From The Greatest Generation, My Dad
By U.S. Navy veteran, Lucy Wong
In 1923, Calvin Coolidge became the president of the United States when my Dad, Bon Wong, was born. As an U.S. veteran, I can relate to my Dad how he strived to be a strong and determined American. Despite the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, it hurt the Chinese immigrants because it was the largest racial profiling law passed against any racial group.
In 1931, the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry-dock Company in Virginia started building The SS President Coolidge for the Dollar Steamships. Who would had thought my Dad would be on it?
At this time, the Japanese were in a power struggle with the Nationalists and Communists for China and my father was right in the middle of it. Dad cried, “The Japanese took my school building for their army.” He saw and heard bombs go off and he watched the destruction of buildings and dead bodies.
Dad’s adoptive parents were already living in Los Angeles. They were operating a Chinese Laundry, a profession the Chinese did because no one would hire them. This work was not done in China. His adopted dad sent my Dad a one-way ticket on the Coolidge so Dad could escape while the Nationalists were still in control.
Vacationers used the Coolidge to travel the Pacific and Far East, as well as trips from Japan to San Francisco. However, this was not the case for my dad, as he was restricted to the areas for immigrant passengers. The ticket costs $50. Dad mentioned, “It took 30 days!” At age fourteen traveling alone and terrified, the ship departed Hong Kong July 4th and arrived in Los Angeles port near Long Beach on August 2, 1936. His adoptive parents picked him up.
At age twenty-seven, he saved a little money and went back to China to marry my Mom and they had seven children. Dad owned the only Chinese Laundry in Hawthorne, California named Victory. I was their youngest daughter and served in the United States Navy.
Recently Congress apologized for passing the Chinese Exclusion Act, where America is made upon the assemblage of different cultures and civilizations from all countries. America’s most respected journalist, Tom Brokaw, wrote “The Greatest Generation” in 1998 and wrote about the people during WWII who unified to fight together and to do the right thing. My Dad was one of them.
Creative Art Therapy for the People with Scleroderma
(My target audience is for those with chronic illness as this is for the scleroderma foundation see http://www.scleroderma.org)
By Lucy Wong, MA, BS, Quilter and seamstress
It started in 1987, when I had troubles with my health. Now 26 years later, I have used art therapy as my natural healer instead of medications. I have scleroderma. It is a chronic autoimmune disease which turns the skin hard and tightens the skin, and has the potential to cause serious damage to internal organs. The impact varies from one person where it can be fatal or maybe be an annoyance on a daily life.
I took up sewing at age 40. I laugh and say, “I really suffer from arts and crafter’s attention deficient disorder,” in regards to my serious and potentially life threatening medical condition. I don’t let it walk all over me. I believe that creative art therapy has helped me live a healthier life style and has managed to live well with it. Art Therapy is a valuable skill to practice as much as possible and thirteen years later here is my story.
I was chronically late to work because of not being able physically to get dressed in a timely manner. My body ached all over and my finger tips turned blue and grey all the time and were extremely cold. Cold and stress does trigger Raynaud’s. I had generally fatigue all the time with no energy to waste. It was first thought to be lupus but later on; it was definitely scleroderma with hand disfigurement, thinning of skin on boney parts and shiny skin. The physical symptoms were noticeable seeing my skin tightened around boney areas such as my hands. I worked for about 30 years and have VA disability now.
Not working has made it easier to care for myself. The stigma of not working and being disabled as a young adult has changed in our social community. Today, it is not considered a negative social stigma as much for me. It is highly possible for a normal life. Perhaps I am lucky because I have my fellow disabled veterans and benefit from this support system. I constantly educate others about this and ways to create positive awareness for chronic conditions. Mostly how we all have the power to make a life for ourselves.
In 1999, I was working in the STAR clinical trial in San Diego, the study of tamoxifen and raloxifen drugs for prevention of breast cancer in high risk women who did not have cancer. It was a stressful job and I sensed that I needed something of my own to relax and to find inner peace. So, I went to Sears and bought a Kenmore sewing machine which I still use, along with seven other machines. Thirteen years later, I continue to do arts and crafts routinely as creative therapy for wellness.
It is never too late to start to sewing. I have taken many forms art and craft classes because of its therapeutic and practical value. Living with a condition that never goes away, it is not uncommon to get down and feel depressed. Further, when I saw what I made such as a simple peasant top or grocery bag completed boosted my demeanor positively without medications. Prescription drugs can cause adverse effects on the human body, but making projects is a natural way to heal or to maintain health status.
I served in the United States Navy and worked with a variety of chemicals where OSHA did not exist. This is where I got my medical condition from what I did in the US Navy as a medical tech. I was in the latter part of the Cold War and Desert Storm campaigns. When I got out of the Navy in 1984, I seemed healthy but three years later became very Ill. I could barely wash one cup or fold one piece of laundry before I had to go to bed. I was so tired all the time. I experienced chronic fatigue and body and joint aches. Any moment away from work or school, I would go to bed. Getting plenty of rest or trying to eat right provided no help or answers why. What am I going through?
I have achieved many ribbon awards for my quilts and wearable’s. It first started out by taking sewing classes to make wearable arts. I took a lot of classes at JoAnne Fabrics, Hancock’s, quilt shops and more. I would buy clothing patterns for 99 cents when they were on sale and buy 3 to 10. While watching TV, it was fun taking the patterns and cutting out the pieces. Later, I submitted my sewing tips to Simplicity pattern contests. I won free patterns of my choice. Soon after I made display items for Hancock’s store in Oceanside, California.
Later, I took fashion design classes at Palomar College in San Marcos, California. I took pattern making and later participated in the yearly fashion show. I continued to sew non-stop and made prosthetic pants for the injured soldiers returning back from Iraq. Later I moved to Lake Havasu City, Arizona and joined the Havasu Stitchers guild for seven years. While with the Havasu Stitcher’s, http://www.havasustitchers.com, this guild and I made over 100 pairs of pants and I made 16 more on my own.
While living in Lake Havasu City, I took all the classes offered by the guild, the quilt shops and other sources such as a Panamá quilt cruise 2009. On this trip, they had award-winning, world-wide quilt instructors teaching their arts and techniques. At this time, the Havasu Stitcher’s formed Quilting at the Lake, where national quilt and wearable art teachers taught their crafts too. I continued to take more classes.
In 2013. I moved to Gilbert, Arizonian.
(More to follow)
By Seamstress and Quilter, Lucy Wong
594 word count
When I want to check-out of reality, I go to my sewing rooms where my fabrics, wait to transform into something else. It’s a Zen thing. Ten years ago, my inner spirit told me to sew. Now, I realize the importance of developing this gift for my emotional and physical well-being. Here is how I came “out of my box“ and learned how to sew.
I needed to have more fun. In my head out of nowhere, came the thoughts, “Get in your car, go to the Carlsbad Mall and buy a Kenmore sewing machine from Sears.” At that time, I did not know how to sew but could follow directions. That’s how I made my first Asian quilt. I didn’t understand quilting techniques until I joined the Havasu Stitchers in 2006, part of the American Sewing Guild of Arizona. For some reason, I was to learn garment construction not quilting.
I took my first sewing class at Sew-Pros in Carlsbad, California where I made a unlined petite jacket out of Berber, blended with wool. A McCall’s pattern 3336, I still have this pattern because it can also make a vest or coat. Next I made a Butterick pattern 6473 duster with a crazy-quilt collar. On the weekends, I took more sewing classes at JoAnn’s Fabric in Oceanside, California where I learned how to make a frock coat plus more about serger machines.
Next, I purchased a Viking sewing machine which can do more than my Kenmore like dropping the feed dogs to perform free-motion embroidery. I use “Sewing with Nancy” Create ’n Stitch Petite sewing machine for classes. It is small, light and easy to transport. Before I purchased my first Bernina serger, I made hundreds of garments. I should had gotten one sooner. Sergers can create professional seams and trim off excess fabrics unlike any other machine. It has allowed me to sew faster, and it has empowered me to buy more notions from various stores.
My favorite sewing stores were Hancocks and JoAnn’s Fabrics in Oceanside, and We Are Fabrics in Solana Beach. I took more classes at Hanocks including bra making. I also made display items for stores. In addition, I made poly ponte cardinal, Catholic uniforms, to Halloween costumes. At one point, I was so into making authentic western heritage shirts like the buckaroo shirt.
Fashion design classes at Palomar College in San Marcos, California were next, with instruction in textiles, pattern making, fashion show and smocking. It does not end here.
I joined the Havasu Stitchers when I moved to Lake Havasu City where I learned quilt construction and terminology. Quilt classes at Mohave Community College plus Sachiko, a Japanese embroidery technique and trapunto, a fabric raised surface added to my skills . With a lot of tools, an endless imagination I look forward to creating many things not even thought of yet.
I love anything to do with birds. I can picture myself doing an avian trunk show displaying bird quilts for Aviculturist clubs, but I’ve got to start making them. Still I’m afraid of my Brother’s embroidery machine, but I plan to gain more control of it. I have visions to do a fashion show that can help disabled people. It’s such a powerful feeling to create whatever I feel like and to have my “aha” moments in Lake Havasu City’s heat.
Special Recognition: Creating Art with my Hands
By Lucy Wong
This project started August 2007, I had to over-come many obstacles to complete my Hawaiian quilt. I have scleroderma since 1987, it is a chronic connective tissue disease that hardens the skin, internal organs are affected. Still functional, I have all my fingers with hand disfigurement, affected daily with arthritis and vascular challenges.
Sometimes the only relief for a scleroderma patient’s hands is amputation, because it is painful! If diagnosed, one usually has Raynaud’s Phenomenon and if not controlled, it can be life threatening.
In 2000, I took up sewing thinking it will be therapeutic. Since then, I have taken a lot of art and sewing classes. I took Linda Visnaw’s Thread Sketches class (www.lindavisnaw.com) and adapted her Hawaiian Surprise designs, using my perspective, in my entry for the 2009 Veteran’s art festival competition.
Linda made sewing ergonomic suggestions like taping down a clean garbage bag to my work area. This allows fabric to move easily while performing free-motion embroidery and lessens hand fatigue. I used the four P’s: planning, prioritizing, problem-solving and pacing to accomplish this scheme
January 31, 2009, I applied Swaroski crystals all over it, flower by flower, step by step. It has taken a long time to finish, I have learned that the only limitation you have is within yourself.