2.317 Chinatown

Friday 10/22/2021

Today was the day scheduled for a tour of Chinatown. One of our newer residents, Gloria, used to lead tours of Chinatown on a regular basis. (I first mentioned Gloria on Day 2.158 when I was invited to a dinner party that included her.) She had offered to lead one for CH residents and this was it.

There were 23 people signed up, fortunate since the larger CH bus holds 24. It’s a Ford, or anyway a bus built by somebody on a Ford chassis. And functional but not deluxe at all.

Gloria is well-informed and well-organized. She talked a lot about the unique culture of Chinatown, which derived most of its early inhabitants from one very small region of China. That group spoke a regional variation of Cantonese, which is still spoken there today, despite that since the Communist revolution, Mandarin has been the only language taught in any schools in China, with Cantonese now restricted mostly to ShangHai. She went over the early influence of the Family associations. I had not known that China has only 400-some unique surnames and you are not supposed to marry someone with the same surname as you. Etc.

We visited several places, including, uniquely, a museum of the history of Chinese show-business, created by a friend of Gloria’s who was herself a showgirl in the 40s.

The group crosses from the Hilton to Portsmouth Square to start the tour.
Gloria explains some Chinatown history.
Fortune cookies were a Japanese invention, but when the Japanese were driven out or interned in WWII, the Chinese took over the manufacture of them. This shop still folds 10,000 a day, they claimed.
From the show-girl museum.

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