Monday, November 1, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
The community, the Department of Health Services and Supervisor Gloria Molina strongly supported a Memorial placed at the Crematorium as a way to remember this forgotten cemetery for generations to come.
On September 4th, the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California would like to invite the community to join Congresswoman Judy Chu, Assemblyman Mike Eng, the Boyle Heights Historical Society, The Chinese American Museum, the First Taoist Foundation and the Studio for Southern California History to the dedication a the Memorial Wall and Meditation Garden. The program will be from 10 am until 12:30 pm at which time a light lunch will be served. The program will consist of a special Chinese traditional blessing for the spirits of our ancestors. We will also hold a multi-faith prayer ceremony for the 131 recently reburied ancestors who had been removed from their graves during the construction of the Gold line..
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Austin family finds clues in attic to Chinese pioneer
Joe Sing, Francisca Moreno broke barriers in early 20th-century Austin.
Updated: 1:35 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9, 2010
Published: 9:11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010 Small Type
They could write chapters in history books about people like Joe Sing, a Chinese immigrant who blazed trails in Austin around the dawn of the 20th century, and his lay-down-the-law wife, Francisca, who helped him. Sing eclipsed one barrier after another poverty, a strange land and language, discriminatory laws to succeed as a businessman, husband and father.
But Sing apparently also was a modest man, and his gritty story went with him to his grave in 1927. There it probably would have stayed had his descendants not discovered a box 80 years after his death.
"A magic box," Terry Aguallo, Joe and Francisca's great-granddaughter, says with hints of wonder and gratitude.
The story of Joe Sing and Francisca Moreno Sing is the subject of a flurry of attention — a new state historical marker, a featured spot in an Austin History Center exhibit on pioneer Chinese immigrants and a recent student documentary, part of the East Austin Stories film project at the University of Texas.
It begins sometime in the late 1800s, when Joe Sing left his family and his homeland in search of the proverbial better life in the United States.
Sing found it in Austin, where he soon bridged Anglo, Asian and Mexican American worlds. One of the city's first Chinese residents, Sing married Francisca, an American of Mexican descent who cooked for Gov. Ma Ferguson and who, like her husband, did not lack for resolve. Together they opened the Hong Lee Laundry, which flourished by catering to bankers, legislators and white-collar workers on Congress Avenue. The couple had four children and apparently enjoyed a loving marriage. Sing never became a U.S. citizen, however — the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 forbade it — and under another law, Moreno, without realizing it, forfeited her citizenship simply by marrying Sing.
But, perhaps because the Sing-Moreno story was not passed down in the detail it might have deserved, their descendants never really made too much of their family heritage, their ancestors' pioneering spirit or their own melting-pot mix of heritages. American. Chinese. Mexican.
Never made much, that is, until that day in 2007 when, in the historical East Austin home of Margaret Sing, the late daughter of Joe and Francisca, they stumbled upon a box they hadn't known existed. About 3 feet long and 2 feet deep, the cardboard box contained personal effects more than 100 years old that belonged to Joe and Francisca. The contents awakened family members' curiosity about their ancestry, stoked their pride and their introspection and moved them to tears. The items revealed, too, a family secret. They told a story of family — a story long stored away and now reclaimed.
In the 1970s, schoolmates taunted Anna Aguallo, Terry's younger sister. They called her Chinese and pulled up the skin at the corners of their eyes, recalled her mother, Mary Frances Aguallo, a blunt-talking woman with a sassy sense of humor and at 79 the oldest living descendant of Sing and Moreno.
"When I was younger, my eyes were quite slanted, and I definitely looked different," said Anna, 40, a special education coordinator with the Austin school district. "The teasing made me feel like an outcast."
Anna and Terry knew that their great-grandfather was Chinese. They had seen Joe Sing's portrait, taken when he was probably in his 60s — Sing, with a shock of black hair flecked with gray, his back straight, staring solemnly at the camera. When they were kids, Sing's son, Joe Jr., made it a point to remind the girls of their Chinese heritage, too, "not just Mexican," said Anna, who added that her great-uncle used his father's abacus in his bookkeeping at home.
But that's as far as it went, Anna said. Joe Jr. didn't speak Chinese, and with no exposure to the language, customs or other Chinese relatives — no family ever followed Joe Sing to America — the Aguallo sisters celebrated Mexican traditions far more. Perhaps the only exceptions were the steamed white rice and other Chinese food they ate every day.
Their mother never met Joe Sing, who died at 67 in a hit-and-run accident. Yet Mary Frances says she felt as if she knew Sing anyway because her grandmother, a disciplinarian who raised her and impressed her with her work ethic and devotion to God, constantly talked about him. "He must have been a very, very good father, parent or husband," Mary Frances said. "By talking about him, she kept him alive."
Discovering the past
Joe Sing was not a quixotic nomad seeking adventure. Like many Chinese men then, he probably had no other choice but to leave his relatives in China so that he could help them survive, said Esther Chung, who collects Asian American history at the Austin History Center and has been working with the Aguallo family.
It is not known when exactly Sing arrived in Austin, though from documents and correspondence Chung thinks it was sometime around the turn of the century. Sing was in Galveston in 1880, according to the U.S. census. It's known, too, that he lived in Boston and then worked in Shreveport, La. In New Orleans in 1894, he was issued, under the name of Joe Hall, a certificate of residence, a document required for a Chinese national to work in the U.S. Sing's real name was Jo Feng Sheng. In Austin, he was known to his customers as Hong Lee. Why he used three names at different times in his life is a mystery.
Nor is it known when Sing married Francisca or when they started the laundry business on Congress Avenue and Fifth Street. They had four children — Joe Jr.; Rumalda, or Ruby, as she was known; Margaret; and Senovia, Mary Frances' mother.
