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-01-0018

<Begin Segment 18>

AI: Well, I was wondering, in high school, what might a typical weekday have looked like for you? You'd get up in the morning and...

KK: Catch the bus. And you make, probably we made our lunches because they didn't have school lunches at that time. I remember when the school lunches were introduced when I was in high school and they brought in soup made in a tub. I can remember that. [Laughs] And that was the first step. And, but we made our lunch, and then we went to school and participated in whatever activities and got on the bus and came back. And it was mainly... and sometimes if there were Japanese schoolmates who participated in some of the activities, athletic activities, we might attend a game or something like that. But, and then in our one-room schoolhouse I remember in Guyette in the summertime we would lift the window and crawl up and get into their library and, and take them out and crawl back out of the window and, and, for reading. And I was telling a friend who is a judge and I said, "Oh, I suppose that's breaking and entering," and she said, "Oh. Well." [Laughs] But in those days it was quite innocent.

AI: I was wondering, when you were still in high school, were you involved in the Japanese American Citizens League at that time? Or was that later?

KK: Not... I think they began the Japanese American Citizens League, and it was, it was semi-active, but just prior to evacuation in those days, but it was never an active organization. And probably more people from the Yakima, and from Yakima were more involved in that. Although there was an organization. There were a lot of organizations, such as, especially among the kendo and the judo. And they had their lessons and, and --

AI: Oh. Did you say there was a girls' club, also?

KK: Uh-huh.

AI: A Wapato girls' club?

KK: Uh-huh.

AI: Was that something that you were involved in?

KK: I was too young. My, my older sister was involved. And they, they had odori. [Coughs] Excuse me. But they had odori, Fukudas. Excuse me.

AI: For people who don't know what odori is, could you say a little bit about that?

KK: Odori? Well, it's Japanese... it's a classical, in Japanese dance, mostly. And it's very stylized. And they have -- since I didn't take it, my younger sister took the odori. And it's sort of a disciplined dance where you wear the kimono and the tabi and you, you learn classical dancing. And they have... Mr. Fukuda, who was the coach, who was also the tennis coach and the baseball coach -- also taught Japanese dance, odori. And there were quite a few who took odori from him. And they would have their recitals, of course. But it was in conjunction with, very often with the language school productions, maybe once or twice a year, to which the general public was invited.

AI: Did very many of the white, Caucasian population come to these events?

KK: Yes, they did. They did come.

AI: What kind of reaction would they give?

KK: Well, I don't think they... I think they, they came because they were interested. And I think they, it doesn't differ from any kind of reaction if you went to something that's a little different, a different cultural activity. And some were probably supporters, others were curious, and others were happy that we had a diverse culture. And others really didn't care. The, the community was integrated in that, except for certain periods of time and certain people, you felt the sting of waves of discrimination... of violence, occasionally. But, generally, people accepted you. But they didn't really champion you as, toward integration because in theaters you were segregated. You had to always go upstairs. And these little subtle kinds of discrimination existed even when we were evacuated, I believe. So --

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.