September 11 Digital Archive

Joseph Chu

Title

Joseph Chu

Source

transcription

Media Type

interview

Chinatown Interview: Interviewee

Joseph Chu

Chinatown Interview: Interviewer

Teri Chan

Chinatown Interview: Date

2004-04-24

Chinatown Interview: Language

Cantonese

Chinatown Interview: Occupation

elder

Chinatown Interview: Interview (en)

Q: Mr. Chu, would you say your Chinese name and English name?

Chu: I am Joseph Wah Chu.

Q: When were you born? Where were you born?

Chu: I was born in 1933 in Toishan County, Guangdong Province, China. I studied in my hometown and then went to Guangzhou for high school. After China had been liberated (1949), I moved to Hong Kong.

Q: How long did you live in Hong Kong? When did you come to the United States?

Chu: I lived in Hong Kong for over ten years. I worked and studied there. I studied at the United College of Chinese University of Hong Kong for four years. I was a teacher for several years. I came to the United States in 1965. I lived in San Francisco for one year and then I moved to New York in 1966.

Q: After you came to New York, what did you do?

Chu: When I was in San Francisco, I worked as a busboy. I then worked in a department store for several months. The first job I had was a busboy in the House of Chan.

Q: Where was the House of Chan?

Chu: The restaurant was in midtown. Back then, the restaurants in Chinatown were small, and not as big as the Jing Fong Restaurant and the Silver Palace Restaurant. House of Chan was the biggest among the Chinese restaurants.

Q: How big was it? Who were the customers?

Chu: The kitchen had more than 10 workers. The dinning area also had more than 10 workers. Most of the customers were foreigners and there were few Chinese.

Q: How long did you work in that restaurant? Did you change vocations after that job?

Chu: I worked as a busboy for a few months. I purposefully wanted to learn to be a waiter. Then my friends opened a restaurant in Chicago. They asked me to help. I worked in Chicago as a waiter for more than half a year.

Q: Did you return to New York after working in Chicago?

Chu: Yes. I returned to New York in 1967 and worked in a restaurant as a waiter. My wife came and we were married in 1968. I continued to work as a waiter in a restaurant.

Q: Why did you choose New York and not Chicago?

Chu: Because I had a lot of friends, coworkers and classmates in New York. We had been good friends in Hong Kong. Hence, I chose New York. And also, job opportunities in New York were better. When compared with San Francisco and Chicago, I chose New York.

Q: How long were you in the restaurant business?

Chu: Not too long, about two to three years. Then I found a job in an American company, working from Monday to Friday. I still worked in the restaurant during the weekends.

Q: What business was the American company? What did you do?

Chu: I worked in the office of an electrical appliances company. The work hours were good, from 9am to 5pm. I still worked as a waiter after work. Not only was I so diligent; people at that time used to work seven days a week. The salaries were not high and actually, were low. I had to raise a family and had to work two jobs, seven days a week. The salary I earned on weekends was tax free (not reported). Back then, I was just like the other hardworking Chinese workers, working seven days a week.

Q: How were the fringe benefits then?

Chu: My job at the American company had weekend and holidays off, as well as medical insurance. Benefits were good. The Chinese restaurants did not provide benefits. I was happy with the medical insurance provided by the American company which covered my family. The standard of living was pretty good then.

Q: How many children did you have after your marriage?

Chu: I was married in 1968. My eldest daughter was born in 1970. My second daughter was born in 1972. My third daughter was also born in the 1970s. I worked in the American company for several years. There was an energy crisis and economic recession in 1974. Many companies closed down and a lot of workers were laid off. My company laid me off. By then, the Long Island University just started its bilingual program. I enrolled and studied there until 1976. After graduation, I worked in a company in New Jersey. In 1978, I started working at the New York Chinatown Senior Citizen Center.

Q: When you first came to the senior center, what was your work? What was the name of the senior center then?

Chu: The senior center was called Chinatown Senior Citizen Coalition Center. It was established by five community agencies. Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) was one of them. Hence, it was called Coalition Center. The senior center started at the basement of the St. Andrew Church. It was moved to 70 Mulberry Street in 1978. I have been working there ever since.

Q: This senior center was held by five community agencies. Besides CPC, what are the other four agencies?

Chu: The other four are Chinatown Service Center, Chinese Service Center, Chinatown Progressive Association, and The Immigrant Social Service. And also…….

Q: I will verify the names. Where was St. Andrew’s church?

Chu: St. Andrew’s Church was opposite from the Municipal Building (on Chamber Street).

Q: Was it opposite from City Hall?

Chu: Yes, although it was not far away from Chinatown, the streets were not good for seniors to walk. The seniors had difficult walking from Chinatown to there. The streets were too narrow. There were not very many members then. When we moved here to 70 Mulberry in 1978, membership increased steadily.

Q: When you started working, how many members were there? Where did the seniors come from?

Chu: Most of the Chinese immigrants came from Toishan. Over one hundred lunches were served (daily). We didn’t have as many staff as now. There were several workers in the kitchen, three workers in the office, two part-time workers helping with registration. There wes not many staff.

Q: What was your position?

Chu: I first worked in social work.

Q: What were the areas in social work?

Chu: Helped seniors with registration (to enroll as a member), filled forms, read letters, answered welfare questions and minimum psychological counseling.

Q: What kinds of benefits were provided to the seniors?

Chu: I helped them to apply Medicaid, Food stamp, senior housing. The benefits were not as good as today. The seniors at that time were not very complicated and didn’t have as many problems as today, such as domestic conflicts. Now, we have a lot of benefits but the waiting time for senior housing is very long - takes many years from application to approval. The benefits at present are more plentiful than the past but the eligibility is more limited. I remember the seniors who came in 1960’s would immediately get their green cards upon arrival to the United States, and then apply for their benefits. Now they have to reside in the United States for several years before they can apply.

Q: How do they know that they are eligible for benefits? Do they read the newspaper, or by words of mouth?

Chu: Back then, the senior center had staff to help them to apply. The Social Security Agency also sent their staff (to the senior centers) to explain the benefits. There was also a Social Security Agency staff stationed at The Chinese Consolidated of Benevolent Association (CCBA). Most of the seniors lived alone. Although a lot of seniors live alone now, population in Chinatown was not as densely populated as it is now. Not long after coming to the United States, the children of the elderly reside or work elsewhere for convenience’s sake. The seniors would not move with them because of inconvenient transportation. Hence, their living conditions were bad. The buildings were old and had plenty of rats and roaches. The buildings also lacked water and heat. There were many housing problems. Even though the living conditions were bad, the seniors would not complain because they liked living in Chinatown. Sometimes, our staff had to negotiate with their landlords because there was no water, electricity, or heat in winter. If the landlord was not willing to turn on their heat, we had to file complaints with the government agencies. The social problems they faced back then were not complicated.

Q: Besides your senior center, were there other senior centers?

Chu: Besides New York Chinatown Senior Citizen Center, Chinatown had Greater Chinatown Community Association, and CPC Project Open Door Senior Citizen Center.

Q: What were the differences between these three centers?

