1399th Engineer Construction Battalion
Teacher and Coach: Kahuku High School
Among Toshiyuki’s duties at Kahuku are: teaching science and P.E., and coaching football and basketball.
Residing in on-campus cottages, teachers at Kahuku socialize with each other in the evenings. They play sports in the gym, craft items in wood shop, enjoy the beach, and play mah-jongg and card games. The principal disapproves of these activities.
Opting not to seek reappointments at Kahuku, teachers seek positions elsewhere.
When I went there the [head] coach [at Kahuku High School] was Art Stranski. He was at the university when I was there before the war, too, and he was also the vice principal of the school. And he saw me, he said, “Hey, come and help me.” He wanted an assistant to come and help him. I said, “Okay.”
After two or three weeks I told him, “Ah, I’m too busy, I got something else to do.” You see, he was a vice principal. He wore white shirt and tie. And after the school lets out at 2:30, he didn’t come into the field until about 3:30, almost 4:00.
Here I’m out there working hard with the football team, going through all kinds of calisthenics and all kinds of individual — teaching them how to throw a pass, how to kick, how to catch and so forth. But he didn’t come until almost 3:45, 4:00. He did that for about three or four weeks.And I wasn’t getting paid, I was just assisting. I was teaching eighth grade science, first two periods; and I was teaching P.E., third and fourth period, seventh grade and eighth grade. And then the fifth and sixth periods I had the ninth grade and high school P.E. So I had to make my lesson plans, I had to correct papers and so forth.
The rest of the people that used to [live] in the [teachers’] cottages used to stay in school till about 4:30, 5:00 and they would finish all the paperwork and so forth.
So they had a lot of time on their own from around 5:30 or 6:00. One of my friends used to be a shop teacher, so the people in the shop got to get together.
Monday night, we called it gym night, so we go to the gym and we play volleyball and badminton and stuff like that.
Then on Tuesday night we called it shop night, so we go into the wood shop and then we make end tables, lamps, whatever.
Wednesday night we call it beach night. We go down to the beach and the guy was a good spear man. So he would spear all kinds of fish and stuff. We prepared rice and the other things in the cottage. We go down to the beach and then we go and get fish and crab and squid and so forth, cook ’em over the fire.
Then Thursday night we say cottage night, so we stayed in the cottage and we used to play mah-jongg, we used to play poker and cards.
Friday after school, 2:45, bang, everybody take off, go to town. Because you know, in Kahuku we had nothing to do. No movies, those days no TV, we got nothing to do. So they all took off on Friday afternoon and most of us came back Monday morning.
We stayed in school every day to finish our paperwork and then the old man [Mr. Carl Weimer] — after about a month and a half or so they called us all in his office. He says something like this: “You folks are creating some kind of community problem. They think that you folks are having so much fun that maybe you should not be doing it.”
And nobody said anything but I knew him from my high school days. So I told him, “Mr. Weimer, you notice when you go from your office, 4:30, and you go to the principal’s cottage, you pass the campus. You notice that I’m in my room till about 4:30, 5:00 and all of the other cottage people are there.” I said, “They finish all the paperwork, so they get nothing to do in the evening. There’s nothing to do in Kahuku. No movies, so we got to provide our own social activity.” But I said, “You notice that every morning we are all in the door — all in your classes on time and they are doing our work.” So he kind of shook his head but we continued to do that.
Then you know, those days when you’re appointed coach of the school, you coach every sport, football, basketball, baseball and track. So he called for basketball practice and the kids didn’t come out. They come and see me they say, “Mr. Nakasone we want you to be the coach of basketball.” I said, “No, no, no, I’m not. I’m not the coach.”
So they went to see the old man and the old man said, “Okay.” So I was hired as basketball coach. But I coached for no pay, all volunteer. And during the basketball season the old man, he sits on the bench with me and the team. And when there’s a timeout or anything, he’s telling the kids what to do, too.
So I told him, “Mr. Weimer, please let me do the talking first.” But he keep on talking, so finally I gave him the shooting chart. The basketball court, half here, half here. I said, “Mr. Weimer, when a player from Kahuku shoots from this corner, just put down ‘#5’. If he makes that shot, circle it, okay? And you do that wherever the shot is made and on the free throw line if he makes the shot, circle. If he doesn’t make it just leave it blank.” I said, “Give me the percentage for halftime and after the game.”
So that kept him busy. I did the talking without him interfering, see.
The second semester is when we make a decision of whether we want to get reappointed to the school or get transferred out. You know what happened, eh? (chuckles) All of us living in the cottage, everybody, took off. Everybody moved out. Three of us ended up in Waialua. The rest went to different schools all over the island.
We were enjoying ourselves but we didn’t want the kind of restrictions that [Mr. Weimer] was kind of putting on us. To begin with, we didn’t know whether we were going to be able to continue the kind of stuff that we were doing. We enjoyed our company but we all had other plans on our own.
Toshiyuki Nakasone's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Toshiyuki Nakasone.