Diving into Delta’s Chinese heritageBy BY MARK H. STOWERS FOR THE E-T,
Good Mornin’! Good Mornin’!
Growing up in the 70s in Sunflower County, there was no Walmart or any one box store that sold everything.
You got what you needed at Eddie’s Lucky Leadway, Woo’s Grocery and Pon’s in Inverness.
If you were headed through Moorhead there was Quon’s and Lamb Grocery. Every Delta hamlet had one or two.
These were the days before an ATM, and Mr. Lamb would cash a check for Saturday night date money. I went to school with their kids and played sports, and we were all in Boy Scouts together.
We were all just friends.
But I never knew of the journey their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had suffered through to make their way to Mississippi and to Sunflower County.
Beginning in the 1800s they came to America looking for opportunity and dreams with plans to share that with their families back home in China. They took the menial jobs and created masterpieces such as our railroad system.
I never knew or heard of the battles and hurdles they had to overcome to simply live what we consider a normal life.
They were segregated and discriminated against, but many found their niche working between the black and white populations.
They had grocery stores and dry cleaners and many other businesses but laws prohibited them from actually buying homes so they piled up and lived in their stores.
And even though they were discriminated against and segregated, when it came time to defend America, these men rose to the challenge and filled the military.
They jumped into battle like any other American, because by this time, many of them actually were.
There are dozens of stories of their service, of their sacrifice, of their love for family and country. Sadly, I didn’t know any of this as a kid buying groceries and cashing checks.
Their hard work, sacrifice and determination eventually brought about opportunities for the next generation that became doctors and lawyers and many other occupations.
Today, there is the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum in Cleveland on the campus at Delta State that houses pieces of their history and their story from China to the Mississippi Delta. Awesome folks, one and all.
We’ll dig into more of their stories in this space and I’d like to hear yours. I’d always ‘preciate your comments here or over at Facebook, or you can tweet me @markhstowers
See yah next week! As a freelance writer, I’m working to grow my business and have created a GoFundMe page to help with that. Please take a look and see if you can help. I’d greatly appreciate it!
A Rebel, a Statesman — or Fightin’ Okra — and even a Trojan, I’m the Sunflower County farm boy with no green thumb who longed to live in the big city, got his wish and now is working his way back to the farm.
A middle-of-the-road-conservative and wannabe fry cook, I look to bring native Sunflower County folks and businesses to your attention through my looking glass.
There are those of us that packed up Mississippi and took it with us to new destinations and neighbors. My area code may be 248 but my heart is all about 662 and Sunflower County.
There’s more about me at markhstowers.com.