Monday, June 2, 2008

Taking a Seat Next to History With the Chinese American Council of Sacramento

Sunday evening, June 1, at the Holiday Villa Restaurant, the Chinese-American Council of Sacramento hosted a book discussion and signing. The author: Historian Philip Choy. The book: Canton Footprints: Sacramento's Chinese Legacy. Choy's work - a compilation of photos, oral histories, and serious research writing - was eight years in the making, and was given a huge boost through the efforts of Doug and Karun Yee.

So, with the scene set - 300 attendees, filling out an ornate banquet room, and dressed in their Sunday best - Choy presented his research in 30 fascinating minutes. Preceding the author were the wistful comments of Sacramento native and former County Assessor Roger Fong, who grew up on the same block as today's Wells Fargo building on Fourth and Fifth and "N" Streets. Teenage summers planting celery at the present location of the Natomas Marketplace shopping compound, running around Southside park with bee-bee guns, and fishing out of that same park's pond were among the memories. Perhaps the most poignant recollection of Fong's related to what remained after hundreds of his Japanese-American neighbors were interned. Empty homes littered the "I" to "N" corridor. There were a few that Fong and boyhood companions would enter through open doors in complete bewilderment at the site of fully-furnished homes without any occupants.

Fong was the childhood friend of former mayor Jimmie Yee, who was also in attendance. Both men and many others contributed to the essence of Canton Footprints, which will soon appear on many a Sacramento Public Library shelf.

The evening's energy was infectious, and taking a seat at any table at the Holiday Villa was one that placed you right next to one of the deepest legacies in our fair city's history.

No comments: