Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Harry Ueno Interview
Narrator: Harry Ueno
Interviewer: Emiko Omori
Location: San Mateo, California
Date: February 18, 1994
Densho ID: denshovh-uharry-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

EO: And what did it look like?

HU: Oh, they're so miserable places. Dusty and every afternoon the wind kicked up and you breathe the dust, just like Kurihara said, "We breathed the dust." And we eat the dust, because while you eat in the mess hall, the dust comes in, why, you can't help but you eat the dust, too. [Laughs] And every time we have to walk down and get a piece of laundry soap or something from administration, we have to cover our face with a muffler and then sunglass... good thing we bought sunglass. We hear about those things so we prepare a little bit. Children all had to have the sunglass and cover their face. Otherwise little sand pebbles, they hit you like a BB gun. And the time we went in after five and then takes a long time to process. You know, assigned my own room. And the time they finished assigning me, about 9:30. And some people took us to my apartment there and they gave us five sacks. In the room they had five steel cots laying there because three children and wife and me. Five of 'em. Then same room, 20 x 24, I think. They had stranger, grown up boy and mother was there, and another single man was there. So in other words, all in one room. And no partition, nothing. So we had to hang the rope and put the sheets, that's the only privacy we had. And they gave us five bag full, mattress. And we had to go to the laundry room to fill the straw in there. Took us almost eleven-thirty, twelve o'clock finish up all the, fill the straw into the mattress and put it in the cart and make the bed.

EO: Did they feed you dinner?

HU: No. No, we didn't have nothing. We had a few candy or something we took in that we ate that night. And next day, we didn't have no mess hall open, you know, Block 22. Half of us went to Block 16, next door. Half was Block 21, they had the mess hall open. So we went there, stand in line for about 45 minutes, because their own block people eat first. Then we go in and eat. What we have is a can of weenie and pickled carrots, you know, the salted carrots. That's for the pickle. Miserable, but we had to eat those. And the rice they cooked was half-cooked because all those people came from around L.A. and Gardena or Torrance or Venice or around there, you know, they're all neighbors around there. They'd never been in high altitude like in Manzanar. Manzanar is 4,000 to 4,500 feet above the sea level. So if you cook the rice like around here, Japanese usually start by the cold water. They wash the rice, then they put the cold water in, then they cook, and they come out perfect. We do the same thing out there, but you see the thin air, they boil the water fast so the time, the center of the rice gets cooked, they get all just like rice pudding. You can't cook the rice that way. We ate the same kind of rice for two months in the camp, two months. Because nobody ever been in that kind of altitude and cooked things. You know, you boil the eggs in higher altitude thin air, the yolk get hard first, and outside, the white part, is still running. We didn't know what to do but nobody had a idea to solve that thing. [Laughs]

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.