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Interview with Louise Kachadourian Kontos

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Armenian Oral History Project
Interview with: Louise Kachadourian Kontos
Interviewed by: Jacqueline Kachadourian
Transcriber: Cordelia Jannetty
Date of interview: 25 April 2017
Interview Setting: Binghamton

(Start of Interview)

JK: This is Jackie Kachadourian with the Binghamton University Special Collections Library Armenian Oral History Project. Today is April 25, 2017. Can you please state your name for the record?

LK: My name is Louise Kachadourian Kontos.

JK: Um, where were you born?

LK: I was born in Binghamton, New York.

JK: And where were your parents born?

LK: My parents were born in what is now Turkish Armenia but it is in, in Armenia, Turkey. It is today Turkey.

JK: Do you remember what city or town or a village?

LK: My mother ̶ My father was born in the village of Har[put], Anoushavan and, and my mother was born in Hoğe, the village of Hoğe.

JK: Uh did they live there their entire lives or they came to the United States.

LK: They lived them up until the time of the, the Turkish massacre.

JK: And when did they ̶ do you remember when they left or was it before after the Armenian genocide.

LK: My father must have been a teenager when they came to his village and they had to flee. And he, he, they were the Euphrates River was close by. So whether he fled in the Euphrates, I know his brother did. And his brother will ̶ lived with a bullet in his head. And they dared not take that bullet out. When because the fact that was so closest brain, so he lived entire life with that bullet in his head. That was his older brother. Minas, who lived most of his life in France, and then in in Yerevan, Armenia. And my mother was a teenager, no, she was maybe ten, eleven years old. When she was ̶ her mother has sent her to the or ̶ to the orphanage. She tried to get through the lines with her brother, but they would not let her through. So she brought him back home. And after that she never saw him and he must have been about, he must have been about five or six years old. She must have been about eight or nine years old.

JK: And they never found each other.

LK: They never found each other and they never, she never returned. She tried for years to find him to track him down because he must have been about as I said, about five years old. And he was a redheaded boy. Mama remembers and she wanted to find him she could not find him she, she called every time a priest came into town she would ask questions and hope that she some somehow the word Mardin, an area where they have taken him and people had said they had seen him but she never saw him never ever heard about him.

JK: Um did, did uh how did they hear about the ̶ what was happening and had to flee did they-

LK: Well they started coming to the villages apparently from what Mama said they started coming taking, um taking families and people and transporting them on a march and taking their valuables away from them. They would she said they ̶ in her village, they took her grandfather and peeled his skin because he would not tell them where he they had hidden their, their valuables. They would, and then they took a pregnant woman and slit her abdomen, for the fetus to fall out. You are going to hear all these uncomfortable things. I am telling you, you are not going to like them. These are stories my parents related it as we grew up.

JK: They would tell you?

LK: All the time, they always my mother always talk she kept telling me that I would be another Joan of Arc that I would do something for you. She did not realize what, what it entailed. But anyway, um these are stories she ̶ we were children. We could have been five, six years old and she Mama would sit and tell us the stories and we would we would sit and cry with her.

JK: And she experienced them like firsthand? She experienced them firsthand?

LK: She experienced she said the children were so hungry. They would eat the greens on this, um, and when they, they had no water they were urinate and drink the urine and because they had no water they were-

JK: This is on the march?

LK: No This, this was could have been on the march. I do not remember that part of it. Mama did not go on the march she was she went to the orphanage where the Danish Danimarka ̶ the Danish uh missionaries took the children off the streets. That was where many of the ̶ and that was why so many of the Armenians became Protestant Armenians because they were converted. They did not convert them. They just preached to them. And this is um, Mama was not on the march. Mama, Mama somehow fled through the mission ̶ through the orphanage. She went from the orphanage. She had an uncle in Beirut. Or I do not know how he got money to her somehow. But Mama remembers playing the stock market. She was only a little girl. She was high and low. And she I remember her relaying those stories about the stock market and how she wanted to make to make some money to come to America. I really it is, you know, as you bring these stories, these questions up. It is things that I have forgotten. I wish I had related these things earlier. I have a tape with my father, where he told me his stories about his escape and how he fled and how people from America sent money for him to come to America. And when he came to America, he worked. He paid them back. This is how most of them got came here. Let us see. Yeah. Mama from there. I remember from the orphanage, she said her hair. Her head was so full of lice that they used to scrub her head to get [indistinct] because they could not take ̶ they had no baths, they would not ̶ no bathing, nothing. These Danish missionaries would wash, wash her hair and scrub her hair to get the lice out of her head. [indistinct] I, I only know the Armenian terms. I am assuming it was lice because [inaudible] I have not used those words in years. I do not use them ̶ there is no reason for me to use it. But um from there, she went to Beirut, Beirut Mama went from Beirut to Marseilles. I know she talked about Mars ̶ Marseilles and then [inaudible], another place she ̶ went to but keep asking questions I do not know.

JK: So how did, did she ̶ did your mom separate from her parents?

LK: Her father was already here in America. Her father had fled. His father had sent him right away, because he was a teacher. He sent him to America because it ̶ the soldiers were after him. The Turks were after him because they were going to kill him because he had beaten up a Turkish soldier. And they were-the word was out that they were going to come after him. So his fa-his father in whatever way was ship him to America. And my grandfather that was my grandfather died here in America in um in Massachusetts. He died of consumption, tuberculosis because he worked here in the in the mills, no one to take care of him and neglected himself and he contracted consumption. So he died here in his, his Cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts in it is the Edson cemetery. And my uncle Garabed is, um, is buried there right next to him. And he died here in America too but he, he came here after and that is about it, that is all. He came after his father and his father had left there must have been a small estate or something left some money for them. So they divided I guess the percentage the brother gets more money than this sister because I do not know their ̶ I do not know. Whatever.

JK: [indinstict] back then.

LK: Whatever. But whatever that was whatever money was sent to her. So that she could come.

JK: Um, what about your mother? Or your mother's mother, so your grandmother.

LK: She died as soon as she ̶ they took the boy away from her. She died out there in the field. That was all she heard Mama heard. They came in took a little Harutyun. His name was Harutyun that is why my brother or your grandfather was named after him. He, he was when they came to take him she, she died there the field in near her home. That is all I know. I remember Mama saying also, also my grandfather had sent money to her to come to America and bring the family to America when he worked here in America at the mills. He sent the money to her, I remember Mama saying this. And instead of instead of picking the family up, this is before the um genocide. She ̶ my grandmother bought a house thinking that her husband is coming back home. And the genocide started after that.

JK: And she lost everything?

LK: Well, she died along with it.

JK: And then that was how your mother got into the orphanage system?

LK: Well she went to the orphanage when she was trying to take her brother with her that her mother was sending them both together. When she got through the lines, the lines and they would not let her through with her brother. They would let her ̶ Because they were holding on to all the little young men, and he could not have been maybe five, five years old, four or five years old. She would march with him to take him too but she could not get ̶ She brought him back home. She never saw him after that.

JK: Terrible. Um, your brother, my grandfather, Harutyun Kachadourian you were saying how your father lived in the mountains in a village and-

LK: He, he fled, he fled, and I do not think with any family, except with his family members. And I do remember up in Worcester, Massachusetts when I spoke to some of the Armenians up there. They told me that they lived in one room four families, every one family had a corner. And they said my father was so ̶ he was the only one he would go and find food find bread and he would bring bread, whether he would whether where he would get it from he would bring it and feed his brother and his family. His brother and his brother had at that time, maybe two or three children. And um ̶ but I remember the, the village people from my father's village said, my father was so [speaking in Armenian], so clever. So, he was he would always find ways to come in, bring food to feed the family. He was only a young boy himself.

JK: And this is back in, uh, Harp-

LK: In Ashvan, Ashvan, Ashvan my father they call them Ashvanse my mother they called Hoğetse because they came from Hoğet, the village of Hoğet. Papa came from the village of Ashvan Ash-Anooshavan I think, I believe it was Anooshavan and we called it Ashvan.

JK: And were they close nearby the two towns? Or no?

LK: I do not think so. Ashvanse was near the village of Korpe. I know that Korpetse because my father's cousin, um, Ohanian was ̶ and his son is out in California. He is ̶ became a lawyer Ohanjan Ohanian. There was a judge in Washington and became a judge out in California. And he-his father was from the village of Korpe and Korpe was near Ashvan that I know but Hoğ was, I do not think was near-near my mother's village. No.

JK: So then how did they meet? They met in America or ̶

LK: Here in America. My father was a single man he came here to Binghamton New York. He, he ̶ weekends he was one weekend he was going an Armenian from Binghamton by the name of Nigerian, Louis Nigerian was going up to Massachusetts. And ̶

JK: So going back to how ̶

LK: Oh my father was. So one weekend Louis was going up to Massachusetts. He asked my father if he wanted to go. And of course, these young men were looking for brides. So he went up there. And in Worchester, Massachusetts, my father I do not know whether it was Worchester ̶ he-somebody told him about this girl, and my mother worked in ̶ for the Biltmore Hotel. She was a salad girl and she worked in some other place too because in a mill or something, because he, he went to the shop where she was working and he saw her and apparently Papa had been engaged to another girl before that. And he and ̶ but that did not work out because that girl wanted this and this for her family and he wanted a diamond ring she wanted, she wanted fur coat she wanted this for her mother. And so my father broke it off and in then I then he saw my mother in the slipper shop. She was working as a slipper shop then, and, and they and she saw when she saw him she, she did not like him at first. She said she did not want it, you know, but I do not know where she was where, because my mother was in Providence, Rhode Island and how she got to Worcester. I cannot remember the story, but she was worked in the south Biltmore Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island. And when she went the orphanage, she was designated to, to work in the kitchen. Because of her size or something, whatever she was older that boy, girl and they wanted to, and she worked her way ̶ she, she went to the classes, she went to school. She did. And before they found out and they found out that you they wanted to put her back in the kitchen. She was already established in the classroom, but she did not do. She did not want to work in the kitchen. She wanted to work. She wanted to go to school. And that was why my mother was an avid reader. She would love to anything I brought her own books in Armenian you know, she was sit down all night long and I would go on a convention with her. And I brought a book about Antoni the general who fought against the Turks. She, she sat in the toilet in the bathroom, because she did not want to keep us awake. She sat there with a light there and she sat and read that book all night long. She was so she loved to read, she loved to study; she and she was very bright and my cousin John often says that my mother, he ̶ his mother never taught him anything is you another Armenian. My mother would sit down and make us before we could get money to go to the movies. She we had to every Saturday we sat on this couch I will never forget. And all she sits in the middle and the rest of us on each side of her. We had to read our Armenian lesson, before we could go to get ten cents. It was always ten cents to go to the movies. She made the bag of popcorn for us a big brown bag of popcorn did it guess. But that was ̶ oh and she had a teacher. Her name is Belle Mason. Her mother was a judge. They were through the American Civic Association or what she used to come in to, to my mother at home, teach my mother. They took a liking to my mother. And they used to we used to go to her ̶ there. What is now part of Leverson was one of their homes. And we weekends we always used to come with their electric car and pick us up and take us to their house. We used to play with their beanbags out in the backyard. I remember that; grandfather should remember that too.

JK: Yeah.

LK: And let us see. And that was, what else can I remember Mama was a reader and an educator. She loved it. Not that she had formal education herself, whatever she learned in school and the orphanage. They wanted her to do KP duty but she, she wanted. She wanted to go to school and learn. And she taught me. She came here and was teaching me about the executive body, the legislative body, the judicial body. She learned all this from being tutored here and going to class ̶ did not go classes because she had little children. She had one right after another, so she could not. So they used to come and teach her at home.

JK: And did she ever go to school in, in her village, or she was too young?

LK: She probably went to school Armenian school in her village.

