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PROBE: April 19, 2002

April 19, 2002

QUESTION: When I was in high school my teacher was a young Japanese man, George Uchida. When I met George as an adult he became my best friend.

George is 84 and I am trying to help him keep a promise to his mother when the family was deported to Japan after World War II. He vowed to find the grave of his sister, Haruko, who died Jan. 26, 1917. The baby girl who lived only 10 days was buried near Calexico.

George doesn't know the location of the grave. He thinks the baby may have been buried on the Gage Ranch where his father, Shikazo Uchida, was struggling to establish a dairy.

George, who was born a couple years later, remembers seeing the grave with Haruko's name inscribed in Japanese on the headstone. The pinkish stone was 30 to 36 inches high with other stones around the grave.


He thinks there was a cemetery plot on the ranch.

A Swiss family lived and operated a cheese factory next to the Gage ranch, recalled George.

George also remembers visiting family in 1937 or 1938 at a ranch near the All-American Canal. The grave site may have been near this ranch.

The Uchida family lived on the Heber Noland Ranch, the Jones Ranch and Avis Ranch. While living at the Avis Ranch, his brother Tommy Massanori Uchida went to Imperial High School.

I will pass on any act of kindness. — Searcher, Spokane, Wash.

Reading your e-mail raised goosebumps on our arm.

Poor little Japanese woman bearing a baby in the desert half a world from her island birthplace and burying the baby in a now-forgotten place.

Imagine George Uchida, exiled from the place of his birth, promising his mother to return for his sister left behind in an unforgiving land.

George, now 84, trying to keep the promise to his mother to find his baby sister and return her to the bosom of the family in Japan.

And now a faithful friend looking for tiny Haruko to help George fulfill his promise. PROBE readers, let's find that tiny grave for George so Haruko can go home.

EVER SO HUMBLE — I was born in Mexico and raised in El Centro. I always said I wanted to leave that boring town and moved to a better, more happening place. I moved to Boston and so far things are great.

Or so I thought. I can't believe how much I miss my town. From the time I left on the Greyhound bus until I arrived four days later I cried.

It's different here, you know, the way we talk, the way we act. We say car, they say cah. We say quarter; they say quota. We have chorizo; they have choriqua. In Boston they think Mexican food is something you eat at Taco Bell.

Back home, that's the place to be.

I wish I could click my heels, say, "There's no place like home!" and magically, I'm back home. — Homesick, Boston

You're right. They talk funny in Boston. But you know what they say: You can't go home again. Well, you can but it won't be the same.

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