|Life is a Journey by Betty Chan|
I asked if we could met so I could learn more about her quilt and the story it told. She kindly lent me a book she self-published which explains the images on her quilt and details her family tree and history.
|Betty's parents, going to America|
|Betty Eng's parents|
|Genealogy on the back of Betty Chan's quilts Life is a Journey|
The central figures represent Betty’s parents.
|Betty's great-grandparents who first came to America|
Pictured on her quilt to the left of her parents is a Water Buffalo surrounded by Bamboo to represent her parent’s village.
|Betty traveled to China to see her ancestral home, symbolized by the water buffalo and bamboo.|
|Betty's ancestral village in China|
|Red fish with a coin, lower left, is Betty's great grandfather who brought home|
wealth. Two more fish represent her grandfather and father who later came to the USA.
Betty’s father came to America as a ‘paper son.” In 1882 the Federal Government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act banning the immigration of Chinese. They were stereotyped and deemed unable to assimilate, but in truth they were competition for jobs, willing to work hard for low wages. Chinese already living in America would claim they had sons in China for which they obtained immigration papers. The papers were sold to Chinese men so they could come to America. As a ‘paper son’, Betty’s father had taken the surname Lee of his fake father, his real name being Eng.
|Betty's father's fish near the American President Line boat that brought him to America.|
|Betty's father as a US serviceman|
|Betty's beautiful mother|
|Betty's father with the tickets, a subway map, dog tags and restaurant business card|
|From Betty's book, her parents' ticket and pass|
|Betty's mother's suitcase with photos of her husband and family, |
the chicks representing the children they left behind in China
The New York City Subway map in her father’s hand shows where they lived in a house above his Canton restaurant. The New York City skyline and Statue of Liberty appear just left of his head, symbols of their adopted city and the welcoming symbol to immigrants.
|The Statue of Liberty, NYC skyline, and the World Trade Center Twin towers which|
Betty's parents saw fall while going to work on 9-11.
A large red house represents the house they grew up in, with Betty and her brother peeking from behind the bush in front of the house. Betty always had a ponytail like the girl on the quilt. An American flag pin from her father’s collection is in front of the house.
|Betty and her brother peek from behind a push in front of their childhood home|
Her dad was a wonderful cook, played the Chinese banjo, and he loved the Yankees.
|Betty's father at his restaurant|
It was a happy day when Betty finally met her older siblings.
|Betty with her family|
|Betty working on Life is a Journey|