September 11 Digital Archive

S.W. Sang


S.W. Sang



Media Type


Chinatown Interview: Interviewee

S.W. Sang

Chinatown Interview: Interviewer

Lan Trinh

Chinatown Interview: Date


Chinatown Interview: Language


Chinatown Interview: Occupation


Chinatown Interview: Interview (en)

Q: Today is March 11, 2004. We are at the Museum of Chinese Americans. Please say you name.

Sang: My family name is Sang, and my name is Zhuo Huai, S.W. Sang.

Q: How long have you been in Chinatown?

Sang: I have been here since October of 1969.

Q: Where are you from?

Sang: I used to live in Macau. In 1966, I went to Dominica in Central America, and in 1969 October, I came to the United States.

Q: Were you born in Macau?

Sang: No. I was born in China.

Q: Where of China?

Sang: I was born in Yanping, China.

Q: Which year?

Sang: 1946.

Q: Where in the Mainland were you born?

Sang: Yanping Province, China.

Q: You went to Macau when you were nine years old. Why?

Sang: This is because my whole family has left for Macau.

Q: You went from China to Macau?

Sang: Since my father was in preparation to move to Venezuela, my family went to Macau. I was studying in Macau.

Q: What kind of images and memories do you have for China? You must have remembered much, since you were already nine.

Sang: I certainly remember; very much so. The area of Yanping was poor. Many of our villagers went overseas. Going overseas means going out to another country and work. This had more future to it. Because of this, our villagers like to leave the country, for the United States, for Central Americas. Most of them, however, went to Dominican Republic.

Q: How did you enter there? Did you sneak in country? Did you apply for entry?

Sang: We did not sneak into the country. We first apply as tourists. Once we were in there for six months, we applied for resident status.

Q: That’s quite easy.

Sang: Yes, it was very easy.

Q: When your family was still in China, what was your family business?

Sang: My grandfather used to own a factory in China, where he manufactured bricks and various construction materials. However, when the communists came, all of the properties were confiscated. This way, our family was not able to make a living, so we had to leave the country.

Q: Why did you go to Southern America?

Sang: This was because most of our extended families and friends were there in South America. Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Q: You already have a few generations there?

Sang: Not a few generations, just from my generation. But my grandfather had gone to Venezuela for almost forty years.

Q: When you were nine, you whole family moved to Macau?

Sang: Part of the family. My mother, two brothers and I left first. Afterward, my grandmother came with the other two brothers. We were all living in Macau.

Q: What about your father?

Sang: My father was in Hong Kong involved in the Bakery Business. He made bread at his factory, wholesale and distribute them to places such as coffee shops.

Q: This is to say, your father has gone for Hong Kong at an earlier time.

Sang: Yes.

Q: For how long did you live in Macau?

Sang: I lived in Macau for eleven years.

Q: In terms of studying, were you there for both Grade School and High School?

Sang: Yeah, I went to St. Joseph for both.

Q: When you were in Macau, were you studying Chinese or were you studying English? Did you study English?

Sang: There were both English and Chinese.

Q: Did you study Portuguese?

Sang: I understand a little. This is because I understand Spanish, and Portuguese is similar to Spanish.

Q: How old were you went you went to - -?

Sang: Twenty years old.

Q: It was Dominican Republic, wasn’t it?

Sang: Yes.

Q: How did you feel when you got there?

Sang: I was there, apprenticing under an uncle, who did watch repairing work. I was also learning the things related to the Jewelry business.

Q: You were in Macau until you were twenty. Did you go to college there?

Sang: No. I left not too long after I finished with high school. In Macau, there was no college there. The highest education you could attend was high school.

Q: When you were in your teen years, did you think about what kind of career paths you would take when you grow up? Perhaps leaving the country?

Sang: My great hope was to become a medical doctor, but there weren’t many chances for me to continue college to become one. But now, I am very fortunate. I couldn’t become a doctor, and became a jeweler. When you are designing and making jewelry, you don’t have to be responsible for people’s lives. If you are a doctor, you are held responsible for lives. So, I feel I am lucky that I did not become a doctor, and that I am doing what I am doing.

Q: When you were twenty years old, did you already have family members in South America?

Sang: No. All of them were in Macau. Only I went. I went to work for an uncle who was from the same village.

Q: When you were there, what kind of works were you doing?

Sang: I was involved with watch repair, and the jewelry business.

Q: At that time, the place you were, were there much Chinese?

Sang: At there, during that time, there were approximately a few thousands people. In our shop there were fifteen people working, some did watch repairing, some did watch selling & buying, and some were involved in the jewelry business.

Q: After you went there, did you feel that it was easy and quick to get used to the new way of life?

Sang: We were happy. Back then, the brotherly apprentices were always playing football (soccer). Life was good, very good, indeed. The way of life was very different from the lifestyles of Macau, Hong Kong and the United States.

Q: How are they different?

Sang: In Spanish places, people’s characters are passionate, and very friendly. They do not discriminate against the Chinese. They thought highly of the Chinese, and therefore there is no discrimination. That’s better.

Q: You only started learning Spanish once you moved there?

Sang: Yes. There were a bunch of us working there. We hired a lawyer. There, we worked in the morning, and at night, once the lawyer got off from his day job, he would then teach us. He collected ten dollars per week per person. We made a blackboard and started learning Spanish.

Q: How long did you study for you to understand?

Sang: In terms of studying, one can speak after around two years of studying, and approximately three to four years in order to write a little.

Q: While you were there, had you always been involved with repairing?

Sang: I was working - - repairing watches.

Q: During that time, did you ever consider going back to school to become a doctor again?

Sang: No. During that time, I had already started in this job, and I could not change anymore. As I continued working, there were pressure and responsibilities. At that time, I did not think about studying. The most important thing was to make a living. During that time, the first thing was to make money.

Q: Money can be made in this profession?

Sang: Over there, I worked for three years. I already came out and started my own business after three years. I opened my own store, and became my own boss.

Q: How many years were you living there on your own?

Sang: Three some years. Not quite four years.

Q: After you came to the United States?

Sang: Yes, I came to the United States.

Q: How did you - - Did someone sponsor you over there? Or did you do it your own?

Sang: During the time when I came over, I already have colleagues who worked at big factories in the United States. It appeared that those jobs were stable. Also, in our profession, during those times, the pay was quite decent. It was around one hundred twenty, one hundred thirty dollars per week.

Q: That was in 1960s?

Sang: Back then, when you take a regular job at a restaurant, it would be around seventy-five to a hundred dollar per week. In this case, we made more money. Not to mention, the work was more comfortable, since it was more technical in nature, it was never - - Originally, when I first came over here, my father-in-law was in the restaurant business. He wanted to teach me the business. But when I saw the actual restaurant, wow - - I saw the head chef, while pushing a button with his foot, twisting and turning his body all around. I really felt I would not be able to do that. I like cooking. My mother used to teach me how to cook. I love cooking. But this was too tough. I thought I better stick with what I was dong in the Jewelry business.

Q: When you come to the United States, did you also come as a tourist? Or did you apply to come over here?

Sang: For the first time, I came over here as tourist. When I came the second time, I also came as a tourist. Afterward, I was working at a workshop that was owned by a Jew. When it was about time, I applied for residency.

Q: When you were at the Jewish place, you were also doing repairing work?

Sang: Yeah, repairing watches.

Q: You came to New York when you first came into the country in 1969?

Sang: No. That was 1970, not 1969. It’s exactly 1970.

Q: You came to New York when you first came?

Sang: I came to New York, when I first came here.

Q: Why did you choose to come to New York? The United States is so big.

Sang: This was because before when I came to visit, I saw some Chinese supermarkets. I saw that they have everything kind of Chinese food available. That was suitable to the Chinese palate. For me, the most important thing was to be able to eat. In Dominican Republic, those Spanish places, there also were plenty food products. But here, there have every kind of Chinese food products that I care about. For this reason, I came.

Q: Did you consider going to San Francisco, other places with Chinese - -

Sang: Since many of my friends were in New York, I considered coming to New York.

Q: Did you feel it was hard to adjust when you came over here? Winter is very cold here. Many things are different. Were you able to communicate - -

Sang: We got used to it, since we were young, and we liked playing football (soccer), and sports - - I am quite active and outgoing, so it was quite easy to adapt to the environment. I did not feel cold at all.

