Chinatown Interview: Interviewee
Chinatown Interview: Interviewer
Chinatown Interview: Date
Chinatown Interview: Language
Chinatown Interview: Occupation
Chinatown Interview: Interview (en)
Q: We can begin. Today is January 7, 2004. My name is Teri Chan. I’m at the New Crown Inc., which is located at 57-59 Mott Street in Chinatown, New York. Please tell us your Chinese name and English name.
CHIN: My Chinese name is Chin Won Kun. My English name is Jack Chin.
Q: When were you born, and where?
CHIN: I was born in China, in 1939.
Q: Where in China?
CHIN: In Guangdong, Taishan.
Q: Is Taishan a city or a village?
CHIN: It’s a city. The village is Tai Chun.
Q: Were you born in the city or in the countryside?
CHIN: In the countryside.
Q: When did you come to America?
Q: At that time, about how old were you?
CHIN: 12 years old.
Q: How did you come to America?
CHIN: Well, it’s like this, my father applied for us to go to America and then go to Canada.
Q: You came to America first. Where in America?
CHIN: The first place I came to in America was San Francisco.
Q: How long did you live in San Francisco?
CHIN: I just went through immigration there.
Q: And then where did you go in Canada?
CHIN: Then we went to Cornwall, Ontario. And then we went to Montreal, and at that time I was in high school.
Q: Did you come over as a family, or by yourself?
CHIN: When I came, it was with my mother and my cousin.
Q: With your mother and your cousin?
CHIN: No, my mother came over later.
Q: It was you and your—
Q: Cousin. Why was it just you and your cousin? How was your cousin able to come with you?
CHIN: At that time, my mother was still in the countryside, in Guangzhou. I could already go through Hong Kong. I had already come over, but my mother was in Mainland China and at that time, she still hadn’t been approved (for immigration).
Q: Why did you first go to Hong Kong even though your mother hadn’t gone there yet?
CHIN: At that time, we had to have our application approved in order to go to Hong Kong. I had already gone to Hong Kong, but she wasn’t approved to emigrate.
Q: At that time was it legal to apply to emigrate?
CHIN: Yes. But it was harder to get approved in China at that time.
Q: Back in the countryside, did you have brothers or sisters?
CHIN: My older brother went to Canada a little earlier. He went to Canada one or two years before me.
Q: And you didn’t apply together?
CHIN: Yes, we applied together. But the problem was that at that time my brother was in Hong Kong and I was in Guangzhou.
Q: What did your father do in Canada?
CHIN: My father ran a restaurant and a grocery store in Canada.
Q: When did he go to Canada?
CHIN: He’d been there a long time. He must have gone there before I had been born. At that time he had gone over there as a student to study abroad.
Q: At that time, did he feel that studying abroad was a very common thing, or was it pretty difficult?
CHIN: I don’t know about that. I know that he arranged to go to Canada as an overseas student, that’s what I heard them say then.
Q: Then how about you, what were your feelings when you first arrived in Canada? How did you feel?
CHIN: At that time I was still young. I played, I had a good time.
Q: Had you gone to Canada to learn English?
CHIN: Yes, I learned English in Canada.
Q: How long did you stayed in Canada?
CHIN: About ten years.
Q: And then where did you move to next?
CHIN: To New York.
Q: Why did you move to New York?
CHIN: Because my wife’s brothers and sisters were all there. At that time, it was easier to find jobs here. So we came here.
Q: Where did you meet your wife?
CHIN: In Hong Kong.
Q: So after you came to Canada, you went back to Hong Kong and met your wife?
CHIN: Yes. We were distance relatives, and somebody introduced us.
Q: Can I ask, at that time, how old were you?
CHIN: I was about 21 or 22 back then.
Q: At that time, was it considered to be a young age to get married?
CHIN: Kind of.
Q: So what were your feelings back then?
CHIN: At that time, our generation obeyed our parents’ wishes. We listened to our parents to start a family. So it was relatively early.
Q: It was your father and mother that told you to go back to Hong Kong and meet this girl.
Q: So what differences do you feel existed between your life in Canada and your life in New York?
