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

<Begin Segment 1>

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.

<Begin Segment 2>

RM: So you've mentioned your siblings. Could you just tell us where your siblings are, their names and approximately when they were born, if you don't have the exact dates?

GO: My oldest, she was ninety-five when she passed. And my next one was, she's ninety-four now, she's the only one still alive. And in between her and my brother, I had a sister that was adopted in Japan, which I found out later on, but I never did see her. And I don't know what her age is. Well, in between my second sister and third. And then my oldest brother, he was a year and a half older than I was. Then me, and then Soup, he's about a year and a half behind me, too.

RM: Okay, so you were the second to the youngest, then, and Soup was the youngest.

GO: Yeah, Soup was youngest.

RM: And what was your oldest sister's name?

GO: Fusaye. I think I gave you the pamphlet of the pictures of the name, try to get the name of the people in the picture.

KL: You did. That's what I was telling you.

RM: Oh, okay. Excellent, okay.

GO: So anyway, she couldn't get all the names. Then we asked Bo and all that if they knew any person, but they knew a few, but that's about it.

RM: Okay, so Fusaye's the oldest, and then...

GO: Tami. And then the one that was in Japan and then Mas and me. Wait a minute, in between there someplace I had another sister, passed away before she was one. So I don't know where she fit in.

RM: Do you know the story of your sister who was adopted in Japan?

GO: Well, like I said, I never did see her. She was adopted, and later on my dad went over there to see if she wanted to come back. But no, she says, "If you want to take me back, you're going to take me with you, adoptive mother," so she stayed.

RM: So she was in Japan with her adopted mother.

GO: Uh-huh. I guess the father was there, too, I don't know exactly. And then she had, I think, five kids. And then one of them came over here to visit, not visit, but work as, doing some gardening work, but that's the only one I knew, my sister.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

RM: So let's talk about the farm that your family was on in North Hollywood. How old were you when you got to North Hollywood?

GO: Well, I was in the sixth grade.

RM: And this is when you had diphtheria.

GO: Diphtheria, so I don't know.

RM: So what do you remember about North Hollywood? What was it like?

GO: Well, it was someplace... there were not many houses built, so there was a lot of open land. So we used to walk to North Hollywood High School, and that wasn't close either. [Laughs] Otherwise it's the same farm story, work on the farm and go to school during the day. Farmers in those days, when you go to school, you come back from school, you got to work out on the farm. And then Saturday's the only day we have off, 'cause Sunday we got to work on the farm. So them days, when your parents tell you to do something, we do it or else. I still remember my mom used to give me this. You know what this is?

RM: No, you're going to have to tell me.

GO: She gets this knuckle and hits you on the head, it hurts. So when she does, say something, we do it. I think most of the Niseis, they mind the parents. They say, "Do this," they do it. But now, our kids, you know how they are. [Laughs]

RM: They do everything you tell them to do. [Laughs]

GO: They don't.

RM: So what, can you tell me a little bit about the kind of produce that you were growing in North Hollywood and then where you would sell it.

GO: Well, like I said, it's mostly bunch stuff like carrots and green onion and turnips. Then they'd take it to the downtown market. I think them days, they had someone to pick it up and then deliver it. So anyway, the farmers, they all bunched stuff. That's why we had to work out in the field.

RM: So did you ever go to the downtown market?

GO: During the early days? No. But I think it was, yeah, that was before the war. We used to go, because we were growing up, I think my brother was driving a truck to haul the vegetables downtown. That time I was sixteen, so when he has a date, I had to drive. [Laughs]

RM: So can you tell me a little bit about what that market was like and where it was if you remember the streets it was on.

GO: Oh, it was on a nice street, Ninth and San Pedro. That's where we delivered, we take it to one place and we drop it off, and they sell it, and then they give us the money later on. That's the way it went.

RM: So how many different farmers from around the region delivered to that market, and were most of them...

GO: Oh, that market, downtown market, Ninth Street, is big. They had the Ninth Street and Eighth Street market, so that market was big, from Southern California, each direction, they take the produce there.

RM: Were most of the farmers Japanese Americans?

GO: Yeah, most of them.

RM: So how many people, how many farms were around you in North Hollywood?

GO: Well, one time, we had, we were farming in one place, and the Yamanos, there was a big family, they were next to us, and Bo (Sakiguchi) was right below us, and then right across the street from them there were two other farmers. So the farmers were all sort of bunched together, because the field was all open, them days they were all open.

RM: What was the acreage of the farms, about?

GO: Well, it just depends on, I guess, what they can take care of. Because if you have it too big, then you can't plant things, so just what they can take care of. So it was usually about, maybe 20 acres. I was telling Bo, says, "Remember the time you were farming below us?" He says, "Yeah, I remember. My dad used to go over to your place and stay over there for a while." And then I was talking to my sister, and she says, "The only reason he came over there is because he drank too much." So just to get away from his wife, he comes over to our place and wait until I guess he sobers up and then go home. [Laughs]

RM: Was Bo Sakaguchi's dad friends with your dad?

GO: Oh, yeah, they're all friends there. See, they had a farmer's association, like a club members. So if they put some money in, if anybody wants to borrow money, they get together and lend money out. So that's the way the farmers are. Them days they were, they helped each other.

RM: So it was a support system that they created for themselves.

GO: Yeah, if they want money to buy, say, a car, they would help in his association. So them days it was much different.

RM: So what did your... first of all, I'm wondering, did all of the kids have to work on the farm after school?

GO: Oh, yes. My next door neighbor, he had to work before they go to school.

RM: Before they went to school in the mornings?

GO: Morning, oh, yes.

RM: Oh, wow. So how old were you when you started doing farmwork for your family?

GO: Well, when you were small, you're helping out.

RM: So even at like age five or four, you could still help?

GO: Well, I guess we'd do something, but we're always getting dirty. If they're irrigating, we were in the ditch with the water, things like that. But most of the time we were out on the farm.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

RM: Where did you go to elementary school?

GO: Well, first it was North Hollywood. And then... well, actually, North Hollywood grammar school. Then we moved, so I went to Victory grammar school, which was about three miles away, and we had to walk every morning back and forth. Them days, like I said, there was a lot of open space, so we walked. We cut across the field or whatever, it's about three miles. That's right, nowadays, three blocks, they drive them there.

RM: That's right. [Laughs] Things have definitely changed. What was the population of the school like? Was it mostly Japanese Americans?

GO: No, no, they're all mixed. They're all mixed.

RM: So what kind of different groups were there?

GO: What's the population difference? Well, they were mostly white, and then certain place, like the Spanish people, they got more Spanish there, or the black, they got more. So it just depended on where you're at. But ours, Japanese Americans, they're scattered all over, because they're farming here, all around.

RM: Did you get along with all your classmates in school?

GO: Oh, yeah.

RM: Was there anyone in particular that stood out to you?

GO: We were all, do things together. Yeah, like when we were going to high school, we'd go drive to high school, and shall we go over there? So we'd jump in the car and take off. That's the kind of time we had.

RM: Sounds like a good time. Did your father... so my understanding is that Issei weren't allowed to own land, right? So how did your father, did he lease the farm?

GO: It was all leased. Because like... see, it was all wide open, the valley. So they leased your land, about twenty or thirty acres, and it's hilly with sagebrush. So we got to clear all the sagebrush, and then got to level the land so you can irrigate or plant. So after two or three years, the lease is up, they're gonna build homes. So we got to move to another place and do the same thing. That's how the valley grew. The farmers cut the sagebrush away, leveled the land, and kept on moving.

RM: How many times did your family move?

GO: Oh, they moved quite a few times, one, two, three. So, but anyway, them days, the farmers, when they moved, they moved the house through... so the house, every time they get movers that moved the house from one place to another, because it's not like now, the streets are wide, so they can move the house. That's the way the farmers are.

RM: Is that what your family did?

GO: Oh, yeah.

RM: So did you have the same house the entire time you were in North Hollywood?

GO: No. The last place they went, they built the home. They built the home, and I don't know how much they sold it for, but they just left it there.

RM: So tell me a little bit about North Hollywood High School.

GO: North Hollywood High School. Well, it was a good place, where you had a lot of friends do the same thing. Yeah, otherwise it's the same thing.

RM: Were you a good student?

GO: I was very good. I was very good. [Laughs]

RM: Because otherwise your mom might have rapped you on the head. So what were the classes that interested you most.

GO: First, good education.

RM: Did you have any teachers that stood out to you in high school?

GO: No, they were all the same.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

RM: So then I'm curious to know, were you in high school then when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and do you remember that day?

GO: That day was a Sunday, was on the farm, and then my sister was in the house doing cleanup, she listened to the radio, and then she came out to the farm where we were working and told us about it. That part I still remember. And I think my cousin from downtown, our cousin that lived downtown was visiting that time, so told them, so they went straight home.

RM: What did you think?

GO: Oh, I said... gee, I don't know what my thought was. I guess I was scared.

RM: What about your parents, did they ever say what they were thinking about what happened?

GO: We don't know what they were thinking about.

RM: So what were the next few months like in North Hollywood?

GO: Well, there was a curfew on. And I think before the curfew, my friends were dropping out one at a time with notes from home. So I told one of my friends, "Write me a note to get me out of school." So I got him to write me a note, and I took it in, and I got out.

RM: And the teachers didn't question it at all?

