|Posted by John Jung on January 20, 2017 at 2:05 PM||comments (0)|
When we left Macon, Georgia where I was born to move to San Francisco in 1952, we packed up all our few possessions worth bringing, mostly clothing, family photos and small household items that we could ship on the train as part of our baggage allotment (I think 150 lb. per passenger).
We left behind our two "devices" for home entertainment, a small Philco radio that let us listen to comedy and drama programs as well as play by play broadcasts of football games and a hand cranked phonograph similar to the one pictured below. We had only about ten 78-rpm records, none of them purchased by my parents but were left by the previous occupant of our living space.
One recording that I enjoyed a lot even though I didn't really know what it meant had an amusing (to me at the time) refrain that I misremembered as, "Henry, who's that knocking on the hen house door." Decades later, in a fit of nostalgic search for childhood memories, I searched online music lyric databases in vain to try to find that song.
Then, lo and behold, the other day as I was decluttering my possessions, I discovered a folder that held four of these 78-rpm records that for reasons I can't imagine, we had brought along with us from Macon to San Francisco over 50 years ago. And, it brought tears to my eyes when I found the 1926 recording of "Knocking on the Hen House Door"....there was no Henry in the song after all. Moreover as the image of the record below shows, the banjo performer and composer was identified as Doc Walsh....someone I had no information about but google informed me that he was a well regarded country music performer of the 1920s.
Knocking On the Hen House Door
And, miracle of miracles, YouTube actually had a recording of Knocking on the Hen House Door, but I warn you that in the 1920s, the term, nigger, was commonplace in referring to black people.
In the refrain of the song, the singer repeatedly asks the !*# "nigger" to stop knocking on the hen house door.
Our One Chinese Record
We did have one Chinese record that my brother George and I played incessantly. It has a martial air, and we marched around the room as it blared forth. Learned later it was composed in the 1930s as a tribute to the Chinese resistance against the Japanese in the 1930s before WW II. Known as the March of the Volunteers, it was later adopted as the National Anthem of the People's Republic of China.
|Posted by John Jung on August 10, 2016 at 4:15 PM||comments (0)|
Unable to read, write, or speak English well even after living in the U. S. for over 25 years (mostly in Macon, Georgia), a few years after moving to San Francisco mother decided to learn how to read and write English so she could apply for citizenship.
It was not easy, but she was determined and spent countless hours doing homework late in the evening after her Chinatown class. Most of the words and phrases they learned for becoming a citizen were not especially interesting or relevant as illustrated below.
When she took the citizenship test, she had to indicate she would be willing to bear arms for the U. S. or was ever a member of the Communist party.
That was bad enough but she also had to deny ever being a prostitute or had ever been a narcotic addict.
Mother voted in the national election after she became a naturalized citizen in 1964. However, once she was on the voting rolls, she received a notice summoning her for jury duty, something that was too intimidating for her, she never voted again.
Somehow, one day in 1972 she got to meet the Mayor of San Francisco, Joseph Alioto, in a photo op, which was surprising as she was not much of a political person
|Posted by John Jung on August 27, 2014 at 1:00 PM||comments (0)|
Last year, I had the unexpected pleasure of being interviewed by Grammy-nominated jazz singer, Neena Freelon, and documentarian, Lana Garland who are producing a multi-media theatrical tribute, The Clothesline Muse, to the black washerwomen of yesterday who earned meagre incomes to help support their families by washing clothes for whites. Freelon and Garland contacted me to learn the history of Chinese laundries, which they recognized as an imporant aspect of the societal context in which the black washerwomen toiled.
|Posted by John Jung on March 19, 2014 at 8:45 PM||comments (0)|
by D. G. Martin about my writing of Southern Fried Rice.
Southern Fried Rice.
|Posted by John Jung on October 10, 2013 at 12:25 AM||comments (0)|
D.G. Martin interview of John Jung on WCHL-FM
|Posted by John Jung on June 10, 2013 at 2:25 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted by John Jung on October 3, 2012 at 6:05 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted by John Jung on October 1, 2012 at 12:20 AM||comments (0)|
Our parents had a small collection of 78 rpm phonograph records (the only kind in the 1940s before the new obsolete 33 and 45 rpm formats existed). We had to crank the handle of the nonelectric phonograph to get the turntable to spin, I never saw my parents play any of the records, which may be because they had no time or also because they had records of songs such as "For Me and My Gal," Begin the Beguine," and "The Vamp." They did have ONE Chinese record, and as kids, George and I loved to play that record frequently even though we could not understand the Chinese lyrics. I later learned the music on it was China's National Anthem, known as the "March of the Volunteers." It had a military drum roll, a brief incantation (in Chinese) which I assumed was some sort of call to arms, followed by marching music, which encouraged us to march around the room several times until the record ended. The version on YouTube is not the same one that we had, but is close enough and it also gives the lyrics which I never knew.
March of the Volunteers ( traditional Chinese: 義勇軍進行曲; pinyin: Yìyǒngjūn Jìnxíngqǔ, the national anthem of the People's Republic of China was written by the noted poet and playwright Tian Han with music composed by Nie Er. The piece was first performed as part of a 1934 Shanghai play and its original lyrics are the official lyrics of the national anthem. In 2004, a provision that the March of the Volunteers be the national anthem was added to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China as Article 136.
|Posted by John Jung on August 23, 2012 at 2:55 PM||comments (0)|
I am always delighted to hear from any reader of my book to learn about their reactions. It was especially rewarding to receive one this week from a Chinese in a family that moved from the San Francisco bay area to northern Virginia when she was 9 years old.
I just finished reading your book, Southern Fried Rice. Although my grandparents did not own a laundry, ...I can relate very well to the sense of isolation you experienced in your formative years because my family made the reverse migration from the S.F. Bay area to Virginia, which at that time, was very Southern in outlook and culture. Suddenly, we lost all social connections with the American Born Chinese community, and I experienced very painful racial prejudice and did not grow to adulthood unscathed. ...
Thank you for sharing your story. It made me feel a sense of connection which is lacking in my day-to-day existance and sense of identity. I've spent the better part of my life, denying my Chinese heritage, trying to "prove my Americaness."
There was an additional fascinating revelation. The reader came to the section where I described my sister getting married in San Francisco and when she saw her married name she suddenly realized that her mother and my sister knew each other from working together many years ago to develop Chinese cultural activities in their community! Another of many 'small world' experiences associated with my book.
|Posted by John Jung on August 1, 2012 at 8:35 PM||comments (0)|
Since ours was the ONLY Chinese laundry in Macon when we were there, no one could accuse us of price-fixing. Even had we had wanted to, with whom could we have colluded with? Just one more disadvantage of being the only Chinese in town!