CHIN: I believe that funding for social programs is better in Canada than here. But if we’re talking about working or doing business, then it’s better here, there are more opportunities.
Q: Why are there more opportunities here?
CHIN: The population here, there’s more people here. A wealthier city is going to be busier than other places.
Q: When you came to New York, where did you live? Was it in Chinatown?
CHIN: When I first came, I lived in Brooklyn. At 18th Avenue and 52nd Street.
Q: At that time, when you lived there, were there any Chinese people?
CHIN: Yes, there were a few Chinese people.
Q: Why did you live there?
CHIN: Because at that time, when we came – my wife’s sister’s classmate had bought a place there, so we went there to live.
Q: What was your first job?
CHIN: It was right here as a waiter.
Q: At which place? At which restaurant?
CHIN: At the Four Seasons, Blues Hall, at the intersection of 57th Street and Park Avenue.
Q: Why did you go there to work? Was your English already very good back then?
CHIN: What should I say - it wasn’t good, but I could make do.
Q: At that time, was it an American restaurant?
CHIN: It was a Chinese restaurant, a restaurant that was owned by a Chinese and an American.
Q: What year was that?
CHIN: That was around 1970.
Q: As far as working around the Midtown area goes, how did you feel about the opportunities there?
CHIN: At that time, I worked five days a week. On my day off, I went back to Chinatown, to the Louis Zhong’s Bar, and would be there for the day. It was a part time job.
Q: What was the name?
CHIN: Louis Zhong.
Q: Louis Zhong?
Q: Where was it?
CHIN: Now it’s at a corner by China Bank [China Trust Bank].
Q: On what street?
CHIN: At the corner of Mulberry and Canal. The second place down.
Q: At that time, how was your work situation in Midtown?
CHIN: It was pretty strict. We started work pretty much around 5pm. For example, at five o’clock the restaurant started up and we had to be on standby, we had to be at our positions in the waiters’ stations.
Q: You only worked afternoons?
CHIN: No. We had morning shift and we also worked dinners.
Q: How did they treat you?
CHIN: Average. Just average. A little better than they do in Chinatown.
Q: In what way was it a little better?
CHIN: At that time, our clients were a little higher class. We were paid by the hour.. They counted each hour of work. So it was a few dollars per hour. They counted you by the hours you worked. Not like Chinatown here where they do it different, they pay monthly. We did it by the hour.
Q: Did you get to keep your tips?
CHIN: Yes, we got to keep the tips.
Q: At that time, how were your tips distributed?
CHIN: Whatever the customers gave us belonged to us. Whatever they gave to the captain belonged to the captain. Whatever they gave to the coat check people belonged to them. It was separate for everyone.
Q: Is it still the same now?
CHIN: I don’t think that restaurant is still in business.
Q: How long did you work there?
CHIN: I worked there for about nine years.
Q: Did you ever have any special experiences, strange, unusual or happy incidents, having worked there that long?
CHIN: You know, at that time, there were some – we were managed by those mangers. As waiters, sometimes when you were lucky, you had some customers who were really good people. And sometimes they weren’t so good. As far as we were concerned, it averaged out. At that time, we made 700, 800 dollars a month.
Q: Was that considered a high salary back then?
CHIN: That’s how I got by.
Q: How was it different from your work at the bar?
CHIN: As far as the bar goes, whenever I was off, I just went to the bar in Chinatown and worked as a waiter. Sometimes when the owner took a break or went on vacation, he would have me help him look the place over, and sometimes—
Q: The bar also served food?
CHIN: It was a restaurant. It started as a restaurant. But most of the people who went there drink alcohol.
Q: What kind of people went there to drink?
CHIN: Chinese people and Italians.
Q: At that time, what was Canal Street like?
CHIN: At that time, Canal Street wasn’t as busy as now.
Q: What kind of people were they, and what kind of businesses did they have, back then?
CHIN: At that time, half of them were Italians, and then there were Chinese. Some [inaudible] that’s all I know.
Q: What were most Chinese people doing for a living back then?
