Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Gene Akutsu Interview
Narrator: Gene Akutsu
Interviewers: Larry Hashima (primary), Stephen Fugita (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 25, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-agene-01-0023

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GA: And so when our time came to come out -- why, that's bad grammar -- when that time came, I, we left the place with a suit, twenty-five dollars in the pocket, a new pair of pants and a raincoat and that's all I had when we came out. And thinking of the possibility of confrontation... by then my dad and mother had moved out -- see, the Japanese school was a hostel at one time -- and eventually they moved out of there and Dad wanted to carry on with his business. He started another shoe repair shop, just a block and a half away from where he closed up. And so we came there and they dropped us off. We were lucky enough to have a group of people that had cars, came to pick us up and they dropped us off at the individual houses. And so my first day was home and we were welcomed home kind of a thing. And what we wound up was quite disappointing in that my dad had a little shoe repair shop which was no more than about eight feet wide and extended in about twenty-five feet, and they lived in the back of the repair shop which was just a hole in the wall, the two of them, 'cause they couldn't afford anything else. And they lived there all during the time of our incarceration and when we came out there's no place to stay. Only they had a couple of army cots so we spread it out, out into the shop at night and pulled the shades and went to sleep there for a week or so. And we made a request to the hotels up above us and to the right of us to see if there's any place that we could rent from, and eventually after a couple of weeks we were able to rent the hotel. Actually it was me, and I wound up in the hotel which is now -- gee, where would it be located? Well, that was in, between Sixth and Maynard on Weller Street. And fortunately, we never did have any confrontation with anybody.

The problem now was, now what do I do? Where can I find work? Are they going to give work to a (...) convict? But I thought I'd give 'em a chance and I passed word around to see if I can get a job. And I was able to get a job through a friend of ours, a neighbor, and I wound up working at a junk company using a blow torch to cut apart tank armors and all that stuffs to be sent out to the smelters. And that, that was a temporary job and then I tried to see if I could follow into architecture and I was able to get a job as a draftsman at a drafting office and that job held out for about a year and a half until things got bad. And prior to the Korean War and they started to lay off people and if you don't have a college degree, you're nobody. And my not having a college degree, well, they started to flip out all of the kids, people, to drop 'em. And so I had my walking paper -- when was it -- when I came back from my, my honeymoon, I had my pink slip in my mailbox. I was out of a job. So anyway, that's another story.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.