JK: Do you remember if there was a church there or ̶

LK: There was and, oh, yes, church. Mama went to my Mom went to the [inaudible] or the, the, the um [speaks in Armenian]. The Armenian church ̶ she went the Armenian church in the morning. Also went to the Paul [indistinct] which is Protestant church, because her father used to preach in there. She learned the Bible, Mama learned the Bible. And she was ̶ went to [inaudible] Church in the morning in the Armenian Church, and the [inaudible] Church. She went to both churches. Now whether she I do not remember her relating whether her mother went but her fa-father was a teacher and he was a teacher and he also was like a minister in the in the church. And that was, that was it ̶ I guess one night he was coming home and they were they went to attack this attack him and he beat a Turkish soldier up a Turkish boy up or somebody. And they were after grandfather found out they were going to kill him so that he got him ready shipped him to America to get him out of the village.

JK: Did they bring anything with them when they had to leave? Nothing?

LK: Nothing. Nothing photos. No nothing. No nothing. Oh, except I do have one photo at home with my grandmother with their faces, like half covered and that was there. We have one photo at home. Yeah, we do have one photo. Now where that came from maybe Uncle Charlie brought it because I do not remember my mother bringing many pictures with her.

JK: They had to leave everything.

LK: She came with her clothes on her back. That was it.

JK: Wow! When they ̶ maybe your parents were too young, but did they work ever in their villages or?

LK: I never heard my mom ever. I do remember this about her uncle. He was hunchback and he fell off the roof. There was no medicine over doctors are something to correct that. And he grew up in that my uncle Charlie was hunch-hunchback. They used to call them Quasi[modo], hunchback guy or something like that there was a nickname for him. But work there? No, there were two young each children, you know. And they work maybe in the fields in the fields, because that was where my grandmother must have been out there when they took her took forcefully took the boy away from Harutyun away from her. And she had they said a heart attack. They were on the field. Yeah.

JK: So growing up, were you more Americanized or did you have Armenian culture behind that?

LK: I grew up in a in a building where the every there was no Armenians. We were the only Armenians there. There were Russians and Slovaks and Polaks. And we grew up in that building. And so and we grew up across the street from a [indistinct] Hall, which was a Slovakia gymnasium type of thing and we grew. And when we grew up there, we used to learn teach they used to talk in Slovak and count in Slovak and we learn to count there. And I remember my mother used to send us send me send us to Armenian school. There was an Armenian school on Jarvis Street and it was an Armenian Club and the second floor they had classroom. And Mama used to send me to Armenian classes there. And I think she, she paid twenty-five cents a week, twenty-five cents a week or month I cannot remember. But I remember twenty-five cents. She used to pay. And we used to go I used to go to Armenian classes there. And then whenever I once I started going out of town and going in Armenian communities, I started going to Armenian classes, I found classes, schools where they, they were teaching Armenian. And there were classes at Harvard University that I went to Armenian classes with Dr. Ara Avakian was teaching and I remember I ̶ they were amazed at the amount of Armenian I knew what I had learned and how I had learned the army and alphabet so well and I said they could not believe that I had learned it at home and from my parents from my mother.

JK: And both of your parents spoke Armenian correct?

LK: Spoke Armenian very well. And they spoke Armenian very well with one another. If they wanted to say something that they did not want us to know, because we knew Armenian, they would talk rattle back and forth in Turkish. And as much as they, they ̶ the trouble they had with the Turkish that was their that was their second language or first language in were they in their village.

JK: And how-what was the reasoning behind that? Why did not they learn Turkish instead of Armenian?

LK: They, they spoke Armenian fluently it was not. It was that the children they grew up with. It was like you were here in America. You speak English. That was your mother tongue here. And Armenian is your second tongue. There is it they are, they are just like the those influx of the Russian Armenians that are coming in their mother tongue is Russian, because that is like American here. So they learn Turkish but, but as my mother got older, because she did not use the language, she could understand it, but it was a little difficult for her to speak it. I remember going to Worchester, Massachusetts in Boston amongst some Armenians and who spoke Turkish. She Mama had difficulty in communicating. She could understand it and she could, but to relay it back it was a little bit difficult.

JK: Did she know how to write Armenian?

