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-01-0022

<Begin Segment 22>

EO: Did you ever fear for your life?

HU: Huh?

EO: Did you ever think that they might harm you in some way?

HU: No, not physical, no. Nothing on physical harm; received only verbal, you know. Then that was after almost 12:35 or close to 1 o'clock, the sheriff was there and he took everything, you know, from my pocket and wallet. Even the belt. I said, "Sheriff, if you take the belt I have to hold up my pants. I got army-issued pants and they're 54; mine is only 28," I told him. The pants will drop off. But they, "No, we have to take; that's a rule," he said. So I have to grab my pants -- [laughs] -- and then he showed me the place to the bed. And the jail was warm and most comfortable. First time I slept after I left my home in L.A. in a cotton mattress. And I slept 'til about 7:30 and all the time I opened my eyes, I noticed they had about half a dozen inmates there. They're having coffee and toast, so they said, "Come on over and wash your face. Let's have a coffee." They been pretty friendly. I was afraid, you know. And then that was a Sunday, December 6th, and all the bells is ringing out there, because Sunday morning. It was a small town but they had several church, I think, there. And we had coffee and toast and about... oh, I was reading a magazine. And about 3 o'clock, sheriff called me and he bring out a big envelope, you know, putting everything of my belongings, he give to me, and he said, "Somebody come after you." So I look outside and there's the chief of police, Gilke, was there. And he said, "Harry, I'm going to take you back to the Manzanar. Please don't do anything." I can't do nothing. So he took me into the Manzanar and past the sentry box and near the police station, there was Ralph Merritt, the chief director of the camp. He was, first time I met him. He's a new arrival, you know. Then Captain Hall, he's the head of the MP. They both was standing there and then Ralph Merritt told me, "You stay in the jail; right now the negotiating committee is working on your behalf, so you wait inside the camp jail." I said, "Okay."

EO: Now, had you been accused of beating Tayama?

HU: Yeah.

EO: That was --

HU: Yeah. That was a reason. And they can't prove it. After a while I see the FBI record, even Ralph Merritt said the people was right. "We got no evidence to accuse him of beating Tayama." So then I was in the jail. They had a half dozen young people was in the jail. And the first time I noticed that something happened after I left. Said, "Last night they had a bunch of people came in and there was a lot of demonstration," that's what a bunch of young fellows told me. "And they said they'd be back tonight again." So that was December 6th. "They come back tonight," they said. I didn't know anything about it yet, and then about, oh, 5 o'clock or 6 o'clock after the dinner, the five negotiating committee came over and they talked to me. And, "Right now we are, try to meet Ralph Merritt and try to release you." So I told you we're going to bring him back tonight, so don't worry, that's what he told to my wife. So that my wife never came over then. And the window had both sides, you know, front and back in jail because even you get out the jail, you got no place to go, inside the barbed wire, and you got no place to hide. So...

EO: We need to back up a little bit about the negotiating committee. Who were they?

HU: Joe Kurihara, that's the only person I -- and...

EO: No, but how did it come to be? The story of... they had just been newly elected, right? I mean, to --

HU: Elect by the people.

EO: Okay, so we don't know this. You don't know it either.

HU: I don't know either. That was surprise to me.

EO: So can you tell us about that?

HU: Yeah, I think mostly Joe Kurihara spoke up on the stand, then...

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.