Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Akio Hoshino Interview
Narrator: Akio Hoshino
Interviewer: Stephen Fugita
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 11, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-hakio-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

SF: This is July 11, 1997. The narrator is Akio Hoshino. The interviewers are Steve Fugita and Lori Hoshino. Okay, Akio, I'd like to begin by asking a little bit about your background with regard to what was going on before the war. Where were you, where were you living? What were the circumstances like for you before the war?

AH: Just before the war I was living with the family in the, I guess you would call, the central area of Seattle. And I was employed as a truck driver for a beer distribution company. And that was, that was my life just before the war.

SF: In order to drive the beer truck, you had to be a union person?

AH: Well, Japanese were not allowed to become teamsters. However, they had given a special consideration for the Japanese who had a lot of grocery stores around the town. And so they had given us permission to drive as, I guess, so-called teamsters, driving a regular beer distribution company trucks. And that was the only reason we were part of the union.

SF: So, you couldn't go downtown to the white establishments?

AH: No, we were all, just went to Japanese establishments, grocery stores, there were a number of hotels that were Japanese-owned in downtown and skid row. And quite a few taverns on skid row. As long as they were Japanese we were able to service them.

SF: Did you ever get challenged by...

AH: Oh yes, I was taken off of the truck at one of the grocery stores up on Madison Street. A guy came up to me and said, "Hey, get off that truck. How come you're driving a truck?" And so I had to give them a number to call and the number was a Japanese representative to the teamsters union -- I forget what his name was -- but he immediately called the union and told them that I was being challenged. And I forget just how the communication went through, but this guy was satisfied that the union had approved my driving a truck. But that's the way it was. We were not supposed to be driving trucks, especially a brewery truck, Rainier Brewery truck.

SF: So the brewery was a regular mainstream brewery?

AH: Well, yeah. The distributor was a Japanese distributor and they handled various kinds of beverages, soft drinks and all that. And there were two of those Japanese distributors in Seattle at that time. I worked for both of them. And I think twice I was challenged. But otherwise, I never had any problem.

SF: So did the folks who worked for these Japanese distributors, they were all Nihonjins, too -- or Japanese?

AH: Japanese and Chinese.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.