Stanley Masaharu Akita
100th Infantry Battalion

Life after the War

A 1946 tidal wave damages roads from Hilo to Honokaa. A new highway is being built. Stanley joins a survey crew as a rodman, then becomes a draftsman.

He takes correspondence courses in engineering and works his way up to an Engineer III.

December 1947, he marries Yukie Hayashida. They have two daughters. Job opportunities take the family to Maui, then to Honolulu.

Hilo County Parks Board

After I came home, let's see what I did. The Hilo County Parks Board - I don't know if he was a boss or what - lived in my hometown. So he was an elderly person that needed somebody to drive him to work every day. So I asked him if he can hire me as a park maintenance man and I can drive him back and forth to work.

So it ended up where I used to drive him every day back, to and from work. And I used to walk up to his house, take out the car, put him in the car and go to work. He was elderly enough that he wasn't too agile.

So I was a park maintenance man for a couple of years, until the tidal wave came, the Hilo tidal wave. I thought that one day I can go back to school again, be an electrician. But luckily, it didn't end up to be like I planned.

Tidal Wave

We had April Fool's Day tidal wave, 1946. The tidal wave came. That's when the road was so damaged that they sent a survey crew from Honolulu to work on that. The roads were all damaged, from Hilo to Honokaa. They were building a new highway, which is the one they use today.

It just so happened that the plantation had some empty houses, bachelors' quarters, so the state [territory] rented that and they put the survey crew in there. So one day I said, "Hey, how's about a job working for you guys?" I didn't know beans about surveying but they hired me. As I worked for them, survey crew, I learned a little math along the way.

Rodman

So I was hired as a state employee, as a rodman. Carry the rod and the surveyor takes sights, measure all kinds of stuff.

From there, I kept taking the exam and I found it rather interesting to be taking those math exams, concerning engineering. I found that interesting and I kept on taking it.

Draftsman

While doing so, I started to take a correspondence course in engineering. So the boss says, "Oh, are you taking correspondence courses?" "Yeah," I told him. "You better work in the office then, don't work out in the field."

So he put me in the office as a draftsman. At that time, I had a real good boss who was willing to answer any question I had in math. Trigonometry, geometry, that type of thing. So he helped me a hell of a lot. In the process, I start taking the exam to better myself and I went from draftsman all the way to the highest position I could go.

Move to Maui

Before you know it, in order to get my next raise, I had to move to either Honolulu or Maui, from Hilo. By that time, I was married with two children. So I discussed it with my wife [Yukie] and I felt that, with the kind of pay I was making, the lowest engineering type of pay, I don't think I could have survived in Honolulu. I thought Honolulu was a fast living area.

So we decided to move to Maui for a few years so that I could keep working my way up. So I moved my whole family to Maui and stayed there for about three, four years.

Stanley Akita with daughters April and Cynthia, Maui

Move to Honolulu

In the meantime, I kept taking the exam. The next raise I wanted to get, the only place was in Honolulu. Now, the decision is, do I go to Honolulu or stay on Maui and not get the pay raise? But I felt, maybe I should take a chance and move to Honolulu. That's the best thing I did.

Because moving to Honolulu, there was so many jobs around the place. I used to work - after finishing work at four o'clock [P.M.] at the state, I can go from five o'clock to nine o'clock and work at a private firm as a draftsman or whatever job they got. I did that for many, many years to help support the family.

Plus, the jobs were so plentiful, the good part about it was my wife is a practical nurse. She applied at Kaiser Hospital and she could get that eleven P.M. to seven A.M. shift which was ideal for us because I take her to work at about ten o'clock at night, I come back and I'm with the two girls. In the morning, I'll feed them breakfast, dress them up and drop them off to school. Then, my wife will be coming home about seven o'clock, eight o'clock A.M. School gets through at two o'clock [P.M.], when they come home, my wife is home for the two children. So we never missed anything. We didn't have to have babysitter or anything like that. So everything went on real good for quite a few years doing that.

I used to work from nine to four at a state office. From five to nine, I had a job all over town as a draftsman with the engineering company. I did that for many years.

Then, I start taking the exam and I got to a stage where - civil engineer, there's three lower ranks. Once you reach the fourth rank, that's when you take the exam and you get the fourth rank, you're a licensed civil engineer. So I took the first one, second, third one.

By the time I took the third one, my daughters were all out, and just [Yukie] and I. I tell, why struggle? Just leave it like that. So I just stopped at the third one [Engineer III]. Then it didn't take me long before I retired. I tried for the fourth one and I remember my test score was sixty-five. I almost made it to seventy but I gave up. Was getting tired of studying for that. Especially math, is not an easy subject.

No GI Bill

The funny thing is, I never spent a penny of the GI Bill money. It's all on my own. I didn't feel it necessary to go through, spend the time with the GI Bill going to every night school. It's like going to part-time university. It's an every night thing from seven to nine or something like that.

At that time, my girls are home and what I needed was money. So instead of doing that, I used to work part-time at Sears Roebuck as a rug salesman. I think we had a percentage as we sell. Which I thought I did pretty well, good on that, at Sears Roebuck.

So by night, was going part-time work, different companies. As I said, by the time I got to Engineer III, my daughters were out. So now, not that money is not the object but still yet, you don't need as much, that was the difference. Since I'm a lazy guy, too, I got tired of studying.

[I retired in nineteen] seventy-eight.

Marriage to Yukie

I met [Yukie] at night school. I don't know what I was taking up. She was in there and I looked at her and said oh, pretty girl, you know. So we start talking and we start dating.

Yukie Akita, Hilo, Hawaii

I think we got married 1946. Correct me if I'm wrong. [Yukie: Nineteen forty-seven.] Oh, [19]47. In December, too.

Wedding, Stanley and Yukie Akita, Hilo, Hawaii

So I'm a lucky guy, you know. My wedding anniversary is December, her birthday is in December and Christmas is in December. One present takes care of everything, you know. [Yukie: Now, he forgets it.]

Stanley Akita's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Stanley Akita.

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