Last weekend, I visited my grandparents and uncle in Yonkers, N.Y., and I brought some recording equipment with me. It's a little morbid to interview the older family members in our lives, but I did and it was worth it.
This is just a taste of how cute my Gong Gong is. He told a lot of great stories, including how he had a pet monkey for 6 months while serving in the 41st infantry in the Philippines. And, he detailed his unusual journey from China to the U.S. -- through Canada to Ellis Island. (Most Chinese came through Angel Island.) The whole thing sent me down a rabbit hole. I've emailed historians and spent time looking for his records online. Here's his enlistment record, which I found at the National Archives website.
The nativity field is a mystery. Why Arizona? Also, why the last name "Lee"? (That's not my grandfather's last name.) My mom clarified the latter. Turns out, his last name -- and my mom's until she was a teenager -- was Lee until they legally changed it. Perhaps an error on Ellis Island?
I'm not quite sure what I'll do with the rest of the audio, but I may be due back to NYC for another interview soon. I'm fired up to find out more.