Somehow when I look at this photo, even though this is a re-creation of a bedroom, I feel a real emptiness. It is not because the room is sparsely furnished. I look at the Religious piece hanging on the wall over the bed, a connection to a past life in Korea. A woman in a strange land, and more then likely no temple to worship at. What takes it’s place? Who do you listen to when you need words of encouragement, a spiritual uplifting during a very hard and difficult time? Do they confide in their neighbors or their spouses? Do they go to their rooms and try to take solace in the environment so far removed from what they knew? Did the woman after a day in the field covered with red dirt, a back that ached with pain from not being able to stand or stretch without fear of verbal of physical abuse from the luna as he rode his horse back and forth, take comfort in her meager treasures? The “Man’ getting ten dollars worth of work out of someone who is paid pennies for his or her back breaking labor did not think of the immigrants as people but only a number.
Late in the evening did she sit on her bed and stare at the beautiful dress that symbolized who she once was when she lived in Korea did she look at her hands and feet stained with dirt and weep at the site of her cracked nails? Did she count her blisters?
Or maybe she was one of the women who took the initiative to make or do something that could be supplied to other plantation workers.
In the above photo you can see the crocks that were used to make Kim Chee. Some type of radish or cabbage grows in the back ground. Making this particular food might have provided her with an extra income if she was able to sell it to the other immigrants not of her nationality. Maybe if there were bachelors living around her they would have bought some too.
This vegetable dish is eaten with all types of foods much like a relish or chile might be eaten. Here in Hawaii locals have adopted it as their own. They love to eat it with stew, chile beans, breakfast, lunch and what ever your taste buds will tolerate. A variety of vegetables are used some of which are radishes, bok choy, and other leafy greens. If you are daring here are some recipes you might want to try.http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~mjw/recipes/preserves/kim-chee/kim-chee-coll-2.html
Not being Korean I did not take too quickly to Kim Chee and it does leave your mouth smelling like a dragons breath. But once you’ve acquired a taste for it, it becomes part of your everyday table condiments. Set the stew and rice on the table. Hey, where’s the kim Chee?
If she was able to acquire a rice bag when buying rice the bag would have been made into curtains, shorts or shirts or made into anything that cloth could be sewn into. For awhile back in the 1960’s and 1970’s it was a fad to wear shorts made from rice bags as rice was still being sold in their cloth sacks. Now that’s a thing of the past and the bags have become collectors items. Here is a site that sells them with manufactured prints. http://www.gooenterprise.com/history.htm
Inside The Korean Kitchen
Do you cook ethnic food? Have you ever been to an area where they just don’t carry the right ingredient you need to make a favorite family dish? What did this woman do after a day in the field and coming home to cook? When the immigrants first arrived how did they cook foods from their homelands?
Shoes that would have been worn but not out to the field. Maybe the straw shoes were made in the camp to be worn around the house. I did not get information on those things.
We can read history to find out what people experienced, we can look at pictures and try to put ourselves in their place, but we will never actually know what it was like until we have walked a mile in those shoes.