GO: No, because all the Japanese Americans were going out, going out of school. Yeah, I still remember that, and I told that to Dorothy and Dorothy started laughing.

RM: So were your teachers supportive of you after the attack on Pearl Harbor? Did you feel any kind of change?

GO: No, I didn't feel change. Because right after the war we were still going to school, and there was nothing... except for these people that's dropping out one at a time. So I said, boy, I got to go out, too.

RM: So why did people decide to start dropping out of school at that point?

GO: At that point I think the curfew came up. And then I don't think... and I think we got notice or something, certain time you got to clear out.

RM: What time did you have to be back to your house for curfew?

GO: I think it was ten o'clock.

RM: And did you face any restrictions on movement?

GO: No. Because like I said, when somebody says something, we do it.

RM: So everyone in your family went along with the curfew? What did you think about that when you were told that you have to be in your house at ten o'clock?

GO: Well, I don't think we ever went out at ten o'clock.

RM: You would have been in anyway.

GO: Yeah, we would have been in.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

RM: So what do you remember about when you first heard the announcement that the government was going to remove anyone of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast?

GO: Well, then they had to figure out what to do with the things we had. Because we had a farm, we just left it to the... we had two Mexicans that were working for us, so we just left it for them, so they took care of the farm, then that was theirs. And the lease was, I guess the lease was still going on, so they can harvest whatever was on our farm. And like the other small stuff, some people would come over, just like we had, they just bought a new car. And then I think maybe a car dealer or somebody that came over says, "Well, we'll buy your car." Told my sister, "You call heads or tails and I'll give you fifty dollars more." So he flipped it and she lost. She lost the fifty dollars. And then we had to sell it because otherwise we've just got to leave it.

RM: How much did you sell it for?

GO: Gee, I don't know. It was cheap, anyway.

RM: What about other things?

GO: Well, we had a truck, and I think tractor or something. And we had this gas station, had a mechanic there, too, he took care of our, he said he'll sell it for us, so we took it over there and then left it, and he sold it for us. Because he was a good friend of ours. And then some other stuff we had, we had a friend who lived close by, he had a shed. And some of the stuff was pretty good, we stored it in there. And the rest, either gave it away or left it.

RM: What about like... had your parents brought any family heirlooms over from Japan when they moved to the States?

GO: No, we didn't have nothing.

RM: What happened to your house?

GO: Actually, I don't know what happened to it. Maybe they sold it.

RM: Did your parents ever talk about how it felt? I know a lot of people didn't talk about that, but to be selling off all of their stuff, having to move?

GO: Well, it's like they were told to do it, so they did it. Just like when they tell us to do it, we'll do it. So that's what they did.

RM: What about you? Were you surprised when the order came?

GO: Yeah, when it first came out. Then it finally dawned on us that we have to do what they said. But, yeah, there's some people who were, like my friend, he had things and people come over and said, "I'll give you fifty dollars," or something, for it. This fellow says, "Nope, I'm not going to sell it that cheap," so we just piled it up and burned it. And then some people, this is what I heard, people want to buy it but they want it so cheap that they just threw it, broke 'em.

RM: Do you remember your neighbors? Were you all preparing to go at the same time?

GO: It was the same time because like we all had to go Burbank, catch the bus to go.

RM: And what... do you remember what time, what month it was, day it was?

GO: Dorothy was telling me this. May, June, April, something like that.

RM: Sometime in the spring.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

RM: So you say you went to Burbank to catch the bus, and was it all of the different families from, sort of, San Fernando area?

GO: Yeah, just around San Fernando, gathered there and took the bus.

RM: And where was, what was the station?

GO: I don't know. Bo was mentioning where it was, but I couldn't picture it. But in Burbank.

RM: Did you take a bus all the way to Manzanar?

GO: Bus all the way.

RM: What was that trip like?

GO: I was wondering where we were going.

RM: They didn't tell you.

GO: No. One of them, maybe they mentioned Manzanar, but who knows Manzanar?

RM: Right.

GO: Because they were traveling and you see nothing but sagebrush and all that.

RM: Do you remember how people on the bus, were they talking to each other?

GO: Well, they all knew each other, so they talked and all that. Then they told me that they made a bus stop, and gals on this side, boys on this side. But one other person was telling me about this.

RM: Oh, I see, a necessary bus stop. [Laughs] What kinds of things did you pack when you were heading out?

GO: Well, I guess I packed mostly clothes. Because you can't pack too much. Then I think my folks is the same thing. So they only give you one duffel bag, and we got to carry one suitcase or something. So the rest of the stuff, got to leave.

RM: Was there anything that was especially hard to leave behind?

GO: Oh, there was a lot of things that was hard to leave behind, but can't help it.

RM: What's one of 'em?

GO: I had a car. That was, I don't know what happened to that. And then I guess that's the most... the other stuff was, I can't actually remember.

RM: Did you have any pets?

GO: No, no pets. If we'd had a dog, it'd be tied outside.

RM: So tell me what you remember about when the bus was getting closer and closer to Manzanar. What was that like?

GO: We didn't know how close Manzanar was. So we were always thinking, gee, where are we going to go? Where are they taking us? Because it's nothing but sagebrush, and it kept on going. We finally got there and said... I think it was getting dark or... I forgot. But most of the people had to make their own mattress, stuff the mattress. But we were kind of lucky. Because my cousins who were living in Terminal Island, they had to evacuate first, so they came over to where we were living, and we took 'em in and then they were the first to leave. So the first to leave, so they were in camp already when we had to go. So they stuffed the mattress for us.

RM: So they had arrived before you and then prepared the barracks.

GO: Uh-huh.

RM: Interesting. What are your cousin's names?

GO: Segimoto.

RM: So your mom's side of the family.

GO: Mom and Mr. Segimoto were cousins. So that's the way we lucked out on that part.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

RM: So what are the very first things that you had to do when you got off that bus in Manzanar?

GO: I'm not sure, but I know they gave us some kind of a shot. I was wondering if we got off the bus, or if we got there later. They gave us some kind of shot to everybody, I don't know what it was, but it sort of hurt for a while. [Laughs]

RM: Was it very crowded, were there a lot of people lining up?

GO: No. I think everybody that comes in got a shot. So it could be when we got off the bus, but that part I'm not sure. But I remember the shot we had.

RM: Do you remember seeing your barracks for the first time?

GO: Yeah, it was, I think it was windy, and you could hear the wind coming from the floor, because they had this wet wood that shrinks. And the side is tarpaper, so you get the wind coming in from the window, the cracks in the bottom. So it was cold.

RM: What did you think when you walked into that room?

GO: Well, it's a big room with, what, five of us, cots are lined up. I guess we decided to... I think we were on the side with my sister, my mom and dad was on the other side. So we got used to it.

RM: How many... there were five people in your room. Who were those people? Can you just name them off?

GO: My dad and mother, my sister, my brother, six of us.

RM: Okay. And then were the Segimotos nearby?

GO: No, no, they were the first inside camp, so they were on the other side of the firebreak. So they were like in Block 8 or 9, while we were in 16.

RM: So tell me a little bit about your first trip out to the mess hall.

GO: Yeah, that was something different. They ring a bell, these triangle bell, they ring, ding, ding, ding, everybody goes and lines up, then we're watching what the other people were doing to do, they're picking up the dishes, picked up the utensils and they walked to the place where they're serving. Then we got to find a table to sit on. So we got used to it. But the first couple of times, it's kind of, what are we gonna do?

RM: What was the food like?

GO: Food? It was all right. But later on, like I say, when I was working in the kitchen, and the curries come out, we didn't eat it.

RM: The famous lamb curry?

GO: Lamb curry. That would come out, we'd cook something else. That's the advantage you have in the kitchen.

RM: So how many people were in your block?

GO: Oh, that just depended on how many was in the family, because each barrack is divided in, what, four, like we had six, maybe this family had four or five.

RM: A few hundred people, probably.

GO: Yeah.

RM: Do you remember which barracks you were in?

GO: 16-4-1.

RM: 16-4-1.

GO: Boy, I remember that one.

RM: Never forgot that one.

GO: Oh, yeah.

RM: Can you describe what the latrines were like?

GO: Oh, when you first go in there, it's wide open, and there's no partition in between. But we got used to it. But the women's is the same, and there's some women that waits 'til it gets dark before they go in, like take a shower or whatever. But like us, we get used to it.

RM: Did your mom and your sister ever talk about what those latrines are like? I mean, I've heard that for women it was a lot more of an adjustment sometimes.

GO: No, they don't talk about it.

RM: They didn't mention it? It was not dinnertime conversation.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

RM: So you were sixteen when you got to Manzanar, is that right?

GO: Seventeen.

RM: Seventeen. So were you still in high school?

GO: Yeah, I was one grade below, so I was a senior. So we went to camp, and my friends and I said, "What are we going to school for?" So we went to work, sixteen dollars.

RM: So you didn't graduate from Manzanar High School.

GO: No.

RM: What job did you get instead of going to high school?

GO: Well, the first job I got it was dishwashing in the kitchen, sixteen. Then while I was working in the kitchen, they wanted farm work in Idaho, so I went. And I came back and got another job. I think I got, at that time I was a junior cook. I worked in the same kitchen. So it's a good experience.

RM: So I want to talk to you a little more in detail about furlough just a little bit. Because you went on three furloughs?

GO: I went on three of them.

