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-01-0040

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GN: You worked in Kentucky and Pennsylvania?

KK: Well, I, my husband, at the time, after he, he was discharged and wanted to get back into medical school, he went back to the University of Louisville to bring his grades up so he can get into medical school. So we had two experiences there. And the first... when I first went there and for over a year I worked for this Mrs. Felder, who was a, from a very prominent Louisville family, who spent most of her life in France (until) her family urged her to return to Louisville and, because of the war in Europe. And she hated it. She loved Paris. She loved her, her penthouse apartment in Paris and her summer home in Baritz. And she was really a thwarted interior decorator. And so wherever she went, because she had the money, she would decorate her home. She was in the process of moving from this huge home in the outskirts of Louisville into an apartment, which I thought was a luxurious apartment. But she was giving up this very large home, and she needed someone to assist her. And that's where I, my first job was. And so she was a very cosmopolitan woman who didn't care what I was. Just so I was a help to her. My second job was at the LouisvilleCourier-Journal and Times, and I worked for the... and so that was a different atmosphere at the newspaper there.

AI: In what way was it different? The atmosphere?

KK: Well, of course, going from a single employer who dealt with, decorating her home was the biggest object and where to put her stuff and all those, giving up a ten-room home to a three-bedroom apartment, I believe. And to someone who didn't care about anything about what was going on worldwide, except that she had to give up her living in France. And then going back to a rather structured business and especially of the news business at the time.

AI: And --

KK: And then, when coming back after we went back the second time, I worked for the Department... State Department of Health for a woman who was head of the department, Sarah Dugan. And that was another story. She was interesting. Outstanding woman.

AI: Well, I wanted to ask also that you had mentioned about your husband, Tak, originally had applied to the Army Air Corps.

KK: Yes, he had. And, in fact, he wanted to go for cadet training for flying, and he was accepted, and he was given a leave of absence. And the leave of absence went from ten days, or whatever, to several weeks. And, and when we finally said this isn't, there's something wrong, or something's happened. And so after an inquiry, he, he found out once he had been accepted and that they rejected the application because he was Japanese ancestry. And so he gave up that idea, which I'm kind of glad that he had, but he, so he went back into medical administration and pharmacy. But then he, after he was discharged, he went --

AI: Oh, excuse me. And then he, he had applied for officers' training school?

KK: Yeah, well that's the one time --

AI: That --

KK At Carlisle, yes.

AI: So even though he had received that one rejection, he, that didn't stop him from --

KK: Oh, no. Not from, from the army. That was the, Army Air Corps was, that was before the Air Force was established as a separate unit, I believe. Wasn't it? And that was for the combat fliers, I guess.

AI: Well, I was very interested that he, that after having one rejection that he still believed that there was a chance that he might be accepted for officers' training. Because even though he had been in the service since before the U.S. entered World War II, I'm sure he was aware that there was some feeling against --

KK: Well, I don't know why he did it. But he was qualified. He was a college graduate and he had, he was highly trained and he had lots of experience in the service and had responsible positions within, within the, at Fort Knox. So, I guess most army people don't want to just remain where they are. They like to advance their positions. And I don't know why I, I never really questioned him why he should apply. But --

AI: Well, and once he, once he got in and he was in the training program at, at Carlisle, did he ever say anything to you about how he was received there or...?

KK: I don't think that he felt much difference. At that point I, I believe that the information about what was happening in Europe, the 442nd and, and the, the involvement of the intelligence in the Pacific had gotten around into the military. And so I don't think, as far as his being of Japanese extraction, made any difference.

AI: So, by that time, there was some positive images coming back from the Nisei soldiers?

KK: I'm quite sure. I'm quite sure. By that time, you know,we were --

GN: Did Tak ever tell you what happened? He was in the army on December 7th. Did he tell you?

KK: I'm sure that there were, and he probably did, but I, I do not remember. I do not remember. I know that the Niseis that were in the service experienced different things. Some of them were put in jail. They were jailed, were they not? And others were transferred into different units, and I'm sure these occurred differently in different, different camps. I'm not sure.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.