LK: Oh, yes, Mama read and write very well.

JK: And did she teach you and your brothers uh-

LK: -To read and write in Armenian? Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. In fact, right now I teach my grandchildren and I see-I sing it the ̶ I ̶ the alpha, beta which is alpha, beta ̶ that is in Greek. Ayb, Ben, Gim I sing it in Armenian Ayb, Ben Gim they start dancing to what they think that is cute. So they can go almost twelve letters they know Ayb, Ben, Gim, Da, Yeč, Za I really ̶ I sing it with them and they start dancing to it and they think that is cute.

JK: And so-

LK: And Dlouisa she learned to speak Armenian and Greek at the same time she speaks Greek with her father and Armenian with me. So anytime we want to say anything to each other. We talk in Armenian so Demos does not understand.

JK: That is funny. Did ̶ so you grew up in Binghamton, and you were born here, correct? Uh-

LK: Right on Clinton Street.

JK: And did you guys have any Armenian Church or anything to go to?

LK: We had Armenian churches I said the only way we could go if some ̶ if somebody picked us up and the church came about in 19 ̶ 1927 Vintage I think they, they bought the church and yes we had it but it was in the other south, south side of town It was too far away. And you had to either get a bus and take out and get passes and go and get transfers of downtown Binghamton to get to the south side. And maybe once or twice a maybe we did that I remember but that was it. Mostly the Armenian ̶ Harry Sarkisian used to come and pick us up.

JK: Do you, uh, did you enjoy when you could go to the church, did you enjoy going and learning about ̶

LK: You know, I do not know I do not re ̶ it was not that I did not enjoy it. I did not know any different. And then on, on, on Sundays, Sunday afternoon, one o'clock or two o'clock. A Protestant Armenian Protestant Ministry used to come in from Syracuse Badveli Acemyan First, it was Hachadourian then by Acemyan he used to come here to Binghamton. And all the Armenians from the south side, the Protestant Armenians, they used to walk everybody walked to go to church ̶ go to hear him speak. You know ̶

JK: That must have been nice to see.

LK: It was it was very nice. I remember. And my choir director, Lilian Bogdasarian used to play the piano when she stopped, I started playing for them. For them. That was, that was at the first congregation church here on the corner of Front and Main Street.

JK: Uh and did the priest come weekly or was it monthly?

LK: Oh, no, the priest if we at that time, if we had a priest, we used to have ̶ we were lucky if we had a priest every once every three months, something like that that came in from New York.

JK: Yeah. And other people I have interviewed. They seem to be like ̶ their family became more Americanized you any ̶ but your family seems that they were ̶

LK: My mother became Americanized when started doing business work, but that was much later.

JK: Yeah. Well, it seems like your early childhood that you were very you were introduced to Armenian culture with learning the Armenian alphabet, speaking Armenian, going to church when you could ̶

LK: Church, but any social events ̶ Oh, I do remember one social event on. We went in the hall that used to be across the street from St. Michael's Church. They used to have a building there. It is not there anymore. But anyway, I remember. They used to have presentations. And they used to have speakers that u-they called [unintelligible] used to come and speak to the Armenians. And I remember my mother teaching me some Armenian poet ̶ some poem and I was supposed to get up and spe ̶ and I got up in front. And I got scared and I started crying. And my father came in and, you know, put his arms around me and hugged me, but, you know, but I was afraid I was I had to do this poem I was only I could not have been maybe five, six years old at that time.

JK: Yeah. But why do you think your family kept the Armenian culture rather than hiding it away and becoming more Americanized growing up? Can you think ̶

LK: Because they were Armenian-Armenian, you know, they were. They were and they, they. In fact, even in later years, my mother was reading the Armenian papers she would give it she would say, this is a good article, she would come and make ask me to read it, you know, and she that was how I learned my just listening to my father's reading the paper by phonetics. He was doing like you would do a be is ̶

JK: Yeah phonetically.

