Dear America Wiki
Advertisement
Dear America Wiki

"I have to write to Robbie. He's probably mad by now. But I can't do both—keep up this journal and write long letters like he does. Besides, after I write this stuff I don't feel much like writing it all again. Most of it's pretty boring and the rest is worse than boring."
—Ben Uchida[6]

Ben Uchida (born January 23, 1930) was the son of Mrs. and Masao Uchida. He was the younger brother of Naomi. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Ben's father was taken away by the government. Shortly later, Ben, his mother, and sister were sent to the internment camp Mirror Lake in northern California with other Japanese Americans.

Biography[]

Early life[]

Ben was born on January 23, 1930.[1] His parents, Mrs. and Masao Uchida, were born in Japan. Ben was born in America and grew up learning very little Japanese. He had one older sister, Naomi. His family rented a home from Mr. Mills in San Francisco, California, where Ben's father worked as an optometrist.

Life at the internment camp[]

In December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The following day, Uchidas' home was searched by some men and Ben's father was taken away. The family eventually learned that he was being held at Missoula, Montana. A few months later, Ben's family were assigned the number, 13559, and ordered to go to Mirror Lake Internment Camp. Before leaving, Ben's best friend Robbie Bradley gifted him a journal to record his experiences. There they shared a room with Mr. Tashima, his sister Mitsuko, and his young son Jimmy. Ben was soon befriended by an older boy, named Mike Masuda. Together the two joined Block B's youth baseball team. Ben later became friends with Kenny Okada, another player on the team.

Ben and the other children began attending school in mid-July 1942. He was less than enthusiastic because he hated studying and would rather be playing baseball. In the meantime, Ben began receiving letters from Robbie Bradley, including one that contained his favorite Dodgers cap. Later on that summer, Ben spotted Mike with a shady character, named Mr. Shibutani. When Ben asked about it, Mike denied knowing him. Not long after, Mike accidentally stabbed Kenny while playing a game with a knife. Afterwards, Kenny began avoiding Mike but Ben continued hanging out with him. However, after Mike threw their championship game, Ben stopped being around him completely.

In late October, tensions in the camp began to rise after Mr. Watanabe was killed by a soldier. Ben was at the meeting where the camp director alleged that Mr. Watanabe threatened the soldier, which only caused further unrest. After New Years', Ben's father wrote to the family that he was coming to join them. When he arrived, he was very sickly and maudlin. He was then usually seen sitting by himself in silence. In February, the internees were given a confusing questionnaire to answer. Most people were confused about how they should answer two questions in particular, which seemed to question their loyalty. Ben wished he could answer "Maybe," instead of yes or no. His family ultimately answered "Yes."

Later life[]

After the war, Ben and his family returned to San Francisco but their home had burned down under "suspicious" circumstances. Their old landlord, Mr. Mills, took in the family. Ben's father passed away not long after in 1945. As adults, Ben and Robbie opened, R and B Sporting Goods. Ben never married. He became like an uncle to Robbie's children and often visited his sister and her children, whom lived in Denver.

Personality and traits[]

Ben was not good at school and studying, which his family frequently pointed out. He was more interested in baseball, which he truly loved. Ben typically played center field. His favorite professional team was the Brooklyn Dodgers. Ben had a sarcastic sense of humor, which people did not always appreciate. He used his humor to cope with bad situations.

Family tree[]

The Uchida Family Tree
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Masao Uchida
 
Mrs. Uchida
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Husband
 
Naomi Uchida
(b. 1928)
 
Ben Uchida
(b. 1930)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Three sons

Behind the scenes[]

Appearances[]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Journal of Ben Uchida, Barry Denenberg, pages 4, 118
  2. The Journal of Ben Uchida, Barry Denenberg, page 8
  3. The Journal of Ben Uchida, Barry Denenberg, page 6
  4. The Journal of Ben Uchida, Barry Denenberg, Epilogue, pages 131-132
  5. Mirror Lake is mostly based on the real-life internment camp Manzanar.
  6. The Journal of Ben Uchida, Barry Denenberg, page 47

See also[]


Advertisement