Porcelain Tea Cups

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Siu's Porcelain Cups. This story and image was originally part of the exhibition "Earth, Fire and Life: 6,000 years of Chinese Ceramics," as well as being published online by the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, University of New Mexico.
Siu's Porcelain Cups. This story and image was originally part of the exhibition "Earth, Fire and Life: 6,000 years of Chinese Ceramics," as well as being published online by the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, University of New Mexico.

My father, Edwin Kwong Wong, was born to a poor family in Guangzhou Province. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1916 and was interned on Angel Island, California for four months before being released. He went to high school in Berkeley, received a B.S. from Ohio State University, and obtained an M.S. in ceramic engineering from Penn State. Knowing the value of education, he returned to China to help build and modernize a country wracked by civil strife and famine. Like many of his generation, upon his return to China, he found a job with General Electric (GE) in Shanghai and became a management supervisor working on fluorescent light bulb design.  My father survived the occupation of China by Japan and, in 1945 after Japan's defeat, my father returned to the U.S.     

These fragile porcelain tea cups came with him from Shanghai, with my mother, three sisters, and two brothers. The family landed in San Francisco but moved to Sacramento within a year because my father couldn't find a job to support his family (which soon included me, born in San Francisco). Throughout my childhood, these tea cups were never used; they were too fragile for everyday life. Instead they were a reminder of my family's affluent lifestyle throughout the 1930s. That long-vanished life included servants, an amah, a gardener, and the first automobile in our small neighborhood.

View the complete story here.

Place(s): Sacramento, CA; Albuquerque, NM; Shanghai, China; Angel Island

– Siu Wong, C.A.C.A. Albuquerque Lodge

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant