I have been dropping by here for some years, and have encountered some CHICAGO BOYZ elsewhere around the web. Apparently, some have not been scared off by my ramblings, so I have been offered a chance to write here sometimes. It may be that someone, somewhere is dubious about this. Before I could register with the credentials offered, my ancient [my fallback is an abacus] machine did something . . . terminal to Firefox and I lost all but email. The error message was unlike any I had ever seen, so this had to go to my boffin. Which is part of the cause of the delay.
The computer was fixable. The other part is not, completely. Let us just say that I am getting an in depth view of orthopedics. And for the last week I have been arguing with WordPress and losing until literally moments ago.
Now that I am back, let us return to the discussion that started all this some time ago. I was giving some of my family history, and was asked what I would recommend to teach “real history”; that which actually influenced the real world we have to deal with, not the Narrative which changes with the winds of political correctness and who is currently playing the part of Emmanuel Goldstein.
With all due modesty, like the rest of us here I am on the right side of the bell curve. Part of that is genetics, part of that is upbringing. I’ve mentioned my father, and his coming from China. This came about because I had a grandfather who was smarter than the average Chinese peasant. He counted acres of land, and sons, and realized that he did not have enough land to divvy up to let each son have a chance to support a family. My dad was the youngest, so he was told that he would not get land when he grew up, but that he would be sent to the United States where he would have a chance to make his fortune.
Mind you, he was 12 years old, had the Chinese equivalent of a 6th grade education [so he could read, write, and do arithmetic in Chinese], and had no family going with him. And we have already gone through the legal environment here for Chinese. But he was willing to go.
It is not often considered, but China has the concept of “pioneer stock” the same as Americans. They did not go West, they went South. Until the Chinese cut down the jungle, chased out the tigers, and planted rice; South China was the frontier. And it was the South Chinese [Cantonese] who became the commercial classes all through SE Asia. And it was the Cantonese who came to this country in search of opportunity.
As one can imagine, life was not exactly upper middle class American for him. He worked in a restaurant, starting at the bottom, slept on a pallet in the back, and along the way learned English. He became a cook, and then [largely because he spoke, read, and wrote English unlike most Chinese immigrants] after the entry of the US into WW-II, was a food service supervisor at the old Lowry Army Air Force Base in Denver, when it was located in the Park Hill neighborhood before they moved it out by Aurora.
In 1943, due to Chinese protests about the way Chinese airmen in the US being trained to fly B-24’s against the Japanese were treated by Americans [in Pueblo, Colorado]; the US became the last nation to give up Extraterritorial Status in China, and thus Chinese in this country finally became legally human beings.
Although not an American citizen, once he could my dad enlisted in the Army. Keep in mind, that 30 years old is awful late to become an infantry soldier. And he did become an infantryman. They tried to make him a cook, and he fought to become an infantryman.
He started carrying a mortar base plate, and by the end of the war was one of the first non-white squad leaders in the combat infantry. He never talked about anything after they shipped out for Europe. Most combat veterans don’t. It was only after he died, that I learned that his unit the 5th Infantry RGMT, 71st Infantry Division, had fought across Europe including breaking the Siegfried Line, took part in the Battle of the Bulge, on May 4 his company liberated the last concentration camp in German hands [Gunzkirchen sub-camp of Matthausen] and on May 8 was the farthest east of any American Army unit in Europe when they linked up with the Russians east of Linz, Austria.
For his service, he was granted his citizenship at the end of the war. I did it the easy way, being born here.
I know that I am repeating myself from earlier posts, but it is not to brag, but to point out one very key concept. I grew up hearing about his life, except for his service in Europe, over and over again as I grew up. I watched him. Keep in mind that he raised me alone until I was 16, and owned his own restaurant. And worked 12+ hours a day, 6 days a week to raise me in a middle class lifestyle.
I always knew that just below the surface was a harder life, a worse life, than we lived. And that it took a lot of work to keep that good life. Like most of our Chinese acquaintances, it was assumed that all that work had the goal that the next generation would have it better than having to work in restaurants 72 hours a week.
And the kids shared in the work. My first restaurant job involved busing tables, one plate at a time, at 4 years old. Customers thought it was cute as hell. Probably helped the waitress’s tips. Most of my contemporaries worked off the books, without pay, until age 16 when they could legally go on the books. And then we worked in the family restaurants weekends, after school, and on all school breaks until we went to college. All that work did not excuse us from having to have good grades. Indeed, the only excuse for not working was that we had too much schoolwork.
In college, by that time most of us were qualified Chinese cooks. So on summer breaks, and Christmas breaks we would cook in the family restaurants, full time for full pay. And that is how we paid for college. In college I would work 4 months a year for $600 a month Chinese [which then meant in the middle of the country to get Chinese cooks to come there, the pay was after taxes and room and board was furnished.] like every other cook in the restaurant I worked 6 days a week, 12-15 hours a day, in 109 degree temperatures in the kitchen.
This was vital. We grew up knowing that to have a good life, we would have to work hard. And we worked hard. And we developed the ability to, if necessary, outwork our competition no matter what. One of the things my dad told me was that to get the same reward as a white person in this country, you had to work three times as hard and be three times as good.