RM: That's a lot of work.

GO: Well, the first one, I got together with my friend and said, "Let's go." He didn't go to school either. So all together five of us in the group, they got the other groups, too, but our group, there were five. Anyway, we went to sugar beet. And then we came back with less money than we started.

RM: Where was the furlough at?

GO: Blackfoot, Idaho.

RM: How did you find out about it?

GO: Oh, the farmers write to the camp, I guess, and then they said they wanted so many people to go to this camp or this farm to help out. It happens that this group that I went out with, the farmers asked for so many people. So we went to the sugar, this farm and went to sugar beet. Sugar beet was so small that we didn't make no money.

RM: So I'm curious about the, I guess, traveling out to furlough, and also, was this, how long had you been in camp before you went on the first furlough?

GO: Well, we were... gee, it could be the following year. Because the first year, I think everybody is not settled. So I think the following year with the harvest, they wanted people. Like my brother went to Montana for the sugar beet. So they were asking for help from all different states. So my brother went to Montana and I went to Idaho.

RM: How did you get there?

GO: Let's see. I think we went on a bus to Bishop, and from Bishop I think we took the train or bus. Wait a minute, I think we took a bus. I'm losing it.

RM: You're doing great. So you get up to Idaho, Blackfoot, Idaho. Was the farmer welcoming?

GO: Oh, yeah. He wanted help, so they furnished us a place to sleep. And then the cooking utensils and all that, we had to cook our own. So they did everything, and they said if you want to go downtown you can borrow the truck and go downtown. So we went downtown quite often. That's where our money went. [Laughs]

RM: What did you do downtown?

GO: Well, I guess we ate and did other stuff. There's one person that made money in our group, and he didn't spend nothing. He's the one that, you make the money, I'm going to keep it." Like the other four of us, we make the money, we spend it. So we went to movies and all that.

RM: How did people in Blackfoot, Idaho, react when they saw you guys in town?

GO: Well, they said, "They're working on the farm and helping us out." So they didn't bother us. Except for one Halloween, I think it was Halloween. A bunch of young kids came over, they knocked off our... what do you call that? What is it? Where you had to go.

RM: Oh, the outhouse?

GO: Outhouse, that's it, outhouse. They came and...

RM: Tipped it over?

GO: Tipped it over. This is a Halloween joke, prank, you know. Yeah, they did things like that.

RM: So that was the only negative thing you experienced.

GO: Yeah, it's Halloween.

RM: Yeah. So how did it feel, if you'd been in Manzanar for a year, and then you went on your first furlough, how did it feel to go outside the fence?

GO: Well, it's... I don't know how I felt. Because in the camp we were doing what we could do, you know. Go out there and... well, we got paid in camp, too, but I didn't think no difference, it was a farm, I was working on a farm before. And then three of us in the group was farmers, so we know what the work was. And then there's two of 'em from the city that didn't know what farming was like, so we had to carry 'em.

RM: You had to teach 'em. How did, were you paid by how much you harvested?

GO: Yeah, they went by the ton. So after we cut the sugar beets, they pile up and we got to throw it in the wagon or the truck, and then you take it to the place where they received the sugar beet, maybe weight it there. We get paid by the tonnage, whatever percentage. So we didn't make nothing.

RM: Do you know how much you got a ton?

GO: No.

RM: And then was it just the pay was divided up among the five of you?

GO: Yeah.

RM: So you also, I'm guessing, went out on potato furlough since you donated an amazing potato belt to Manzanar.

GO: Yeah, that's right. After Idaho, Blackfoot, went back, and then we see potato, then we went out to potato farm. That one we made money. And that belt is you put it on here and you hook the bag and you drag it and you push it in as you go. And then the hook in the back, I put the extra sack after you, put fifty pound in, you put it up, then get the other sack and hook it up and do the same thing.

RM: So you could potentially be dragging more than a hundred pounds around.

GO: No, it's fifty pounds. They only wanted about fifty pounds in a bag, so we drag about fifty pounds in that first thing. So I made money on that.

RM: So where was the potato farm?

GO: It's in Idaho.

RM: Was it near Blackfoot also?

GO: Pocatello.

RM: Pocatello, okay. And what was the difference between that one and the sugar beet furlough when you didn't make any money?

GO: Well, the sugar beet was... I don't know, the town was bigger so it was better. We've got more time to do things. And then we had partners, two guys, and he was a farmer, so we did good.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

RM: And then that third furlough you went on, where was that?

GO: That was... that was thinning, thinning lettuce. And then I'm telling you, that row was so long, that's a backbreaker. You do about half an hour and stand up and look, and you didn't go too far. The end is way at the end other end yet. So that was, I guess we made money on that, too.

RM: Was that in Idaho also?

GO: That was a camp. So both the potato and thinning was a camp.

RM: Oh. Do you know the name of the camp?

GO: The first one I don't know, but the other one was, I think it was named Caldwell camp. Caldwell, Idaho, that was a pretty big camp.

RM: Were most of the workers Japanese Americans?

GO: Yeah, because they got 'em out of camp, from all different camps.

RM: Can you just tell us a little bit about why it was so necessary for the farmers to call out for help to the camps?

GO: Because they didn't have farm help where they were at.

RM: The guys had gone to war?

GO: That's probably it, or either that or they planted more because there was a war going on. But you know, like in Idaho and other places like that, the farmland, they were big. They were real big compared to the valley.

RM: So I'll tell you, that lettuce row looks so long. So then if you made some money on the potato and lettuce and you went back to Manzanar, did you keep saving the money or did you find ways to spend it in camp?

GO: Well, I think we bought most of the stuff, you know, to give to my people in camp, things that they can't have outside of camp, I mean, in camp or whatever.

RM: So let's take a quick break, and then I want to ask you about what kinds of things you brought back, but we're at the end of the tape. Oh, I have time? Okay, so what kinds of things would you buy on the outside to bring back to camp?

GO: Well, something like... something to eat, the things that camp doesn't have, things like that. Or something to wear.

RM: I one time read a Manzanar Free Press article about how all the boys that were out on furlough caused a big problem because they'd come back to the camp and they would sneak in liquor that they bought on the outside. Did any of your friends do that?

GO: No. Like my friends, most of them didn't drink.

RM: So you guys weren't causing...

GO: We were angels. [Laughs]

RM: I see, okay.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

RM: This is tape two of an interview with George Oda. I'm Rose Masters and we are in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Main Street Station. George, you were just telling us about coming back to camp from furlough up in Idaho, and things that people would bring back to camp. I'm wondering if you have any specific memories of bringing stuff for your family, like your mom or your sisters.

GO: Oh, like I said, probably some food or some clothing or whatever, what they need in camp. Otherwise it's some little things.

RM: So you got to go on furlough. But before that, when you got to camp, you decided you weren't gonna go back to high school. What did your parents think about that? Did they ever say anything about it?

GO: No, they didn't say anything.

RM: They were okay with that?

GO: I guess I was grown up enough to make up my mind.

RM: So your first job you said was at a dishwasher in the Block 16 mess hall. Can you tell me just a little bit about what that job was like?

GO: Well, the people that goes in the mess hall, after they eat they bring their dishes. And there's a person that cleans a dish and then throw it in the... what do you call that? Anyway, I washed my dishes in there, and this lady's wiping. That's all it was, just washing dishes.

RM: So were you working while people were eating?

GO: Yeah. We eat first and then the people started eating. As they finish, then they bring the dishes to the certain place, and this one person cleaned it off and passed it over to us, and I wash it.

RM: Do you remember if the sink was right next to the kitchen, or where was it?

GO: It was in the mess hall as you go out. See, as you go out, the people bring the dishes and leave it on the counter. And this person cleans it off and pushes it over.

RM: What was, can you describe a mess hall at mealtime? What did it sound like?

GO: Noisy. [Laughs] It's noisy. People were talking loud and all this and that. Yeah, otherwise you get used to it. At first it was bad, but otherwise... so sometimes we find out that there's, the next block was having a steak or better food, we used to walk over there.

RM: Even though, didn't you cook in that mess hall also?

GO: No, no, I mean before. For people that start working in the kitchen, they know what's going on over there, they go walking over there and eat.

RM: So I've seen those mess hall passes, I think you maybe even donated one. So were people allowed to go, were you allowed to go over to the next block?

GO: No, you're not. [Laughs]

RM: So how did you get around that rule?

GO: I think that's where they got the mess hall tickets. I think that's the reason, because them days, like I said, if the next kitchen is feeding better food, I think more people would go in there, and less people would come to their own block. So I think they made their pass, that's where we got, like my wife got that pass.

RM: So it was guys like you to blame for that. [Laughs]

GO: Well, the younger people, yeah, like us.

RM: So tell me about your other jobs. You said you were also a junior cook. Did you know how to cook before you took on that job?

GO: No.

RM: How did you learn?

GO: Actually, it's what the cooks tell you to do. They said, "Well, cut this here," lettuce or whatever, so we do it. They had to tell you to wash the pot and pan, so we wash it. But in the meantime they tell you how to do this and how to do that.

RM: Do you remember who the cook in your block was?

GO: But I don't know the name. I could picture him.

RM: Who else worked at the mess hall?

GO: Oh, my friend from North Hollywood, we worked together. That's where this friend of mine, that's where he met his wife.

RM: Oh, what's his name?

GO: Tosh Takayama.

