New York’s Chinatown: Becoming Scrutable (October 28, 1965)


“Eddie Hong, lawyer, travel agent and now a candidate for the State Assembly, is the first Chinese-American in New York City’s history to run for public office. Just as his campaign reflects his community’s newly awakened interest in affairs beyond its own boundaries, so his affable, Rotarian disposition suggests that few Chinese-Americans born in this country any longer bear much resemblance to the old stereotype of the inscrutable Oriental. For Hong, a Midwesterner by background, is a real booster — full of smiles, handshakes, gossip about recent improvements in the community where he happens to live. The fact that his office is close to the heart of Chinatown, that his legal clientele and the people for whom he arranges tours are Chinese, seems to result from a coincidence of birth, and not from any limitations of his personality. In fact, Hong at 50 is slightly older than most of the generation that shares his interest in civic matters, and therefore is something of an historical curiosity. Like most of the Chinese immigrants to America in the early 20th century, Hong’s father had left his family behind in the Canton province so that he could wander freely around the New World in search of a substantial income. Hong is not sure exactly what his father did in those days — ‘he worked for a while in Texas as a cook, but I don’t know where else’ — but he does still recall the fact that the entire family was soon able to come together in spite of the severe restrictions on Oriental immigration that the American government imposed in the 1920s. … He also became active in Republican Party politics, though most registered voters in Chinatown were Democrats. Throughout the ’50s he was only sporadically active in local politics but still, in 1964, he was made chairman of the Chinese division of the Nationalities Division of the Republican Party. In the last Presidential election he supported Barry Goldwater, and up until very recently intertwined Goldwater’s pictures and slogans with his own local activities. Hong’s campaign headquarters are in the backroom of his slight­ly disheveled railroad-like law office and travel bureau on Elizabeth Street. … Yet, no matter how many tasks he is attending to at once, Hong’s good nature seems unshakable. He is not the kind of man who can be easily rebuffed. For example, when John Lindsay’s entourage recently invaded Chinatown for a rally in the midst of the 54th anniversary of Chinese independence, it was clear that there was some tension between the fusionists who work for Lindsay and the few Goldwater Republicans around Hong. …”
Voice
Over a Century of Food and Change in Chinatown
W – Chinatown, Manhattan
Chinatown: The insider’s guide to living there

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Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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