now and were ready for any eventuality.
Pvt. Earl Smith (Negro), Moore, Togashi and myself have taken it upon ourselves to work and guard the camp switchboard. (I had already turned in all of my equipment Saturday in preparation for my discharge on December 8th.)
The whole thing seems like a bad dream, but as the news came off the radio in news flashes between musical programs throughout the day, of the 400 dead and 300 were injured, this horrible catastrophe became a stark reality……
Because many people had not fully understood God’s teachings and because others have not tried to live them but followed the doctrines of men, another great war is upon us. The doctrines of great love, one for another, have been replaced by greed, fear, and the desire for power. I pray to our Heavenly Father that He might strengthen us in these coming days of affliction and protect and guide the many innocent souls who have no desire to share in this wanton slaying of our fellow beings, be they enemies or friends; that, by this affliction, many souls might come to a realization that the doctrines of men will only bring the curse of war; that they might learn to place their faith and trust in the teachings of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. ‘Let vengeance be mine,’ Thou has said but we humans, with our puny ideas of justice have taken upon ourselves the right to deal out punishment, and now we have another and a greater World War upon us.”
Monday, Dec. 8, 1941……..”This day would have been the day of my discharge from active duty but now it will be many years before I will receive my discharge. (Final discharge received at Ft. Lewis, Wash., August 31, 1945—fifteen days after Japan surrendered.)”
Dec. 16, 1941……(Out in the fields among the guava bushes)…..”As I say my prayers at nights before going to bed, my sleep is never troubled by the bad dreams that seem to worry the others and I can thank our Heavenly Father for that……(Note jotted down in 1947). Just the other day, I was asked to help in administering to one of our missionaries, who had not been able to rest peacefully at night. He is a war veteran and his nervousness comes from his war experiences. I anointed him with the consecrated oil and blessed him.)”
Dec. 24, 1941……”This is the day before Christmas but this one will be different from other Christmases in many respects. The steamer that was bringing Christmas trees to Hawaii was destroyed by enemy ships so there will be no Christmas trees in any homes. Blackout orders being still in effect in Hawaii nightly, means that no light will be allowed to show in the evenings. I noticed that the multitudes of Christmas lights that used to brighten Fort Street and Aala Park stores are not there this year and the city will be darkened as on every night. The blessings of peace and laughter and a day of joy have been replaced by the curse of war all over the world.”
“……This night is clear and the stars are twinkling brightly for the first time in a long while. It must had been on a night like this that our Savior, Jesus Christ, was born 1941 years ago, but instead of being loaded with gifts for our friends and neighbors, we carry loaded sidearms and rifles with leaden gifts of death for our neighbors who would come and invade our lands..”
Dec. 28, 1941……”During the evening while practicing on Kuriyama’s oscillator set, I was saying my evening prayer with the key. Pvt. Ushijima said that he desired to join in the prayer. Sgt. Morioka and Pfc. Saito expressed the same wish and as we sat on our individual bunks, I, as voice, said the prayer for all of us. After the prayer was said and done, they said that they felt much relieved. I know these men, like many others, have been restless in their sleep, and I know that if they were attuned to the spirit of prayer, they would enjoy peace in their hearts and rest in their sleep.
Jan. 10, 1942……”I dreamt a dream during the night that caused me to stop and meditiate, and to be thankful for the many blessings that our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon me and the protection He has given me throughout the nights.
I dreamt that I saw row upon row of corpses and injured people lined up in double rows along the streets with the few living persons searching among the dead for their loved ones and friends, and ministering to those who were still alive. I inquired of the living the cause of all this destruction of human lives and was told that they were bomb victims. No sooner was this said when I heard airplanes approaching and we dispersed in all directions seeking any kind of shelter.
As I headed for the protections of the corrugated iron wall around an adjoining industrial plant, a medium sized bomb bounced without exploding on the macadamized road in front of me about ten yards away. By quick and instinctive thinking, I ran away from the line of bombs which fell in quick succession in a series of six bombs. And strange as it may seem, none of those bombs burst but all proved to be duds.
The bombers spun around and dropped two more series of bombs around me and for a while I reveled in my ability to duck those bombs. Not one of them burst and I watched fascinated as the last one stuck in the ground without exploding. I awoke from my dream with my heart pounding, but without the fright I used to have in nightmares before…..
As I lay awake, recalling this strange phenomenon of unexploding bombs, I remembered that I had some trouble finishing my evening prayer. We humans are so prone to forget God and his mercy for us and do not praise him for the blessings we receive daily.
The dream brought back to me the thought that it was only through the guidance and protection of our Heavenly Father that those bombs were made not to explode in this particular instance. And it is a great relief and a comforting thought to know that the Lord will protect me if I prove faithful……”
Jan. 21, 1942…..”Last evening before going to bed, I explained to my tentmates the glory and mercy of God, our Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. I bore them my testimony of the truth of the existence and power of the Lord in renewing the nature of man by “being born again.” I told them how my outlook of life has been changed by four simple words offered by a truly repentant soul, “God, please help me!”
Feb. 25, 1945…… “Received a nice long letter from President Jensen in answer to my request for advice on the stand of the Latter Day Saints in regards to this war. He said: This war is not of our choosing. We have our homes, our families, our properties, our liberty, and freedom to preserve. There is one thing to do and that is to defend them with all our might, praying to God that we might have strength to preserve the things that He gave to man, and to preserve the purposes for which this earth was created.
This earth was created that man might have their “free agency” to choose for themselves and determine whether or not they are worthy to go back to the presence of our Father in Heaven…….
If our country calls, our duty is to obey and exert every effort we can towards the preservation of this land, which at the present time is faced with the duty of preserving for the children of men a world where men may choose for themselves, where they can live as their conscience dictates, not with hatred or revenge in their hearts, but with a sympathy for those who have been mislead into thinking they are justified in the fighting they are doing..”
March 28, 1942…… “The newspaper reported a suicide here of an old alien Japanese man who left a note saying, ‘My acts up to now have been a mistake. The things I have done up to now have all been according to my own will and others have not known of them. Now, at the same time, that I beg forgiveness of the American government and the community, I shall commit suicide. From now on, obey American laws and please strive earnestly for the American government and society.’
There are many of the older generation Japanese who have taught us to obey the U.S. government and become good citizens as we are born Americans. Even the Japanese language school teachers and the Shinto priest, Rev. Miyao, used to tell us that many times. Yet these people have been interned as enemy aliens to prevent sabotage.
Enemy aliens have fared much better here in the Hawaiian Islands than on the mainland. They are allowed to resume their businesses as long as they do not disobey any of the military orders. On the mainland, though, thousands of Japanese aliens, also all Americans of Japanese ancestry are being evacuated from the coastal areas and will be sent to settle farther inland in what is called Relocation Camps.”
April 3, 1942…… “This blackout is doing much good in keeping the family together. Since no one is allowed on the streets at night after 9:00 p.m., people stay home in their blacked-out rooms. It does not inconvenience people too much if precaution is taken that no light can be seen from the outside. And crime has dropped down considerably because of the blackout.
The vegetable garden has given many returns already, and as Yaeko says, “It is very handy when we need any vegetable to go out and pluck it out of the ground.” It is only a small plot, but there are tomatoes, green onions, cabbage, carrots, turnips, radishes, beets, potatoes, string beans, parsley, and other vegetables planted. Almost every family is doing the same things and raising their own in these “Victory Gardens.” (note: These victory gardens flourished everywhere during the war. Saw evidence of this trend in Chicago, too, as these gardens were being cultivated next to towering skyscrapers along high-class Michigan Blvd. ’47).
April 22, 1942…… “Attended another Protestant service conducted by Chaplain Little, Jr., and also enjoyed the songfest afterwards. Chaplain Little is a good speaker and preaches very well. One very noticeable difference between these Protestant services and the LDS services is that they stress Christ Jesus and His goodness and mercy much more than we do. Though we claim the true authority of the priesthood of God we seem to fail in that respect and put more emphasis upon the modern day revelations. However, in all the Church conferences in Salt Lake City, the General Authorities always stress the importance of Christ in the restoration of the Gospel. ’47). No wonder others get the impression that we are preaching Joseph Smith and Brigham Young instead of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Something Chaplain Little said last Sunday evening to me has puzzled me yet. When I told him that I was going to join in the service in Ward #2 that night, he said: ‘Well, that makes it official, now, doesn’t it.’ Did he recognize the authority of the Priesthood in a LDS by that statement or was that just said without any thought back of it? Although we say that they do not possess the keys of the priesthood of God, they are surely bringing Christ into the hearts of many who do not know Him and the many mysteries of this world. He has the spirit of God in his heart.”
May 1, 1942…… “Today is Lei Day in Hawaii. A beautiful custom has developed in dedicating this day for the wearing of leis and displaying the handiwork of all the leimakers, both amateur and professionals at the City Hall. This custom was originated by Don Blanding, world renowned poet, who spent much of his life in the Islands. Unfortunately, the world situation has perverted the beautiful thoughts of peace and love, and music and merrymaking into a day of leis of war bonds instead of leis of many beautiful scented flowers. How men can mess things up!”
I read an article in a detective magazine yesterday purporting to give a true picture of the woman slavery traffic in Japan. The “Yoshiwara” or Red Light district was once destroyed by the wrath of God in the last earthquake there, but a newer and greater one has been built in its place. Unless the Japanese nation watch its moral standards, it, too, will be destroyed like the French nation, who today is but a puppet in the hands of the Germans.
May 8, 1942….. “The greatest desire of all is to return to peaceful pursuits, and most of us want no part of war and the resultant hell it brings. Like a bunch of sheep, men are led to the slaughter by other men who desire power and so here we are killing one another. Shoot or be shot; men’s love for living causes him to cock his eye and pull the trigger rather than be on the receiving end looking into the barrel. Such is life: “And until men can live with true love for his brethren as taught by the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will have wars and rumors of wars.”
“May 15, 1942, my 31st birthday. No more will I hear the chatter of the birds outside of the hospital window nor the bugler’s “Reveille” that awakes the medical unit for their daytime activities. Nor will I smell the haunting scent of the flowers on my bedside table—the dream- inspiring gardenias and tuba roses, golden sun-kissed lilies and other beauties far numerous to mention. I’ll miss playing Chinese Checkers with the other patients to be discharged. The doctors are making a liar out of me now because for the last few days I have been telling my ward mates that I was scheduled to be discharged the following day and yet I’m still here…..
I remember where I spent my last birthday, away up on the mountains of Puu Maunahiwa where we were on spring maneuver, overlooking Pearl Harbor. I wonder where I’ll be on my 32nd birthday.
May 26, 1942….. (Hospitalized for the third pterygium operation on the left eye) Capt. Pinkerton (a fellow draftee of “Boom Town” who was later commissioned a Captain in the medical corp because he was a practicing surgeon in civilian life) took over the scalpel and scissors to operate upon my pterygium. He had wanted to personally operate upon me the first time back in November, 1941 but at that time Major Walker was already prepared to operate, so “Doc” Pinkerton had to step aside for his superior. Even after many applications of Novocain, the doctor used the “hypo” needle at three place in the corners of the eye. He tried to scrape off that large spot of growth on the brown part of the eye; the scraping sounded like the sound one makes trying to remove a hard dried clot of food that remained on one of our wooden mess tables.
“Doc” says a “half-moon” will remain in the eye. To prevent another operation soon, he cut out a piece of membrane from inside the lower part of the left eye and grafted this mucous membrane in the corner of the eye. About six stitches were used to complete the delicate operation, and when it was finally over after more than half an hour, both the doctor and I were perspiring freely from the tension.
To prevent excessive movement of the eye, both eyes were covered and I was blacked from about 9:30am today. I was a helpless patient for the rest of the day.
March 27, 1942…… “I am having some fun trying to be able to do things by myself without being such a helpless bed patient. My bed is the sixth from the head of the room and the seventh from the far end. I go hugging the line of beds and by counting as I go along, I have managed to be able to go to the bathroom without any help.
I surprise even myself by my ability to feed myself! This is how I do it. When the tray of food is placed on my bedside table, I ask the person who brought it what foods are on the tray. Having received an idea of what kind of food I might stick my fingers into, (which, by the way, was quite frequent the first few days), I’d search for the outlines of the tray and feel for the positions of the various dishes.
I use the spoon as the all-purpose scooper to bring the food up to the mouth. Sometimes, I pick up a morsel of meat and instead of putting it into the mouth, a projecting piece of it would first hit my nostrils before I realize it. But those instances have become fewer and fewer and now I can eat a meal without pulling a “Peter Pumpkin.” My skill in eating blindfolded has so impressed the head nurse that she claims she has never seen the like of it and accuses me of peeking from under the bandage. Through daily practice, it seems that I can “see” in my mind the food that is on the tray….. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, my nature has been so changed that instead of bewailing my afflictions, I thank our heavenly Father for giving me so many new experiences in life.”
May 29, 1942…… “A group of local enlisted men stopped by to visit their friend in our ward and brought news that the Japanese Americans of the 298th Infantry are to be transferred to the mainland sometime soon…… If the Army authorities feel that we will serve our country best there, we will willingly go, although if a choice was given the men, they would rather have gone into the actual battle zone of the South Pacific.
If the rumors are true, then it really is a break for me. I’ll be able to set foot upon mainland USA, a thing I never thought possible for quite a few years to come. This will bring me closer to Zion and Salt Lake City, the home of the Mormons.
I see the hand of God in this, and although I do not understand the full significance of this, I thank our Heavenly Father for the great blessings bestowed upon me and mine, and ask that His gracious hand might guide us at all times.
I can recall the many tears I shed as I stood under the showers of the engine room, Young Bldg. Co., and a still small voice kept repeating, “Join the Army! Volunteer your services!” I did not understand at that time why I should be shedding such tears; I’m beginning to see how my life is being directed by an unseen Hand and the way is being opened that I might have everlasting life. May I continue faithful and humble that I could listen to that inner voice and let it guide me in the days to come.”
June 1, 1942…… “Capt. Pinkerton acceded to my desire to be sent back to duty before our group sailed and so he will discharge me tomorrow, although under normal circumstances, he would keep me here much longer as my eye looks very bad yet. Test for vision showed 20-15 for the good one and 20-40 for the one operated upon. The piece of membrane that was grafted surely makes it look hideous.”
June 4, 1942…… (Details of the circumstances surrounding my ordination to Elder is recorded earlier in this life history).
June 5, 1942…… “Our new Hq Co. was one of the last units to board the transport. After settling down in the “holds”, we acquainted ourselves with our new sea-going home and roamed the decks….. We began moving out at 3:00 pm and was out of Honolulu Harbor by 3:30pm….. I think some returning missionaries were on the other ships.”
June 12, 1942…… “Am not making a detailed account of the ocean trip to the mainland because I spent most of the time either sleeping in the hold or lying down on the upper decks. (These items are being recorded on the train going cross-country on the way to Wisconsin).
All the holds were packed with soldiers of the Hawaiian Provisional Battalion, bunked four high and “packed like sardines”. We were advised to spend most of the time on deck where the fresh, cool breeze helped to prevent sea-sickness. Many felt slightly under the weather the first few days and I was among this group. (I used to get sea-sick just watching the waves lapping the side of ships when I was a kid).
All we felft like doing was to plunk ourselves on deck and stay that way, fearing at any moment that we might have to run for the railing. I was fortunate in not being put on any special details like K.P., latrine, guard, etc. But the other more sturdy soldiers were assigned as soon as the transport pulled out of the harbor……
As I said before, where there’s a group of men with money and nothing to do, they’ll always be gambling. This pastime is prohibited on board ship but that will never stop those who have the gambling spirit. Those who do not “roll the bones” played poker, black jack, etc. and there were fortunes lost and won, the lucky one “breaking the game” one day only to lose all his earnings the next time. The mess hall at night was used as a recreation hall and if one suddenly stepped into it without knowing what was going on, he would have thought he was in a gambling joint…..
In the evenings, there was dancing in the recreation hall, where many of the paying passengers and evacuees joined us. These haole women graciously and gracefully danced with our men and officers and helped them to make the monotomous trip a little more enjoyable. I was amazed and amused at times to see this informal dance on board ships. In the tag dances,, the officers would good-naturedly give up their pretty partners to the fatigue-clad buck privates, who tapped them for their partners. And so it went until midnight when the Captain of the ship called it a night. Unfortunately for me, I’m not enough of a dancer to have the courage to join in these festivities. The music for these occasion was furnished by the musically-inclined Filipino seamen on the ship, with a couple of our own boys pinching in on some of the instruments.”
The last two days as we neared the mainland, the seas became choppy with a fierce cold wind whipping the chill down to the skin. WE experienced the worst part f the trip here, with the waves pounding the ship, causing the transport to shudder and pitch a great deal. The waves sometimes seem to cover the rear decks o the cruiser protecting our flank.
And for the first time, I was really sick and had to empty the contents of my stomach in the lavatory.
All the inconveniences, the sicknesses, etc., were forgotten as we sighted the shorelines through the San Francisco fog. Soon, the tall buildings and residences became visible, and as our ship sailed under the wide and majestic spans of the Golden Gate Bridge an the San Franciscco-Oakland Bridge, we stood in awe, and a spontaneous “Hurray!” burst from our lips. It is indeed a beautiful sight to come steaming into the bay in the realy dusk and to see the green trees and buildings after a whole week on the sea, and to see imposing Alcatraz on the bleak island in the middle of the bay.
After much delay, we entrained on regular Pullman trains and pulled out of the wharf area for “somewhere in the United States.” It was after midnight when we moving but I noticed bright lights burning everywhere. Blackout does not apply here except when a special alert is called, so there is no worry about lights showing out of cracks in the windows.
