The Chinese American Family Album

Chinese Amer Fam Alb - smallThe Chinese American Family Album

1995, Oxford University Press



Excerpt from The Chinese American Family Album:

Arthur Wong arived in the United States in 1930. He worked in a laundry at first, because he had to know English before he could get a better-paying job as a waiter. A friend told Mr. Wong to buy a Chinese-English dictionary. It was the beginning of the road to success.

“I think I carried that dictionary for about three to four years, in the back of my pocket, just like a pack of cigarettes….I walk on the street and I see a word and I bring out my dictionary and I find out what that word means….If you accumulate words like the way you put money in the bank, two words in your notebook a day, 365 days a year, you will learn over seven hundred words in one year….

“And I work seven days! I work five and a half days in the laundry and work the whole weekend in the restaurant. And then came the war [World War
II], and defense work open up….So I went to work for Curtiss-Wright, making airplanes…and then I got drafted by Uncle Sam–said ‘Come here, son!’ Well, actually in those days you felt privileged to handle a gun to defend your country in World War II.

“When I got back…I hear there’s a laundry shop for sale, and through friendship and grapevine I find this little laundry in New Jersey. And we looked at it and we bought it and we started our really long, successful journey till today. We work at it for twenty-seven years, and I think we did pretty well….

“Now I’m retiring from my long struggle. Certainly I don’t think there’s any place in the world we could do what we did, with what I have. All I have is ten fingers. I have no money, no education. But I know I have one thing–an opportunity to prove what a man could do.”


Selected for Commonweal/National Conference of Christians and Jews “Human Family” list of recommended books for children and young adults
Nominated for best nonfiction children’s book by National Council of Teachers of English
Reviewed by Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune,Newsday