CHIN: Back then, Chinese people worked in restaurants, or dry clean, and lots of garment factories. Before, Chinatown had seven—according to what some people said, back then, Chinatown had more than seven hundred garment shops. Now, I think there are a hundred, or maybe seventy or eighty. That’s what I heard people say, I don’t personally know. I don’t work in that industry.
Q: How did you change careers and work in this company?
CHIN: At that time, we had a friend, back when we started at downstairs of the C.H. Oak Tin Association, our friend had been working in a restaurant. And then he started working at a bank. And I heard people saying that they were going to do something – that they were going to start up at Bayard Street, in 1979. So I didn’t do the restaurant anymore. I started working at Bayard Street.
Q: That time, it was the same store, but it was on Bayard Street?
CHIN: Around nineteen eighty—or it must be in 1990, we moved over here.
Q: At that time what did you sell?
CHIN: At first we just sold those ceramics. We sold those magazines and newspapers.
Q: But the main thing was selling ceramics –
CHIN: No, at that time, we sold a lot of newspapers there. At that time, there weren’t so many newspaper stands along that street. Back then, on Grand Street (?), we sold a lot of newspapers. In one day, we could at least sell eight or nine hundred copies. How much money was each copy worth? It was a newspaper market.
Q: At that time, how many different newspapers did you sell? Do you remember?
CHIN: At that time, there was Sing Tao, United, North America and News Daily, these ones…
Q: So in all, there were four newspapers—
CHIN: And China Press [Qiao Bao]. Back then, there was also China Press.
Q: What was the address on Bayard Street?
CHIN: Number 62-64.
Q: Was it the same name?
CHIN: Before it was Crown, Inc. After the move, it became New Crown, Inc.
Q: At that time, it wasn’t your own – your friend invited you—
CHIN: It’s mine, it’s my own. It’s just that they went to the restaurant business and then banking. I took it over.
Q: You bought it ?
CHIN: Yeah, we took it over.
Q: What made you decide to take it over? You had never done this sort of business before?
CHIN: It’s like this. At that time, I had worked as a waiter for roughly nine years. To do something like this, to come out and make this sort of change – back then, a lot of people, they all came to me and talked with me and helped me out. It was enough to support the family. So what happened was, a lot of people came up to me and told me to and tried it, it would be alright.
Q: Was it difficult in the beginning? Did you make money?
CHIN: It was very difficult at first because I hadn’t done this sort of business before. So that was why my business wasn’t so ideal then. Slowly, over time, I built it up.
Q: Did it take a long time?
CHIN: After seven or eight months, I got used to it. I had a hard time for about seven or eight months. Back then, my uncle and friends, they’d often come over to support me and help me.
Q: How did they support you? Did they buy your things? How did they help you?
CHIN: Some people said to me that if I needed some money, they could invest some money with me. I took their advice, but I didn’t take the money. Sometimes, there were some—
Q: I know that the main customers for the newspapers are Chinese. But who are the main customers for the ceramics?
CHIN: Back then, it was mostly Chinese people. Gradually, Westerners began seeking us out too.
Q: Back then, did many visitors come to Chinatown? Were there many Western tourists?
CHIN: At that time, when I was on Bayard Street, it flourished at night. So we stayed open until midnight. Back then, Bayard Street was a lot more lively than Mott Street. For a while, back when we were running the business, along pretty much the whole street, there were lots of restaurants open through the night. Lots of restaurants stayed open until five o’clock.
Q: When did all that start to change – when did Bayard Street stop being so busy?
CHIN: Not long after we moved over here, Bayard Street wasn’t as busy at night time.
Q: Why did you move to this location?
CHIN: Because back then there were two [people], one relative, one friend, they always helped me, they helped me to succeed. They helped me voluntarily at the company. So I asked them, if you’re interested, I’ll move to this place and we’ll run it together. I put out the basic goods. They agreed to it. That’s how we got a place here and started running it.
Q: How did you find this space for your business?
CHIN: A friend introduced me to it.
Q: I’d like to ask, back then how much was the rent for this location?
CHIN: The rent for this space was over three thousand dollars back then.
Q: Did you have a lease, or did you just have a verbal agreement about the rent?
CHIN: We began at number 59. Over here, the landlord is friendlier. We get along pretty good – our landlord is pretty good now.
Q: These two shops are together, right?
CHIN: Yes. We were at number 59 before. This one is number 57.
Q: After you moved over here, what was the main thing you sold? Did you sell the same things, or you were selling different things?
CHIN: It was pretty much the same things.
Q: But I see a lot of furniture, when did you start selling other things?
CHIN: I moved over here in ninety-something, ’92, ’93, and I started selling furniture. So I must have started doing that back in ’92.
Q: Have you seen any changes in Chinatown since you moved here? During these dozen or so years, how has it changed?
CHIN: After moving over here, I think it’s thriving a little more than it used to. At that time, [my business] was easier to run.
Q: How was it easier?
Q: How come it was easier back in the past?
CHIN: Competition. Back then, there wasn’t so much competition. I guess that’s it, I don’t know. It was just easier back then.
Q: How about the last few years? How has business been?
CHIN: These last few years, well, it’s pretty average.
Q: Could you please tell us about how 9/11 has impacted your business? Has it had any influence, and if so, what kind?
CHIN: Ever since 9/11, it’s influenced [inaudible] things—
Q: I can’t understand you.
CHIN: The impact has been really extreme – we’ve fallen off a bit.
Q: And what’s the reason for that?
Q: Why is it that your business has suffered so much?
CHIN: There are fewer tourists.
Q: Let me ask you from the beginning. Where were you when 9/11 occurred?
CHIN: At home.
Q: And where was that?
CHIN: I was at my Chinatown apartment.
Q: How long have you lived in Chinatown?
CHIN: I’ve lived in Chinatown for 15 years.
Q: How did you know what had happened?
CHIN: My son called and told me, something big had happened in New York, at the World Trade Center. He told me to turn on the TV immediately. At that time, the first airplane had turned right into it, and we thought it was an accident. But I turned on the TV, and when I turned it on, I saw the second airplane flew into it. They had done it intentionally. And at that time I saw all that.
Q: Did you come out and watch?
CHIN: At that time, I came out right here. But at that time, we didn’t open the doors. But everyone was walking right here. They were from Wall Street, walking through here. Lots of them. Those people, their hair, their clothes, there was so much dust. Seeing it at that time was even more terrifying.
Q: Did you think that you should also go away?
CHIN: At that time, how should I put it, my son and daughter were here. With that in mind - where could we go? I mean, we would just see what would happen.
Q: Where were your son and daughter?
CHIN: My daughter was in New Jersey. My son was in Los Angels, in Hollywood.
Q: And your wife, where was she that day?
CHIN: We were both at the Chinatown apartment.
Q: Can you talk about how 9/11 impacted your business?
CHIN: It had a huge influence.
CHIN: Because there were fewer tourists. People didn’t dare to come to New York. I asked a lot of friends, relatives, they said that they were worried about coming to New York. Therefore less visitors.
Q: Then, at that time, your main customers were Chinese or Westerners?
CHIN: To be honest, for those of us who work here in Chinatown, the important thing is to have lots of tourists. Lots of New Yorkers are our customers too. But we mainly sell souvenirs to tourists.
Q: Did you apply for any economic assistance money?
Q: How did you know that there was money for economic assistance?
CHIN: Next door there were some restaurants, some friends, and all of them, they insisted we had the right to go and get it. So we went to apply and got it.
Q: Where did you go to apply?
CHIN: To the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA).
Q: Do you think they helped you?
CHIN: They helped out some, they helped.
Q: Do you think that it was difficult to apply?
CHIN: It wasn’t that difficult. But it also wasn’t easy.
Q: What about it wasn’t easy? What about it wasn’t difficult?
CHIN: There were some questions, they needed to ask a bunch of questions, and there were those requirements, that stuff. And I had to find the accountant, get documentation, need to prove things. I just had to do some stuff, and there was so much to do. But speaking frankly, it was necessary. It should be like this in order to get compensation, it shouldn’t be just slipshod.