It was not until we reached La Crosse, Wis. (48,000 population) that we found out our destination….. This city is the largest one nearest to our camp, but it is a good 30 or 35 miles away…… When we finally reached Camp McCoy at noon, we were glad to leave the train for we were tired out from several days of continual train ride…… June 16, 1942.
Although there were large wooden barracks in the camp, the Hawaiian Provisional Battalion took to the tents. These were similar to the ones at “Boom Town” Schofield, HI so we felt at home.
Part of our unit had arrived yesterday because they took the shorter and more direct Overland Route while we took the Southern Route. So Bro. Jimmy Ishimoto reached here before I did. When I met him he stated that he had missed seeing Utah because they passed through most of that state at night and he was asleep when the train stopped at Logan. He mentioned a delightful incident happened in a small town in Nevada when a committee of young women dumped a large basketful of apples onto their train.
June 21, 1942….. Trying to find the Mormon Church in this area was like looking for a needle in a haystack. However, we found out that there was a small group meeting on Sundays in Sparta, the nearest town of 6800 people.
“……Bro. Jimmy Ishimoto and I took a taxicab to Sparta where we located the Owen Brockman home….. Although the family and the other members belonged to the Reorganized Church, we joined them in their services at Bro. Jerome’s home where the aged brother presided at the meeting. There might have been over a dozen people there including the Brockman children. The home was a small cottage and the two rooms in which we squeezed in for the meeting were quite filled.
These members are of German ancestry and are humble businessmen and farmers. There was no sacrament service, as that is conducted only on Fast Sunday, the first day of the month.
Bro. Jerome presided very well and called upon Bro. Jimmy to open the second meeting with prayer. I was called upon to speak a few words and I tried my best to impress upon them that because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ we as strangers could join in prayer and worship with them and be on common grounds. As most of the people here think of Hawaii as a foreign land, I informed them of the true status of the Islands. I bore my testimony and asked the Lord to bless them and protect them from the ravages of the war.
Bro. Jimmy had to go back to camp by noon, but I stayed at the Brockman’s until 2:30pm enjoying a delicious home-cooked dinner with them and eating the first fresh strawberries (which we picked from their front yard) with whipped cream….. We discussed many things—and about the differences between the Reorganized and the Utah Mormons. They know nothing of temple work as they do not possess the keys of the priesthood and do not believe or understand the doctrine of polygamy…..”
July 31, 1942…… “As soon as I stepped off the train,, my little friend (Edward Hammerle, who had been my pen pal from the time I was in an Army hospital in Kaneohe, Hawaii) rushed up to welcome me with his whole family trailing right behind. (This was at Ft. Wayne, Indiana at 10:51pm) We drove immediately toward their home, going through the main business district which was all lighted up, reminding me of our old Fort Street in Honolulu.
We all dropped in the Indiana Tavern, where I was made welcome by Grandma and Grandpa Hammerle; the senior of the Hammerle clan. They are grand old folks and I was told to have anything on the house, but since I’m not a drinking man I drank a toast with them with a glass of soda pop. They made me feel very important by introducing me to their friends and patrons.
Them, across the street to the Hammerle home, where I was given the best bed in the house while the family all slept upstairs. Although I was sleeping in a strange room 400 miles from camp, I felt at ease and dropped off to sleep easily after thanking our Heavenly Father for making these happy events come to pass.”
I enjoyed the hospitality of the hammerless until Sunday afternoon that week. Mr. Hammerle, Jr. took me to the Roger’s Studio there to have my picture taken and he later sent me the large 8 * 10” color print of it that is in my Book of Remembrance today, (*he paid for it, too). They drove me over to the Breckler farm in Defiance, Ohio where young Edward spent the summer at his mother’s parents’ place. I eve attended mass with the Hammerles at their Catholic Church and afterwards met and thanked the priest who was responsible in having their school children write to hospitalized soldiers all over the United States. This is the way young Edward and I became pen pals.
August 2, 1942….. “On the train going back to camp after visiting with the hammerless I observed an amusing but inspiring incident. A young Negro couple and their two tots sat on the first seat in our Pullman and across the aisle was a young Caucasian woman with a cute little daughter. The little white girl wanted a playmate so she went across the aisle and hugged the Negro child, and wanted the dark child to come and sit on her chair with her mother. The mother placed the two children side by side on her chair and watched over them until she got off at Englewood.
Little children are so innocent of hatred of those of different races and would make no differentiation and draw no color line as the older people do, but as they grow older, their elders and society in general, force many to put up this invisible wall between those of a different race. If we could be as humble as these little children ad live the commandment, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’ surely we would never feel the invisible wall of racial prejudice.”
“Chicago is a service man’s paradise as far as accommodations are concerned. As the USO furnish free tickets to shows, dances, theatres, free rooms for the night, etc., and free rides on the street cars and trolley buses, but unless one has friends there, there is an empty and lost feeling.”
August 29,1942…… “Bro. Jimmy Ishimoto, S/Sgt Kenneth Teruya and I approached Col. Turner and I told him that we wanted to meet the president of our Church in Salt Lake City in Utah. He granted us a six day furlough from Sept 3 through the 9th. As there will be no more furloughs given after that date, I have a hunch that something is coming up.”
Friday, Sept. 4, 1942…… “When the train finally slipped into the Salt Lake City station, we wondered if our friends would be there to greet us. Bishop H. A. Robertson left his business office in Provo to come to the station to be on hand. Sis. Robertson welcomed us with open arms and told us how they had telephoned many of former missionaries of Hawaii, and these people had gotten time off from their jobs to be present to greet us but had to return to work when the Challenger failed to arrive on time. It was nearly 11:00 am when it finally did, -almost two hours late.
We went to Pres. David O. McKay’s office (2nd Counselor to Pres. Grant) and he phoned Acting Patriarch George F. Richards for a 2:00pm appointment for a patriarchal blessing, which I had requested by letter earlier. We were introduced to many important people in the building including Pres. J. Reuben Clark, Jr. (1st Counselor)…… George Albert Smith, Dr. John A Widtsoe and many others. Bishop Marvin O. Ashton of the Presiding Bishopric crossed the street when he saw us. Joseph Fielding Smith stopped to chat with us and gave us each an autographed copy of his book, ‘The Way to perfection’. We dined at the Lion House, the former home of Brigham Young. The basement has been converted into a cafeteria for Mormon people.
As we had a little time before our 2:00pm appointment with the Acting Patriarch, we went over to the Temple Square to see its beautifully planted grounds and the relics of the pioneer days of the Mormon people.. We were fortunate in meeting Pres. Grant’s son-in-law, Bro. Taylor, who opened the closed-to-public Tabernacle and conducted us inside and explaine the amny things for which this building is world famous. Its famous acoustic quality was vividly demonstrated to us by having a workman up at front at the raised stand drop a pin, and a nail and we could hear it clearly in the back of the hall. The rubbing on his sleeve and a whisper facing away from us were easily heard as if a loud speaker system was in operation with a “mike” to pick up the sound. These astounding acoustics is obtained by the ingenious construction of the domed building with balcony seats built a few feet away from the wall to help the acoustics.
One of the world’s largest pipe organ is in this Tabernacle. Its largest pipe is thirty feet long and its smallest one is about 5/8” long. Although only a few large pipes can be seen, there are thousands of different sized ones within, and they are all hand-made and carved out of wood. The largest ones were put together with small blocks of wood about 2 or 3 inches square and glued together. The columns supporting the balcony, too, were made in the same manner, and is hollow in the center. What is amazing is the faith and perseverance of the Saints of those earl days, who had to haul and make planks out of the wooded hills far away, hauling this and the marble in the temple by oxen trains.
The fact that no nails were used in constructing the dome of the Tabernacle is interesting to note. Three planks were crossed on three other planks with a hole drilled through all six and a wooden peg glued and driven into the hole, was the way they were built with an occasional wet rawhide tied at those pints where the planks had cracked while driving in the peg.”
Sunday, Sept. 6, 1942…… “Bro. Jimmy opened up the testimony meeting with a fine testimony and I followed, and in quick succession, Elders Grant Jacobsen, Vern Dickman, Bishop and Sis. Robertson—all telling of the wonderful changes that they had seen in the lives of those they had come into contact with while serving in the Japanese Mission in Hawaii. After hearing the fine testimonies, we could not restrain the tears that came welling out of our eyes. It was indeed spiritually uplifting.
We were invited to have dinner at former Elder Grant Clyde’
‘s home in Springville so we hurried over for a delicious dinner. Grant’s youngest brother, 5 year old Roger, practically adopted me for he hung on to my hand all the time we were there. After having seen the beautiful love that exists in true Mormon homes, it is no wonder that S/Sgt. Teruya requested baptism after the testimony meeting in the 8th ward chapel in Provo.
So after a short rest, we all jumped into cars and headed for the chapel of the 4th Ward, where Bishop Hilton Robertson’s brother, Leo, is the Bishop. The latter arranged it so Sgt. Teruya could be baptized in the proper white suit of clothes. A short testimony meeting was held before the baptism and Sgt. Teruya told of his looking forward to this great day, and when he said his prayers were answered, he broke down, for his heart was truly humbled. It is strange how one as rugged-looking could break down in public and cry like a child, but that is how the Gospel touches one who is truly humbled and repentant. Bishop H. A. Robertson baptized him and Bro. Vernon Dickman confirmed him.
Sept. 7, 1942…… (On the train going East).. “With Bro. Jimmy and Bro. Kenneth alternating on the ukulele, we sang Hawaiian songs all the way throughout the trip. Other soldiers joined us, too, and we harmonized the more popular songs that we all knew. Two of the female passengers in the latter part of the run to Omaha joined us and we all had a grand time singing away. They especially like “Manuella Boy” and we repeated that song often enough that I think they have learned to sing it by themselves.
Both of the young ladies were on their way to New Yrok to teach school. As I listened to their requests that we sing certain songs, it dawned upon me that these were popular MIA songs that we used to sing, so I asked one of them if she was a Mormon, and sure enough, she said, ‘Yes’. We just pounced upon her an d took her hands in the good old Mormon handshake, ‘Sister!’….. As our train pulled into Omaha, we sang our famous songs of farewell and parted with them to transfer to another train……”
Sunday, Sept. 20, 1942…… “Bro. Jimmy, Kenneth and I held an informal Mormon class in the mess hall this afternoon at 2:30pm for the first time. There were only the three of us but we thoroughly enjoyed it and would have continued it all day long, but we had to close our meeting at 4:00pm because supper was coming on.
We shall institute sacrament from next Sunday and try to induce others to join us in song and prayers. We discussed the Words of Wisdom today as found in D&C 89, with Bro. Teruya acting as recording secretary and Bro. Jimmy presiding. This is going to be a wonderful training for us and will help us to grow spiritually. We surely need it.
Sept. 24, 1942…… (As we were breaking down the tents to move over into the new two story wooden barracks of Camp McCoy). “We had noticed small pin-head sized white articles on the tent flaps, and were told that it was snow particles. WE were just saying to one another, ‘Four more degrees and we would have had snow this morning’ when all of a sudden a yell went up, ‘Snowflakes are falling! Look!’ and sure enough, a thin shower of snowflakes dropped upon us. They were very light an thin and of various sizes and shapes. I observed one such flake that fell upon my sleeve and noticed its beautiful, symmetrical six-pointed design. Snow flakes falling looks exactly like soap foam being blown to earth. The funny thing is that, although the weather was quite chily, it was not quite down to freezing weather. The air above our immediate atmosphere must have been quite cold to form these flakes.”
However, it was not until the 26th that we saw our first snow…… “There’s snow outside!” and there was a rush to the door to see for ourselves. Snow about an inch a was on the ground outside and it was a picturesque scene to behold.
Sunday, Sept. 27, 1942…… “At 2:00pm, Bro. Kenneth and I joined in study in his room, and discussed the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Bro. Jimmy had gone to Tomah to accept an invitation from some friends he had made there so he could not be with us today. If he had been there, we would have instituted the sacrament service.
During the evening, I spent a couple of hours looking up matters pertaining to the subject of polygamy in the Bible. I wanted to write on this subject to those who had queried me about it, and was able to write a long discourse on it to Sister Doris Wehrwen of Milwaukee. She had written that she had asked Bishop Grover Clyde and was told not to delve into it too deeply as it is not practiced now by the Mormons, but as she seemed not to understand its truth as a principle of the doctrines of the Lord, I tried to explain it as much as it was possible for me to do so.”
Sunday, Oct. 4, 1942…… (After attending Chap. Evert’s camp service) “After a short period of study on the subject “The Plan of Salvation,” the three Mormons met again at 2:00pm in Bro. Teruya’s room and partook of the Sacrament, which Bro. Ishimoto and I administered. Bro. Jimmy asked the blessing upon the bread while I asked the blessing upon the water. A meeting of this kind is indeed unique in the annals of the Church, I believe, and Pres. McKay wrote us that he was very pleased by our work. Bro. Jimmy explained the story of the Olive tree and the iron rod found in the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 15. We had forgotten time as we discussed the doctrines of the Church, and when we returned to our respective companies, we found that supper had already been served and I was lucky to get a bite to eat. Poor Jimmy had to go to the PX to buy his own supper.
At 6:30pm,, the three Mormons again went over to the 2nd Army area of the camp to join the Christian Endeavor group.”
Thursday, Oct. 8, 1942…… “This being Thursday evening, the three Mormons met again at 7:00pm in Bro. Teruya’s room. Here we sang songs and discussed the personal news of the past few days……
Bro. Jimmy gave a short lesson on prayer as he felt that Bro. Teruya needed a little help along that line so he could help us open and close our meetings. It was not until after 10:00pm that we finally closed our informal discussion. We decided that we should take up about an hour of discussion of the coming topics for Sunday and have a little song practice for the formal meeting, then close it and have an informal discussion of personal nature after that. Bro. Jimmy may have been a member of the Church for only a few years but he understands quite a bit of the Gospel and has a knack of imparting that knowledge to others.”
Sunday, Oct. 11, 1942…… “Again at 2:00pm, Bro. Ken and I met in his room for Sacrament service. Bro. Jimmy had gone to Bangor to accept an invitation extended him by one of the families there.
After I administered the Sacrament, we discussed the thirteen “Articles of Faith”, touching upon each article only briefly to give Bro. Ken a better idea of the teachings of the Church as a whole. Even then, it took us about two and a quarter hour before we had finished the discussion. Bro. Ken is rapidly absorbing the Gospel now that he is guided by the spirit of the Holy Ghost. The short lesson that Bro. Jimmy had given him on “How to Pray” last Thursday helped him a great deal, and he closed the service with a nice prayer.”
I shall close this diary (the third) containing my intimate thoughts and doings with a prayer of thankfulness to our Heavenly Father for all the blessings that He ahs so graciously bestowed upon me and mine. I am praying and hope that some day the rest of my family will all be able to understand the beauties of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have a desire to take upon themselves the name of our Lord and Savior, and become one of His children.
I leave upon these pages my testimony that I know in my heart that God lives and will answer any sincere and righteous prayer; that Jesus Christ is indeed our Lord and Savior and a true Son of God; that this Restored Church was organized in these latter days by a divinely appointed prophet of God, Joseph Smith, who had received direct revelations and inspiration to bring about the organization of the Lord’s Church. The Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon and the other revealed words of the Lord, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, I know to be true works of God, -not by study alone but through the grace given me by the Lord and revealed to me by the spirit of the Holy Ghost.
I know that the men appointed to administer to the Church are inspired men, who are even now being guided and directed by revelations from on high, and that just as long as they remain humble and righteous and faithful, the Holy Priesthood will remain with mankind and never be taken away until the second coming of Christ, our Lord, who will personally reign then.
It is my sincere and earnest prayer that I can remain humble and faithful throughout the days of my life, that I might be able to edify the callings that have been given me, and glorify the Father by my exemplary life. Though I may yet face death in the form of bullets and bombs, may my testimony ever grow stronger with every test and come out of the crucible of fire with an unshakeable faith in the power and glory of our Heavenly Father.
The more I write and the more I say it, the stronger becomes my convictions, and I do it and say it sincerely and humbly to all who would care to listen, and have an earnest desire to receive salvation and exaltation in His Kingdom. I leave you my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Oct. 12, 1942…… “I hear rumors that diary keeping gis frowned on by our superiors so from this date on I will record only those things that will build me up spiritually and delete military matters from the diary. It is a shame that we have to do this because there is so many interesting things to relate.”
Oct. 18, 1942…… “I always wondered what people meant when they say, ‘Indian Summer is here.’ Naturally, I presumed it meant the relative warmth and dry, sunny weather that has been prevalent during the last few weeks. It was only this morning that I found out what that phrase meant. An article in the newspaper explained the phrase: ‘Can’t you see the Indians dancing around their wigwams and tepees, Son?’ says the oldtimer to his nephew as they sit under the oak tree overlooking a field of corn stalks tied together (from a distance these stacks do look like wigwams) ‘The spirits of the Injuns are here’ because the countryside is ablaze in red, like the color of the Red Skin, and as the leaves fade and fall from the trees, ‘tis said the Injun spirits are departing to come again next year.’ Indian Summer will soon be gone and we can expect the snow to fall and cover the bare trees which are shedding their clothing of leaves.
Oct. 31, 1942…… (Halloween weekend in Milwaukee) ….. We renewed acquaintance with old friends of our last visit to this chapel, and were made to feel right at home among these Saints. When preparations were finally completed, we were sent through the ordeal in the basement, where the witches, skeletons, and other ghoulish creatures tried their best to scare the wits out of us.
