Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: George Uchida - Leo Uchida Interview
Narrators: George Uchida - Leo Uchida
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: West Los Angeles, California
Date: April 9, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ugeorge_g-01-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

RP: You were there, you pretty much had the whole summer before you started school in the fall. What else did you do? Did you go around the camp, kind of looking around and seeing what else was around? Did you, were you trying to make new friends, or what occupied your time during the summer?

GU: Only thing I remember is I wasn't that curious to go around the camp. But the canteen, I remember the canteen, because that's where you go and try to get something like ice cream or candy, or some kind of clothing. And then, somehow, I learned how to play pinochle, so a lot of people were playing pinochle at the time. Spent a lot of time playing pinochle. [Laughs] And then gradually, they started a sports league, and so I played basketball.

RP: You had a team in your block, didn't you?

GU: Yeah. We called ourselves the Mikado Midgets. [Laughs] And our team wasn't very good playing basketball. I guess we were the last team on the league as far as standing goes, so they gave us a sportsmanship award for that. [Laughs]

RP: Well, Hank Umemoto always brags about how bad you guys were. [Laughs]

GU: Is that right?

RP: Yeah, he's really proud of it. Now, did you play against other blocks, or did you just...

GU: Yeah. There was a league where we played other teams from other, other areas in camp. We didn't do too well.

RP: Do you remember some of the other kids that were on the team?

GU: On my team?

RP: Yeah.

GU: Well, there was Hank, of course, and then we had a old family friend, the Miyaoka family, that the boy was, Ben Miyaoka was in that. And I guess one of the older players... I forget now what his name was. He wasn't tall, but he was short and stocky, but he was one of the better players on that team. There was somebody named Tom Takahashi, and he was fairly tall. Other than that, I don't remember. I can't remember who the other two were.

RP: Leo, were you, did you play on that team?

LU: Yeah. I remember one summer, the first summer, I think, I worked in the message... no, census-taking office as a messenger. And then another summer, I worked on the farm. And another time -- this was during the school year -- after school, worked at the... where they make the armor, you know, to camouflage net? There were, they had a camouflage factory with a net strung down, and they would weave different colored tape. And when I was going to school, after school, when the workers left, we had a small crew that went and cleaned the camouflage area. And then another summer, I guess I worked in the hospital warehouse, I guess, helping with the delivery.

RP: Supplies?

LU: And then all the time there was... I mean, twelve dollars a month.

RP: That was your first job, though, wasn't it?

LU: My first job was a messenger for the census-taking office.

RP: And that's the first time you'd ever actually been paid for your work?

LU: Yeah, I guess so. [Laughs]

RP: What did you do with all that money?

LU: I think I just gave it to my mother.

RP: You didn't go down to the canteen and buy up all the ice cream?

LU: Oh, yeah, a few times, but I remember most of those pay times I give to Mother.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.