Chu: Greater Chinatown Community Association is the oldest, and was managed by the Catholic Church and didn’t have government funding. CPC Project Open Door Senior Citizen Center was first managed by the NYC Department of Human Resources. After more than ten years, it was returned to the NYC Department of Aging in 1990s. Both were funded by the government agencies and their managing styles were mildly different.

Q: You mentioned the senior center started with one hundred members. How many are there now?

Chu: The membership on registration book is over two to three thousand people. A few hundred come everyday to the center for activities. Over one hundred lunches are provided every day. Some members do not have lunch but attend activities such as Mahjong games, singing, sport activities or Tai Chi martial art. There were three hundred members. Now, we have at least five hundred members show up every day.

Q: What kinds of activities are there in the senior centers?

Chu: The biggest activity is lunch. We also have Chinese music group, choir, Tai Chi class, English class and chess art group. There is dancing every Saturday. In addition to these activities, we also have Chinese painting, calligraphy and poetry classes. There are numbers games every week and news broadcasting every day. Winter activities are less than summer. When the weather is warm, we have trips, mostly for free.

Q: Where did most of the trips go?

Chu: Most of the trips were one day trips. We started early and came back late. We have gone to parks and specific sightseeing, such as the Bear Mountain. We started early and came back late. The seniors like this a lot.

Q: Where do the seniors come from?

Chu: In the past, most of the elderly were Chinatown residents. Now, many of them come from uptown, Brooklyn, Queens and even Staten Island. The members are very active and are vastly differ from those of 1969. The members at that time only loved to play Mahjong and rarely go on trips, they would rather stay in Chinatown.

Q: Why are Chinese seniors living outside of Chinatown?

Chu: Chinese seniors lived outside because Chinatown housing is old and worn out and living space is very limited and saturated. When I first arrived, the best residential area was the Two-Bridge government buildings. Confucius Plaza (on Bowery Street) was not built at that time and it was only a desolate spot. After the Confucius Plaza was built in 1970’s, Chinatown had a good residential area. When young Chinese women immigrants first came here, most of them belonged to the 23-25 union (Garment Union) and worked in the garment industry or laundry industry. Chinese men used to work in restaurant or grocery stores. There were not many job choices.

Q: You mentioned that the senior problems at present are more complicated than in the past. How are they more complicated? Can you give an example?

Chu: When I said it is complicated, it does not mean that it is abnormal. Take domestic conflict as an example. The families in the past were simple. Young generations studied hard and were obedient to their parents. The American news reported a warm and happy picture of the Chinese families. Later immigrant policy became more lenient. As more immigrants came, the family structure became more complicated. Some youngsters went astray. Society changed and Chinatown had more gambling places and gangs, thus creating more family problems. Later, when the immigrant policy of the United States was tightened, some people came illegally: some of them came by visas and did not return; some came by marriages, whether real or fraudulent marriages. Some of our male members also did the fraudulent marriages. Some of them even got into trouble. They helped the women get residential status and were kicked away. Some of them had trouble even before the women had gotten green cards.

At the same time, when the children got their parents to the United States, the parents found out that life was not what they expected upon arrival. It is not so easy to find jobs and their living standards are worse than in China. For instance, they were doctors, engineer or teachers in China but they would not be able to find similar jobs in America. They can only be inferior workers in restaurants, garment factories, groceries or be a dishwasher. If they ran into a bad economy, there would be even more family problems such as the seniors not getting along with their daughters-in-laws or grandchildren. Some seniors told me that they had to open beds at night and fold them up early in the morning (for their sleeping arrangement). Or they had to sleep with their grandchildren. After a few years, the children grew up and the seniors couldn’t share the beds with their grandchildren anymore. Some of them had to sleep in the living rooms so it was inconvenient. There are many similar complaints. This is a social problem. I wish the government has more funding to address this problem. The senior housing is a huge issue.

Q: Are there senior housings for the elderly?

Chu: Chinatown has a senior house, which is Chung Pak Building on Baxter Street. Further away there are several senior houses. The waiting list for Chinatown housing is very long. Take Chung Pak Building as an example, when the building was built, there were eighty-eight units available but five thousand application forms were filed. Some members have a waiting list numbering of one or two thousand plus. How long do you think they have to wait? Therefore housing is really a problem.

Of course, there were some government housing buildings near Chinatown. But public safety was such a concern that people dared not to move in. If they moved in, they had to go home early or would not go out at night, otherwise they might be robbed. Now public safety is much better. Back in the 1970s, it wasn’t that safe. When some of the seniors were robbed by Puerto Ricans, they dared not utter a word because they were afraid of revenge. The seniors would put ten dollars in their pocket just in case they came out of the elevators and ran into a robber. They figured this money was part of paying rent. Even if the robbers looked familiar, they wouldn’t dare to identify them in case of revenge. By the 1980s, the situation had improved. Police patrolled more. Underground gambling was closed and gangster activities were lessened. Public safety improved. More police patrolled government housings so crimes rates went down.

Q: How is the public safety in Chinatown now?

Chu: It is getting worse recently. When mayor Giuliani was in office for those few years, public security was best. The 5th precinct also improved their services. There were more patrols and more action against illegal gambling. The public safety was improved.

Q: Why is public safety worse than the past few years?

Chu: Perhaps after 9/11, more unemployed people tend to make money by illegal means. Public safety is worse in the past two years.

Q: On the date of 9/11, where were you and what were you doing?

Chu: In 2001, I had retired but I volunteered in the senior center. On 9/11, we took the seniors for a trip to Long Wood Garden (Pennsylvania). Our staff, Alan Tran and I, led the trip. The seniors boarded the bus on 8:30am on Canal Street. The bus left at 8:35am or 8:40am. When the bus turned from Bowery onto Worth Street and Centre Street at 8:45am, we saw a huge crowd running on the streets. Alan asked, why were there so many people running? I said maybe they were chasing after thieves. The bus went on. We saw that the tower of the World Trade Center closest to us was on fire. The passengers and the driver all shouted. The driver said it’s burning! I took a few pictures with my camera because I thought it was similar to the bombing of the World Trade Center’s basement back in the 1990s. I could not imagine that it was an airplane hitting the building. The bus doors and windows were all closed so we couldn’t hear the noises, we only saw people running and the police cars and fire engines. We thought it was the same kind of bombing as before, didn’t think it was so serious. As our bus continued to pass thru Holland Tunnel to Pennsylvania, we talked about the previous bombing at World Trade Center and said it was easier to rescue (because of the lower level). I said maybe they need to have helicopters and drop some chemicals to keep the fire under control since it was so high up. Once we came out the tunnel, we saw an airplane so I added, “Here comes the plane to put out the fire!” Everyone saw the plane. The plane and our bus moved at different directions so we did not see the plane again.