Q: But you think that other people would find it to be pretty difficult?
CHIN: If you’re legitimate, then it shouldn’t be a big deal. If you want to do something legitimately, just follow the law and do it.
Q: Do you think that the economic assistance funds were sufficient?
CHIN: This question... [Laughs] What should I say? At that time, doing business was really – considering the impact on Chinatown, it wasn’t enough. At that time, it wasn’t just my one place, but rather every single shop, they all suffered after 9/11.
Q: Besides going to the CCBA to apply, did you also apply anywhere else?
CHIN: No. As far as that, they told our company, there was someone at the CCBA, he went to Church Street to get it. That’s the place. Can get some economic assistance, three days of economic assistance would be a few thousand dollars. That’s not enough to compensate for such a long period of business.
Q: How long was your business weakened?
CHIN: It was impacted for a rather long time.
Q: So about half a year? One year? Three months?
CHIN: It still hasn’t stopped. It still isn’t very ideal.
CHIN: To speak frankly, it’s only been the last few weeks, I’m talking about after 9/11 – maybe it’s the good weather – but these two or three weeks, business has been very good, not bad. I hope that things continue this way. [Laughs]
Q: So how was business before 9/11?
Q: So what was Chinatown like before 9/11? How was your business? What was Chinatown like?
CHIN: There wasn’t so much pressure, it was more relaxed. You could easily keep everything stable.
Q: Since your business has been bad since 9/11, have you thought any way to improve it? How to fix this situation?
CHIN: You have to ask yourself, you have to think about what to do.
Q: So do you have any new plan?
Q: Have you thought of any new way to handle the situation? Could you speak a little bit, to educate others, how best to get through this situation?
CHIN: You just rely on yourself now, how to solve your own difficulties.
Q: Have you asked friends to help?
Q: Can you speak about some of the problems resulting from 9/11?
CHIN: There were problems, yes—
CHIN: I hope the community could help out Chinatown, improve Chinatown. The CCBA should do something for the businesses, the neighbors, the government, do some things – I think that the CCBA hasn’t done enough for the businesses. Just look at Little Italy, it’s so small, and yet they’ve done so much to make it prosperous, they’ve done such a good job. Our CCBA, I’ll put it like this, they don’t do as much, and they don’t learn from others how to do things. I wish that whoever it is, acting as chairman of the CCBA, the CCBA should go study the excellent things others are doing, and they should improve themselves. The CCBA should unite and lead. Whatever’s the best way to lead, they should work together to improve Chinatown.
Q: Other than the CCBA, is there any other community group that you wish would help out?
CHIN: Of course I wish they would!
Q: Is there any specific community group you wish would take action?
CHIN: Whichever community group is fine with me, if they can serve us in Chinatown, the businesses, help us Chinese-Americans.
Q: So do you think—
CHIN: It really doesn’t matter which community group, whichever one.
Q: Do you think that’s because the city government doesn’t place enough importance on Chinatown?
CHIN: I feel a little bit that way, a little.
Q: What do you think that Chinatown can do to make the city and state governments care about it more?
CHIN: That all depends on those leaders, those Chinese-Americans, those thinkers, those in the political world, they’ve got to communicate, tell them to come help Chinatown to develop and so forth, and learn how to do these things. Look at Little Italy, and you see them so prosperous, doing so well. Such a small area, and yet they’ve done so well. Chinatown is such a large area, yet we haven’t learned how to do it.
Q: Then have you ever thought of stepping forward, helping out, acting as a spokesperson for Chinatown? Acting as a leader?
CHIN: No, I don’t have that kind of talent.
Q: Then what kind of individual do you think can be a leader for Chinatown?
CHIN: We should look for those individuals whose education and political backgrounds enable them to communicate, those who are fluent in English. We don’t use Chinese language outside, we need to speak both Chinese and English. If you have someone who only speaks Chinese as our leader, his English isn’t going to be good enough. It will take time to translate and interact, and that’s more difficult.
Q: Have you encouraged your children to return to Chinatown and act as this sort of leader?
Q: Why not?
