Densho Digital Archive
Japanese American Museum of San Jose Collection
Title: Richard Konda Interview
Narrator: Richard Konda
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda, Tom Izu
Location: San Jose, California
Date: November 30, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-krichard_2-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So it's Tuesday morning, November 30, 2010, we're at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose. Dana Hoshide is on camera, co-interviewing is Tom Izu, Steve Fugita is sitting in, and I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda, and we're here with Richard Konda. The purpose of this interview is to do a life history interview for the Densho project, Densho collection. And so, Richard, I'm just going to start at the beginning, and why don't you tell me, what was the name given to you at birth?

RK: Richard George Konda.

TI: And where and when were you born?

RK: I was born February 27, 1951, in San Francisco.

TI: Good, okay. So I'm going to start with your mother first. Why don't you tell me where she was born and where she's from.

RK: So my mom was born in the Central Valley in a town called Delano. And she was born 1920 or something like that, somewhere in that range.

TI: And do you know what kind of, what her family did?

RK: So her, her mom and dad had a small farm in the Central Valley and they grew vegetables and other things. It was a large family, there were eight children in the family.

TI: And I forgot to ask, what was her name?

RK: So the married name was Hirose. But she actually is related to the Komai family in L.A. as well, on her mom's side.

TI: You mean like Chris Komai?

RK: Chris Komai and Mickey Komai and the Rafu Shimpo Komais.

TI: Okay. And her first name?

RK: Was Lucie.

TI: Lucie. And you said she had, like, eight siblings?

RK: Right.

TI: Okay. And so tell me a little bit about her life.

RK: Well, as a young person growing up in the Central Valley, she went to school, and then she's like the middle child. And when Pearl Harbor occurred and the war broke out, the family was sent to Fresno, I believe, and that was the initial assembly center. And then the family was then sent to Rohwer, Arkansas. She didn't stay in the camp that long, she ended up going out to Minnesota to work as a housekeeper. So I think she stayed in the camp maybe a year at most.

TI: And going back to your mother in terms of her parents, your grandparents, do you have a sense of where they were from in Japan?

RK: Right. So on my mom's side, the family was from Yamanashi-ken, and both her mom and dad were both from the same prefecture.

TI: Let's go to your father. So where was he from?

RK: So he was living with his family in Centerville, which is now part of the city of Fremont. And his, on his side, the family was from Wakayama-ken, both his mother and father were from Wakayama-ken.

TI: Good. And what kind of work did his family do?

RK: So they had a farm, they were also farmers, so they had a small farm in that Centerville area. So from after Pearl Harbor, they went to the Tanforan racetrack, and then they were relocated to Topaz, the Topaz concentration camp.

TI: And what did your father do after Topaz?

RK: After Topaz, he stayed in Topaz 'til the end of the war. And then he relocated to Chicago, which seemed to be a place where a lot of people went initially, and that's where they met each other. I guess there was, they lived in the same building, and eventually they got married while they were in Chicago.

TI: Okay. During the war, was your father drafted or anything? What happened in terms of the...

RK: No, he was a little older so he did not... no, I don't know that I ever asked him. But I don't believe that he either was drafted or volunteered, so he just stayed in the camp throughout the war.

TI: Okay. And do you know about when he was born?

RK: He was... well, it must have been 1911 or something.

TI: Okay, so he was quite a bit older.

RK: Yeah, he was a little older. And they both passed away.

TI: And you said that your parents met in Chicago?

RK: That's correct.

TI: Did they, any stories about how they met?

RK: Other than they just were living in the same building, and that's how they kind of met each other.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.