Even by the time I was growing up, it was not quite that bad, the way it was when my dad was making his way. I promise that it is getting easier and easier to work 3 times as hard and be three times as good.
Modern Americans, and Europeans, do not grow up that way. There is no real consciousness or acceptance that success requires work, sometimes hard, painful, physical work. There is no knowledge or experience that life was not always as easy as it is today, and no comprehension that it is possible that someday that life can be hard. It is expected that there is always going to be someone, or something that will take care of them.
The immigrant culture, the concept of working your way up from whatever you left to a better life for yourself and your children is gone. It is not just a Chinese or Asian culture. Germans, Irish, Scots, Jews, legal immigrants from Mexico and points south, Africans; they all had and can have it.
The first step then, if you want your children to learn “real history” is to teach them that history as they grow up. The hard times that either you or your parents or grandparents had to go through. Make sure they know by relatable stories of their own families about not only hard times [and every American family has such in their history either here or in the old country], but how they overcame it. Teach them about real life, about real suffering. Don’t sugar coat things, because the world is not sugar coated. Children are learning machines. From the moment they open their eyes and they try to make sense of what you are saying they will absorb knowledge like a sponge. Tell them the truth, tell them reality. Tell them about the heroes that they came from, because that is who they will try to be worthy of. And teach them that they CAN be worthy of those who came before.
There are other steps, but creating a culture of reality and honor [both for their past, and for them to live up to] is critical. End Part One of Two.
24 thoughts on “[ ENTERS QUIETLY, STAGE RIGHT. LOOKS AROUND NERVOUSLY. CLEARS THROAT Part One]”
Welcome and thank you. Looking forward to much more.
SB! Welcome, welcome indeed! (insert happy dance of joyful welcome!) After Wretchard at BC, and the late Stephen Den Beste – the most cogent and knowledgeable commentator of my experience on this crazy old internet!
Thanks, SB. Powerful and I can relate. I’ll work on my grandkids before it is too late.
Welcome and thanks.
Thank you for writing. You are one of the more succinct, interesting and deliberate commenters I’ve read on the web, and it’s a pleasure coming across your Part One here. I’m looking forward to Part Two, and the next (and the next!).
My father told me about having to dig wells, because they were needed on the farm. Miserable work and sweet water, without which nothing else there could happen. Doing what it takes needs, do it ’till it’s done, do it ’till it’s right. It wasn’t just family stories; it was a transmission of values set so stealthily that I didn’t even realize it until much later when I did what it took, until it was done and done right.
My grand pops was also in the 71st and was in the first squad thru the gates of Gunskirchen.
SB, I have been reading your commentary on various events , on various sites around the web, for some years, with interest. Very glad to see you posting here, I always learn something!
Welcome aboard, and I’m looking forward to your future posts.
My great grandfather was born in New York State up near the St Lawrence River, which is how many Irish immigrants came in. The Irish had the advantage of language but were definitely low class. They were farmers and lived on what they grew. Two of my great grandfather’s brothers died in the Civil War. A lot of the family came out to Illinois in the 1840s and 50s. My great grandfather had 12 children, nine sons. They all grew up and worked the farm. As he had more sons, he bought land and added to the farm. When they were old enough to marry, he gave each a farm but the son had to repay half and that he used to buy more land. He died in 1905 and left a big house in Odell, IL.
My father told me he never learned to read or write but I’m not sure that it is true. The family legend is that he worked as a constable in the town of La Salle and, when he quit the job to go back to New York to marry my great grandmother, he made himself a glass cane at the glass factory in LaSalle, where he had also worked. I have that cane. The Civil War began and he did not come back to Illinois until about 1863. By that time, two of his brothers had died in the war, My grandfather was born in 1865 and I used to ask him if he had seen Lincoln. He assured me he had, I was 14 when he died.
It never occurred to those people that life would be easy.
Welcome – have long enjoyed your comments
This should be fun…Glad to see SB on the roster.
>Modern Americans, and Europeans, do not grow up that way.
Some of us Scots-Irish did. Particularly during the 70’s when you were below the Federal poverty level next to a national forest in rural NorCal and wore shoes bought at Salvation Army and got your water out of a hand pump and your allowance money chopping firewood and the commercials for the United Negro College Fund on what must have been the last black and white TV on the West Coast drove you into a frothing rage, because you knew that no matter how well you did in the poor-ass country school where you had to bring your own pencils and the books still showed JFK was President and wanted to put us on the moon…. no one would ever give you free money to go to college. Because you were the wrong color.
I went to college nevertheless, and worked my ass off as a picture framer and burger slinger (next to plenty of nice black people and Filipinos and Sikhs and Vietnamese) to see it through. And I made the money in IT in Silicon Valley when it was still a hearty and welcoming work-culture that has seen me and my remaining family through several years of lean. Including these.
That’s not as good a hard-scrabble story as yours, but it’ll have to do. It’s the only one I have.