After her husband died, Francisca closed the original laundry and opened another one under her own name in 1937 at 207 E. Seventh St. When Francisca became ill, Margaret, who never married, devoted her life to taking care of her mother at a house they rented on Medina Street until Francisca died in 1962 at age 83. In 1984, Margaret had saved up enough money to pay cash for a home at 1705 Willow St. The quaint two-bedroom bungalow built in 1930 has been handed down to Terry's 24-year-old son Raul Hernandez, a fifth-generation descendant who is a records coordinator at St. Edward's University.
Until Margaret's death in 2007, the home was a lively hub of activity and the site of family holiday celebrations.
"Everybody used to gather here," Raul says, standing in front of an oversized, graffiti-style print of the Virgen de Guadalupe that hangs in the living room. Two decoratively framed antique Virgen prints — they belonged to Francisca — anchor opposite ends of another wall. Before she died, Margaret stipulated that they never be removed, and she meant it, too. When the house was vacant for a short time, the family tried taking the prints down for safekeeping but couldn't because they were bolted to the wall.
With Margaret Sing's death came the task of cleaning the house and sorting through her belongings, a chore that lasted weeks. The family thought it was done until a worker installing central air conditioning told Raul he had found a box in the attic. Terry recalls telling her son to "just throw it away," and Raul says they came oh-so-close to doing so. But he insisted, and later that day, with a trash can beside her, his mother began digging through the box.
Tired, she pulled out the contents with disinterest at first until she realized what lay before her. Spread out on the large antique dining table, which had hosted so many family meals, were the mementos of the lives of Joe Sing and Francisca Moreno. Never-before-seen family photos of the couple and their young children, his 1894 certificate of residence and other documents, dozens of letters from relatives and business contacts with postmarks from China, Canada, Boston, Louisiana, "just everywhere."
In one striking photograph, Francisca, surrounded by her children, cradles Ruby, her youngest, in her arms.
For Terry, the faces in the photographs spoke the loudest: "They were Chinese."
"I thought, 'This is him in this box,'" Terry says. "This man came from across the ocean, and he was here, and you hear all these stories about the immigrants, and I'm thinking, 'What did he go through?'"
She teeters on the edge of being overcome with emotion, as she was that day of discovery in 2007 when Raul worriedly asked her, "Mom, what's wrong?"
"I told him, 'You don't understand. Look at this,'" Terry recalls answering, her voice rising. "And then I found the document, his papeles (papers) to come to the United States, and I thought, 'Oh, my God.'"
Terry can't hold back her tears anymore.
The family had never seen Sing's 1894 certificate of residence, which says he was 35 years old, was 5 feet 7 inches tall and had an olive complexion and three scars. In the photo, Sing looks vaguely sideways and wears a Western-style suit. He has a round, clean face and a stoic expression, and his head is shaved in the front. Though it isn't visible, it's likely that he wore his hair braided in a tail or queue in the Chinese custom then.
History center translators later helped decipher the letters, which revealed something more that the family had not known — Joe Sing had children in China. A son regularly wrote to him, once to ask for $200 to help with his pending wedding. So did a son-in-law. In fact, many people in China wrote to ask for money, including Sing's mother, who in one letter delivered the news that his father had died. The revelation that Sing had children in China raised questions: Did Joe Sing have a wife or an ex-wife in China? Did Francisca know her husband had other children?
These and other questions remain a mystery, though Mary Frances suggests that if there was another wife in China, her grandmother would never have stood idly by had she known. Joe Sing made it in Austin because Francisca pushed him, she says. "She was one of those people, what she said went. 'We're going to do this, come hell or high water,'" Mary Frances says, prompting Terry to joke that her mother, with her bossy manner, took after Francisca.
The Aguallos and Raul had no inkling that their find mattered to anyone outside their family until a couple of weeks later when Terry saw a blurb in the newspaper. It said that the Austin History Center was collecting Asian history and was seeking donations. Mary Frances turned over the Sing family papers, as they are now known at the center. The papers are a gem — the oldest and the biggest of the Asian collection and among the rarest of their kind in the country, Chung says.
With the box came a watershed rediscovery of roots. "It's enlightened us to grow more passionate about the history and to want to learn more about the Chinese culture," Anna says.
Family members ponder what part of them came from Joe and Francisca. "A strong work ethic," says Mary Frances, who still works organizing bus tours to New York and other cities. "I don't believe in retirement," she declares.
Finding the box wiped the cobwebs off faded memories. When Chung explained that Francisca lost her citizenship for marrying her husband, Mary Frances recalled that her grandmother sobbed upon learning that bit of news when she applied for retirement benefits. Her daughters said she had never shared the story before.
Raul did the research that led to the state historical marker, which will go up in October dedication ceremonies at Margaret Sing's old house, where he now lives. He vows not to mess with its character. That would be a disservice to history and to his Aunt Margaret. "How many ethnic women working in a laundry could buy a home by themselves?" he marvels. Recently Raul bought Chinese vases and bookends to place in the living room with the Virgens. Next, he wants to apply for a national historical designation, and he wants to visit China one day.
When she pulled history from a box in 2007, a wave of regret fell over Terry, who wished she had tried harder to learn about her great-grandfather before. But now, she says, "With all of this, it's like 'I know who you are.'"
'Pioneers from the East: First Chinese Families in Austin'
The exhibit continues through Oct. 31 at the Austin History Center, 810 Guadalupe St. Center hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
For information on how to preserve the stories of Asian Americans in Austin and Travis County, call Esther Chung at 974-7394 or visit www.ci.austin.tx.us/library/ahc.
To view 'Five Generations,' a documentary on Joe Sing and Francisca Moreno Sing by UT students Chelsea Hernandez, Adrian LaGuette and Rhea Rivera, visit www.eastaustinstories.org.
