The Apricot Outlook of Katherine Koon Hung Wong
by Dennis W.C. Wong
Book Vine Press

"Apricots also represent female elegance; the large seed is ovoid shaped like the eyes of an Oriental beauty."

Two generations of family historians united to create this warm and lovely memoir of Katherine (Katy) Wong. The author, Katy’s first-born, had the foresight to record his mother’s memories. His epilogue begins his mother’s tale from her family’s early life in China and their move to Hawaii at the start of the twenty-first century. Born in 1928, this fourth child was named Katherine by the midwife. Older siblings and a family business kept her parents busy. Katy’s personal reminiscences start with two sudden deaths in her bed: the first occurred when she was three when a sister died of a childhood sickness; years later, her husband died of a massive heart attack.

Katy’s father owned the Wing Wo laundry business. She helped in the shop, and the family lived in the cramped, attached quarters. Her elementary school was right across the street until the shop burned down in June 1942. Katy met and married her husband, Clifford, in 1947-48. She knew Cliff was “the one.” They celebrated their wedding with a Hawaiian luau. In 1958, Katy and Cliff moved with four children to San Francisco for a better work climate. Their youngest daughter, Renee, was born in California.

The author began work on this intriguing memoir in 1977 as a school project. In a painstaking effort to ensure the work’s validity, he later traveled to Hawaii and China to verify facts. Excerpts from the Honolulu Advertiser helpfully document births, facts about the Chun Clan where Katy’s father was a member, and the fire that razed the Wing Wo laundry. Interestingly, one quote commented that young people in 1952 did not want to own small businesses like their parents. Pictures and family memorabilia add nuances to this unique story. Their inclusion rounds out a charming memoir.

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