CHIN: I haven’t. They were born here. They have their own way of thinking, different from our way of thinking.
Q: Have you taken part in any of Chinatown’s activities, community organizations?
CHIN: Yes, we’re involved. We’re a part of this area, because we’re doing business here. Sometimes they call on me to manage their financial affairs, that sort of thing.
Q: Who do you manage for?
CHIN: I help associations, like the C.H. Oak Tin Association, On Tin Club, and Shiu Kai Fong, to manage their finances.
Q: How do you help them manage their finances? How much time do you spend doing it?
CHIN: Not much. Sometimes I help them manage their finances, doing things in Chinatown. Sometimes, if I can help the public, then I help. I help out, that’s what I do. I use a little of my time.
Q: How do you help them? You help them to collect [membership] fee? Or do you help them write check?
CHIN: Sometimes I help them by signing checks. Sometimes I help them to deposit money into their checking accounts.
Q: How did you start helping them, volunteering to do these things?
CHIN: I volunteer to do it.
Q: How did you start?
CHIN: It was a long time ago, when I was working Chinatown, back in nineteen eighty-something, starting in ’82, ’83, doing stuff for them.
Q: Have they ever helped you out in return?
Q: Have they ever turned around and helped you?
CHIN: The associations belong to everybody. If you’re part of the group, then you want the group to do well.
Q: How did you became a member of these associations?
CHIN: It was those older men that called on me to join. Back then, when I came back to run the business in Chinatown, I started helping out in the associations. It was like that.
Q: You joined the associations because the businesspeople were there? Or because you’re originally from the same place [in China]?
CHIN: At that time, I joined the associations because I was doing business in Chinatown everyone knew each other, everyone was pretty much in contact with each other, everyone—
Q: So all the members were people doing business in Chinatown?
CHIN: Some of them weren’t. Some of them were. It wasn’t all.
Q: I hear at that time, the associations was very powerful. Is that true?
CHIN: At that time, one of the associations was very powerful, it was the Chinese Merchant’s Association. And there was the Hip Sing Association, its powerful was greater.
Q: How were they powerful? Why were they so powerful?
CHIN: Because they protected their members. That was the way that, sometimes—
Q: How did they protect their members?
Q: How did they protect their members?
CHIN: I’m not really clear on that. I know that whenever they had problems, they would help their members. They wouldn’t oppress [take advantage of] people. They would handle things fairly. They would just be fair, right or wrong, they would do it like that.
Q: How about you, have you ever been taken advantage by anybody while doing business in Chinatown?
CHIN: In Chinatown, we haven’t really been taken advantage by anyone. If you do business in Chinatown, you would have some protection by joining these associations. At least, everyone works together to solve problems.
Q: How are you protected?
Q: How are you protected?
CHIN: If there’s some crisis, then everybody talks about how to solve it.
Q: I’ve heard that at that time, toughs would come over to get “lucky envelopes” [money], was that true?
CHIN: That was true. During Chinese New Years, they would delivery a plate of lucky fruits, then one person [tough] would take a hundred and some dollars, several hundred dollars, like that. Some of them paid protection money, every month they have to pay protection money, the restaurants. That’s what I hear anyway. I don’t know if it was true or not.
Q: You didn’t have to pay?
CHIN: I’ve never given any [protection money]. But during New Year, or the fifteenth of August [Moon Festival], they would bring some mooncakes and I’d give a hundred and some dollars. Or during New Year, they would bring some lucky fruits and I would give a hundred and some dollars to them.
Q: How long has this situation been going on?
CHIN: Well, this kind of situation started when I began in 1980. At the beginning, when I had just started, I would give a red envelope of several hundred dollars to those toughs. Or else they would do something.
Q: And when do you stop?
CHIN: I already stopped doing that many years ago.
Q: Five years ago? Ten years ago?
CHIN: It’s been at least seven or eight years. Ever since Chinatown started to clean up that kind of thing, those toughs—
Q: Was it the government that cleaned them up, or did the police get rid of them?
