Woody Arai of Hayward has lead a double life. The 78 year old carried books with him wherever he went, but it wasn’t because he loved books. He couldn’t read.
Arai was born and raised in Oakland. His parents owned a restaurant and things were going pretty good. Then World War II crashed down around them. Japanese internment laws interrupted his childhood. He was sent to the Tule Lake camp for 3 years. He went to school in the camp but somehow got through without reading or writing.
He was 16 when he got back home to Oregon. School just wasn’t in the plans. His family needed money so he worked in the tomato fields instead of cracking open books.
Arai went on with his life, hiding his illiteracy. When he retired, he wanted to fill that void in his life. He decided it was time to learn to read.
The gift of learning has changes his life. Not only have books opened up worlds for him, but the ability to read has given him opportunities. He serves in community organizations and is proud that the books he once carried for looks he can count as books he’s read.