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-01-0026

<Begin Segment 26>

AI: Well, I think you had mentioned that it was early June when you and your family were finally actually physically going to leave.

KK: Yes.

AI: Could you tell us about those last days?

KK: Yes. It, it had such a feeling of unreality. The contingent of the military that came from, from Fort Lewis to evacuate us, to get our final papers in order and to actually put us on the train, were very kind. They were helpful, and we worked with them for about, close to a week. And they're the ones that had to see that we got on the train. There were two, we had two trains. One left on, I think it was June the 4th, and the other, the 5th. But I think I went on the first one. And to accompany us from Wapato to Portland was another group that stayed on the -- came to escort us to Portland. And I remember that I was, when we approached there I was helping. I helped with name interpretation and pronunciation and with the, with the GIs that were helping us move. And so I was outside helping them with the names of people who were supposed to get on the train, and I heard a scuffle and pretty soon someone was being kicked off, one of the soldiers that were to accompany us was being thrown off the train. And it was very frightening to think, "Oh my goodness. What's going to happen to us?" And those who had been there said, "Don't worry. Nothing is going to happen to you. They had a little leave time in between and they got drunk. And so they were, but we told them that, gave them explicit instructions that nothing was going to happen to you."

So these are the kinds of things that occurred, but I can never, I can always picture the sun was setting and the crowd was gathering where the people -- some of your friends -- and there were hundreds of people there. Some were there to say goodbye, others came just for the curiosity. And it just had sort of a circus feeling about it. And people were looking for their friends to say goodbye to, and, but finally we got on the train. I remember pronouncing the last name and I got help going up the train. And I said, "Thank you for your help." He said, "Forget it. Thank you." And it was such an odd feeling, it just... as we pulled out I can remember my father holding onto the arm of the seat, hard seat. The blinds had been drawn, but you could, before they did that you could see the shadow of Mt. Adams and the sun behind it. And looking at his face I could just feel that he was saying goodbye to the place that he'd known so well. Pictures like that just really, when you think about it, were very sad. But it was... it was such a -- it's hard to explain the kind of feeling, the atmosphere of that time.

But... and we went, traveled through the night with the shades drawn and got to Portland livestock center, our evacuation center about, really about dawn. And I stayed until the last person got in the, into the compound and heard the gate clang behind me. And I think -- when people ask what my memory was about evacuation -- I think I'll always remember the sound of the gate clanging behind you and knowing that you were finally under, you had barbed wires around you, and you were really being interned.

Well, is there anything else you would like to know as pre-evacuation?

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.