CHIN: I don’t know about that. Whether it was the government or the police, I’m not really sure. But anyway, during these last eight or ten years, that type of thing hasn’t been happening.
Q: So nobody else has tried to bother you?
CHIN: No. Not in the last few years.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say about Chinatown, or about yourself?
CHIN: I wish that the Chinese-American leaders of Chinatown, that is those leaders in the CCBA, I hope that they will interact with the city government to get them to help us, to save our Chinatown. Because our Chinatown is – we have so many businesses here, so many people here, but we haven’t gotten significant attention, not like Little Italy, I wish that we—
Q: Then what plans do you have for the next few years? What plans do you have for this shop?
CHIN: I rent this place. As far as that goes, I’m good friends with the landlord, we’re friends, we get along pretty well. As long as the landlord lets me rent it, I’ll rent it. (Laughs)
Q: Then when would you like to retire?
CHIN: Huh? (Coughs)
Q: Then when do you intend to retire?
CHIN: How should I put it, this is something I haven’t -- when I have time, there’s still plenty of time to retire, I’m still working hard. It’s not time yet.
Q: So what does your wife do?
CHIN: She helps me out.
Q: So you—
CHIN: She comes and goes, she also works. Sometimes she comes and helps me.
Q: How many people work for you?
Q: Are you open seven days a week?
Q: And what are your business hours?
CHIN: Usually it’s 11 AM to 9 PM.
Q: That’s a long time to be open each day.
CHIN: Ten hours. All of us Chinese here go by the time.
Q: Have you ever gone back to China or Hong Kong for vacation?
CHIN: We go back to China two or three times a year to get new goods. It’s not for vacation. It’s always to go to the factories and get goods.
Q: What do your children do?
CHIN: My daughter is an accountant, a CPA. My son is in business management.
Q: Are you satisfied with their choice of work, with their lives?
CHIN: It’s OK. We struggle really hard, but my children make good money. You know Chinese people have a tradition: the parents should go without eating if necessary and struggle in order to give the children food and let them study hard. They study hard and gain some skills, they get a good job, and that’s our—
Q: Have you thought about asking your children to come back and continue your business?
CHIN: We struggle so much, and we are only taking a salaries. But they have such freedom, they already have really good jobs, they wouldn’t want to work so hard just to make a living. It would make no sense for me to tell them to come back and do this kind of work.
Q: One day when you retire, do you intend to live in Chinatown, or would you like to move somewhere else?
CHIN: I also have a home in Queens now. I always come back. This is where I work, and it’s more convenient. I can go outside and come back in.
Q: When would you like to retire and live in Queens?
CHIN: That’s what my wife wants now.
Q: Where in Queens?
CHIN: It’s in Briwood.
Q: Briwood. Are there many Chinese there? Why did you choose to live there?
CHIN: We’ve had that place for a long time already. We bought a place there back in ’73.
Q: Why did you choose that place?
CHIN: At that time, that place wasn’t so expensive, it also wasn’t so cheap, it was a few tens of thousands of dollars. We were able to afford it.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
CHIN: Nothing else.
Q: OK. Thank you very much, Mr. Chin.