After going through the ‘works’, including the ‘morgue’, etc., we assembled in the recreation hall for a period of parlor games. A short period of rest and refreshment followed and we devoured the delicious pumpkin pies baked by the women of the Church. Someone put the amplifier system on with recording to furnish dance music and the younger element took to the dance floor. AS I watched, I noticed the Saints here danced somewhat like those at the Avalon dancehall in La Crosse, –that is, they preferred the hopping and jumping style of dancing (polkas, etc.,) more that the smooth, gliding steps. The fact that they were mostly of German descent might have had some influence on their dancing. Even the young ten-year-olds picked their partners and danced around the floor. Bro. Jimmy and Ken, being good dancers, enjoyed themselves, trying out all the sisters as partners. Then they did some vocalizing and kept the party moving while Bob Imoto and I went downstairs to help the Bishop and the other adult members to clean up the scraps and decorations of the night.
It was quite late when we finally quit for the night. We were given the best bedroom of Bishop Clyde’s home and all four of us crowded into the room—two on the bed and two on a large soft mattress, which we pulled off the double bed and laid it on the floor. Bro. Jimmy offered the prayer for us all. I believe that this is the first time that Bob Imoto joined in a prayer of this kind, and we hope that seeing the Mormon way of living would touch him as it has touched other converts.”
Sunday, Nov. 1, 1942 …… “This being Fast Sunday, we went with Bishop Clyde to attend an officer’s meeting before Sunday School. Immediately following the Sunday School service was the Testimony meeting and Jimmy, Ken and I bore our testimonies to the Saints, and I know that many were touched by ours as well as their testimonies. Bro. Jimmy opened the Fast meeting with an invocation and I was asked to close it with the benediction.
Nov. 3, 1942 …… “We are getting some heated discussions on religious doctrines in our barracks ….. These questions come from some of these men who have keen, analytical minds. It is hard to convince them of the Gospel because they do not believe in the Scriptures and recorded history of the Holy Bible. They are forever looking for doubtful thoughts instead of trying to understand the truths as written in the Bible. Polygamy always creeps in our discussions, but they will never understand its truth because they think as the world does on this subject. If they could only see the light, it’ll become so easy to grasp.”
Sunday, Nov. 8, 1942 …… “After supper in camp, we three Mormon soldiers went to Sparta to the apartment of Bro. and Sis. Astin. (They had recently moved into this town from Milwaukee). We were at first doubtful whether to administer the Sacrament there because we were told that Bro. Astin had not attended Church for over six years. But he was all for it, so after an opening song and prayer by Bro. Jimmy, he and I administered the Sacrament to the five members present. Bro. Jimmy presided and did a wonderful job of it. We each bore our testimonies to Bro. and Sis. Astin, with Bro. Ken bearing his testimony first. Sis. Astin was then asked to say a few words, and she, too, bore a nice testimony although she had told me a few days earlier that she did not feel like doing so. Bro. Astin said a few words, too, but he said that he could not bear a testimony because he truly did not have one, although he knows that the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and other works of God could not be doubted and proven untrue. He joined whole-heartedly at the meeting and we all know that this meeting was an enjoyable one. We pray that the seeds of love sown this night might bring our brother back into the fold …… We believe this evening will be a turning point in the lives of the
Astins. As Bro. Astin said, he felt different tonight than any night before and he made a special effort to get the slice of bread for the Sacrament.”
Nov. 10, 1942 …… “I enjoyed a conversation with one of our men tonight and he told me that a Colonel in Washington, D.C. had written him and insisted that he visit the Colonel on his next furlough. This young man had lived in New York and Washington, D.C. before and while there had taught the Colonel and his daughters the Japanese language. Many of our men complain of discrimination by the whites because of our ancestry. This is especially true in the West Coast, but there have been many instances that I have personal knowledge of, like the one mentioned above, where we have been asked to stay in the homes of our Caucasian friends. I know of cases where some of our men have been ‘adopted’ by the kindhearted people hereabouts and they have the run of the house. We are thankful to these people who have been able to surmount the racial wall and ask that the Lord will bless them throughout their days on this earth.”
Nov. 27, 1942 …… “Oh, Boy! Below zero weather this morning! The thermometer registered -2° at reveille. Others said it was lower than that. Gee! But it is a beautiful sight to look out on, with snow covering the area from six to eight inches. There is something about snow; it gives one a feeling of purity and cleanliness ….. “There is a small knoll adjoining our area. The army nurses living nearby had prepared themselves for this snow and a few of them were out with a couple toboggans and were having a lot of fun coming down the hill. I was invited to join them and enjoyed the experience of riding one of these five-man sleighs. Others more skilled in surf board riding technique tried standing on the toboggan going full speed downhill. I can see that we are going to enjoy these new experiences with sled, ski, and ice skates.”
Dec. 8, 1942 …… “Though I should be studying my radio lessons, I find that I’m always reading scriptural material in my spare moments. Read Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith’s long and inspiring article in the Deseret News of Nov. 28, 1942 in the Signs of the Times series, calling our nation and the world to repentance. In my travels since leaving Hawaii, I find his statements regarding the iniquities of the people to be very true in many respects, and the need of humility and repentance in our lives is very evident everywhere.
The danger of becoming calloused in our hearts is very imminent, for the circumstances that breed such hardness is all about us. I’m always praying that our Heavenly Father will shed His grace upon me and keep me humble. Many times every day I forget myself in various ways and fail to live up to the standards of our Father. During my meditations at night, I find tears of repentance wetting my pillow because of my human weaknesses. I am grateful to our Heavenly Father for being able to be like a little child again in His presence— to be able to shed tears and be humble. It was only a few years ago that my heart was so hardened that I could not shed a tear even in my deepest sorrow.”
Dec. 10, 1942 …… “Read an article in an old issue of the “Era” in which a non-Mormon writer was advocating that the Book of Mormon be taught in the public schools of America. The ‘Book’, though others may not believe in its contents, is a great work of literary art, distinctly American. The story of the persecution of the early pioneers colonizing the West. Elder Don Conover’s efforts to establish religious classes in the public schools of Hawaii is also reported in that article and it made me realize how blessed we are in the Hawaiian Islands to have missionaries carrying the Gospel to the people there. The laws in the Islands have a provision for teaching religious truths in public schools, ‘not exceeding sixty hours per week’ with time allowed students who desire these classes. (It was in one of these classes that I ‘picked’ my name, Isaac.) The University of Hawaii has a college of religion in which Mormon professor teaches regular v\classes on the Gospel of Jesus Christ as has been given to us by the Prophet Joseph Smith. (The head of the speech department was Joseph Smith, a direct descendant of Hyrum Smith when I attended the Univ. of Hawaii in 1947-1950). We are much more blessed in the Islands in this respect than the people of Sparta, La Crosse, Tomah, and other towns hereabouts because they have never heard of Mormonism, although there are a few members of the Reorganized Church of LDS scattered about here and there.”
Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 1942 …… “This Christmas Day will live in my memory, not only because of its many blessings but because it is the first White Christmas we had been dreaming about. Bro. Jimmy and I went over to Milwaukee to spend the day with Bishop and Sis. Grace Clyde and their family, visiting many of the Saints’ homes with the Bishop. Bro. Ken couldn’t go with us because of Firing duty at the range but he spent the day with the Letts in La Crosse.”
Dec. 31, 1942 …… “December 31st, the last day of the year. To most people, it’s just another day but to me, it brought to a close one of the happiest if not the most enjoyable year. I have had my share of sorrows and sadness come into my life throughout the year, but they have lost their sting; life ahs been made beautiful for me through my faith in the Lord, Jesus. He has comforted me in my hours of trial and solaced me when my days seemed dark. I am indeed grateful for the bounteous blessings that have been mine throughout this year and am thankful that our family had come through this year without mishap and have enjoyed His protection. My earnest prayers are that my family will come to understand our Heavenly Father’s teachings and follow Him. May this thought enter strongly into their hearts.”
Jan. 1, 1943 …… January first and the New Year is here. It was a very quiet New Year’s Eve in Sparta, with not even a dance anywhere, and far different from any I’ve had in the Islands. New Year’s Eve in those days before the war meant an extra hard night of work at the Young Hotel, cubing thousands of one inch- blocks of ice for the celebrants of the night as they drank whisky and beer like water, bidding the old year adieu, and ushering the new in with a blare of trumpets and music at the Alexander Young Hotel Roof Garden. The rest of the city would be bombarded by long chains of bursting Chinese firecrackers and fireworks of all kinds, and the din and the noise of blaring, tooting toy horns and sirens is something to remember at the zero hour at midnight!
I went over to La Crosse to spend the rest of the day with Bro. Jimmy and Ken (who had gone the night before) at the Letts where we were fed a sumptuous dinner by our kind hosts. This family and the Lienlokkens have always made our visits to this city beautiful memories as we spent Thanksgiving with them here also.
Jan. 7, 1943 …… Our outfit moved from Camp McCoy, Wis. to Camp Shelby, Miss. By train. After a two-day monotonous trip, we reached the latter camp, January 9th about the middle of the morning. It was like going from heaven to hell …… Because of the lack of facilities… we had to dig our own latrine house and had very little hot water or none at all most of the time in the shower rooms. Then, too, the whole outfit was quarantined for the first several weeks because of an outbreak of measles and mumps among our men. Both Bro. Ken and Jimmy became sing, the former running a fever from measles and had to be hospitalized for several days, while Jimmy was able to sweat it out in his camp area. I was fortunate and the seize of sickness passed me by.
During the war, I enjoyed the friendship of several older women whom I affectionately called “Mom”. Among them were Sis. Grace Clyde, of Milwaukee, Wis., Sis. J.C. Jensen of Utah, Mrs. JM Lienlokken of La Crosse, Wis., Mrs. Mayme Ward of Indianapolis, Ind., and Mrs. Edith Hardtke of Waukesha, Wis. These people wrote me many letters during the war and helped to keep my morale up, and sent me many presents frequently to let me know that they had me in their hearts and prayers all the time. Many notations are made in my diaries about the kindnesses of these people for which I am forever grateful. Mrs. Hardtke donated a bell to her small neighborhood church for its belfry in Waukesha and dedicated it to us…. Wallace Sato, one of our men who contracted TB in Wisconsin and had to be hospitalized in a hospital in Milwaukee, Jimmy Ishimoto and me. When my wife and I visited Mom Hardtke in Waukesha after the war, she took us to the little church and showed us the bell that she had donated. On Jan. 24, 1943 is a typical notation in my diary …… ‘Sent a postcard with the autograph material back to Mother Grace Clyde. Also wrote an answer to Lucille (Locker of Portage, Wis.), another one to Mom Hardtke in which I discussed the Lord’s promises to us in the “Words of Wisdom” and the loose morals of women in their relations to men of the service. Her grandfather’s saying, “Where there is heart room, there’s table room” might well be practiced by many others. She is following her grandpa’s words to the letter.
Later, she sent me a snapshot of herself with the notation on the back, “To Isaac Akinaka from his adopted mother.”
To Mom Lienlokken (who had lost her doctor husband some years back and was sorely missing his companionship), I wrote in answer to her letter on Feb. 7, 1943:
‘Another longer letter to Mother Lienlokken, telling her of our temple work and baptism for the dead. This letter took me until way past midnight to complete and I copied passages of Joseph Smith in D&C 128:15-18.’
March 31, 1943 …… ‘Miss Pansy K. Inomoto of Kauai wrote me that she had been baptized and had become a Letter Day Saint of the Church. It has made me very happy to hear that she had finally become a Mormon. I had first met her at he Harada Store in Heeia where she was then employed.
One day I had gone to the store to make a few purchases, and somehow I forgot a little notebook on the counter. Later, I dropped in again (Mrs. Harada had been very hospitable to us soldiers)…… (this was in 1942 when our outfit was bivouacked in her area and many times had prepared special Japanese foods and invited us to have supper with her family. We used to go there quite often for steaming hot baths (furo). On this particular occasion, Mrs. Harada returned my notebook, and said that she and her employees (Pansy included) had taken the liberty to read the little notes I had jotted down from articles in the Reader’s Digest. These gems of though from “Alone the Stranger Passes” by Manuel Komroff, “Rules for Happiness”, “Twelve Hells are Located”, “Why Love Instead of Hate” And others touched their hearts. As Pansy had requested that she would like to have some reading matter on religion, I sent her several of the Mormon tracts I had with me then and later gave her a Book of Mormon. Little did I know at that time that a seed of the Gospel had fallen on fertile soil, and it was not until later, after Pansy returned to Kauai that she wrote that the missionaries had contacted her and that she was investigating the claims of the church.
I observed that her faith was growing steadily with every letter to me and it was no surprise that she had finally been given a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel and the divinity of the work of the church. As I look back upon the events leading to her conversion, I feel very humble, and thank our Heavenly Father for the opportunity granted me in leading a wayward child into His fold. May she always continue humble and faithful unto the end.
Started to answer her letter during the evening but was interrupted by my bunkmates, and we discussed religious subjects the rest of the night. T/5 Asato of the Bn. Hq. section was the principal interrogator. He use to attend Mormon services and MIA in his hometown in Maui when Sis. Olsen labored there. However, he cannot believe in the Gospel and accept the truths in it because his materialistic mind cannot understand the spiritual truths……’
Sat., April 3, 1943 …… (While searching for the Church in Columbia, Miss.) ‘Met a young chap on the street, who said he is a Mormon, and was invited to stay at his home for the night. His mother fixed up the couch for me as a sleeping place……
The people seem much friendlier than elsewhere, and the young girls, –may of them very pretty ones, too, –were easy to talk to. The Southern drawl is very noticeable here, and, though at times, it was hard to catch their every meaning, I enjoyed listening to them……
I was surprised that the Flynt’s home had no kitchen basin so the little daughter (Sis. Flynt was pregnant, I believe, at the time) had to wash the dinner dishes in the family bathtub. In the nearby home of the Branch Pres. Arthur McDaniel, too, which I later visited to see their beautiful daughter, Charlotte, there was an outhouse instead of an inside toilet. This lack of modern facilities amazed me because I had never been without them for many, many years since my childhood days.
The following day was Fast Sunday. I was asked to give a short 2 _ minute talk, and I took up the time speaking extemporaneously about the close brotherhood among the Mormon people, citing as an example the welcome accorded me, a stranger and an Oriental Mormon at that, by the Flynts. A LDS, wherever he might be, is a brother to another Mormon.
The testimonial meeting was a spiritual uplift to all …… When Bro. Ball bore his testimony, there were tears in our eyes, and I noticed the little deacon beside me, a ten-year-old chap, wiping the tears that flowed down his cheeks. Two tiny girls, barely taller than the folding chairs they sat on, stood up and attested to their faith in the Gospel. Such faith in these children shamed me for my weaknesses in living as a true disciple of Christ……
One outstanding thought that remains with me from listening to Bro. Griner in the Gospel Doctrine class is that we t each obedience to our Heavenly Father because we love to do His will and not because we fear the great punishments that are to come to those who disobey His commandments……’
April 22, 1943 …… (These comments were made at the end of the fifth diary)
‘The time is finally approaching when news that we will be sent overseas for active combat duty has been given us. How near that date is no one knows. We only hope that it will be soon. Our men are biting at the bit and only wish that the higher authorities will see fit to put us into real action soon. This business of giving us a lot of “Make-believe” training is getting to be monotonous and routine. We can never prove ourselves as real Americans to others unless we get an opportunity to be actually under fire again and that is exactly what we’ve been hoping for ever since we were brought up to the mainland.
Our stay in the mainland has not been all work and training, == In fact, the way we’ve been roaming around th country on furloughs and weekend passes, one would never think there is a war going on. Our lot in Hawaii would have been a hell compared to the heavenly days up here, despite the outdoor training and maneuvers.
The three Momons have not been able to get together for Sunday services for quite some time now and I, especially, feel the need of the spiritual uplift of such gatherings as we used to have. However, we see each other on ce in a while, and when that is not possible, I send the notes and letters through the amil clerks. The wonderful letters from Salt Lake, and other parts of Utah, La Crosse and Milwaukee have been passed around and read by all three whenever possible……’
May 26, 1943 …… ‘My attention has been called to the few white hair on my head. I have become more observant since then and have noticed quite a few of our men with a sprinkling of gray. The surprising thing is that most of them are still in their middle twenties, and under ordinary circumstances shouldn’t be getting gray hair yet. Can it be that deep down inside of us, we are aging faster than we seem on the outside? I wouldn’t be surprised to see a battalion of gray-haired men returning to Hawaii after the war; that would surely surprise our relatives and friends back there, wouldn’t it?’
June 17, 1943 …… (Week’s furlough in New York City) …… T/4 Elmo Okido, my roommate at the Sloane’s YMCA and I usually leave our room about 9:00am and never see it again until after midnight every night. We love to prowl the streets of the city at night on our way home form the shows, and where we would make every effort to ride the buses during the daytime, at night we just stroll along on Broadway, Park Ave., Fifth Ave. and the other thoroughfares of this city “that never sleeps.” New York is full of Greeks and Italians and Jews, — and their daughters are such beautiful creatures with dark, flashing eyes and such beautiful complexion. I have never seen any lovelier complexion than those of these girls here. Beauty is plentiful, even though they are “powdered and creamed on” and everywhere I turn I see a face as lovely as a window display model. The streets are just full of pretty women, but as Elmo says, we walk alone, — no woman “made eyes at us”. (except once ….. Two girls wanted to go to a dance upstairs in a hotel and kind of hinted that we should take them there but we had made plans to do something else that evening).
