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Here’s some memories from Helen Owyoung…

We went to Chinese School after American School every day. It was the usual routine for all the Chinese children growing up in Chinatown.

There was never any juvenile problems in Chinatown. The parents only had to remind their children that they do not want any shame brought to them if they misbehaved in the community.  Saturdays was a half day Chinese School.  We usually stayed after school to play basketball or hang out with our classmates.  When we were older, we joined the YWCA or YMCA for activities there.  We would spend much time at the Powell Street Library where we can read the funnies. We also had jobs with the school or house jobs.

We went to the Cumberland Church on Sundays. We had some great Sunday School teachers, but the Minister was quite boring and we never knew what he was preaching about.

We all played at Grandpa & Grandma Lum’s apartment on Stockton Street. They had a hallway that went square ways all around and all the kids played there.  Some Sundays, a friend dropped by to visit and gave us 50 cents to the movies.  There were about 7 or 8 kids who went with us to the movies. We elected one person to hold the 50 cents to pay for entering, while all the kids are told to run as fast as they can to past the ticket man.  I think he was just too kind to question us, so he just lets all of us in.

When we were attending Francisco Junior High, we would pass a cookie shop walking home on Columbus Ave.  They have broken cookies for 5 cents and we really enjoyed these treats as we are going home with our friends.

Some of our memorable days off would be going to the Columbus Park enjoying the sunshine with Mom on her day off and with our sisters and brothers.  It’s a short walk on Stockton Street to the park.  The Catholic church nearby would be playing their chimes as we are enjoying the sunshine.  Many of our friends are also there with their families.

Many of Grandma Lum’s friends visit on Sundays from Oakland with their children. Our lives were very simple and happy.  We would put on plays at her apartment with acts made up by every one. We even dressed our brother, John in a girl’s outfit. He was very cooperative in those days, being about age 5 or 6.   We would play “jacks” and other types of games. One enjoyment is reading the Sunday funnies.  Our cousin, Pauline who was married and had an apartment on Pacific Street had the funnies for us to read whenever we visited her.  She is now 92 years old and moved to Elk Grove after living in Oakland for over 65 years.  I still call her to see how she is doing.

One Sunday, we lost sister Gladys at Mosswood Park. We looked all over for her but couldn’t find her.  We were all amazed when we saw her home on 11th and Oak Streets waiting for us.  She was always very smart and somehow wandered home by herself.

Aunty Suky and I used our first pay checks to buy Christmas presents for the younger children in our family.  We were making $5.00 per month and we thought we were so wealthy.

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