Monday, July 20, 2009

Anne Tom, Oral History

When we first arrived: Everyone was so friendly. We had, you know, lots of Mexican students and -- Chinese Asian, my kids were the only ones, the three in elementary school. There were grown Asian Chinese people they were the children of the owner of Centro-Mart. But they were, you know, already grown. But I met the owner Mr. and Mrs. Wong who owned a small grocery on Oak Street, just right next to Chevron gas station now. They were the nicest people and welcomed us. “Oh we have not seen Chinese students in this community for long, long time.” Especially Welling, he was such a rascal, he was active and he would not just stay around-- he roamed around, just raced around the store. And, so Mr. Wong was very happy to see a little Chinese boy running around. And always gave him bubblegum and stuff like that. And also, we were fortunate and have nice neighbors on Eureka Avenue. And in a way, nothing much changed on Eureka Avenue.... Mr. Wolfe always came by and advised me. ... Gradually, he even taught me how to prune trees....Especially now that he is gone, my memory of him – every time when I prune trees, I thought of him... I am so different – ethnic, look -- and whatever – I am so totally different -- but we were accepted to this neighborhood.

I always bumped into friendly people. They always looked at my 3 boys, they were like a little 3 steps because age-wise they were so close and they were handsome... Wherever we went I met friendly people and they had good friends in school and their parents also were nice....We were accepted to this family and that made me feel at home.

Now: The new residents seem to have no respect for anybody. Among themselves and more so to the older residents whether in age or in, you know, chronological order. They have no respect for the people who already live here. On the roads they say, you know, “Who cares about you farmers? Who cares about you? Small town people.” That is the arrogance... They have no respect to anybody who is their neighbor. For instance, let me illustrate how bad it can be. A few years ago when the new Safeway opened there was a big thing in Brentwood and I shopped there too. And I met a young mother with a cute little baby boy, wearing boots, like hiking boots -- so cute on him. I was getting in line to pay and she was ahead of me and I just made a remark, “Those are beautiful boots! What are you going to do with them? Are you going hiking?” Or something -- just talk to the baby. And the mother--I don’t think she’s probably in the mid 20’s or late 20’s -- and she turned around and looked at me: “Oh do you like my baby? You want to work for me?” And I looked at her as okay, I dress sloppily and I am an ethnic person – I need work? But I would not expect someone to say to me ...“be my babysitter!”, you know, a nanny or something. And I said “no, I have a farm to take care of.” That would be even worse. “A farm, why you want to work on a farm?” so I said, “It’s my choice.”....So, that’s how I come to see the new people, especially the younger people. They show no respect to other people. They come here and they get a big house -- they are the queen and king. You know, “we can do anything here.” So that kind of attitude really upsets me.... All they know is: “I drive an SUV, I drive an expensive car, I have a big house and blah, blah, blah.” That’s all! “We are above you, we are superior to you.” You can have your way, I am happy with my way.

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