Chong starts out with a story of how her older daughter has job been accepted to Graduate School…
The success of your daughter has to do with the mother and the father “Well, Thank you very much” [laughter.] The way you think of education has to do with your parents, “NO” Good or Bad “That’s Bad” That’s the different what my parents grew up, what I had it with them, so different, I feel like it can be changed, it shouldn’t be that way, I don’t want to do that like my parents “I’m doing it different.
Frances is going for PhD, three years now, two years of schooling, one year of practice, 100% guaranteed job, she can get into National Certification. I said this sounds really good Fran, go for it. I said don’t worry about the money. She was very worried about the money, even though they give her $30,000 tuition, $15,000 1/2of that, she only had to work 71/2 hours a week with the professor, whatever needed to be done. She’s done the research program at Colby, she familiar with how the progress there. She went to Alfred College in New York. Maggie graduated last year and is going to UMO, she wants to major in Pre Vet so hopefully she get into Vet School someday, it’s kind of hard.
I’m the oldest in my family of seven, and I had five sisters, one brother, he was the very last. The culture in Korea that they don’t have a system like the United States, you know all the providers, social securities and all that stuff, what they do is they depend on their children for their late years. So in order to do that, tradition in Korea the boys would, taken care of their parents, usually older boys, and that very important. My brother is 35, just got married he’s here, all here except one sister, she’s in Korea, but see those traditions, I didn’t like that. Now the whole thing is that with a tradition like that they treat girls like nothing. No matter what you do, what you accomplish, ah, for them girls just waste! Those kind of feelings their giving you, want to go to school? What for? Just get old and get married, settle down and have children, da, da, da,da, dah. And times are changing, they don’t realize, all they want to have a boy, someday they’ll taken care of the, you know, so girls get married and leave house, that’ll be it. You know, so psychological I think we got to have a boy. So they keep having and having and having, no luck (baby) so they keep having, seven!
Schooling very difficult in Korea, if your lucky you finish High school, because money issues number 1, in that country the only free education is up to 6th grade, that’s it. When you go to seventh, you call the Middle School, and the 11 ‑ 12 high school. Just like when you go to middle school, not where ever you wait to go, no, just like college here, you need to meet their criteria and you do entrance test, make sure you have teacher’s recommendations, you all have to meet all those things in order to get to where ever you want to go to middle school. A lot of children stop in 6h grade, [Because before that it is free] number 1, money issues, number 2, schools there not good enough to go. There not like here in Gray‑New Gloucester, in there open field, you can apply to any school and number I teaches have to recommend it to, if you’re good enough to go.
See being oldest, really didn’t matter till I got older. I had to be responsible to my youngsters, make sure they taken care of, almost like, my own kids I’m raising, you know, but my parents there, but then again oldest one must always set an example, make sure you do right. If you do wrong, because that’s whole example setting for your sibling’s, therefore you get pushed. I have that. You might get a lot of spankings going on, or verbally abuse, and I had a lot of verbal abuse with my mother because one of those aggressful manner, I didn’t do anything, but were not allowed to talk back to parents, I don’t know about today, when I was growing up, that’s a no‑no to your parents, or any other people, you don’t talk back so you can not allow your feelings, or you haven’t done “why I get punished for something I didn’t do?” You know, but I had to take it, and I remember, I stand in the kitchen all the time and I cries, you know I couldn’t explain to my mother, she got mad at me all the time, because I say “I didn’t do anything, the sister did” so why I’m getting punished for? But, I’m not allowed to talk back so I just listen and let her yell at me, whatever, and I get frustrated and I cry, you know, that was the end of that. It’s very frustrating, to be the oldest. The others could do things, they can only be their own responsible for own actions, but not for others. So there’s a little difference between oldest and middle, youngest, whatever you want to call it.
I’m 48 going on 49, it’s different growing up there than here, here a lot better, I’ve been here 25 years, so that makes alto of difference a quarter of a century, and I’m sure it change a lot out there. But, I don’t call that I have happy memory of when I grow up, no, I work hard, you know, I try to do what ever I could, got good enough. NEVER good enough, always been criticized by parents, so you know, my parents wasn’t happy either, that’s what’s the matter with them they marry, they didn’t have their choice, one of those fixed up marriage you know, one day their parents, fathers, sit in some bar, talking about town gossip, whatever, they wonder oh I have a son you have a daughter, well that would be a good match to make. How bout I give you my son, I give you my daughter, next get married. That’s what happened.
My mother, she didn’t tell me till much later, she had somebody, supposed to get married secretly, and one day her father comes home and says you going to marry this so and so. She couldn’t say no, that’s the way it is, you supposed to go with it whatever you have to do. So they did, can you believe she never seen him until her wedding day! how can you many someone you never met? And talk to, or seen? That was it, but they don’t believe in divorce either, so they stick it out all those years. You know, it wasn’t easy for them either, I’m sure they were miserable. I ask my mother, why didn’t you say NO, I’m going to marry so in so? Why didn’t you say no? She says ‑ those days you don’t say no to the parents, you have to whatever you parents ask you to do, that’s what your supposed to do, It’s the custom that’s how we’re brought up, you be miserable not happy, you just have to live with it, you just have to whatever come, you have to try to work to fix it, I said “no wonder you guys fight and not happy” you know they always argue, and fight and always bickering about something. They never, and my mother had such a strong personality, taken up with my father, but still, you know, not there, just not there. So they all suffer in the kitchen too, you know, they all coming down, she’s not happy so she not in the mood to do running household, take care of children, she did, she did whatever she could, but her hearts not in, you know, till later years, she really looking into her kid, say well, I guess I got to change it, way I’m do it.