Q: When you came over, did you know English?

Sang: I knew a little. I understood it when I was studying in Macau. While I was - - When I was studying Spanish at Dominican Republic, I studied the language using English. I learn them together.

Q: You were twenty-something when you came over?

Sang: Yes.

Q: That was quite young.

Sang: Yes.

Q: What did you do when you first came over? But - -

Sang: When I first came over I repaired watches. After working for that westerner for a year, I got residency. After working for about a year, I immediately came out and opened my own business. Along with a friend, I opened my own shop, in Harlem even! You dare not go over there, but the rent was cheap. Back then, it was only one hundred and twenty dollars. I said, “Okay, let’s rent the space out, open up the shop, learn as I do!” I was trying to figure out what the American jewelry market was like. To be honest, when I first opened there, I was not thinking of making profits at the beginning. I wanted to first dive into the profession, observed the market, and figured out the business.

Q: During those years, was rent in Chinatown expensive? You had to go to Harlem?

Sang: No. Since during those years, I had a bunch of friends living up there. He saw a - - It was because I had a villager-friend opened up a restaurant in front of that space. The restaurant was called “Hua Ting”. He operated that restaurant for twenty some thirty years, and it is now closed. He told me there was retail space right in front of his restaurant, and the rent was cheap. He suggested me to open up the shop up there. He said there were many Spanish people there, and that the Spanish people’s business was the best. I told myself to give it a try. After around a year, my partner and I already made around eighty-thousand, hundred-thousand dollars. Then, we had another partner, and opened another shop at Concord Ave of the Bronx. In this way, I had two shops. After a year and half, we again made around a hundred, two-hundred thousand dollars. At this time, I went to open up a new store at 225 Canal Street, which has remained opened until today.

Back then, around 1971, after around a year, I opened up a second shop in Bronx, where my partner was the shop manager. I was the overseeing the shop that was located at 157th Street and Broadway. Alan was looking after the upper shop. After around half a year, I found a retail space, and moved down to Canal Street. That was in 1973.

Q: It sounds as if you were very brave. You were only twenty-something.

Sang: Is that right? I don’t think so. I certainly - - One must be brave. Being a human, one must be brave. Back then, my next door neighbor was a bank. There was a bank robbery. There were three machine guns at the entrance. I could only run. Three machine guns in Harlem bank! Even the police cars turned around!

Q: Is it true that since you were able to speak Spanish, you were able to communicate with those customers - -

Sang: Yeah, I was able to communicate. So - - But it was also easier work back then. There was less competition. Not too many people were in the business, and the business was good. Many of my villager-friends, families and friends told me I should never get involved in the business. They told me in the United States that no Chinese were involved in the jewelry business.

Q: Before you came to the United States, what kind of impressions did you have?

Sang: About the United States. Since I often read history, news and current affairs, I understood that United States was the only country that had a modern society and had the strongest economic development. Also, since the dollar was stable, business was also stable. Especially to us hard worker types, we were certain to become successful. All we needed was a little confidence.

Q: Before you came, did you already have a family?

Sang: Not yet.

Q: When you first came over, what did you think Chinatown was like in 1970s?

Sang: Confucius Plaza had not been built yet, during those years in Chinatown. There were many broken, abandoned houses. There were warning signs reminding people to be aware of pickpocket. It was about being careful of people stealing things from you. There were only a few broken down houses around where Confucius Plaza is now. I lived near the side of East Broadway, right next to the post office.

Q: During those times, the area definitely was not as large as it is now?

Sang: The area was not as big as it is now. Also, back then, the people - - Almost every time I went out, I knew everyone. In other words, when you’re in Chinatown, you knew everyone. Everyone knows everyone else. There were less people during those times.

Q: A little more intimate?

Sang: A little more intimate, since everyone knew everyone. You knew everyone where you managed your business, and where you hung out. It’s not possible these days. You can’t meet all of them now.

Q: After you came to the United States, did you feel that it was difficult? For everything, you had to - -

Sang: It had been smooth. It had been very smooth.

Q: Why had it been so smooth for you?

Sang: It was because I have confidence. I am hard-working and aggressive. Yeah.

Q: These things had allow you to conduct your businesses so smoothly?

Sang: Right. You’re not incorrect.

Q: In which year did you open your store in Chinatown?

Sang: It was seventy - - Let me see -- It was 1972. In 1972, I moved down to Chinatown. But in 1971, I already opened one in Bronx. Somewhere in the middle of 1972, I don’t remember quite well of the exact date. In any case, I moved down to Chinatown, and it was 225 Canal Street, right at the corner of Centre Street. Also, I was the first Chinese who rented a space to do Jewelry business.

Q: Back then in 1970s, were there many triads in Chinatown? Did you feel a great sense of danger being in this business?

Sang: Yeah, I did not feel that at all. Because - - Why? In our business, we certainly had to be careful of entrances and windows. One has to be aware of these things. But it was not that dangerous. Since I was brave enough to open a shop in Harlem, I wouldn’t feel dangerous opening one up on Canal Street.

Q: Have you ever experienced a robbery? And let other - -

Sang: Yes, many times indeed. People just grab and ran. Or in another case, you’re at gun point, and you could only wait for him to pick and leave.

Q: Were your family members ever - -

Sang: Yes, they had.

Q: But, you still are not scared?

Sang: No, I am not scared. I - - When people come robbing me, I told them to just take the things away, and don’t be nervous. I told them the first thing is not to be nervous, just take what they want, and leave.

Q: Do you carry guns?

Sang: I cannot carry gun. If I was to carry guns, I must have already killed a few times. But I don’t like to react with carry guns. Right now it’s just robbery, right? If I was to carry guns, it would either be him shooting at you, or you shooting at him. That’s not good. In our business, it would be dangerous if you own guns.

Q: Back then in early 1970s, even though there were many triads, did you have to contribute to one particular gang - -

Sang: No, I have not.

Q: - - to protect you?

S: The triad society indeed asked for money, but not on our side. In the 1970, although there was instability, it does not mean that they robbed in Chinatown every day. I established Canal Street Jewelry Merchant Association. I was the president and hired six security guards to guard the street. I handled them. These are armed guards. They carried pistols to watch out every block. The robbers went elsewhere but not to us.

Q: Are you paying them personally?

S: No, they belonged to the Association.

Q: Association?

S. Every member paid the association three hundred dollars. I am the organizer and the president. I collected the money and paid the guards. I was also the accountant. If the other stores did not pay, I paid for them.

Q: As a Chinese, what differences are there between being a Chinese-American in the United States, and in South America? In terms of how an American view the Chinese as to how a Southern American view the Chinese?

Sang: I believe, when you interact with people - - If you really are competent or are knowledgeable in certain area, people would not look down on you. Unless you doing some bad things, or behavior - - In this case, not to mention foreigners, even the Chinese would look down upon you. I don’t feel so. I often do not feel that I was discriminated against. For example, when I first opened a jewelry shop, there were a group of Jews that had stores on Canal Street. When they saw a Chinese came opening up a ship, one of them said, “Hey Chinese, you should open doing something else, such as opening a restaurant, or selling food else where. Why did you come getting involved in our businesses?” He first used a discriminatory, make-fun style. But I was very polite and explained to him. I told him, “Long time ago, in Egypt, even before the birth of Christ. The Jews were enslaved by Egyptian kings to build pyramids. When Mosses brought those Jews back to the Middle-east, they had much trouble with the region, and had no where to go. They followed the path of the Silk Road, and entered China in the Tang Dynasty. There were some twenty some thousands Jews entered China. This was the first time us Chinese protected you Jews during your hard times. The second time was during the Second World War, when Hitler was killing the Jews ferociously and cruelly. Did you have a place to run and hide? Only we China accepted you and you settled in Shanghai. During two major hard times, we Chinese have saved you. You cannot discriminate against us. We are your friends.”

Q: And then you said - -

Sang: - - (the Jew responded) “Hey Chinese, don’t tell us this story anymore.” I said, “If you want to hear more history, I will tell you more.” He said, “in other words, one should not discriminate against others.”

Q: This means, you have to use historical logic to argue, in order to - -

Sang: That’s not it. If you are intelligent, no one can discriminate you. They dare not look down on you. They would respect you. The most important thing is yourself, right?

Q: You came to the United States and opened shops. Did you continue to operate the two shops in Harlem?

Sang: Not anymore. I moved the stores from Harlem to Canal Street.

Q: How many shops do you have now?

Sang: I have three now. My wife took care of the old one. I manage the one located underneath Veteran Association. I also look after the one right next to my wife’s.

Q: Where do you live? Now - -

Sang: I now live in Astoria, Queens.

Q: You haven’t lived in Chinatown for quite a while?

Sang: No, I haven’t. I used to live on East Broadway. Yeah. But I moved in 1979.

Q: During the time when you were living in Chinatown, did you feel that for many Chinese people who lived in Chinatown, Chinatown was the world to them? They didn’t really go out to other places in New York. It seemed to be a rather small place. Was your life, similar to that?

Sang: No, since we like to travel every year to another place. Also, I have a bunch of friends any where I go. Sometimes I go visit my friends. We do not live a closed way of life. Our generations move along the currents and trends of times. In other words, we are not like those old uncles, who never stepped out of Chinatown. They have been in Chinatown for tens of years, yet they stayed in Chinatown mostly, and have not even got on the subway. We are definitely not like that.

Q: Back in the 1970s, did you think that the neighbors were united in Chinatown? During those times, they mostly were Toishanese and Cantonese. Was it not as complicated as it is today, wasn’t it?

Sang: Generally speaking, eighty percents of the population were Toishanese. Back then, for us Hakainese, our friends were mostly Toishanese. Yeah.

Q: Did you feel that the Chinatown back then, was more united than it is today? In other words, it was not as complicated as it is now. Currently, there are more different kinds of people.

Sang: I feel that it depends on which aspects you’re talking about. If you say things are complicated, I feel that it is so in terms of different opinions and point of views. It is definitely not so when it comes to an individual, and the relationship between an individual and society. In other words, when you say the situation is complicated, it is only true at your personal level as an individual experience. I do not feel it is true at the societal level.

Q: Do you not feel that Chinatown is not untied? The Cantonese, Toishanese, Fujianese - -

Sang: Definitely not so. I treat Fujianese, Toishanese, as well as my villagers, all the same. In my heart - - even when I overheard my friends being unfriendly to someone else because they’re Toishanese, or Fujianese, I would explain to them with reasoning, and that they shouldn’t. How can the Chinese discriminate our own kind? I have all kinds of clients, some are Spanish, and some are Africans. I have been treating them equally all along.

Q: Perhaps you personally - -

Sang: Right.

Q: - - is like that. But for plenty of Chinese, we are not united in Chinatown. Therefore, we don’t have power. Because many associations are not unified, everyone has their own opinions. How do you - -

Sang: I feel that, compare to what it used to be, I rarely participated those social clubs and community activities. But most recently, at times, a bunch of my friends would invite me to come out and participate. A little more contact. I think for us Chinese, community organizations and clubs such as “family name” associations, are very Chinese. These are invaluable cultures. A group of villagers coming together, and helping each other out when there’s a problem, like borrowing money. Or when there’re issues, family quarrels, there a group to solve the problem. Externally, whether you and another organizations - - in other words, to be together. Of course, when one comes together with another person for a short time, they cannot come along. Of course, when the points of view are different, whether it’s at the business-level, or at the national-level, these views need to be brought out. Everyone should be understanding. Sometimes we argue. No big deal, as long as everyone should come up with something truthful, and work at it together. It ought to be done this way. This is true for both society and nation. I am part of many committees, but I have never fought with anyone. No one ever yelled at me before. I have some many committees, but I could only do it together. The only way is to discuss all different opinions and come to agreement.

Q: Ever since you came to the United States, have you considered return to Macau, or visiting for leisure.

Sang: Yes. I have gone back for vacation. When I went back, a bunch of classmates, a bunch of friends, and - -

Q: But have you thought about moving back to leave? Moving back - -

Sang: Definitely not. My children grew up here, studied here. You see - - family is most important. My business is also here, so I wound not - -

Q: If this is the case, it seems that the business of your stores is quite successful, isn’t it?

Sang: I feel that I am quite satisfied when I can support my family. Because for all of us, the most important thing is to feel satisfied. Also we need to have confidence. We live in this way, in order to - -

Q: Now we’re back in time, during 9/11.

Sang: Right.

Q: The year during the 9/11 incident, were you in Chinatown?

Sang: Yes, I was in Chinatown. I was on my way to work - -

Q: Do you remember - -

Sang: My car was at Delancey, when the first airplane hit there. I thought it was a fire accident. I was still at Delancey and Bowery, right at the corner, and saw smoke coming out of the windows.

Q: Afterward, how did it affect your business?

Sang: Right after 9/11 happened, we were closed for three days, because the smoke - -those smoke have covered all of Chinatown. The air was not comfortable. Also, I felt the air was still very uncomfortable. In other words, when you breathed the air, it was very filthy. That’s why we did not go back, and remained unopened for three days.

Q: During those three days, was there any burglary? Did anyone cause any problems?

Sang: Definitely not. That time everyone knew what had happened, since telecommunications was so advanced in the United States. In everyone minds, they were asking questions such as how do you we protect this country, and were thinking how best to protect this country. I don’t believe in those things happening, and there definitely no burglary. I feel that New York has improved, and the quality of people has improved.

Q: Was your business affected, I mean, after the 3 days closing down?

Sang: Of course, the aftermath was immense. A lot of my customers came from World Trade Center, such as staff from Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers. They used to skip their lunch and came to us for our watches, and wedding bands. Now they all moved elsewhere and never return to us.

Q: Do you mean a lot of your customers were not from Chinatown but a lot of them from Wall Street?

Sang: That’s right.

Q: American besides Wall Street came to you also?

Sang: Yes.

Q. About how much was the business loss?

Sang: From time to time, shortly after 9/11, only thirty percents of business was retained. Then, business increased gradually. Up to now, we are still twenty five and thirty percents behind.

Q: Did you apply for 9/11 assistance?

S: I did not apply directly. One time, they mailed us a form to subsidize rent. I filled it out and I received four thousand dollars at one time and three thousand dollars another time. Approximately, I received seven thousand dollars.

Q: Did your rent increase in recent years?

Sang: The rent increased gradually?

Q: 9/11 did not affect the scope of increase?

Sang: We have to pay in accordance to a signed lease that agreed to have rent increase at interval. Because of 9/11, the landlord waived us one month’s rent.

Q: But I feel that when I walk around in Chinatown, it seems that there are less gold shops as before, isn’t it?

Sang: No. It has been the same. Not less. There shouldn’t be less.

Q: Compare to in the past - -

Sang: Yeah, approximately the same.

Q: - - approximately the same to before 9/11?

Sang: Right.

Q: Do you feel that there are less Chinese customers? Because during these few years, economy has become much worst, perhaps when people do buy gold and watches, they don’t spend as much money as before. Not spending as much - -

Sang: When you compare it to the past, according to my understating, with regard to the market - - Since nowadays, the Americans has


experienced a phenomenon and their understanding have increased. The knowledge of economics has also deepened. It’s interesting. When there’s opportunity in the stock market, everyone rushed to buy stocks. But ever since the burst of the internet (bubble), everyone feels that once it becomes unstable, you lost all your money. They now buy houses. They buy their first house to live in. They buy their second one for investment purpose. Should you have a son getting married, then you buy another one. If each family has from one to three mortgages, and contributes money to these mortgages, their cash flows are locked completely by these mortgages. Our economy is like this. For example, if you’re selling a house to me, or I sell one to you, after we have signed the papers, the money is turned around back to the banking systems. That’s why the bank would overflow with money, yet there would be no cash flows in the market. This is the reason why a lot of retail businesses would be down. I used to have a group of young friends who worked in Merrill Lynch. They came to me, and buy watches from me. I conversed with them. I have quite an understanding in financial matters. I like to have conversations with young people, and I like to talk about how to observe the market, and how the economy goes. We talked very often, so I see it quite clearly.