These girls here are not of the same kind as in the South where women just throw themselves at any man, especially service men. I am quite sure that most of our men who had come to New York to make a “conquest” among the women here are returning to camp with no successful contacts to report (as they usually do). It is a fortunate thing that most of them are so busy seeing and visiting many interesting sights and shows that they have not felt their failure too disappointing.
We service men of all ranks are …… indeed grateful to the USO system. Free tickets to most of the shows and recreational facilities of this city are given to any service man who requests them, and the seats are usually about the best in the house. Yesterday, we were able to get free tickets to a baseball game up at the Polo Grounds in the Bronx district. The Giants beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 8-5 in a hard-fought game.
Some one had said that one of the first things a service man looks for while he is on furlough or on just an ordinary “leave”, is to eat the best food in a restaurant. It was no exception with us, for we have had some choice food ……Japanese, Chinese, etc.’
I am especially grateful to Kenzo for sending me some extra money so that I could make this trip to New York City ……
Mormons in Camp Shelby…… After our return to Camp Shelby from the Louisian-Texas maneuvers on June 9, 1943, we found that the 442nd Combat Team was already here. These were young and old Americans of Japanese ancestry who had volunteered into the service (after Pearl Harbor, the services were not inducting those of Japanese ancestry), when the opportunity was given them. They had come from Hawaii primarily, but they also volunteered out of the Relocation Camps where they were interned with their families. These men were put into a special unit as a combat team and given intensive training for combat duty.
Among them were my cousin, Hisa Kanagawa, Bros. Arthur Nishimoto, Frank Suzuki, Johnny Tsukano, Roy Tsuya, ‘Blackie” Yanagida, Norima Horimoto, and Boris Watanabe, and many others we knew as neighbors and friends or schoolmates. Many were the younger brothers and relatives of our own men of the 100th Inf. Bn.
As there were enough LDS soldiers (including Caucasian soldiers) in this camp, a branch was organized under the supervision of the Southern States Mission, with Bro. Roy Tsuya as Branch President, Jimmy Ishimoto as 1st Couns., Isaac F. Akinaka, 2nd Couns., John Tsukano as S. S. Supt.. My diary records that I set Bro. Frank Suzuki apart as 1st Couns. To the S. S. Supt on July 19, 1943. However, as the 100th Bn. soon shipped out for combat duty, we of our outfit did not function in our official church duties very much. Earlier, however, we had functioned as a LDS group quite regularly with Sunday services and administered the Sacrament. We also had a MIA meeting on Tuesday nights in the 442nd area.
Our LDS men occasionally attended services at Sis. Norton’s home in nearby Hattiesberg. And, as there were no active priesthood in this town, our men administered the sacrament to the women gathered there. Our group has traveled as far as Meridan at their invitation, to conduct the service in that branch, bear our testimonies and help build up their spirituality. We scattered seeds of Mormonism wherever we went. On occasion, at the invitation of the Camp Chaplain, we joined his services with the LDS group rendering our own songs as a Mormon Choir.
July 20, 1943…… ‘This day will be a memorable on in more ways than one. Our commanding officer called the whole battalion together and gave us the best news since we left Hawaii. This information is confidential…… ‘There will be no more furloughs!’ (***Received orders that the outfit was going overseas into action…….1950)
‘ALOHA, Diary! Until we meet again in Hawaii—Dear old Hawaii…
Camp Shelby, Miss. July 23, 1943
Some of the incidents related hereafter regarding the war period in Italy in 1943-44 were taken from the history of Hawaii’s 100th Infantry Battalion’s book, “Ambassadors in Arms” written by Prof. Thomas D. Murphy (my former history teacher) of the University of Hawaii. I commend this book for all to read, as it gives a good picture of the Japanese-Americans in World War II. Some of the incidents related here are from marginal notes that I had made in my copy of that book when I first read it. They tell of my part in the incidents recorded in the book.
The 100th Infantry Battalion was sent overseas, shipping out of Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on August 20, 1943. We first landing in Oran, Africa, in the staging area, where we joined the 34th Inf. Division of the Fifth Army, temporarily taking the place of the 2nd Battalion of the 133d Regiment which was acting as special military guards at General Eisenhower’s headquarters at Algiers.
The 100th Inf. Bn., though a part of the 34th Div. never lost its identity, and was always referred to as such. WE landed with the Fifth Army at Salerno, Italy, after the beachhead was secured by an amphibious attack by the combined forces of the Fifth Army—American VI Corps and the British 10 Corps.
Our first contact with the Germans is recorded on pg. 128 of the “Ambassadors in Arms” when Sgt. Shigeo Joe Takata was hit by a shrapnel shell. My marginal note reads: ‘I was the walkie-talkie operator with the command group when this action happened and I relayed the call for the litter bearers. I was impressed by the spirit of the Battalion surgeon, Capt. Isaac Kawasaki when he came up and insisted on attending the wounded at the point. He said, “Where my men go, I go!” A month later, when more medics were needed, I volunteered into his unit, and was attached to Co. “A”.
On pg. 134 is this marginal note: ‘This Colonel (Ray Fountain, commander of the 133d Regi.) had come forward to urge us on and was near us as we patched up the wounded. He got the “shakes” so bad when a shell landed near him and killed his jeep driver. He went back to his safer regimental headquarters.’
On pg. 136 this footnote: ‘In one of the battles, I carried a wounded “Polack” soldier (he was conscripted into the German Army) pick-a-back for about 100 yaris before the litter team reached us.’
When Col. Turner was believed of his command and sent back to the hospital for a rest, I made this marginal note on pg. 137: ‘The lives of his men were the “Old Man’s “ first concern. He told me once when we were caught in an enemy artillery barrage: “Dump that radio (35# set) off your back and take cover! We can always get another set but we can’t replace you! No wonder the men loved and respected him!’
On pg. 146 is this footnote: ‘Our litter team, led by Capt. Kawasaki himself was fired on by a heavy barrage. The Captain’s calf was ripped wide open by an exploding shrapnel and he had to be evacuated. Helpless in the middle of the barrage and hugging the ground for dear life, I recall yelling out, “wait till I get hold of your necks, You so-and-so!”
Yet, on the next pg. 147 ist his footnote: ‘I recall it took us over three hours to litter down a wounded German soldier down the steep and slippery hillside. Once, when we stopped to catch our breaths, I pulled out my trench knife to rip off the winged cloth insignia on his breast for a souvenir (which I still have in my possession), he turned white and almost fainted. He thought I was going to kill him!’
During a short respite from battle in Santa-Maria Olivetto is this marginal note on pg. 149: ‘I officially witnessed for the chaplain the baptism of 14 men by Chaplain Yost. After sprinkling them with water while repeating the rites of baptism, he gave them a short talk and gave them a blessing. He told them “When you get back to Hawaii, go to any Christian Church of your choice!’ The chaplain was a Penn-Dutch Lutheran minister.
On pg. 157 is this footnote: ‘I can recall the cold miserable days and nights on these hills. As the chilly, icy rain ran down my back, I cried out: ‘Please, God! We have enough trouble already fighting the Germans, without having to fight the rain and the weather, too!” That night a piece of shrapnel from a tree burst missed my head by a _ inch as I lay sleeping with my steel helmet on in a 4 ft. deep foxhole; I had covered it’s top with heavy logs from the fallen trees.
On this same page is this marginal note: ‘I carried Bro. Jimmy Ishimoto on my back part way down the hill to the aid station. He had trench feet—he took off his shoes and couldn’t get them back on—his feet were swollen so!
I kidded him and told him that he’d be back in a couple weeks. He never did—He was sent to a hospital in Africa; later, was sent to fill a gap in the famous “Battle of the Bulge” with a haole outfit—then sent home to Hawaii.
Cassino! Ah! What memories!! The 36th Div. of Texas was so severely battered up by the Germans when they tried to attack this town by crossing the Rapido River that they had to ask for a temporary truce to pick up their dead and wounded. They reciprocated with a truce later on the north hills of Cassino when they battered the Germans in an attack on the Monastery. This outfit was under “Howling Mad Dog” General Walker, I believe, and was involved in stopping the war three different times as they suffered another disastrous rebuff in the landing at Anzio.
On pg. 170 are these footnotes: ‘I jumped into an irrigation ditch and stayed in the water up to my shoulders behind a tree stump all day until dark. Every time I moved, “Jerry” shot on both sides of the stump.’
Also, the following night: ‘This is where I was wounded by an exploding mine, while I was patching up Major Dewey (who had recently taken over command ov the 100th). German machine guns continually sprayed this area and their tracer bullets missed me by inches all night long. I also later helped to litter Capt. Johnson out but he died in the aid station from his shrapnel wounds and long exposure in the cold, flooded area.
The marginal notes on pg. 174 tell about the battle in Cassino Square: ‘It was nip and tuck battles here. The newspapers reported later: “Sometimes we had the kitchen while they (the Germans) held the living room. Control of the rooms changed hands as each counterattacked. Finally, it settled to a stalemate—we had the church (cathedral) and they retired across the 75 foot square—to snipe at us. Our tanks could not dislodge them!!
‘I was a medic attached to this group. This is where I saw a fulfillment of the Scripture: “Beware! Lest thine enemy desecrate thine altar!” Human feces was under the altar!
It was here, also, that I saw skeletons with drapping arms hanging from the ceilings of the cathedral, where evidently the bodies of the dead priests were enbombed as Italy’s water table was too near the surface of the ground.
On the following page are these notations: A newspaper correspondent, who wanted to see the battle close up—‘He was shot between the eyes by a Geran sniper when he got curious and stuck his head out of the cathedral.’
‘When we were relieved and pulled off the line, I was the only frontline medic left, walking back. I was hospitalized later for trench feet at the 8th Evac. Hospital for a couple weeks. (We went overseas with about 1200 men but when we were pulled out of Cassino, we had only about 250 fighting men left in the whole outfit because no replacement was sent us until after the Cassino battles. It was then that replacements from the 442nd joined us in the resting area.)
From Anzio, pg. 184: ‘I was ordered to return to the United States on rotation just before the “Big Push” toward Rome. Lt. Kenneth Teruya was killed soon after in this area when he stepped on a mine while dragging his wounded sergeant into a shell hole.’
While waiting for a ship to bring me back to the United States, I rested in the Replacement Pool in Naples. Saw five operas in six days at the Opera House (tickets cost about 35 liras).
To come through the war almost unscathed was truly a fulfillment of the blessings given me both by Pres. Jay C. Jensen in Honolulu, HI on June 4, 1942 when I was ordained an Elder and also in my patriarchal blessing by the Acting Patriarch, George F. Richards on September 4, 1942 in Salt Lake City. They both promised me that I would return safely from the war.
I can recall incidents other than those already mentioned in which I could have been injured had the ord not put His protecting hand around me. There was an occasion once in Italy while we were resting in between battles that I noticed an observation biplane hovering high in the sky as I came out of a building. I did not pay much attention to it and proceeded to walk across to the other building. Suddenly, I noticed a path of bullets hitting the ground before me. Evidently, the pilot of this German plane must have thought I was a good target to shoot at and came swooping down to shoot at me. AS he missed me completely, I kept on sauntering until I reached the other building. He must have felt quite frustrated as I made no attempt to run for safe cover!
Another occasion was when we were attacking the hills just below the Cassino Monastery. German snipers were in a two story stucco building on the top of the hill and I reached a point behind a low stonewall half way up the hill. A sniper kept shooting at me; my body was hidden from his sight but my left foot was exposed to his view but it was in a shallow depression in the ground. I watched fascinated like a hypnotized victim of a cobra as his bullets missed my ankle by an inch or so each time as he kept trying to hit my foot. He finally tired of it and stopped shooting. I waited a few minutes more, then jumped up, picked up a wounded soldier nearby on my back and ran off down the hill with him.
Another occasion happened in the hills north of Cassino. We followed another outfit which had preceded us. I found a stack of V-mail letters shoved between rocks which were piled up in a circle to make a shallow foxhole. This area was nearly all rocks so no foxhole could be dug in the ground.
As I read those V-mail letters—they were from a soldier’s girlfriend in New York and they told how she first said that she loved him, then, later, came a “Dear John” letter, telling him that she was marrying someone else at home, etc. I believe this soldier left his letters there and might have gone out to get himself killed. I put a match to each letter and was burning them one by one when I noticed an observation plane circling above. The next thing I knew, there was a bomb burst near me and I heard a yell of pain nearby. I ran over to the fellow who yelled. He had a large piece of shrapnel embedded in his thigh and it almost protruded from one side to the other. The bomb did not bother me at all.
Gwen and I owe much to our friends in Salt Lake City for bringing us together. She had told her father (her mother had died many years earlier) that she wanted to marry a Mormon, and as there were not too many LDS men of Japanese ancestry in her native state of Utah, she had to wait for some time until I came along. I, too, was looking for a good LDS sister to take into the temple, so fate and our friends brought us together, when we met at Elder L. Stalling’s announcement party in Eden, Utah, in 1944. It was the Melvin Weenigs who brought Gwen to the party and I was taken there by the Roy Tsuyas…
As I was rather rushed to get my parents’ temple work done for them during the extension of my furlough in Salt Lake City after returning from the war fronts I believe Gwen and I had only a few dates together. She was at that time working in the membership department of the Church.
When I finally was stationed at the Madigan General Hospital as a wardmaster in Ft. Lewis, Wash., we corresponded with each other. I had previously been sent to Hotel Biltmore in Santa Barbara, CA, which the Army was using for ten days of reorientation. (The Army, evidently, felt that battle-scarred veterans needed some reassuring adjustments to fit properly into the relative safety of the home front in the U.S.) When an opportunity presented itself later, (and I had to get a lot of “bucking” to get it) to go to Fitzsimmons General Hospital in Denver, Colo. For medical technician training early in 1945, I was able to convince my superiors that I needed the training because I had not had any medical training when I volunteered into the Medics overseas and became a front-line aid man.
After three moths of training at the Fitzsimmons General Hospital in Denver, I requested and received a delay-in-route furlough to Salt Lake City. I stayed at Bro. and Sis. Vernon Dickman’s home in that city. One day, while we were washing dishes together, Sis. De Beth Dickman said, “Isaac, if you and Gwen get married, we’ll throw you a party.” So, I promptly went out and proposed to Gwen.
It was not such a sudden thing as the above seem to indicate. Before I left Denver, I had asked Sis. Dayle Alldredge of Salt Lake City, the missionary sister who brought the Gospel to me in Hawaii,, by letter about Gwen and she had spoken very highly of her. However, although Gwen had been a professional cook in a restaurant, she never did feed me a meal of her own cooking during our courtship. I kid her sometimes that she “married the uniform,” as it had some aspects of a “soldier’s romance.” I can recall how she ran along the slowly moving train when I left to go back to camp to give me a lingering kiss as we parted. It was—“just like in the movies.”
Our friends were generous with their gifts at our wedding reception a the Dickman’s after the temple marriage in the Salt Lake Temple on April 17, 1945. We wanted to get married on Gwen’s birthday, April 15,, but that date fell on a Sunday and Monday the temple was closed. Bishop H. A. Robertson and Bro. Vernon Dickman were the official witnesses. However, there were several of our friends there, too. The Melvin Weenigs, also, had an open house for us in Ogden, Utah, where we received many more gifts and the good wished of our friends there.
We spent a week of honeymoon at Sis. Dayle Alldredge’s apartment at 475 Fifth Ave. She let us have it without consulting her younger sister who was living with her. We returned to the apartment the first night rather late and found Dayle’s sister fast asleep in bed. It reminded me of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I was tempted to say, “Who’s that sleeping in my bed!” However, I gently woke her up and led her to the message pinned on the front door screen, which read, “I’m letting Isaac and Gwen have this apartment for a week for their honeymoon. Will you please go and stay with Sister.”
The flustered young girl let out a yelp, ran back into the bedroom, packed her things hurriedly, and called a taxi, and let us have the apartment. Only a Mormon would do that!
After our short honeymoon in Salt Lake City, I reported back to camp at Ft. Lewis, Wash., and called for Gwen when I found a place to stay at 125 E. 15th Street in Olympia, the capital of the state. The people in that small town seemed very friendly and usually greeted me with a pleasant “good morning” even before I greeted them. The fact that ZI sported a Combat Infantry Badge and a lot of fancy colored ribbons on my chest might have impressed the people. Some of our widowed landlady, Mrs. Ethel Nolan’s neighbors, however, must have caused her some concern as she told them that we were Chinese instead of Japanese ancestry. The Japanese people had been all evacuated form the West Coast at the beginning of the war with Japan and I must have been about the first of my race to come back to this area.
Although Olympia is the Capital of the state of Washington, there was no railroad station in the city and I had to go out to the outskirts of the city to meet Gwen when she came. We had a small upstairs room in the Nolan residence with rather poor heating facilities there. We shared the bathroom, the refrigerator, the dishes, and dining table and stove after the family ate—all for $40.00 a month. The Nolans had a young teenage daughter, Nancy, living with her. Later, the youngest son brought his recent bride to live with his mother when we moved to another home. Mrs. Nolan had three other older married children but hey all had their own homes elsewhere.
Mrs. Nolan sold her home because she got tired of listening to her neighbors’ expressions about Oriental people, and bought a nicer home at 2215 Capital Way, on the main drag. She liked us and permitted us to go along with her with the same arrangements. We attended the Olympia Ward of the Church and made many friends there. We have been wanting to revisit that area and renew acquaintances but have not been able to do it yet. Gwen worked at the camp laundry and also as a housemaid on her days off to help supplement my meager income.