UPDATE: As originally published, this story misstated the date the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. The law was passed in 1882.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Irvin R. Lai dies at 83; Chinese American community leader in Los Angeles
He was best known for his efforts to save the roast duck in
Irvin R. Lai was an active promoter of Chinese culture, history and civil rights. He took on numerous leadership positions, including national president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, head of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, commissioner of the Asian American Education Commission and director of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Assn.
By Ching-Ching Ni,
July 25, 2010
Irvin R. Lai, a revered Chinese American community leader in
Lai was surrounded by his family when he died July 16 at
Born in 1927 on a farm outside Locke, the historic Chinese settlement in the Sacramento River delta, Lai was a third-generation Chinese American who moved to Los Angeles in his teens, served in the U.S. military during World War II and the Korean War, went to college on the GI Bill and eventually worked in the family's restaurant, refrigeration and construction businesses.
But his heart and all his spare time were devoted to serving the community, a virtue he acquired from his mother, Effie Lai, a volunteer social worker who helped new immigrants from
"He was probably one of the greatest
As an active promoter of Chinese culture, history and civil rights, Lai took on numerous leadership positions, including national president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, head of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, commissioner of the Asian American Education Commission and director of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Assn.
One of his most prominent battles was seeking justice in the 1982 beating death of Vincent Chin in Detroit, a cause that became a watershed moment for the national Asian American community. Chin was a Chinese American killed by two white men who had mistaken him as being Japanese. The first trial resulted in a light sentence for the assailants that outraged the community. Lai and other Asian American leaders went to
During his decades with the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, where he wore many hats including chairman of the board, Lai helped preserve and restore the oldest structure built by the Chinese in
As he approached his 80s, he continued to speak out for those who could not, especially the bones discovered in a long-lost potters field outside
"Irvin was always passionate, unafraid to ruffle feathers, to take on the most powerful people and big agencies like the MTA," said Eugene Moy, past president and current board member of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California. "After more than two years of attending meetings with officials, a memorial wall has been erected and paid for by the MTA. We might not have gotten this far without a strong advocate like Irvin."
One of Lai's proudest accomplishments was the Chinese roast duck bill of 1982. Chinese restaurateurs were forced to toss their roast
Lai is survived by a son, Lawrence; five daughters, Arlene Lowe, Corinne Gill, Irene Jong, Kathleen Lih and Pauline Yau; a brother, Collin; a sister, Mildred Wong; 12 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His wife, Jessie, died in 1984.
A viewing will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park,
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
OBITUARY: Irvin Lai, 83; Longtime Leader in Chinese American Community
Irvin Lai poses in front of the monument to Chinese immigrants at
Chinese American community activist Irvin Lai passed away on July 16 at 83 of pneumonia, following a lengthy battle with cancer. Most recently Lai was the primary voice for the Chinese American community when over 170 gravesites were disturbed during construction of the MTA Gold Line Eastside Extension adjacent to
As a leader in the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, Lai also worked on the acquisition and fundraising for our property at 411-415 Bernard St., as well as for the historic 1888 Chinese cemetery shrine at Evergreen Cemetery.
“He’s been there for every important movement,” said Fenton Eng, administrator for the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California. “He’s been the voice, the fighter. Hopefully we’ll have others, we’ll have big shoes to fill.”
Lai began his civil rights activism when he joined the Los Angeles Lodge of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance in 1960. During his years at this civil rights organization, he rose to become the national Grand President in 1985. One of his most prominent fights while at C.A.C.A was on behalf of justice for Vincent Chin, who was murdered because of his race. Mr. Lai and C.A.C.A. Grand Board joined with other organizations in a successful federal lawsuit that determined that Vincent Chin’s civil rights were violated.
Lai is probably best known for saving the Peking duck in
“He was really motivated when there was injustice, he wanted to see the right thing done. That’s why he was involved in 1982 during the Vincent Chin murder, he felt compelled to be involved in that situation,” said Eng.
A visitation will be held on Wednesday, July 28, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Church of the Recessional at
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The site where Chinese laborers were interred, their graves later forgotten, gets a memorial
Transit agency builds a memorial at Evergreen Cemetery and will rebury remains that were excavated during Gold Line Eastside Extension.
Relatives of Yee Hay, who died in 1916, from left, Jean Woo, Marie Chung Louie, Lillian Chung Wong and Loretta Lee, pose with monument to Chinese laborers. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times / March 8, 2010)
March 9, 2010
"We used to come every year to bring flowers to his grave," said Chung Wong, who is now a great-grandmother.
Then one day her family showed up for a visit and found nothing, not even the grave markers.
"There was no grass . . . just cement," Chung Wong said. "So we stopped coming."
On Monday morning, Chung Wong and her 84-year-old "baby sister" Marie Chung Louise stood once again on the spot where they believe their ancestor is buried and witnessed something they had not been sure they would live to see.
They had come for the unveiling of a memorial wall to commemorate the Chinese laborers who toiled on the Western frontier and died in segregated and forgotten graves.
The Chinese graves in Boyle Heights were discovered five years ago, during construction of the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension.
The early Chinese immigrants who helped build California were forbidden to marry or own property. They were barred from Evergreen Cemetery, the oldest secular burial ground still operating in Los Angeles.
So when Chung Wong's grandfather Yee Hay died in 1916, his body was relegated to the nearby potter's field -- where indigents were buried for free and Chinese had to pay $10, about $195 in today's money.
The Chinese burial ground later became the site of a crematory and at some point all the grave markers were removed.
Until they were rediscovered in 2005, the exact location of the Chinese graves was lost to history.
"I'm sorry the early immigrants . . . were denied their civil rights and denied a decent burial," Ara Najarian, chairman of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said at the unveiling ceremony. "I'm glad we're finally honoring them by righting the wrong."
In all, the MTA discovered 174 burial sites as well as many artifacts -- including buttons, Chinese porcelain, glasses, rice bowls, jade, coins and opium pipes.