Q: During the thirty some years you were in Chinatown, which period was best for you? When you business did most well - -

Sang: The best time was the seven years between 1983 and 1990. During those seven years, it was the best for the jewelry and retail businesses. All retail businesses were doing extremely well.

Q: - - How is your opinion when it comes to the affects 9/11 has on Chinatown? Do you feel that the community has become more united ever since this incident? Or do you feel that it is the same as before?

Sang: After 9/11, we all felt that it was a time that we should unite. Many restaurants lost businesses; some lost thirty percents, while some lost seventy percents. Under such circumstances, during such difficult time, we all hoped to find a way where we could work together. In other word, we all work together, and find a way to turn Chinatown into a better place, and especially in the area of cleaning it up. We wish we could build up Chinatown a little more.

Q: On your business card, I saw that you have joined a lot of different organizations, some are - -

Sang: Right.

Q: You are chairmen, presidents, members of many organizations. While numerous agencies co-exist in a small Chinatown, do you think that they communicate with each other. Or jewelry association communicates only with jewelry stores. Restaurant association communicates only with restaurants. Do they communicate with each other?

Sang: I wish to share my experience of Chinatown with the community. Members of the associations should work as a group and share a common goal. We Chinese used to lead our lives in a closed system, so we are still primitive. A simple example would be, once I went to a banquet hosted by the Consulate General of China. Thirty guests sat together. Twelve different languages were spoken. One of my friends asked why there are so many dialects in China. Why are there over 10 dialects in one Guangdong Province? My answer was simple. China was a closed agricultural society. My villagers would not come to your village. If you lost a pig, you would suspect that I stole it and ate it. Or you lost a cow and would say the people in the neighbor village stole it. The villages quarreled with each other and would not trust each other. So we spoke our language in a way that liberally confused you. At the same token, we did not understand your language. The closed system resulted in primitive livings for thousands of years. We should open ourselves and communicate with other, so that you may learn more. Even though you may not like it, you learn from it.

Q: Do you mean that these traditions were brought from Mainland China to Chinatown. Both groups act similarly.

Sang: These practices are not correct. We are should communicate a little more, and try to understand a little more. We should do different things with friends from different groups and different levels. In this way, you will increase your talents, which is knowledge. There are many things that you cannot learn from books. You have to have people contacts and communicate.

Q: What do you think a regular foreigner’s views of Chinatown? When one first think of Chinatown, what would be the first thought?

Sing: Firstly, they would want to know the Chinese’s way of life. But once they came into Chinatown, they will be many things are different. The Chinese eats different kind of food, and use different kind of things. So are gift shops and culture. But they already know that there are many things that are worth while for them to learn. Most simply, around twenty, thirty years ago, I had an accountant called Mr. Lee, Mr. Sum-Chi Lee. He was in the accounting business, and did tax related work on Canal Street. There was “Wang An” Computer. Wang An was a top-notch computer engineer. He knew how to make computer at the theoretical level, but he was unable to apply and materialized mechanically. He came to Mr. Lee’s place and saw an old man using an abacus. He came to an instant understanding. He realized that he could now make computer, which was to design the arrangement of electric circuits as it would be for an abacus, with numbers moving both horizontally and vertically. This was where modern day electric circuit design came from. Many people did not know that the functioning of computer was made possible by the Chinese Abacus.

Q: This is to say - -

Sang: Without Chinese abacus, it would have been impossible to turn computer into real machine.

Q: When it comes to the images a foreigner has about Chinatown, you think that they feel that there are many worthwhile things to learn? Isn’t it?

Sang: Right. There are some who know that Chinese food is most rich and diverse in the world. That is why Jin Wang Kwan won in the French Chef Competition three times in a role. In other words, it would be impossible for the world to catch up to the high level of Chinese cuisine arts.

Q: Even though there are much Chinese people in New York, yet politically speaking, our power is still very limited, since many Chinese do not vote. When it comes to you and your family, do you participate - -

Sang: I have been encouraging my friends and my children. I make them vote, it’s a must. It is us citizens’ responsibility. Secondly, whatever things that we wish to do in Chinatown, we must have votes as background. In this way, our voice is louder. If we have city government support, and have their understating, they would pay more attention to this community. Similar to the “Chinese Club” in the past two years, they were very open, and often times host speeches and receptions for state governors. If we maintain constant communications with them, we will be able to ask them directly whenever we need something from them. They would give us a little more attention. We have to do it this way. Whether it’s a successful effort is a different matter. But our attitudes toward the community should be this way.

Q: You have been living in the United States for some thirty years. Do you feel that you are a Chinese living in the United States? Or are you already a Chinese-American?

Sang: I am definitely a Chinese-American. I have already gained citizenship, right? But I would not deny the Chinese culture that I have internalized. I have a better understanding of Chinese culture, so my interests are also more Chinese.

Q: According to you, what do you think are the biggest issues in Chinatown now?

Sang: When it comes to the biggest issues, I think the first one is transportation. Second one would be sanitary problem. The third issue would be economics. Our economy is under threat ever since we lost the clothing factories. Those women, who used to work in those factories, now have to adapt and take new professions such as health care. This transformation has to be gradual. Other than transformation, the Chinatown business model also has to change into more tourism focused, more tourists-oriented, besides the traditional sales technique to attract middle aged women. We should provide products that fit the American markets, while attracting tourists with high consuming power to spend money here. In other word, we need to turn Chinatown into a cultural and tourist center. For our economic survival, we have to build Chinatown up in this direction. We should employ a liberal approach. We cannot act the way we used to, thinking and satisfying on the limited businesses that the clothing factories provided. The old way how bosses could go to Atlantic City and spend tens of thousands on the gambling tables, is not possible nowadays. We have to treat our community more seriously, while pushing for its transformation. That’s why I joined Rebuild Chinatown Association - -

Q: You mean NYC Promotion & Tourism Association, right?

Sang: Yeah, that one.

Q: NYC Promotion & Tourism Association existed even before the 9/11 incident. We hope to spread whatever news we have of Chinatown. We want the media to promote for us, and let them understand Chinatown, and understand Chinese cultures. Quite interesting - - One time we were hosting a group of media, including journalists from New York, and a woman form the state department. She was the head in promoting ethnic culture. I forgot her name. When she came, we brought her around Chinatown for a grand tour, and brought her to Chinatown for dim sum. We went to Good Harmony Restaurant for Dim sum. She asked, “It is now eight thirty, why there are so many people here for breakfast? Is it because they did not have dinner last night?” I told her not. I said for the Chinese, the most important thing after you get up is to “Yum Cha”. “Yum Cha” is an old habit of Chinese that date back to thousands of years. When it comes to “Yum Cha”, you can see that over there is a group of older men reading a paper together. They would discuss the current events of the day, whether it’s political or politics, all is discussed here. You can also see other tables, where there are children. They are families. They could be discussing family affairs, or it could also be someone’s birthday today. And the table next to it, you can see a bunch of business people, with their business suits. It’s possible that if a man owns another, money, and he would be invited to “Yum Cha” the next say. Then, you will have to remember to bring five hundred dollar to return to the lender. Here, you do business, family meeting, business meeting, as well as community leaders discussing community affairs are all here. That’s why for us Chinese, we don’t have to pay to go to those psychologists, those psychiatrists. We all get heal here. Whatever problems that we have, you come out, talk to a friend and you are cured. The psychologists know nothing about your personal life. But your friends understand you, and they can solve your problem. So I feel that in the western world, this kind of culture does not exist. “Oh, you guys are real smart!” (Said the woman representative) Whenever we have problems about business, we just need to invite them out. Whatever that’s not right, you discuss here until all is right. Why engage in meeting? You have to meeting this and meeting that. Here, we agree on everything. When we eat and discuss enthusiastically, it’s easier to smooth things down, and less arguments. If I talk business to you, should there be anything wrong, I would not slam the table and start yelling. The westerners would slam tables and start yelling whenever there’s something wrong during meeting. We can’t do that because we have tables around us. It would not be good if other people see us. The most we could do was to yell quietly. She said, “I have never heard anything like this!” I replied, “That’s why I am telling you now. If you want to write a book, a novel - - if you wish to learn the traditional Chinese cultures, and values – In other words, many people are not familiar this kind of lifestyles, but if you’re sensitive, you may gradually come to an understanding. You will be able to write them down as content for your novel.”

