Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: George Yamada Interview
Narrator: George Yamada
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Spokane, Washington
Date: March 15 & 16, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-ygeorge_2-01-0024

<Begin Segment 24>

MA: Did you interact much with the students of the language school?

GY: Not too much. They were busy, they were kept real busy. Lot of my friends, I could think of one, two, three, became commissioned officers. And one, he's retired, a lieutenant colonel living in California, Sun City, California, now, but he lost his parents, they were from Fresno, California area, Parlier... anyway, Parlier, Fresno. They lost their parents, the evacuation took 'em into whatever camp from Manzanar, I think, to Minneapolis. And three, Grace... Grace, Jane and Mazie, yeah, they ended up in Minneapolis and Ben took me over to -- my guy I took basic with -- took me over to the apartment in Minneapolis and I got to eat a lot of rice right there. They made a lot of rice. In the military, we just loved, we wanted rice. We wanted gohan to eat, and so the mess sergeant put it in a 55-gallon barrel, one of those big tubs. Not 55-gallon, maybe 20-gallon tubs, and put rice in there. I don't know if he even washed it, and he cooked, put it on top of his stove, and at dinnertime, chow time, we got it. But it was uncooked rice, so we all dumped that. But anyway, we ate, I used to save, I used to call them up on the telephone and save a nickel or a dime, I think a dime on telephone charges, just so that we could come in and eat rice, gohan with them.

MA: What were --

GY: I'm sorry. [Laughs]

MA: Oh, no. What were your memories of John Aiso, the director the language school?

GY: Oh, he was, he was a great guy. We had another one, a lawyer, they were both graduate lawyers, attorneys. The other one was, it started with a "W". But anyway, oh yeah, he, just like an ordinary college professor, you know. I'm not sure, you could kid around with them just a little bit, but not a heck of a lot. He was just, just all around great guy. Yeah, yeah, I knew him, he knew me, and we, no problems.

MA: Why do you think he was so successful at what he did?

GY: Well, I think being a Nisei or being a Japanese, or for that matter, any particular race, you were given a job, a very important job, and a job that he did well. He was a PFC in the military, army, and they gave him a direct commission to a major. From thence he became a lieutenant colonel, however. But to jump from, it was a well-known during that period, to be a private first-class and then to become a major, you're jumping second, first, captain, three, three officer stages: second lieutenant, first lieutenant, captain. He was a major. So, but anyway, he, he was a good guy, great guy. I wouldn't call that to his face now, but he was a great fella.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.