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-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

AI: Before we took the break you were just saying a little bit about how you didn't know that much about your parents' early life.

KK: No. I don't think they talked so much about their early life, nor did they tell us that much about their early lives. We understood that my mother had sort of a past, but we weren't made aware of just what it was nor did we attach any kind of stigma to what happened. Of course, and we realized that life was hard for all the Isseis, or anybody, regardless of whether they were Caucasian pioneers because they were pioneers in the Yakima valley. They were early pioneers. And especially on farms it was very difficult for them.

AI: Well, in fact, for people who don't know, could you describe a little bit about what some of their pioneering work was, especially on some of that land that really was...

KK: Yes. Much of the land, although it was a very good land, was still in sagebrush. And until irrigation came in, I don't think that, except for along the river where they could get some sort of water, much of it was cultivated, although there were some along the river. But after the irrigation came in, system came in 1904, then it opened up the land. And some of the, many of the farmers -- or the Isseis -- cleared the land, and they, it was with horses, of course, and how they... it was very difficult just to clear a land out of sagebrush with just horses and manpower. And so that's one of the reasons why they had small parcels of land, which led them to farming, into crops that were more... they were able to introduce crops that would produce more income from small acreages. And that's when they introduced such products as the row crops of tomatoes and corn, (...) and peppers and cantaloupes and the melons so that they could yield some income from small plots of land. And that was -- they probably introduced these small crops that grew very well in the climate and the soil conditions on the reservation. They still do. At that time they did not go into orchards or trees because that was, it required some permanence, and they, and the Japanese farmers depended on leases. And they would move from one parcel of land to (another) depending on, I imagine, the lease agreements and the kind of soil that they were seeking. So, in many ways, they pioneered different crops for the valley, for the lower valley.

And they also say they also began the mobile homes because (...) most Indian land had very poor, (or) no, living in resident houses on them. And if (there) were, they were very, more of a shacky kind. And so the Japanese would build one-room, little structures. A house that they added onto the existing structure. And when they moved, they would take it along. And so, I've been told, they really initiated the mobile home, which in some ways they did, I think.

GN: There were these rollers on the front.

KK: Yes. They would take it to the next place. And I think that was the kind of, the one we had where Mr. and Mrs. Tomita lived. And we took that one onto my uncle's property, and we lived in that, in a tent following leaving the Bench area.

AI: You actually lived in a tent house?

KK: That summer we did. Yes, we did. Besides our one-room "mobile" home.

GN: I think sometimes they were wood on the bottom and then sort of canvas on the top?

KK: Yes, yes. But the kind of thing that they took with them, though, that they moved from place to place were rather solid. They were, they were, I think, fairly well-constructed. They didn't have the plumbing in or anything like that. But that wasn't introduced 'til later.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.