Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: George Oda Interview
Narrator: George Oda
Interviewer: Rose Masters
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: July 22, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-ogeorge-01-0001

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RM: I'm Rose Masters, I'm a park ranger at Manzanar National Historic Site, and I am interviewing George Oda today at the Main Street Station and Casino in Las Vegas. It's the high school reunion, and today is July 22, 2014, and it's been four years since the first time I ever asked George Oda to do an oral history interview with me, so this is a very exciting day. [Laughs] George, let's just start by asking when you were born and where you were born.

GO: I was born December 24, 1923, in Burbank, California.

RM: And who were your parents?

GO: The name? Jiromatsu Oda and Tokuno Oda.

RM: What was your mother's maiden name?

GO: Segimoto.

RM: Segimoto. So let's start, if you could just tell me a little bit about your father Jiromatsu. When did he immigrate to the U.S.?

GO: See, that kind of stuff I wouldn't know.

RM: Wild guesses are accepted.

GO: Early, early 1900s, I guess. Wait a minute. Well, it's either late 18 or early 19. He came and he started a farm.

RM: Do you know what prefecture he was from in Japan?

GO: Wakayama.

RM: They were both from Wakayama. Do you know what his family did there?

GO: See, like I said, they didn't talk too much. Maybe they did, but it didn't stick with me.

RM: Yeah. And so your mother was also from Wakayama.

GO: Yeah.

RM: Did she come to the United States at the same time as your father?

GO: No, I think my father came first and then she came later. Then I think they got married over here. That's about all I know about that. [Laughs]

RM: Did he come to the United States with the intention of starting a farm?

GO: I guess. Because I guess when they came over here, there was no other thing to do but farm. And I could see farming, so this is what I heard. They used to farm in Glendale, they started in Glendale, and to take the produce to the downtown -- this is the way I heard it -- they went on a wagon, stayed overnight, and came back the next morning. I guess they didn't know how to drive and only had horses.

RM: So that's from Glendale to downtown L.A., so that's a long trek.

GO: That's why they had to stay overnight, I think. This is the way I heard.

RM: Do you know what he was farming in Glendale?

GO: I heard strawberry, but others, I wouldn't know. That's the only thing I know is strawberry. But he was farming a bunch of stuff like carrots, green onion.

RM: Did your dad know your mother in Japan or did they meet each other for the first time?

GO: I think she knew him, that's why she came later. They got together.

RM: And do you know, did you know what year they were married, approximately?

GO: No, that part I don't. I think Dorothy quizzed me on that, or it was written on there. I forgot.

RM: How long were they on the farm in Glendale?

GO: Well, let's see. My brother was born in Glendale and he's a year and a half older than I am, and I was born in Burbank. So in between they moved to Burbank.

RM: And how long was the family in Burbank?

GO: Gee, that part I wouldn't know either.

RM: Was it a strawberry farm in Burbank?

GO: No, no, that's the regular, like carrots, green onion and turnip and all that, bunch stuff. And then they were, this part I remember, that their friends were farming close by.

RM: So do you remember, do you have memories from Burbank?

GO: Well, I remember I went to the church, because I knew one song that we learned, and I still remember some of it. But that's about all I know. I sing it to my kids and they start laughing.

RM: Are you gonna sing it now?

GO: Oh, no. [Laughs]

RM: Okay, just checking. Maybe later today. What church was that?

GO: I don't know what church it was. "Jesus Loves Me," that kind of song that goes on.

RM: So it was a Christian church.

GO: Yeah, it must be Christian.

RM: And then what did your parents do after Burbank?

GO: I think after Burbank we went to North Hollywood. North Hollywood, they were still farming there. Only thing I remember about North Hollywood is I was sick. And then I must have been sick about half a year or something, and so I was put back a grade. So my sister always reminds me, said, "Just on account of you, they gave me a shot in the butt." [Laughs] She always tells me that. Yeah, I had diphtheria, and that was pretty bad, I guess, them days.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.