RM: And he met his wife in Mess Hall 16?

GO: Mess Hall 16.

RM: What was her name?

GO: Sue... I forgot her last name. But the first name is Sue. Even my other friend, he met his wife in camp, too, I mean, in the kitchen.

RM: Mess halls for romance. So actually, tell me a little bit about other uses for the mess hall. You donated a movie ticket that was...

GO: No, the movie ticket, it was outside.

RM: Oh, okay, it wasn't in the mess hall.

GO: No, no. The mess hall you had probably a dance or whatever, get together. Dance, I don't know about dance. They can't move the table, it's a block... wait a minute. They had a recreation building that's for meetings or dances or whatever.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

RM: Do you remember going to social events in Manzanar?

GO: Yeah, that's where I took my wife now and then, dance.

RM: Oh, okay. So tell me, maybe I should ask about the social events after I ask a little bit about how you met your wife.

GO: I met her in the same block. She lived in the same block. Well, actually, Block 16, she was across the way. So I didn't know her that good. But when we went to Block 23, I was in the next block, she was in the next building. I was in 6-4, she was in 5-3.

RM: So you guys were next door neighbors.

GO: Yeah, next door neighbors.

RM: So how did you... did you know her before Manzanar?

GO: No, she was from West Los Angeles. So if we didn't go to camp, like somebody was saying, my kids won't be here.

RM: That's right. So tell me a little bit about, first of all, what's her name?

GO: When I met her? Gradually we've been doing things in a group, and then slowly we got together. You know how it is.

RM: Yeah, I know how it is. What was your wife's name?

GO: Fujiko.

RM: And her maiden name?

GO: Nomura.

RM: So what kind of social events did you go to?

GO: You mean in camp?

RM: Yeah.

GO: Well, when they dance, mostly dance, dancing... yeah, that's about it. Dance, get together.

RM: Was it live music?

GO: They had a small band, yeah. Well, some of 'em were, got the phonograph there.

RM: So did you... I'm curious about all the different social things that went on in camp. I've read a lot about sports, did you play any sports in Manzanar?

GO: Yeah, I was looking at one of your articles in your museum over there, it's got my name and it's got basketball. It's got my name, and I got two points. So Dorothy and Grace were looking at that and said, "You played basketball?" "No, I don't think so." Said, "Your name's here, you made two points." So I guess I must have played basketball.

RM: Did you ever play baseball?

GO: Yeah, we played baseball, kitchen baseball.

RM: What is that?

GO: All the kitchens had our own baseball, and we played against each other.

RM: Oh. So like Block 16 kitchen would play against Block 20?

GO: Yeah.

RM: Wow. Okay, can you tell me a little bit about the fields? Where did you play?

GO: Well, they had a baseball field, so we played there, certain kitchen teams going to play here certain day. So we played baseball. Then after baseball's over we, just [inaudible] football.

RM: Okay. Do you remember where the football field was?

GO: Well, same thing, same place. Only thing is they just mark it off.

RM: Just out in the firebreaks?

GO: Yeah.

RM: Who did your team play? It was, you said the North Hollywood Huskies, who did you play in football?

GO: Well, in camp they formed their own group. So they all get together and play each other.

KL: Who were the tough kitchen teams?

GO: Who were top?

RM: In the kitchen teams, who were the toughest?

GO: I don't know who the toughest was.

RM: Were you guys good?

GO: We were so-so.

RM: [Laughs] Somewhere in the middle. What about in football, do you remember who the toughest teams were to beat?

GO: No.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

RM: So I'm going to pull out a picture of the North Hollywood Huskies. If you don't mind just holding it up, can you show us who you are in that photo?

GO: Well, I guess I'm this person here.

RM: And do you know any of the other guys in the photo?

GO: I know everybody, but I forgot a couple of the names. Yeah, I can go down the line and mention all of them, but there's a couple of them that I forgot.

RM: Okay. And then you told me earlier your brother Soup is in that photo, right?

GO: Right here.

RM: So maybe after this interview we could just write down everyone's names that you remember. That would be really neat for us to have. But was the North Hollywood Huskies, how did you guys form as a group, and did you only play football?

GO: No, there were... well, actually, we formed it when we came to camp. Because a few of us went to North Hollywood High, and they were the Huskies. So we came to camp and then some of North Hollywood got together and we formed that. That's our group. [Laughs]

RM: What kind of things did you guys do?

GO: Get together, play poker.

RM: Poker?

GO: Play poker, throw the dice, you know how they are when they're young.

RM: So you guys haven't changed, because downstairs, didn't you have a poker tournament this morning?

GO: [Laughs] Well, there's nothing else to do in between. We played poker or throw the dice or talk.

RM: Do you remember any rules about gambling in Manzanar?

GO: No. Well, they didn't gamble that big, just to have fun.

RM: So where did you have the games? If you got together for a poker game, where would you go?

GO: We'd go to somebody's apartment and play if the wife or the mother don't care, we'd play. Or sometimes I think we'd play outside, we'd throw the dice. But you know, when you're young, you do things like that, not too big.

RM: So you were telling me earlier about a later trip that you took to Manzanar, and you guys picked some apples, and this was, I think, in the '60s. But I'm curious about if you remember the gardens and apple trees and orchards at Manzanar from when you were in camp.

GO: I notice that there were some ponds and gardens in between barracks, but I didn't pay too many attention to it.

RM: Did your family do anything outside of their apartment to make a garden or anything?

GO: No, no. It was either my brothers or I did, plant, I think planted trees. Tree or some kind of a bush in front, to get some shade, yeah. Like a tree to shade the front.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

RM: So tell me a little bit about, let's say that you're just walking around Block 16. What would that have been like? What would you have seen?

GO: Barracks. [Laughs] That's about it. Well, like 16, I don't think too many people planted things in between.

RM: What about if you walked outside the block? Do you remember the barbed wire?

GO: We went up to the barbed wire.

RM: Did you ever... I've heard stories about guys sneaking out to go fishing. Did you guys ever sneak out?

GO: Let's see. Did we sneak out? I remember we went to... from the small farm, I think a nursery farm, I think they had some watermelons growing there, or had watermelons, anyway. I think we took some watermelon, ate some. You know, when it gets dark we wander around. So I think we spotted watermelon and we ate it. [Laughs]

RM: So did you bring it... so you snuck out of camp to go steal watermelons?

GO: No, no, we didn't sneak out of camp. It's either it was in the camp, or probably just out of the camp or something.

RM: Did you bring the watermelons back?

GO: No. We ate it right there.

RM: And it was nighttime?

GO: Oh, yeah, it's nice.

RM: That reminded me that the very first time I met you, you had a truck driver's license from Manzanar.

GO: Yeah, that was my third job.

RM: So this is after you were a junior cook.

GO: No, that was my fourth job. My junior cook, and I was a fireman, and then I was a truck driver.

RM: So let's actually start with the fireman. I didn't realize you were a fireman at Manzanar. Tell me about that.

GO: Right after I came back from a furlough, I had to get a job. So my friend said, "Come and work in the fire department," so I worked in the fire department for a while, until I went out again.

RM: So where was the fire department?

GO: It was... I don't know what block, but it was towards the end of the block.

RM: So there was one in Block 13 right on the edge of camp next to the highway.

GO: Maybe that's the one.

RM: Do you remember what that building was like when you went inside?

GO: No, I can't picture. Because I know two of the guys that was a firemen, I think one of 'em was a chief and one that was a friend. That's the only reason I went with the firemen.

RM: So a few of your friends. Did you ever get called out on a fire?

GO: No, but you go on a drill and you pull the hose out, and they teach you how to fold it back in the truck. That's about it. I didn't go to a fire.

RM: How long were you on that job for?

GO: Until the next furlough.

RM: So like a few months?

GO: Something like that.

RM: And then you go on the next furlough and you come back and you are...

GO: Driving a truck.

RM: And what were you driving that truck for?

GO: I was hauling sand. They gave me a badge, there's a dump truck. So I went out of camp, and you know how sandy it is out there, so we brought some sand back in camp. I don't know what they did with the sand. They did something with the sand, I did something with the, or my helpers. I just drove the truck, anyway. So that was my last job. And that time, I used to drive out of camp or someplace, we had a pear orchard. While I was in camp, I went to the pear orchard to pick some pears. Boy, I was nice, wasn't I? [Laughs]

RM: Well, if the fruit's there, you might as well eat it. So do you remember, did you go towards the Sierras in order to get sand?

GO: No, it's right out of camp that you can get sand. But we went up a little bit. That's why we had to have a little badge. There was a blue badge and a red badge. I think one of the badges, I can get out the front, go across the street, and one of them was for the back.

RM: I didn't know that. So you had to have a different kind of badge if you were going to cross Highway 395?

GO: Yeah. That's why one of them was red and one was blue.

RM: Right. So what did you do if you went to the east across the highway?

GO: Gee, what did I do? I don't know, I forgot.

RM: How far was the farthest you ever drove in that truck out of camp?

GO: Not too far.

RM: You stayed pretty close. How many guys were on your crew?

GO: I think a couple, laborers, you know, with shovels.

RM: Yeah. So I'm curious if you remember that auditorium, that big old building that we now use as our visitor center at Manzanar. Do you remember them building it?

GO: I think I barely remember. Yeah, they were building it. But I didn't go down that far. I always saw it in the distance.