The driver had a son who was supposed to work at the World Trade Center in the afternoon. He used his cellular phone to call his son for updates. His son was watching television and speaking to our diver. When the driver told us what was broadcasting on the television, then we knew how serious it was. The fire was caused by a plane hitting one of the towers, it was not a bombing. The plane that we just saw after coming out of the tunnel was the plane that hit the second World Trade tower. We only knew at that moment that terrible things had happened and we were scared. When the bus finally arrived at Long Wood Garden, we weren’t in the mood for sightseeing. Soon, the bus driver suggested that we leave because the tunnel might be closed. The highway was congested. After few hours, we could not return to New York. The radio said all bridges and tunnels were closed. We tried to return by Staten Island. The bridges were also closed and cars in the highway were not moving at all. We stopped at a place in New Jersey. The driver suggested that we take the Path Train if they were running. Alan and I went to check. A policeman passed by and said the Path Train was about to leave for New York City. Alan and I returned to the bus and brought the seniors to broad the train. The driver stayed with his bus. We brought the seniors back to 34th Street in New York City. The seniors then took the subways home. Everyone had a long day.

Q: Did you or any of the seniors have friends and relatives working in the World Trade Center?

Chu: My eldest daughter worked in Water Street , near the World Trade Center. She told me afterwards that she got out of the subway at 9am. Every means of transport had closed down. With no subway and no bus, she could not return. Because she bought a condo at Brooklyn Heights, she walked over the Brooklyn Bridge to get home. The other two daughters did not work downtown and they had no problem. When we gathered later on, many members told their stories. Some members who lived in Queens, Brooklyn and uptown had to walk several hours home. More than ten seniors who lived either at Queens or Brooklyn stayed overnight at the senior center because no one could pick them up. They returned home the next day. Not so many stayed overnight.

Q: Did you call the senior center on 9/11, to ask the director for instructions?

Chu: We talked over the phone. I told the senior center that we had arrived safely at the destination. At the same time, (I was informed that) many members in the senior center saw the towers on fire and collapsing. Many people in Chinatown saw it. They saw it at the corner of Columbus Park and watched the tragedy as if it was a movie.

Q: How was the situation at the senior center after 9/11? Did you come to Chinatown?

Chu: There was no transportation for one day. After that day, subway and bus returned to normal schedule so people returned. Those who lived far away didn’t return because of the transportation uncertainty. In those days, there were fewer members at the senior center. People from Queens, Brooklyn and uptown didn’t return.

Q: They did not show up because of transportation problems or other problems?

Chu: Transportation returned to normal but the seniors worried something might happen and did not come.

Q: How did you feel?

Chu: Me and the seniors experienced wars so we were not as frightened by 9/11 attack and explosion. We are old and not scared. We were only worried about the transportation. We were concerned for our young generation. We worried about the social unrest after 9/11 and the economic decline, the effects on the younger generations’ jobs and employment. The seniors worried that these kinds of situations would make their children lose their jobs or lose money on their businesses. The seniors themselves experienced wars, so emotionally they were not scared by the changes.

Q: Which wars did you refer to?

Chu: Our seniors went through World War II, many had experienced the conflicts between (China’s) communist and Kuomintang struggle, and the communist regime. Compared to these wars, this was minor.

Q: How did your senior center help the seniors? And help them to discuss (this event)?

Chu: After 9/11, the seniors were relatively calm. Some of them worried that the business of their friends and relatives would be affected. Some of them worried that their children would lose their jobs. These were more indirect. The most direct effect was the air pollution in Chinatown. Many weeks later, air quality in Chinatown was terrible. There was a certain smell to it. There were lots of floating pollutants in the air which directly affected our health.

Q: Did the government help?

Chu: After 9/11, government reacted fast and established a 9/11 assistance center. Those in need could apply for air filters and air conditioners. Those residents who lost economically after 9/11 were also helped. Our seniors benefited from the policy. They could apply for new air conditioners, air filters and rental assistance. The benefits helped their lives and financial situation.

Q: How sufficient were the benefits?

Chu: It was not necessary enough, but it wasn’t bad.

Q: You just mentioned that the seniors worried most about the younger generations’ jobs and business. Did the government help the younger generations?

Chu: Yes, Chinatown established a development council to bring in business. After 9/11, Chinatown was very quite. People in the other boroughs such as Queens would not come to Chinatown. Business dropped drastically. The government established a tourist promotion agency with Chinatown business to promote Chinatown. A lot of performances and activities were made to attract more tourists to our restaurants, tourist agencies and other agencies. Business recovered to a large scale and now Chinatown is almost as busy as before.

Q: Some seniors did not show up after 9/11. When did they return?

Chu: After 2-3 weeks, the seniors came back because they felt everything was normal again. The seniors were afraid of detours in transportation. They did not know how to transfer. For example, they used to take the 6 Train to Chinatown. If there was a detour or a train did not show up, they did not know how to cope and they would not come.

Q: Is this due to language barriers that the seniors did not know how to transfer?

Chu: Yes. It still is a problem. On weekends, less seniors come to the senior center, especially from Brooklyn, where there is always subway construction. The subway always had detours. The seniors could not read the subway map or ask for help so they did not know how to transfer. That’s why they don’t come to the senior center during weekends.

Q: There are maps, flyers and notices available in Chinese languages in Chinatown and Flushing. Would this help the seniors?

Chu: They should but the seniors did not feel comfortable so they wouldn’t show up. They would rather rest for a day.

Q: Besides Chinatown, are there Senior Centers elsewhere?

Chu: There are a lot of senior centers in Brooklyn and Queens, especially in Queens. Some are managed by Chinese and others by Americans. Many seniors are members of both Chinatown and Queens senior centers.

Q: If they had already moved to Queens and Brooklyn, why did they come to the senior centers in Chinatown?

Chu: Although some members moved to Queens and Brooklyn, many of their friends and relatives are in Chinatown. At the same time, they come to Chinatown to see their doctors, visit friends, or do shopping.

Q: After 9/11, how did you know there were 9/11 services available?

Chu: After 9/11, the government set up a special department to help out victims of 9/11. An office was set up near where the old Chinese American Bank was. They had news, flyers, and outreach to senior centers. They explained their benefits to the residents of Lower Manhattan, including housing assistance, air filters and related welfare. The application procedures were simple. Applicants would just go to Chinese American Bank on Park Row. They also sent staff to our senior centers to explain and fill out forms. It was very convenient.

Q: How complicated was the application form?

Chu: Our staff was used to filling out forms for the seniors. The applicants mainly needed proof of residence in Lower Manhattan. Sufficient proofs were phone bills, Con Edison bills and rent receipts.

Q: Since a lot of seniors lived with their children, could they have those proofs?

Chu: The young people could also apply for the 9/11 benefit. Of course many seniors lived with their children who suffered job or business loss because of 9/11. Hence, a small business assistance project was set up to subsidize the businessmen who suffered loss.

Q: What do you think of the business subsidy?

Chu: I have heard that business was bad after 9/11. Some small business received direct economic assistance and financial aid. Hence, there were not many stores closed down due to 9/11’s bad economy.

Q: You said that 9/11 was not so frightening compared to other wars. What wars did you experience?

Chu: During World War II, I was several years old and still living in the village in Toishan County. I heard the machine guns and canister explosions. My family brought me to safe shelters often. Some members were older than me, some younger. Besides World War II, they experienced (China’s) civil wars, or internal power struggles of the Communist China or many wars before they finally came to America. Hence, they thought 9/11 was only minor and were not as frightened. The seniors were more worried about their children’s’ unemployment and business, family problems, and the heavy burden of their youngsters.

