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-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

Well, I got the job in the mess hall anyway. And work as -- I never had any experience for the cooking for the public, but I could learn so I went to work in the mess hall. I get nineteen dollar. I get up 5 o'clock in the morning, 'til serve the lunch about 12:30 or 1 o'clock, I'm off after that. And the first thing I notice, every time I wash the rice and cook, they never come out. I don't know what to do. So we tried to contact the other mess hall, how they're doing. They're doing the same thing. So you know, the way of part-time hours in Japan, rice is a very precious thing, the hard work to raise the rice and take care of it. So I hate to throw 'em away. So the first thing I did is put the leftover rice, people doesn't eat all of it, so leftover rice, I put in the oven and dried those things. And then we can't get too much cooking oil. So they use the bacon and whatever left of oil, I used that bacon oil to fry those things, made the rice crispy. Then I asked the storekeeper, the one who take charge of all those materials they deliver from camp supply department, little bit sugar. So I get the sugar and cook the sugar and put the rice crispy and I made the sugar a little ball, and I couldn't get enough, but I got enough for the minor children, like a snack for the five or six year, up to that age. And I give them orange [inaudible] and give them one of each and they was happier. I could do that about three or four times, then we can't get enough sugar. So the storekeeper said, "I couldn't give you any more sugar." I feel kind of curiosity about the sugar, why, then? Then I find out they never give out the full amount. I tell him, sugar you could put it in a scale, so find out how much we getting. Then I know we get eight ounce a week, supposed to be.

EO: Eight ounces per person?

HU: Yeah, per person, old or young, doesn't make any difference, proportion to the person, even minor children get the same amount so it should have enough. So that's one thing. And I find other mess hall the same way, they didn't get enough. And, you know, prior to all the Japanese women, the majority is hard working in the farm, or the fishing cannery or something. They work hard. So they never have a problem with their weight. So they never drink the coffee without sugar. They like to have it sweet. So they all want sugar in it, but we can't afford to give anymore. We just give a half-teaspoon with a cup full of coffee and they won't drink. And they started complaining, and naturally I go around the other mess hall and learn this thing. And mess division, mess stewards give us a menu, what to cook and what to do, all those things, the whole month's menu. But lot of things, Italian cooking or different cooking. We like to do the, what the Japanese like that way. So lot of times, people use their own material. Like soy sauce, they bring in for their own and sometime use those for the cooking and benefit the people, like it. And we had a very good cook from town, the people used to run a restaurant, and people run Japanese food. We had those professional in there. So as soon as they get some material, they could make the good Japanese food and the people liked that. So we could teach to the people other methods so that we learned from others, too. So we communicate each other, you know, help each other, and that's the mess hall.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.