[end of session]
Chinatown Interview: Interview (zh)
<p>陳: 我的中文名字叫陳穩強。我的英文名字就叫Jack Chin。</p>
<p>問: 你是幾時出生, 還有在那裏出生？</p>
<p>問: 你是先來美國呢? 你先來美國里那呢？</p>
<p>陳: 然後我們去Corwall, Ontario。然後就去呢Montreal，讀high school那時候。</p>
<p>陳: No, 我媽媽後來才來。</p>
<p>陳: 我哥哥就早一點去加拿大。早我一年、兩年前, 的時間去加拿大。</p>
<p>陳: 搬到New York。</p>
<p>問: 那時候你是幾歲, 可不可以問一下?</p>
<p>陳: 我們 那一代，那時候，我們多數是聽那些爸爸媽媽的意思。比較聽爸爸媽媽，去成立個家庭。所以比較早。</p>
<p>問: 那你第一份工作是什麽? </p>
<p>陳: 在Four Seasons，Blues Hall。57街與Park Avenue交街。</p>
<p>問: 那時候是不是鬼佬，Four Seasons是不是一間鬼佬餐館啊？</p>
<p>陳: 比較嚴格了。我們上班差不多開工的時候五點---譬如五點鐘餐開始時，我們要standby， 就是企檯的station那個position來的。</p>
<p>陳: Yeah, 我們接過來做的。</p>
<p>陳: 我們在Bayard街那時候，晚上就很旺。所以我們那時候開到12點鐘。那時候Bayard 街就比，夜晚來講，就比Mott街旺很多。那時候Bayard街，過了一段時間，我們做的那時候，那全街，差不多全是，很多餐廳開夜。五點鐘---很多餐館都是(開到)五點鐘。</p>
陳: 因爲那時候有兩個, 有個親戚，有朋友，就時時幫我，在公司義務式幫我來的。所以我問他（們），你如果有興趣就來這裏那個位置一起做。我就基本貨拿出來。他們就允許。這樣他們就拿個舖位來這裏做。</p>
<p>問: 可不可以講一下關於911對你的生意的影響? 有沒有，怎麽樣影響呢？</p>
<p>陳: 我兒子就打電話給我的，說New York發生這麽大的事，World Trade Center。他叫我立刻開電視看。那時第一架就轉過來就，怎麽了，—就已經以爲是accident。但我打開TV，我開了TV那時候呢，看到第二架那架飛機就這麽轉過來。那時候就是有意的了。我那時候就睇見什麼了。</p>
<p>陳: 我的女兒是在New Jersey。我的兒子在洛省, 在Hollywood那裏。</p>
<p>陳: 少了那些遊客了嘍。沒有這些遊客，人不敢來New York。我都問很多朋友，那些親戚的，他們，就 (講) 來New York比較有些心“歉”(不舒服)。這樣他們就少一些了。</p>
陳: 坦白講呢，中國街我們這一行來講，主要是很多是遊客的。我們都有很多New York的本地客了。但是我們主要是遊客，做那些禮品。</p>
<p>陳: 就他們, 隔壁有些餐館啊，朋友啊，個個就，應當我們有權，去拿。我們就去申請拿了。</p>
<p>陳: 有些問題呢，他(們)需要(問)很多問題，有些條件啊，又去找那些會計, 拿那些證件，需要證明這些東西。就有做一些，就有做多少事。 <br>
<p>陳: 這個問題, (laughs)怎麽講呢？那時做生意真是，生意來講，對唐人街的影響，真是不夠的。那時候不是只有我們一家，家家都是怎麽樣，都是很差，911之後。</p>
<p>陳: 沒有。這個呢，就我們公司，叫我們公司，中華公所有個人，去那個Church街那裏拿個, 那裏是舖頭。拿一些補助，補助3日，就幾千塊。都不夠，生意這麽久的時間。</p>
<p>陳: 幫那些公所啊, 篤親，安親，秀溪房打理財務。</p>
<p>陳: 有時，就幫他們有時sign check。有時幫他們間中拿錢去，進入那些支票account。</p>
<p>陳: 那時候我，進入公所那時候是，開始入，我那時候呢，去唐人街做生意的。就大家認識，大家多些聯絡的. </p>
<p>問: 他們的實力是怎麽樣大呢? 爲什麽他們的實力這麼大呢？</p>
<p>陳: 我們在唐人街呢，就沒怎麽給人“蝦”過。所以就，在唐人街做生意呢，你進入這個會呢，就有些保障了。At least有什麽事大家合作解決問題。</p>
<p>陳: 我開始做那時候, 八十年, 都開始有這個現象。那時候我開始都有，開始做那時候都給紅包給那些流氓。好像幾百塊那時候的紅包。不然他們就什麽來的。</p>
陳: 都七、八年，最少都有七，八年。自從中國街就，那個，clean up那些什麽，那些流氓就---</p>
陳: huh? (coughs)</p>
<p>陳: 我女兒是會計師來的, CPA來的。我兒子就是做商業管理來的。</p>
<p>問: OK. 多謝，陳先生。</p>