Q: Previously I asked you, what the biggest issues are in Chinatown. During this project, I also have spoken with a number of neighbors. It seems like they are either of; transportation, sanitary, rents, and housing issues. - - Right.

Sang: These things are very important.

Q: Even though everyone knows what the problems are. But how come after ten, twenty years, the problems are still to be solved? Why is Chinatown still dirty, still so cramped?

Sang: But I feel that - - Let us begin with the housing issue. I remember those days in the seventies, when the Confucius Plaza was being built. There were many vacant apartments, which took quite a while to be rented out. Not too many people applied for them. Gradually, there were more immigrants, but at the same times, many Jews moved away in the East side, while the Italians were also moving out of Little Italy. But right now, it is completely full. That is why housing is such a problem. Even if there were space now, it would be very expensive. A Square feet of space would cost around a few hundred dollars, but it would still be bought to build houses. These houses could be sold for at least six, seven hundred dollars per square feet. Population density has increased, city’s value has increased, but when it comes to sanitation - - That is why there exists an organization called Clean Chinatown Campaign. Ever since Bill Lam and Danny Lee organized this club, I have been supporting them every way I can, such as soliciting members and others to donate money. I have been quite passionate with my effort, they all know that. Compare to a decade ago, there has been a great improvement since ten years ago. Chinatown is much cleaner now, don’t you think? But it’s not as perfect as - -

Q: Midtown.

Sang: Right, as Midtown or Park Avenue. This is because they do not have as many people and tourists. Also, the density of traffic is also not as high as here. Like when it’s Saturday and Sunday, there are ten to twenty thousands people rushing into here, and turn it into - - When there are more people, then inevitably it’d be dirtier. That is the reason why we have been educating people, and tell them not to throw trash on the street. Most simply, for example, there was this one time, I was on the street. I saw a woman threw a paper bag on the street. Next to this woman was her friend which I knew personally. This mutual friend saw me, and said to her friend, ‘People are promoting clean Chinatown, why don’t you pick up the trash?’ In other words, it is important to educate people and let them know it’s important to keep streets clean. That is why in the future, we will record a Sang about how cleaning is everyone’s responsibility. We are trying to see whether we could get Jackie Chan to sing it, and broadcast it publicly, and remind people not to carelessly throw trash on the street. We still have to hire people to clean the streets, and change those trash bags. Chinatown is much better than before. Back in those days, those garbage treatment companies did not care at all. I later discovered the reason why Chinatown smelled so bad. It was because those garbage collection trucks, first collected wet, dampened trash, and after they pressed them, the liquid would overflow all over. That was the reason why it smelled bad. I went and spoke with different officers and representatives at those companies, and told them to change their schedule. I told them they should collect wet trash at the end of their schedule. In this case, those liquids would not be overflowing all over Chinatown, and the bad smell has at least decreased by fifty percents. We have to pay attention to clean, and be aware to where dirtiness comes from. But we are unable to - - Since a lot of people come here, and the fish markets are located in the central area, it would be impossible to do a perfect job, but we could try our best. To be perfectly clean means no one could come, which is worst than being dirty.

Q: It seems that you not only do business in Chinatown, but you also spend a lot of times doing community services.

Sang: Yeah.

Q: - - Your children, do they have the same thoughts?

Sang: They study. My son is studying at Tufts. He already graduated from Northwestern University, and worked for two years. After he got his master degree, he wanted to go for his Ph.D. He told me that it’s free of charge. I told him to go for it. He studies philosophy.

Q: And you - -

Sang: I would not force them. If the next generation has the interests, than of course are their choices.

Q: - - never pressured them to be in your profession?

Sang: No. Absolutely not.

Q: The future of your business ……?

Sang: My sister and brother, they each has one shop. So, if I did not pass them to my children, I could pass them to my siblings. I would never do that. My father used to be in the bakery business. In summer times, he asked me to help him at his bakery. We bought flour and sugar for three hundred dollars, and at night we could collect three to four- thousand dollars. It was very profitable, would you be interested? I said, “But I have no interest, I still prefer the watches”.

Q: In other words, you do not pressure your children?

Sang: No.

Q: - - what do they do?

Sang: It’s quite interesting. My eldest daughter, graduated from Swarthmore University. She likes arts. She is now working at the Education Department of Metropolitan Museum. My youngest one is studying at Haverford College, in Pennsylvania. She is now in Spain doing a study abroad program, and won’t come back until June. I told her, saying that since your brother wouldn’t help me, and your sister went to work at the Metropolitan Museum, you are my last hope. Will you help out with the family business? Guess what she told me? She said, “Daddy, you are talking about your own dream, you’re not talking about my dream”. You’re talking about your own dream. You’re not talking about my dream. It’s difficult, since we have different dreams.

Q: It has been over two years since 9/11. Do you feel that it has become as lively as it was before 911, and that the business has normalized?

Sang: The business in Chinatown is still quite quiet. It cannot be said that it is as lively as it was before. Other than the effects of 9/11, there is also the influence of the American Economy, where the real estate market has locked up all the cash flow. This is true to all businesses in the United States. You remember those times when the Hong Kong real estates market was speculated by the real estate companies. They want to push all the poor people back to their hometowns, in China. Even though they are all economists in Hong Kong, but what they did was wrong. If there are only a few rich people in Hong Kong, and have no one to consume in the markets, no one to cook for you, how can you open up restaurants? No one to make coffee for you, then you will not have coffee to drink. You life would be abnormal. You have to - - About the survival in a social environment - - I wrote a letter to the head of LMDC, John Whitehead. I said, “For New York to survive, the small businesses must also survive, in order for the big businesses to survive”. Just like our planet’s environment, if there lack a grass root level to absorb all the water, it would become a desert, and big trees would not be able to grow. There must be much grass, before the trees grow. All across the world, when there’s no grass, there’re no trees. You must have grass field to absorb the water, in order for the big tree to grow. I told him to pay attention not just to the bigger companies such as those in II World Trade Center, but also to small businesses. If there were only big trees, while the small businesses are bad - - If it’s a desert surrounding a tree, that tree would surely have no leaves. It will die. I told him that this is economics. I realize that for New York, seventy percents of company taxes come from small businesses, while big businesses only contribute around thirty percents. They called it Small Business Investigation.

Q: Great. We talked about many different things today. Is there anything else you would like us to know? Is there anything that I have not already asked? Is there anything you want to share with us?

Sang: I don’t have any other ideas. But the most important thing is to promote Chinatown and Chinese culture to everyone in the United States. We should make them interested in coming here to learn our Chinese cultures, whether it’s about the food, gifts, or the jewelry market. Around the world, there is no jewelry markets that can be compare to what we have here. On forty-seven street, they only sell American styles. But here, we sell the Chinese styles, European styles, and American styles. All international styles can be found in Chinatown. No where else has there a market that is stronger and better than ours. I wish people would come and purchase from us, and bring more business to us.

Q: You are confidence that in the future, the business will pick up? It will - -

Sang: Yes, It will. Once the interest rate increased, the property market will cool off. Once the property market cools off, the cash flow will not be locked dead, and the retail business will improve. Just like those days when they speculated in the property market in Hong Kong. There was a lack of businesses, and all went dead. Everyone use their money to pay mortgage, while the banks were soaking up all the money. When you had to store less than a million dollars at the banks in Hong Kong, you had to pay storage fee to the bank. They did not even give you interests. They had too much money. They were speculating the property market. It just like when you’re on an airplane. If you have all your weights on one side, it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous for the economy.

Q: Okay. Thank you for your time…

Sang: Well said.

Q: to chat with us. I wish you lots of good Luck.

Sang: Yeah, thank you.

