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-01-0024

<Begin Segment 24>

GN: Do you have a personal story of maybe one of these relationships that...

KK: I, you hear, and somehow you don't really listen. But there were a number of them where they would stop by at the, the newspaper office and... perhaps just to say hello. And they would be asked whether they were going to, plan to stay, relocate, in Wapato and were encouraged to move on -- that they would not be welcome. People that you considered were your friends in the past. And certainly, as you go into businesses with "No Japs Wanted" signs, you certainly did not feel welcome at all. And it... things changed, I think, as people began to settle there. But only a very small percentage of people who returned to Yakima valley and to, for Yakima residents there were just only one or two families that returned to Yakima and only very few families that returned to Toppenish. Those who had relocated from the camps into eastern Washington -- or even to Moses Lake or parts of Idaho or to California or had jobs in the Midwest or on the East Coast, who had attended schools -- elected not to return to the valley.

GN: But how about personal stories of after December 7th?

KK: Excuse me?

GN: Back in 1941. Do you have personal stories yourself --

KK: Oh. 1941.

GN: -- of how neighbors or friends... anything outstanding?

KK: Oh, we had some, we had a Finnish neighbor, I remember, who stored some of the things that more, that we didn't quite trust to the government storage, who kept our things, who was a -- who would not speak up, but who was adamantly for her neighbors, perhaps because we were her neighbors, and we had known her for, over the years. And we, neighbors who would not speak up, but privately would come to us and support us.

But by and large, I think it was sort of a "hands off" by the community, itself. And, as a result, the Japanese population changed from the families that, who lived in the Yakima valley to a very small percentage. Those who had owned their farms, their families returned and resettled. My parents-in-law came back and were there the time that my husband was discharged from service, and they were settled in their farm. But for those who leased property, very few people returned to the area.

GN: What did your family take? You said that you stored some things with your Finnish neighbors. What did you, were you able to take to the camps?

KK: Well, of course, the things, as you know, you could only take what you could carry and that really meant one or two items and it varied. I had bought a new portable sewing machine and I carried that heavy thing all over, but, along with, perhaps, something else I could carry. But... and it differed with, the teenagers wanted to take their mitts. And I don't, someone said they wanted to take their bat, but they wouldn't let them take the bat. But they could take their mitts and the balls. And they took their scrapbooks that meant a lot to them. There are, of course you have to take clothing and bedding with you.

GN: How about your mother?

KK: I can't even remember what she took, but I think it was probably clothing for all of us, all she could carry. And you were able to store in a government storage provided by the Relocation Authority that said they would be eventually shipped to, when you were relocated into a little more permanent quarter rather than the evacuation centers. And we received several boxfuls of -- I can't even remember what came. But, certainly, it helped make our one-room apartments more livable.

GN: Do you remember that you wrote a letter that was published in the newspaper?

KK: Oh. You know, I've written so many letters, so I don't know which one. But --

GN: When you were being evacuated?

KK: I, I, I know you refer to that, but I don't, actually, I don't even remember that. I couldn't even tell you what I said. [Laughs]

GN: I'll tell you later. [Laughs] What did your parents, did they discuss this with you? What were their feelings?

KK: Not too much because I had the responsibility of seeing that they were, that they were as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. And I think you could see the change in responsibility at that time. It was a new experience for them, of course, as it was for me. But, but they were willing to go along with the regulations and, and went along without complaint. Which is... [laughs]

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.