RM: Did you ever go to any events in the auditorium?

GO: Probably did, I can't remember that either.

RM: So Fujiko was class of 1944, is that right?

GO: Yeah.

RM: So she would have been that first class to graduate from Manzanar High School. Did you guys already know each other?

GO: No.

RM: Or excuse me, the first class to graduate in the auditorium. So when did, what time in camp did you meet her and really get to know her?

GO: Well, I saw her every day, go in the kitchen or whatever. But when she was in 16, I didn't see her that much because she was across the block. But when, in 23, she was right across.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

RM: So maybe tell me a little bit about why your family moved from Block 16 to Block 23.

GO: Block 16 was a lot of North Hollywood people that was a "no-no," so they all went to Tule Lake.

RM: Oh. How many people in Block 16 said "no" to the loyalty...

GO: Well, I guess there was quite a few, because we moved, who was left was moved to Block 23. So I guess that was, there weren't too many people in 16 so they moved them to 23, and then they made Block 16 into a school.

RM: That's interesting, George. I didn't realize that the reason they selected 16 for the elementary school was because it had emptied out after the "loyalty questionnaire."

GO: Yeah, the "no-nos" moved out.

RM: That's interesting.

GO: "No-no" moved out and then so who was left was moved to 23.

RM: So do you remember, you would have been over seventeen. Do you remember answering the "loyalty questionnaire"?

GO: Geez, I don't know if they... when I turned eighteen I think they called me, or I had to get my card, draft card. Because I was seventeen when I went in, and at the end of the year I got to be eighteen, so I probably got draft notice beginning of the next, following year. I don't know how, but I still got those cards.

RM: Oh, you have your draft card.

GO: Yeah.

RM: Do you remember the army registration that the army asked all of the Nisei men to fill out? Do you remember doing that? It would have been in February of 1943.

GO: I don't remember, maybe I did.

RM: Do you know, your parents, do you remember them talking about the "loyalty questionnaire"?

GO: No, they don't talk about that part too much.

RM: I'm guessing they both answered "yes-yes."

GO: And like my parents going to camp was something like a vacation, because they were working hard before the war, in the farm. And when they went to camp, they didn't have to worry about food for the farm, so they were just relaxed, so they just didn't have to worry about nothing.

RM: Do you think that was the first time in their lives that they'd ever been able to...

GO: Yeah, they didn't have to worry about anything. Because they get fed and they got a place to sleep.

RM: Do you remember the kinds of things that they did in their spare time?

GO: Yeah, they worked in the kitchen.

RM: And did they ever... when they weren't working in the kitchen, do you remember the kinds of things that they did?

GO: No, they just talked with their friends.

RM: What about your siblings? What kind of jobs did they have?

GO: They had a pretty good job, like Grace was a pharmacist, she's still working part-time. Dorothy is, she says, "I'm retired," so she's not working.

RM: Oh, your daughters, yeah. Well, they worked pretty hard during the Manzanar reunion. So I guess does anyone else... oh, I have one more question about camp, and I guess that would be if you remember one of the things that preceded the "loyalty questionnaire" which would have been the Manzanar riot. Do you have a memory of the night of December 6, 1942?

GO: The riot, they claimed that was a riot? I don't think it was a riot. I was there, right there. People were marching around and singing. And next thing I know, they started the tear gas coming, so I ran, that was it. I was running away, and I don't know what happened. But they weren't doing anything, they were just walking around in a circle and singing. I don't know what kind of song they were singing. And then I saw the tear gas coming so I took off, that was it. I don't remember nothing else.

RM: Where was this?

GO: At the front.

RM: And why were you up there?

GO: Well, there was, we knew there was something going on up there, so we went out there to see what was going on. You know, you're young, you go out there, and anything happening, you go out there, you're curious to know what's going on.

RM: Were you with your friends?

GO: Yeah, I think I was with my friend.

RM: Do you remember what happened after the riot? Or I think it's right not to call it a riot. After that event, do you remember what the camp was like?

GO: I didn't think it was anything different. Everything was back to normal.

RM: Did you continue working in the mess hall?

GO: Yeah. Everybody was working just like another day. I don't know actually what's going on at the station, police station.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

RM: So I guess I want to ask Whitney and Kristen, other questions that you two might have about George's experiences in Manzanar?

KL: Yeah, I wondered if you recall the formation of the mess hall workers union or any discussions about that?

RM: So Kristen, just to repeat what she asked so the microphone can catch it, do you recall the formation of the mess hall workers union, or sometimes it was called the kitchen workers union in camp?

GO: I don't think they had a union, they had just workers. You tell them to do this and they do it, then if something goes wrong, they just tell the block leader what's going on, and the block leader talks to the kitchen chief and then that's it.

RM: Do you remember who your block leader was?

GO: Oh, I just know by the whiskers. He had long whiskers. [Laughs] That's why we used to call him Whiskers.

RM: Was he Issei or Nisei?

GO: Gee, I think he was Issei. Or he could be a Kibei, you know, Japanese and American.

RM: Do you remember what his office was like? Did you ever go down there?

GO: No, but it's the first barrack, it's the first barrack.

KL: Who else do you remember as leaders in the camps? Those people or that others looked up to, or charismatic people?

GO: No, that's just in a certain block, they got a leader, that's it. People will follow what they're doing, we just do what our block leaders tells us. So there was nothing going on. What the block leader says, we do.

RM: Do you remember any meetings?

GO: Oh, they had meetings, but it's the old people.

RM: Oh, you didn't go them.

GO: [Laughs] No.

RM: It was all the Issei that went to the meetings, I see. Do you remember people that were big personalities in the camp? Like today, we always hear a whole bunch of names of the people that really stood out. But I'm wondering from somebody who was there on the ground, who do you remember whose name you heard a lot?

GO: Big name?

RM: Yeah.

GO: Nope, I don't... I don't know any big names.

KL: There are a couple names that are associated with the Manzanar riot or uprising, that event, like Joseph Kurihara and Harry Ueno, Fred Tayama. I wonder if you ever interacted with any of them or heard them speak or knew anything about them?

GO: No, I don't know nothing about them.

RM: I'm curious about the administration at Manzanar. Did you get to know any of the people that were working there very well?

GO: No, I just knew my boss.

RM: Who was your boss?

GO: Oh, I forgot his name.

RM: Was he the guy...

GO: He's the person that takes care of... like what he has to do in camp.

RM: Was he your boss when you were in the mess hall?

GO: No. Oh, you mean certain jobs got certain boss?

RM: Yeah.

GO: So what they say, they do. And if there's something big going on, from the front office they'll tell each block or something this is going on or what to do. Otherwise, I don't know how they did it.

RM: Okay.

KL: Did you ever go into Lone Pine or Independence? You mentioned taking the bus from Bishop. Or did you ever have people, talk to people from Lone Pine or Independence while you were in Manzanar?

RM: You can't, our camp, nobody can go out. But like they have a football game or something, people from, school from Independence, the teams comes over to Manzanar and play, like, football. Like Heart Mountain, they get a pass to go downtown or whatever, well, Manzanar we couldn't do that.

KL: Did you, do you recall a football game or any time when you saw people from the local towns?

GO: No, because it was during the school, like the football season, that's the only time they come to play football. But otherwise I didn't know that there were other schools coming over to play football. The school's too far away from my...

RM: You were trying to avoid school. [Laughs]

GO: Probably I was working when they were playing football.

KL: What did you think of the Owens Valley and the Sierra and Inyo Mountains?

GO: Oh, it's a pretty place when the snow is out there. But the only thing I hate about that was the wind. The wind was the worst. The cold you could stand. When the wind blew, you got the dust blowing right into you, and it gets into your eyes and you got to rub your eyes. That's the toughest. But otherwise, that's a good place.

KL: You mentioned that Block 16 really emptied out because people went to Tule Lake. Do you remember when it... I guess there are two questions. Were there ever conversations or did people judge each other or interact with each other as they were making those decisions? And then also what was it like to watch people leave?

GO: I think when the people left from 16 to 23, I was probably out in the furlough, because I don't know when they moved. Anyway, I don't remember moving, not furnitures and stuff.

KL: Do you have a sense for why in Block 16 especially and the North Hollywood community so many people answered "no" or went to Tule Lake?

GO: I think most of them did answer "no" from North Hollywood. Because my brother was telling me this. You know, there's about two or three families that's not going to Tule Lake the rest of them all went.

RM: Do you know why? Do you have any guesses?

GO: It's the folks, the parents. The parents.

RM: Families just wanting to stay together with their parents?

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

RM: So Kristen just brought up a good point. So much of the donation material that you've given Manzanar in the past few years is really incredible. A lot of it was Fujiko's right? So we were curious, her background, where her parents were from, for example.

GO: Her parents, they had a nursery. That's how it started, he had a nursery in West Los Angeles. I guess that's the most... and then after that he started to do gardening work. That's his, that's his work.

RM: Do you remember her dad's name?

GO: He's got a... Ryozo, R-(Y)-O-Z-O, something like that. I don't even know the mother's... her mother was... I forgot. It's been a long time.

RM: Do you know where they were from in Japan?

GO: They were next door to Kobe, is that next to Wakayama?

RM: I don't know my Japanese geography very well, but they were near Kobe?

GO: Yeah.

RM: We can look that up.

GO: I think it was. Anyway, they were close by.

