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

[Ed. note: Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

EO: -- going, being sent back to Japan, and what your parents were doing.

HU: Well, I born in Hawaii. They call the Hamakua district, Pauilo, Hawaii.

EO: When was that?

HU: That was April 14, 1907. And I was four years old, we moved to the place called New House. That's another bigger camp, that's a plantation camp. And we stayed there for, I was four years old, move out there. Then we stayed there 'til I was seven. I started going to school from six year old. Walk about two-and-a-half miles, three miles to the school. The place called Pau Hau. They had a sugar mill out there and they had a grammar school there. And I went there for almost a... oh, year and a half; I went to the Japanese school eight o'clock in the morning. Nine o'clock I went to the grammar school, American school, then go back to the Japanese school three to five o'clock, another two hours. Then come home, walk home. In wintertime, already dark. But it's a long walk, but we get used to it every day. Then about, I was seven years old, we moved to the place called Kalapa Maoka, that means Higher Kalapa Village. And my old man get out from plantation and he leased a little ranch there and raised watermelon. Then he leased another ground for the sugar cane. And well, I went to school toward Manaker Mountain, you know, that high mountain there. They had a great shot there and right now they have a big observatory there. So the same way about we have to walk more than two miles to the school. So sometimes we have to get up about six o'clock in the morning to start school because the Japanese school is right next to the American school and we have to start at 8 o'clock in the morning, the same way, and an hour later, we have to go to American school 'til three o'clock and then go back to Japanese school in another two hours, and walk home. So the time we walk home is about, almost seven o'clock. So we were very busy attending school. [Laughs] Then Saturday, we'd go back half a day for Japanese school only. We had a neighbor, Portuguese children, in the same class but we never hardly had time to play with them because we go in a different time to school, come home different times, so we never get together.

EO: Were your parents contract workers?

HU: Was, my parents immigrated to the Hawaii in 1900. And my older brother born in 1902 and I born in 1907 so all that time about, let's see, thirteen years he was a contract worker for the plantation. Then after that he get out on his own. But he was lucky to raise some sugar cane in 1913. Because during the wartime, sugar cane is very important for the navy. They use a lot of sugar for the black powder in the naval guns. So sugar price jumped up to three, four times higher than was, been. So I stayed there 'til I was a little... eight, third grade I finished in Hawaii. And so the Japanese school, too. I finished the third grade. And I was about, not quite eight years and four months. My old man said, "You go back to Japan." So I went to the Japan with my uncle. My uncle lived in Maui, Lahaina they called the place. He was much younger than my father so he went back to Japan for, get his bride. So I accompanied him to Japan. That was the beginning of the first, World War I, 1915, August. There already, war was on. The time I went back to Japan with one of the NYK ships... the Tenryo maru, the biggest ship between the United States, Hawaii and Japan, passenger and freight, too, I guess.

EO: Were you in Hawaii during any of the strikes? Sugar cane strikes?

HU: No. No, I never thought my old man had a strike on the sugar cane field. They had someplace, depending on the district, you know. And the place we were in, they never had a strike, as far as I know.

EO: And where did you go back?

HU: I went back to the Hiroshima. That's the home of my father or grandfathers living there for generations there. My grandfather's ancestors were boat, fishing boat builders, so they've been there for maybe five hundred years or more, the records show. I went back there in August 1915 to Japan, and I stayed Hiroshima for, let's see, about six years. Then I went to the, my aunt's home in Fukuoka; that's a southern island. I went to school there for a year; I graduated eighth grade there. Then I went back to Japan, my parents come back from Hawaii. He was very successful. Very few people those days, they could have made enough money to go back to Japan. But one of the, he was a lucky one, one of... And then we didn't have no farm or nothing. I raised by the, my grandparents, you know -- grandfather and grandmother. Then I met my parents and I had my younger brother come back with my parents. My older brother, he finished high school in Hilo, Hawaii, and went to the Milwaukee for some private school there, electric, he wanted to learn more about electric.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

EO: When did you come back to the United States?

HU: I come back to the United States 1923, May 20, 1923.


EO: Tell me when you came back and why you came back.


HU: May 20, 1923, I came back to United States. And I have nobody out here in the United States. So I started working in a lumber mill and I worked there three years.

EO: Where was that?

HU: Huh?

EO: Where was that?

HU: They call, place called Eatonville; that's 30 miles inland from Tacoma, Washington. I worked there three years, then I want to meet my brother in Milwaukee, so I take a trip after three years to Milwaukee. And met my brother, but I couldn't speak English, he forget all about the Japanese, so we can't communicate anymore. So I stay there for six months, I looked for the job. We went out to the Chicago, but Depression was there already because after the war, you know, Chicago was one of the biggest industries for the United States. And soon as war stopped, everything gets slowed down. And if you tried to look the job, you looked the ad and looked for the place, you'd see the people lined up for probably one or two blocks long. It discouraged me to look for the job. So I left my brother there and I come back to the California. Then I worked here and there and finally 1929, I get married to my wife. And, well, we live in L.A. for about eleven years -- let's see, '29, that's about thirteen years, almost. I worked for the market most of the time.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

HU: My wife was born in Japan. She came over in 1923 or '24 to United States. And I met her on the place I worked, and we get together. And we're very poor those days... Depression and we haven't got hardly no money -- [laughs] -- and well, we just simple wedding in a Shinto church there in L.A. Then I worked for the, most of the time in the market. Out of that about four year, I had my own small place in a Jewish market there. And they called it Pearl Market in Melrose and LaBrea, in Los Angeles. You know, Hollywood side. Yeah.

EO: Jewish market?

HU: Yeah, Jewish market. They sell nothing but kosher stuff, you know, kosher meat, kosher chicken and everything's kosher.

EO: How come you had a market there?

HU: Well, they needed a fruit and vegetable stand there so I went in and worked for them. Worked with them, in other words, that's my own fruit and vegetable, and most of those is telephone order. Like we had a good customer, like Louis B. Mayer and Carl Emery used to be a owner of the Universal Pictures and B.P. Shubert, Shubert Production, that was United Artists before that. He owned that movie thing and then David Selznick, and well...

EO: All these people ordered from you?

HU: Yeah, through the telephone. And we had a lot of big customers, you know, like Sidney Lanfield, the producer, and a lot of people I know, because once in a while, delivery boy, and the people owned the Jewish market, they do the delivery, too. Because one day a customer wanted something they need right away. See, that's very hard. So once in a while I'd deliver, too. Use my car and bring the stuff over to their homes. So I had many peoples, sometime in Santa Monica, sometime way behind Beverly Hills.

EO: Where did you get your produce?

HU: I get it wholesale, I have to go every morning about 3 o'clock or 4 o'clock. Used to be a wholesale out there. You know, L.A. was very big wholesale. They had two places, a ninth market and seventh market, they called.

EO: Are these mostly Japanese?

HU: No. They got a Caucasian, Japanese, Italian, some Koreans. Vegetable was handled most by the Japanese because the farmers, most of Japanese. And you have to, used to be the wholesale open at 12 o'clock in the midnight, then open 'til 10 or 11 o'clock the next day. So I used to go about 3 o'clock in the morning and buy the stuff and then stop at my home and have breakfast and go to the own retail store. I did that for the, some store in Beverly Hills. They wanted me to come over and manage their store, so after I quit those Jewish market, I went there for work for them, see, the buyer and to manage the place, too.

EO: So, is that what you were doing...

HU: Yeah, 'til 1942.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

EO: So do you remember, do you remember December 7th?

HU: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

EO: What do you remember? What were you doing? How did you hear about it?

HU: I was working in a Jewish market then, Westin and Hollywood Boulevard. And I hear about those thing. And, well, I knew the thing is coming because you read the paper all the time, you know what the tension getting built up between Japan and the United States. And a lot of people said they were surprised by that, I don't feel any surprise. I know those things coming.

EO: What was the reaction in the market?

HU: Well, you know, Jewish people was very much anti-Axis. They are. Because Germany was persecuting Jewish people, so they kind of feel very hostile to me. I'd be working in the Jewish market, so I didn't stay too long when the, after the war started. I probably worked about a month or two and then I quit. I quit and there's a rumor they're going to detain the Japanese in a camp or something, so I quit and then wait and see what's happen.

EO: Did the Jewish people actually say things to you? I mean, did you have a bad time there?

HU: Yeah, yeah. They tell me a lot of bad things. Japs in the Philippines, they rape the women, kill the children, this and that. You hear all those things. Kind of... I got nothing to do with them. I'm away from Japan so many years but yet they don't distinguish difference between Japanese in Japan and the United States. And the same time the government, I think they tried to build up the feeling against Japan. For instance, like January 26 or '7 in midnight, I hear a lot of noise outside. You know, some gunshot. So we had all the blinds down in the house, but I pulled up and take a look outside. You could see Long Beach, toward the ocean, the many searchlights flashing in the sky and you see the tracer bullet. You could see the tracer bullet go up in the sky, so do anti-aircraft gun is exploding in the sky. I couldn't see nothing but they going on for about eighteen minutes or so, and the next day, I see the Jap plane was flying over to Long Beach. But I couldn't see anything on the sky. Then about a week or ten days later, the navy blamed army, "They started shooting so we started shooting." They just, I think that's more like a propaganda for the government to, you know, knowingly say the, make the people aware we're in a war. Because the Pearl Harbor thing is just 3,000 miles away. So people don't feel any, well, it's started or anything. And then you see in the paper, Jap sub is sinking the lumber carrying the freight ship off L.A. and another ship claimed a near miss by a torpedo, they said. I couldn't see any submarine could come to the United States' shore. Impossible those days, without mother ship.

So all that government build the propaganda, but people believed those things. But a week or ten days later they said the sub was sunk because in January, heavy sea and they got an overload the lumber in the ship, so that's why they're flooded and they sunk. And heavy waves, so another ship reports a near miss and a torpedo, but I think that they imagined the things. And another thing, in Ventura, that's between Oxnard and Santa Barbara, they had a little bit of oil coming out there. And they had an oil storage tank right by the ocean there, and they said a Jap sub tried to knock that oil tank and they shoot at it but they missed that. And I couldn't believe that the Japanese sub will come to United States western... sure, that's impossible. And then that was 1978 or something, I've seen a small article in the San Jose Mercury, the farmer out there's, during the wartime, they claimed that Jap sub shoot up the oil tank, they didn't hit the tank and, "They shoot my farm," they said. That was the United States submarine doing propaganda. "I get paid from the government." That's what the farmer said, so I think that's true. Because the submarine aimed to the oil tank, right by, sure, they wouldn't miss that much. So I think what the government tried to do is build up people's hate or fighting spirit or whatever you call. Doing a lot of propaganda to stir up the people's feeling.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

EO: Can we go back to December 7th?

HU: Yeah.

EO: When you heard this... did you, did you have friends or family picked up right away?

HU: Oh, yeah. I used to go to the near market, the pool hall there. There were a lot of Japanese gathered around during, after the Pearl Harbor incident. A lot of 'em, they lost their jobs or they're waiting for something to happen. But I hear so much that people start missing there. You know, the people I know were already being taken in by the FBI, and prior to war, they had about 150 Japanese veterans. That means they serve in Japan, those people. They immigrate to the United States, but they had an organization to, you know, once in a while they meet together. And in the United States, they have people serve in the first World War I, the Japanese people, still they're not American citizens but they volunteered to join the United States army. And they had not too many, but they had -- I don't know how many -- but they had a bunch of people there. In there, you hear the name Slocum, Tokie Slocum. He was the head of the American veterans, Japanese veterans organization. I read in Tule Lake FBI record, more like a congressional record. One guy showed me the record, and Slocum, prior to Pearl Harbor incident, he went over to the Japanese veterans organization that was headed by Dr. Honda. He was a doctor in Gardena or someplace, a small city there. And he talked to him and said, "Let's get together and acquainted. Because, after all, we are all Japanese descendants." So they get together and have a dinner same time they took all the name and address and all those that, Japanese veterans and they gave it, that to the FBI. So the FBI knows where they live and what age and so on. So as soon as war started, they been all detained to the United States enemy area in camp and the same way, the JACL had the big sign first in San Pedro. They used to have a drugstore they called Iwagi Drug Store in San Pedro side. They put about fifty feet or more, longer, big banner there, anti-Axis committee headquarters. And their function, as we all know, inform anybody who talks favor to Japan or anything. So, a lot of people in the pool hall, we went there, they see the man, like I could name him, but he was a active JACL, he come around, people quit talking about the war. Because as soon as they started talk anything, about how the war goin' and so on, they're afraid to get informed, you know.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

EO: It's December and this is going to be, actually, the last Christmas that you're going to spend with your family for a while. You don't know that then, right? But, so, tell me, what is your wife's name?