All the bones and artifacts will now be reinterred inside Evergreen Cemetery. The process, which will take several months, will start the first week in April, the MTA says.
The MTA spent $2 million on the project -- on excavation, archaeological research, DNA analysis, construction of the memorial wall and the purchase of burial plots and coffins, said Carl Ripaldi, principal environmental specialist with the MTA.
Members of the local Chinese community look forward to the end of the story.
"It's been too long for these remains to be out there in some laboratory," said Daisy Ma, president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance. "We do not want to wait any longer. We want closure."
The community has, however, expressed a desire to make educational use of what was learned when the grave sites were dug up. The MTA has promised to document the large collection of objects buried with the bodies and provide records to the Fowler Museum at UCLA. They have also had replicas made of some of the artifacts to give to the Chinese Historical Society and the Chinese Benevolent Assn.
About 1,400 Chinese were believed to have been buried in the potter's field. But despite an outreach effort, the MTA was unable to identify any living relatives of the Chinese whose remains were uncovered during the digging for the Gold Line extension.
Angi Ma Wong, a daughter-in-law of Lillian Chung Wong, believes Yee Hay's remains are still deep in the ground, near the new memorial. She believes bodies were buried in layers and that his grave is several layers down.
"This is the ultimate insult. Once the Chinese were buried, they should never have been disturbed in any way," said Ma Wong, who was hired by the MTA as a feng shui consultant to make sure the memorial and new grave sites followed proper Chinese burial protocol.
But many who came to the unveiling said the MTA had done its best, given the circumstances.
"I am satisfied they did something halfway proper for those graves they exhumed," said Irvin Lai, 82, a longtime member of the Chinese Historical Society. "We don't agree to let them dig up the graves in the first place, but this is the second best thing they can do, the proper handling of the remains."
For her part, Chung Wong spoke of possible return visits.
"I am very happy they made it so nice," she said. "I'd like to bring my other relatives and friends to see this."
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times
Monday, February 8, 2010
at the forefront of class, gender and labor, breaking away from stereotypes that saw them as either the victims of their circumstances or the pawns of History."
Lucie Cheng was a pioneering social scientist who helped to establish the field of Asian American Studies within a transpacific context. Among her many publications, the classic Labor Immigration Under Capitalism (co-edited with Edna Bonacich, University of California Press, 1984) situated the study of early Asian Americans within the context of international labor migration. With Paul Ong and Edna Bonacich, she also edited The New Asian Immigration in the Restructuring Political Economy (Temple University Press, 1994). Professor Cheng went on to become the founding director of the Center of Pacific Rim Studies at UCLA (1985-1990).
This courage to forge new thinking also characterizes Lucie Cheng's life and work as well, for she opened new scholarly ground, linking Asian Americans to their countries of origin and analyzing their experience from the perspective of class, gender, and labor. Thus, her research broke away from traditional motifs of assimilation and modes of acculturation that had characterized conventional frameworks applied to Asian Americans previously.
April 6, 1922 - January 20, 2010
Dancing with the Angels, by Monk & Neagle
Welcome: Pastor Ed Moreno, New Day Christian Church, Corona Valley
• Martin "De" Leung, son-in-law • George Loo, nephew
• Joe Huey, cousin
• Mary Ann Schoon Groark, niece
• Darryl "Buddy" Robert Schoon, nephew
• Gregory Robert Schoon, son
Message: Pastor Ed Moreno
The Lords Prayer, Cousin Winifred Lew Sharing the Life of Bobby, DVD Presentation
Closing Words: Pastor Moreno
Joe Huey Eric Young Larry Gee Daric Loo Bill Butler Dylan Leung
"Bobby" to his family and friends
After his mother passed away, Bobby moved to Bakersfield where he graduated from Kern County High School and attended junior college before moving back to Los Angeles. Bobby then joined the Army Air Corp and was stationed in Tucson, Arizona where his years in the
service were "the most carefree and enjoyable of times".
Bobby's life was to become far fuller after his discharge from the Air Corp in 1946. In 1947 Bobby joined the US Postal Service where he worked until his retirement in 1977; and on September 12, 1948, Bobby married Dorothy Lam, the love of his life.
It was a lifelong marriage that would produce love, enjoyment, adventures, companionship, and two children—a son, Gregory Robert, born in 1950 and a daughter, Janis Lori or "Cissy", born in 1954 and later two grandchildren, Derek and Dylan.
Because Dottie worked for TWA, Bobby and Dottie literally traveled the world-visiting the Holy Land, Africa, Russia, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Scandinavia, the South Pacific, South and Central America as well as Eastern Europe and Turkey.
Bobby not only traveled to places that most would only dream about, he was able to pursue his lifelong passion, tennis. For more than 30 years, the family traveled to San Francisco where Bobby competed in the Chinese National Tennis Tournament, winning the Senior Doubles title in 1970, 1971 and 1973. Hip replacement surgery, however, at the age of 80 in 2002 would force his "early" retirement from the game he loved.
Bobby's avid interest was not confined to tennis. He had a passionate interest in history, which to Bobby was like an unfinished book still being written. Bobby Schoon was extraordinarily fortunate that his long life was to include love, children, success, and achievement—just as we are extraordinarily fortunate that our lives included Bobby Schoon.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1OHmkRi8Ac Picture Show of Bobby's Life
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Immigrant dream plays out through son
Harvard's do-it-all star learned the game from his father and a host of NBA legends
STORRS, Conn. -- The jump hook he used to score his first bucket of the game? That came from Kareem.
The perfect form on his jumper? Larry Bird deserves credit for that.
The power end-to-end drive with a dunk to finish? Vintage Dr. J.
The sweet dribble penetration and kickout? Score one for Magic.
As Jeremy Lin dissected and bisected Connecticut to the tune of 30 points Sunday afternoon, his father sat in front of a computer screen on the other side of the country, watching his videotape library of NBA greats come to life in the form of his son.
