Alvin Richardson: Family Farming: Watsonville, California, 1908-1977

2004, 43 pp.

For the complete text [PDF] of Alvin Richardson: Family Farming: Watsonville, California (E-Scholarship). Includes complete audio (streaming or download) for the oral history. Note: Due to editing by the narrator, there may be some differences between the audio recording and the transcript. Please quote from the transcript as the record. Audio will be found under "Supporting Material."

Alvin C. Richardson was born on Beach Road in Watsonville, California on October 5, 1908. His grandfather had arrived in the Pajaro Valley in 1858, where he began the family farm on Beach Road. This is the place where Richardson's father was born. In the late 19th century the family raised potatoes on Beach Road. In 1890 Richardson's grandfather began to grow apples on a hundred-acre ranch along Green Valley Road. In the 1920s Richardson's father raised sweet peas on the Beach Road property, and Alvin remembered fondly the decorative tubs of sweet peas that his father provided him with on his wedding day in 1929.

Richardson grew up in Watsonville, attended Watsonville High School, and spent his entire life in the Pajaro Valley. At the time of this interview in 1977 he had lived at his farm on Buena Vista Drive since 1934. Except for a brief stint at Permanente in Moss Landing during World War II, Richardson completely devoted himself to farming. He primarily raised bush berries.

In this oral history conducted on May 6, 1977 at Richardson's home on Buena Vista Drive, he discusses in detail varieties of berries grown throughout the years, the labor and capital requirements of farming, and the challenges of marketing and distribution. Finally his older sister, Ruth Johnson, joined the interview to share her remarkable early recollections of the family farm, as well as describe some of the diaries and ledgers still in the family's possession.