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-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

GN: So what were the main crops that your family grew?

KK: (Well), after we raised hay, which was the main crop for a long time, my father raised potatoes for one -- at one time that was very, very lucrative. And, and made a great deal of money at that, year, I understand. And then the following year he raised more potatoes, and then the price of potatoes went down and so he almost went bankrupt. And these are lessons that I think we still have to learn. I see that among the fruit industry. People keep producing more. And the hop industry. And someone told me years later, "Why did your father wrap the potatoes like they do apples and send them on to Chicago?" He was very proud, he had a lot of pride in his potatoes, and he wanted to show off the bakers. And I think he wrapped them and sent them off. I don't know whether it was worthwhile or not, but I didn't even know he did that until someone said that, years ago, asked me years ago why he did that. But, you know, Isseis were innovative and they had some ideas of their own.

GN: So, what did he grow in the '30s?

KK: In the '30s he grew the row crops; the tomatoes and the melons and cantaloupes and the --

GN: Did he ship to Seattle, or...?

KK: They had local shippers, usually, and they had several shippers in Wapato. Some Japanese, Kay Morinaga, and Mr. Kamihira were shippers from this area. And the Pacific Fruit. And they, they shipped it, it had good years and bad years, just like all farmers experience now.

AI: Well, the early '30s, the Depression was really underway. And I was wondering whether that affected you and your family very much?

KK: It affected everybody. It affected everybody, but as, I think that I remember we could hear our parents telling, and often our meals were like pancakes or something like that. But as children, I think they sheltered us from, I'm sure, from the kind of panic they felt at times about feeding. But it was a time when everyone seemed to be poor in the Depression years. And that was really about the same time that many, some of the people were, older students were graduating from high school. You know, in the '30s, '29, the earliest high school graduate was in '28 and '29 and, and the '30s.

AI: Oh, and then your sister graduated.

KK: My sister graduated in '32. And I'm sure that... but everyone seemed to poor, so that I think we all sort of handled it. And nobody was... I think there were... I'm sure there were some people who were much more wealthy, but --

GN: You said you ate, sometimes, pancakes. What -- I'm curious -- what did you... what was the typical meals like in your family?

KK: You mean during Depression years?

GN: Or just in general in your family.

KK: Oh, I think we always had rice. And, and my mother pickled and made tsukemono and all that, so, always raised daikon, and nappa was always a fare that the Japanese raised. And I have friends who still do that. They had gobo, for... and --

GN: How about matsutake? Did you...?

KK: Oh, yes. Yes, I'm sure, it became very popular, and we would go matsutake hunting. But it never, it was just for, for outing and luxury. But not to the extent that has commercialized it in current times. It was just an outing where we would enjoy being out into the, to the mountains. But we, as a family, would go on camping trips at times. And live, sleep in tents, and eat outdoors. And we had picnics, family picnics, and picnics with friends along the Yakima River at times. So, and we were just little kids there, so that those were the kinds of activities that the Isseis indulged in.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.