Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kara Kondo Interview
Narrator: Kara Kondo
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Gail Nomura (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 7 & 8, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-kkara-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

AI: And we're continuing on with Kara Kondo, and we're going to go back in time a little bit and ask you to show us these pictures and tell us a little bit about them.

KK: This is my mother's family. Here is my mother, and I'm not quite sure how old she was. She was probably between sixteen and thirteen or something like that. Her mother and her father. You can tell she's a matriarch. She was a very firm, upright woman who probably would be very much at home in the 21st century. And these are her relatives. And I didn't know very much about this young man and his parents.

Now, this is a picture of the time when my sister Amy, and this is me. I look bored, don't I? Or sleepy. We visited Japan. It was our first visit to Japan. And my father's family. This is my father's mother, his cousin, and I'm not quite sure... probably, it could be his sister. So, but we, this was our first step. And I recall, when I went to Japan and met my grandmother, of course we were very enthusiastic and very glad to get off the boat. And, and, and my grandmother -- and we dashed into her house with our shoes on. And so we made a, didn't make a very good impression about American children.

GN: Who don't take their shoes off properly before they enter.

KK: No, we don't. We didn't even think about it. And this is my mother. I don't know whether you can get a very good picture of her. I have it in 1902. She was giving a, taking either a koto lesson or giving a recital. I'm not quite sure. And this is my mother, early picture, when she came to the States.

GN: Is that with a ikebana?

KK: No, I don't think so. I think this was just... it might have been, but I, but my Uncle Sho was the photographer of the family. And he took a great deal of, a great number of pictures that probably will be brought up later. But he was the photographer.

GN: What happened to your uncle?

KK: My Uncle Sho had, was diabetic, and he died at the age of forty-two, I believe. Of course, we always thought he was old, but he had a family. His, he died in, in the Guyette area... lived in Guyette. And his oldest daughter was a senior in high school. And eventually the family moved to Portland. But he had a little, on this corner where we lived on Guyette he had a little service station. And he didn't farm, but he had the service station and a little, oh, what would you call it, convenience store now. So, but at that time, so he, but he was a very talented man. He was a man that loved to, was a good conversationalist, and he would like to argue. And he would, he's the one that went to school, too, so he was the one that kept, was intellectual. But he also had a great deal of temper, I remember. Maybe it was due to his diabetes, but he had difficulty health-wise.

GN: Well, it sounds like your family, both sides was quite educated. What were their hopes for their children?

KK: I'm not quite sure. I think that it was struggle, such a struggle for him to make a, them to make a living here that as girls, I don't know if they... I think they hoped that we would marry rich people, persons, and be well taken care of. [Laughs] I'm sure that was eventually, I think most parents felt that way about their daughters at the time. And, but my younger sister, they encouraged her to go on to, beyond high school, and they encouraged us, too. But my mother used to always say that, the children should always leave home and that was, I think, revolutionary. That you don't know about the world unless you ate (out), ate at somebody else's table. And so she felt that women should be independent. Well, what else could she say? She elected to come here. But that was the attitude, and they, they read a lot. And of course they didn't have TV or, and radio. They wouldn't understand very much. But they read a great deal, I remember.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.