I respectfully submit that you could do us and the body politic a great good service if you could detail your political battles and travails with the GOPe at the state and county level. Not as anecdotes, but as a user’s guide — with detailed processes and procedures, and helpful advice inserted into the narrative. Most of us, including myself, have never done anything more then shamble down to the church or civic center and register our opinion in matters public at the ballot box. We have never come into contact with, much less fenced with, much less been bruised by and done open battle with, the party machinery that has kidnapped our Republic and carried it off like a football and I humbly beg of you to compose and publish such a thing, even if you have to put it online somewhere else and post the link here.
Truth in advertising: I am a senior-level technical writer and instructional designer/QA guy/process analyst in addition to being a left coast Celtic redneck whose family has been on American soil since 1725 and is *still* struggling, but still game for the struggle. It may therefore be that I am too much a creature of my upbringing and environment. But I do perceive a sore and pressing need for such a thing. And I publicly beg of you to compose and author it.
I remain, your humble & obedient servant,
— Phil Ossiferz Stone
“He never talked about anything after they shipped out for Europe. Most combat veterans don’t.” Just so; I had to work hard to get any war stories out of my father.
“his company liberated the last concentration camp in German hands [Gunzkirchen”: my father saw Belsen; it was one of the few anecdotes he repeated to me.
I look forward to reading more of your posts.
You need to be offered a cabinet level position in Education. That’s exactly what this country needs.
Sir: Thanks for your great story….I was the “slave ” to my dad’s fledgling mechanical contracting business according to our employed mechanics. My job @ 12yr old was to clean the slimy pigeon crap out of dozens of industrial cooling towers and piping loops and then paint them with liquid tar coatings. In the winters, I would crawl inside equipment/machinery and breathe piped in air while cleaning. Some times boiler room work was in the 130 plus range, where tools were too hot to pick up w/o gloves.
I guess I was too stupid/ignorant to whine, as I was excited to be on the ‘big job’ and getting paid to be around the much admired mechanics who made the big buildings and facilities run. Plus the ‘cool’ factor as a kid & having unfettered access to the same….pretty big deal for a kid who was awfully filthy to onlookers on the jobs, but I was WAY proud of being allowed to ‘help’.
Kids today – no way, much less with labor laws and OSHA. I give thanks regularly for my Pops and our loyal customers that shaped my life and values. Amen to nasty work, Soapweed
Great post. I especially liked the mention of Lowry. I had a co-worker who was a child nearby that base during and after WWII. He told stories of how as a ten-year-old he’s watch shot up, barely airworthy B-24s landing there right after WWII to serve as hanger queens for the mechanic trainees. And while the base is decommissioned now, it sill has an excellent air and space museum on site, with a B-52 parked out front.
But I take issue with:
I’d argue that probably half of Americans still accept this. I certainly was raised this way and I’m fifth generation German-Irish ancestry. My guess is that a majority of the Deplorables accept that success requires hard work too.
I guess things are different for kids. When I was young there were a lot us working in a family business, myself included, but there were also others mowing lawns, delivering newspapers, doing odd jobs (all things I also did). There was a culture of entrepreneurship. It was a privilege and a point of pride to have an enterprise (even if it was just a neighborhood sole proprietorship), managing your own money (as little as it was), and selling your own services.
Most of all doing a good job. Displaying competence and reliability.
Kids don’t do any of that now. Some are into programming, but income seems like mostly a small afterthought. Dependability even less of a concern.
I’d argue that probably half of Americans still accept this. I certainly was raised this way and I’m fifth generation German-Irish ancestry.
I’m not sure it is half but there certainly are examples. My wife’s oldest son builds custom homes in Oregon and two of his sons work for him. His third son works for his uncle building and rebuilding old Porsches. They have a booming business with collectors and one they finished last August was worth a million dollars.
The uncle does not hire older auto body guys. They say it is too hard to train them to do things their way. They start with new young guys who will work hard and learn,
This is their web site. The video of the 1951 car shows their shop. They have about 100 old Porsches in that shop.
The days of fathers showing their sons how to do stuff is getting a lot less common and is about zero in cities.
I took my kids with me when I made hospital rounds on weekends and wound up with two lawyers. Their mother complained constantly about the hours I worked and put them off, I think.
Over the year I have read your cogent comments at Belmont Club and other places. Welcome!
I’m really glad to be here, but I am embarrassed by the compliment. I am not worthy to be compared to either of them.
Dare I ask if your grand pops is still alive?
Maybe I’m exposed to a harder working class of younger people because of rental housing. I screen the heck out of them, they stay and save their money for a few years, then go out and buy themselves a house. But my experience with tradesmen/women in their late-teens and twenties is good too. Hard working, motivated, goal oriented. I have two nephews, one’s a 22-year-old mechanical engineer with mortgage payments and a nine-month-old and the other’s a 20-year-old film school major in college who spends his weekends doing wedding photography with the two classmate partners in their small photography business.
El Paso County might be cheaper, but housing costs are so high in Denver that it’s not unusual for young people to work two jobs to make the rent.
A belated “Welcome aboard.”
I’m especially late with this, but I’d like to offer both my congratulations and my encouragement for you to write more, of course as your time and interest permit.
As I’m yet another fan of your commentary both here and at Belmont Club I also must note that I’d put you on the same pedestal as Richard Fernandez and Steven den Beste.
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