Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Richard E. Yamashiro Interview
Narrator: Richard E. Yamashiro
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: San Jose, California
Date: May 24, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-yrichard_2-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So tell me about kind of your daily life, I mean, so you had both parents, your sister and you like for meals, did you eat with your family?

RY: No.

TI: So describe a day, when you wake up in the morning what happens?

RY: Well, go to the mess hall and get our wonderful breakfast.

TI: Now when you say go to the mess hall, was it as a family or who would go with you?

RY: Whoever wanted to go. Most of the time I went by myself, but I don't know if you ever heard about the food it was pretty terrible. I remember getting pancakes for breakfast without any syrup or no margarine even and trying to eat just a pancake is pretty bad. And I know that, I guess the people had a lot of supply of apple butter, so to this day I shun apple butter 'cause that was the only condiment they had on the table.

TI: Okay, so you would wake up, go to the mess hall, have breakfast, and after breakfast, what would you do?

RY: Well, I was going to school, and you had to walk to school so it's on the other side of camp. School was by the main entrance so it was a long ways there. So I remember my block was right by the... we had orphans in the school, too, in the camp too from L.A., it was called the Shonien and it was an orphanage and all the kids from the orphanage were there and I got to know them too. And so we'd go in there and get everybody together and we'd walk down to the school together.

TI: Oh, so you walked with the orphans to school?

RY: Yeah, had a lot of friends from the orphanage because they're in the next building over to us.

TI: So I'm curious about the orphanage. I mean, was their living situation much different than yours?

RY: No, they just had cots and stuff in like a barracks.

TI: And they ate in kind of the same mess halls everyone else did?

RY: Yeah.

TI: And how about their supervision? Was there... was it pretty strict or how would you...

RY: I never got involved in that so I don't know. All I know is I used to go in there and get the guys and we'd go to school.

TI: And the people taking care of them seemed nice?

RY: Yeah, the kids were pretty well-adjusted.

TI: And when you got to school, what was school like? Was school, compared to school in Hollywood, how would you...

RY: School was horrible to me it was horrible because it just... first of all we didn't have very talented teachers. What they did was they had a lot of Maryknoll nuns, Quakers from back east, retired people that used to teach, and some of our people from the camp that were teachers before. So that was like the teaching staff and it's kind of, you know, it wasn't like going to school in Hollywood and I think I just kind of gave up with school as my grades showed.

TI: So you felt like it was almost like a waste of time to go?

RY: Yeah, I kind of, I just... yeah any my grades really showed it too. 'Cause they had the... from the archives you could get all your records from your school and stuff. [Laughs] I got it and I go, oh, my goodness. But it's the old Japanese, your parents still say, "Don't bring shame on the family," "it can't be helped that we're in camp," and they always pound this into you, you know. And, "you got to persevere and," all that stuff and so we tried but I don't know, I just had no interesting in going to school and I suffered for it later.

TI: So then when school's over, what would happen next? What would you do after school?

RY: Well, we just kind of hung around.

TI: But backing up, so midday at lunch time did you go to a mess hall for lunch or did you have food at school or how did that work?

RY: I can't remember.

TI: You packed a lunch maybe from the mess hall for school? Trying to think how they would do that.

RY: I can't remember whether we had lunch or not but I know it was too far to walk back to the mess hall. I don't remember.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.