Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Kinge Okauchi Interview
Narrator: Kinge Okauchi
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Ridgecrest, California
Date: July 16, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-okinge-01-0019

<Begin Segment 19>

RP: Let's talk a little bit about this job. So you went from the mess hall job to the job up at the summer camp?

KO: No, I essentially was a recreational... I essentially took a job with the recreational department as you'd call it. And I got assigned to, I think, one of the so-called recreational hall areas, which was one of the, I guess, the thirteenth building in a twelve building barrack arrangement, and there were several of those around that the different groups had. And some of the buildings were used by clubs and stuff. I got the one that the Boy Scouts had their stuff, and I guess we got the use of the recreational unit in my block, plus the one, I reported the one that was used by the Boy Scouts, and we did the paperwork for that kind of stuff there. And you might say I was close enough to the adults, so one adult supervisor there that did all the paperwork, and I got to back him up. Sort of like the stock work type thing, I got to back up all sorts of stuff.

RP: Be assistants.

KO: And when the kids would, when the school was out, the kids would show up and we could fool around there. They had things they could do in there, stuff they could work with or play around with, games or something. And in our block, we had, occasionally groups would use that building in the block, and I would have access to that, too. But I wasn't officially assigned building as such. And then, like I say, come summer, June or something like that, I went up to the mountains with the camp group. 'Cause I had some camping experience stuff, so that was convenient. Plus, I had mess crew experience, too, so we had a combination that was very useful. I could assist the cooks up there and all that, and I had enough to work with the kids when they went wandering around.

RP: It was officially known as Antelope Springs, but it was a former CCC camp.

KO: Yes.

RP: And what was left of that camp that you recall when you were up there?

KO: We had one building that was the john, I guess, yeah, I think that was it, and we had a whole bunch of concrete pads of which we used one as the kitchen area, and they put a shelter or a tent up over the thing and put the stove on the thing, coal burning stove obviously. Put the kitchen there in the kitchen area, and then I guess we used another pad area for the dining area, put the table down there. It was all out in the open, and the bedding, bedrooms and stuff, you might say, was just a bunch of army pup tents, two-man pup tents.

RP: So who would come up to the camp? Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts?

KO: Yeah, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, the Cub Scouts. 'Cause there was little kids, school groups and stuff like that, they would have official tours, you might say, camp tours for two weeks at a crack or something like that.

RP: Like going to summer camp in the mountains.

KO: Yeah, that's essentially what it was, a summer camp for the kids.

RP: Organized, organized groups.

KO: Yeah. And they had their group leaders which had to come, adults, several adults usually that knew the group and could keep track of them.

RP: How were the kids brought up to the camp?

KO: Oh, they used buses, pour 'em into a bus with their personal stuff and haul 'em up there. It'd be a one or two hour drive, and kids would be sick and tired of the drive by the time you got there, and come pouring out of the bus. We had to be careful they didn't get away from us. [Laughs] The beginning and the end it was sort of always interesting because we would have the, usually we would have the tents fixed for 'em, pitched, usually have 'em pitched. And they would come pouring out and they would get assigned to their tents and stuff. And after a few days, each group would have their own idea of how they want the tents arranged, so they would rearrange the tents. But we'd teach 'em how to pitch tents, so they can do that. The girls usually pitched their tents in a circle, the boys usually pitched tents in a military style.

RP: And, yeah, so this was up in the mountains at about 7,500 feet.

KO: Yeah.

RP: And boy, June on the lake bed out there at Topaz must have been well over a hundred degrees. So this was a great sort of respite from the hot summer.

KO: Oh, yeah, and it was great for me.

RP: And you spent most of the...

KO: Yeah, I spent almost all the summer up there. Go back once a month or something like that for a break, and then go back up again for the next group. What I do is go back for a two week period and stuff.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.