1399th Engineer Construction Battalion
Life After the War
Under the GI Bill, Kenneth attends University of Hawaii, where he studies banking and finance. He graduates in 1956.
He works for Bank of Hawaii as a collection manager. Later, he is employed at Manoa Finance. His dream of owning a finance company is realized when he starts Paradise Finance.
Married since 1947, Kenneth and Florence Hagino have three sons.
University of Hawaii
I went to Hickam Field as a supply inspector. And staying there about a year, there was a time, just as the GI Bill of Rights started to end, expire. So I figured, chee, I might as well make use of this. So before that expired, I went to the University of Hawaii as a full-time student.
I came to the University of Hawaii in '53 and I graduated in '56. I majored in banking and finance.
The school goes on a grade point, . . . and I tell you, in high school I had good grades, now. So when I came to UH, I never see so many D's in my life. So when you get a D and you have to bring up your grade point, yeah. So at least the junior, senior years, it was mostly business subjects. That's when I made up that.
English was, I would say, average. At first it was difficult for me, like social studies, history, things like that because being away from the school for so many years, yeah. And competing against these seventeen-, eighteen-, nineteen-year-old kids when I was, what, '53, so when I was about in my thirties already, when I started to go back to school. And without - all during that time doing not too much reading or writing, eh? So it was a little rough for me.
Bank of Hawaii
I majored in banking and finance and the first job was with Bank of Hawaii, which had a recommendation from one of the teachers at the UH. So that was my first job after I graduated.
I went into collection and ended up as a collection manager. So from there, actually I went to different finance companies.
After that I went to a finance company. Shifted to Manoa Finance because the manager figured that I can help them out. But the thing is, going to different companies, you run into all kind of people and different images, what their public relations are. The reason you might say, how come I go into different companies?
My ambition was to get my own finance company, which I did, later on. At the end, I got my finance company [Paradise Finance], until it was bought out by a Korean millionaire.
In Schofield, we worked eight hours a day. But when we have our passes, we come into town. And when you say "activities," well, at that time I was young, too. And you know like GIs, the first thing they come into town, they head for the bars. That's what I used to do, too. But other occasions, well, we go to activities like when the YWCA planned for us, that we get together with some women's group, or some sessions, or seminars.
And during the war, when we come out, we go to different activities like go dancing or go picnic with the different groups. That's how, on one of these sessions, [Florence and I] met and we got together.
I'm from Hilo . . . and [my wife is] from Honolulu. Kalihi area. Got married in 1947. I have three boys.
Wasn't a struggle [to raise a family and own a business] because I was getting paid right along anyway. Even when I started this Paradise Finance, I used to pay myself. The only thing is, when I was going to the UH, we have living allowance but it wasn't much so still had to go outside work part-time. So what you saying, even though married, still I was getting paid, so I was doing all right. [My wife] was working.
[My wife's] mother loaned us some money and we bought that Kaimuki. It was a smaller house. At least we were fortunate not to at least be renting some house. We used to have our own from the beginning.
I do other things like I write articles for the Hawaii Pacific Press. I used to write for Hawaii Herald but I laid off about two, three years now. I wrote for Kokiku magazine, it's a Japanese-American magazine based in Hawaii, but originally, it's from Japan.
What I write about is not about current events or politics, I write more about personalities. So it's a little different. Even right now, I'm writing about Shiro Matsuo now. What he went through, his family and all that. And other times, as I said, I don't write about current events, I write about personalities.
I'm in the Moanalua senior club. I wrote about another person, this person Cullen Hayashida who has a weekly radio program on the Olelo TV productions, channels 52-56.
Actually, I'm a director over there too. But the thing is, I haven't spent too much time there. Actually, I can plan a program for them, you see, I'm a certified director but I'm not a certified cameraman or certified editor. So when I set up a program, I have to look for a certified cameraman and an editor. Besides spending three, four times a week, it's kind of time-consuming. When I say "three, four times a week," just like easily four hours at a crack. So it's kind of time-consuming, that portion. So I haven't done that for the last couple of years now.
Actually, I don't know if I'm busier now or before. Like, in my case, I'm a community relations person with the Moanalua senior club. I get involved with the legislators, getting involved with this and that, the mayor, governor. And I showed you the plaque that I got, that was for the dog park.
And even Governor [Benjamin] Cayetano, at that time, was sympathetic to us. He made a proclamation: this is what we call the 370th Engineers Day. And we took pictures and all that. So I have gotten support from quite a number of politicians.
[I retired] when I reached sixty-five.
Actually I didn't retire, I started to work part-time. For instance, like Okuhara Saimin Company, I used to do the books for them. Chee, I don't know how long I did that. And I used to do books for another company. Besides, even now I do the inventory, do their bank statement for a merchant in the Chinatown area. And he calls me every year to do the inventory on the books for him. Even though he has a CPA now. I still help him out on that.
Kenneth Hagino's interview reprinted courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Kenneth Hagino.