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-01-0028

<Begin Segment 28>

GN: What kind of other activities were there at the center?

KK: Oh, they, both evacuation centers and the relocation, they really organized the young people. There was something going all the time. They had competitive sports. Softball, baseball, and volleyball, badminton. Just things that would keep the residents occupied. And I think go and all kinds of board games for people who were interested. And classes for women.

GN: Did the last class of '42 receive any graduation from Wapato High School?

KK: Yes, I think they did. They weren't able to attend, but they received a graduation, uh-huh, their diplomas.

AI: Well, now, while you were still in the assembly center in North Portland, were the Wapato people housed close together at all? Or were you all --

KK: No, not necessarily. And then very shortly after we were there, there was such a cry for a need for our farm labor, and many of them stayed in camp just a few days and they had the opportunity to leave. They left and many of them went to eastern Oregon and parts of Idaho to the farms. And many of them resettled in that area. But they were called for sugar beet toppers or workers and, and that happened in relocation centers, too. (Then) from Heart Mountain they went all over to Montana and places where sugar beet was grown. But when it was needed, they, I guess they felt justified in having them out of, out of internment of some kind.

AI: When you were still in North Portland at the, and this was -- for people who don't know -- it was actually the livestock exhibition building.

KK: Exhibition center. Yes.

AI: And so when you mentioned the smell of manure, that's where it came from because it had formerly had housed the livestock.

KK: Housed the livestock. And people were, would laugh and say we were in the prized beef section, and... [Laughs]

AI: Were you in the same room with your parents?

KK: Yes. Everybody was at --

AI: And your younger sister, Marjorie?

KK: Yes.

AI: And was there anyone else in the same room with you?

KK: No. The four of us. And then my sister and her husband were evacuated the same time, but they had their own little apartment. But someone said that there was a communal shower room and everything, and they had rigged up, somewhere, the window so guys would peek in when they were taking a shower. We didn't know about that until later, I guess. [Laughs]

AI: Well, and you had also mentioned that you got involved with the newsletter at, there at North Portland. What was that like? What kinds of things did you do with the newsletter?

KK: Oh, I was just a reporter for a while, then... what did I do? I get mixed up with what I did in Heart Mountain. But I think I, I did reporting for a while, and then I think I, whether I managed the news or whatever. I can't remember, now. It wasn't a very long time, either. We had a very nice crew. You, (though) mimeographed. If anybody knows what mimeograph is. But we put out a weekly newsletter and, actually, we had a very good cartoonist and a good editor and we had a very congenial group of people that worked together. And had outlines like, where "Zombie Day" scheduled for such and such a day. And that's when the girls ask the boys or something like that. And how the payroll was coming -- the first payroll was a big deal. And the movies that were going to be shown and, of course, a very good, a very prominent sports page where there were a lot of activities going on.

And somehow you managed to... its amazing what physical things you become accustomed to. It's the mental... it's the mental part of you that somehow goes through the kinds of emotions and leaves an imprint on your attitudes and feelings later. But physical -- you know, you hear hikers and campers who sleep on, in all kinds of weather and all kinds of conditions -- so physical things. Even food. You get awfully tired of it, and you don't, may not like it. But you can tolerate that even for periods of time, but I think it's mentally being in, the freedom is taken away. And for young people, so many of them had the first time where they didn't have their parents being bossy or disciplinarian, where they had some freedom that they take a different attitude about the internment experience.

AI: Yes. Whereas you were a little bit older.

KK: Yes. Yes.

AI: You were no longer a teenager.

KK: And it, just sitting up there in the window ledge and looking and seeing, hearing the sounds of outside. It made one aware that your freedom is, is lost.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.