LK: Phonetically when he was reading the paper that way and I heard it so much more and as I grew up. And I started putting it together that it was much easier to read in Armenian and I could. And when I read the liturgy in church, I read it every all the time in Armenian that makes my Armenian to be more fluent, not in speaking, more so in reading, you see. And the more I look at it and the closer I read the by ̶ the liturgy in Armenian than my-my Armenian gets better, not the converse-the conversation okay, but my reading and writing, so I can read and write in Armenian. My mother was amazed how much I because I was in Brooklyn amongst no Armenians at all. And until I met an Armenian family, whose mother was a patient of mine and she ̶ I used to go to their home and they were all very Armenian and they spoke Armenian fluently and they were very active in the church in New York City. So that, that was it. I, I ̶ they did not say you have to be Armenian they that was just around us. We it was part of our growing up. We did not know any differently.

JK: That is very interesting.

LK: And of course, my brothers also grew up. There was Armenian boys in the neighborhood.

JK: Yeah, yeah.

LK: Antranig was a little boy. We used to call him Antranig, Antranig ̶ Oh, that Antranig was a general you know and so. And we used to, they used they grew up with these Armenian boys and we used to go to the Main Street Baptist Church. Mama used to make us ̶ send us to the first is a Syrian church Armen-Syria [inaudible] Syrian Church for Sunday school. It was only a couple blocks away. After that, then when they moved away, we went to the Main Street Baptist Church. And we all, we all grew up in the ̶ it was not that my parents kept the American culture away from us. They we were always exposed to it especially once you go to school, you were all your friends are all different nationalities you grow up with. And they when they when they were part of the Baptist Church, all the Armenians in the neighborhood used to go there, all the Armenian boys, they had their own basketball team there, you know, and they're all the boys were Armenian boys there.

JK: Yeah. So growing up in your neighborhood, you had other Armenians to hang around with and ̶

LK: Not in my neighborhood no they were all Slovak and Russian and Pol ̶ no Armenians in our neigh-except Antranig. Antranig was the only Armenian boy and um ̶

JK: And did he go to high school with you or a school with you?

LK: Not with me with my brothers. He went with ̶ Antranig went to school with my brothers with who else was in-

JK: Was there any Armenian ̶ other Armenians in your high school or?

LK: Oh yeah, high school girls. And I you know palled around with the [indistinct] you know all these now they were the ̶ yeah we palled around we hung around with each other afterward not so much in school because we were all in-taking different courses you know, I,I was taking a college course they were taking commercial courses they were you know,

JK: Did you ever socialize ̶ well did you American friend-did you have Armer-American friends and Armenian friends, correct?

LK: I had American friends. My, my friend was a,an undertaker's daughter. They only live two doors away and they were ̶ they had a funeral home there. And I grew up with Julie. Julie. I grew up with her She was my only the, only girlfriend I had that I remember.

JK: And did your American friends, did they know about Armenia and like what was going on?

LK: Never talked about it.

JK: Never?

LK: Never discussed it never ̶ you know that-that maybe You know, I do not remember the they were even ridiculing me or anything like that.

JK: Mhm. If they ever came to your house, did they ever see anything Armenian that would stand out distinctively or do you recall anything in your home that showed Armenian culture?

LK: The only thing I remember, in my home that I ̶ my mother used to make a big chart and it had the alphabet. And it had she used to make it so that we would all learn and, and every time even when we move from there to Clark Street, she made the Ayb, Ben, Gim, Da, Yeč, Za she put the whole alphabet there and that was the only Armenian that I ̶ and also when they killed the bishop in, in New York City in 1936 time, time in vintage. There was pictures of him. And I used to be so scared of those pictures. Because at night that was all I could get from my bed room that I could-from there on the wall. I could see his picture. And what did we know about death? We did ̶ I did not know anything about death except when I was in school, a little boy classmate of ours. And in those days, they used to keep the bodies in the home and they used to put a big wreath in the front of the house. You know, there was somebody had died and there was a dead body in that house. There was no funeral homes ̶ funeral parlors at the time. That I know that of. If there was maybe people could not afford it. I do not know.

JK: You said you had brothers growing up could you name them and-

LK: My brothers?

JK: And put their relation to yours? How old they are?