RM: Did Fujiko have any siblings?

GO: Two sisters. One, she was, she was ninety or ninety-one when she passed. And she got a younger, no, she got a sister that was above her. She's in the Senior Garden that advertises. So I go visit her once a week.

RM: Did she come to the reunion a couple years ago, maybe four years ago?

GO: She came but now she's having trouble with sciatica so she can't, her leg hurts and so she doesn't come. But that's why Dorothy's taking her video, that's her. She said, "Take a good video of everybody." So anyway, she's the middle one.

RM: Was Fujiko the youngest?

GO: Youngest.

KL: When I first met you, we picked up a trunk that you were donating. Could you tell us the significance of that trunk or where it's been, what its past is?

GO: That came from there, Fuji's side. I think that went to Japan, I think she was telling me, it went to Japan and came back. Then after that, did it go to camp?

RM: I think it says Manzanar on it.

GO: So from there, I think it went to Manzanar. Because I don't remember. Yeah, I think it did Manzanar.

RM: Do you remember what Fujiko's parents did in Manzanar, what jobs they had?

GO: Well, he was working that nursery, the place I took the watermelon from.

RM: Did he know?

GO: He didn't know. And the mother just stayed, didn't work in camp.

RM: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about Fujiko?

GO: Well, she worked in the library downtown, L.A. She was the first to work there, and she was the first one of her family to relocate from camp. She relocated by herself to First Street, they had a place where they could stay. And then from there she went to work at the library.

RM: So that was right after camp. So her family was still in camp when she went.

GO: Yeah.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

RM: I was just going to say, maybe this is a good time to ask about what you and your family did after camp. When did you leave Manzanar?

GO: That's in August, August of '45. That's what my sister told me, August '45.

RM: And where did you go?

GO: I went to, we went to Henderson, Colorado.

RM: What took you there?

GO: My brother went out earlier, and then they found out that this farmer wants helper to help harvest his field, his crop. So he called the family over there, so that's how we went.

RM: Do you know the process that your brother went through in order to get out of camp and head out to Colorado?

GO: You know, in camp, they have a job offering from back east or whatever. So I guess he found one place, that's where he went out to Chicago and start, I don't know what kind of work he was doing there. And then my sister joined him with some of her friends in Chicago. And then my brother found out there was a job opening in Henderson, so he went over there. So that's where we decided to relocate.

RM: Do you know if people in the WRA and the relocation office helped that kind of thing?

GO: Yeah, they do. That's why they had this Seabrook back east, that's where a lot of people went. Because they said that's something like another camp.

RM: So when your family decided to join your brother, and was this Mas?

GO: Mas.

RM: Okay, so your older brother. You went and joined him in Henderson, Colorado. What was it like, first of all, to know that you were leaving Manzanar. Especially for your parents, because you'd been out on furloughs, but your parents probably had just been in Manzanar for the past three years.

GO: I don't know what they were thinking. But the first time they ever went out, so I don't know what they felt like. And that's another place where there was one person that was working on the farm, and my sister, I don't know why, they got married. [Laughs]

RM: She met a guy in Henderson.

GO: She met a guy in Henderson.

RM: What was his name?

GO: Kasamatsu. That's a name that the pictures, she was married to this Kasamatsu that was working over there helping them out.

RM: So how did you get, tell me a little bit about the process of going from Manzanar to Henderson?

GO: Well, this is, for me, something like going on a furlough. For the folks, I don't know.

RM: But you packed a, did you pack up your whole barracks?

GO: Yeah. There wasn't that much, but we packed up. I think the government gave us so much to go out, I don't know how much it was.

RM: Did they help you ship your stuff?

GO: I think that was... no, I think we took our own stuff. But I don't know I forgot that.

RM: Do you know if your parents had any savings from before the war that they were able to retain?

GO: Before the war? No. One thing is, I think the first or second year was there, my mother had some money under the mattress, you know how they are, the older people. I think she had six hundred dollars or something under the mattress, and it disappeared. It was stolen, never found it.

RM: That's a lot of money.

GO: That's a lot of money, that's the money, what they sold here, like the car or whatever. That's a lot a money those days. That was it.

RM: Did you hear people robbing, or I guess burglarizing like that much in camp or was that a rarity?

GO: It's a rarity, yeah. I didn't hear too much of people... because most of the time, somebody's home.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

RM: So then when your parents got out to Henderson, that was their savings was the six hundred dollars.

GO: I guess they'd get something from the government. I don't know what they, like we worked, we got money, and we'd get money for clothing. But I don't know if they got, how much they get. Well, they were working, so they get sixteen dollars.

RM: Yeah, sixteen a month.

GO: Sixteen.

RM: The big bucks, right? So what was... oh, go ahead?

GO: No, it's all right.

RM: What was Henderson like?

GO: Well, to me it's just like a farm. You had to get up and go to work. So it was just like old times, working on the farm.

RM: What kind of produce...

GO: Actually, I don't know what kind of produce they hired, I mean, harvested. I've got to ask my sister one of these days.

RM: And did you all live in a house that was on the farm?

GO: Yeah, they had a big house, two-story house.

RM: How long were you out there?

GO: I think we were out, this place about, over a year anyway, one or two years. And then we moved to Adams County near Denver, this was another farmer, where we worked during the summer, because over there you can't work in the winter because of the snow. So when it snowed, I went to work in downtown.

RM: In Denver?

GO: In Denver.

RM: What did you do?

GO: I worked in the egg canneries place, where I'm in the back and I feed the girls the boxes of eggs, and they candled it, they sort 'em out, dirty, cracked, large or small. So anyway, right after I get there, I get a couple of eggs, put it on the heaters. You know these old fashioned heaters they have on top? When I put a couple, two or three eggs up there, and then in no time, I can eat 'em. These women that sort the eggs, when they finish, I had to feed 'em, that's my job. [Laughs]

RM: You got to have lunch on the job, then.

GO: Yeah, well, plus, that's a plus. I tell this story to Dorothy and she just laughs.

RM: Did they know that you were eating some of the eggs?

GO: They know what's going on.

RM: So you did that during the winter months then, and then you'd head back to the farm in the spring?

GO: Yeah. So I think we stayed there about one or two years. But that was a good experience.

RM: Where in Denver did you live?

GO: Adams County, that's right off of Denver, they call it Adams County. So from there I worked, went to Denver to work.

RM: Did you drive to work every day?

GO: Yeah.

RM: So how did you... it seems like a silly question, but how did you get a car?

GO: Well, we had a car. We had, see my brother-in-law had a car, two of them. We had two cars and one truck.

RM: Did they come with the farm or did you buy 'em when you got out.

GO: I think they bought 'em, or I don't know how they got 'em, but they got 'em. And we ended up with that. And so after the Denver job, we headed back to the San Fernando Valley. We had two cars and a truck going all the way to California from Denver.

RM: Did your sister return with you, the one who had married the guy that she met in Henderson?

GO: Yeah, they had a car. And then my other sister had a car, and we had the truck, so we had to load all the things we had on the truck, and caravan, going to San Fernando Valley.

RM: So I want to jump back to what you were telling me about Fujiko relocating out of Manzanar and then working as a librarian in downtown L.A. Was she doing this while you were in Henderson? Was she in downtown L.A., being a librarian?

GO: Yeah.

RM: Did you two stay in touch after...

GO: Oh, yeah, we stayed in touch. We had a letter about so... I mean, I kept all the letters, I mean, she kept all my letters. Her letters are gone. She kept it, and then when she passed, we were cleaning things out, and the kid says, "Hey, we got a stack of letters here." I said, oh, I can't burn it. So later I wrote to her, and so what we did was we put it in a container and wrap it up good, and we put it in with her casket, so that's gone.

RM: That sounds like the best place.

GO: Anyway, her things she likes, we put in the casket.

RM: She sounds like she was a librarian in spirit, she saved so many things.

GO: Oh, we still have things of hers.

RM: Yeah.

GO: But some of the things in camp we got to look through yet, but there might be some good stuff yet.

RM: So what did she do while she... so she worked in L.A. while her family was still in Manzanar. Did her family rejoin her in Los Angeles?

GO: Yeah. It wasn't too long after she relocated, the family relocated, too.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

RM: So this is tape three of an interview with George Oda. Today is July 22, 2014, we're in Las Vegas, and George was just telling us about the big caravan his family took from just outside Denver, Colorado, all the way back to the San Fernando Valley. And George, could you just tell me where you were headed and what you did when you got there.

GO: Well, we was headed for North Hollywood, but we got there. So where was that, a cousin's... well, anyway, they found a place for us to stay, so we stayed there, and then from there we were, started working for, our farm had green onion, so we started bunch green onion. Then there was another two or three other families that was there because this farmer had a big land. So we all got there and we started working for him. And as months go by, you got money, so my father started, he went to start another farm. So he started another farm, and that was it.

RM: What did it feel like to see the San Fernando Valley, you know, your home? And you'd been gone for six years at that point. What was it like to see it?

GO: Yeah, that's a long time. Well, I tell you one thing, before we went to camp, we went to this one store. We bought things, we probably went out and bought him out. After we came back, he won't service, so we don't go back anymore. That was the only point we had trouble with, the rest of it was all right.

RM: So tell me a little bit about your parents. They just moved easily back into the farming life after camp? Because you compared Manzanar for them to the first real vacation they'd ever had. So what was it like for them to be back farming?

