Kimiyo Galyen Intro

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Bob Swanson and George Marks, 1968

Full transcript below:

Al Tabor: Ok, here's a question. Who hired you at Sierra Designs first?
Kimiyo Galyen: George Marks

Al: Ok, and when was that.
Kimiyo  : April 15 1969
Al: Wow!
Victor Ichioka: Tax Day
Kimiyo  : Yeah
Al: And, so, did you answer an ad or something or....?
Kimiyo  : No, I had a friend that worked there and she called me...way back...maybe 1965 or 7. She'd worked at 4th St in Oakland [future location of SD's factory]
Al: Right
Kimiyo: ...at a uniform store...she worked there. My friend, I met her in 1962 and her husband and my husband were on the same ship.
Al: Wow.
Kimiyo: So when the ship went away, I moved in with her to save money. Anyway....
Al: Was that Reba? 
Kimiyo: No, No.
Al: Right. She was from somewhere else.
Kimiyo: Right, she was from Pt Richmond. [Where SD first started.] with Sierra Designs
Kimiyo: So the store made stuff for Napa, Sonoma...straight jackets...
Chris Clark, et al: laughter and general comments, Victor, "for the mental hospital"
Kimiyo: So, anyway, they moved to San Francisco...the sewing factory...so we quit there. I didn't go to San Francisco because for me I'd have to catch the bus and ...anyway the lady at work...Reba, R E B A, I was home and she called me, she was working at Sierra Designs, and she called me and said what are you doing. And I said nothing, just sitting here rocking myself in the chair, and she said, "Would you like to work? Sierra Designs just opened here." I didn't have much experience with sewing but maybe they'd have some sort of job I can do, like the floor, you know, so I went there. 1969...that's when I met George and Bob Swanson.
Al: So how many people were working there?
Kimiyo: 14 people, I think, I was number 15. 14 people...
Al: Peter Langmaid was there already and those guys
Kimiyo: yeah, yeah...so that's my story about my life...that's the way it started.
Al: So what did you think...it was like a bunch of weird hippies, right?
Kimiyo: No,  everybody...Chinese people,..I'm the only Japanese...maybe you could call George a hippie
Al: He was his own...
Kimiyo: ...yeah, he wasn't a hippie but [it was] international.
Victor: What was the first job you did there?
Kimiyo: I worked a little bit on the floor but George put me on sewing. I told him I don't have sewing experience. I'd watched people sewing but that was the first time George made down jackets. They used to be made with single needle but he wanted me to do it with the double needle...use the folder. That way they were finished nicer. That was my first job
Chris: What was the floor work? What did you do on the floor?
Kimiyo: People cutting...taking it to the sewing operators.
Chris: Ok, so you were moving stuff between the operators?
Kimiyo: Yeah...take it to the next operation...
Martin Zemitis: You were bundling.
Kimiyo: No, I didn't bundle...the people that cut, bundled...I didn't know what to do so I'd probably make mistakes...but anyway, that's what I did...but after a short time George tried me at double needle.
Al: So, of the 14 people, how may were sewing? or manufacturing? most everybody?
Kimiyo: No, I'm talking about people in the ..?..., not many.
Al: So, I used to work with Wei Ting and Tommy Huey and, uh, when did Mrs Huey...was she there?
Kimiyo: Yeah, she was an operator. And Reba was sewing, and myself. Maybe a half dozen people or maybe a little bit more. I don't remember exactly. Not many.
Al: So you eventually became the pattern...like the speciality sewer...right? You were...
Kimiyo: No, I sewed piece work...not to long, a little bit...then the designer, like Martin started making tents?
Al: Bob Swanson?
Kimiyo: No Bob was jackets...George, I worked under George.
Al: So you moved from piece work to being the sample maker for George?
Kimiyo: In tents
Al: That's not ususally the job they give to somebody that can't sew. [laughter]
Martin: It's the hardest job in the company
Kimiyo: Sometimes Paul makes a pattern and the fabric to work with and he doesn't tell me nothing. Like somebody else.
Chris: Like somebody at this table?
Al: So who was harder to work for? George Marks, Paul Kramer, or Martin?
Kimiyo: I enjoyed everyone.
Chris: What a diplomatic answer. 
Martin: They were all idiots.
Al: I assume that means Martins the hardest to work with. [laughter]
Kimiyo: There was one guy in Oakland. The young man was a designer, you probably know him...he give me a hard time so I tell him, ok you show me sample, you do it, you sew it, then I'll do it. That's the only one. He gave me one that's impossible to sew and I couldn't do it. I tried. I couldn't do it. I was nasty. I shouldn't have talked to him like that. I apologized...in my heart  [much laughter]. I told him you put it together and show me how you do it. You do it and then I'll try real hard again.
Al: so let's see...69, 79, 89, 83...so you worked at Sierra Designs for 25 years.
Kimiyo: 25 years...I remember.
Kimiyo: Somebody bought it...do you remember who it was?
Al: Yeah, CML
Kimiyo: CML, they gave me a watch
Al: Oh, they did?!
Kimiyo: For working there 25 years. A men's watch, they gave me. I never wore it.
Al: So tell me about starting at Mountain Hardwear, then...moving from Sierra Designs to Mountain Hardwear?
Kimiyo: Well, it's a lot of the same faces...Paul, you...I don't feel like I'm working at a different company just the name...we just moved to bigger house.
Al: Right
Kimiyo: Then I met so many new people...young lady [referring to Chris] I like that.
Chris: And you felt the need to feed us.
Kimiyo: I didn't have time to think...you know...
Al: Yeah, it was really great to have people that got along and knew each other
Kimiyo: And if Bob and George were already gone...so...to me, I don't feel like I'm working at a new company just a new name.

 

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Story Copyright
02/12/16