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-01-0020

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AI: Well, that incident in 1933, you were, I guess, a junior in high school?

KK: Yes.

AI: And then the following year you were a senior, a time when most kids in high school, you're starting to think about your future. And --

KK: Right. Uh-huh.

AI: -- I'm wondering, what were some of your hopes and dreams at that time?

KK: Well, I think that we're... the Japanese families instilled the value of education, of continuing on. And I'm sure that we, we felt that it would be nice if we could continue on to. to higher education. And, but it was during the Depression years, too. And my, I don't remember whether I said that it was the philosophy of our parents that we should leave home to grow up. And my older sister went to Seattle and stayed with a Japanese family and, and worked at a, at the Furuya store. She worked there, and, for several years, and she really, she met the man she married at the store and eventually lived in Seattle.

But I wanted to go on to... I was very interested in design, and I had the opportunity of going to a design school in Seattle. And... no, I think that I had the opportunity of working as a nursemaid -- a babysitter -- to a Japanese family who, he was identified with some Japanese bank, I believe. But they had four children. The youngest was about a seven-months-old baby. And I was the nursemaid and took almost full charge of the children because they had a housekeeper and a cook who was also Japanese. And while I was there, I, that was my job of taking care of the youngsters, and they, and I think I was not very old myself and I really kind of enjoyed that. And they taught me how to ride a bicycle, and I remember falling into the rose bed and things like that. [Laughs] But while I was there I went to the, I had friends at the Blaine, the Blaine Memorial Church. I went to the church, the Methodist church in Seattle and got to know people. And then I think I heard about this design school in downtown Seattle, and I applied and switched.

And I went home during the summer and came back and stayed with the proprietor of the design school and stayed with them for about a year and, working for my room and board. And, but then I went back -- oh, during the summer we would always return to help on the farm. But it was my, my mother's philosophy that we should get out in the world and not depend on parents to support them all the time and to get to know other, other conditions.

AI: Well, does anything kind of stand out in your mind from that time in Seattle? I mean, here you were, kind of your first time really away --

KK: Yes.

AI: -- from your folks, and...

KK: Yes. Uh-huh. I remember that we had young men from Seattle who would come and work on the farms at summertime and they would say, "You better be careful what group you, pick your friends." And so I don't know what they thought. And we had friends who were in, at the university, too, so I attended a lot of the social activities from people who were already at the university. And some of them I knew, and some of them I met after being here. And I was pretty safe staying with the church group. And I don't think I ever really got into something that was of great concern and had a great social life, get to know the Seattle people.

AI: Well, were you dating at that time? Going out with fellows, or...?

KK: At that time, I wasn't that much. I did date in a, you know, kind of friendly way. And while I was in Seattle I dated with someone who was going to the university who was from the east side that I knew before and with different people from Spokane -- some of the students from Spokane. And, and not generally dating anybody, although when I went home I began to go out with the man I married, who was also from the valley and who was going to Washington State University, which, WSU. But generally, we experienced what, at that time, were Nisei social activities.

GN: What kind of design school? Was that clothing design?

KK: It was clothing and drafting design. And I was really interested in... oh, it was a, a school here from, the Charette School of Design from Los Angeles. And I had a lot of drafting, and so, but, you know, it certainly was... the evacuation ended that.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.