All those years Gie-Ming Lin spent rewinding his tapes so he could teach himself how to play a game he never even saw until he was an adult? All those hours spent in the local Y with his boys, schooling them in fundamentals over and over, building muscle memory without even knowing what the term meant? That silly dream, the one in which his children would fall in love with basketball as much as he had?
There it was, borne out in a gym in Storrs, Conn.
"Every time he did something good, they'd play it over and over again," Gie-Ming said from his home in Palo Alto, Calif. "I kept watching, and they kept showing him."
Soon the rest of the college basketball world might be turning its collective eye toward Jeremy Lin. Think about what the senior has done just this week for Harvard, which is off to its best start (7-2) in 25 years.
In keeping his team in the game right to the end, Lin scored a career-high 30 points and grabbed 9 boards in a 79-73 loss to No. 12 UConn. Then, in the Crimson's 74-67 upset at Boston College on Wednesday -- the second straight season Harvard has beaten BC -- Lin contributed 25 points.
So in two games against New England's annual NCAA tournament participants, Lin scored 55 points and shot 64 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line.
He boasts an all-around repertoire rarely on display. Last season Lin was the only player in the nation to rank among the top 10 players in his conference in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and 3-point percentage.
This year? He is merely second in the Ivy League in scoring (18.6 points), 10th in rebounding (5.3), fifth in field goal percentage (51.6 percent), third in assists (4.6), second in steals (2.4), sixth in blocked shots (1.2) and top of the pile in turning the heads of esteemed basketball minds, including Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun.
"I've seen a lot of teams come through here, and he could play for any of them," the longtime UConn coach said of Lin. "He's got great, great composure on the court. He knows how to play."
And he learned how to play thanks to his father's determination.
Jeremy is not the product of some Marv Marinovich in high-tops, desperate to cultivate the perfect basketball player, but rather a 5-foot-6 immigrant who long ago fell in love with a game and realized that in that game, his own children could gain entry into mainstream America.
Gie-Ming Lin was born in Taiwan, where academics were stressed and athletics ignored. He caught an occasional glimpse of basketball and, for reasons he can't explain, was immediately smitten with the game.
He dreamed of coming to the United States for two reasons: to complete his Ph.D. and "to watch the NBA."
That happened in 1977 when Gie-Ming enrolled at Purdue University for his doctorate in computer engineering. He flipped on the television, and there it was: the NBA in all its late-1970s glory. Kareem, Moses and Dr. J, with Jordan, Bird and Magic waiting in the wings.
"My dad," Jeremy said, "is a complete basketball junkie."
Gie-Ming's first job took him to Los Angeles, where the grueling demands and long hours had him searching for some sort of athletic release.
"I thought it would be great to play basketball," Gie-Ming said.
Only problem? He didn't have the slightest idea how. He had never picked up a ball in his life.
So he turned his attention back to those gripping NBA games. Armed with videotapes of his favorite players, Gie-Ming studied the game with the same fervor he studied for his Ph.D.
"I would just imitate them over and over; I got my hook shot from Kareem," Gie-Ming said, laughing.
It took him years to feel comfortable enough to play in a pickup game, and as he bided his time he decided then -- long before he even had children -- that his own kids would grow up knowing the game from an early age.
When first-born Joshua turned 5, Gie-Ming carted him to the local Y to begin teaching him those valuable skills stored on his videotapes.
Jeremy followed, and then youngest brother Joseph joined in what became a three-nights-a-week routine. The boys would finish their homework and around 8:30 head to the Y with their father for 90 minutes of drills or mini-games.
Forget that all of the players on those videos had long since retired, that the guy with Kareem's hook shot wouldn't hit Abdul-Jabbar's armpit. Gie-Ming recognized what so many other youth coaches have forgotten over time: The foundation for success is the basics.
"I realized if I brought them from a young age it would be like second nature for them," Gie-Ming said. "If they had the fundamentals, the rest would be easy."
His passion soon became their passion, and as the boys grew up, those 90-minute sessions would turn into wee-hour wars, with the boys scrounging for whatever gym they could find to play.
Joshua would star at Henry M. Gunn High School. Jeremy would enroll at rival Palo Alto High, where Joseph is now a senior.
Jeremy was special. He had his father's passion, his own inner motivation and a frame that would sprout to 6-foot-3. A good enough scorer to play 2-guard, Jeremy also was a savvy enough playmaker -- thanks to his dad and Magic -- to play the point. He's a solid outside shooter, but his dad, Julius and Kareem conspired to give him a reliable game around the rim.
In other words, he was otherworldly, a kid so talented that his freshman coach stood up at the team banquet and declared, "Jeremy has a better skill set than anyone I've ever seen at his age."
Named to the varsity as a freshman, Jeremy would earn honors as sophomore of the year and two-time most valuable player in his league.
Immersed in the game as he was, Jeremy never thought he was anything but a normal kid who liked basketball.
Until, that is, the insults came at him, the taunts to go back to China or open his eyes.
He was an Asian-American basketball player, an oddity and a curiosity in the cruel world of high school, where nothing is safer than being like everyone else.
"It was definitely a lot tougher for me growing up," he said. "There was just an overall lack of respect. People didn't think I could play."
His father offered sage advice.
"I told him people are going to say things to him, but he had to stay calm and not get excited by these words; they are only words," Gie-Ming said. "I told him to just win the game for your school and people will respect you."
Once more, Gie-Ming was right. In his senior season Jeremy averaged 15 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 5 steals, leading Palo Alto to a 32-1 record and a stunning 51-47 victory over nationally ranked Mater Dei in the CIF Division II state championship game.
Along the way, he converted some of the people who had mocked him. When Palo Alto played Mater Dei, students from both Jeremy's high school and rival Henry M. Gunn High crowded a local pizza joint to cheer for Jeremy and his team.