I was pretty much grown by taken, so I think that’s the difference I don’t have closeness with my parents. I know my mother lives in South Portland and my father passed away about 3 years ago, and I should go see her when my days off, you know, no, I call her up and talk to her couple minutes, but I don’t feel like I want to go see her all the time, and I feel like that can you talk about, you know, so I call how’s things going and she says, everything ok, and I try to go down see her once every three week, or month, my husband and girls, we go, she cook like you wouldn’t believe, you know, just like having a party, and my husband will like that, he likes to eat Korean food, so we do that. But I just don’t have a close enough, to run down see her all the time.
My sisters busy there own lives, we have to live NY, and in Gardner, one sister she’s with my mother, she’s not married, and my brother’s in New Jersey. We have split up all over the place, the whole family came over together. At that time my sisters, haven’t got married they’re all single, and that you see my brother, youngest. So therefore the Korean government policy say’s, if you have only one son, your household, because the son’s responsible for mainly taken care of the parents when they get older, therefore you don’t have to go to military. There government has military, boys enter military, mandatory, when they reach the age of 23. No two way about it, you gotta go, and something happen in my family mix up in family register, and according to government register in my mothers family she had 2 sons, instead of one! I asks how come you have 2 sons, you only gotta one. Something happen along the way, way back, my cousin, my fathers brother had a son, I don’t know whole story but what happen, something got mixed up now like here in United States when your child’s boy automatic register, you don’t have to do it manually.
In Korea, you have to do manually, a lot a people’s having babies at home it doesn’t matter with home or hospital, when you have done you have to give child’s name and you have to go to City Hall and register your children’s birth and so on so far. Well, evidentially my uncle and aunt somehow whatever the reason their son registered under my parents, so they didn’t know until years, years down the road, when I come to this country I needed all the background, paperwork and all that, I realize my cousins name on background. I ask my mother, he’s name’s on our family, he’s not our family. So she asking question, whatever story was there was a big mistake, but they never took it out, never removed his name, so therefore government sees, there only son not only son there’s second, so therefore he had to go to military to serve for three, four year whatever, he’s going to go far. Well, I think it would have been good, he should have gone, you know, hey no big deal, everybody goes.
But military different here, out there, in here life’s good, this country life’s really good, people don’t realize, they take for granted, they have to see a third world, what’s going on out there. And their military, you go in, I mean they’re worse than going to war, it’s so miserable, they treat them awful, in order to train them and discipline and all that stuff. So they don’t want him to go to military, so they reason, we leave the country, then he don’t have to go. Can you believer that, only had had to go to 3 years, 31/2 wasn’t going to hurt it. They decided well, ok, so were going to leave the country, so I had to invite everybody over. The only English they could speak, what they learn in school. I had to send out invitation for a of them to come, with my parents, siblings, whatever and their children. So, that’s quite a different, they way things they do, I don’t like it, never fit in, I’m glad I left the country, I don’t think I liked what was going on out there, I don’t believe in it.
I went back once, about 20 years ago. Fran was 2, so she doesn’t remember nothing. My family stayed with me about a couple weeks, till we find a place. And we find a place in Portland, an apartment up there, they move in there. And of course they brought some money, they had to sell the house, and whatever possessions they had. And then everybody looking for job, and then they find a job and they manage well I think. My mother never worked, housewife don’t work in Korea, [laugh] that the custom unless your professional, lawyer, doctor, yes or teacher, you could work. Otherwise housewife’s a housewife, or person who can’t afford, have TV go out to work to feed your family you don’t have a choice, then you go for work. That was it. [pause]
My father worked for the government, he worked for the railroad, he was a welder, you know, money’s good, benefits good, best job you can find in those kin of countries, work for government. Federal government good, state government no, [laugh] so he did well. Unfortunately he was not aggressive with money person, you know, well, you know everyday it was fine but he make a mistake in his life, along the way, what’s happening he sees no son, all the daughters coming out, so he decides to look for other way, to find one. Believe it or not, he had lady friends living for 7 years, well luckily for us, or whatever you want to call it, she couldn’t have children, (laugh) all this time and she couldn’t have children, funny thing is, seven years is long time, he was going out with him, and snap fingers just like that when my mother had son, he shut her up. Before was 12, that’s been going on, and I didn’t know, and I didn’t know why they were always fighting going on. I mean he’d come home always late at night, he was drunk, always drunk. As soon as he come in the house always a fight, always a fight and you know she been a good housewife, that foods dinner ready everything, reheated, not like in this country the convenience of heated in the microwave and all that. No, they didn’t have those kinds of facilities, and she had to heat it up and redo it, you know, all fresh and good. He’s not hungry, he’d already eaten by time he gets home, but he’s just being mean, you know he ask her to bring the supper, almost midnight after midnight, so she bring it, he’s not going to eat that, he just sit there, so my mother sit there and so figure I guess he’d not be eating, cause he’s drunk anyway, moved all the food and stuff. No, he’s ordering her to bring food, she’d go through 2‑3 times before they’d start arguing, then she’s mad, they they start arguing, why bother to come home, she didn’t know first time that he had lady friend out there. That’s why he’s spending every night, I mean why bother to come home, what for, so make her miserable? You know, it’s so pointless, but that the difficult of Korean men, in those days, 90% of men have a girlfriend, I hate that, oh, don’t I have it, and so she going to that, and fighting every night, come home. The weekends, hey, the weekends he’d take off with her places and won’t be back till Sunday night, why bother to come home?
That’s kind of a lack of manners, we talk about it now, I tell my husband, if you do that to me, I’d kill you. You let me know, and I’ll let you go, but don’t you ever do it behind my back. I remember in those younger years my father always asked me to shine his shoes, always, you know spit shine. I was10, 11, I was pretty good at that, you know, I sit there spit shine my Dad’s shoes, I didn’t think much of it. Then he had dress shirt, taking down dry cleaners, you have hot on your cuffs and collars, really hot, nice & iron, and I had to go take them down bring back, pay extra too. You know what? I didn’t know what he’s up to, I assumed something to do with ….. every Saturday morning I’d do that shine his shoes, pick up his shirts from dry cleaners. He’s going to see his lady for the weekend, I didn’t know that, and is I’d known probably I won’t done that, Dumb me, what am I supposed to know. And he won’t let my sisters do the shining, he always asked me to do it because I would do so good, and he really liked that. I did what I was supposed to do.
Every time I think about it, I get so angry, I get so mad, How could you? How could you do it. And then make us so miserable? No; good times. I don’t remember he ever paid attention to us. Anything, not that I remember. He did to my brother though,, oh yea. He think that he was it, everything, my gosh, he was IT. But us girls, no, I mean we help him out financially, we go to work, give them to run the household in later years but still don’t mean nothing, you know, how sad. I was, so difficult, but those days that’s how you live. Life’s funny the way it turns out, life’s so funny.
When I met my husband I was working as a security guard at the government military base. So I was a security guard for the Korean government, and what they do, a lot of American merchandise going out of the town, and Korean government don’t like that, Black market going on, a lot of merchandise, they don’t want that going on. Just go out the town, so I was there to make sure the ladies who work in those barracks, in military base, make sure they don’t take those out. That was my job, stop that going out. So that how we met, he was M.P. at the military, happen to be in Korea, it’s funny, I look back, I say all that places, all the men out there, maybe I could have married, I got stuck with you [laughter] I couldn’t even speak the language, oh forget it. I had to wear military uniform, I was 22 years old, I was working with other Korean guys, [Tape NEW Stop] Communicators place where we worked, not just anybody can come in there, only limited people. So they have a gate with a little building, check, even American people coming in. Had to go through register names, all this stuff, not anybody can walk through that place, so between one W and two security guard guys & myself working.
You know, once in a while he go to mess hall, that what called cafeteria, I realize that now, and after he has lunch he also brings the carrot sticks and told me “Miss Han this is good for your eye’s” I said, I mean, I can understand but I couldn’t take, I’d laugh all the time “good for my eyes”, I didn’t realize that’s what people believe, eat the carrots improve eyesight, I didn’t realize, [laugh] I said thank you I’m not particular eating raw carrots, it’s not my kind of food, but, allright so, then he bring me something once in awhile, some package of little candy, I don’t eat candy but oh well, everybody can eat that. So it would go for quite a while, then he tried to talk to me, between me and other Korean guard, he speaked a little better then what I could. So tell him what, then tell me to translate back and forth, back and forth. Just a simple thing, he didn’t ask a lot of questions, just curious you know.
And one day the question was, “How come you don’t go to college?” Hum, that kind of heavy subject, why I didn’t go to college? Then I looked at other Korean guy, why he want to know? Nat said “I just wonder, don’t you think at your age you should be in middle of college or finish college? Wouldn’t you want to go? I say “Yea, I want to go, parents couldn’t afford to send me to college. So I had to work, work to help them out financially, ho, you mean you don’t keep the money when you work?” No, when I work I give to my mother all my paycheck, if I need but fare, I need to ask for it, If I need to get to work I need to ask her, Can I have so many won [Korean money] so I can go to movie. Even though I work and I earned it, that’s not my money to spend the way I want.
He couldn’t figure it out, Why… you know, anyway. I didn’t know behind what was I motive for asking a the questions, He says. “Don’t you want to learn English language?” I say, what for, I don’t need it! You know, I’m here, what do I need English for. He was really serious asking all those questions not like Ha, Ha, funny thing. I ask “why you asking all those silly questions?” So he says “If I give you the money to take the English lesson, would you take the class? I shrug my shoulders. I told the other guard, “No, not particularly”, no I don’t think so, besides I don’t want your money, I don’t need it, and why should I take money from you, or whatever,” “I’d seen him all the time, and there a lot of people out there, Korean security guards, they all like him so well, he’s been always kind, whatever they need, help out. A lot of American GI’s out there, they don’t really help with the Korean people, out there when they need it, and he was excellent, anybody can talk to Nat, he’ll help but they’d always ask, they called him “Berry” they don’t call first name, they call last name basis. And all can depend on him to help out, he always did, known as “nice guy” you know.
I didn’t trust American guys, never mind nice, I didn’t trust. Because even though I work on the base, I seen so many ladies come in the gate and crying, what’s happening, that the GI’s going up the village, whatever going on, having fun, you know they promise girl, love going on & on, and all the mixed marriages you seen, and they promise girls they stay, then go. What’s happening meantime, when they stay for year. It’s usually a year, and when it’s time to go home, they leave and left the behind. Some girls have babies, they promise there going to get married, all the promise that they promise, those poor girls out there, they leave, they don’t come back, so what the girls do? They don’t know where there going to, might be going to Chicago, you know, who knows where there home State is. So, they come to gate, ask me to find those guys for them, their address, telephone number, how to be touched, anything, anything. They cries, I think oh my gosh, what am I watching here! I says no way, no way, not happening to me. So, I had my guard, always some guy, NV’s, says miss Han, want to go for movies, Miss Han, some of them, officers, cause we have one section of officers, and rest of them just regular. They all come, Miss Han, come, you want to go to movies? One of those places in the barracks where they have a special for the American guys. No, no, some of them follow me when I go home. Please don’t follow me.. They want to know where I live, no way. When I get out of this gate, you lines right here you don’t follow me. I didn’t do anything. I was cold, maybe that attracts guys being cold.
I didn’t want even Korean guys, no, I never flirt with anybody, no, I didn’t like that. I’m me and whatever. You don’t like it, and that’s tough. Hey, just leave me alone, one of those types.
Long story, long process, actually talking with Nat, ask about the schools, taking lessons on. Korean guy says since Berry’s going to pay fee’s for tutors in town, so why don’t you take it, when you go home what do you do? I says not much, why don’t you take the class? You know, let him pay for that, I said “should I?” yea, why not he’s willing to do it, I don’t know why he wants, but hey what’s you go to loose? So I thought about it, and I thought about it long time, no I shouldn’t do that, you know, months, no I don’t want to take advantage of anybody here that’s not good, I don’t want to owe anybody that matters. So he was still asking, he was very serious too, and I could see that sometimes he’d look way, way out there, thinking very deep thoughts.
In Korea guy 23, no, no there babies, you need be 27‑28 ready to get married, I didn’t realize this country so early, ready to get married. So I told him one day, yea, ok. This is funny… When he get payday, he give me once a month, he change his American dollar to Korean money, exact how much cost the lessons, then he give me extra, little bit for notebooks and stuff, pencils. I don’t need, you know, I could manage, don’t need. Oh no, no, this is my end of the deal, and I’m going to provide you with what you need. I mean it was funny actually, really he was serious. I don’t know what went through his head, and he did that. So I took that few months, but it really didn’t work out with lessons, because the girls who’s tutoring me, going to American Solders, don’t know where they went, she had personal problems. I had to listen to her problems instead of getting a lesson. It wasn’t really worth it. No, not like you’re going to school to learn very serious matters, no it wasn’t really like that.
So I told him one day, no, I don’t need anymore, cause nothings working here, you don’t have to give me any more money, that’s it. He was disappointed, you know. He noticed he told me much, much later, “I never quite figure you out, I heard you speaking to Lee, another NV, from Chicago, but you never talked to me, I heard you talking even though you can’t speak. He say something, you talking back to him, but you never did with me. You know what it was, I did realize you have an accent, Maine people have an accent, I didn’t realize that. I can understand Lee from the city, he can talk to me I’m clear with he’s talking about, I m answer. When you’re talking to me everything’s all curled up, sounds rolling, I could figure out what you’re trying to tell me [laugh] He said “really” you, I wasn’t trying to bee snob, or nasty. I just couldn’t figure out what you try to tell me, and I didn’t quite understood. “Oh, I didn’t realize Maine had accent either.” [laugh] Lot of slang’s you know. So, it’s quite interesting, one day he wants to go to movie, I say such nice guy, maybe I go, you know, what he’s doing, least I could do.
And I went with other Korean guard, he’s interpreter, talk about funny situation [laugh) watching movie, which is he didn’t want to go to, well he didn’t know where to go to Korean movie, he couldn’t understand, I could understand. Korean guy says this is excellent movie, barracks so we went to watch that. I didn’t have no idea what’s going on, you know, American movie don’t remember name. But in Korea we watch American movie, but in English with and all (Korean) words come out on the sides of the screen, and I get very good at that, I know what’s doing. I only know my Grandfather, he died he was 88, and that was my father’s father.
I never saw my mothers parents, and I only heard of the, I never met them. He died when I was 12, 13 or 14, no I don’t have really big influence from Grand parents, Cause I don’t know only grandfather I knew, this is so funny, I remember he goes to we call a Macolley [Rice Wine] House, what that is they serve the Rice wine, older people like to go in and have the rice wine, and have a teriyaki Burgogie to eat and drink. Know as eat men’s gather place, just like a bar and it’s clean and stuff. He goes down there, I was playing, we lived close with my Uncles house, he was living with my uncle, which was the son taking care of the father, and I was always visiting my Uncle, walk there in 5 minutes sometimes, and he always called me Chung‑ah [mother told, name means chung ‑ honest ae ‑ love] he couldn’t say Chung‑ae, he always called me Chung ah, and he’d yell it because he had hearing problems so he’d yell and yell, getting my attention, I was so spoiled brat, I didn’t pay attention him, I said “oh, gees, now what do you want?” You know one, of those deals, I was 12 or 13 and at that age, you know, give me a break. What he was trying to do, he tried to give me something. You know, he goes to Rice Wine House that little sneak, in he’s handkerchief and bragged me up, he wants me to eat that. I look at him, he calls me and calls me, and finally I says yes, and I look at him “here I got something for you.” I look at Ns handkerchief and no way I’m going to eat that or anything. No way, oh gross. But he meant well, at least he thought about me, all the kids out there and he had grandchildren, he always give me something. I was so brat, I could have just taken and said thank you and just threw away but at that age I don’t think that, I just look at and say that’s gross. I don’t want that, in that dirty handkerchief, forget it you know.
Then [laugh] he get mad, he yell at me [laugh] then I just walk away, that’s funny he always just do that. We called him Korean name, we don’t call the names we call the Grandfather which was Halaboge. After awhile I think he got too serious, I didn’t think much of it, he said one day, “Do you want to go out,” I said “NO.” (laugh] I thought well since I got to your movie, how about this time you go to my movie, I’ll take you out for the town. This time no middle just he & 1, took him in town, to movie, it happen to be Chinese movie, you know one with flying figures, [like cartoon] all that, he couldn’t believe what the movie made up. He couldn’t understand words, what he’s watching. I said “Well I go to you one and I didn’t understand nothing of it, now you’re going to come to mine to see how you feel about it [laugh] So I did, and he was good, he sat through all that, and then after that he wants to go for Chinese food, since we watch the Chinese movie how about Chinese food.
I said “Sure” so we went for food, food was good, and he Re that, your know, and the funny thing was those years, you don’t go out with the American people, dating in town, NO, NO. There was different classes of society, and you don’t normally date those people either your in strict people go out fun looking for fun. They go out GI’s, not the person supposedly respect people you don’t do those things, that’s bit NO, NO. And I made a big mistake, and I took him out next day. I got called in to my boss. I got warned that don’t go out with GI. I know, but he’s nice guy, he’s not normal GI you want to look at. We don’t sleep, we don’t kiss, we don’t do nothing, just being friends. He took me to his movie, I thought it be nice to show him our culture, you know, something different. He says “not anymore” “okay” so, what you gonna do? Hey, I’m working for the Korean Government, you gotta take the orders, you could do any. But later, there was other Korean guard, skinny guard, he was getting married, and so he invite me, Nat, because they all working together, he was one of the supervisors. And so we all went, went to City, and I took him watch all the wedding procedure going through and all that.
I said since we are in the city, I take you around because I’m from the city, those days I know every comer of the city and then I was so mean too. How can I be so Mean? [laugh] I said “well, okay, I’ll show you around, I wak I walk him all over that city. He had brand new shoes on I didn’t realize it, he got a blister on his feet, and I did realize it was bleeding or not. He didn’t say one word. And the center of the city we call the “Numsoon” which is the high mountain that’s the tallest one the city:, you go up, it takes a long time to go up there, you go up, you can see the whole city, it’s beautiful up there, everybody goes up. I took him up, walk, I could have taken the cablecar and go up, I said, No, I’m going to show you around, I let him walk.
Oh, boy he had it he didn’t tell me that until much later, “you know you took me for a walk, I was dying, my feet so hurt. But I could say me feets hurt. [laugh] I was just so mean. In a sense I don’t want him to be close, I don’t want him to touch me, I can sense the feelings he’s getting serious with me, and I didn’t want that. I just, I’m not going to marry GI and I’m not going to go anywhere, but I don’t want you to follow me around either. We can be friends, but nothing serious. He, so, I thought being mean to him, he’ll just get off my back, without me saying I don’t want you hanging around. It just didn’t work. It’s just funny, he really getting serious we go for about a year then he extends his tour for another six months. He suppose to go home and he said, No I’m going to stay for another six months. Then he said “what do you think about coming over to the States? Would you like that. I say, NO, what for. “Those famous words with me” Miss Han, you want to… NO. or “I don’t know”. Between those to words I’m pretty good at that.
So, you know, I got to think about it, then ended up going through I said “well, “right” we can engage, but that’s it, nothing more than engage, meaning swap the rings or whatever. He agree with that, much later he tell me; I couldn’t figure out you, even though we engaged you won’t let me kiss you.” I said “what do you expect, you think I’m gonna trust you? No way, I never trust you. You a nice guy, your good, your really gentle and good, but I don’t know, I really don’t know, so many things going on here, so many stories I’ve been listening to every single day, and I need that be part of my story, I don’t want that in my life. I never trust you, even though I go to movies, and things like that but, no I always still had my guards down, I’m not going to get into that problem. If you go that’s fine, I’m not going to get hurt. So I been cool about it.
He said “oh, I didn’t know why you do that.” You know, “That’s why, I just didn’t want to end up getting hurt, you know, you just couldn’t do whatever. So we got engaged, we had a little party. And then he had to go home. He’s from Windsor, Maine. So he sent me a letter, when you gonna come. Meantime I’ve got to go through a the paperwork, you know, he send me a fiancee visa, so he can bring me to stay. So the paperwork go through, length of time, if you speed it up maybe six months, drag on more than year sometimes, God knows how long depends on circumstances. So he said when you come to stay, and stay with me, you see whether you want to stay. You don’t like it I promise you, you can go home. That was the bargain, that was the deal. I say “Alright, that’s good enough, to see what you got.” How can you say No, give good deal, he’s not really, he wants it, he’s not really demand, I guess he know I’m not going to push here, if he do that I’m just going to say no” the heck with you. Maybe he knew. I don’t know. He didn’t really demand, like a lot of guys out there. And I didn’t like it. I was 22, scared to death, I left home, I got to San Francisco, plane got delayed.
I tell you , I stiff thinking about it, and every time I think about it shivers, not knowing what an I supposed to say, never mind how to read signs, plane delayed, there wag a 8:45 plane I’m supposed to get on, to Boston. We got there 8:30 and I says “oh my god, where’s the terminal, I get out, I didn’t know what to do, I lucked out. I could read sometimes, I recognized something, going to school, I guess I learned something, I was Boston must be I’m supposed to go down there, I ran, I ran, and so big that place, my God, I feel like I never get there, I’m running & running, I was huffing & puffing. I just give tickets she says “oh my gosh planes going to leave in minutes she grab my hand “Come with me,” she just pulling out and run through it. I say “what about my luggage.” [laugh] oh, we’ll send it don’t worry about it. Come along.
As soon as I get in, shut the door. I’m sit there oh, now what [laugh] I’m in the plane going sometime I get to Boston. You afraid you wouldn’t recognize him [laugh] that’s funny, recognize people, I’ll tell you all the American people look alike to me, in my eyes. I’m sure in your eyes all oriental people look alike, that’s not only your eyes, my eyes work same way because when I went back home, when I get off in Korean airport, guess what all the Korean people waiting for their relatives, they all look alike to me. I say “oh my gosh, how strange feelings I have, they all look alike. I can not believe they all look alike. It was kind of funny. I thought just being different makes us different, no.
Kind of weird feeling when I saw them.. then my sister, “Hi” and I realize my family right there, but I didn’t really recognize them, look all same to rest of them. That’s kind of funny. But when I got to Boston Nat met me. He ask me, “you want to stay over night somewhere and go tomorrow, cause it was dark outside, and I came in February, so it was wintertime , “or do you want to go home”? What a dumb question. He would have had stay over night somewhere, leave the next morning. I didn’t know how far from it, I didn’t have a clue. I thought just go for 10 minutes from airport, I said “no, why don’t we go home,” Drive, Drive, Drive, in the dark in February, I said “How far from home to here?” He said how many hours he had to drive. Oh my gosh, why didn’t you tell me, you drive here, back, no he’s just nice guy, whatever you ask, without complaining, he just did it, and when I got to his home his parents didn’t expect me arriving late at night, I could hear, “I thought you’d stay overnight”. She want to go, so we just come.
“It wasn’t happy. I think there was some racism and discrimination against foreigners, especially his father was in the military during the war, and I think he seen it, you know, they’re assuming everything, assuming negative more than positive. So I didn’t like their feelings. I didn’t like treatment I had without so many words, there’s no support, I had a problem with the food, never mind the language. I was hungry, I was starving to death, every night, and I’m so hungry, nothing to eat. 1972 there was no oriental food, today you go to market you find anything you want, those days you don’t find anything, except rice, rice they had I really don’t care, we don’t eat those kind of rice. Only thing I could eat plain potato, I mean the cook bland, not taste to it, only thing I could eat potato nothing else. Meat’s, we don’t prepare meat like chunks of steak, we don’t do that. They all taste awful, I means it’s awful and veggies, how gross.
I was so hungry, and nobody could help me, and parents, his mother’s not willing to help me, anything, they’re all working, they didn’t do anything, if only they took me to grocery store I might find something, no she was kind of cold, very cold, and I didn’t get any support from them, it was a sad time in my life. We lived with them for 6 months. End of three months I said to Nat, “we’re supposed to get married. I don’t know anything here how to get to marry, so Nat mother tried to help me with it. So we got invitations printed out, sposed wedding dress rented, then in box in the closet, I was invitations come to the house, and nothing happen, we’re supposed to get married April something, In between those times I happen to met Korean girl, which was a Korean couple in Augusta, that one day we went to supermarket and we met and she talk to me, so I got somebody to talk to, so Nat took me to their house once in awhile so talk and she feed me with Korean food you know, one of those.
So I got to know them, and her husband working at the CMP, and he was an engineer I guess, they were pretty well off So one day Nat dropped me off and so I spend the day with her and she said “Aren’t you supposed to get married?” I say “Yea.” “Did you send out the invitation? I said no they still in the box.” When you suppose to get married? I think April either 18th or 19th/ “This was almost end of March and she say “Oh! Something’s not right. I says why? I don’t know the customs, how they work, and I said “Something wrong” she say “I think so, you got to find out what’s going on” I say “why’s that” she filled me in, in the country month before wedding send out invitations, going on the America Traditions people normally do, “oh really. I didn’t know that, I didn’t know. They’re in a box in the house.
She said “I think you might want to ask “How am I going to ask, I’m walking around with my dictionary to communication, so I’m going pages after pages, luckily Nat could figure out what I’m trying tell him and it’s frustrating. And later find it out, weddings been canceled, and nobody tells me about it, and I took in closet, wedding dress been returned without I’m knowing about it. I thought him that’s kinda strange. Nobody mention anything, and I know that wasn’t good time for Nat either. He just got out of the military, then supposed job promised didn’t go through the post office, not that that’s what he wanted, promised it. Meantime I’m here, it’s a burden to him, his parents not like me, at the top of other things he has to worry about, everything’s going wrong, this is difficult, everything’s going wrong, falling apart and no place to go, we don’t have the money to live in some other place.
So this poor guy, working his buns off and not gain any. And he didn’t have nobody to talk about. So one day, finally I tell him “I think I’m going to go home” He look at me “Are you sure?’ “Yea” things are getting very difficult, I think better, we don’t have money your parents, I can get into a lot of details what parents do to me. I could get into issues, I couldn’t eve talk about it. So why don’t you buy me airplane ticket and I’ll go home.
So I pack everything, ready to go, all my clothes and everything else, and he was subbing at the Elementary school that day, in between substitute teaching, whatever he can get his hands on. And he comes home, he said “If you go will you come back in another 3-4 months I’m settled things get better? “No, when I’m gone that’s it. I’m not going to come back, this is it.
He thought about it, geez, this is it! I say “I can’t come back, when I go that’s it. So he say “let’s get married” Are you sure? “He says’, yea, you want to.” I say “yea, but I don’t know if we can make a go of it?” So he said “No, let’s get married, we can deal with the issues later, lets get married and I was gonna go home. That was it no more, long four months, no place to go, cooped up in the house, and I’m from city, city girl go to country no place to go, they’d drive anybody crazy on top of things falling apart. So that’s what we set up a date and were suppose to have blood test and certificates and a that stuff. They say “Well you got to get married within two weeks, if you don’t get married I got to go home, that last finance visa extended 1,2,3rd times no more extended. I got to go home, I got 5 days left, not 14 days, whatever I was so close.
And doctor say when you have a blood test it takes 2 weeks or 15 days or whatever in those days and the marriage certificate at City Hall, the lady says you have to wait for two weeks, we can not give you the certificate until that you can not marry. So hey, we are in a big dilemma here, what am I supposed to do? I gotta go home before that, so we go home and Nat didn’t know what to do, and I said to him one day, I got thinking, I always good thinking, come out quick thinking, I never lost that. I said to him “Now that papers in going anywhere? He said I don’t think so. Now, so she kept that paper at her house 2 weeks, the rules says has to be 2 weeks, that’s what it is?
He says “I believe so that’s the policy, rules whatever governed by. I says “oh, now that shouldn’t be to bad, all you do is call her up, explain to her what kind of situation we are in, is there any chance she’ll let us have late date it or early date it pretend that we come week early, instead of the day we had done it. Is it gonna be difficult? Oh no you can’t no that Nat’s very square, he holds the rules and walks the straight line. He always neat and clean he always tick, tick, tick? Go with a personality I didn’t know about, this is it, you not suppose to bend it. You just go with their rules. I say this is different, If we don’t get by certain days we don’t get married, that means I got to go home! What do we have a choice. What do you want me to do, go home, yea I could go home! Yea he says I supposed I could call.
He did, and she was good about it, she said that was no problem. The the policy, but under circumstances, yea we’ll do that. So we got married June 14th and funny thing, June 14th I did now it was Flag day [laugh] you know every time June 14th comes up I says must be there welcoming our wedding day. Flag Day, it wasn’t really fun thing at all, we were going through a lot. We felt empty, especially when Inlaw’s not support. That’s very hard. Very, very, difficult. I couldn’t talk about it for a long time. Finally I tell Nat one day, someday I’ll tell you what’s going on, not that they abused me, it hurts, how they treat me. I can’t tell the whole story without crying about it. I try telling, I couldn’t finish story.
That times I could well enough to speak, so I could talk to him, go to the dictionary every time I want to say something, It was a long time. They never giving me a chance. They assuming, everything’s assuming. I found out the assuming what they thinking of. The parents were not the typical grandparents, when the children were born. They are cold, in their own way there loving grandparent’s but not what you and I see as grandparent’s, come see you grandchildren, do things together you now. If I can help it. I tell my girls, someday you get married have children, I’m going to knock on you door everyday if I can help it. I don’t want to be like my parents. I don’t want to be like your other grandparent’s. I don’t want that. So I guess, all those thing adds up.
You know from the grown ups, and all that, and when I got married, I didn’t care that I’d have children, I really didn’t care, I told Nat, “whether we’ll have children or not I really don’t care, assume not have it.” You know what I had growing up, I didn’t have a happy childhood, not that I abused, but that the kind of life I’m gonna give to my kid, I don’t want it, you know. Rather not have it, So he say, “well, gee, I’d like to have someday, have a kid.” I say “when?”
He say, “Well, when I have, hell now he have a steady job in the Warden Service, so it worked out pretty good. No he got the job he wanted. Then he said I have to buy a house first before the children, then we’ll have children. Okay, that’s fine, I’m getting old, when I reach 30 years old, no more children and I’m not going to have it. [laugh] when I was 26 I had Fran, then I wasn’t going to have anymore, then I look at her I say, gosh she’s all by herself, I didn’t have any relatives here then, me alone. She’s going to be alone like me, and I didn’t want that, so I decided have another one about 31/2 years later.
So, there now there are those two, at least… worked out good, it was a long time, almost I feel like we fighting for something, always a struggle for something. And Nat being military, always a straight line, he doesn’t know how to bend. It’s very hard, how to five with something’s.
He’s been good, but he’s always devoted to his job, always, I don’t see him that much. Always, even when I had the kids, always, out there working, work, work, work, work, that’s all he did actually. I didn’t like that, I thought I support it, because that’s him main job, that’s he support us, all I could do was support him. So it was a long time and you know, every holiday, every weekend, I hate it, cause he’s always at work and I’m stuck with the kids at home, no place to go.
We took family vacations, like Disney World, and places kids like to go, I miss that. Me: Did you ever honeymoon? Hey, no we never went to Honeymoon. I was planning to go to Hawaii, I was planning my 35th Anniversary we would go to Hawaii, but always something in the way and there’s children, not that they don’t wan us to go, but last year was our 25” wedding anniversary but Maggie graduates High School, almost same weekend, so what can you do? Hello [laugh] So we didn’t go, I keep joking about it, when we go to Honeymoon? [laugh] We haven’t gone yet, we should go, why not? I’d like that. I have money to go actually. I do, just timing not good. I have my vacation money, I have my goals, I’m always organized in such a way, you don’t get into this, this, this, because that’s all reason why it’s set up. You don’t dip into, unless you can’t help it.
That’s how I do my household, There’s something for vacation, something for education, something for you know.. you had to. I didn’t believe in working. I started to volunteer for school board when Maggie was 2nd grade. I started part time job at bank 10:00‑3:00 and so I be home she leave home, I be home when she come home. So they don’t miss me. Time was good, money wasn’t good but I can get out of the house, do something.
I tried to go to school when they was little, didn’t work out. I signed up a UMA in Auburn. I tried to take different classes, that’s when the girls were little. You can’t count on Nat to baby sit, coming home on time, you know, very difficult. And I did take some English class down to Portland because I need it, that was just horrible, horrible to go to. I went to evening but when Franny was a baby I started, and that time I found out where I could go from the language and stuff. You can’t depend on Nat to come home on time so I could go. You know, I miss so many classes, I have to beg him, remind him twice a week, I need to go. Everything change, I always put myself in the back seat, and his first, the children come along they are lined up. I always thought to myself, I look back, I say “I could have done it all, I shouldn’t put myself back all these years I should have done it better. I just did my duty to be responsible as a mother, I think I got into [school board] because education’s very important to me. I get into system and find out what’s going on. I did, I wasn’t really, wow, you know. I was very skeptical, I didn’t know nothing, about this countries school system, but I was willing to take a chance. And I did, eleven years, I’m glad I did, I learn a lot about difference in school systems, than here and there.
I don’t have no sympathy, I’m cold, I’m telling you, I don’t have no sympathy in this country, with the kids not willing to learn, given opportunities. They don’t have no idea what other countries kids are suffering from, because there is not opportunity, period. You know, they’re not given any chance, only time you can do well, because your parents have money and power. You could do well, if you parents don’t have money, you’re not going to get no chance out of it, you can not get out of those situations, school cost money to go and opportunity not always for you. That’s why over there, the parents are so poor they have problems, find the food they eat daily, daily. But they’re willing to borrow money for children’s school. So they can be a success, so they don’t have to deal with what they had to deal with growing up.
I’m really fortunate my kids have been really good, I talk a lot, sometimes I talk to death, and nags, nags, a lot. Even they are good kids, you need to nag. Constant remind, and I think, hey Fran’s going 23, I’m still nagging her. I said “I know Fran, I know, but I’m just reminding you, I worry constant. I shouldn’t be worried, you guys all grown up, I done well, I shouldn’t be worried, but I do worry. Just make sure, someday maybe I stop, but I doubt it. So I say “Know I nag constant, I don’t call it nag, you call it nag, because I keep saying repeating all the time.” Just bear with you mother, just say “yea, I’ll do, don’t worry about it, I’m taking care of it.” “Do worry about it,” that’s all I want to hear, just do it. Nat, sometimes I think he’s spoiling kids, he’ll do for kids everything. I keep saying “Listen, you gotta let them do it, so they can learn. If you keep doing for them they can’t learn.
Someday down the road they against one of those problems, they don’t know how to deal with it, they haven’t taught. So they’re gonna struggle, I don’t want that to happen, I have constant remainder, just let it go. Let them do it. He goes, oh gosh, all right. He’s been really good with the kid’s.