HU: Yaso. Y-A-S-O.

EO: And what was Christmas like for you that year?

HU: December?

EO: In 1941.

HU: Well, we didn't have hardly anything to celebrate at that Christmas, those days. Very sort of kind of we don't want to be... celebrate anything those days because so many people been interned and you hear so many sad things here and there. Like Imperial Valley, there's some people been attacked by Filipinos because the news out there is very bad. After the Christmas, I think more likely, those news came know, Japan invaded the Philippines and killed the children and raped the women, these and that. Well, government, you know, during the wartime, always propaganda is very... and special I learned just a few years ago, some of the college professors, they had oral history meeting in San Francisco, I think, in 1989, one professor wrote about communism. I didn't know anything about how the communist people from Japan, about thirty of them, they never went in the camps. They been hired by the CIA to use as a propaganda that material they're going to write. They've been taken over to the place there or they stayed there, about thirty, thirty or thirty-two people. They were writing all kinds of propaganda material so they could be... in case a plane gonna fly over Japan, they're going to spread all those things by the plane. So they was working for... so all kind of propaganda was going on, you know, and more like a hatred toward the Japanese.

EO: Now, by this time, tell me, you have some children.

HU: Yeah.

EO: Tell me about them.

HU: Well, I had three children. Two of them going to the Maryknoll, you know, downtown, near the Japantown. They're going by the bus. Maryknoll had their own bus. And we paid so much a month for... those days it was very cheap. They feed lunch and teach the American school until 3 o'clock. And after that, a couple of hours, they teach the Japanese and they bring back the kids about 6 o'clock in the afternoon -- evening. So we sent in two, two of my older boys to there. And the younger one still stayed home. And...

EO: Now, right after this bombing, when did the curfew happen?

HU: Curfew happen... my gosh, I don't remember the date but curfew happened I think after sometime around February, I think. Early February, I think. I'm not too sure of the exact date.

EO: Did your assets get frozen?

HU: Pardon me?

EO: Your assets in the bank, were they frozen?

HU: Yeah. You know, my wife took 'em about Japanese bank, Sumitomo was in downtown Japantown, and they paid me 6 percent interest if you put in a time deposit for a year. So we had about thousand yen deposited in one year term and that thing was frozen. And I had a couple of hundred dollars worth of American bond, war bond, but as soon as they throw us in the camp, I sold that. I took a loss. [Laughs]

EO: Did you ever get your money back out of Sumitomo?

HU: No, nothing. That cost me $250. That was today's money, maybe more than $10,000. To me those days, very hard to save the money in the '30s. Very difficult.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

EO: So, when did you hear about evacuation and how did you hear about it?

HU: Well, I hear Santa Anita was open up, and I don't know, there's a lot of people from Terminal Island. Their husbands, most of them is fishermen or either work in the cannery, those islands there. The husband didn't take it in. They have to get out there, they got no place to go, so they come into the L.A. downtown, some place in a Buddhist church, and they're staying there. Or if they had a friend someplace in Fresno or someplace, some people went there. But many of them stayed around downtown, in church, or either in the Buddhist church place there. And everybody helped each other because the government don't do anything for them. So meantime, we hear so much about the head of the Japanese retired army, Dr. Honda was, died in jail, he was, I don't know, probably around late forty or fifty, around his age. He died. And another woman used to call...

EO: You mean he was in the Justice Department, alien --

HU: Yeah, he was custody in the area. I tell you, he had family in Gardena, I think, or Torrance, around there. I never met him, I don't know, but a friend of mine lived in back of my place there. Another Japanese there, he had some of Dr. Honda's close family, he knew him. And the FBI report to his wife that he passed away in jail, so come over to the morgue and verify this death. But wife and his family, they hate to see... you know, he was a very healthy man, and now he's gone. So instead of the close family go, one of his relatives went over and he went over and opened up the sheets and verified his death. He looked at his hands, he had a deep mark on both hands. In other words, he'd been tied with, not a rope but a wire or something. That's what he told to a friend of mine in the back, and now I could tell that, see. While I was working in the Jewish market, one lady said that, "Jap is so cruel," telling me, direct to me. And I just said, "Well, I don't know about that," but the United States, the FBI, it's the same thing, I think. Dr. Honda didn't kill.

Then an hour later, FBI -- two men -- came over and show me a big sign, FBI, "I want to talk to you." They took me to downtown. They had the Third and Spring Street, they got a FBI headquarters there, and he questioned me, "Who told you that?" I said, "Oh, I went to pool hall and I hear somebody was talking," and they keep on pressure me to reveal the name who spread such a thing. "I just hear with my ears but I didn't see the face," I tell them. And then he took me back to the place I worked. Then after that I quit, because I don't feel good. FBI -- I mean, Jewish people are talking like that, my responsibility or something, that whatever happened there, and that's it. "I don't like that. I think I'm going to quit now." So I quit after that. Then the FBI came over to my place and once more picked me up and same thing, they questioned, and, "Bring a name or else." They threatened me, but I keep on saying, "I don't know. If there's something I don't know, I couldn't tell you," I told them.

And just the night before we evacuate, you know, they give an order to go to Manzanar, that was night before. They called me over telephone. I didn't have a telephone in my home but my landlady, four-plex, and right next door, she called me, "You have a telephone call." So I went up and listened to telephone and they said, "Either you tell me the name of the person he told you that or else we're going to put you in the jail." And I told them, "Go ahead. Tomorrow my family going to the camp. So I don't have to worry their living, so go ahead, you want to put me in jail, go right ahead." And that was the last threat I had. But they didn't do anything. But when they come to, I went to Manzanar, they came over, FBI, two of them, they came over and the same thing over and over. But I'm never going to say the friend of mine in back, because he's a non-citizen, so if I tell the name -- he had three children. I don't like to see the father being detained to the enemy area in camp and the family going to have a miserable time. I know that so I never... you know, FBI, they had a bunch of money on the table and they tried to turn me in as a spy for them. No, I don't want that. Probably had about, oh, four or five times, the FBI take me in and question, question. Then they ask me, "Who's going to win the war?" How the hell do I know? I've never been an army man, I don't know. All I know is what you see in the paper, I see in the paper, that's all I know. [Laughs]

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

EO: Well, when you had to leave, now, to go to the camps, how did you get rid of your things? And did you have to sell -- did you bury anything?

HU: Well, I called the neighbor and said, "You want to buy anything, what I have? I haven't got too much but few furniture." He said, "I'll give you two dollars for a couch." "All right. Take it." "I give you one dollar for the carpet." "Go ahead, take it." Whatever they offered, that's all. Yeah.

EO: So you didn't lose any photographs or...

HU: Well, I had some dolls for my children, you know, the boys' dolls there. I had about half a dozen so I put in right on top of the garage, but that's gone, of course. And a lot of my furniture, my landlady kind enough to let me keep in the garage, so I didn't lose too much on my sewing machine, and my kitchen utensils, dish and everything.

EO: The government claims that they had some way for you to store things. Did that -- were you told that you could, that you could store things with the government?

HU: No, no, they didn't tell me that, though. So I asked the landlady, "Could you keep a few things for me?" Then they were kind enough. Because they were, I think the husband was French and the wife was Australian or something. And I'd been there for eleven years, you know. Before I rent that place, I look all over. You know, those days, in the '30s, a lot of houses were not fancy like today. They were all cheap wooden houses, lot of rental house there. And I went over to see the signs several place, they won't rent to the Japanese, you know. They'd always have an excuse, "We have somebody coming this afternoon to take a look." Or either, "We had somebody already promised." You know, all kinds of excuse. I know what they're feeling. So this place I rent, they had German people in, neighbors. They had a rental house, everyone had some. But they had an agreement they're not going to rent to the Orientals. But this Frenchman, he went to the court, because I was a citizen, so he won eventually. You know, that agreement is just a verbal agreement so he break that. That's what he told me just night before we evacuated. He didn't tell me that, you know. "I had to go to court three times," he said, "and I won." So I communicated with them after the war. They had two sons, two of them passed away. They were high school kids while we were there. They're all gone. 'Til then we communicated with each other. All the way through. [Laughs]


EO: So you could only pack what you could carry.

HU: Yeah, that's right.

EO: What did you take?

HU: I took the three suitcase, that's all. That's all, just clothing, you know. That's all; nothing else. Because you can't take anymore than that. At first, they had the notice on all the telephone poles, this district going to the Santa Anita... so they had them marked what you can take, what you can't. You know, for instance, like a little electric stove, small burner, you can't take that, you can't use that. And anything bigger than you can carry, you can't take that. So whatever the instruction, we had to prepare for that, you know. Only suitcase allowed, one for the one person.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

EO: So you didn't go to an assembly center. You went directly...

HU: Direct to Manzanar by the bus. May 15.

EO: And tell me what it was like, because I've seen these photographs where people are being searched. Is that what happened to you?

HU: No, they didn't search me. They had a MP with a bayonet standing there but they didn't search me. They give us one lunch box before we board the bus, so that's for the lunch. About eight o'clock, my neighbors, they had a Five and Ten Cent store, he said, "Don't worry. We're going to take you over to where the bus stop is." That isn't too far, the Washington and San Pedro Street. They had about one big empty lot on the corner there. That's where the bus stops, they said. So they drove us there, only about three-and-a-half block away.

EO: What happened to your car?

HU: Oh, I didn't have no more car. Yeah. I get rid of the car a long time ago.

EO: Had you ever been to Manzanar or that area?

HU: No. I think hardly nobody went in there. That was May 15th, the time we went there, long line of bus, and some people went by the train. They reach earlier, because the train is much faster. Long line of bus takes long time. We start off about a little after 8 o'clock, we reached there about half past five that day, May 15th, '42. And they had almost, oh, half full in Manzanar already. Lot of people went in volunteer early. I didn't know that. And like people from Bainbridge, they stayed in Block 2. They are almost, they've been thrown out from Bainbridge Island. So they came all the way down to California, they went into the Manzanar.

EO: Were there people from Terminal Island there as well?

HU: Yeah, Terminal Island, they had seven, eight, nine, about three blocks filled with Terminal Islander. Almost, oh, there's almost a thousand people. Of course, some scattered out to different blocks. But a lot of the women and children, you know, their husbands is in enemy area in camp, so... they were early.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 11>

EO: Well now, tell me about life in camp.

HU: Well...

EO: Did you get a job?

HU: Yes, the first month I was still, they're going to build some more addition in the camp, so I get the job for cleaning the sagebrush, so I work every day and go out and cut off the sagebrush and then clean the place so they put the additional camp building there.

EO: Now, is this hot or cold?

HU: Well, that was May 15th to June 15th, so still not too hot, but windy every day, you know. Well, it's miserable but we can't help, we can't do nothing about that. And May 15th, the director -- not Kimball, he's the acting director -- but Coverley, later he become director in Tule Lake. I forgot his first name, but his name is Coverley. He was the director, he become number three in there. You know, the Nash... Coverley's the third one, yeah. And he came to our mess hall and said we're going to open the mess hall in block 22, and whoever want a job, apply for. So I applied for that.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

EO: Let's go back even further. Okay. Now, I understand that Issei and Kibei didn't, were not, they didn't get the best jobs, did they? Tell me about -- was there sort of a discrimination against Issei and Kibei in camp?

HU: Well, yet... well, we were just new out there so I don't know there any discrimination in there or not, yet. You know, first thing they offer me a job is clean up the sagebrush, so I accepted. I'm not afraid to work hard, so I went out and I got sixteen dollar a month. Then I have a chance to look and see the, outside the camp then. You know what I mean? I never been that area, so I seen some of these old, old stall or barn, and broken chicken wires and some horse manure still there, and so the people must lived there a long time ago. And then I brought some horse manure back and plant popcorn I had, so I plant the popcorn seed in there but I brought the whole bunch of, find the old gunnysack in the, in the horse barn, and filled up the manure. But the time I emptied out there, I notice a bunch of small scorpions in there. [Laughs] Yeah, lot of scorpion inside the manure, but they're, they're harmless. They went away as long as you don't touch it.

And I plant the popcorn, and then about a month later, Director Coverley made a speech in the mess hall. He said, "Over here, everybody working small wages and volunteer, so as long as you do your job, nobody can tell you to shift a different job or get fired." That's what he told me. That's very important to us later. And so I applied for the mess hall job. Some people, I know a friend of mine, he applied, too. But you know, some of them had syphilis still way deep in the, between the bone, maybe the...

CO: Syphilis?

HU: Yeah. And the blood sample still showed so he couldn't get the job. There's some people have those, you know, but they won't show outside no more, because they're sort of, kind of, what you call, hiding period. And I notice some men, they had, but we never suspect, but a year later my wife told me that he came over and he's blind. You know, they come to the eyes so many years passed.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 14>

HU: And next thing, while we were eating in -- before we opened our mess hall, we were eating in the next block mess hall, we'd be standing there, and dusty, and the sun is so hot while stay in our line. And so I talked to one of, friend of mine working in the mess hall, said, "How about we dig the big pond there? We got plenty of water in here and maybe they'll avoid the dust kick up from the ground, and put the water in. That'll cool off, little bit, and put lot of rock around. And they could sit on there, and wait 'til the mess hall's open." They ring the bell but they have to stand on line, see. So that make it much easier for people to wait for. So we started to dig the pond and here comes one old man, his name is Nishi. He said, "What are you doing?" I said, "We're going to dig the big pond over here." And he said, "Oh, that's a good idea. I've got an experience to build a pond, so I'll give you a sketch so you could work on it." So we started working on his sketch and built a pond. We built a great big pond, about 80 feet, figure-eight shape. And the first thing the people work in the farm, we had one building, a lot of bachelors, they worked in a farm. They were from San Fernando, see. And we asked them, "Bring a chicken wire in." And people live around here a long time ago, they had a chicken coop and a lot of chicken wires that lay around in open fields. "Bring some of them, so we could put it in under the cement, they won't crack."

And the first problem was the cement. Those days, all the barracks' entrance a little high for the children. They had to crawl up to the, inside their apartment. And the old people, they're pretty hard to step in. So a lot of people steal the cement and make the block. They can't get any wood, so a lot of cement been stealing. So administration get very strict and a lot of people been put into jail for stealing the cement. And so, well, I started so I had to do something. I went over and the first time I met the acting director, Ned Kimball, he was a real power in Manzanar. Because the other director, Nash, Kimball and Coverley, they all stay a short time, you know, a few months and go. So he's the one that's a real power in administration at Manzanar. So I met him and I told him, "This is not for myself, for the people in the block, I build the pond there, please give me some cement." Not for personal use, but everybody, so he gave me permission for three sacks. Three won't do it, I know. So I told the driver, "Show these permits and get the three sacks, but don't give 'em." So he went over eight times -- [laughs] -- and we used twenty-four sacks of cement.

So we built the pond, and we named that Otowanotaki, that means [inaudible] pond in Kyoto. They still have that name in Kyoto. You know, there's a lot of old stories, love story, in that famous pond, so we used that name there. And we built that, and the people, whole block people working on Sunday, borrowed the truck and a trailer and bring great big rocks so they could put around the pond so they could sit on it. And the garbage men, they go out and dump the garbage in east side of Manzanar, they had a lot of small ponds all around there. And lot of carps in there. And they could bring a live carp in a garbage can and dump in there, so people could watch the fish swimming. And the farmer there, they come from up in Mt. Whitney, around there, there's a lot of trouts in irrigation water. So they bring some trout, too, so put it in the pond and people enjoyed those, watching it. [Laughs] So they dug out a few months ago, that pond, they going to rebuild the whole thing. The pond was in pretty good shape, I think, then. I'd like to see this year.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

EO: I want to -- let's start again about the rice. Can you just kind of tell us again -- didn't, the rice didn't cook well, so you had lots leftover.

HU: Yeah.

EO: And then the whole sugar story.

HU: Yeah. I make the rice crispy and feed, that's, from the beginning I noticed the shortage of sugar. Administration doesn't say anything. And I told my storekeeper, "Keep the record how much sugar the, the supply department give to you. You could always scale those thing. Meat, I know they're always getting less and less. But no way to scale the meat because we only had a small scale. Meat come in in quarter. And they used to have filet mignon of steak to the, the quarter. And we checked that filet mignon for the minor children. They could eat, tender. But none of it came after a couple times. So we know the administration eating all those things that people... Caucasian mess hall, block one, they having everything. I visit there several times. I notice that they got a sugar bowl and every table, a couple sugar bowls, every one filled up. And sugar is, black market is so good. And I hear from policemen, every time that any cars going out, in, they open the trunk and inspect it. I hear from several policemen, some of these acting director, Kimball, he had two-three hundred pounds of sugar in a, stored up in the trunk there. But he's a powerful man and nobody opened their mouths and say anything. But I hear that from several policemen. I believe that he would do that.

EO: Were these policemen Japanese?

HU: Yeah.

EO: So you did have, Japanese were policemen inside the camp.

HU: Oh yeah, the chief of police was Kiyoshi Higashi. And under that, I don't know how many, but they had a Caucasian, only chief of police, and assistant chief of police is Caucasian. Gilby, and assistant chief of police is a William.

EO: And was there an army presence there?

HU: No. Only thing army is in tower. That's all. So we don't see 'em unless we approach near the tower. I never go outside the Manzanar, so I don't see them. But some people, depend on their work, they see them.

EO: So the Japanese policemen, or Japanese American evacuee policemen, who have this job of inspecting cars?

HU: Yeah, right, they do that. But they're afraid to open their mouths against any administration officer. Because I know after the Manzanar incidents, Myer sent a telegram -- I got the FBI record there -- he said, "All personnel eating in the Caucasian mess hall, give up their ration card." In other words, they've been eating all our sugar, all our ration food without surrendering their ration cards. So he sent a telegram twice. In December 10 or 15 and then January 1st again. Because they had people come from outside to work, people live inside, schoolteacher and all those people, they're all eating in Mess Hall 1, that's the Caucasian mess hall. Of course, cook was Japanese. And every time I go, they offer me a piece of cake, but I never, I don't like to eat there because I'm fighting with the administration for ration food, see.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

EO: When you first discovered the shortage of sugar, did you go to the camp administrator?

HU: No, I couldn't go right away because we still not organized the mess hall union or anything.

EO: But did you go somewhere to report this shortage?

HU: After I organized, I get the permission from Director Coverley to organize there because they get a lot of complaints. Every mess hall chief went over to administration and shortage of meat and sugar. They complained, but individual complaint doesn't mean anything, they won't even listen to it. So that I told Coverley, I went over to see him and said, "Mess hall, we had thirty-eighty mess hall, including the hospital and the orphanage mess hall. Thirty-six blocks, thirty-eight mess halls. And you had a lot of complaints come in. And so many complained that you don't know what to do. So let us organize and make the one package: everybody's complaints in the one package, and then let you know what we want, and then you give us instructions what to do, we could spread the word to everybody." And I went to the mess steward, Winchester, his name, him, too. So he said, "That's a good idea." He agreed with me and give me permission to organize. That's why I organized. Everybody was ready for those things. And we asked him to select five representatives for the whole mess hall, and so we could, in other words, negotiating committee of five. And we went in, but, well, other people, they don't like talking against them, so I'm the one most of the time talking to Ned Kimball, the Acting Director. And a lot of the time, we have to argue this thing because he said we have to use a lot of sugar in the hospital. I couldn't understand why the hospital have to use a lot of sugar. I went to the hospital, there's the only mess hall they kept the record. And the hospital said, "We never use, a lot of people have the diabetes, so we don't use the sugar. So we don't use more than what they supply us," they said. So that was a lie.

And another thing, before we organized, they used to give us a box of orange a month. And box of little cookies for the minor children's snack, because we used to give children a little snack outside, you know, the 3 o'clock. But in a camp, they send out box of oranges and box of cookies, we just give to the minor children, you know, kindergarten and under, see. When the lunch time, we just put it in the paper and give to them. Then about a month later, we didn't see nothing. Then all of a sudden my friend coming back from canteen, she's carrying the orange and I said, "Where'd you get those oranges? The same thing we used to get 'em," I told her. Oranges used to be boxes, a longer box, not like today. A lot more in there, hundred fifty or hundred sixty-five in there, see. So she said, "I buy in the canteen." And she had the cookies, same thing, too. So I went to the Block 16, his name is -- he's a Kibei and name is Tateoka. I asked him, "Would you ask the administration what's happened to the orange and the cookies we used to get for the minor children?" And he said, "No, no, no, no, no." He was kind of, "We cannot talk against the administration." So I went to Tateishi. I didn't know him before but he was the next block manager, Block 23. That's John Tateishi's father, and he's about the same age as me. And I asked him, "Could you speak up in the block manager meeting and ask Mr. Kimball what happened to those orange and the cookies they used to supply us for nothing? Now people have to buy." So he went over the administration and I went in the afternoon and watched what he's going to say. Then Kimball said, "That was a mistake and we sent to the canteen and sold those cookies and oranges." That's about three thousand dollars or more, somebody pocketed those things. [Laughs] So in other words, finally they admit they had a mistake but they don't say they're going to give us a benefit for the lost three thousand dollars, no. And that's the way that it was.

I have a record from assistant chief of police in the Poston camp, same way there. Mess stewards, they do all kinds of trick to cheat the people. He wrote those articles, that same way. And I talked to the assistant director in Tule Lake, Paul Robertson. I still communicate with him. You know, Paul Robertson, he lives in Carmichael. He's about eighty-nine or ninety years old. And he told me one time, I visited his home in Carmichael, and he said, "You know, Harry, in camp at Tule Lake, before the strike," that's before 1943 strike, November, mid-November they had the strike there. Before the strike at Tule Lake they had a hog farm, chicken farm and slaughterhouse for the hogs. And one time the head of the slaughterhouse, he had a accident going back to his home on the railroad track there. Car had something, probably a railroad track that bumped something and he had an accident. His trunk was wide open. Nothing but full of pork in there. In other words, he was stealing all those pork in the black market in his village or town, see. And that's the way they are. Even at Manzanar. Same way.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

EO: What you have discovered, just because you found this shortage of things --

HU: Yeah, then administration tried to cover up everything, you know, they tell a lie. And because of the sugar shortage, the block manager group even bring a complaint but they don't actively negotiate. They're afraid to speak up. You know, they just complain but they don't go any farther than that. But we're the ones direct complaint from people, you know. They don't go to block manager and cry about it. But we, the cooks, they think we're doing some, overuse the sugar or something else. Or take home. They think so. So we get blame for the shortage. But that's why we have to go after administration. Now, finally they set up what you call investigating committee from block managers and the mess hall, but they're not active. So I went over to talk to Kimball, and Kimball said, "Well, we have to use so many sugar for making soy sauce," he said. Well, that's why I put in a complaint. Soy sauce is a manufactured thing and outside, the citizens, they want to preserve during the fruit season, preserve some fruit, they could ask the ration board for extra sugar for preserving and they'd get it. And if they want to manufacture the soy sauce and the sugar, they could apply for that. And they'll get the permission for extra sugar. But they don't do that; they just take our sugar and shift into soy sauce.

So for the investigating, I went direct to the manufacturing person there. His name, I've forgotten his first name but his last name is Nakamura. And he said, "I've been making soy sauce prior to the war. And I'm an experienced soy sauce maker. Soy sauce, they use the sugar for color, the soy sauce color, not for the taste or anything. They use salt and soybeans and sugar to color those soy sauce color." So, I asked him, "How much soy sauce do you use the sugar in?" He said, "So far, I put up 1600 gallons and I used 275 pounds of sugar. And administration send me 300 pounds." In other words, three sacks of sugar. That isn't too much. And the way the administration, 275 pounds in the whole camp is not too much. In October, they're short 6,200 or 300 pound shortage. And they admit that. And they said, "We're going to replace in November whatever shortage was." But just word only. We never get any extra sugar, see. So the, I think the administration, Kimball, must be black-marketing that sugar. I don't think the ration board in Washington, they would do that. If they be short, we'd see in the newspaper. You know, we have to cut down the ration.

So they shift me FBI. I told the FBI, and they said, "You accuse the administration cheating the sugar." "It's true," I told them. I told them that. "And you're investigating me, you're investigating the wrong place. Go to administration and investigate." Then the next thing I'd see, two men from Washington, FBI, you know, directly connected with the ration board came over and said, "You know, you're accusing the administration. If there be any consequence, you, you are responsible if there be lie or anything." Well, if I be wrong, I'll take the, whatever the punishment I get, I told 'em. So the two men went to the administration and never come back to me. In other words, they find they're wrong. But FBI or WRA, the same, under the Roosevelt administration, they'd cover each other. They're never going to tell that they were wrong and people was right, no. And they find out they're wrong, but they covered up. And then they said they were pro-Axis and that's bull. You know, there never had been pro-Axis or pro-American. Some of the people, the flag-wavers, like Ned Kimball said Fred Tayama and several other people he named, you know, he said, "Those people are flag-wavers. We can't trust them." I've got article there. Probably you saw that, too, I think.

EO: So, what you're having is you are yourself having, having a run-in with...

HU: Kimball, yeah. After I went to the warehouse and talked to the manufacturer and come back and I met the supply department, his name is Yoshiro Kaku. He's a second-generation, and I talked to him. "If the administration is supposed to give us extra sugar in November, do they have any sugar stored up in the warehouse?" It's already November, see. So, "Let's go see it." And he opened up the warehouse and get the sugar pile here and there. So we was putting in how many sacks here and there, we didn't hardly have enough. Just maybe twenty or thirty sacks in there. That don't mean too much, you know. So, meantime, that Kimball put two Japanese onto tailing me all the time. He's a stooge for trailing me, you know. So every time I go to an administration meeting, block manager meeting, if I go there, he check on it. And every time, if I go in my working hours, I put somebody else in place me, ask him do extra hours so I could take his time and replace the, his working hours. So I always careful, you know. But two men always follow me, so while we were checking the warehouse, the mess steward there, Winchester, came over and jumped on us and tear off the record we was marking on. [Laughs] Then the very next day, some Japanese messenger came over, "Mr. Kimball wants to talk to you." "Okay, I'll be there this afternoon," I told them. After my work I went over to the office and they said, "Harry, you know, I got a good job for you in the outside. I had rich people outside there willing to hire you. And if your wife is willing to work, he'll hire your wife, too." Then he tried to convince me to go outside, quit the union, and go. Three hours he was talking. I said, "No. As long as war is going on, I'm afraid to take my family out." I know once I'm out he won't let me come back to Manzanar. I know that, see. So I didn't agree with him. So, he's looking chance to get rid of me.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

EO: And why didn't you leave?

HU: Well, I'm afraid outside you hear so much news of Japanese being attacked. Even that, if just myself, I don't care. But small children, you know, it's kind of difficult. If they go to school, and some discriminate people might attack them or hurt them. I'm afraid, see. So I said, "Until war stop, I won't go out," I tell him. So I think he's looking for the chance to get rid of me.

And another thing, after I organized... that was in September, I think. They give us an old 1920 or 1919 old used military clothes, army clothes, you know. They give us. And they said in camp, Free Press, you know, "We give you army clothes, so this month, no clothing fee." The clothing fee for the, like my family -- three children and two adults -- means lots because those days, you could buy the working shoes for three dollars and jean pants maybe dollar and a half or two dollars for children. So very important, that. I get three and a quarter, my wife gets three and a quarter, and children get $2.75. So that's very important for a lot of families with children. So, they give us army clothes. You know, the army clothes from World War I and like pants like horse-riding pants -- [laughs] -- and old jackets. That big coat was good; it kept warm for adults. And so I went to Kimball, and said, "Mr. Kimball, I couldn't talk for other people but mess hall people like to have a clothing fee better than these army, old army uniforms. We can't use 'em all. Some we could use, but not all of them. So we'd rather have a clothing fee. So, if you give us a clothing fee, we're going to return all the old clothes," I tell him. And about ten days later in the Free Press, it said, "You kept your old army uniform. We're going to pay your clothing fee." So that's, maybe it hurt the administration to save some money.

And soy sauce, too. You know, they charged 50 cents to other camps, asking how much it cost to make the soy sauce. Mr. Nakamura said, "You know, in camp, warehouse, they don't charge us." So we don't have a rent for the warehouse, people work for sixteen dollar. I'm the only one get $19. So we could make the soy sauce between twelve, maximum fifteen cents. Maybe thirteen or fourteen cents is more likely. They're making a profit more than three times, fifty cents a gallon, to sell to the other camps. Not only use in Manzanar. And they even said, "We're going to make the soybean paste," miso the Japanese call. Make the soup, use the sugar. I never hear in Japan they use the sugar in making miso. Never use it. So they tried to get away with all kind of excuse, but we know better than that. [Laughs]

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

HU: Fred had two brothers, Harry and Tom, the brothers, younger brothers. Tom is the supply department. Harry is Block 24, Block -- I mean, chief of the mess hall there. That's why they, we already know they had a problem. Tayama knows he had so many enemies, because everybody knows he informed a lot of people from Japanese community. So already a rumor in the camp that Tayama had, somebody might attack him, so he needed protection. So his second brother, Harry, the mess hall chief, he feed a lot of people from behind the back door of the mess hall, younger people. They feed him the good part of the steak or something good, because he's, youngest brother is in supply department, he can get him anything he wants. So he had a bunch of young people come in. Then for instance, like Thanksgiving day in November, the people in the block, they all get these scraps because the turkey is limited in proportion to the kitchen, they'll deliver so much. So they feed the younger people first in the back door, and block people doesn't get any good part of the turkey. So they asked Winchester, the mess steward, to fire him. We want another chief of mess hall. But Winchester and Tayama's families very close together, and so do administration. So they asked him twice, and nothing doing. So they, finally they come to me: "You're the mess hall organizer. Will you represent us and go up there and talk to him?" But I talked to his brother but he almost throw me out of the mess hall. [Laughs] So, no use. But eventually the Manzanar incident, they all went to the desert army camp there. So...

EO: Do you think that as well as being considered an informer, do you think that Tayama was also making a little money on the side?

HU: I don't know. He's get lots of favoritism from administration. Then some of the FBI records said he got free to travel outside, you see. For instance, if he goes to the Salt Lake City to see Mike Masaoka, they give permission. If I go, they won't give me permission. For instance, like a furlough, they give to the Nisei but the Kibei, none. And before, they, they won't let any Kibei go out. They already separate the same citizens but Kibei and Nisei is separate.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

EO: Okay, so now you told us who Fred Tayama is. Who was Joe Kurihara?

HU: Joe Kurihara, he born in 1895 in island of Oahu. Then about seventeen or eighteen years old, he volunteered to join the United States Army in the second, World War I.

EO: World War I.

HU: Yeah. And he went overseas for twenty-five months, fought for United States. And he come back, and he attend the University of Chicago, and he's a licensed navigator. And he's a licensed accountant, a well-educated man. And when the war started, he was navigator for Portuguese tuna clipper. Tuna fish. Going to, all the way to the outside of Costa Rica, that, what was that island that's way out a thousand mile away from Costa Rica. And the tuna fish is quite a bit around there. Used to be they used a long pole to fish the tuna fish. They don't use a net, you know.

EO: So you got to know him. How did you get to know him?

HU: He, he come and started to contact me after I organized the mess hall, you see. I didn't know him. But he started to come over to my place and contact me. And one time he came over and we see the... "Let's go see the Tayama." He want to debate JACL and his idea in an open forum.

EO: And what was his idea?

HU: His idea is, in the camp is all, regardless of Nisei or Kibei or Issei, they're all Japanese. So we have to work for the good of whole community. And don't try to separate because he's a Issei or he's a Kibei or Nisei, you know. His idea is that. And Tayama is well-known from outside for informing the people. So, "Let's go see the Tayama," and then we went over and see the Tayama. And we proposed those but he can't answer right away. Then we said, "By the way, you are well-known for informing the people." We tell him that, him direct. And, "Slocum said you're the good informer for Nihonjin." He said, "No, no, not me; Slocum is the informer." So we went to the Slocum's home and said, "Tok, we hear you're informing the people. Why are you in the camp and why are you informing all the innocent people out here?" He said, "No, no; not me. Tayama, he bring a half a dozen slips here Tayama saying inform the people." I took one of them and take a look and he was informing two block leaders, Issei.

EO: He was informing on these people to the administration.

HU: No, FBI. You know, I tell you that in Manzanar, jail is just like a ordinary barrack where live. Half is for the jail. And right in the middle is the chief of police room there, not to big; it's narrow. That's a interrogation room, too. Then the front, is, they had a bench and a table so whatever the policeman or visitor, they could wait in there. See whoever they wanted to see, chief of police or whatever. But the way I hear afterwards, not while I was in Manzanar, but afterwards, the young people tell me every time the people, informer come over and see the police or either FBI visit Manzanar, that's quite often they come, you know, and they call whoever they want to see, the informer, they talk in the small room there. And the people in the jail, they get a little cup or something, they could hear everything they talk. And they could see who they are. You know, I mean, they could recognize who they are, see. So, they didn't know. The administration don't know, but I hear from those people so it must be true. You could, thin, one wood panel there, you could hear all the words they're talking about. So when the riots start, fifty people were informers. Lot of them, I don't even hear the names before. But the administration know whoever brings all the information, the FBI knows, and administration probably got all the names and ballot number. So they sent an ambulance there with two MP in behind and they took 'em out to the army camp and the next day they move over to the Mojave Desert, another army base there.

EO: Death Valley.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

EO: Let's back up then. Tell us about the beatings, because now we're leading up to the riots.

HU: Right.

EO: So, in fact, can you tell us from sort of before the beating, like, what was happening?

HU: Well, what's happening is Fred Tayama and Kiyoshi Higashi, he's the chief of police -- he's from Terminal Island -- and I think another person is Joe Masaoka, I'm not too sure. Two or three people went to Salt Lake City a few days before, that's December 1st or 2nd, for meeting Mike Masaoka in Salt Lake City. And they wanna --

EO: JACL meeting?

HU: Yeah. They wanna draft all the Japanese citizens to army. So when they come back, I think December 3rd or 4th they come back, you know, a few days out there in Salt Lake City and come back. Then December 5th night, about 9 o'clock -- no, 8:30 or around that time, Tayama been attacked by half dozen masked people. And then I was out 'til 8 o'clock. They had a Block 13 movie for PTA people, Parent/Teacher Association, you know. And my kids, two of them were going to grammar school, so I belong to them. But I have to get up 5 o'clock so I just peek in how many attending in the movie out there. And then I went back, and get in the bed 8 o'clock. Nine o'clock I hear a bunch of noise outside the door and somebody banging the door. So I went out and I have a nightgown and assistant chief of police there, Williams, he came over and said, "Mr. Ueno, I want you to come down to the police station." They had a half dozen Japanese, two jeeps full, policemen in there. "So, will you change your clothes and come with us?" "Okay." Then I changed my clothes and went to the police station. And I put in the chief of police office, you know, the interrogation office. He asked me where I was, and I told him where I was. And then after a while, the chief of police, Gilke his name is, he went out and then assistant chief of police, William, come and sit with me. And he didn't ask anything, he just talked general inside the camp, like that. Then pretty soon, Tayama family's come in. Chief of, Japanese chief of police, Higashi, come in and a bunch of people come into the, into the police station. Then Tayama and all that making lot of -- not the Tayama, but his family -- his brother and children and so on, they're making lot of noise. But we were sitting there 'til oh, about 12:30, 1 o'clock. Then Gilke come over and put the handcuff on me. And then took 'em out to the police station. I see Kimball, acting director, he brought the car. And Gilke said, "Let's sit in the back seat." I had the handcuffs. He sit on one side, I sit one side, and Kimball drive the car. And we went out the sentry box in the entrance and head to the north. I never been outside the camp so I don't know where they're going to take me.


HU: That was about 9 pm. I hear the noise outside my door, and same time they're banging my door, so I get up from my bed and I see the assistant chief of police, William. I never met him before but he introduced himself. He wanted to talk to me in the police station. So, "Change your clothes and come with us." I see there are two truckloads of Japanese police with him. So I change my clothes and went with him to the police station. And I went in, Gilke, chief of police Gilke was there, and he took me into interrogation room. He asked me where I was between 7:00 and 8:00. I told him where I was. I walk around after the dinner and I visit Block 13; they had PTA movies going on. And I belong to one of the members so I peek in but I don't go in because I have to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning. So he didn't question too much, just an alibi for where I was. Then he went out. Then assistant chief of police, William, was in there. I hear William, they could speak, understand some Japanese, I hear. I'm not too sure, I never met him before, but he understand Japanese. And, then he was sit with me, but he never questioned me. All we talked was general inside the camp.

Then about, we'd been sitting there for hour. Then the Tayama family was there. And chief of police, Japanese chief of police Higashi Kiyoshi, he... yeah, Kiyoshi is name, he came over and said, you see, incidentally, had, Tayama was afraid so much for the other people, he staying in his room next door. See, Higashi's a bachelor. He and his brother was right in the next room. If anything happened to Tayama, they could come and help him. So that's the way arrangement was. And Higashi, he was saying, "I'll search for guilty one in the camp. Even no stone is unturned in the camp." He was yelling, you know. And so after that they went home and William and me sitting there for, oh, maybe a couple of hours or so. About 12 or 12:30, Gilke come in and put the handcuff on me and then we went outside the police station. I noticed that Kimball, his car was there. Kimball was the driver. And we sittin' behind the back seat and he drove out the camp and heading for north. So I told Gilke, "Will you please... I don't know where you're going to take me, but please notify my family where I'm taken to." Instead of he answer, Kimball turned around and said, "Nobody going to know where we're going to take you, and you will never come back to the camp anymore." That's what he said. So I, I told him, "Maybe you're going to take me to some jail or someplace but someday you're going to get punished the way you treat the Japanese people in the camp. You're going to be a bigger jail than I am," I told him. [Laughs] And he was raging mad. But soon, six mile away, the Independence jail was.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 23>

EO: Oh, but, so you're in jail and you have come back. You don't know what's been going on. But now you know, so can you tell us what had been happening when you were in jail?

HU: While I was in jail, well, the next day, early morning, Joe Kurihara called a meeting to the mess hall people. And they called in Block 22 but too many people, so they have to held the meeting outside. They couldn't fill in the mess hall, too many people. So he get up on the stand and spoke out, when, is negotiating, "Give us fight for our right for the food," and so on, you know. "So he's innocent, and Tayama is a stool pigeon so we got no sympathy with him." And same time, people started electing a negotiating committee, you know, Joe Kurihara alone can't do it. So they elect four other people. And all I know is that Tateishi, I know, I met him several times. But other people I don't know. They, some work in the mess hall, some in different jobs but they elect. So the five people, first time I met them there, other three was. And Joe, most of the time, he talked. He said, "Well, Harry, right now we tried to meet Merritt and negotiate with him, and try to release you tonight. But that's, unless we see Merritt we can't do it." So they're looking for the Merritt after, I think it close to 6 o'clock, that was.

Then after the dinner, lot of people trickle in. You know, they come in and some people I know come to the jail and I open the window, we shake hands and we talk to 'em. That was kind of a cold night, you know, December 6th. Very cold, windy. And you can't just stand still, too cold. So they walking up and down, some say they're three thousand, some say they're four thousand, I don't know how many people. And I noticed the MP was already barricade. You know, they put the sandbag right along the police station and some curve to the right. So I couldn't see the end and I could see the MP nearby, close to the police station, young man there is visible, kind of shaking they're afraid of so many Japanese marching up and down there singing. And they don't throw anything like what you called that, Farewell to Manzanar movie. They don't carry no weapon, no. They got a, no way. Because MP got a pellet gun, I think sort of like a shotgun, you know. There a little heavier pellets in there. And the sergeant in charge of the MP was walking up and down behind those MPs, "Hold your line; remember Pearl Harbor. Hold your line," he was yelling to the MPs, you know. And then I noticed just about 9 o'clock, they can't find Merritt because Merritt's not in the camp.

Then I noticed Captain Hall, you know, he's a tall soldier, he's walking toward the sentry box. The sentry box today is different. That one was built about a year later by some Japanese before they had the full side of glass and lights on so I could see from inside the jail, you know, the window, through the window. And Captain Hall is a tall fellow, he's walking toward the sentry box. Then I see the three people, I recognize them. One is Chief of Police Gilke, one is Merritt, I just met that evening so I remember he's a tall man, too; skinny, but tall. And three men was a conference. And same time I noticed a MP coming behind the police station and started putting the gas mask. So I went to the front side of window and tell a friend of mine, said, "I think they might, going to throw the tear gas, so you better back off from here." Those few went back, and as soon as the MPs coming back, they throw the tear gas, and the tear gas is popping here and there, all the way out to the end there, I couldn't see the other end there, little curve there. Then whole area was covered with gas, smoke and you can't see nothing, and people was running away. Then the same time, I hear the six shots near the police station and I hoped there was just scare 'em off, the people. But when the gas was clear, I noticed only about ten or twelve feet away, one man is facedown and face toward the camp.

So inside the police station, they had about seven or eight people was in there. Five negotiating committee and two other people. One guy's name Matsumura, was a JACL boy. And so all together, eight people was in the police station. And then I noticed that three men came out from inside the police station, tried to carry that man fall down on the face there. And it's kind of, pretty hard when the person is dead, pretty hard to carry. So I jump out the window and help carry the one hand and four people bring him into the police station. There's a table, I put it, turn over, and he was lifeless already. His name is Ito. He's from, he's apparently from Pasadena, and he was eighteen years old. And George Matsumura, he was sitting the end of the table there; he pounded the table, "I made a mistake. I never thought such a thing could happen." He was one of the strong JACL men. He was yelling himself, pounding the table. And I tried to get back to jail, here comes Captain Hall, running with a, he had the long boots and a long sword, you know, used to be a ceremonial sword, he's running from a... what do you call... the sentry box. And he comes back and he called the sergeant and said, "Who fired that shot?" Then the sergeant points to the young man, I think he said that he fired two shots. And another man, he points, "He fired one shot, I fired two shots. And machine gun, way up in the end, they fired but I couldn't see what's happening on the other side." And then after that, well, everybody's disappeared; not a soul around there. I hear the bell, every mess hall ringing the bell. I didn't know how many people been shot or anything, I don't know.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

HU: And about one o'clock or so, MP with a pick-up truck, the pick-up bed -- I mean, a flatbed truck, they came over and I'd been taken out from jail, and the five negotiating committee and two other was in, three other was in police station. Only Matsumura, they don't take him, because the administration know what he was; he was a good boy for administration, informer. So they didn't take him, but the five in negotiating committee and two others and myself, eight of us, been put onto the truck there and sit on the floor. Earlier they carried the ice, I think, a bunch of small ice on the floor, but we sit on and half a dozen or more MP with the tommy gun sit on the bench. [Laughs] And they took them all the way up to Bishop, twenty mile away. So we'd be there, the, I don't know, there's two o'clock, almost two o'clock. Then we'd been put in jail out there. Jail was pretty big out there. Sheriff was pretty nice, you know. Next day he give me all the information, he give me a LA Times paper, the Chandler's newspaper; I kept that newspaper, what's happened. And then Merritt said that this was a collision between pro-Axis and pro-American group. That's what he announced. He just said anything he want but we can't do nothing.

And we stayed there three days, and three days after that, 9th, 10th, I thought they're going to take him back to the camp or something. We're, they put on the truck and passing Manzanar; you can see the lights all over, so I was surprised we're going back to the camp, I thought. No, they bypassed all the way to the Lone Pine, that's eleven miles south of the Manzanar camp. In other words, the 31-mile ride and we'd been put into the Lone Pine jail. Lone Pine jail was about four sides all cement, one small window, one light in the middle. Supposed to be, accommodate only four people because two double bunker beds there, that's all. But a bunch of cots in there; you can't even walk in there no more. You have to jump one after another to go into the bathroom. They didn't have a separate bath -- toilet in the corner. That's all open. [Laughs] And they had about... let's see, six people in there. In other words, no, let's see... we were eight, eight people in there; sixteen people in all together. That was, they was sleeping and then we sleep in there after late.

But the MP was in, what you call... by the door and they got a thick, about a half-inch thick steel door there. And Sunday night or Saturday night, I noticed the MP was drunk and I hear some woman's voice and they get drunk and they shoot up the door with a gun. They're crazy. They, liquor in and they get hurt themselves. And we didn't eat from the morning, so we're hungry. But the next morning, the MP brought some coffee in one jug, mug, one cup only for sixteen people. [Laughs] So we got no place to complain. And then inside was very cold, you know, the end of, December, very cold, freezing cold. They have a stove but no oil to burn, nothing. And we've been there for about a month.

EO: And you had not seen your wife?

HU: No, no. But meantime, Ernest Wakayama and Kurozumi and one more man, three men went out within a few days. Two of them, Kurozumi and... oh, I dropped his name, he's a Stanford graduate man; administration gave him a box of cigars and apology and let 'em out. They brought the box of cigars for each one of them. They were block managers. And I noticed that one of them accused the JACL, informed so many people, Issei. That's why they'd been taken in. In other words, they were branded as pro-Axis but actually they, they were good block managers; they're not against the administration policy or anything. So we'd been cooped up there for the month. But the food was very good, because every mess hall, instead of army feed us, mess hall take turn and bring the food every day.

EO: You mean from the camps?

HU: From the camp. And something, WRA don't finish that kind of food. Some people had like shiitake, Japanese black mushroom and some bamboo shoots, something like that. They open the can, they donate the can so they, some mess hall bring extra fancy food, something we can't get ourselves in the camps. So every day they feed us, take turns.

EO: You mean they drive out to Lone Pine with food?

HU: Yeah, supply the food...


EO: You spent Christmas at the Lone Pine jail?

HU: Yeah, Christmas Lone Pine jail.

EO: Did you celebrate?

HU: Nah, nothing. No, nothing.

EO: Did you have in mind at all that it was the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

HU: Nothing. We can't do nothing on that. We have nothing on the mind as such.

EO: This riot had nothing to do with...

HU: No, nothing to do with Pearl Harbor. That's what they... American people sympathized when they said they'll punish the bastards that celebrate the Pearl Harbor or pro-Axis group, they said, "They're right to punish them." That's what the administration tell to the public. That's all the public knows. See, they talk about incidents, collision between pro-Japan and pro-, what do you call... American, see.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

EO: Now, just to back up a little bit, here you were, dragged out of bed, taken to a jail, came back, there's a riot, and now you've been taken to another jail. Has anybody talked about having a lawyer for you or a legal hearing? Have you had any opportunity here to defend yourself in this? And how is it that they picked you up? I mean, who accused you?

HU: I think more like Kimball, Kimball himself. Of course, Tayama and Kimball were like that, too, you know, together. So whatever Kimball said, I think Tayama won't object, I guess. In other words, put me away for good, they're both happy, I guess. And Tayama is always afraid anybody accuse him direct. And he knows that people know what he's doing, down in, before the war and in the camp, too. Everybody's an open book, he's doing there. And...

EO: Well, had they talked to you about having a hearing or...

HU: No, never. Never have a hearing. Then about January 1943, early January, they elected second negotiating committee. In other words, the first negotiating committee in jail with me, and so we're about thirteen people in the Lone Pine jail, now. Three of Issei went out. And Wakayama, he was talking big outside, but I guess he'd been scared. You know, he said, "Oh, if there's any problem, I have a good lawyer." In other words, he had a civil liberty union one time use as a sample of suing the government for violating constitutional right and so... but he backed off that too, I guess. So he's trying to avoid contact with my family or anybody involved in that thing. And December 8th, I think the camp lawyer, Throckmorton his name, he said, "Write, write down what you think you was in for." I said, "You didn't charge me for any crime. Now how the hell I could write why I am in for?" And so I just give him a blank paper; I couldn't write anything. "You didn't charge me anything with." So again, he said, "Write anything," he said. Then same time, second negotiating committee, Otamoto, Murakami and Eikanda and a couple others, came over to the jail. "Write anything so that you could be transferred instead of staying in jail in some other big place and you have a much easier life." Well, I noticed that second negotiating committee is with Ralph Merritt, new director, in other words, they worked with him. Not worked, worked for us, no, I noticed that. Because a lot of young men in camp, they've been detained afterward, they told me what happened in the camp, you know. And they was going after the second negotiating committee, to, "What you going to do about those people that are detained in there and living there?" But I think that Ralph Merritt is very powerful in the WRA, he's a German descendant. So do Dylan Myers, a German descendant. And here he's pretty powerful in WRA organization, see. So, in other words, instead of working for the people, they become working for administration. And December... I think the 10th, the MP give me a slip...

EO: Is this December or January?

HU: Huh?

EO: Is it December 10th or January 10th?

HU: January 10th. Yeah, January. They passed a little slip to everyone who was in there, thirteen of us. And about, oh, just before 8 o'clock, they said, "Everybody hurry up and" -- we're having breakfast, you know -- "hurry up and come outside. Take your belongings, pack your belongings and come outside." Then some of them said, "Oh we're going back to camp." They was happy. I said, "You'd better eat your stuff or take your food. I don't think they'll take you back to the camp," I told them. But some of them still in the bed, so I'm a early riser so I pack my things and go out. I see the buses waiting there and in there, there are three people, young people was in, on the bus. So they're going to transfer us to someplace else, I thought. Eventually they all came out, and all together, sixteen of us.

EO: And who were these other people? Did they bring more people from camp?

HU: Yeah, those three people was detained in Independence jail.

EO: But then in your... where you were, at Lone Pine, there were originally eight of you but then, but there were others already in jail?

HU: Yeah, right.

EO: And what were they in for?

HU: Well, I think the men like...

EO: They weren't in there because of the riots? It was something else.

HU: No, there's some connection. Like Ben Kishi, he's one, when December 6th, he was going after Tayama, but he's just a front only. He's a different .. he would show up, but he never intend to. And he was going to strike those JACL, who was it that in... I forget the name. Togo Tanaka. But he knows Tanaka. Tanaka was standing there and he warned Tanaka, "Be careful." And then he said, "Oh, we're going to go after Tanaka. He took the bunch of young people, they don't know anything, they follow him." Then, naturally, Tanaka was the other side, so they won't find in his apartment. "So we go after Tayama," they said. Tayama wasn't in the hospital, he was already shift to the army base, you know. Ambulance took him away from there, so those kind of people, they arrest him. And several other people going at the second negotiating committee, so eventually they been informed to the administration they're coming after us too much, so they arrest them. I noticed the FBI record, they recommended who to send to the Moab.

EO: So basically there were people who were supporting you and the other negotiating committee, they had been arrested as well.

HU: Yeah, the second negotiating committee working with Merritt, they're not working for the people, people think they was working for release us, but no. They're doing a different thing; they're cooperating with the administration. I think Merritt scare 'em off. You know, Merritt told the Manzanar people, "I'm your father, you're my children. You listen to me." That's the way, see. "If you talk against or work against me, you get punished." Yeah, that worked. [Interruption] Myer signed this piece of, slip of paper, "We're going to give you, we're going to transfer to other place and we're going to give you speedy hearing." He signed that paper. But when we went into the other camp, the paper's gone. Yeah, they took -- you know, they looked all inside.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

EO: Where were you taken?

HU: Huh?

EO: Where did, where were you taken?

HU: We were taken to the, I think in Mojave where the train goes to Utah and all that. I think the Mojave, I didn't know. I think that's the place they took us. And we were put into the Pullman car. One dining room car and one sleeping car. And sixteen hours sit right in the middle of the Pullman car. And both sides, front and the back, MP with a tommy gun, you know, watching us. So we took the, let's see, I think the four sheets, left and right, four sheets. And they had one MP standing by the bathroom there, you know, the washroom there. And when we stand and go out there, they said, "Don't close the door. Leave open." [Laughs] So they didn't tell us where we going, nothing. We don't talk each other. Then come lunchtime, they bring your food, we sit there and eat. And evening, about 9 o'clock, finally, the train stopped. Then I hear a lot of foot noise. People walking in the platform, the cement floor, so you hear a lot of noise. The blinders down in both sides of the Pullman car, so you can't see outside. Always through... we were on the train about 9 o'clock, almost twelve hours. Then I peeked through the blind, you know, sideway, I see the lake. "Oh, this must be Salt Lake." So that evening, when the black porter came over to fix the bed, you know, sleeping bed, so I asked him -- and we have to stand up so he make the bed. And I asked him, "Could you give me an envelope and a writing paper and pencil?" He said okay. He don't, he don't say the word, but he nod. And then when the bed is made up they had all those things on 'em by the pillow. So we wrote the letter not direct to my home but somebody else we know where we were and how we went there. So this spread the news in camp we went to the Salt Lake City, so someplace around there we...

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

HU: Next morning we reached to the Moab. Then that was a cold, very cold out there, Utah, you know. And there was an open truck bed we rode, sixteen of us, and took to the CCC camp, that's the camp we went in. And we put in one room there and they post a sentry out there twenty-four hours and if we wanted to go to the bathroom, they called another sentry to escort us to the bathroom. [Laughs] And when breakfast, everything three times a day, we have to line up, sixteen of us line up and a half a dozen MPs escort to their mess hall, MPs' mess hall, we eat there, all we do is wash the dishes, dry 'em, and they do the cooking and give us the food. We've been doing that for, oh, let's see, about a good two months.

Then a bunch of people started come in more, end of, the end of February, there's twelve, well, thirteen people, younger people from Manzanar come in and twelve or thirteen from Poston came in. Then comes to the April, April 3rd, I think, Tule Lake people, fifteen of them, they resist the registration, you know, loyal or disloyal, those questionnaire, you know, two questions. And they said, "Don't sign anything," they spread. And they picked fifteen of them to the Leupp -- not the Leupp, the Moab, yeah. And before that, they want to open the mess hall; already they know, they got notified that more people come in. So they wanted, Best want to open the mess hall. I said, "We didn't come here for our request or anything. You take us over here without our permission or request. And now you put in here, and now you want us to open the mess hall? No. Nothing doing," I told them. "You promised, Myer promised us a hearing. Let's have a hearing first, before you ask us to open the mess hall or anything." So I resisted, I had to fight with Best all the time. Because every time we resist the Best, the mail never, we can't send the mail or receive the mail for the month. So, "That isn't fair," I told them. Then when the mail started come in, every one is opened up. So I told the Best, "Let me see you have the permission from the government to censor our mail? I'm a citizen just like you are. You got no right to open our mail," I told him. So he said, next thing, "Don't close your mail. Just leave open and bring to over here." So we had a lot of arguments.

Then one time, Best took us to the, outside the camp to see those, whatchamacall, dinosaurs, big bone is exposed on a small hill, and lot of those are small bone or some, you know, around Moab they have a lot of those different kind of petrified rock or something there. One time they took us there. And then the second time, I resist open the mess hall so they segregate us. And they bring a MP and the target practice right inside of the building. So that's, you know, they tried... if you resist they showed those things. So I said, the hell with them, and I told, I wrote to my wife, "If they're going to kill me, why, I don't care." I told 'em, the way they treat us is like nothing. So I wrote to Myer, "You lied to us about the hearing and now you treat us like these... I don't want to no longer stay as and American citizen. I'll renounce American citizen, put me in a concentration camp," I told him. And he said, "Right now," he said -- I got the letter back. He said, "Right now we got no law permit to renounce the American citizenship." [Laughs] That was the end of March.

EO: Now, did you have to sign the "loyalty questionnaire" as well?

HU: Yeah, in Leupp.

EO: Oh, so this is later.

HU: Way later.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

HU: Then April 4th, the Tule Lake group came over and then other people went out for the little sightseeing in same kind of place, the petrified wood or something outside, you know, but they won't let us go. And that's why... and the same time they had the new chief of police came in from, he was the assistant chief of police of the Gila camp, Poston, around there. His name is Francis Frederick. And he, Best was in business, went back to Washington, or I don't know, to meet Myer, I guess. Then he said, "Nobody can visit the other barrack without permission. First you want to visit the other barrack, come to office and get permission. If the permission granted, you speak only in English. And take one guide" -- I mean -- "guard with you." I said, "Those, a lot of those people, they won't understand English," I told him. A lot of Kibei, they don't understand English. "How the hell are you going to communicate with them?" "Write down on the paper and bring it in," I told him. "What are you asking for?" They said, "No. I won't write that." Then I want to, then he said, "If you don't agree with my new rule, pack your things and come to office tomorrow morning." I said, "Okay." Then about thirteen of us and younger men and myself from Manzanar, and fifteen of the Tule Lake group, they said, "In that case, we go with you." So out of forty-five or so people, twenty-eight people all pack up their duffel bag or suitcase and line up in the office in the morning. Then the Frederick, chief of police, internal security, see that and say, "Oh, go back to your room. I'll let you know." Then evening, he picked seven people and load up in the army truck and took to Moab jail there. [Laughs]

EO: Were you one of those people?

HU: Yeah, I was one of 'em. Yeah. And the Moab jail, the sheriff was pretty nice, we get along fine. We all put in one room there. Then we been there for, let's see... February 5 to February 27 or so. About, almost three weeks. And then the 27th, sheriff said, "Everybody pack your things and come out from jail." It was early in the morning, you know, about eight o'clock. So we packed our things and we went outside. I see the, one pick-up with the new build the box on the, behind the pick-up -- I mean, truck, flat-bed truck. And that was 5 x 6, around that size, the box. About oh, four feet high. And a padlock on the back. They open and he picked the five people to go in there. And only small breathing hole in back, and put the padlock on it. Then a list of people I seen riding a bus there. And we're riding a long, a long ways, takes more than ten hours to reach the Leupp.

EO: Did they stop? Did you get lunch?

HU: Yeah, they stopped for the gas. But you see around Utah, all those places, there a lot of potholes here and there and the road is not all paved. Dusty and the dust come in there and the truck is shaking like that. We get groggy and sick. Two people is pale color and they can hardly eat anything. We can't eat anything. Our stomach's upset because the long drive, and shaking all the time. So they finally, that evening about, oh 5:30, we reached the Leupp. And they said, "Get out here." And we come out from the box there, and I notice that other people was in the mess hall there. And they tried to feed us but the people was inside the box, we can't eat anything, our stomachs upset. I just picked one orange and then that's all I ate. So the other people, they can't eat anything. Then half an hour later, they said, "Come back to the box again." And this time, four people, that's me and three other young men, they took 'em to the Winslow, about 27 miles away. Winslow is a little higher ground, about 4,000 feet, you know, climate's a little cooler than Leupp is. Leupp is in the desert-like.

EO: This is Arizona?

HU: Yeah, Arizona. Yeah. Winslow, they have a jail there and two bunkers, that's all. In other words, for two people, supposed to be. And I could see next jail, other side of the bar, is two Caucasian soldiers, you know, ex-soldiers in there. They probably what you call, runaway soldier or stay away, or AWOL or something like that. And I asked the sheriff there, "Could you give us an extra blanket?" He wouldn't even answer me, because it's cold in nighttime out there. Winslow. But he don't answer, so no use. Then in the morning, sheriff took those two men for the restaurant a few doors away and then they bring the food back. When they bring the food back, the breakfast, they had pancakes, they put the, covered with ketchup. You can't see what's under there. And then one man said, "What we going to do?" "Take them over to the sink and wash it off and eat whatever you can." Otherwise you're not going to starve, and he wanted to quit eating. And said, "No, don't do that; you have to survive." So they'd been repeatedly doing the same thing. If they had eggs in there, they put the, covered with the salt or something else, you know, the pepper or something. So we washed and eat. And they were doing that for four days. And finally the chief of internal security, he came over, came over and -- you know, it costs money to keep us in the outside jail. So they took 'em back to the Leupp Indian school there and they have a jail in down cellar. I imagine they used to put the Indian kids into the jail, you know. So I was in with the other people in that jail for ten days, and finally I been released from there. [Laughs]


EO: I had these, all these questions about why you were moved to this and that place, but you never know why you were moved. They just said...

HU: Yeah, they won't ask me or they won't tell us. They just move here and there in the jail, everything. They never give me a reason and they admit, you know, that I didn't attack Tayama. They got no evidence, nothing.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

EO: Now, meanwhile, your family... where is your family?

HU: You mean all that time? They were in Manzanar. They were in Manzanar. And you see, they, while I was taken into the jail, head of the mess hall union, you know, is a Issei. And he came over and said, "Mrs. Ueno, you got children. Your husband, now he can't earn nothing, so we gonna pitch in. We got 1,500 more people there; we gonna put in a few pennies each and give you what I was earning," he said. Then instead she said, "No, I don't want no charity. Give me a job." So finally she got the job in the mess hall, washing dishes. So she worked, she worked all the way through while I was away.

EO: And you were, were you able to write letters?

HU: Yeah, I could write letter. But you see, what Merritt and Myer was doing, they censored the letter. They tried to find out is there any evidence they could charge with it, see, so they could make the reason to be, put him away. That's what they looking for. I noticed that. That's, I find that after the war, you know Freedom of Information, FBI record, you know. That's what they looking for, but they can't find nothing, see.

EO: Where is Joe Kurihara?

HU: Joe Kurihara, he was with me all the time but finally in Tule Lake, he decide he's going to Japan. He never been in Japan in his life.

EO: But, so he was, he also went to, came to Leupp with you. He was in the box with you.

HU: Yeah, he wasn't in the jail like me but he was all the way through 'til Tule Lake.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

EO: Okay, so now we've gotten to Leupp, and you're in the basement of the, in the Leupp school, it's an Indian school.

HU: Indian school, yeah. One of the good solid buildings out there and they have a dormitory, they have a shower room, they have a dining place, everything set up very beautiful, good structure, everything. But the only thing, just like any other camp, they got a barbed-wire fence, they got a watchtower, and the most Leupp inmate was about seventy-five. They had 300 MP watching us. [Laughs]

EO: You mean there were seventy-five of you and 300...

HU: Three hundred MP outside there. [Laughs] And besides, we have internal security, about seven of them inside the camp.

EO: They must have thought you were really dangerous.

HU: [Laughs] They tried to tell the people, American people outside, "They are dangerous people." And finally, about ten or twelve days later I been released. Then I got a job as maintenance.

EO: You were released into where?

HU: Into the camp. In other words, out of jail, finally my jail days over.

EO: So Leupp is also a camp.

HU: Yeah, in camp; all fenced there.

EO: Oh, I see.

HU: They got a watchtower and 300 MP. [Laughs] But, you see, I had a radio in the Manzanar, I asked my wife to send me a radio. We had two radios, one big one where the shortwave is cut off, you know, they took off the coil. She sent me the big one. I find a couple coil and I reset the shortwave; they come out perfect. I could hear all the shortwave and the broadcast from Japan and everything, but I listen on my bedside and I covered up in the nighttime and listened to it. In, that was June 1943, they broadcast in the Japan they're digging the pine tree and the roots, those pitch from the pine tree, they squeeze that for the fuel for airplanes, they said. Oh boy, that's the end of the line. Then they said sawdust, they make like a bread, some way they mixed with a chemical, makes like a bread and they eat that. The food is shortage, fuel is out, Japan never can win the war. But I don't want to tell the other people that I notice that. I wrote, and...

EO: Now, who are these other people in Leupp?

HU: Oh, they're from all over the camps. I got all the names there. You know, one of the men from Tule Lake, Mezu, he's the head of the Japanese newspaper, Nichibei. Mezu. [Laughs]

EO: What were they in for?

HU: Well, they were from Tule Lake. They against sign the paper of the loyalty oath. They tell the people, "Don't sign anything," so they had about 100 or 150 people demonstrate for, "Don't sign anything." So they picked a leader, fifteen of them and sent to Moab and eventually land in Leupp.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

EO: Now when you were in Leupp, tell us about when did registration happen for you?

HU: That was, let's see, late June or July. Best was the head of the Leupp, you know. But he'd been appointed to Tule Lake, so he was transferred to Tule Lake, here comes Robertson. Robertson was more open-minded. He know the Japanese prior to war because he was inspector in LA market, I guess. He got a lot of contact with the Japanese so he knows, and he was more liberal toward the Japanese and he was a fair man. His wife was very nice, so everything, we could talk to him. And that's why I communicate with him after the war. He came over here, too. And other house twice, and here once, year before last year he came over with the family.

EO: Just one thing, in this article with Arthur Hanson, you said about 150 military police were assigned to guard about forty-five internees in Leupp.

HU: No, it was 300 they had there. Yeah.

EO: Okay. So, and Raymond Best was...

HU: Appointed to Tule Lake, director of Tule Lake.

EO: After he left Leupp. So he was at Leupp.

HU: Yeah he was in Leupp, too.

EO: Okay, so can you describe how the registration actually happened?


HU: Well, there was about fifteen or twenty people, they signed "yes," and eventually they shift to the other camp.

EO: But did people come there with these questionnaires? Did you actually have to sign those same loyalty questionnaires?

HU: Yeah, same thing, same thing. Yeah.

EO: Did army people come and pass them out?

HU: No, the administration. So some people refused to sign, for instance, like people came from Tule Lake, they, originally they refused to sign, but eventually they landed back to Tule Lake. So like Tateishi, John's father, you know, they signed "yes," so he went to the, I don't know... Poston, or some other camp. And they had a bunch of, like Ben Kishi, he talked big, but he signed "yes," he landed to another camp. They... I have a record of every one of those.

EO: How did you feel having to answer these questions?

HU: Well, I decided to go back to Japan because the way they treat us I don't feel any, comfortable staying here. I know my parents, I hope they're alive, but I didn't have communication for quite a while, so I don't know. During the wartime, you know. So I had a good relation with people in Japan, my uncle and so on, you know. And that's why I thought maybe I got more future in Japan. But after I went to Tule Lake, and I really, I have a Spanish consuls inquire how they exchange people, so on, they give a, I got a paper there, I give you a copy if you want.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

EO: So in Leupp, you answered "no-no." Is that... how did you answer?

HU: "No-no," yeah.

EO: And so you were taken... what happened after you answered, "no-no"?

HU: Well, then Robertson doesn't say too much, you know. He doesn't object or anything. He just took 'em. And then I think about fifty-three of us, I think, I'm not too sure, fifty-three or forty-three of us, took 'em to the Tule Lake by Robertson. And we're stuck in Stockton for quite a while because the train was pretty busy to transport the soldiers, see. So Robertson, he spent his own money and went to the town and buy the Chinese food for all of us. [Laughs]

Then eventually we land in Tule Lake, into the stockade, all of us. And I tell you what the stockade... they had a bunch of people in there, already. And you know the Reverend Kai, see the way yonder, just a small tents there. And just wondering, "What's that?" I ask the people. He said, "Reverend Kai in there." He's alone, he been put out there, because he was the head of the negotiating committee in Tule Lake, the strikes stuff. And I know that Best used a lot of informers in the, inside the stockade. The stockade today is small but much bigger. They had a whole bunch of people there. And they're watching all the individuals, see. Robertson expect to, people been released into the camp but Best said no, he want to observe the people; get the information every one of them. So I been there for, I think, seven or eight days. You're watching, you know, because the strike is going on, and people sympathize with the Tule Lake people's strike; that way they talk with other people they could observe that some people were watching that and they give information to the administration. But I don't know really what the strike about, anything, so I don't sympathize or favor or against anything. So I kept to myself. And it was terrible in the stockade. You get a big plate of rice there. You know, you get squid, they small like that. You get one head for the side dish or one leg for the -- [laughs] -- just a soy sauce, that's all. And then you got a tsukemono is a, couple piece of carrots, that's all. They haven't got anything there, because the strike and the people from other camps, harvest small.

EO: This is the farming agricultural strike.

HU: Yeah, they got nothing. Chickens gone, hog is gone, no meat, nothing. Yeah, it's terrible. And they had a bunch of people there, old-timers, I hear they've been eating good, but not us. Well, my family is still in Manzanar. Then about eight or ten days, I'm not too sure, something like that, a week anyway, I'd been in there, and finally they let me out, and they give me an apartment. Kurihara went out the day before, and another... Sato, and another man, three men went out earlier. And I went out next day, and Best come over to my apartment, over there. I went into the apartment. I asked, requisitioned for the stove, 'cause Tule Lake in December, January, minus ten sometime, they get ice on the water pool in there, see. Very cold. But they said, "The strike now, you won't get nothing." [Laughs] Well, I get by, then Best come over and said, "You know, Harry, you went through a lot but please in here don't mix in politics; I'll try to bring your family as soon as possible." I said, "Yes, Mr. Best. I don't mix in any politic. I just wait to go back to Japan," I told him. "And nothing else," I told him. So he came over a couple of times, but, "I don't want to come too often. People think you're a stool pigeon or something right away out here, they're very nervous," I told him -- he said.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

HU: So, after that Best had somebody in Block 7, you know that's a doctor's block. All the doctors live nearby the administration entrance there, so he had somebody watching us. You know, Joe Kurihara and me and so on, you know. So he got all the information, whatever they are. And Tule Lake, my wife came in finally the day before the new year, take about twenty-four days before they bring her in, you know. They bring in with the station wagon with two other families. And finally they came in and she brought in the radio so it's small radio, but I convert to the shortwave and I listen. And I know Japan gonna lose the, already in Moab. And Moab I listened all the way through, even one day, somebody, I was in the playground, that was Sunday, they turned it on loud and naval march song is going on and you could hear it outside. Somebody turned on my radio while I was out, see. So they told me that you've got to give up those radios, cut them off, the shortwaves. "Okay," I said. Then one of the internal security, that's an old man, he's a Mormon, he's a very nice, quiet old man, we get along fine. "Harry, you're a maintenance, so you got out all the time around the camp, so you come over my place and you want to listen to shortwave, go ahead and listen. I'll let you come into my home, that's free anytime you want to come in, you come in. So I sold to him cheap so I could go his home and listen and I raised honeydew melon and some other stuff in his yard, because other place nothing grow. Because the ground is so packed up and alkali, see, his place been work out a long time ago, they're very good. So I go out to work and stop over and listen and take care of the garden a little bit. [Laughs] And me and a couple of other kids, they're maintenance; an easy job.

And I went all the way through, even Tule Lake I listened to the shortwave and Best know that; he told me that. "Harry, I know you listen to shortwave but you don't do any activity in the politics so I forget everything that you've done." And he's the one who told me to, "Change your mind and go to Japan. Not for yourself, but for the kids," he said. "Your kids growing up in here, and it's making very difficult to go back to Japan." And Joe Kurihara, it's 1945, I think, November... I forgot the date, but he's the first one to go back to Japan. With fifty bachelors, fifty Issei, you know, they're all bachelors. He took fifty of them together and take 'em to Japan. I think he went to the... I don't know. Portland or Seattle? I don't know. They went back to Japan. And months later, Best gave me information on how hard in Japan is. And Joe had a lot of money because he's a bachelor and he was a navigator; he saved a lot of money. I noticed that one time he got those tuna [inaudible] and a Portuguese owner sent him $800 check. So that's a lot of money for those days. And he had a lot of money and carry him, and every time he go to take a shower or something, he said, "Hold for me," and I hold his wallet and I didn't open but I know he has lots of money. And in Tule Lake he bought lot of seeds; he knows in Japan, is materials scarce, so he took quite a bit of material. And between the ship, and they had a camp someplace, a temporary camp for the people, returnees, in Japan. And there, between there they stole 'em all. He lost 'em all. And that's what the Best gave me a report months later: "Look, Harry, this is the way Japan is today; don't go," he told me. And yet I don't say yes to him.

Then next thing, you know the Hoshidan, those... group that demonstrate, they went back. This time, the husband in a concentration camp, but the wife and children in Tule Lake. So they get together and I think the ship went out from Portland or someplace. They went back. About, more than a month later, he got the information. He called me in the office, "Come here, Harry. I show you what they are." Kids get one bowl of rice and inside is a pickle, umeboshi. And that's all they get; and the children is miserable. You don't want to put your children in same condition so you'd better change your mind." So, finally I started thinking maybe that condition, if I go in there, I have to share the meager food for the families and make it worse. And it's hard for the children so I change my mind finally. But Best was pretty nice for me later. You notice Wayne Collins asked Best to delay close the Tule Lake camp, so he agreed with him. Then for the defend those renouncee, Best donate $300. And same thing he asked to the Mike Masaoka in Salt Lake City. You know what he said? I've seen the newspaper. He said, "Send all those disloyal bastards to Japan. Ship out." That's quite a difference.

EO: Well, why do you think Raymond Best was so nice to you?

HU: He had a difficult time with the Hoshidan. Lot of difficult time. But I know those Wakayama or another leader there from L.A., all those people, I know 'em. And I don't agree with what they're doing. They want to go to Japan, why they demonstrate? They don't have to. If time comes, they could go. So I didn't like that. Not only that, if they don't join with you, them, they're going to discriminate against. Sometime the people against their demonstration, they hang the chicken bone or something and right on the table they sit. And that isn't so nice, you know, doing that. All the people got a reason to go in Tule Lake. So I don't agree with that kind of message, you know. Like Yosh Uchida, he is a successful businessman. His father and older brother and younger brother in here, they all was in Tule Lake. Not Yosh Uchida. But they was very, very discriminate against the other. [Interruption] Yeah, I worked honestly, and I worked hard. But I get, I had about thirteen or fourteen workers under me in maintenance in Tule Lake, you know. I went outside, I went all around. I repaired "Abalone Hill," there's a water tank there, too. All that, I repaired those things, you know.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

EO: You've had a long journey; now you're finally in Tule Lake.

HU: Right.

EO: And now your family has joined you, so life has gotten a little bit more settled for you now. How did you hear about the end of the war?

HU: End of war? Well, end of war is, well, I decide to stay in this country. So --

EO: No, I'm sorry. How did you hear that the war had ended?

HU: Oh, I was listening to shortwave. There was a American colonel, he went to Japanese high school and graduate, he's a perfect speak on Japanese. He broadcast over the shortwave the Emperor accept the United States proposal for end of war, and he spoke in French, the Emperor Hirohito. But Colonel Zacharias speak in Japanese and explain to the broadcast over to the Japanese people in Japan so they could hear, but I hear, too. So I know Japan lost but a lot of people still believe Japan gonna win the war. I know one guy's in my neighbor, not too far from our place, he put the Japanese flag up and he said, "Japanese soldiers going to come and get us back to Japan." [Laughs] You can't talk to those people, you know. I went to work as usual, and I told a few of my friends that Japan lost the war, they surrender everything. But some people, they don't believe that. They had a pretty bad argument in Japan. Some people you can't talk to it, otherwise they're after you. Just like Brazil. But I know Japan lost the war. Just like I said a while ago, 1943, June, I know they're going to lose, matter of time.


EO: Did you... you had heard, or had you heard that an atomic bomb had been dropped?

HU: Yeah, yeah.

EO: On Hiroshima?

HU: Yeah, I hear that.


EO: Where did you hear -- or how did you hear -- how the war had ended?

HU: Well, I... my gosh, atomic bomb... I'm not too sure when I hear that, though. I'm not too sure. But after a while, I started communicate with Japan, I hear that because my youngest uncle was a veterinarian, you know. He lost his youngest son in Hiroshima. And used to be a lot of outside Hiroshima city, they all go to the Hiroshima for high school or higher technical school or teacher school, all those things, you know. They commute from outside by the train or bus. And youngest son has died and a lot of my villages are only about fifteen mile away from Hiroshima city. And during the wartime, there's no, hardly, young active men in the city. So they used a lot of volunteer from outside the city, village people. And we had about seventy-three or -four people went in from our village to volunteer to clean the city or there's a lot of manual work there. And almost, let's see there, almost a dozen or more been killed instantly there. And most of them get atomic radiation, they died sooner or later, none are living now. Just like her, she went back and looked for her brother or sister or somebody and she get radiation, too. So she often go back to Japan and treatment, see. So... I lost my uncle, too, in there. My aunt's husband was killed there. Quite a bit people get killed all over near Hiroshima, not only the city itself, but outside people. And right now they have those museums in atomic bomb right by the, near those building there, a big museum. I visit a few days -- a few years ago, and the head of that museum was my friend's son.

EO: When it was announced that, or when people learned that the atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what happened in camp?

HU: Well, Japan is... well, at least the people baptized with radiation, they had a small amount insurance they paid, they'll look for, put in the hospital, take care of everything.

EO: No, but I mean in camp. Since many people --

HU: Oh, the camp, yeah.

EO: 'Cause many people were from Hiroshima or had relatives there. So what was the feeling like? What happened when people learned that that's how the war ended?

HU: Well, I guess many people, they don't know what the atomic bomb means, first of all. They don't, they got no idea, those days. And especially, those radiation, all those things they learned much later, though. That time they don't know how serious those thing is.

EO: So how did you feel when the war ended?

HU: Well, it's sad, but I think... I expect they're going to lose the war. But I didn't expect the United States gonna use atomic bomb or such a thing, because Japan is already asking for the peace through the Soviet Union. And Soviet Union is, ignored those things. They want to invade Japan. See, they, I think they act the atomic bomb drop a day or two after, Soviet Union occupied those northern islands, see. So, I don't know. When it comes to the war, nobody is God or anything. They all get cruel and mean and the devil. [Laughs]

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

EO: When you came to Tule Lake, what Violet said was Tule Lake was in awful condition.

HU: Oh, terrible. That's why I don't know... Tule Lake is, some people, they don't like to move out, not because they're going back to Japan or anything, they corrupted camp. Because when I went Tule Lake, you could buy any Japanese sake, any kind, depending on the price, you get good one, cheap one is a poor one. Those people, they're making a profit in the camp. And while I was there in 1944-45, there's a insurance man from Sacramento, Shitomi brother, he was a canteen boss. I think a '44. Canteen boss and one is a manager in a warehouse, in other words, manager warehouse buyer for the, all the material they use in camp there. And Richard Drinnan, he wrote, he was the number one informer for Best, that's why he been killed and when he gets killed, about nineteen or twenty people been detained and questioned. And they used a baseball bat and knock 'em, hell out of them. The chief of police was Willard Schmidt, he used to be a policeman for the Berkeley and he's 280-pound, almost 6-footer. He used a baseball bat. And I tried to get a confession out of twenty people, but none of them been guilty. It's a terrible -- that I hear that after the war. During the war time, I didn't hear that. Nobody talk about it.

EO: You arrived in Tule Lake in December.

HU: December 6th.

EO: Of 1943.

HU: Yeah.

So, you missed the riot that had taken place there. But do you remember the hunger strikes or any of the other activities that were going on that went on after you arrived there?

HU: No, I get out stockade and then what I did is I took the, I went to the placement for the job but they said right now there's a strike, you can't get no job. So I went to the administration. A lot of people from Leupp take over the administration. So one of the construction heads was a huntsman, they called, he was in Leupp, you know, small community, so we see every day, and we know each other. So I asked him if there's any job for me. He said, "Yeah, I give you a job." Then he give me a job as maintenance. So then I use about, I change a lot of roofing, already roofing someplace are poor jobs, so they're leaking. So sometimes I had forty, fifty people work, changing roof paper. And after everything settled I had about fifteen or sixteen people working with me.

EO: Did you know Violet...

HU: Yeah, Yamane is his brother's maiden name, I guess, her maiden name.

EO: Matsuda was her maiden name.

HU: Is that...?

EO: Matsuda was her name. And Toki Yamane was her brother.

HU: Oh, her brother, yeah.

EO: Did you know either of them in Tule Lake? Had you heard of them?

HU: No, in Tule Lake I didn't hear anything like that. I didn't hear. Only thing I know, all the doctors in Tule Lake, I lived in a doctor's block, they all belong to Hoshidan, they're not active but they belong to that. And about three or four people, they want to get out the organization, you know, Hoshidan, but they afraid because they get discrimination. So one time when Best called me in, every time I working near the hospital, he see me, he call me in, and then he ask me how's the family, this and that, you know, he never questioned about other people, you know. He knows I'm not going to spill any inform to him. But I ask him, did my driver belong to Hoshidan. He want to get out, but if he say to the organization, he'll get out, his parents get discriminated. He came from Poston, I think. What -- best way to take his name out, he said, just let me know. Then he's out, so we're not going to bother him no more. So I give him three or four people working with me, I give him names, and one guy's working in the hospital, he passed away already long time ago but he was in a x-ray machine, so I told him he want to get out. He don't want to make, let the Japanese organization to know that, but he want to get out. So I give him names. So they didn't detain him, you know.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

EO: There was a lot of political activity going on at Tule Lake. Didn't, didn't you feel you wanted to get involved again?

HU: No, I just stay out, though. You know what I did? In front of my place, all the doctors people live in the barracks, they don't do much gardening. Let the driver bring manure, you know. They want [inaudible], they dry out in the little pond there. Then they peel off those dry, those sewer stuff, they don't have no smell or nothing, but they got lots of fertilizer in there. So I dig it out, all the front and raise lots of flowers and vegetables, give to the people. People go to pass by then they go to the canteen, they see all the flowers, sunflowers and all different things. They look happy. [Laughs] That's what I did. I kept myself, keep on working, I'm so far lucky I had good health, so I keep on working. I let my workers take two day off and work in the days.

EO: So, your parents survived. Did your parents survive?

HU: No, my father and my brother died in wartime. My mother passed away in 1948, after I started communicating and sending a few stuff, and about a year later she died with cancer. So I have my family, none of them is living now. I'm all alone.

EO: But did your father -- how did your father and brother die? Was it by the bomb?

HU: No, sickness. Yeah.


EO: In reading your wife's diary here -- her diary.

HU: Yes, uh-huh.

EO: When registration happens for her in Manzanar, she wasn't able to talk to you about it, was she?

HU: No... no. We very seldom communicated. I tried to write often as I can, but I guess that all those complicated things she can't understand too well, I guess. You know, registration. And I told them, "We're going back to Japan." So that's what she registered, I guess.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 38>

EO: What are your thoughts now about all that happened to you?

HU: Well, only thing I was, right now I think if I be a JACL side, they be, I be much more better treatment from people in Japanese society. But I was strong against the JACL because of what they did to their own people is unforgivable. It's the truth. Every FBI record showed they were very, very... I don't know. Any race, they don't like, they inform their own people. For instance, like Jewish in Nazi concentration camps, the couple, the policemen, they were informed by their own people so the Jewish people don't like them. Same way I never thought the Japanese informed their own people so much because Japanese is a family-oriented society. Myer one that broke up the family-oriented society but I still think the family is very important.

EO: So what do you think of the United States? The government?

HU: The government now? I think the government is... I don't know. The children kill the children and children bear the child nowadays because the family is not too strong tied, you know. They depend on society to inform, reform their children, but society is another thing.

EO: But what do you think about how you have been treated by the U.S. government? Can you forgive them?

HU: Oh, right now, I forgive them, yeah. Right now. But, well, in, during the wartime, then it sure looked different. In other words, they violate the United States Constitution and if I don't know we're, we are the prisoners of the war, then we act different. But the government never said we are prisoners of the war, but documents show that Michi Weglyn knows. We're counterpart prisoners of war. Japan had 150,000 allies, people in prisoners. So the United States tried to match that. Not enough, so they bring a few thousand from South America -- Peru or Panama or all around there. So, if they to tell us, "You're prisoner of war," then we have to react different. But so long as we're just temporarily detained, I tried to act like we're same as those people who tried to manage us, you know. We're no different than them. They think they're different, maybe, but as long as they don't say that, why we react like we, we got a right to protest the thing. And it seems to be during wartime, they're the ones that are the criminals. They steal our food, and throw in the jail without trial. They couldn't even bring out to the cook. They haven't got any evidence; they haven't got any... they expose themselves to be criminals.


EO: You've forgiven the government for treating you this way?

HU: Well, it's just like if you carry your grudge all your life, you're going to suffer yourself. So you, time to forget, yeah, you know.

EO: But aren't you still having some problems? Did they not -- you told me once they didn't give you a visa for a long time to go to Japan.

HU: Well, they finally, they give in. I get... two year I had a problem. But the first time I went to Japan, they don't say anything. First and second time they give a visa without any problems. But I don't know what's happened after that. Maybe after I went to the Supreme Court, maybe that's the problem. Yeah, that's when the State Department or FBI or something, they probably, they don't like my statement or something.

EO: You know, Violet tried to stay and they forced her to go back to Japan. She went to a hearing to try to change her, her answer and to stay and not expatriate, you know, not become an expatriate to Japan.

HU: You know, I get out Tule Lake in 1946, February 28th, last day. Up to that, they don't give me a permit to get out. My wife went out months earlier with the children. So I was months late, but they finally gave me permission. I got whatchamacall, letter from Justice Department, and so... I made a copy there, someplace in that pile there.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

EO: And where did you go?

HU: To Japan. Oh, where --

EO: When you got out of camp, where did you go?

HU: I went, I came -- my wife was in San Jose Buddhist church, temporary hostel. But I came over here, no place to rent or stay. No, no house to rent even down cellars, I don't know the people in here; I know the friend of mine living here all their life, they're living in a horse stall. So she asked me, "You want to clean the chicken stall and stay there?" and I said, "No." So, I had, before I left, I had arrangement to go into the railroad. So I went to the railroad and I worked for about twenty-nine days. Then [inaudible] is south of Pismo, about ten miles south, you know. And I work in the farm. I was afraid to go back to L.A. because I hear that my two boys become teenage and I hear that during the wartime men and wife started working and teenagers just, nobody to supervise, so they getting bad. I hear that. So I was afraid. So I went into farm. I worked for 75 cents an hour. [Laughs] I worked for about eighteen months. Then I find a sharecropper for strawberry in San Jose, so I went into sharecropper for about two and a half years. Then move into Sunnyvale, I bought the place. I couldn't buy it with my name because I renounced my citizenship. So a friend of mine, he said, "Use my name for a while." So I used his name for four years, and then he said, "Time to change now." Change. That time I changed, I got my citizenship back. They don't need anymore. [Laughs] You don't need nothing like that. You just register.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

EO: This is my final question. You know when you say that the Japanese American community did not treat you well, what happened to you?

HU: Come again?

EO: You said that if you had belonged to JACL you would be treated better by the Japanese American community. How have you been treated?

HU: Well, the JACL people, I don't know... they all know I'm anti-JACL. And I think they don't invite me, for instance, like Japanese throw the artists exhibition. Mineta was only fifteen years old and whatchamacall, Jennie Wakatsuki was only five. What they know about the camp? Jennie came over to my place before the preview of that Farewell to Manzanar. But she came about three times in other house. Then preview showing in UC Berkeley Library, I think the theater or something, then she came over and took us, me and my wife up there, but when I see that movie, I was supposed to be one of the character in there. I never met his father, and especially the riot scene, that was Karl Yoneda's, he's the technical advisor. That's his idea. No one carried the stick or throw the rock. I don't know after the tear gas thrown, they might throw a few sand or few... there wasn't too many rocks around. A lot of sand there. That's about all. Nobody carries the stick. An insult to the people in Manzanar. So you know, Mako, the actor, he played my part in Farewell to Manzanar but that isn't right. No, that's, Karl Yoneda get back to the people. Because he's been hate by the majority of people in there.


EO: Harry, do you remember any happy times in camp?

HU: No, I guess while I was in Manzanar before the incidents, I was happy. I was active, busy all the time.

EO: But you didn't know what was going to happen to you, did you?

HU: No, I never thought anything happened like that, see. But I think I tried to do better for a better place to live despite all those things, that's why I tried to build a pond and do something for the people. But it backfired. I fought against a too big opponent. So... [laughs]

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.