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-01-0037

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AI: Well, let's see, around that time of February, so many things were going on. I also wanted to ask you whether you had some discussion among your family with your parents or your sister. So many people were making plans to go out, and what were you thinking about yourself and your family?

KK: Well, my fiance, at the time, had come there to camp, and we were engaged. And we knew that sometime I would leave to be married. Of course, that was paramount in my mind. My sister had, was, had made application to Hamline University -- or she had received a scholarship from Hamline in St. Paul and left in latter part of January so that we realized that people were leaving from camp. And it's usually the camp activists who were aware of the situation and took advantage of scholarships offered from the various colleges and took advantage of the opportunities that were open to them at the time. But there was an underlying feeling, especially among the students who were in college or at the universities at the time of incarceration, of finding ways to get out to finish their education. And then, about the same time, the war effort was demanding -- or requesting -- more help, assistance. And opportunities were... began to open up in large cities such as Chicago, Cleveland, and even New York and, besides the farm work that was always open to them. Many people left right after being in camp to go to Montana to work in the sugar beets or to surrounding areas to help in farm, as a farm laborer.

AI: Well, let's -- I'd like to ask you a little bit about your fiance, because you knew him from before the war started, and what his name was and how you knew him and his family?

KK: The Kondo family, as I think I've stated before, the Japanese community is very close-knit. They were, his mother, especially, was very active in church. The Kondo family. And Tak had finished, had gotten a degree in pharmacy from Washington State College, at the time. Washington State University. And was seeking work at first and then was able to work in Seattle for George Tokuda at the pharmacy. And when he was drafted in September of 1941 and was -- at the time of the evacuation of Pearl Harbor -- was stationed with, at Keesler Field in Mississippi. And I think he eventually got, was sent... I think he was with the Air Force. It wasn't the Air Force at the time. Air Corps, I think was what the, but was then sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky and was living at Fort Knox when he came up -- I can't remember -- in early part of February or in January. And we were engaged at the time. I had known him for a long time and had gone with him before he was drafted. But I, you know, how to get out? I think maybe a good way was to get married. [Laughs] And so his sister, who had, was never evacuated -- she was a senior at the University of Washington and transferred to the University of Chicago. And so we planned to meet in Chicago, and she had arranged that all the, the ceremony at the Thorndyke Chapel of the University of Chicago Seminary. And it was surprising that the number of people from the Yakima valley who were there: People who were stationed around, and people who had relocated there. And our very small chapel was filled with old friends. It was surprising, but it was a happy time. And then I, we went to Louisville, Kentucky, which is another story.

AI: Well now, when was it that you left Heart Mountain? That was early April of '42?

KK: Yes. Mid-April. We were married on the tenth, and I think I left a few days before.

AI: The tenth of April, 1943.

KK: Yes.

AI: So, tell us a little bit about your actual wedding in Chicago.

KK: Weddings, I think, even at the best of circumstances are a blur to the, to the participants. I don't know how you've, if you remember every detail. I do not. But I remember sewing my dress in camp. And may I show a picture of my wedding picture? And, and I remember I loved violets. It's not shown here, but I loved violets. And I asked for a violet bouquet, and it was there. And our attendants were Misako Kondo Hagiwara, who was already married to her husband, Pat Hagiwara, who was originally from Ketchikan, in the service. He served in the 442nd. I don't know where he was stationed. And I really don't know if Pat was there, but I know Misako was there because she made arrangements. But I had sewn my dress, and we wanted to keep it simple. And, but as far as, as the details, it's really a blur. I know that my sister came from St. Paul, and there were others who I knew quite well that I was surprised to see. And, eventually, I remember even Tak's old girlfriend, who was already married, and her husband came and, and came up with us to our hotel, and we sat and talked to all of them. So it was rather strange to me, but it was kind of a blur. Still a blur.

GN: What about your parents? Did they say something to you as you left camp?

KK: I can't remember that, Gail. It, I'm sure that they were happy, and you know, they knew Tak very well. And as far as my marriage... but I'm sure they were a little apprehensive because they were alone. My sister had left for college and for St. Paul, to, to go to St. Paul. And I was leaving because I was the one that was, had taken care of them. And there was, there were legal things that they had to go through, and I was gone. But I guess camp is good as anyplace to leave your parents because you knew that there would, they would be fed, and they knew the routine, and both were working. And my father was working on the coal crew, my mother was working in the hospital, at the time, as an attendant, and at least you knew that no harm would come to them, and they would be well-taken care of.

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