(End of session)

Chinatown Interview: Interview (zh)

<p> 問﹕今天是三月十一號2004年,我們在華人博物館,請你講你的名字。</p>
<p>岑﹕我姓岑, 叫灼槐,岑灼槐。</p>
岑﹕我以前在澳門住。一九六六年, 多明尼加,中美洲多明尼加, 後來再在一九六九年十月到美國。<br>
<p>岑﹕不是, 我是在大陸出世的。</p>
<p>問﹕九歲 時候就到了澳門, 為什麼﹖<br>

<p>岑﹕因為我們以前鄉親全部,多半也是到了南美洲, 多明尼加,SANTA DOMINGO 。</p>
岑﹕我爸爸在香港是做麵包的。也就是在BAKERY(麵包店)那些,弄一些BREAD(麵包),發給人家的,是工廠,也就是賣給那些COFFEE SHOP(咖啡店)。</p>

問﹕-- 你有沒有學PORTUGESE(葡萄牙文)﹖<br>
<p>問﹕二十歲才去DOMINICAN REPUBLIC(多明尼加共和國)是不是﹖<br>
岑﹕我在那裡跟了一個UNCLE(叔叔)做WATCH REPAIR,也就是修理手錶,JEWELRY的東西,也就是首飾,跟他學。<br>

岑﹕我們好開心啊,那時候,師兄弟,常打球,生活好開心,非常之開心啊。也就是生活的方式跟澳門﹑香港﹑美國完全不同的。 <br>

<p>岑﹕以前普通餐廳 ,去餐館普通打工,七十五,一百銀。這樣的話,我們多一些。而且工作比較舒服,就是做技術性的工作,就沒有--,原本我過來這裡的時候,我的外父呢做餐館,<br>


<p>問﹕ 沒有考慮去舊金山啊,其他地方,有華人--?</p>
<p>岑﹕因為我所有的朋友都在NEW YORK(紐約),所有我考慮來NEW YORK(紐約)。</p>
<p>岑﹕不是。因為那時候,我有班朋友,住在上面那邊。他見到有一間-- 因為我有個同鄉,在對面開了餐館,叫做華庭餐館。他開了幾十年了,現在沒有做了。他說,“對面有個鋪位,租金廉宜,你不如上來這裡開啦﹗那邊很多西班牙人,西班牙人的生意最好啦”。我說,“試試看就租了來做。我們做了一年左右,我們已經賺了十萬,八萬了。我們又跟另一個PARTNER(合夥人),兩個人在BRONX那邊Concord又開一間, 那麼我變了兩間,變了開了一年半之後,我們又賺了十多﹑二十萬。這時候,我就去了CANAL (堅尼路)開鋪。在CANAL 225號開,開了之後,一路到現在,我的舖子還在。</p>
<p>問﹕NO NO NO WE CAN’T [PAUSE] </p>
<p>岑﹕那時候,就是七一年,開了大約一年左右呢,我們在BRONX(布朗士區) 的concord又開第二間,我的PARTNER (合夥人)就去守那間,我就守157街BROADWAY那間。那麼ALAN在上面守呢,後來在過半年之後呢,我找到鋪位,我搬下到CANAL街來,那時候是七三年。</p>
岑﹕是嗎,我不是,我絕對不-- 也就是說一定要勇敢,做人一定要勇敢。那時候我隔壁哈林啊,打劫啊,那間銀行打劫,三支機關槍帶到門口,我趕快逃啊。打劫我隔壁的銀行,HARLEM啊。HARLEM BANK,三支機關槍,教那些警車也走回頭路﹗</p>
<p>岑﹕對美國,因為我們很多時候會看歷史,報紙,還有時事新聞,也知道美國是唯一一個國家,現代社會,經濟發展得最強的。而且,美元穩定啊,也就是來到這裡,工作生意也比較穩定。特別我們這些勤力的人,一定有成就的-- --就是要有點信心。</p>

那時候只有幾間破屋,在孔子大廈那邊。我們就住在EAST BROADWAY(東百老匯)那邊,在郵政局隔壁。</p>
岑﹕我在七--讓我看看-- 七二年搬入,七二年那時候搬下去唐人街的。但是七一年已經在HARLEM開了啦,到七二年中間那時候,我不太記得,忘了日子啦。這麼就搬了下來唐人街這裡,是225號CANAL街,也就是225號,在中央街和CANAL街交角那裡,還有的是,我是第一個中國人在那裡租舖子做珠寶。</p>
<p>岑﹕我不怕的。我-- --人家來打劫我,我說,你最多拿東西走,你不要DON’T MAKE NERVOUS,當然不要NERVOUS,先不要緊張。你要什麼,你拿去,就走。</p>
<p>問﹕-- 保護你﹖</p>
<p>岑﹕是有這些事。我們這邊沒有。因為七十年代初那時候,雖然就-- --很混亂,也就是每天都有人下來唐人街這裡想打劫那些舖子。當時呢,我就組織<br>
了一個會,一個叫CANAL STREET JEWELRY MERCHANT ASSOCIATION(堅尼路珠寶商人協會)。我做會長,那時候,就請了六個ARMED GUARD(警衛)守這條街。我是做HANDLE(處理)的,就請這些ARMED GUARD(持械警衛),六個ARMED GUARD,有槍的,看守,每一個BLOCK(街口)看守,所以他們去那裡打劫,不敢到我們那邊。</p>
<p>岑﹕沒有住啦。我七九年已經搬了過去了。我舊時在EAST BROADWAY(東百老匯) 住啊。YEAH</p>
<p>岑﹕我是不會的。因為我們呢,就每一年,都喜歡去旅行啦,去第二個地方,而且我一班朋友啦,在那裡住也有朋友的,有時候去探探朋友啦。也就是說我們不是封閉式的,我們生活幾代會跟潮流轉的。也就是不會像那些老伯那樣,不出唐人街。他們在唐人街幾十年,整天留在唐人街,就連搭火車去出門也沒有,我們絕對不會是這種啦。 </p>
問﹕--是不是這樣子。但是很多中國人在唐人街來講,我們是不團結的。所以就在紐約市來講就沒有一種權力 ,因為好多唐人也是不團結,每一個會也有自己的看法,那麼你--</p>
<p>岑﹕我覺得呢,跟以前比較呢,我很少參與社區活動那些會的。但是最近來講呢,一班朋友呢,也就是有時要做些什麼,就要我出來,參與一下,我們多一點接觸。我認為中國人呢,團體啊,姓氏啊,那些會啊,是非常我們中國的,是最有價值的CULTURE(文化)。一班同鄉啊,走在一起,大家有困難,互相幫助啊,借錢啊,或是有什麼意見啊,家庭問題啊,自己有一班人解決。對外而言,是他沒有跟一個GROUP(團體)去交-- 也就是去相處啦。當然啦,一個,那個人去跟第二個個人去相處不很久,就是不明白的。當然對每一種事的看法就不同,無論是做事,一個國家都一樣,對看法不同,拿出來,大家互相去argue(爭吵),沒緊要,去爭吵,沒緊要,找出一個真理,大家一起要做,應該是這樣的。社會是跟國家一樣的。我有很多COMMITTEE(委員會)一起,那麼我是從來沒有吵過架的,也沒有人罵過我的。我這麼多COMMITTEE(委員會)做,跟他們一起做,只可能將不同的意見,大家相量去解決。</p>
岑﹕絕對沒有。那次就是因為美國的通訊和資訊先進,每個人都知道發生了什麼事啊--大家應該用什麼的心態去保護這個國家,怎樣去--什麼意見去提出來啊,怎樣去保護我們的國家啊,也就是那個同時的情況,怎樣發生,所以每個人心中就是問這些事。我相信不會,那些出來打劫那些事就絕對沒有。所以我覺得NEW YORK(紐約)已經進步了,或是水準高了。</p>
<p>岑﹕當然是影響非常之大啦,因為以前我們在II WORLD TRADE CENTER(世貿中心)那裡做工的人,好像MERRILL LYNCH(美林證券),跟LEHMAN BROTHERS(李曼兄弟),很多在那裡的也是我的客戶。他們在LUNCH TIME 的時候,LUNCH也不吃,出來看一下表啊,WEDDING BAND那些,他們這些人,已經全走了去第二個地方工作,這些客戶不再回來了。</p>
<p>問﹕你意思是你的客戶,不只是唐人街的唐人,很多WALL STREET (華爾街)啊--</p>
<p>問﹕-- 其他鬼佬也來的﹖</p>
<p>問﹕但是我覺得唐人街CANAL STREET(堅尼路)走起上來,好像沒有以前那麼多金鋪,是不是呢﹖</p>
岑﹕如果跟以前,我自己的觀感,對MARKET(市場)來講呢。因為現在美國人,呢,就受了一個市場的經驗,知識水平高了,對於經濟學研究深了,所以好得意,股票賺錢,一窩蜂個個買股票。但是INTERNET(科網)爆了之後呢,個個覺得一不穩定,錢就全不見了。他們現在就買屋,他們買屋,第一間就買來住,第二間買來投資,有兒子結婚呢,就再買一間。如果一個家庭有一個MORTGAGE(貸款)到三個MORTGAGE,把錢給了MORTGAGE,他們的CASH FLOW(現金流量),已經給MORTGAGE LOCK(鎖)死了。所以我們的經濟就這樣啦。舉例,你有一間房子賣給我,或是我有一間賣給你,我們SIGN UP (簽署)了PAPER(文件)之後,這些錢TURN AROUND,回去銀行,所以銀行會水浸,就有很多錢啦,但是MARKET(市場)就沒有CASHFLOW,所以變了很多RETAIL BUSINESSES(零售業)都會DOWN(下降),我自己以前一班,在MERRILL(美林證券)做財務的年青人呢,在我們那裡買表,我跟他們談話。我對財務的事,認識也非常之深。因為我喜歡年青人CONVERSATION(對話),如何看MARKET(市場)啊,經濟如何的轉啊,我們經常的談,所以我看得很清楚。</p>
<p>岑﹕最旺是1983年到1990年那七年,那七年我們做珠寶跟RETAIL BUSINESS (零售業)最旺的。所有的RETAIL BUSINESS是最旺的。</p>
<p>岑﹕9/11之後呢,大家都認為覺得是一個時間我們應該要團結在一起。很多餐館也不見了生意,百分之三十,有一些百分之七十。在這樣的情況下,在困難的時候,大家都希望能夠找到一個方法WORK TOGETHER(互相合作),也就是大家一起做工,想大家如何能夠把唐人街變得更加好,還有在清潔各方面做得更好。希望能夠將唐人街這地方,能夠再BUILD UP(復興),好一點。</p>
<p>岑﹕如果這樣-- 希望把我的經驗,就是在唐人街的經驗,拿出來跟大家分享一下。如果參加這些會呢,是一個GROUP(團體)的人,做一個GROUP(團體)不同的事。大家心態做一件事。我們中國人呢,因為我們的生活方式是家族式的,封閉式的。所以為什麼我們中國幾千年也這麼落後,就是因為我們用封閉式的生活去處理人生。最簡單有一次,我去領事館,領事請我們吃飯,大家坐下來大約三十個人,但是有十二種言語。其中有一個朋友提起,問為甚麼我們中國有這麼多方言的呢?為甚麼我們只是在廣東也有方言十幾種呢?我說這是很簡單的。我們以前中國是農業社會是封閉式的。我們村不跟你們村打交道,因為你們村不見了豬就說是我們村偷了得,吃了。或是你們不見了牛,又說是隔壁偷了,所以經常爭吵,不來往的。所以我們村講的話,<br>

<p>岑﹕這樣就是不對,大家應該多一些溝通,多一些了解,不同層面的朋友,跟不同GROUP 的朋友做不同的事,你會增加你自己的TALENT,也就是知識。很多事不是能從書本上學回來的。一定要跟人家接觸,然後去溝通。</p>
<p>岑﹕第一,他們會想知道我們中國人的風俗是怎樣的。但是來到唐人街之後就會見到所有物品不同啦,也就是我們中國人吃的東西不同啦,用的東西不同啦,GIFT SHOP, CULTURE 也不同啦。但是他們是已經知道,中國人有很多東西是值得他們去學。最簡單,二十多,三十年前,我有一個做會計,叫李先生,李深知先生,做會計的,在CANAL街那裡計數啦,報稅這樣,那時王安電腦,那個王安,他以前是COMPUTER ENGINEER(電腦工程師),是很TOP(頂級)的,在原理上,已經知道如何製造電腦,但是在機械上,他們沒辦法過關,他們來到李先生這裡,看到有個老人,用算盤打數就想到,啊可以啦﹗我們要將電子線路安排像算盤那樣,走上去一個數,走橫去一個數,這樣就可以啦。我們現在的電路的設計就是這樣來的。所以電腦的FUNCTION(功能),也是由我們中國的算盤那裡來的。有很多人不知道這件事。</p>
<p>岑﹕現在最大的問題,第一是交通,第二是清潔,第三,我們要經濟,因為沒有了車衣廠之後呢,我們的經濟受到來威脅,變了。女人啊,以前在衣廠做的,現在要轉型,做護理啊,也就是要慢慢的轉型。但是除了轉型之外呢,我們唐人街做生意,不能像以前那樣,只是有亞姆幫襯(女性長輩來購物),我們要轉型,做一些以旅遊,遊客為主,也要做一些貨物適合於美國市場的,同時要吸引有購買力的遊客,在這裡花錢。也就是將唐人街變成了一個文化旅遊中心。這樣對我們以後的經濟生存,和在形式上來講,就應該要BUILD UP(建立),用開揚(開放)形式來做。不能像以前那樣,覺得我們已經有足夠的生意去做,衣廠能賺得錢,老闆可以去大西洋城,幾萬元放在桌子的賭博。這些形式已經不可能存在。我們應該更加要SERIOUS(嚴肅)一些對我們的社區,要轉型和推動。所以我加入那個唐人街旅遊推廣協會呢--</p>

NEW YORK(紐約) 的記者跟國務院有一個女人,是做推廣民族文化的那個首長,我忘記了名字,她來到,跟我們GRAND TOUR,帶他們一班人旅遊唐人街,在唐人街我們帶他們去吃點心,去喜萬年 (DIM SUM RESTAURANT),吃點心。她問,現在八點半,為什麼這麼多人在這裡吃早餐呢?是不是昨天沒吃晚飯?我說不是這樣的,我說中國人,一早起來,最重要的就是“飲茶”。“飲茶”是中國幾千年來的社會習慣。“飲茶”來講呢,你看那邊一個GROUP(一班人),那一班老人家一張報紙開出來,他們呢,今天有什麼的新聞會公開一起評論。有什麼政治性的,POLITICS 什麼問題,他們會在這裡評論。你見到另外的桌子,有兒童的,是FAMILY(家庭) 的,今天可能是誰的生日,大家在談關於FAMILY 的事。再過一桌呢,你見到一班也是做生意的,穿了衣服做生意的。有可能,一個人拖欠了誰得錢,叫他明天出來“飲茶”呢,那麼你就要記得要帶五百元要還給他。從生意是在這裡,FAMILY MEETING(家庭聚會), BUSINESS MEETING(商務聚會), 跟那些社區主席們談論社區事務也在這裡。所以我們中國人呢,不用給錢看那些PSYCHOLOGIST(心理學家),那些心理醫生。我們在這裡已經全醫好了。有什麼問題呢,出來找朋友呢就已經醫好你了。那個PSYCHOLOGY(心理學家)醫生又如何知道PERSONAL LIFE(私人生活)啊?但是你的朋友知道便可以解決你的問題啦。所以我覺得我們這些文化呢,西方是沒有的。你們這些人原來這麼利害﹗我們做生意的有什麼問題,約他出來,有什麼不合意的,在這裡便講到同意。為何要MEETING(聚會)呢?要MEETIING, 又要MEETING 什麼的。我們在這裡什麼也同意了。我們一路的吃,一路興奮地講東西,容易SMOOTH DOWN(氣氛融洽),就是沒有ARGUMENT(吵架),如果我在跟你講生意,有什麼不對,我們不會啪桌子鬧。你們老番呢,MEETING不對呢,就會啪桌子鬧,我們是不可以這樣的,因為我們旁邊有一桌,看到便不好啦。我們最多是小聲的鬧。所以,她說,啊你從來沒講過我聽這回事﹗我說,所以我現在講給你聽,如果你想寫一本書,一本小說-- 也就是說她學了我們中國傳統的文化,也就是價值觀。<br>