I was a wardmaster in a prisoner-of-war psycho ward at the Madigan General Hospital on duty 24 hours a day as I slept in the ward with the patients. The ward was in wooden barracks similar to the ones at the West Facility of the California Men’s Colony outside San Luis Obispo, CA. As my barracks was some walking distance from the psycho ward, I received permission from my unit commander to sleep at the ward rather than go back to my unit every night. I was locked inside the locked iron gate with the armed guard outside the gate. Our ward was a debarkation point for Japanese, Koreans, Italians, a few German S. S. troopers and even a Russian prisoner. A young American lieutenant was in our ward for a short time, also, as he was charged with raping an Army nurse and the authorities did not want to house him in the stockade ward or the German ward next door. (Just before New Year’s Day, I was in charge of several Japanese PW patients and thirteen armed American guards when we delivered those patients to the Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco, CA by train. I enjoyed a few days of wonderful relief there in that city and saw the East-West Shrine football game there on New Year’s Day.)
I served also as an interpreter and the aide to the doctor as he made his daily rounds in the ward. I had found a small copy of a military Japanese manual in the library at the camp. This book helped me greatly in questioning the Japanese patients and in communicating with them. I patiently copied the whole manual by hand and still have it in my possession to this date. I could also communicate with Italian prisoners as I picked up the language while serving in Italy. These Italians had been sent to Hawaii and were on their way back to various camps. There were camps fo Italian and German prisoners nearby but those in my ward were either psychos or had other medical problems. The Italians and the Koreans gave me the most trouble because they were constantly at each other’s throats whenever there was a misunderstanding, and I had to jump in to break up their fights. These two nationalities were the “lost sheep” in the war—the Germans and the Japanese knew what they were fighting for.
One reason why I decided to go to Chicago after the war was because my sergeant was an Irishman from that city. He encouraged me to go to school there. I matriculated at the Chicago College of Laboratory Technology, one of those short fast six months courses under the G. I. Bill. We lived near the University of Chicago and I worked for a short period a the Veterans Hospital in Hines, just outside of Chicago, until time to got to medical tech school full time. As it took me two hours one way to go to work by subway and an extra bus ride out fo the city of Chicago, I had to quit working there and found employment at the Billings Univ. of Chicago Hospital close by in town. Gwen helped with the finances by working, sewing plastic raincoats at a manufacturing firm in town. My pay as a hospital aide was very small, but with our G. I. subsistence and Gwen working, we managed to survive through the cold, winter months of the Windy City.
We found living quarters with an old Jewish woman—same arrangements as in Washington—for the same price. Living quarters were hard to find in those days and we found many places with “Vacancy” signs on the door but when we went in to see the landlord or landlady, we were refused accommodations. I believe that we were denied these opportunities because of our ancestry. We later moved to another apartment, with the daughter of the Jewish landlady. She was a retired school teacher who rented rooms in her flat and made a living that way.
It was here that we had an unfortunate experience of being asked to move out of the apartment because of our ancestry. We lived in an apartment building where one had to get someone to open the door by pressing an electric button, and tenants hardly saw each other. Especially me, because I used to leave the premises about four o’clock in the morning to go out to the Hines Hospital. When our Jewish landlady regretfully told us the bad news, I became a little angry, pulled out my old army uniform out of the trunk, put it on with all the meritorious ribbons on my chest and went upstairs to confront the person who had made the complaint. When I asked her why she was complaining, she said: “What is right is right! We don’t want this place to be like “White City” nearby.”
That section was originally all white but as the Negroes started to move in, the whites began to move out one by one. It was all black at this time. When she mentioned that her husband was serving at that time as a medical officer in the Italian front, it surprised me that much more because I thought everybody knew of the exploits of the Japanese American soldiers in the Italian front. I cooled off and left her with the statement that “you will receive your just rewards.”
I phoned my Irish sargeant friend in West Chicago. When he found out about the treatment that we got in his friendly city, he “blew his stack” and offered us his home to stay in until we could find other accommodations. Fortunately, for us, we found new quarters near our old place at 6056 S. Kenwood Ave. on the 6th floor, only a block away from the LDS University Ward where we attended church.
I had taken some special tests upon my discharge at Ft. Lewis, Wash. and was told that the results of the tests qualified me to enter college as an advanced student, I tried to use them to enter the Univ. of Chicago, but they would not accept it and required that I take the entrance exam and start as a freshman. We decided to go back to the Islands as Gwen had not met my family and I had not been home since we shipped out of Hawaii in 1942. I could then try to get into the Univ. of Hawaii and see whether they would accept the extra credits that I had earned.
I graduated from the Lab course and landed a job with the Board of Health in Honolulu in July, 1946. The pay was very small as I served as a lab assistant, so when Bro. Arthur Nishimoto mentioned that there was an opening for a fireman in his fire crew (e was the engineer) at the Morrison-Knudsen Co, I jumped at the chance as the pay was considerably more than that at the Board of Health. The construction company had recently suffered a quarter million fire at their construction site where they were building the new Tripler General Hospital, a 13 story building, the highest in the Hawaiian Islands. (There was a six story limit for buildings in Honolulu). I think that I worked as a fireman for about six months before quitting to devote full time as a student at the Univ. of Hawaii.
I was able to talk my way into the Univ. of Hawaii as an advanced student. The registrar granted me credit for all my Army and medical tech training so I finished school in three years from 1947 to 1950. However, I juggled three majors in the three years, changing from psychology, economics and finally graduating with a B.A., in business in June, 1950. The reason I changed majors each year was because I had never had any high school algebra and whenever I had to take the mandatory prerequisite of psychology statistics and economics statistics I shied away and ran away from them. I’m still wondering how they let me get away with it all but evidently I had amassed enough credits to graduate. My counsel to anyone going to school is to take the hardest subjects while in school where you can get some help and leave the easy subjects alone because most people can pick up that knowledge outside without any help.
To supplement our G. I. subsistence, I sold insurance for two different companies—part-time while going to school with the Security Life and Accident Company of Denver, Colo. and full-time after graduating with the North American Life of Chicago. I also sold savings accounts for the Honolulu Savings and Loan. When I couldn’t sell my clients on insurance, I encouraged them to save their money in the Savings and Loan company. I also worked as a sales representative for a printing firm for a short while.
Our first son, Kenneth, was born on March 21, 1947 at the St. Francis Hospital on Liliha St., Honolulu. He was a difficult birth for Gwen, being the first, but as we had the best obstetrician in town, he came through ok, with some help from the doctor.
Our second son, Vance, was born o n November 12, 1949 at the Kapiolani Maternity Hospital in Honolulu— a one month premature birth. And so was our third and last child, Bruce, who was born a month prematurely, too. He was born a the Kaiser Hospital on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles, Ca. on December 9, 1954.
Our sons were all named after people we admired. Kenneth was named after Lt. Kenneth Teruya, a war buddy, who was killed in action while trying to save the life of one of his men in Italy. He is the younger brother of President Walter Teruya of Maui, who is now the president of the Japan Sendai Mission of the Church.
Vance was named after our Bishop of the University Ward of the Chicago, Ill. Stake, Dr. Wendall Vance, MD, whom we admired so much for his dedication to the church. He is now and for some time has been the team physician of the Brigham Young University football team.
Before Brue was born, we had already decided to call the child, Dayle, for Sis. Dayle Alldredge (now Bills), who had brought the Gospel to me in Hawaii. However, when a male child was born instead, we were caught unawares. I was inspired by the story of King Bruce of Scotland, who patiently watched a spider spin his web, so we named the infant, Bruce Kei. The Kei is for all the “K’s” we have among our relatives—Kenzo, my brother; Kenneth Hakoda, Jessie’s husband; Ken Yamaki, Gwen’s brother; Kenneth, our first son; and Kei Mikuriya, Gwen’s Cousin’s husband.
As we were married in the temple, all of our sons were born under the covenant and were baptized soon after their eighth birthday. Gwen’s patriarchal blessing promised her some daughters but we lost a girl infant in a miscarriage just before Gwen had to have a hysterectomy in the Salinas, Ca. Hospital in 1957. Our sons will have to marry to bring us some daughters. We already have a most lovely daughter-in-law in Vance’s wife, Linda. She has already given us two wonderful grandsons, Elias and Vance Nalukalanikai, and she wants many more children.
We left Hawaii in July, 1952 to come up here to live in Los Angeles, CA. as all of Gwen’s folks are here on the mainland—in California and Utah. Mine are all in the Hawaiian Islands. I had difficulty finding a suitable job as I did not want to go into insurance again. I applied at a neighborhood Bank of America and the personnel manager stated: “You’re an university graduate. We cannot pay you what you want because we recruit all of our tellers from high school graduates. Try at the service station down the street. They will pay you more!” I even tried to borrow $200.00 from the bank but I couldn’t get the loan because we were new in the city and had no business references here!
In desperation and with our meager funds dwindling, I made the same mistake made in Chicago—in getting a job far away from home when there might have been one closer. I went to work at the Brentwood Veterans Mental Hospital in West Los Angeles in the far edge of town. As I could not commute every day without a car, I had to board there at the personnel’s quarters for a while until we could afford a cheap used car.
We lived at the mori Apartments at 3726 W. Monon Street, Los Angeles from 1952 till 1955 and attended the Hollywood Ward of the Los Angeles Stake.
On April 17, 1955, I terminated my employment with the Veterans Hospital in Brentwood, CA, and was hired by the Federal Prison system as a Correctional Officer. I paid my way to Alcatraz Prison, outside of San Francisco for a physical examination and, also, to McNeil Penitentiary near Tacoma, Wash., for a month’s training. Applicants came from all over the country for this $3410 a year job. I was then assigned to the Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island, San Pedro, Ca., in May, 1955, when hat prison was vacated by the State and the Feds took it over.
We moved to Truman Boyd Manor, a housing project in Long Beach on the main drag going into the town of Dominguez. We attended the Long beach Fourth Ward during this period.
Dissatisfied with the “doe-eat-dog” seniority system fo the Federal prison system after working at Terminal Island for 2 _ years, (there was no written tests for promotional exams during this time), I applied for and was accepted for employment on Sept. 17, 1957 with the California State Prison at Soledad as a Correctional Officer. While at his prison, I conducted some Sunday services inside the prison for those who wanted to attend LDS service. We do have a relatively few LDS men in prison. I had been set apart as the Branch President of the King City Branch, a dependent branch of the Salinas Ward, Monterey Bay Stake. The branch meeting place was later mobbed to the Forrester’s Hall in Soledad because physical conditions at the Veterans Hall in King City were not conducive to spiritual upbuilding as the place reeked of alcohol and the remains of the Saturday night parties before the Sabbath Day.
We lived in the Housing Project in Soledad and later moved to the Guiterrez home on Main Street across the Catholic Church. That house is no longer there as the area is now the town’s administrative center.
In March of 1961, the new medium custody correctional institution was built at Los Padres, Ca., four miles outside of San Luis Obispo. I requested and received a transfer to this new prison and helped to activate three of the four 600 men units there. Besides my regular duties as a housing officer, I received permission (after much selling of the program to the authorities) to give the inmates a series of 13 lectures on personal development and rehabilitation. There was no such program being conducted in the prison system at this time. I had felt this need for more information that the inmates needed from my experiences as a group counselor in Soledad State Prison where I had given a few of these lectures to implement my group counseling classes.
These lectures were compiled from the many years of research that I had made in the mental health field. I had been a part-time sales representative of the Mathison Electropsychometer, a psychiatric adjuvant. I sold and demonstrated and instructed psychiatrists and other professional and lay analysts in the use of the instrument in the Los Angeles area while I was working at the Brentwood Veterans Hospital.
The Lecture series was called “The Practical Aspects of Daily Living.” It would have been much better if I had used Dr. Frank Caprio’s book title “Why We Behave As We Do” for I used much material from his book by that title. (Several years alter, I convinced him and his publisher to reprint that out of print book and they reprinted it but under a different title, “A guide to Living in Balance.” Wilshire Book Co., Hollywood, Ca.
The lectures covered a wide range of deep subjects and took the individual from birth to death and beyond. Thought the subject matters were deep and profound, I presented them in such a manner that even an adult with only a grammar school education could understand most of them. Quite a few of them attended repeated sessions of the series in order to get more information that they had missed in previous sessions. Such topics as Sigmund Freud’s “Psychosexual Evolution” (subject that was taught to psychiatrists in the early 1890s at Columbia University), personality development, How to Control Emotions, the various phases of growth of an individual, Emotional Immaturity, etc., were discussed and explained. The last lecture was patterned after the Lord’s Plan of Salvation for those who wanted to know the answers to “Where did I come from, What am I doing here, and Where do I go from here?”
I gave these lectures from 1963-1966—one lecture a week continuously except for my vacation periods. I have a lifetime teaching certificate from the state of California for these lectures as I also gave one of these series at the local Adult night school. However, when Ronald Reagan became governor of California, he reduced the budget of the group counseling program in the prisons so my lecture series was terminated. It was soon after this that the highly paid prison psychiatrists were required to conduct some similar type of classes for both personnel and inmates.
After 17 _ years with the California prison system, I was forced to retire on July 1, 1975 because of physical disability. I suffered a ruptured disk in my lower back on the job on May 7, 1974 and was operated on for a four level laminectomy. I have a numb right foot from that operation and have not been to work since then.
Prison work is quite discouraging at times as we see the same people come back to prison time after time. It can also be quite hazardous as breaking up fights among inmates occurred frequently at CMC. When the Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional, it made the prison personnel fair game for hostile and recalcitrant inmates so there were many serious riots and incidents in the California prisons in which officers and other personnel were attacked and killed. However, that has tapered off now that the death penalty has been restored in the California statutes.
Early one morning near Christmas, 1975, I was awakened by a dream. Gwen said that I was kicking vigorously in bed. I had not been back to work since my ruptured disk operation in May, 1974, but like a battle-scarred soldier, I had a dream this morning and thought I was kicking away at four inmates who were approaching to attack me. I had a similar type of dream many years ago, when we were living in Soledad. I almost hit Gwen in the jaw as I swung a powerful right into her pillow in my sleep, for I dreamt that I was punching at an inmate when he attacked me. Fortunately, Gwen turned away in her sleep just at the moment I swung the punch so she was not hurt, but we both woke up, wondering what was going on.
I was lucky that in my 17 _ years with the California prison system, the 2 _ years with the Feds and several years working with psychos in the Army and the mental hospitals that I had not been physically attacked. I’ve been threatened many times and had to take a lot of verbal abuse as a professional correctional worker. The false rumors that were passed around among the inmates by some of them who liked me, that I was a karate expert and a “tough officer” to mess around with, helped to keep them in line. Fortunately for me, no one dared to “call my bluff” because all I know of the martial arts is what was taught us in the Federal and California prison systems.
It has become increasingly difficult for prison management during the last several years because the courts, especially during Chief Justice Earl Warren’s time, have been granting criminals rights that they shouldn’t have. Previously, when a criminal was convicted and put in prison, most of his “rightrs” were suspended during his incarceration. The courts now seem to be more concerned about the welfare of prisoners than of society or the victims of the crime. It has come to the point that sex activities are permitted legally now in California prisons in overnight family visits, and marriages are performed in prisons, too. One young inmate wrote to his family, “Hey! You know what! They’re paying me to come to prison!”, referring to the lump sum and monthly payments that many criminals are getting under the Social Security’s mental disability program. And he gets this the rest of his life! Yet, the only reason a criminal is in prison is because he committed a crime!
It is unfortunate that, though hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent on prisons and prison management, the prisons today are no more effective than the days of old as a means of rehabilitation of criminals, and crime statistics continue to soar yearly in all parts of the United States.
The prison world is a totally different “world” that most people know very little about. The “law of the jungle” operate there, and, if it weren’t for the prison personnel, the weak would be swallowed up and annihilated by the strong. Working in that environment has given me a greater appreciation and understanding of the Lord’s Plan of Salvation, the “free” world, Paradise, the Spirit world, and the law of obedience.
People are in prison because they disobeyed the law, and that is the only reason they are there. Even within the prison, those who cannot obey the limitations placed upon them there, get further restrictions on their freedom by being put into another area called the “adjustment Center”, and even beyond that, into the so-called “hole.” People who do not obey the laws of baptism here, are put into an “Ellis Island” like prison in Paradise until somebody bails them out by doing their temple baptism for them here on earth. It is a similitude of our arrangements here on earth.
Gwen, too, was forced to retire in June, 1975 on physical disability. She was attacked by a male psycho patient at the San Luis Obispo General Hospital in the Mental Health division in December, 1971 and severely injured. In July, 1974, that injury necessitated two spinal fusions in the back of her neck because her arms were getting paralyzed.
We have not neglected our church duties and have been actively engaged in responsible positions in the Church. The positions we have been called to are listed in detail elsewhere in our Books of Remembrance. For me they include positions as counselor in the branch and district presidencies in the Central Pacific mission, Honolulu; 2nd counselor to Bishop Russell K. Homer of the Kaimuki Ward, Oahu Stake; Stake missionary in the Los Angeles Stake; Branch President of the dependent King City Branch of the Salinas Ward, Monterey Bay Stake, CA; Stake Sunday School Superintendent and High Councilor of the San Luis Obispo CA Stake, and in the High Priest Group leadership of this stake.
Gwen, also, has been active in various capacities in the many wards of the Church as a teacher in the Primary and the Sunday School with the younger children and as secretary in the Sunday School, MIA, and the Relief Society. She is presently the Nursery Leader in the Relief Society of the San Luis Obispo First Ward.
On January 27, 1976, we were both set apart as temple ordinance workers at the Los Angeles Temple and we spend one week a month on that assignment and go there some 205 miles and live in Los Angeles during that week.
Among some of the outstanding memories that have come to me that have not been mentioned in this life history are the following:
Ordained a High Pries and a Bishop’s Counselor by Apostle Marion G. Romney on December 9, 1951
Ordained as a High Councilor, San Luis Obispo, CA Stake by Pres. R. Dean Robinson, on Oct. 20, 1968 with Apostle Harold B. Lee in the group.
Ordained L. A. temple worker by Pres. Arthur Godfrey on Jan 27, 1976.
Participating in over 350 confirmations for the dead in the Hawaii Temple in 1952 at the baptismal font with Bro. Alexander Kaonohi as Bishop Russel K. Homer baptized the young proxies for Chinese and New Zealand names.
Administering to Bro. Tseu in a hospital in Honolulu in 1942 as he was going in for an operation on his only remaining kidney. Saw him in 1975 again in Honolulu and he looked hale and hearty at that time.
Administering to a soldier in a coma in the King City, CA hospital in 1960. He had been in an auto accident in which their speeding sports car had seared off a telephone pole on a turn in Soledad. The driver died on the spot, another soldier had died on the way to the King City Hospital and the soldier I administered to had been in a coma all night long. But through the faith of his LDS mother, who had come all the way from Long Beach and had requested the administration to our Bishop in Salinas, I was instructed to administer to her son. He was soon afterwards sent to the Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco for convalescence.
In an earlier version of my life history, I touched upon some highlights of my life to complete the history before the deadline set by our San Luis Obispo, CA Stake President R. Dean Robinson in 1976. Also, our daughter-in-law, Linda, (Vance’s wife) after reading the first part of my life history, suggested that I should write more in detail of our lives after World War II. I had deliberately left out many experiences of our three sons’ growing years as I expected my wife, Gwen, to cover that period as she was more intimately involved with them. Inasmuch as it will be some time before Gwen can start putting her life story on paper, I may touch upon those subjects a little in this portion of my life history.
Kenneth Teruya, our first son, was born March 21, 1947, at St. Francis Hospital on Liliha St., Honolulu, HI. The first birth is usually the more difficult one and so it was with Kenneth. I recall sitting and anxiously awaiting the birth of the child at the waiting room in the hospital into the late hours of the night. Dr. R. Sakamoto, the obstetrician, came out to tell me that it may be some time yet before the baby will come, so he suggestetd that I go home and get some sleep. I went home to Kaimuki and slept on the couch with the phone near my head. However, when I awoke the next morning, I had not yet been notified of the child’s birth, so I called the hospital and was told that we had a healthy baby boy, 8 pounds 9 oz. and 20 inches long.
I rushed down to the hospital. One of the young nurses brought out a pretty little baby girl to show me, but I told her she brought the wrong baby because I was told that it was a boy. She hurriedly rushed back into the baby room and brought out a male child. He had some kind of bruise marks on both sides of his head where the forceps were used to help pull him out. Fortunately, those marks soon disappeared and he turned out to become a handsome little child.
It was fortunate for us that it was about two years after our marriage that the first baby came, as we were moving around quite a bit, –first to Chicago for my med-tech schooling and then to Salt Lake City for a short stay while we waited for ship passage to Hawaii.
When we reached Salt Lake City on our way home to Hawaii,, Gwen went to see her family doctor because I had told her that she was anemic. I had tested her blood with a paper hemoglobin test. Gwen had been taking Benzedrine pills by Doctor’s prescription for several months to keep her awake as she had a weakness of becoming drowsy and sleepy all the time. The doctor in Salt Lake City didn’t believe her at first when she told him that she was anemic but when she told him that I had just completed a medical-tech school in Chicago, he gave her a closer look and verified my findings and prescribed some pills to correct the condition. We both then began taking some vitamins and iron pills and next thing you know, Kenny was on the way.
Vance, too, was born in Honolulu but at the Kapiolani Maternity Hospital, Bingham Street, on November 12, 1949. We were at a church MIA dance at the Honolulu LDS Tabernacle that night as we were in charge of the refreshments. Gwen had spent all day making cookies, etc., for the dance and began to feel some pains there that night, so I rushed her over to the Maternity Hospital which was nearby. She was told that she was in labor and within twelve hours the baby came—two months premature—a shiny bald-headed baby—some 4 lbs. ? oz.—but 21 inches long. He was kept in the heat box in the hospital for some time until he was at least 5 lbs. before we could bring him home. It was some time later that he started growing hair on his head. One of the pediatricians, who saw him later said: “Mrs. Akinaka, this baby is going to be a big boy. Look at his feet!”
Kenny loved to take care of his baby brother and we have snapshots of Kenny in those days with his bald-headed brother nestling in his arms. Kenny was always protective of his younger brothers, even in later years when they were pre-teenagers. We recall an incident in Sacramento, CA when Kenny and Vance went to visit the McDonalds and got into a tangle with some Negro kids who had taken something away from Vance. Kenny went and demanded the return of Vance’s property from the Negro kids and got it back, but at the expense of some “lascas” on his face.
Kenneth was always a rather quiet, more or less shy, introverted boy, but he was the chess and checker champion of youths in Soledad, CA in 1960. He had a keen and sharp mind and would surprise his teachers in mathematics by being able to do his figuring in his head without putting the problem down on paper. His percentile in mathematics in high school was 97%, which meant that only 3% of the students of that grade level in the U.S. were better than he was in math.
However, this trait led him to become “lazy” in doing some of the basics while in the learning stage and contributed to his failure in turning in some required drudgery homework on assignments. In contrast to Kenneth, Vance had to really put out the effort in study and work to equal Kenneth’s mental capacity—they reminded me of the hare and the tortoise story in the folktales.
All of our sons, like me, had newspaper routes to take care of in their youth. It was good training for them in teaching them responsibility. Occasionally, we, the parents, had to help them out with their deliveries when it rained.
When we moved to San Luis Obispo, CA, from Soledad in 1961, something happened to Kenneth. Although he went to Church regularly with us and had such great faith in prayers in his earlier youth, he became a “loner” and wasn’t accepted too readily by his peers in the Church. Gradually, he drifted toward the more unhealthy group in high school of drug and pill users, and for several years was caught in the maelstrom of drug addiction both here and in Hawaii where he had gone for a few years. This caused us much concern and we suffered with him without being able to help him with his problems because he wouldn’t confide in us.
We had set some limitations and restrictions upon him during his teenage years, — like coming home by midnight, letting us know where he was going, etc., but, like a rebellious mare hemmed in by a corral, he went beyond the limits set for him for his own protection, and got into trouble. We also failed to give him the strength and support he needed at that time by not enforcing our instructions for conformity by letting him get away with weaning himself off from us before he could handle his own problems. I was working on the midnight shift at the prison so hardly saw him – he was off to school before I came home from work and he was harly at home when I was awake. Mom, too, was a working mother during those days so she was not available to him when he needed her. All of these things contributed to the widening of the communication gap for a boy in trouble with himself and his environment.
Another thing that contributed to the lack of communication between Kenneth and us is that I had failed to have regular family home evenings as we were instructed to do by the Prophet. Kenneth never brought his friends home to introduce them to us; we didn’t take the trouble to find out who he was associating with, and he was non-committal when we asked him any questions because we had failed to earn his respect.
So, he went his own way, “farther and farther into the hole.” During the later period of his life, after he came back from Hawaii, he lived in San Francisco with Jan Priest, a young girl who had come with her parents from England. Her father was an aeronautical engineer with Boeing Aircraft in Washington. Kenneth and Jan area no longer together, having separated a few years ago.
After going through the “baptism of fire and torture” and the years of miserable existence as a hard-core drug addict, Kenneth began to realize that this wa not the life for him. One of his counselors at Norco told him that “it sure was a shame to see someone with such great potential wasting his life away!”
He made up his mind to change his life. One of the traits that he has is persistency and stick-to-it-ness. He submitted himself to several acupuncture treatments upon the advice of a friend who had been helped to get off drugs by that treatment, and then was hired by an agency of the city of San Francisco as a Rehabilitation Counselor Trainee, primarily soliciting job openings by telephone for ex-drug addicts. He attended City College as part of the trainee program. He was later hired by the Westside Therapeutic Community, a half-way house for drug addicts, as a Rehabilitation Counselor and continued his education at San Francisco State University, majoring in psychology. A couple years later, he applied for and was hired as a Sheriff’s County Parole Officer Trainee. Several months later, an opportunity to advance himself came when he was hired, at a very good salary, as a Rehabilitation Counselor by BAART (Bay Area Addiction Research and treatment, Inc.) a methadone maintenance clinic, where he is presently using his expertise in his chosen field in helping those in trouble. HE is known as “Sam” by his peers and he seems to prefer that name. His business calling card reads, “Sam Akinaka, Rehabilitation Counselor.”
Kenneth still has a few more credits to acquire to graduate from San Francisco State. He was on the “Dean’s List” this past semester so we are very happy to hear of his successes. He is expecting to go for a master’s degree in Social Work later after taking a short respite from his busy work and school schedule.
Although Kenneth is not ready to come back to the LDS Church, he is attending a local Protestant Church in San Francisco so we are praying for him daily to find his way back to the Mormon Church in the Lord’s own due time.
We are especially proud of his personal efforts in curing himself of his drug experience and his desire now to help others with the same problems he had. We commend him for his dedication in using his knowledge and expertise, which he had learned the hard way, in the service of his peers, particularly as it is an area that our own LDS Church has not had such success as we cannot “reach” those people.
Vance, our second son, was the type of boy who was always curious about things and asked all kinds of questions about them. One day, our family was camping up at Yosemite National Park, CA. We had rented a tent house near the river. Next ot our —cabin were a couple of old ladies, one of whom had the habit of reading the Bible daily. Vance, curious as usual, went over to the neighbor, and asked her what she was reading. She told him that she was reading the Bible and asked him if he had one of his own. He told her that he did not have one of his own but that they studied it at Sunday School in Church. She was so impressed by him that she promised to send him a Bible when she got home. She kept her promise and sent him one from Pasadena, CA.
Incidentally, it was here that I had a pretty large fish (possibly a salmon) on my line but lost it when it broke my line as I tried to reel in as it kept swimming straight up the river.
One day when we were living at Truman Boyd Manor, Long Beach, Vance came home with a day sucker. Mom asked him where he got it and he replied that he got it at the store. “Did you pay for it?”, she asked, and when he replied that he had not, she told him to take her back to the store where he got it and to pay for it.
He went back to the store, accompanied by his mother. He told the storeowner that he had taken the candy off the counter and had not paid for it so his mother had sent him back to pay for it. The amn was touched by his honesty. He told Vance that he could keep the candy because hew as such an honest and good boy. Vance must have been about 5 years old at that time.––
Vance played Little League Baseball in Soledad and in San Luis Obispo. He wrestled in JR. High School, too, as did all of our boys. But he developed a liking for surfing and Mom had to drive him practically every Saturday about 12 miles either to Avila Beach, Pismo Beach or to Morro Bay. When my sister, Beatrice, came up to the mainland for avisit in late July, 1965, Vance went back to Hawaii with her the following month in mid-August.
He went to Kaimuki High School in the 11th grade near our family home in Honolulu but spent all of his spare time surfing at Waikiki Beach. Beatrice reported that because of his surfing he wasn’t doing so well scholastically and that he seemed to have some “expensive taste” (what kind we didn’t find out) so we told him to come back home when he finished his year there. We sent Beatrice a small amount of money for his spending expenses. AS he had no transportation of his own, he usually carried his surfboard and walked the two miles or so to Waikiki Beach daily. He came back to San Luis Obispo the following year and completed his high school and graduated with straight “A” grades.
Vance is quite creative, artistically, too. He won a poster contest at San Luis Obispo High in his senior year. On his second and last trip to the Islands in 1968, he sent us a Christmas gift of an album of pictures that he had taken with a description in poetry of his beloved island, “Maui No Ka Oi.”
It was also fantastic to watch him surfing. He was so proud of the $5 prize that he won the first time in a surfing contest in Morro Bay that he had it framed and it was on our library shelf for quite a while. In another surfing contest at Pismo Beach, he put on a spectacular show as he caught and brought in a loose surfboard, which bumped into him while he was standing and riding a wave. The fellow next to him had lost the board and fallen off it and the surfboard was tumbling wildly until it bumped into Vance.
On June 1, 1968, Vance and Jeff Zaugg, insisted that they wanted to go to Hawaii to do some surfing before being drafted into the service. There was no junior college on Oahu so they had to go to Maui. I told Vance to finish his junior college work here at home, but, as they insisted that they wanted to go then, they were told that they would have to do it on their own. Both of them had been short-order cooks at a local restaurant during their last school year so they figured that they could make it with the $400 cash they had between them.
They found out after they got to the Islands that part-time jobs were scarce in the small town of Lahaina, Maui. They soon ran out of money when they had to invest in an old jalopy for transportation. They both dropped out of school just to survive. In one of his letters, Vance wrote, “We have been surviving on rice alone for a week!” By the time the letter reached us, they both found jobs so they didn’t starve too long. “Youth will step in where older folks would fear to tread,” but they had to learn things the hard way.
In 1970, Gwen and I finally saved enough money to return back to the Islands for the first time. We had left the Islands in 1952 and it had taken us 18 years to make the return trip. For years, we had said that we couldn’t afford the trip back ($115 per person one way) but when Gwen suggested that we must go back on our 25th anniversary, she set a goal and within a year, she had the money for the trip saved up. Bruce went with us, too, and we invited his friend, Craig Carter, to go along with us. This was Bruce’s first trip to the Islands as he was born in Los Angeles.
When Vance and Linda, his girl firend, found out that we were going to Hawaii in June, 1970, they advanced their wedding plans to be married while we were there. So, we were able to witness their marriage at the Lahaina LDS Chapel by District President Frederick Mau on June 27, 1970 in a very simple but impressive ceremony. Linda’s mother and younger sister, Sue, came from Oakland to witness the wedding. We also attended the large wedding part given them by the employer and employees of the Lahaina Broiler Restaurant where Vance and Linda worked as a waiter and a waitress.
I almost forgot to mention a very important thing that occurred in Vance’s teen age period. He and a few friends organized a musical group called “Vibrations.” Jerry Roy (lead guitar), Barry Phelps (bass guitar), Cliff Evans (sax), John Gibson (drums), and Vance (vocalist) were in the original group. Vance was only 13 years old at that time and the rest were 14 years old.
Vance later joined another musical group, the “Tempests”, which was considered the best youth band in the Central Coast area, having won five “Battle of the Bands” at the Rose Garden, Pismo Beach, CA during the years of 1964 and 1965. Vance was the main vocalist and pianist. All of our boys have had some musical training in school—Vance and Bruce on the trumpet and Kenny on violin. But Vance had never had any piano lesson in his life but was able to pound out the rock and roll tunes on the small electrical portable piano we bought for him. John Faucet was the leader of the band and played accom guitar. Joe Juarez was lead guitar, Billy Anderson, bass guitar, Bob Jonte on the drums. Dave McCracken, also sang with the band. I have several live tape recordings of their band at various functions but I regret that we do not have any recording o f Vance’s piano playing separately. There was one particularly fine piano piece that I wanted to record while he practiced once on our piano but he wouldn’t let me, so we’re sorry we don’t have it.
On two occasions, once in Santa Maria Veterans Hall and again in San Luis Obispo Vet’s Hall, the Tempests backed up several Dot Recording Stars on their promotional tours—Robert Preston, Kathy Brandon, Nanine, and some others. The Tempests were especially popular as a dance band in Solvang, CA so spent many weekends there. They did play once for our San Luis Obispo church dance though.
Vance and Linda, we believe, got to know each other more intimately as they were fellow employees at the Lahaina Broiler. Linda had been vacationing in Honolulu and then went over to Maui and became acquainted with Vance and his surfing.
Vance had not only become a skillful surfer, but he, Jeff, and another friend had learned to cut and shape and build surfboards for sale. Each surfboard costs about $160 or more. Vance made one especially for Bruce, which we brought back with us in 1970. Vance had his picture riding on a wave in a one-page spread in the “World Surfer” magazine in one issue.
When Vance and Linda were married in 1970, Linda was not yet a member of the LDS Church. However, the Saints in Maui in the areas they lived in near Lahaina and other parts, were so good in fellowshipping them and helping them in building their modest home on their property that Linda finally wanted to become a member and Vance baptized her.
In Gwen’s patriarchal blessing, she was told that she would have some daughters. However, we have three sons only. We lost a female child in a miscarriage just prior to a hysterectomy that Gwen had to have in 1958. And so, we will have to depend on our sons to marry and bring us some good daughters into the family.
Linda has been a wonderful and lovely daughter-in-law and a faithful and loving helpmate to Vance. They have both been actively engaged in building up the Lord’s Kingdom in their area—Linda, as Primary President of their Pukalani Ward and Vance as the Senior President of the Seventys in their Maui Stake. They have given us three beautiful grandchildren already—Elias, 3 _ years old, Vance “Nalu” Nalukalanikai, 2 years old, and a little angel of a child, 4 months old, Lia Yaeko. They almost lost Lia when she was 4 weeks old. She had come with her parents and her brothers in July, 1977 to visit both sides of her grandparents. While they were up in Santa Rosa, CA with Linda’s parents, Lia came down suddenly with spinal meningitis. Vance administered to her before taking her to the hospital in San Rafael and she miraculously recovered completely from that dreaded, crippling disease.
Linda once stated that they wanted as many children as the Lord would let them have so we are looking forward to a big family of children in their family. Incidentally, all of their children were born by the Lamaze Natural Birth method, with Vance actually being present at the delivery.
Linda teaches the Lamaze Natural Birth method and child development in her area as she is a registered nurse. She had spent a couple years traveling 40 miles one way to a junior college in Kahului from Alaeloa, which is on the other side of the island and ten miles beyond Lahaina. She had also a couple years of college work in California before she went to the Islands. Fortunately, they had an old but dependable VW Beetle for her transportation to and fro to school.
Vance and Linda bought 6 _ acres of a sloping valley land, _ mile from the ocean on the road to Hana. They built their own home there when they had very little money. As he is still only an apprentice carpenter at this writing (he has one more year to go to become a journeyman carpenter) they have to be most frugal in their finances with the heavy monthly payment they have to make on their property. We don’t know how they are doing it!
It was five years after Vance that Bruce was born at the Kaiser Hospital on 4867 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. He, too, was born prematurely—one month—on December 9, 1954, — 6 lbs. 2 oz.—19 inches baby. We were living at that time at the Mori Apartments at 3726 W. Monon St., Los Angeles.
Bruce was born auburn hair, which darkened out later as he grew. As we have not had any more children, Bruce feels that he was “cheated” by not having a sibling to grow up with, as his older brothers were a little far from him. Also, he is the shortest of the three in height, being only 5’6” while his older brothers are 5’10” (Kenny) and 5’11” (Vance).
Bruce was always interested in sports and took pride in dressing up with his football helmet on when he was a young boy. His short stature and light weight (150 lbs.) prevented him from becoming a “pro” football player that he wanted to be when he grew up. He participated, however, in minor league and Babe Ruth baseball, Jr. High and High School football (he was voted Most Valuable Player in 9th grade), baseball, basketball (21 game champions in Jr. High), wrestling, track, and softball with the city league and church teams. Their Church softball teams have been 2nd place winners in the Regional Playoffs in Southern California for a couple years in a row in 1976 and again in 1977. Mom and I used to enjoy following him and his high school teams in most of his sports activities and watch his enthusiastic play. Those activities don’t appeal to us any more now that Bruce is not playing.
Bruce was an extremely competitive boy and hated to see his team lose on occasions. He has several trophies for his sports activities. In fact, his name used to appear in the sports pages of the local newspaper so often that people would ask us, “are you Bruce Akinaka’s parents?” and we rejoiced in his reflected glory.
Bruce has exhibited leadership qualities from his youth. He has coached city league teams in elementary school basketball and flag football teams after his own playing days were over. The following is a letter he sent to the parents of boys he was coaching in 1973. It shows his mature approach to his work with youngsters. Incidentally, the team became the co-champions of the city league that year:
We wish to express our appreciation to you in allowing us to coach your son. We hope to make this experience a memorable one for all of us concerned. In teaching fundamental skills of football, we hope to show to your son the importance of self-discipline and individual responsibility in carrying out his assigned duties. Upon developing these traits, we hope your son will gain personal pride in himself and in everything he does or attempts to do. Whether in winning or losing, personal success and satisfaction come only after personal sacrifice and persistent effort.
To help us in our goals and in making this a memorable experience, we are asking that you donate whatever you can, not exceeding $5.00. This donation will go to the purchase of uniform jerseys with the school’s name on the front and your son’s name and desired number on the back. At the season’s end, your son will receive his much deserved jersey. Also, we wish to provide some refreshment after each game. If any donated fund is left over at the season’s end, we hope to have a team party.
Once again, we’d like to express our appreciation to you as parents and to encourage you to come out and support your son at his game each Saturday.
We thank you for your cooperation, and if you have any questions or just desire to know us better, please call or visit us. We are here to help.
Bruce Akinaka, head coach
Barry Smith, line coach
John Farmer, back coach
Stew Tatalia, Scouting coach
Bruce is active in his Church activities, too, and has spent two years in the New Mexico Albuquerque Mission as a full time missionary for the LDS Church. We were a little disappointed that he wasn’t sent to a mission in Japan. However, he would have had to learn the Japanese language then like any other missionary, as we do not speak that language in our home.
Bruce is still involved in missionary activities here in our ward, working with the full-time Elders assigned here by the California Mission; have taught Sunday School classes after his return from his mission, and directs the activities of the youth of the ward. He was directing much of the Young Adults program on the Stake level for quite some time as counselor to the Chairman of that group.
Bruce loves to work with children. While he was on his mission in New Mexico, he and his companion helped out voluntarily at night at a Los Lunas Reservation Hospital for Mental Defectives. This experience made him want to become a pediatrician. Realizing that it is difficult to get into medical school nowadays, and that it would take a considerable amount of money as well as many more years of schooling, he has set his immediate goals to become a physical therapist and study nutrition, too, at the Brigham Young University at Provo, Utah this coming January, 1978. He is, at present, the president of the Honor Society at the Cuesta Community College here. As can be noted, he has quite a busy schedule with his school, church and other activities. He leaves home early in the morning and gets home some nights at a very late hour, even bringing home his lunch because he has not had time to eat it. He assists an old retired paraplegic colonel once a week after school and gives him physiotherapy.
In July, 1952, I received a telegram in Honolulu from Gwen that they were staying at Joe and Emi’s (Gwen’s brother’s place) in Los Angeles and was ready to come home to the Islands. (Gwen, Kenny and Vance had gone back to the mainland about three months previously to visit her folks.) I wired back to them to stay there as I was coming up myself.
We first lived in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles and attended the Hollywood Ward on Normandie Street and made many new friends there. Although L. A. is noted for it’s smog, we were not bothered much by it in the Silverlake district and we loved it. During much of the early year there, I had to board at the Brentwood Veterans Hospital in West Los Angeles, where I worked, until we could afford to buy an old car for transportation.
We lived for 2 _ years in this area. I baptized Kenneth on April 9, 1955 and he was confirmed the next day by Bro. George R. Clifton at the Hollywood Ward as I had to report to work that day.
When Kenneth first went to a neighborhood school in the area, a couple white boys waylaid and jumped upon him after school. He was able to escape from them without any injury and he told us about the incident. We instructed him to fight back and give them all he had. The next day he was attacked again, but this time, he beat up the two of them and one of them became one of his best friends in that school. He was invited to go on trips with their family on occasions, too.
I served for a short time until we left the area, as a Stake missionary, contacting minority people, Japanese and Hawaiians, without much success. It seemed at that time, that some of our LDS who came up to the States from the Islands, shied away from mingling with the mainland saints and thereby dropping out of church.
To supplement my meager income at the Veterans Hospital, I was a sales representative of the Mathison Electropsychometer, a psychiatric instrument, on a commission basis. I demonstrated and instructed psychiatrists, an other professional and lay analysts in the use of this instrument in helping people with mental and emotional problems. This instrument, the “E-Meter”, was specifically invented by Mr. Mathison, an electronic genius, for the use by Ron Hubbard’s followers in Scientology, but, as it was still in the promotional stage, it was difficult to sell without the approval of the American Medical Association. I saw later, at the medical association’s convention at Statler Hotel, a large and elaborate but very ineffective laboratory instrument being demonstrated to the doctors. This instrument could do very slowly (and only in the laboratory) a small portion of what the Electropsychometer could do in a split second. Some years later, I saw on Art Linkletter’s TV program a demonstration of a lie detector, which, I believe, the idea was copied from Mr. Mathison’s instrument because the results were shown on two separate instruments instead of being incorporated in one instrument as it was in the electropsychometer. Incidentally, I still have the original demonstrator that Mr. Mathison gave me, and on rare occasions, have tested my emotional stability, as that is what the instrument was invented to do. I have given a few friends an emotional analysis with the instrument but have not done so here professionally as I do not have a degree in psychology and counseling and do not have a legal license to do so.
In early 1955, we moved to Long Beach to 269 Truman Boyd Manor. I was employed as a Correctional Officer at the Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island, San Pedro, CA. I had taken a physical exam for the job at Alcatraz Prison, San Francisco, and then went to McNeil Penitentiary near Tacoma, Wash. for a month’s training before being assigned to Terminal Island. I had to pay my own way to Alcatraz and McNeil Penitentiary.
We attended the Fourth Ward in Long Beach. Evidently, the people in this area had not heard or ever seen a LDS of Japanese ancestry, let alone a high priest, so when my name was about to be presented to the high priest group, the groups leader himself hesitated in presenting my name for acceptance by the group until he could check further. I do not believe the matter was ever brought up again, so, actually, I do not think I was ever voted into that group. So, in our travels throughout the country in the early days during and after the war, we were serving as a missionary tool just by our presence among the whites to let the Caucasian LDS people know that there were some LDS of Japanese ancestry in the Church.
While in Long Beach, Kenneth went for the first time with a group of youngsters to the Los Angeles Temple to be proxy for the dead in temple baptisms. Kenneth, Vance and Bruce later participated in this ordinance again at different times when we lived in San Luis Obispo also.
Kenneth had taken up violin in the elementary school in Long Beach and was becoming quite proficient at it. One evening, we all dressed up in our best clothes and went to watch and listen to him play in a musical recital of his school group at the city auditorium. On our return from the recital, we discovered that someone had stolen his bicycle from our back porch. We had locked the bicycle’s wheel but not the bicycle to the porch’s post so the thief carried it away.
We moved up to Soledad, CA in September, 1957. I was hired as a correctional officer at the Central Training Facility there. This, too, was a medium custody prison but run by the state of California.
Kenneth could not continue with his violin training here because there was no one who taught it in this area. The boys enjoyed a more rural type of environment, going fishing in a small branch of the Salinas River nearby and swimming in the lake at Arroyo Seco up in the mountains. Poison oak abounded in the area so they had their share of encounters with it. The police chief lived across our home in the housing area so the boys became friendly with their children.
Kenneth loved fishing and he became a skillful fisherman. One year many years later, when we were visiting relatives in Utah, we went fishing in Murray on the opening day of the trout season. Fishermen of all ages were standing elbow to elbow on both sides of a small 4 foot wide creek and casting their lines in the stream. There were half a dozen lines that drifted down under a wooden bridge over the creek, and yet, when the lines were pulled out, only Kenny and another fisherman were catching all the fish.
Our family was very much involved with the activities of the church here in Soledad because I was first the superintendent of the dependent Sunday School of the Salinas Ward in Soledad, and later, the branch president of the King City Branch, a dependent branch of the Salinas Ward. I also conducted some services in the Soledad Prison for those who wanted to attend LDS services there for we had a few inmates who were members of the church. Fortunately, only very few prisoners are LDS. The leaders of our little branch had to travel over a 100 miles to San Jose for our monthly preparation meetings because we were a part of the San Jose Stake at that time. It was a little while later that the Monterey Bay Stake was organized out of the San Jose Stake so we then traveled only 30 miles. However, while we were a dependent Sunday School, we had to go to Salinas Ward for our sacrament meetings.
One day near Christmas, 1960, Bro. Myron Crandall of Ogden, Utah, dropped in on us in Soledad. Bro. Crandall was 72 years old at that time and had come alone as his wife had to attend to some family matters in Ogden.
Bro. Crandall is quite a character. Within a few minutes of dropping in on us, he had us all singing with him as he pounded vigorously on our piano. We sand Christmas songs, church hymns, old-fashioned square dance songs, some of which he had composed himself, and he called them out as if he was doing so at a square dance. This unusual man scattered happiness wherever he went, for he and his wife believed in the motto: “Happiness is a habit and we love to make people happy!”
He told us of the time that he lead a group of ten couples from Ogden, Utah, who went to Nauvoo, Ill. and square danced on the streets there in one of their celebrations. Whenever he composed a song, he would make copies of it and give them out to his friends.
I heard him once recite the whole section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants without a single omission or error. He told me how he did it. He used to be a machinist with the railroads before he retired. He would lay his Doctrine and Covenants beside the lathe machine and memorize the passages while he was turning out a piece on the lathe.
Bro. Crandall and his wife are avid temple workers and spent every summer at the Arizona Temple after his retirement doing temple work. It was they who gave us our original temple robes and aprons. He sewed the designs on the aprons himself. What an inspiration they were to all of us! They loved the Gospel and they loved to do missionary work!
In March, 1961, I requested and received a transfer to the newly built prison at Los Padres, 4 miles outside of San Luis Obispo. I participated in activating three of the four 600 men units there. The family moved down about a month later. We moved into a duplex at 460 Henderson Ave. in San Luis Obispo. We had to give up our dashound dog to the dog pound because it kept barking all day long, as we had to keep him locked up by himself inside the duplex and the neighbor could not stand the barking. We hated to give him up because he was a lovely, friendly house pet and devoted to Vance.
We wanted a place of our own. After a short while of searching, the real estate agent took us to see a place at 2030 Rachel St. It was a modest, old two bedroom wooden house with plenty of space in the back, a 50’ X 182’ plot of land on the outskirts of the city on the hilly side of the railroad tracts. The backyard was quite bare except for a small portion for a backyard lawn and flowered hedge of Lilies of the Nile, but there was plenty of space left for a nice large vegetable garden and for trees. The property tax has gone up to $232.14 this year from $150.00.
We had hoped that our boys would be able to help to take care of the vegetable gardens other plants. But, in this day and age when the teenagers are so involved with the many sports activities in school and with their church and other activities, it is almost impossible for them to take care of their home chores. Take for instance, Bruce. He left early for morning seminary before the regular high school day started, and if he was involved in any sport like football in school, he’d come home after 7:00pm all tired out from football practice and barely have time to do some studying before going to bed.
When we came to San Luis Obispo in 1961, the stake house and the ward chapel was already built. We immediately became quite involved and participated in various leadership positions as we are happy to be able to serve the Lord. However, it was here that tragedy entered into our lives when our eldest son, Kenneth, got “lost” and strayed from the straight and narrow path as related elsewhere.
I received a challenging call as genealogical chairman of the ward from Bishop James Packer in August, 1961. When I was called into the Bishop’s office for the interview, I informed the Bishop that although I have had other responsible administrative positions in the church, I knew hardly anything about genealogy. He told me that if he had called me to a position that I was already familiar with, I would not grow much in the spiritual stature. And this way the members of this church grow spiritually, by using the strength of the strong to help build the weak and thereby raising the strength of all of the members.
Sure enough, in order to fulfill my assignment and magnify my calling, I had to really dig in an study genealogy—mine first. I studied and researched Japanese history, their adoption system as Japan has ten different ways people can be adopted, (our grandfathers on both Gwen’s and my side are adopted). In order to correctly translate Japanese dates to Occidental dates, I had to know how to figure Era dates, and so forth and so on. The four generation program had not started yet at that time and came a few years later, but we stimulated the Book of Remembrance projects in the ward and pushed genealogical research by sending our committee members into people’s homes if they requested any help from us. Gwen served as the secretary to the committee and was of tremendous help to us.
I was called later as a counselor to the Stake Sunday School Superintendent and from there to the Stake High Council and was set apart on Oct. 20, 1968 by President R. Dean Robinson after he was set apart as Stake President by Elder Harold B. Lee, President of the Twelve, and visiting authority at our stake conference that day.
I was first assigned to Morro Bay when it was first organized as a branch. Later, in succession, I covered the Arroyo Grande Ward, Paso Robles Ward and then the dedication of our stake and ward officers in carrying on the Lord’s work in this part of His kingdom. The bad feature of an assignment with a stake is that it takes one away from his family and from his own ward.
I was happy and relieved when I was called as the high priest group leader of our ward on February 27th, 1972. During my tenure as the H. P. Group Leader, the first thing I did was to bring our home teaching up to 100% each month. In order to do this, I released back to the Bishop a few of the brethren who were not diligent in carrying out their home teaching assignments. The Bishop was able to use them with the Elders quorum where they seem to be more compatible. We were able to accomplish our tasks of visiting the families more with less numbers of home teachers but our record has been consistent since then.
The high priest group of our ward was the moving force of the ward. We led the ward in home teaching, and was far above the other quorums in temple attendance and genealogical research. I kept accurate and current records of each member of the ward as to their temple endowments, number of sheets turned in, etc. that I was able to advise the Bishop as to the standing of each member regarding those matters.
Although San Luis Obispo is over 200 miles from the Los Angeles Temple, our high priest group led the stake in temple attendance. One year we set a goal of 600 endowments for the ward and yet we exceeded it. Our stake, incidentally, under Stake President Arthur Godfrey’s leadership, usually led the temple district in the number of endowments done each year. Now, President Godfrey is in the Los Angeles Temple Presidency.
In May 1974, I suffered a rupture disc in my lower back and had to be hospitalized. Dr. Richard Williams operated on me for a four-level laminectomy but left the ruptured disc in. I came out of that operation, after three weeks in the French Hospital, with a numbed right foot and a minor pinched nerve still causing some pain. This necessitated my retirement from the California Men’s Colony officially on July 1, 1975 after 17 _ years with the California Dept. of Correction.
I was able to handle any minor pains by resorting to a couple pain pills and a session on the electric heat pad. However, on April 11, 1977, I re-injured the pinched nerve so severely while changing tires on our Impala that I had to go for treatments to a local chiropractor. After six treatments, we terminated the treatments because we had to leave town. The treatments were not too effective anyway because I still had to resort to pain pills to walk.
I re-injured the same area a couple more times later. The sciatic leg and buttock pains were so severe that I could not sit up or stand for more than a minute before the shooting pains would cripple me so much that I had to lie down. We drove over to San Francisco for five acupuncture treatments at the largest acupuncture clinic there. Those treatments did not seem to help, too, because I still needed to take pain pills to walk back to the car after the treatments.
Vance and Linda and their children, including the recently-born little daughter, Lia, came up to Los Angeles in mid-July this year to see us and to visit with our relatives there. We went down to meet them at the airport in Inglewood and drove them to Joe and Emi’s home where we all stayed most of the time they were in Los Angeles. They were able to squeeze in a day at the temple. Disneyland and a tour of the zoo at Griffith Park, before leaving for Santa Rosa to see Linda’s folks.
During the following week, I collapsed at the Temple Patrons Apartment and had to be taken to the UCLA Emergency Hospital. The doctor there would not hospitalize me because he said: “There is no magic cure that another surgery would help me” and dismissed me after taking some x-rays and giving me a prescription for pain pills (which didn’t seem to help much either).
I laid bed-ridden all week in the temple apartment while Gwen finished the week of temple assignment. Before leaving Los Angeles, however, I asked President Godfrey to administer to me and he blessed me that I might find other means than another surgery to help me.
When we came home, I found that a book that I had ordered about a month ago had come from New York. It was Dr. Roy Bean’s “Helping Your Health With Pointed Pressure Therapy”. I studied this book carefully and appied its technizues of massaging the sciatic nerve response areas under the right heel for nine minutes at a time two or three times a day, with an instrument I made to effectively press the areas indicated int eh book. I also studied and used the techniques advocated by Dr. J.V. Cerney in his book, “Acupressure”, a book I had bought a couple months earlier. I also studied and applied the methods recommended by Mildred Carter in her book, “Helping Yourself with Foot Reflexology.” I had bought this book a couple years ago but never paid much attention to it except to look it over casually.
By using the combined methods of all three techniques, I was able to eliminate the excruciating sciatic pains in my back, right buttock, right leg and ankle, in three days, sufficiently to permit met o eat my meals at the table and to walk to and fro to the bathroom.
And then I did a stupid thing! I wanted a book on the top shelf of our home library. I climbed on the countertop, got the book and on the way down, I stepped on the edge of a chair with my bad foot. I went tumbling down, hitting my right side on the edge fo the round edge of the chair. I was almost knocked unconscious by the pain on my side but was able to call for help. Gwen took me to the French Emergency Hospital and they found I had broken three ribs around the kidney, with a trace of blood in the urine. For three and a half hours I was there on that table getting special x-rays taken of my kidneys, chest and back. Fortunately, the kidney was only bruised, not ruptured. I was released to come home with only a couple pain pills given me at the end of the time. The doctor would not even bind me for he said that people develop water in the area and instructed me to breathe deeply and force it out. We could hear the broken bones creaking every time I moved and it pained me so I had Gwen wrap me with Ace Bandage to support the area. The doctor who made the follow-up checkup the next Monday approved of my using the Ace Bandage.
I’m still hurting a little from the rib injury, which seem to affect my right buttock, leg and right ankle but at a slightly different spot. We have been able to fulfill our last month’s assignment so we are happy about it.
We know that in due time, my injuries will completely heal and I will be able to carry my full share of responsibilities around the home and in the church. I especially enjoy working in the vegetable garden and among the trees and other plants, which necessitates using the shovel so I must be careful not to exert myself too much. The injured back is easily kinked off sometimes even by the simplest ordinary movements like bending and turning, so it would behoove me to be aware of these dangers and to realize that I’m not as young as I used to be.
It is my testimony that the Lord helped me just when I needed His help and He showed me the way to help myself when the medical profession refused to help me. Three surgeons had examined me and advised against another surgery because they said that “another surgery would only bring on more complications than it can correct.” And they charged a considerable sum of money for the consultation and reports but gave me no comfort or help to rid me of the pains! Unfortunately, the chiropractic and acupuncture treatments didn’t help also.
Whether we bring these adversities upon ourselves or they come upon us as part of the vicissitudes of life, if we have faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and try to live His commandments as best we can, God will answer our prayers and come to our aid when we need Him. My testimony has been strengthened for having gone through the testing of my faith, and I consider this experience as a blessing to me as it will give me the strength to meet further trials and tribulations that may yet come into my life. I only pray that He will not try me beyond my ability to meet them. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Isaac F. Akinaka
San Luis Obispo, CA
October 21, 1977
San Luis Obispo, CA
August 24, 1978
Although I was born in the Hawaiian Islands and consider myself a native kamaaina, having lived in Honolulu for 31 years from my birth until 1942, when I left the islands to come to the Mainland USA with the 100th Infantry Battalion in June 1942, I’m not much of a swimmer, nor a surfer, and can’t speak Hawaiian except for a few words like Aloha, hele mai oe, pehea oi, and a few other simple Hawaiian phrases. I can sing a few of the popular songs of the Islands of the early 1940’s and can strum the ukulele of simple songs on keys F, C, A, and possibly D.
So, although I say “yes” when people ask me if I come from the Islands, I’m not the typical ukulele-strumming Hawaiian surfer.
My aversion to water can be traced, maybe, back to an incident in my youth. We used to go to wade in a small pool in a stream that ran under the present entrance to St. Louis College in Honolulu. We called it the 3rd Ave. pool as the swimming hole was in a stream that flowed down along the base of the mountainside of Waialae Ave. near 3rd Ave.
One day, I and a few other boys were wading around in the shallow edge of the pool in our swimming trunks. An older boy suddenly shoved me into the deeper center of the pool and as I had not yet learned to swim at that time (I can’t recall how old I was at that time but I was a preteenager), I panicked and started swallowing water and going under. Fortunately, one of the older boys, who happened to be on the rocks above, saw my predicament and dove in and tried to help me out. Typical of a drowning person, I almost pulled him under water with me, but he was able to get me out where my feet touched solid ground. I can’t remember who it was that saved me from drowning and in my confused state, I don’t think that I ever thanked him at that time. Ever since, I don’t like water except to drink it and only take a bath because I have to keep myself clean. I can swim now, of course, and can swim free style for about 75 yards but prefer the backstroke so that I can keep my face out of the water and breathe easier for a longer distance. However, I’d panic if I have to tread water too long and don’t have something to hang on to for resting. Incidentally, I even used to get seasick just watching the waves lap the side of the ships tied up at the wharfs in Honolulu—it was that bad!
I used to enjoy listening to a group of young men who played Hawaiian music together under the street lights in front of the Lamaku home on Olu Street and 4th Ave. or down on the stonewall in front of the Freitas home. There was Big Pete, a red-headed Hawaiian, on the steel guitar, the Lamaku boys—Gabriel (Ah-Tung), Ah Hung, and a younger brother, (Ah-something) whose name escapes me at the moment, with their guitars and ukuleles, Soopie, a Caucasian fellow who just hung around, freckled-faced Jarrett Sheldon, Sammy and Lionel Leslie, “Johnny Fat”, Henry Paulo, my neighbor, and others. We used to join in on the singing of all of the favorite Hawaiian songs at that time—the “Song of the Islands”, “Lovely Hula Hands”, “Manuela Boy”, “Beyond the Reef”, and oh so many other lovely lilting Hawaiian melodies that we’d be out there under the street lights and the beautiful blue skies and cool breeze for hours on end until about midnight practically every night. We didn’t have to go looking for excitement and get into trouble for lack of something to do because it was so enjoyable right there in front of our homes with the music. I especially loved to ear Pete play the “Hilo March” on the steel guitar on the slack key for which he had to re-tune his guitar in a special way for that particular piece.
There was a period of time during our youth in the late 1930’s when strong rivalries between street gangs were prevalent. The Kakaako gang and the Palama gang on the opposite ends of Honolulu were the largest and the strongest, and frequently had encounters—but they were mostly fist fights—no guns, knives or chains as in New York or Los Angeles.
However, much of the excess energy of the youngsters were channeled into sport rivalries—football, boxing, etc., so the police had gang violence pretty well under control. Occasionally, however, the police made “drives” to break up small groups of youngsters who seem to get together too frequently on street corners at night.
It happened one night to our group, too. We were quietly and peacefully sitting on the Freitas stonewall one evening in front of our homes, as we usually did after supper. Two plain-clothed policemen came by and suddenly stopped their car and jumped out, ordering us to “Break it up!” The surprising thing about it was that one of them was a Caucasian detective who lived on Charles St., the next street, and should have known that we were not the typical troublesome gang-type of boys. Yet they became insistent and started shoving some of the boys around, so one of the, Ah Hung, raised his fist as if to strike the officer. He was taken down to the police station and was booked and had to spend the night in jail that night. As I was one of the older members of the group, I think I used my own money to bail him out the following day… (can’t recall getting that money back either).
I explained to Deputy Police Chief Mookini that we had a problem in our area because we had no park or playground to meet in and therefore gathered together in front of our homes on the street corners there. I started a movement soon afterwards to try to get the city to provide a small playground in our vicinity. Mr. Naunapau assisted us by working with the City Recreation Dept. while I was instrumental in getting the Deputy Chief of Police to come out to speak to the parents in a tent meeting. Jerry Sheldon, one of the older boys, worked for a tent and awning company at that time and he was able to talk his boss in lending us a large meeting tent free of charge. I can’t recall where the folding chairs for the meeting came from but I believe they came from the tent company, also. The tent meeting was for the purpose of getting the parents to back us up as until now it was primarily the young teenagers’ project.
I even got an opportunity to publicize the meeting by speaking at the radio station, KGMB. It was my first experience in speaking in public in front of a mike, so I was pretty scared. There is actually no reason to be frightened because there is no audience except for the few station personnel. I read from a script which I had prepared myself but my voice and hands trembled so much that I could hardly read the script. However, I got through it ok.
The Board of Supervisors did not grant us our wish for the small plot of land we requested at the corner of Olu and 4th Ave. The Recreation Dept. suggested an abandoned stone quarry site on Kapahulu Ave. as a playground. But the City Fathers decided that since the city already owned a large tract of land on Kapahulu and Kaimuki ave. for the future site of the Kaimuki High School, we could use a small corner of it for our project.
We got a gang of boys together and cleaned up the area for use as a softball field. Soon after, the city built a full-sized playground there and, at present, the Kaimuki High School has all the adjoining property. Incidentally, our son, Vance, who lives on Maui now, went back to Honolulu for a year and went to that high school during his junior year.
After graduating from McKinley High School in 1930, I worked for about three years for the Hawaiian Pineapple Co. in Honolulu. During my senior year in high school, I had been on a work-study program at the pineapple company as an electrician helper at a minimum wage of 35¢ an hour. There were two other students on the same type of program from Kamehameha High School. One of them was Mike Wood. His older brother, Abraham, worked there as journeyman electrician. We had this type of program of integrating students into industry in the Islands way back there before 1930 so I was surprised when San Luis Obispo started their similar type of program only a few years ago.
I recall a young Jewish lad who worked with us at the Hawaiian Pineapple Co. As you know, Jewish people are pretty tight about money. When we got our first paycheck, the Jewish lad was so elated at having his first dollar that he hollered to all of us, waving a dollar currency over his head and dancing all around, “Hey, look! I earned this money. This is all mine!!”
We did a lot of electrical wiring and hooking up large switchboards as the canning plant was expanding its capacity. I almost had a bad experience one day as I moved around in the back of the large upright switchboard while we were hooking it up electrically. My left arm brushed against the cut end of a 220 V or 440 V wire. It almost paralyzed the opposite right forearm.
It was at this plant, also, that I received a 3rd degree burn on my right bicep, the scars of which I still bear on my arm. A large walk-in refrigerator on the second floor was being built for the expanding cafeteria. The insulating workers were putting up the cork insulation on the wall by first coating the wall with hot tar.
I was instructed by the electrician I was helping to go downstairs and get a large folding ladder. Just as I passed under the cafeteria area, carrying the ladder with arms extended over my head, a batch of hot tar fell down on my arm from above. Luckily, it missed my head as I was wearing a sailor hat turned down. Some one had forgotten to plug up a large open drain hole in the floor while they were working with the hot tar.
The hot tar seared my arm for only a moment as it cooled off instantly and kept the air from the burnt area. I took the ladder upstairs and mentioned the incident to my supervisor. He was surprised at my nonchalant attitude as there was no pain then, but he instructed me to report to the dispensary of the plant for first aid. The nurse there was afraid to tackle the job of removing the tar and sent me to the Emergency Hospital in Honolulu. At the latter place, benzine was used to remove the tar. The burn later became infected and developed into a 3rd degree burn. The injury has not affected me at all in later years, and I don’t even know that it is there until someone calls my attention to it. Whenever I gave blood to the local Red Cross, I would tell them to go through the burn scar because there is a large vein under it whereas it seemed difficult for the nurses to hit the smaller veins on the left arm. It also took a long time to fill the pint plastic container when blood was taken off the left arm.
I ahd three pterygium operations on my left eye during WW II while I was in the U.S. Army in Hawaii. And these three operations were done within a few months of each other in 1942. Pterygium is a piece of tissue growth in the corner of the eye that grows towards the center of the eye and, if not taken care of in its early stages, the growth would cover the pupil and cause blindness. This condition was caused, I believe, by too much irritation from the wind when I rode a motorcycle to deliver newspapers for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin during my high school days.
The operation either peels the growth back upon itself or downward and is sewed in. Unfortunately for me, the first one didn’t catch and was unsuccessful; the second doctor tried to burn it with iodine when he couldn’t scrape the hardened growth, and the third and final operation included a grafting of a membrane from the bottom of my left eyelid to the pterygium to prevent it from growing toward the center of the eye. In all three operations, the left eye had to be covered to prevent movement of the eye after the operation. I was completely blindfolded on both eyes after the third operation for over a week and I had to learn to eat my meals without the help of anyone. It was quite an experience!
I developed a bad case of cataracts on both eyes in my later years in my 60’s. It tried all kinds of natural healing methods recommened by the Prevention Magazine—using linseed oil, succesmaritina (a South American black liquid that most American doctors had not even heard about) and other types of eye drops but they didn’t help at all. So, upon hearing from other temple ordinance workers at the Los Angeles Temple of their successful cataract implant operations at a Long Beach Eye Clinic, I decided to have one, too. Most eye doctors cannot do this type of operation (they never learned it in medical school) and would even discourage it for the conventional type of cataract removal operation only which they can perform. It requires operating under a microscope and only a few eye doctors are skilled enough to do it.
I was fortunate to find that Dr. Dennis Shepard in the neighboring city of Santa Maria had been performing these cataract implants for many years. He operated on my left eye on August 18, 1976, implanting an English-made lens of the free-floating type. I checked into the hospital on Tuesday, was operated on Wednesday, and was discharged on Friday. In the old days, for regular cataract removal only, the patient’s head had to be immobilized with sandbags alongside.
I was shown the small lens afterwards that was removed. It looked like an oval football, flattened, about the size of a pea. The middle of it was the color of diluted iodine. No wonder I was seeing white light as amber-colored light!
The results of the operation pleased me so much that I had the right eye operated the following year on June 15, 1977. This operation was done a little differently. Only a small slit was made on the top of the eyeball, just large enough to remove the lens, and then the new one, an American-made one, was wedged in, and the opening sewed up. In the first operation, the doctor used six stitches and also had to sew the pterygium wth removable stitches as he had to cut through it. The second operation left the eye a little longer sensitive on the top of the eyeball because of the wedging of the artificial lens. In both cases, I did not get my bifocal glasses until the eye was completely healed and the eye muscles stable. I can do without glasses but use them for better focusing on small print and to relieve the eyes from too much straining. I read 20/15 now with the glasses and I would recommend the implant operation for anyone if the eye is otherwise ok.
Though I don’t like to see two adults fighting in a street brawl and would avoid any situation that would develop into fisticuffs, I seemed to have had my share of them, too, in my youth. I can recall the first one I had. It was the first day of school at Liliuokalani Elementary School. A boy hit me and ran away with me chasing him. He finally ran behind a male teacher, who grabbed me as I tried to hit the kid behind. Frustrated in not being able to retaliate in hitting the boy who hit me, I cried.
During my days at the Hawaiian Pineapple Co., I remember tangling with a couple guys from the tough Palama district. Unfortunately for me, I had to take a beating because they ganged up on me. I also recall knocking out a taller Chinese lad who worked with us in the electric shop. We were matched in a boxing match (with gloves, of course) during one of our recreation periods. I rammed a straight right into the pit of his stomach after faking him into lifting his arms to protect his face.
When McKinley High School started including boxing into their physical ed program in the 1929-30’s, I was one of the first to be put into the ring in a boxing program one night. I don’t recall ever training for that bout but I did have my own gym at home—punching bags, parallel bars, etc.—where I did my exercises. I had never been in a public boxing match before so the experience was new to me, and I had to learn things the hard way.
The fellow they matched me with, Yutaka Murakami, was an experienced club boxer from the Kakaako district. He almost knocked me out. He caught me flush on my “kisser” and I was completely out on my feet and didn’t know what was happening. The bell must have saved me. I can recall that I was so arm-weary after a couple of rounds—my arms felt like lead—that I could not protect myself from the flurry of punches that were coming my way. I somehow survived through the match without being counted out because I had a terrific straight left jab. As I watch boxing matches on T-V nowadays, I can understand how a seemingly good boxer would let his opponent pepper him with blows without him trying to protect himself. When the arms and legs give out, that’s it for the fighter!
As I have mentioned in an earlier portion of my life history, I was very fortunate in my 17 _ years with the California Dept. of Corrections, the Federal Prison system for 2 _ years, and many years with the Veterans Hospitals in the mental health units, that I have never been physically attacked and had to defend myself. I’ve had to break up many fights among the inmates in prison without getting hurt too severely myself but the cumulative effects of those efforts finally brought about a ruptured disk in my lower back which caused my retirement from the prison service in 1975.