Converting people outside Northern California was more difficult. By his senior season, Lin was the runaway choice for player of the year by virtually every California publication. Yet he didn't receive a single Division I scholarship offer.
Lin doesn't know why, but believes his ethnicity played a part.
Asian-Americans make up just 0.4 percent of Division I basketball rosters, according to the latest NCAA numbers. That equates to 20 players out of 5,051.
Harvard offered an education with a hefty price tag. (The Ivy League offers no athletic scholarships.) But it also offered the chance to play Division I ball. So Lin went without hesitation.
Four extremely successful years into his college career, he now finds himself packaged into an uncomfortable box. Lin is at once proud and frustrated with his place as the flag-bearer for Asian-American basketball players.
The Harvard uniform, the Asian background, it all still makes Jeremy something of a novelty. What he longs for most of all is to be a basketball player.
Not an Asian-American basketball player, just a basketball player.
"Jeremy has been one of the better players in the country for a while now," said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker, who, as a Duke graduate and former head coach at both Seton Hall and Michigan, knows a thing or two about talent. "He's as consistent as anyone in the game. People who haven't seen him are wowed by what they see, but we aren't. What you see is who he is."
But stereotypes die hard and remain propagated by the ignorant. At UConn, as Jeremy stepped to the free throw line for the first time, one disgraceful student chanted, "Won-ton soup."
"I do get tired of it; I just want to play," Lin said. "But I've also come to accept it and embrace it. If I help other kids, than it's worth it."
In their 109-year history, the Crimson have never won an Ivy League title and have managed only three second-place finishes. They have had just one league player of the year -- Joe Carrabino in 1984.
The last Harvard man to suit up in the NBA? Ed Smith in 1953.
Lin could change all of that, a thought that boggles the mind of the man who fell in love with a sport so many years ago.
"All this time he was growing up, I never thought about Jeremy playing in college or professionally," Gie-Ming said. "I just enjoyed watching him play. I'm just so proud of him and so happy for him. I told him my dream already has come true."
Dana O'Neil covers college basketball for ESPN.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Far East Café Reunion – Memories and Nostalgia - Part 1 of 2
- This Story is from http://www.discovernikkei.org/en/
Michael, my brother, and I hosted the “Far East Café Reunion – Memories and Nostalgia.” Our purpose was to celebrate the life of Gim Suey Chong and the legacy of famous Far East Café with relatives and new friends. On Saturday, June 7, 2008, we gathered at the mezzanine of the Chop Suey Café in the landmark Far East Café Building for the program and lunch, the room of countless parties, in two rows of tables.
During the program, we shared memorable and nostalgic stories. We feasted on the delicious China meshi (Cantonese) dishes. We first met as mysterious strangers but left the “Far East Café Reunion” as close friends. I was simply elated by this extraordinary party in Little Tokyo.
Gim Suey Chong, my father, was a proud weekend waiter at the storied Far East Café on 347 East First Street in the Heart of Little Tokyo. Gim worked for the Jung cousins of Hoyping County from the Pearl River Delta of Kwangtung Province in China. He served the popular China meshi dishes to customers with a smile on his face from 1950 to 1974. He talked, joked, and played with his fellow waiters, busboys, and cooks. He was among his brothers in this close-knit fraternity. Gim won many arm wrestling matches during their breaks. The Far East Café and its people were a vital part of his short but vibrant life (years 1922 to 1979).
It was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning in the Southland when I arrived in Little Tokyo. I was excited as well as anxious about the Far East Café reunion. I retraced the footsteps of Gim Suey Chong along East First Street in the historic Little Tokyo district. The iconic “Far East Chop Suey” neon sign on the façade proudly proclaimed this Chop Suey eatery to the world. In front, two stone Chinese lions stood protecting the Far East Café from evil spirits. “En To Low” (Far East Building in Chinese) was etched on the front glass door since 1935. I looked at the adjacent landmark Antonin Sperl Building. Then at the old Yet Quong Low (Sun Light Building in Chinese) Chop Suey Café (aka Nikko Low), Gim Suey Chong and Moi Chung, our grandfather, lived there and worked for Quock Den Jung and Hoie Wing Jung.
Omoide No Shotokyo (Remembering Old Little Tokyo) is sidewalk public art that honors Japanese Americans, their history and neighborhood. Etched into the sidewalk concrete in front of the building was "Far East Café (1935)." A reminder of how Little Tokyo used to be. Another memory in the sidewalk were the words of Little Tokyo resident, Penny Akemi Sakoda that reads: "My memory of hotel living are vividly etched in my mind. I hear the familiar sounds of the shamisen koto, and shigin being sung, and the constant clanking of the street car." Toyo Miyatake’s camera sculpture is nearby.
My imagination wandered to the days of Gim Suey Chong at the Far East Café. It is lunchtime on Saturday. Patrons were sharing quiet conversations in the booths. Upstairs in the mezzanine, a family was joyfully celebrating a birthday of a loved one with drinks and food. The cooks were in their usual frenetic pace in the kitchen as they created their succulent dishes in the fiery woks. A strong aroma of the tasty foods waffled in the air. Gim Suey Chong and fellow waiters were smoothly serving the China meshi dishes. From the front counter, Look Mar admired the scene of the good times among his guests at the venerable Far East Café.
At 11 a.m., I walked into the old Far East Café, now known as Chop Suey Café. Dark red booths on the red concrete floor, stood ready for the patrons. Fluorescent lights hung from the ceiling to cast an ambient dark red hue over the dining room. Black formica tables with soy sauce jars and round wood chairs. The lacquer wood panels were lined with advertising posters of Chinese girls of the 1930’s hawking cigarettes and other goods. Near the entrance, you can see the glass front counter where Look Mar greeted patrons, handled transactions at the cash register, and dispensed sweets to the kids. On the wall, two photos showed Look Mar, Do Mar, Mayor Thomas Bradley, and various workers.
