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-01-0037

<Begin Segment 37>

EO: Just a point of clarification. Can you just go over again how the kitchen workers became organized?

HU: Well, the kitchen had lots of problems. And especially Manzanar, they way they, 4,500 high sea, above the sea level. So a lot of cooking is a little different. We had to use, for instance, cook the rice, we had to use the boiling water, put on right on top of the cold water, and wash rice. And that's the way that you made the perfect cooking rice. So all those things, something we discover, we let the other people know in the mess hall. That's good thing, exchange information, because a lot of things, people come from a different place, they got a different idea. Sometimes they do better. And so we get pretty friendly with other mess halls, you know. And when administration cheat us sugar or essential stuff, you know, some of the eggs or something like meat, they complain direct to the administration. But so many complaints go up there, they won't pay attention, you know. They don't get no answer or no result. So that's what I find out, every one of 'em. So the best idea is to organize together. And they all agree with it. And I don't want to do in secret so I go direct to the director, Coverley, and get permission. And the same way I talk to the supply department, mess steward Winchester, he give me permission and he said, "We're going to hold a meeting so-and-so day, after that you take over and talk to the mess hall people." So we talk to the bunch of mess hall for a meeting and then he talk a few minutes and then I'll take over and I explain to them, "We organize, we're going to have better results." So they all agree with it. And the same time I give information, whatever their problem, they bring it out in a meeting. Then we decide which problem we're going to present to the administration. And they all agree and same time I want them to support me. Not, not only my voice, but everybody's voice I'm carrying on to the administration. So, when they signed, we wrote most of them in Japanese, most of Isseis, the majority is working there, so they understand. So we wrote the idea and give 100 percent support to negotiating committee. Then we'll do it. So that's what the organization start. And there was a short time, but they all come sign and bring the paper. And some people bring early, store up in their trunk, and before I make the arrangement to print all the bylaw, when the incident happened, so I haven't got chance to reprint those things. But they know what the rule is already before they sign, see.


EO: Had you ever done any organizing before camp?

HU: No, I never did. I never active with any organization because I don't like these Japanese American associations or all those organizations, you know, for instance like Hiroshima Kenjinkai, all those organizations, what they do is that they get together, they talk all right, but after a while, they drink, you know. I don't drink a bit, not even beer, I don't drink. So I don't care for all those drinking and, you know, the party, or anything. So, before the war I don't hardly associate with that kind of organization.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.