100th Infantry Battalion, B Company
To catch up to his classmates, Ray studies English diligently at Likelike Elementary School.
To his father, Japanese-language school is more important than public school. When Ray plays hooky, his father hires the sensei to tutor him.
He attends Kalakaua Intermediate School. At McKinley High School he joins the ROTC.
Likelike Elementary School
I used to go to Likelike Elementary School. My dog always follows us to school. You turn around, you throw the stone, he goes back. First thing you know, he's in back of you again. And then you're in the school already. So the schoolteacher tell us, "You better take that dog home." We take 'em home, we have to tie 'em up because he follows you again. Because he becomes so friendly with the family, it's just like a family. My house always used to have dogs.
[Learning English] made us study harder. Stay home and try to study. And that's how I caught up. Before that, I'm behind, yeah. I finally caught up.
But even Likelike School, my teacher, Mrs. Leong. . .she tell me go down - used to get the garden, cabbage, so with this they go to sell to the students. She picks on me to go room to room to sell. "Anybody want a cabbage?" and order.
And like when they had a Thanksgiving, the principal picked three of us to go eat corn in front of the whole student body. You know, they sing the song and we eat the corn. I feel so embarrassed but, I mean, I cannot say no.
Even when we became JPO, Junior Police Officer, I was picked to go. I give the wrong signal all the time, I get scolded. The guy making the hand sign this way, I let 'em go this way. But I learned as I go along.
You know, strangely enough, my dad, as far as I know, his most important was Japanese[-language] school. We used to go after school. We used to come back and then go school.
I hate to go Japanese school so I used to play hooky all the time. And then somehow, the report went to my dad that, "What happened to your son?" He said, "He goes to school every day." "Oh no, he doesn't report how long already." So my dad called me one time, he said, "From now on," he said, "after you come school, if you don't study, I'm going to punish you."
So you know what he did? He get the teacher to come our house and tutor me. Because my father can afford it those days. Gave me a private tutor from Japanese school to come our house to do that. Which I couldn't understand. And I'm not good at Japanese, the only prize I got after that was, I didn't absent one day, (chuckles) so I got a certificate for that because I present every day.
You know, I was even ashamed to carry musubi [rice ball]. I was kind of ashamed of being Japanese. I used to always hide from being Japanese. I don't want them to call me Japanese or something like that. So that how I was in my mind, My sister always make musubi and fish, yeah. I give it to somebody, I don't eat it. I go someplace and eat something else. I must be a mixed-up kid, I don't know.
I went to Japanese[-language] school till seventh grade. And then I took kendo. And even then, when I took kendo, I get good scolding. Because most of the time, I'm left-handed and hard to stand the right way, you know. But I took kendo and then I came out after that all right.
I was even ashamed to carry musubi [rice ball]. I was kind of ashamed of being Japanese. I used to always hide from being Japanese.
We used to go every Saturday afternoon after school. Because those days, the Japanese[-language] school teacher was so strict. Like my friend Nishishita, he was sitting down, just dozing off. He go up there, grab the kid, throw him like that. Give him judo. Throw 'em out. And tell him, "Go home." Just like that. They're so strict. They used physical, you know. Not only telling you.
So the teachers are just like number one. To our parents, too, the Japanese[-language] school teacher is number one. English teacher no mean nothing to them. Even when I graduated high school, not one of my family came senior high school graduation. The only lei I had was from my friend. He gave me a carnation red. But the rest, they care less if I graduate or not.
McKinley High School
The first time I went there, the first thing I got caught, three of us, was playing - cut class. And the boys' advisor was Mr. O'Neil, he used to be a boys' advisor at Kalakaua. We used to make trouble, too. Then when he call us three, he say, "You guys? How did you come to McKinley High School?" He scold us, "Why you want to play hooky for, you come here to learn." I say, "Well, I don't know."
He say, "Well, you better straighten up because this is very important. But of all things, how did you come to this school? You were so bad at the other school and then come here." Three of us getting big lecture.
Even when I was in sophomore year, I wanted to show off. I like be popular. So I cut my hair, bolohead [bald], real bolohead. And the lady was cutting my hair, she said, "You sure now?" She goes halfway, "You sure?" Keep on going, keep on going until my hair was all gone.
Then when I went to school, I always wore a hat, see. So the teacher tell me, "Raymond, take that hat off." I said, "No, I have a big boil here, so I don't want to take it off." So she said, "Okay, you leave it on."
Two weeks later, I still have the hat on, so she calls me inside, say, "Your boil must be good by now, you know, cured." I said, "No, still there." So she say, "Well, I'll take you to the dispensary."
She took me to the dispensary, I had to take my hat off. There's nothing there (chuckles). So the teacher tells me, "So you lied, eh." I said yeah, I was ashamed to show my bolohead. That's how naughty I was.
Even when I was going ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps] over there, our colonel was Colonel Robert Stevenson. He came pretty popular over here. And one time, I was wearing double clothes. One uniform and one non-uniform. And he tell me, "Hey boy, what you have on there? You're supposed to wear complete clothes."
So I told him, "Who you anyway, who telling me what to wear?"
"I'm your colonel."
"What is a colonel?"
I don't know anything about ROTC, I was just a freshman that time. So he call me in and gave me lecture and then after that I straighten up a little bit.
[W]e do marching, stand, understand how to make left turn, right turn, things like that. So it's a good thing for any student, to discipline. But at that time, your thinking is different.
Going to University
I wasn't that ambitious [in high school]. I figured, well, I'll just get my twelve credits, that's good enough. But now I look back, I say, "Chee." That's why when I went the entrance exam here. I have to go take the entrance exam, you know, over here.
I took agriculture, chemistry, and history [at the University of Hawaii]. You know, I wasn't prepared to go taking university courses. So when I went to apply, they say, "You shy of this, you shy of that." So I have to take the exam, and then where I'm lacking, he told me go back high school, get these courses. So I went back night school and that's how I got admitted. Otherwise, I couldn't be accepted.
Ray Nosaka's interview reprinted courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Ray Nosaka and Ted Tsukiyama.