Michael put together a beautiful program for the party. It included: the creative “China Meshi Dreams” by Tony Osumi, the legacy of Far East Café, and the life story of Gim Suey Chong, our father. Near the reception table, Michael put up a poster of the Far East Café. It included “Valley Girl's Memories of the Far East Café” by Jennie Kuida, “A Dark Show Fell on My Chop Suey” by Naomi Hirahara, “Far East Café Groundbreaking Ceremony" by Wataru Ebihara, "The China Meshi Manifesto" by Tony Osumi, and “Far East Building – A Salute to Preservation” by Restore America.
At noon, I happily began our program. I warmly welcome our guests for this unique occasion of memories and nostalgia for the Far East Café. I gave them a brief description for today’s China meshi menu for lunch. I talked about the importance of chop suey in American cuisine. The Issei and Nissei community enjoyed the delicious China meshi dishes of that era in America.
Tony Osumi, an aficionado of the Far East Café, had written a nice poem entitled “China Meshi Dreams,” an ode to the classic China meshi dishes.
China Meshi Dreams
relaxing in a hot tub of seaweed soup
nori and egg whites swirl
pork shoulder bobbing
cover my shoulders
lowering my chin to take a sip
roasted brick red
chunks hang plump
like apples on a chashu tree
warm and ripe
there for the picking
not even my own
pungent and fresh
melting in my mouth
with hot mustard and shoyu
whipped into circles
golden as Van Gogh’s Starry Night
new research finds:
and lowers your
shrimp and lobster sauce
ladled thick on steaming rice
black bean pearls
and egg white satin
the last shrimp
reappearing after every bite
pan fried timelines
shiitake and china pea
weave and tie us
to our pioneer past
every glazed noodle
guaranteed to have
an issei on the other end
bell pepper and onion
witness the marriage
of pineapple and pork
with vinegar presiding
for seven days
and six nights
on a romantic
cradled by lettuce
spruced up with nuts
born from hard times
scraps of duck meat
heaven and earth
my father says,
as hard to describe
as the grand canyon’s
I eagerly told the story of the old Far East Café in Little Tokyo. In 1935, five Jung cousins, from Le Chung Laundry in Mason City, Iowa, opened this establishment during the heyday of Little Tokyo. Anna May Wong, the famous actress, attended their grand opening. Far East Café was a popular gathering place for good Chinese food. Countless parties were held in the mezzanine. Issei and Nisei enjoyed the China meshi dishes among families and friends. They have strong sentiments for the Far East Café.
George Wakiji vividly described the fine dining of the old Far East Café:
In my younger days (pre-World War II) when I lived in Pasadena, California, it was always a treat to go to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles to eat China meshi, the popular Cantonese cuisine, at the Far East Café. I can still vividly recall the dark cherry wood panels, which covered the walls and booths. Sometimes when we had a family gathering on Sunday, I recall eating in a secluded mezzanine section in the back of the restaurant. Hanhichi Wakiji, my father, held court there. We never failed to order the same dishes each time. There was always pak kai (sweet and sour pork), pea chow yuk (Chinese pea and pork), chow mein (with chicken and pan-fried noodles), and wor shu op (almond duck). My favorite was cha shu (roast pork). In the ensuing years, I have eaten in many Chinese restaurants around the world, but have never found cha shu that matched the Far East Café version.
James Hajime Wakiji, my older brother, always had to have an order of hom yuk (pork hash with salted fish). After our return from incarceration from the Gila River Relocation Camp in the Arizona desert during World War II, I with my good friends played in the post-World War II Nisei Athletic Union (NAU) softball and basketball leagues in the greater Los Angeles area. After the games on Friday evenings, we invariably stopped in Little Tokyo and headed for the Far East Café. We gorged ourselves on the best Cantonese cuisine. In those days, they served the steamed rice in large rice bowls, which were mounded high. I remember that in addition to all the Chinese dishes I would down at least four of those bowls. Nowadays I would eat an eighth of that amount of rice. The Far East Café experience during my youth and adulthood are memories. Nevertheless, I will always remember and cherish it.
* If you want to share your stories and photos about the Far East Café, please contact Raymond Chong at 510.915.9810 (mobile) or raychong(at)prodigy.net (e-mail).
© 2008 Raymond Chong
Far East Café Reunion – Memories and Nostalgia - Part 2 of 2
As part of the Far East Café Reunion, I gladly shared with the guests the story of the colorful life of Gim Suey Chong (1922-1979), my father. He had a humble beginning in Yung Lew Gong Village in Hoyping County of China. At nine years old, he took an epic sojourn from the Port of Hong Kong to the Port of Vancouver, across continental Canada aboard the Canadian Pacific Railway, to arrive at the Port of Boston in 26 days. He lived at his father’s Imperial Restaurant in Central Square in Cambridge.
Gim Suey Chong lived with his father, Moi Chung, at Yet Quong Low Chop Suey Café (aka Nikko Low) from 1936 to 1941. He graduated from Belmont High School as a member of the Winter 1941 class. Gim learned aviation mechanic trade from Curtiss Wright Technical Institute of Glendale.
During World War II he maintained the world famous “China Clipper” and other seaplanes for Pan American Airways on Treasure Island in San Francisco. During the post World War II years, he was partner, as well as waiter, at the renown Kubla Khan Theater Restaurant in San Francisco Chinatown with the colorful Eddie Pond.
In 1950, he returned to Los Angeles to stay at an apartment above popular Little Joe's Italian American Restaurant in Los Angeles' Chinatown. He worked for Lockheed California Company in Burbank as inspector from 1950 to 1979. During weekends, he worked as a waiter at Far East Café for his Hoyping cousins. He married Seen Hoy Tong of Santa Barbara. They raised two sons, Raymond and Michael. He died early in 1979.