LK: My brother Harutyun, my brother Aristaks and Arslan three brothers.

JK: And-

LK: And Arslan,Garabed came afterward.

JK: And do they have ̶ they have Armenian names correct?

LK: Harutyun, Aristaks. Aristaks is the name of St. Gregory the illuminator. His one of his sons Aristaks and they pray with every Sunday in church they pray for Aristaks. Yeah, his name is mentioned every time in the in the church Badarak ̶ the liturgy ̶ Badarak Armenian. Badarak means liturgy in Armenian. And Harutyun, they all went to college they all went to the Harutyun became more of a ̶ into my mother I will never forget ̶ she sent him to Wayne University and Aristaks was going there and they both went to Wayne State University because I guess, I do not know why they picked that school at that time ̶ they could tell you that, that story more than I can but Harutyun was upset with the dormitory [speaks in Armenian] he got up on the bus and came right back home and my mother shipped him right back on the next bus. [laughs]

JK: That is funny.

LK: Yeah.

JK: Why do you think ̶ I want to end off here-why do you think it was so important for your mother to teach her children you guys Armenian?

LK: Maybe it was something she wanted to carry on ̶ her heritage, you know. carry ̶ and, and it was just second nature to us we did not know any differently and it was it was if they said if our parents said jump we jumped we did not say how high we just said we jumped if they said lay down and die we died because that was what they said we, we obeyed our parents so we did not dare never never would, would we ever talk back to our parents never never, never I never remember any of ̶ even my brothers never. I remember my brother Harutyun ̶ we got ahold of some firecrackers and once firecracker did not go off and he went with his hand and put it in it and it blew up in his hand ask him about that firecracker.

JK: Oh my god.

LK: Yeah. I will never forget this. And then another time my mother wanted to send me to the bakery and I did not want to take Harutyun with me and he fell off the roof ̶ off the garage roof and, and yeah and they blamed me because I did not take him if I had taken him he would not have been home to fall off the roof.

JK: Is there anything else you would like to add about ̶

LK: No I really do not know that right now. Maybe Harutyun or those-A-Aristaks why do not you ask them? They, they have a-they are, they are interpretation and their, their impression of what, what how they grew up what they grew up what they said to say. Because they were more outwardly, they went to the boys club they went to the YMCA. I could not ̶ I did not go anywhere I did not, I did not have anywhere to go to. You know my brothers went out to the field and they played they played football and baseball I had to stay home and do the house cleaning and you know I did the every Monday Mama washed clothes and that Monday I, I came home and I had to iron clothes. I did the ̶ and the and every Saturday I-morning we had to clean house so we that was my job to clean the legs of the dining room table. The dining room table is still at Clarke Street. And it had these grooves in it all these ̶ and it was my job to clean all these grooves. and I said to my mother one day I said Mama why did not you have more girls? Why did I have to do all the work. [laughs]

JK: That is funny. Okay thank you so much.

(End of Interview)

Date of Interview



Jacqueline Kachadourian


Louise Kachadourian Kontos

Biographical Text

Louise Kachadourian Kontos is a daughter of genocide survivors. Along with her four brothers, she was born and raised in Binghamton. She keeps ties to the Armenian community and teaches Armenian traditions to her daughter and grandchildren. Louise and her husband, Demos continue to live in the Binghamton area.





Digital Publisher

Binghamton University

Interview Format


Rights Statement

This audio file and digital image may only be used for educational purposes. Please cite as Armenian Oral History Project, Binghamton University Libraries, Binghamton University, State University of New York. For usage beyond fair use please contact the Binghamton University Libraries for more information.


Armenian; Turkey; Binghamton; Armenian community; Culture; Genocide; Stories; Armenian church; Family.


Item Information

About this Collection

Collection Description

This collection includes interviews in English with informants of all ages and a variety of backgrounds from various parts of Armenia. The interviews provide deeper insight into the history of the Armenian culture through personal accounts, narratives, testimonies, and memories of their early lives in their adoptive country and… More

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“Interview with Louise Kachadourian Kontos,” Digital Collections, accessed February 27, 2024,