Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Mika Hiuga Interview
Narrator: Mika Hiuga
Interviewer: Alton Chung
Location: Ontario, Oregon
Date: December 4, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-hmika-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

AC: You said you also had to work?

MH: Yes.

AC: What did you do for work in the camps?

MH: Okay. Okay. I worked as a waitress. So every three meals, I go early, set the table, this and that. And afterwards, we have to clear the table, mop the floor, sweep the floor, mop the floor, wash the dishes, and go back to whatever you want to do. And then three times a day, we had to do that and received twelve dollars a month which we could go down to the canteen and buy toothpaste or toilet, soap or whatever you needed. And sometimes, we'd get word that new material would come in. Oh, we all go down there. And so within two weeks, you find maybe a new blouse or new dress or new skirt or whatever by same pattern, but we didn't care. It was all new, you know. So we had a little spending money, should I say.

AC: What kinds of things did you eat?

MH: Oh, army food. Every day, the truck would bring food to every block, every mess hall. So if you had a cook that could figure out, like if he brought, they brought a chunk of beef, maybe one mess hall would have roast beef, the next might have stew. You know, he can vary it by using the same ingredients, and we had a pretty good cook in our mess hall.

AC: Everyone was assigned to a specific mess hall?

MH: Each mess hall had a cook.

AC: Right. But you were assigned, you had to eat in a specific mess hall?

MH: Yeah. We had to stay in our block. Some of the boyfriends would come and want to eat in your block, but they get frowned on because you're supposed go back to your block because food is assigned for so many people. This is, when he mentioned tongue, this is the first time I ate tongue, heart. We had a lot of Vienna sausage, apple butter, different things that the army would eat, and so we learned to eat it. Of course, we were Japanese, so they gave us rice sometimes which was good. We appreciated that. And one time, I guess this guy found a snake, and I guess snake meat supposed to be pretty good, but when you think of it as a snake and it's long, you know. [Laughs] But I didn't, we didn't complain about our food. And my father was saying some people complained about the food, and he said, "I bet you they didn't have all this stuff at home." But, and then they had a farm out in Tule Lake. It was a lake bed, and so the land was really good. And my father worked out in the farm, and I don't know if you ever heard of these, we call them naba, but it's kind of orangeish, yellowish mushroom, and he would get that and bring it home. So when he brings that home, then we could cook in our little, we never cooked in our apartment, but we did have a hot plate. And so we go to the mess hall and get our rice and whatever, and then we cook that, and we had a private dinner. [Laughs]

AC: So your father was allowed to go out and go to the vegetable --

MH: They took them out in trucks. They took them out in trucks, and they provided lunch. And so I don't think, they just provided vegetables, Tule Lake, but sent them to the other camps. Rutabaga is something I learned to eat. They raised rutabagas, parsnips, different vegetables they raised out there. So they got to go out of camp. Of course, they had a guard, you know.

AC: Did your brothers and sisters also work?

MH: They all worked except my younger sister and my younger brother. They went to school. But everybody had to work either in P.E. or garbage collector or whatever work there is to be done.

AC: And you said they also had sumo tournaments?

MH: Yes.

AC: Tell me about that.

MH: I have never gone. Dad used to go. You know, I wasn't interested in that, but Dad loved to go. So middle of the camp, they would have a sumo tournament or whatever.

AC: And so when you went to, from Tule Lake to Heart Mountain, did you also work at Heart Mountain?

MH: Did I work? I don't think I was there that long that I even tried to work.

AC: Okay.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.