At the reunion, Henry Fong, son of Lung Fong, talked about the Nikko Low Chinese Restaurant. Dr. Roger Pating briefly spoke about the Kubla Khan. William Tom proudly described his young days as a waiter at the Far East Café. He also related about his experience as an Olympic gymnast during 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Andrew Chong remarked that Far East Café was a fun workplace for everyone. He proudly worked as a busboy for $5.00 plus $0.50. He remembered Jimmy as a fun guy to be around with in the dining room.
But we couldn't talk about the Far East Café without tasting the food. Ming Chong, the headwaiter, from Vietnam and his assistant served the China meshi efficiently. In quick order, we feasted on tofu seaweed soup, cha shu, bok choy, sweet and sour pork, chop suey, hom you, and pressed almond duck. Soy sauce and hot yellow mustard were passed around and everything was washed down with cups of hot tea. The atmosphere was filed with gaiety and camaraderie. We closed the lunch with delicious gelato from Piccomolo.
Our honored guests included:
Tony Osumi and Jenni Kuida and Maiya, their daughter.
George and Betty Wakiji
Henry Fong, son of Lung Fong, principal owner of Nikko Low Chop Suey Cafe, and Jane, his wife.
Dr. Roger Pating, son of Eddie Pond, principal owner of Kubla Khan Theater Restaurant, and Isabelle, wife.
Dr. Andrew Chong
Archie Miyatake, son of Toyo Miyatake, the famous Mazanar incarceration camp photographer, with Taketo, his wife
Bill Watanabe, Executive Director of Little Tokyo Service Center,
From Little Tokyo Historical Society, Kiku Harada, Bill Shishima, Carole Fujita, Nancy Uyemura, Joseph Janenti, Sumi Tsuno, Hector Watanabe, Yuko Aoyama Gabe, Megumi Sumita, Frances Nakamura
Bobby Okinaka and Yoko Nishimura of Discover Nikkei
Gwen Muranaka, English Editor for Rafu Shimpo, later wrote “Far East Memories” article.
Susie Ling from Chinese Historical Society of Southern California made a brief visit.
Bill Watanabe, Executive Director of Little Tokyo Service Center, strongly felt that the Far East Café had a major impact on the Issei and Nisei community. After the end of World War II, they returned from the internment camps in despair. He wrote:
Return of Japanese Americans after World War II to Little Tokyo
When World War II broke out, all of the Japanese along the west coast of the United States were forcibly removed and incarcerated in camps in the interior portions of the country. Thus, from 1942 - 1945, Little Tokyo was devoid of any Japanese or Japanese American presence, and the area was occupied by others who came to Los Angeles from the south and midwest and were in need of housing.
After World War II ended in 1945, many Japanese Americans sought to return to southern California but they found there were few places for them to live. A number of families were housed temporarily at the Koyasan Temple on First Street in Little Tokyo - including members of my own family (Bill Watanabe's family). According to some folks who recall those days, after spending years in the camps and losing most if not all of their possessions, they had little spending money. They would go to the Far East Café across the street from the Koyasan Temple and the Chinese owners of the restaurant, who were familiar with many of these returnees, allowed them to eat "on credit," asking to be paid when they were able to do so. It could truthfully be said that this kind of goodwill helped to make the Far East Café, along with its famous cheap and tasty menu, the most popular and well-known restaurant in the entire Japanese American community.
Gary Miyatake, son of Archie Miytakte, reflected on the importance of Far East Café in Little Tokyo. His poignant remarks were:
Being that my family had a business in Little Tokyo, my views are a little different. My best friend was a member of the owners. They were the Mars (Jungs). Do Mar was my best friend. With that, I met Andrew Chong who remains a very good friend.
Far East Café was a favorite among the many people who visited Little Tokyo. Many people felt comfortable in places like the Far East Café. It is very important to have places like that. There is a lack of that now days.
After lunch, we interviewed folks near the Far Bar. Bill Watanabe, Bill Shishima, Carole Fujita, George Wakiji, William Tom, Lena Ho and Ming Chong sat down with our video crew. Later in the evening at the Monterey Palace Restaurant, we interviewed five people including: Steve Situ, Pauline Chin, Gary Miyatake, Dr. Andrew Chong, and Raymond Chong. They repeated a common theme about the hard times in Little Tokyo and happy times at the Far East Café. It was a bright spot in their harsh and bleak lives during the Great Depression and after World War II.
Before the program, I gave the records of War Relocation Authority of Hanhichi and Taneo Wakiji, parents of George Wakiji. Henry Fong kindly loaned me photos of the Lung Fong, father, in front of Yet Quong Low Chop Suey Café. I gave Chinese immigration photos of Lung Fong, Hanako Nishi Fong, and Von Chung Fong (aka Henry Chong) to Henry Fong. I was able to distribute some more historical photos to other guests as well.
I was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response to our “Far East Café Reunion – Memories and Nostalgia.” I was ecstatic for this special occasion. This party was a surrealistic experience for me to be among patrons and workers of the Far East Café. People were happy to relive the good old days at Far East Café, either as patron or worker. Our program enlivened their precious memories. Their level for nostalgia runs deep in their hearts.
My mind is warmed by thoughts of this chop suey eatery for Gim Suey Chong, my father. Today, after my return to Texas, I cherish and value my new memories and nostalgia of the Far East Café and its people. The Far East Café was a unique place in the heart of Little Tokyo.
Many thanks for their help to:
Clinton Crosby of Lazy Mule Productions for videotaping our program and interviews.
Kevin Chin for conducting the interviews.
Lloyd Ho for shooting photos at our program.
* If you want to share your stories and photos about the Far East Café, please contact Raymond Chong at 510.915.9810 (mobile) or email@example.com (e-mail).
© 2008 Raymond Chong