Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: George Hara Interview
Narrator: George Hara
Interviewer: Loen Dozono
Date: February 5, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-hgeorge_2-01-0029

<Begin Segment 29>

LD: How about when you had to leave for assembly center and you could only take what you could carry? Were there things that you had to, what was your feeling on leaving behind many things, on having to choose only certain things? Did you feel lost at only being limited to what you could take?

GH: From home? Oh, yeah, only what you can carry so, actually your bare necessities, you know, and I didn't mind that too much. Once we got in, if you had a few bucks you can spare, you can phone up and order things from food from, you know, you can't spend too much money, but you can have mail catalog things sent, and even food from cakes that you might have enjoyed, Bohemian cakes and that. Plus, you know, eventually, you cut yourself off and only depend on what they were feeding you. Hominy grits, that's what I was trying to think of. Nobody, the cooks never knew hominy grits. Everybody tasted that, and then, "What the hell is this?" [Laughs]

LD: So the things that you left behind, what happened to them? When you returned, were you able to get them back? Did you have somebody in Portland taking care of the things that you left?

GH: We were fortunate. One of the tenants was an Italian gentleman, single, and he owned a tavern two blocks up. My dad always thought he had connection with the mafia or something. Anyway, he had purchased on the east side on Hawthorne below Grand, one building, two stories. And when he found out that we were going to move, and we had to move, he said, "If there was anything you wanted to store, I got lots of room in that building." And so I think one of the things we got a very big tin can and put rice in it. Anyway, that was stored along with a lot of other, maybe some minor furniture and kitchen gear, but that was all intact when we came back so, you know, sort of picked it up. My dad was fortunate in that the business arrangement that he made with the person he sold it to turned out smoothly. Came back, the guy promised to sign the lease back over to my dad, so he continued. And during the war years, this guy made a lot of money there in that hotel because the housing was very short.

LD: How did the camp experience affect your father?

GH: I think he handled it remarkably well. Minidoka, I found out when they came back from school, he was a block manager. Each block chose a manager who with other managers would deal with administration, so that was sort of like high, you know, sense of elective post. And he was block manager of 35, and he wasn't much of a carpenter or a gardener, so he didn't do too much along that line. But I think he never, you know, griped about it. I think he accepted it as part of being Japanese and being at war on the losing side. As far as I was concerned, I was in the, you know, U.S. Army, 'cause this was the country that I should give my allegiance to. And when that "no-no" thing came out, you know, I didn't have any qualms about yes, you have to take an arms up whereas some of my more serious-minded friends, you know, thought it was morally wrong.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.