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-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

AI: So when you started school, you don't recall having any trouble with English --

KK: No.

AI: -- the way your older sister probably did?

KK: No. And then in one- and two-room schools where you are, you could listen to the classes around you, you pick up so much more. And the school enrollment would be thirty or something like that.

AI: In your whole school?

KK: Well, in one-room schools maybe it was around thirty or thirty-five or so, and you just listened to the other classes. And it's amazing how much you pick up. You probably paid much more attention to other classes than your own.

GN: Did you go to school with the Yakama Indian children, too, or...?

KK: I think they were integrated, at that time, although early on, when they were, they had a school at Fort Simcoe, and they were a segregated school. By the time that we have memories of Fort Simcoe, the schools were closed. And although we spent a lot of time at Fort Simcoe, and where they still -- well, the Fort is, Fort Simcoe is a state park, at the time. And they (...) have preserved some of the, they have preserved the fort, and they have preserved some of the residences, (...) but the school is gone. And I remember playing around the wreckage and climbing over their fire trucks and things like that when we were little, when we (went to once), little tourists to Fort Simcoe.

GN: You said that your, you were able to read Japanese before you went to school.

KK: Yes.

GN: Did your mother have Japanese language children's books?

KK: Yes, she seemed to have. Uh-huh.

GN: Where do you think she got them?

KK: She, well, I'm sure she brought them with her some way. Or got them.

GN: What kind of stories do you remember? Do you remember any?

KK: Well, I remember the, the legends like "Momotaro" and all those, and the... about throwing ashes into... remember that one? Into somebody's eyes? All those little children's stories I can remember.

GN: Is there any one lesson your mother seemed to be teaching you through these stories?

KK: I don't think so. I think she was just trying to keep me occupied. [Laughs]

AI: Well, you know, as you were, you and your sister, your older sister -- you were only two years apart -- and, as you say, you were all in this one- or two-room schoolhouse in the early years. Did your mother or father ever talk to you about being Japanese, being Nihonjin, or being American?

KK: Well, I don't think, I don't think that we ever discussed it. I think we were made aware that we were, but not consciously. And I think that those are things that you know because you speak Japanese. If your language is Japanese around you, because they were not very proficient in English, you communicated in Japanese. And your life centered around Japanese activities, you know. And so, and I think that it was never consciously brought in, but, although you knew. You grew up knowing that. And you knew, (or) learned your limits. And I couldn't tell you what they were, but you gradually learned those.

GN: Did your parents talk to your teachers at all?

KK: I doubt it. I doubt it. I don't think there was any communication. I think that if our behavior was such that it warranted some discipline or talking to that they would have, but I imagine the teachers had their hands full just like they do, they have now.

GN: Did you feel the teachers treated you in any different way at all?

KK: I think the teachers were exceptionally good. They were. And I think they had, I certainly credit a number of my teachers who have taken time off, time to, to try to nurture some talent, or what they perceived were talents. I can remember after going to the Ashue School, Mrs. Weaver, who felt that I was artistic. And I think she reasoned that. I didn't think so, but, anyway, she would take time after school to tutor me and encourage me (about) those things. I wasn't, (but) I appreciated it, I think. But I don't think I was very talented. And I don't know exactly what she taught me. I don't know. [Laughs]

AI: What grades did you go to the Ashue School?

KK: To Ashue School, we went to... I went to Guyette after I went to Ashue. Ashue was when my parents moved from the Bench area to where my uncle lived. And that was the Ashue School, and I was in about the third grade. Third grade. And I probably was in, close to third or fourth or fifth grade when I went to Guyette School. (...) I went to these one-room schools until I took the bus and went on to the big town of Wapato to the Wapato Junior High School.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.