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-01-0009denshovh-kkara-01-0009denshovh-kkara-01-0009denshovh-kkara-01-0009

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AI: Well, let's see... when you were about ten, that would have been about 1926. And I'm just wondering, around that time -- fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, or so -- were those the times where you would have been active in things like -- your family and the rest of the community -- in Bon Odori during the summer? That kind of thing?

KK: We, summer was not a time for activity. They were very busy. There was the harvest time and preparing for harvest time. So, either in early spring, maybe the hanamatsuri might be. But in the summertime you just, it was a short time to make a living. And so you worked on the farm.

GN: What did children do, then? Did you help?

KK: Oh, they helped on the farm. They worked.

AI: What were some of your jobs on the farm, as a kid?

KK: Well, I remember that we were... at Guyette area, we, they had a little fruit stand for us. [Laughs] I don't think we made much money, but we would, they would sell the produce from the farms. They would... I remember having to wash carrots and bunching them, and I can't remember what else. Beans, whatever, we were, we picked and had them out. And watermelon time, cantaloupe time. And I don't think we made anything on it, but at least we, they knew what we, what we were doing.

GN: You know, in the earlier periods, did your mother work in the fields at all, or was she taking care of the house and the children?

KK: Well, when we had the hay ranch she cooked a lot for the people who worked in the harvest. I remember that. And the harvest time brought in a lot of people to do the harvest, and it was not the convenient way they do now. They had hay derricks where they cut the grass and let it dry, then they raked it up, and then they brought them in and had haystacks. But, but she... but, see right, it was in the '20s when we moved to, to my uncle's place. And there it was just stoop labor. And so all, everybody worked whatever (way) they could.

GN: In the heat.

KK: Yes.

GN: Well, I'm also wondering with the, with your mother. You said something about how she helped other young wives as they came into the valley?

KK: Yes.

GN: And she was one of the early wives, wasn't she?

KK: She was one of the early wives. And she also was a midwife, too. I don't think that she was specially trained, but she was a midwife, too. And she worked with young women, newcomers to the valley. She did -- I don't recall that she was ever involved so much in organized activities, except that she did have, she was advisor to a young women's group who were my older sister's age where she taught ikebana and tea ceremony and things like that for a while. And the Wapato Girls' Club. I don't know whether we have pictures of them or not, but... and she worked with, with the young women at that time. But she was not... she didn't really attend the church. They were Buddhists, but they didn't attend church. And it wasn't... they were not involved so much in the Japanese language school activities, either, because, for one thing, they lived some distance from Wapato.

AI: So, did they send you to church? You and your sisters?

KK: Well, yes. They, when, we had a choice of, in our community. The difference, I think, there was some feeling of the -- if there was any kind of feeling, it was between the Christians and the Buddhists. And so there was some sort of, not controversy, but some competition between securing congregations and who would go to which church. And that was some sort of difference in the community. And we had friends who went to the Methodist Church and we told my mother that -- our parents -- that we'd like to go to the church. And she, and my father, who leaned toward -- although my mother went to a Christian school in Kobe. She understood and said, "Well..." They both said, "If you join the church, you may join the church of your choice, but become faithful and supporting members of that church." So I guess that's why I'm still a Methodist person.

AI: About how old were you when you decided to join the church?

KK: I imagine I was, probably had started into junior high school age. After I came and was more exposed.

AI: And I think you mentioned earlier that when you started junior high school, then you were going to a little larger, that was a little larger school, then.

KK: Yes, it was. Of course, it --

AI: And it drew from the entire Wapato School District?

KK: School district, yes. Yes. And I can't, I can't say. You know, I have very little memories of junior high school. I think it was just the growing up years. And so --

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.