GO: It's easier, it was much easier for them, because we helped out more, we did more things, and they didn't have to do it. So it turned out all right. And then my older brother took over. So in other words, it's turned out that they were sort of an advisor. And then Mother does all the cooking, so they were happy that we...

RM: I'm curious, this is going to sound like a weird question, but what kinds of foods did your mom cook?

GO: Oh, regular Japanese stuff. Some of the things that Dorothy said, "Eew." [Laughs]

RM: Like what?

GO: I don't know. You know, in them days, like fish, they eat almost the whole thing. I remember my mother used to eat the eyes. I can't...

RM: You weren't a big fan of fish eyes?

GO: Not fish eyes.

RM: Did your parents speak both English and Japanese?

GO: No, that's one thing, they didn't speak English, but they understood what we were saying. But we knew a little bit of Japanese then, so it'd mix up. Or going back, way back, was wondering how did my dad go to the store and buy groceries because they couldn't speak English? I think I heard some said they want egg or something, so they said, "Cock-a-doodle-do," or crack like a chicken so they get their eggs. This is what I heard, somebody. So they didn't speak a bit of English.

RM: But they could understand it well enough to communicate with you guys.

GO: Oh, yeah, now, after we got back, they know what we're talking about.

RM: Did your parents ever, after 1952 when it was legal, did they ever become U.S. citizens?

GO: No, they just left it just like that.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

RM: So I'm curious, we've heard about that big stack of letters between you and Fujiko. How did you two reconnect after being in a different state?

GO: We corresponded, letter. When we got back to North Hollywood, I went to see her.

RM: Was she happy to see you?

GO: I don't know. [Laughs] And then those days, there was butter that was on ration, they had to have stamps and all that. But in Denver, I don't think there was. So I used to send them butter just to get in good with the parents. [Laughs]

RM: You were "buttering 'em up."

GO: Yeah, that's it. That was it. Because butter was hard to get over here. Yeah, so I used to send them butter and whatever they couldn't get over here.

RM: So were you two dating for a while, and when did you get married?

GO: Oh, we were dating for, yeah, we were dating. We got married in '48.

RM: How long had you been back in California before you got married? Oh, yeah, it's okay. [Laughs]

GO: My mind is working.

RM: I know, I'm putting you to work today, huh? Where did you get married?

GO: Right here.

RM: In Las Vegas?

GO: Las Vegas.

RM: Where at?

GO: One of those... oh, I don't know where, someplace. Wait a minute, where is... what's that hotel? Right there, the first hotel on the strip? Sahara.

RM: The Sahara, yeah.

GO: That's where we stayed.

RM: Okay.

GO: So the chapel was... I don't know where it was.

RM: A chapel near the Sahara, though.

GO: No, I think it was this way here someplace. Anyway, we came, my brother drove us with his wife, and the oldest daughter, she was a witness. My daughter thought I was kidding her, "You were a witness at our wedding." She said, "Yeah."

RM: I see. So you drove out from Los Angeles, your brother drove you out from L.A. to come get married in Las Vegas?

GO: Yeah.

RM: That's exciting, I didn't know that.

GO: I guess that was the easiest way.

RM: So where did you two live after that?

GO: Well, we lived in a place where my parents were living on one side, this person had a big yard. So he built a duplex on one side, the corner. So we took half of it, and my other friend took the other half. So we stayed there 'til we, 'til I started farming on my own.

RM: So this was, you were originally at your parents' farm.

GO: No, this was someplace where this fellow let us stay at his place, because this was a residential district.

RM: Okay. And where was it?

GO: North Hollywood.

RM: In North Hollywood. And what was your job then?

GO: Job... what was I doing anyway? I was doing something. Anyway, I took it off and then went to Vegas.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

RM: So then when did you start your own farm?

GO: I think after I got married or before? Gee, that part I forgot, too. But after we got married we stayed there for a while and we moved, then I started farming. This is so many years ago.

RM: Well, maybe I could ask instead, this is maybe a little easier, but what made you decide to start your own farm?

GO: Well, them days, since I was a farmer just like the rest of the people, so we said, "Well, let's start farming," so I started farming. Because them days, it was hard to get a job. People there went to college, they were doing gardening jobs. So it was hard to get a job there.

RM: For Japanese Americans or for everybody.

GO: Well, yeah, we were, it was hard to get a job. So I started farming, we're like the rest of them. If they weren't farming, they were doing gardening work.

RM: So where was your farm? Was it also in the San Fernando Valley?

GO: Yeah, this, we see from our community center, it was in Pacoima, you know where the community center is, it's close by. At the end, we were farming right across from the community center.

RM: And it was encroaching.

GO: Yeah. I find different farms, one, two, three... actually, I even had three different places. Last place is right across from the community center, that's where I was from and delivering things to the market. And as I was going to market I was buying, like I say, tomatoes or lettuce. And I had a stand right in front of my farm. What made me start the farm was customers, I don't know, somebody asked me, they want to buy some vegetables, and one week or one day we just decided, well, let's put one crate out there, and put a few vegetables out. And the customers stated stopping, so next time we said, "Let's put two out." Then more people started stopping. This is right in front of that community center, near where the community center is. Then the dairy, milk is right there. So anyway, we put out three crates, and they still started coming, so we said, okay. So my brother started building the stand, regular vegetable stand, so we started that. Then I got my kids to pick strawberries and pick tomatoes and whatever. That's why, you asked Dorothy about the tomato, how much I paid to pick one tomato. I used to pay 'em a penny a worm. She's going to get a laugh at that, you can tell her about that.

RM: That's a lot if you're a kid. So tell me a little bit about your kids. When were they born? Uh-oh. [Laughs] All right, how about you just tell me their names and the oldest to the youngest?

GO: Janet is the oldest, Grace is the second, Dorothy's the baby.

RM: The baby. And there's... you don't want to say yes or no to whether she's the last child because she was so perfect?

GO: No, that's her joke. [Laughs] That's her joke, she tells that to everybody.

RM: Yeah. So they worked on the farm with you then? They picked the strawberries and the tomato worms. Was it, did you see any similarities between when you were a kid and you were helping out your parents on a farm in San Fernando? And then you raised your own kids on a farm in the San Fernando Valley.

GO: Well, I was paying my kids.

RM: Oh.

GO: I wasn't getting paid on my own.

RM: I see.

GO: She liked that tomato worm, penny apiece, but I think like strawberry, I don't know how much I paid 'em a basket. Well, anyway, they were helping out on the stand, picking vegetables. You talk to Dorothy about that stand and she'll tell you everything.

RM: I'll ask her about it. Did you have other helpers on the farm, or was it just your family?

GO: No, I had, like, my brother's wife, she worked on a farm, and then I had another lady working. So we had, you talk to Dorothy about that farm and she'll tell you a lot of good stories about it.

RM: I will ask her.

GO: It's her that talks about the farm.

RM: So how long did you have that farm for?

GO: Oh, that I wouldn't know.

RM: I'm curious because the San Fernando Valley obviously, when you go into it today, it's housing and mostly a residential area.

GO: Where I was farming, they had a big dairy there. So I got part of the dairy, they leased it to me. It was about maybe 20 acres or so. One thing good about that one was they had to clean out their barn, so when I finished my crop, they volunteered to dump their fertilizer in my yard, so I didn't have to buy no fertilizer. That's one thing that was good about that. No, that's where the kids grew up. That's why Dorothy will tell you, like I said, good stories.

RM: What was it like to see the farmland just sort of disappear from the San Fernando Valley?

GO: Well, as farmland goes, more houses go up. That's the way we felt. See, like before, from North Hollywood to San Fernando, that was a long ways ago, and it was a two-way street. Then some places you had orange orchards. So if you want oranges in there for the season, you parked at the curb and picked some oranges. [Laughs]

RM: This is a theme throughout the world history.

GO: Yeah, 'cause this is the early days, the farmers don't know who's taking the oranges. So we had oranges. And they had a lot of oranges on the street.

RM: So did you have any other jobs, or did you farm right through...

GO: Well, like I was farming this farm across from the dairy, I mean, from the community center. My friend was working in the store up the block, and then he comes up to me and says, "You know, we're busy. Can you help us out on Sundays?" I says, "Okay." So I started working in the store on Sundays, time went on, says, "Hey, how about two days?" "Okay, I'll help you out two days." Finally, in the meantime, my brother was having an argument with his boss at his one store, so he quit his job. And then he was coming to the farm, and he didn't have a job. So then this other friend was telling me to work more, so I told my brother, "You want to take over my farm? I'm going to go work at the store." So I started working at the store full-time and my brother took over the farm. So I work at the store for twenty-six years.

RM: You went from one day on Sundays for a week to twenty-six years. And this is what store?

GO: Dale's Market. They only had stores in the valley, and then they had... at the end they sold out, so I started, I knew there was another friend working in another store, Hughes Market, so he says, "Well, I got a job over here. It's not full time, but it's part time right now." I said, "Okay." So we started going, I started working there I don't know how many years. And then in the meantime we were taking trips to Europe and Asia and all that. So we had a plan to go to China for a second time, and I got sick. And I was laying in bed and says, "Why am I working?" So I told the manager, said, "I'm going to retire," so I retired, and then we started taking more trips.

RM: Did Fujiko work?

