Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Elsa Kudo Interview
Narrator: Elsa Kudo
Interviewer: Kelli Nakamura
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: February 6, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-kelsa-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

KN: And then you're moving up to Seabrook, to New Jersey. And describe the climate. You said it was just horrible.

EK: Well, the housing was so disappointing to me because it was not what I would consider a real house. There was the barest of... I don't know if my father had to buy this or not, but we did have a table, and, I don't know, five or six chairs, just wooden type, the simplest type. And then a bunk bed and like two single cots, and then my parents' bed. It was like, because we had so many in our family, it was divided, there were three rooms put together in one building structure. But luckily, the people before us had demanded that there would be opening between the walls, so you didn't have to go out each time to go to the next unit, so you could go through. So we did have that.

KN: So this is going to be four children...

EK: Five.

KN: Five children on two cots, (a bunk bed), plus your parents.

EK: And a baby bed, yeah. They had the third, so-called "third room."

KN: So it was very crowded.

EK: It was very simply the barest minimum. I think if you see that picture, I don't think we even had money to buy curtains.


KN: So when we were last talking, we were discussing your experiences at Seabrook and living in company housing that your father had to pay for.

EK: Yes.

KN: So in Seabrook, what kind of company was it? What were the jobs that your mother and father...

EK: Yeah, Seabrook Farms was known for its frozen vegetables and canned goods. And so they would also pick beans and beets and spinach and those kind of things. My mother, because she had so many little ones, had to work where she could come running to feed the children or the child. At that time I think Richard was born. And so she did like... there were buildings just for the single men, and so she would have to clean their latrine. And that's where she also got heckled by some member saying, "That's so demeaning." But my dad told her -- and she would cry sometimes -- and she would say, "But I have to do this because it will allow me to see the children and make sure they're okay." What my father said then was, "It's an honest job, it has to be done, and you're not doing anything wrong, so be proud. Don't be ashamed that you're doing this kind of work. It's an honest work." And so that made her feel better, I think, and so she did.

KN: So by this time there were six children?

EK: Six children, yeah.

KN: So your mother was working and also taking care of the children. What was your father doing as far as employment at the farm?

EK: Just about everything. I think he was in the... what is that called? A conveyor belt where they have to very quickly throw away all the junky veggies and keep the good ones and do those kind of things. Or carry crates from one place to another, all types, all kinds of work. Whatever was there, he would do it.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.