<p>岑﹕但是我覺得,首先講住屋,我記得那時候,1970年代,起那個孔子大廈那時候,有很多單位,也要很久才能租出去,很多人不申請。慢慢地,逐漸地移民越來越多,在EAST SIDE (東城)那邊就有很多猶太人就搬了出去,同時在小意大利區那邊,那些意大利人又搬了出去逐漸地,也有些填補。但是現在就真的是爆滿了。所以現在在唐人街住屋是一個很大的問題。現在如果有地方,也會很貴,幾百元一呎地,也買回來興建房子。可以賣得到六,七百元一呎。人口密度高了,城市價值也高了,但是衛生方面-- 所以有這個華人清潔協會,自從BILL LAM(林建中) 和DANNY LEE(李奇峰)等,組織起來之後,我一路也在背後參與和盡心盡力地去幫他們,去拉MEMBER(會員) 和其他人捐錢啊,我就是很熱心地去做這些工作的。他們每個也知道的。YEAH。如果近十年,跟以前比較,那麼會相差很遠。現在的唐人街已經是清潔了很多,你不覺得嗎?但是不是理想到像--</p>
岑﹕對,像MIDTOWN(中城)和PARK AVENUE (柏大道)那樣。因為他們上面根本沒有我們這裡這麼多人,遊客和不同地方來的遊客來我們這裡。同時,TRAFFIC交通繁忙,沒有像我們那樣密度那麼大,好像是星期六,星期日那樣子,一,二萬人擁入來啊變了-- 人多了呢,就一定是骯髒了一點的。所以我們現在就儘量教導人們,叫他們不要隨地扔垃圾。最簡單,我有一次,在街上,見到一個女人就掉了紙袋在街上。她旁邊的朋友是認識我的,見到我,說人家清潔華埠,你還不快將這垃圾執拾起來,這個女人便知道要把垃圾袋挑回來才可。也就是說,我們要教導人們,怎樣去保持街道清潔是很緊要的。所以我們將來呢,我們會錄了一支歌唱,關於是如何清潔啊,是每一個人的責任,看有沒有辦法,叫成龍唱出來。在街上廣播,叫人們注意不要隨便在街上掉垃圾。這樣的話-- 我們也要打掃,請一些人,就每一天,請三,四人,換那些垃圾袋去打掃。唐人街比以前已經好得多了。以前,那些垃圾公司呢,是不理會的。我後來,發現了原來,唐人街之所以臭,是因為垃圾車,收了濕的垃圾,在垃圾壓榨的時候,水汁便會流出來地上,這樣便會臭。我便跟那些垃圾局局長啊,垃圾公司的老闆啊,跟他們講,如果你們收垃圾的時候,知道那裡有濕的垃圾,收在最後,這樣的話,垃圾汁變了不會滴下了全街,也是臭味也減少了五十個PERCENT(百分點)以上。我們注意如何去清潔,注意不清潔從那裡來。但是我們沒有辦法--因為這裡有很多人來往,而且MARKET(市場),那些FISH MARKET (魚市場)又在中心地帶,變了會有這些情況。我們儘量可以做到最好啦。但是沒有可能做到完全沒有。完全沒有也就是沒有人來,沒有人來就是更加慘的。</p>
<p>問﹕看上來,你不只在唐人街做生意,用很多時間做COMMUNITY SERVICE(社區服務)--</p>
<p>岑﹕他們讀書,現在我兒子,在TUFTS讀書,他已經在NORTHWESTERN(西北大學)讀了書出來,做工,做了兩年,後來攻讀碩士,又想讀博士,在TUFTS 那裡。因為他說是全部免費的,我便跟他說要趕快讀。他讀PHILOSOPHY,讀哲學--</p>
<p>岑﹕我的弟弟跟妹妹,每人一間。所以如果我不給他們,可以給我的弟妹做。絕對沒有這樣的。以前我爸爸是做麵包的,SUMMER TIME (暑期)的時候,他叫我到那裡,幫手做麵包,我們三百元買粉買糖,晚上我們可以收三千元,四千元的,是很好利錢賺的。做麵包嗎?我說,但是我沒有興趣。我還是喜歡那些手造的。</p>
岑﹕很得意的,我大女兒,畢了業,在Swarthmore畢業,喜歡藝術,她現在,在METROPOLITAN MUSEUM (大都會博物館)那裡的 EDUCATION DEPARTMENT(教育部) 做關於藝術的事。最小的那個,在HAVERFORD(哈佛福) 讀,在PENNSYLVANIA(賓州)LANCASTER(蘭卡斯打)那裡讀。她現在去了西班牙,那些STUDENT EXCHANGE,學生交換的東西,六月才回來。我問她,說他哥哥不來幫我,你姐姐就走到METROPOLITAN MUSEUM(大都會博物館)那裡做,你是我最後一個希望,你會出來幫FAMILY BUSINESS(家族生意)嗎?你猜她如何跟我講?她說,DADDY,你在講你自己的夢,YOU’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT MY DREAM。她說你在講你自己的夢,你不是講我的夢。所以我們大家的夢也不同,所以很難的。</p>
<p>岑﹕如果現在來講,唐人街的生意,依然是很靜的。不能說是活躍到像以前那個樣子。除了9/11影響之外,還有經濟,美國的經濟,CASHFLOW(現金流量), 給地產LOCK(鎖)了那些CASH(現金)。對全美國商業的影響也是很大的,你記得以前香港的地產,地產商炒地,將地產炒高,想將窮人全部推回鄉下,回中國,CHINA。香港就算全是經濟學家,但是他們這樣是錯誤的。如果在香港只有幾個有錢人,沒有人在市場消費,沒有人煮飯給你吃,那裡來餐館開?沒有煮咖啡,你根本也不會有咖啡喝。你生活根本是不正常的。一定要-- 一個社會環境生存呢-- 我也寫了一封信給LMDC 的首長,JOHN Whitehead。我說,NEW YORK 要生存,那些SMALL BUSINESS 一定要能夠生存,然後大的生意才可以生存。好像我們一個地球的環境,如果沒有草根層,吸了這些水啊,就會好像是沙漠那樣,大樹也不能生長的。一定要有很多草然後才有樹可以生。你再去看全世界的環境,如果沒有草的環境,那些樹也一定不能生長的。一定要草根層吸了那些水,你的大樹,才可以長得大。我說,不只是II WORLD TRADE CENTER等大公司的問題,<br>

你也要注意一下,TAKE CARE(照顧)那些小的生意。如果小的生意環境不好的時候,只有大樹,在沙漠只有一個大樹的時候,是一定沒有葉的。一定會枯死的,我說。經濟是這樣的。我知道原來NEW YORK的稅收,七十個PERCENT(百分點)來自SMALL BUSINESS(小生意)的,全部的稅收,大的生意只佔百分之三十。你可以叫他們做小商業調查。</p>
<p>問﹕好,我們今天也講了很多的事。你還有什麼想給我們知道?我沒有問的事?還有什麼YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH US(你想和我們分享)?</p>
<p>岑﹕我就沒有什麼 IDEA (點子)啊,但是最緊要呢,就是我們唐人街,能夠將我們中國的文化,PROMOTE (推廣)出去,讓美國每個地方,也有興趣來這個地方,吸收一下我們中國的文化,對於食物啦﹑GIFT啦﹑還有我們唐人街啦,JEWELRY MARKET,我們做珠寶這樣,在全世界沒有一個珠寶市場是可以跟我們比的。好像是四十七街那樣,他們只是賣美國的款式,但是我們這裡有中國款式的珠寶﹑也有歐洲的﹑和美國本地的,全世界的首飾,在我們唐人街市場也可以找得到。全世界沒有一個珠寶市場是比我們更強的,希望人們多一些來這裡買珠寶啦,讓我們有生意啦。</p>
<p>岑﹕會的,如果那些利率一升,地產就會降溫,地產降溫的時候,CASHFLOW 就不會被LOCK死了,RETAIL (零售)是會好的。好像香港那時候炒地產,沒有生意啦,全部死了,每個人也拿錢去供MORTGAGE,銀行呢,就儲了很多錢,在香港儲錢,儲一百萬,你還要付款給銀行款項儲存費STORAGE。他不給利息你,還跟你要STORAGE 錢。銀行有太多的錢,<br>
<p>問﹕--跟我們談天,希望你LOTS OF GOOD LUCK(幸福)。</p>
<p>岑﹕YEAH, 謝謝。</p>


“S.W. Sang,” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed March 29, 2023,