Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Edith Watanabe Interview
Narrator: Edith Watanabe
Interviewer: Stacy Sakamoto
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 4, 1996
Densho ID: denshovh-wedith-01-0001

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SS: Edith, tell me a little bit about where you were born, and what it was like growing up.

EW: Well, I was born in Seattle, and other than that I don't remember anything. We just have a picture that my mother is holding me, and I don't recall anything about Seattle.

SS: Did you grow up in Seattle? You moved?

EW: We moved up to Burlington, which is north, up north, about sixty miles north of Seattle, and I grew up there -- kindergarten through high school.

SS: Did you have a big family?

EW: Two brothers and two sisters.

SS: What was it like growing up there? It seems to me that it would be a fun place to grow up.

EW: It was. It was... we always said that we wished we could have raised our children in Burlington. But he would have -- my husband would have had to commute to Boeing, and we thought that that was quite a ways to go. But a small town is much better for children.

SS: What do you remember of your early family life? What did your parents do?

EW: Oh, my parents owned a laundry and we helped there. And we just, I had a good time.

SS: Did you work in the family business?

EW: Yes, uh-huh. I helped. Tried to mangle, they let me do that, the straight pieces, you know, handkerchiefs, and pillow cases, and things like that, that I couldn't, you know, burn or wrinkle up or anything. But we were expected to help, and we did.

SS: What do you remember about those early years? Was it, was it difficult financially? Did the family live comfortably? Tell me a little bit about that.

EW: You know, I think about it now, we were probably poor. But we didn't consider ourselves poor at that time. But, because I remember they kept all our money in a cigar box. And when Mother wanted us to buy something... liver was five cents a pound, and we had liver and onions. And hamburger was, you know, about five or ten. And we'd go shopping, take the money out of the cigar box. And life was simple, but good. But we didn't know that we were poor. We didn't think we were.

SS: What were your big luxuries back then when you were growing up? Was it getting candy, was it hamburger?

EW: Oh, my dad would come home from work, usually on Friday night he would come home, and he would stop at the corner drugstore and buy a bag of Society candy. And he'd bring it home and then we would enjoy that. I'll never forget that.

SS: Did you have any hobbies? Were there things that you liked to do as a young girl growing up?

EW: I loved sports. And I played tennis and baseball. And we roller-skated all over town with my friends. We had a lot of fun. That was, didn't cost anything. And at nighttime we'd play Annie-I-Over. I don't think kids play that now, I don't think they know how, but it is -- or we played squares or hopscotch. We just innovated our own games. We had a good time.

SS: What about music? Things like that?

EW: I was fortunate to be able to take piano lessons. Didn't have a piano of my own, but I practiced at my teacher's home and in exchange I cleaned her house.

SS: It sounds like you were a very busy young lady.

EW: I think so. Didn't have time to get in trouble.

SS: It sounds like those are very happy memories.

EW: They are. Uh-huh, uh-huh.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1996 Densho. All Rights Reserved.