By Paul Kusuda
Last month, I shared my thoughts about acquaintances, friends, and close friends while empty-headedly
mowing our lawn. In alphabetical order, my three close friends are Eurial K. Jordan, Carl F. Sam, and Akira Toki. I
hadn’t thought of it before, but all are veterans; they were in the marines, the navy, and the army, respectively.
Each would probably have medals and battle stars if he wore his dress uniform.
Eurial is African-American; Carl’s parents were born in Austria; Akira’s parents were born in Japan. I got to
know Carl first through work. We both worked for the State Department of Public Welfare. When Atsuko and I
moved to Madison in 1951, we looked for a place to live. Carl and Margaret (Marge) were just leaving their two-
room apartment, so, through them, we found a place to rent.
Carl and his siblings worked on their family farm, so in World War II he was eligible for an agricultural
deferment. Despite this, he joined the armed forces. Later, he became a supervisor in the information section of
the Division of Business Management, while I was a social research analyst in the Division of Child Welfare. To
augment his state salary, he was also a part-time cab driver. To save the state overtime expenses, he worked on
Saturdays, on his own time, to finish needed work. Once in a while, I’d help him by doing work that required no
special skills or knowledge, like picking up scraps, handing him stuff to do his work, and keeping him company.
Sometimes, his wife and young children visited him also. He didn’t neglect his family who enjoyed seeing him at
work. He was an exemplary state worker.
Carl was in charge of keypunch stuff and operated IBM machines that churned out statistical, fiscal, institution
menus, and other reports. Together with the State Dietician/Nutritionist, he developed a computerized menu for use
in all institutions within the State Department of Public Welfare. That, of course, was beyond work requirements.
In the 1950s, he used IBM keypunch cards and card-sorting machines that required boards which he wired
with different lengths of end-tipped, varicolored, cloth-covered wires. Each board (some as large as 24” x 36”)
was for a different set of tabular data generated through use of some 80-column key-punched cards. Machines
were constantly updated, and Carl stayed on top of each new development as computers became electronic,
moving from vacuum tubes to electrodes to microchips. They were improved annually or even more often. Instead
of using wires and boards, he had to deal daily with disk-operated systems (DOS), random-access-memory (RAM)
hector-decimal system, and I don’t know what else. I still marvel at his capabilities.
We got to know Akira, a native-born Madisonian, soon after Atsuko and I moved to Madison from Springfield,
Illinois. The small number of Nisei families who lived in the city occasionally got together to socialize. The men
played small-stakes inflation-poker (we paid a dollar for $10 in chips), the biggest winner netting a couple of
dollars. Mary, Akira, and his parents ran the Toki farm. Akira had three sisters, who all helped out with the farm
work. When World War II came and Akira was drafted, he could have had an agricultural deferment. However, he
opted to leave his family to serve national needs as a soldier. After months of training, he became part of the 100th
Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team that fought in the European Theater of War. Wounded, he received
a Purple Heart medal. He was also awarded a Bronze Star. A modest man, he now has a Madison Metropolitan
School District middle school named after him. Every so often, he visits and talks with students of the Akira Toki
Eurial and I were fellow employees for more than 20 years. We worked for the Division of Corrections in the
State Department of Health and Family Services. Later, Corrections became a separate department. He had a
career at the Milwaukee Police Department before he joined the Division of Corrections. He knew all kinds of
people, from sports figure like Henry Aaron to political office holders at all levels of government. He was the
person the Division of Corrections called upon to conduct objective investigations when something went awry,
like a suicide of an incarcerated offender, an institution disturbance, an employee accused of wrongdoing, etc.
Once in a while, we’d “do lunch” and keep up with doings not only within the Division of Corrections’ offices and
institutions, but also outside. Our work- responsibility paths coincided from time to time. We were able to keep
each other up to date about both the adult and juvenile justice systems (Eurial works primarily with adult
offenders and I with juvenile, at the time serving as Deputy of the Division of Corrections’ Bureau of Juvenile
One joint project was beyond office responsibilities. We were unsuccessful in convincing the Madison Police
Department that juvenile and adult gang activities were beginning to show up in the local area and that the police
department should plan to deal with the problems before they grew too large for effective control. Although we
pointed out what was happening in the Milwaukee area and had burgeoned earlier in Chicago, our concerns were
dismissed. Political considerations were probably involved, but we were told it was not our business. We backed
off. Eurial could foresee what might happen if actions were not taken early. That was his gift, and many relied on
He retired a few years ago as Administrator of the State Department of Correction’s Division of Community
Corrections, where he was responsible for all state probationers, parolees, and those housed in locally-situated
minimum-security facilities. He keeps in touch from his home in North Carolina with his many friends and
coworkers. Once in a great while, we write to each other.
Close friends are not easy to find, and just thinking about them makes a person feel good. That makes lawn-
mowing, and snow shoveling, easier to do.