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-01-0031

<Begin Segment 31>

AI: Well, when you first arrived there at Heart Mountain, again you were assigned a living --

KK: Yes.

AI: -- quarters. A room. Was it still the four of you together? Your parents?

KK: Yes.

AI: You and your sister?

KK: Yes.

AI: Can you describe a little bit about that area and your block where you were in camp?

KK: I was in Block 14, and when we moved in we were, we got off the train and were put on backs of trucks, I think it was. And the wind was blowing and the dust was blowing and we were assigned our apartment. And, as you know, we were in the regular barrack-type with small apartment housing up to three or so on the end. And then there were bigger units that would house up to five, I believe. And then smaller sizes. But the tarpaper wasn't on it yet, nor... and you could see the cracks between the boards and the dust sifting in. You were given a army cot, and, I think, mattresses. We had a mattress there at the time. And the potbellied stove was your heat. And one single light bulb dangling from the ceiling -- no, I guess our ceiling was complete. I can't remember, yes. It probably was, had the rough boarding up there. But, but it seemed like it was so dusty, and the wind blew the dust around and, and, and having to go out to the latrine and to... for showering and to all the laundry facilities. They were located in buildings in the middle of the block that, I can't remember how many apartments were in the block, but... and your heat was from coal that was delivered in the middle of the two, two barracks areas, the block. And you ate your meals in a mess hall. You did your laundry in the laundry, shower, and latrine room, and, regardless of the weather. And it wasn't so bad even when it was blowing, but when it got to be twenty or thirty below, that was really a chore.

And gradually, though, the evacuees or the residents of the camp was, they were very ingenious and they used to have orange boxes that were, wooden boxes. And they would get them from the mess halls and build shelves, and occasionally they would pick up lumber from, from construction of the school or whatever they were building. And there was building going on all the time. And they would make tables and chairs, and some people became very ingenious about making furniture. And I think that you've seen apartments that look very cozy and very home-like. And others, it was a touch and go kind of thing.

AI: In fact, you have a few snapshots there --

KK: Oh, yes.

AI: -- from Heart Mountain and maybe you could tell a little bit about some of these.

KK: Well, these were taken at the Heart Mountain and we, we lived in Block 14. And our immediate neighbors were the Abes, and here are Frances Abe and her sister. And the, my sister and I were the four. And she had a brother named Lewis, who is here, and that was Tak, my husband. And my parents were in front of the, our apartment, and my father was on the coal crew and... who dumped coal. And they became very popular because when the coal shortage, they waited for the coal truck.

The one here is at the USO, and we had this visiting servicepeople that would come and visit the families. This one is in front of our apartment, my parents-in-law to be. I think this was taken a few days before I left. My sister and brother-in-law, and my mother-in-law and father-in-law to be, and my parents here. And I can't remember what day it was because I left in April '40 -- was it '43 that I left? So, by that time, we had settled somewhat into a routine even at the camp.

AI: Right.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.