GO: She worked for the county. She worked for twenty-six years, too, at the library. And then from the library she went to, maybe you heard of this Olive View Hospital, she worked at the office. She worked there a combined twenty-six years. So she's... she left me a good pension, too.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

RM: Well, I would like to ask a little bit about the Manzanar High School reunion because we're there right now, I'm keeping you from having fun by doing this oral history. How long have you been coming to this reunion?

GO: The reunion, every reunion they had, I missed one.

RM: Since what year about?

GO: The first one they had.

RM: Wow.

GO: That's when my wife, she said they're gonna have a reunion, and then this friend of mine says he's going because he graduated, too. So I said, well... so she says she'll go with him and his wife. So they went to the first one. And after that, I went to most of the other ones. That's why some of those pictures and stuff from way back, that's the one my wife took. Them days they didn't believe in taking pictures. So she took all those pictures. Now I went to all the... and you knew how they were, by the pictures, you know how we were dressed from the very beginning? Suits and tie, now...

RM: You forgot your suit and tie today. It's sweltering in here, yeah.

GO: That's how much has changed. And then my kids, they didn't ever go to the reunion. See, my wife died in '07, and then reunion's coming up in August next year. So the kids says, "You've got to go." They want to take me to Vegas or go to the reunion, because I've been going every year. Okay, so they started coming to this reunion since '08. Every year they, we've been coming here. Look what they're doing now.

RM: Yeah, they're in charge.

GO: They wanted Grace to take over this year. I told them, "No way." Because she hasn't been in the camp, she doesn't know nothing about camp. I told her, "You got to have somebody that was in camp to take over."

RM: Well, I heard Rosie Kakuchi last night called you "the boss," so...

GO: That got me. [Laughs] Boss.

RM: So, George, I've also seen you at a number of Manzanar pilgrimages at this point. I wondering when the first Manzanar pilgrimage was you went to.

GO: Oh, that was... I don't know, that was pretty... because Fuji, she liked to go to things like that. And then I don't know, we probably went from the first. Because them days they were younger, everybody was younger and then drove, and her sister likes the Manzanar too, so I think we all went about the first one.

RM: Tell me a little bit about the trip that Dorothy showed me some pictures of and I think you were mentioning earlier that you all went up to Manzanar when your kids were just kids. What was that like? Was that your first time to go back up there?

GO: That's the first time I took the kids.

RM: What happened?

GO: What happened was we were out there. I guess we were looking at the apple tree, or was that a pear tree? Then I was sitting, there were some cows coming towards us. So I said, "Well, we'd better get away from here," so we took off.

RM: So it was a little bit different than the last time you'd been at Manzanar.

GO: Oh, yeah, much different. After that we, the cows were gone, so we've been going, I've been taking the kids right along.

RM: You know, you've been so involved, I would say, in Manzanar since I started coming to these reunions in 2010 and I met you and your family and you've been donating so many amazing things that we've already used some of them in our exhibits. So I guess I want to say, in part, thank you so much for all of that, it's really, it's made a huge difference. But then the other thing I want to ask is what do you think about what we're doing at Manzanar right now as the National Park Service?

GO: That's good for the younger generation. Because I think there's a lot of them that still don't know what went on. So that's going to do some good. And then Grace was saying those posters you got down there, says they're gonna donate after they... because they're not taking it apart.

RM: Oh, the reunion posters?

GO: Reunion, what they have down there. Said somebody wanted it at the museum.

RM: Probably Alisa.

GO: So that's where it's probably gonna go.

RM: Well, we certainly appreciate all your donations.

GO: And they put a lot of work in that, too.

RM: So let me ask around the room, I have one last question for you, but I sort of want to make sure that everyone else in the room has a chance to ask you anything that we've forgotten. I can see Kristen's eyebrows going right up.

KL: So one of them you mentioned that a lot of people from North Hollywood went to Tule Lake, and I wondered if you have interactions with people when they came back from Tule Lake to that part of Southern California. Did people ever talk to you about what it was like at Tule Lake, and also if there were any divides when they returned, did the friendships keep up?

GO: Oh, yeah, they're still friends. But then they talk about what happened in Tule Lake. So they know what happened at Manzanar, so they know what happened in Tule Lake, they tell us what happened. That they went to school and what they had to do, did every day.

KL: Did you guys pick up on differences between 1944 and '5 at Manzanar versus Tule Lake?

GO: No. No, we just talk about it and that's it. Like we say, we talk about Manzanar reunion, whereas that Tule Lake reunion, they had one the other day.

KL: What about in the 1950s? I don't know if there were people that you knew who did expatriate to Japan and then come back? Do you remember anybody coming back?

GO: Yeah, there's people that went to Japan, but they didn't like it there or they couldn't... anyway, they came right back. They came right back and then ended up, North Hollywood boys that said "no-no," they came back and then volunteered for the army to get their papers back.

KL: Was it a tough adjustment do you think, or did they just kind of integrate back into North Hollywood?

GO: Well, actually, all this thing here is what the parents told them to do. Because like I was saying, when the parents tell you to do it, we did it. But I think right now, if we tell our kids to do it, they won't do it. That's how we were brought up. When they tell us to do things, we do it.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

KL: I have one other Manzanar question, too. Your family roots are in Wakayama, right? And I know you had those cousins who settled in Terminal Island and were in Manzanar before you. Sometimes we hear that the Terminal Island was kind of a strong group, and people have opinions about Terminal Island and really saw kind of a Terminal Island community in Manzanar. And I wondered what your take on that was, if there really was sort of a noticeable group from Terminal Island?

GO: That's something like the Huskies. Terminal Island's got a group that's called the Yogores. So they do their things and we do our things, so it's a group thing. Different cities have different ways of doing things, so we got along.

KL: It seems like sometimes people say that the language was kind of different, the type of Japanese and the slang and the words and stuff.

GO: Yeah, the people from Terminal Island, they were brought up more to speak Japanese, the younger generation. And we didn't know how to speak Japanese, so we went to, just kept on speaking English.

KL: Oh, so even though your grandparents and parents had the Wakayama connection, it didn't really pass to you because you didn't speak Japanese really, you didn't have that.

GO: Actually, when I was small, I went to Japanese school every Saturday. I forgot. [Laughs]

RM: What was Japanese school like, do you remember it?

GO: It's just like a regular school. You got a book, you got to learn how to read and write. So I did all that, but I know a little bit. I know a few Japanese, but... yeah, them days are gone.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

WP: I was just wondering about your general feelings about redress.

RM: So Whitney Peterson, who is note taker, just brought up redress. And I'm curious about how, what you thought when the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 was passed and everyone got an apology from the government and $20,000 reparations.

GO: Well, that $20,000 was too late, that's one thing. Because all the older generation that really needed it passed away. But I used it. Yeah, that was the only thing that was bad about that.

RM: What did you do, if you don't mind my asking, what did you do with it?

GO: We paid some bills, I guess, because we had kids and all that. It helped.

RM: So what year did your parents, each of them, pass away?

GO: My dad passed away when he was seventy-two, and that was a long time ago. I don't know exactly what year, I won't know.

RM: What about your mom?

GO: My mom, she passed away when the kids were small yet. That... I don't know where she was.

RM: Did they ever talk about Manzanar with you?

GO: You know, the first generation, they don't talk about Manzanar, so their kids didn't know nothing about it. They know a little bit about it but some of 'em don't know too much about it. But me, I think I talked too much to my kids, so they know. And then like this... lot of these, they don't talk to their kids about it.

RM: It sounded like what you were saying earlier, that in North Hollywood, you were saying that the guys who went to Tule Lake were talking about Tule Lake and you guys were talking about Manzanar. I was surprised to hear how much it sounded like you were talking about the camp experience. Do you think that your community was a little different than other communities?

GO: No, no, it's just a talker, what happened. Just like you take a trip and see what happened over there. So it's good friends talking about what they did. It's nothing different.

RM: So I guess, George, our last question for you, because you've been so involved in all these reunions, you've been paying attention to what's going on at Manzanar and we even have a picture of you in our exhibits watching that car go away while everyone's packed up with their suitcases, I'd like to know what you would like to see us do at Manzanar as we progress into the future. What kind of changes do you think are important and what kind of things we should be doing.

GO: No, what you have now is good. But like who was that talking about building a latrine and all that, that should go up. Then that would make it, what really worked is... I don't know if they will really have the potties in there or not, but just the building would do it. That was something.

RM: Is there anything that you wanted to tell me about all of your life experiences that I forgot to ask you about?

GO: No, life is good. [Laughs] Life is good and getting shorter.

RM: You know one thing maybe we should record is how this oral history came about. Just to get it on record, I believe it was at the last Manzanar pilgrimage in April of 2014. Could you just tell exactly what it, how you agreed to do an oral history?

GO: Yeah, I was gonna save somebody's job. [Laughs] If I didn't take this oral, somebody was gonna get fired.

RM: What person was that gonna be?

GO: So I figured, well, I want her to get fired, so I agreed to do this interview. So she's interviewing me.

RM: Well, George, on behalf of me, so that I don't have to lose my job, and on behalf of Manzanar National Historic Site and Alisa Lynch who's not here in the room with us but who strongly encouraged you to do an interview, I want to say thank you so, so, so much. I know that you've talked probably about three hours longer than you intended to talk, and now we'll let you go back to having fun at the reunion. George, it was a real joy to talk to you today, so thank you so much.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.