Q: What kinds of family problems did they have? Can you give me an example?

Chu: For example, if the senior’s son and daughter-in-law were unemployed. They would be bad moods and may get into arguments with the senior. There was one senior who came to sit in front of the senior center early in the morning, waiting for it to open and didn’t leave until closing. After that, he still sat in the park for a long time before going home. Because the son and daughter-in-law were unemployed and the place they lived together was very small. He slept in the living room so he had to open his bed at night and in the morning. If he stayed at home for a longer time with the son, it was easy to enter into an argument.

Q: Can they apply for government senior housing?

Chu: We tried to help them to apply senior housing. The waiting list was so long. Those who were lucky can get it pretty fast and some have to be on waiting list. Some of them get notified to look at housing immediately. If they didn’t mind the location, taking the trains to mid-town, then it’s easier. But if they only consider locations near Chinatown, whether it’s senior housing or low-income housing, they have to wait for a long time.

Q: How long is the waiting list? Why such a long list?

Chu: The waiting lists are so long because of too many applicants, especially near Chinatown. We have a lot of seniors living in the low-income housing on 5th Street and Avenue B.

Q: If they have to live in Chinatown, how long do they have to wait? 5 years? 10 years?

Chu: Many years.

Q: When you first arrived, a lot of seniors came from Toishan or they were old immigrants. Have there been any changes? Where do the current seniors come from?

Chu: In 1960, when Mainland Chinatown was still a closed country, our members came mainly from the Toishan and Four County (in Guangdong) areas. After China established foreign relations with the US, more immigrants came from Mainland China and Taiwan. Chinatown seniors are mostly from Guangdong Province and they speak Cantonese. A few of them speak Mandarin. If classified by occupation, immigrants from Mainland have higher education level than the older immigrants. Although this is the case, many of them still couldn’t find the same type of jobs as before. For example, the people sent by CPC to work as kitchen staff (in the senior center), many of them were college graduated and were engineers, doctors, etc. But since their occupations and qualifications in Mainland are not recognized in the United States, they can only work in labor intensive work.

Q: Besides the language barrier, are there other barriers…?

Chu: Yes.

Q: How many senior centers are there in Chinatown now?

Chu: Chinatown has more senior centers. The old Chinatown includes only Mott Street, Bayard Street and Mulberry Street. Anywhere past Canal Street was Little Italy and many Italians lived there before. There were only a few passers-by on Bowery and beyond Sun Sing Theater (on East Broadway & Market St). Chinatown has expanded several times. Many seniors come from East River (Lower East Side) and Little Italy, which becomes part of Chinatown now.

Q: What are the new senior centers in Chinatown?

Chu: Besides the New York Chinatown Senior Citizen Center, the CPC Project Open Door Senior Citizen Center, and the Greater Chinatown Community Association that have existed for a long time, we have LaGuardia Senior Center near Governiur Hospital. This area used to be an American area and now is considered Chinatown. We also have City Hall Senior Center, which is a city agency operated senior center. It used to serve the Americans and it is one of the oldest senior centers. Now it serves mostly Chinese. Although Chinatown is not big, we have several senior centers.

Q: Why are the seniors going back and forth between senior centers?

Chu: The seniors like to have multiple memberships in different senior centers. They have different preferences. Take lunch, for example, everyone has different taste. If they are near Mulberry Street then they will come to us; if they are closer to CPC Project Open Door, they go there; if they are near City Hall or come by 4,5,6 subway, they will go to City Hall Senior Center. Members also like to go the centers where the staff have similar backgrounds with them. For example, City Hall Center attracts a lot of Mandarin speaking members. Similar backgrounds come together. Seniors who come by B, D, Q trains may go to CPC Project Open Door which is next to the (Grand Street) train station. Some choose by activities and services. Some people like dancing, Tai Chi, or Cantonese classics songs. Some like our Mahjong games, singing, painting and calligraphy. Some come to us when we have trips. Some like our dancing on Saturdays. Some attend the activities of City Hall Senior Center. The seniors are very active nowadays.

Q: In the past ten years, many Fuzhou immigrants have applied for their parents to come here. Do you have a lot of Fuzhou senior members?

Chu: We don’t have many Fuzhou senior members, only a few members. Perhaps they live further away from us. They are more likely at LaGuardia Senior Center and less at our center. When they attend our activities, they are able to communicate with our staff in Mandarin.

Q: Can the Fuzhou members communicate with the Cantonese or Toishan members?

Chu: Some members do not differentiate languages. Communication depends on personality. Whether they speak Mandarin, Cantonese or Fuzhou dialects, they can play mahjong, chess together. Some are friendly. Some alienate themselves.

Q: Besides senior housing, are there other problems?

Chu: Housing is a major problem. Older immigrant members do not have financial and medical care problems. They have retirement benefits. If they have financial problems, they can apply for welfare and food stamps. New members have more problems. It is more difficult for them to get benefits in a short period of time; they have to work for a number of years first. CPC always sends us some seniors who are new immigrants in their 60’s because they haven’t met the income requirement to apply for medical insurance. Because of government policy and restrictions, we cannot help them.

Q: What do you think Chinatown can do to help these seniors?

Chu: In the past recent years, Chinatown has many social agencies trying to help these new immigrants, such as the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and Chinatown Manpower Project, Inc., which provide English or employment training classes, free citizenship classes and welfare applications. There are more services for Chinese than in the past.

Q: Are these services for seniors and other age groups?

Chu: They are for all, indiscriminate of their ages.

Q: How do you want Chinatown to change? How can Chinatown help the elderly?

Chu: First, I wish that more low income housing will be built for the people. The economic structure has changed drastically from a few thousand garment factories to only a few. The door for immigrant women to work in a garment industry is almost closed. We have more stores but not skilled training for new immigrants. I wish more social agencies like the Chinatown Manpower Project or CPC to provide more employment training classes, to enable more new immigrants to get training so they can integrate into the society and find jobs. Once they have a better standard of living, then they get to do other things.

Q: Thank you, Mr. Chu

Chu: You’re welcome.

(end of tape)

Chinatown Interview: Interview (zh)

<p> 問:朱先生,可以講一下你的中文名及英文名?</p>
<p>朱:我叫朱祖華,英文名叫Joseph Wah Chu。</p>
<p>問:你是幾時出生,在那裡出生?</p>
<p>朱:我在1933年在中國廣東台山出生,在鄉下讀過書,畢業之後,就去廣州讀中學,解放後到香港。</p>
<p>問:你在香港住了多久?何時來美國?</p>
<p>朱:我在香港住了10多年,做過工,讀過中學,在聯合書院讀過4年書,跟著做了幾年老師。1965年來到美國,先到三藩市住了一年,1966年來到紐約(New York)。</p>
<p>問:來到紐約之後,曾經做什麼?</p>
<p>朱:我在三藩市的時候,曾經做過茶水(busboy),然後在百貨公司(department store)做幾個月,來到紐約第一份工作是在陳家園餐館做茶水(busboy)。</p>
<p>問:當時陳家園在那裡?</p>

<p> 朱:陳家園在中城(midtown),當時唐人街餐館的規模很小,沒有金豐﹑銀宮餐館這麼大,當時唐中餐館之中,陳家園算是最大。</p>
<p>問:大到有多少人做工,主要客人是什麼人?</p>
<p>朱:廚房10多人做工,樓面餐廳有10多人,以外國人為多,中國人不是很多。</p>
<p>問:你在餐館做了多久?或是之後你是否轉了行?</p>
<p>朱:我在餐館做茶水(busboy)只做了幾個月,因為想偷師學到企檯(待應,waiter),做了幾個月,我的朋友在芝加哥開餐館,叫我去幫手,我就去了芝加哥在那裡做企檯,做了大半年。</p>
<p>問:你去了芝加哥之後,你又回來紐約?</p>
<p>朱:是的,大概1967年回來紐約(New York),在餐館做企檯,因為那時太太又來了,我們在1968年結婚,繼續在紐約餐館做企檯。</p>
<p>問:為什麼你選擇在紐約,而不選擇留在芝加哥?</p>
<p>朱:因為紐約有很多朋友﹑同事及同學,在香港時候已是很好朋友,所以我選擇來紐約做工,同時紐約工作機會好一點,所以我經過比較三藩市及芝加哥等,選擇來紐約。</p>
<p>問:你是否在餐館做很久?</p>

<p> 朱:也不是很久,才兩﹑三年。之後找到老番公司做工,星期一至五,周末仍然到餐館做工。</p>
<p>問:你的老番公司是什麼公司?你當時做什麼工作?</p>
<p>朱:是在電器公司的辦公室幫忙,時間非常好,朝九晚五,之後到唐人餐館做企檯,當時不單是我這樣搏命(努力),那些年份的工人一星期做七天工,工資不是高,很低,且要養家,真的要做兩份工才足夠,那時一星期做7天,周末那份收入不用報稅,所以那時一星期做7天工作,像其他華人一樣搏命。</p>
<p>問:當時的福利如何?</p>
<p>朱:在老番公司做工依然有周末及醫藥燕梳,福利不錯,唐人餐館沒有這些福利。有家人的醫藥已算不錯了,生活都滿好的。</p>
<p>問:你結婚後有多少個子女?</p>
<p>朱:我1968年結婚之後,1970年後第一個女出生,跟著1972年第2個女出生,197幾年第3個女出生,一直幾年做老番公司做工,做到1974年遇到能源危機,經濟蕭條,很多公司關門,很多人失業,公司解僱(layout)我。剛巧長島大學(Long Island) 有雙語教育開放,所以我就去報名讀書至1976年,畢業之後到新澤西州(New Jersey)一間公司做工,然後1978年來華埠老人中心做工。</p>

<p> 問:你初來華埠老人中心做工怎樣?那時的老人中心叫什麼名字?</p>
<p>朱:老人中心叫華埠老人聯合中心,因為開創初期,老人中心由5個社區團體合辦,華策會是其中一個,所以改名叫老人聯合中心。1974年開始,在聖安得烈教堂(St. Andrew)租個土庫開辦,1978年搬到茂比利街70號,剛搬來時我就到此做工。</p>
<p>問:老人中心由5個團體合辦,除了華策會外,其他4個機構是什麼?</p>
<p>朱:一個叫華埠服務社﹑華人服務社﹑華埠協進會﹑華僑福社(華僑社會福利社)。還有….。</p>
<p>問:我們將會查考一下。</p>
<p>問:聖安得烈教堂(St. Andrew)在那裡?</p>
<p>朱:聖安得烈教堂(St. Andrew)在空孔樓(Municipal Building)對面。</p>
<p>問:即大會堂(City Hall)對面?</p>
<p>朱:是的,離華埠不遠,但小路很難行,耆老從華埠中心區走過去比較危險。同時小路很窄,所以會員不多。</p>
<p>   到1978年搬了過來,到茂比利街70號,(會員)人數增加很多。</p>
<p>問:那你開始工作時,老人中心人數有多少?老人從那裡來?</p>

<p> 朱:那是老華僑大多數從台山來,每日只供應百多份餐,沒有那麼多職員,廚房只有幾個工人,辦公室職員只有3個,同時有兩個兼職幫忙登記,職員數目很少。</p>
<p>問:你的職位是做什麼?</p>
<p>朱:初來時做社會服務(social work)。</p>
<p>問:社會服務是做什麼工作?</p>
<p>朱:幫老人家入會﹑填表﹑讀信﹑回答福利問題﹑及少許心理輔導。</p>
<p>問:當時老人有什麼福利,同現在有什麼不同?</p>
<p>朱:那時有醫療補助(Medicaid)﹑糧食券(Foodstamp)﹑申請老人屋,沒有現在那麼好。那時的老人似乎比較單純,沒有現在這麼多問題,諸如家庭糾紛。同時,現在很多申請福利,老人屋申請到批准的等候期很長,要很多年才批准,但現在的福利比較好,如糧食券(Foodstamp),但比較難申請到。我記得60年代老人初來到埗會馬上有綠卡,即可以申請福利,但現在要住幾年才有資格申請福利。</p>
<p>問:那時候怎樣才知道有福利?是看報紙﹑口傳或是其他?</p>
<p>朱:那時是老人中心的職員教他們申請福利,同時社會局派專人講解,<br>

同時中華公所也有社會局的職員駐守。那時老人大部份都是獨居,到現在也有不少人獨居,華埠的人口不多。會員的子女來到美國不久就遷居別的地方居住或做工,因交通方便搬到別的地方,老人會員不願跟隨子女搬遷。因此他們居屋環境很差,樓宇老舊,老鼠蟑螂很多,缺水缺暖氣,房屋問題頗嚴重。雖然居住環境差,但老人沒有怨言,因為他們喜歡住在華埠,我們有時要聯絡他們的業主,因為沒有水沒電,或天冷沒暖氣,聯絡屋主。如業主不願意開暖氣,還要替他們打電話向政府投訴。那時社會問題不算多。</p>
<p>問:當時除了你的老人中心以外,還有其他的老人中心嗎?</p>
<p>朱:除了老人聯合中心,華埠還有安老會﹑還有一間人瑞老人中心,安老會可以算是最老資格,由天主教堂主辦。其次是人瑞中心,在1972年已經有,也是由華策會主辦。</p>
<p>問:這三個老人中心有什麼不同?</p>
<p>朱:先講安老會,由教堂主辦,屬於私人,沒有政府的經費或津貼。人瑞中心由華策會主辦,屬老人局。老人聯合中心起初時不屬於老人局,是屬於人力資源局,經營了10多年,到90年代人力資源局交還老人局管理,同樣屬於政府經費,但經營手法有少許不同。</p>
<p>問:你說當時老人中心有百多名會員,現在又增加了多少?</p>

<p> 朱:註冊會員有2000至3000名,但每天來活動的有幾百人,午餐只有百多份,有些會員不吃午餐,只來活動,如打麻雀﹑唱歌﹑運動或耍太極,只有300多人活動。現在每天至少有500多人活動。</p>
<p>問:老人中心有什麼活動?</p>
<p>朱:最大的活動項目是午餐,有中樂組﹑歌詠團﹑太極班﹑英文班﹑棋藝社,逢星期六有舞蹈班,除此活動以外,還有國畫﹑書法班及詩詞班,每個星期都有數字遊戲,每日有新聞講座。天氣冷時活動較少,天暖時還有旅行,多數是免費的。</p>
<p>問:你們多數去那裡?</p>
<p>朱:我們多數去一天遊,早出晚歸。去公園(park)﹑或特別旅遊景點,如大熊山,清早去,晚上回來,會員都頗喜歡。</p>
<p>問:會員多數從那裡來?</p>
<p>朱:以前大部份在唐人街居住,現在很多來自埠上(uptown),布碌崙﹑皇后區,甚至史丹頓島都有。現在的會員很活躍,和1969年的會員不一樣,那時會員除了打麻雀外,其他什麼都不喜歡,很少去旅行,寧願困在唐人街。</p>
<p>問:現在的老人為什麼住在外面?</p>

<p> 朱:現在的老人家住在外面,因為唐人街的居住的地方爛,且地方飽和,初來的時候,唐人街最好的住宅區在橋景大樓,那是孔子大廈仍未建築,那裡只是一片爛地,孔子大廈在197幾年興建成,唐人街才有些好住宅區。初來的唐人亞姆在年青時是衣廠工人,大部份是23-25工會會員,女工在衣廠或衣館工作,男的多數從事餐館或雜貨店,沒有現時那麼多工作種類。</p>
<p>問:你剛才說現在的老人問題比較複雜,是什麼樣的複雜?可舉例說明其中一個問題嗎?</p>
<p>朱:所謂難搞也不怎樣特別,譬如家庭問題,以前的家庭配搭很單純,年青夫婦的孩子讀書很乖,曾經美國報紙讚揚華人家庭父慈子孝,又乖。後來移民政策開放,移民多了,家庭轉趨複雜,後生一輩不那麼走正途,華埠社會轉變,多了賭場,多了幫派,弄到家庭複雜了。同時因為申請來美國的條件更嚴格,有些偷渡,有些申請旅遊來留下,沒有回去,有些利用結婚的辦法,有些真結婚,有些假結婚。我們老人會也有很多亞伯幫人做假結婚,有很多有關假結婚的個案。曾經幾個亞伯因假結婚問題搞出麻煩,曾經幫女士找到居留,之後被人一腳踢開;有些未取到綠卡便搞出麻煩。</p>
<p>    同時有些子女申請老人家來,老人家發覺來了美國和想像的不同,本以為美國遍地黃金,很容易找工作,來到後發覺居住的環境比以前的大陸更差,找工作也不如預計容易,整天所做的工找不到以前的好工作,譬如以前在大陸是醫生﹑工程師,或者做老師,移民到美國不能幹回以前的職業,只能做在餐館﹑衣廠﹑<br>

雜貨店工作﹑或洗盤碗﹑等低賤工作。經濟環境又不利,家庭中很多磨擦,老人家很多問題,和子媳相處不來,和孫兒更合不來,同時居住環境狹窄,有些會員跟我說,他們晚上要開床,早上要收好這張床,有些和孫兒一起睡,到孫兒長大些,又不能同睡了。有些在廳中睡,不方便,諸如此類很多投訴。這是社會問題,希望政府幫忙加添資源。現在老人居住問題很嚴重。</p>
<p>問:華埠有沒有老人屋,讓他們住?</p>
<p>朱:華埠有一間老人屋,在巴士打街有一間松柏大廈,給老人家居住。距離遠一點有幾間老人屋,但華埠老人屋早已滿額,要等候很久才可以入住。以松柏大廈為例,樓宇建成後,申請填表時有5000人申請,但實際只有88個單位,等候名單中有些是1000多號或2000多號,你看要等多久?所以住屋問題嚴重。</p>
<p>   當然有些政府樓距離華埠不遠,因為以前治安不好,不敢入住,或很早要回家,入夜後不敢外出。因為早出或晚歸都會遇到打劫。現在的治安比較好。那時在1970年代治安比較差,有波多黎各的西語裔人打劫,不敢出聲,如果報警,怕被報復,那時老人口袋裡有十多元,若出電梯,遇打劫時,說當交租!同時覺得劫匪臉孔熟悉,也不敢出聲,怕被報復。到1980年代,情況有改變,警方加強治安,封殺地下賭場,幫派活動收歛,<br>

治安改善了。政府樓又加添了警察巡邏,劫案減少了。</p>
<p>問:華埠的治安現在怎樣?</p>
<p>朱:最近差了些。以前朱利安尼市長治理幾年後,治安非常好,就算第五分區拿的宗旨也非常好,巡邏密,打擊非法賭場,執行得好,治安改善了。</p>
<p>問:這幾年治安轉壞,為什麼呢?</p>
<p>朱:可能是9/11後,經濟轉差,人們失業多了,多了挺而走險的人。故此這兩年治安差了。</p>
<p>問:9/11當天,你在那裡?你在做什麼?</p>
<p>朱:2001年我已經退休,我在老人中心義務工作,9/11那天,我們剛好約定老人們去長木公園旅行,我和一位較年輕的職員陳亞倫(Alan)一起帶隊旅行,在8時30分在堅尼路上車,8時35分至40分開車,在包厘街轉窩富街時,到中央街,約在45分,看見街上很多人連走帶跑,陳姓職員問為什麼這麼多人,我說估計是捉賊,車再轉彎,很多人望見世貿近我們那幢樓上起火,全車人連司機都起哄,司機話「上面起火了」,我拿起照相機拍了幾幅,以為好像是199幾年世貿樓下的爆炸,並不以為是飛機撞,因為車門緊閉,我們聽不到聲音,只見多人忽然在跑,又見消防車及警車鳴鳴作響,才估計可能是以前同樣遭人爆炸,但也不覺得特別嚴重。車繼續行,經過荷蘭隧道(Holland Tunnel)到賓州(Pennsylvania),<br>

一直行還回憶以前世貿中心爆炸的事,還討論到以前救火比較易,現在高層起火,我還說可能要用直昇機或飛機才救到火,可能要抛下化學品。過了隧道,看見飛機,我還評論說,這飛機一定是來救火的了。大家看見飛機與我們的巴士飛往不同的方向,就看不見了。</p>
<p>   司機知道兒子在下午將會往世貿返工,打手提電話問兒子情況,兒子正在看電視,和司機講電話,司機向我們轉述電視的畫面,才知道事態嚴重,原來第一次起火,是飛機撞入大廈,不是爆炸。我們出了隧道看的飛機原來也撞到第二座世貿中心了。我們才知事態嚴重,知驚。巴士到長木公園,我們沒有心情玩。一會兒,司機提議離開,因為恐怕不能過隧道。誰知在高速公路塞車,跑了幾小時也未能到紐約。聽收音機說所有橋樑及隧道已被封鎖,我們嘗試從史丹頓島回來,那些小橋也封閉了,汽車大排長龍,沒有辦法行走,隧道及橋也關閉了。我們去到新澤西(New Jersey)一處地方停下來,司機建議我們到長途火車(Path Train)站看看是否有車,我和亞倫去查,剛剛有警察經過,有些人說Path Train剛剛有一班要開了,我們及愛倫回去報告,我帶了幾十名老人離開,司機說要守著巴士過夜,我帶了老人家乘Path Train到紐約34街,老人們各自乘地車(subway)回家,各人都經過很長的一天。</p>
<p>問:當時你或老人家有沒有親人在世貿中心做工?</p>
<p>朱:大女在水街(Water街)近世貿中心工作,事後,她憶述說,早上9時從地車上來,什麼都封閉了,<br>

沒有地車,也沒有巴士,她不能走回頭路。因為她買了公寓(condo)在布碌崙高地(Brooklyn Heights),她步行過布碌崙橋走回家。其他兩名女兒不在下城(downtown)做工,沒有遇到問題。我們回來以後,很多會員講述其經歷,9/11當晚有些會員在皇后區或布碌崙住,在埠上住的要行幾個小時才回到家中,有十多個沒有人接,又在布碌崙或皇后區住,於是留在老人中心過夜,第二天才回去,只有十多人在大廳過夜,人不算多。</p>
<p>問:當日9/11旅行時,你有沒有打電話回老人中心,問主任當時如何處理?</p>
<p>朱:我們通過電話,我告訴老人中心我們平安抵達目的地,沒有危險。同時華埠老人中心雖然很多會員目擊大廈起火及倒塌,因為在哥倫布公園的角落可以望到世貿中心,華埠很多人見到,如同電影般看到慘劇。</p>
<p>問:過了9/11之後幾天,老人中心的情況如何?你自己有沒有來華埠?</p>
<p>朱:那時沒有車,休息了一天,但過了一天,恢復地車及巴士,大家又回來了,有些老人住在較遠處不敢前來,恐怕交通有問題,故此那些日子來中心活動的人數較少,在皇后區﹑布碌崙及埠上的會員不敢來。</p>
<p>問:是否因為交通問題及其他問題?</p>
<p>朱:交通算恢復,但老人心中恐怕有其他問題,故此不敢來。</p>
<p>問:那你自己的感覺如何?</p>

<p> 朱:我和老人們曾經經過戰亂,對於9/11的襲擊及爆炸不感覺受到驚嚇,而是年齡大不怕。所驚是交通問題,所怕的是擔心後輩,驚9/11之後社會不安定,經濟受到影響,我們的後輩做生意或打工的受影響,情況使老人家擔心子女沒有工作,做生意的生意一落千丈。</p>
<p> 老人家本身心理上經過戰亂,處變不驚。</p>
<p>問:你所指的戰亂是什麼?</p>
<p>朱:是,我們的老人家有經過第二次世界大戰﹑國共內亂﹑很多人經過共產黨統治,所以講起來,這些屬於小兒科。</p>
<p>問:你們老人中心有沒有辦法幫助他們,和他們傾談?</p>
<p>朱:9/11後,老人家很平靜,有些老人說,他們的親戚朋友或家人的生意受影響,有些擔心子女失去工作,這是大謂事(一般人都遇到的事)。但是最直接影響唐人街的華人是空氣的污染。之後很多個星期,唐人街的空氣污染,聞到一股味,空氣中有很多渣滓在飄浮,這些直接影響人們的健康。</p>
<p>問:政府有沒有幫助你們?</p>
<p>朱:9/11之後,政府算是反應頗快,成立9/11救濟的機構,讓需要的人申請空氣清新機及冷氣機,或者因為9/11後經濟有損失者,成立機構幫助華埠居民,我們很多老人家都受惠很多,因為可以申請新的冷氣機及空氣清新機,又可補助租金,對生活及經濟幫助很大。</p>

<p> 問:這些福利是否足夠?</p>
<p>朱:說不上足不足夠,但算是不錯。</p>
<p>問:你剛才說老人家主要是擔心子女,怕經濟不好,或失業,你覺得政府有沒有幫助老人的家人(後生)?</p>
<p>朱:有,我們成立機構發展華埠經濟,幫助很大,9/11後華埠市面水靜河飛,其他紐約市的居民(如在皇后區等)都不敢來華埠,生意一落千丈。到政府成立觀光機構推展華埠,風光之後,與商家合作,搞很多節目,吸引遊客,餐館﹑旅行社和其他社區團體,搞很多活動,吸引遊客,所以華埠生意恢復很多,至今和以前差不多。</p>
<p>問:有些老人停了沒有來,到後來那時候才回來?</p>
<p>朱:遲了二﹑三個星期,老人又來了,因為他覺得正常了。老人家最怕地車改道,不知如何轉車,譬如6號車原本來到華埠,如要轉車,沒有車,就不知道怎轉車,就不會來了。</p>
<p>問:老人不懂轉車,是不是因為語言問題?</p>
<p>朱:是,到現在也是,因為星期六﹑星期日,比較少人來老人中心。尤其布碌崙那邊,因為在周末修理車路,地車經常改道,老人不懂看地圖,又不懂問人,不懂得轉車,所以周末較少來老人中心。</p>

<p> 問:在華埠及法拉盛有中文地圖,單張,通告等,這會不會對老人家有效?</p>
<p>朱:其實也有效,但是他們心裡覺得不放心,就不來了,在家休息一天。</p>
<p>問:除了唐人街以外,有沒有其他老人中心可以走走?</p>
<p>朱:在布碌崙及皇后區有很多老人中心,特別在皇后區,有唐人辦的,也有老番辦的,很多會員既參加我們唐人街的,又參加皇后區的。</p>
<p>問:既然他們已經住皇后區的,但為什麼他們又來唐人街的老人中心?</p>
<p>朱:雖然有些會員搬到皇后區及布碌崙,但很多時他們的親戚朋友都在唐人街,同時以前看的醫生都在唐人街,所以探朋友,看醫生,或買餸,都來唐人街。</p>
<p>問:我想問,9/11之後,你如何知道有9/11的服務?</p>
<p>朱:9/11之後不久,政府成立機構,專門幫助9/11受害居民,在舊的中美銀行成立一間辦事處,登報紙﹑派單張﹑派員到老人中心﹑講解如何幫助下東城居民,提供房屋補助﹑空氣清新機﹑福利等,申請手續很方便,去舊中美銀行,柏路那裡。他們派職員來,到老人中心講解,申請,辦事,很方便。</p>
<p>問:你覺得那些表格難填嗎?</p>

<p> 朱:我們的職員時時都幫老人家填表,今次最主要展示到實質證據證明居住在下東城,需要的證據包括電話單﹑電費單﹑租單,就是足夠證據。</p>
<p>問:很多老人家和子女及孫兒同住,老人是否能夠提交以上證明?</p>
<p>朱:後生也可以申請9/11福利。當然有老人家和子女同住,很多後生也失業,或生意一落千丈,所以成立小生意補助,幫助那些生意不好,經濟上需要支持者。</p>
<p>問:有沒有聽過小生意補助是否有效?</p>
<p>朱:我聽人說,9/11之後生意不好,有些為小生意直接提供經濟協助,有些貸款,所以唐人街因為9/11後經濟不好而關門也不算很多。</p>
<p>問:你曾說你和老人家經過戰爭,所以覺得9/11也不那麼驚,你經過什麼戰亂?</p>
<p>朱:第二次世界大戰時,我仍在台山鄉下,只有幾歲,那時時時聽到機關槍及槍炮聲音,家人時時帶我去避難。我們的會員有些不及我老,有些比我老,因為他們除了世界大戰外,還經過內戰,其後在共產黨統治之下,經過多次內亂。然後才到美國,所以他們說9/11事件屬於小兒科,不那麼驚惶,最擔心反而是後生失業,生意不好,令家庭經濟負擔慘重,家庭出現問題,只擔心這方面。</p>
<p>問:那些人家庭有什麼問題,你可否舉例?</p>

<p> 朱:譬如子媳失業,因而心情不好,可能與老人家產生磨擦。有些老人和子孫同住,因為失業心情不好,或許有爭拗。譬如那時有個會員未天光就跑來老人中心等開門,等關門才離開,還要到公園坐一會兒。因為子媳失業,自己住的地方狹少,在廳中睡醒後將床叠起,就要出來,很夜才回家,如果太久停留在家,兒子失業又在家,就容易起爭拗衝突。</p>
<p>問:有沒有辦法為這些老人家申請政府屋?</p>
<p>朱:我們試過為他們申請老人屋,都要等候很久,有幸運的很快申請到。有些只發出輪候號碼。有些一申請就收到回覆,叫看房子。如果不計較那一區就比較容易,在中城要搭車比較容易。如有些會員要住在唐人街附近,則無論老人屋或政府樓,都要等候很久。</p>
<p>問:大概多久?是什麼原因?</p>
<p>朱:因為人多,等候名單很長,尤其唐人街附近的更長。很多在第5街B大道附近的政府樓,我們有很多老人家入住。</p>
<p>問:如果他們要住唐人街,要等多久?5年10年?</p>
<p>朱:要很多年。</p>
<p>問:你剛來時很多老人家是台山人或老華僑,現在有沒有轉變?會員來自那裡?</p>

<p> 朱:1960年代,大陸仍未開放,會員大多是台山及四邑人士。後來大陸開放,較多移民由大陸及台灣來。唐人街老人中心大部份都是廣東人,大部份講廣東話,少部份講國語。以工作的職業分,由大陸來的文化水平較老華僑高,縱然如此,他們不能找到原來的專業工作。例如華策會派來幫廚房做工的工人,其中很多是大學生﹑做工程師﹑或懂醫學,但因為在大陸的訓練不能銜接到這些,其學歷在美國不獲得承認,只能從事體力勞動的工作。</p>
<p>問:除了語言之外,還有其他……。</p>
<p>朱:是。</p>
<p>問:現在華埠有多少個老人中心?</p>
<p>朱:現在華埠多了幾個老人中心,以前所謂華埠,只包括勿街﹑擺也街及茂比利街的範圍;過了堅尼路就算意大利區,住滿了意大利人;到包厘街那邊晚上少人行;新聲戲院那邊晚上少人行。現在華埠大了幾倍,很多會員來自東河以下及小意大利區,亦變成華人的世界。</p>
<p>問:新的老人中心是那幾間?,</p>
<p>朱:除了聯合老人中心;人瑞﹑及安老會以外,現在加入的有高雲尼醫院附近有康樂老人中心,<br>

以前屬於老番區,現在是華埠。另耆英會以是市政府直接辦的老人中心,叫大會堂老人中心(City Hall Senior Center)當時服務西人,資格最老,現在會員絕大部份是華人會員。華埠雖然地方不大,但有幾個老人中心。</p>
<p>問:為什麼會員會在不同老人中心之間走來走去?</p>
<p>朱:老人中心會員多數加入幾個會,因為各人口味不同。譬如吃午餐,各人口味不同。靠近茂比利街到聯合老人中心,靠近人瑞的去人瑞,以前耆英會在City Hall 附近,乘4,5,6號車的人喜歡去。還有那裡主辦的人及會員的背景相近的相聚一起,如耆英會講國語的親戚朋友聚在同一間老人中心,吸引國語人。人瑞的會員近格蘭街地鐵站上落車。有些老人喜歡聯合﹑人瑞或耆英會的餐,各適其式。同時,可供參加的活動,有些喜歡舞蹈﹑太極及粵曲,亦有喜歡我們老人中心的麻雀﹑唱戲﹑繪畫及書法,所以喜歡到處走。又譬如到我處舉辦旅行,星期六參加舞蹈,又參加耆英會各自的活動,現在的會員非常活躍,到處走。</p>
<p>問:近10年福州移民多了,他們也申請了父母來到這裡,你的中心是否很多福州老人會員?</p>
<p>朱:我們沒有很多福州老人,只有少數,可能我們離開他們較遠,可能較多在康樂老人中心,較少在我們的中心。他們參加我們的活動時,可以和講國語的職員溝通。</p>
<p>問:他們是否能夠和廣東台山的會員溝通?</p>

<p> 朱:有些會員沒有語言區分,很視乎人的性格心理。講國語﹑講廣東話或福州話的可以一起打麻雀﹑下棋,有些相處很融洽,有些則很隔閡。</p>
<p>問:除了需要老人屋外,還有其他問題嗎?</p>
<p>朱:房屋問題是最主要的。舊會員經濟及醫藥沒有問題,他們有退休金﹑如有困難,可申請補助金及糧食券。最有問題是新移民老人,因為申請福利比較困難,來了短時期並沒有這些福利,要先做工一段時間。所以華策會派來的老人工多是60多歲的新移民,因為沒有入息及醫藥福利的資格,因為政府政策所限,資格所限,我們也無能為力。</p>
<p>問:你覺得華埠能夠做什麼,來幫助這些老人家?</p>
<p>朱:華埠近年來很多社區機構對這些新移民提供幫助,如中華公所﹑人力中心提供英文班或訓練班,免費入籍申請﹑福利申請,比以前較多為華人服務。</p>
<p>問:這為老人家或其他年齡都有?</p>
<p>朱:為所有人,不分年齡。</p>
<p>問:你期望唐人街有什麼改變?華埠又可以如何幫助他們?</p>
<p>朱:第一,我們希望興建更多低入息的住宅區。近年社會轉型,以前幾千間衣廠到現在所剩無幾,華裔女工喪失了衣廠工作的出路,現在多了一些店舖及公司,沒有特別技能的新移民少了做工的機會。我們希望人力中心或華策會提供更多的職業訓練,讓沒有技能的新移民可以受訓工作,融入社會,找到一份工作,使生活安定,才能開展其他的事。</p>
<p>問:多謝你,朱生。</p>
<p>朱:不用客氣。</p>
<p>(完)</p>

Citation

“Joseph Chu,” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed March 31, 2020, https://911digitalarchive.org/items/show/88960.