Archive for April, 2013

When I was working in the Pipe Bending shop, it was a lot harder to find food or get anything that we could trade than it was when we were hauling pipe. There were usually from one to three guards in the huge building. There were four bonding tables on the west side. When we first went to work in this shop, they wanted me to become a welder. I had done a little of this kind of work and thought it might be a little lighter work than another type of job. As soon as I found out that they didn’t provide us with any goggles, I became very dumb and could not even cut a straightline [sic]. I purposely fouled up as much as I dared, so the Japs decided I would never be a welder and gave up on me. I was well pleased with my flunking the course, because I witnessed some of the ill effects of the welding without colored goggles. We called them Dinkie eyes that were burned by the torch or getting a flash from an arc welder. Some of our men almost went blind from exposure to the welding process.

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One day we were going to the warehouse, we saw some Japanese longshoremen unloading a barge of fish meal in twenty kellos boxes. I told Sweatman that I was going to get a box of fish meal, so I managed to steal one and stashed it in the warehouse. It took us four days to smuggle it into camp, however. The Japs used it for fertilizer, but I knew there were lots of vitamins and other food values in it regardless of what it was used for. Fish meal was a pretty good trading item in camp, and it didn’t taste too bad over our grain.

When I say grain, that is what I mean. Rice was so scarce in our diet that when we had a bowl or a ration of it in camp, we always made the distinction by calling it white rice. Most of our diet consisted of rolled barley and a grain that they called korea. It is a grain that looks like maize. Sometimes we had soybeans soaked in with the grain, and then there were times when we had mong beans, which tasted like half-cooked black eyed peas.

For nearly two years I work [sic] in a pipe bending shop, and then I got a better job. It was really hard work as here we hauled pipe to the pipe bending shop. We carried pipe from a warehouse on a two-wheeled cart whose tires were made out of two-inch pipe bent round. It took four men to pull and guide the cart as we put more pipe weight on this cart than we could haul on a half-ton pick-up here in the states. It was about six blocks to the pipe bending shop. Even if it was hard work, we had more freedom than most of the other P.O.W.s. When we first started hauling pipe back and forth, our civilian boss was hard to get along with and lots of times he would tell the Jap guards of some of our irregularities. This caused us to get slapped around quite ¬†abit [sic]. The Jap’s name was Shazon Son. Later we won him over to our side and found out that he did not like to see us mistreated, but he had to report all of ur [sic] activities when we were with him. If he did not report us, and the Jap guards found it out, he would be punished severely. We told him we did not want him to get beat up on our account, so we wanted him to watch us carefully and report anything he should. We told him that were were prisoners, and we had more or less got used to being punished one way or the other, but we could not understand how the Army had the authority to beat him as he was a civilian, and we didn’t think he should be punished for our doings. We assured him that in the States, the Army had no authority over the civilians. Later we noticed he had a change of heart and became real friendly, and there were times when he “stuck his neck out” for us. Just as soon as a guard showed up, however, he changed real fast, and his idea was to be real tough on us in their sight. They thought that he was like this all the time, and it wasn’t long until the guards scarcely came around where we were working. There would be times when we would be moving pipe from one place to the other in the warehouse, and Shozon would tell us to take a break. There were a few times that we even crawled up into the pipes and took a nap, and Shozon said he would watch for the guards for us. It was Shozon that we did our outside buying from. Our philosophy in camp was that it was not wrong to steal if we stole from the Japs, but we all took a dark view of any prisoner who stole from a fellow prisoner.