Spool of Thread

Relationship: Im/migrant

Like most other Chinese immigrants, my mother came from little money and she hoped to make it big in America, or "Gum San", as they called it. She immediately found work sewing clothing at a garment factory. Members of the NY Chinese community were very helpful in getting my parents settled in an unfamiliar land. It was only natural that my mother found a job sewing clothing - her father had taught her how to sew from a very young age.By the time her shift was over on her first day, she was trying to hold back her tears. Never in her life had she worked such tedious and hard work. She used to sell motorcycles in Guangzhou, and her workday was mostly filled with sitting around and chatting with customers and people from the neighborhood. Her first day at work was a completely different experience.However, when she was handed her first paycheck at the end of the week, my mother never had another tear in her eye again. She told me the story of how she took the D train to Grand Street that day, and ran to the closest Chinese market. She picked out two big pieces of steak to celebrate with my father. In the following weeks, she made new friends, moved into a bigger apartment, and furnished it with beautiful things she saw on display at Macy's Department Store. She was living her American Dream.My mother has always been grateful for how much a spool of thread was able to help her succeed in her first few months in America.

Year: 1980

– Kevin Liang

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant