Takejiro Higa
Military Intelligence Service

Life After the War

Takejiro attends the University of Hawaii for one year on the GI Bill but withdraws to work full-time as a butcher at his brother-in-law's store.

He marries Ruby Fumie Miyasato in 1953. With her support, he returns to UH and graduates with a degree in accounting in 1960.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employs Takejiro until retirement.

University of Hawaii Manoa

I applied for university. I took the entrance exam, whether I can pass or not, I didn't know, I had no confidence. But for some reason, I passed. So I got to at the University of Manoa one year. And being a bobora, I had to take Speech 100. One more course, one-credit course. Margaret Awamura, was my teacher. And I knew Dan [Inouye] was dating Margaret. Being, you know, about the same age group, we used to talk to each other after, in between class. So we used to kid him around, say, "Hey Dan, why don't you take speech? You can credit without studying anything, you can get A easily, yeah?"

So, I finished one year. Then by that time, my brother-in-law still running the store, and his butcher was going to retire. So he needed the help. So I told myself, "Even if I finish school, I still have to work, so I might as well work with my brother-in-law, get a full-time job." So I drop off from the university after one year.


Then in [19]53, I met a young girl [Ruby Fumie Miyasato], and we got married. And she was teaching school, public school. And weekends, she used to help me at the store. And one day, I don't know how long after we got married, but one day she asked me, "Hey, are you planning to stay in the store all your life like this?"

Because I used to work from six in the morning to eight, nine o'clock every day. Except Sunday, maybe two, three hours afternoon off. "Are you going to stick to the store and work all your life like that? No vacation, no free time? Why don't you go back school and finish up?" She told me that. "I think we can manage just ourselves, we can manage, eat. Why don't you go back to school?"

Back to UH

So I thought about it, and thought about it. So I came back to the university office to find out whether I can come back. And in those days - if you come back within a ten-year period, you can come back without taking an examination. So I decided to come back in [19]57. . .continued with my sophomore year, and finished up in [19]60.

I don't have enough brain to be an attorney or doctor or engineer. So I told myself, "Chee, after I get finished, a job, I don't know what I can be qualified." So I said, "Well, as long as there are business people, all businesses need a bookkeeper. So I think I better major accounting." So as I jokingly told my wife, "You know, I majored accounting because I wanted to look at the figures. But that's not the figure I had in mind."

So anyway, I majored accounting and economics. And I was lucky, really lucky. I studied hard, too. But sophomore and junior year, I improved my grade quite a bit. So I was given, in addition to the G.I. Bill - junior and senior year - I was given a Matson scholarship. Academic scholarship. Two years, five hundred dollars a year. So, with that, I was able to finish the university without struggling. In [19]60, I graduated. And about two months, or three months, I forgot the exact month, I worked for a CPA company in town.

Internal Revenue Service

And in the meantime, there was a recruitment from Internal Revenue Service looking for income tax examiners. So, I didn't have any confidence but I applied. And for some reason, I was selected. So I became an internal revenue agent. And because of that, I was lucky because each time you have a different kind of job the government sends you to a school. So with your tax money, I was able to go to mainland school many times.

I went through a lot of training. First, I was trained as an office auditor. Primary individual income tax examination. Office audit, you stay in an office and audit. Then, two years later, I was selected into revenue agent. Examine business people. Corporations and businesses. And each time you get advanced, you go to additional training schools. So again, several times I was sent to either Los Angeles, or San Francisco. At one time, I went to Phoenix. And sometimes, I went to Seattle. Special school. So, with your expense, tax money, I had additional education.

And I don't know if you folks remember, some time ago we had price control. Price stabilization days. Okay, that, too, was a special program. And I was selected because I had some grocery experience, especially meat. Because with part of the G.I. Bill, I went to meat-cutting school in Toledo, Ohio. National school of meat cutting. Become a butcher, fancy name for meat cutter. Had to cut the beef and slice into chops and whatnot. So I had some experience alongside, so I was selected one of the prime person in the price control days, price stabilization. I was taking charge of supermarkets, primarily.

Takejiro Higa at the National School of Meat Cutting, Toledo, Ohio

Then, continue with the regular business return examination. Quite a few years. And the five, six years before I retired, I was put in charge of excise tax. Excise tax is a special type of tax. Tax imposed on the gasoline, for instance. Diesel fuel, rubber tires, trucks and buses. And the transportation, air transportation. I was in charge of that. All by myself, I took care of the Honolulu district. And being in charge of one, only by myself. I could select the time period when I want to go to neighbor islands. (Chuckles) Major islands like Kaua'i, Maui and Big Island, and of course, this island. And I can select the companies I want to examine. I don't examine the same company. I select which company I want to select. Pretty much up to my own discretion. And I can arrange my own vacation neighbor islands (chuckles) by selecting the company on neighbor islands. I was lucky.

[B]eing able to speak Japanese, I was selected for a lot of things other than regular assignment. At one time, we had an organized crime conference in Japan, between Japan and the United States. I was one of the delegates from the United States, selected from Honolulu. So, they gave me a plaque for participating in the conference.

So I was lucky. . .come to think of it, I grew up in poverty in a poor farm country in Okinawa. But knowing the Japanese, knowing the Okinawan lingo, all became useful over the years. Especially Japanese. Once you get into the job became useful because I became a resource person in the district office. Anytime when Japanese people come, I was called to interpret or act as interpreter or consult.

[Without the G.I. Bill] probably I would never come back to the university. I don't think my wife could afford to send me to the university with her salary. She was just beginning teaching, too.

[W]hat I am today, I owe it to my wife. That's why I'm very nice to her (chuckles).

Takejiro Higa and Ruby Higa, Honolulu Hawaii

Takejiro Higa's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Takejiro Higa.

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