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-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

SF: You mentioned that you went from Boise by train, I guess, to McNeil Penitentiary, right? How did you feel about McNeil when you first got there?

AH: It was sort of frightening. I never had expected in my life to go to a federal penitentiary. And, but we went through the regular procedure, admittance procedures, and all that. And then after a period of isolation, we were placed into cells of about... eight, I think it was eight, in a cell. And given jobs. I was given a job as an office clerk. Went into their recording office for, where recorded all the inmates records, updated inmate records, and things like that. Met a Japanese national who -- I don't know what wartime regulation the company did, but he had to take blame for the company -- and was sentenced to federal penitentiary. And so he was serving his time there. And he always mentioned the fact that he was the down guy for that company -- Japanese company that was here. And he worked in the same office.

SF: All of the Minidoka resisters went to McNeil, or did some of them go to Fort Leavenworth?

AH: I think they all went to McNeil, they all went there.

LH: While you were at McNeil, was there any social hierarchy within McNeil? Where maybe certain groups of people had higher status?

AH: No, it was a complete democracy. Everyone was the same. They were all prisoners.

LH: So your group of Japanese Americans were treated just equally, with everyone else?

AH: Oh, yes. Completely equally. We got along with most of the other people, but we usually stuck around together. Towards the end, I was assigned to farm, farm work, and all I did was go outside during the day and work on hotbeds, and things like that.

LH: What's hotbeds?

AH: Seedlings. Grow seedlings and start out plants and such.

LH: Is there anything that you perhaps missed?

AH: Missed?

LH: Missed while you were at McNeil?

AH: Well...

LH: Anything that comes to mind?

AH: Missed the family. But aside from that, we had a place to sleep. Didn't enjoy sleeping in barracks. Later on we were taken out of cells and put into barracks. I don't know how many were in the barracks. But, just had to do what everybody did.

LH: So you were in there, even after the time your family was released from Minidoka?

AH: Uh-huh, they were brought back to Seattle, and after that my sisters used to come visiting, every once in a while.

LH: Did your parents also come?

AH: Huh?

LH: Did your parents also come to visit you?

AH: No, my parents never did come to visit.

SF: Why did you think that was the case?

AH: That they didn't come? I think they just felt out of place. And since my sisters were coming, they knew exactly what was going on and how I looked, and...

SF: How did you feel when you first... your sisters first visited you in the penitentiary?

AH: You know, I can't remember. Of course, they used to write letters all the time. And I can't recall. They would probably know more that I do. Of coming and getting on the boat and going up to the McNeil Island. Pass through the guard gates and come up and visit me.

LH: How much time were you allowed with a visitor?

AH: Gee, I can't remember that either. I don't remember these details at all. It's something that happened in the past and I don't remember how long those visits were. But it wasn't too long after they were returned to Seattle that, I think, we were released. With good behavior and all that, I think it was a little under three years that we were released.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.