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-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

RP: Now, you spoke about your father being a cook in the mess hall. What do you remember about eating in the mess hall or the food or...

LU: Well, the thing that really I remember is that mutton, you know, the green-looking mutton, and I just hated that. So, but other than that, I survived. It was okay.

RP: Did you eat with your friends?

LU: Yeah, most of the time.

RP: Not with your parents?

LU: Yeah. Because, like, I don't know when... my dad gets up early in the morning, he's working. Maybe at first we were, kind of went as a family, but little by little, we...

RP: So your father had the morning, a morning shift in the mess hall?

LU: I guess so, because when I woke up, he was already gone.

RP: How about you, George?

GU: There was two... there was one particular food, liver. Remember liver?

LU: Yeah.

GU: That's the food I hated most. And then they also had jams. There were orange marmalade and apple butter, two I really hated. But my favorite was eating noodles, udon.

RP: Udon?

GU: Udon, yeah. One time, this friend that I was talking about, Ben Miyaoka, he was about a year younger than I am. We started to eat bowl after bowl of udon to see who could eat the most, and I think I had like five or six bowls. I can't remember who ate the most. [Laughs]

LU: To me, it seemed like the only jam they had was apple butter and the marmalade, that's it.

GU: Yeah.

RP: Did you ever eat at other mess halls?

GU: Once in a while I would go, yeah. I would hear that they had a good food there, some kind of good meal there. But usually it's at our own.

RP: Now, would you, did you wait on line to get into the mess hall?

LU: Yes.

GU: Just like the army, hurry up and wait.

LU: I had, you know, this... one of the brothers of the Sakakihara family, he used to work in the butcher shop where they, when the first meat come in. And every once in a while, he would come home with little bits of...

GU: Steak.

LU: ...meat from when they cleaned up. Meat or pork, fat on it. And he would cook that on the, the hot, the hotplate.

GU: Top of the oil stove.

LU: And boy, that thing really tasted good. Because we didn't have much meat for, on the farm. The only things I could remember is the mutton. Yeah, I used to look forward for him to bring home those bits of meat and stuff.

RP: Did you have a hotplate in your room?

LU: I guess he had it. I don't know where he got it. Do you remember that?

GU: Yeah. We didn't have it in our apartment, but they did, and lucky enough for them to give us a piece.

LU: Yeah. Henry used to work in the butcher shop.

GU: Yeah, like you say, it really tasted good.

RP: What did you do out on the farm, Leo? You worked on the farm.

LU: Oh, you mean in the camp? Well, I remember picking potatoes, and then we used to load 'em on the truck and then put 'em in the underground, we had to store it in there. And that was a big thing, I think.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.